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Dream Catchers and Goodreads

Moon Sun Night - Copyby Mike O’Mary
Two news items this week, one for writers, one for readers:
1. Dream of Things launched a “Dream Catchers” section of its website to highlight authors whose work has been selected for future publication in a Dream of Things anthology. We get lots of great stories at Dream of Things, and our editors are constantly reviewing new submissions. The best creative nonfiction will be published in our anthologies. But putting an anthology together takes months.

Meantime, we’re sitting on all these great stories. Not anymore! Each week, we plan to feature a new story on the Dream Catchers section of This week’s story is “Forever Sharp” by Terri Elders of Colville, Washington, and it will be published in an anthology about great teachers later this year.

2. I’m not sure the world needs another online social networking site, but if we have to make room for one more, looks like a pretty good one. It’s basically a place to rate books that you’ve read, share that info with others, and learn about new books you might want to read. Billed as “the largest social network for readers in the world” with 2.9 million members, Goodreads says, “Somehow, reading books seems to have gotten a bad rap. People are working too hard and not making time to read. But every once in a while you run into a friend who tells you about this ‘great new book I’m reading.’ And suddenly you’re excited to read it. It’s that kind of excitement that Goodreads is all about.”

Goodreads also looks like a good place for an author to set up shop. Take a look at the Goodreads Author Profile of yours truly for an example of what an author can do on their site.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

Poetry All Around You

iStock_000002111580XSmallby Mike O’Mary

Sometimes, when I sit down to write, I draw a blank. Yet the idea of not having anything to say seems absurd—especially in a world so full of interesting people and events. But sometimes we just get so overloaded we become desensitized. We take things for granted, and that’s not good.

But I found something that seems to help. I don’t read much poetry, but a friend of mine recently had a book published. I bought it, and he asked me to tell him what I thought of it.

After just a few pages, I looked up and looked around and realized that I was seeing things differently. A world that had seemed devoid of anything interesting was suddenly filled with detail. All I had to do was look a little closer.

On the top shelf of my bookcase, for example, are a dozen or so items. An old wooden roofer’s toolbox filled with dried flowers and eucalyptus. Next to that, a little clay bowl that my daughter made, then a coffee mug from the University of Montana, and an Eiffel Tower that could have been purchased at Target but happens to have been purchased in Paris. There’s a wooden carpenter’s plane from a phase when I was fascinated with old tools, a beer stein from Heidelberg, an amethyst crystal from one of my sisters. Photos of my mom, my daughter and of the softball team I coached last summer. A fancy clock I bought for $100 while on vacation, and a clock I bought at an outlet store for $3.99 because I liked its simplicity.

All that sitting right there on one little shelf.

I’m going to go back to reading my friend’s book now. But I already know what I’m going to say when I write to him: I’m going to tell him it was good.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

The Language of “Making Things Happen”

iStock_000002198982XSmall by Mike O’Mary
The other day, I was walking past a meeting room at work. The meeting was just breaking up and I heard the sales manager clap his hands together enthusiastically and say, “Okay; if that’s our objective today, let’s make it happen!”

Let’s make it happen. I don’t know what it is, but the workplace–particularly the business workplace–seems to spawn more than its share of euphemisms. I assume that when the manager said, “Let’s make it happen,” he meant, “Let’s do whatever we need to do to meet our objective.” But that would sound boring and not very leader-like, so instead he said, “Let’s make it happen.”

We’ve all had to sit through meetings that were peppered with trendy catch phrases, clichés and euphemisms. Unfortunately, these phrases seem to catch on with a lot of people. For every individual that suffers a gag reflex upon hearing the word “synergy,” there are at least half a dozen vice presidents who nod their heads in approval.

Karate fightPersonally, as a writer and occasional meeting-attendee, I think it’s best to say exactly what you mean. And when I hear something that sounds a little trendy, I try to translate it into plain English. For example, I’ve determined that when someone says, “It’s time to start thinking outside the box,” they really mean, “We’ve boxed ourselves in.” When they say, “We need to create a new paradigm,” that means, “Nobody is buying our product anymore.” And when somebody says, “This is no dog-and-pony show,” you’d better watch where you step after they’re done.

About 500 years before Christ, the Chinese philosopher Confucius figured out that, “If what is said is not what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone.” So if you find yourself surrounded by people talking in euphemisms, you might try quoting Confucius. If they still won’t say what they mean, try quoting martial-arts expert Chuck Norris who once said, “When I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of you.”

