On Writing

13 Ways to Maximize Your Writing Pleasure

13 Ways to Maximize Your Writing Pleasure

For me, the worst part is the first draft, which is always somewhat of a slog. I love it and dread it at the same time. It’s like running a marathon when you’ve forgotten how to run. But you haven’t really, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Bird by bird.

When I remember this, the writing is not quite so hard. And I am reminded that writing is not all angst and adverbs. Sometimes it’s actually—dare I say it—fun. There are undeniable pleasures, however fleeting or abstruse or just plain unfathomable to Other People (non-writers) they may be. Keeping them in mind can help us enjoy the writing process more, even on those days when we struggle to make our word count.

The next time you sit down to write, notice—and applaud!—when you…

10 Things Not to Say to an Agent When You Pitch Your Project

10 Things Not to Say to an Agent When You Pitch Your Project

It’s conference season again, that wonderful time of year when we agents listen to hundreds of pitches—some good, some bad, and some ugly. Here’s what not to say. (And yes, these are real lines from real-life pitches.) #1 My villain is so bad he kills the dog. It’s...

The Daring Writer’s Guide to Point of View

The Daring Writer’s Guide to Point of View

Point of view issues keep more otherwise sellable authors from selling their work than nearly any other problem. That’s why as an agent, author, and writing teacher, I always caution my clients, fellow writers, and students to play it safe when it comes to POV. And yet every once in a while I come across a story whose author threw caution to the wind so splendidly I am tempted to play around with point of view myself. If you find yourself so inclined, read on.

Go for Broke: 6 Ways To Make Your Story Stand Out

Go for Broke: 6 Ways To Make Your Story Stand Out

I recently led a workshop at the New York Pitch Conference, an event dedicated to helping writers perfect their pitches—and in the process, discover what might be keeping them from selling their work in an increasingly unforgiving marketplace. Often it’s the fact that there’s nothing unique enough about the project to persuade agents and editors and ultimately publishers to take a chance and champion the work.

In a publishing landscape that’s more difficult than ever, thanks to the pandemic and other factors affecting retail businesses right now, it’s more important than ever that you are able to differentiate your story, positioning it against all of the bestselling titles by brand-name writers. While it’s true that book sales are up, they are up for backlist, that is, books that have already been published, mostly by authors who have already found an audience. For new titles, especially those being published by debut authors and midlist authors trying to build a readership, breaking out is tougher than ever.

The Presidents on Writing

The Presidents on Writing

Practically every president has written a book; some have even written those books all by themselves. The general consensus is that the honor of greatest writer among the presidents falls to Abraham Lincoln—with Ulysses S. Grant a distant second—but all who’ve...

WRITE BY HEART:  Creating stories that pack an emotional punch

WRITE BY HEART: Creating stories that pack an emotional punch

It’s been a rough couple of years and many of us are simply exhausted. Outrage fatigue, pandemic fatigue, crisis fatigue—all manner of fatigue has besieged us. To the point where all we feel lately is numb. At least that’s how I’ve been feeling. And then I watched two...

What I Learned from Crime Bake: A Writer’s Story

What I Learned from Crime Bake: A Writer’s Story

There are certain times in a writer’s life when everything changes. You may not see it at the time, but when you look back, you realize that was the moment that changed you, your writing, and your writing career forever. For me, this happened when I moved to New...

Writing Nature

Writing Nature

When I was a very young woman, I heard a writer say that when you set a story in a given place, you should be able to name every bird, every tree, every flower in that setting. I remember thinking, “Uh oh.” As an Army brat who moved at least once a year, I barely got...

Writing About the Pandemic—or Not?

Writing About the Pandemic—or Not?

This is the question I hear all the time from writers of all levels of experience. The uncertainty of life during the pandemic has affected everyone in the book business—writers, agents, editors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, reviewers. We publishing...

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