Opening Inward Newsletter
An Occasional Publication Produced by Write From the Heart Seminars
* Exploring New Paths for Creativity & Spiritual Development
By Hal Zina Bennett
Welcome to the Opening Inward Newsletter, a publication for people interested
in creative writing and publishing. If you are new to this newsletter,
introductions are in order. I'm an author and writing coach. I've had 31 books
of my own successfully published and have helped other authors, as well as
publishers, develop their projects.
At the bottom of the last page of this newsletter you'll find my website
address where you can learn more about my own writing work, and even read
excerpts from my current books.
I hope you enjoy and benefit from my efforts. Your suggestions and comments
are always appreciated.
More and more writers are turning to the Internet for support from other
writers and for current information about publishing. It can be a lonely world,
this business of writing, since to do it requires a lot of uninterrupted time in
front of our computers or with pen and paper, as the case may be. While I find
that the quality of information available online is, well, inconsistent, I still
think that for many of us it's a godsend to have access to other writers.
I recently received a new book in the mail which can be a valuable resource
for any writer though the title would suggest that it is only for people
interested in one genre. The title is: Spiritual Writing: From Inspiration to
Publication. ($16.95 pub by Beyond Words.) The author is Deborah Levine Herman,
with Cynthia Black. I am aware of the book by virtue of having contributed a
small article on spiritual fiction, which you can also read there. The focus of
the book is really on the business of writing and publishing, and while it deals
with some of the special challenges of the person interested in spiritual
themes, the real strength is in the former. In the back of the book is a
wonderful resource section, including names of agents and publishers, and some
online resources for writers in general. Here's a selection of writing resources
from that book:
For Writers on the Internet
Info about markets, links to other resources, reviews of writing related
books and FAQs on software, hardware and the Internet. Click here for Writers
on the Internet.
Association of Authors' Representatives
Offers comprehensive information on literary agents belonging to this
respected professional organization. Good place to shop for agents. Click here
for Association of Author's
The Authors Guild
Professional organization for published authors. Great legal resource.
They've been around for 80 years and are perhaps the most powerful advocate for
authors. Click here for The
A great place to go for forums on writing and publishing. You can even
have your own website there and sell your books online through them. Click here
Coffeehouse for Writers
Bills themselves as an "online writers colony; a place where writers...
gather to critique, advise, and encourage each other." Click here for Coffeehouse
Information on writing, publishing and promotion. They offer a regular online
newsletter that you can subscribe to. Click here for Para
The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link)
Grew out of the Whole Earth Catalog, bill themselves as "literate
watering hole for thinkers from all walks of life." Membership fee. Click
here for The WELL (Whole Earth
They say of themselves: "helps build relationships between writers,
publishers, editors, and literary agents." Click here for Writers
This is just a small selection of the online resources to get you started.
Most of these sites have links to other websites for writers. If you get into it
at all, you'll discover a whole world out there.
I'm always being asked about resources for fiction writers. There are a lot
of books out there to choose from good, bad and indifferent. My favorite by far
is How To Write a Damn Good Novel, by James N. Frey, published by St. Martin's
Press, $18.95. There is a sequel, titled How To Write A Damn Good Novel II.
While Frey himself is mostly an adventure novel writer (notably, The Armageddon
Game, Circle of Death, and The Elixir). I recommend his books for anyone who
wants to write truly engaging fiction with a strong story line and good
I'm a person who learns best when I can see examples, and that's what Frey
supplies a lot of. He's also a very economical writer, with a good sense of
humor (on the sardonic side), so the books are fun to read. One of the quotes I
found helpful in his second book had to do with understanding the relationship
between good story and character development. Frey says, "Freezing the
quivering and helpless reader to the book is what a novelist lives for. To do
that, the novelist tries to make his or her readers 'worry and wonder' about
characters. 'Worrying and wondering' is another way of saying the reader is
being held in suspense."
In a recent issue of Publishers Weekly, the industry house organ, there was a
short article announcing that the New York Times is going to be publishing
original poetry in the Book Review, starting February 17. Asked why they were
going to do so, since it has long been their policy not to, Chip McGrath, the
New York Times Book Review editor replied, "Why not? We're not pioneers
about this; other reviews do it."
If I didn't have more class than that, I'd be tempted to respond to McGrath's
statement with a loud, "Well, duh!" But I won't do that. (Or did I?)
The fact that the NYTBR has long had a policy of NOT publishing poetry is what
amazes me. For a publication that many consider to be the leading literary
review in the nation, it seems a little backward to me, given that our nation
has such a rich poetry tradition. But then, I live on the left coast and I guess
some of these high literary decisions of the NYT must sail over my head. Bottom
line, however, is that I think it's probably good news that McGrath and company
will be giving poetry the nod.
Meanwhile, in case you haven't noticed, there seems to be a quiet but
significant poetry renaissance going on in this country. Even way out here in
Northern California's quiet coastal towns, high schools have sponsored poetry
slams for young writers. And throughout the country, poetry readings are growing
in popularity. From time to time, Publishers Weekly even prints a whole section
of poetry book reviews, something you rarely saw even five years ago.
It is interesting to me that poetry everything from "slams" and
"rap" to subdued poetry readings in public libraries has gained
renewed popularity at a time when the written word supposedly has been drowned
out by TV. Maybe there is something in the human soul that yearns for the depth
that good poetry can reach, and that the very absence of depth in the daily TV
fare is indirectly feeding the fire for new poetry.
We live in a small, rural community timber, grapes and pears being the
mainstays of our local economy and yet there are perhaps 100 local poets with
published books in a three-county area. Poetry readings are pretty big events,
with up to 60 and 80 people showing up, even for our local poets, in some cases.
In all of the three counties I'm talking about, there are regular monthly poetry
readings, providing a viable venue where both published and yet-to-be published
poets can have the opportunity to be heard.
I highly recommend local readings such as these for building a supportive
poetry community. At times of great change in any society, grassroots poetry and
music can be profoundly important, reminding us of the resilience and endurance
and beauty of the human heart.
Except for quoted material, this newsletter and its contents are the property
of Hal Zina Bennett and Opening Inward. Please ask for permission if you wish to
reprint anything you read here.
For more information, see my website: www.HalZinaBennett.Com
email me at: Halbooks@halzinabennett.com
While I do my best to make sure this letter goes only to people who've
requested it, errors do occur. Send me an email with your address clearly
indicated along with the word "REMOVE" in the subject area. My
apologies if you received this letter in error.