Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Too Many Books, Too Much Competition

(Photo by Gaman Alice on Unsplash)

I re-blogged this from an earlier post.

~

January 11, 2013:

In an interview with the blog SIX QUESTIONS, John Raab, Publisher/CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Suspense Magazine, answered the following question:

“What can you truly expect to get out of your writing?”

“I feel that many authors have false expectations and think they are writing the next NY Times Bestseller. Here is the problem with that. Just because your book is not high on a list or selling that great, doesn’t mean you can’t write. Authors have to remember that anybody can now publish an EBook on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. What does that mean? That means that readers now have to navigate through thousands of more books to find one they like and readers only have a certain amount of money to spend. If you don’t have thousands of marketing dollars behind your work, then you have to spend triple the amount of time marketing to fans than it took you to write the book. Writing the book is the easy part, getting paid from it is the difficult part. Authors should expect to not retire off their work, but instead write for the love of it, because it is your passion. Writing and music are the same thing, you see a great band in a bar and say ‘They are better than anything I hear on the radio, why aren’t they signed?’ Writing is the same way.”

Is it true? Are there too many books on the market? Writers don’t just write for the love of writing, they write to make a living. But if thousands of self-proclaimed authors are flooding the market with books, how can someone achieve that goal?

For myself, I stopped buying books because I was tired of wasting my money on mediocre crap that was marketed as best-seller material. A slick cover and a wide audience do not a-book-worth-reading make. Extensive marketing will not salvage a poorly crafted commodity. Readers might buy from you once, but they won’t come back again.

The book market is, in fact, overwhelming. Every time I go into Barnes & Noble, the stacks of unread (and unbought) books make me want to swoon. Scanning through Amazon and Goodreads makes me feel the same way.

The books shout in my head: READ ME! READ ME!

It’s the same on Facebook. Thousands of self-proclaimed authors scream at me: BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

Millions of blogs and online publications float around in Internet outer space, vying for attention.

TV, movies, and video games also provide tough competition. And to top it off, a recent poll suggested that only 75% of the population ever reads a book (print or digital.)

So, what’s a writer (and reader) to do in an age of information overload?

1. Write the best damned book you can, using original ideas.

2. Don’t write derivative material because thousands of others are doing the same thing. We don’t need anymore books about vampires and wizards unless the slant is so original, and the characters so unforgettable, that the world just can’t live without them.

3. Define your goals realistically. If you are only writing out of love for the craft, then be content to do so. But if you dream of making a living as a writer, then treat it as a business.

Personally, I think the publishing industry bubble is going to burst, just like the dot.com bubble and the housing bubble. Too many books means too many choices and a flattened market. After all, people don’t have the time or the money to spend on reading all the books out there. And traditional publishing houses depend on blockbuster best-sellers to keep themselves afloat.

I will continue to write because I love to write. But don’t be fooled: I want to make a living off of my writing as much as any other writer. The question is: can I beat the competition?

~

April 26, 2023:

The book industry did, indeed, undergo a massive upheaval. Publishing houses folded or merged, small presses failed, people lost their jobs, authors lost contracts, and writing scams emerged as independent authors sought alternate publishing avenues.

Traditional publishing is a challenging route to pursue. As of 2022, only 64% of the population reads a book in twelve months. Only 1% of books submitted to traditional publishers are lucky enough to get published. Nonfiction generally sells better than fiction. An author will never make big money in niche categories like poetry and short stories. People have shorter attention spans and become more visually-oriented thanks to movies, TV, and social media. Writing screenplays has become “the thing” because that’s where the demand is, a writer can make big money, and it sounds cool. Writing for TV can be incredibly lucrative, although it’s demanding, and living in L.A. is mandatory.

