Inspiring Quotes From Famous Authors

Even the best writers get stuck from time to time, and we have all experienced writers block. Most authors agree that the first draft is going to be horrible, but as Sylvia Plath says, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

So I wrote this blog post with the intention of helping you push through that writer’s block, by getting inspired by these amazing tips from famous authors:

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!” -William Faulkner

William Faulkner reminds us that writing is a skill, not a talent. Good to remember when we’re sure our writing isn’t good enough. Because we can always get better as long as we write.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov

Chekhov beautifully demonstrates the concept of “show, don’t tell.” The best thing about this quote is that Chekhov uses the concept to demonstrate itself. He doesn’t just say “show, don’t tell.” He shows us how with vivid imagery.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison

This quote from Morrison is inspiring because it underscores what really matters when it comes to writing: passion for your subject matter. What better reason to write a story, and what better way to get a feel of the market, than to write the story you want to read?

“The first draft of anything is shit.” -Ernest Hemingway

Wise words from Nobel and Pulitzer winner, Ernest Hemingway. To accept a crappy first draft is the first step to becoming a writer. Better if you can accept it even as you write it. Because any writing process is a long one. There’s writing. And rewriting. And then rewriting again. And with so many steps, why strain to write something great in the first draft?

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” -Nathaniel Hawthorne

This quote is one to keep in your back pocket whenever writing gets tough or when another writer makes writing look easy. If it’s easy to read, it was hard to write. Enough said.

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Writing Habits You Should Develop

Every writer has his or her unique own writing style and has most likely developed habits that help them write more often and more creatively. Writing, like most talents, takes a lot of practice to perfect – and even if it’s almost perfect, there are always ways to improve. Though writing habits are different for each person, here are some general helpful habits you should know to improve your own writing:

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First, write every day. You should have a notebook or journal that you carry around with you everywhere you go – and in your spare time, write! You can write about anything you want, from how you’re feeling, to what the person is wearing next you on the subway – as long as you write. This doesn’t mean you should be constantly writing every time you have some breathing room. But when you get an opportunity, take it. Even if it’s just for five minutes each day.

Next, is a famous saying you may have heard by William Faulkner and it applies to the editing process of writing: “Kill your darlings.” There will be times when you love a particular sentence or chapter of a book you’re writing, but it may not work with the overall piece you’re working on and you’ll have to cut it. Of course, you can always save it in a different folder and use it for another work – or even use it as a base for your next work.

Knowing your audience is another great habit to get into when you’re sitting down to write. Often, writers won’t even start a project unless they know who their target audience is. If you’re writing contemporary adult fiction, make sure your language is strong and concise. If you’re writing children’s books though, you will have to use a different vocabulary. Understanding who it is you’re writing for is vital for reaching success as a writer. So before you begin writing, figure out who the audience will most likely be.

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Last, another helpful habit to develop is unplugging from social media and other various distractions that are plentiful these days. This means not checking your Instagram, Facebook newsfeed, or signing into Netflix for the time you’ve designated to write. Being distracted by your surroundings you will likely take away from the quality and quantity of work you’re doing for that time span. If you’re writing, focus on it. There are too many times procrastination gets in the way of our ability to create beautiful pieces of art.

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Books That Make You Think

I know you have probably already read these books. Me too. But they are worth a second and even third visit. Take a look at some of my favorite books that you can read over and discover something new each time:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm GladwellEdita Kaye

I love this book because it gave me a glimpse into myself and others that I didn’t have before. Gladwell demonstrates how your inner self and subconsciousness can affect your life decisions – major and minor.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander M. D.

An amazing story by an amazing man, truly thought provoking as well as inspirational. As many people question the afterlife, this book will take you through an unforgettable journey of a neurosurgeon’s personal experience and scientific explorations about the afterlife.

