All posts by Karen Wan

Founder and CEO of Sustaining Stories. Author, Senior Coach and Retreat Leader for Enchanted Adventures.

Wednesday Author Profile: Ray Bradbury

Originally posted on Our Enchanting Adventure:

I have to confess that I’ve just begun reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  I wanted to have finished this by today, but life distracted me from that quest.

I’ve enjoyed reading  many Bradbury short stories in my life, but probably haven’t read enough of his books. The one book that I do love is  Zen and the Art of Writing, which is one of my favorite books on writing, and I really need to re-read it again.

Today, I want to actually quote from the Introduction to the version of Fahrenheit 451 that I am still reading.   The Introduction is written by Neil Gaiman and is inspiring in and of itself.  Here’s an excerpt from it, that also sums up the wondrous qualities of Ray Bradbury’s writing:

Ideas — written ideas — are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our thoughts from one generation…

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Returning to Novel Writing with NanoWriMo

Nicholas' drawing of a Fumaron
A picture my son created a few years ago for my novel(s).

My goal of writing novels took a detour in the last year.  I’m finally ready to commit (again) to a novel writing practice.

November is a great month for focusing on novel-writing because of the annual Nanowrimo “contest” at  I participated in this a few years ago, and it helped to get some first drafts done.  This year, I’m sorta cheating, sorta meeting the rules with what is really a rewrite of the fantasy story that’s been percolating in my head for a long time.

I’m following the advice of writers like Stephen King and Walter Mosley who emphasize the importance of a daily writing practice.  In his book,  This Year You Write Your Novel, Mosley is adamant that this is the most important piece of advice he can give.  He recommends writing at least 1 1/2 hours every day at the same time.  My gut tells me that he’s right about this minimum daily time for writing, so I’m getting back to my creative writing with more discipline.

I’ve been enjoying my novel-writing journey on the whole, and it seems time to take my writing to the next level.

Today’s Question:

Do you have a daily writing practice for whatever type of writing that you do?

Some Ideas about Self Publishing from Lynn Serafinn

I am trying something new and embedding a post from someone else into today’s blog.

I was impressed by Lynn Serafins’s advice on self publishing and decided to take up her offer to embed this post.  She makes many good points that I haven’t always followed myself, but probably should have.

Self-Publishing – A 10-Point Must-Do Checklist for Authors – Part 1 (via Spirit Authors Marketing & Publishing Tips for Authors)

Part 1 in a 4-part series of top tips on how to make your self-published book look like it’s been published with a major publisher. From book coach and marketer, Lynn Serafinn. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in…

Continue reading Some Ideas about Self Publishing from Lynn Serafinn

Attending City of Aurora’s Book Fair Today!

Originally posted on Sustaining Stories Projects:

The_Moon_Meets_The_S_Cover_for_KindleI am happy to be attending the City of Aurora’s Book Fair today from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.  It is a modest event that allows me to meet some new people and share my latest books.

This year, I’ll be talking about The Moon Meets the Sun in You and my upcoming Fall workshops.

As the world changes, and more and more people have the ability to write books, I believe the role of books will change in our life. Eventually, I believe we will see less of a focus on “masters” of anything, and more emphasis on fun and participation in life.  At least, that’s my hope.

For now, I am hoping to encourage more people to take advantage of Amazon’s CreateSpace to self publish a book.

If you haven’t tried CreateSpace and are thinking of writing a book, take a look at my free excerpt from the…

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Great Writing Advice from an Unlikely Source

to sell is humanDaniel Pink is one of my favorite writers, and so even when he writes a book with a title that doesn’t appeal to me all that much, I read the book.

Well, Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human is more than a great book on how important it has become to be able to sell our ideas and be more entrepreneurial.  I found his chapter on pitching to be very helpful as I continue to work on my creative writing.

For instance, Pink shared how Pixar has found that almost all of its motion pictures that do well can be summarized in the following format:

Once upon a time _____________.

Every day  _____________.

One day ____________.

Because of that ____________.

Because of that ____________.

Until finally ____________.

Now, certainly not all writing follows that formula, but as I read novels in the last month after reading his book, I found that many of them that I enjoyed the most basically could be summarized in that matter.

If you’re trying to create a pitch for your book or short story, you might see if you could summarize your story in this way.

Pink’s chapter on pitching also included the following questions:

After someone hears your pitch

  1. What do you want them to know?
  2. What do you want them to feel?
  3. What do you want them to do?

These are good questions for any type of writing.  Yet, it’s easy to forget these important questions.

You might want to check out more about Daniel Pink’s ideas about pitching .

Today’s Contemplation:

Has your storytelling ever improved as you worked on the pitch for your story?

Discovering Steampunk

steampunkI have a confession.  Up until I read an anthology of steampunk stories last month by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, I had no idea what this genre was about.  Once I started reading Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, I could see why people like this strange hybrid of fantasy, science fiction and historical storytelling.  I was particularly moved by a story called Nowhere Fast by Christopher Rowe, which had to do with the negative effects of a world focused on local food and green living.  That short story brought up a concern that I also have with the loss of freedom that some types of green strategies pose.  After reading this set of stories, I want to read more!

Now, I’ve moved into reading a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories that included authors like Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King, and Shirley Jackson.  With this book, my intention was to look more deeply at the various styles of different writers — looking at how they used metaphor or language, to get ideas on what elements resonated with my own style.

Besides entertaining myself, both of these books helped me to do the work of becoming a more critical reader, and seriously consider the style of the stories that I liked the most, as much as their message. This is just the beginning of a new phase of my writing and reading.  I’m glad that I took the time to expand my knowledge of writing into short stories, something I tend not to read as much as novels or poetry.

Daily Contemplation:

What reading have you been doing with the goal of developing your own style of writing?

What kind of reading would support your writing?