Archive for October, 2009

Editor’s Intensives

October 26, 2009

You may have seen some of my previous posts about the “editor intensive” workshops we have at the WD offices (a day of seminars, panels and workshops with editors and experts at WD covering topics about the craft and self promotion; and a one-on-one critique with an editor).

I’ve had a lot of good interactions with writers at these events and wanted to mention a few outstanding writers I’ve talked to who’ve taken the advice they’ve received and are working to build their author platforms and promote their projects:

  • Most recently I met Duane LeVick who is putting the finishing touches on a charming novel of adventure and coming of age in the beautiful and dangerous setting of Niagara Falls. It’s a rich story that blends great storytelling along with some fascinating historical facts about the area. After the Editor’s Intensive Duane began building a website for his novel and is working on some smaller works to shop around to literary magazines. Learn more about his novel, The Bridge, here
  • At a previous intensive I was very moved by writer Krissy Gallagher’s memoir about her son’s fight with cancer. It was more than just well-written, it presented the hardships her family has endured with an optimism and sense of humor that in light of the seriousness of her story made for a life affirming and very touching story. After meeting Krissy she started a blog to continue to share her journey and to build an audience for her book. Read her blog, The Luckiest, here

These are just a couple of the great people I’ve met at these workshops. If you’re interested in learning more about the editor intensive series click here. The next one is Dec 12-13.

Writer’s Digest Community

October 23, 2009

Looking for a place to connect with other writers? WD just launched a new community site (think Facebook, but only for writers). Check it out. Here’s a link: 

WD has a VIP Program

October 22, 2009

Hi everyone. Wanted to let you know that Writer’s Digest is offering a new package of some subscription products that we haven’t been able to combine until now. You can get a one year sub both Writer’s Digest magazine and access to for $49.95.

There are other perks as well. You’ll also get:

  • a free webinar recording ($99 value)
  • 10% off WOW courses
  • 10% off all WD Shop purchases

We’re calling it our VIP Program. It’s really a good deal… total retail value of $198.80 (if you were to buy the subs on a month-to-month basis).

Learn more about it here:

A conversation with author Becky Levine

October 21, 2009

BeckyLevineWDIf you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve seen some posts about Becky Levine’s book The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Becky as the editor for her book. It’s a book that I would recommend to any writer who is trying to get a book ready for publication. A critique group with honest and objective partners is one of the best assets you can find as a writer. The feedback and suggestions you’ll receive will help you improve your work by leaps and bounds, and offer you support as you seek publication.

Becky’s book gives you everything you need to find (or start) a writing critique group, and also the tools you need to read effectively, to craft critiques of your partner’s work, and to incorporate the feedback you receive into your own work.

Here’s a quick interview with Becky:

When did  you discover that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was growing up, we moved when I was nine  years old, and I always date things around the “old house” and the “new  house.” I don’t remember writing anything in the old house, but it was a huge  part of my life in the new house. I think the actual moment when I decided  this was what I wanted to do “when I grew up,” was when I was reading a  wonderful series of teen mysteries by Phyllis A. Whitney ( I  can remember holding one of those books and making the decision that I would  be a writer. Ms. Whitney had published several writing books, and I asked for  them all for various birthday and Christmas presents.

What was the first thing you wrote?

 The first thing I remember writing was a  short story about George Washington, that pretty much accused him of lying  about that cherry tree and then confessing, but not until he realized he was  going to get busted anyway. That may have been one of the stories I actually  sent to Redbook and Cosmopolitan magazines. Needless to say, they did not  publish me.

How much time per day do you spend writing?

 My time these days is pretty scattered. On a good  day, I can sit and write for a solid couple of hours and feel good about what  I’m getting on the page. But I think it’s more important that writers try to  get a chunk of writing time in each day, even if it’s only 20 or 30 minutes,  rather than waiting for the day they have a big open slot on the calendar. The  more often we come back to a project, the more fresh it is in our brain. If we  skip a few days, then too much of our “writing” time is used up by catching up  with the work we did in the last session, with bringing the story or other  project back into our writing minds.

