Saturday, July 11, 2015

Why Writers Should Study "Act Natural"

I needed a book to read so I picked up actor Ken Howard's (film The White Shadow et al) a week ago and have been enjoying it immensely lounging in my hammock. Every nice afternoon I unscroll it and lay outside, reading and annotating in pen every book I read. I'm still in the middle of Books of the Century, selections from 100 years of New York Times book reviews, but needed a change. I try to only read books, articles, news and blogs that will stimulate and inform, rather than just thrill like my Jason Bourne past favorites. I'm too old not to be discerning with my limited time.

Anyway, Ken's book has and is enlightening, packed with real life examples of the points he makes, and 100% applicable to writers, despite being a book about speaking in public. Speaking in front of an audience is the number two fear of Americans, so as a would-be writer, hoping to do interviews, teach writing courses, sell my books and be a renaissance man, his words are ringing true on all levels. (The number one fear has become walking alone at night according to Time magazine's July 6 Double issue.) 

If I find the time I'll write a companion book titled Write Natural because Act Natural has hundreds of parallels to good writing, and, mainly, good truth-telling. For Ken's main mantra is to be oneself, in no matter what "role" we inhabit: single, married, father, mother, worker, neighbor, leader, actor etc. And that to me, is the essence of good writing - being truthful about and to oneself. To act believably, is to be yourself, with preparational research as your foundation.

To write what is believable, whether fiction or non, is to write well, and that means words chosen and actions shown must ring true. I have two shelves of writing, grammar and style books, and this will not be placed there when done. It's so good (if not a little wordy), it will remain my close companion in weekly travels while I absorb its wisdoms.

Here's a few examples from the book, with my inserts in parenthesis to show its transferability to writing:

  "I will show you how a master singer (writer) like Sinatra (Rowling) also used his (her) body, head, and his (her) heart to reach an audience." (p.11)

"For when everything works -- when the adrenaline, the words, and the charge from a satisfied audience all come together -- the result is an experience that even the most nonreligious actors (writers) ... can only describe as spiritual." (p. 22)

"The Zone is within the reach of public speakers (writers) as well. (p. 23)

"My aim is to help you develop an easygoing, conversational delivery (style)." (p. 36)

"When you practice (write) alone, do it out loud. Trust me. I know it may seem a little strange at first, but it makes a big difference." (p. 43)

Almost every page of Act Natural has clear, applicable points to aid any person become a better speaker, and any writer to become a better writer (if you read "writer" into his lines).

by Rodney Richards, Authorpreneur, Author of Episodes, A poetic memoir, about experiencing bipolar; and facilitator of numerous writing classes.

Act Natural is available on Amazon for $5.90 new, copyright 2003 Ken Howard, published by Random House

Monday, July 6, 2015

Giving Away your Rights

Just a few words
every writer, author, blogger, publisher, or copier 
    must know:

"_____________ Company grants you 
  a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, 
  non-transferable license 
  to access and make personal, 
  non-commercial use of the (Material) or its content 
and not to download 
  (other than page caching or unless otherwise allowed 
         by _______________ Company or permitted by law) 
or modify all or any portion of the (Material) 
  and its content.

This license does not include any resale or 
  commercial use of the Material or its contents;"

Content is King these modern times, always has been
      and it is not "free" although you'd never know
when you see company names 
      like Huff Post or Random House
and the writer's or author's name
      even if "House editors"
and the article title
      and date and time of pub

None of it is free
      not even from my source of choice

All require attribution, and/or a fee, 
      for you to use
unless a critic...
      so criticize whatever you copy 
is my advice

Add your opinion of it.

Speak your mind and heart
      don't let it stand -- 

If that is what you must do 
      to save your assets and not get sued
in this U.S. and worldwide society
      litigious as in ubiquitous
all to make a buck
      not from their content,
but from your auth or 
      unauthorized use of it

More money to be made 
      in that than the creation itself
for Content is King
      and you won't get paid for it
but may get your name in print
      for whatever that's worth...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Asking Permission

Dick my boss told me decades ago
        "Easier to ask for forgiveness
              than for permission"
as we spent millions of
     dollars of
someone else's taxes
      without asking
only telling

Today authors jobs
       tough as nails
 'cause every word  or lyric's
        been hashtagged before
and our job to twist them
         to make our own

With 17 million books
       on Amazon today
over 300k published new
and that's just here

With tweets and captions and bon mots and sayings
       quips and quotes and sound bites galore
who could ever be sure
       it hasn't been said before

I can't

So Google is best bud, my pal, my friend

And when I find
      words from someone else
I want to ask permission

But none tell you how
      not even a tweet
how to obtain
       a Right to Use
so I can make a few bucks
       using mostly mine
and fewness of their's

Writing letters to the Editor
       the Times called and asked
for sources –
       never did in past editions

Publishers and editors
       demand the same
every one
       before they'll print

When once found
       these original sources
only delay response
       perhaps emails back and forth

"How many words (do you intend to use)?
        and they have hidden magic price lists
they won't share

"Six bucks per copy
       for 3,000 words."
And I don't know
       if Mister King or
only Simon & Shuster
       keeps the dough

And the delay
       rather than money
kills the project
       unless self-published

So that's just what I'll do
       and to hell with you
who create deep bottomless
       hell pits

Sue my LLC if you
         care too

Original prose poem by Rodney Richards 7-4-15
Author's note: Based on true stories

Playing Fair with Music Lyrics

There's only one way
      to publish favorite lyrics
for money
      and that's critical review
according to Copyright Act
      section 107

What's said and used must
       be transformative
not merely derivative
        according to U.S. courts

If changing Woo Hoo, woo hoo hoo
        from the 5, 6, 7, 8s
to Wooo Whooo, Wooo Whooo
        that's merely derivative

But if saying "I never heard
        such a stupid thing as Woo Hoo,"
that's opinion
        which can't be challenged

Even tho
        I've probably called it out
once or twice hailing a friend
        but women seem to do that
more than men
        or is it "You Who?"

Whether publishing opinion
       for commercial gain
or not

So here goes, although
       admitting I hate
criticizing popular music or
       classic rocks favorites

Don't like callin' out
       musicians and singers
they work hard and good
        at what they write and sing and play
so deserve their
        sweat from labors
and box office proceeds

Sing along and hum and tap with
       Billy Joel and the
       Beatles and
Stones songs for three

Each free on MS Media Player
       every morn

But can't sell any, any, lyrics
      to make money for me,
that would be illegal
      would get sued for sure
because record labels and Tom Petty
       are ruthless

They sued Robin Thicke
       and Pharrell Williams
just to name two who lost
       over three stupid notes
to "earn" free money for
       lawyers and studios

Publishing one's exact words
      a big "No no"
causing loss of assets
      for sure
as other writers horror stories
      by Writers Beware shows

We're forced to ask some
       unknown or most popular
author or publisher for

Hard to get easily
      for all the hullabaloo and
          woo hoo,
these assholes cause

Original prose poem by Rodney Richards 7-4-15