Friday, April 26, 2013

Update on Publishing Today: Interview with Nonfiction Authors Linda and Allen Anderson

Linda and Allen Anderson have an illustrious career as co-authors of fifteen nonfiction books, most recently the ASJA-award-winning memoir, A Dog Named Leaf. They both teach writing classes and work (Linda, full-time; Allen, part-time) on their current and future books--writing, editing, and marketing. 

With positive reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, Country Living, Cat Fancy, Best Friends, plus dozens of other national publication, the Andersons' books have been listed in Hot 100 and Barnes & Noble Top 10, What America Is Reading.

Celebrities Tippi Hendren, Valerie Harper, Brian McRay, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Betty White, Dr. Larry  Dossey, Penelope Smith, and Richard Simmons are a few who have endorsed or contributed stories to the books.

The Andersons' work has been featured twice on NBC's The Today Show and on ABC's Peter Jennings Nightly News, and they have been the subject of numerous national magazine and wire service articles, including interviews for London newspapers and the BBC.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Seth Godin's FOMO--Fear of Missing Out: Jealousy and How It Affects the Creative Person

Way back when I was new to writing, I did an exercise from Julia Cameron's classic, The Artist's Way, called The Jealousy Map. 

Cameron worked for years with what she called "recovering artists," or writers, musicians, and other creative folk who were stalled out, not doing their art.  She proposed that jealousy often blocked us from reaching our fullest potential.  This translated into a kind of creative self-abuse.  Our Inner Critic got out of hand.

The Jealousy Map asked you to write a fast list of everyone you were jealous of.  From the local writer who just got a story accepted to your neighbor who was so creative to the last winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 

I went wild.  I had no idea how much jealousy lurked inside me!  My best friend, members of my writers' group, luminaries like Pam Houston (a short story writer I adored), and others got scribbled onto my paper.  Anyone I felt was "chosen" in some way, while I was not. 

Many on my list reflected areas where I felt less competent.  I envied writers with better skills and a longer track record in publishing, thinking it was luck that got them there.  I didn't know better. 

The exercise was cathartic.  By the end, I was quite ashamed!  What a terrible, mean-spirited person I was.  To be so envious of these other writers' well-deserved accolades and successes. 

But the exercise wasn't over. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Making It Up versus Imagining It--Notes from Andre Dubus

Like you, I love good writing.  I adore books that let me enter a dream world and only surface reluctantly.  As a writing teacher, I study such books to find out why they hold me so completely.  The best of the best get reserved for my workshops as teaching tools. 

At my Madeline Island retreats each summer, we read sections from Andre Dubus's award-winning novel, House of Sand and Fog, particularly a pivotal scene that takes place in a revolving restaurant in San Francisco. 

Dubus chose the setting first, he told me at a writing conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, this past weekend.  He started with the revolving rooftop location and then built the event around it.  The event he chose perfectly reflects the disorientation of watching a cityscape go by.  The two main characters are revealing unsavory truths to each other, making a pact, about to get into trouble.  The scene even foreshadows a crime they will commit together at the end of the story.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Art of Modeling--How Other People's Books Can Make Yours Better

When I was in graduate school, one of my teachers suggested a sketchy idea:  Read a favorite published writer and "model" them. 

She suggested it because I was way stuck--in a (to me unsolvable) problem with one of my chapters.  It needed a lot less imagery.  I love imagery.  So me and the chapter were at a standstill.  I was at a loss:  how to capture necessary emotion without the pictures?

Luckily, my teacher was a minimalist writer.  She was famous for this in her novels and short stories.  I loved them but they were like a foreign language.  She answered my dilemma with a list of books to find and read. 

Like her writing, most of the writers on the list were also minimalists.  A few occasional visual or sensory details.  Imagine Old Man and the Sea but in modern prose.  Sentences short and to the point, characters who didn't mess with thoughts or reflection.