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Have a Laugh about Language, Writers and Writing

Writers, It’s time to laugh at ourselves.
A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus.

“It’s a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway,” he said.

“Actually,” said his guide, “it’s named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation.”

The visitor was astonished. “Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?”

“Yes, indeed,” said his guide. “He wrote a check.”


A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”


There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define great, he said, “I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!”

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.


A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.

“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is–”

“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”


How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to screw the bulb almost all the way in, and one to give a surprising twist at the end.


From the pen of Paul Ogden

  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • A backward poet writes inverse.
  • No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery


From http://bit.ly/N4pjcW
A Spanish speaking bandit held up a bank in Tucson. The sheriff and his deputy chased him. When they captured him, and the sheriff, who couldn’t speak Spanish, asked him where he’d hidden the money. “No sé nada,” he replied.

The sheriff put a gun to the bandit’s head and said to his bi-lingual deputy: “Tell him that if he doesn’t tell us where the money is right now, I’ll blow his brains out.”

Upon receiving the translation, the bandit became very animated. “¡Ya me acuerdo! Tienen que caminar tres cuadras hasta ese gran arbol: allí está el dinero.”

The sheriff leaned forward. “Yeah? Well..?”

The deputy replied: “He says he wants to die like a man.”


Can you add a joke or funny thought about writers, writing or language to this pitiful collection?

An Author is an Amateur Writer Who Didn’t Quit

Richard Bach encouraged us to never stop trying. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

That’s great advice from a wonderful author. The only catch is that many amateur writers don’t aspire to become professionals, at least not at first. They often just want to tell their story, right a wrong, share a solution to a problem, or offer motivation to people struggling with problems they once had.

Does this sound like you?

Almost everyday I meet amateur writers who have been churning out amazing work, but have never published it.

Like the

  • poet who has readings with friends and family but hasn’t collected his work in a book or ebook where we can all enjoy it
  • the gourmet cook who has created amazing recipes scribbled on sheets of paper stuffed in a recipe box
  • the home gardener who has figured out a foolproof way to nourish perennials that anyone can follow
  • the social worker who has kept a journal for years chronicling her successful techniques in working with many struggling families

You see, a  published author does not have to write massive tomes, winding novels or an aloe vera cure for skin cancer.A published author is an amateur writer who takes an entertaining idea, a solution to a problem, a stirring memoir or a collection of inspirational poetry and gets it into print or digital form where we can all enjoy and benefit. With so many improvements in the publishing industry this has gotten easier than ever.

To see your book published, however, is not in the hands of the publishing industry alone. You must do something unpublished writers never do.

You must finish.

Not when you feel like it, but consistently, feverishly, obsessively, until you end up with a first draft.

The first draft is called a rough draft, but it is more than that. It is the magical first step to becoming an author. Every author, whether famous or not, has to meet this challenge using whatever energy, time or resources are available to him or her.

The first draft is not perfect. It may be choppy, tentative and in need of many revisions. It’s not ready to go to print yet, but it has to come first.

When do you write?

Whenever you can.

Will you sit idly sometimes wondering if you’ll ever think of another word to write? Absolutely!

But you keep writing, and you don’t wait for ideal conditions.

–You don’t wait until you can get away to a Walden Pond where you can write in a pristine setting free of  interruptions.

–You don’t wait until the kids are grown or until you can afford the latest computer or pen.

–You make time in your day or night to sit down and begin to organize your scraps of paper, journal entries or random ideas into an order that can be understood by another person.

As a matter of fact, if you are going through struggles in your life right now, write about them. You may not end up publishing all of this, but what better time to hone your writing skills than now while you are in the heat of your challenges. Besides, it is therapeutic to talk about what’s happening in your life, even if it’s just in your journal for now.

Here’s a message I got from an aspiring author
Hi Dr. Brown,

I am a procrastinator. I have not gone to the website that you suggested to take the training to learn how to write my book. I need motivation. I have a burning desire to write but my current life situation does not lend itself to privacy to write. I currently live with my mother who has a pacemaker and is 80 years old. I have to spend time with her and my mind is not clear to write. I have writers block. I am also working a part time job in [deleted her location] and having problems getting accustomed to the culture since I left the South due to the racism but now that I have returned it is very prominent and I am not accustomed to the type of culture that I am forced into in the work environment. I can’t stand living in the past where people are prohibited to learn and advance. This is what I am experiencing.

My response to her

You express some of the same pain and challenges that other writers undergo. Add to that your return to the South and living with your mother and it definitely makes for a writing challenge.

On the other hand, some writers find that when they make time to journal about their struggles they feel better and after many, many entries often have the makings of a great book.

Do you write down your feelings and experiences? Get your feelings and thoughts on paper/computer and watch what a relief it’ll be. Instead of being blocked, when you write about what you’re going through, you’re likely to have a gush of writing.