When I wrote my middle-grade children’s mystery novel for a children’s writing class, I spent hours editing, writing the synopsis and query letter, and submitting it to agents. And yes, agents looked at it, turned it down, and encouraged me to edit more and submit it again in two years. I re-wrote the first part of the book because it was too long. But I was so sick of that book I put it away and only recently pulled it out again. I will finish it because I love the characters and the story. I LOVE WRITING! And that’s all that matters.

And yes, I still buy a book occasionally, but it’s more likely to be a used book I haven’t read, a free Kindle pick-of-the-month, a nonfiction book I can use for education and reference, or a poetry book I want to review. I have six bookcases full of books, many not yet read. As I read them, I give them away unless there’s a good reason to keep them. I have always loved to read a good book.

Keep reading because you love it! Keep writing because you love it!

What are your thoughts?

Dawn Pisturino

January 11, 2013; April 26, 2023

Copyright 2013-2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

Spotlight on Poet Phil Gennuso

(Graphic art by Phil Gennuso. Copyright 2023 Phil Gennuso. All Rights Reserved.)

Scrapbook Dreams by Phil Gennuso (2023). Available on Etsy or direct from Phil.

Phil Gennuso is a graphic artist, poet, prose writer, and computer scientist who lives in New York state. I’ve been reading his lovely poetry for a while now on his blog and enjoy it very much. He always accompanies his poems with original graphic art or photography.

When I read his latest ebook, Scrapbook Dreams, I was impressed with the colorful artwork and the simplicity and beauty of his poems. There is an innocence behind his words which touched my heart and made me want to read more. The world is a beautiful place despite pandemics, poverty, and the doldrums of daily existence. We just have to open our eyes and see it. Phil does this for us, giving us a rich experience of color, sight, and sound that’s woven into every word. I felt much happier after reading his collection of poems because they are uplifting and positive.

Here’s just one example:

Sunday Trumpets of Glory

trumpets of glory

play a sweet song

as the sun sets across the land

You can get your copy of Scrapbook Dreams by contacting Phil at philgennuso@gmail.com

or his Etsy site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PhilGennusoArts

Website: https://philgsblog.wordpress.com

Dawn Pisturino

April 5, 2023

Copyright 2023 Phil Gennuso. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

30 Comments »

Poetry Book Review: Archery in the UK

Archery in the UK by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson (2023). Available on Amazon.com.

While reading this beautiful and deeply-moving collection of poems, certain associations kept popping into my head. Sonnets from the Portuguese. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Robert Browning. This book is quintessentially a collection of verses devoted to Love – the remarkable uniting of two cherished souls, love of the land, love of nature, love of beauty, and love of the language that allows us to shape our thoughts, feelings, and dreams into words.

Most of the poems in this collection are not sonnets, but the quality, tone, rhythm, and spirit of these verses capture the essence of Shakespeare, the two Brownings, and classic British lyrical poetry in general. Love in this poetic realm spreads its wings wider and flies higher than mortals are allowed in the ordinary world. The poets invite us into their secret bower of shared passion and romance, reminding us that love is a beautiful gift, and so is every precious moment of our lives.

This is an excerpt from Honeymoon Night, whose simplicity, sincerity, and repetition captured my heart and helped me to visualize the scene so clearly:

“. . . Our bodies entangled

our minds even more so

complete, I love you oh

so sweet, I love you so.

The candlelight flickers and flares

trickles tallow

temptation’s so sweet – oh

I do so love you so.

As husband and wife

we awake on the morrow

‘I do’ and ‘I will’ so

I’ll always love you so.

Our honeymoon song’s

taken up by the sparrow:

I do so love you so

I do so love you so.

~

Archery in the UK was published by Experiments in Fiction (Ingrid Wilson).

Nick Reeves’s website: Nick Reeves’s Blog

Dawn Pisturino

March 1, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

I HATE SNAKES – A Poem

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

I HATE SNAKES

by Dawn Pisturino

Don’t go into the swamp!

But we ignored them,

For we were great explorers,

Hunting for lost civilizations

And buried treasure

In the deepest jungles of Africa.

