The Haunting of Hill House 1959

February 22, 1999 The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House was a 1959 book by Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson was born December 14, 1914 in San Francisco. She had been reading and writing all her life. She moved to New York. She was a lonely person. She went to the University of Rochester and Syracuse University, where she took Creative Writing classes.

Shirley Jackson met Stanley Hymn, who was her mentor. There was problem in her marriage. He was Jewish and from New York. She wasn’t. They had four children.  She wrote in two styles: 1) Family novels and 2) Unexpected Evil in Life.

She is also famous for her short story The Lottery. Some critics love The Lottery and other critics hated it. People were offended by it.  Anyway, she did research on ghost stories before writing the Haunting of Hill House. There was a local house that was supposed to be haunted that had been burned down by the villagers.

Jackson suffered from depression. She was agoraphobic for three years and had panic attacks. She died when she was 65 years old of a heart attack. Her alcohol and prescription drug abuse contributed to her early death.

The Haunting of Hill House was made into a movie in 1963 and again in 1999. The 1963 movie is relatively close adaptation of the book. Did Jackson influence Scooby Doo, which came out in 1969? Eleanora is a daredevil driver and homeless girl similar to Daphne in Scooby-Doo. Theodora is the lighthearted assistant similar to Thelma. Dr. Montague is the occult scholar like Fred. Luke Sanderson is the one is supposed to inherit the house. He is similar to Shaggy (AKA Norville Rogers).

There are 12 letters sent people who had some supernatural experience. There were 4 responses and only 2 people showed up to the house.

     Characters: Eleanor lived with her sister and sister’s husband. She took care of her mother mostly and blamed herself for her mother’s death. She steals her sister’s car. She wanted to have a journey end in a lover’s meeting.  Eleanor is nervous about the trip because she hasn’t been out of the house in a long time. She is secluded or isolated.

She goes to the house on the hill or Hill House to meet Dr. Montague who is going to retire after his Hill House experiment. There are two servants there Mr. and Mrs. Dudley. Mrs. Dudley wears a clean apron and has a suspicious face. Everything must be on a schedule for her. She can’t keep all the rooms up though and refuses to wait on people. She leaves before dark.

Theodora is light and bubbly. She is flaky at times but witty other times. She is a psychic who believes in telepathy.

Luke is a liar and a thief. Luke is there as a part of the price for Dr. Montague. He is an asset to the Haunted House or views the Haunted House as an asset?

Arthur Parker is the friend of Mrs. Montague. He is a headmaster. He is a meat and potatoes man. Straight and narrow.

Mrs. Montague at the end thinks she knows. Eleanor, Theo and Luke don’t know, but she does. She wants to sleep in the nursery and experience the spirits. She is clueless really.

Plot: Eleanor doesn’t like the house from the start. There are strange passage ways and rooms with no windows. (Inspired by the Winchester Mystery House in California 1888-1922?) The house is built at an angle and is off just a little. The inhabitants are off a little as well. People are killed in the house. The guy who lived there had like four wives who all died under mysterious circumstances. One sister fell and one grew sick. Another committed suicide.

Eleanor or Nelly is reading the book Pamela one cold night. People are locked in rooms on this very cold night. There is a strange dog running around through the house. They have discussions on Ghosts vs Poltergeists. They mention Oscar Wilde’s famous story The Canterville Ghost. They talked about the weakness of the human mind. They walk into a rose garden and a blue room. “Help Eleanor come home,” is written in red on the wall. Is it blood? Eleanor is scared when she sees a child being hurt.

There is a mention of Heaven and Hell by Blake. Eleanor and Theo walk down a path with a luminous glow. They run. Arthur Parker and Mrs. Montague show up. In the nursery they witness automatic writing and the use of an Ouija board.

Luke sends Eleanor away even though she doesn’t want to go. Luke went to Paris. Dr. Montague left. The Hill House is still there. Whatever walked there, walked alone. Eleanor didn’t make it. Her car runs into a tree. Did she kill herself?

Point of View: It is mostly from Eleanor’s point of view, but sometimes we get a glimpse into other’s point of view as well.

Setting: It is a realistic setting. The house was built in the late 1800s. The book was written in 1959. The house was not able to be lived in. Outside of Hillsdale. There is beautiful scenery. But then the land decays as it approaches Hill House. The Gate is tall and is padlocked. The house is very much the Gothic Manor. There are signs on the trees that say “Dare” and “Evil.” The house is at an odd angel. It is dark and oppressive and ominous. (Page 67, 75, 81).

