How to write when you’re not writing

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

In 2009, I left my job as a high school English teacher and ran right smack dab into the Great Recession. It hurt. Nobody was hiring. I couldn’t get an interview, much less a job. After a few months of false starts and throwing myself at the wall, I harnessed what was left of my entrepreneurial spirit and started a wedding videography business. Wedding videography was something I had done…

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Abandon your darlings

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Imagine, if you will, the author in her very early twenties. She’s two months out from her college graduation, completing her second or third week as a real journalist at a real newspaper. She’s wearing a suit that’s far too fancy for the newsroom around her, but that’s just because she only owns the one right now. She’s so new she hasn’t been out shopping for business casual clothes yet….

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Eyes on your own paper.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I can’t remember who told me this first, but here’s the piece of writing advice that changed my life: Eyes on your own paper. I can’t tell you how many careers Comparison and her brother Jealousy have ruined. And they’re vicious. They’ll roll right into your house, take your remote, crack open a soda and put their feet up on your ottoman before you even know what’s happening. They’ll ruin…

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Thankful for a game well-played.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m a little bit of an extrovert. That’s not always a plus in the writing world—sure, having “chatterbox” as an honorary added middle name helps when I’m hanging out in the hotel bar at a book festival or at a coffee place with my writing besties, but it sure doesn’t help when I’m back home alone, staring at the blank cursor with silence rapping on…

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New writers: It’s okay to start somewhere.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

At the beginning, it’s perfectly okay to have no idea what you’re doing. It’s okay to spend hours at a bookstore, running your fingers over the spines of new releases and dreaming. It’s okay to imagine your book sitting on a shelf there, even if you’re years away from your first query letter. This is how you learn what sells. It’s okay to write fanfic until five in the morning,…

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Why are query letters so difficult?!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

In the grand scheme of things, writing the novel is supposed to be the hard part. Compared to writing my query letter, writing the novel felt normal. Easy. It took me just over two weeks of daily hacking at the keyboard (and, let’s be honest, more than a little bit of anguish) to get it right. I ended up running it by twice as many beta readers as my novel…

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Go deep to beat distraction

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

You’re going to get some really great advice from my fellow Debs this week. Anyone who writes a book while living a normal human life has already won the productivity game. I wish I had some good answers to the question of how to be a less distracted writer, but I don’t, because there’s no one solution that fits every writer out there, or even most writers. Lives are just…

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Fight or flight, fear and failure

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Do you want to know my number one writing fear? Writing this blog entry. Ha, ha. I’m mostly kidding. I have panic disorder, so “confronting my fears” is something I do with a lot of preparation and self-care. However, I feel like I might share my number one writing fear with pretty much every debut author who ever waltzed on to the scene, so I don’t feel alone in this….

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How To Work With An Editor

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I’ve had a lot of really, really good editors in my career. The student news editor at my high school newspaper—not my English teacher!—taught me grammar. My first pro newspaper editor showed me the ropes and guided me away from dozens upon dozens of stupid errors. The fiction editors I’ve worked with recently have strengthened my novels and stories immeasurably; they’re generally always better at pacing and structure than I…

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Interview with Valerie Valdes, author of CHILLING EFFECT

Saturday, October 19, 2019

I am thrilled to welcome Valerie Valdes to The Debutante Ball. We attended Viable Paradise together in 2016. Valerie will be giving away a copy of her novel, Chilling Effect, with an absolutely adorable fridge magnet — see below! Valerie Valdes lives in an elaborate meme palace with her husband and kids, where she writes, edits and moonlights as a muse. She enjoys crafting handmade bespoke artisanal curses and admiring…

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