A Request for Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth GilbertI have long been a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing. I know people went all gaga over EPL (it was pretty great), but if you haven’t yet read The Signature of All Things you are missing out. That book is stunning. Seriously.

So I had to pick up Big Magic when it came out. I don’t usually go in for that kind of book, the I’m-a-big-star-now-I-can-tell-everyone-else-how-to-write, but this wasn’t that. I was totally charmed by the sincere, eager joy that poured off the pages. Continue Reading →

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Seven Tips for Getting Up Early to Write (Even if You’re a Night Owl)

5am writingFor many years, while I was working full time, I got up early to write before my kids woke up and things got hectic. As a die-hard night owl, adjusting to that schedule was rough. I’m not gunna lie. It took me a about eighteen months to settle in, but that was because I went about it all wrong.

If you’re a writer trying to eek out an hour a day, consider getting up early to write. Here are seven things I learned along the way that might make the process a little easier:

1. You don’t have to be a morning person. Continue Reading →

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Literary Events in Southern California for the week of August 22

Hi folks. I got some great responses on my first #LitLifeLA post last week. It would seem I’m not the only one who would like to be more involved in the Literary scene here in Los Angeles.

Please feel free to send me suggestions of events to include. I am checking my regular sources (bookstores, libraries, etc.), but once I filter out all the kids’ books and nonfiction I’m not finding a ton.

Here’s what I have for this week. Continue Reading →

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Let’s Get Our Damn Books to Agents This March

writing motivationThis is a text exchange I had recently with a good friend and fellow writer who is determined to get her debut novel out to agents this March.

We both have novels we’ve been working on for a while. A long while. Every year we say this is the year. But so far, year after year hasn’t been.

For me, the process of writing this first novel has been an education in and of itself. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts, but this is at least the fifth. I have quite literally deleted thousands of pages. It is a completely different story than it was when I started and I am a much better writer.

So when is it done? Continue Reading →

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A Modern Literary Salon

Before Saturday, I had never been to a literary salon. I guess I figured they were a thing of the past. When I pictured a literary salon I saw Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, and Lytton Strachey sitting around smoking cigarettes and drinking themselves stupid while they critiqued each others writing, which sounds fun and all, but I’ve got kids.

But in the past month, I’ve been invited to two, count them two, literary salons. I attended the first on Saturday and it was fabulous. It was hosted by Barbara Abercrombie, a teacher in UCLA’s highly respected writers extension program. We met when I took a seminar from her in July, and to be fair, I kind of invited myself. Once I heard that this was happing, I knew I wanted to join, and she very graciously looped me into her email list so I could attend.  Continue Reading →

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On Writing Well

on writing wellA couple of years back, I taught a class on writing well.

My students were super smart engineers, who happened to write poorly. The aim wasn’t to turn them into brilliant storytellers, but rather, to ensure that they could communicate their ideas clearly. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re the most brilliant scientist to ever live. If you can’t impart your ideas with the written word, your reach will be limited to the number of people you can personally talk to and your ideas will die with you.

I’ve been thinking about that class a lot lately. I enjoyed teaching it, but more than that, I found a deep satisfaction in turning poor writers into capable ones. If I managed to teach one person that quotation marks should never be used for emphasis, I will have left this world a little better than I found it. Continue Reading →

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My Updated Submission Spreadsheet

Updated submission spreadsheetA few months back I shared a submission spreadsheet that I created in Google docs to track when and where I submit my short stories. If you missed that post, you can check it out here for a full explanation of what this thing is all about.

Since then, I have finished other short stories and have started submitting those as well. As I tossed those stories into the mix, it quickly became apparent that the spreadsheet needed a face lift. And since I’m not the only one out there submitting short stories to journals, I thought I would share the new and improved submission spreadsheet with all my fellow writers out there.

You can download the updated submission spreadsheet here.  Continue Reading →

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