Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Time to Play

In Business of Writing, Craft, Write Free on March 26, 2009 at 4:25 pm

write_free_cover_56_inchesjpgDon’t you get a little tired of the drudgery part of seeking publication? All that sifting, sorting, posting, mailing and then the waiting…

Want to have a little fun in the process of seeking publication? Then join me and Rebecca Lawton, authors of the book Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life for our monthly self-paced “Playshops.”

Playshop One’s theme is “Playing toward Publication.”

The playshops take place each month. Next one begins April 6, 2009.

For 20 days of the month you receive inspiring quotes and words, write free prompts, craft exercises and a weekly message to juice your creative energy up and engage in new publishing strategies. 

Sign up at: .


Editors Are People Too

In Business of Writing, Musings on March 25, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I’ve found that it’s all too easy to pin our writerly anxiety about publication on the editors we pitch and submit to, whether as freelance writers or as an author waiting to hear back from a book or proposal out on submission.  Most likely your family, spouse or friends are a tad sick of hearing about how nervous you are…so those feelings end up aimed at the wrong people. You might accidentally think of them as purposely withholding an answer about your precious pitch, or spitefully telling you that it isn’t what they’re looking for. You might even think that they went out of their way to tell you what was wrong with something you pitched. These are understandable, but I think, unnecessary feelings.

You know that little trick that’s supposed to help actors overcome stage fright–picturing the audience in their underwear? Well I like to think of editors as the real people they are. The kind of people who groan when their alarm clock goes off and hit the snooze button for a few more minutes before they have to face the inevitably chock full email in-box or slush pile, the one that waits for them day after day like some looming tower of pressure. I like to imagine editors runing a pair of pantyhose by snagging them on the underside of a desk; exploding their  lasagne all over the inside of the microwave; exchanging gossip or celebrity trash over their stacks of manuscripts; enjoying a delicious afternoon latte on a quiet bench somewhere where no assistant or editorial director or yet another damn writer can bother them with questions about when, why, or…why not.

I like to imagine my editors sliding into a comfy pair of jammies at the end of the day, heaving a groan of satisfied relief that the day is over, that they can turn it all off for a little while, and just be a person again who doesn’t owe anybody an answer.

Because that’s a person I can understand. A person I know is just doing their job, one they probably love, but which also kicks their ass with the workload.

So go easy on the editors. They’re only people too.

Wanting to be Jackie Kennedy

In Business of Writing, Interviews, Profiles on March 22, 2009 at 11:46 pm

My talented friend Elizabeth Kern has made it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel quarter-finals for her novel Wanting to be Jackie Kennedy. I have had the good fortune to read this lovely novel and I can plainly say that it is a winner. If you’d like to help out a talented author and read a wonderful excerpt, you can review her book favorably!

Download the excerpt here:

“All Space”

In General on March 15, 2009 at 12:42 am

Something inside me has snapped. I feel like shouting I CAN’T DO IT! I simply cannot keep track of another site that connects me to other people. My brain hurts–perhaps because my eyeballs are stuck to it. I am Linkedin but I don’t know what I’m linked in to! I have a shelf at Goodreads, but I don’t have the time to post reviews–too busy reading in between mothering and working to bother. I am a RedRoom author but couldn’t tell you waht goes on there. I have a Myspace account but haven’t accepted a new friend in over a year nor posted anything. I twitter, but my tweets are so infrequent they’re probably considered “twits.” The only site I can actively keep up with and where I have any fun is Facebook.

Someone needs to create a software that merges all of these sites into one where I can access them all in a single home page.  Wish I was a software genius. I’d call it “Allspace” or something. Feel free to buy my idea for several million dollars.

Between Blockbuster and Obscurity…

In General on March 13, 2009 at 1:13 am

At the Zoetrope Writer’s Workshop, where I’ve been a member since 1999, an interested publishing thread came up in light of the reported deal that author Audrey Niffenegger received a $4.5 million dollar advance for her second book. First of all, anyone who’s read her debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, knows what a talented writer she is. Second, since I interviewed Pat Walsh, her editor at MacAdam/Cage long ago for an article in The Writer, I know that the money they offered her (reportedly about $100,000) was not the highest offer on her book. But she took it because of the attention she was going to get from working with a small publisher and because it felt right to her. In the long run, her success (over 4 million sales worldwide) did her publisher as much good as it did her career.

Here’s the question: Is $4.5 million dollars too high of an advance? Does it put too much pressure on the writer, take monies away from the smaller authors who will never see even a fraction of that much money, and does it warp the already twisted model of pay-up-front publishing, which often works against authors who don’t earn out their advances?

You’d be surprised by people’s thoughts. In general any writer is usually happy to hear of a big advance for a writer–it gives us hope. Athletes and celebrities get figures like that all the time, why not those people who enter our psyches and hearts and provide us with understanding into our complex human experience? But some cringe at the thought that one big advance is, in essence, stealing money out of the mouths of midlist and debut authors. In other words, how many new authors could you buy for Audrey’s advance?

Some believe that the blockbuster mode of publishing is the next corroded wave of the future (the future being here already), and that it’s unavoidable–you’re either a hit, or you’re not…

I’d love to hear your opinions!

A Light at the End of a Print Run

In General on March 7, 2009 at 4:27 am

My book Make a Scene, published nearly a year and a half ago, has almost sold out of its initial print run thanks to thousands of people …yes, thousands. It’s hard for me to picture all those desks and book bags and car seats and classrooms where my words, bound beautifully by Writer’s Digest, sit. I am so grateful. I still remember the weekend when that idea first started to percolate, and pick up steam, and finally resulted in a proposal for a book. I was on a writing reatreat at Wellspring, in Philo (near Mendocino, CA). It was a rainy January weekend and my dear friend Marlene Cullen and I spent two quiet days holed up with a continuous fire going writing. I had no idea that several years later I’d be holding my book in my hands.

Thanks to all of you who helped.

When to Hire a Developmental Editor?

In General on March 3, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I work with all kinds of editing clients, at various stages of the writing process. I don’t turn anyone away who seeks my services but there are better times to hire an editor than others. When to hire an editor is one of the most frequently asked questions I get.

I do mostly developmental editing, which means content, structure, plot, characters, narrative flow–big picture issues (as well as the “small” stuff like grammar and syntax).  You should hire a developmental editor such as me when:

You can do no more. A great time to hire an editor is when you have done multiple drafts, revised and tweaked everything you possibly can, and now you need an outside eye (and I recommend you go to writing groups or feedback partners FIRST)

You are willing to spend money to hear someone tell you hard truths about your manuscript. I have had the occasional client who felt that by paying my fee, he or she was paying to hear me say “It’s great. It should be published!” The irony is not lost on me that paying someone to tell you what is wrong or needs work seems almost unfair…but that’s the way it is. When you’re willing to part with cash to hear what you still need to do, it’s time to hire an editor.

You aim to be published.  If you don’t have a writing group or a feedback partner who can help you know if your work is publishable or not, an editor is a good person to help you determine this. Be wary of editors who claim they can tell if your work is strictly publishable or not publishable, with no suggestions for feedback. You can always work harder and get better and the road to publication is often paved with reams of drafts.

You already have a publishing contract or an agent. “What?” you say. “Why would I hire an editor if I’m already going to be published, or think I have a darn good shot?” Because once your book is published you can make no more changes. That’s it. Unless you’ve written a text book that gets updated or revised, this is your last chance to make your book the BEST it can be.

So there you have it. And yes, I’m always taking new business. Visit the “editing” tab at the top of my site here.