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Stephanie Evanovich: Her Latest Novel THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and Thoughts for Writers

 

 

By Susanne Marie Poulette

Stephanie E

Author Stephanie Evanovich

 

Stephanie Evanovich describes herself a Jersey girl from Asbury Park. She began writing fiction while waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She is a full-time writer and author of BIG GIRL PANTIES, THE SWEET SPOT, and soon, THE TOTAL PACKAGE, to be released on March 15th. Stephanie is a mom of two sons, an avid sports fan, and holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your thoughts on THE TOTAL PACKAGE, for your wisdom for aspiring authors and your lively sense of humor.

 

Q:  Without dropping a spoiler, please tell us what you think readers will like most in THE TOTAL PACKAGE.

SEE:  I think they’ll like meeting up with old friends while making new ones. 

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Q:  Again, without spoiling, what message do you want readers to take away from the book?

SEE:  That sometimes love really is forever.  There really are a lot of definitions to the word “redemption.” 

Q: THE TOTAL PACKAGE will be released not long after Super Bowl 2016. Tyson is an NFL player itching for a Super Bowl ring. Is the timing of this launch a coincidence, or is this a very naïve question?  

SEE:  If I had my way The Total Package would have launched at the Super Bowl.  But I know there’s a method to the timing so we can be naïve together. 

Q:  Do readers ever confuse you with your aunt, author Janet Evanovich? (I admit, when your first book was published, in my confusion I thought for a minute that Stephanie Plum had taken up the proverbial pen!)

SEE:  Now that this is my third book it doesn’t happen much anymore.  The sweetest surprise has been the occasional message from a reader who picked me up and found a new author to enjoy. 

Q:  I thoroughly enjoyed your keynote address at the Unicorn Writers Conference last summer. At the time, you addressed your path to publishing success. For my readers, will you tell a little about your experience in getting your first book published by a major press?

SEE:  Like any job search it’s a magical mixture of doing the work and making the connections.  In my travels I’ve learned that every author’s path to publication is different, but they are all the result of tenacity, a little bit of luck and believing in the story you’re itching to tell. 

Q:  Do you follow a particular writing routine and/or method of plotting your stories?  Do you recommend one routine or method over another?

SEE:  I do a lot of plotting while driving.  My writing routine starts early in the morning, from 5 -9 AM.  And from there I’m flexible.  If I’m having a great session I’ll keep going.  If it’s not a great session I give myself permission to walk away and do something fun.  Knock wood, it hasn’t failed me yet, but every day you’ve got to “BIC” it.  (BIC = Butt In Chair)

Presentation1Q:  Here it is. You might be dreading it. I would understand if this question bores you into a coma, but writers really lap up this stuff: What advice do you give to aspiring writers?  

SEE:  I don’t recommend any routine over another.  And the reason why is because there is so much advice out there that if I listen to too much of it, I end up feeling like I’m doing it wrong.  The only advice I have is about advice:  learn to chew the meat and spit out the bones.  And the truth is there is no right way – nothing kills creativity quite like too much advice.

                       big girl panties            images

Q:  So, Stephanie, what does it mean to be a Jersey Girl? And can you sing “Sherry?”

SEE:  To me being a “Jersey Girl” only means you are a girl born in the great state of New Jersey, and there are more types of us than you can count.   Yes, I can sing “Sherry” loud and proud – not sure that you’d enjoy it though. My singing could attract Jersey wildlife.  

Q:  Anything at all, that you would like to add?

SEE: I’ll be on tour – mostly East coast for the month of March.  I love meeting readers.  Check my website for a town near you — www.stephanieevanovich.com

quill

Again, thank you so very much, Stephanie Evanovich, and I’m sure we would all enjoy your version of SHERRY!

© Susanne Marie Poulette

 

 

 

 

 

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WRITE ON!