Foreshadowing: Phrases on page 44: Mrs. Dudley won’t stay after dark. Page 67: Dr. Montague’s horse bolted and killed someone who was trying to leave. There were two girls upstairs who screamed and Luke and the Doctor didn’t hear.

Symbols: The house is an evil unknown. It plays on the characters and gets into their heads. The Angles of the house create a sense of uneasiness. It also reflects Eleanor’s unstableness. The Animals on the Nursery look like a deer head on the wall. The Oleander is a poisonous plant. There is something secretive in them and drawn to deadly games.

There is blood on the floor that is later not there. What happened to it? Cold spot in front of the nursery. Suicide took place in the tower, which couldn’t be seen in front of the house. The cold spot equals death. Cold can be emotional or physical.

One view is Eleanor gave herself over to the evil power. Another is that it is all in her mind. Yet another view is that the mind creates these physical manifestations.

Being straightforward made Eleanor feel live. She had leave by herself. Eleanor felt like stealing a car because she knew she’d never bring it back.

Hugh Crain built the house. He wrote a book to a daughter—a graphic book. One of them lived in the house after the father died and remained a recluse. The driveway circles the house and kept her and keeps them prisoner. Hugh’s distorted view is reflected in the house and its architecture.

The way the mind works forces them to face their particular fears. Eleanor is afraid of being alone. Theodora is afraid of not being the center of attention. Mrs. Montague is having an affair of Arthur. The house leads us to ask: are some people just born bad?

Several things happen at the brook. Eleanor seems more paranoid after the visit to the brook. Theodora and Luke are friends and leave out Luke. Page 214: Heard “Eleanor” as she held tight to her spot. “Don’t let me go.” “Stay.” Is it the spirit in the house or in her mind? Luke and Theo are calling her. She twisted it into something else.

The theme is not can be explained. The world view comparison between James and Doyle and Jackson. Dr. Montague is trying to explain everything. The scientific method or explanation is thrown out in the end.  The objective riddle by Shirley Jackson was about a wife who was abused by her degrading husband and his work is worth noting for its characterizations.

In The Haunting Mrs. Montague is comic relief. She takes herself seriously, but is completely crazy. Theodora is sarcastic and cruel at the end. The ghosts seem to be separating all of them. Divide and conquer.

Did Eleanor commit suicide or did the ghost drive her to it? How does the movie differ from the book in its portrayal?

 March 2, 1999 The Haunting 1963 Movie

 

The director of The Haunting movie was Robert Wise. He chose black and white. Certain things are always missing from the movie. Watch for what they cut out.

The narrator says, “Hill House, 90 years ago….  Anyone that has ever walked there has walked alone.” Hugh Crain’s wife died on the way there. The horse and carriage ran into a tree.  The daughter Abigail died. The second wife fell down the stairs.  Hugh Crain died in England—he drowned. It is an interesting morph of Abigail from young to old. There is a young companion to take care of Abigail. The old woman died and the young companion inherited the house. The companion then hung herself. There was a distant relative named Mrs. Sansborn who inherited it. Mr. Markway is his name in the movie.  Wife disappears and it is suggested that Luke go to Hill House.

Eleanor begs for the car. There is silly, happy music playing. She yells at her sister to get out. She gets to get the car from the parking garage in a big city. She is happy to go where she is wanted.  They do a voice over of her thoughts.

Hill House is big with huge metal gates. “What do you want?” an Irish voice says. It is Mrs. Dudley. Dudley nearly runs her over while driving in the gate. A foreshadow of her death?

She sees the house with its Medieval Towers, etc. It is huge and spread out. Evil is patiently waiting for me she thought. Mrs. Dudley answers the door and says nothing. She is tall and thin and homely. We see a statue of a cherubim praying. It startles Eleanor when she sees it in the mirror.  Mrs. Dudley leaves before the dark speech.

Theodora comes in through a series of connecting rooms. Mrs. Dudley launches into a repetitive speech as Theodora and Eleanor keep talking to each other. They have an instant connection and friendship. They explore. They can’t open doors. There is coldness and a chill in certain places. Nobody heard the moan but Eleanor (Nell). The house is calling me she thinks.

Dr. Markway appears. He says the door that he opened closed on its own. There is a Ghosts versus Ghoul discussion. There is a purple parlor, but the angles are off. There is a big distortion.  Markway goes into a broom closet and it is funny. One of ladies of the house was a witch. Luke appears and Theo talks about her ESP. There is a mention of the House of Hades. Atmospheric pressure and underground rivers are to blame the Mayor says.

