How to Become An Author – Or at Least a Better Writer

WARNING – this is not a ‘how to’. It merely contains thoughts and observations from direct experience.

If you’re like me you have wanted to be a writer for all your life. You have let a lot of other things get in the way – like life, for example, but always the inclination to write has been there.

There was a time in the early 1980’s when I tried to run away from being a writer. I threw away all my accumulated drafts and journals – a journal is a diary by another name because no self respecting writer will admit to keeping a diary – and I dedicated my time and energies to doing something practical for once in my life. It came with the territory, I suppose. I was studying business administration at the time.

The reason I gave up (or at least deferred) my dream was actually a pretty good one. I give myself kudos for deciding that I needed more experience at living before I could really write about it in a meaningful way. It was absolute bullshit, but it is exactly the sort of crap that other people, those who don’t write, could understand. For my parents, family and cadre of friends who were worried about me before, my choosing not to write  even showed a remarkable level of maturity that I had never before exhibited.

Up to that point in my life I thought I had a handle on my overall direction. I studied mass communication, particularly radio and TV production, broadcast journalism, public relations and advertising. Then I studied marketing with the intention of becoming a professional media consultant or advertising copywriter. hat seems to be the best way to focus my creativity in a potentially productive way. I even dallied ay bit into taking some literature and creative writing courses as electives. By the way, if you want to write better, avoid creative writing classes, especially those that would be authors teach. You will suffer through each and ever instance of your instructor’s rejections.

What I learned very quickly was that just deciding not to write anymore and suddenly becoming practical was not the real answer to lifelong success and happiness. You see, writers really do not have much of a choice about being who and what we are. We may delay the inevitable but eventually we will write.

Now, I’m not saying everyone who professes to be a writer is a writer or even that most of those who are making valiant attempts at writing should be writing. After all, who am I to judge what is and what is not art? Right? I fully believe that a number of us – whatever that number is – were born with the inclination to be creative. Whether we become painters, sculptors, architects, police sketch artists, rock stars or Pulitzer prize winning authors, there are some people who are born to be different. They are gifted in some socially acceptable way. Also, I believe there is a little artistic ability in almost everyone but in most cases it really is suppressed early on in life and by the time one becomes an adult it is negligible if apparent at all.

The simple truth is that if you are destined to be artistic you figure that out sometime between pre-school and reaching puberty. Making the crucial decision of what to study or pursue as one’s life’s ambition may or may not be related to an honest self-appraisal. After all, around the time you are expected to make such decisions you are a bundle or nerves powered by unstable hormones and uncontrollable emotions. You are more concerned about that cyclops zit in the middle of your forehead and whether it will heal up in time for the school dance on Friday night. Considering a life-long calling when you’re a teen is, at best premature. However, I believe every artist has a inkling of what is ahead and those who are wise try like hell to avoid it if, in fact, they want to take the easier course.

Being artistic is painful more often than it is rewarding. . You see, artistic types are  born a little more sensitive than so-called normal people. In fact most artists would consider being called normal a personal affront. Normal is like being average. Who in the hell wants to be average? I know I never did.

Still, at some point someone somewhere is going to figure out that sometimes you are able to see the world in an interesting way. If you are inclined to write, they see it in the way you construct a sentence and the words you chose in that memo that was sent to everyone in the department. The mere fact that  your sentences have subjects verbs and objects along with appropriately positioned adjectives, adverbs and various other parts of speech is a dead giveaway. If they are really observant it is patent that your paragraphs are structured as well. It will come as a revelation to everyone else around the office. Instantly, you are labeled ‘a writer’ and become the de facto go-to person for proof reading anything important before it is sent out. Don’t expect any extra pay, though. After all, we all know – or at least those of us who have accepted our lots in life as writers – that being a writer is generally not a lucrative enterprise. Your ability to write will haunt your ass until finally you submit to the reality of your birth and write something with the intention of publishing it.

Now, that you have a better understanding of the avoidance mechanism and the futility of not writing for a writer you may wonder how do you become a better writer? How can you be good enough at the craft to be published?

