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Keep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg. See the Summer Lists Now!

I just got home from ten days in Europe and I am ready to write. Why?
Because getting out of my writing cave makes me bump up against people, against history, against emotional struggles.

Belzec Death Camp Memorial, Poland

One place we visited is a memorial for the Belzec (Bee AWA zhek) Death Camp in eastern Poland, the first and worst of the Nazi camps which tried to exterminate Jews, gypsies and handicapped people. Over 600,000 people died here in 1941-1943. Then, the Germans flattened the camp and planted trees, in an attempt to hide what they had done.

This is history and deep emotions rolled into one poignant visit. For example, there was only one survivor of the camp–only one!–and his stories are heartbreaking. One quote was from a young boy who had entered the gas chambers and was heard to cry out, “It’s dark, it’s dark. Mama, haven’t I been good?” His last words.

For a writer to experience a sobering memorial something like this is to plumb the emotional depths to which a character might be forced to go.

Barn Swallow Nest

One place we stayed was a horse farm in eastern Poland and one morning I walked out with my camera to see what was around. Under the eaves of the horse barns were nest after nest of barn swallows. I like trying to find the small, hidden things to photograph, because as a writer, it reminds me to pay attention to the landscape, to notice the “telling details” that could make a story come alive.

"Beware of Dog" in Polish

I snapped this photo while we were stopped for a break along a country road. Writers need to remember that there are common emotions and thoughts across all languages and cultures, they are common to humanity. Fear of dogs is one of those things.

Window in Zamosz, Poland

And you can find beauty across the world, too, beauty in the common things of life such as a window.

The trip was amazing: as a writer, the trip reminded me that stories are universal, that evoking emotions–both happy and sad–is universal, and that beauty is found in the common things of life.

Writers need to be a part of the wider reading community, not just the writing community. Yes, you need to do it as part of your book marketing, but it’s also a way to widen your outlook about literature in general.

I recently judged the state level of the Letters about Literature writing contest for the Center for the Book. It was a fruitful day for me as a writer, because fellow-judges were librarians and teachers. Mention a recent title and you got an avalanche of opinions. What a refreshing day!

Input from the wider reading community is crucial for writers to maintain a balance. We sit in our caves and focus on the production of words to the exclusion of readers. Listen, there are lots of passionate readers out there.

The Letters About Literature contest asks students to write a letter to an author and explain how and why the author’s book impacted their lives. Wow. The range of books represented, the variety of authors and the passion of the students reminded yet again why we do this. Yes, to us and to us alone, it is the process that matters the most. But when our books go out into the world, it is the reader that matters. Connecting, angering, tickling, disgusting, enraging, delighting–our books should evoke something in that reader.

By stepping out of my writing cave and into the judging today, I was reminded that I do this for myself AND for the kids who read what I write. Today–I salute those readers. Thank you for caring so much about literature, for allowing words to touch you in deep and lasting ways.

In the space of a week, I’ve gone from the heights to the depths.

### First, the good news.

Last week, I was thrilled to learn that my book, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross was given a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. This book has defied all the odds–just as Wisdom has done.

“. . .Pattison writes crisply and evocatively, and her closing notes provide a wealth of information and resources for readers interested in Wisdom and her fellow albatrosses.” Publisher’s Weekly 2/18/13

The story is about a 60+ year-old albatross who lives on Midway Island and survived the Japanese tsunami. For over 60 years, she has soared over the North Pacific, only coming to shore to breed. Scientists estimate that she has hatched over 35 chicks, including one each year for the last five years. Last year’s chick was named Wonder and this year’s chick–just a couple weeks old now–was named Mana’olana, Hawaiian for Hope. Yes, a 62-year-old bird just hatched a new chick!

After the 2011 Japanese tsunami, I heard her story of survival and within six weeks, I had contacted scientists, researched her life and times and written her story. I contacted about twenty publishers and none would publish it. I decided to work with my long-time friend, wildlife artist Kitty Harvill to publish it from my own imprint, Mims House. Now, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that it would be a long hard road. But it was an important story, one I couldn’t let go.

It won the Children’s Book category of the 20th annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published award, a $1000 cash prize. So, I submitted it to Publisher’s Weekly for review and it earned a Starred Review! Right now, it is an Amazon bestseller (for the spring season, the ebook version is only$0.99).

The starred review was especially nice, because it was a validation of all the work we had put into the book. Go look for yourself: self-published can be quality.

Publishing has weird math. 9 months + 5 revisions = NO.
The rejection I got yesterday was shocking and painful.

For nine months, I have been working with someone on a project and it has developed in amazing ways. The critiques were spot-on and I revised like crazy. I deleted chapters, added chapters, rearranged chapters, deepened characters, searched for ways to add humor. Then, I did it again: I added a character, took out a subplot, deepened characters and searched yet again for ways to add humor. I expanded the climax scene, set it up better. I created a stronger emotional arc, added a stronger villain. I revised.

I love this story now.
It was rejected.

The world tilted for me yesterday.
Nine months. Three major (huge, gigantic, difficult, rewarding) revision and a couple more minor ones.
No.

Yet, the moon rose as usual, I slept.
The sun rose as usual, I got up and showered and ate breakfast.
I have already queried someone else and will send it to them today.
I am raw. I feel wounded. A trust betrayed. A grieving because they couldn’t see the story in front of them; they only saw what they would have written, if only they were writers.

Are they right? Are they wrong?
I don’t know.

I only know that this is a heartbreaking week, but last week was an uplifting week. This is just the heights and the depths of our profession; somehow, it feels normal. And regardless of the reaction of others to what I write, my job is to plod along putting one word after another.

So, today, I will write.

I am very grateful to the person who planned the new rota for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. She gave me the hard-to-forget day that is the “first of the month”.

Along with remembering the blog-post comes remembering a rhyme, and making sure I’m there before himself.

PINCH, PUNCH! FIRST OF THE MONTH!

It’s gentle fun, the way we play it, but it isn’t always so for authors.

Writers get plenty of pinches and punches and have to get used to them or give up, I guess.

PINCHES are the tiny moments when something nips at your confidence unexpectedly. They are the moments that make you feel silly and/or needy for even having had expectations.

For example, there are the following:

The Prod of the Poisonous Pen: That negative phrase in a review that brands itself across the brain for far too long afterwards.

The Pinch-You-in-Passing Person: This is the librarian or teacher who dismisses your latest book while oozing & enthusing about another book or author. “What we’re really looking forward to . . . “ (And to dismiss a book is to dismiss the writer, my friend.)

