Friday, December 22, 2006

Time for Christmas

Well, after five days with no power, we're back. (Actually, we got power back late Tuesday, but last night another transformer blew and so I shut everything down, except my laptop and prepared to pack for our Christmas trip in the dark.)

We are lucky. The power stayed on, the work is done, clients are happy, and I can finally read the Elizabeth George novel that has been mocking me for a month. Plus, I'm reading 13 Ways of Looking At the Novel by Jane Smiley and loving it. And I bought the entire series of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Mysteries to read in 2007. They are a great light, easy read, but JE is pure genius.

On the list for January 2007 is revising two web sites for a grand re-opening, working on the new novel (the current novel is still stuck at 98%, but it will be done over Christmas), and writing more and more for clients and for myself. A great New Year's resolution!

Speaking of New Year's, I know I'm early, but anyone care to share their New Year's resolves with this blog?

Share away. I'll be checking in from our vacation periodically.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Winter Storm

The Pacific Northwest really got hit last week with a fierce storm.

But the question remains: are we too soft?

It's being debated on the radio as many of us still are without power 96 hours later. I'm disturbed at how much of my life has been disrupted without power and how hard it has been to maintain some semblance of normalcy. I think I now can maybe begin to begin to fathom a small bit of what Hurricane Katrina survivors went through. Or, maybe I'm just a wuss.

We lost power Thursday night and the temps sank to the low 20s over the weekend. We kept warm by going out to eat and visiting friends, and now we've checked into a hotel, because I have deadlines and clients who are relying on me. But what if I had small children? What if we were farther outside of suburbia?

I think these two things have become apparent:

1. We're buying a generator, not a large one, but one big enough to turn our heat on and keep our food from spoiling.

2. We're going to plan for a week's worst case scenario instead of just three days. This will require some more planning, but I am determined.

Our trees stayed up through the wind gusts and we're healthy and okay. We have outstanding neighbors who banded together to help each other out. That's a LOT to be thankful for.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Writing update!

If you'll check out my newly updated WIP status meters, you'll notice I'm about finished with a book project. What a fun book to write! I'm really excited as I put it aside for two months to percolate and start another one!

How is the writing going for you? I write fiction mostly, but 2007 will also be the year for my non-fiction and I'm so ready.

Join me!

So You Want To Write A Book? Lesson 4

The blog is back! Please forgive me for the lapse in time. A lot of changes in my hosting and then my old url got taken over by spammers! New address, but we're here. Bookmark our new address and again accept our apologies for the hiatus!

What a busy 2006! Things sure moved fast and furious at publishers and magazines back in New York. It’s called the shuffle. Lots of editors moved to different publications. And a lot of editors are headed out for their Christmas break until January. At which time, all these editors will be looking at new pitches. So let’s jump back in to our series.

The last time we discussed proposals, we covered fresh ideas, title brainstorming, and proposal reference books. Hopefully, you’re going through some of those references and have figured out the basic premise of your book idea.

Today, we’re going to talk about the basic pieces of a book proposal.

Cover letter (query)

A cover letter is the most important piece of your proposal and should probably only be roughed out at the beginning. Save the final edit for last, because it's your first impression! And the most important, thus should be last.

The Proposal

The proposal itself has many components, and I'm going to run through them quickly in this post.


The Big Idea, in capsule form. You're showing that the book idea is meaningful, special, interesting, and marketable; that it can be a cohesive book-length work. Remember, writing small like this is harder than writing the book.


How is the book going to be organized


Who's out there doing the same thing, or doing something similar and how does your stand out?


How do you intend to market this book? Any immediately strategies come to mind?


When is the book going to be finished?


What makes you the right person to write this book?


Anybody read the book idea and love it? Not your family and friends, please. Think published authors, experts, or celebrities.

Supporting materials

Are people really interested in this book idea? Has it been covered in the news or in a magazine article? If the exact idea has already been on Oprah . . . well now. The point is that not a LOT of people have already heard the information, but that it's on the upward motion to becoming something people will be talking about. See the difference? Everybody already knows about the Dunstan Baby Language, so a book on your baby language might be a hard sell, or not. Depends on how you package your idea.

