Feeding the Muse a Cookie

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

This week I’m confronted by a topic that doesn’t bear much relationship to what I write: food. Unlike Jennifer’s MODERN GIRLS, with its evocative descriptions of traditional shabbat meals, or the baked goods Louise’s protagonist makes that are so rich you can taste them if you lick the page, THE LOST GIRLS doesn’t feature food in its storytelling. At all. I agree it’s a powerful tool, but it’s one I…

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Hell, Yes, I Have Regrets

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I confess: I’m jealous of Louise and Jenny, with their nonexistent and paltry lists of regrets. Because I do have regrets. Not so much on the real life side of the equation, where I share their look-forward-not-back attitude, but on the authorial side. And, being as how one of our missions here on the Ball is to offer guidance by reverse example, I am going to list them all right here…

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Owning What My Book Says About Me, and Denying What it Does Not

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I’ve heard it said that all writing is autobiographical. Even if you’re not writing the true story of your own life, the assumption goes, you’re inflicting your life experiences on the people you make up, or writing their relationships to mirror your own. One way or another, your purportedly fictional story is really a blueprint of your own darkest desires, fears, and memories. It’s true that many fiction writers do…

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Joining the Hive to Write Book Two

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A month ago, I wrote a post about how difficult it was for me to write a new novel during this anxious period before my first book launches. I hadn’t looked ahead on the Debutante Topics Calendar, obviously, because “writing book two” is the assigned subject of this week’s posts. Fortunately, I don’t need to rehash that earlier lament, because — though progress on Book Two is still glacial and…

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The Next Book: Diving In

Hebrew Orphans Asylum 1920s
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Talking about Next Book* feels funny to me. I have a difficult time talking about what I’m working on, because it’s constantly changing. If you had asked me early on in the writing of MODERN GIRLS, I would have told you that Dottie had gotten pregnant by her boyfriend Abe, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to marry him; the story took place in Newark, NJ; and her mother Rose…

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AWP Junior High School: A Survivor’s Tale

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tomorrow I’m flying to Los Angeles for my third foray into the overpopulated slushpile that is the Conference of American Writers and Writing Programs, or AWP. This time, I might actually get it right. The first time I went to one of these things was in 2012, in Chicago. I’d gotten my MFA the year before, and I was muddling through my novel. It was right about the time when,…

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Leaping Into a Story By Accident

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Louise stole my idea for this topic. The biggest leap I’ve made as a writer was, by far, becoming a writer in the first place. But as I think about writing itself, I recall that I did make a fairly big leap in the writing of this book: I killed my protagonist. That’s not a spoiler. Lucy, one of the two women whose stories intertwine in THE LOST GIRLS, is…

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THE LOST GIRLS, Found By…..?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This week on the Ball, we’re letting our wildest author fantasies run amok. By day we’re stressed-out, excitable writers who are trying to write our next book while selling our first book. We’re simultaneously afraid we’ll never write another book as good as our first and convinced our first is gutterslop nobody will buy. The Imposter Syndrome has its claws in deep, and we wonder if our book deals were…

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The Politics of Rejection

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I’m writing this post while watching live coverage of the New Hampshire primary returns, and as this bizarre passion play unfolds on my television screen I’m struck by how relevant it is to this week’s topic of rejection. We writers moan about how we’re cursed with near-constant rejection, and it’s true: even the most successful writers receive dozens, even hundreds, of “we regret to inform yous” for every accepted submission…

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The Evolution of a Title: THE LOST EVANS GIRL SISTERS OF STILLWATER BROKEN ARROW LAKE WHO WERE LIGHT ON THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER ONCE

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When you sell your book to a traditional publisher, it quickly becomes apparent that the story you lavished for years with the meticulous attention of a cat licking its fur doesn’t belong wholly to you any more. It’s now the foster child of an entire consortium of professionals whose sole purpose is to bring it into the world and sell as many copies of it as possible. Of course, this…

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