First and foremost, how well you write has no direct correlation to wether you will be published. There are countless examples in evidence. If you are a celebrity for any other reason than your skill at writing you can and usually will have a book published, sooner or later. You don’t have to write it. If you are a journalist with a major newspaper, magazine or appear on one of the news networks, at some point,  you may be expected to write a book. It helps establish your credentials as a subject expert. It will sell well enough because of your notoriety. That’s why publishers will take on such projects.

If you write fiction and happen upon a storyline that attracts attention in the prevailing pop culture, your book may be published regardless of how much professional plastic surgery, a.k.a. editing, must be performed in advance of printing. And you will become a celebrity because of the popularity of your book, not the quality of the material you write. At that point it becomes irrelevant whether anything you write is good or not. For a while anything with your name on it will sell. You will have established a brand and as long as there is demand in the marketplace you will be successful.

For the rest of us schlubs, writers in quest of the elusive prize winning, bestselling novel, it actually is important to become a better than mediocre writer. You need to develop a voice in your fiction, hone your skills as a storyteller and, moreover, learn how to entertain a reader with a piece of literature that will hold attention from start to finish. If you want to write that kind of book, the page-turner that produces spontaneous insomnia, you have to start by becoming an avid reader of fiction in whatever genre you enjoy. You see, if you like reading a particular sort of story chances are that’s the one you will be most comfortable in writing.

The secret to becoming a better writer is no secret at all. There is no right or wrong way about doing it or arriving at the end of a long, arduous journey. There is no certain level of experience required, just the ability to express what your senses provide, set in words that any reader can appreciate. If you can make a reader see with your eyes, hear, feel, touch and taste through your wiring, you will have mastered your craft. Does that mean you’ll be successful? No, but it means you will succeed at your objective, writing better. You will acquire a following because readers enjoy the experience of sharing fictional escapades that spare them the excruciating tedium of modern existence that is watching reality TV, or worse, 24/7/365 news babble.

If you are truly an artist who writes, having someone read what you have labored over and not only appreciate it but also enjoy the journey is all you want or expect. When you arrive at that point, you will be an author. Nothing else will matter, at least until this months bills arrive in the mailbox.

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#author #writer #writing #creative-writing #storyteller #artist


Three Weeks Out


I know what you’re thinking…well, maybe not – not exactly, but I can probably guess. What in the world is a guy like me doing writing a book? Yeah, seriously, right? A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’ve been writing for a while now. Then next question is always, do you have anything published?

How is it that someone I know fairly well doesn’t know that essential nugget about me? Guess it never came up in conversation before. You see, I do a lot of other things besides writing books. What I do for fun, mostly, in my spare time is write. Family aside, that has been a fairly well kept secret, though. Some of my past co-workers and classmates know about ‘the books’, and a few have heard pieces of the plots or read some of the material I have written. But, for the most part, the people who read my books tend to be total strangers. And that’s okay. I mean, I get it – why people who know me don’t read my books. Really, I do.


It’s sort of freaky knowing someone personally and then reading his or her book. You hear the voice, you know some of the background, so it is a little bit distracting when you’re reading because you’re almost always second guessing things, trying to piece together the connections between the person you know and the author you are reading. I don’t know, maybe that’s why writers have this sort of aloof, hermit reputation, like you can’t get to know anyone so well that they won’t be able to read a book and become immersed in its fantasy world – or something like that. But I think my stories are engaging enough the draw anyone into them, even those who know me well. Give it a shot.

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Some writers might tell you that it doesn’t matter whether anyone reads their books as long as they buy them, but that has never made sense to me. If that is truly the case then why write them at all? If the objective were to make money there are many easier ways to do that than writing books. I think a real, honest writer would tell you its the other way around. As long as someone reads the book it doesn’t matter as much if anyone actually buys it. The only problem with that is that a writer needs to make a living. And making a living is why aspiring writers have side jobs.

Everyone I know should at least sample Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce), my next book that is due out three weeks from today. If you do, I’m sure you’ll end up reading it the entire book. It’s that kind of story. Also, you’ll tell everyone you know to read it because that’s what people do when they enjoy a story. And I’ll continue writing; you’ll continue reading and things will work out as i planned when I set out on this adventure several years ago.

