Authorly Advice

Why I Drove to Minneapolis to see Author Dani Shapiro

People ask me, “why Iowa,” when they learn that Ed, Avy and I left San Francisco earlier this year. Their faces scrunch and I smile. Why not? People are friendly here. Friends offer to pick up your paper when your delivery man can’t get with the on-vacation program. Neighborhood kids play together calling out to one another gleefully on the streets. Neighbors offer to mow your lawn and shovel your snow. There are four seasons. Trails to ride bikes. Woods to hike. Vast roads through cornfields to drive. I can wax poetic. 

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Coming Soon…

  • What it was like writing a draft memoir in Ellen Sussman’s Novel/Memoir in a Year class with no clear idea of what I was writing about.

    Ellen and me 1:8:2017

    I drove through pelting rain to turn my draft in to Ellen a day early

  • A writing tip that embellished my writing from Hope Edelman’s, Memoir: Step by Step workshop

    Hope Edelman Class Gals

    Hope’s fearless writers. All of us traveled to Madeline Island, which is situated in Lake Superior. We had a marvelous time.

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I Talked My Memoir to Death—Now What?


My desk at the Mechanics Institute Patiently Awaiting My Return

This year, 2016, is the year I have committed to write. To goad myself into it, I signed up for best-selling author, Ellen Sussman’s Novel/Memoir in a Year class. I’ve studied writing with Ellen for years—since 2008 when I first met her at Kepler’s in Menlo Park, California. After her reading for the publication of Bad Girls—26 Writers Misbehave, she mentioned to the audience at Kepler’s that she taught classes in her living room at her then-home in Los Altos. Ellen inspires me. A passionate and gifted teacher of writing, she has spunk, and a dry sense of humor I attribute to Trenton, New Jersey where she grew up. As she signed my copy of Bad Girls, I begged myself into her ten-week novel critique class, even though I was writing a memoir. (more…)

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Letting My Writing Lie Fallow – By Harriet Chessman

Last June in my blog Life Happens, I berated myself for not writing by comparing myself to writers who write every day—no matter what. In the comments section, several writers wrote encouraging me to return to my writing. Author, Harriet Chessman also wrote: “I too can only write when my life has calmed and steadied. I’ve always been this way. I really feel that, in these times, I’m filling up with life. Or sometimes my metaphor is that I’m letting my lands lie fallow…”

Inspired by Harriet, I reached out to her and asked if she’d share more in my Authorly Advice blog. Thank you, Harriet for sharing your wisdom with my readers and me.

Harriet’s photo taken by Brigitte Carnochan

Thank you to the wonderful Ana McCracken for bringing me on board this website! I loved Ana’s blog post about what a challenge it can be to continue writing each day, especially in the face of something major happening in one’s life. I wrote her a comment about how I often let my writing lie fallow, and she suggested that I develop this comment into a post. So here it is!

I have always written best when I have felt ready to write. (more…)

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The Wisdom of Not Talking Your Book to Death!

Coming SoonPeter CoyoteOn the day I confided to a friend I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue writing my memoir, Peter Coyote made a comment in an interview with Phil Bronstein at the Commonwealth Club that left me excited to start writing again. But the next day as I considered my enthusiasm, I pondered this: had I talked my book to death?…

While you wait for the next edition of my Writer’s News newsletter and the answer to my burning question, run to your nearest bookstore (sorry, I’m old school) and buy Peter Coyote’s latest book, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education.

Authors, give a shout if you’d like to be a featured author in a forthcoming Authorly Advice column. Qualifications: You’re a published author—in a book or an anthology— and you’d like to be interviewed about your thoughts on the joys, challenges, and the intricacies of being a writer.

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An Interview With Tracy Guzeman

Tracy and I met four or five years ago in a weekly writing class hosted by New York Times bestselling author Ellen Sussman. In her class, Tracy’s short stories sounded like they came to her with effortless ease, and the class participants loved them. I found myself a bit envious of her writing, but I admired her tenacity to produce stories by consistently sitting her butt in a chair to write. Somehow, even with a job, Tracy always wrote.Tracy Guzeman

When I learned that Tracy’s book The Gravity of Birds was to be published in July 2013, I was thrilled. Success of fellow writers is inspiring. (more…)

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