On Writing, Reading, and Publishing Well:April Eberhardt Interviewed by Chris Jane

Read the interview here on Jane Friedman’s site. I’ve mentioned Jane Friedman before. Her site is like the Fort Knox of information for writers.  Gold standard, gold mine, gold star–okay, enough. Some days I think my blog should simply be: check out Jane Friedman, repeated two or three times a week.

So much to read on editing and writing and publishing, so little time . . . so I often miss things the first time around. Or read them and file them somewhere on my computer. (I am most definitely not of the clean desk, focused mind school of thought.) This interview is a few months old. Apologies if you’ve already seen it.

April Eberhardt is an agent in the Bay Area, who’s embraced the changing landscape of the publishing world. This interview presents a good overview of that world in general, and good women’s fiction in particular. I urge you to check out her site as well.

What I particularly want to call out and re-emphasize is her recommendation to writers to read. My first creative writing teacher in college made form, function, and imitation assignments: write a poem in the style of ee cummings, a Shakespearean sonnet, like that. That’s one way of learning to write by reading.  There are others.

For me reading and writing are like one compound activity. As I read I notice pacing, story arc, characterization techniques, choice of details–dozens of things I’m not even necessarily consciously aware of. It becomes something akin to muscle memory that I bring it to my own writing.

And when I teach or coach writers I almost always encourage them to read something that their work reminds me of in some way or for some specific purpose.

Read on and write on!


Writing Because We Write, and Getting It Right so Our Readers Find Us

Gwendolyn Kiste posted a  blog which  Janine Kovac of sent out to a group I’ve recently joined, Write On Mamas. As Sherlock used to say to Watson, “It’s elementary!” And, as my daughter used to say when she was a teenager about most anything, “NOT!” Here it is: how to un-ruin your Amazon link in its entirety. And if I didn’t set up the link properly (possible, maybe even probable) look up Gwendolyn Kiste and you’ll find it.

The first time I used a computer, an Apple IIe, floppy disc, no hard drive, I was so apprehensive that it took me days to approach it. I’ve finally got to the point in life where I can try new things on my computer, and if they don’t work I breathe deeply, try again, panic, and call my friend Mark who might be getting sick of me by now. So I’ve made a resolution to breathe deeply and read the instructions.

Today I’m sharing an instruction worth following, whether you’re sharing the link for a your own new book or letting your friends and readers know about another writer’s book, this is good information to have. So I’m breathing deep while I follow the instructions in Gwendolyn’s article step by step.

In the meantime, write on!


How to Write about Sex–Let Me Count the Ways

Okay, I’m not actually going to write about how to write about sex here. I’m not even sure I can put the word “sex” in a blog headline. If the blog police don’t blow the whistle my Catholic upbringing might. But, as Noy Holland points out, there are a lot of ways from the explicit to the barest innuendo, the down and dirty to the sublime, to write about sex.   See the article here.

I’ve read many, but not all, of the stories and novels Holland mentions in the article. And I recommend them to you. It’s been said many times and many ways: if you want to write fiction, if you want to write a particular kind of fiction, reading fiction–studying it–is one of the best things you can do. Besides writing. Dive in and try it!


YA Books That Strike a Chord

It’s a good thing I clean out my email inbox every once in a while. I see the most amazing things there. I found an article about a Women’s Media Group meeting last month where editors and agents gathered with interested others to talk about YA novels (mostly) and what’s hot and what’s not. And what’s interesting to them right now and why. See the article here. If you write (or read) YA fiction, I think you might like this article.

Don’t Just Take My Word For It–Another Great Reading List


So I learned a few things when I stumbled across this list, I think posted by someone on Facebook, or maybe in one of the publishing newsletters I get, or maybe forwarded by a friend. I knew about BuzzFeed. Various quotes and quizzes pop up in my FB feed. But I had no idea there was something called BuzzFeed books. You can subscribe to it. Learned that! I haven’t yet subscribed, but maybe some of all of us will find out what it’s all about in the next few days. Here I thought Lincoln Thompson drew up this wonderful eclectic list of old and new books himself. I wanted to invite him to a dinner party with a bunch of bookish friends.

And wow! The other thing I learned–again–is that there are great old(er) books–call them classics out there to read or reread. And great new books. Books and authors I hadn’t ever heard of until I saw this list. When I’m next looking for something new and different to read I’m going to pull this list out and buy some books.

Time Sensitive–Free Webinar 10/21/15 on MFA Programs


From a Publishers’ Weekly newsletter–here’s a one-hour free webinar about what MFA programs are looking for in applicants. I look back more than fondly on my later-in-life MFA experience at San Francisco State. Among other things, I read widely–things I never would have found on my own. And I loved the assignments and deadlines.

Hmm, I’m not going back to school, but maybe giving myself some assignments and deadlines isn’t a bad idea. Oops. Off topic. Check out the webinar if you’re interested. And have a good week people!

Discovering New Stories, New Writers, and a Computer Glitch or Two Too

Short story: Here’s a link to a great list of recommended reads: http://mic.com/articles/90453/14-brilliant-pieces-of-literature-you-can-read-in-the-time-it-takes-to-eat-lunch. I love collected lists that tout great reads. It’s like those little handwritten shelf notes written by thoughtful people who work in really good bookstores. Only it’s online. And the best part is you can click on the link and the little blue “here” and read them instantly or not.

Longer version: A while ago I signed up for an aggregator newsletter at a site called Stumble Upon. You can tell it what you’re interested in. Then, every once in a while something that leads you on a merry chase through the never, never land of reading interesting stuff instead of marching down your to-do list pops up in your email. So today a piece entitled “14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time It Takes to Eat Lunch” showed up. I love some of these writers. I think Margaret Atwood’s short fiction is BRILLIANT, more brilliant than her novels really. And Lydia Davis and John Updike and Sandra Cisneros and Ray Bradbury. How often do those people show up in one place? And even though I’ve read some things by most of this gang of fourteen here was a list of stories I hadn’t read. And happy day, I could, or so I thought, have instant access to them.

I followed directions and clicked on the little blue “here” to read for free. And nothing happened. Then the smarmy Firefox (which I don’t ever use anymore, but some people do, apparently) showed up to say somebody’s Adobe Flash was outdated and the requested thing was being blocked. Okay.

So it’s from somewhere, this story. Stumble Upon found it, and they give credit where credit is due, mic.om.  I went there and you can too. (See link above.) The same lovely blue “here” was there. I clicked and was sent to–wait for it–Google Books, where I could buy Lydia Davis’s collected stories.

I may well buy Lydia Davis’s collected stories because decades ago in a class Bob Gluck, a brilliant writer and teacher who introduced me to so many writers I didn’t know, put a Lydia Davis story in his reader for a seminar on writing experimental short fiction. And I’d forgotten about her. I don’t remember the name of the story, but if I went into the closet that’s becoming my study and dug through a few boxes I could find it. Or I could order the collected short stories online or better yet see if my favorite bookstore has it in stock.

What I can’t do, with it or any of the other thirteen stories, is click the button and read it here now. So there are some glitches in our instant gratification culture. Maybe it’s because, although Stumble Upon found this article and put it in my inbox today, it was actually written in 2014, I think. And the woman who wrote it has a blog on WordPress, but she hasn’t written anything in it since 2013. Oh dear, I hope she’s okay!

But, I digress. . . What I wanted to say is here’s a great list of short stories I’m not familiar with by readers I love. And one of my great joys in life is being introduced to new writers or different things by writers I know. So I wanted to share this with you. And I am. You have the list. Maybe you’ll be able to click and read. And, if you do, please tell me how you did it.