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Interview with Emily Belden Author of the Best Selling Memoir Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned


Funny things happen on to way to thirty but also many problems and some downright strange situations. In Eightysixed Emily Belden tells her experiences of being a twenty-something young woman looking for love in the big city (Chicago) in a humorous yet touching way. It’s like talking to one of your best friends from high school or college.

These days Emily is a busy young lady with a lot of things going on from her successful blog http://www.totalebag.com to an online store for greeting cards directed to the LGBT community. Oh, and yes, she was the lady who tiled her bedroom floor in pennies. But she made the time to answer a few questions for me and, as always her answers are uniquely genuine and amusing.


Me: Thanks this doing this. Let’s start with the question everyone asks about a memoir. How closely do the interactions in your books mirror your real life?

Emily: There are no made up people or situations in Eightysixed. The most that was done to futz with things was change some of the names and identifying qualities to protect “the innocent” (I use that term loosely). So, this book in many ways is a perfect mirror to my life; specifically the past and not as much the present. I’m old and boring now. The only relationships that I contend with on a daily basis are with my soon-to-be husband, Ryan Lange, and our rescue pitbulls: Mr. Jarbles and Gus.

Me: At some a point in every professional writer’s life it stops being a hobby and starts being a vocation. When did that happen for you and why did you choose to pursue this career?

Emily: I knew that the more I wrote in my “Dear Diary,” the more I was saying to myself, “This could be a book!” So I made it one. It wasn’t until I reread the final part (Part 3) that I felt what a normal reader would feel (vs. the critical eye of the author herself) and realized this thing does something for the soul and I must, MUST, share it with the world.


Me: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to me I play video solitaire. What do you do?

Emily: I eat. Whenever writer’s block happens, I literally fix myself a sandwich, chips, and a Diet Coke and retake my seat at the computer. Something about a little distraction coupled with the endorphins that good food releases and I am back in no time.

Me: Where would you be at this moment in your life had you never decided to write a book?

Emily: I would be a full-time copywriter at an agency in downtown Chicago making no money to come up with genius headlines that would never see the light of day. I would have a lot more free time, which would mean that I could dedicate my life to my second dream: finding the best chocolate chip cookie in the United States.

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Me: Every writer has that one story that clicked, inspiring him or her to pursue writing as a career. What was the story and what was there about it that made it influential?

Emily: For me, it was Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. He is a father who wrote about his teenage son’s nasty drug addiction. You get a front row seat to the spiral. You see an array of human darkness, truth, and mistakes. And while my book is upbeat and humorous, David Sheff gave me the courage to write like no one is watching, like no one will judge you for the mistakes you’ve made that are a part of who you are today.

I’d like to thank Emily Belden again for taking the time to answer a few question and let all of you know that she is working on another book. But in the meantime you can visit her online at:

Website:         www.totalebag.com

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/EmilyBeldenAuthor

Twitter:          https://twitter.com/emilybelden



I’m An Artist: So, What Do I Know?


What have I been doing all day – or all night for that matter? It looks like a lot of nothing to others, doesn’t it? I’m not writing so much lately. What I do is work on building a brand and fan base. It is a unpaid job for now and I do it for several hours each day, investing time and effort in the future, my dreams.

I’m building a fan base for other authors as well in my role as a publicist. Since none of my activities is paying a dividend at this point, I’m also looking for a job. I devote a good portion of each day looking for something I can do to make money. That is the same trap it has always been in my past. The lure of practical necessity, having to choose between surviving and living, is what each of us faces. It’s the way of the world.

What we do when we chase dreams is come into direct conflict with the practical side of the world. Only a few make it because its easy to become discouraged and listen to the naysayers and critics. They call us dreamers and misfits. To them we are nuts. They need to validate their own life choices urging us to give up and buy into the commonly held belief. They tell us the world is of limited resources and wealth and surviving is the constant struggle to seek your share of the wealth. Those who subscribe to that notion lack the vision necessary to overcome the struggle as well as the misery and suffering around them. And so they succumb too it. They trade in their dreams for practicality’s sake. Instead of focusing on their aspirations with greater resolve and determination, the let the weight of the world crush them into submission. The end result is that most people fail because they don’t have faith that they will intimately succeed if only they persevere.

