Tag Archive 'Jan OHara'

Cultivate the Gap and Watch Your Readers’ Eyebrows Bounce

When my youngest was a wee lad, there was a period when I knew I was failing him as a parent. Day after day, from the moment I woke him up to take him to the sitter’s until I tucked him into bed (for the last time), we were locked in one power struggle after […]

There Are No Mwuahaha Villains in the Artistic Life

You know that if two artists are married, only one is going to be successful. And in your family, it’s going to be [your husband]. So why don’t you just understand that and look after the house and the kids?* If these words were directed at you, would you give up? What if they came […]

Songs on Surviving the Midlist: from Opera Singer, Circus Performer & Novelist, Gretchen McNeil

When I learned the theme for this month was “a peek behind the publishing curtain”, it was an easy decision to invite today’s guest for an interview. For as long as I’ve known her, Gretchen McNeil has been a model of grace and resilience under pressure; a woman who feels passionately and has a big […]

To the Disconsolate Writer Who Hates Her Pace

From an anonymous email: Dear Jan: I’ve seen you describe yourself as a slow writer. I am one also, and it makes me discouraged to the point I’ve considered quitting. Do you have any advice? Ah, yes. Speed-of-sloth is the precise phrase I use, and while at one point it was a way of laughing […]

What’s a Pantster to Do When They’re Stuck? Go Tell It TO the Mountain.

In the medical world, when a patient becomes sick, it’s important to establish a chain of causation as soon as possible. Understanding the “why” of an illness means you’re in a better position to understand its trajectory and how to interrupt it—how to get the person back to a place of wellness as soon as […]

Be Bigger Than Chickens: an Interview with Joshilyn Jackson

I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill […]

4 Science-Based Resources to Build a Drama-Free Writing Routine

Few things in life give me more pleasure than a gorgeously written blog post validating my choice to write, particularly if I’m fresh from a difficult critique or my characters have gone silent. That’s when I scan my environment, looking for people brimming with positivity. If you’re one of them, I glom onto you. I […]

Never Go Naked to Scrabble: Authorial Words Containing “BIC”

For the past month I’ve been adrift, Unboxeders, and I don’t care for the feeling. I’ve been a morning mist without a lake to blanket, a hummingbird without a fragrant flower from which to sip.* Everyone needs a sense of purpose. We deserve a life of meaning, thrive when engaged in useful work. All this […]

This Mystical Thing Called Branding

It began with a contentment-producing ritual. Weather permitting, most Saturday mornings, I stroll a safe and pleasant three miles to the mall where I visit the library, the bookstore, and the grocer. I pick up fresh produce for dinner—the more salad-makings the better—then loop around and head home. On the way back, I’m usually euphoric, […]

The Cadaver Wore Text (aka the Case for Plot Dissection)

I managed to enter med school without attending a funeral or viewing a single dead person. So at age twenty, as I boarded the elevator which would take me to my first practical session in Human Anatomy, and with it my first encounter with a cadaver, I roiled with emotion. Though we didn’t speak of […]

Linguistic Quirks: What Wordbirthing & Name-Nicking Can Do for Fiction

I awoke from a nightmare last weekend and did the sensible thing. I got up and showered off the flop sweat, crawled back in with the ToolMaster, and poked him in the shoulder — firmly, since he was the cause of my distress. “Hey,” he said with a fair degree of irritation. Then something must […]

4 Horseman of the Relationship Apocalypse—Want Them for Members of Your Writing Community?

Of the long-term, previously stable writing communities in which I’m involved, guess how many have suffered through some sort of meltdown in the past few months. (By “meltdown” I mean disagreements which became personal, broadly eroded trust and collegiality, and judging by early signs, from which some communities might not fully recover.) If you went […]