Presentation1

 

Back to the keyboard…

 

Now that my children’s book, LIAM LABRADOODLE LEARNS WHOLE BODY LISTENING has launched along with my website, wholebodylistening.org, I want to thank all my readers for your encouragement, comments, and support. If you are a teacher, parent, grandparent or caregiver of young children, I invite you to stop by the website and find good listening fun and resources to share.  51ADQ9MWdFL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m happy to report some great news, especially for Peggy Morehouse Strack fans. Peggy will be returning to The Writers’ Loop from time to time as a contributor. She has plans lined up to attend author readings and will write reports for us. Peggy is scheduled to hear Debbie Macomber read from her latest novel, A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON. I won’t let the proverbial cat of out the bag by revealing the other authors on Peggy’s calendar, but hint-hint, you might find an idea on the EVENTS page.  

              y648

In March, I’ll be thrilled to post my interview with author Stephanie Evanovich. Her latest novel, THE TOTAL PACKAGE, will be released in mid-March. I attended Stephanie’s keynote address at the Unicorn Writers Conference last summer, and became acquainted with her sparkling sense of humor. She’s a hoot. If you enjoy laughing and steamy you-know-what, you can start now by reading her previous novels, THE SWEET SPOT and BIG GIRL PANTIES.

 

 

Presentation2Plans are also underway for a continuing series of Q & A with aspiring authors. This is intended to share ideas and spread encouragement among the writing community. The hope is to stimulate discussion through questions and comments by writers and followers of the blog. All are welcome to participate as soon as we are up and running. Please leave a comment and let me know if you’re interested.

 

Here in the Great Northeast, our temperatures have dropped, snow has fallen, the winds are whipping up, and it’s a lovely time to curl up with a good read, or…with a journal and pen. minet-reading-001-fixed-for-blog kitties writing aug 2015 004Whether you’re looking around and seeing nothing but snow, or if you’re in a warm climate surrounded by flowers or watching graceful waves washing across a sandy beach — instead of simply snapping a photo, why not describe it in writing and express how it makes you feel?  Do it for yourself. It’s very therapeutic and great for your brain.

                                                                                                          © Susanne Marie Poulette

 

 


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“Liam Labradoodle Learns Whole Body Listening”

by Susanne Marie Poulette

I’ve finally done it! I’ve been off the grid for a few weeks, but not away from my keyboard, storyboard, or drawing board. I’ve been busy writing, illustrating, and publishing my children’s story book. Liam and Lily Labradoodle entertain as they teach their listening skills lesson in this delightful read-aloud story for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first and second graders. Here’s a little about the story:

51ADQ9MWdFL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_“Liam Labradoodle misses out on stories that his teacher reads to the class because he does not know HOW to listen. His sister Lily is an excellent listener and teaches Liam how to listen using his whole body. Their teacher, Miss Bun E. Hare, is happy with Liam’s new listening skills and asks him to explain to the class just HOW he listens so well. Children are often told to pay attention and listen, without tangible listening tools to work with. Liam’s story teaches Whole Body Listening, which suggests concrete listening behaviors, perhaps the how-to’s of listening. Liam learns to look at his teacher while she reads stories to the class, he thinks about what he hears and gets the most from the story. Liam also tries to keep his body quiet so that he can listen and avoid distracting himself and others. These bouncy labradoodles, Liam and Lily, entertain as they teach their lesson. Their enchanting read-aloud story will delight preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first and second graders.”

lily and l for back cover

Lily said, “Let’s be still for a whole minute. We’ll just sit here and think about listening. We’ll listen to whatever we can hear.”

© 2015 Susanne Poulette

The book is now available on Amazon.  It is reasonably priced in order to make it affordable for parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers, and all their Little Ones. Click on the book cover or here to check it out.

To learn more about Whole Body Listening, you’re invited to visit my website wholebodylistening.org.


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Interview with Vanitha Sankaran, author of WATERMARK

By Susanne Marie Poulette

When I attended the Breakout Novel Intensive workshop last April, I had the pleasure of meeting Vanitha Sankaran, author of Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages (Harper Collins/Avon, 2010),  I must admit that once I started reading her book, I couldn’t put it down.  I was captivated by the protagonist and the beautiful flow of language in her story.  Vanitha kindly agreed to this interview, which I believe will demonstrate the depth and richness of Watermark.

WATERMARK

  • Your protagonist is such a strong, resilient, free-thinking woman, set in the Middle Ages. What inspired the development of Auda’s character? 

To be honest, the character concept came about in a very strange way. When I started what was then a short story, I was not a serious writer, per se. Writing had been a passion of mine since I was very young, but I had set it aside for a more practical career as a biomedical scientist. This story popped out when I was writing my dissertation, and was actually about a very ugly girl (who was the daughter of a   papermaker) who had captured the attention of an aspiring artist. He wanted to draw the unusual turn of her lips, the mismatched slant of her eyes, the strange way she looked at the world and didn’t notice other people making fun of her. He used her father’s paper for his early sketches and made a good sum off them, and of course left her behind and he moved onwards and upwards.