We plowed through the snake grass,

Climbed over rotting tree trunks,

Hung from wild grape vines,

Chattering like monkeys.

And we never considered the dangers

Lurking in our “jungle.”

The old summerhouse lay hidden

Among tangled green bushes

And thorn-studded berry brambles,

Overlooking the banks of the St. Joseph River.

I pushed open the creaky door to look inside

And froze in shock at what I saw:

Slithering, crawling, scaly snakes

Formed a moving carpet on the floor,

Entwining in an intimate embrace,

Lying together in a clump of shimmering bodies,

Moving slowly and surely in the rotten shadows.

We beat a hasty retreat

And never visited our “jungle” again.

And that’s why, even today,

I HATE SNAKES!

Published in Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology (2023), available on Amazon.com.

~

Dawn Pisturino

February 6, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Co-Author, #1 Amazon Bestseller, Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology (2023)

Co-Author, 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine (2022)

Co-Author, #1 Amazon Bestseller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (2022)

55 Comments »

The Listener – A Poem

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

The Listener

by Dawn Pisturino

As a small child,

I lay in my small bed,

Listening to the mourning doves

Crying softly, “Coo-hoo! Coo-hoo!”

From the woods across the road

In the early morning light.

At night, the owls called to me –

“Who’s there? Who’s there?” –

A comforting lullaby that

Quieted my childish fears

And lulled me fast to sleep.

The thunder spoke to me

When the rain called my name,

Throwing his fierce lightning bolts

Across the black, menacing sky.

And when the storm passed away,

A hungry mosquito berated me,

Demanding a bloody feast.

~

The world is not a silent place.

Nor a place of peace.

~

As I grew,

The sounds of life grew louder:

Crashing metal when a truck turned over on the icy road.

My mother screaming,

My father shouting,

Then silence . . . when the unknown driver breathed no more.

~

Published in Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology (2023), available on Amazon.com.

Dawn Pisturino

February 1, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Co-Author, #1 Amazon Bestseller, Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology (2023)

Co-Author, 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine (2022)

Co-Author, #1 Amazon Bestseller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (2022)

59 Comments »

Available Now! – “Hidden in Childhood” Anthology

Already an Amazon #1 Bestseller in New Releases of Poetry Anthologies, Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology, is now available on Amazon.com! Two of my poems appear in the collection, The Listener and I HATE SNAKES.

Amazon Description

“From authors featured on NPR, BBC, and the New York Times, and from emerging poets, comes a monumental anthology in which every poem sends shivers down your spine. Childhood’s joy and trauma expressed – with stunning talent and sincerity – by over 150 poets in more than 280 poems. Childhood spaces magnified by the human memory, populated by good and bad, by trips to hell and heaven, in an almost Hieronymus Bosch type of atmosphere. Over 150 voices call you to read this book. Read it. You will learn that childhood never goes away. You will be reminded of the beauty of the seraphim and the need to protect children from any form of abuse. 150 voices knock on your door. Open the door. A chorus of childhoods will tell you that our children need love.

Literary Revelations is proud to bring you this anthology and deeply grateful to all contributors for pouring out their hearts into the pages of this book.” (Gabriela Marie Milton, Editor)

It’s a wonderful collection, full of wonderful poems by talented poets.

Get your copy today!

Dawn Pisturino

January 30, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Co-Author, #1 Amazon Bestseller, Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology (2023)

Co-Author, 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine

Co-Author, #1 Amazon Bestseller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (2022)

All are available on Amazon.com.

27 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Fritzinie Lavoile and Khaya Ronkainen

(Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash)

Ruminative Words by Fritzinie Lavoile (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

Fritzinie is a young Haitian poet whose poetry reflects wisdom beyond her years. Her verses are tender, insightful, beautiful, and filled with hope. Though young in years, she freely shares her thoughts, emotions, and experiences on various topics: love, heartache, disappointment, betrayal, survival, racism, and the deep and abiding love and support found within her own family and faith. Her poetry is a vehicle for helping others find their “safe space” and become their own “safety net.”

