A Brief History of Publishing (And Publishing Workshop Info)

So, I found the cool infographic below in my travels as I searched for information on the history of literary agents. Because, of course that is what one searches for in one’s travels.  No, really, it is because I’m co-leading a workshop on publishing this weekend and since Thanksgiving was so time consuming, I’ve not told you much about it.

If you’re in Portland and you want to learn more about publishing, here are the details:

The Ins and Outs of Publishing

Friday, December 4th, 6:30 to 8:30 PM and Saturday, December 5th, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Another Read Through, 3932 N. Mississippi, Portland, 97277

Cost is $107, which includes a fabulous boxed lunch from Elephant’s Deli.

If you’re interested, contact me, okay? It’s going to be a lot of fun.

And here’s that infographic.  It’s a little dated, but interesting nonetheless:
A Brief History Of PublishingInfographic by Finvy


Otherwhere: Grateful It’s Over

LT on chairYeah, so I know I wrote a whole post about being grateful and I am, truly and all.  But today, two days after I wore myself out cooking for 14 people and a baby, I have one more thing to be grateful about–and that is that Thanksgiving is over.  At about noon on Thursday, after being up since 5:30 working in the kitchen, I said, to nobody in particular, “I’m done.  Not doing this again.”

I’ll let you know how that works out next year at this time.

The thing is, turkey day has totally messed with my NaNoWriMo word count.  Last week, on which exact day I can’t remember because my brain is fogged, I figured I had about 10,000 words to go.  At my usual rate of 2,000 words a day, that seemed like a breeze to accomplish. EXCEPT I FAILED TO FACTOR IN COOKING FOR 14 PEOPLE ON THANKSGIVING.  And also, at least in my world, there’s not only cooking but cleaning, and lots of it, as well. So now, all these days later, I still have 10,000 words to go and oh, let’s see, three days to finish.  So I’m not going to make it.  But I’ll probably finish with about 42,000 words.  And that’s 42K more than I had on October 31.  And I wasn’t really doing it anyway, since I already had around 17,000 words.

Okay, enough about me.  Let’s head out and see what happened in other places on the internet this week.  It’s a short-ish list because lots of what was happening on the internet this week was Black Friday related.  But here we go:

How Long Should Your Legs Be?  A funny title but a good post from novelist Eleanor Brown.  I’ll let you figure out what she means.

Why I Left My Agent.  A guest post on Jane Friedman’s site, I read this one with avid interest.  Because, I love my agent and I love feeling like I have someone in my corner to help me with my career.  But, as we know, there’s a lot of changes in the publishing world these days and so I’m interested in all viewpoints.  You probably should be, too.

Why You Should Commit to Continuous Practice. I follow the author of this post, Saundra Goldman, on Instagram, and often like her snapshots of her writing practice.  Finally it occurred to me to go check out her website. Turns out she teaches with Natalie Goldberg and has a cool site.  Check it out.

A Literary Gift Guide: Top 15 Paris Books.  Because, Paris.  Always and forever.

Say No to Say Yes.  From Barbara O’Neal, one of my favorite writers.

Okay, that’s it for me.  That’s all I got.  I’m going to go eat leftover turkey and maybe sneak in a piece of pie for dessert.  How about you? How was your Thanksgiving?  (Or if you live overseas, what lovely non-turkey related things did you do this week?)

(Photo of my cat sleeping on my office chair, since I wasn’t using it.)


Gratitude, Schmatitude: Writers, Let’s Complain Instead

turkey_gobble_dinner_268746_lToday is Thanksgiving day in the United States.  For those of you living in other parts of the world, our Thanksgiving is a day to feast and be grateful (never mind that it is slowly getting co-opted by big box stores trying to sell Christmas stuff early).  It began waaaay back in the day, when the first settlers of our fair land, the Pilgrims, made it through their first winter and subsequent harvest season and threw a feast to celebrate.  They even included the locals, Native Americans without whose help they wouldn’t have survived.  (Fat lot of good it did them in the long run.)

