Saturday, May 31, 2008


Finally, I'm posting a slew of events coming up. I hope you can make it to one!

June 10 7:00 p.m., Newport Beach Public Library
In conversation with Lauren Weisberger about her about her new book, Chasing Harry Winston. (Lauren's first book was The Devil Wears Prada.)

July 12 A fun all-day workshop at UC-Irvine Extention: Jumpstart Your Writing. Call UC-Irvine at 949/824-5414 or visit the UCI Web site.

July 13 1:00 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Newport Center, Newport Beach
Talk about essay writing and her essay, "Knitting: My Urban Escape," included in the anthology, Knitting Through It: Inspiring Stories for Troubled Times (Voyageur Press).

September 28 West Hollywood Book Fair
If you haven't attended the fair, don't miss out. It's a great people-watching day with great panels. I will moderate a panel of literary agents in the afternoon. Click here for more information.

October 11 Celebration of California Writers Week
Join me and other authors for a literary day at the Orange Public Library and History Center in Orange, CA. More information can be found here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Judging a book by its cover

Do you?

I often do judge a book by its cover. So many books are flung onto the porch every week for the show. On the way to the kitchen, I open the (usually) padded envelope and look at the cover of the book. I don't much care whether it's hard cover or paperback, but I like a nice texture and color. If it's teal, turquoise, aqua, or sky blue, so much the better. I've been known to keep these, and make beautiful colored stacks, or organize by color. The author's photo either compels me or doesn't. If the author looks bratty, or arrogant, the book goes in the reject pile. Not that the author has to look friendly, either. He or she just has to look ... interesting and approachable. I can't think of any author worth spending time on the phone with if they're not nice or fun or glad to be there.

Apparently, a lot of people judge books by their covers. Others judge books by their covers, too.

Do you?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Things to do instead of write

Watch this stop-motion video ... quite mind-boggling.

And look at these little constructions....

And this will get you back to writing....

Actually, that wild stop-motion video made me want to work on my novel. Inspiring! All that art at work.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A bit of log rolling

I love it when nice letters like this one come in:

Hi Barbara!

Just wanted to drop you a short note of thanks!

Earlier today I e-mailed/queried literary agent Bill Contardi. I reached out to him because of your podcast/interview with him in September, 2006. He got back to me immediately! I've included my e-mail to him and his response.

I don't know if he'll eventually take me on, but because of your show a reputable literary agent is willing to give my work a look.

I cannot thank you enough for your show!

Take care,

Ron Alvarez


If you haven't already, go my show blog and give a listen.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Critiques: What to keep, what to leave

A former student from one of my online classes asks:

"How do you know what critiques you should use and which ones you should not? I brought in and read some of my work to my writers' group this past weekend and received some feedback. I liked some of their comments but disagreed with others. So I wanted to get your thoughts as to how you should handle feedback."

I generally look for consensus. If a few people are saying the same thing, I pay more attention than if comments are various and random. That's not to say that I don't pay attention to the various random comments, because I do. I seem to pay attention to everything everyone says. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

But consensus speaks loudest of all because if a few people are saying the same thing, then it must be true (I reason).

I also pay more attention to comments coming from someone who writes and reads in my genre.

What I don't pay attention to are comments that sound personal and have more to do with the person offering their opinion than they have to do with the work.

And if there is even one lousy person in a group, it can ruin the entire group for me.

Once, in a group long ago, a member said (of my interracial novel at the time): Well, I don't like black people so I don't have anything to say.

I left that group fast. Ugh!

I also pay attention to comments that resonate. Sometimes someone will say something and immediately I'll say or think, Yes! You're right!

Maybe it's something I sneaked in, wondering if anyone would notice, vowing if they did, I would remove it. Or maybe I was lazy, or maybe it was a darling. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "Murder all your darlings"? You know, sometimes we're so in love with something we've written that really doesn't fit in the work, but we leave it in because we're in love with it. Praise those workshop members who find those sentences.

If anyone has more to say about critiques and what to pay attention to, please, have at it. I'd love to hear and I'm sure my former student does, too.

Friday, May 02, 2008

James Frey in Vanity Fair

Don't start reading this instead of writing. Save it as a reward for writing. A good story in June's Vanity Fair.