• Browsing all articles by David Duhr | WriteByNight Writers' Service

    Encouragement From Writing Teachers

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 12 comments
    Feb
    16

     

    Discussion questions: What words of encouragement from your writing teachers have kept you going through hard times? Do you think great writing can be taught? What specific lessons on craft do you remember being taught to you by specific writing teachers, and in what ways have they been helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

     

    Can great writing be taught?

    It’s a question many of us have wrestled with, and was also the topic of last week’s episode of Yak Babies, which was one of our best so far, if I may say so (and which you can listen to online here, or find in your favorite podcast app).

    As a jumping-off point, we used the following line from Stephen King, in his excellent book On Writing:

    “While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.” read more

    “Making Your Book Awesome”: Nick Courtright & Atmosphere Press

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 3 comments
    Feb
    9

    More than six years ago, Nick Courtright walked into our writing center in Austin, Texas, for an interview and walked out as a WriteByNight writing coach and consultant.

    Since then, Nick has been a very busy man, publishing two books of poetry, taking over as co-editor at Gold Wake Press, and launching his own hybrid press, Atmosphere. Through it all, he’s been a valuable WBN coach and consultant.

    And as of late 2018, WriteByNight partners exclusively with Atmosphere to offer WriteByNight clients the chance to bypass the slush pile and get their book straight into the hands of Atmosphere’s executive editor: Nick Courtright.

    Nick and I recently had the chance to chat about Atmosphere, WriteByNight, our partnership, and the future of both of our organizations.

     

    Four years ago you launched Atmosphere. Not to be too general, but how’s it going so far?

    It’s going great! Each year has been better than the year before it, and I feel really confident that this will be our best year yet. It’s funny, because unlike some publishers who start with big-dollar ambitions, I started Atmosphere Press almost accidentally. I was working with a talented poet who didn’t want to endure the ordeal that is literary publishing’s ceaseless rejection tornado, and because I had years of experience in putting out books with Gold Wake Press, I asked him what he would think of my publishing his book for him. That was how Atmosphere was born — out of service to an author — and from that accidental origin something really wonderful has been built. I’m the author of two books myself, and I think the core value that Atmosphere started with — helping authors — is a big differentiator for us. read more

    Your Favorite 2018 Reading Experience

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 34 comments
    Feb
    2

     

    Discussion question: What was your favorite reading experience of 2018? When the combination of the book and your setting and/or circumstances was just right? Tell me about it in the comments.

     

    Last week on my podcast, Yak Babies, me and my pals talked about our favorite new books from 2018. Not necessarily published in 2018; just books we read for the first time and enjoyed thoroughly.

    I chose George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, a book that knocked me flat when I read it on a beach in Mexico, at which point I turned back to Page 1 and immediately reread it.

    It wasn’t my favorite 2018 book, but it was my favorite, and definitely most vivid and lasting, 2018 reading experience. read more

    Outlining Schmoutlining: How Do You Organize Your Writing?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 20 comments
    Jan
    26

     

    Discussion questions: Do you outline your writing projects? If so, how closely do you stick to that outline while you write? Or do you, like me, start with very little direction and try to write your way into a story? And what is your approach? 

     

    While we’re on this jag about organization (see: “Losing Your Writing, Vol. 2” and “Organizing Your Files“), I thought it might be interesting to talk about organization within our writing projects.

    As I’ve mentioned, I recently finished Chapter 1 of my novel. Then I lost it when my computer died, and for the next week and a half I waited to see if the dude at the computer repair shop could recover it.

    Many writers in that situation would move on to Chapter 2.

    I couldn’t do that, because I don’t outline. read more

    Organizing Your Files and Pages and Notes and Stuff

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 34 comments
    Jan
    19

     

    Discussion questions: When you have work/writing/notes scattered all over your living space and work space, how do you keep it organized, and how do you know where to find what you need? I’m talking computer files, index cards, random scraps of paper, photographs, notes scribbled in margins of books. Or do you have a good way to avoid descending into such chaos to begin with? Let me know in the comments below.

     

    After last week’s chaos involving my lost chapter, and all of your wonderful feedback on how to avoid future such catastrophes–organizing external storage on Google Drive, flash drives, etc.–I started thinking about organization in general.

    If you’re anything like me, you have work/writing scattered everywhere. If you’re even more like me, too often you don’t know where to find what you need. read more

    Losing Your Writing, Vol. 2

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 27 comments
    Jan
    12

     

    Discussion questions: What do you use/do to back up your work? What’s your most horribly horrific horror story involving lost writing? Let me know in the comments below.

     

    I owe some work to my new writing group, and the new group coincides with a re-envisioning of my fiction: What started as a novel and then became a linked story collection is now again a novel.

    So on Saturday I sat myself down, wrote Chapter 1 at the top of the page, and dove in.

    Monday afternoon, after about six hours of work over three days, I had a 2,500-word chapter.

    Not only that, it felt like a good chapter. Something that, after a small amount of revision, I’d be comfortable sharing with the bunch of strangers that make up my new group.

