Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where Do You Get Off Calling Yourself A Writer?

The problem with calling yourself a writer is that the amount of money you earn doing it determines whether or not you will be taken seriously. The perception is that we writers live this kick-back lifestyle strolling aimlessly along the beach searching for inspiration. Or maybe we have a cabin near a lake where we frequently sequester ourselves and write against a backdrop of birds chirping and the splitter-splattering of rain against the window panes. We lack discipline, work when they feel like it, and don't have much direction or ambition. If we are not New York Times best-selling authors (or Oprah Book Club selections--kinda the same thing), or we're not published in newspapers and nationwide magazines, or we don't have a master's degree in fine arts from a prestigious writing program, then who will believe that we are any good at what we do?

Truth is, writing is a tough grind. Making a living at it requires a skill set that includes the writing itself, editing, creativity, research skills, marketing, advertising, sales, communication, flexibility, being extremely disciplined and self-directed, working well under pressure, being incredibly organized (more or less), and must be able to play well with others. It certainly is not for the thin-skinned nor the faint of heart. It is a craft that must be honed as it constantly evolves. Writers often have a day job, or at least supplement their literary pursuits with author visits, speaking engagements, and freelance work. I heard a real estate broker say once that the people who are the most successful in real estate are the ones who show up the most, not necessarily the ones who are the best or the brightest. Therefore, it is imperative to keep improving your craft and keep showing up for yourself.

When I decided to take the plunge into writing last summer, I got a mixed response from folks in my immediate circle. I had gone back to school and completed my B.S. in Sports Management in three years topped off with obtaining a professional certification. When it was all over, I was burnt like toast. Aside from sporadic posting on my blog Journeys Fitness, I had no other outlets to share my experiences and the vast amount of knowledge I was acquiring. Several years ago, I had two articles published in a fledgling regional magazine. I knew then that I would find a way to return to writing. My passions are diverse and I become a student of whatever it is that I am trying to do. So, rather than talk the ears off of anyone and everyone who was within earshot about my latest adventure, I decided to champion my causes using the written word. Seven titles (with three more on the way), three blogs, steady paid freelance work, and a new business later, I am definitely in a groove. The best thing I ever did was ignore the naysayers and not let myself be discouraged.

So, if you want to write, then write. Don't worry about those snobs who have made the colossal error of judging you while in transition. No one comes out of the womb cranking out works that will appear in this century's literary canon. No one. We all have to start at the beginning. Often times the people who give you the most flack about your writing are people who either want what you have or are afraid of losing what they have. And let's face it--every book that you have ever read has been written by somebody who had some jerk tell them (either by words or deeds)  that it couldn't be done. Resilience and persistence pays. Get a good editor and/or someone honest with a good eye and apply their critiques. Make every piece you create better than the last. Remember, if you do the work, you will earn the right to call yourself whatever you want. Write on!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Adam Tritt

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

I live in Palm Bay, Florida, under a very big tree with a dingo dog and an alligator. I am a retired teacher and a non-retired massage therapist and have always been a writer. I usually work next to a pond.

2) Describe your journey to becoming an author.

It wasn’t much of a journey. I decided, after reading Asimov and Bradbury and Clark (I never got past the C’s in the alphabet) that I could never be a writer because I could never write as well as they did. But I persisted, regardless, with poetry. One day, on a long ride home, late at night, I heard a poem on the radio. My wife said something and I asked her to hold on a minute. That I really wanted to hear this poem. That I wished I could write like that. She laughed and asked me if I didn’t recognize it. I hadn’t. “That’s yours. You wrote that. Don’t you recognize it?” That was when I realized I could do this.

The rest is all grunt work, patience, perseverance and taking to actually write.

3) Do you gravitate toward any particular genre in writing?

No. I have written quite a bit of poetry and published in magazines and journals as well as a book of my own, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, and children’s books. But children’s books geared not just for children seems to be a focus right now. Probably because I’m feeling mischievous.

