First published in Arts.mic
By Rachel Grate
The benefits of writing go far beyond building up your vocabulary.
No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms. In a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.
By Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, is back with Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Here, Rubin shares 10 tips for becoming a better reader.
Reading is an essential part of my work, it’s an important aspect of my social life, and most importantly, it’s my favorite thing to do. I’m not a well-rounded person.
But reading takes time, and most days, I can’t read as much as I’d like. As I was writing Better Than Before, my book about habit change, I adopted many new habits to help me get more good reading done. Consider whether these habits might work for you – click here to read the rest of the story.
Writeaways founder John Yewell tells about the writer’s retreats he and business partner Mimi Herman provide in France, Italy and the Outer Banks and how they inspire writers to find their muse.
By John Yewell
Go to our Writeaways web site, with its pictures of a centuries-old French chateau and an Italian villa, and your initial reaction is likely to be: What a great vacation! And it is, of a sort. But it is so much more than that.
We created our writing getaways in exotic places to get you as far from your daily life as possible, to set you free from care while giving you the guidance you need to unlock, or unblock, the writer within. We welcome writers of all levels and genres, and now have programs in the Loire Valley, Tuscany, and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
“I didn’t know until I got busy how essential to the process being removed from my regular life would be. John and Mimi took care of all the necessities, creating a space for us to write and indulging us along the way. The food was amazing!” – Charity, North Carolina
We take care of everything. Each morning in France, you are greeted with a complete breakfast, including fresh croissants purchased before sunrise at the local boulangerie. In Italy, our hosts Patrizia and Paolo serve you continental style.
Afterwards, we engage in our specially designed workshop and private consultations for two hours. Whatever your level of experience, you’ll find the constructive help you need to produce your best work in a cooperative, but rigorous, atmosphere.
“I first met Mimi and John at their writing retreat at Chateau du Pin. While I had a very interesting story I’d thought about writing for years, I did not think of myself as a writer. Thanks to their thoughtful guidance, I finally began writing that story–and I’m still at it. John and Mimi made me believe I could do it, and gave me the tools I needed. I can’t thank them enough.” – Regina, North Carolina
After lunch – buffet-style in France, Tuscan-style in Italy – you are free to write or explore. In France, the chateau is surrounded by 300 acres of topiary, rose gardens, meadows and vineyards. In Italy, you can wander in the olive orchards, sit by the pool, or explore Tuscany as widely as you like. In both locales, we offer tours of the surrounding region, including tastings at local wineries. All of this is included in the program.
In the evening we reconvene for cocktails and wine, then sit down to a spectacular dinner prepared by professional chefs. Afterwards, relax with a digestif or cocktail of your choice in relaxed reflection, surrounded by five-hundred year old walls.
Our program in Southern Shores, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, is a weekend intensive class designed to jumpstart a dormant writing project or launch a new one.
After people began coming to us and asking if they could put together their own groups of friends and families, we began organizing self-organized getaways. We expect to make the first such trips a reality in France and Italy in the spring of 2015.
We are also developing a Master Class intensive program, which would be limited to two students for a week in Beaufort, NC.
Writeaways is based in Durham, North Carolina, although our students have come from all over: Texas, Wyoming, Virginia, Canada. Our long-term plan is to create writing getaways in the kinds of places people dream about going, so that we can pair that dream with their own desire to become better writers.
Mimi and I are both writing professionals with complementary backgrounds. Mimi Herman has taught over 20,000 students to fall in love with writing, especially their own. A Warren Wilson MFA graduate, her teaching style captures students’ imagination and creates a supportive learning environment. As one student said of her time with Mimi, “It is an experience that I will hold with me throughout my whole life.”
I am a writer and editor with an MFA in fiction from San Francisco State University and twenty years of experience in journalism. I teach a memoir class in Durham and consult as a private editor and writing coach.
Listen to Mixcloud’s interview with Outer Banks Publishing Group author Mary L. Tabor. She discusses her newest novel, Who by Fire, where one of the main characters who died, lives throughout the story.
The interview starts at 50:26 into the broadcast.
