Tag Archives | writing

Saving Some For Yourself

I was at my local bookstore the other day and I saw that Austin Kleon has a new book out. I love his work (and first blogged about it way back in 2016). Among many other wonderful works, he’s the genius behind this perfect little diagram:

If you’re unfamiliar, Austin Kleon’s books are these compilations of quotes and thoughts about about the act of creating art, interspersed with his own creative cartoons and found word poems. I love each book more than the last. In fact, he has become one of only a few authors who, when I see they have a new book, I buy it. I don’t even read the cover copy.

I’ve been slowly working my way through this newest book, Keep Going, and just about every line is quotable, but there was one idea that really struck me. He’s talking about the challenges we face when we choose to make our art the thing with which we make a living. He says:

When you start making a living from your work, resist the urge to monetize every single bit of your creative practice. Be sure that there’s at least a tiny part of you that’s off-limits to the marketplace. Some little piece of you that you keep for yourself.

This is difficult advice, because as artists, we’re struggling to pull in money from any place we can. (Have I mentioned you can support me on Patreon? No? You can.) Because true creative work rarely brings in much cash.

So it struck me when I read that. For three years now I’ve been lucky enough to do the full-time-mom-write-while-the-kids-are-at-school thing. For the first time in my life I have plenty of time to write, and I do. I write a lot. And I no longer have to get up at 5am to do, and yet, I still get up at 5am. It’s exhausting, but I persist.

When I read that bit in Kleon’s book I realized why. It’s because the writing I do at 5 in the morning, before anyone else is awake, is strictly for me. Mostly I journal. I play around with words or gripe or dream and the words flow like water because I know nobody will ever see them. It is the BEST way to start my day.

So I’m keeping today’s post short, leaving you with just two key ideas: Austin Kleon rocks, you should totally buy his books AND find a way to keep a little bit of your art for yourself. Because not everything needs a price tag.

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Debut Authors and Blurbs

Debut authors asking for blurbs. It's not impossible.

A writer I follow on Twitter voiced frustration recently at the idea that debut authors should be expected to collect blurbs for their novels. The tweet had a very woe-is-me vibe, as if it were a straight-up impossible task. But it’s not.

Querying for Blurbs

Since I started the work of reaching out to authors to ask for blurbs I’ve contacted 20 people. Of those, 14 have agreed to read the manuscript, 2 passed (with good reasons and kind words), and 4 simply never responded. In my book, those are totally acceptable numbers.

Asking for blurbs isn’t difficult so much as it is just painful. It’s kind of like querying all over again, and if you’ve been following along, you know I got super nerdy about that. So I brought the same strategies to the blurb quest. Here’s how I went about it.

Making the Ask

Step 1: Make a list of all the published writers you know and/or admire, anyone who’s name you would be happy to see on the cover of your book. Go ahead and dream big. You may not contact all of them, but this isn’t the place to worry about it. Just get the names on a list.

Step 2: Start with the authors you know personally – and I’m using the word “know” pretty loosely here. I reached out to authors I shook hands with once at a conference, and authors I took a class with years ago. I emailed my husband’s ex-girlfriend from college (now a well-established author whose latest book is getting great reviews). I mean, that was a long shot (but she said yes!).

Step 3: Craft a very nice letter. I emailed every person on my list personally, reminding them of how we met (if it wasn’t obvious), telling them the news that my debut novel was coming out, and then making the ask. You cannot just assume that because they’re a published author and you tell them your book is coming out that they will offer a blurb. You actually have to ask. Here are a few things to remember as you craft the email:

  • Always give them an out. In every email I said something like “I know you’re busy, so if it’s not a good time, no worries, I totally understand.”
  • Don’t assume they will blurb it. If they don’t like your book, you don’t want them to. I used the phrasing “I was hoping you would read my manuscript and, assuming you like it, write a blurb.”
  • Blame your editor. This isn’t a requirement, of course, but I found it an easy way to lead up to the ask. I said something like: “My editor has asked me to reach out to authors I admire and ask if they would be willing to blurb the book.” Phrasing it like this also allowed me to:
  • Flatter them. Don’t be a kiss ass, but do express that you admire their work (if you don’t, you shouldn’t be asking for a blurb).
  • Let them know the blurb deadline. Your editor will have a date by which they need the blurbs. Make sure you include that in your email.

Step 4: Once you’ve reached out to the people you know, take a little break. Hopefully this will allow a few authors to get back to you with a “yes.” Then, once you’ve built up your confidence a little, try for some of your bigger fish.

