Friday Feast: The Publishing Biz, MFAs and Crime (Writing)

This week, sobering articles on the business of publishing and the questionable value of creative writing MFAs left me needing a stiff drink and wanting to turn to a life of crime (writing that is). Luckily, I also stumbled on a couple of links that made me remember that I love to write.

So here are your links. Cheers! Read More →

Review: Scribophile, An Online Writing Group

ScribophileBy Mark Guerin

After graduating from the Novel Incubator program in June, I needed to find a writing group to give me the kind of feedback and motivation I got from the Incubator. Unable to find a group near my home, I started investigating online writing workshops. I used to develop and present online training, so I’m more comfortable with it than most, but I approached online workshopping with some skepticism, concerned about the impersonal nature of internet interactions and doubtful I would find the kind of expert feedback I was seeking on a website. But I simply wasn’t writing as much or as well without the kick in the pants I got from the Incubator program, so I thought why not at least see what was out there? Read More →

The Social Media Conundrum


By Kelly Robertson

I have certain traits that typify a writer. I am an introvert. I prefer solitary days at my computer versus working with a team in an office. I would rather talk to my dogs than people on most days. I loathe self-publication and networking. Consequently, when Facebook, MySpace (remember this?), and other social media sites started showing up on the Internet, I shunned them. Why would I want to make anything I do so public? I stayed off these sites for a long time.

I think it was our impending move back to Boston that finally prompted me to try Facebook. I wanted to start connecting to some old Boston friends, which I did. Then I connected with old college and high school friends. Maybe Facebook wasn’t so bad. Read More →

Friday Feast: Back to School Lunchroom Edition

jurassic jello

I’ve felt off all week: anxious, unfocused, incapable of selecting the blue or pink eye shadow, fussing with my hair to the point where I have to wet it, gel it and try again. Most horrific, I lost my appetite.

Then, I saw all the moving trucks and the crossing guards and the back to school pics on Facebook. Aha! Back to school time. No wonder I want to sit in a corner and rock back and forth.

I have to go now. I think I’m going to barf. Here are your links: Read More →

Happy Indie Story, Part 5: Well, Nobody’s Perfect.

billywilder.0By Jennie Wood

It’s the last line in Some Like It Hot, one of the greatest American comedy films of all time: “Well, nobody’s perfect.” One of my favorite filmmakers, Billy Wilder, directed and co-wrote that film. When I lived in Los Angeles, I visited Wilder’s gravesite. Seeing his gravestone, like his body of work, served not only as a reminder that nobody’s perfect, but also that it’s important to laugh at oneself and at the things we cannot control.

I returned to Wilder’s gravestone via this photo a couple of weeks ago after I sat down with a brand-spanking-new copy of A Boy Like Me. My plan was a simple one – go through a few scenes aloud and pick one to read at my launch party. As Stephanie Gayle wrote in her insightful post, it’s important to practice for a reading.

Earlier this summer, I read the entire book aloud twice before submitting it to the publisher. It looked great. What came next was a comedy of errors; a lot of back and forth like any good farce. Read More →

It’s All in a Name — Finding Your Protagonist

By Pat Sollner

I’d had trouble with my protagonist, Katya, all through the long nights last winter. My fellow Incubees puzzled over her motivations. Worse, I had a hard time seeing her clearly. I’d call her by her nicknames, Katka, Katyoosha, and Katenka, but she’d just take  her place on the page, arms folded across her chest, lips tight. I opened writing books, did one exercise after another to find out about her, and even discovered her hidden desires, but when I put her in a scene where she could act on those desires, she went back to the folded arms position.

If only I’d been superstitious, I would have written with a lucky pen or a particular pencil in a special notebook. I could have written only at dawn or dusk, or ordered my study according to the principles of Fung Shui. But I wasn’t superstitious. Read More →

Friday Feast: Rules, Social Media, Ideas and Instinct


Recently, I told a friend that I’d spill all my social media and writing secrets in exchange for a steak dinner. She told me that was worth TWO steak dinners.

You can save some dough and calories by reading posts from these actual experts instead. *


blood-dropZadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing by Maria Popova. This has been out there a while, but it can’t hurt to get some guidance from someone who is in a position to give guidance. ** Read More →

Whatever Happened to Foreplay?


By Michael Nolan

This from Writer’s Digest: “How To Start a Novel Right.” (June 6, 2013)

Including backstory in the opening pages is the same as saying to the reader, “Wait a minute—hold on. Before I tell you the story, first there’s something about these characters and this situation that you need to know.”

Ha! Don’t buy it! They mean you should open your novel with a Big Boffo scene guaranteed to hold the readers’ attention with “action.” Reach out and grab ‘em by the short hairs, the reasoning goes, so the reader, having ingested a full two pages from Amazon’s “Look inside” section, can’t resist hitting the Add to Cart button. Of course, the problem is far bigger than Amazon (if such a thing is cosmologically possible). Big Boffo signals a regrettable dimming of imagination and attention on the part of the reader; worse, that of the writer. “I want to know the story now!” insists the reader in the WD projection. “The folks have had me on Adderol since fourth grade, and I’m not about to slow down for anything as lame as characterization or nuance or any of that other stuff.” Read More →

Everything I’ve Learned about Writing I’ve Learned from Soap Operas

Go Figure: Musings from the Mind of Rob Wilstein

Like Sands Through the Hourglass, So are the Days of our Lives.

So true. So true. And so insightful. When you think about those grains of sand, dropping, one by one, inexorably, through the hourglass, we mortals unable to act, paralyzed in our efforts to turn the glass over, reverse the march of time, reset the clock on the incessant parade of the days of our lives, you discover the power of cliche.

Such too is the power of the soap opera, the bastardized descendant of Shakespeare, the daytime poor relation of Breaking Bad and The Wire, a form of entertainment developed to sell soap to bored housewives, to novelize the trials and tribulations of small town America in the most banal manner possible. Read More →

Friday Feast: Ratings, Addicts, Classics and Bad Words

Brooklyn99Insider-Terry Crews-Eating Packing Peanuts

Mmm, urgh, enm. So many goodies out there on the interwebs this week, friends. Feast upon some of our favorite links for the week!

blood-dropBook Rating Categories That Should Exist (Because Star Ratings Can Be Useless) by Natalie Meyer. My 5-star book ratings fall into the category “You Probably Think I’m Weird for Liking This.”
Read More →

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