NaNo Day 17 – Quote of the Day

I saw this from a Pep Talk email  by Alexander Chee. I thought, this is the hardest thing for me to do. I’m always giving my writing time to others, and later, I feel guilty for it.

One more habit: if someone asks you to do something during your writing time, say no. Protect your writing time at all costs. If this is something you’ve wanted to do for years, chances are there’s a part of you that feels like a friend who gets ditched every time. That part of you is waiting to do this. They are also afraid you’ll ditch. Don’t do it. Not this month. Show up and write.

Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the NightHe is a contributing editor at The New Republic, and an editor at large at VQR.

Writing Insight: September – Reading Inspiration

As the old saying goes: “Writers write, and writers read.” A few years ago in an online writers discussion group, someone asked what we (as writers) read. Most people listed certain genres – biography, historical fiction, fantasy, etc. I don’t remember my exact answer, but my wording was something along the lines of reading across genres (I think I said something smart like “I read fiction and non-fiction”).

A lot of the reading I do falls into 1 or more of 3 categories: 1) entertainment 2) writing  resource or example 3) something for class.  And most of the time, these tomes are across genres. In any case, my slightly weird answer got an offline question that I just dug up from my messaging archives today:

I found your comment very interesting. That the only genres you read are fiction or non-fiction. You are the first reader I’ve heard of who doesn’t read based on the genres they like. How do you find books to read? How do you find new authors?

Here’s my answer. Maybe through it, you to can find something to read to help bolster your writing.

I find books/authors to read in several ways: If I am finding something strictly for myself (reading entertainment), it’s almost always fiction, and it’s based on the subject. Subject may lead to a certain subgenre frequently, it may not. Most of the time I read based on what I want to see or what I’m doing as a writer. That’s how I found Jennifer Weiner’s books, & Jane Greene’s (sp) novels, etc. (which are all in the same genre I realize.) I needed to see how people wrote about the process of falling in love (not romance novel: real, dysfunctional, etc), and it led me to some fun reading just for my entertainment.

A lot of the time if I read something by an author I really like I end up reading all of their books. I started with Anne Tyler’s “The Accidental Tourist” because I like how she portrays characters, and now I have read through 1/2 of her books. I started with her books, because I was reading only Pulitzer Prize winning or nominated novels [/authors] at the time (because I wanted my book to have a certain level of writing). As you probably know, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” is a different subgenre that Anne Tyler’s “Breathing Lessons.”

I am in 3 book clubs, 2 of them read different subgenres. And 2 of them have book swaps. So, lots of different authors.

One year, I wanted to see what was up with the whole vampire trend, so I started reading several authors and happened upon the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

And I’m an English teacher, so I read the classics, of course.

Basically I move from one book to another, based on the writing style of the author or the subject. Usually I find more books from search engine suggestions on my public library’s site (“if you like this author, you’ll like”) or book-buying sites. And there’s also word-of-mouth.

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“Writing Insight” feature posts occur monthly and will focus on some part of writing inspiration, technique and process. I welcome any questions you have about the writing process (as I am also a writing professor). Please post your questions in the comments below, and I will answer them in future “Writing Insight” Posts!

In a future “Writing Insight” post, I will talk about some self-published novels that defy the stigma: well done, high caliber, engaging story.  If you have a suggestion (or a review) that you would like mentioned, Fill out the form below to let me know about it!

The waiting and the wave

My first rejections for my first novel manuscript came in this weekend, and I’m glad I have prepared myself for them. Discovering recent posts about rejection (some links to those here) and just being in writing groups for several years and getting a feel of this process was a big plus in the preparation.  The only thing I wasn’t prepared for  is the actual giddiness and . . . dare I say . . . elation I felt receiving them. For those who’ve done this before, you may never have felt this or don’t remember feeling this. I can only attribute it to me knowing that someone has read my work (other than my friends or my beta readers –which are, for me, friend-adjacent) and commented on it on a professional scale. And – surprise! – they didn’t say it was crap! That makes me feel good. It makes me feel hopeful. And it prepares me for the next wave of submissions and inevitable rejections.

For those who are about to start the query process (or even if you’re in it), here are a few tips and some motivation that may help you through it.

Striving for . . .Rejection?

The internet has been great for writers who just want to be read. . .put your stuff on a blog, publish it to a website like Scribd. or even your own;  it’s there for life. Sometimes you get paid; most of the time you don’t. But if you want to get more exposure, upgrade your writer status, publish something longer than a few hundreds words, or – dare I say – get paid for your writing, querying publishers, agents, magazine editors is still the way to go. And also to get a lot of rejections along the way.

For most writers, the rejection is inevitable. It’s almost the only sure thing in the publishing process. Until now, I’ve always made a goal for 1 or 2 acceptances. But I’ve read several articles and commentary that suggest otherwise–to make a goal for a certain number of rejections instead. A great one that I found via Erika Dreifus’ Friday Finds for Writers blog written by Pushcart Prize Nominee Kim Liao explains “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year”. A great response article by Laura Maylene Walter explains how she “received 215 rejections in 2015”.

For me, a good rejection is one that has helpful feedback on it. That feedback helps me get one step closer to the dream of being published.  While an acceptance is nice, it’s also rare. Considering having a rejection goal keeps you writing and not wanting to instead drown yourself in a bottle or throw yourself off a cliff.

For writers (aka touting the FB Author Page and Writer’s Insight)

As I was looking over my Facebook Author page activity, I noticed several gems of advice and articles for writers that are only present in the FB world. If you are on Facebook, check out and “like” my Author Page (you can click below or  click here to access.)

There are also some great comments only on Facebook for my first Q&A  on my “Writer’s Insight” Monthly post. If you missed what Writer’s Insight was all about, you can check that out HERE.  If you missed the first Q&A, that’s HERE.  And if you want to ask a question for future “Writer’s Insight” posts, then ask it in the comments below.

Great Tips for Authors interested in Self-publishing

This is a short-and-sweet but informative article by Kealan Patrick Burke with some great tips for authors who are thinking of going into self-publishing.  He doesn’t say much about editing, but what he says should be a hard and fast rule.  Many in the publishing/media industry look down on self-published authors because they skimp on editing (and end up with unreadable stuff). Yes, kids: the grammar you forgot from middle and elementary school will come back to haunt you.

I can identify with parts of his career story, and he gives some great advice. Check it out here.

Defining some agent terms

Now that I’m actively shopping my book to agents, I’ve had to do a lot of research. Some of the lingo I’m coming across in agents’ bios even I don’t understand, and I’ve researched agents before. Yesterday, I had to Google what speculative fiction was. (FYI: it’s any fiction that imagines a different world–sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction, time travel, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff.)

I came across this post from Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity, a blog I subscribe to. This is a good starter for some of the words you may see if you are querying an agent.

Source: What Agents Want: Making Sense of Submissions