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Write Now, Here's How

All About the Book.

Write Now, Here's How -- Insights from Six Decades of Writing (2020, Lame Johnny Press)


What's Here?


About the Book
Here's what you'll find between the covers.


Q&A: Linda Answers Questions

Learn about the essays in the book, why Linda decided to self-publish, and how Linda chose this specific cover design.


What's with the mask?
The story of the author photo on the back cover.


The Resurrection of Lame Johnny.
The story behind Lame Johnny and the Press that bears his name.


Collected Comments by Commonplace Readers.
We've collected some readers' comments about the book here. Send us a note and we may include yours too. A few excerpts from professional reviewers are included.


Table of Contents
What's included in the book and its layout.

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About the Book


In Write Now, Here's How, a dedicated and experienced writer leads the reader through forty entertaining essays that define six decades of writing challenges. You'll feel as if you are conversing with author Linda M. Hasselstrom about how her challenging life on a working cattle ranch in the shortgrass prairie of Western South Dakota became material for nearly twenty books. Reading this book is like joining Hasselstrom in the quiet privacy of the retreat house, where dozens of writers have found their voices.


You'll learn what flesh-eating bacteria and snortable chocolate have to do with reflections on writing. Is it possible to find inspiration neck-deep in hot water in a claw-foot tub?


With Hasselstrom's guidance, your writing will grow like a tulip, and bloom like wild pink roses along a dusty gravel road. Winston Churchill will teach you about persistence. Walking will become a vital part of your writing practice.


What is the most efficient way to monitor your valuable writing time? You'll find answers here. How can you most efficiently organize your writing space -- no matter how small? How can you fit serious writing into a life filled with work, family, and entertainment? Hasselstrom presents a variety of possibilities to help you choose a schedule that best suits you.


Other topics will catch your attention as well. Why is the top of the refrigerator a useful writing metaphor? Hasselstrom will answer this question, and send you scrambling to your kitchen with a notebook.


And Hasselstrom doesn't just explain; she demonstrates with examples from her own work how writers can begin to see the invisible. She gently leads you into meditations that will help you create a writing retreat in any busy week. With this perceptive woman, you will explore methods of defining the memoir that will become an important part of your writing.


As you read her discussion about how much truth belongs in your nonfiction, you'll feel as though you were sharing coffee at the retreat house table, or strolling a trail filled with opportunity.  What can Lovers' Leap teach you about discipline? What's the truth -- and the risks -- that accompany the Bogus Jim burl failure?


Besides exploring options for writing ideas and directions, you'll discover practical information. What should every writer know about copyright? How do you decipher the complex language of publishing contracts? And what about the Internal Revenue Service? Study Hasselstrom's analysis of her experiences with this august body, and learn how to protect yourself.


Do you begin each allotment of your writing time with a specific objective that you know you can reach? If not, Hasselstrom will help you realize how important it is for you to organize your writing aspirations into specific goals.


A writer's best friend might be an editor -- but not always. Do you need an agent? Probably not, and Hasselstrom will help you understand why this is true. She even asks important questions about how you might promote your book and what the results might be. Will you get a movie offer or a Pulitzer Prize? Reading this book can provide a significant and compelling answer.


Linda M. Hasselstrom is an award-winning poet and writer of the High Plains whose work is rooted in the arid landscape of her southwestern South Dakota ranch; she holds degrees from the University of South Dakota and University of Missouri. Author of twenty books of nonfiction and poetry, she has conducted hundreds of readings, workshops, talks and lectures about writing and publishing for audiences ranging from elementary students to senior citizens.  She is the resident writer at Windbreak House, where she conducted writing retreats from 1996 to 2020.

Linda Answers Questions About the Book

Q: Write Now is made up of 40 essays about your writing experiences. Were they all written for this book, or are they excerpted from other books of yours?


Many of the essays have appeared on my blog, a word I still find lacking in charm. Technically, then, many of these essays are either unpublished, or pieces that were published but have remained uncollected, meaning they have not appeared in a book.



Q: Why did you decide to publish this book through your own Lame Johnny Press, instead of submitting it to conventional publishers?


Who knows when, where, how or even if I might publish another book that will enable me to collect past writing? 


And even though some publishers now accept simultaneous submissions—submitting the same book to several potential publishers at once—the process still takes a long time as the editors laboriously calculate whether the book is worth their investment, and their time.


So I've decided to self-publish my current writing through my blog and other online writing, as well as this book.



Q: Are there other advantages to self-publishing?


Along with [a book] proposal, many publishers require the author to submit a Marketing Plan, complete with bookstores and cities you plan to visit, organizations you will ask for an opportunity to speak about your book or a related topic. I'm nearly 80 years old and drove millions of miles around the Great Plains when I worked for various arts councils. These days I want to stay home with my dog, enjoy my garden, write, and make contact with potential buyers and others through the Internet.


Besides, publishing a book means promoting a book. These days I enjoy making sales pitches less and less, since promotion requires persuading twenty-something book buyers who are looking for the next hot read.  Marketing means traveling hither and thither, speaking to groups that may or not be interested.



Q: Tell me about the book's cover photo.



James Parker, the editor and designer of the book, who is also a photographer, took the book cover photo near Fairburn, a small town not far from my ranch.


I loved it because I recognized the road, and knew it was near here. The winding road symbolizes to me the way the writing life is—some of it is a relaxed ramble in the country, but there may be sharp curves and slippery grave. Note that the left side of the road is open range: so you could hit a cow (a bad review, or some similar problem) in your writing life. Rolling hills: it's not a flat, featureless plain; the writing life has lots of interesting humps and squiggles and valleys and vegetation.



Q: Did he send you other cover designs to choose from, or was this the only one?


He sent me several other covers: one had a pencil and notebook, which seemed to me too simplistic in this computer age.


One of the road pictures he sent had very large trees—not characteristic of the prairie at all, except around ranch houses. Another one had a stop sign, which surely does suggest some of the problems of writing, but part of my advice is to never ever give up writing, and the stop sign seemed a negative image.


Another cover was black and white, and although that would have been considerably cheaper to produce, I wanted the vibrancy of color.


One or more of the possibilities had glowing light around the letters, which struck me as too ethereal. Several covers had varieties of type—smaller, larger, more curly, san serif; I chose this type because it has a jaunty handwriting-like appearance—much neater than my own handwriting.