Nell interrupts to say that the neighbors threw the rocks at her house when she was little. Theo guesses or knows somehow that Nell wasn’t upset when her Mom died. She tells Nell that she hasn’t a ghost of a chance.

Theo places Luke at cards. She wins. Nell screams because she thought she was being watched. She has forms to fill out. They discuss telekinesis. Nell was thinking of changing her hair. Theo says she could fix it. Was that too friendly of a conversation? The camera angel looks down on Nell. Then to the floor and pulls back.

Eleanor gets up and says, “All right, mother.” There was a pounding. Theo and Nell hear it as well. It is at the other end of the hall. Both of them act very afraid. Then the noise quits. There are weird camera angles.  They go to the end of the hall and find it very cold. Both of the girls are very afraid.  Markway comes up and the girls are laughing in relief. Markway then chases a dog from the inside of the house to the outside.  Eleanor talks about taking care of her mother all her life.

There is writing in chalk—not in blood or lipstick. It says, “Help, Eleanor. Come home.” Eleanor blamed Theo for it. Theo suggests that she wrote it herself. She says the house did it.

There is a beautiful conservatory and garden. There are big statutes of Hugh Crain and his family. There is a companion statue that looks like Eleanor.  Luke puts the moves on Theo. Theo tells him to keep his hands to himself.

Nell dances and the door flies open. Nell can’t go into the library. It smells. The stairs are where a woman hanged herself. The stairs are shaky and feel like they are about to fall. Nell faints thinking about the suicide tower. Nell has a breakdown. Markway wants to send Nell home.

Later, Theo and Nell are in the same room. Nell paints her toes and drinks brandy. Nell tells lies while she is drinking. She says she has an apartment of her own. Nell doesn’t want to leave Hill House, but Theo thinks she should. They talk about the cold spot in front of the nursery. Is Nell in love with Markway? Nell gets upset and is mad at Theo for suggesting it. Theo says, “I don’t think you killed your Mom.”

Nell goes to bed, but hears crying and laughing coming from the other room. She faces the design in the room. Thinks she hears a ghost hurting a child. Nell yells for it to stop. She wakes up and realizes she was sleeping on the edge of the bed. Whose hand had she been holding?

She sees Markway and a harp playing itself. “Journey’s end when lovers meet,” Nell said as the harp played. Nell says she refused to answer her mother’s knocking and she died, so she blames herself.

Hugh Crain’s memoirs are strange, blunt and dark. Theo keeps reading Nell’s mind, which pisses her off. Theo mentions Tristan and Iseult and how Nell loves Markway. Mrs. Markway shows up. The papers will have a field day she says. Grace says she will join the Ghost Hunt. She foolishly says she will stay in the nursery. Nell begs her not to.

Eleanor is arguing with herself about staying or leaving. Nell and Theo are trying to sleep downstairs. Luke comes downstairs to drink. The door slams loudly behind him. They hear pounding . It stops. The door bulges and moves as if it was breathing.

Dr. Markway runs upstairs to see if his wife is okay. The Pan statue is where the noise was coming from. Nell runs out of the house. It sounds like the house is destroying itself.  She goes up to the nursery, but finds Grace Markway gone. Nell is disappearing into the house. Nell says, “You and I killed her, didn’t we Hugh Crain.”

Nell dances through the halls and goes through the library. There is no cold spot there any longer. She feels like she has broken the spell. She refuses to come down the stairs. Eventually, she reaches the top of the stairs at the tower and leans over the edge. She starts to fall, but Markway pulls her back.

Does Nell see a ghost? She screams. Mrs. Markway is upstairs above them where the trapdoor is. She has to leave now. She confesses that she made up the apartment. She really has nowhere to live. Nell only wants to get Mrs. Markway back now that the house has taken her.

Nell goes down the driveway. Luke is in the car with her. Theo told her to go and be happy. They said their goodbyes. Luke gets out at the gate. Nell drives off alone. The Ghost takes control of the car. She tells it to stop it! Why don’t they stop it? She sees ghosts and wrecks.

The other see from the house and run to see. Nell is dead. Grace shows up. Did Grace kill her or did Eleanor kill herself. Markway says the house in haunted and now Eleanor has to walk alone.

March 2, 1999 The Haunting Book and Movie

There are significant changes to the plot, character and theme. The film uses techniques to set up suspense and showing the house.