That story didn’t work out, possibly because I didn’t want to write about a girl taken advantage of. I wanted to write about an unusual girl who didn’t fit in, but because she was so far ahead of her peers. Thus was Auda born.

 

  • What was the significance in choosing mutism for Auda?
VanithaSankaran-200x300

                        Vanitha Sankaran

As a historical fiction author and a scientist, realism is never far from my writing. Books and films have seen a surge over the past two decades in terms of having strong capable women as protagonists, and that’s a great thing for literature. I have no doubt strong women have always existed, but perception of what strength means has obviously changed through the years. In this book, Auda’s strength was her thirst for her knowledge, her interest and ability in reading. But I had to need a good reason why the daughter of craftsman would know how to read—again, the realism. Mutism gave me a way for Auda to be that intelligent girl who wrote as a way to find her true voice.

  • You did extensive research on medieval France, including daily life amid widespread Church corruption, as well as the role of papermaking in those times. Were there any particular challenges you met in writing this historical novel?

It’s funny you mention Church corruption because this very well-trodden truth was one facet of my novel that was the hardest for me. It has become fashionable to malign the Catholic Church and especially in the Middle Ages, that reputation is well deserved. But at the same time, I was interested in exploring other nuances behind the Church’s actions. For me, that involved searching for the whys of someone who truly believed burning heretics was saving their souls from a much worse fate. Drawing out that personality was, for me, much harder than researching the ways of medieval life in south France (especially since I have enough of a background in French that I could decipher the much serendipitous books I found about Narbonne in that era). 

  • In reading Watermark, many themes resonated for me. I was particularly struck by the human suffering and gender injustices bred by religious fervor, still rampant in today’s world. Was your intention to make a connection to these present day issues?

Yes, and not just in the human condition, but also in how we develop new ways of communication each other, and how that new communication changes things. As with the advent of paper, the Internet and social media have changed the way we communicate profoundly. A girl who cannot read, has no value as determined by her religion except as property to a man, and who suffers terrible abuse can reach to others like her or those who can help much easier with the Internet. Or, at least, her plight can see the light of day. In its time, paper was also a way for regular people to hear truths they were blind to before. The issues I wrote about in Watermark are still true to today, and sadly, will be true for a long time. But how we overcome injustices and suffering, and how our response continues to change and grow is the connection I really wanted to make.

  • Your book cover is rich and inviting, and the elegant simplicity of your title is intriguing. How did you decide on a one-word title?  Was it your own idea to imbed Martin’s watermark in the cover design?

I had a great cover designer, for certain! I’m not sure whose idea it was to incorporate the watermark in the design but the watermark is something I made out of wire and played with as I explored homemade papermaking using medieval recipes. The title, which I think fits the novel on many different levels, was suggested to me by a writer colleague, Ejner Fulsang.

  • How long did it take to write Watermark? Did it take longer to write it or revise it?

Start to finish the whole process took 8 years. Of course in that time, I had to learn the writing process, or rather my process, finish up my Ph.D., complete an MFA in writing, and hold down a job. J But I think that type of schedule is true for most writers—how many of us can make a living off of our books alone? That said, it was definitely the revising that took longer for me. I knew the start and end of my novel when I began it in earnest, and some of the major highlights. Writing the first draft was painful, but reading it was even more so because I knew how much work it needed to be ready to submit to an agent. But others are lot smarter, quicker, more talented than I am, so no one should take 8 years as any sort of standard!

  • Do you have a particular writing routine that works best for you?

The morning are most productive for me, partly because my attention is focused and partly because I have come to understand that if I don’t make time for my novel, no one else is going to do it for me. Writing my freelance articles and grants, cleaning the house, doing laundry—all of that is important to do but after I get in some good writing hours. Leaving the home from time to time is also a good thing. Not only is it a change of scenery (and research for new character nuances), but it trains you not to be tied to one routine. Have 20 min at the bank? Write some notes to yourself. An hour at the doctor’s? Sketch out a scene. It’s the writing that is important—now when or where or even hw you do it.

  • Are you currently working on another writing project?

Yes. I am working on another historical novel, this time about how printed propaganda sways an election in Renaissance Venice, and also a young adult novel that explores how the existence of other worlds has affected our mythologies and beliefs.

