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Book Proposal Basics

Published on December 23rd

Recently, a good friend of my husband's was surprised by an email from a publisher of software books--they wanted him to write a book on a new platform he specializes in working with. He was a little surprised, and more than a little daunted. He'd never written a book before, and as much as he was excited by the prospect, he wasn't sure what it would mean. He definitely wasn't sure what the publisher was looking for out of the document they asked him to put together: a book proposal. Fortunately, nonfiction book proposals really aren't as daunting as they may appear to the first-timer, and a lot of what they're about transfers to fiction as well. read more…

Raising the Stakes

Published on October 6th

In writing and editing, we talk a lot about raising the stakes and making sure that there’s enough tension in your story. But how can you do that? One way that I really like is to make your characters choose between the thing they thought mattered most to them and the thing that they’ve now discovered matters more. read more…

Eight Arms for Freedom

Published on April 13th

The last year has been a busy and, recently, a very difficult one as my husband and I dealt with a deeply personal loss, but as I thought about how I could get back into posting here on my blog, I was inspired by the story of an octopus (of course) named Inky who recently made his grand escape from an aquarium in New Zealand. Inky slipped out of his tank after it was inadvertently left ajar after some maintenance, presumably waving a watery farewell to his tank-mate who remained, and hauled himself across the floor to a drain. Lucky for Inky, the drain let out into the ocean. read more…

Write What You Know

Published on March 29th

A lot of beginning writers get discouraged when writing teachers tell them the old chestnut “Write what you know.” They might feel this means they don’t have anything interesting to contribute, because they haven’t lived through the kind of adventures they want to write about. Maybe they’re students, or maybe they’re stuck in a dead-end job, or maybe they’re a stay-at-home parent… what’s happened to them that would be worth writing about? read more…

To Kill a Book-Lover

Published on February 5th

While Harper Lee’s editor and publisher swear up and down that she’s excited to publish her "new" book (actually not so much a prequel as her original draft of what turned out to be To Kill a Mockingbird), the reasons to be dubious of their claims keep stacking up. As exciting as it is to think of a new book by the beloved Lee, who until now only had one published novel to her name, significant caution is warranted. read more…

Science Fiction & Definitions

Published on December 3rd

It’s come to my attention that, once again, there are mutterings around the internet about how science fiction absolutely has to be about SCIENCE, with the implication that anything that involves a bit of, shall we say, speculation, is not real science fiction. This is… disingenuous, I believe (they don’t call it “speculative fiction” for nothing), so here, have my two cents on the subject, totally off the cuff. read more…

What Was Your NaNoWriMo Reward?

Published on December 2nd

Every year, along with a whole lot of other writers around the world, I spend the month of November trying to write 50,000 words. I’ve been doing this for about ten years now, and most years I succeed, but it’s always a struggle. There’s always something. When I first started it was usually papers and midterms, now it’s more often other projects or stuff at my day job. There’s always something that wants to keep you from writing, especially when you’re trying to write 1,667 words a day. I don’t know about you, but even though I’m in the habit of writing every single day, that’s still about twice as many words as I usually manage on a weekday. read more…

Semi-Daily Dandelions

Published on October 15th

Every writer has heroes, other writers who have gone before us and whose work we draw on for inspiration and that little push whenever we feel low or wonder what the point of it all is – it’s not only great scientists who stand upon the shoulders of giants. I have a lot of giants at the top of my beanstalk, but one of the most important to me stands so very tall in my mind only in part because of the writing that she published in her lifetime. The rest of the reason I revere her memory is entirely because of her persona off the page, and the openness with which she interacted with her fans. read more…

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