There is a way if you want to find it and never give up.

No one says it’s easy to make it as an artist or a writer or anything else that involves using your creativity. How crazy are you to actually believe you can conjure something form nothing as if it were magic? Yet, some people do exactly that. They’re different than the norm, though, aren’t they?

Within each of us is a spark that has survived for however long we have lived. It continues until it expires. It is life. And through that we connect to the source and origin that is also our essence. Those around us who seem dull, lifeless and defeated have not lost their spark but have, instead, lost their way. The connection is concealed. It is clouded over with doubt and despair borne of defeat and the criticism of others we have accepted.

What is different about an artist is that the source is more readily accessible. It is clear to everyone of us who retain the ‘gift’ from when we were five-years-old and everything about the world was shiny and new, filled with hope and potential. Artists never learn how to become completely and totally adult-minded. We refuse to submit to the routine. At some point in each of our pasts we decided that being an adult is part of the problem that prevents us from achieving our dreams. We are expected to substitute the goals of others in lieu of our potentially greater ambitions of self-actualization.

Artists don’t deal with the adult world in the same way that others do. Although we have friends, family and others around us who constantly remind us of our responsibilities and our places in the world, we selectively filter out what does not strike us as pertinent to reaching our personal goal and vision. Yet, like everyone else we are expected to become mindless automatons. We are cajoled and sometimes coerced into playing the game the way our masters desire, according to the rules they have conceived. They are the wolves who want us to live as good sheep in the herd or are faithful dogs tending to the sheep that they exploit and harvest.

Artists are misfit to the prevalent system because we aren’t good at following arbitrary rules. Like a child, we question everything. Constantly we ask why? We may have acquired the gift of biting our tongues so that we can hold down a job, but the very reason we are artistic means we don’t fit in with the masses in larger, collectively accepted delusion that the world is an imperfect place.

So, for several hours each day I fill out job applications to serve roles that are functionally necessary for my basic survival. Yet, I don’t want to return to the shuffling madness that used to be my frustrated, self-destructive life. I’ve played that song and danced that jig but never truly benefitted from the experience save for graining some perspective on the way things work and how others endure the depression of their existences.

Something more than the mind numbing entertainment of the media is what I desire from life. What happens to the Kardashians or who won the big game last night could not interest me less. I’ll see something about those things on the Web, I suppose, provided I care to waste my time reading about it. The world does not hang in the balance of something as trivial as the scripted make-believe or surrogate reality of television. By the way, who write that nonsense? Hmmm?

A couple of years ago I set out on a journey to write of alternatives and possibilities in a world of dreams and fantasies that exist beneath the veils of grand deception and mass hysteria that we have collectively decided is real. I’ve never given up and I don’t care to do so now when I am closer to the goal than I was two years ago. I’m not convinced the practical side of the world was ever worthy of my undivided attention. But I continue to play the game as necessary. I can be a good sheep or a good dog same as anyone else. But in the background, the dream continues. It’s always the same.

Then, again, I’m an artist, so what do I know?


Multi-Talented Artist Alisse Lee Goldenberg: Author, Actress and Painter


Recently I had the chance to ask Alisse Lee Goldenberg some questions about her writing, acting and painting. Alisse is an author of Horror and Young Adult fantasy fiction. Her book Sitnalta (that’s Atlantis spelled backwards) was published last fall through Pandamoon Publishing. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree, and has studied fantasy and folklore since she was a child. Alisse lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian.


Q: Imagine for a moment that you’re a famous, bestselling author. They’re making a movie out of your last book. What do you do next to top what you’re already achieved?

 A: First of all, that would be awesome! As for what I’d do next, I don’t know anything could top that! But I’d definitely keep writing and at the very least try to match it. Maybe write a screenplay?

 Q: Creative people tend to be spontaneous. In particular, most people think that writers are at least a little crazy. Tell us the most unusual thing you have done in your real life that doesn’t directly relate to writing.

 A: It’s a little hard to choose! If I were looking for the most adventurous thing, that would be cliff jumping. That entails literally jumping off a cliff into a body of water. I would say that the most unusual thing I’ve done had to have been when I was asked to play the role of Jack in a production of Into the Woods. I don’t think many women have ever gotten that opportunity. The costume was uncomfortable for many reasons (mainly to do with breathing!)