  • What advice would you give to budding novelists like me, who never seem to be finished revising their manuscripts?

quillKeep writing. Write more. If your current story isn’t working, put it aside and work on something else. Analyze books that you love. Learn why they work. Then come back to your project and look at what you are missing. Writing Watermark took me 8 years. Writing the second book is almost taking me as long, because I am working on a different project from a different point of view. That’s okay with me (most days). I want to keep learning, and I think that learning process bears out in every author’s writing.

But most of all, don’t lose faith in yourself. There’s plenty of other writers who won’t believe in you. Believe in yourself, and when you feel the book is done, send it out and  listen to the feedback you get. No one said this was easy. But it is worth it.

  • Is there anything that you would like to add for our readers?

If you love a book that you read, tell someone about it. It could be loaning a copy to a best friend, telling your community librarian, or sharing why you loved it online. The thing that absolutely connects writers and readers is our love for a good story. And if you’re a writer who loves someone else’s work, that goes double! Good books propagates more good books, and there are never enough.

Thank you! I am so honored you wanted me to be a part of your blog! – Vanitha

Thank YOU, Vanitha Sankaran

To learn more about Vanitha Sankaran, visit her website: http://www.vanithasankaran.com/

 


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So, How’s YOUR Novel Coming Along?

By Susanne Marie Poulette

Yes, we’re already 5 days into NaNoWriMo, that is, November’s National Novel Writing Month.  This means that we only have twenty-five days left to write thumb-1330516229411-img_864150,000 words, that is, if we haven’t already put our noses to the grindstone, or more specifically, to the keyboard.

NaNoWriMo issues a challenge to write 50,000 words from the beginning to the end of November.  There are write-ins across the nation where future bestselling authors are gathered, hunched over their electronic devices, pecking away, each creating that coveted magnum opus that is sure to seal a deal.  Whether writers are grouped or individual, the NaNoWriMo website provides an online community of support and motivation.  The idea is to get the 50,000 words written. No procrastinating, no excuses, no kidding, period. The stated goal is first draft completion, not perfection. Editing and revision take place later on, during some other thirty day marathon.

I’ve noticed that some writers pooh-pooh NaNoWriMo.  Maybe they’re purists, or realists?  Others say it’s just the right catalyst they need to get their ideas from gray matter to finger tips.  If NaNoWriMo  motivates folks to follow their dreams, so be it.  I think writing leads us to discover our creativity and yields a sense of accomplishment, whether or not our coffee-stained, dog-eared manuscripts find their way to a bookstore shelf.  Writing for the pleasure it brings. 

What do you think?  I’d love to read your comments.

I know I couldn’t write 50,000 words of quality work with unforgettable characters in just 30 days. Hats off to anyone who has done this. You are a better writeslowboattochina_zpsd36485aer than I am. My own novel, coming along on the SS Slow Boat from China, has lived about 2600 – 3000 days, and is still a work in progress.

For anyone interested, Writer’s Digest has an online article, NaNoWriMo Prep: 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days, by Jessica Strawser.  Click on the boat to follow the link and learn more.   ~~

 

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Clifton Park – Halfmoon Library, October 2015. Photo by SMPoulette

Speaking of writing novels, and sorry about this lame segue, I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr, thanks to the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library.  Doerr’s book, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE,all the light (2) has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 77 weeks, to date.  If you haven’t read the book, I won’t spoil it. I will give the basics, however.  This story takes place in France during World War II, with a blind French girl, and a German boy with a genius for radio waves (which exist, but which we cannot see).

 

Doerr explained his writing process for this novel, and rather than thirty days, this one took a decade.  (Ten years! Be still my heart, there might be hope for me yet.) He described his writing as putting together pieces of a large puzzle, beginning with his time spent in France garnering ideas, imagery, story line, and characters, and his research in period history as well as the nature and physics of light.  His book is written from two main points of view, and his chapters switch between the two main characters, and then alternate in time, non-sequentially from before, during, and after the war.

Many of the 187 chapters are short, some just a single page.  Doerr said he did not write the chapters in the order that a reader would read them.  For instance, he worked on the ending long before he wrote the middle chapters. Sometimes he worked longer on the German boy’s sections, and then on the blind girl’s story, following wherever the muse took him.Anthon D

If  interested, go to Doerr’s website to read some of his work online, and watch actor Damian Lewis reading from Doerr’s story “The Deep.”  Click on Anthony Doerr’s photo to reach his website.   ~~

 

John-glasses-bw-high-res-199x3002John Irving has an interesting writing process.  He’s currently on tour with his latest novel, AVENUE OF MYSTERIES.  I caught his recent interview on the Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert.

