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July 30, 2020

It's hard to approach a book revision. If you’re a newer writer, I'll tell you that the difference between a book that’s queried and rejected and one that gets an agent offer is often revision*. And revision just takes more time than you think. I learned a revision process over six years of trial-and-error. Here’s what I learned:

The Nine Circles of Hell! 

Or Revision, Dante Style.

If you’re familiar with Dante’s Inferno, you’ll know why this list goes from 9-1. It’s a countdown to limbo—where all authors l...

July 22, 2019

My first book already had a title. Like a teen who decides to change her name before heading to camp for the summer, my book's first name was cut away. But its first title, Hope and Other Feathered Things, will always be a part of the story of this book, my first book but not my last. My debut novel, and the book that put my on the pathway toward becoming an author, will be WIDER THAN THE SKY.

As in love as I was (and still am, a bit) with the book's first title, I didn't come up with it. My former critique gr...

May 2, 2019

My dad loved to read the obituaries. He used to sit in his broad wing-back chair with a gin and tonic at his elbow and peruse them like some fathers would peruse the sports page. This always disconcerted me. Stories of death are disconcerting. We only want to know what someone died of so we know what to avoid. And his reading all those stories of death was depressing. 

When I told him maybe he should try a nice human interest piece from the Bay Area section, he said: I’m already reading the most interesting h...

November 16, 2018

There's one question I get all the time: how do you do everything you do? How do you make time to write?

At any given time, I have at least five to ten projects I'm working on. Right now I'm currently working on two novels, have another two I'm plotting, and am writing two papers for two academic publications. AND I'm writing other business-related writing, like IRBs.  Sometimes I worry that I don't spend enough time on my creative writing. On Twitter I always see people doing NaNoWriMo and "sprinting." Do I w...

May 18, 2018

I gave up on my first book.

And not like I gave up for a few minutes or for a couple days. Not like when a Twitter friend gets a book deal and you despair and hustle through a Whole Foods Chocolove after which you wipe away the smeary corners of your mouth and say: it’s OK, my time will come.

It was not like that.

It was like this: I wrote a book about twin sisters who take separate paths in dealing with their parents’ lies about their sexual identities. It took me about a year to get a first draft, another thre...

May 4, 2018

When asked about the path to publishing my agent Rena will say that everyone has a different path and no one knows the shape that path will take. And—it’s never what they’d expect. She’s right. And yet there is one thing that all agented and published authors have in common—relentlessness. We are relentless writers.

We don’t stop because we’re sick. We don’t give up because it’s hard, and when our butts hurt too much from sitting while we write, we cobble together a standing desk, stand up, and keep on writing...

October 14, 2017

Authors are always asked by readers and fans: I want to write a book! How do I do it? Here's some advice.

March 24, 2017

The first rule of Sub Club:

Don't Talk About Sub Club.

No, authors don't talk about being on submission. No one does. OK, I'm doing it right now, but it's an act of bravery/ desperation and will likely throw me into a tailspin of self-loathing akin to the time I ate an entire box of Little Debbie Peanut Butter-Chocolate Wafer Bars (a total of 12) and didn't even have the sense to throw up afterwards. It really is that bad. I mean, it's actually a perfect analogy because you think it's going to be so good, but...

March 24, 2017

So, I have some pretty famous writers friends. Like almost everything, I wasn't born with them. We started out unpublished, friends through writing groups or MFA programs or through our kids, and then, slowly, we started to get book deals. First you're writing alone and working alone, and you feel so alone. And then slowly, over time, there are these other people you collect who write too and you become friends and you share manuscripts. And then lo and behold--some of them become published.

Of the...

August 19, 2016

I promised some fellow authors and artists I'd blog on residencies I recommend--yet there are so many and they're all different. So I'll tell you where I'll be applying this year, and I'll tell you why. For a comprehensive list of residencies, visit Poets & Writers and specify residencies. It's searchable by state and cost, which is fabulous.

Here's the list for my next year in no particular order with my (highly personal) reasoning:


A women-only, writers-only group, Hedgebrook is one of the...

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designed and illustrated by danika Corrall