I only contacted a few authors I didn’t have some connection to and I compensated by getting as close to them as I could without being a stalker. I’d read their books (duh), and I follow them on Twitter (and have for a while, because they’re awesome). I subscribed to their newsletters where applicable. I wasn’t bullshitting anyone when I said I was a big fan. (Side note, that was the subject line of my emails to these authors: “A request from a fan”).

Start Early

I’m not done with collecting blurbs. There are still authors on my list that I’m feeling shy about reaching out to. Lucky for me, I’ve got plenty of time before the book comes out, so I’m taking it at an easy pace.

And that’s a good argument for starting early. Ask your publisher when you can start reaching out, or if you’re self publishing get started as soon as you have a the draft you intend to publish. The more time you have, the more relaxed you can be about it and the more time you can give your readers.

Keep Going

Lastly, a word on rejection. People will pass. If you’ve made it this far in the process of brining a book into the world, then you’re no stranger to rejection. Don’t let it get you down.

I also have to consider the very real possibility that some of the authors who agreed to read my manuscript may decline to blurb it. That will sting, I’m sure, because it basically means they think it’s so bad that they don’t want their name associated with it. Ug.

But being a writer is nothing if not humbling.

Are you a debut author in the process of asking for blurbs? Would love to hear how you went about it. Or maybe you’re working on book two or three. Does it get easier? Please do share your experiences in the comments below.

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6 Obstacles to Writing (and how to move past them)

getting started writing

I was talking with a friend recently who is feeling daunted by some writing she wants to do. She’s a consultant in the non-profit sector and would like to write a series of articles for her own website about some of the things she has learned, things that would be useful to her clients. But she’s having trouble getting started.

She asked my advice, and as we talked it through I realized that the thoughts I was sharing with her would be good for any writer who’s having trouble getting started, whether they’re writing non-fiction or fiction, for themselves or for an audience. It doesn’t matter. Because basically what we’re talking about is getting past the obstacles to writing.

Obstacle 1: “Everything I write is crap.”

One of the reasons my friend is having trouble, paradoxically, is that she’s actually a good writer. She always wrote excellent reports in college and knows good writing when she sees it. So when she writes a sentence, she sees that it’s crap, erases it, and stares at the blank screen for a while before doing it again.

My advice: Don’t worry about quality. Not yet. I’m sure you’ve heard some writer, somewhere, talk about their shitty first draft. That’s how it works.

What to do: Start typing. Seriously. If you’re staring at a blank screen and it has you frozen, start by typing “I’m staring at a blank screen and it has me frozen. What I want to write about is ________. I want to impart this one big idea. I had this idea when I…”

Get words on the page. You will make it all pretty later. I promise.

Obstacle 2: “But I Just Can’t Figure Out How To Start My Piece.”

Beginnings are the hardest thing to write. Harder even than endings. If you sit down and try to start your article/story/essay with a brilliant first line that encompasses all the ideas you will explore in the coming paragraphs you will undoubtedly become paralyzed.

My advice: Don’t.

What to do: Write your beginning paragraph last. Once you’ve composed the rest of the article/story/essay you’ll have much better sense of how to set the scene with your opening words. I suppose it’s not impossible to write the first paragraph first, but in my experience, it’s exceedingly difficult.

Obstacle 3: “I can’t find the time.”

There are 24 hours in a day. You can find the time. I’ve written several posts about how to make time for your writing. Try this one, or this one, or this one, or this one.

My advice: Set aside one hour a week. Just one hour.

Then Do These Things In This Order: Go the bathroom. Get a drink of water/coffee/tea. Set your phone in the other room and turn off the ringer. Then sit down, close your web browser and your email. Start a timer. For one hour you will not get up, you will not accept phone calls, you will not search the internet.

If you come across something you think you need to research, type RESEARCH THIS LATER. (I like to add a little xx next to it so I can easily search for those spots later.) Do not look anything up.

For one hour, you are only allowed to write and stare out the window. Eventually boredom will win out and you will put some words down.

Obstacle 4: “I don’t know how to organize my thoughts.”

After you’ve been writing for a while (give yourself four, 1-hour writing sessions before you even try to organize), you will want to put some structure to what you’ve put on the page, to create a coherent beginning, middle and end.

My advice: Think in terms of headings.

What to do: Read over what you’ve written. If it’s non-fiction, certain ideas will jump out as being the big ones. Then there will be smaller ideas that support the bigger ones. If you’re writing fiction, you will start to get a gut feeling for the narrative order of your story.

