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Women mystery writers break out of the shadows

The tired old stereotype of a mystery writer as some hard-boiled noir guy with a cigarette in one hand and a tumbler full of whiskey in the other is obsolete. Over. Done. Make way for Sisters in Crime, a nationwide organization of women mystery writers who are achieving commercial and literary success. Ever since Sara [...]


How authors support their writing dreams

A few aspiring authors get to stay home and write all day. Think of them as the 1%. The rest need to worry about putting food on the table before they can focus on their literary dreams. Even the most successful writers I’ve edited, past and present, took whatever work they could find along the [...]


Ever wonder what a developmental editor could do for your book?

More and more writers are hiring their own developmental editors, whether they plan to self-publish their book or hope to land a literary agent and go for a book deal with a traditional publisher. To give you an idea what a professional developmental editor could do for your book, here’s a checklist of some of [...]


Ask the editor: Breaking the “write what you know” rule

Q: I have a terrific story to tell, but it didn’t actually happen to me. Is it possible to write with authenticity about something you haven’t experienced firsthand? A: Many great books are written by authors who seem to have nothing in common with their character’s experiences. Different gender, culture, time in history, geographic location. [...]


Have you ever written something you later regretted?

I sure have. It was 1964 and I was on assignment for The Nation magazine to write a review of the Beatles at Carnegie Hall, their first live appearance in the United States. No Soul in Beatlesville There I was, standing on a shaky balcony seat trying to see the stage over a mob of hysterical, [...]


Staying connected: You’re not alone

When you’re writing in the zone, you feel confident and creative, ready for prime time, readers, agents, and publishers, right? But it doesn’t always come that easily.  When writers get stuck, those good feelings can drop away quickly. A lonely occupation Writing is a solitary business for the most part, with hours spent alone, day [...]


Too much vertical space in your manuscript?

In filmmaking, vertical space is shorthand for script pages with lots of white and not a lot of words. For scriptwriters it’s the rule. A script has dialogue, brief notes for action on the screen and not much else. It makes for quick reading and ensures a kind of textual scarcity that directors consider a virtue, [...]


How to grab, delight or shock your readers right from the start

“Every time mama came down on that shabby floor, the bullet lodged in my stomach felt like a hot poker.” Claude Brown and I hunted through his manuscript for two days to find that moment and move it to the opening of his classic Harlem memoir Manchild in the Promised Land. We wanted to detail [...]


Happy Birthday Tom Robbins! Time to revisit your advice to writers

I’ve never known a great author to be more generous with useful advice about the craft of writing than Tom Robbins. If you’ve yet to discover this fabulous author, Robbins has written many bestselling novels including Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All and others. His funny, surprising and masterful prose [...]


Ask the Editor: Memoir or novel for my true story?

Q. I have an amazing true story to tell, but publishing it may step on some toes. Should I write it as a memoir, and tell it exactly like it was? Or should I write it discreetly as a novel, so I can disguise the lurid details and stay out of trouble? If I don’t write [...]



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