As mentioned, gratitude and gratefulness are cornerstones of this day.  And to that I say–bah humbug!  No wait, that’s the wrong holiday.   To that I say–uh uh, no way.  Because, c’mon, we writers have a lot to complain about.  Such as:

  1. Writing is hard.  It just is.  It takes a lot of energy to throw words at the page, make them sound pretty, and have them make sense.  And never mind that you also have to come up with a great story.
  2. The publishing industry sucks.  They pay all their money to a few star authors and ignore the rest of us.  It is slow and dinosaur-like and in general the worst business model ever in the history of the world.
  3. Even when you get published, your book won’t sell.  Because, like, all those stupid self-publishers are out there gumming up the works with their crap.  Our brilliant tomes don’t stand a chance.
  4. There are all kinds of scams preying on writers.  Yeah, its just too much effort to figure out who gives good advice and who doesn’t.  Easier to become an actuary.
  5. Sitting is bad for you.  And lord knows, one must sit for hours at a time to write.
  6. You have to learn grammar! Enough said.
  7. And you probably have to read poetry to be a real writer.  One word: ugh.

Oh, I could go on and on–I’ve not even touched on writer’s block for instance–but I’ll leave it to you to add some complaints to your list.  And today, at the Thanksgiving table, be sure to sigh loudly and mention all these complaints when the topic of gratitude comes up.   I’m certain your assembled guest will be delighted.  And if not, pour yourself another glass of wine and mutter about how misunderstood writers are.

But wait.  What about that moment when you sit up in bed in the middle of the night because you’ve just gotten the idea that pulls the whole book together?  Or the time when you write the most beautiful, heartbreaking sentence known to man? That feeling you get when you’ve completed a writing session and you are in love with everything in the whole world? What about all that?

Yeah, its all that stuff that keeps me writing.  Plus the fact that in however many years I’ve been doing this, writing is the one thing that has never gotten boring to me.  Ever.  And those of you who’ve been reading my blog and newsletter for awhile know that I’m a big fan of a lot of woo-woo stuff like gratitude and that this is written with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.

Because I am so grateful to be a writer I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I love every aspect of it, even all the things I listed above, and I detest the kinds of writers who think its cool to complain so much.  So today, on Thanksgiving, let’s all give our deepest, most humble thanks for this wonderful work that we get to do.  For the stories we get to tell, the fun we get to have every single time we sit down at our desks.

And the truth of the matter is that I’m actually complaint-adverse.  Or at least I try to be. There’s nothing that turns me off faster than listening to someone bitch and moan.  Especially if it is about writing!  So let’s all celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving (it is NOT just the day to be endured before Black Friday) and be grateful.

Photo by kindhelper.


Otherwhere: November 21

PiepieIt is a sunny but very cold Saturday here, and I’m holed up inside trying to finish up my NaNoWriMo word count for the day before I start in on yet more cleaning in anticipation of hosting Thanksgiving.

But, as always, or at least for the last two weeks, I have saved up a lot of cool links as I travel the internet and I share them with you today.  Most of them have to do with writing, as befits a writing blog (duh) but I threw in a couple bonus links on other topics, too.  Here goes:


I didn’t find as many useful past as usual this week, but I do offer you a collection of posts on writing scenes.  I went in search of these for a student.  Collectively, I think they are helpful:

10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes

Excellent advice here.

The actual advice in this post is a bit too anal for the way I write, but there are some interesting examples of scene lists from famous writers here.

This post is titled How to Write a Scene, and it may just help you do that. Let’s hope.

And, how about some writing prompts specifically oriented to getting you deeper into your scene?  Here you go.

Social Media

I adore Instagram.  I used to spend spare moments scrolling through my Facebook feed, but now I look at Instagram instead.  However, I’ve been a bit stumped as to how to use it effectively as a writer.  After all, there’s nothing particularly fascinating about photo after photo of a computer.

This post from Jane Friedman offers ideas.


Of course you need posts on pie.  Because, it is almost Thanksgiving.  And who isn’t baking pies this week?

