Guest Posts

Post image for You’ve Changed by Tristi Pinkston

Back when I was first published (yes, check out the picture of me … little baby author Tristi) I had one main goal.

You see, when I got my contract, a friend of my mother’s said to me, “I hope you don’t change now that you’re going to be published. An author lives in our ward, and as soon as she got published, she became totally different. She won’t give us the time of day anymore.”

Other people said pretty much the same thing. “I hope that when you’re rich and famous, you’ll still have time for us.” “Well, it was nice knowing you.” “You’ll be different now, I guess.”

These comments all really bothered me. Why would getting a publishing contract mean that I would change? Why couldn’t I be a published author and still be myself—wasn’t there a way to be both? And so I set a goal, the main goal I mentioned in the first paragraph: I was not going to change. I would always be me.

My plan seemed to work. No matter how many book signings I did or classes I presented or book clubs I did, I was careful that I was always myself. I never put on any airs or acted stuck up or pretended to know stuff I didn’t know. I didn’t name-drop … even though I actually know some really amazing, highly famous people … and I tried to stay pretty low-key about some of the awesome experiences I had. I didn’t want people to look at me and say, “She’s changed. She got published and now she’s a totally different person.” I was going to fight that tooth and nail.

But then I realized something. I had changed.

I was more confident.

I was more educated.

I was more outgoing.

I was finding new talents to share.

I was becoming an expert in my field.

I was funnier.

I was more popular.

I was learning how to respect myself more.

I was making money. (Not a lot, but some. Still working on that.)

I was sought after.

I was viewed as a mentor.

I was stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Oh, no. I broke my promise … I had promised not to change, and then I went and did it.

Tristi2When I look at who I was back then and who I am today, I can’t say that I regret breaking that promise. The fundamentals of who I am have not changed. I’m still friendly and approachable and helpful and as cute as a button, but I’m also wiser and stronger and more able to hold my own. I have learned so much, and everything I’ve learned has shaped me. I’m a far, far better person than I was ten years ago.

And have I lost friends along the way? I’m sorry to say that I have. Some didn’t realize that I wasn’t going to dump them and they dumped me first, thinking they’d take it upon themselves. And some, even though I rarely even mentioned my writing, felt that I talked about it too much and thought I was bragging. What I’ve come to realize is this—the people who said “Don’t change” were really saying “Don’t leave us behind. Um, no, we aren’t going to pursue our own dreams—that’s too hard—so you stay back here with us so we can be more comfortable.”

I don’t like to think about the relationships that were left behind—it makes me sad. But a real friendship, a real relationship, doesn’t punish you for growing as a person, and I learned that the hard way.

Being an author does change you, whether you want it to or not. Every experience you have in life should change you—that’s what life is for. If your life isn’t changing you, you aren’t living it right. We should not leave this planet the same people we were as when we stepped on it. We should be stronger. We should be smarter. We should be more compassionate, more aware, more giving.

I like who I am now. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea—a little Tristi goes a long way—but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I still have a lot to do—weaknesses I want to turn into strengths, character flaws I’m not too crazy about—and, unfortunately, I know that growth will hurt. That’s just part of it. But what it all boils down to is this—I’ve changed. I’ve changed for the better, for the smarter, for the wiser, and no one should ask you to stay the same either.

Experiences that don’t change you aren’t worth having.

 

Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com or her website at www.tristipinkston.com.

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Post image for A New Renaissance in Literature by Karen Jones Gowen, WiDo Publishing

One of the hallmarks of the Renaissance of the 15th century was that new voices were heard in the areas of art, literature, religion and basically all aspects of cultural life, touching and influencing thought from the highest levels of power down to the lowest, allowing the common man to finally realize his potential.  William Tyndale, who translated the Bible to English, was key in this transformation. He captures its essence in these few powerful words to a noted clergyman:  “If God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!”