The Nip of the Book-Non-Buyer: This one picks up your book, sniffs, and puts it down. The extreme version takes your book out of their child’s hands and offers them one by a tv tie-in or celebrity.

The Sad Smile of the Un-Chosen:  There are lots of awards around now, and I am very glad of that for many reasons.  Occasionally comes the good moment: one’s book is chosen and listed and one is very grateful and happy. Then comes the down-side when one is not THE Chosen. Even when you didn’t expect to be, it might have been nice to be Surprised.

Ah well. Just a mini-pinch, because it was an honour all the same. Though pity that stoical author whose serious novel on a heart-felt theme was pipped at the post by an amusing book about a farting bear. To those who have to smile bravely in public when such announcements are made: we salute you!

In lots of ways, pinches are good for the writer as a person. They are the moments that remind us not to get too grand or vain about our work, to think about others. The moment might smart but the pain can be licked away.

PUNCHES are the serious stuff, the blows that can knock a writer down.

The worst is when a book that one’s heart and soul has gone into goes Out of Print. This news is often discovered by chance. It rarely comes from an editor or the publishing house.

My toughest Out of Print moment punched out at me from nowhere, just as I was setting off on a very happy tour of school visits. The eager bookseller rang to say that, if I agreed, the publisher’s warehouse would release ten of my last twenty “author copies” of a title for her to sell at the event. I rang the warehouse, feeling sick in the stomach, mumbled my agreement and smiled all the way through the tour.

Inside, I was hurting. What I knew was that now that title had gone out of print, the rest of the series would go too, like a run of dominoes.

The fact wasn’t anything special. Lots of people go through it, sometimes as they are still writing the series. The moment was just one of those re-shuffles, those occasional clearing of the lists, aka the wiping of my entire backlist. That was a punch, that was, and I wasn’t wearing my iron corset that day.

I’ve learned to have that trusty garment ready more often. Even in the fine world of kindle and e-books and being in charge of your own publishing destiny, I’m sure pinches and punches happen.

“Courage!” is all one can say, and perhaps remember that at least we mostly live where many of our words can be published without truly serious or vicious reprisals . . .

Enough. End of this rambling. The sky grew darker than I expected when I began.

Meanwhile, back to more comfortable territory.

I’m ready for tomorrow, as long as himself doesn’t read this post over my shoulder and as long as Blogger scheduling works around 6.30am.

For what I’ve found out, while researching this saying, is that the words should be delivered between dawn and noon, and with an extra line for luck.

A PINCH AND A PUNCH! THE FIRST OF THE MONTH!
WHITE RABBITS AND NO RETURNS.

Wishing you No Returns, especially from your books.

Penny Dolan
www.pennydolan.com

Happy Friday! I don't know about you, but I've bookmarked Mary Ann's Wednesday Writing Workout. What a fun exercise! Now, back to the topic of favorite craft-oriented books. We all have our personal favorites, of course, and there are certainly enough out there to satisfy everybody's tastes. I hadn't even heard of Carmela's pick, Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook, but I'm going to have to try to find a copy. I'm more familiar with the terrific books on Mary Ann's list, although I've never had the pleasure of reading Marcia Colub's I'd Rather Be Writing. These two are going straight to my (ever growing!) "must read" list. For my own list, I'm going to stick to those books that deal with writing fiction.

When I feel the need for a writing boost, there are books I go back to again and again. But if I were going to be stranded on a desert isle with only three books about the writing craft to read while awaiting rescue (and praying for a cookbook to wash up:  500 Ways to Cook Coconuts), my picks would be:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne & Dave King. This little gem was first published in 1993, but it's no less relevant now than 20 years ago. It's packed with information that vastly improved my writing. Vastly. And it's written in a friendly, chatting-over-the-back-fence style that appeals to me. So many illuminating examples are sprinkled throughout – good, bad, hilarious, and cringe-inducing – that there's no way you can read it and not come away a better writer. How many writing sins did Beginner Me commit? That's for another post.

Telling Lies for Fun by Profit, by Lawrence Block. Reading these essays is like picking the brain of a warm and witty, well-published favorite uncle who's willing to cut through the baloney and give it to you straight. He covers every topic I can imagine about writing and the writing life. From selecting a pen name (or not) to speeding up your writing to creating believable characters to "the perils of icebox thinking." I'm not kidding. It's ALL here. An often eye-opening read.

For my third choice, I’d have to go with Stephen King’s On Writing. Half memoir, half instruction manual, candid and, by turns, heartbreaking and funny, this book gives me hope that success can happen for any of us willing to work hard and BELIEVE. And who doesn’t need that?

Many, many other books on my bookshelves beckon, but these three remain my faves.  Since I never studied writing formally, they pretty much provided my writing education, helped get me where I am today. How could I not love them?

Jill Esbaum

4 Comments on Writing Books - My Personal Favorites, last added: 2/17/2013

The Austin SCBWI Annual Conference has come and gone and was, as usual, a great success! This year's conference focuses largely on the picture book.

Speakers included illustrators E.B. Lewis and Patrice Barton; agents John Cusick, Rubin Pfeffer, and Erszi Deak; editors Neal Porter, Kathy Landwehr, and Tamra Tuller; and authors Shutta Crum and Cynthia Levinson.

Thanks to outgoing RA Debbie Gonzales, ARA Carmen Oliver, Illustrator Chair Mark Mitchell, and all the volunteers! Looking forward to the new administration of Shelley Ann Jackson, Sam Clark, and Amy Farrier!

Here are some pictures:

 Mark Mitchell, Julie Lake, Cyn, Liz Garton Scanlon
 Debbie Gonzales and me during First Impressions panel

 Jessic Lee Anderson, Lindsey Lane, Betty X. Davis
 Jo Whittemore, Jeff Crosby, Emily Anderson, Nikki Loftin, Me
 Bethany Hegedus, Gene Brenek, Vanessa Lee, Sean Petrie
 First Impressions Panel

0 Comments on Austin SCBWI Conference 2013 as of 2/11/2013 10:34:00 AM

One of the most insidious myths about writing is that of the Tormented Genius.1 I blame the Romantics: Byron, Wordsworth, Shelley, that lot. Who were all:

[i]f you have not suffered, if you have not had your soul embiggened by your torment and anguish and substance abuse—preferably opium, but, hey, alcohol will totally do in a pinch—then you cannot write a single soulful sentence! If you are neurotypical2 and have managed to live past forty? Totally not a proper writer!3

Obviously this is one hundred per cent true because think of all those famous writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, etc. etc. Tormented, alcoholic, suicidal, didn’t live particularly long. It couldn’t be that we know their life stories better because they fit into our expectations of what a writer’s life should be, could it?

