Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My friend and unpublished (for now, but not for long) author just suffered through a devastating rejection from an agent at a writing conference. He compared her book (that he hasn’t read) to a book from a Canadian author that was well written, but with a story so bad no one would read or buy it. I gave her some advice I want to share here, because every writer has felt that pain.  
Good news, the worst is over. Rejection has stared you in the face and you survived.

Be sad and feel bad and eat ice cream and then get mad and prove him wrong!  I’ve seen so many students and writers devastated by BAD criticism that they gave up. Don’t give up.

Have you watched Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” online? You can Google/Youtube it. His best piece of advice is “The walls are there to stop the OTHER people.” I love that. You just encountered a wall. Are you going to let it stop you, or are you going to find a way over or around it? He may stop many people this weekend. You are not one of them. Don’t let his negative world affect your world for one more minute. He may even get off on crushing dreams, and sleep with a teddy bear and call it Mommy because he didn’t get enough love as a child.   

How the heck can he compare your situation with a Canadian writer with a bad book. A) You are not Canadian and why does that even matter? And B) Your book is GOOD. Apples and oranges, baby. Fallacious argument. Doesn’t make sense, no logic. Doesn’t follow.

Think about how many bad/uninspired books you’ve read. Somebody published them. Yours is good, so it shouldn’t be hard to get published, but it is. I don’t understand it, either. But the world works in a crazy way sometimes.

You now have a specific goal, to imagine his face when he gets a copy of your published book.

You have work to do, get that book out there.

Write soon,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Outliners vs. pantsers

The author Kelly O’Connor McNees (The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott) mentioned in her presentation earlier this summer at Saturday Writers the difference between writers who are outliners (those who plan) and pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants).

As a writer, I can honestly say that I love outlines. For nonfiction, I use comprehensive outlines. For fiction, I use a variety of methods that run from not much except an idea I have in my brain, to some sort of weird, abbreviated version of a list or plan of how I want to get characters from Point A to Point B.

As a speech teacher, I require students to turn in an outline form that I give them. The top of the sheet requires the student to state the topic and thesis. These items are followed by a standard outline format that lists main points, sub points, introduction, conclusions and transitions. I do this for a couple of reasons – one is that they have an appropriate speech topic with sufficient support for their thesis and main points, and the other is that they don’t wait to the last minute to begin working on the presentation.

Let me tell you about Andrew, a fictional student I just made up who represents several students I have every semester. Andrew usually approaches me right before class begins, or during our break to tell me his outline isn’t finished. He hems and haws around a bit, and sheepishly admits that he can’t seem to settle on a topic.

“I have some ideas,” he says. “But I haven’t written anything.”

I tell Andrew to pick any topic, and go with it. I tell him that I don’t care if it isn’t good. I tell him he doesn’t have to give his speech using that exact topic and main points, and I tell him that something is better than nothing.

What I don’t tell him is that by writing anything, it forces him to develop his ideas. I also don’t tell him that there is power and strength in beginnings, and outlines help us get rid of the fear of not being able to do it.

And Andrew always writes something. And it’s always good.
Write soon,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book jackets

Writers appreciate interesting visuals, and when the visuals are book covers, well, even better! Grab a cup of coffee and follow the link.  http://thejacketmuseum.wordpress.com/

Let me know which ones you like!

Write soon,