Mixcloud connects radio content to listeners more effectively. Mixcloud is re-thinking radio by joining the dots between radio shows, Podcasts and DJ mixes. We refer to them as Cloudcasts – audio shows that are stored in the “cloud” and available to be streamed on-demand.
Bloomberg Businessweek online quoted Workman saying the Gecko “has spent the last few years traveling across America, like a modern-day de Tocqueville.” What’s more, it adds:
“He’s a philosopher, an aphorist, a humorist, an artist, a warm companion, a natural storyteller—and, in a grand tradition, a keenly observant and wise outsider who in the course of living and traveling among us has discovered quite a lot about the things that make us human.
“He makes curious and interesting observations on everything from dreams to job interviews to adversity, Twitter to the Golden Rule (it’s not what you think it is) to talking animals: I’m really not sure what all the fuss is about. Lots of animals talk, including humans. The bigger question is, what do you have to say worth listening to?”
See the trailer on YouTube.
Available at bookstores everywhere.
Outer Banks Publishing Group Author Ron Rhody will be one of the guest authors at The Paul Sawyier Public Library at its fifth A Gathering of Authors on Saturday, August 25th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Ron will introduce his next THEO novel, the third in a series, at the library.
The Gathering is a celebration of the rich tradition of literature in Kentucky.
This event features gifted writers who play an integral role in the library’s service to readers throughout Frankfort, KY and the Commonwealth.
Authors from across the Bluegrass come to sell and sign their works as well as carry on a dialogue with attendees about their craft. The Gathering is an excellent opportunity to meet some of your favorite authors in a casual atmosphere. Stop by and chat with the participants, and be sure to pick up their newest releases!
This event is free to the public and open to all ages. For more information, please contact Diane Dehoney at (502)352-2665×108 or Mark Kinnaird at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It may be Frankfort’s oldest unsolved murder. Few remember it, but author Ron Rhody does.
Rhody, a Frankfort native and 1950 graduate of Frankfort High School, remembers it so vividly that he focuses his latest work of fiction on the story to be released at the Kentucky Book Fair, Saturday, Nov. 12.
Rhody’s latest work is a prequel to “Theo’s Story,” a Frankfort-based novel of political intrigue and murder written in 2009.
“Theo and the Mouthful of Ashes” examines the protagonist’s younger days as a reporter at The State Journal when it was on West Main Street.
The book sets it sights on a murder in Frankfort more than 60 years ago. A woman was discovered at the bottom of a flight of stairs, her head bashed in and her throat stuffed with ashes.
The impetus for the story comes from Rhody’s recollection of Frankfort as a young man. Read the rest of the story here.>
THEO & The Mouthful of Ashes is available at special pre-launch discount until Nov. 12 at the Outer Banks Publishing Group Bookstore.
Order yours now at this special pre-launch discount price.
ISBN EL: 978-1-4524-0970-2
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
I happened to look in my rear view mirror to see a black Mercedes sedan zoom up behind me then pass. It shot around me at an extremely high rate of speed and was soon out of sight. “Wow, where’s the fire?” I though. A few minutes later as I was about to make my final right turn off the main highway, the same black Mercedes shot out of the intersection I was about to turn into. It turned left and roared past me, heading west toward Tehran.
I took my foot off the accelerator, my stomach feeling queasy with deep apprehension. I had caught a glimpse of the driver’s face with dark glasses and thick mustache. It seemed vaguely and ominously familiar. I slowed the car and idled toward the vacant lot where I was to meet Junior, afraid of what I might find. I could see Junior’s old Peykan in the distance, the driver’s door open. I was sure I saw him move and at first I thought he was about to get out of the car, but as I got closer I could see Junior’s body suddenly fall forward against the steering wheel, sounding the car’s horn.
“Oh no! Please God! Oh no! This can’t be!” I said over and over. “Oh Jesus, no!”
I pulled my car alongside his. My knees were shaking as I got out of the car, and walked toward Junior. As I approached, I could see the back of his head was covered with blood. He had been shot, execution style. I pulled his torso off of the steering wheel to stop the horn from sounding, and then I lifted his left arm to feel his wrist. I thought I detected a faint pulse, but then a few seconds later, it stopped.
The only pulse I could feel now was my pounding heart, ready to burst through my chest. Flooded with a mixture of fear and sadness, I tried to ponder what to do next.