Quiet Reflection–Making Pies From Scratch

Thanksgiving Pie Ideas

“Be Happy, Make Pie”

How to Make Pie Dough

Okay, enough with the pies. A couple other items of interest:

Here’s a brief, interesting history of Black Friday.

And, for the knitters, this post on knitting Icelandic sweaters makes me drool.  Its all I can do to stop myself from ordering pattern and yarn.  Except I have declared a moratorium on all yarn purchases until 2050, which is about when I will have finished all my current projects.

And now I am off to organize the hall closet so we can actually fit coats in it.  And dream of pie.  And cozy Lopi sweaters.


Otherwhere: Sadness and Distraction

PeaceforParisI do have some good links that I’ve been collecting for you all week. But my heart is so, so heavy today and I am distracted as I read the news about my beloved city, Paris.  It is so hard to know how to react or what to say in the face of such a horrible monstrosity.  About the best I can do is mimic what a woman from my church said: we must acknowledge what happened, and pray for the victims, their families, and to bring light to the minds that breed such hatred.  Arrggh.  Everything sounds so lame in reaction.

Okay.  Deep breath.  First, here are a couple of Paris-related posts:

Paris, My Darling from Janice Macleod.

A lovely post from some of my favorite knitters.

Paris Breakfasts. (That’s the name of her blog–but it covers way more than breakfasts.)

Shine On, Beautiful Paris.

And now, back to our usual topic, writing.

If you only read one link this week, read this one, about romanticizing rejection.

Can you promote your book without making yourself crazy? Hope so.  Here’s some tips to help.

Another post on writing fast, a current fav topic of mine.

I’ve got two great links from Austin Kleon this week.  This one, on what the real problem is with writer’s block.  And this one, an interview I enjoyed.

How about a nifty infographic on arranging your home office?  Here you go.

And why not try breaking in at the top with your magazine articles?

Finally, here’s advice for fitting in backstory without using flashbacks.

Okay, that’s it.  That’s all I’ve got today.  Carry on, and love one another, okay?.


Five on Friday: This Day is Unfortunately Living Up To Its Name

fingerscrossedTook awhile for it to register that it is actually Friday the 13th.  I always choose to think of it as lucky day, but today has been anything but.  The attacks in Paris destroy me and now there’s been an earthquake off the coast of Japan. But I guess the rest of us have to carry on.  And send prayers to those who are suffering.  So, here goes with our usual Friday fare:

Who I’m crushing on: Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.  I heard her speak on Wednesday night here in town and she was awesome.  I’m now reading her book and loving it.  Plus, she wrote my name in Arabic in my book and drew doodles in it, too.

What I’m plugging away on: My next novel.  I was on a pace of 2,000 words a day, but then my 2.5 year-old granddaughter came to stay and I lost my momentum.  Its damn hard to get up in the morning and write when you also have to get a child organized for school.  I now understand my clients who complain about this a lot better.  But I have managed to get 1K a day done.

What I’m loving: The autumn storms and leaves everywhere on the sidewalks and streets.  This has been one of the most beautiful falls I can remember.  And what is better than sitting by a fire, as I am right now, on a rainy day?

What I’m Stressing About: Thanksgiving.  Love the holiday, but I cook for 14 people every year and it never gets easier.  Though I do love making pies.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Christmas.  I love it.  Love, love it.  We’ll go to a tree farm the Saturday after Thanksgiving to cut down a tree.  And hopefully it will not take me two weeks to get all the decorations in, as it did last year.

And yeah, there is and will be writing throughout all of this.  Because that’s what we writers do, carry on and keep writing.  What’s up with you?



Writers: Step Away From Your Computer*

Yeah, I know.  It’s November and you’re holed up in your writing cave.  Because, NaNoWriMo.  You’ve got words to write! 50,000 of them, to be exact! And even if you’re not participating in that NaNo thing, you’re doing your best to get tons of words on the page every day because that’s what we writers do.Typewriter_Writing_Writer_238822_l

And so, I hear you saying that you cannot step away from your computer.

