Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A: Art of War & IWSG

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. I'm also co-host on the IWSG where we're participating in A to Z also. It will be an inspiring stop.

"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight." Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War sometime around 512 BC. Since then, the work has been translated and studied. You find quotes from The Art of War in the beginnings of many military books be they fiction or nonfiction. Science fiction authors love using these quotes as Sun Tzu's strategies are timeless and as applicable to battles in space as they are to land battles. Sun Tzu quotes were even used in Firefly in the episode, War Stories. It is always on the top-selling Amazon military sciences lists. If you write any kind of book with physical conflict of a sort, keep an eye out for a copy of The Art of War. I found my copy for less than five dollars on a clearance table. Even if you don't use it in a novel or short story, you'll find lots of great quotes to share on Twitter and Facebook or other social media.
Lesson: Some reference books remain ever popular. Using well know quotes can provide an interesting bit to your book. Everyone should know Sun Tzu


With the recent closing of two of my publishers, there's been some shared grieving. And that's okay. It is a little comfort. Most writers know this happens and took the disappointment in stride, understanding the publishers didn't close because they wanted to damage our careers. It was purely economics. Yet, a few authors posted angry tirades on forums. Here and there, a blogger wrote disparaging remarks about the people running those presses that had failed, often second guessing business decisions and more. Hopefully, the situation never happens to you. But if it does, resist spewing your anger online where anyone can see it. The last thing you want is to have your name recognized as an angry person who vents publicly. Word gets around in the publishing world. Editors know each other. Keep your frustration private. Other opportunities will arise. Please visit more IWSG posts.

And we can't forget that it is April Fool's Day. So here's a little more advice, courtesy of The Old Farmer's Almanac.
"If you want to make a fool of yourself, you'll find a lot of people ready to help you."

Are you familiar with The Art of War? Have you ever used a quote from the book or read a book that used one? Anyone every rant online and make you cringe?

84 comments:

  1. I had never thought about reading The Art of War, even though I have heard it quoted everywhere, but now I shall look out for it.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. There are quotes that apply to a lot more than just war. It's very interesting.

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  2. Great A-Z posting. As writers we sometimes never stop to think about what it was that first sparked off an idea. Reflecting on this for month might prove to be a real eye opener.

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    1. Thanks for stopping in, Fran. It has reminded my why I love those 'keeper' books on my shelf.

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  3. Hi Susan - yes I'd seen an outtake on this - Stephen Pressfield's The Art of War: Break Through the Blocks ... but I didn't know yours - though must have seen the quotes around ..

    Yes - so many ready to help us become fools - so true .. cheers Hilary

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  4. I am familiar with the book. I LOVE quotes and use them every chance I get. Your advice is spot on. I've always heard rant if you must, but only send it to yourself. Thanks for the April 1st laugh.

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  5. Never read the book, but I've seen many quotes from it. Good advice, Susan. We never know who's watching when we choose to misbehave publicly.

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  6. I need to pick up the Art of War, especially since I keep writing stories with a military angle to them.
    Spewing never helps anyone. And it hurts the one who spews the most.

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    1. YOu could really fit in a few quotes with your books.

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  7. The art of war is used a lot in movies and tv, never read the full book though.

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    1. Oh, you could find material. I can hear you trying to figure out how war is art and there's so little painting involved.

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  8. It's a great little book. The bits of wisdom are applicable to all walks of life too.

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    1. I should have mentioned how it isn't just wisdom for battles and war.

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  9. Never read, but have heard quotes... it's time to read it.

    Welcome in the "A"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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  10. I've never read The Art of War... I'll check it out.

    Yeah, angry spewing is not cool. I'll angry spew about the difficulties of being a writer on my own blog, but that's just me shouting in a cathartic way to save the wine.

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    1. I complain about the difficulties do and I sacrifice the wine rather than save it.

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  11. Sadly a lot of publishers have closed their doors. Complaining about it online is dumb though, because other publishers will see that and it could ruin your chances of being signed again with anyone.

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    1. LOL. I didn't come straight out and say dumb but I guess that was what I meant.

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  12. Love the Art of War; I have my copy within reach :)

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  13. I love Art of War; my Newstead books are FULL of quotes form this amazing book.

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    1. Thanks for the backup. A fellow fan of the book.

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  14. "Keep your frustration private" is great advice re social media. It's so easy - too easy - to hit Send or Publish, and then what maybe would've only been a brief tirade or a few minutes of venting will live on forever instead of being over and done.

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    1. I stay out of those disputes even when I have strong feelings one way or the other.

