Working with a Free-Lance Editor or Book Doctor

 The following essay is one of a collection of 39 essays by distinguished editors about the practical and theoretical aspects of publishing that appear in Editors on Editing:  What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do, edited by Jerry Gross, Grove/Atlantic, 1993.  It is reprinted with permission of the author. When should a writer … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Fiction Inspiration from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

We’ve seen movie versions, television versions, and stage adaptations of Dickens’s famous story. We have had the story read to us and in turn have read it to others.  Like people all over the world, we have been haunted by the mean, miserly character of Ebenezer Scrooge, which makes us think, amidst the gifts and … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Writing is Like Junking

During the winter holidays and New Year’s season, I usually search my files for writing I’ve done on previous holiday seasons, just to see what I was thinking in other years. Looking through my files this past week, I became interested in writing I did a decade ago, when I was exchanging letters with Christi … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Teachings from Felt Sense: Writing with the Body by Sondra Perl

Last March, I met Sondra Perl at the National Council of Teachers of English‘s Conference on College Composition and Communication in San Francisco. We talked about her book Felt Sense: Writing with the Body and I recognized the aspects of writing that she was addressing. I took my copy of the book home and excitedly … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Secrets to the Success of Motivational Speakers Might Help Us Succeed as Writers

Writing in BOOK PROMOTION newsletter, Francine shares the following quotes and biographical information about four dynamic motivational speakers and book authors: “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) “You become what you think about.” Earl Nightingale (1921-1989) “You can have everything in life that you want if you will … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Getting Your Writing Past Contest Screening Judges

About seven years ago, Sheila agreed to judge a personal essay contest for a writing magazine. Her task was to choose and rank the ten top essays among the submissions. Told to expect about 1,000 essays, she was surprised when 3,500 showed up at our door with only three weeks to choose the winners. I … Continue reading

Continue reading

Since that First Night of Lit Halls

As you read this short story by magical realism enthusiast Tamara Sellman, pay attention to the ways in which the omniscient third person narrator reports the main character’s thoughts and ideas.  Techniques of magical realism allow readers to understand and accept the mother’s way of understanding what is happening. With this acceptance comes an ability … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Finding a Voice for This

We come to journaling to record what we are doing and what we are thinking. As a writing teacher, I spend a lot of time onsite teaching and even more off-site creating lessons. When I was journaling about my son’s death, it is not surprising that I recorded the teaching part of my life as … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Magical Realism at Your Finger Tips

When he was a boy she was always painting the ceiling of his room. Once she painted it blue for a sky with lazy white clouds and faint daytime stars. And in one corner, as if just disappearing into his closet, the tip of an angel’s wing. “It could be only a bird’s wing,” she … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Explosions and Recapitulations

Viewing poetry as a gift, Edward Hirsch writes in his book “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry:  “The question poses itself as how to keep alive an interior life in the face of our own and the world’s corruptions.” As an example of a solution, he presents Charles Baudelaire‘s prose … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Writing for the Holidays

Yesterday, I saw a sign in a shop announcing Halloween items were now half off. I was shocked to realize that Halloween was now close enough for merchants to start reducing their inventory. They’d started selling Halloween goodies in August, and that feeling that there was lots of time before October 31 was still with … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Book Packagaing: Under-Explored Terrain for Book Free-Lancers

This article was originally published by Writer’s Digest Magazine.  Reprinted here with the permission of the author. I’m willing to bet my favorite pen that most people who are reading this have no idea what a book packager is. Until I worked for one, I didn’t know they existed, either. Book packaging is a quiet … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Writing is a Wave in the Mind

I am a young schoolgirl watching the early dark fill my bedroom windows. I sit at a small drop leaf desk doing vocabulary homework, folding paper long ways in half and writing the date in whichever upper corner the teacher has asked me to. By now I’ve heard stories about Plato and Socrates. Thinking about … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Writing, Reading, and Revising: Soul Work

Before I started studying poetry writing, I littered my work with the word soul. What was poetry but the soul making itself known?  How else to talk when making an exploration of emotions but to use the word?  John Donne, who I had studied in college, did: Our two souls therefore, which are one, Though … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Creating Rich Scenes Like the Pros

In the conversation we posted last week between Kaylie Jones and Beverly Donofrio, you read about what these two authors think about the similarities and differences between memoir and fiction. Kaylie Jones states: “…memoir becomes an exploration of the author’s life choices” and “In memoir, the writer is allowed to draw conclusions for us.” In … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

A Conversation Between Memoirist Beverly Donofrio and Novelist Kaylie Jones

In February 2005, old friends, novelist Kaylie Jones and memoirist Beverly Donofrio reunited to teach together in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In the months before the workshops, they conversed with one another about their respective genres and the experience of having movies made of their books. The following is the transcript of that conversation … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

A Note to Students of Writing

I once created a daily writing exercise for myself by opening the dictionary to random pages and, eyes closed, circling my finger until it landed on a word.  “This is something like throwing the I Ching,” I thought.  I read the definitions of the words my fingers landed on and wrote the words at the … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

Grace Jackson Creates a Community of Voices

In 2002, Grace Jackson wanted to start a community-based literary magazine filled with the voices of her women neighbors on Bainbridge Island, WA. To find her contributors, she distributed a flier at coffee houses, bookstores and libraries near her home. The flier asked women to: Tell me where you are in the world right now. … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

An Interview with Young Adult Novelist Hannah R. Goodman

Earlier this year, Hannah R. Goodman emailed me about her book, My Sister’s Wedding, a young adult novel she published in 2004 that addresses the effects of alcoholism on individuals, friends and families and asked me if I would like a copy. The topic was on my mind as I had only recently spoken to … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading

25 More Tips for Writers (26-50)

To write a good character, you have to imagine that you live in the character’s body and listen for his or her inner voice. Ask the character you are inventing what secret he or she most wants to keep.  Decide if the story you write will reveal that secret or just inform the characters gestures, … Continue reading

This post is only available to members.
Continue reading