Friday, December 6, 2013

Buzz Books: new releases

As the senior editor at Buzz Books, I've worked on books in various genres--YA, women's fiction, non-fiction, thriller, mystery--and it's my job to let the author shine. For the  most part, my job is done well when you can't tell it's done at all (with one rare exception--more on that in just a second).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Can You Do With 140 Characters?

To be clear, I don't mean 140 characters in your story; I mean 140 characters about your story.

Let me 'splain No, there is too much. Let me sum up

             ~ Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Are you on Twitter? I’ve found most people are not conflicted in their opinions of the microblogging site—it’s either love it or hate it, there is little in between. I’m a fan. I think Twitter is a great challenge, to try to distill what is usually a much longer concept or train of thought into a relatively tiny chunk of text.

As an editor, I find it to be a great challenge. I attended a conference for editors once, and the speaker at one session said that if you can tell a story in 2,000 words, you can tell it in 200 words—it’s a matter of determining the story that will be told in the end. I don’t know if I fully agree with that—can you really distill any story down into smaller and smaller pieces and get the same impact?—but I do think that it’s a good challenge to try.

And it’s an art when it’s done well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writing When You Don't Want To

Time spent writing is never time wasted.

There are many writers who are able to diligently button down (as in "butt-on-chair" down) and hit that daily word limit they set for themselves. Others (who shall remain nameless but might be me) need more of a challenge to push them to reach that goal. Challenges could include working with a reading/critique group or signing up for a challenge that encourages accountability (such as NANOWRIMO--a novel in a month?! Sign me up!). And for others still, that word count is an elusive specter to be chased but never quite caught. So maybe you just give up. Surf the internet for a while. Teach yourself to crochet.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Buzz Books blog tour: a chat with author Aaron Smith

Today marks the first of a series of posts to be done in collaboration with Buzz Books writers--and I'd like to thank author Aaron Smith for participating.

I worked with Aaron on two teen short stories printed in anthologies in 2012: "A Kiss on the Threshold" in Prom Dates to Remember and "Spectral Media" in Something Wicked. Aaron's voice provided these anthologies with their only male writer and a unique perspective.

In both stories, Aaron's protagonist is almost an anti-hero, the kid you might not expect to save the day, and that's what makes it satisfying. Both stories deal with technology with a critical voice, providing a commentary on the pervasiveness and our reliance on technology--and why we should question our reliance before it becomes a dependence. But even not digging down to that level of meaning, the stories Aaron wrote address real issues that teens deal with, along with a little paranormal twist.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's Your Motivation?

I was so excited that the next and final book in a series was coming out, the one that would answer the questions and provide that "aaaah" moment for me, I hoped, when storylines that were flying in the wind would be tied together, at least somewhat. Well, a reader can dream, right?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What a Kid Wants

Mom. Every book I read is the same. It's either really, really poor kids ... kids whose parents have died ... or their parents just hate them or they're idiots ... or they have to save the world and they only have, like, a spoon ... and it's just ... boring.

This is what my 11-year old son told me one day as we were in the car (where we always talk), as he was reading something or another. My 9-year-old agreed. They both started listing the names of books they've read that meet the criteria he listed, and it was pretty much like he said: all of them.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Truth or Fiction?

I had a conversation on Twitter with a writer about conspiracy theories. Specifically how reading books by a certain author would send her to the interwebs to research what bits of trivia included in these books were real or fabricated. It reminded me of when I first read The Bridges of Madison County, which I can remember so clearly these 20 years later.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thinking Great Thoughts


Writing is hard. As I sit staring at this blog, desperately in need of a post, that's the thought that I keep circling around and returning to, like a moth to a flame, like an endless loop in a computer program in need of a bug fix.

And it's not for a want of ideas. I have plenty of interesting ideas to write about. Lots of great topics pop into my head, inspired by all kinds of things. These great ideas usually pop up when I'm busy doing something else, it seems: elbow-deep in dishes, editing a manuscript, driving in heavy traffic, drifting off to sleep. So maybe I'll leave myself a voice message or write a note on a scrap of paper and then when it comes tie to sit down and really dig in? Poof! It's nowhere to be found.

Yep. Like right now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Confidence

Because "Wordless Wednesday" seems so very wrong on a blog dedicated to writing and editing, I'm going to throw down some wisdom instead.
I've always had complete confidence in myself. When I was nothing, I had complete confidence. There were ten guys in my writing class at Williams College who could writer better than I. They didn't have what I have, which is guts. I was dedicated to writing, and nothing could stop me. 
~ (Pulitzer prize-winning American author and historian John Toland)
I love how Toland urges us all to have faith in our abilities. To believe in ourselves enough to succeed. There will always be someone out there who accomplishes something that we want to accomplish, and makes it look easy. But never give up on yourself.

So often, our ability to succeed or fail comes from within. If we believe we are capable, confident enough to succeed, that's half the battle. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Believe in yourself. Be confident. Never stop working for your goals.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What would Atticus do?

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember reading it in my 8th grade English class, where it made me feel terribly adult. It was the first real piece of literature that I embraced.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Breaking in

I had the pleasure of attending a happy hour with a group of other writers and editors, most of whom I had not met previously. We introduced ourselves to one another, discussing what we liked to read or write or edit and where we performed these tasks professionally. We cracked jokes that people who are not writers or editors maybe wouldn't appreciate or find funny.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Multitasking and Writing: Just Say No

How many things can you do at once? When I think of "multitasking," I immediately think of the commercial with the kid showing that he can "wave his hands like this" and "shake his head like this." After a few seconds of doing it, the kid gets dizzy. That's not the point of the commercial, but that's the point that stuck with me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

When did you know?

This week of Valentine's day, everyone's talking about love and meaning. I've seen a few posts here and there about that moment when you just know. So I had to ask myself, when did I know? But beyond my relationship--having celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary in 2012, I've recently revisited that meme, I wondered, when did I know that I wanted to be an editor?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


We’re all familiar with the Serenity prayer, right? Asking for the serenity to accept what can’t be changed, the courage to change what can be changed and the wisdom to know the difference.
Well, I’ll give you a hint—the only thing you can really change is you—your reaction to a situation, your behavior. Try to change anyone else or change the situation without changing your behavior, and they call that insanity in another commonly used idiom. Seems simple enough, yes?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Stay Gold, Ponyboy"

In the past month or so, in this series of blog posts, I've touched on five basic areas of freelance writing:
  1. Researching markets
  2. Researching/writing articles
  3. Pitching the right story to the right editor
  4. Handling rejection
  5. Getting published & working with editors
So what else is there to cover?
Oh my gosh--so much! I don't know that I've really even scratched the surface of the topic.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So You Wanna Be a Freelancer: Step Four

You're slogging away in the writing trenches. You're doing all that you can to be active writing, submitting, rewriting, researching, not overreacting when you get a rejection. And then, one day, usually when you least expect it, it happens.
Dear writer, We are interested in printing your article about widgets in our publication's issue about widgets.
You've gotten the response that you've hoped for! And now it's time to get working on the next step in the process.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's not you; it's them

This was supposed to be the post about working with editors, handling edits, navigating different personalities, that sort of thing. But that's not really the next step in this process.

The next step in the process is waiting... and dealing with rejection. Rejection is a natural part of the process. As a writer, you may face a lot of rejection before you finally find success. But those old sayings are true: from adversity comes growth.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So you wanna be a freelancer: Step Three

Okay; so in step one, you’ve identified a few different publications that might be a good fit for your writing.

In step two, you’ve gotten to work and written some samples, some articles or essays that you feel might be a good fit for these publication.

Now what? Now, you get to pitching.