Friday, March 27, 2009


"Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned." - Oscar Wilde

When the writing is slow, I fear I’ve forgotten everything I know about how to write a book. Everything I learned in all my years with best-selling author Natalie Goldberg. Everything I learned in MFA school. Everything I have read in writing books. Everything I’ve gleaned from reading the books that I love. Everything. This might be a good thing. Perhaps I have to start from ground zero with each book and learn all over again how to write. Each book has its own rules.

A friend reminded me that what I know has been absorbed so deeply, I might not remember it. It’s in my bones. I hope she’s right. Currently it feels like I’m taking Polaroid photographs. I want a refined end product, but I want it now. I find it frustrating to wait while the image develops. Each time I go through the work, the characters become clearer, the images brighter. Only in the end will the picture be clear.

With writing, unlike Polaroids, there’s work to be done beyond swinging the thing back and forth or blowing on it hoping it will dry faster. The writer needs to stay in the book. Sometimes this means reading sections and moving things around. Since I’m still working at the macro level, I often find myself rearranging scenes and writing notes. Sometimes it means writing placeholders for scenes that need to be written or simply daydreaming about the next place my main character needs to go in order for the story to move along. The micro-edit will come later. All the while, the details of my characters become more focused.

Writing is not for the faint of heart. When I hear my heart pounding, I worry that it’s a heart attack. But writing is still the thing I love best. The picture will grow sharp if I’m willing to do the work.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Creating Author Websites

If you're putting together a website for your books, check this out. Here's a great summary of do's and dont's just in from Book Binge from the reader's perspective.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Show, don't tell. Most of the time.

Good post over on Query Tracker blog about "show, don't tell."

I especially appreciated the part about when to tell. Telling has its place.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

#queryfail Day on Twitter

Hey Tweeps, in response to a suggestion by literary agent Colleen Lindsay, a number of agents and editors are tweeting their memories of the worst queries they've ever received kicking off Query Fail Day, the first of what will likely become a regular Twitter phenomenon.

Go to:

My favorite example so far comes from ReneeAtShens:

"P.S. I collect stamps. Should you have any stamp...that is destined for the trash can, [please] stuff them in the enclosed SASE" #queryfail

Uh huh.

Follow-up to QueryFail:

Amazing amount of brouhaha about queryfail. IMHO, the purpose was not to mock writers, but to teach us what not to do in writing a query. For a nice collection of links to articles about how to write great queries and avoid #queryfail, check out this Chico Writer's Group blog post

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ask the Psychologist blog has been revamped, rebooted, relaunched with several guest bloggers including Columbus author, psychologist Dr. Carolyn Kaufman of Archetype Writing: Psychology for Fiction Writers fame.

Dr. Kaufman's bio explains:

Visitors will find not only articles about psychology tailored to their needs, but they can ask Dr. K their writing/psychology questions. She is often quoted by the media as an expert resource.

Whether you need to know what happens in a therapy session (um, are there really any writers out there who haven't yet had therapy?), you want to make your protagonist a psychologist and need the inside scoop, or you'd like to know your villain's official diagnosis, Dr. K will now take your questions.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Quick! The Rabbit's Napping

"Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers." - T.S. Eliot

Taped to the edge of my computer screen is a yellowing newspaper horoscope from September 25, 2003:

Please remember that you are not competing in a sprint. You are running a marathon. Be sure to pace yourself and not be overly concerned about the fast starters who have sped ahead. Clear your beautiful mind of envy and self-doubt as well as the pushy expectations of people who don't know the intricacies of what you are doing. Use your fine mind to figure out how to be motivated by pleasure, not pressure.
Some days I still beat myself about the head and shoulders with the accomplishments of others. Don’t get me wrong. I love to see the people I know succeed. They show me what is possible. But sometimes I forget it’s not a race.

Of meditation practice, Shinzen Young said, "It's not whether you meditate every day, but will you still be meditating when I see you ten years from now?" Natalie Goldberg asks, “Who among you will still be writing in a decade?” I want to be the one who still picks up the pen. I’ve watched some of those who sprinted ahead burn out. Some aren’t writing at all while others have become disillusioned. It's the old tortoise and the hare business. To finish the memoir, I put one word after another, day after day, year after year. To finish this novel, I’ll need to do the same. Meanwhile I send query letters and submit the memoir to contests. Bit by bit it adds up to a writing life.

So let’s notice the scenery as we trudge along. If we miss our lives, we’ll have nothing to write about.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Google Settlement

Has Google violated your copyright? If you've published a book in the past several years, Google has probably published it online thereby stepping on your copyright toes.

Participate in the proposed settlement at this link:

Enter the ISBN of each book and the search engine will find it and fill in the information.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Planner Eating Dog Needs Name

Columnist and certified laughter leader Pat Snyder needs your help naming the dog that will appear prominently in her upcoming book, The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life. She's sponsoring a contest to tag the beast. Here are the details:

This mischievous guy will romp through the pages of my soon-to-be-released book, "The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life." Like the other dogs in our lives that disrupt our plans, his belly's full of planner pages, but he's hungry for one more thing: A Name. Contact Pat with your choice, along with your name, address, phone number and why you chose the name, by March 31. The lucky winner will receive a caricature drawn by book illustrator Michael H. Whiting of the winner's own dog (or cat or other favorite pet), which will be presented at a local book-signing.
Go to her website to see the dog's caricature and enter to name that dog.