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Dispatches From The Publishing Front


Top Ten Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Published

by Erin Brown

1.     Be a Good Writer and a Good Storyteller

“Well, duh, stupid,” you might be thinking. Everyone has to be a good writer! (And don’t call me stupid.) But many people forget that an author has to be both a good storyteller and a good writer. What’s the difference? Well, I’ve edited many novels that had great plots and characters, but the author couldn’t write their way out of a paper bag (sure, that metaphor doesn’t make much sense, but I like the sound of it). There are also many brilliant writers who can’t create or move along a plotline to save their lives. The key is to learn how to do both seamlessly—the result is pure gold. 

2.     Write Something Different

This might seem like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many authors don’t think about a good hook before they start a book. You are going to have a much greater chance of catching an agent or editor’s eye if your characters or setting or plot are completely unique in some way. If there’s nothing that makes your novel different than what’s already out there, the writing can be great and it won’t make an agent jump up and down with excitement.  



I Wish You Like This
Hippo-mo-potomuses and other right mistakes

by Jennifer Paros

Around many of the holidays, historically, my sons have come home bearing gifts made in school and overseen by their teachers.  These are often craft projects (some of which I haven’t completely understood) with pre-formulated pieces, which the child constructs and writes on or decorates to personalize.  I enjoy receiving these, regardless of what they may be, and due to my sentimental nature, find even the most standard re-cycled phrases pleasing.

My favorite of all these gifts, however, came from my youngest son a few years ago.   It was near to Mother’s Day, and each of the children in his class was given a tile to decorate.  Upon arriving home, he gave me the one he’d made, signed with “love” and his name, which read:

                    “I wish you like this.”    more...


Whatever It Takes

by Bill Kenower

Until recently, I had never liked the idea that you’ve got to do “whatever it takes” to get where you want to go.  I was profoundly suspicious of the “whatever” part of this maxim, especially as it applied to those in the arts. It suggested that life was too short and too lean for anyone to hang onto anything as encumbering as ideals. Reality, this notion seemed to say, required steep compromise, constant sacrifice, and an overall willingness to go where you would have otherwise thought undesirable. Once you’re rich you can revisit your ideals; until then, the cupboard is bare. 

I was born an idealist, and I will die one. That is to say, I do not think we are trudging through this life to fill our larders and keep the roof in one piece, necessary as these things may be. I have always believed that larders and roofs are merely a by-product of some greater goal, a goal dangerously, it may seem sometimes, unconcerned with the dirty business of not-dying. This is what often gets called idealism.  more...




My Eleventh Novel
by Robert Ferrigno

My eleventh novel, Heart of the Assassin, is being published on August 11, and I'm more worried about it than I am about my retirement (ha-ha) account. I should be happy. My editor is happy. My agent is happy. Heart is the third book in a trilogy of political thrillers set forty years in the future. Sales of the first two books of have been good. Publishers Weekly gave this third book a starred review. Happy. Happy. Me, I'm nervous. 

While writing a novel, the author is a god. When you write thrillers, you are often a vengeful god --- and let’s be honest, what’s the fun of being a god if you can’t call up death and destruction when the mood hits? Characters live and die by my whim. Love blooms and fades by my command. I decide whether the ending is happy or sad. That cough may be a summer cold or something worse. And watch out for the girl with green eyes. It’s nice being a god, but once you turn in a completed manuscript, you get tossed out of heaven. more...

  A Lesson from Your Dog

by James Thayer

Dogs offer vital lessons for writers, including turning around three times before lying down and chewing a shoe with proper etiquette.  But the most important lesson is their namesake attribute: doggedness.


Ah, to be brilliant and fruitful, to have the words spill out, the perfect story gushing forth like water from a pipe.  To be Eleanor Hibbert, who—writing as Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr—would sit on a sofa, no paper in sight, and dictate her novels, her words taken down by secretaries.  Or to be Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason novels, who dictated into a machine, often working on four stories at once and producing a million words a year. more...

Showing Emotion

by Adam Nichols

Charles was upset. “I’m so upset,” he hissed at Annabelle, “that I feel like throwing up.” His fists were clenched tight and his face was twisted up. He was really, really upset. 

Not hugely convincing, is it?

The problem here, in part, is the old ‘show don’t tell’ issue. We are simply told that Charles is upset — the classic novice writer’s blunder. We are shown Charles’ upset, too, though: we hear him hiss; we see his clenched fists and twisted-up face. So why does this extract ring so hollow? more...



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