But I’m telling you that you must.  That it is healthier for you and your writing to get out and about once in awhile.  And in case you’ve forgotten what that looks like (I had a writing friend who invented excuses to go to the grocery store so she could talk to the clerks) here are some suggestions:

Go to a writing event.  Okay, so these don’t exactly fall out of trees.  But even when they are available, we sometimes don’t take advantage of them.  I’ve been to two recently: Poets & Writers Live, and Wordstock, our version of the Southern Festival of Books, albeit in a pasty Northwest its-pouring-down-rain-out-there-not-sunny-like-in-Nashville kind of way.  Each was very different, but each had something that inspired me, educated me, or reminded me why I write.

Join a critique group.  This will get you away from you computer on a regular basis–weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  And it will have the added benefit of gaining you readers for your work.  We all need readers for our work, precisely because we sit in our little caves and write and get way too close to our work.  You can find one by contacting your local writing group (most every city and region has one) and/or looking at the Meet Up site.

librarybooksGo to the bookstore.  If you’re anything like me, you spend more time on the internet looking at books than in actual brick-and-mortar stores.  But remember the pleasure of whiling away an afternoon in a book store, looking at books?  Its one of the best ways to spend the day ever.  And if the sight of all those author names on books doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.

Have a writing retreat.  Why, I just happen to know about one happening in Nashville in January.  It’s called Room to Write, and I’ll be there to guide and encourage you and talk about how to keep a writing practice going over the long haul.  Terry Price and Janet Wallace will also be on hand, but mostly you’ll have lots of time to write.  Even if you can’t come to Nashville, you can create your own writing retreat.  Find a cheap motel or an Air BnB nearby and hole up.  Band together with some writing friends and rent a vacation cottage (inexpensive in the off season).  Banish your family and hole up at home for the weekend.

Take a writing workshop.  There are plenty of them around. Try your local community college.  They usually offer a plethora of continuing education classes.  Check with your local writing group.  Ask the Google to find you some local private instructors.  Or, I don’t know, you could come to France with me next September.  (You can read about this year’s adventure here.  I’m in the process of posting info for 2016, and it will be up shortly.  But email me if you’re interested and I’l send you the brochure.)writersworkshop

Take an online class.  Okay, so you’ll likely have to sit at your computer for this.  And its not quite as good as getting out and about in the world.  But it might be a good chance to meet some other writers and learn stuff, too.  There’s a ton of them out there, and I predict there will be a rash of new ones starting in January.  Again, consult the Google.

Do something fun and forget about it.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is take the day off.  Yeah, it is best to have a regular writing practice, but taking time off can clear your mind and allow room for new ideas to emerge.  Julia Cameron recommends people take Artist’s Dates, wherein you go off on your own and do something that you enjoy, whether that’s swinging in the park or visiting an art gallery.  One’s writing brain does need replenishment once in awhile.

So, how about it?  What do you do when you have been sitting at your computer way too long?

*Remember, way back in the day when some car alarms didn’t shriek a loud, horrible noise, or honk their horn, but instead intone in a very deep voice, “Step away from the car” over and over again? I do.  And that phrase is forever embedded in my memory.

Photo credits (all are from everystockphoto):


Library shelves–click

Writer’s workshop–marshalltownpubliclibrary


Otherwhere: S*&^ Happens Edition

objects-stationery-draw-10141-lI started this new blog series a little over a week ago, on Halloween, with the intention to publish a new post every Saturday. And, well, as the title says, s%# happened over the weekend.  Like Wordstock, for instance, our local book and author fair (more on that in a post later this week).  And the fact that Saturday was a major backyard clean-up day, even though it was pouring down rain.  (Let me be clear that I did not have to get my delicate hands dirty. I left the work to my hub and son-in-law, God love them.)  But anyway, better late than never, right? And I’ve been diligently gathering links for you all week so here you go:

  • For those of you doing Nanowrimo (and those who just want to write a lot) here’s a list of helpful titles (my own included) that you can download for free.
  • And if you are doing Nanowrimo, why not get a whole chunk of your 50K words done in one day? My friend Milli runs 10K for Writer days every month. Join in the fun here.
  • Here’s a nice post about one writer’s journey to publication.  Nicole and are are Twitter friends and she’s a fellow Oregonian.
  • A bit of fun from Stephen Pressfield.
  • And some insight into nurturing yourself as you write from Janice Hardy.
  • Should you write for online markets? Answers here.
  • From Kristen Lamb, advice about how fast drafting is actually good for your writing.
  • And finally, did you know there’s going to be an American Writer’s Museum?

