Satire, Where do We Go From Here?

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?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

Memoirs & Biographies to Read This Summer

Though most of us still work during the hot summer months, it is a time for us to wind down and enjoy the nice weather, vacation days, and spend time with family and friends. But, summer is also a time for us to catch up on some reading. Exploring new memoirs and biographies is a great way to get inspired and make yourself a more well-read individual who knows about the latest published biographies. Here are a few titles you should keep in mind when you’re looking for a great book to read this summer:

Edita Kaye Summer-Reading

First, ‘Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham,’ written by Emily Bingh is a must read. Bingh’s great aunt, Henrietta, rejected their family business in the early 1920s so she could live her life through a whirlwind of jazz, sex, and addiction. Her story is lively, heart breaking, and extremely engaging – you won’t want to put it down. This biography acts as a slice of American history that most readers are not used to, bringing out the often coveted troubled family life of American outcasts during an age that was seemingly ideal.

Second, ‘The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream’ by Katharine Norbury is an alluring autobiography about Katharine Norbury’s journey with her nine-year-old daughter as they follow a river from the sea up to its source. The tale delves deep into a wide array of human emotions, in particular grief and how we cope with loss. Norbury and her daughter began their expedition as a way to deal with Norbury’s miscarriage, but fate along the river brings them to a life-changing encounter that you’ll have to read about yourself.

Edita Kaye In a French Kitchen

Susan Hermann Loomis’ ‘In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France’ is another wonderful autobiography you should read this summer that details Loomis’ life as a food admirer and cook after she one day decided to move to France upon realizing that was the best way to pursue her passions. Loomis specifies French cooking secrets that are simple, yet bring out an explosion of delicious flavors. If you’re a foodie like Loomis, this is definitely a fun summer read you can enjoy and use to perfect your own cooking skills.

‘Rising Strong,’ by Brene Brown, is the last book on this list, and perhaps the most inspirational. A great read as summer is coming to an end to get you up in spirits for the coming year. Brown teaches us not only to embrace our failures, but to use them as ways we can grow and succeed.

For more ideas on what memoirs and autobiographies you should read this summer, check out this article published by Bustle.com.

The Importance of the Letter

edita kaye letterAs the world sees increased digitization, methods of communications that were once favored and cherished grow obsolete. However, there are some who seek to preserve the past, viewing pieces of history as unforgettable souvenirs of the past. With the invention of e-mail, followed by the slew of instant messaging applications like AOL instant messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, etc., snail mail is fading into the background as an unnecessarily slow form of correspondence. Who needs to sit down and write weekly updates to a friend with whom daily exchanges are customary. Dr. Martha Townsend, English professor at Missouri University is leading the campaign to not only reinstate the letter as a timeless societal icon, but also to promote it into schools as its own stylistic genre of writing that deserves exploration.

A piece in the New York Times from 2013 (full piece here) encouraged Townsend to further examine composition after it expressed the decadence of creative writing as attributed to increasing availability of forms of instant communication. Authors of the past unfailingly attribute newfound inspiration to their personal correspondences. Authors today, perhaps less.

Dr. Townsend received a grant to create the class The Letter as Genre to reintroduce the epistolary form as a socio-literary cornerstone in the development of writing. While there are few doubts as to its historical weight, its contribution to the present is increasingly questioned. Throughout history, many types of letters have served many purposes: wartime communication, love letters, appeals for social reform to name a few. All of these forms supply a peek (albeit a rather subjective one) into the world at that time. St. John writes of his life as an apostle, Washington as the first President of a nascent nation. Townsend made it her goal to bring back the letter in her effort to prove its ever importance.

Reading samples of every type, researching into the foundations and future of writing, and writing their own letters, students were given a comprehensive tour through the art of the epistle. Part of her class was designed to present students with the undeniable historical significance of letter writing, and part of her class was aimed at reviving the art at a time of rapidly changing options of communication. As hoped, her class inspired students to take up writing—some for creative purposes, others for reconnecting with old friends and family members. Townsend did a remarkable job showing how letters can be of the utmost personal importance, and also shed light upon the great opinions and discourse of antiquity.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Ernest Hemingway’s famously stated “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And still, these words may not sink so easily into the mind of a struggling writer. Bleeding, after all, is a very open and real way of uncovering and addressing personal experiences, be they nostalgic, joy-bringing, or traumatic, and is not a process that always comes naturally—even for the most gifted and experienced of writers. No author has stood on a mountain of accomplishment without a couple pitfalls to remember. Writer’s block is an all-affecting, recurring obstacle that every serious author learns to overcome. Fortunately for the writer and his dormant ideas, writer’s block can be dissolved.

edita kaye

One thing every writer needs is new experiences. Whether it is a vacation away from work on a one-week plunge into the depths of debauchery, or a historic visit to the Mandarin Oriental where Lord Jim’s Joseph Conrad found inspiration in the novelty away from home, the world has an infinite number of pools to be tapped for reflection and revelation.

While new experiences open the door to never-before-seen marvels, it is imperative for an author to realize inspiration ultimately comes from within, and the most new experiences can do is awaken something in the heart of the writer, something that was waiting for the right catalyst. Motivation to write is more intrinsic than it is extrinsic. Just as a spirit fails to deliver true happiness, imbibing in experience does not create new ideas. Writing does not rely on the saving grace of new information as much as it relies on the recasting, revisiting, and reflection on the author’s part on that which was already seen. A man with a closed mind can visit any number of shrines and not experience any change in perspective. That man must open his mind, altering his outlook on all which he thought he knew before.

Some writers take time to read and write letters of correspondence with others in order to spark a flame. Others form routines of creative writing to assure some ink gets spilled every day. Whatever his personal preference, a good writer understands the importance of discipline and regularity. While discovery, by its nature, is not a routine experience, an untrained eye will miss many opportunities for exploration. Many do-it-yourself books on the market can help authors of all levels maintain a standardized writing schedule. Plus, writing one piece on any topic will get the ball rolling and allow for a clearer flow of ideas.

As an author scales the landscapes of creativity and explores the uncharted territories of ideation, he keeps his visions close to his heart, and opens himself to the unknown.