Edita KayeI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Astonishing…always a joy to read and re-read. Maya Angelou is one of the most inspirational female writers of all time, and this is one of her most well-known, applauded books that captures uneasy, gruesome feelings in the most brilliant, beautiful language.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

OK I admit it, the first science book I truly understood and loved! Explore the mutual development of science and civilization in this jaw-dropping book about cosmos and the universe around us.

The Odyssey by Homer – Translation by Robert Fagles

What’s not to love? An epic story translated by an Academy Award Winner in Literature. A great combo!

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Satire, Where do We Go From Here?

old bookshelf

One year ago, the Guardians Arwa Mahdawi lamented the end of satire. There was no pretension– the name of the article, “Satire is Dying Because the Internet is Killing It” says it all. In her eulogy for the humorous device and literary genre, Mahdawi identifies a major symptom of it’s impending demise: the new “satire” tag that social media giant Facebook is developing, which would be placed on shared links from publications like the Onion or Clickhole. There’s a number of reasons why satire as we know it is on it’s way out, and a major reason seems to be sensory overload. Now all of this revolves around the internet, but what does it mean for books? Will the printed word be safe?

Satire has been a means for tackling regimes, speaking out against injustices, or serving as the occasional jeremiad for a culture that has lost its way. But if modern readers are unable to pick up on the wonderful nuances that define the genre, does satirical work even serve a function? Part of the sharp edge of satire is its ability to hide behind a veil of serious reality; at the end of the day, its wit is its most defining feature. When a “satire” designation is plastered over the text itself, would that adversely affect how we, as readers, approach it?

The best humor never has to explain itself, and that’s just what a satire tag does. Let’s look at an example: Orwell’s Animal Farm, the allegorical critique of the Soviet Union. Many of us read this work when we were still in grade school, and part of the thrill that came with the assignment was watching the increasingly subversive tone reveal itself before our very eyes. Sure, the animals on the farm may have had a noble beginning, rallying under Old Major to free themselves from the mistreatment of farm life. But as Napoleon’s hunger for power on the farm increases, the novella can shift its language to be a (rather obvious) critique of Stalinism. Now, some will argue that a book like Animal Farm is known satire; having been around for so long, pretty much anyone who picks it up will already know that it is railing against the status quo. But isn’t there something to be said about the fact that the book can simultaneously serve as an erudite, learned social criticism?

Satire is more than something that can elicit a laugh. It is meant to infuriate, to draw an unsuspecting crowd and then proceed to lick it through and through. After all, what’s the point of attacking the establishment if the only people that read it are the ones who agree with you?

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Tips for Getting Published

edita kayeThe saying goes that every person has at least one great book or movie in them.  So if you’re looking to write a book, then great, that’s awesome!  However, just because you’ve got a great book in you doesn’t mean it’s easy to get it published.  I recently came across an article by Mack Collier, where he shared the steps he took to getting his book “Think Like a Rock Star – How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans” published.  While you might not be looking to make a book about marketing strategy, the article has some excellent tips, listed below:

  1. Figure out what you want to write about: This might sound like a given, but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.  You need to figure out the kind of book that you, not anybody else, were meant to write, and that nobody else could write.  The author of the article uses an example, when in 2008 he was approached by an editor to write a book on marketing on YouTube, when there were very few books out about social media.  Collier turned it down, realizing that he wasn’t interested in writing about YouTube or touring across the country speaking about the topic.
  2. Figure out why your book is unique: Once you find out your book’s topic, you find out that your book has already been written several times.  As the saying goes, there are no original ideas.  You need to find out what your “hook” is; what you’re going to bring to the table that’s unique, but will still have value for readers.
  3. Find 3-5 books that you think are similar to your idea: Once you realize that your book isn’t as original as you originally thought, take a few books that are similar to your idea, and for each one explain what your book offers that the competing titles miss.  Then try to pick a newer title for your book.  For example, if you propose that your book idea will be competing against 5 books all written 20+ years ago, the publisher will think that your idea is dead, otherwise somebody would have written about it in the past 20 years.
  4. Create an outline and table of contents: This is where your writing starts to get serious, and you find out if you really want to write a book or are just toying with the idea.  This will be a lot more work than expected, but you’ll have to show this to a potential publisher, and will ultimately make the writing process a lot easier, as it forces you to flesh out your idea into several chapters to help you better structure your book’s message.
  5. Write the first 1-3 chapters: This is another great test for preparing for the process.  If you can hand a publisher a solid proposal for the book that includes 1-3 well-written chapters, then you’ll make a great case for getting your book published.  Writing those chapters will also give you a great idea of how long it will take you to write the entire book.
  6. Create a proposal for the book: By completing the first five steps of the article, you’ve more-or-less already done this.  You’ll need to tell publishers who the market is for your book, why you’re the person who is meant to write it, what it’s about, what your competing titles are, etc.  You’ll also need to include a table of contents, as well as any chapters you’ve written so far, as well as an explanation to the publisher for how you plan to market the book.  You’ll want to mention any speaking that you’ll be doing on the topic, as well as your following and online profile.
  7. Having a killer idea trumps online presence: While a good online presence never hurt, it isn’t nearly as effective as you think it is.  In the article, Collier talks about how despite his impressive online presence, none of his publishers knew who he was, and the fact that he had a great idea that publishers thought would sell was much more important than how many Twitter followers he had.
  8. Find out if you want a literary agent or not: At first, you might not think that you need to get an agent.  And it isn’t always necessary; suitable publishing deals can often come to you.  If that doesn’t happen, then you might want to get an agent, but there are a few things you need to know.  First, you’ll have to pay an agent, most often a cut of any money you get from the book.  At the same time, you get access to several dozen publishers, with whom the agent regularly works, and the agent can look over any contract you’re offered and help with the terms.
  9. Getting an agent means a lot more rejection letters: When an agent is getting your book out there to a lot of publishing companies, it means that you’ll be hearing a lot more rejections than you were before.  While this is disappointing, it also serves as a big help, since most publishers explain why they’re turning down your book.  So long as publishers give this explanation, then you can work with it and make your book that much better when you offer it to the next publisher.  
  10. 10. Don’t expect to get rich: If your publisher accepts your book, you’ll likely get an advance of $5,000-$10,000.  However, remember that this is an advance, meaning that you’ll have to pay the money back to the publisher in your royalties.

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5 Book Recommendations For End Of Summer Reading

Summer may be winding down, but there is still plenty of time to relax in the warm weather and enjoy a good book. A good book is a must have, whether you’re on an airplane, road trip, or laying on the beach. As you make your last trips of the summer, here are 5 books that you should consider bringing along with you.

1 – The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

One of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces, first published in 1926, and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. The story follows two men as they transition for the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.

2 – Mosquitoland by David Arnold

After a sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is brought from her home in northern Ohio to the rural Mississippi by her father. When she learns that her mother is sick, she embarks on a journey back home full of discovery, friendship, and resolve.

3 – All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All The Lights We Cannot See, from the multiple award-winning Anthony Dooer, is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

4 – The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

This book is a hilarious spoof on the classic country-house murder mystery, from the Russian masters of sci-fi — never before translated. Inspector Peter Glebsky went on a vacation for some relaxation and solitude but after discovering a body, that may not be human, the vacation turns into page-turning police work.

5 – Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin


In Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin tackles the question: How do we change? As she explains throughout her book, the answer is habits. This book is a great read as you learn how habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. In order to change yourself you must start with your habits.

