February 18, 2012

My Heart Goes Out

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 3:55 pm

To the family of author Judi McCoy whom I just learned passed away today. Judi was the author of the dog walker mysteries and a guest on a past Writing Matters panel with fellow hobby mystery author Lois Winston.

Judi was a generous soul who inspired many audience members with her blend of reality, humor, and warmth.

May her memory be honored as she is at rest.

February 7, 2010

A theatrical benefit for autism

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 10:06 am

At my recent Writing Matters panel I met local author Barbara Hall.  Barbara has written a one act play called One Sunday Afternoon in Laurelwood, which is being staged by the Pines Lake Woman’s Club to benefit autism.  Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for the charity.

The Pines Lake Woman’s Club in Wayne is featuring the production of a one-act play, “One Sunday Afternoon in Laurelwood” at their general meeting Wednesday, February 10. The general public is welcome to attend the performance in the Gymnasium/Auditorium of the Pines Lake Elementary School off Pines Lake Drive East.  Doors will open at 7:30 PM.  The play features members of the Women’s Club in the play written by local author, Barbara Hall.  Admission is free and refreshments will be served after the play.   Free-will donations will be contributed to the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Club’s state project, Autism.

Call 973 839-1393 or email pineslakewomansclub@yahoo.com for further information.

December 29, 2009

This Year I Will

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 10:43 pm

It’s that time of year again.

Time for resolutions.

I don’t mean exercising–which I do plan to do, I even got a mini elliptical from my always attuned hubby for Christmas–or losing weight (if it happens, especially from the tum, that’d be great).  And definitely not make sure to treasure each moment (I really, truly do, except maybe for the ones where a rejection has just come in) or be more patient with the kids ( writing and the thirtieth request for a banana–especially after I’ve already fulfilled the ones for milk, juice, cheese, a plate of strawberries, and even a treat–will just never work; luckily those moments are far rarer than the rejection ones).

No, I mean writing resolutions.

The ones that are in our control (start a new novel) and the ones that aren’t (get a book contract).

Side note. My eldest and I were driving. I was ruminating on the myriad frustrations of life as a mostly unpublished writer. Long silence from the back. Then, “Mommy? Is a book contract the kind of thing you could get…someone for their birthday?”

Yes, my birthday was coming up.

It’s since passed.

I don’t want another one to.

Can you make resolutions you have almost no control over keeping?

What are yours?

October 13, 2009

No such thing as too many books

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 8:26 am

Here’s a woman who really knows the joy of a good book!

I don’t know if I could pull this off, but Nina Sankovitch has. I think she is doing a wonderful thing for books and book lovers everywhere.

One part that jumped out at me is where the article mentions her children as being avid readers. It started me thinking about the ways in which a love of books is passed down through the generations and whether it’s more important than ever to do that right now.

But I think I’ll make that the subject of tomorrow’s post. I don’t want to take away from the power of what this woman is doing. And I also don’t want to spoil the surprise.

July 30, 2009

New York/New Jersey folks

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 8:14 pm

I am a huge fan of indie everything as some of you know from this blog, so I’m really happy to be starting a writers series at this bookshop in Montclair, NJ. The first panel is on publishing short fiction on line, and future ones will cover other writing topics, featuring great authors, some of whom have appeared here!

If you live in the NJ (or even NY) area, please consider coming out on a Friday night, for food, drinks, and some informal writers chat…

Writing Matters

July 15, 2009

Reports of its demise have been greatly overestimated

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 10:57 pm

Anyone who worries about the current state of the print book must take a trip to Powells Bookstore. This was the biggest and busiest bookstore I’ve ever seen–and you’re talking to a Strand devotee. You had to wedge yourself around people to get from the blue room to the gold, and sometimes wait to peruse the A’s (or the Z’s) for one or two other browsers to move along. Sheer ecstacy. Kids spent hours in the rose room and could hardly decide between selections. I wanted to buy ‘em all (and did spend north of a hundred bucks). Anything to keep this wonderful slice of heaven in business forever.