Changes are: the doctor’s wife saw a ghost in the movie. They changed the name from Montague to Markway (Marquay). In the book Mrs. M wants to do the job right. In the movie she wants him to come home and away from the nonsense. There is the obvious absence of Arthur from the movie. Jackson doesn’t like the character. He is there as a contrast or as a foil.

The characters pair up differently at one point. In the movie Eleanor likes the doctor and she sense he returns the feelings. The book had her leaning on Luke instead. She is just desperate to belong. Theo and Nell were more competitive for Luke’s attention. The original two sisters in the House are gone from the movie. Theo and Nell double for the two sisters in the book. In the book the sisters were knocking to get attention and Nell’s mother was knocking to get her attention.

The windows of the house look like they are watching people. There are two windows as there are two eyes. The house is always dark and in the shadows. In the book, the rooms of the house were ugly. In the movie they were decorated in flowery wallpaper. There were no open spaces. There were closed drapes and darkness within. The house is very Victorian in that it was full of things and made everyone very claustrophobic. It works against the Gothic conventions.

There are statues of The Innocents and Statues in The Haunting.

Nell sees herself in the mirror and jumps. The last voice says, “We walk alone.” In the book the narrator says that. In the movie, Nell says it. In the movie it is Hugh Crain who wants her. In the book, it is her mother. In the book she is looking for sisterly or motherly attention. In the movie she is looking for male attention.

In the film there was objective narration. In the novel we have a sort of voice over and we get to know the characters through their thoughts. In the movie Theo says she has ESP and reads Nell’s thoughts for us. Nell calls Theo a monster. The Implication is that Theo is a lesbian. Theo has no attraction to Luke, but maybe some to Nell.

Maybe Theo develops feelings for Eleanor and feels jealous over Markway’s (Marque) attention. The book has scenes out of doors. Someone is chasing them. In the movie it is all in doors. There is more concentration on the house itself. The blood is cut out, but there are references to the rabbits and cats. The house is toying with them. Something else has control of the car it seems. It wasn’t suicide.

 

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Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay published Bad Feminist in 2014, but it is even more relevant this week.  She titled the book Bad Feminist because many women, including herself, often do things that are considered not considered consistent with the Feminist Ideology.  Despite her love of make-up and books like the Sweet Valley High series, Gay is very much for women’s rights. Her point seems to be that Feminism is many different things to many different people. While she may not be marching in the streets and pushing a political agenda, she is very aware of her uneasy place in this world. The fact that she is even aware of all of these issues and the fact that she can think critically about various books and movies makes her a great Feminist in my eyes. But not everyone would agree I suppose.

The book Bad Feminist covers a lot of ground. Gay is a tenured professor at East Illinois University. She is of Haitian Descent and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. She is aware that she was very privileged to go to the prestigious Philip Exeter School in New Hampshire and that she eventually was able to graduate from Yale University. Despite her success story, she still suffers from weight issues, which she covered in her other book Hunger. Much of her depression stems from being raped at age 12. She didn’t even tell her parents about it until years later out of shame and embarrassment.

Her essays do mention some standard feminist texts like Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, but they also cover recent things in pop culture as well. She mentions the 2012-2017 show Girls, the 2012 novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the 2009 book The Help by Katherine Stockett, The 2011 book How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, the 2010 book The End of Men by Hanna Rosin and the 2011 book The Green Girl by Kate Zambreno. Gay is not a big fan of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, as Sandberg is incredibly privileged and, some would say, downright delusional. Gay also deals with racism in her essays on The Help and Django Unchained as well as Domestic Violence in her essay on Chris Brown.

It is a sort of slice of life type of book that gives some valuable insights. It does not propose any sort of academic theory, but connects to much of what I’ve already experienced or read. It is well worth a read and I would recommend her book to anyone interested in Women’s Studies or Feminism. In fact, I would recommend to all women–feminist or not!

So, to review I finished up listening to the audio book White Trash: 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg and moved onto Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I also finished up typing my notes from my Women Writers of the 19th Century Class and began typing up notes from my Feminist Rhetoric and Pedagogy Class. All of this increased awareness of women’s issues this week made it difficult to ignore the very important struggle going on in the news recently.