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  15. Fascinating how a book so old can have timeless wisdom we can still use. Absolutely agree about any kind of venting in public. That's a no no!

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    1. Sun Tzu was a genius of strategy. It's amazing how it's still read so much.

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  16. Excellent 'Letter A' post, Susan. Good advice all around for writers, readers and those that would be 'Foolish Spewers' on any media...social or otherwise.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
    AtoZ 2015 Challenge
    Minion for AJ's wHooligans

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  17. Oh, yes, I use The Art of War for insight into battle strategy when I'm writing my Welsh novels. It's given me some great ideas, because what would I know about approaching the enemy on favorable terrain? :)

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    1. I can tell you have read it. Favorable terrain indeed.

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  18. Yes, have always wanted to be brave enough to include a quote, Susan.

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  19. I always love Sun Tzu's quotes but I've never read The Art of War.

    -Chrys Fey
    Tremp’s Troops - A to Z Co-co-host
    Write with Fey

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  20. Thanks for the visit, Susan,hope you take a look at the eBook, you'll love Alice, very feisty!

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  21. I totally need to check that out. Online is not the place to vent unless it's a secret forum that only a few have access to. Even then, it's wise to choose your words carefully. What goes online stays online. :)

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    1. People can find tweets from years previous. How do people not learn from that?

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  22. I'm on the hunt for that book. Thanks for posting about it.

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  23. The Art of War is one that's been on my TBR list for a while... really should just get to that!
    Also good advice.. i always cringe when I see authors disparaging a group that they want to have help them... like you said, editors know each other... is someone going to take the risk of working with you if you're bad-mouthing and second guessing someone else?

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    1. Art of War is a good investment. It's full of ideas and quotes you can use in many places.

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  24. Sorry to hear about the publishers. And that's great advice. One should not vent in public and expect it to be on the down-low. Unfortunately, stuff like this happens.

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    1. I've seen some really ugly debates going on forums. It amazes me how angry people get.

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  25. I've seen this book so many times, and would love to own a paperback copy.
    Your post confirms that I need to invest in a copy.
    It's the kind of book that belongs on a bookshelf, not a kindle.... just my opinion.
    Happy A-Day!

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    1. Exactly. The physical book is better for just opening it up and finding something interesting.

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  26. You've got me rethinking my decision not to read TAOW. I have it on my ereader. I left my publisher on good terms, but on occasion I've worried that I should have been more patient. The one good thing is I was polite. Good manners should account for something, eh? I hope so. Because all this bashing on online forums sets a bad form.

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    1. Yeah, not matter how many times it's said, people make bad decisions about ranting online.

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  27. Hello as one of Mr B's Ambassadors I am saying hello to my allocated blogs starting up at the top where everyone in well Hunky Dory with the A to Z. I will then over the next few days head down in to the wild lands of the late arrivals on the list which includes me this year.

    Authors writing bad stuff about publishers Oooooooo rather biting the hand that feeds you. . . and the sort of thing I would do (I'm like that).

    Rob Z Tobor

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  28. I keep meaning to buy a copy of The Art of War. I'll have to check the nearest second hand bookstore for it. And, I have to say, I love that April Fool's Day quote and just shared it with my family - it got a few chuckles.
    I agree with you about the anger management stuff - it's best to keep all electronic devices silent when I'm angry - no typing allowed. It's better to take a long walk. Good manners definitely count.

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    1. You can sometimes find The Art of War on clearance tables at B&N. April Fool's day is being kind so far.

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  29. There are two books I keep being told I should read: The Art of War and The Tao of Pooh. I am going to have to get to reading both. I like your theme for the challenge and am looking forward to reading more. :-)

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  30. I have not read the Art of War, but my husband has and when my son was a young adult (about 22 years old) my husband had my son read it and they talked about some aspects of it. I'll have to read it down the line sometime.

    betty

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    1. My son introduced me to it when he was a teenager. He can quote parts of it.

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  31. Enjoy the AZ Game, Susan.

    Happy Blogging.

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    1. Thanks. We are working on it. Been going through it a long time, but have good doctors now.

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  32. 2500 years of popularity. Now there's a bestseller.
    :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. Sure is. Bestsellers today get about 25 days of stardom.

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  33. I haven't read Art of War, I should.

    Sorry about the publisher. It happens. As you said, don't spew publicly. That's what our private lives are for. :)
    Untethered Realms

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    1. My writers group gave me chocolate for the hurt. That was as public as I went with a complaint.

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  34. I read the Art of War a million years ago, but it was great!