From the very first poem in the collection, I was hooked:

“May our love be like the branches on a tree . . .

which not even the strongest of winds could break.

May our love rise above obstacles . . .

that block its path towards the light.

May our love stretch its every inch

as it reaches for life.”

Surviving an earthquake, she writes:

“Sometimes I feel like I am still that six-year-old girl in

Haiti.

In the middle of an earthquake.

Stuck under that brick wall.

Everyone tramping on top of me

yearning to survive,

deafened to my cries.”

In spite of difficulties and pain, she perseveres:

“I press my eyes

begging for tomorrow to come.

The night insists on being a little longer

teaching me the importance of longing.

Of being patient.”

Although I do not know Fritzinie personally, I feel a connection to her after reading her lovely collection of poems. Her strength and resilience shine through her words, giving me hope that even the darkest days will still produce young poets with the energy to shine through the clouds and write to inspire and uplift those around them.

Website: http://www.ruminativewords.com

The Sheltering by Khaya Ronkainen (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

Khaya is a South African poet living in Finland. Her impressive collection of poems is written with thoughtful consideration, deep emotion, and keen observation of the world around her.  Written during the COVID-19 pandemic, she addresses issues like depression, isolation, grief, friendship, and family. Her experience with the pandemic and lockdown reflects the experience of so many other people who suddenly found themselves suffering in silence and alienation: Why did this happen? Are we doing the right thing? Will it ever end? Will life return to normal? What is the end result of such a dystopian event? Finally, leaving the shelter of home prompted new concerns: Is the world a better place? Are we better people now? Did we learn anything new? Will it happen again?

The world is already divided

No sooner have we all agreed

that this pandemic knows no colour

than we witness reality

Life is cheap for those who can afford

The common enemy encircles

gathering strength, widening the gap

between the haves and have-nots

Inertia and action, fraternal twins

whose distinction seems unimportant

yet change hangs in the balance”

Expressing herself through poetry helped Khaya get through the pandemic. Yet, while humans sheltered at home, nature continued its orderly routine. Flowers still bloomed. Birds still warbled. The earth still turned. And when that final autumn came before the restrictions were lifted, leaves still burned with color and hope:

“Nothing depicts autumn like October’s blazing

sun before it dips beneath the horizon. While

I toast marshmallows in the evenings and

drink apple cider sangria deep into the night, I

acknowledge you are a multifaceted season of

the soul. A season to dance with things I

cannot control and reclaim freedom. I’ll

indulge and celebrate on your good days.

Because I cannot stop leaves from falling.”

We could not stop the pandemic, but we endured. What we choose to do with that is up to us. The world is still a beautiful place:

“A blue tit puffed up with boldness

reminds of its presence

and calm outlasts

the storm.”

Website: http://www.khayaronkainen.fi

~

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today!

~

Dawn Pisturino

January 16, 2023

Copyright 2022-2023 Fritzinie Lavoile. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022-2023 Khaya Ronkainen. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

“Hidden in Childhood” Anthology Acceptance

I’m pleased and honored to announce that my poetry has been accepted for inclusion in the upcoming anthology, Hidden in Childhood, edited by the wonderfully gifted Gabriela Marie Milton, and published by Literary Revelations Publishing House. The anthology will be released in late January 2023. Submissions will remain open until January 3, 2023.

Thank you so much for including me!

