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Showing posts from May, 2016

BELVA PLAIN: She Dared to Change the Face of Jewish Novels

In recognition of Jewish American Heritage Month, I want to share the incredible literary journey of third-generation Jewish American author, Belva Plain (1915-2010). Ms. Plain has been quoted as saying she wrote her first novel, Evergreen , because she’d had her fill of stereotypical Jewish characters who failed to reflect the reality of Jewish life. Published when she was 62, Evergreen became a New York Times bestseller and remained at the top of that coveted list for 41 weeks. During the balance of her 95 years, she penned 22 more novels, all written in longhand, 20 of which also became NYT bestsellers. More than 30 million of them were in print in 22 languages when she died. Belva Plain graduated with a degree in history from Barnard College and had her first short story published in Cosmopolitan shortly thereafter. She continued to write and submit short pieces to help support her husband's ophthalmology studies until the birth of her three children, after which she devot

Things I Didn't Know on My Way to Publication

I wrote my very first book in the year 2000. I had never written anything before other than ad copy for fashion layouts. My spring chicken days had already sprung, and I was a few years away from the age when many people retire. I wrote the book because I read one I thought was terrible. I challenged myself to do a better job almost as a lark, never expecting I’d complete a novel or that writing would become my fourth career. I thought my story was good, but I knew enough to realize that my technical knowledge, the nuts and bolts of writing, was severely lacking. I sent the book to an editor I found online. His credentials said he’d written forty-two books, and he had, as a ghostwriter for some famous people. His wife was his editor, and she also edited my pages. I got two for the price of one, and they were great. His first email to me after reading the first forty-nine pages of my manuscript was: The story is fantastic; the writing needs work. I was filled with mixed emotions.

Taking Ownership

Photo credit: Owen Moore Ownership manifests itself in many ways. Take for instance a cold. Not long ago, someone I knew had one. When speaking about it, I referred to it as her cold. Then, when I soon caught the germ, my husband actually called it my cold. Hearing him say that at first seemed strange, until I realized the cold's ownership had now been transferred to me, along with the responsibilities of trying to get better and not sharing the germ with others. Here are a few examples of how a writer can take ownership: A writer needs to own up to mistakes. It would be wonderful to believe every word we write is perfect, but, actually, that's not really the case. We need to own up to our mistakes, learn from them, and polish our prose. We can do this by either hiring an editor, or at least by submitting our work to some darn good beta writers. Okay, the book is done. Before it's released, although in the U.S. original works have been automatically copyrighted

Writers Write

SHEEP #1: Is that you? WRITER: Are you talking to me? SHEEP #1: Yes. SHEEP #2: Where have you been? SHEEP #1: You’re rather late. WRITER: But… SHEEP #2: Time to write! WRITER: But… SHEEP #1: But what? SHEEP #2: You're not a goat. Stop butting. WRITER: Writing is hard. SHEEP#2: Are you a writer? WRITER: Yes. SHEEP #2:  Then write. WRITER: It’s not that easy.  SHEEP #3: Yes, it is. Write.  SHEEP #2: It doesn’t have to be perfect.  SHEEP #1: Let’s be honest, it won’t be perfect. It will never be perfect.  SHEEP #2: But it will be words. You can work with words.  SHEEP # 1: As a wise sheep once said, you can’t edit an empty page.  SHEEP #2: Who said that? WRITER: Wasn’t it you? SHEEP #2: It probably was. I’m very wise. SHEEP #1: And humble. SHEEP #2: Yes. Yes, this is true. WRITER: But I want it to be perfect. So I write the same paragraph over and over. I never get beyond Chapter One. SHEEP #2: That isn’t writing. That’s goi

In Case of Emergency

There is no warning bell before your ride on the rollercoaster of life takes a dramatic turn or ends abruptly. No one likes to ponder their disability or demise, but I believe in being prepared. As a writer there are certain steps you should take now, just in case. 1. Firstly, you need a "person" or "persons" you can trust to assist. It may be your spouse, relative, child, best friend, or someone else to take care of all the nitty-gritty details, preferably someone organized and efficient. Make sure several people (attorney, accountant, business manager, family friend) know where to find your important documents in case there are multiple casualties. 2. Appoint someone to take charge of the business end of your writing and give them legal power of attorney to do so in case you are disabled temporarily or permanently. 3. Draw up a will. Copyrights are intellectual property and are treated the same as any other personal property. They can be left to an