4) Tell us about Bud the Spud. What inspired you to write on it?

A gorgeous day when my kids would not go out and play because they were watching kids play on a Disney Channel show about playgrounds. I had the cable TV disconnected that Monday.

5) Describe your path to publication. Has this experience met/exceeded your expectations?

I had no expectations. Each book-publishing experience has come to me from a different source so it is hard to have expectations. The first was requested by the publisher. The second came as a surprise as well. Bud was a book I had shopped around a bit, but had no luck with. Then it just landed in the right hands well after I had gone on to other projects. A publisher who specialized in health-related books and wanted to get into children’s books thought it was the perfect bridge. I would never have thought of them.

6) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

Video. We have done a video of the book that can be shared through social media. Web pages have also been helpful as well as the fact I have a long-running and well-read blog. The reviews have been tremendously positive so those show up on web searches. I also am open to readings and appearances. I love doing readings.

I love creativity as well. We have a contest for the wackiest way to read Bud. A gal is reading it on a surfboard. One in a tree. Another on a slide. One crazy fella is reading it while riding a bicycle. I am waiting for the skydiving picture.

We also created International GOT CAP Day. And will be creating Bud caps to go with it. Get Off The Couch And Play. This goes along with the health message and will be picked up and easily shared through social media.

7) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

I’m sorry. As an author, I don’t have much time to read anymore. A book release take so much time and energy. But, I am currently reading Shakespear’s Planet by Clifford Simak. I am a huge huge fan of Golden Age science fiction and even contributed to the creation of a museum for science fiction writing and an important genre of world literature. I am also reading Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Mark Epstein. I am reading, in small bits, here and there, Hara Diagnosis: Reflections on the Sea by Kiiko Matsumoto and Stephen Birch. This book is to help me in my work dealing with PTSD and trauma through somatic therapy. Prior to these, I read Dragon Fate by J.D. Hallowell, a rare foray into fantasy. Before that, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I also read the adapted version, The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat. I wanted to see how it had been, shall we say, dumbed down.

8) Describe a typical day in your life.

A typical day? Up at six. Take out the dog. Feed her. Go to the gym. Come home, go to the office. Deal with office issues, scheduling issues, promotional issues, issues about who deals with issues. See patients. Lunch. Same after lunch. If the mood strikes me, I say “I’m going home to write” or I close myself in an office and I write. Some days I call in and stay home to continue writing. Writing takes precedence over all other things and I grab the ideas while I have them fresh and hot and waiting to be put into words. Muses do not like to be kept waiting.

9) What projects do you have in the works?

Currently I am working on the retelling of the Welsh myth of Rhiannon and Pwyll done in prose and poetry. But, while told from the same perspective, that of the king, it shows how the lady in question, Rhiannon, really holds the power and runs the show. It is done in such a way as to show young girls they have power. The ability to say yes or no, to have their way and run the show no matter what boys say. It is being illustrated by Christine Kuhn, an art professor from East Kentucky University who does the most amazing myth and archetype based paintings. Deep and dark and mysterious.

I am also working on a story about what happens when a tooth fairy goes bad. The heroines of the story are Sef and Sadie, my daughter and granddaughter. Not quite a children’s book. Because this tooth fairy goes very very bad. Like I said, I’m feeling mischievous.

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Write. Write and write. Develop who you are. Don’t worry about market trends. If your work is any good, either you will start a trend or the trend will come back around to you.

Get a good editor. One who understand your work and who you can trust. Feed him or her well. Understand you are your worst editor. If you don’t take that to the bank, you won’t be taking anything else there either.

About the Author

Adam Byrn Tritt, MEd, CH, LMT, is a poet, essayist, screenwriter, teacher, social activist, and humorist. In addition to Bud the Spud, Tritt is the author of The Phoenix and the Dragon: Poems of the Alchemical Trans­form­ation, a collection of his poetry, as well as several works of nonfiction.