In case you live under a rock, I will brief you on what has been going on. Before Brett Kavanaugh could be confirmed to the Supreme Court Doctor Christine Belsey Ford came forward and announced that Kavannah sexually assaulted her when they were in High School together. She did not believe that a man capable of sexual assault should be allowed to make decisions involving women’s rights. And many people agreed with her. Begrudgingly, the Senate Committee allowed her to testify against Kavanaugh. Despite death threats against her, she testified on Thursday the 27th  with a great deal of grace and dignity. Kavannah, on the other hand, was extremely emotional. He screamed angrily and dissolved into tears—something that would have quickly gotten a woman dismissed as hysterical. Kavannah also evaded a good number of questions and refused to take a polygraph test, but that didn’t seem to matter.

The Committee was torn at the end of the day. The Republicans were ready to push him through to the Supreme Court. They really didn’t seem to care if the allegations were true or not. They just wanted Kavannah confirmed so he could further their agenda. Senator Jeff Flake was accosted in an elevator by two women where sexual assault survivors. They told their story and persuaded him to call for an FBI investigation. So, the vote was delayed by only a week as the FBI digs deeper into this mess. Meanwhile, Trump is saying the investigation was all his idea while simultaneously calling for the investigation to be extremely limited in scope. It is infuriating to say the least.

Kavannah is Catholic and once had the support of the Catholic Church for his nomination. But after this very public debate, they have withdrawn their support. The ACLU has also come out against Kavannah. Despite the public’s outrage, many feel that he will be confirmed anyway. There is a small glimmer of hope that someone will prevent this picture of white privilege and power from tipping the balance in a nation already in crisis. But we will just have to wait and see.

I can only imagine the rage Roxane Gay must feel toward Kavannah and I imagine she will have lots to say about this chapter in history! It will be interesting to read what she writes about it in the future.  In any case,  I have to get back to putting together my book on Women’s Studies.

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A Writer’s Coach

A Writer’s Coach

By Jack Hart

Chapter 1: Method

Think first—write later

Talk it out

Shrink you subject

Write thesis

Doodle

Chapter 2: Process

Prove it

Plan it

Structure it

Write it

Edit it

Chapter 3: Structure

Don’t stall on the first line

Make paragraphs work for you!
(Mix short, medium and long)

Have a clear topic

Circle around—full circle open and close

Avoid that lame last line

Chapter 4: Force

Find action verbs

Avoid flabby suffixes

Prefer active voice

Minimize expletives

(Like it is or there is)

Be bold

Chapter 5: Brevity

Question everything

Make each modifier work

Don’t overfill

Kill creeping nouns

Avoid complicated tenses

Chapter 6: Clarity

Read your rough draft aloud

Add some periods

Define your terms

Think about context

Attach your pronouns

Chapter 7: Rhythm

Listen for cadence or flow

Look for alliteration

Balance sentences and paragraphs in length

End with a BANG

Chapter 8: Humanity

Tell stories to get stories

Watch for meaningful vignettes

Look for little stories that reveal character

Quote selectively

Let the characters talk to one another

Chapter 9: Color

Get in touch with yourself

Pick three details

Work backward

Play the simile/metaphor game

Don’t add too many clichés

Chapter 10: Voice

Write the way you talk

Execute the worst offenders

(Do not use over-inflated language)

Think small

Start with subject

Edit style later

Chapter 11: Mechanics

Find basics sentences with Subject/Predicates

Avoid reflective pronouns (Self)

Try to modifiers separately

Listen for accent

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Sense and Sensuality

Sense and Sensuality

                                   by Janet Fitch, April 2000 Fiction Writer MagazineAngling for Description: Use Synesthesia, which is when you use one sense to describe another. Like hearing colors. Here two exercises using the sense of taste and sense of smell.

Exercise 1: Take a food, preferably something strong that can reach through your imagination, and write about it.  Try describing it in basic ways before taking a leap of imagination and using synesthesia.

Exercise 2: Take a perfume or various fragrances and try writing about them.  Sample essential oils, spices, herbs and common household cleaning substances.  Don’t sniff directly from the bottles, but open them up like chemists do and then move your hand across it to move the scent in your direction.

Use the Five Senses to stimulate a character’s Memory like Marcel Proust has done. Touch can be the most intense of the five senses.  If you describe a sky as yellow that appeals to sight. But describe it as lemon yellow and both smell and taste are called upon as well.  Here are four exercises that explore the sense of touch, sense of hearing and sense of sight.

Exercise 3: Amass a number of items that are textually interesting. For example: Sand, feathers, rock, hammer, rubber duck, spoon, sponge, nylon stocking, gravel, marbles, and a stuffed animal. Close eyes and pick up and describe it.

