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.

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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.


Why Self-Publish?

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For a long time in the writing world, self-publishing was frowned upon. The problem was that if you were going to publish your own work, you were most likely bypassing any form of peer review. But, the problem with going the traditional route and publishing books through a professional team of editors was that you couldn’t just be a talented writer – you had to have a lot of good luck and connections in the industry. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of great books not being published.

So, why self-publish? For starters, you will have guaranteed publication instead of waiting years for publishers to approve. Even if you are one of the lucky few that gets noticed by publisher, it still takes a great amount of time for the publishing process to be complete. By self-publishing, your book will automatically be available to the public and you won’t have to wait around for somebody else to get it out there for you.

Another reason to self-publish is for a new kind of peer review. Although self-publishing was once looked down upon for not having any peer review, now well-written books will gain reviews similar to the ones that you would normally get through a publishing house. If people like your book, nobody will look down at you for publishing it yourself.

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Next, self-publishing can lead to a greater profit than if you were to go through a publishing company. Many innovative online publishing platforms, such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, iBooks, and Nook, expect it’s authors to earn between 30% and 70% of the profits from the books sale. Of course, this profit directly correlates to how well the book sells, but you are sure to save all of the money you would have spent on a publishing house.

In conclusion, the traditional world of publishing is fading, and becoming a self-publisher could be a huge benefit for yourself as an author. To read more about the perks of self-publishing and how to be a successful author, check out Huffington Post’s article here.

The Most Inspirational Books of All Time

Great literature always gives us insight on some of life’s most profound lessons. That being said, reading is one of the most critical ways we can grow as human beings. Through the experience of other characters or delving deep into the mind of a narrator, our outlook on life can be changed. So, what are some of the most inspirational books of all time? Here’s a list derived from one of the Huffington Post’s article on life-changing books:

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – This book gets to the core of self-exploration and finding out who we really are by chasing the things we want most. The main theme of this novel is finding one’s destiny. As Coelho writes, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – Set in an Auschwitz concentration camp, Frankl goes deep into what it means to live a meaningful life. According to the author, the way a prisoner imagined his or her future would change how long he or she lived – heavily influenced on how our thoughts influence our lives. From the book: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

edita kaye To_Kill_a_MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – One of the most popular books to this day, Atticus Finch sets the bar of being one of the noblest characters ever created. Southern at its core, honor and conduct pave the way for what it means to be truly good. Quote from the book: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen – Though this book is small, its words are breathtakingly beautiful and powerful beyond measure. Heavily influenced by the notion of karma, the possibilities of human beings’ capacity for both good and evil are explored throughout the book. Words like these make it one of literature’s most influential: “A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – Following the life of a reformed convict, Jean Valjean, this book delves into the wonders of redemption and the nature of law and grace. The urban design of Paris and the history of France are also two important elements of the novel that reflect certain politics, aspects of religion, and moral philosophies. From the book: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”edita kaye chroniclesofnarnia

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Filled with enduring knowledge about sin, guilt, addiction, and the overall nature of mankind, this fictional series is way more than a tale of adventure. From the book: “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

There you have it – a list of some of the most inspirational books of all time that leave you questioning who you really are as a person, and will hopefully inspire you to make the right decisions throughout your life. Haven’t read one in a while? It might be time for a trip to the library or a local book store.

Grammar Tips for Writers

Publishing literature in the technological age is immensely different than it was just a few years back. With just a click, anyone can be a published writer – anything is possible on the internet these days. The long process of book publication that once was might not completely be over, but it has been revolutionized.

That being said, without a professional editor or publication company, there has been an increase of poorly written books being published with a considerable amount of spelling and grammar mistakes. So, if you’re thinking about publishing one of your works online, you should make sure that your piece is free of these seemingly simple mistakes that many people unknowingly make.