Adam won the 2006 EPPIE Award for Poetry in an Anthology. In 1995 he was awarded an honorary doctorate for his work in religious tolerance and for the creation of TurningPoint, a nonprofit program providing alternative medicine to low-income individuals. He continues that passion today in the healthcare clinic he and his wife, Lee, dreamed of and created together—the Wellness Center.

He is equally at home speaking in lecture halls, giving public readings in bookstores, and visiting elementary school classrooms, where he can be found surrounded by children begging him to read Bud the Spud just one more time (while their parents and teachers beg him to stop). Adam lives and writes—often simultaneously—in Palm Bay, Florida, with his son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter; a dingo; and a ridiculously large alligator, all under a very big tree.

Contact Adam

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Urvi Khanna

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

I am a professional artist, designer and photographer living in New Delhi, India.

When I was in school, one day in art class, my teacher suddenly pounced on my drawing and I found myself standing outside the Principal’s office. Finally I was called in and told that they were going to use my drawing as the cover of the school magazine and it was the first time such a thing were to happen. I was 8. So very early on, I knew I was going to be an artist or designer.

New Delhi in the 1980s where I grew up, was a melting pot of cultural experiences in India. Poets, dancers, writers, artists, orchestra groups, ballet and drama groups from all over the world would showcase their work round the year -- my parents regularly used to take me for all the events and I developed major influences during that period. I graduated with a BFA (Applied Arts & Photography as my specialization) degree from College of Art Delhi, and went on to work in various creative roles -- did product photography for cola and car brands, designed for a leading current affairs magazine, taught design at a leading private school, worked as art director for an international advertising agency; and co-founded and ran a successful advertising agency for many years.

I also enjoy challenging on-location photography assignments - some of my past photography projects include stories on Tihar Jail (one of India’s biggest jails), and the tribal weavers of India.

2) Describe your journey to becoming an author.

Becoming a parent was a life changing event for me just like for most people. I started seeing things from a child’s perspective. Funny, I had always thought of teaching art to children, but never doing a children’s book. And then it happened and now I can’t imagine why I never thought of it before!

I’m a very visual person so I usually think of ideas and stories in visual form. My first book is a picture book, which was fun and comfortable for me to do since most of the ideas are expressed through visuals or very simple words. It was a collaborative effort with a wonderful writer Indie Poe.

3) Do you gravitate toward any particular genre in writing?

Poetry is beautiful, not just a clever play of words but words that fill you with emotion. Also a style that leaves you imagining more than what is visible on the page. So that every time you read it you see and imagine more or different things.

4) Tell us about your new ebook, The Fountain. What inspired you to write it?

For me, living in a polluted city like New Delhi with a toddler has been challenging as a parent. Although Delhi has several large parks, I would really love to bring my son up in a place surrounded by nature, or at least create more opportunities for him to interact with nature.

My son loves fountains -- he sees one in the bathing tub, the paddle pool, the rain... everywhere, even wanted one in a book! A few weeks ago I was conducting a children's outdoors workshop called ‘Art in the Park’, and the concept of the book sort of came together for me at that moment.

5) Describe your path to publication. Has this experience met/exceeded your expectations?

I chose to self-publish on the iTunes store because what excited me was the possibility of reaching numerous children all over the world in a jiffy. Just to be able to see the book up on the iTunes store, days after finishing it was magical!

The hard bit is the book discovery/marketing process. Everyday a ton of books are being published and many of them are so good! As a self-published author you have limited avenues for marketing your book -- you don’t have a budget really, so it’s not easy to achieve sales.

6) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

That is something I need to work on, though having a presence on reading forums really helps connect with readers. I guess the minimum that one needs to do is to create awareness about your book on your personal blog / facebook / twitter etc. Securing reviews is very useful as well. I’ve been usually shy about self publicity -- I think many other creative people feel the same way. I’ve been told that needs to change -- and hope that what I’m learning about book marketing now would be put to better use by the time my second book comes out.

7) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

As a child I loved folktales from all over the world. One that I have never forgotten was “Aminata the Wind Loves You”, an African folktale by Chia Hearn Chek, published by Dominie Press. The illustrations were like paintings, it was a story about the wind. “Folktales from India” by A.K. Ramanujan is another all time favourite, with stories from the diverse Indian culture. Right now I’m re-reading anything and everything Eric Carle has produced, there is so much to learn from how he communicates complex concepts to children so simply besides the fact that his illustrations are so beautiful. Salman Rushdie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens are authors I can enjoy anytime.

8) Describe a typical day in your life.

My day is usually hectic. Time is divided between certain hours for personal work, a bit of teaching on certain days of the week and looking after my little toddler. But I do consciously take time out to be with nature, gaze at leaves, the sky; watch birds fly back home in the evening, the bats come out..

In spite of all the planning, things move with the mood of the day!

9) What projects do you have in the works?

Currently I’m illustrating my next picture book for the nature series (The Fountain was the first). Lets see where it goes, hopefully it will be out soon.

I am also developing art programs for young children that aim to create friendly, supportive environments for self expression through art. I continue to do some design, advertising, photography and teaching - basically everything I love and enjoy!

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Being just a book old, I’ve got a lot to learn myself. But I’d like to share a quote that says it beautifully:

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.” - Dr. Seuss

About the Author

Urvi Khanna studied Applied Art and Photography at College of Art, Delhi (India) and Advanced Photography at O.P. Sharma’s Institute at Triveni Kala Sangam.

Worked with photographer Hardesh Dhingra and interned with the legendary Madan Mahatta. Also worked with India Today (national & international editions) and Euro RSCG (The Sales Machine - direct marketing).

Co-founded and managed Inventiv Advertising, a full services advertising agency as its Creative Head.

Also taught art at Vasant Valley School, New Delhi.

Currently freelancing and working on personal projects in photography and art. Conducting art workshops for children and working on a book.

First exhibition – Tradespotting | Old Delhi at Delhi ‘O’ Delhi, India Habitat Centre 1- 31st January 2008.

Contact Urvi

Website (blog):

Twitter handle: @urvikhanna

Facebook profile:

Blog post about the book:


Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Blogger Ruth Jacobs: The Soul Destruction Blog Story

Whilst searching for a literary agent to represent my debut novel, Soul Destruction, I took the advice of a friend and started a blog That was at the end of May 2012. Now, a few weeks later in mid-July, there are nearly fifty people following the blog and it’s received over 4,500 page hits. This is how I achieved it.

Initially, when I started the Soul Destruction blog, I asked my friends on Facebook to post the link on their walls. On my Twitter account, which was redundant but previously had been used for work as a recruitment consultant, I had nearly 1500 followers. I tweeted that I was now using the account for my writing and if anyone wanted to unfollow me, I wouldn’t be offended. I didn’t notice a drop in followers and in fact, some of my Twitter contacts have let me know they’ve been reading my blog. I began reading other blogs and made contact with other bloggers, many of whom I am really enjoying getting to know. I have also joined writing groups on Facebook, from which I’ve made new contacts, many of whom have shared their experience and some have even helped publicise my blog.

I created a Soul Destruction Facebook page , and on that, I post a link to every new blog. I also use Google+, StumbleUpon and Pinterest to publicise all my blog posts. I recently made a promotional video for the Soul Destruction series and my friends have kindly shared that on Facebook too. In ten days on YouTube, the video has received over 350 views. I also uploaded the video onto Metacafe and Flickr so it has exposure on Bing and Yahoo.

Pictures on the blog are important, not just for the visual but to help drive traffic to the blog from search engines. As well as posting the pictures on the blog, I also upload them to my Flickr account, which has a link to my blog. I tag the pictures with the relevant keywords for search engines, as I tag every post on my blog.