For the past five decades, the publishing industry, represented by what is commonly known as “the Big Six,” have been the ones controlling what books were available in bookstores and libraries. When the offerings were the best literary voices of our time, nobody complained; but when it veered to commercial garbage that sold in huge numbers (think Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann and their copycats), then people wondered where all the good books had gone.

Small niche publishers emerged to offer books not available through the large publishers. The self-publishing movement is often seen as a backlash, not only to the power held for so long by the big publishers, but also to these small independents  with their choosy submission guidelines. By self-publishing, you can write what you want, how you want, publish it immediately, and avoid the gatekeepers altogether. This movement is quite accurately referred to as the “self-publishing revolution” because its proponents are revolting against all the old rules of publishing.

Although William Tyndale revolted against the rules of the Pope in his day, and subsequently gave his life for his principles, I believe his role was more Renaissance than Revolution. The word renaissance means “rebirth,” the word revolution according to Wikipedia is “from the Latin revolutio, a ‘turn around’, a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.” The Renaissance took centuries, a revolution happens quickly.

There’s no doubt that a publishing revolution has occurred, and it has been a very exciting time indeed.  However, I believe it is time for writers and publishers to use these opportunities to create a literary renaissance, not just a publishing revolution. How to do that?

Think of men like Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Were they simply revolting against the status quo, or were they contributing knowledge and truth through the medium of their art? Scientists like Copernicus and Galileo Galilei were first and foremost seekers of truth in scientific knowledge and methods.  Religious leaders such as Tyndale, along with Thomas More, Martin Luther, and John Calvin fit into the same category—not simply part of a revolution but because of their devotion to truth and the good of mankind, were part of something much more than a tirade against the Pope or the Church of England.

Millions of books are now available that could never have made it through the gatekeepers of old. To name just a few types: poorly written, barely edited “novels” written fast and published even faster;  10 or 20 page ebook summaries using widely searched keywords, like how to simplify one’s life or write a Kindle bestseller; erotica, basically pornography masquerading as romance for women.

In other words, if you can write it you can publish it; whether it’s any good or contributes to the literary culture is beside the point. The focus is on the selling rather than on the writing. Really, how is this any different than the era of The Valley of the Dolls? The publishers may have changed names from the Big 6 to one million ebook writers, but if the focus remains on churning out stuff for the mass market, where is the revolution? It’s just a whole lot of people now trying to get in on the action.  What the self-publishing revolution has done for writers is what the state lotteries have done for gambling. Remember when people had to go to Vegas to gamble? Talk about the old days! Now you can go to your corner convenience store, buy a lotto ticket and hope to win big.

As writers, why not turn this revolution into a renaissance? Let’s contribute to the literary culture, not just churn out stuff as quick as we can. Let’s write stories that are true, with characters who are “real,” using language that transcends common everyday speech. Let’s write books that, using the very best of our skills, polished and practiced, will carry our readers to a greater plane of understanding as we enlighten and entertain.

It’s time for writers who care about books to contribute to a re-birth of literary excellence. Opportunities abound. Let us take advantage of the many ways to make our voices heard as we do our best work, write meaningfully and well, and become part of a new renaissance in literature.

 

About Karen Jones Gowen: Born and raised in central Illinois, the daughter of a Methodist minister from Indiana and a school teacher from Nebraska, Karen Jones Gowen has down-to-earth Midwestern roots. Karen and her husband Bruce have lived in Utah, Illinois, California and Washington, currently residing near Salt Lake City. They are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen’s writing. She is the managing editor for WiDo Publishing and the author of four books, all of which fit loosely into the category of LDS Fiction. Karen’s website: karenjonesgowen.com. WiDo Publishing website: widopublishing.com

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A Few Publishing Facts by Lyle Mortimer/Cedar Fort

May 15, 2013
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There are a lot of things about the publishing industry of which most authors are not aware. By learning about what goes on behind the scenes with your publisher, and in the industry as a whole, you will be better equipped to understand the environment in which you are trying to sell your book. Here […]