Q: Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?

A: I do quite a bit of painting, mostly in acrylics, and I act on stage and on screen. I actually find that the acting helps my writing in that it allows me to get into the skin of other characters, and I get to meet so many fantastic people! As for my painting, I wish I had more time for it, but right now, the writing and my family takes up more of my time.


Q: Family and relationships are important in peoples’ lives and so, it is little surprise that there are relationships between characters in books. How closely do the interactions in your books mirror your real life?

A: Considering that there are a few dysfunctional families in my books, I hope not a lot! However, there are also some amazing and powerful friendships, and those are definitely reflective of the wonderful support groups I have around me.

Q: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to me I play video solitaire. What do you do?

A: It happens quite a bit! And for a plotter like myself, I find it especially irksome. When that happens to me, I pour myself a glass of wine, complain to anyone I can get a hold of, and watch The Avengers pretending that the Hulk is smashing the characters that have gone on a tangent.

Q: There is a point in every professional writer’s life when it stops being a hobby and starts being a vocation. When did that happen for you and why did you choose to pursue this career?

A: I think it’s always been a vocation. I’ve wanted to do this since the day I learned the squiggles in my books were words and told stories. I feel that I’d be doing this even if I didn’t make a single cent from my stories. My head and my heart are full of them, and I need to put them out into the world. I just hope people like to read them!


Alisse Lee Goldenberg in print:

The Strings of the Violin is a fantasy adventure interweaving Eastern European folklore with modern characters.

Seventeen-year-old Carrie is lying in her backyard ignoring all the looming responsibilities in her life, when a fox makes a mad dash across the grass in front of her. After she manages to keep her dog from attacking the frightened animal, the fox turns to Carrie and seems to bow in gratitude before he disappears into the bushes. All Carrie knows in that moment is that something has unexpectedly changed in her life.

Carrie has been best friends with Lindsay Smith and Rebecca Campbell for years. During a summer when they should focus on choosing colleges, the girls suddenly find themselves swept away on the adventure of their lives. The fox reappears three days later and reveals to Carrie that he is Adom, emissary to the king of Hadariah. With his land of music and magic in peril, Adom has been sent to seek help from Carrie and her friends. In the blink of an eye, the three teenage girls go from living an average suburban life to being the champions of a world where they must contend with giants, witches, and magical beings. Will they ever make it home once more?

Sitnalta: Everyone in the land loves Princess Sitnalta of Colonodona. Everyone except her father, the monstrous King Supmylo, whose thirst for revenge and hideous cravings, have nearly destroyed the once peaceful kingdom. He cares only for power—the more the better—and he despises Sitnalta because she wasn’t born a boy. He wanted an heir, a prince, to grow his kingdom and fulfill his own father’s legacy. But now, his only choice is to join with a neighboring kingdom, and at the tender age of 15, Sitnalta is to be married to another king who is at least as old as her own father. 

But Sitnalta has other ideas. Before her father can come for her, she sneaks out of her bedroom window, scales the castle walls, and enters the magical forest that surrounds her kingdom. There she meets Najort, a kind-hearted troll, who was tasked by a wizard decades earlier to protect a valuable secret—with his life, if necessary. 

But King Supmylo has vowed that nothing will stop him from returning his daughter to Colonodona, and forcing her to go through with the royal wedding. With the help of friends from both kingdoms, Sitnalta and Najort flee ahead of the rabid king. For if they are captured, Supmylo will become so invincible, no one could stand against him. 

Bath Salts: The time is now, and a mysterious virus has infected much of the world’s population, turning them into flesh-craving zombies. As people die from what the media call “drug-fuelled Bath Salts attacks” one young mother sees what is truly happening beneath the lies, and with her good friends An and Olivia, takes matters into her own hands to keep her family safe. 

Day by day, Bath Salts tells of their escape to the arctic tundra, and their desperate attempt to survive the elements, zombie attacks, and armed bandits with their humanity intact.

Visit Alisse on the web at www.alisseleegoldenberg.com