“We’ll need to notify his wife,” I remember thinking. I started searching his pants for a wallet with an ID, but I found nothing. The only thing I found was a large roll of bills in the left pocket of the old tweed jacket that Junior always wore. My hands were shaking.
“My god, this is a lot of money! His wife is going to need this,” I thought as I crammed it into the pocket of my fatigue jacket. I looked across the vacant lot to see an old man who was walking with a shuffled gate toward me from one of the distant houses. I waited for him as he approached. When he came up to the car, he was shaking his head.
He looked at me, quizzically. “SAVAK?” he asked.
I nodded. “Bali Agah. SAVAK.”
The old man started shaking his head again. “Shah very bad. Very bad man.”
I nodded. The old man and I stood together in silence appraising the ghastly scene.
“You want me call police?” he asked.
“Yes, you call the police. Don’t tell them I was here,” I said in my best Farsi.
“I no tell. We see nothing.”
At that moment we heard a siren somewhere in the distance growing louder.
“I need to leave now,” I said.
“You go! Boro! Boro! Zud bash!” (Go! Go! Hurry!) exclaimed the old man waving me away vigorously with his hands.
I stepped away from the old man and got into my car, knees and hands still shaking. I turned the key in the ignition and headed out to the main highway by first going around the block. I waited until I heard the siren stop and then proceeded. As I drove, I kept checking the rear view mirror, side streets, and intersections for any sign of a black Mercedes. But it had done its dirty work and was long gone. When I got back to the Teamhouse, I unloaded my car and took the goods up to my room. The boxes seemed incredibly heavy and my shaking knees complained at the load as I came up the stairs the last time. When I had finished, I collapsed into my bed and started sobbing again. “Junior, I am so sorry man,” kept repeating as though he could hear me.
I looked at the huge roll of cash, and was suddenly struck with an irrational fear that Lou might think I was trying to cheat him. I counted out what I felt Junior would have paid him that day and put it in an envelope, then slipped it my desk drawer. I took out a sheet of paper, and scrawled simply, “Lou, bad news. Junior’s dead. SAVAK shot him.” I placed the note on the desk where he could find it then walked downstairs to my car.
I dreaded having to tell Fari what happened, but forced myself to the car. When I walked into the house minutes later, Fari emerged from her room to meet me and immediately stepped back. “Oh my god, Doug! What happened? Your eyes are all red!”
“Fari, Junior’s dead. SAVAK shot him in the…in the…back of the head,” I said with my voice breaking.
Fari put her arms around me and held my while I continued to weep. “Doug, this is awful.”
I put my face down onto Fari’s shoulder. “Junior was a good person,” I said through my tears. “He didn’t deserve to die.”
Published June 2011
Writing is like exercise – you need to keep in shape: Writer and Internet marketer Aaron Harris notes five goo... bit.ly/1VSg3La
Whether you have written nonfiction or fiction, all books in essence are about a story.
In light of the hundred of thousands of books published each year and the number increasing daily with the explosion of ebooks and self-publishing, your book has to be exceptional to get noticed and to ultimately be purchased.
Here are some basic elements that should be in every book:
1. Known as the lead or hook in newspapers, the first sentence or paragraph should effectively communicate something that will entice, interest or emotionally attach the reader to your book so he or she will want to read the rest of the book.
2. Every word, sentence, paragraph and section or chapter should relate in some way to the theme or story in a significant way. Background information on a character, a situation or concept should not be there just to fill pages. It should all relate in some way like the Ying and Yang - each complement each other, each are relevant to each other as parts that create the whole.
3. This may sound obvious, but your book should have a beginning, a middle and an end. In essence, all questions, concerns or conflicts should be resolved by the end of the book. The reader should not be left with any questions whether your book is nonfiction or fiction unless intentional.
Content is king. No matter what you write about, if the content and the writing engages, inspires, entertains or educates with an emotional attraction, the world will open up to you.
If you have a completed manuscript, we would like to hear from you. We are currently looking for titles to publish.
Go to our Query Page (see the tab on the top) and review our submission requirements before submitting your manuscript. We like to receive the first three chapters by email.