Carpebiblio provides book reviews, and discussions on a number of topics regarding writing and publishing. Their articles will help readers find new authors and new books out of the main stream. We understand that people get tired of reading the same popular authors. They also get tired of characters that show no growth. This site provides descriptions of old books that have dropped out of memory, but were popular in their time. It also looks at debut authors. Take a look at our articles and find some new reading material.
ARGH! My Ideas All Stink
We’ve all been there. Sit down to write, and nothing, writer’s block. Or even worse two pages into the story, we hate it and hit delete. At least in the old days, you could get the satisfaction of hearing the roller spin as you tore the paper out of the typewriter and crumbled it.
You could also rescue the story from the wastebasket, just in case it wasn’t that bad. But today, if you haven’t saved those first few pages before hitting delete, it’s gone. No way to rescue it. The destruction is final.
So what to do when a story just won’t come? Go to the newspapers. Check media stories. Grab your story and character from real life, but change it. Maybe put it in a different town or change the outcome. Who actually killed the gangster? What if she didn’t die in the car crash? Use the real life story to get started, but let your imagination finish it. Be sure to change the character names.
Susan Rebecca White is a southern author. She teaches creative writing at Emory University, and she writes novels. Her first two books were loosely based on her own life, while her third book grouped some eccentric characters from recent history. She changed their interactions and the story slightly to come up with an interesting fictional novel, A Place at the Table.
In A Place at the Table, three southerners have gone to New York City to start a new life. Their lives become intermingled at the Café Andres in Manhattan. Former chef Alice Stone hailed from Emancipation Township in North Carolina, and treated the customers to her famous Southern recipes. She takes on a protégé, Bobby.
He is a homosexual from Georgia. His Baptist parents disowned him and his grandma raised him. He’s running out of money, and takes a job at Andres. He learns to cook from Alice and eventually becomes the chef.
Amelia is the third character. She is Kate’s niece. Kate is an editor and a regular patron at Andres. She is also the editor of Alice’s cookbooks. Amelia meets Bobby and Alice at Andres. Amelia’s divorces her husband, the jerk, and moves to New York to live and work with Kate.
Here’s the kicker all of the people and the Café are loosely based on real people and places. Edna Lewis, a chef, from Freetown, North Carolina. Judith Jones was her editor, and published Edna’s first cookbook in 1974. Scott Peacock, a homosexual from the Georgia met Edna in 1990, and became her protégé. Café Nicholson existed in New York City from 1949 to 2000 roughly the same time span as the story. It could be that Amelia is Susan.
A Place at the Table by southern author Susan Rebecca White began her story with real characters in mind, but diverged greatly from their story to create a fun and interesting fictional read.
Writer’s block solved. Get the idea. Now start writing.
Tips for Aspiring Authors
In Carolyn See’s book, ‘Making a Literary Life’, she recommends these two activities for becoming a successful writer that have helped her career. She writes a thousand words a day, five days a week. She also recommends living the literary life.
Write A Thousand Words A Day, Five Days A Week
One question always posed by audiences at author talks, “How many words do you write a day?” For some reason aspiring authors always focus on word count. On Facebook and Twitter authors post their daily word count like a badge of honor.
People will post, “I wrote 10,000 words today,” but they never list how long it required. My thought is, if you wrote 10,000 words today, I don’t want to read them. A lot of those words probably will end up on the cutting room floor.
Carolyn See strives to write a thousand words a day, five days a week. Depending on where she is at in the writing process, she may opt to spend three to four hours a day doing research and editing. However, she always does five days a week.
At an American Library Association Conference, Dean Koontz stated he doesn’t count words. Instead, he stresses quality. He finishes a page before moving on to the next one. Once he completes a page, he never goes back to rework it.
Live a Literary Life
Secondly, Carolynn leads the literary life. While she was learning the trade, she hung out with literary types. She wanted to understand the writing world, and how authors become successful. She communicated with successful authors, and hung out with other writers.
Aspiring authors should also do this. Join a writing group. Take advantage of a critique group. It’s better to join one in the brick and mortar world, but if one is not available join one in the cyber world. Go to writing conferences. Attend author talks and lectures.
Critique groups will help your writing career. Friends and family have a tendency to sugar coat their comments. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. Critique groups can be brutally honest, but that’s good. Have no doubt; agents and publishers can also be brutal.