Yes, it totally could.

But you’d never know it given how pervasive the myth is. I’m frequently asked by young wannabe writers whether they have any chance at being a writer given that they’ve never had a breakdown or a substance abuse problem or suffered anything worse than the occasional unjust grade.

Yes, you can!

Anyone can write no matter how addiction free.4 And seriously don’t sweat not having suffered. Trust me, you will. Oh, yes, you will.

Here’s the thing, well, actually here’s several things:

The vast majority of professional writers, i.e. writers for whom writing is a big ole chunk of their income, if not all of it, have to meet deadlines. They have to write regularly, not just when the muse strikes, or when their soul is on fire, or they are in a manic phase. It’s their job, not a hobby. If they don’t do it or only do it under the right circumstances they could wind up not being paid and not being able to cover their rent or buy food.

I am not saying that no writer ever has written that way and been successful.

The kind of life that the F. Scott Fitzgeralds of this world lived made writing harder. Old Scott was constantly broke and blowing the money and then having to write more despite being drunk and/or hungover. It was hellish. You do not want that life.

The idea that being off your face, or in pain, or can’t-roll-out-of-bed-depressed, is necessary to writing is absurd.

Frankly, it is so much harder to write when we’re in pain—physical or mental, when we’re drunk, or off our faces, or depressed. None of those states are helpful to the way most professionals write. It makes writing harder.

I have written while in physical pain because I had to. I have written while in mental pain for the same reason. That writing was not my best writing. Not even close.5 I flat out can’t write if I’ve imbibed so much as a glass of wine.6

The boring truth is that writers, on the whole, are a pretty happy bunch. Why, look here, writing even made it on to this list of the ten happiest jobs. Contrary to most people’s expectations we don’t feature on the lists of the most suicidal professions or the most alcoholic.

The idea that suffering is an intrinsic part of the writing life is crap.

Again, I am not saying that writers can’t and don’t suffer. Just that it’s not a requirement.

You don’t have to live in a garret to be a proper writer, you don’t have to have a mental illness, or a substance abuse problem. Yes, there are writers who are poor—many of us. Many of us have a mental illness. Which is hardly surprising given that mental illness is very, very common for everyone.

Aside: I would love to live in a world in which mental illness was normalised. I read somewhere that depression is almost as common as the common cold. That pretty much everyone has been depressed at some point in their life.7 I’ve certainly been depressed. And yet judging by our mainstream media you’d think mental illness was as rare as hen’s teeth. It’s hardly ever talked about except for when someone commits a terrible crime and then it’s blamed on their illness even when the perpetrator has no history of mental illness and no diagnosis other than the media’s speculations. The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent. They’re way more likely to have violence committed against them than to commit it themselves.

You may have a mental illness. If you don’t you certainly know people who do. I have several friends who are bipolar. I had no idea until they trusted me enough—after years of friendship—to confide in me. Because mental illness? So much stigma. And, you know what? Most of the time my bipolar friends are indistinguishable from the people I know who aren’t bipolar. End of grumpy aside.

So, yes, there are writers who are bipolar, depressive, anorexic etc. I am sure their writing is fueled by their illness. How could it not be? I’m also sure it’s fuelled by countless other aspects of who they are and what they’ve experienced. Mine is fuelled by everything that has ever happened to me, including bouts of depression. It’s what writers do: take our experiences of being in the world and turn it into story.

But having a mental illness is not a prerequisite for being a writer. Nor is being poor.8

Nor is suffering. Sure, all the writers I know have suffered in one way or another. But, seriously, how many people do you know who haven’t suffered? It’s not essential for becoming a writer; it’s a by product of being alive.

At some point in your life, no matter how privileged your existence, or how sheltered you are from the worst the world can throw at you, someone you love will die, your heart will be broken, you will be in an accident, you will be ill.

Bad things happen to all of us.

I think part of the problem is the conflation between what fuels our writing and the writing itself.

My novel, Liar, was partly fuelled by the death of close friends. But I wrote the book many, many years after those deaths. In the depths of my grief I was incapable of coherent thought, let alone writing.

I wrote Liar during a happy time of my life. In fact, all my published novels have been written while I was happy.9 That’s because writing makes me happy. And the fact that I can make a living writing, and have been able to do so since 2003? That makes me ecstatic.

Does that mean those novels were easy to write from start to finish?

No.

But part of what makes me so happy about writing is that it’s not always easy. If it was easy all the time I’d be bored out of my mind.

Writing is challenging, and stimulating, and sometimes it makes me scream, and sometimes I think there is no way I’ll ever figure out how to finish/fix this novel. Sometimes I can’t. But mostly I can. And that gives me joy.

That’s why I think most writers are happy. Even when they’re screaming all over the intramanets about how hard writing is.

That’s why I think exercises like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) are so wonderful. NaNoWriMo demonstrates that anyone, yes, even all us non-tortured geniuses, can write a novel. The folks doing it tend to discover it’s not as easy as they thought it would be. But plenty also discover that it’s not as hard, that writing a novel can be a huge amount of fun, not to mention addictive.

Addictive in a most excellent not-going-to-kill-you way. Yay, writing!

To sum up: You don’t have to be tormented to be a writer. You just need to write.

1. Which is a myth that applies to all creativity but I’ll focus on writing cause that’s what I know best.
2. They totally would too have used that word. Also I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who is neurotypical.
3. Not an actual quote. You’re shocked, right?
4. Hell, I write and I don’t even like coffee.
5. Yay for rewrites!
6. Lightweight. I know. Don’t care.
7. Wish I could find that reference.
8. Though sadly it can be a result of trying to make a living as a writer. Writing is also not on the list of the most lucrative professions.
9. Obviously, I do not mean that I was non-stop Pollyanna the Glad Girl. Who is? Just that there was more happiness than not.