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online community for writers and other artists.

Changing Your Own Oil

garage mechanicBrought to you by Mike O’Mary and your friendly neighborhood garage attendant publisher.
The world of publishing is changing fast. You can (and maybe should) try your hand at it.
Last month, publisher Gordon Burgett posted an article on the Independent Book Publishers Association website called “One Book Nine Ways in Less Than 30 Days.” In the article, Burgett walks step-by-step through the process of publishing a book using print-on-demand (POD) technology with LightningSource, Lulu and CreateSpace, and e-book technology with those same three vendors, plus Amazon’s Kindle ( and Smashwords. (That’s only eight ways, so I assume he’s counting a traditional offset press run as the ninth way.)
Burgett makes it all sound pretty easy. I’ve been through some of the POD submission instructions, and while it’s doable, it helps to be a graphic designer. Similarly, even Burgett’s boiled down version of formatting files for e-book submission was a little hard to follow. But my overall reaction after reading the article was, “Wow! Anybody can do this!”
That’s when a friend made an astute observation: “I can change my own oil, too, but I have better things to do with my time.” Good point. So maybe publishing and auto maintenance aren’t for everybody. But if you ever have a desire to get under the hood and publish your own book or e-book, Burgett’s article is a good place to start.
Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online community for writers and other artists.

Writing for One Person

DOT blog photo Masterby Mike O’Mary
I started a new publishing company about two months ago, and today I agreed to publish a book by a new author. Her story is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read, and I can’t believe I have the privilege of publishing it.

I feel good about publishing this book, and I feel good about the community of writers I’ve encountered over the past two months. There are lots of people out there, online and off, who are interested in helping new writers (and new publishers!) succeed. And, of course, there are lots of people interested in writing.

Based on what I’ve seen, I’m sure there are online writing groups and multiple blogs for every writing genre. I bet you could even make up a genre, and by the time you search for it, there will be a group talking about it.

There are also people online talking about every aspect of writing (including freelancing!) and getting published. You get a wide range of views, too, because the people talking (or, rather, writing) about writing are writers, of course, and editors, agents, producers, teachers, reviewers, students…even publishers. It’s great to be part of such a community.

It seems to me there are more people writing than ever before, and that’s a good thing. Some worry that print-on-demand is diminishing the quality of published worked. But print-on-demand might also be the most dramatic development since the printing press because it gives more people incentive to write. You can now print a book for one person. Which means you can now write a book for one person. Which means if you are a reader, you are more valuable and appreciated than ever because even if you’re an audience of one, you are motivating somebody to keep writing. (They say that’s one of the best ways to write, too—to pretend you’re writing for an audience of one.)

Speaking of writing for one person, if there’s anything that might top print-on-demand as a revolutionary development, it’s the blog. Again, it is motivating people to write. Most of the blogs I see don’t have any responses to the posts. (So btw, next time you pass a blog, throw the person a bone and say, “Nice post!”) But that doesn’t dissuade the writer. He or she will go on writing week after week, month after month.

Which reminds us that writing has always been about writing for one person.

And you’re the one.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online community for writers and other artists.

The Difference Between Making It and Not Making It as a Writer

48B pen and paperby Mike O’Mary

In my role as an editor, I sometimes see it as my duty to dole out encouragement. (Okay, perhaps I’m not your typical editor.) In any case, I told a writer who seemed self-conscious about her lack of formal education in creative writing that I know people who would trade their Ph.D.s to be able to tell a story in an engaging voice. A friend then confided in me her belief that formal education is not the main ingredient in great writing…that great writing is a combination of instinct, intuition, rhythm, experience and heart.

I agree with all of that…there is definitely something to be said for somebody born with those gifts. At the same time, I have tremendous respect for journalists who, in my experience, have the enviable ability to day-in, day-out either take or leave things like instinct, intuition, rhythm, experience and heart (which can also cause writer’s block if they happen not to be available when you call upon them), and just write the damn story! So add persistence or perseverance to the mix of desirable traits, too.

One of the most insightful things I ever heard about the art and craft of writing came from my friend, John Rember, who is the best writer I know. John once told me that the difference between making it as a writer and not making it is simply sitting down and writing every day. You can have all the instinct, intuition, rhythm, experience, heart AND education in the world, but if you don’t put pen to paper, no one will ever experience your gifts. So grab a cup of coffee. Pick up a pen or sit down at your computer. And write. We’re all waiting to see what you have to say.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online community for writers and other artists.