In reaching out to my friends on Facebook, one invited me to be interviewed on her radio show, GSOH Live. Others offered to put me in touch with publishing contacts they know. One of those contacts, a small publishing company, expressed an interest in publishing Soul Destruction as an ebook. However, due to other business issues they were unable to progress. Another friend, who I hadn’t seen in over twenty years, invited me to a literary event run by his sister. At the event, I met another writer who suggested I contact her agent. I made a submission and, in less than two weeks, they requested the complete manuscript of Soul Destruction. That was only last week. I’m trying not to get too excited but it’s hard not to.

The Soul Destruction blog

The Soul Destruction Facebook page

Ruth’s Twitter


Ruth Jacobs is a novelist, writer and blogger. She studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked her interest in the subject. Her writing dispels the 'happy hooker' myth and exposes the reality of being a call girl. Her writing is gritty, her stories are gripping and her characters are authentic. She draws on her research and the women she interviewed for inspiration. She also has firsthand experience of some of the topics she writes about such as post-traumatic stress disorder, rape, and drug and alcohol addiction.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Revisited-Part 5

NaNoWriMo is a contest which challenges writers to pen a novel in 30 days. Coined, "30 days of literary abandon", participants are instructed to turn off their internal editors and just write. Please keep in mind that what you have been reading are the rough beginnings of what may one day be my first novel. I didn't outline my plot or do an in-depth character analysis. On November 1st 2011, I simply powered on the desktop, opened a Word document, and started writing. It's an attempt I plan to make yet again this November that I might even finish~who knows? All and all, I enjoy reviewing old projects and decided to share this one with you. Just keep in mind that this work is hardly ready for submission, publication, etc...

I hope that you have enjoyed the four previous installments of Marrying Dad. Here is the 5th and final post  but if you are just joining us, click on the links below to parts 1-4 and get caught up:

Marrying Dad- Part 1 
Marrying Dad- Part 2
Marrying Dad- Part 3
Marrying Dad- Part 4  


Marrying Dad- Part 5
by Raychelle Muhammad

      I remember when Mom took the home pregnancy test. Dad had been out of town on business for a month. She was incredibly stressed out because this was the longest he had been away and his business didn’t usually require such long stays. He said that he was making several presentations at a social networking conference in California and then had new client meetings plus two marketing campaign launches to oversee. “The firm is expanding” he would explain. Mom didn’t trust that this was all business. When he didn’t call to say good night or answer the phone late in the evening, she would pace and worry just like she would when he was home and “working late”. Once or twice a week, Mom would take me to Grandma’s so that she could “have the night off”. I often wondered what she needed the night off from because Dad wasn’t here to drive her crazy. Why couldn’t she enjoy the break she was already getting? 
     When Dad got back from his trip, Mom planned a special evening for them. Off to Grandma’s I went—for the weekend. I generally had a ball when I went to visit my grandmother. She let me do everything Mom wouldn’t let me do at home. I got to stay up late and help cook dinner. We always went special places and Grandma would let me talk about anything that was on my mind. She didn’t fuss over my clothes if I spilled something on them. We would spend a lot of time in Grandma’s finished attic which served as her art studio and sewing room. It had large French doors that opened to a small balcony. The two skylights made the space bright and washed the soft yellow walls with warmth. The sun reflected off the glossy hardwood floors giving them the appearance of glass. Grandma said that the studio was ripe for inspiration. We would frequently spend hours there painting, sewing, and crafting. I thought that Grandma’s studio was the happiest place on Earth. It was freedom. Of course, I missed my parents at times, but the attention Grandma gave me made me miss her more at the end of every visit. Her face would literally light up when I walked into the room. I could hear the excitement in her voice whenever we spoke on the phone. My parents loved me, but Dad was always consumed with work and Mom was always consumed with him. How would another baby fit into this family? I wasn’t looking forward to sharing Grandma with anybody, but at least my new sibling and I would have each other…
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave your comments below.
Keep your pen to the paper! Remember, inspiration is everywhere...