Bed-bound promo, website craziness, and Scrivener awe

Bed-bound promo, website craziness, and Scrivener awe

I’ve been bed-bound for over a week since a minor knee operation to repair a meniscus issue. I’m not going to whine about it! In fact, I’ve discovered that I’m the perfect candidate for this type of life.

On the bed beside me are:

  • my Mac Air;
  • my Levenger notebook (calendar etc.);
  • a Circa notebook fat with my To Do lists;
  • another notebook (a Semikolon Mucho Spiral Notebook for the stationery curious), where I’m thinking through The Next Novel;
  • a three-ring binder for scene sheets (@ Story Genius), which I’m really using as a support for my mouse pad and mouse);
  • my Kindle;
  • an iPad;
  • and a stack of magazines (The New Yorker, Real Simple, and Bookmarks).

Beside the bed is my walker (required for just a little longer!), a water bottle, clock, and iPhone. Moisturizer, lipstick, post-its, pencil, pen, pills. Snacks, tissue. Basic clutter.

Everything I need, in short, right where I can reach it. The only problem with this rat’s-nest life is that I can’t climb stairs (yet), can’t get up to my office.

But for now, I’m making great use of this time.

Website renovation

With every publication, a writer needs to update his/her website with information about the new book, a new media kit, author events, and a new author portrait throughout.

I didn’t have time to get an author portrait taken this year (I tried a selfie, with poor results), so I’ve used one James Brylowski took of me five years ago.

“Problem is, books are written slowly, and aging happens all of a sudden.” — from a wonderful article: The Agony and the Ecstasy of taking Author Photos.)

Having neglected my website for years, I discovered a number of problems. Fortunately, I was able to find a great website person through who is helping me. We have quite a bit to do yet.

(Frankly, I don’t know how authors who publish a book a year manage.)

An important part of getting my website more reader-worthy was setting up my Media page. Following the directions of Tim Grahl (see below), I learned to code my Media page so that high-definition images would be automatically downloaded with just a click. I’m fairly stoked that I was able to do this.

Also, on, I found someone to turn the book cover of The Game of Hope into a 3D image (see above). For $5!

Easy Outreach with Tim Grahl

When it comes to marketing, I’m a fan of Tim Grahl, He’s experienced, down-to-earth and realistic. I’ve taken a few of his online courses, and they’ve always been worthwhile. Right now I’m following a new one he’s testing out, “Easy Outreach.” Basically, it’s about how to get interviewed on podcasts, but the detailed system he outlines would apply to any outreach: to blogs, vlogs, or podcasts, etc.

An important part of the process is to identify suitable podcasts and to study them before making a pitch. (I’ve discovered a number of wonderful podcasts in the process.) I’m kind of excited about putting this into practice. I ordered a USB Yeti mike, and already have one podcast interview scheduled for the fall.

I’m ready! Who knows where this might lead?

Finally learning Scrivener

I’ve promised myself that I would write The Next Novel on Scrivener. I’ve taken stabs at learning it before, but I’ve always ended up confused and frustrated. It’s a complex programme! I was on the verge of giving up when I came upon a Udemy Scrivener 3 course for Mac. It had excellent reviews so I went for it. It’s been fantastic. I have questions almost every day, and the teacher responds to every one. I take it bit by bit, and immediately apply what I’ve learned, so hopefully, it will stick. I’m finally understanding why so many writers love it.

Additionally, I’ve been developing my next novel following the guidelines in Story Genius by Lisa Cron. Puzzling over how to get Cron’s scene card templates into my Scrivener project, I Googled “Story Genius Scrivener” and found a wonderful article by Gwen Hernandez on WriterUnboxed: Using Scrivener with Story Genius. Bingo! She even included a downloadable Scrivener template with scene card templates (and much more).

Watching movies, reading and listening to books and reading magazines …

And then, of course, there have been wonderful movies to watch: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Call Me by Your Name; and, last night, Lady Bird. All were simply great. Of the three, I found Call Me by Your Name the most enchanting, swooningly European.

And then, of course, books, books, books! In addition to books on writing, I’m reading The Burning Girl by Claire Messud and listening, on Audible, to an amazing performance of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

A hard life, eh?












Fun podcast interview with Tim Knox for “Interviewing Authors”


I very much enjoyed being interviewed about my work by Tim Knox for his series “Interviewing Authors.”


Interviewing Authors is one of the Web’s premiere blog and podcast destinations that focuses on the process of creating, writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and selling an author’s work.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Tim made me feel very much at ease and asked informed writerly questions. It was a fun chat. I love “shop talk.”

I invested in a funny-looking ball of a USB mike for it, thinking that I might like to make podcasts of my own.

(Ya, in my spare time? Well … I just might!)

You may read a print transcript of the interview here.

What you don’t see in the transcript is all the laughter. (Tim got a chuckle out of my brief bio: born in Miami, raised in California, aged in Canada.  I should have added, “like Cheddar.”)


Links, for those of you who are reading this on a non-hotlink site:

Sandra Gulland: Bringing Josephine B. To Life


Donald Maass podcast


I know I’ve mentioned before how I love to listen to Barbara DeMarco-Barrett‘s Writers on Writing podcasts when I’m doing the dishes, or sitting in an airport, or driving long distances. During this last long bout of travel (the last for a bit, I pray!), I enjoyed a number, but one in particular stood out for me: an interview with NY literary agent Donald Maass. I’ve read Donald Maass‘ book Writing the Breakout Novel—and I wish I had it here with me now in my office in Mexico, because there are a number of interesting things he has to say in it.


Before writing the book, Maass made a systematic study of the novels that made the NYT bestseller list, wishing to identify what it was about a novel that made it outstandingly popular. I’m not attempting to be a Danielle Steels or Stephenie Meyer, but I do appreciate insights into what makes a story compulsively addictive. I like when a book has me deeply hooked: I love it … and that’s what I’m after.

Two things stood out in this particular interview for me:

One, that a compelling main character should be deeply conflicted right from the start: he or she must want two things that cannot co-exist.

The other thing he had to say that gave me thought was not so much about writing as about promotion: his belief that promotion and publicity isn’t what sells a book, that what sells a book is the book itself. I’d like to believe that, but I’m not convinced. I don’t think it’s an accident that the Josephine B. Trilogy sold very well in the countries that invested a great deal in promotion (and conversely).

Podcasts I couldn’t do without


I subscribe to three podcasts. I listen to them while doing excercises, the dishes, the laundry, driving. They are all writing-related, and I highly recommend them.

Writers on Writing: interviews with writers and agents on the craft and business of writing. As a writer, a reader and a teacher of writing, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett knows the subject well. The interviews are invariably inspiring and informative. I just listened to a wonderful interview with script doctor John Truby and have ordered his book, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller. (Click here to listen to the interview.) I really like Truby, and this sounds like the perfect book for me right now.

The other podcast I love is put out weekly by the New York Times Book Review. It’s snappy, short, informative and entertaining.

My third favorite I used to listen to on the CBC every Sunday afternoon at 3:00, usually as I made soup. My life is not so easily patterned these days, and so I appreciate the freedom of being able to listen to Eleanor Wachtel‘s Writers & Company whenever I please.