Speaking of honest agents and publishers, writing groups help you find them. Talk to other members before paying an editor or publisher. Find one they’ve used. Learn from their publishing nightmares so you don’t have to learn the same lessons.
Part of living a literary life, at first, is taking creative writing classes. Later, it may include teaching classes. A number of opportunities exist for taking classes. Local colleges and universities offer learning opportunities. Writer’s Digest and Gotham offer online writing courses.
To become a good writer, you must write. Strive for a thousand words a day, five days a week. Join a writers’ group or a critique group, and take creative writing courses. Your writing will not improve without corrective feedback, and you don’t always get that from family and friends.
Book Review: Big Man Real Life & Tall Lies, Clarence Clemon's memoir
As Bruce Springsteen begins the Wreckin Ball tour, the 6’4” and 250-pound Big Man will be missed. Fans and band members a like will remember Clarence Clemons playing the tenor sax, and if you look close enough you just may see the a shadow in the background because he can’t be far away from the venue he loved. He died last year, June 18th, 2011 from stroke complications.
In 2009, Clemons with the help of his good friend Don Reo published a memoir, Big Man: Real Life and Tall Lies. It will make you cry a little at his passing, but it will also make you laugh. You will also realize that he was more than just a big man in stature. He walked a broad path that touched many people.
Several incidents lead to the meeting of Springsteen and Clemons in New Jersey giving music fans a sweet blend of two wonderful personalities and musicians resulting in decades of great music. Two of the more important ones include his father’s decision to buy him an alto sax for Clemons’ ninth Christmas instead of a train. The other one occurred in Jamesburg, New Jersey, 1969.
Most people would have quit, and accepted failure but not Clemmons. He was scheduled to try out for the Cleveland Browns football team. He played semipro ball, coached at a reform school. Clemmons calls the incident a “mystical, deeply profound experience.” The motor mount broke on the dark blue Buick Regal he was driving. The car shot up to a 100 miles-per-hour, and slammed into a tree. It nearly killed him, and wrecked his body. He would never play football again, but the world got a fabulous saxophone player.
Throughout the book, Clemmons remarks on the number of opportunities that came his way. As he puts it, “One amazing opportunity after another kept occurring. Sometimes I felt I was living a life in a book that had already been written.” To his credit, when an opportunity occurred, he grabbed it.
From the write up so far, one would think the book reads like an autobiography, but not so. It is an accumulation of short stories. Many of which tell a who’s who of the entertainment industry. It includes stories about his encounters with Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet, Don Reo and of course Bruce Springsteen. The readers learn about life on the road, concerts, and being a celebrity.
Their wild capers may stretch the truth a little bit. Especially the gray sections of the book, Clemons and Reo admit in the preface these sections may not be exactly accurate, but they swear the rest of the book is factual. In the forward, Bruce Springsteen claims the stories come close to the truth, and he only knows of two stories that are not true. Read the book with a wink and a nod, but enjoy the story, and appreciate the “Big Man.”
Springsteen tour update: On the current tour Clemmons’ nephew, Jake Clemmons, will be playing the sax along with Ed Manion, an original member of the Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Jay McInerney wrote Bright
Lights, Big City a quarter of a century ago. He spins the tale of a twenty something male growing upin Manhattan during the mid-eighties. It offers misguided love and eighties style club scenes. It reads fast,
keeps you interested, and you’ll want to read it cover to cover.
The reader never learns the name of the protagonist.
Instead, McInerney tells the story in the second person, you. It is an interesting approach that forces the reader to identify with the main character. For instance, "this isn't the type of bar you would find yourself in at this time of the morning, but yet, here you are."
character’s favorite party companion, Tad Allagash, works in the advertising field, but his primary occupation is partying. He keeps the protagonist well stocked in cocaine, and a constant supply of female friendlies. Tad knows
everyone. He gets drugs easily, the best-looking girls dangle from his arm, and
he knows where to find a party.
The protagonist in Bright
Lights, Big City parties all night with Tad and attempts to work all day. He works as a fact finder for a major magazine. This story takes place before the Internet. The job entailed thumbing through reference guides, and calling people to make sure information is accurate. His headlong plunge into
self-destruction comes about because of tragedies in his life, and he is not
mature enough to handle the difficulties.
McInerney's style makes this book a good read. He uses only active voice and dialogue. The lack
of passive voice keeps the story moving quickly. McInerney uses dialogue to tell the story. He doesn't do data dumps. New writers should study his style.
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