There are many ways to go from first draft to published book. The one essential element is YOU, the writer willing to finish a first draft. Another vital element is OTHER AUTHORS with whom you can connect, collaborate, and  get encouragement. A third vital element is A PUBLISHING COACH, like me, willing to be your partner in choosing the best publishing path while avoiding the potholes to get you to your goals. If you would like to have a conversation about your writing project, I’m ready to explore ideas with you. Drop me an email at flora@florabrown.com Contact me at learn more.

How Do You Write a Book Worth Reading?

When Jonathan Fields, blogger, author, and entrepreneur recently announced his book marketing program, Tribal Author, he wrote

This is the most incredible time in history to be an author. Power, freedom and, yes, money, are there for the taking…if you get what’s really happening and are willing to act on it.

Doesn’t matter if you’ve never published or you’re an established author. Nor does it matter if you’re a writer’s writer or a business person wanting a book to use as a business card. You don’t need to censor, cannibalize or sell-out to benefit from the revolution. In fact, it’s more important than ever to write a phenomenal book.

Further down the page he stresses the importance of building an enterprise (more than what most call a platform) and learning to launch a campaign because writing a great book is not enough. If you are scanning his blog page fast you may miss when he says this

(Hack alert: this assumes you actually know how to write a book worth reading. Nothing will save a book that’s horrid).

I  agree that this is the most amazing time in history for authors who grasp the part they must play in selling their book, but how do you determine if a book is worth reading?

Some pretty horrid books were forced upon me in college because somebody had decided they were great literature. I survived to go on and write some pretty horrid stuff myself, some of which a few people bought.

Who decides if a book is worth reading?

The road to writing success is paved with rejections. A few of these are legendary:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul books were rejected by more than 100 publishers before they found one who would print their book.  They still had to create demand for the book, working everyday for a long time until their idea caught fire.
  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lack of ideas.
  • English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
  • By the time Stephen King was 14 he had received so many rejection slips that they were too heavy for the nail holding them up. He replaced it with a spike.
  • J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers and almost by a 13th publisher, who gave in when his daughter pleaded with  him to publish the book.

These authors could have been rejected for many reasons, of course, but it’s clear that their writing was not considered worth reading.

Who decides if a book is worth reading?

Since a publisher takes a substantial financial risk in carrying a book to market, it’s understandable that they get to decide if a book is worth reading. Publishers don’t like taking risks. They are like banks that only want to loan money to people who already have plenty of it.

If a literary agent is being asked to shop your book around to find a willing publisher, it is the agent who quickly decides if she thinks she can convince a publisher to take on your book.

But what if the end user, the reader, got to decide what is worth reading. Wouldn’t that be great?

That is exactly where we stand now with blogs, ebooks and other digital products. Because the reader is free to read these types of writing directly from the author, it is the reader who decides if your work is worth reading.

No one is born a great writer

“Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’–which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.”
– Maya Angelou

Like learning to play the piano, lining words up to convey our thoughts may come easier to some than others, but we all have to practice, refine and hone our writing skills. Who is to say when our writing is good, good enough or great?

Writing is a lifetime endeavor, in fact. Every time an author starts a new book, she is at the beginning again.

There is a point at which you must let a manuscript go, a point at which you must decide you’re finished. You remember that feeling when an assignment was due in high school or college and you had to turn it in, imperfect as it was.

Writers don’t have to be great to be worth reading

Changes in publishing  have made it possible for anyone  to churn out a book. Some may have to hawk their work directly to readers to find their audience. But every writer’s  goal may not be to please a big audience or to rake in millions.

Take the poems I write every Christmas chronicling the year’s events in my family, for example. My audience is small. My poems are corny and the ryhming fractured. And yet, if one of my friends fails to receive his copy of my Christmas poem, he calls requesting it.

Since greatness is in the mind of the reader, I encourage writers to write, to rewrite, to read what they consider good writing and then write some more.

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

If you intend to make your living from writing or will measure your book’s worth by how copies sold, then by all means you must turn substantial attention to marketing. Introvert or not you will have to hustle.  The traditional publisher, even after you win his blessings, won’t be much help with this. Dan Poynter, Mr. Publishing, points out that whether you go with traditional publishing or self-publish, you will have to market your own book.

How do you write a book worth reading?

Write a book worth writing.

How do you decide a book’s worth?

Writing a Book is the Rage: Are You a Published Author Yet?

Is it just me or does writing a book seem to be the latest rage?

My email bulges with announcements of teleseminars, conferences, retreats, summits and classes all set on helping aspiring authors and ambitious entrepreneurs write books, and fast. Workshops and packaged courses promise that you can write [Read more…]

Authors Welcome Here

You have found your way here. That tells me something. You are either writing a book, thinking about writing a book, or trying to figure out how to publish the one you wrote.

On this site you’ll find help in many forms. Resources, tips, and announcements of classes and other events for aspiring authors and self-publishers.

Get [Read more…]