The Best Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

There is one bit of advice that I have for aspiring authors. And that is, if you want to write well, you must read. Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. Think of reading books as taking a writing course. I would suggest reading the classics: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and, of course, Steinbeck, to name but a few. These three authors made up their own rules. Hemingway couldn’t get published at first because his writing was so different from the writing that preceded him.

Below are three examples of Steinbeck’s writing. If you read stuff like this, you can’t help but become a better writer. Please note that the first example is one long sentence that makes up an entire paragraph. That, of course, is a big no-no . . . or so “they” say.

• • • •

“The concrete highway was edged with a mat of tangled, broken, dry grass, and the grass heads were heavy with oat beards to catch on a dog’s coat, and foxtails to tangle in a horse’s fetlocks, and clover burrs to fasten in sheep’s wool; sleeping life waiting to be spread and dispersed, every seed armed with an appliance of dispersal, twisting darts and parachutes for the wind, little spears and balls of tiny thorns, and all waiting for animals and the wind, for a man’s trouser cuff or the hem of a woman’s skirt, all passive but armed with appliances of activity, still, but each possessed the anlage of movement.”—The Grapes of Wrath

• • • •

“The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide.”—Tortilla Flat

• • • •

“June is gay—cool and warm, wet and shouting with growth and reproduction of the sweet and the noxious, the builder and the spoiler. The girls in the body-form slacks wander High Street with locked hands while small transistor radios sit on their shoulders and whine love songs in their ears. The young boys, bleeding with sap, sit on the stools of Tanger’s Drugstore ingesting future pimples through straws. They watch the girls with level goat-eyes and make disparaging remarks to one another while their insides whimper with longing.”—The Winter of our Discontent

My first bit of advice is to read. My second: don’t pay too much attention to the “rules” of writing. And my third is, never, ever, ever respond to a bad review.

Thank you for listening to my morning rant,

Andrew Joyce

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A Literary Prayer

My name’s not  important, but it’s up there somewhere. So I guess it ain’t no secret. Anyway, this is what I gotta tell ya. And I don’t have much time. You see, I escaped my confinement, but goddamn it, they’re on my trail. I’ll be dragged back to my computer when they catch up, so I gotta spit this out while I can.

I’ve written a book or two, I’ve been there and I’ve done that. But over time, I went kinda crazy. I wanted to … no, that’s not right … I had to … I needed to … write the best damn novel since The Grapes of Wrath. Yeah, I know, that’s why I said I went crazy. So crazy I am.

I broke off human contact. I disconnected all wires that invaded my abode. I went old-school. I kissed girlfriends good-bye. I shook hands with friends, tellin’ ’em I was going into seclusion for the duration and I wasn’t comin’ out until I set the world on fire with my literary talent.

But here’s the deal:

I’m writing, I’m researching. I’m twenty-six chapters in. I got the last sentence of the book in my head. I just have to get there, but there are so many words standing between me and that last damn sentence. Please, Lord, please let me get there. I gotta put chapters behind me. Those future chapters … those future words … are callin’ to me. They need me to give them life. I need them to give me purpose. I need help with this next chapter.

Lord, I’m facing a white wall. You help me get this one chapter on paper and I’ll never ask You for another thing … not another goddamn thing. Please, Lord, give me this next chapter.

Marion On My Mind – Guest Post by, Emily Gmitter…

A wonderful tribute to a loved one.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Sing it out … sing it out!” My sister Marion would encourage me as I practiced a song I’d hoped to perform at karaoke some night. “That was beautiful! You should absolutely sing that one!” she continued, scrunching up her face and pumping her arm in the air with earnest enthusiasm.

Then came the day when I realized she was tone deaf. How did I learn that? Well, we had another sister, Lena, who, age-wise, fell between Marion, the oldest of eight children, and me, the middle child. Lena encouraged me just as Marion did, but Lena loved to sing, too, although we’d never heard her do so.

One day, Lena decided she would take singing lessons. Marion and I were then routinely treated to Lena’s practice sessions which consisted of repeated—and memorable—renditions of You Light Up My Life.“Sing it out … sing it out! That’s beautiful!” Marion…

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Introducing – ELLIS: One Man’s Remarkable Life – Guest Post by Andrew Joyce…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

My name is Andrew Joyce. Some of you may know me … most of you, probably not. But I’m sure you all know of my ex-dog, Danny the Dog. He left me for greener pastures a few months ago (like six months ago) and I was kinda sad. Still am, but that’s another story.

What I’m trying to say is that without Danny around, I got bored. He used to keep me entertained (and on my toes). Anyway, about then I got to know an interesting character. I had seen him around the marina for years, but I had never said more than a few words to him.

For a long time now, some of my friends have been coming up to me and telling me I should write a book about him. They told me he had led a remarkable life and I could sell a lot of books…

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Signs you’re in #India #travel #humor

Barb Taub

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs…

Some were scary.

We were never actually approached by monkeys offering to guide us, but they might have been more helpful than the human guides, who tended to race past the features of the site while gabbling a handful of facts (almost always duplicated in signs posted around the site, and definitely available in our DK Eyewitness Travel Guide To India) before steering us firmly to a shop where everything was “made by my family, Madam, all very original…”[This and all photos unless otherwise noted are ©2018 Jayalakshmy Ayyer & Janine Smith]

Dear Tourist, before entering Hampi, please register with the police, wear clothes, and watch out for robbers, thieves, and rapists. Have a nice day and don’t forget to leave a good review on TripAdvisor.

“Vault of the doom…” Amen.

“Please do not get in to the water because of whirlpools and crocodiles.” Posted…

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Book Review of a Very Funny Book

Where to start? I actually laughed out loud while reading this enjoyable book. I bought it because the title caught my eye. As usual, I put it on my kindle and promptly forgot about it. Then, a few nights ago, I thought maybe I should check it out. Well, that was it! I’m not saying I read it in one reading because I didn’t. But over the next few days, I pulled out my kindle every spare moment that presented itself.

The top 10 lists and the wonderful stories about her family while she was growing up were among my favorites—the stories about her father in particular.

However, I have one question. Why is she allowed in the attic to watch television while her poor deprived children have to make do with books? Another question: Ms. Taub, how were you able to bring Joseph Kony in to your very, very funny narrative? I doff my hat to your genius.

I was impressed that she wrote for the Wall Street Journal (pre- Rupert Murdoch).

I’d recommend this book to anyone without hesitation.

Eau d’baby puke indeed!

A Tale of Romance – Guest Post by Zoe The Fabulous Feline…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

A Tale of Romance

Greetings, my friends. It’s Zoe the Fabulous Feline here. It’s February, the day before Valentine’s Day, and I have for you a romantic tale to warm your cockles. I’m not sure what “cockles” are—I’m a cat, after all—but I’ve heard the word and it tickles my fancy.

Just as an aside, my human, Emily, was looking over my shoulder and read the above. She is good at giving unsolicited advice, and so she promptly advised me that I should not use words I do not understand. She went on to say that the correct expression is “warms the cockles of my/your heart.” She then further explained (much to my chagrin) that cockles are the ventricles of the heart.

Well, not actually the ventricles,” says she. “It is more precise to say that the word cockles is a bastardized version of the Latin name for the…

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