Dawn Pisturino

December 22, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Co-author, 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine (Arizona Authors Association)

Co-author, #1 Amazon Best-seller, Wounds I Healed: Poetry of Strong Women (edited by Gabriela Marie Milton)

58 Comments »

Spotlight on Aparna Jagannath, Writer

(Photo by Vigneshwar Rajkumar on Unsplash)

Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Aparna Jagannath, a dear WordPress friend who lives in Chennai, India. Her passion for reading and writing is unsurpassed. She is a prolific reader with an M.A. in English Literature. She possesses impressive knowledge about writers from various cultures. She also writes wonderful poems and stories that will knock your socks off with their profound wisdom, wicked humor, and keen insight into the human condition. She does not mince words but gets right to the heart of the matter. Aparna is also a strong advocate for women’s rights in India and around the world. Right now, two of her books are available on Amazon.com:

This collection of stories offers valuable life lessons for children and teenagers alike. Aparna covers many topics: cheating on exams, rude behavior towards family, making healthy decisions, coping with harmful friends, bullying, indifference to school, kindness to animals, and others. My favorite story is “Trapped inside a Smartphone” because it is clever, well-written, and thought-provoking. If your child enjoys reading books about other countries and cultures, he or she will find this book highly enjoyable.

Excerpt:

“A maze of wires surrounded him from all the sides. He was lying beside a giant motherboard. The place was air-conditioned. He almost started shivering. He looked around for his family, but couldn’t spot anyone. ‘Can you hear me, mom? Where are you, daddy?’ he screamed his lungs out, panicking. . .”

Aparna writes from the heart in this fine collection of poems. With honesty and openness, she speaks about the loss of friends, her father, and honor and compassion in the world. She fiercely advocates for herself, her daughter, and all women around the world in their struggle for freedom, dignity, and respect. Her hopes and dreams form the foundation of her writing. In spite of the crushing injustices she sees around her, she conveys a spirit of hope that the world can be a better place.

“Is it my dream? Are you really visible to my eyes?

Thirty long years have passed since we met each other.

Now we are chatting over a video call.

What a wonderful surprise! . . .”

~

“Why should women observe silence?

Why shouldn’t they raise voice against domestic violence?

Why should they submit to male chauvinism?

Why shouldn’t they protect their feminism? . . .”

~

“I thank you, Mother Nature, for supporting all forms of life.

You tolerate our misdeeds with a smile while we are busy with the knife.

I thank you, Mother Earth, for enabling us to live.

We have hurt you in many ways; yet, you always forgive . . .”

~

“Let’s tread carefully on this dangerous path of life forever.

These roads are sometimes narrow and slippery.

Let’s try not to lose our balance to their treachery . . .”

~

You can visit Aparna at her WordPress blog here.

Dawn Pisturino

December 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Aparna Jagannath. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

The Poem that Inspired Simon & Garfunkel

Richard Cory – the poem that inspired Simon & Garfunkel

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went downtown,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich — yes, richer than a king —

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

~Edwin Arlington Robinson~

~

In 1966, Simon & Garfunkel borrowed Robinson’s poem, “Richard Cory,” modernized the language, and set it to music. The song is both thought-provoking and astonishing – just like Robinson’s poem – and was included in the duo’s hit album, Sounds of Silence.

I personally think the song lyrics are infinitely better than the poem. But, listen for yourself!

~

Bio: While Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) is not remembered much now, he was a highly prolific and enthusiastically praised poet in his time. He often wrote on “themes of personal failure, artistic endeavor, materialism [and wealth], and the inevitability of [progress and] change” (Robert Gilbert). Robinson self-published his books of poetry until Houghton Mifflin agreed to publish his book of poems, Captain Craig, in 1902. The book was not successful, and Robinson became a drifter and alcoholic. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt became aware of Robinson and his book, The Children of the Night. Roosevelt convinced Charles Scribner’s Sons to republish the book. He also obtained a job for Robinson at the New York Customs House. Job security allowed Robinson to continue with his writing. Robinson won a Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems in 1922. He won a second Pulitzer Prize in 1924. In 1927, he won a third Pulitzer Prize. Robinson died of cancer in 1935.

Thanks for visiting!

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

#1 Amazon Bestseller. Get your copy today!
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