Stay Calm…and Focus on What (Writing) You Can Control

With everything spinning out of control—routines, plans, the world, etc.—I’ve found a lot of comfort and calm focusing on smaller-scale things 100% within my control: a neatly trimmed lawn, a weed-free garden bed, a freshly organized closet, a tricky recipe followed to the letter. No surprise, a lot of people have found home renovations aContinue reading “Stay Calm…and Focus on What (Writing) You Can Control”

Is Your Character a Vegetarian?

Having, I assume, culled through historical documentation of all sorts, somebody in the world has kept tabs on All the President’s Menus. Isn’t it amazing all the seemingly mundane details we can know about the past? While reading through the list, comparing my favorite foods to those of past presidents, and upon occasion making funContinue reading “Is Your Character a Vegetarian?”

The 6 Secrets Every Writer Needs to Know

My May 2011 commencement address was so bad, so completely depressing rather than inspiring, that it’s the only Bloomsburg speech in the past three years that isn’t posted on YouTube. Officially, Eduardo Ochoa, the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, “discussed how Bloomsburg University has prepared students to be active and engaged participants in the globalContinue reading “The 6 Secrets Every Writer Needs to Know”

#1 Way to Protect Your Query Letter from an Upon-Arrival Trashcan Fate

Let me tell you a true story. It’s a horror story. A publishing horror story. The following is not for the faint of heart. I work at a social science press. We publish history, economic, sociology, psychology, and urban planning books (among others). On occasion, we publish memoirs but these books are usually the memoirsContinue reading “#1 Way to Protect Your Query Letter from an Upon-Arrival Trashcan Fate”

Writing is Like Digging for Diamonds

I was once told that writing is like excavating diamonds. Raw diamonds are naturally stuck in big chunks of worthless rock that is in turn buried deep in the mud. Stories, similar to diamonds, have an essentially perfect, natural form and the writer’s job is to chip away all the rock and crud until theContinue reading “Writing is Like Digging for Diamonds”

Dear Writers: Read This For Your Own Good

Making editorial assistants cry is the equivalent to killing kittens: (1) it’s soulless; (2) selfish; and if these adjectives don’t scare you off, at the very least it’s (3) frowned upon. So read about how to avoid this cardinal sin over at the INTERN’s blog. (Here’s a hint: be a smart submitter and savvy negotiatorContinue reading “Dear Writers: Read This For Your Own Good”

Does Your Writing Reek Enough to Pass the Five Senses Test?

I’ve been reworking a short fiction story for the past two weeks and though I really liked the idea, and was growing increasingly fond of many of the sentences and some of the full-length scenes, I could tell the story wasn’t really popping off the page. If I were being honest with myself, I knewContinue reading “Does Your Writing Reek Enough to Pass the Five Senses Test?”

The Moral of the Story: What I Learned from NaNoWriMo

Even though there was a rehearsal dinner, a wedding, a weekend spent upstate visiting my beloved roommate, Thanksgiving, and, at the very end, a very nasty head cold, I survived and WON NaNoWriMo this year!  Hurray! I now have a very crappy, embarrassingly awful, but decently plotted 56,000+ word novel (I only wrote 50,000 wordsContinue reading “The Moral of the Story: What I Learned from NaNoWriMo”

What To Do When Your Book Idea is Stolen and Made into a Bestseller

Monday (9:00am):  Denial.  Denial, denial, denial.  When they clog up your email, each electronic bad news arriving one after another, providing a summary paragraph that’s startlingly similar to the plot of your own manuscript, refuse to read the: Online book reviews Goodreads monthly newsletter Barnes & Noble weekly newsletter Shelf Awareness daily newsletter Monday (9:15am): Continue reading “What To Do When Your Book Idea is Stolen and Made into a Bestseller”

The 4 Rules of Polite Simultaneous Submissions

I’ve read blog posts before where people claim that it’s “rude” or, at the very least, makes them extremely uncomfortable to simultaneously submit their writing to multiple journals or to multiple literary agents.  This is ridiculous!  Think about it.  If you have submitted your manuscript to a single literary agent, the wait time is, perhaps,Continue reading “The 4 Rules of Polite Simultaneous Submissions”