Writing is cheaper than therapy or drugs.

Originally posted on Sloppy Etymology:

Sometimes you wish for something so hard and then it actually comes true. Has that happened to you? Against countless odds and still, your wish actually came true. Does it count as being lucky or should you be careful about hitching your hopes up too high? I’ve been thinking these thoughts for a while now. I’ve been thinking so much about it and I’ve also been trying not to think at all.

So much has happened since the last time I was here, blogger friends. So. Much. Where do I start from and how do I explain any of this? I am not sure. But I want to take it one step at a time. Keep my emotions in check. Make sure I’m not borrowing more happiness than I deserve to have in my share.

I can’t write like I used to. I’m putting that out there so you can…

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December 19—The Day My Brother Died

Originally posted on Healing Beyond Survival:

kids on stepsCan childhood abuse bring about mental illness? I believe it can. My brother and I sat on those steps back in 1957 not yet suffering the ramifications of child abuse. I wrote the following post one year ago, when I started blogging. It was the day I decided to take back my life. I wanted to live.

December 19—The Day My Brother Died

They say he put the barrel-end of a 30.06 in his mouth and pulled the trigger. There would be no need for an open casket.  “But how can we know for sure it’s him?” I pleaded at the funeral, needing to see something of my brother one more time. “It’s him,” they said, “now let it go.”

Every year as the holidays approach, the days remain dark even when the sun shines. A crushing ache develops in my chest in early fall and by Thanksgiving, surface…

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What Is Editing Worth?

Originally posted on Write Through It:

Ask a bunch of editors what good editing is worth and they’ll probably reply that it’s invaluable, priceless, and indispensable.

Listen to us talk for a while and we’ll probably get around to the books we’ve read that were either abysmally edited or (probably) not edited at all. What’s the matter with those writers? we wonder. How can they put their names on something that’s so disorganized or riddled with typos and grammatical errors?

Being both a writer and an editor, I think about this a lot. “Value” is a shifty word in English. “Valuable” and “invaluable” mean more or less the same thing. Plenty of value can’t be measured in money, but when you have to pay for it, money has to be considered. Editing has monetary value to me as an editor because it pays the rent. For me as a writer, whatever I spend on editing is money…

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Shopping for a Publisher

Originally posted on Tricycle Readers:

I had a message over the holiday from a Facebook friend wanting a steer on getting poetry published. Alas, I was only able to offer the most basic advice, which is to shop around before you submit.

Many brilliant first novels were rejected dozens of times before someone saw their potential. The work of JK Rowling, DCB Pierre, and Irvine Welsh sat on slush piles before gaining worldwide recognition.  When we hear these stories, the implication is that those editors who returned the manuscripts with short notes of regret were somehow deficient in spotting pay dirt. While this unquestionably happens, it is as often the case that the writer made the mistake – sending work to the wrong people.

Starbucks and McDonalds both sell food, but you can’t buy a burger at Starbucks or biscotti in McDonalds. So it is with publishers. If Sarah Waters sent one of her brilliant novels to…

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Which Matters Most: A Writer or the Writing?

Originally posted on CJC Writing101:


More than ever, in today’s publishing industry we are told that we must blog, we must have a Twitter, we must make a Facebook page, we must network with a bunch of other writers, we must attend several hundred writer’s conferences, join ten different writing organizations, and establish a “following” before our work is even considered.

And, while this is all true, we are never told the level of “fantasticness” our writing must be (I know, I just made up that word).

So which one should you most be concerned about: establishing your “writer platform,” or making your writing the best it can be?

Let me help shed some light to this:


This past week was my last week interning at Beacon Press… I already miss working there :(

But, I got the pleasure of talking to both the executive and associate Editors. I asked them their take on literary…

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3 Common Flaws that Sink Query Letters

Originally posted on Writer's Resource Blog:

In the twenty years I’ve been connecting authors with agents and publishers, I’ve rewritten a lot of query letters. The most common flaws that keep writers from capturing an agent or publisher’s attention are:
–Lack of a tagline. This is a single sentence that encapsulates the protagonist’s journey, the story’s universal appeal, the audience, and the category. Although queries can succeed if they don’t have taglines, the agent/publisher will have to read the entire first paragraph (or more) before their interest is sparked. That’s too long. Taglines captivate in ten words.
–Descriptions that confuse and/or fail to evoke an emotional response. The one or two paragraphs that describe the story need to relay the protagonist’s journey and the universal aspects of the story. In order to do this, these paragraphs must be clear, concise, and evoke the emotional tone of the story. Too much detail, inclusion of details that aren’t…

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Character v Plot: A False Dichotomy

Originally posted on Cockburn's Eclectics:


Mira John (CC / Flickr)

Spend any time around writers’ groups and there are certain conversations you can’t avoid having. Topping the list are debates over genre definitions, discussion of the comparative merits of traditional and self-publishing, and mystification about how certain authors have become wildly successful in spite of their poor writing. Up there with them is whether characters or plot are more important. In writing, as in life, it’s always worth being a little sceptical when something is presented as a dichotomy. It begs the question of whether it’s really a choice between one or the other. I’ve previously described characters and plot as two of the three legs of the tripod a story stands on, and I’m going to argue that the tripod needs both unless it wants to fall on its face.

Characters must shine

I’ll start by quoting Lee Child’s foreword to his debut…

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Struggling With Setting

Originally posted on Natalie Sutherland, Writer:

ID-100151097 city rainI’m always struggling with setting – which is tough, because it’s one of the most important elements of any fictional story.

Setting has to make sense within your narrative, it has to seem wonderfully and vividly real to the reader and most of all it has to ultimately serve your character, contributing to their emotional and physical journal.

These cool tips have come from a range of places and sources over the years, but they always help keep me grounded when I’m writing fiction and forming a setting. Hope they help you too.

1. Be detailed

Like, crazy detailed. Vague, generalised descriptions loan themselves to cliche and disbelief, and detract from the punch of your story. If there’s an element of the setting that matters, use detailed description to hone in on it.

2. Use the 5 Senses

We learn them as kids, but it’s easy to forget them when writing. It’s…

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