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Joy today: What I learned during my first #PitMad writing pitch event

On Thursday, I participated in my first #PitMad, a quarterly Twitter event where writers put together up to three tweets about a manuscript they’ve written, add the #PitMad, age category, and genre hashtags, and hope that agents and / or publishers like their tweets. A like means that they’re interested in receiving your query. Think of it as a writer’s foot in the virtual door. With the likes in your notifications, you then research those agents and publishers, review their query requirements, and send in your materials. And then you wait, and likely wait and wait and wait.

I didn’t expect to receive any likes on my 3 manuscripts. I figured low expectations were warranted with so much competition. I was shocked and thrilled when all 3 manuscripts got some interest. I’m working on my queries this weekend, and am excited to see what comes of it. Of course, I’ll keep you all in the loop!

Here’s what I learned during my first run at #PitMad:

1.) Take your shot
Yes, there will be thousands of tweets in competition with yours. Yes, the odds are long. And yes, it’s worth it. Your manuscript deserves every shot at being published, even the long shots. In publishing, it’s all a long shot. Take as many as you can.

2.) Relatively minimal effort on your part
It’s three well-composed tweets. You can write them ahead of time and schedule to publish on the day of #PitMad. Yes, they take time to write but think about how much time querying takes, and most of those queries fall into the void. Write the tweets, post them, and see what happens.

3.) Love shines bright in the writing community
The best part of #PitMad for me was seeing all of the love fly around the Twittersphere that day. People retweeting and commenting on posts that piqued their interest made my day. Twitter can be a bullying garbage pile sometimes with so much disrespectful criticism, and it was nice to see it as a force for good for writers during #PitMad.

I will absolutely participate again, and if you have a finished manuscript, I encourage you to participate, too. For more details and the 2020 dates for #PitMad, check out https://pitchwars.org/pitmad/.

 

Joy today: How to think about critiques of your writing

For all those who create and face criticism for putting the very best of your imagination out into the world, remember this👇

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and themselves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”

~Brad Bird via Anton Ego, Disney’s Ratatouille

Joy today: On the passing of Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison taught me that prose can be poetry, that struggle can lead to freedom, that you get what you give in writing and life.

She gave me 2 priceless lessons: we all have time to write and never give up. As a single mom with 2 kids, Morrison wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 15-minute increments each day because that’s all the free time she had. It took her 5 years to write it.

She kept writing despite her novel’s low sales. 3 years later, her next novel, Sula, was nominated for the National Book Award. Her following novels received mixed reviews, but she remained determined.

In 1987, 17 years after publishing her 1st novel, she won the Pulitzer. If you have a dream project, work on it bit by bit. Don’t let critics sap the joy you get from your work. Toni Morrison lived her life with passion and unending grace. She taught me to keep writing.

You were the GOAT, Ms. Morrison. How lucky we are to forever inhabit your multitude of worlds through your gorgeous books. Rest in Power, because that is what you gave all of us—the power of our own language, our own stories. What a life. What a gift.

A Year of Yes: Why writers have lived on the Upper West Side for so long

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 9.27.14 AMMy Upper West Side neighborhood is a place where neighbors sit on their brownstone stoops when the weather’s nice to say hello and visit. For writers, this is an especially wonderful practice because we hear, see, and share so many stories. It gives us a place to observe. And the fresh air does wonders for creativity.

My dog, Phineas, is a fan of this lifestyle. Here he is wishing everyone a good morning as he lounges in the dappled sunshine. I love this dog, this town, and the opportunity to tell stories.

A Year of Yes: Why Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast is so good for writers

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 3.23.22 PMThe Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast has been improving my life from the moment I set ears on it. There are so many life lessons and conversations starters about our society throughout the Harry Potter books and this podcast explores ALL of them with two fantastically intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, and hilarious hosts. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Vanessa, Casper, Adriana, and Julia for the wonder and gift that is this podcast. I’m so grateful and can’t wait for them to do another live show from New York City!

Writers, when we think about the depth of our stories and the work it takes to create this depth, a podcast like this shows just why that work is so worthwhile. Books are a lens through which to look at our lives, the world, and our place in it. It’s a hefty responsibility and an honor to be able to impact people in a positive way through our art. It’s the very best part of being a writer.

A Year of Yes: My book is in The New York Review of Books

Ending another week of happy book news! A few months ago I was invited to be in the Independent Press Listing of The New York Review of Books – Spring Books issue. I’m honored to be among so many fantastic books and authors in this publication that I have admired for years. You can pick up a copy of Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and in independent bookstores everywhere. Thanks to all of you who continue to support my book and this journey with Emerson. I hope you keep writing—through all the difficulties, rejections, and doubts. It’s worth it and the world needs your story. I can’t wait to read it.

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A Year of Yes: What story do you want to be?

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” ~Margaret Atwood

Stories are so intrinsic to our culture, to the structure of our lives, that it’s impossible to separate ourselves from them. We are defined by our stories, the ones we tell about ourselves and others, and the ones others tell about us. It’s how we connect and share with each other. They stir every emotion we can possibly have. Friendship and love both grow from stories. We are our stories, and our stories are us. Let’s make sure the ones we choose are really the ones we want.

In the pause: Your writing requires this one personality trait

“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” ~Josephine Hart

My friend, Tony, wrote this quote on his Facebook wall and it immediately brought a smile to my face. People who have been knocked down and rise up, again and again, can never be beaten. They will find a way up, out, over, and through any and every difficult situation. It will take time, courage, and a significant amount of effort but they will do it. They are the people I admire the most—the ones who persist against any and all odds, determined to live the life they imagine.

In the pause: Creativity Loop from Writers Writing Alone Together

I’m so honored to be part of the second Creativity Loop created by my amazing friend, insanely talented poet, and Penn roommate, KaRyn. Her organization, Writers Writing Alone Together, puts together retreats for writers. This is the gorgeous package I received in the mail. Then I used this poem to inspire a work of my own creation that I sent on to the next person on the list. Excited to see what our loop builds together. In these crazy-ass times we’re living through, being able to express our creativity together is what keeps hope alive. I wish each of you a creative, imaginative day. To learn more about KaRyn’s retreats, check out http://bit.ly/wwatwoodsinterest.

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