So with that overview, please do check out Eric Maisel's book "The Art of the Book Proposal: From Focused Idea to Finished Proposal" and stay tuned as we start what Eric calls "chunking" in our next post.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Grammar Rant

I go off on these every so often. This blog has been spared before, but not today.

Today’s rant:


Let’s review. Comprise means to “to contain, consist of”; compose means “to make up.” The parts compose (make up) the whole; the whole comprises (contains) the parts; the whole is composed of (NOT: is comprised of) the parts.

The parent corporation comprises (consists of) three major divisions.
Three major divisions compose (make up) the parent corporation.

Whew. I feel better. Authors, this is missed by so many writers and editors. If you get it right in your writing, you go up a notch or three in my book.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hiatus and Happy Summer!

Back from a too-long hiatus. In my freelance world, life’s been churning a bit too quickly for me to keep up with everything. I’ve been absolutely buried with editing projects: huge 5,000-page books full of medical jargon and way too many references to check. I think I’m worn out. What Have I Been Up To?

I’m about ready to submit my novel, find a new agent, polish a non-fiction book proposal . . . oh, that’s right, we’ve still got some steps in our Writing A Book series, don’t we? Well, stay tuned for that. I’ve been using Eric Maisel’s The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maiseland it is excellent. Highly recommend.

I am also jumping back into magazine writing, thanks to encouragement from the writers I’ve met in my stellar freelance group, Freelance Success. Although I’m just an editor in the midst of some very talented writers, I am learning.

Speaking of fabulous writers, check out my friend, Allison Winn Scotch’s blog, Ask Allison, for a very interesting series on her first novel sale. Also she’s promised a nice series on writing for magazines. I will be tuned in. See you there!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Growth Spurt of Blogs

I could sit all day and read my favorites . . . and accomplish nothing.

Why are blogs so huge right now? Because finally the majority of people who just HAVE to give their opinion finally have a medium to do it?

Cool for me. Yeah, I'm in that majority.

I've been thinking about projects and self-confidence and creativity and all the ensuing problems trying to write creates for those of us who just aren't satisfied with blogs and want to write books and articles and essays and . . . yup, everything.

Sometimes it is really hard to just dive in to a project that scares the bejeebers out of you, right? I totally know that feeling. I have it all the time. Now I work just fine on client projects because when I accept those projects I have an idea of what I'm trying to do and usually the client also gives me a goal to reach for. But those projects that are all mine are so much harder.

For one, I am emotionally attached to my book projects. I get all tangled up in them and can't find my way out. Two, if I want to invest that much time in my own projects, I have to really adore the topic and so I really love my darling book projects. I ignore Raymond Chandler's advice to "Kill your darlings" quite often.

But as a writer, if I want to be successful and actually publish these darlings, I have to take a step back and really think. Am I writing this for an audience or for me? Because really, writing a book for yourself is writing for an audience of one person. I'm sorry, folks, but that just does not sell many books. Imagine a book signing with me, myself, and I.

Oh boy.

Who's your audience? Old, young, lots of money to spend, or frugal? If you want young people to read your book, write young. Don't bore them to tears by reminiscing about days gone by. If you want people to get excited about history, talk about history, don't just say something's historic or meaningful. Show them why it is.

I run into more authors who have rutted themselves into failing book projects because they can't see past their own reflection in the mirror. It's sad.

Don't limit your vision. Think big, reach out, and just start writing. You may be so surprised where it takes you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Addendum to Lesson 3

How's everybody doing? I hope well. Read on. A few more how to write book proposal resources for you.

How to Write a Great Non-fiction Book Proposal" section of the Robert E. Shepard Agency

Overvew of Writing Proposals

If you have questions, post 'em and I'll answer. Also, sign up to receive email blasts when this blog updates. Right here on this page is the sign-up box. Just leave your first name and email.

Monday, April 17, 2006

So You Want to Write a Book? Lesson 3

Completely freaked at the idea of writing a book proposal? Got your sample titles? Read on.

First Things First
Yes, you have to write a proposal. Let me duck while everyone throws things at this blog.

Okay, I'm back.

