Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buy This Book!!!

Okay, I haven't read it yet myself, but I will buy it and I will read it. Why? Because Mary Glickman is my new favorite author.
And why is Mary Glickman my new favorite author? Well, if you read Chuck Sambuchino's blog at the Guide to Literary Agents, you've read Mary's inspiring story. You can click here for the full saga, but I'll give you one paragraph to whet your appetite:

Cynthia Ozick once remarked that being published for the first time at 38 was a kind of little death. For me being published at the age of 61 was a kind of resurrection. Home in the Morning is my seventh novel written and the first one published, although out of the seven, only one was really bad. The rest were damn good. But I’ve learned a lot of this business is all about luck. You can have the wrong idea at the wrong time (my first novel), the right idea at the wrong time (that’d be two through five), the wrong idea at any time at all (number six, the really bad one), and if you’re lucky, the right idea at the right time (Home in the Morning).

Open Road Books published Home in the Morning in November 2010. it's recently been optioned for film by Sundance director Jim Kohlberg.

So wherever you are as you read this -- at your desk with a cup of coffee, on your couch with a glass of wine, or in your bed with a water bottle on your nightstand, raise your drink and toast Mary Glickman, the queen of perseverance. And then buy her book!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011


I'm writing this new post while traveling in the magnificent southwest. We have been hiking in the red rock city of Sedona this week. Once you leave the bustle of downtown Sedona and find your trail head and swing off down the path, you forget the business of town and enter the quiet and solitude of this inspiring land.

Since some of my books are non-fiction, the natural beauty here starts my literary juices flowing. Many believe that positive energy emmanates from special vortexes here. The unique splendor of the land does inspire me to write as I gaze at these incredible rock formations and start to figure how to explain these wonders to children in a way that will interest and entertain them and convey to them the sense of beauty and the science of the sites.

We also visited the Grand Canyon, just a few hours north of Sedona. This is such an awe inspiring place in its vastness and beauty. So again jolted, I jot down new ideas for manuscripts on rivers, erosion and canyons that must differ from my book, CANYON, but which will tell another story of this fabulous world.

And now I need to sit down when we return home and form these ideas into text. Forming ideas - like nature forming canyons and rock formations - hopefully my ideas take form faster than in geological time!

That's what we writers need - time - a difficult commodity - and sometimes it seems like it does take eons to complete a manuscript, bring it to the critique group, revise and refine it, and hopefully bring it to a firm formation, and not to have to abandon it, as we have been talking about here this month.

Inspiration - Time - Formation

Better get started!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Be Nice to Me or I’ll Kill You in my Next Novel

About a month ago, I sent a friend one of my manuscripts to read. By friend I mean a lifetime bestie - the kind of friend who knows all my embarrassing stories, probably has a few (okay LOTS of) incriminating pictures, someone you don’t see for months but once you are in each other’s company it’s like no time has passed.

Oddly enough, I don’t usually share my writing with my "circle of friends" friends. And I never really understood why, until my friend asked me – “Am I in it?”

My first response was “No, you’re not.”

The longer I thought about it though I wondered if maybe part of her was in my novel.

Some of what I write, especially when it comes to the bare bones of a story, is usually inspired by an event that affected me personally. That doesn’t mean the finished product resembles anything near said actual event or person, but I suddenly understand the need for a literary disclaimer.

The truth is some of my characters are definitely inspired by real people.

Honestly, how could they NOT be?

When creating characters I don’t usually make elaborate dossiers unless I’m bored or stuck. I tend to figure out my characters as I put them into situations. And while this isn’t always the quickest route to take (right now I have two characters on a bus who’ve just decided they want to sit there for awhile and enjoy each other’s company – ugh!) it works for me. I can tell the difference between when I’m sandwiching characters in a scene for my sake and when the scene arises organically through their reactions and responses. And boy do I love those organic days. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m basing a character on some part of someone until after I’ve gone over it a few times.

Other times I know immediately.

A former boss, a guidance counselor, ex-boyfriends, cars (yes, cars), my favorite English teacher, various mean girls and my niece have all inspired characters in my novels. Some of these have only made a cameo, others full-fledged supporting roles. But is it my niece? No. Her artistic flair, yes. Would she think it was her if she read my novel? Probably not, but she might. And since said character is rather kick-ass (imho), I don’t think she’d have a problem.

Now my exes...HA...might have a different opinion (see headline).

So how about you? Fess up...will you have to put the disclaimer Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental in the front matter of your novel? Or do all of your characters spring forth from your imagination?

*Photo credit: um, not sure, but that's me and the crowd of people I spent my formative years with...and no, not one of them appears in my novels. For real. Reminds me of the Nickelback song Photograph...we all have one like this...right??

