Writing with Writerly Diversions

Writing with Writerly Diversions

It’s a busy week in San Miguel de Allende: the Writers’ Conference is on and there are many writers in town.

Yesterday I heard Tracy Chevalier‘s keynote address on the importance of history (wonderful), and tonight my husband and I are going to hear Scott Turow. Tomorrow, Gloria Steinem, and Saturday, Jane Urquhart.

I likely would not have written the Josephine B. Trilogy had it not been for the advice of Jane Urquhart, who was writer-in-residence at the Univ. of Ottawa when I was trying to figure out what to do with my very messy draft of a contemporary-mystery-comedy. I’m especially excited to see her.

As busy as all this sounds, I’m taking it relatively easy this year, because I’m working on draft 5 of The Game of Hope.

Something I wish I had the patience to do:

“I have done the second draft of all of my novels in longhand so that I slow down and think about what I’m doing more. That has been extremely helpful.” — Russell Rowland in a 5 on interview. He also has some very interesting things to say about self-publishing.

Interestingly, Tracy Chevalier writes in longhand, and then types the day’s work into the computer at the end of the day.

An excellent overview: The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors


What I’m reading now: All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews. Wonderful!

The photo of San Miguel de Allende at the top is by photographer and friend Leah Feldon.

On the chaos of departure, wisdoms at a literary festival, baby-love and sniffles

{Photo: Daughter Carrie and grand-daughter Kiki.}

Fall is upon us, which means, chez nous, that the suitcases have been hauled out and long To Do and Packing lists placed on the kitchen counter. We’ve begun to prepare for the annual migration south—but this year the voyage is complicated (enriched!) by a trip to Europe immediately after Thanksgiving, a raucous and fun-filled meal for twenty-four of our nearest and dearest.

Some time ago I thought it might be nice to go to the Kingston WritersFest immediately before Thanksgiving and departure. A crazy if lovely idea—it is, after all, a great festival—but somehow I managed to catch a nasty cold. (Me: who never gets sick!)

And so I’ve decided to leave Kingston in the morning and nurse my cold at home—alas! I did attend memorable workshops by Charlotte Gill and the amazing Helen Humphreys, among others. I also finally met historical novelist Eva Stachniak (author of The Winter Palace); we’ve corresponded by e-mail and through Facebook for a very long time. Writing is a solitary vocation, and it’s wonderful to meet other writers.

A Book Report

I finished reading Canada by Richard Ford (thumbs up!), and then plunged frenetically into one-two-and-then-three books on book promotion. They are:

Make a Killing on Kindle by Michael Alvear—which I read for obvious reasons. I learned quite a bit from it, and recommend it to anyone who is publishing on Kindle.

What to do Before Your Book Launch, by M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers. Excellent! I’ve been through this book-launching process four times, and I’m amazed how much I’ve forgotten. The time-table alone (what happens when) is worth the price of admission. I recommend this book for all published and to-be-published authors.

And then, if these two weren’t enough, I dove into the book promotion-wizz M.J. Rose (above) referred to as “her bible”: Publicize Your Book! by Jacqueline Deval.

I’m exhausted at the thought of all I should be doing. No wonder I came down with a cold!


My first “podcast”

My first “podcast”

{Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash.}

The Net Promo for Luddites workshop I gave this last February at the San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference was recorded. It’s a wonderful service they provide. I was not only able to get the recording of my own workshop but of two workshops I hadn’t been able to attend.

One of them was C.M. Mayo‘s workshop. Catherine is not only a fantastic writer and teacher, but my go-to Tech Expert.

I had the CD, and I was able to load it into iTunes, but where to go from there? Catherine immediately emailed back simple instructions: drag file to the desktop, load into podomatic.com. Presto! Here is it:

It’s long, and I doubt that any of you will, in fact, wish to listen to it, but I’m showing it off as a technical accomplishment.

If you want to see how a pro does it: sign up for Catherine’s e-book, Podcasting for Writers. I know this e-book is going to set off creative fireworks in my soul!

Books for novelists

I met Catherine Mayo last year in San Miguel at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference. Since then I’ve been keeping in touch with her through her blog(s), Facebook, and now … sigh … Twitter (the latest in Net addiction). As well as charming, she’s a wonderful writer and teacher.

She has a historical novel coming out soon: The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. I am very much looking forward to reading it.

But the subject of this post is the list of books she recommends for novelists. Many of my own favorites are on it:

From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler;


Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
by Robert McKee;


Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley.

But there are a number I know nothing about. This one I will definitely be ordering:


The War of Art: Winning the Creative Battle
by Steven Pressfield.

Because the writing life is often a war: a battle for time, for discipline.

[Note—for the list, go to: http://tinyurl.com/cdmlmx]