Thursday, September 26, 2013


(that's Random Shoplifts...clearly I need to be more specific for those of you whose minds gravitate ever gutterwards).

~I have verbal jiu jitsu. Talk jitsu. (Deb) jitsu... (put my own name in th eplace of the original speaker).

~I will f**k money ANY time.  (some people clearly have more interesting sex lives than....well, than me for one...).

~The only reason anyone puts money in the market is that it's the only place TO put it.  (Yeah, whatever.  There's always the mattress and the underwear drawer...why you gotta be so narrowminded).

~Good priorities and a Jesus liver -- that's really all you need in life.  (no explanation, hah).

X's and O's and Words!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting Stuff Done (or: Recovering from Life's Detours)

Tough summer.  I had a a full schedule of planned projects -- catch up on some tasks for my publishing business.  Finish polishing two book proposals. Finish finally my own novel.

Life often has other ideas for us, especially when we make plans.  Mix in an unexpected death, news that an old friend is very ill, The Boy (tm) heading off to University, and well, the best laid plans of mice and Deb are often gone awry.

I wrote recently about perfection -- how the pursuit of it can be self defeating.  And I forgot -- even after I gave myself permission to just do the work and find perfection in what I do rather than try and get it to match up to an arbitrary definition -- I forgot to really give myself permission to be imperfect and found myself in a little bit of an emotional tailspin. And mad at myself for it.

Yeah. I kicked myself while I was down.


We so often are our own worst enemies.

I recognized mid-kick what I was doing and I have moved away from that behavior.  Mostly.

And I am a writing fool at the moment trying to meet the self -imposed deadline for finishing the novel EVEN THOUGH it will be hard and require ~2,000 plus words a day to do it.

But I will because it's important to me.

So here are my takeaways from the summer:

~Sometimes shit happens that guts you and you can't do a damn thing about it.

~Sometimes you tailspin. And that's okay, because you are experiencing your own life, which means you are living it.

~Sometimes you kick yourself when you are down.  Stop it.

~Sometimes you are your own worst enemy.  But what would life be like if you cultivated yourself as a friend the same way you cultivate others? How much magic?

~Do the stuff that is important to you.  Encourage yourself the same way you encourage others.

Kind of glad it's a new season.

Good words,


Monday, August 26, 2013

Reflection on Perfection

You have a perfection complex? I sure as shit do.

Sometimes I really think I should just throw in the towel on this whole writing thing....I will never be as good as some of my favorite writers.

Sitting on the beach this week during a suprise Florida-Jaunt, I read Chuck Palahniuk's "Diary".  And. Oh. My. God.

I mean, not everyone will like the voice he's unique and a little tough to get into, but so damned sublime in execution.  Perfection.

I will never do that.

Then I thought about how perfect this image is -- a picture I took while sitting on said beach. Then I started picking apart my photography skills (which are, sadly, nonexistent).

And then I had a revelation. Yeah, the boat on the beach is lovely, relatable, and I managed to get a bit of the pier in the shot -- it is a moment of peace and serenity and perfect-like in at least capturing the moment. And it's okay if it isn't the same shot someone else might capture in the same moment. So many potential variables.

What if.....

What if the whole perfection-thing is just sorting through so many potential variables until a set just coheres and captures something...SOMETHING...and it doesn't really matter which set of variables as long as it does the capturing part and the cohering part?

What if....

What if I have been chasing an elusive perfection thing which is unattainable because my definition of it is based on capturing an array of cohered variables that SOMEONE ELSE has seen, and I can NEVER EVER EVER see things the same way as them, and therefore that piece of perfection is just...





What if....

What if I gave myself permission to just seek out MY OWN VERSION of perfection and the hell with anyone else's eyes and thoughts....maybe Chuck Palahniuk inadvertently gave me permission to write my own version of the world and know that somewhere, somehow, some other person in the universe will find THAT to be perfect, coherent, sublime, relatable.

What if?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Discussions on Query Letters

From some correspondence I shared with a writer recently, as part of my involvement with Delve Writing:

Hey, (redacted)!  Super excited to hear you are starting the query process!
With few exceptions, your query letter will be one page, starting with a paragraph explaining why you are submitting this particular project to this particular agent -- it is typical to have done some research and be able to discuss why you think, based on other books they have represented, this book might interest them and fit their client list.
This should go something like, Dear (Agent), I am writing to present for your consideration my 85,000 word YA manuscript (title).  I really enjoy the work of (one or two authors on his or her list), and I feel that (title) might be a good fit for your company because it deals with the same (age group, genre, snarky approach to the universe with an absurdist edge).
In other words, drawing comparisons and parallels to other works the agent has sold.
This is typically followed by a very high level synopsis that relates the plot of your book. Not the theme -- just the plot, though you can imply the themes through this very short synopsis.  An agent or editor at this point is less interested in theme -- they will get that when they read the manuscript, assuming your plot concept interests them enough to request the full and read the story.
You want enough of the plot that the agent has an idea of the entire story.  This isn't the time to be coy and withhold the ending.  But also this is like an expanded version of your pitch -- what you do in your logline in two lines you can do here in 5-6.
Resist the urge to use marketing copy -- don't say things like -- This very exciting story will keep you on the edge of your seat, rollercoaster ride of the heart, etc.   It is not yet the time for that language.
For instance: A lonely girl who longs for adventure finds herself ripped from her farm life in Kansas and thrust into an amazing fantasy land filled with witches, magic and Munchkins.  But underneath the beautiful veneer lurk many dangers for Dorothy, including a wicked witch who wants her newly magical shoes -- and wants her dead as well.  Through a series of adventures, Dorothy acquires the allies and the tools she will need to confront the wicked witch, , change the destiny of a nation, and maybe even get herself back to Kansas.
Finally, you can sum up with a bio on you -- your writing credentials, your background, platform -- selling YOU as the writing or this particular story and making a case for being a good potential working partner for the agent.
Close with your contact info.
Happy query writing!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Outside The Comfort Zone