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For your convenience, you should invest in at least one (preferably all) of the following grammar guides:
1. The Chicago Manual of Style
2. Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style
3. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
All of these books contain a vast amount of information concerning the world of grammar for the English language and will assist with any questions you may have while editing your work. As a writer, it’s important that you know all the complicated rules of citation along with the knowing the when to use the right “there”. So, always have one of these books in your bag as you work on a piece for publication, or just to practice using correct grammar.

In addition, it’s a good idea to invest in a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, or subscribe to the OED’s online edition for when your word processor’s spell checker doesn’t have the answers to all of your spelling or grammar questions. Having an available dictionary will also expand your use of diction and altogether make you a more advanced writer.

edita kaye Eats-shoots-and-leaves-by-Lynne-Truss

Keep in mind, just having these references won’t help if you don’t use them. This is not to say that you should overuse them so they disrupt your workflow, but when you’re revising your piece and come across a grammatical problem that you are unsure about, these grammar guides will most likely have the answer. Also, a good piece of advice while revising is to get into the habit of reading your work aloud. If you notice that you’re stumbling over a sentence, there is probably a structural or grammatical error that needs to be fixed; it’s also a lot easier to find spelling mistakes when you read your work out loud.

So, before you click “publish,” remember to revise with the help of these grammar guides, because these days you don’t want to fall into the trap of making mistakes that can be easily avoided.

Chopra, Parr, and Covey – 3 Books I’ve Been Reading

Like the rest of us, I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I have managed to read three terrific books over the past several weeks and would like to recommend them.

CaptivologyCaptivology: The SCIENCE of Capturing People’s Attention by Ben Parr

This is an amazing read taking you through the latest in brain science, branding, marketing, and an exploration of why people make the choices they make. Indispensable guide for marketers and just sheer fun for all the rest of us.


7 Habits of Highly Effective People7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

This book has been around, as it says on the cover for 25 years! And that’s no surprise. Frankly it’s just as good today as it was when it was first published back in the 20th century. This is a book that I plan to re-read again, and again because it is simply ageless.


The Future of GodThe Future of God by Deepak Chopra

I read this book and then was interested to find that PBS had done a special program with Deepak Chopra on this very topic. I thoroughly enjoyed both the book and the show. Chopra has been a prolific writer of very interesting books that explore areas deep inside all of us. If you haven’t had a chance to read this book yet, I recommend that you do. You won’t be disappointed.

Tips for a Great Book Cover By Edita Kaye

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but when we’re buying books, we do exactly that, every time. The most amazing book in the world will not sell a single copy if you put the wrong cover on it. You may think that a cover doesn’t do much, but it gives the reader an idea of what they’ll be getting when they purchase the book. A good cover tells your readers exactly what they’ll think and feel before they even pick up the book.

How can you make sure that you’re creating the best cover for your book? Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way.

Check Out the Competition

Go to the bookstore or go online, and check out other books in your genre. What do the covers of the bestsellers look like? When you design your cover, you don’t exactly want to copy those cover designs, but you want to emulate them to a certain extent.

Choose the Right Images

Remember, you’re not just putting a pretty picture on the cover; you’re placing an image there that will evoke a certain response. A suspense thriller is going to have a very different cover image from a romance novel. Think about how the images make you feel when you’re selecting the right one for the job.

Everything on the Cover Counts

Don’t overpopulate your cover with too many images or too much written text, and other “noise”. You want your title and your name to stand out first. Then you want the eye to move to the image and perhaps to a quote from a good review. That should be the extent of your cover. Less is definitely more, and everything counts.

Don’t Be Afraid to Call a Professional

If you don’t have any experience with design, or you aren’t sure how to create an effective cover, go ahead and call a professional graphic designer. It’s far better to spend a little bit of money now and sell a lot of books later than to do a poor job and sell very few books.

Top Style and Grammar Guides for Writers By Edita Kaye

The evolution of literature publication is incredibly exciting. Not too long ago, getting published was a huge, daunting task that involved as much luck as it did skill. Today, getting your book out there is as simple as writing it and clicking a few links.