For fiction, check out this post on how to organize your writing into a story.

For non-fiction, create headings for your big ideas. Put them in bold if it helps. Then go through your writing and move things around so that all the ideas (both big and small) that belong under that heading, can actually be found there.

This is, in effect, outlining, but I find it’s easier to do once you’ve written a bunch and know what you want to say. So if it’s helpful to use bullets and other such traditional outline formats at this point you totally should, but at some point you have to get all the pieces into a narrative format. That is to say, a collection of sentences that run together in an interesting/informative way.

Obstacle 5: “I keep going off on tangents that have nothing to do with my topic.”

If you find yourself writing about something that has nothing to do with what you sat down to write, you’ve gone off on a tangent. Lucky you. Because those tangents can be whole other articles/stories/essays.

My advice: Run with it.

What to do: Go back to the spot where your writing diverged from the topic you intended to write about. Copy and past everything from that point on into a new Word doc and save it. Then close it and come back to it later.

If you happen to be writing for an online platform, these tangent pieces will become the related topics that allow you to interlink your work. (See above where I linked to four different articles that are on similar topics. Included in this piece, they would have been sprawling tangents and made this post unreadable, but on their own, they stand just fine.)

You may even find that you abandon the original idea and end up writing the tangent piece instead. Don’t fight it.

Obstacle 6: “I’ve got all my ideas organized, but the writing is choppy.”

You’re getting close. You’ve got all your ideas in the right place and it’s a respectable length (for whatever platform your working on). But it’s awkward. It doesn’t read smoothly.

My advice: It’s time for a granular edit.

What to do: Start by reading it out loud to yourself. The out loud part is critical. When we hear our own words, we notice things that don’t sound right. Making it sound “right” is about getting your own voice down on the paper. So read it out loud and edit as you go.

When you’re all done, put it away for at least a day and read it over (preferably out loud) one last time before letting anyone else read it. You will catch things you didn’t before. It’s weird.

Also, depending on how important the work is, consider hiring an editor. A quick google search will present you with many options. At the very least, review my free grammar guide and make sure you’re not making any obvious mistakes that will distract readers from what you’re trying to say.

And Then Some…

What other obstacles have you faced as a writer? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments. I’m sure there are other speed bumps that people experience when they try to write. And I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on how they address the six challenges outlined here.

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Color Coding Scrivener

Color coding Scrivener is one of my favorite little writerly tricks. It’s just so freaking handy. Here’s how it works.

In the binder of your project simply right-click on any item (or selection of items) and move your mouse down the resulting menu to to “Label.” You can chose one of the existing labels, or click the bottom option there to edit and create your very own labels (for this example, I have created name labels).

Don’t get frustrated when you see no change in your binder after adding a label. To get the colors to show up simply go to VIEW > USE LABEL COLOR IN > BINDER.

Once you’ve told Scrivener to use the color codes in the binder, you’ll get something that looks like this:

POV

For this example, I’ve set up the binder to highlight different points of view. There are two main benefits to this. The first is that you will be required to break your scene when you shift point of view. As a result, you will be less likely to drift between POVs. The other benefit comes when it’s time to edit. If you look at your binder and see 90% of your scenes are from one POV, you might question whether you even need that other POV.

Timeline

My first novel was told linearly. It took place over about eight days and I found it helpful to have this visual clue as to what scenes took place on what day. Here’s what it looked like (granted, this is many drafts ago, in an older version of Scrivener, but you’ll get the idea):

But there are plenty of other uses for labeling. Here are just a few I have heard writers discuss:

Time Period or Location

If you have a story that shifts around in time or jumps locations, color coding in Scrivener can help you keep track of where you are in time and place. Again, this can be useful for big picture edits. If you had a structure in mind that rotates through time periods or locations in a regular order, then you will be able to see at a glance if the scenes you’ve written match the order you wanted.

Status

Some people use color labels to denote the status of a section of writing. While there is an option for setting a section’s status (right there below the Labels option on the menu), the status option doesn’t allow for color coding. Labels like “first draft,” “final draft,” “needs research,” can be given a color. Then, as you work each scene toward completion, you can watch the colors change. Writer Bronwen Fleetwood has a funny post about his own use of status labels here.

Color Coding Scrivener

I’m sure there are other ways people use color coding. Maybe you are sharing sections of your work as your write it and you want to know at a glance which are out in the world and which aren’t. Maybe there is a Major Event in your story and you want everything before it to be one color, while everything after is another.