Camera    Click on the camera to watch Irving explain his writing process.

story time clip artTo watch Irving having fun reading a bedtime story in a skit with Colbert, click on the chicken.  Full disclosure: this video might make you laugh.

It seems remarkable to me that Irving hand writes all his novels.  He explained that handwriting allows time for fewer mistakes, in a pace that he believes is right for him. Going slowly, he takes a long time to develop characters with whom one can sympathize.

Irving told  Shaul Schwarz of Writers Write that he irving-avenue-mysteries-30-45not only writes in longhand, but he uses both sides of the paper. He added that when he was writing THE CIDER HOUSE RULES he came to the realization that he writes best when starting with the ending of the story. Irving said this technique “never lets him down.”  He writes the last sentence of a story, and then “writes toward that sentence.”  Fascinating, but it boggles my linear mind.

Irving’s first novel, SETTING FREE THE BEARS, was published in 1968.  THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, Irving’s fourth, won the National Book Award in 1980 and was his first international bestseller. In 2000, John Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for THE CIDER HOUSE RULES.  For more about John Irving, click on his book to link to his website.    ~~

 

 

 cal for blogSo, I’ll ask again, how’s your novel coming along? No interest in writing?  That’s ok too.  Certainly, writers need readers, in fact we love them.  What would we do without them?

Whether writers are pounding out 50,000 words in thirty days, or taking more time, as described by John Irving and Anthony Doerr, the point is, just go ahead and do it. It’s your story, from your heart, you’re the boss of it, and no one can tell you it’s wrong. As my dear friend Peggy says, quoting Wayne Dwyer, “Don’t die with your music still inside you…”  If you have a story to tell, find your voice, take as long as you want, and enjoy sharing it in your own good time.  I’d love to read it.                                                 

©  Susanne Marie Poulette

 

 

 

 

 


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SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE…BOOK DEAL?

How long does it take to write a book, including revisions?

“What?  You wrote a novel in one year?  That’s crazy, it takes years to write a novel.” This was a friend’s response when I gave her the news.  At the time, I thought she was really off base.  Years?  What was she thinking? 

eight lives to finish novelBut here we are, a century later, and I’m still revising, rewriting, and rethinking my manuscript. Well, it hasn’t been exactly a century, but it feels like it. It’s a little less than that—let’s make that seven years later. So I’m the unwitting proof of my friend’s hypothesis.    

Writing my novel has been a slow and steady labor of love. It must be the longest labor ever experienced by any woman who ever roamed this planet.  I’m hoping for the day when this baby is finished gestating! 

I’m wondering:

Fellow WRITERS, how about you?  How long have you been working on the same project?  If you’ve completed your book and its revisions, how long did it take?

Fellow READERS, when you’re deep into a great read, do you ever wonder how long it took the author to write that book?                                                                                           

snoopy_writing

Online and in magazines for writers, I’ve seen trillions of articles, businesses, books, and other opportunities that practically guarantee writing success in its many forms.  I started a search to find the remedy to my snail’s pace and lack of progress in snagging an agent.  Reading the titles, I became rapturously encouraged and giddy with hope that I had found my manuscript’s deliverance.  Yes, with these resources and a few months of installment payments, I could be published!  No doubt.  Can you say: SUCCESS

I’d like to share my findings with you, but to protect the innocent, I’m only offering titles in these lists.  (You’re welcome to Google, too. Remember, “God helps those who help themselves.”)  I’ll also share my comments and questions, FYI.  Have fun!

My List of Sure-Fire Paths to Publication

On writing a best seller…

best seller

How To Write A Bestseller In 40 Days Or Less

How To Write A Bestseller In A Weekend

Well, I’ll be…did I waste eight years of writing?  Dang.

~~~

On writing just plain successful novels…

sucess

How To Write A Successful Novel 

How To Write Successful Nonfiction

I get it now— successful books take longer to write than best sellers. 

~~~

On secrets…

Self-Publishing Secrets

The Secret To Writing A Bestselling Novel ~ Tell me!  Tell me!

Are they really SECRETS if they’re all over the internet?

~~~

On learning how to write…

school_desk

The Best Writing Instruction On The Web – New Workshops Start Weekly 

How To Add Tension In Your Scenes  ~ Eh, I’ve got plenty of tension already. 

Top Ten Errors Writers Make That Editors Hate  ~ Yeah, but if writers didn’t make errors, would editors still have jobs? 

