Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Good Beach Read

I’m spending two weeks at the beach, which naturally brings on the rains. When on vacation, I’m used to hearing the locals say, “I’ve never seen it rain like this in July,” or “Thank God, the drought is over.”

So on the one sunny day we had in the first three, I stayed out too long and got burnt. (I was the one slathering on broad-spectrum SPF70 under the beach umbrella while my dark-skinned male companions were flying kites and basking in the sun.) They got scarcely toasted; I got roasted.

So yesterday while I was sitting on the lanai, writing and gazing out at the ocean, pining for sun and sand, the significant others made a sand sculpture of The Dragon Heir. It was the talk of the beach.

Isn’t it cool?

And here I am with the artists…..

Now we just need some dragon tracks into the water….

Tuesday, July 8, 2008




It's not exactly a 20-city tour, but I'll be making the following appearances to launch the Dragon Heir.

Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Legacy Village
Author Appearance and Signing
The Dragon Heir Debuts!!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 7 p.m.
Joseph-Beth Booksellers,
Legacy Village, Beachwood, Ohio

Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington Green, KY
Author Appearance and Signing
Saturday, August 16, 2008, 2 p.m.
161 Lexington Green Cir # B
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 273-2911

City Lights BookstoreAuthor Appearance and Signing
Monday, August 18, 2008, 6 p.m.
3 East Jackson Street
Sylva, NC 28779
Order online at

The Learned Owl Bookshop
Author Appearance and Signing
Saturday, August 23, 2008, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
204 N. Main St., Hudson, OH 44236
(330) 653-2252

What To Do With That Diamond in the Rough

Q: I’m just about to finish my book. Now what? I want to be published. What do I do next?

A: Congratulations on finishing your book. There are many people who “want to be writers” but most of them just want to have written.

Many new writers want to rush immediately to finding an agent, approaching a publisher, etc., but I encourage you to make sure your writing is as good as it can be first. Focus on craft.

A young writer once asked me if it’s harder to get published if you’re young, and I replied that all things being equal it’s not harder to be published (maybe even easier). But things are usually not equal because it’s harder to be good when you’re young—just because the more you write the better you become. That’s the way to hone natural talent.

Even if you’ve already taken some steps to make your work better, I suspect you probably could still benefit from critique from other writers who are serious about craft. You may want to link up with other writers in your area. If you’re writing for teens, you may want to join SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). You can visit their national website here and look under Regions to see if there is a chapter near you. They often have local critique groups and may sponsor a local writing conference where you can learn a lot about craft and the business of publishing.

You didn’t mention whether you’d read and applied any books on craft. I have a number posted on my Website. Self Editing for Fiction Writers is an excellent choice.

Once you’re convinced your work is as good as it can be, consider looking for an agent. You can search for agents who rep what you write at Literary agent Nathan Bransford has lots of basic tips on his site, here. Look for the basics (Before You Query) posts.

There is info on how to find an agent on my site and what to watch out for. You also might want to check out the Writer Beware blog sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America here
to make sure the person you are querying is legit. Use the Preditors and Editors link on the right hand side. One way to meet agents and editors from publishing houses is to attend writing conferences.

Finally, I often post answers to writers’ questions on my blog. On my LiveJournal site, look under the tag Young Writer Q&A.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Shopping Impaired

I am shopping impaired. I blame it on my mom, who never mentored me in the shopping tradition. We never went out clothes shopping, because she made all of our clothes. We’d go to the fabric store, and sit and flip through the pattern books. If I found something I wanted, then we’d look for a compatible fabric and notions.

There was no need to go beyond the two or three fabric stores available to us. The pattern books were pretty much the same everywhere. There was no ritual “trying on” of clothes, no vetting of what I chose by a committee of peers, no need for anyone to go fetch another size while I lurked half-naked in a dressing room. If I needed/desired a change in a collar or a hemline or short sleeves instead of long, that would happen on the cutting table or at the sewing machine.

The big downside was that it was sometimes hard to predict how a style would work in a particular fabric. Or whether it would flatter my vertically-challenged frame.

The notion of recreational shopping is foreign to me. It’s not that I don’t like bling, or cool clothes, or sexy shoes—I do!! I want to HAVE them, not SHOP for them. It’s all about outcome, not process. I like to do my research ahead of time. I want to know exactly what I’m looking for when I leave the house, and exactly where I’m going to go to get it. So traveling in a shopping pack is counterproductive. It just takes longer.

This week I went shopping for a bathing suit, since we’re planning to spend two weeks at the beach this summer. I went into the department store, grimly determined to come away with a bathing suit that wouldn’t require me to huddle in a cabana with a towel drawn up to my chin. I went alone, knowing I would have to try on approximately 125 bathing suits to achieve this.

This is fun?

There is one exception to this anti-shopping bias--bookstores. I love to browse in bookstores. I love the smell of books, the way the spine crackles when they’ve never been opened before, the texture of rough-cut pages, the weight of a volume in my hands, the aggressive artwork in picture books. I like being in a community of other bookstore browsers.

Shopping in a bookstore is the perfect marriage of process AND outcome—bliss.