    Monday night, my computer died. The photo above? Of the sad faces behind what looks like prison bars? That was the graphic on the screen that led me to believe that this experience was not going to end well.

    And it didn’t. My computer is unfixable, and the file, my new Chapter 1, is unrecoverable. read more

    In 2019, You Will!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 16 comments
    Jan
    5

    Happy 2019, WriteByNighters! I feel like this is going to be our best year yet. Are you feeling the same?

    And what better way to kick it off than to talk about what we want to accomplish as writers and readers.

    “Resolutions” can be an intimidating word; if you prefer not to, don’t use it. Goals. Wants. Hopes. However you phrase it, I want to hear what you’d like to achieve between now and December 31.

    Our tradition has been to ask you to complete the following sentence:

    “In 2019, I will _______”

    But “will” is edging into resolution territory, so this year, let’s try something new:

    “In 2019, I _______” read more

    Your 2018 Writing Accomplishments

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 28 comments
    Dec
    29

    I was planning on doing our annual writing goals post for this week, but I think I want to push that off to next week and instead allow us all a minute to acknowledge the great things we did in 2018.

    If you set a 2018 literary resolution, did you hit it, or at least make good progress toward it?

    (Maybe you announced it in the comments of 2018’s goals post?)

    Did you grow and improve as a writer? As a reader?

    What was your greatest literary achievement in 2018? The thing you’re most proud of as a writer and/or a reader? read more

    Best of 2018

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Writing Resources     Comments No comments
    Dec
    22

    Christmas is in only three days, New Year’s Eve is in only nine days, 2019 is staring us in the face, and many of us are out on the road, or on the tracks, or on the water, or in the sky, or, just as likely, stranded somewhere due to weather.

    And we need reading material! To get us through these dull and lonely hours of lines and waiting.

    I figured I could either write a novella-length post for you this week on a particular topic or offer variety in bite-size chunks.

    We published about fifty posts in this space this year, and if you’ve read all of them, you’re my hero. But between general busyness, life hiccups, and the fact that not every blog post topic will grab your interest, I suspect few of you have done so. Hell, I doubt I’ve read them all!

    So I thought I’d pick some highlights from our blog this year and offer them up this week as extra reading material for your travels. I’ve chosen ten of my favorites. Some I picked because I like the content or have some fond memory of writing it; others I chose not so much because of the post but because of the wonderful discussions you guys sparked in response to it.

     

    I’m going to start with a couple of posts that might come particularly in handy this week:

    read more

    The Best Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 4 comments
    Dec
    15

    In last week’s post, “The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book,” a few WriteByNighters took the time to discuss with us the pitfalls they had to jump across during the process of self-publishing their books.

    This week, those same WriteByNighters have given even *more* of their time to tell us about the most rewarding parts of self-publishing. 

    read more

    The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 2 comments
    Dec
    8

    Since announcing our new publication assistance services, we’ve received more than the usual amount of questions about self-publishing, particularly: What is the hardest part of self-publishing your book and are there any easy parts?

    We figured who better to pose these questions to than WriteByNight clients with real-world experience. Four helpful writers responded: Dana Frank, Assaf Raz, Dan Hays, and Marcia Drut-Davis.

    We’ll tackle the “easy” part next week, but for this week we’re going to start with the hard stuff. read more

    Here Comes 2019! And Why Do You Write?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 9 comments
    Dec
    1

    2019 — and its attendant resolutions — is less than a month away.

    That means you have four solid weeks to come up with your new writing goals.

    If you partake of such things! Not all of us do. I go back and forth. Some years I set a vague goal such as “Get better!” or “Write more!” Some years, no goal at all. For 2018, according to this post where I, and some of you, shared our 2018 writing goals, I wanted to “complete a draft of the book I began writing in May.”

    lol. read more

    Congrats to WriteByNighters, Part 2!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments No comments
    Nov
    25

    While you’re heading back this weekend from your Thanksgiving travels, why not read up on some more recent success stories from your fellow WriteByNighters.

    As you’ll recall, a few weeks ago we posted about some upcoming books from our talented clients, and asked if there were any others we should know about.

    There are! And here are a few of them:

     

    Caroline Bock‘s debut story collection, Carry Her Home, was selected by the Washington Writers’ Publishing House for its 2018 Fiction Award, which includes a cash prize and publication. The book was released in mid-October, with  a book launch event at D.C.’s venerable bookstore Politics & Prose. (Which would be a great place to buy the book.) read more

    Franzen Folderol

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 16 comments
    Nov
    17

    The other day LitHub published a piece titled “Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules for Novelists,” borrowed from Jonathan Franzen’s new essay collection.

    It caused some hubbub.

    Literary Twitter went nuts. Writers and readers piled on Franzen, calling his list pretentious, narrow-minded, and/or just plain ridiculous. Chuck Wendig, to the delight of many, went on a long rant.

    Others argued that the piece is taken out of context and say that Franzen’s publicists were just trying to promote the book. Some even claimed the list is meant to be satire. (It may be. I’ve never read Franzen, so I’m not familiar enough to comment.)