Exercise 4: Take a piece of fabric. Close your eyes and feel it. Touch it to your face, lips, neck, under your feet and behind your knees. What could the cloth be? A piece of cloth from a scratchy school uniform, a piece of velvet from your grandmother’s couch?

Exercise 5:  Take ten minutes to just listen. Record the ambient sound at various times in various places.  Note that over time there are audible differences between sound at 3pm and 3am.  You can also pick particular music you wouldn’t normally listen to while you are writing and listen to it. If you hate polka, listen to it and see what happens when you sit down to write.

Exercise 6: Practice writing about Light. Develop a new vocabulary. Put a candle in the room and write about what you see. How does the light fall? Which angle does it fall at? What direction is the light coming from? What is the color of the light?

 

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Get Your Books On The Shelf

Get Your Books On The Shelf

 

If you Self-Publish or go through an Independent Publisher, you may have the challenge of trying to get your books on bookshelves. Many big chain bookstores will only order your book if they can find it on their database. Bookstores don’t like small publishers because they don’t often offer returns if the book doesn’t sell.  Sometimes bookstores will let you bring copies of your own book to sign and hand sell at a table.

FYI Createspace from Amazon will not only list your book on Amazon’s website, but will also list it in bookstore databases.

Libraries won’t often buy books that are self-published or published by a small publisher. Some libraries will purchase your book if you are a local author or if they won’t purchase it, they may accept donation copies of your book.

Vocabulary

Publisher: Creates Product and Promotes It.

The Distributor: A Middleman with Sales Force and Marketing. Example: Ingram or Amazon

The Wholesaler: Consolidate Titles from Publishing Houses to Bookstore: Ingram or Amazon

Database: Industry wide databases contain title and ordering information. Most databases are online these days.  Ingram and Books in Print have online databases. Barnes and Noble has their own online database, which will tell the bookseller how many copies that have on hand and how many are available to order from their warehouses.

Bookstore: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, etc.

Discounts: Standard Discount on Trade Books is 40% of List Price.  Libraries get a 20% discount because they usually order in smaller quantities.

Consignment: Buying on Consignment means the Publisher is not paid until after the books are shipped to the store. Standard payment terms are usually between 90 and 120 days.

Returns: Publishers usually offer wholesalers and bookstores offer the option of returning a book at any time and in any condition—if it doesn’t sell.

FOB: Freight on Board or Free on Board. Essentially you own the book and bear the cost of returns even if it comes to you at a loss of profit.

Co-Op Payments: Large Publishers often make cooperative payments to stores, which is why their books get put on end caps and display tables.  Stores may expect co-op payments to help market your signing or reading.

Reasons Books Fail

From Writer’s Digest

Muddled Title. Check to see if Title is well liked. Take an informal poll. If it isn’t liked, then focus on content of book instead of title.

Poor Content and Poor Writing. Not editing the book or paying to have the book professionally edited can turn away customers.

Poor Covert Art. Art should reflect content. It should be random or irrelevant. Hand drawn art is not always a good idea unless it is exceptionally well done. You can use personal photos, clip art or stock pictures. Choose something that is eye catching and interests the potential readers.

Poor Back Cover Copy. This is a place where you can really sell your book. If you don’t provide an interesting summary to catch the reader’s interest on the back, try writing a flyer to include with the book.

No ISBN (International Standard Book Number). If you don’t print the ISBN on the book or inside the book, it will be difficult for book sellers to get onto shelves and sell. ISBNs are a key factor in sales.

Poor Distribution: Make sure you book is listed in important databases. If you don’t have a big distributor, perhaps you can get noticed with a large amount of hand sells. Make sure there is a phone number or email address included in flyers so people know where they can order the book from.

Wrong Price. Too High of Prices Will Turn Away Customers. For example, Kindle recommends that ebooks go for $2.99. Trying to sell your ebook for $20 will be a harder sell.

No Market For The Book. Research your audience. Who might be interested in your content. How can you reach this audience?  If your book doesn’t fit into any particular genre, find one that is the closest fit and try to market it there.

 

 

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Books To Read On Writing

Books To Read On Writing

Writing is hard work! Suffice to say no writer was born knowing all the ins and out of the business. While Creativity and Imagination may come naturally, the Rules of Writing do not. Writing is something that takes lots of reading and lots of practice to become good at. These are all books that I have read over the years to improve my own writing. Some of them are on Grammar and Formatting, while others are on the Creative Aspects and Business Side of Publishing. All have been helpful in some way or another. Hopefully you will utilize this list and become a successful author.