Because it’s so easy to self-publish ebooks and print-on-demand books, there has been a huge proliferation of poorly written books with bad grammar and tons of spelling mistakes. That means, just by making sure that your book has proper spelling and grammar, you can really stand out from the crowd.

These guides should be a part of every writer’s library:

 The Chicago Manual of Style

 Strunk and White’s The Element’s of Style

 Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Each of these books has answers to almost all of your grammar and style questions. You should also have a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, or subscribe to the online edition of the OED for those spelling questions that your word processor’s spell checker just can’t answer. It’s also a good reference to ensure that you’re not misusing any words in your text.

Of course, these references do you no good at all if you don’t use them, but how can you tell if you have a grammar problem? When the time comes to revise your work, try reading it aloud. If you stumble over a sentence when reading it out loud, it probably has some structural or grammatical errors and needs to be revised. When you find this happening, take a look at what’s going on in the sentence or paragraph you’re revising, and then go to your grammar and style guides.

How to Reduce Writer’s Stress and Stay Positive By Edita Kaye

Writing is an elusive art form. You get an idea for a novel, manual, history book, or anything else, and you start to write. It’s going well at first, but then you get stuck. You experience your first writer’s block, and it seems like getting even a single word on the page is completely impossible. This creates stress, which creates more blockage, and before you know it you’re stuck in a downward spiral of self-doubt and anxiety.

So, let’s talk about how you can reduce your stress, rid yourself of writer’s block, and stay positive about your writing.

Deal With the Stress

Whether you’re stressed about your writer’s block, your job, your family, your dirty house, or anything else, that stress is going to create serious problems for your writing. Entrepreneur Magazine has some pretty great tips for dealing with stress, including repeating positive affirmations to yourself and challenging your negative thoughts. Basically, if you let your stress overrun you, you’ll never get anything done. So, take a breath, do some yoga, and get your mind in a positive place.

Create a Routine

Once you’re feeling a little calmer, sit down and map out a routine schedule for your writing. Most people have to work their writing time into their daily schedules, either before or after work and in between cleaning, cooking, and daily chores. If you schedule out your week and create a writing routine, you’ll be a lot more relaxed about your writing, and you’ll be more productive and happier.

Take a Break

If your writer’s block still has you down, step away from the project you were working on and take a break. Now, that doesn’t mean you should take a break from writing. Rather, pick up a book or magazine about writing (we recommend Stephen King’s On Writing, John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, or Writer’s Digest). Spend some time leisurely reading about writing and about new tips and exercises you could use. Before you know it, you’ll be excited to get back to work on your writing project.

How to Get Book Reviews Online – And Some of the Best Book Review Sites By Edita Kaye

Thanks to sites like Yelp and Angie’s List, it’s easier than ever to see what other people think of products, services, and places of business. We hardly ever make a purchase or try a new restaurant without first checking the reviews. And this review-driven market has spread to the world of publishing, too.

With so many opportunities for people to self-publish their work, it’s hard to tell the difference between high-quality writing and something that’s just not worth your time or money. That’s why, as a writer trying to sell your books, it’s so important to get online reviews of your books. When potential readers see that others have read and enjoyed your book, they’re much more likely to make a purchase. So how do you get reviews? Here are a few tips.

Ask Your Readers

At the very end of your book, ask your readers to leave a review. Write a very brief paragraph saying something like, “I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my book. Book reviews are an incredibly important part of the peer review process. They not only help sell more books, but they help authors grow and develop their writing styles. Please take a moment and write a review of this book.”

Ask Bloggers

Pinpoint a few book bloggers who write about the genre or style of book you’ve written. Most of them will have guidelines on their blogs telling you how to send them your work for review. Read their policies and follow their instructions, and you’ll be more likely to get a review on their site.

Book Review Sites

There are also entire websites devoted to reviewing books. Some of the best

include:, The Barnes and Noble Review, Goodreads,

If you sell your books through Amazon, you can also offer them for free for a limited time and encourage your readers to leave you reviews after they download them. Amazon actually does you a favor here, as they will email their users after a purchase to ask them to leave a review.