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Thursday, March 17, 2011


Who else caught Tuesday’s article in The New York Times, “Publisher Limits Shelf Life for Library E-Books,” by Julie Bosman? In her article, Bosman reported that HarperCollins has changed its policy on the sale of e-books to libraries. For the past decade or so, HarperCollins followed the common publishing model, which said that once a library bought an e-book from a publisher, the library owned that title forever; meaning it had the right to lend out the e-book, one reader at a time, for an unlimited number of times.

But last week, HarperCollins upended that agreement by imposing a 26-checkout limit before the purchasing agreement expired. After that, the library would have to buy the e-book again.

The e-book battle was on. As Bosman wrote, cybrarians said it was unfair and threatened to boycott e-books from HarperCollins. HarperCollins defended the move by saying in a statement that selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity could, among other things, “place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.”

Of particular interest to authors was a separate statement HC made, that it needed "to protect our authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come."

Bosman's article quoted several librarians and publishers, but no authors. So I wondered what some of our Paper Wait readers thought, since most of you are published authors or pre-published writers.

So tell me, what does this change in e-book library lending rights mean to you? Do you agree that Harpercollins' new policy really protects your rights as an author/writer? Do you think it will make a difference in terms of the royalties you collect? Are you grateful for or angered by the change? Or do you feel like it has too little impact on you personally to give it a second thought?

Authors/writers, I’d love to hear from you. Of course, comments from librarians and publishers, former or current, are welcome, too.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011


How do you know whether what you've written is worth anything? Brianna raises this question in her previous post "When You Can't Tell Anymore." At what point do doubts overcome your hopes? When do you kill your words and abandon a manuscript?

In "Burn Before Reading," (NY Times Book Review, 3/6) Dan Kois gets answers from a few famous authors. Chang-rae Lee threw out two year's work on an unfinished novel he now calls "bombastic" and "unfunny." Is this unusual?
After over five years of work, Michael Chabon abandoned his second novel. (Can't imagine the despair and frustration!) John Updike, Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Saul Bellow, Richard Price, Stephenie Meyer - all killed novels for various reasons. Ironically, Harper Lee abandoned a second novel after the success of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Most often, however, the killing takes place because the writer realizes the book just isn't working. That's when what Chabon calls the "Hand of Dread" should be heeded.

Yes, I've killed manuscripts. We all have. It takes courage to grasp the "Hand of Dread" and abandon our idea. But is it total disaster city? Maybe not. Perhaps there's something - a description, a figure of speech, a character quirk - that can be recycled. Waste not!
Have you ever been lucky enough to reuse material from an abandoned manuscript?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When You Can't Tell Anymore

You know that great feeling? The feeling when you're in the beginning of your brand new manuscript and you're sure your idea is super cool, super wonderful and super original.

Then you hit that time where you start to have doubts. For me, it's no longer super cool, super wonderful or super original. Or maybe I start to wonder if super original is just super weird? At that point, I start to wonder: Is it any good at all?

Recently, I gave up on a manuscript right after the original burst of enthusiasm because I discovered a MUCH too similar manuscript had already hit the market (it was such a unique idea, I just can't believe there would be room for a second one just like it).

But most of the time, this feeling doesn't mean I need to give up. It just means I'm so bleary eyed from looking at my manuscript, I just can't tell anymore.

It might be good. It might not be. I just can't tell.

So, do you ever hit a point like this? How do you get the enthusiasm to keep going? (I feel like I have too many abandoned manuscripts (especially longer ones) because it is tough to push past these doubts once they start to set in.)

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Friday, March 4, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

When I'm really in a state of writing despair, I try to think of opening sentences of first chapters. What will make the reader read the second line: What will take him to the end of the page?

My favorite is, "Marley was dead, to begin with." or, "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." And of course, the all-time best, "Where's Papa going with that ax?"

I was especially intrigued with an opening sentence from one of Edith Wharton's novels, "She was bad, always."

So I'm working on one for a revised chapter: "Through the dirty panes of the rain-spattered window, a monkey-like face appeared, grimacing and gawking."

Or, "The clock struck with a sad, hollow tone, as if no one in the house had ever cared what hour it was."

Or, "What, another baby on the way?"

Do they pique an interest? Or maybe they sound just like Bulwer-Lytton's most ridiculed first line, "It was a dark and stormy night." I'll have to think about it.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Everyone has their favorite Dr. Seuss book or Dr. Seuss line. Here are some of my favorite quotes. Please share some of your favorites!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

“I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.”

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

"You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!"

'The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.'

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try !"

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells."

"Be who you are, say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind"

"A person’s a person, no matter how small."

“I’m afraid sometimes you’ll play lonely games too, games you can’t win because you’ll play against you.”

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Read more!