0 Comments on Torment and Writing as of 2/11/2013 1:34:00 AM

I’ve just said, ‘No,’ to a writing project: two commissioned books for a good cause, at a fair fee. I was told that I was the client’s first choice of author, which is always flattering. I deliberated for several months.
Actually that’s not true. I shelved it and avoided making a decision for several months. When I got down to deliberating, the answer was clear.
It doesn’t matter how worthy the project, I don’t believe I could do a good job if my heart’s not in it.
Still not completely true. I believed in the project enough that I could certainly summon up emotion for the story, and have been writing long enough I probably could turn out something decent.
 (20 years later, this became The Princess and her Panther)
Except that time and energy are finite – and I want everything I write to be more than decent. There are five other stories waiting for the current one to give them a turn. I’m a slow writer, a many-draft writer, a fusser-over of commas and a last minute changer in galley proofs.
Writing is a crazy way to make a living. You throw years of energy into a world that doesn’t exist, and at the end you might get paid lots, or you might get paid nothing. You might be inundated with fans or find booksellers staring blankly when you mention the book.  It’s gambling on such a colossal scale: with the work of your life ­– that it makes casinos look petty. Which might all sound like an excellent reason to write something with a guaranteed sum of money at the end. (And yes, I’ve been writing for a long time and have a lot of books out there, and yes, two of them have movies based on them. It doesn’t take away those moments of fear and doubt about the future of each new book.)
But each of those ideas floating at the back of my mind deserves the time to be coaxed and refined into a book, I have to give each of them all that I can. And the best proof that it was the right decision for me? Since I said no, the new manuscript has been flowing. It’s got all my attention, and it’s loving it.
It may or may not be good when I finish the final draft, but it’ll definitely be the best I can make it.

8 Comments on Saying No: the Author as Gambler, last added: 2/14/2013

In early March I will be at the Adelaide Writers Week. Which is the oldest and most prestigey1 writers festival in all of Australia.

I’ve never been before. Indeed, I’ve never done any events in Adelaide unless you count going to a friend’s wedding.2

Here are my events:

SEXUAL POLITICS: JUSTINE LARBALESTIER, BRYONY LAVERY, CHIKA UNIGWE
ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK – MONDAY, MARCH 4 2013
Australia/USA/Nigeria/Belgium
West Stage, 3.45pm

As the debate about what it means to be a feminist is ongoing, this session brings together three writers, all of whom identify as feminists. Justine Larbalestier is a YA and fantasy writer, playwright Bryony Lavery is the author of iconic works including Thursday, and Chika Unigwe is the author of the novel On Black Sister’s Street, about a group of African women in the sex trade.

This panel marks the first time I’ve ever been on a panel with writers for grown ups (i.e. whose audience is presumed to be primarily adults, as opposed to mine which is presumed to be mostly teens) at a literary festival. I think it’s wonderful that there’s a festival in the world that is actively breaking down boundaries between genres and writers and readers. Honestly, I was so surprised when I saw this I thought they’d made a mistake. Then I looked at the whole programme. And, lo, it’s full of such inter-genre cross over panels. Way to go, AWF, way to go!

My other event is:

GIRL POWER: ISOBELLE CARMODY, JUSTINE LARBALESTIER, VIKKI WAKEFIELD
ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK – SUNDAY, MARCH 3 2013
USA/Australia
West Stage, 2.30pm

The readership for YA fiction continues to grow and grow. Yet for young women today questions of identity, sexuality and friendship remain as problematic as ever. This session asks – how do women write for girls? Join Isobelle Carmody, author of the Obernewtyn Chronicles, Justine Larbalestier, author of Liar, and Vikki Wakefield, author of Friday Brown for a spirited conversation about women and words.

Isobelle is one of Australia’s most popular YA fantasy writers. Her fans span generations and all clutch her books to their chests like they are precious babies. She’s wonderful and funny and genuinely does not think like anyone else I have ever met. I did a panel with her at last year’s Sydney Writer’s Festival and it truly was awesome. Mostly because of Isobelle. So if you’re in Adelaide you want to see this.

I’m looking forward to meeting Vikki Wakefield. I’ve heard good things about her debut novel All I Ever Wanted. Yes, it’s true, not all Australian YA authors know each other. But we’ll fix that after a few more festival appearances.

I like that they list all the panellists’ nationalities. I was excited when I saw there was a USian on both my panels. But a little bewildered when I looked the other panellists up and discovered none of them were from the USA. I’d been looking forward to asking where they were from, and if they knew NYC or any of the other cities I know, we could compare notes. Which is when I realised that I am the USian on those panels.

Oops.

In my defense I’ve only been a US citizen for a year. It’s easy to forget.

TL;DR:3 I will be in Adelaide in early March. Come to my panels!

1. Yes, that’s a real word. Shut up!
2. Which, no, I don’t. It was a lot of fun, but. I love weddings! So much love! So many wonderful speeches about love! So many opportunities for it to all go horribly wrong! Especially at doomed weddings between those Who Should Not Marry. Someday I’m going to write a Doomed Wedding book. Though to be clear: the Adelaide wedding was not doomed. Um, I think I’m digressing.
3. For the old people that stands for: Too long, Didn’t Read. You’re welcome.

0 Comments on Me at the Adelaide Writers Festival as of 2/2/2013 10:58:00 PM

As promised, starting today I’m giving away a free e-book for frustrated writers.

Rx for Writers: Managing Your Writing Space and Your Writing Time is short, but it contains solid advice for three of a writer’s biggest problems:

1. following through on our goals
2. organization of our writing space
3. lack of good writing habits

While the e-book is only thirteen pages long, I can guarantee you more success in your writing life if you follow the advice.

Why give away a free e-book now? Because I want to ask you a favor!

## I’ve moved!

The Writer’s First Aid blog has a new home. When you come to visit, you’ll see a familiar face (mine). You’ll find some new pages, plus blog posts from the last two years. [I'm still in the process of moving posts.]

I’ll now be hosting the blog on my own website, so the URL will change. I don’t want to lose any of you in the transition!

• any other places you may have linked to my blog

## Posting Schedule

I still plan to post on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jan Fields will still give you the “What’s New at Kristi’s” in the Institute newsletter.

When you go to the new blog site, you’ll find the form to get your e-book on the right-hand side. After you sign up, it will send a confirmation email to your Inbox.

After you confirm, you’ll be taken to where you’ll get Rx for Writers: Managing Your Writing Space and Your Writing Time.

NOTE: I’m not starting a newsletter at this time, nor do I send out sales letters. I won’t abuse your email addresses. Very occasionally, when I post a new report in my Resource area, I will let you know that. And, of course, you’ll be free to unsubscribe at any time.

 Nook Kindle PDF iTunes on the iPad, look for it in the iBook Store

If you are self-employed, you are worried about health care. I know: I had surgery in July and it took six months to get all the bills cleared up.