Aspects of the Novel  by E.M. Forrester

                                         Shoptalk by  Phillip Roth

The Art of the Novel  by Milan Kundera

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

Living By Fiction by Annie Dillard

             Street  Smart Writer by J Glatzer and D. Steven

Writing About Fiction by  William Kenney

Spunk and Bite (Modern Elements of Style) by  Arthur Plotnik

Poetry Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

  Writing Tools (Grammar)  by  Roy Peter Clark

Elements of Style by  Strunk and White

How I Write (Q&A)  by  Janet Evanovich

How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum

On Writing (Biography and Techniques)   By Steven King

    On Writing  by Henry Miller

Anguished English (Language) by  Richard Lederer

Mother Tongue (Language) By Bill Bryson

Forest For The Trees  by  Betsy Learner

                     How To Suppress Women’s Writing by  Joanna Russ

Reading Like A Writer by  Francine Prose

Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

78 Reasons Your Writing May Never Be Published

and 14 Reasons It Just Might  by Pat Walsh (Editor)

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Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America

By Alissa Quart, 2018

In the introduction to her book Quart overviews the reasons why Families Can’t Afford America any longer. Student Loans and Medical Debt are a huge issue for Generation X and Millennials. Over 65% of Americans worry about their monthly bills. The Middle Class is 30% more expensive than it was in 1996.

Precariat is a term coined by Guy Standing. It term that refers to social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare. The term is a portmanteau obtained by merging precarious with proletariat. For example, long term careers are now rare. Most people end up with short term jobs that keep changing. Most of the work available today is shift work or adjunct or contract work.

The USA one of the richest country in the world, but there is a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor with a a quickly disappearing Middle Class.

Here are some reasons why Americans are struggling:

Chapter 1: Inconceivable discusses pregnancy discrimination in the work force. There is also discrimination against mothers and fathers who act as the primary care giver for their children. Mothers make $11,000 less than their childless peers. Fathers are also penalized for taking Paternity leave or taking care of their children. There was a famous case Freyer vs Frontier Airlines due to the lack of encouragement or lack of accessibility for nursing mothers. FMLA or the Family Medical Leave Act helps and legally gives mothers 12 weeks of Maternity Leave. However, unlike the rest of the world, Maternity Leave in the US is largely UNPAID.  John Williams talks about the “Maternity Wall” that women run up against. There are legal loopholes that lawyers have utilized to get around the FMLA.

Chapter 2: Hypereducated discusses how Americans with Higher Education degrees are unable to make ends meet. Many who have a MA or PhD remain adjunct professors with no office and no health benefits. Many adjuncts are forced to rely on Foods Stamps and Medicaid—at least for Summer Term. Adjuncts generally make less than $24,000 a year on average. The professor she interviewed had exactly $55 in her bank account with $3,000 in credit card debt and rent on her 2 bedroom apartment in the Chicago Suburbs was $975 a month. The professor shopped at Goodwill despite feeling like she should wear more expensive clothes that were name brand. MA and PhD holders are generally downward mobile in today’s society. Adjuncts found that their parents were better off despite having a lower level of education.

In 1975 over 45% of College Faculty were Tenured. In 2011 just 24% of College Faculty were Tenured.  That means only 1 in 6 Professors will ever get Tenure. And English and History Students/Professors have it the worst. But Lawyers and Law Professor are catching up. Do what you love is lie these days. There is a huge rush away from the humanities and toward Science and Trade Schools. The market has become oversaturated due to years of everyone being told to go to College.

There has been a movement to Unionize Adjunct Professors. Frusicone and Bolin are two former adjuncts who are working to create a better opportunities and benefits for their kind. They created 5EIU. Also check out Linda Tirado’s book Hand To Mouth for more info on this topic!

Chapter 3: Extreme Day Care explores the need for working parents to take care of their children and how expensive it is. There are very few 24 hour Day Care Centers despite many of the parents working at places that have 24 work days and several shifts. Parents no longer for 9-5, but are expected to work various shifts and irregular hours. The cost to hire a babysitter or pay for Day Care is more than a Minimum Wage worker can afford.

Check out the books “We Believe The Children: The Moral Panic of the 1980s” by Richard Beck. He proposes that the child abuse allegations of the 80s were a backlash against women going to work or feminism.  Also check out “The Outsourced Self” by Artie Hochschild, which also explores the degradation of Child Care or Day Care as a profession.

