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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What I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Writing

Monday, November 18, 2019

When I began writing creatively—during the 1990s when I lived in Connecticut—hoping to get some short stories I had written published, I knew nothing about community. I began writing in the days when submissions to literary magazines were sent out by snail mail. I subscribed to a few writers magazines that listed requests for submissions in the back pages. I’d mail in my submissions and wait months for a response….

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Interview with Kristin Harmel, Author of The Winemaker’s Wife

Saturday, November 16, 2019

I am so excited to welcome Kristin Harmel to The Debutante Ball. Kristin’s latest novel is The Winemaker’s Wife, an instant #1 bestseller from The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star. It’s a story of forbidden love, shocking secrets, and devastating betrayal, set amid the champagne vineyards of northern France during the darkest days of World War II. Kristin Harmel is the #1 international bestselling author of The Winemaker’s…

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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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Crafting the almighty query letter

Monday, November 11, 2019

After I’d put my novel through dozens of revisions over the course of many years, I felt confident enough to take the next step—pursuing representation from a literary agent. I combed through stacks of books at the library for guidance. Here’s what some of those books told me about crafting the almighty query letter: Get the agent’s attention with your introduction Reference comparables (books like my book) in the first…

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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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5 tips for successfully tackling distraction

Monday, November 4, 2019

I read once that air traffic controllers must be able to concentrate in a room where multiple conversations are going on simultaneously. For example, in a large airport tower, the room could be filled with the sounds of controllers speaking with several pilots about all manner of clearance, changing frequency, taxiways, takeoff, etc. Controllers must be able to make quick decisions and not be distracted by the conversations of their…

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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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The One Thing Scarier than Halloween

Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloween is a spook-tacular occasion, what with ghosts, goblins and ghouls ringing the doorbell and phantoms roaming the streets. If you’re a writer, what’s even more terrifying than Halloween, is being haunted by your fears. The 1980 major motion picture, The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall, offers a spine-tingling example. Jack Torrance, as portrayed by Nicholson, is an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as…

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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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