A writer friend suggested the idea of having a set number of pieces out for consideration: Say five or ten or two, whatever your number is. The idea is, you submit to magazines until you reach your magic number, you let them consider your work, and then when a rejection rolls in you send out to keep your number where you want it. It’s sort of a low-stress submission strategy, and it’s appealing to me now because balancing edits and querying and revision is SO MUCH WORK.Read More
My neighbors had a tree service out today. All morning, it was chain saws and tree grinders droning on. That’s annoying, yes, when you work at home. You can’t really polish an essay before submission when your idle thinking time is interrupted by the grinder plowing through another load of leafy branches.
Then when you start comparing your productivity to theirs, it all derails.
They’ve taken down a century old tree while you’re still trying to muddle through one measly blog post.Read More
I’m back from my writers residency in Alaska. Right now I’m getting back to speed: the bags are unpacked and I’m over the jetlag, and working on implementing the lessons I learned from my residency into a new workflow that will allow me to be as productive as possible on the important work.
I’ll share my insights on productivity and process in another blog post. Today I thought I would share a little of the factual information about my writers residency—where I went, what it was like, and some photos from southeast Alaska because it is BEAUTIFUL.Read More
I’ve headed out for a one-month writers residency in Alaska, where I’ll have my own cabin and uninterrupted time to write. It’s an honor to be chosen, and a longterm dream of mine — one I only recently gave myself permission to pursue. Residencies sound very mystical—something for the privileged few who can afford application fees—but that’s a myth. There are thousands of writers residencies all over the world, and many have no application fee. Learn why I thought a residency was out of reach, what changed my mind, and my best tips on how to apply for writing residencies.Read More
In the last post I shared a little bit about that stuck feeling and tricks to overcome it. But one of my favorite ways to overcome writers’ block is through morning pages, a tool from The Artist’s Way.
I don’t do morning pages any longer, but I did them daily when I was working through the Artist’s Way after writer’s block, a health crisis, depression, and getting married (no wonder I couldn’t write with all that shit going on).
A few voices chime in that no one liked their pitch. They got a like, but it was from a vanity publisher, not from an agent. They tried PitchWars and didn’t get in, they tried Nightmare on Query Street and didn’t get in, they tried DVPit and didn’t get in – and now they’re thinking their flavor of book is not marketable. And they say in a small voice, maybe they won’t query after all. Maybe they will put their work back on the shelf.Read More
Writing this week has been a slog! So I thought I’d share a bit about it.
I’m setting off on an adventure tomorrow, and I’m a little nervous about it.
Or maybe it’s guilty?
I’m taking a long weekend to write.
Just writeRead More
If you struggle with this time of year – and many of us do – please know you aren’t alone.
I’ve struggled with the holiday season for as long as I can remember.
For me it’s a mix of divorced family baggage, not connecting at all to the religious overtones of the season, stress over gift giving, and feeling drained by mounting obligations.Read More
The holiday season is a whirlwind and it’s really easy to get off track with your writing. As we count down to the end of the year, many writers beat themselves up because they haven’t written in a couple of weeks, they didn’t meet their word count goals, or they haven’t accomplished everything they wanted to in the course of the year. January starts, and they’re full of doubt over whether they’re good enough—not inspired to set writing intentions to succeed in the year ahead.
I don’t want that to happen this year to any of you, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways to stay connected to my writing when I’m super busy.Read More
I’ve been fortunate to meet agents at writers’ conferences and through workshops. I’ve also been through the query trenches, from cold querying agents to participating in Twitter contests and responding to manuscript requests. I’m still in the query trenches, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Here are the top mistakes I’ve seen writers make when pitching literary agents. These are either things I’ve witnessed myself in conferences, heard agents complain about, or heard writers admit in online forums.Read More
Women are socialized to defer to men and protect male feelings. So what happens when we stop doing that?Read More
In a couple years I’ll be in college and out from under my parents’ thumb. Can’t I wait until then to let my rainbow freak flag fly?
My character’s words came to mind when I received a lesbian dating advice question from an Indian college student who felt trapped between a friend’s suspicion of her sexuality and her deep desire to remain in the closet through the rest of college. This woman was 20, and desperate to keep her secret hidden; I assumed this was because homosexuality is still criminalized in India and out gays and lesbians face widespread discrimination.Read More
Living in the country, I don’t get many chances to attend readings, mingle with other writers, or take part in a writer’s group …. all things I took for granted when I lived in Boston. Fortunately, the explosion in podcasts has brought a ton of great audio content that lets me learn about craft, find books to read, and cultivate a connection to the writer’s community.
Listening to writing podcasts has helped me better understand the publishing industry, feel less alone in my journey, and get a new perspective on aspects of the writing craft and process.Read More
While I’d heard other writers suggest going through their manuscript for filler words that make the writing weak, I had never done it. That was advice for adverb junkies or writers who declaim, shout, grunt, groan, and so on. I didn’t have that many filler words, did I?
Spoiler alert: I did.Read More
Having my opening pages critiqued by a literary agent showed me where my work was landing flat. In particular, the agent thought one area needed work – the dialogue I’d written wasn’t punchy enough to make my main character stand out in all her rainbow freak flag glory.
Since that critique I’ve been working through conversations, one line at a time, looking for ways to make my dialogue snappy rather than flat. Last weekend, I learned a new technique to reboot a boring scene.Read More
The night before my wife and I headed off to celebrate Pride weekend (because it’s always Pride weekend somewhere in June) we attended a “what does pride mean to you?” panel at our local LGBT center. After hearing from intergenerational, multicultural LGBTQ individuals was interesting, we headed home to get ready for our trip — only to get a text from a friend that she wouldn’t be joining us at Pride because her ex didn’t think it was appropriate for their child.
No acknowledgement that it was a slap in the face remark from someone we’d invited to weddings, parties, and other events for years.Read More