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Edita Kaye’s Favorite Summer Cook Books

REAL BBQ: THE ULTIMATE STEP-BY-STEP SMOKER COOKBOOK

I LOVE barbecue! To me ribs with a side of icy, crunchy slaw are a summer staple. Nothing tastes better especially if the ribs are served with a thick, spicy sauce for dipping. I know that I’m probably never going to barbeque my own ribs or do the whole smoker thing, but I can dream and drool over the tips and recipes – 95 of them to be exact – in this most delicious of deep summer cookbooks.

unnamed-1THE ABSOLUTE BEST DUMP CAKE COOKBOOK

Ok. I admit. I had absolutely no idea what a dump cake was until I checked out this decadent delight. They aren’t kidding when they say, “recipes so easy, it’s dangerous” and it is. Every single one of these tasty gems is a simple as dumping all the ingredients right in the pan, stirring them up, baking and digging in. This is my kind of cooking – fast, fun, and mouthwatering!

AGAINST ALL GRAIN: DELECTABLE PALEO RECIPES TO EAT WELL & FEEL GREAT

Over 1600 five star reviews by readers and a ‘best book of 2015 so far award’ can’t be wrong. And this is the book I picked for my first foray into the world of paleo cuisine. I don’t know what I expected from a cookbook that omits all gluten, grains, dairy and refined sugar, but it certainly was this amazing food fest! I loved the recipes and the way they made me feel. Exciting new cuisine. Glad I gave it a try.

Edita KayeINSPIRALIZED: TURN VEGETABLES INTO HEALTHY, CREATIVE, SATISFYING MEALS

  1. This one was just for fun. I loved the idea of running all my veggies (or at least many of them) through a fun kitchen gadget that turned them into long ropes of spaghetti that looked amazing, tasted wonderful, and had way fewer calories, no gluten, and were loaded with vitamins. I recommend this book for veggie haters and veggie lovers alike. It’s a little more work, but definitely worth the effort!

NEW ENGLAND SOUP FACTORY COOKBOOK: MORE THAN 100 RECIPES FROM THE NATION’S BEST PURVEYOR OF FINE SOUP

Who doesn’t like soup? And even though I usually skip soup in the summer, this cookbook with its amazing cover was tempting enough even in 90 degree heat for me to give it a try. Also the fact that it came out of New England brought visions of rich fishy flavors thick with chunks of seafood. I was not disappointed. The recipe for New England Clam Chowder is amazing! And for summer the Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup and the Raspberry-Nectarine Gazpacho are simply out of this world!

Posted in Book reviews, Edita Kaye, Writing

Power in Print!

Edita Kaye Reading-2Writing does more than express ideas and encourage thought, it can improve your quality of life. Brain and body health work hand-in-hand, and one cannot thrive without the other. In the grip of depression, people often feel exhausted or sick. When joyous or happy, the body mirrors those emotions with a healthy glow. What are some ways you can encourage your well-being by adding some writing to your day?

Few are lucky to go through life without experiencing stress or trauma. In 2005, a study was conducted on those with a history of traumatic experiences and ways to cope. The results showed significant improvement in patients who journaled about their feelings. Patients who regularly used the journal to express their feelings spent fewer days in hospitals, displayed stronger immune systems, and even better liver functions. Expressing their inner turmoil through journaling acted like a syringe, drawing out the darker, venomous thoughts that can so easily lead to physical and mental sickness.

Health benefits don’t stop with trauma sufferers. Those suffering from asthma and rheumatoid arthritis can also reap the benefits of the written word. Asthma patients who wrote about their most stressful experiences displayed improved lung function. Indicating an increase of lung performance up to 10% after just four months, addressing deep issues through writing allowed these asthma sufferers to breathe a little easier. Similarly, when rheumatoid arthritis patients were tasked with writing, those with an emotional investment in their work displayed a marked drop in their symptoms.

Diseases from breast cancer to depression can all be fought with writing. While by no means a panacea or replacement for traditional medicine, writing helps address what medicine cannot. The strength of expression dives deeper than flesh, reaching where we often need healing the most. Shedding light on our darkest recesses can remind us that we’re never without hope, and all that’s needed to fight back is a pen and paper. For more on the healing power of print, follow the link here.