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How to Properly Pack Your Purse for Promotional Possibilities by Tristi Pinkston

April 25, 2013
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… Or, How to Well-stock Your Wallet for Wonderful Writer … stuff. You never know when you’re going to run into a potential reader. If you keep your eyes open, opportunities are everywhere. Did you see an old neighbor at the grocery store? Did you overhear someone at the library saying they wanted something new […]

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An Unexpected Path to Publication by Darrel Nelson

April 22, 2013
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LDSP Note: Normally, I don’t post personal stories of how a writer finally got published, but this is a unique case of an LDS author being picked up by a traditional Christian publisher. I get asked all the time if that can happen. It’s rare, but here’s proof that it’s possible! My route leading to […]

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Conflict Fuels the Story by Rebecca Talley

April 18, 2013
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In life we generally try to avoid conflict. We tend to avoid confrontation and contention in hopes of finding peace and tranquility. We work hard to avoid problems at home or in the workplace. In writing fiction, we must create as much conflict as possible because without conflict there is no story. Conflict can be […]

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The GoodReads Giveaway by Shauna Bray/WiDo

April 17, 2013
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Giving away a book can actually increase sales.  And an excellent way to give away and get attention for your soon-to-be-launched book is through Goodreads. A Goodreads giveaway generates excitement about an upcoming book launch.  Prior to launch, the typical author is blogging, building relationships with other authors, setting up the blog tour, arranging reviews […]

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“Their” As a Singular Pronoun by Annette Lyon

April 16, 2013
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A reader recently called me out on using their as a singular generic pronoun. (I forget who right now; feel free to claim the comment as your own!) The issue: What pronoun do you use in a situation where the gender of the person acting either isn’t known or isn’t relevant? For example: When an […]

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Why Going Through a Reputable Publisher Makes Sense by Rodney Fife/CFI

April 10, 2013
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Recently, there have been many authors who have thought about self-publishing their book. While it is understandable why this may be attractive in regards to profit, there are advantages to going with a traditional and reputable publisher.  So you may ask, What does a Publisher do that I can’t do myself? A reputable publisher can […]

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Finding Story Ideas by Rebecca Talley

March 21, 2013
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I’m often asked where I find ideas for my stories. As a writer, I’ve learned that ideas are everywhere. Many of the magazine stories I’ve written have been based on a true experience. One such story was about my son. He’d saved money to buy a set of Legos. He was so excited when he’d […]

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Story Plotting: Turn off the GPS by Julie N. Ford, WiDo Publishing

March 20, 2013
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Every now and then I’ll hear a writer say that plotting is his/her least favorite part about writing a novel. Okay first of all, “novel” and “plot” are nearly synonymous. Without a plot, there is no novel, no story. So technically, if a writer doesn’t like to “plot,” said writer probably shouldn’t be wasting his/her […]

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Anaphora and Epistrophe by Annette Lyon

March 19, 2013
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Anaphora is a funky term that essentially refers to a stylistic effect with repetition at the beginning of sentences or phrases. Before your brain starts spinning with “what the huh?” let’s look at some examples you’re probably already familiar with. Note the bolded sections: One of the most famous examples in modern times is from […]

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Why You Should Avoid Succeeding as a Writer by Michaelbrent Collings

March 14, 2013
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I am often asked questions about the business of writing – how to self-pub, how to market, how to amass a group of loyal fans – but the question I am most often asked (in some form or other) is this: “How do I become a successful writer?” For a long time I tried to […]

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When Shameless Self-Promotion is Shameful by Tristi Pinkston

February 28, 2013
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Last year, I wrote a post about shameless self-promotion. You can read the full thing here, but essentially my point was this: if you have created something, why be ashamed to let others know you did it? Sometimes we are hesitant to say we have a new book coming out or that we’ve started a […]

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