If you have a creative way you use color coding in Scrivener, share it here. We are all, forever, learning.

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Being Engaged

engaged (to be published)

I’ve been reflecting lately on this unique period of time I find myself in: I have a publishing deal, but my book isn’t out yet. It’s this magical land wherein I have the proof of concept in hand (my book is getting published!), but there’s absolutely no way for anyone to judge my work. For all anyone in the world knows, I’m the next Lauren Groff.

I’m not.

But you don’t know that. Because you can’t read my book yet. It’s a special time. It’s kind of like being engaged, only there’s no special word for it in the writing world (and no fancy jewelry). You’ve stepped things up from dating, but you’re not married yet, and everyone keeps congratulating you, with absolutely no idea if you actually SHOULD get married. Maybe you picked the wrong person. Maybe you’ll be thinking about divorce before the flowers wilt. But YOUR GETTING MARRIED! Congratulations!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not comparing my book to a bad marriage. And I’m certainly not saying it’s no good. I busted my ass to make that baby the very best book it could be. But the cold hard truth is that there will be people who don’t like my debut novel. Hopefully there will also be people who love it. In fact, I can hope that a lot more people love it than hate it, but I just won’t know until it goes out into the world.

And that’s stressful.

You know what’s not stressful? Getting to tell people that my book is getting published.

For eleven more months I get to enjoy this “engaged” stage of being a writer. Never again, after next February, will I get to come back to this. In this way, it’s not at all like a marriage. A person can be engaged more than once, but I will never again be an unpublished author with a book deal.

So I guess I should find more ways to embrace it. Maybe a book engagement party? Maybe some fancy jewelry? Or maybe I SHOULD start telling everyone I’m the next Lauren Groff. No, that’s a bad idea. Even Groff’s own books have to contend with her reputation. I don’t need that kind of pressure.

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Consider the Narrator

Consider the narrator

I’m fascinated by how stories use their narrators, because it’s not as simple as first person, second person, third. In my reading (and I read a lot), I’ve noticed that the books I love the most, the books that simply lift off the page and envelope me in story, are the ones with the most well-defined POV.

What do I mean by well-defined POV? It’s not a term I learned in grad school or anything, it’s just the way I’ve come to think of books that are told by a narrator (or narrators) from a specific (and known) time. Allow me to elaborate, because there are a lot of variables in any given story.

From Where and When?

If your story is told first person in the present tense, then the well-defined POV is taken care of. You know who’s telling your story and when they’re telling it (as it happens).

But consider first person in the past tense: “I confronted my uncle about the theft.” We know who’s talking (I), and what they did (confronted the uncle), but how much time has passed? If our narrator is talking from the not-too-distant future and they’re sitting on a bench in a jail cell, the energy is completely different than if fifty years have gone by and all the repercussions of their actions have played out.

Same for third person, whether in present or past tense. As an example, we’ll invent a moment: “He held the flowers out toward her, a peace offering in tiny white petals.” Who is seeing this happen? Is it the “her” of the story? If not, who is witnessing this scene? And again, how much time has passed since it happened?

Third person POV is the most fascinating to me because it is so often written without acknowledgement of who that third person is. Beyond interesting and edging into irritating are third person narrators who know things they couldn’t possibly.

Fails and Successes

For instance, the framework of a child recounting a parent’s story. A person may know a lot about their father, from the details on his Army uniform to the brand of cigarette he smokes, but I REALLY struggle when that kind of story dips into a sex scene. When a third person narrator starts describing a sexual encounter in detail I start to wonder “did your dad really tell you all that?” Because ew.

But when it’s handled well… oh, the beauty. Consider “Moonglow” by Michael Chabon. In that story he is narrating his grandfather’s story, but never looses sight of himself as the teller of the story – he wasn’t there, he’s just telling it as he heard it. Masterfully done.

Or the book “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer. The story is told mostly in third person, but then dips into first person to acknowledge the narrator and explore his relationship to the story. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s masterfully done. A must read.

Opportunity

It’s not that stories can’t be well told with a mysterious third person narrator talking from somewhere out there in the future somewhere, but what I’m coming to realize is the potential presented by this question: who is telling your story and from when?

Answering that can only make your story stronger.

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Finding My Next Story

taking long walks in search of my next story idea

Back in November I blogged about setting goals for myself professionally. There’s so little we can control as writers. All we can do is write the best damn stories we can.

In that vein, and because I’m following the timeline I set out for myself last fall, I’m taking three months to ideate and outline what will eventually be novel number three.