It's so easy to repeat things -- stick with what one is used to. Visit the same restaurants, order the same food, take the same path to work, sit in the same chair or spot on the sofa.  We are, I think, creatures of habit, even the most spontaneous and adventurous of us.

Mixing in new things -- foods, venues, habits, goals, seems so important therefore to keep our brains from settling into ruts. Even enjoyable things can be ruts.

Trying to take some different tactics with my writing -- where I am while I do it. What approach I take to tackling the blank page. Pushing the limits of what I am comfortable with writing -- I tell people all the time that their best writing will feel vaguely uncomfortable to them because it is pushing their limits. Trying to put that into practice myself.

What are your writing ruts? I mean comfort zones?  How to you pull yourself away from them?

Love and words,


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On Writing Memoir

"Memoir is HOT. I should totally write one and cash in."

"My life is so interesting, it should totally be a book!"

"I'd love to write a memoir but I have trouble understanding what goes in do you write the story of your life?"

If you are a sometime reader of this little blog, you'd expect that the lines above are shoplifts, but they aren't.  They are parts of real conversations I've had with people -- writers and not-yet-writers alike -- in the last two weeks.

I've been musing on the subject of memoir because it keeps coming up, and what I think the discussions come down to is people wondering if they SHOULD write a memoir, if their stories are interesting enough, and if so what should they include.  I'm always a fan of encouraging people to write, and I've been searching for a concise way to express what I feel about this subject that still encourages people to work with the words.

From my perspective, memoir functions in two arenas:  commercial and non-commercial.  I make this distinction because while all personal stories and family histories are important, not all will be moneymakers.

If you have an interesting -- or even not-so-interesting -- life and want to chronicle your journey, or relate what you know of relative's journeys though this thing called life, as a way to document history for those who come after you, what a lovely gift to give the world.  But for me this might fall under the category of non-commercial.  An awesome endeavor, a potentially important one, but not one that is necessarily likely to sell a lot of copies outside your immediate family.  Family chronicles generally are of interest only to those whose families are chronicled. Important, but limited buying audience. Maybe.

To cross memoir over in the realm of commercial requires a platform of some sort, an angle which takes one's life story and creates something universal out if it.  In having this discussion I was asked several times, "How do I KNOW if I have a platform or an angle?"  Well, some are obvious.  Participation in historic events, major life changes, illness, recovery.  But some stories are small and personal and yet might have a great impact on readers out of their universal nature or message.

And I realized that from an audience perspective, memoir appeals to two primary groups who might be willing to spend money to read your story:  1) People who will never have your experience and will enjoy absorbing part of your life into their own, and 2) People who have had your experience and are happy that a story has been written to which they can relate.

For instance, I read Rhoda Janzen's "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress," and I adored it.  Funny, heartfelt, honest, and in some ways completely outside my life experience as I did not grow up in and then grow away from a Mennonite family.  Now I know a bit about what that would feel like, but also her stories were universal in the sense that everyone knows what it feels like to have weird family stuff and inter-family conflict in some way or another. Relatable.

If your life, or part of your life, would appeal to BOTH those groups, you have a memoir that is potentially commercial. 

In either case, commercial or non- you are obliged still to write the best, most interesting story you can. 

More on what actually goes in a memoir (and what you should leave out) in a future post.  For more reading on this topic though, William Zinsser (On Writing Well) has done some work in this arena and has a good approach to getting started, here on NPR.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blogging...About Blogging

Sigh. Poor neglected little blog sitting here all by its lonesome, wishing for some attention from me.

Well. Looks like I have some time for you baby.  My corporate gig has ended and I have a summer of writing and publishing ahead of me (also taking on some paid editing gigs to help with the transition -- email me if you have need and want a price quote).

I love shoplifting, but have gotten away from posting my  lifts here -- Facebook is just too easy to use right from a smart phone, I guess, and Blogger is not. 

I love talking and writing about writing and the writing life, but I have let myself get so busy that I have forgotten what it's like to reflect and analyze and muse.

In any case, blogging can be a great part of the overall marketing platform for writers and has come up so often in the last few weeks that, FINE, OKAY, I'll get back to it.

In light of that, here's an article about blogging for authors -- let me know if you have any thoughts on this topic.

As for me, I'll be trying to figure out what the hell I will post about later this week......