July 10, 2009

Portland, OR

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 7:54 am

I will be off to points West for the next few weeks, so posts will be sparse. But what I do write should be full of travel logs and maybe some awesome pictures…so please check in! And I will get back to the story and other things writing in August…

July 8, 2009

Independent publishers

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 9:57 pm

Someone who’s been reading the blog asked me recently why I’m still at it. Other people have also said, How do you keep going? These questions always make a little sad–mostly because I feel like I must *be* a little sad to get asked this. Why has it taken so long? In future posts I plan to describe how very close I’ve come. So it couldn’t be that I just suck, could it?

One answer to why I keep going is that I adore and enjoy writing too much to stop. If you offered me a day on a tropical beach paradise with nothing to do but drink mai tais, or a day spent writing, I might very well choose the latter.

Someone once said, write only if you can’t not write. I can’t not write. But that’s an answer about why I keep writing–not why I’m still pursuing publication. The answer to that is more complicated.

On the most superficial level, I keep going because people keep telling me to. Agents who have offered rep. Editors who have come close to making offers. There’s been so much reinforcement over the years that even though I haven’t gotten a book deal yet, there also hasn’t been a viable stopping point. I’ve either been revising, writing, or waiting on a sub for about eight years now.

And those editors have been from major houses, the ones most agents deal with. So not only have I not stopped pursuing publication, but I’ve been going at it from this one, fairly rarefied angle.

History will show whether that model of publication survives.

What if you’re interested in alternative models? Are there places that would still confer the great privilege of being published but in a different modality?

Here are two that I think are worth checking out.



And now back to waiting for me.

July 1, 2009

Do you know these ladies?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 3:41 pm

Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers, in addition to being wonderfully talented writers, have a blog called Boxing the Octopus, where they tell it like it is every day in the writing business. I’ve come to depend on them to keep me informed, entertained, and always thinking.

The other day Joni wrote about whether commercial is a bad word–or at least a declassé one–when it comes to fiction.

In my writing, commercial is the goal. I want to appeal to a large number of people. To entertain them and carry them away to my story world. This has been true ever since Dorothy suggested the possibility to me.

I’d love to hear from somebody who disagrees! Is fiction that is non-commercial better in some way? Can literature be commercial? What is literature anyway?

June 18, 2009

Did I mention that my baby weighed 180,000 pounds?

Filed under: Backstory,Uncategorized — jenny @ 5:18 am

I hope I never forget the first words of feedback I got about Arugula’s Mother. My parents and sister were vacationing in the Adirondacks, and they left a message on our answering machine. It will date this entry to say that the machine in question had an actual play button, if not a real cassette tape.

“We’re reading this on the rock beside the river,” my mother said on the machine. “And we’re passing the  copies back and forth as fast as we can read.” Pause. “I LOVE this novel. So does Dad, so does…”

You get the idea.

It was extremely gratifying.

But did I mention how long the novel in question was?

180,000 words.

Those of you who write will know that this was a completely unworkable word count. A few multi-generational sagas, some fantasy epics, run to such lengths. But psychological suspense? I daresay never.

I got plenty of criticism from my group of trustys, and it led me to my third, fourth, and fifth drafts. But no one criticized the length. No one knew that the baby I was so proudly showing around was not cutely pudgy, or even bordering on fat, but obscenely, grotesquely overweight.

I knew it. I’d been reading books on writing and publishing and manuscript preparation. One of the deeper points I was picking up on was that there’s a reason books of certain genres settle at a certain word count, and when they are in the ballpark of the “right” length then they are tight reads with a good flow. Pushing the boundaries on this produces all sorts of flaws in the manuscript: meandering plot threads, characters that serve no purpose, dialogue and scenes that wander.

Somehow my writing was interesting enough that my trustys didn’t object on this level. They were willing to follow all the extraneous material. They critiqued it when it fell off in any number of ways, but they didn’t suggest cutting it.

One of the books I devoured during that period was Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel and in amongst the many pearls of this great writer’s wisdom was one grain of sand I glommed onto as if it were a life buoy and I was drowning.

To paraphrase, Mr. Block said something like, “Certain big books sometimes run to greater lengths, even upwards of 150,000 words.”

Well, there you go! Or rather, there I went! I was writing a big book, wasn’t I? Hadn’t Dorothy compared it to the best selling Deep End of the Ocean? Of course it needed every one of its bloated, rotund 180,000 words.

Between Dorothy , Mr. Block, and my own naivete, I was about to jump in at the deep end myself.

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