The new Affordable Heatlth Care plan goes into effect in 2014, with enrollment beginning October, 2013, when self-employed persons can sign up for one of a tier of products. The Small Business Administration has just started a new website and blog about health care to help educate the public. Here are some places to start:

.
Howdy, Campers! Welcome to Poetry Friday at TeachingAuthors!

Thank you kindly.

Now, pull up a comfy chair and have a cuppa tea with me.

Monkey is having a cup of tea...

We TeachingAuthors have been discussing our writing routines...or lack of them.  Carmela kicked it off, posting about being "writerly" even without a regular writing routine.   Mary Ann talks frankly about an untidy schedule while she's the caregiver of two family members (I can relate!); Jill wonders if routine can save the day (and shows us the quilt she made), and Jeanne Marie knows exactly what will fall by the wayside so that her writing gets done.  In between, both Jeanne Marie and Esther posted Wednesday Writing Workouts, a new TeachingAuthor feature.

For me, writing routines are seasonal--as in the seasons in one's life.  The routines I stick to in this season of my life (sans kid, with a husband who works many hours) are: 1) romp the dog twice a day, 2) exercise, and 3) write a poem a day.  I send my best friend Bruce Balan an original poem each day and he sends one of his back.  (Last night his poem informed me that as of December 26th I had written 1000 poems!)

I just finished working on a nine-month political campaign; it was wonderful having one purpose, one thing to strive for.  And when my husband was in the hospital in November, that, too, gave me a single purpose.  But right now, I am teaching, writing, critiquing, taking care of 92-year-old Uncle Davie.

Despite my routines, I'm in the hallway of unopened doors...

PATIENCE
by April Halprin Wayland

In this hall of fear and doubt,
open a door and let me out.

Hear that eerie violin?
Unlock a door and bring me in!

Spirit, goddess, hear my prayer
any door will do, I swear!

What? A door at hallway's end
opens, through it sunlight bends?

I am running to escape
thank you for the door-sized gape!

Whoa! This place is way too squarish…
might I view a room less garish?

In which season of life are you?
What?  No more tea?
No, Monkey, but luckily there's more Poetry below...

37 Comments on Poetry Friday, Tea with Monkey, and Seasons..., last added: 2/15/2013

There are many exciting moments in the months ( or years) between writing a book and finally seeing it in print. There's the moment when you write (literally or otherwise) the words 'The End' (And, of course, it should be said that this may happen multiple times for the one book, as each new draft and set of edits is completed) There's the moment when you are offered a contract, the moment you

0 Comments on Moments as of 1/30/2013 9:54:00 PM

I come from a family of hyperorganized people.  My mom makes lists of the lists she plans to make.  My dad once had me file years' worth of my grandmother's utility bills by date -- on the .00001% chance that we might need to refer to one of them someday.  After years of such an upbringing, I vowed never to be an iota more organized than I needed to be.  The upshot has been that I am usually slightly (okay, often more than slightly) less so.

I write things on the calendar, but I neglect to look at the calendar.  I often find myself scrambling for childcare because of a forgotten teacher work day; sometimes I confess that I avoid looking ahead because I just don't want to know what terrible scheduling conflict awaits.

There are the planned interruptions to one's writerly day: teaching, laundry, oil changes, dance class, piano lessons, date nights with my husband.There are the unplanned ones: parent in the hospital, dead battery, kid with the flu or a broken shoe or a forgotten lunch or a snow delay that happens to coincide with a class I am teaching that is not, of course, likewise delayed.

One of my greatest assets as a teacher, if I do say so myself, is my flexibility.  It is also one of my greatest failings.  I know what I need to accomplish in a given week: Get my kids to school and wherever they need to be -- fed, clothed, reasonably clean; make it to class with some semblance of preparedness; grade papers in a relatively timely fashion; and turn in my script so that I can receive a paycheck.  There are many other things that I aspire to do; but sadly, I am fairly satisfied to accomplish the bare minimum.

Needless to say, I do not have a writing schedule; but I do have daily goals in order to be able to churn out a 6500-word script (or two) each week.  If I have a week laden with commitments or a difficult show or an unexpected roadblock, I know what will fall by the wayside so that my writing work gets done:
#1 My own writing
#2 Exercise
#3 Housework/laundry/dishes (and my standards are very low already)
#4 Sleep

Perhaps my priorities need adjustment, but it is what it is.  Apart from the neglect of items #1-4 (above), I think my system works fairly well for me right now.  If I planned to be locked into a particular schedule, given the daily interruptions in my life, I suspect I might have a nervous breakdown.  For example, I have had a productive writing week but have not yet gotten around to trying Carmela's awesome timer trick. But that's okay, right?  There's always next week.    -- Jeanne Marie

I have a deadline. It's one those scary, imminent ones, the kind that makes my stomach contract every time I think of it. The only solution is to sit at my computer and write. I know I'll enjoy it once I get going. So why will I do almost anything to avoid doing the actual writing?

What I need is something to stick my bottom to my chair until I've done my daily quota (currently around 2000 words; tomorrow, it'll be 2200, because I haven't managed the required amount today). But with so much distraction out there (see Liz Kessler's post yesterday for details), how am I supposed to concentrate long enough to write? I don't have access to an isolated cottage in the woods\by the sea\in the mountains. What I really need is to catch Stickybumitis.

The symptoms of Stickybumitis are very similar to its sister disease, Stickybackitis, where sufferers cannot get out of bed, usually in the morning. With Stickybumitis, you're confined to your seat and can't spend thirty minutes sorting out washing when you should be writing. If you switch off the internet, you're not tempted to Google the people you used to fancy at school and even solitaire gets boring after six or seven hours. Faced with no other source of entertainment, you'll write.

Of course, the main problem with Stickybumitis is that it leads to complications. In many cases, it causes another condition - Writer's Arse. The only cure for that is exercise, which leads you away from your desk and you're right back where you started. But it's a chance I'm willing to take. Where do I catch Stickybumitis?

What extreme lengths are you prepared to go to for writing? And is your bottom print expanding as a result?

9 Comments on Stickybumitis - Where Do I Catch It? - Tamsyn Murray, last added: 1/25/2013

As 2013 starts, it is traditional to write down writing goals and I am doing that. But I am also pondering the fact that I am in charge of my own writing, and that is a double-edged sword.

As 2012 drew to a close, the Congress was debating fiscal matters, trying to prevent the country from falling off a so-called fiscal cliff. As much as I might care one way or another, it was all out of my hands. I voted for a Congressman and for a President. But beyond that, the decisions were not a part of my daily life.

