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Dispatches From The Publishing Front


All I Want for Christmas is a Great First Novel
by Erin Brown

Now, is that really too much to ask? A fantastic, unputdownable, stays-with-me-long-after-the-final-page, full of memorable characters, sparkling dialogue, a unique premise, end all/be all novel. Either that or those diamond studs that I’ve been leaving pictures of all over my husband’s desk. Either one will do.

Truth be told, I did receive this “novel” present just last month in my freelance editorial world and that author now has a top notch, New York agent and is well on his way to making a splash on the bookshelves (whoo hoo!). But before I drink too much of Aunt Edna’s spiked eggnog, I want to tell you the heartwarming holiday tale of buying one of my favorite acquisitions of all time—two years ago, I received the ultimate Christmanukkah present: an incredible novel by a first-time author. As I sat in my drafty Flatiron building office, a beautiful, thick sheaf of papers came across my old, wooden desk and by page 10, I was in love. more...


One woman's desire to create problems

by Jennifer Paros

I was twenty-five years old and had gone back to college to study art, after receiving my first bachelors’ degree in fiction writing.  I was insecure about my technical facility for drawing and was in a semi-constant state of trying to prove myself – if not to others, then to myself.  Even though I had come to art school to LEARN, I remained anxious about the potential of producing something unimpressive or worse, just plain bad.

With each drawing I made, I would enter into a slave mentality – something that felt akin to having to build a pyramid overnight.  I would sit myself down at my drawing table and begin the torturous experience of striving to work freely while keeping an “eye” on myself. more..


It Happened When?

by Cherie Tucker

We have to talk about verbs, folks.  Those lively words that tell the actions your characters take, like run, jump, kiss, sleep.  They have magical properties that allow them with just simple changes to tell the exact time that something was done.  Look at the difference, for example, between “He has run around Green Lake before” and “He had run around Green Lake before.”  Subtle, but a world of difference.

Controlling your verb choice will determine whether or not you have given your characters’ actions the correct time frame and shown the reader you are a credible writer. There are a few verbs that are notoriously misused by people, and if you are among the misusers, pay attention. more...


The Romance Report


Flirting with Books that Become Movies

by Jane Porter

Having a book out is huge. 

Having a book get turned into a movie is well, nothing short of miraculous. 

Not every book gets optioned, and of those that do, very few actually go into production.  The fact that Flirting with Forty was published in July ’06, and by July ’08 it was already a film in post-production waiting for its December premiere blows my mind.  It all happened so fast that I still find it hard to absorb.  But in the two years of activity highlights spring to mind: The offer from Sony. more...


Ending a Scene

by James Thayer

Shave and a haircut, two bits.   This little jingle is the key to ending a scene.

Above all things, the end of a scene should make the reader want to read the next scene.  How do we do that?  By asking a question at the end of a scene, rather than answering a question.  By leaving things unsettled, rather than settled.

Try singing Shave and a haircut, two. . . ,  leaving off bits.  It’s almost impossible.  The brain demands that the jingle be finished.  The mind wants completion, to go forward to the payoff. 

Here’s another example: the most famous four notes in classical music: the opening notes of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 5 in C Minor.  Three short G notes, then one long E note.   Da da da DAAAAH.   Try humming only the first three notes.  Can hardly be done. more...

Confessions of a Library Lover

by Paula Margulies

From the time I was old enough to hold a book in my hands, I’ve been a huge fan of public libraries. Some of my earliest and best memories are of trips with my mother to our local library, where I could pick up to seventeen books at a time (the maximum allowed then) to take home and read. I was seven years old when I got my first library card, and I still remember my initial selections: a couple of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, a Zane Grey novel (pushed on me by my mom), a collection of Greek mythology, and what was to become one of my all-time favorite books, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.  more...



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