by Jennifer Paros
Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.
~ Julie Andrews
As writers (or creative people of any kind), we often contend with the need to be “disciplined”. And often being disciplined is about making ourselves do things - on a schedule with dedication. The portrait of discipline is painted with a sense of sternness and having to take a hard line. Though there are many examples of people who work happily, regularly, and effectively, if it seems too easy, commonly we no longer use the word, “disciplined” to describe them.
The notion of discipline reflects two root ideas. One has to do with learning and knowledge (disciple is related) and the other has to do with punishment. As creative people working each day, we decide what discipline means for us. That definition can determine whether or not we thrive.
When I was in art school, I swayed between approaching my work as an opportunity or a chore. Attention to fearful thinking or lack thereof determined my approach. The less I focused on fearful thinking, the greater my connection to discovery, learning, and opportunity, which led me to show up and be “disciplined”. With more active fearful thinking, I invested in the idea that discipline was something I needed to inflict upon myself. As time went on and the fear factor increased for me at school, this demanding dynamic took a toll on my body. more...
Self-Help Writer Writes for Self-Help
by Noelle Sterne
What Kind of Writer?
I didn’t start out to be a self-help writer. My first love was poetry, and I actually published a handful of poems. Then I ventured into fiction, with a few more acceptances. Nonfiction, and especially self-help writing, was the farthest thing from my mind and computer.
But as I wrote more, with more rejections, blocks, and intermittent yeses, I couldn’t resist the impulse to write about my own writing problems. So I started doing how-to articles—how to break my sending-out barrier, how to keep up with Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, how to deal with jealousy of other writers, how to penetrate long agonizing blocks, how to swallow disgust at first drafts. Writing these craft self-help articles helped me in my own writing and, from the growing feedback, I was astounded and pleased to see that the articles helped other writers too.
At the same time, my study of spirituality increased (Louise Hay, Eric Butterworth, Joseph Murphy, Wayne Dyer, A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle, The Secret, Abraham-Hicks). Attempting to apply the teachings to daily living, writing, and my professional work as dissertation coach and editor for doctoral candidates, I limped along, struggling with meditation, faith in the Unseen, seeing and believing beyond appearances. Again, to help myself apply the principles, I couldn’t resist the impulse to write spiritually-oriented self-help articles. Again, I discovered that I was writing first for myself.
These pieces eventually metamorphosed into my book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011). The book’s purpose, with many examples from my practice, clients’ experiences, and those of many others, is to help readers let go of regrets, re-label their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. more...
House of Rumour
reviewed by Kevin Lauderale
In May of 1941, Rudolf Hess, second in command under Adolf Hitler, flew to Scotland. He was immediately arrested and spent the next 46 years of his life in Allied custody, until his suicide in 1987 at Spandau Prison in West Germany. Arnott uses the circumstances leading up to, and following, these bizarre events as the jumping-off point for a kaleidoscopic and brilliant novel that is a must-read for those with an interest in science fiction, the Second World War, and / or the occult. Rotating among a dozen narrators, including young intelligence officer Ian Fleming, who is just dreaming up a martini-drinking super-spy, Arnott delves into the connections between the worlds of espionage and black magic. Was nefarious occultist Aleister Crowley, truly “the wickedest man in the world,” or was that just a front for British “black propaganda”: disinformation and psychological warfare—the titular “House of Rumour.” Crowley was connected with the American science fiction writing community. Grandmaster Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard were friends with rocket scientist Jack Parsons, who ran the Agapé Lodge, the American branch of Crowley's mystic order in southern California, which devolved into a commune and eventually suffered the same fate as all utopian communities. Had Hess come to broker peace with the British when he was captured? Or had he been compelled by the will of magicians who gathered in England's Ashdown Forest to draw him there in an effort to shift the tide of the war? So much in this novel actually happened, but it's Arnott's genius to push matters just a little further or to extrapolate the secret reasons why they might have happened and to play with the uncertainties and ambiguities, be they from Schrödinger or a female impersonator. more...
Book Marketing 101 (and How Publicity Fits Into the Picture)
by Paula Margulies
When it comes time to market a book, many authors believe that certain aspects of promotion are more important than others. Some feel that Internet marketing is the answer to sagging sales, while others think that simply hiring a publicist will address their sales problems. Some focus mainly on items like book videos or blog tours, while others rely on repeated pleas to their social networking followers in the hopes of encouraging them to buy.
But savvy authors know that it takes an integrated marketing approach to succeed in today’s crowded book market. And, although many authors don’t want to hear it, the traditional rules of marketing apply to selling books, just as they do for other products.
So, what are the rules of marketing? Authors who have studied the subject (most likely in college) will recall that a marketing mix is made up of two components: a target audience and a marketing strategy.
Defining an author’s target audience is not too complicated. Authors can look at the books they’ve written and ask themselves: who would read this? Women? Men? Young adults? Children? Authors can also break down those broad audience categories by genre (mystery readers, fantasy readers, fiction readers, nonfiction readers etc.) and demographics/psychographics, including age, sex, religious and political preferences, economic status, etc., to help identify more precisely the different audiences to whom their books might appeal. more...