Work Ethic

It’s strange to go from working furiously on a deadline to having absolutely no outside pressure on my work. So of course I managed to muster a fair amount of pressure to put on myself.

Because I thought I knew what I wanted book #3 to be. I thought it was a ghost story. It had been percolating for a while in my head. But when I actually set to trying to figure out the story I hit wall after wall. I kept adding things to the story, then taking them away. It just wasn’t working.

The thing I couldn’t figure out was if there was a workable story in that mess of notes, or if the idea was just a dud.

Breaking Through

Frustrated, I decided to stop. I let go of the idea completely. It was an extremely uncomfortable mental space. I didn’t like not knowing what was next in the pipeline, but I somehow sensed that the ghost story wasn’t it.

I took long walks. I browsed the library. Ideas would pop up and I would think “are you my next story?”

And ideas did come, but they weren’t stories. For me, stories are anchored in two things: a character who wants something and a setting. That was the litmus test. As each idea popped up I asked myself who the main character was and what they wanted. Follow up questions: where and when does this story take place.

And you know what? After a few days of floundering around, an idea did come. I’m not really ready to talk about it. Talking about a story before I have a draft is a super efficient way to kill my love for it, but I can say it exists.

Two Months to Think

In terms of my timeline, I still have two months left to ideate and outline ideas for novel three, before I set it aside and work on the second draft of novel two.

Carving out that kind of space has been super helpful for me to do the work that doesn’t feel like work and can be hard to justify: the long walks and day dreaming. I’m also doing a lot of reading, fiction and non-fiction, both directly and tangentially related to the story idea. It’s actually a really fun phase of the writing process, when I can embrace it for what it is.

If all goes well from here, I should have the beginnings of an outline soon. My hope is to start with something short (like a one page synopsis), which I can expand gradually as details come to me.

To help with that process, I’m planning to jump from paper to Scrivener some time soon. Stay tuned and I’ll share how that process unfolds.

Where do you get your story ideas? Do you set aside time just to think or do you just start writing and hope the ideas come? I’m very curious to hear how other writers navigate these waters.

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Balancing Parts of a Writing Career

writing career planning a book tour

To build a writing career, authors are expected to not only create great work, but also promote it. This is particularly true for those who self-publish, but even with a traditional publishing deal in place I am finding myself overwhelmed with all the things that need to be done before my book goes out into the world.

Thankfully, I have a long lead time. My publication date isn’t until February of next year, but even so, the list of things that need to get done is extensive. Here’s a sample:

  • Contact authors I know who might be willing to blurb my book (this is an ask that I don’t even know how to make, so I’m dragging my feet, unsure how to word my requests).
  • Make lists of names of people I can lure to readings in various cities. Apparently bookstores want to know who exactly an author can produce before committing to giving them a slot on their calendar.
  • Find authors to partner with for readings in cities where I may not be able to draw enough people. (Any authors out in Palm Springs interested in teaming up? How about Seattle?)
  • Redo my website to include a homepage with my cover featured prominently (and why is website building so damn time consuming? it’s like remodeling a bathroom – there are a thousand little decisions you have to make).
  • Make a video introducing myself and my book to have up on the new site.
  • Create a travel itinerary for NEXT SPRING. I mean, I’m a planner by nature, but that’s pretty far out even for me.
  • Keep blogging.
  • Keep writing.

Okay, looking over the list, it’s actually not all so bad. I just don’t know where to start or how I make time for all this while still actually writing pages on the new book and doing all the other things I do (parenting my children, exercising occasionally, helping Arthur Morgan find hidden treasure on Red Dead Redemption II, you know – important stuff).

I guess it’s like anything else. You just make time. There are 24 hours in every day. If you use them well, that’s actually a lot of hours. And anyway, what else am I going to do? Stop?

Not likely.

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Visiting Kensington Publishing in NYC

Kensington Publishing NYC

If you’ve been following along, you know that I was on the east coast last week. I was actually heading to a conference near Washington DC, but since I almost never get out that way, I decided to fly out a few days early to New York.

The idea had been to meet with my agent and my editor at Kensington Publishing, maybe connect with a few of the people I’ll be working with when my book comes out. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was hoping to accomplish, but I had friends who were willing to put me up so I decided to go for it.

I’m so glad I did.

Meeting My Agent

First I met with my agent. Now, a little clarification, because it’s possible you’ve read my post about meeting my agent back with I actually signed with him. My “agent” is actually a duo. The west coast man is Joel Gotler. Given his proximity to all the Hollywood business out here, he jumps at projects he feels have potential for film adaptation (wouldn’t THAT be cool?).