And, please note, I have learned how to insert photos into posts!  Woot woot! This one happens to be by danzo08, from everystockphoto.

ALSO I think we’ve gotten the comments sorted out.  So please leave one.  And remember, the giveaway for the J.D. Frost novel runs through next week–so you still have time to leave a comment there for a chance to win!

Okay one more thing, I’m still not certain that old blog subscribers got transferred over to the new site–so you might want to check the little subscribe box when you’re leaving a comment.

Thank you!


Five on Friday: Everything New

Hola! Its a beautiful Friday afternoon in Portland, Oregon, and I am posting the very first post on my new blog. Well, its not exactly new–just the design and the host (WordPress instead of Typepad).  So, there’s a bit of a learning curve here and I’ll be playing around the next few weeks.  But seeing as how it is Friday, its time for another edition of five things are going on in my life.

What I’m Working On: NaNoWriMo, in a cheating sort of way.  Cheating because I already had around 17,000 words written when I started last Sunday and the rules say you can’t start until November 1.  What I’m doing is using the collective energy to help me writing every day.  And its working–I’ve got 10,000 more words racked up then I did this time last week.

What I’m Reading: After You, by Jojo Moyes and a book on meditation.  Speaking of which:

What I’m Crazy About: Meditation.  I know.  But I’ve managed to put together a daily meditation practice for three weeks in a row now and I’m pretty happy about it.  Researchers say the brain changes after just six weeks of meditation and I believe it, because I feel different.  More in a blog post about this next week.

What I’m Doing This Weekend:  Attending Wordstock, our local literary festival, reconstituted after a year’s hiatus.

What I Need You To Be Aware Of: The fact that if you followed me on Typepad and arranged to get notification when a new post published, that might not have transferred over.  Then again, we’re not sure.  So if anybody got here via email, please let me know!  Meanwhile, I’ll try to figure out how to let you subscribe in the comments box.

And, um, yeah, there’s no photo–because I haven’t figured out how to add one yet.  All in good time, people, all in good time.


Guest Post (and Giveaway): How I Marketed My Novels


J.D. Frost is a familiar name to anyone whose read this blog for awhile. He’s done a few guest posts here, and he’s a regular commenter. I had the privilege of meeting him, and his wife Donna and step-granddaughter Lizzie, when they came to our France retreat this year! When I heard that his latest mystery novel had just been released, I jumped at the chance to offer him a guest post. In celebration of the launch of his second novel, I’m offering one copy of his new book to a lucky reader. Scroll down for more info. And in the meantime, please enjoy J.D.’s article on marketing his novels.

How I Marketed My Novel 

by J.D. Frost

jd frostIn August, 2014, Ardent Writer Press published my first novel, Dollface. In October, 2015, the same company picked up Face2Face, the second book of the Moses Palmer trilogy. At some point the muse in your ear will give way to a negative, nagging marketing gnat, constantly in your ear, capable of annoying you for days and quieted only by elbow grease. I’ll share with you some of the work I did, what I learned my first time around, and my plans for this second at bat.