Jeremy Rifkin explores the idea of Hyper-Capitalism. Our crazy unregulated or unfettered free market has created unique problems here in the USA. Workers in the USA are essentially prisoners of love. They need to work to provide for their families, so their bosses take advantage of them. Bosses know they can manipulate low-income employees who feel like they have very few or no other options. Many of the jobs are demeaning in the first place and are looked upon as mere women’s work anyways.

The truth is Pre-K or Preschool is important, but not everybody can afford it. Not all mothers can afford a private program and not all states/cities off Headstart Programs for low-income families. If a family can’t put their child in preschool or day care, it can cause the child to fall behind or have issues. We need to make sure all families have access to Pre-K Education.

Chapter 4: Outclassed explore our Consumerism Culture. People with Assets still feel like they are struggling to keep up with their friends, neighbors and people on TV. They are often referred to as the “Poor Bourgeois” or having the “Poor Bourgeois” mindset.  Quart talks about a mother had to explain to her child about having to chose between Love and No Money or Money and No Love.

Chapter 5: The Nanny’s Struggle explores how child care workers are not making enough money either. A Day Care Center will pay the average worker Minimum Wage or just above. Most Nannies make less than $13 an hour, which isn’t a lot. An immigration worker who used to be able to rely on working in child care now faces having to fund their education and certification on little or no income. Check out “Raising Brooklyn” by Tamara Mose Brown for more on this topic.

Chapter 6: Uber-Dads talks about how it is not just women struggling to make ends meet. Many fathers have to take second jobs. They moonlight as Pizza Delivery Drivers or Uber Drivers. $69,000 a year seems like a decent amount of money, but one Dad she interviewed found it just wasn’t enough when their rent went up but their income did not. They lived in a neighborhood that had  $680,000 to 1.5 Million Dollar homes. They thought about moving, but he decided to stay put and get a second job to help out instead. Check out the book “Raw Deal: How The Uber Economy and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers” by Steven Hill for more on this topic.

Chapter 7: The Second Act Industry discusses the Do-Over Myth. Many Americans go back to school to retrain for second career. However, they are finding that going back to school is getting increasingly difficult. Many Americans over 30 have astounding student loan debt and are hesitant to add to it. As student loan debt rises, the buying of houses falls. There is a direct correlation between student loan debt the lack of money to buy a house. Starting a new career generally hurts Americans more than it helps them. Restarting or Rebooting their careers can be costly and it doesn’t always pay off.

There are many scams that prey on older students returning to school. Two examples she gave were ITT and Trump University.  ITT is now defunct and Trump University had a number of law suits filed against it for fruading its students.

Chapter 8: Squeezed Houses explores the problem of inflation—particularly the inflation of rent and mortgages. Apartments are now $1,200 to $3,000 if you live in bigger city. People are trying to get creative in dealing with the problem of rent. They are more open to living with one or more roommates and having commune-like arrangements for chores and childcare.

Chapter 9: The Rise of 1% Television addresses televisions role in American’s unrealistic expectations. Recently we have been treated to viewing a slice of life of the rich and famous—not the Middle Class. Ozark, Breaking Bad, Billions and Empire all show how crime pays and how wonderful people live who got their money dishonestly. Downtown Abbey and Upstairs/Downstairs are British Programs that show the rich and their servants. Real House Wives, The Kardashians, The Apprentice and other so-called Reality shows show how the Upper Class Live only. The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men also show how those who have no financial problems live. These shows are far more prevalent than shows like Rosanne or The Middle, which show either working class or middle class people.

Chapter 10: Squeezed by Robots talks about the rise of technology and how it is replacing many of the menial jobs people have relied on for income. Robots are set to replace the hospital staffer that runs errands and even truck drivers.  Self-checkout lanes, kiosks and robots are meant to save employers money. And while they don’t have to pay a wage or benefits to a computer—the initial investment can be costly.  Forbes Runs an Apples Top 10 Articles, which is computer generated. Are writers even being replaced now? Check out the Ray Bradbury short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains.”  The 1950 story is about a computer run house and is chilling to read in this day and age of Siri and Alexa!

Conclusion: The Secret Life of Inequality discusses how there is some aid available and how Quart sees some possible solutions to all these problems. The child tax credit is a positive thing for struggling families. We need to stop the blame game though. Most Americans suffer extreme guilt over failing to provide for their families or they have extreme anger at others for preventing them from succeeding. It would be helpful to education the general public on Class and Social Issues that many fail to understand. Above all, we need to find a way to stop penalizing parents for having kids and wanting to spend time with them!

 

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