~~~

On getting started…

How To Hook Your Reader   hook In The First Sentence

Get An Agent With Your First 10 Pages

Eight Things First-Time Novelists Need To Avoid 

How about eight things first-time novelists need to DO?

~~~

On the subject of query letters…

killer whale

How To Write A Killer Query

How Not To Write A Killer Query

Huh? But I don’t want to KILL an agent!

~~~

The Holy Grail, better known as getting published…

HolyGrail

Learn How To Write And Publish Your Memoir In 10 Painless Steps!  ~ Ibuprofen?

Write And Sell Your Mystery, Suspense, Or Thriller Novel For Any Market

How To Get Your Book Published In Six Painful Steps  — Ouch.

How To Get Your Nonfiction Book Published By A Mainstream Publisher

Step By Step Guide To Publishing Your Novel

How To Get Your Book Published – For Dummies  ~Yada yada, I want to know how THIS dummy gets published! 

~~~

On your writing career…

money_books

Get Paid For Your Writing     ~ Ya think?   

                                Write For Publication!  ~ Duh, what else would I do with it?  Stock the OUTHOUSE?

Enhance Your Writing Career In 3 Months

How To Be A Ghostwriter     ~ Do I have to be dead to be a ghostwriter?

~~~

Before you give up…

don't give up

It’s Time To Finally Get Published

Publish Your Book Today!

Piece of cake…eh?

       ©  Susanne Marie Poulette

      


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My Takeaways From The Unicorn Writers’ Conference

By Susanne Marie Poulette

unicorn 004

It was another great conference this year.  Kudos to Jan Kardys, and all the dedicated organizers and staff of the Unicorn Writers’ Conference!  Now, my takeaways, as promised:

♦ Stephanie Evanovich gave the keynote address. She’s as funny in person as she is in print, a first class comedian with a drama background, and what a hoot.  Stephanie told about her path to publication, much faster than the typical book launch, but nothing to do with the surname she shares with her aunt, Janet Evanovich.  Although she hasn’t suffered the throes of years of rejections like so many of us, Stephanie made it clear that she understands the frustrations of trying to snag a book deal. Her message was one of encouragement.  She urged writers to persevere, to have confidence in their writing and in their voices, and resist giving up in the face of rejection.  She cautioned against reading one’s own reviews.  Stephanie EStephanie cited an example of a criticism made to her about point-of-view, saying that it threw her for a loop (my words, not an exact quote, but that’s the idea).  I admit that I had the very same experience in a writing group, that sent me reeling, but also sent me researching extensively.  I learned that some comments can be well meaning and helpful, but they can also be incorrect and derail the writing process.

Stephanie said each reviewer has their own opinion, and we can’t please them all.  The important thing is to keep writing and growing as a writer.  She gave big girl pantiesa great example of a poor review when someone apparently got caught up in a Tangle of Names.  The confused reviewer wrote that “Evanovich” should stick to writing about her long-time protagonist, Stephanie Plum—who, by the way, is the star of her Aunt Janet’s series.  So much for reviews, eh?  I do want to add that I just picked up Stephanie’s latest book.  I have this annoying habit of laughing out loud while reading, (it annoys others, not me) and this book doesn’t help me break that pattern.  If you like a good laugh, you’ll enjoy Big Girl Panties.

 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

♦ Beena Kamlani is a senior editor at Penguin Viking, an award winning author, and professor.  Due to a review appointment, I attended only the first half of her workshop on editing. How I wish I could have heard more.  I’d love to pop downstate to Hunter College and take her editing course.  She speaks beautifully about the art of writing. I’ll share my snippets:

Memoir: Never overextend the readers, let the book reveal your story, bit by bit. Immediacy is important, let readers drink it in, in the present tense. Make them see what you saw, and let your feelings for what you saw speak to them.

Fiction: Drop breadcrumbs for the reader and follow through with a reason for everything. Don’t reveal too much all at once. Dramatize, don’t tell everything. All dialog has to have a reason, but what characters don’t say is as important as what they do say. It heightens interest when the reader doesn’t know. Think about what makes you turn the page. Don’t refresh the reader’s memory, trust the reader to remember, and continue on with your story.