My writing, however, rests squarely on my own shoulders. Will I write today? (Duh!) What will I write–today? That isn’t President Obama’s business, it’s mine.

In the amazingly relevant book, ART AND FEAR, Bayles and Orland say that we daily face a specific fear: “. . .–the fear that your fate is in your own hands, but that your hands are weak.” (p. 3)

For me, the overriding drive isn’t the fear of failure, it is the fear of never-having-tried. I don’t want to hit 100 years old and look back and regret that I never tried. Tried what? The stories that scare me, that I think I am too weak, too bad a writer to pull off, too inadequate to tell such a moving story.

I don’t know what I will write this year, there are many factors to weigh. But one of those is the need to accept the challenge of telling stories that are important to me–even when I am terrified of trying. That’s my only goal for 2013: to write with more courage and determination than ever before. Because I am in charge of my own writing.

What story have you been too scared of writing? What story did you think you could NEVER write? Let’s do it together this year!

When you write, do you put yourself on the page? Of course, you do. You can’t do otherwise. But the real issue is, how much of yourself do you allow to show through? Do you censor yourself? Do you deliberately reword because something you may say will reveal too much of yourself?

Admit it. It’s hard to talk about real issues, about how you really feel, with friends. And then, you expect to put it on the page? For example, I grew up with an alcoholic step-father and, believe me, those years are hard to talk about. Even the mention here is hard.

Our fears revolve around issues of shame. You would be embarrassed if someone knew this one thing about you. You wouldn’t be able to show your face, if you revealed such and so. (Once, I found one of his hidden bottles and opened it and dumped the whole thing out and then put the empty bottle back where I found it. He never said anything–because of his shame and embarrassment, I presume.)

Vulnerability–showing our real face to others–is essential if your fiction will have an authentic voice, a deep impact on readers. Sure, there’s fluff writing, pure entertainment. But what sells are stories about real issues, told in a way that impacts others deeply.

To resolve those issues of shame, to allow yourself to be vulnerable, I recommend you start by watching this video by Brene Brown, which has been viewed over 7 million times. The description sounds like a definition of the task of a novelist: “Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.”

If you can’t see this video, click here. TED also includes a transcript in multiple languages.

I am preaching to myself, most of all. I know that in 2013, I want to write the most honest, most vulnerable stories I’ve ever attempted. Someone once asked, “What are you scared to write?” Then, recommended that you attempt that very thing. I am most scared of stories which will lay my soul bare, leave me vulnerable. That’s what I need to attempt next.

.                              |                            . | .            |                \|/         \      /         -=  *  =-     '.   .----.  .'         /|        /      \           ' | '    -=  |   .----.            |        |  /   /""\           |      /  \(   / m m           '          )   )  - )         /   /-./~             (   ( .\  /|        .        )    )\ \/_/ /    .   |   .        (    ( \_.-'      \  '  /                    \    \.|       -= <*^*^*> =-   jgs   |\____\\         | ( " ) |         _)      \        |()'"'()|     _.-'      ,  |       | (___) |   /| .          ;      (-.___.-')  /_/____________/        '-.___.-'

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out int he fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them,”Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day int he city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God int he highest, And on earth, peach, goodwill toward men.”
Luke 2: 8-14

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Our Christmas tree is full of a Host of Angels. This is the angel we brought back several years ago from Krakow, Poland.

### Desert Baths

#### by Darcy Pattison

Giveaway ends November 10, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

What: A photography day-trip.
When: Saturday, October 13
Where: Glory Hole waterfall, Dismal Creek, Ozark Mountains of Arkansas

My husband, Dwight, is a photographer and he wanted to take a trip to the Ozarks this weekend to do some photography. This photo essay is about the creative process and how we can apply it to our writing process.

### Plan for Creativity

Dwight planned this trip carefully. He had long wanted to see the Glory Hole waterfall. It’s a place where water has carved out an overhanging ledge, creating what is commonly called a rockhouse. But in the ceiling of this rockhouse was a five-foot hole. Normally the creek bed above fell through this Glory Hole into the cave created by the overhang. To get the right photo, we needed lots of rain to create a strong waterfall, and then, lots of sunlight to send a stream of light through that Glory Hole. It had rained Friday in the Ozarks and we hoped the trip would result in great photos.

Dwight planned for a waterfall shot; but he also brought along all his lenses and a tripod.

On the drive up Saturday morning, though, fog banks drifted over the Ozarks, at times limiting visibility to 100 feet. When we reached the parking for the Glory Hole hike, it was just a light fog. The guide book said that when we crossed a tributary to Dismal Creek, the water level here was a prediction of how well the waterfall would be running. And in spite of rain the day before and the current fog, there was only a trickle in the tiny creek.

Indeed, when we got to the Glory Hole, it was disappointing because the waterfall was a trickle and there was no sunlight to illuminate the water flowing into the cave below.

Glory Hole, Dismal Creek, Ozarks, as seen from below. Photo by Dwight Pattison, c. 2012 All Rights Reserved.

### Turn Around

So, there we were a couple hours drive from home, an hour’s walk into the depths of the Ozarks–and conditions weren’t right. Fog obscured everything and the waterfall hadn’t cooperated.

But Dwight turned around and took this picture.

Looking down Dismal Creek from the Glory Hole. c. 2012 Dwight Pattison, All Rights Reserved. Click to see full size.

All it took was turning 180 degrees from where we stood. Sometimes, in the creative process, you just need to try the opposite of what you had intended.

### Look Closely

Because Dwight had come prepared with all his lenses, we also stopped to look closely at what was around us. First, on the side of a tree was this snail. Dwight took out his close-up macro lens and the tripod to capture this snail in a larger than life-size photo. Likewise, we need to look deeply at our fictional subjects.

Snail on a mossy tree. c. 2012 Dwight Pattison, all rights reserved. Click to see full size.

Then, I turned around and saw this tiny garter snake at my feet. You can guage his size from the leaves around him. This photo is about life-size.

### Revise as Many Times as it Takes

Finally, walking back out, we stopped to photography some golden lichens. As I sat and watched Dwight make his photos, I noticed a funnel spider web. These webs are ground level, often around a lot of foliage. While the spider waits for a meal, it sits at the base of its funnel-shaped web. It’s a common sight in the Ozarks, but I had never actually seen a spider at the base of the web. This time, even with the naked eye, the spider was visible. Would the macro lens be able to capture it with any detail?