My first success began with an effort to obtain a review. Many newspapers, the Atlanta Constitution, the Birmingham Post Herald and a host of others no longer do reviews. My book is set in Chattanooga. I read the Chattanooga Times Free Press and found a wonderful lady, Susan Pierce, writing often in the Life section. She is a Jill of all writing that sometimes includes artistic events. She had occasionally reviewed a book, even some self-published works. I emailed her using the same pitch I used with agents, asking if she would read the book. She agreed. I autographed a paper copy and mailed it to her. Two weeks of silence followed. With nothing to lose, I emailed her again. She told me she loved the book. A 3/4 page review, including a picture of me and my dog appeared in the Sunday edition. I was very lucky. I haven’t seen another book with such a complimentary introduction. Get a review in a local publication if you can! One television station, WDEF, called my publisher after seeing the paper and at 5:30 a.m. I was interviewed on the local morning show of Channel 12. I emailed Mike Miller, who hosts Round About Chattanooga on WUTC, the public radio station. I cited my newspaper and TV appearance. He insisted, rightfully so, on reading the book. I sent an autographed copy and he then agreed to an 8 minute interview on his program. Your paper may no longer review. Try to get something in a local publication and use that as a publicity springboard! I am back in touch with Ms. Pierce about my second book.

Book signings can be so disappointing. I did three: at the Hamilton Place Mall Barnes Noble, at McKay Used Books in Chattanooga and McKay in Nashville. You scoff at the “used book” monicker. The store was incredibly busy―on a football Saturday no less―and McKay’s staff was wonderful to me. They placed me between the door and the book stacks, square in the path every customer walked. My wife helped me with a wonderful display that we used at all my signings. We ordered a 30×48 inch banner we mounted to the front of the table. We stuck an 18×24 poster of the cover on foam core board and placed it on an easel by the table. On the foam core, the “frame” of the poster, we printed “Set in Chattanooga.” We put two small posters on the table along with twenty books. I tried to make eye contact and speak to every person. If you use a plain table and you SIT, don’t expect much. I had bookmarks printed. To everyone, especially those who showed no interest, I offered a free bookmark. Use Bitly or some similar service to obtain a short link to your book like this one: http://amzn.to/XVKhpp or this one, http://amzn.to/1GnmdjX. Print those on your bookmarks. I didn’t sell a ton of books. At my worst event, I sold three and at my best, 19. But I announced those book signings in every media, publication, blog, etc. I could. Any event gives you a platform for publicity!

My friend Michael Gillibeau, author of A Study in Detail, invited me to a fun event, Noir at the Bar. It is similar in some ways to a poetry slam. You’ll find announcements of similar events across the country. We gave a free beer for every book sold. I hope to stage such an event in Chattanooga. We will use actors to perform scenes from our writing―you need more than one author. Mike used the event to raise money for a library. He obtained a lot of great publicity like this. No surprise there is a dog in my book, since dogs appear in mysteries as often as elves in Christmas parades. I hope to raise money for a shelter.

In another fund raiser, I plan to donate a dollar to the animal shelter for every copy I sell, Kindle, Nook, or paper on a particular day. If I gain the support of the animal shelter, I think I can convince the WDEF TV and some other outlets to make some announcements for us. The five Petsmart stores in the area support the animal center. If the shelter buys in, I will ask the stores to allow me to put up a poster, announcing that donation for copies bought on a particular day or two-day period.

Those are my strategies. You may notice that I have ignored the oil tanker floating in the middle of the wading pool―social media. I classify the things I discussed above as “local strategies.” To get really big results, to get a lot of sales, you need a much broader reach. My abilities in that arena are so limited. Like anyone, I can dabble but with my first book I didn’t have a lot of success. I may seek the help of a consultant.

My thanks to Charlotte for inviting me. She did a wonderful job with content editing on Face2Face. You’ll find my first book, Dollface, here and the second leg of the trilogy, the book Charlotte helped me with, is here.(Editor’s note: he didn’t need much help.) Do yourself a favor and read Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior. It is here.(Editor’s note: thank you!!!!) Mike Gillibeau’s book is here. I hope some of this helps. I don’t mind sharing because we writers are not competitors but brothers and sisters.


And now, the details of the giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment. Tell us what book you most recently read and something you liked about it. That’s it! I’ll draw a winner on November 17 (that’s two whole weeks away–tell your friends, you do not want to miss this book) and post the name here.