Click on the book for a video of Beena Kamlani describing how a developmental editor works with an author on the path to publication:

♦ Lane Heymont, literary agent and author, presented “World Building,” that is, creating settings.  He described the infrastructure of a story, creating a consistent society with norms, culture, and rules.  Setting needs a history to give the sense of its existence.  It should be realistic, using the five senses to build a unique world, but it has to make sense.  Share the world of your setting throughout the book, not all at once, and get to the action right away.

Lane suggests making a setting sketch and provided a downloadable handout for those who attended his workshop.  Since it’s out there on the web, it may be fair game if you want to take a peek: http://laneheymont.com/blog/.

 

Reid Castle, Unicorn Writers' Conference, August, 2015

Reid Castle, Unicorn Writers’ Conference, August, 2015

♦ Eliza Shallcross, author, editor, and copywriter with 30 years of experience, presented “Book Copy as a Marketing Tool.”  Before this workshop, I didn’t have a clue about “book cover copy,” or any of its numerous components.  Apparently, book cover copy services ( good tongue twister?) are part of the traditional publishing process, but I wonder how many self-publishing authors are aware of all the marketing factors involved in cover copy.  So what is it?  It applies to all types of books, hardcover, mass market paperback, trade paperback, and eBook. It’s everything that goes on a book’s front and back covers, and flaps.  It’s the artwork, title, tag line (short teaser), author’s name with photo and biography, quotes from reviews, story description, and more, all within word count limitations.  The book cover itself is the marketing tool, appealing to the reader and growing the author’s readership. Eliza Shallcross provides individual editing and copywriting services. You can find her at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizashallcross.

_pearls_of_wisdom

Sorry, but I’m hoarding the pearls of wisdom from my two excellent one-to-one manuscript review sessions (first 40 pages).  All kidding aside, the reviews were invaluable, and I’m hard at work making revisions based on their suggestions. The Unicorn Writers’ Conference provides these affordable, 30-minute sessions with agents, editors, and speakers.  I hope you can attend this conference and the review session opportunities next year.

© S M Poulette

 

 


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Does Oops! Have a Plural?

By Susanne Marie Poulette

The writers’ conference was great, and I’ll have takeaways for you in my next post.  But first I want to share my Genre Dinner experience.  It was a new event this year, on the Friday evening before Saturday’s conference.  What a wonderful idea, dining with other attendees who also write in my genre.  There were two snags, however, and they’re kind of funny, at least nowThey were definitely not funny at the time.

First, my book doesn’t really fit into any one, neat, specific genre. Since I grumbled about this in my last post, I’ll spare you the details this time.  So, there I was, in Rye, NY, thinking my biggest hurdle was to find the appropriate genre table once I arrived at the hotel dining room.  I was wrong.  Finding the hotel was the problem.  road-signs-confusionHey, I’m just a country girl from Saratoga County, foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, and apparently, completely incompetent at driving in Westchester County.  It’s a beautiful place, but I wouldn’t want to drive there…again.  Let me put it this way, Charlie had a better chance of getting off the MTA at the Scully Square Station, than I ever had of getting off the Hutchinson River Parkway.  I thought that  I’d be the one who’d never return. Suburban-looking roads suddenly transformed into parkways that launched me on a continuous loop, orbiting around several towns—I lost count—and a couple of counties, and the state of Connecticut.  I have a lovely Connecticut police officer to thank for excellent directions to get back to New York, and also a fabulous bellman from the hotel where dessert was being served at my genre dinner. After a few panicked calls to the hotel, the concierge sent their bellman to lead me back on the straight and narrow.  I wasn’t too embarrassed, after all, I’m from the foothills of the Adirondacks.  (Please imagine a shoulder shrug.)

Part Two.  Oh yes, there’s more.  When I finally arrived at the hotel, about two weeks late for dinner, I learned that there were two dinners going on: one for writer-attendees like me, and the other, for faculty, including agents, editors, well-published authors, and let’s just say, some big names in publishing. banquet-large

I found the dining room, but the tables weren’t marked by genre.  I figured the writers must have grouped themselves in some other way. I spotted an empty place at a table and thought, what the heck, I could fit in with romance or sci-fi writers, or whatever they turned out to be. After my hour-long expedition of circling the county map with my blood pressure ready to blow its fuse, some gory werewolf talk would be relaxing.  I laid claim to the open seat and found my way to the buffet to scavenge through the leftovers. The conversation at the table was wonderful!  These were some truly erudite people, and a bit over my head some of the time.  Okay, most of the time.  In speaking with the man seated next to me, I asked if he was published yet.  That’s why writers go to these conferences, to relocate their manuscripts to a publisher’s desk.  So I thought it was a fair question, until I coaxed the answer out of this nice, unpretentious man, who had published six novels and teaches writing courses. Oops. th (2) I focused intently on buttering my roll, thinking that something didn’t feel right.  Then someone from across the table asked me which workshop I was going to present on the next day. Oops again. Wrong table?  It gets better.  After dessert and coffee, and an organizer’s speech with instructions to the faculty, I hit me. I wasn’t at the wrong table. I was in the wrong room.