Dwight spent the next 15 minutes taking photos of the funnel spider. He took a shot, looked at it on the digital display, then made an adjustment: f-stop, exposure time, with a tripod, without a tripod, manual focusing, auto focusing. He bracketed shots, choosing a -1, 0 and +1 setting to get it right. Finally, after 15 minutes, he was moving the tripod and the camera slipped and frightened the spider and it disappeared.

In some of the shots, the water droplets were blurred to a foggy white web; in some, the spider wasn’t in focus. But in the end, he got this shot with each water drop (from the fog) clear and the spider as clear and in focus as he could make it. The spider’s hole was less than the size of a dime.

As writers, we also need to remember that it takes time to get it right and we need to be willing to experiment with our fiction–until we get it right!

Funnel spider, Dismal Creek. c. 2012 Dwight Pattison, all rights reserved. Click to see it full size.

### Final Edits can’t Correct Major Flaws

And finally, there were some minor edits when we got home on a photo-processing program. If the photos were already good, the final editing–minor corrections of color–would not have helped. Likewise, if the structure of our novels and stories isn’t right, an editor can’t help with minor edits. Take the time in the field–before you send in a story–to make it the best possible. Notice that there are only a few photos here, out of the dozens taken, that were deemed worthy of showing others. Here is the edited photo of Dismal Creek. The differences may be subtle to you, but to Dwight they are profound.

Photography–like writing–is a creative process. You may not get the shots you planned, but if you look around and take advantage of the situation, you’ll end up with something worth sharing.

In this fast-changing world of publishing, we hear about a future where writers will directly post content for digital downloading—no costly binding, no "middle-men," no meager 10-15% cut of a sale, no lengthy turnaround time until our next book is consumable.

Sounds great, right?

Not to me. Take TIGER BOY, for instance, coming in 2014 from Charlesbridge.

A year ago, I was in the doldrums of a newly-empty nest, wondering what to do now that I'd been fired as a Mommy. A mother-writer hyphenated vocation had been a good gig for years; how was I going to weather this transition? I had no creative spark, and when students asked the inevitable question during author visits—"Where do you get your ideas?"my honest answer should have been: "No clue. Got nothing here."

That's when the phone rang. Yes, I got an old-school call. Not a text, not an e-mail, but an actual call on our landline.

I picked it up and grunted into the receiver, expecting a marketing robo-voice. Who else called that number these days? "Mitali? This is Yo. How are you?"

It was Yolanda LeRoy Scott, my Harvard-educated, drop-dead gorgeous editor at Charlesbridge. "I want to take you to lunch and talk about your next book."

"Okay, Yo, I'd like that." How am I going to tell her about my creative constipation? Get ready for the shortest working lunch ever, Mrs. Scott.

We met at Not Your Average Joe's in Watertown, right near Charlesbridge's offices, a mile or so from my house.

"I'm stuck, Yo. I got nothing." I soaked up parmesan cheese and olive oil with freshly baked bread.

"Just throw out some topics for me. Is there anything you've always wanted to write about? Or a new genre you want to try?"

Yolanda passed me the bread bowl, and I helped myself to another chunk of carb comfort. "Well, there is something. I've always wanted to write a picture book, and I've been thinking about Bengal tigers—how beautiful they are." I didn't add that one of our sons' walls was covered with posters of the creatures, because that would imply I was mooning around his empty room.

Her face lit up. "That sounds lovely. I'll write up a contract and send it to your agent."

"Really? Sight unseen?"

"I know you can do this, Mitali. This is your story to tell. Now let's talk babies. Mine isn't sleeping all that well. Got any tips?"

I slipped easily into my role of seasoned veteran and we talked mothering for the rest of  lunch.

The contract came. I signed it. Somehow I eked out a picture book manuscript and sent it off. Yo's editorial letter came quickly: "I love it, but as usual you've got the start of a short novel with great potential here, Mitali. It could be the perfect companion to RICKSHAW GIRL." The letter continued with a list of brilliant questions and suggestions.

I felt a sudden spark in my latent imagination. A character leaped to mind—a skinny brown  boy, like hundreds I had seen in the villages of West Bengal. Years ago, my own father had been one of them. Immediately, I named him: Neil. He loved tigers.

Yesterday I sent Yolanda a second revision of TIGER BOY, the novel. Thanks to her insights, it's become a real story now, with plot, characters, theme, place. It's going to need another round or two of changes and honing to make it a satisfying story, but my imagination needs the breathing room of this back-and-forth collaboration.

Here's my question: will the future be a world without publishers like Charlesbridge who champion stories across borders, without editors like Yo who encourage and cheer for broken-down mid-career writers, without the time a story needs between revisions to improve?

If so, I'm never going to make it.

Can we be proactive and keep the best from the old publishing model as we explore new ways to deliver content to consumers? One non-negotiable is the input of an excellent editor who doesn't work for me, but with me.

Thanks, Yo.  And thanks, Charlesbridge. Now on to the next story.