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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    1. Not a million! LOL. My son introduced me to it about 15 years ago.

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  35. Great way to start this challenge!

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  36. I haven't read The Art of War. Adding it to my TBR now. :)
    Sorry about the publisher. I hope more people can take it in the spirit you have.
    Will be staying tuned for B. Cheers!
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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  37. Love books with lots if great quotes!

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  38. I'm not familiar with the "Art of War", but I now know what I'm getting my husband for his birthday. And if I learn a little along the way, that will be a bonus. Thanks for the introduction.

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  39. Learning more about Sun Tzu I have a quote from Art of War on my "A" today. Working on a project at the moment using this Tzu as a resource.
    Happy A to Zing

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  40. I really do love your theme :) And I remember that Firefly episode!!

    You're right about not spewing rage online - but I'd say that in general. We have to remember that the things we say live on forever online!

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  41. Of course it would be a book of war that's so popular.

    I'm sure it's not appealing to publishers if they see your spew anger when something goes wrong...

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  42. I've always wanted to check out The Art of War, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Sounds like I need to make more of an effort to snatch up a copy, finally!

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  43. There's a lot of wisdom in the Art of War.
    And it's never smart to write anything online while angry.

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  44. I read the Art of War a long time ago when I worked in the real world. now I'm a stay at home writer and have no need of defending myself against some yo and coming punk wearing a tie.

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  45. The Art of War is one of those books I've always meant to read, but I never got to it. And excellent advice about frustrations. Good luck this month!

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  46. Happy AtoZ, Sue.Wonderful lessons and advice, as usual. You're so generous!!

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  47. I love the farmer's almanac quote about being a fool. I am still chuckling. Art of War, sooner or later I'll happen on a copy. Then being able to find it on my bookcases will be the next art.

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  48. Hey Susan!

    That book is from about 512 BC.... good Lord.... I had no idea!!!

    There's a man who knew how to write a good line... or several hundred :)

    Thanks for sharing - and I'm going to look out for my own clearance copy now, too :)

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  49. I love that you mentioned Firefly!
    Cool post.

    Sorry to hear about the publishers. Hope you find something new soon.

    Heather

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  50. I have actually started reading The Art of War on my ipad. Very interesting
    Dan Brown A-Z

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  51. i like the last quote and you have inspired me to read art of war

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  52. I really must read The Art of War one of these days. I don't know why I've put it off this long.

    To chime in on your warning to authors not to dump their negative feelings about things (publishers closing their doors, bad reviews, etc.) -- it always reflects more on the dumper than the dumpee. Readers, reviewers, publishers, and agents tend to remember the people who pull this kind of stunt. It's just not professional.

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  53. I've not read The Art of War, though I feel like I should. The guys I used to work with swore by it.

    Back in 1999 I self-published my first book and thus became a "small publisher." I recognized quickly the challenges that publishers face and how difficult it is to keep the doors open...so I can't imagine getting upset with a publisher for closing its doors. I agree with you, it's disappointing when it happens, and we have a right to grieve that, but best to remain professional.

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  54. Sorry to hear about your two publishers. That's always a bummer to hear happen. There was one that I was considering submitting to, but before I could, they closed their doors.

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  55. I have no patience for people who spew. It's like the world owes them something!

    It would be disheartening, though, to have just one, much less two, publishers close.

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  56. An interesting post. I've never read Art of War, but am going to now. I don't tend to use quotes for my work, but I've seen it done effectively many times.

    I also wanted to say "Good advice!" about not venting publicly. The internet gives people false security and they can quickly find they've damaged their reputation and chances of being picked up by other agents/publishers.

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  57. An interesting post. I've never read Art of War, but am going to now. I don't tend to use quotes for my work, but I've seen it done effectively many times.

    I also wanted to say "Good advice!" about not venting publicly. The internet gives people false security and they can quickly find they've damaged their reputation and chances of being picked up by other agents/publishers.

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  58. My husband made me read the Art of War several years ago. It is the best book. You can apply the theories to anything in life. I use the Art of War when dealing with my difficult mom and it has made a tremendous difference in our relationship . Of course, she has no idea why.

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  59. That book has been on my reading list for so many years I can't even remember. At this point I think it's safer to say it's on my bucket list- it HAS to be read at some point.

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  60. I've just been and read your A-Z posts (backwards, hence the reason the comment is here rather than at the end). I love the tip you provided for each letter. I feel like I've learned a lot of useful snippets. I think my personal highlight was the comment (I think it was on letter B) make sure the characters suffer!
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip
    Debbie
    www.myrandommusings.blogspot.com

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