Do you have any writing  rituals that get you in “the zone” (and if so, what are they)?

 I don’t have any real rituals–I’m actually a bit  jealous of those writers who do. It’s pretty much a requirement that I have a  cup of tea on my desk, if I want to write. And I read somewhere that if you  pick a piece of music, a specific CD, to write to every day, that your brain  gets trained to respond to that familiarity and get moving in the right  direction. When I remember to do this, it seems to work. So far the best music  I’ve found to write to is Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s album Metapedia. ( It’s kind  of folksy, and a lot of it is in French, so I don’t find myself singing along  and losing the writing connection.
What are the last 5 books you read?

 Well, I read at least 3 or 4 books a week, and  once they’re back on the shelf, I don’t remember which came first. So I’ll  just pick five of the most recent that I loved.

  • Fire, by Kristin Cashore
  • Zen and the Art of Faking It, by Jordan  Sonnenblick
  • A Time for Gathering: The Second Migration  1820-1880, by Hasia R. Diner
  • Winter and Night, by S .J.  Rozan  
  • Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of  Growing Up Iranian in America, by Firoozeh  Dumas

Your book champions the benefits of  critique groups—can you share a success story from your own critique  group?

 In the Q&A on Writer’s Digest page for THE  WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE(, I talked about Terri Thayer’s ( success with her  two mystery series. Everybody in my critique group, though, has finished a  book or more, done deep revisions, and submitted those projects to agents and  editor. We’ve all gotten to the point where agents are requesting our full  manuscripts and sending us complimentary notes along with the rejections,  encouraging us to submit more writing to them in the future. I don’t  think it’s any coincidence that we’ve been critiquing together for several  years and are all moving so strongly forward on the path toward publication.  We may not all be there yet, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we will  be.

Learn more about The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide

Visit Becky’s website & blog

Still Getting Calls About Monsters

October 20, 2009

Z0676It’s been a couple of years since my book Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America was published, but I still get calls about it. This morning I spoke with someone from the Washington Post who was researching an article about monsters. It cracks me up when people walk by and I’m on the phone talking about legends of Wendigo or werewolves. Yes, it’s work-related… seriously.

Interview With WD Annual Competition Winner

October 16, 2009

John Moir Photo_2Here’s an extended interview with Writer’s Digest Annual Competition winner and author of Return of the Condor John Moir.

Writing & Critique Groups News

October 16, 2009

Author Becky Levine

Author Becky Levine

Becky Levine’s The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide is off to press soon. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on this book and wanted to post a couple of links to an excerpt from the book and a Q&A with Becky.

Read an Excerpt from The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide

Check out a Q&A with Becky about her book and about writing in general


October 16, 2009


Hello, my name is Rumor. I'd like to bite your face. It's just what I do.

Hello, my name is Rumor. I'd like to bite your face. It's just what I do.

Ah, Friday. I’m in a good mood today. I’ve got a couple of things to read today, my deadlines are all under control and no meetings. Part of my mood probably has to do with the new kitten my wife and I got the other night. Check her out.

New kitten aside, I’ve got a few quick WD related news items:

Nov/Dec Issue of WD

October 15, 2009

WD1209The new issue of WD is on newstands. I’m excited partly because it contains an article by yours truly (and also because it’s simply a great issue). 

My article is about our annual contest winner John Moir, who is a nature writer and author of Return of the Condor. Other articles include an interview with Audrey Niffenegger, 12 Literary Journals that agents read and lots more.

You can buy the issue online here

Q&A from authors of Publish Your Nonfiction Book

October 15, 2009


Martin and Flacco discuss navigating the rough waters of the publishing industry.

Martin and Flacco discuss navigating the rough waters of the publishing industry.

Check out this interview with authors Sharlene Martin and Anthony Flacco as they discuss the publishing industry, writing practices, writing groups and more.

Order a copy here.