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Books for a Simple Way of Living

As I move into the hot and steamy days of deep summer I am tempted to destress, declutter,

decompress, and live a blissful life where “less is more.” In keeping with this summer mood to

simplify I found five books that I now consider my secret solutions to a simpler life. Some are

new discoveries. Some are old friends.

 

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta who writes from his idyllic location of Guam about all things

Zen. I totally agree with the jacket copy that describes this small but powerful book as one of

life’s great discoveries – learning how to make the most of resources you already have and

marshaling the power of self-imposed limits to “finally work less, work smarter, and focus on

living the life that you deserve.”

 

Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo is a treasure. It focuses on how to create the most compelling

and memorable presentations. How? By setting limits. Just 18 minutes. Just a half dozen slides

in your powerpoint. Just a few simple, but personal anecdotes and you too can shine at your

next presentation like the TED speakers who so generously shared their secrets. Love this book!

I was happy to reread this old friend – The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and

Spencer Johnson. It’s just as good, if not better than it was when it first came out. I felt very

warm and fuzzy reading about simple ways to praise, motivate, and thank people. Sounds like I

will be using this in my daily life, not just at work.

 

And this classic is definitely worth an afternoon – The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving

More with Less by Richard Koch. Love the idea of shortcuts, especially in this busy world which

seems to just get busier every day. Love the idea about calming down and just focusing on the

things I love. Great advice!

 

This little gem is a true revelation. It turned my hot, steamy summer afternoons into cool,

refreshing interludes AND believe it or not, helped me declutter in a way that was totally fun.

It’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by

Marie Kondo. And believe me, Marie waved her magic wand and my clutter just disappeared as

if by magic!

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Ways to Improve Your Writing

Edita Kaye writing and editingIt’s always hard to know where to start when it comes to writing. Whether it’s for a blog post, a publication within your field of work, or if it’s just for fun, there are always ways to improve your writing so that it’s something you’re proud of. Writing talent, like most talent, is about reforming your skill with practice. Here are some simple tricks you should follow in order for you to improve your writing:

First, make sure you look at the world around you for inspiration. Think of the world as your very own “writing muse,” filled with vibrant colors, enduring emotions, and intriguing situations that may even stem from watching people on the subway. According to Forbes Magazine:

“As writer Henry Miller once said, ‘Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people. Forget yourself.’ If you don’t think you have anything to write about, think again. There’s inspiration everywhere – you just have to be paying attention,” (5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing).

Edita Kaye writing_outside

Taking the time to look up from your newsfeed and looking up and into the world is the best form of motivation to get your writing started.

Next, always be reading something. Whether you are a classic novel lover, a newspaper fanatic, or a blog addict, reading is the best tool you can use to get your writing up to par. Make more of an effort to incorporate reading into your daily routine. This may mean taking those fifteen minutes you spend on instagram each day and substituting it with a new book of poetry or interesting article from your morning newspaper. Those who read more undoubtedly write better, but it’s up to you to make that initial effort to consistently read.

Edita Kaye writing tricks

Along with finding the time to read is finding the time to write – and in an appropriate setting. Finding a writing space that works for you is key to concentrating on your craft and giving undivided attention to words.  Forbes Magazine suggests to figure out where and how you write best, “For some people, it’s peace and quiet, while others need music or the chaotic hubbub of co-workers milling about. And most find that different places work for different types of writing,” (5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing). For example, if you’re writing an article for work, you may need silence and a tidy work space, where as if you’re writing a blog post, you may want a glass of wine in the trendy restaurant down your street.

Lastly, one of the most effective writing tricks for almost anybody is to read your work out loud as a form of editing. According to Forbes Magazine, “As silly as you may feel, it’s the best way to make sure what you’ve written makes sense. Anything that doesn’t flow, is confusing, or is missing a word or two will quickly make itself apparent,” (5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing).

For more tips on how to improve your writing, check out Forbes Magazine’s article here.

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