Category Archives: Quotable

Evelyn Eman Delmar

The Pendulum and the Pit

As a public service to authors, I’m making my annual pilgrimage to the choppy waters of self-publishing. What leads me back to this topic is the confluence of book industry news, NaNoWriMo and current TV commercials that demonstrate the pull and the pitfalls facing aspiring authors.

The industry news is that self-published books continue to hit record numbers, year over year. Bowker, the company that issues and tracks ISBNs, reported that 786,935 ISBNS were issued to self-published authors in 2016, an 8.2% increase over the previous year – and a remarkable 218% increased since 2011. In 2016, nearly 75% of those books were print, an increase of 11.3%; 25% were ebooks, a decline of 3.2%. It should be noted that eBooks published through Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Program) are excluded from Bowker’s stats because Amazon issues ASIN (not standard ISBN) numbers.

So, the pendulum continues to swing in the direction of self-published books.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins its 18th year on November 1st (they encourage earlier online registration). Since 1999, NaNoWriMo has inspired millions of aspiring authors to attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. The free program, providing guidance and support to writers, drew more than 430,000 finished manuscripts in 2015 alone. Over the life of the program, it reports that 250 of its participants have seen their manuscripts sell to traditional publishing houses. Presumably, many more manuscripts went on to be self-published.

It’s the self-publishing part of my 3-piece post where I shout from the roof-top: CAVEAT EMPTOR! If you’ve followed my blog over the past 5 years, you know I view self-publishing as an excellent option for authors … if they understand what it entails and are prepared to do all that it takes to be successful.

If your manuscript is your brainchild, don’t you want to protect and nurture it through its gestation, birth and life? Because you love your brainchild and are eager to give it a meaningful life, you may be susceptible to commercial promises and glitzy websites that sell snake oil in the guise of dreams.

A current TV commercial promises they’ll do everything for you and guarantee your book will be placed in bookstores. BEWARE: No brick and mortar bookstore guarantees it will accept a book, even from traditional publishers; many won’t even consider self-published books.

You get what you pay for isn’t a given with many of these companies; you will be squeezed out of your money only to end up with a garage full of books collecting dust. And just because your self-published book may be offered through Amazon doesn’t mean anyone will notice or buy it.

You wouldn’t hire someone to care for your child without doing due diligence about their experience, qualifications and costs. You would decide in advance how much control you want to retain over decisions affecting your child. You would ask experienced parents for referrals and if you didn’t already know other successful parents, you would seek out reputable parent networking groups.

You can’t re-birth a child and it’s almost equally impossible to successfully re-publish a failed book. So study the territory before you go forward. The path to that great reward at the other end is fraught with landmines. My Book.ed blog post of February 25, 2013, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly About Self-Publishing is a good starting point.

Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life. — Ray Bradbury.

Evelyn Eman Delmar


Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France

Katje is Dutch for kitten or little cat. On August 20th, 2017, I gave my Katje, the little cat with the big heart, the last gift I could. I kept a promise I made to her nine years ago that every day of her life with me would be a good one, and once they could not be good, she would not have to endure them.

So many of my friends and some of my relatives have had to say goodbye to their beloved pets in recent months. Each loss is another broken heart, mended over time by memories that bring smiles instead of tears. Understanding this is what allows us to love a pet we will have to say goodbye to and whose leaving us will break our heart.

Here’s what some famous authors have said about cats:

What greater gift than the love of a cat? – Charles Dickens

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through. – Jules Verne

Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat. – Mark Twain

If you want to write, keep cats. – Aldous Huxley

A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not. – Ernest Hemingway

How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven. – Robert A. Heinlein

I dedicate this week’s Book.ed blog post to Katje, offering nine (for a cat’s nine lives) recommended books in which memorable cats play a pivotal role:

For Young Children
Puss in Boots – an Italian/French fairy tale in various forms (1550 – 1697)
The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss (1957)

For Older Children
Star Ka’at – Andre Norton (1976)
Catwings – Ursula K. Le Guin (1988)

For Children & Adults
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (1865)
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – T.S. Eliot (1939)

For Adults
The Silent Miaow , Translated from the Feline – Paul Gallico (1964)
The Master & Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
The Cat Inside – William S. Burroughs (1986)


“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” — The Illuminated Rumi by Jalal Al-Din Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

“You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.” — Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” — The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams


Wondering whether to make a new list for 2017? These insights might influence you:

Lists of books we reread and books we can’t finish tell more about us than about the relative worth of the books themselves. — Russell Banks

Poetry and novels are lists of our devotions. We love the feel of making the marks as the feelings are rising and falling. — Eileen Myles

We like lists because we don’t want to die. — Umberto Eco


We have a lot of books in our house. They are our primary decorative motif-books in piles and on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are books waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books…They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables…I can’t imagine a home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you’d longed to fall asleep reading the Aspern Papers, and there it is. – Louise Erdrich

