The Write Stuff

Area writers share secrets
to their success at workshop

Self-publishing has become
a popular way to go for writers

(August 2018) – More than 1 million books are published each year in the United States, according to estimates, with more than half of them now self-published. It is very difficult to get the attention of a traditional publisher and even more difficult to actually get a publisher to publish that great American novel you have just written.

David Kummer

David Kummer has found a better way – self-publishing. As he worked through the challenges of writing and publishing his book, he wanted to share those experiences and lessons learned with other writers. He envisioned creating an environment for writers to share ideas to grow as writers. Recently, he contacted several writers to collaborate with him on a Writer’s Workshop. Published authors Ben Newell, Heidi Dare, Kamra Lee Smith and William Allen participated in the workshop that was presented July 26 at the Jefferson County Public Library in Madison, Ind.
Kummer’s first book, “As Trees Turned Away,” was a series of short stories, each starting with a letter of the alphabet. It was published in 2015. He has now completed a total of six books. His first success milestone was highlighted with a posting on his blog titled, “I’m a Thousand-aire!” In less than three years, he had earned $1,000 through the sale of his books – an exciting accomplishment for the now 17-year-old author.

Ben Newell

He looks for creative ways to increase the sales of his books. Last fall, Kummer partnered with Newell to split the cost of a booth at the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art. To his delight, he sold 30 books. The “sweet spot,” he said, was a $10 paperback that was inscribed and signed by the author. On the other hand, Newell sold two books. “Horror sells better,” said Newell. 
Newell’s first book tells the true story of Maj. Sam Woodfill, the most decorated soldier of World War I. Woodfill was born and raised in Bryantsburg, Ind., just north of Madison. Newell became interested in this story through the legends he heard from his students in the Madison schools who were descendants of Woodfill. After Newell retired, he completed the research and published the book in 2008. He has since published four additional books, narrative stories of the early church.  
Newell encountered many challenges in trying to work with traditional publishers. He, too, ended up self-publishing his book using Amazon’s CreateSpace, On Demand Publishing L.L.C. Amazon provides the template to follow. The author writes the draft, follows directions, and when finished, the book will be available on Amazon within a few days. The challenge is that there is no editor. Newell’s advice to other self-publishing writers is, “Remember, what is written is published. It can be dangerous.” Newell also noted that as a writer, he is most grateful for “spellcheck” technology.

Heidi Dare

Dare started writing as a little girl. She wrote her first poem in second grade. However, when she was in fifth grade, her teacher made critical remarks that shut down her creative writing for a while. The creativity came back, and she fell in and out of love, sharing her thoughts and feelings in poetry. She completed college and pursued a career as a high school teacher of biology and chemistry.
She said she loved teaching, was good at it and invested all of her energy in challenging her students to learn. However, she still loved writing the most. So today at the age of 37, she is a full-time writer. Her first book of poems will be released from the publisher this fall. She said she has had a very positive experience working with a traditional publisher.
Her advice to other writers is to “find your literary voice.” What is the style and personality of your writing? She found that she is finished when she knows her voice is “right” and the poem says what she wants it to say. Her style is tongue-in-cheek, clever, with multiple meanings and layers and lyrical verse that flows like music. She also likes metaphors. 

Kamra Lee Smith

Smith wrote her first novel, “Becoming Peace,” after researching a proposed theory that Barabbas was the leader of a radical group before he joined the disciples of Jesus. As she conducted her research, she was fascinated by the potential to tell the story. She started writing, and soon it was a book.
Her route to publishing was different. She found Lucid Books Publishing, a publisher that agreed to read her draft without any upfront fees. The publisher liked her writing and worked with her to publish the book. Her advice to writers is about motivation. She discussed writer’s block and finding purpose in writing. She had been told that to overcome writers block, just write, even if it is gibberish. When she tried that, she ended up with nothing useful and found it a waste of time. She decided to only write when she feels inspired. That works best for her. 
The other strategy she uses is to identify the purpose, goal or point to the story. Is there a moral, a value or an end goal? What is the point to get across to the reader, or how does the writer want to impact the reader? If she gets ideas and inspiration at times that it is not convenient to start writing, she finds it useful to send herself a quick text message on her phone.
Allen is a college student who has been writing since his junior year in high school. His original goal was to pursue a career in psychology. However, after taking an elective writing course, he discovered that he is good at writing and likes to write. He was recently honored to have his short story selected to be published in the 2017 Edition of Word Mongers, an Ivy Tech Community College juried publication. His submission was titled, “The Regretful Toymaker,” a suspense-drama. He plans to complete a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University with a focus on technical writing as a career.

William Allen

His advice to writers is to consider the difference between antagonists and villains. During the workshop, he led a discussion about what makes a good character and how to write an opposing force to the main character. 
Allen also writes a blog that can be found at www.WilliamChristopherAllen.com. Originally, it was primarily writings about travel. He is currently updating his website and plans to broaden the focus of his writing. His advice to start a blog is to just search on Google, “How to start a blog.”
The July event was not intended to be a “one and done” workshop. Newell has observed, “Kummer is a very enthusiastic writer.” It is Kummer who has the vision to build on the reputation of Madison’s art community by strengthening the network of writers in the same way that Madison’s art community works together.

He is considering future workshops and is inviting local writers to contact him via email and any of the other writers at: davidkummer7@gmail.com or through Facebook.

Back to August 2018 Articles.



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