Be Your Own Biggest Fan

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Syncom, the First Geosynchronous SatelliteA few years back, author Joshilyn Jackson posted a story on her blog about meeting an author who was without a doubt his own biggest fan. I can’t find the post at the moment, but this author literally introduced himself with the words, “Hi, I’m award-winning author *name redacted*”. All that was missing to make it perfect, Joshilyn Jackson wrote, was for him to have said, “It’s such an honor for you to meet me.” Because she is hilarious and awesome.

My point, to be clear, is that that’s not the kind of own-biggest-fan I want to talk about today. Because honestly, I don’t think too many of us suffer from the kind of over-inflated ego of Joshilyn’s acquaintance. (And, really, who knows what kind of hidden insecurities the poor guy was trying to mask with all his posturing? I’d be willing to bet it was more than a few).

D.W. Winnicott famously wrote that, “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”

Not to go all tortured-artist on you, because as artists go, I’m not especially tortured, I’m really not. But that state of being– that tension between those two opposite extremes of communication and hiding– is a very vulnerable place to live. In my experience, all authors struggle to some degree or another with an internal critic, a nasty little voice hissing a litany of YOUSUCKYOUSUCKYOUSUCKYOUSUCK in your ears. I personally have never written a book where that nasty little voice didn’t rear it’s ugly head (yes, I know, that’s a hideously mixed metaphor). The difference, 19 books into my career, is that that voice has to be positively screaming a NOREALLYTHISBOOKHASASERIOUSPROBLEM kind of a warning on the sliding scale of you-suck-itude for me to pay it any attention at all.

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Author Epiphany: I Film-Track My Novels

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Flickr Creative Commons: Insomnia Cured Here

Epiphany Part 1 arrived in my living room as my husband griped at another Turner Classic Movie marathon Friday night. “But it’s Katharine Hepburn!” I balked. “One of the greatest character actors ever!” I’m addicted to old movies. Black and whites make me swoon and don’t even get me started on Technicolor. My husband merely […]

Strange Bedfellows

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Flickr Creative Commons: Vic

I. Confidence Consider the swaggering Ernest Hemingway. Even those who despise the man he was will credit him for introducing a vivid, muscular prose to the art of storytelling. You might hate the insulting misanthrope he could be but admire his keenly drawn characters, the emotional insights, the robust themes in his work. Here was […]

Happy Father’s Day!

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Enjoy the day, all of you dads out there! Thank you to Debbie Ohi, illustrator extraordinaire and author of Where Are My Books?, for a picture-perfect comic. 7+

How to Blurb Someone’s Book

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HfH

Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody. Your career is taking off–someone asked you to blurb their book! Yes, you! No, I can’t believe it either! I mean, out of all the authors […]

Trade Shows, Authors, and Expectations

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Image: Provided by Frankfurt Buchmesse, photographer Bernd Hartung

What If We’re Asking Too Much of Our Book Fairs? When our good colleague Jael McHenry wrote What You Would Have Learned at BEA earlier this month, she did a fine job of listing some of the common views and assumptions among many writers about the industry’s major trade shows. Excerpting here: If you’re an aspiring […]

Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?

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Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page. The challenge: does this narrative […]

Using Tricks From Other Writers

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Flickr Creative Commons: Sarah Reid

Even after 20 years as a journalist and three published novels, I still get stuck; my crappy first drafts still fill me with despair; I’m still convinced other writers know how to write faster, deeper, and smarter than I do. So I read writing blogs and books on how to write and newsletters on writing […]

Why Write?

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writer2

Part of my job description as an editor is to keep writers from getting discouraged as they struggle to publish and publish well.  It’s not easy, since it takes a lot of effort to learn the craft of writing, and once you break into print, your readership tends to build slowly.  Even writers who are […]

A Call to Pens–Writer as Social Activist

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Life cycle

In the back yard of a Canadian middle-class home, a ten-year-old child plays with his neighbor while the supervising adult works in the garden. “What are those?” the visitor asks, pointing to freshly unearthed carrots, their ragged tops still attached. He’s an accomplished eater of store-prepared vegetable trays, with their polished and uniformly rounded “baby” […]

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