My books hold between their covers every story I’ve ever known and still remember, or have now forgotten, or may one day read; they fill the space around me with ancient and new voices. — Alberto Manguel


The acclaimed author Pat Conroy, who died earlier this year, was a teacher before he became a published writer. He chronicled his teaching experience in the award-winning The Water is Wide, which became the basis of the 1974 feature film, Conrack. Here is a lovely piece he wrote about the lifelong influence of teachers and books:

The world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave anything out. I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language. Because of them I rode with Don Quixote and danced with Anna Karenina at a ball in St. Petersburg and lassoed a steer in “Lonesome Dove” and had nightmares about slavery in “Beloved” and walked the streets of Dublin in “Ulysses” and made up a hundred stories in the Arabian nights and saw my mother killed by a baseball in “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” I’ve been in ten thousand cities and have introduced myself to a hundred thousand strangers in my exuberant reading career, all because I listened to my fabulous English teachers and soaked up every single thing those magnificent men and women had to give. I cherish and praise them and thank them for finding me when I was a boy and presenting me with the precious gift of the English language.


I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward. – Anne Lamott

Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be. – Margaret Atwood

An author who gives a manager or publisher any rights in his work except those immediately and specifically required for its publication or performance is for business purposes an imbecile. – George Bernard Shaw


Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real. – Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make

We struck the home trail now, and in a few hours were in that astonishing Chicago–a city where they are always rubbing a lamp, and fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities. It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago–she outgrows her prophecies faster than she can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time. – Mark Twain

Chicago has so much excellent architecture that they feel obliged to tear some of it down now and then and erect terrible buildings just to help us all appreciate the good stuff. – Audrey Niffenegger


April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. – William Shakespeare

Again the blackbirds sings; the streams / Wake, laughing, from their winter dreams, / And tremble in the April showers / The tassels of the maple flowers. — John Greenleaf Whittier

April comes like an idiot, babbling and stewing flowers. – Edna St. Vincent Millay

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. – T.S. Elliot


We’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with quotes from Irish writers about the power of words:

If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way. – Seamus Heaney

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. – Oscar Wilde

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. – James Joyce

We read to know we are not alone. – C.S. Lewis

All the words that I utter,
And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
Storm-darken’d or starry bright.
– William Butler Yeats, Where My Books Go


Thoughts about reading, writing and books from author Pat Conroy who died March 4, 2016 at age 70; his books include The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, Prince of Tides and Beach Music:

Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next 10 years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart.

It’s an article of faith that the novels I’ve loved will live inside me forever.

A novel is a great act of passion and intellect, carpentry and largess. From the very beginning, I wrote to explain my own life to myself, and I invited readers who chose to make the journey with me to join me on the high wire.

Writing is more about imagination than anything else. I fell in love with words. I fell in love with storytelling.

I would love to see young writers come out of college and know there is a possibility to be a novelist.


Remembering author Umberto Eco, who we lost the same day we lost Harper Lee:

I love the smell of book ink in the morning.

Books are not meant to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means….

To survive, you must tell stories.

All the stories I would like to write persecute me when I am in my chamber, it seems as if they are all around me, the little devils, and while one tugs at my ear, another tweaks my nose, and each says to me, ‘Sir, write me, I am beautiful’.

When the writer (or the artist in general) says he has worked without giving any thought to the rules of the process, he simply means he was working without realizing he knew the rules.


Thoughts about reading and writing from Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Comes a Watchmen, who died February 19, 2016 at the age of 89:

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think.

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career, that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.

Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…. It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.


To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here are quotes about love from some of our favorite authors:

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. – Jane Austen

If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were. – Kahlil Gibran

Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart. – Charles Dickens

You don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults. – William Faulkner

The very essence of romance is uncertainty. – Oscar Wilde

Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it. – Ray Bradbury


There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. – Ray Bradbury

Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight. – Stephen Chbosky

Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. – Laurie Halse Anderson

In this age of censorship, I mourn the loss of books that will never be written, I mourn the voices that will be silenced-writers’ voices, teachers’ voices, students’ voices-and all because of fear. – Judy Blume

… when books are run out of school classrooms and even out of school libraries as a result of this idea, I’m never much disturbed not as a citizen, not as a writer, not even as a schoolteacher . . . which I used to be. What I tell kids is, Don’t get mad, get even. Don’t spend time waving signs or carrying petitions around the neighborhood. Instead, run, don’t walk, to the nearest nonschool library or to the local bookstore and get whatever it was that they banned. Read whatever they’re trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that’s exactly what you need to know. – Stephen King


Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies. – Jane Austen

I have an affection for a great city. I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of city streets. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I spent a lot of winters in my childhood flying kites with my brother, with my cousins, with friends in the neighborhood. It’s what we did in the winter. Schools close down. There was not much to do. – Khaled Hosseini

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people. – G.K. Chesterton


Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read. ― Francis Bacon

I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines. ― Oliver Goldsmith

Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know. ― John Keats

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing. ― Ernest Hemingway

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle. ― Paulo Coelho


Shared wisdom from the master of the historical novel, E. L. Doctorow:

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.

Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.

When you’re writing a book, you don’t really think about it critically. You don’t want to know too well what you’re doing. First, you write the book, then you find the justification for it. The book is constructed as a conversation, with someone doing most of the talking and someone doing most of the listening.

A physical book is great technology if you think about it. Once it’s produced it doesn’t use up any energy, and if you take decent care of it, it will last forever. That’s a considerable technological achievement.

A book is not complete until it’s read. The reader’s mind flows through sentences as through a circuit – it illuminates them and brings them to life.


I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. — Ovid

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come. – William Shakespeare

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. — Voltaire

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. – Madeleine L’Engle

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! — Dr. Seuss


Famous authors on books and bottles:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
— Omar Khayyám

Read as you taste fruit or savor wine, or enjoy friendship, love or life. – George Herbert

I love everything that’s old, — old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine. – Oliver Goldsmith

Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know. — John Keats

Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing. – Ernest Hemingway

Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder because they are there. – Judith Viorst

A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover. – Clifton Fadiman


The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.—Benjamin Disraeli

We who are left how shall we look again
Happily on the sun or feel the rain
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudginly and spent
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?
– Wilfred Wilson Gibson

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I deliberately did not read anything about the Vietnam War because I felt the politics of the war eclipsed what happened to the veterans. The politics were irrelevant to what this memorial was. – Maya Lin


Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. – Robertson Davies

I write every day. I’m always in the process of writing my last book, until the next one. – Farley Mowat
A writer uses a pen instead of a scalpel or blow torch. – Michael Ondaatje
The eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love. – Margaret Atwood


Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi

Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss. – Black Elk

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. – Kahlil Gibran

You change your life by changing your heart. – Max Lucado

Life is God’s novel. Let Him write it. – Isaac Bashevis Singer


All of the following quotes are from James Michener:

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.

The really great writers are people like Emily Bronte who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination.

I think the crucial thing in the writing career is to find what you want to do and how you fit in. What somebody else does is of no concern whatever except as an interesting variation.

If your book doesn’t keep you up nights when you are writing it, it won’t keep anyone up nights reading it.

Being goal-oriented instead of self-oriented is crucial. I know so many people who want to be writers. But let me tell you, they really don’t want to be writers. They want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print. They don’t want to go through the work of getting the damn book out. There is a huge difference.

Public libraries have been a mainstay of my life. They represent an individual’s right to acquire knowledge; they are the sinews that bind civilized societies the world over. Without libraries, I would be a pauper, intellectually and spiritually.

A nation becomes what its young people read in their youth. Its ideals are fashioned then, its goals strongly determined.


I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train. – Oscar Wilde

There are no strangers here, only friends that have not yet met. — William Butler Yeats

Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch
which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
— George Bernard Shaw

Books, the children of the brain. – Jonathan Swift


It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. – Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

All in the wild March-morning I heard the angels call,–
It was when the moon was setting, and the dark was over all;
The trees began to whisper, and the wind began to roll,
And in the wild March-morning I heard them call my soul.
– Lord Alfred Tennyson

Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.
– William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

Evelyn Eman Delmar

All About Eve (New Year’s Eve)

The uniquely human invention of measured time is never as celebrated or feared as on New Year’s Eve. A tick of the clock or a turn of the page and the calendar begins anew. Triumphs of the past year become endearing memories while tribulations become learning opportunities from which new hope may spring.

Literature recognizes the potent thoughts and emotions that New Year’s Eve evokes in us. We can find references in such classic literature as Silas Marner; Middlemarch; Black Beauty; Little Women; and A Doll’s House. It populates such timeless poetry as Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Hardy’s New Year’s Eve. It appears in modern titles, too, such as White Teeth and The Children of Men.

Writers have a lot to say about New Year’s Eve. Two of my favorite witty quotes are:

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. — Mark Twain

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account. — Oscar Wilde

Authors should take to heart T.S. Eliot’s note on New Year’s Eve: For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.

Wishing everyone a New Year of hopeful beginnings and happy endings!


In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it. – Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

The ballot is stronger than the bullet. – Abraham Lincoln

When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues. – Thomas L. Friedman


And it was the afternoon of Halloween.
And all the houses shut against a cool wind.
And the town was full of cold sunlight.
But suddenly, the day was gone.
Night came out from under each tree and spread
. – Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree


What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature. — Voltaire

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. – Desmond Tutu

Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. At the very simplest, it can be: ‘He/she was born, lived, died.’ Probably that is the template of our stories – a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds. – Doris Lessing