0 Comments on Today I'm Grateful For Old-Fashioned Editors as of 10/31/2012 11:06:00 AM

 Nook Kindle PDF iTunes on the iPad, look for it in the iBook Store

For the holiday season, I am asking people what Writerly Things would you buy if someone gave you $1000. Here are my suggestions for some Writerly Things. I think you’ll still have some change left over for a cup of coffee! 1. I recently attended the Arkansas Reading Association convention and met Newbery Honor winner (x 2) Gary Schmidt. He was talking about his new book, What Came From the Stars. But on the book table, I noticed he had another 2012 book out, Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer. An academic, Schmidt draws on the long history of Western Civilization’s literature to present prayers from writers. It is rare to find a book that talks about faith and writing in the same breath and this book is indeed a rare treat. Co-authored by Elizabeth Stickney, Schmidt’s wife, it is a gem. Whatever your faith tradition, this is highly recommended. Watch this book trailer as an example of what you’ll find in this book. If you can’t see this video, click here. And here is a 13:30 minute video interviewing Gary Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney. If you can’t see the video, click here. • Yes, I think an iPad is a great tool for writers. It is an easy way to write. And if you get one, here are two apps that have helped. • TapTyping – typing trainer – Flairify LLC. You don’t have to carry around a separate keyboard if you just use this refresher typing app to help you get accustomed to typing on the iPad keyboard. I find that I drift–my hands get off the Home Keys because there isn’t a little bump, the kinesthetic cue that tells me where the Home Keys lie. But the TapTyping app got me back on track. • To write notes, with a stylus, your finger, or a smart stylus, I tried about these three apps: Moleskine Journal – Moleskine Srl, Paper by FiftyThree – FiftyThree, Inc., and Noteshelf – Ramki. These are the ultimate blank books, just waiting for you to fill them with your musings. The best? Noteshelf – Ramki. Reliable, versatile and fun. • Bamboo Keyboard and Mouse. Tired of plastic and metal for your keyboard and mouse? Go Bamboo! This keyboard comes in walnut, mahagony, red and other finishes. Really cool looking! • Moo Cards. I use Moo Cards and get more comments on the quality of the paper. One nice thing is that you can order a bunch with alternating reverse sides, which means you can use multiple book covers on the reverse without it getting really expensive. They’ll save your info, too, so you can come back in six or twelve months and just reorder. Fast, great quality. Love them. • Gift certificate for full body massage. Or three gift cards for massages! • Writer’s Market 2013 Help your Writer love one to sell something this year! • For YouTube promotions, you need a portable video camera and the Kodak Zi8 Pocket video camera is the best! Why? Because it has an external jack for a microphone. When you are taping, the audio is crucial. Oddly enough, the visuals count less than the audio. Really. And you want an inexpensive lapel microphone (lavalier microphone) like this one. • You can read my kindle-book, The Book Trailer Manaul if you don’t believe me. Buy now, during the holidays and practice on friends and family, so you can do a professional book trailer when you need to. • The Career Novelist by Donald Maass. Free pdf download. This is an older book, but it still has a lot of wisdom in it. • A subscription to Publishers Weekly – Exact Editions Ltd • Add a Comment  Nook Kindle PDF iTunes on the iPad, look for it in the iBook Store Finding the Sweet Write what you want to write, say the editors. Write what you love, say the editors. I write. I love this! Well, say the editors, it lacks a plot. OK. I write what I love and make sure it has a plot. A good ‘un. (Hey, I’ve studied Hunger Games, and the Edgar winning mysteries; I know a good plot when I read it.) I love this! Well, say the editors, the voice doesn’t grab me. OK. I write what I love and make sure it has a plot and make sure the voice is unique, compelling. A good ‘un. (Hey, I’ve studied the Newberys, the Caldecotts, the Alexes, the Sieberts, the Edgars, and so on. I know voice when I hear it; and I know how to create it.) I love this! Well, say the editors, the plot is great; the voice is great; but I don’t really connect with the characters enough. OK. I write what I love and make sure it has a plot and make sure the voice is unique and make sure that the characters are connectable. A really good ‘un. (Hey, by now, I’ve read all the New York Time’s Bestsellers, the National Book Award winners, plus any other @#$#\$@ novel
that anyone ever recommends.
I know a good book when I read it–
or write it.)
Hey, I really love this!
Well, says the editor, you got everything right:
plot, characters, voice–
but it’s too quiet.

Where, oh where is that sweet spot?
And how can I write something else
that I love,
knowing that
no one else will love it?
Where is that sweet editor?

A Sweet Spot.

 Nook Kindle PDF iTunes on the iPad, look for it in the iBook Store

What crazy things do people say when they learn you are a writer?

1. Oh, I have a story that you could write. Sit down and I’ll tell you about it.
2. Oh, are they real books or just books for kids?
3. Um, that’s nice. Is the spelling hard?
4. I wrote a poem, and I think it would make a good picture book, but I can’t find a good illustrator.
5. I don’t like to read.
6. To the writer of a picture book: The art really makes this story come alive.
7. I only go to the bookstore for the coffee.
8. Why don’t you write something like Harry Potter? (Um, yeah. Start at the top of my profession, why don’t I?)
9. Are you rich?
10. How much did you have to pay to get the books printed?

Going CRAZY about all the CRAZY things said to writers.

 Nook Kindle PDF iTunes on the iPad, look for it in the iBook Store

This collection of articles and books are timely for various reasons.

• Writing on the Ether: Happy Holidata! Guest post by Porter Anderson on JaneFriedman.com blog. Jane has her pulse, as always, on the future of publishing and Anderson’s post is about a survey of the digital landscape:

Let’s take just a festive twinkling here to note this moment. End of 2012: authors have been added to a major publishing community survey for its first time.

• 12-21-12 Does the world end on Friday? Is Armageddon upon us? Joanne Hirase’s debut novel 2012: The Rising say, “Yes, this is the end.” Hurry! Read now, before–well, The End.
• Wow, a gutsy Brit (at least he currently lives in York) delivers a gutsy marriage proposal–via a book.
• Chris Boch talks about her path to publication:

I was recently on a panel about “hope and rejection” at a writers schmooze, and three of us have had gaps of at least seven years between book sales. Read more.

 Nook Kindle PDF iTunes on the iPad, look for it in the iBook Store

All I want for Christmas is. . .
Well, let me talk about YOU first. I would love to feature you on my blog sometime in the next year. Here’s my wishlist of topics (but feel free to pitch me something else!). Got an idea? Email me at darcy at darcypattison dot com.

• I am always a sucker for a revision story. If you have a book coming out and can give me a story about revising the content–you’re on! (I think that covers everyone, doesn’t it?)
• Case studies of unusual marketing.
• Someone with a killer email list and how you use it to promote your work.
• Insight into the publishing industry, trends, predictions, etc.
• Writing tips. How to ________________.(You fill in the blank: plot, characterize, pace, write a graphic novel, write a mystery, etc.) Of course, you’ll illustrate it with your work and/or your friend’s work so you get a bit of publicity and my readers get a great case study.
• Anything about the writing life: how to survive the 1000th rejection, great new tools, how to use Scrivener, how a friend helped you hit the bestseller list, how to write through a time of grief, 10 best ways to celebrate a sale, etc.

And all I want for Christmas is . . .a couple Amazon reviews.
Really, reviews of ANY of my books would be a thrill.

But, if you’ve attended my retreat or read my book, Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise, there’s a new version out. The main difference is an addition of a chapter on writing in scenes. If you bought the original version, I am happy to send you the Scenes Chapter–just email me at darcy at darcypattison dot come. I hope you’ll consider writing an Amazon review for the new version, but it’s free either way.

One last thing. If there are topics you’d like to see covered here at Fiction Notes, email me, too! I want to be helpful and knowing what you’re interested me will make me even more helpful. That’s what I really want for Christmas, an opportunity to spend another year here at Fiction Notes being helpful to other writers. Thanks for hanging out with me this year! May 2013 be a banner year for all of us.