    Anyway, agree with the list (or parts of it) or not, there are two of them I want to dig into, especially here in mid-November, halfway through NaNoWriMo. read more

    On NaNoWriMo, NaNoReMo, and Mo’

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 13 comments
    Nov
    4

    National Novel Writing MonthShow of hands: Who’s doing NaNoWriMo this year?

    Before I got wise, I thought NaNoWriMo stood for National November Writing Month. Which doesn’t make a ton of sense.

    But as most of you know, it’s really National Novel Writing Month, during which thousands of writers vow to write every day and have a first draft of a novel by November 30, a.k.a. my birthday, what should be a national holiday.

    I won’t be NaNoWriMoing, but I will be NaShoStoWriMoing. My old accountability partner and I are restarting our thing, and my goal is to each week write a first draft of one new short story and revise one old story.

    Roll call: Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it before? Did it work? Tell us about your approach and process in the comments. read more

    Observations on Books & Reading in Ireland

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 7 comments
    Oct
    28

    Justine and I spent a week in Ireland in mid-October, half in Sligo on the northwest coast, half in Dublin. We visited about a dozen bookstores and libraries and took note as best we could of the literary culture. Here are a few (hopefully not lame) observations:

     

    1. Two of the Dublin bookstores we stopped at mark their books up from the cover price. I don’t mean hard-to-find first editions–I mean trade or mass market paperbacks of new or recent books. These stores place their own price tag sticker over the price printed on the book.

    One book whose cover price was 10 Euro was marked 15.50. That’s a $6 markup!

    Your turn: Have you ever seen this anywhere in the States? Is it a turn-off, or do you not mind? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

     

    2. Few new releases in Ireland (and the UK, since that’s where most of them are published) seem to come in hardcover. Most of them are trade paperbacks that are just a little taller than the standard trade. I like this. They’re also less expensive than the U.S.’s $25-30 per.

    Your turn: Do you like hardcovers or do you wish U.S. new releases came in paperback? read more

    Congrats to WriteByNighters!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments No comments
    Oct
    20

    Continuing our series on publication and our new publication assistance services, we have a few fun announcements to make, and some congratulations to dish out to a few hard-working WriterByNighters.

     

    First, congratulations to Bridget Farr! Bridget’s middle grade novel, Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home, has been sold to Little, Brown & Company. Pavi is a foster child who starts her own business helping other foster kids navigate the system; but when a fellow foster kid is placed with a family with whom Pavi had a terrible experience, Pavi must help her avoid the same fate. Pavi Sharma’s Gide to Going Home is set for publication in the fall of 2019.

    Bridget worked with WriteByNight’s Resa Alboher in book coaching, and is currently working on a new novel in coaching with Jessamine Chan.

    read more

    Your Top 6 Questions About Publishing

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 2 comments
    Oct
    13

    After last week’s announcement of our three new publication assistance services, a few readers reached out with questions about publication, and we answered ’em, because that’s why we’re here.

    But when it comes to publishing, many writers have questions, and many writers have the same questions, so I grabbed the six most popular (actually, it’s kind of seven; I’m cheating a little) to answer here today.

    Some are about self-publishing, some are about traditional vs. self- vs. hybrid, some are about WriteByNight’s role in the process (spoiler alert: We don’t publish books! But we can help you find a publisher). All of them are questions we’ve heard more than a few times each, so chances are that you’ve wondered about one or two of them yourself.

    If you have any questions about publication that we haven’t answered here, leave ’em in the comments and we’ll respond. read more

    New Publication Assistance Services!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments No comments
    Oct
    6

    We have some exciting news: We’re expanding our publication assistance services!

    In addition to our existing services designed to help you on the path to traditional publication, we’re adding three new options for those of you interested in self-publication or hybrid publication, or for writers deciding which route to publication is the best fit:

    1) If you’re considering self-publishing your book and want some guidance on how to deal with this overwhelming option—the costs, the technology, the marketing, and beyond—our new Self-Publishing Coaching will teach you the ins and outs in as little as one session.

    2) We’ve partnered with hybrid publisher Atmosphere Press in order to help you bypass the slush pile and fast-track your query straight to the executive editor — longtime WriteByNight coach and consultant Nick Courtright!

    3) If you’re not sure whether traditional, hybrid, or self-publication is the right path for you, our new Publication Consultation will help guide you. We’ll read your manuscript carefully and then meet with you one on one to discuss its prospects for publication and to plan a course of action for turning those prospects into reality. read more

    Who Are Today’s Top Horror Writers?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 13 comments
    Sep
    29

    I’ve just finished (and loved) reading Frankenstein for the first time, a discussion of which you can listen to for Yak Babies (my books podcast) October Spooktacular, a series of episodes about horror books, movies, games, and more.

    Now I’m in the mood to read more horror, both old and new, as Halloween approaches. But I need help.

    I have a few classics I’ve never read but plan to, including DraculaThe Haunting of Hill House, and Dorian Gray.

    I might also revisit a few American gothic favorites such as Edgar HuntlySleepy Hollowand maybe some Hawthorne short stories.

    As for contemporary horror, I’m looking for some new names. That’s where you come in. read more




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