 

Epilogue

I sat for that dinner with three well-published authors and one very accomplished editor.  I thoroughly enjoyed their conversation, and their company.  They were most casual and gracious and understanding when I explained that the only thing I would present the next day was me!  I think I even got a chuckle out of them.

Westchester County really is a beautiful area, and I’m sure that if required, I could learn to drive there and like it. The local folks I met there were friendly and helpful, and made my visit a pleasant one.  

So after all this kicking and screaming all the way into the techno age, I will finally relent and give up the ghost, er, I mean—that last bastion of navigation independence—my MAPS.  I’ll activate my GPS app.  Yup, I’m giving up my maps for apps.  

sign over

                      I WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS!

~

Please watch for my Unicorn Writers’ Conference takeaways in the next post.

                                                                                            ©  SM Poulette

 


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Brain Picking, Genre Picking

By SUSANNE MARIE POULETTE

puppy all aloneIt’s a little lonely here at the Writers’ Loop without Peggy!     Readers, please let me know if you’re still out there.

You can do that by allowing me to pick your brain. Then, I’ll ask you to post a comment.  Here it goes:

I’m gearing up for the Unicorn Writers’ Conference next weekend (You can check it out by following the UpComing Events link on the sidebar.). On Friday, I’ll attend a Genre Dinner, my very first.  Apparently, it’s a working dinner and a great time to network with writers in my genre.  I’m looking forward to the experience and meeting new contacts. But here’s the catch: my novel crosses and blends so many genre boundaries that it doesn’t fit neatly or even sloppily, into just one category.  This prompts me to wonder which genres are most appealing to the readers of this blog.

book shelves

So, you can help me, if you will, by letting me know which, if any, of these fiction categories appeal to you: Women’s Commercial, Coming-of-Age (Adult), Nostalgic, Magical Realism, Pop Culture, or Humor. Would you mosey toward any of these shelves in your library or favorite bookstore?  Where would you linger?  Which genre might you pluck from the rack, snoop through, and/or peruse its dust jacket or back cover?  Any chance that you’d want to read the whole book, or…purchase it?

My next research survey is pretty straightforward, but it comes with a disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for food cravings or excessive salivation in the analogy that follows.

Now, my question. When one calls up Pizza Lean-to and orders an extra large (pizza 2guessing that one has the munchies for pizza) it’s usually custom made just for you.  You can get almost any topping that your little heart, or tummy desires, even anchovies.

And what about fiction?  If you could call up, oh, let’s say, Harper Collins Publishers, and order a novel written just for you, what toppings, what ingredients would you want?  Which elements of fiction would your novel have: mystery, humor, history, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, crime, western, _________?  (That last one’s a special-order-fill-in-the-blank, just for you.)  Would you order another werewolf, more shades of erotica, or maybe a novel that warms your heart, lifts your spirits and makes you smile?  Just wondering.  Please let me know.

And sorry, no; I’m not taking any pizza orders at this time.  You might want to try Pizza Lean-to.

I hope you’ll post a comment and let me know your opinion.  I’ll be so grateful. Thanks in advance!

SMP

 

 

 

 

 

 


6 Comments

Dear Readers,

I wanted to let you know that this will be my last post for a little while. My writing pursuits are taking me in a different direction and I’m finding that I don’t have time to blog. I’m also excited to tell you that I have had a proposal accepted by the American Speech and Hearing Association about a language/literacy kindergarten program I developed, along with Kim Lamparelli from Syracuse University, for high poverty schools. I will be presenting this at their national convention this November in Denver. The preparation for this promises to keep me busy along with my full time job as a speech-language pathologist.  I also want to make sure to carve out space for other adventures and lots of fun!

Susanne will be continuing with the Writers’ Loop so be sure to stop by. I wish you many happy moments with your reading and writing.

Peggy Morehouse