I Got the Best Writing Advice from My Mother

Monday, December 2, 2019

  When I look back at my elementary school years, some of my fondest memories were the days when the box arrived from the Weekly Reader Book Club. The teacher would open it in front of the class and distribute what we had ordered weeks before. It was like having Christmas and my birthday rolled together month after month. I’d bring my books home and binge on Nancy Drew mysteries—The…

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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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My Book Pitch Letter

Friday, November 15, 2019

We can discuss pitching and pitch letters till the sky turns green, but what would probably be more helpful is if I show you my book pitch. Unlike fiction and possibly memoir (the debate is out there on memoir) non-fiction, which needs a lot of research to complete the book, is sold on proposal. (I’ll talk proposals another time). But you still need a pitch letter. So here’s mine. Dear…

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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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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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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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The Author Who Makes Me Cry the Most

Monday, October 14, 2019

It is not very often that a work of fiction makes me cry, but that’s what happened when I read Langston Hughes’ “Cora Unashamed,” a story in one of Hughes’ short story collections, which was made into a television film as part of the Masterpiece Theatre American Collection starring Regina Taylor and Cherry Jones. Cora is an African American housekeeper in the early 1900s isolated in an all-white town in…

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Completing My First Draft Required Some Unspooling

Monday, October 7, 2019

I never would have gotten through the first draft of my novel without the low residency MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). For years I wrote, rewrote, and then wrote again a seven-page scene in which a man and woman meet up in a bookstore years after their relationship has ended. She’s interested in rekindling the romance and finds out when he’s likely to…

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When I Want to Crawl Up in a Ball from Rejection

Friday, October 4, 2019

I can’t say I’m good with rejection. Outwardly, I think I project an uh, okaaaaay attitude when I get rejected, but inwardly, a part of me wants to crawl up in a ball and die. Or at least CRY. But no, I keep calm and carry on….Or do I? Sometimes I think it would be better to cry and rail and rant against the gods of rejection because then I’d get it out…

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Interview with Desiree Cooper, Author of Know the Mother

Saturday, September 28, 2019

I am so excited to welcome Desiree Cooper to The Debutante Ball. Desiree and I are both Kimbilio fellows. Kimbilio is a national residency for fiction writers from the African diaspora. Desiree is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother, is a 2017 Michigan Notable Book that has won numerous awards, including 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cooper’s…

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