On the east coast, his partner Murray has his finger on the pulse of the New York lit scene and he manages the more literary half of their business. It was Murray I had never met. So on Wednesday we had breakfast and we ended up talking for two and a half hours about editing, books, and writers, and my new project. It was interesting to hear about how things work on his end.

Meeting My Publisher

From there I made my way to midtown and the Kensington Publishing office. They work out of the top two floors of a building just off times square. The two hours that followed were worth every dollar I spent to get there.

I met my editor in person. His office was overflowing with books. Every wall was lined with shelves, and on every shelf there were books stacked in front of books. When I started salivating he offered to send me a care package (which was waiting for me when I got home).

We chatted for a minute about the edits I turned in last month. He’s happy with the draft and doesn’t foresee any more major changes, which is an exciting thing to hear.

Then he walked me around the building and introduced me to everyone who is and will be working on my book. There were so many of them! I guess I hadn’t really thought about it, but there were sales teams, international sales teams, graphic design people, marketing people and more. So many I can’t even remember all their roles, but what I do remember is that every one of them said something along the lines of “we just love your book.”

Ego Fluffing

Okay, I will fully cop to it being a serious ego trip, but seriously, in the ten years I spent working on this book alone in the dark early hours before work, I had to just believe that people would someday enjoy my story and now here it is – ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

I will also admit that it’s entirely possible that not EVERY person truly loves my book. I mean, it’s kind of their job. It’s not like they’re going to say “oh, yeah, yours is the mediocre story about the ostriches,” even if that’s what they think.

But letting go of all that for a minute, it was just so fun to hear the words over and over. I wish I had recorded it all so I could replay it on those days when self doubt sets in. Because bullshit or not, it’s a serious emotional boost to hear that people like your book.

The Road Ahead

At the end of the tour my editor left me with my marketing team and we had a good long talk about all the things that will be happening in the next year. As I’ve blogged about already, I’ll be revamping my website once I have some cover art (which may actually be soon – stay tuned). We planned some strategic articles I can pitch in the months leading up to the pub date and talked about what conferences it would make sense for me to attend. We basically reviewed the author questionnaire I filled out and they told me which ideas were worth the time and which I could skip.

The whole experience had the effect of shifting my perspective. Having turned in my final edits, I was kind of settling into being done with this project, but the work is only just beginning. I’m so grateful to have a team of professionals to work with. This is the number one benefit of traditional publishing and it makes the long timeline totally worth it.

Stay tuned. I will share the cover art as soon as it’s approved, and I’ll be blogging all about this crazy process of publishing as things unfold.

I’m also starting work outlining a new book, so I’ll be writing more about that in the coming weeks too.

And before I sign off, I’d like thank you all for being with me on this journey. This blog, along with the writing community on Twitter, has been a real touch stone for me through these past many years. It’s very fun to finally get to share this part of the story.

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Living The Dream

I arrived in New York Monday night. It was dark and cold and I will admit to feeling a little intimidated, but there’s an energy to this city that’s infectious. By the time I dropped my things at the airbnb, bought some flowers at the corner bodega and caught an Uber to the apartment of an old college buddy for a late dinner, I was giddy with excitement.

A big part of my fantastic attitude is that I’m here on business. I have meetings with my agent and my publisher, and I just have this deep sense of living the dream. I am a writer in New York, meeting with people who care about my work. I mean, how fabulous is that? Even the stupidly frigid temperatures can’t bring me down.

Yesterday morning while walking (scurrying) to the subway station, I saw a little white dog with red booties. I helped up an old woman who slipped on the ice. A man shoveling snow yelled out “this is America!” for no discernible reason as I walked past. I figured out the metro all by myself (it’s actually really easy) and got myself uptown to the Met where I popped in my headphones and spent a few hours wondering around listening to cello music and soaking up the art.

I took an Uber through the park (yes, it was only a mile, but it’s REALLY cold) so I could walk past the Dakota, which felt like a literary pilgrimage as I am reading Tom Barbarsh’s new novel The Dakota Winters, then had chicken soup in a little cafe where I sat reading said book and watching the snow fall outside.

In short, it’s been a fantastic trip so far. This morning I’m meeting the agent for breakfast, then cutting across town to my publishers office. I’m hoping my editor has had a chance to read those edits I worked so hard on so we can discuss how the book is coming along.

Tune in next week and I’ll let you know how it all goes.

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