Seriously, folks. You cannot get published without writing up a really good proposal. What exactly is a proposal? It's an outline all fancied up according to how the "industry" wants it to look. Before you panick, no, you don't have to know what a proposal looks like on your own. There are books out there; many books will tell you exactly how to write a book proposal. Here's a list of what's on my shelf:

How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larson

Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman

The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel

Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction--and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato

You might pick one up if you're serious about this book writing thing. Of course, stay tuned to this blog (subscribe to this blog!) and I'll walk you through it myself.

Onto Titles

Titles make or break your proposal. An agent or editor should be able to look at your title and immediately be interested. Agents and editors also hope that the book's title is exactly what the book is about, but sometimes authors (myself included) tend to go off on tangents. So next up should be your big idea.

Now, how you envision your book project at the beginning may not be even close to the final book proposal you send in to agents. That's okay. This is just your big idea, your nugget, the bullet, telling yourself about your idea. I like to brainstorm and make up a fake table of contents. I let myself realize that this is not the final table of contents and I still have the power to move anything around and to delete anything that I don't like.

Are you realizing the vision an author must have for their book before they even write it? This is such good news for you. If you can sell an agent and editor on your book proposal, you won't have wasted months or even years of your life writing a book that you can't even sell. Many authors I work with have a very hard time with the proposal portion. They get all caught up in trying to re-invent the wheel. Nope. And nope again.

Writing a book is actually about writing what people are asking for and believe me, the consumer audience knows EXACTLY what they are looking for. I have asked questions of my intended customer and have been very surprised to find out I did not have that much work to do in developing a new book idea. I just had to make sure I answered their questions.

And so, to your assignment: Try asking a question to people that you think are your book's target audience. Woman (and men) looking for love? People learning how to knit? People interested in building model trains? Go to a few people and ask them: What one burning question do you have about __________ (insert your topic where the space is)? And then, listen carefully. If you get the right person talking, they may just give you your big idea.

Next up, more on the proposal.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

So You Want to Write a Book? Lesson 2

Sorry for the long break between lessons. We went to Kauai, I had deadlines, and I’m working rather feverishly on a book project. Did ya know I write fiction? It’s actually the focus of 2006 (see my WIP Status). Although, as an editor, I can’t resist the siren call of new writers, “how do I write a book?”

So, let’s get back to it, shall we? We left off with fresh as our token word of the day. Moving on.

You've got an idea, and it's more focused than just a book on finding love, I hope. I'd like to focus on titles in this lesson. The rule of odds says the more titles you come up with, the better your title will be. I know writers who come up with 100 or more titles for their book project. This is one of those key elements of a book proposal that must be impeccable. And when I say title, I don't just mean a title "Birds That Sing" or something inane like that. I mean a title, and a subtitle. My current favorite is written by a very knowledgable self-publishing consultant, Marilyn Ross, which is "Shameless Marketing for Brazen Hussies: 307 Awesome Money-Making Stategies for Savvy Entrepreneurs."
Doesn't that just grab your attention right away? I don't know if I'm a brazen hussy, but I am an entrepreneur and want some great ideas. This way, I can buy a book and get the same ideas . . . without having to take on the brazen hussy persona.

What compelling picture can you come up with for your book? Can you turn it into a title?


Before you spend hours and hours putting a book proposal together (What? A proposal? Yes, stay tuned for talk about the proposal in Lesson 3) you might want to test your book idea in a shorter form. How about writing up an article? This way you can synthesize your idea into print in a less-stressed manner. There are tons of places to publish your article ( for example, where I post articles; the owner, Chris Knight, is a great guy). Why not write up a 500-word piece about your topic and let people use it in their newsletters? This way you at least practice getting your message out and you know, after you've written the article, if you're still interested enough in the subject to write a longer version.

Your assignment: Write 100 titles (with subtitles) for your book idea. Imagine a title on the cover of a book and where it would go in your local bookstore. Also, write up your topic in an article and post it on your blog or post it to an article database. Or send it to a paying market and earn some money. Who knows?

Good luck. Talk to you in a few days.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It is March Madness.

Beware of the basketball-crazed Gonzaga fan.And the basketball-crazed Duke hater, who is jubilant. I know, I know, Christian Laettner played for them eons ago. Let it go. I will, when I feel like it.

Things have been swamped at real/brilliant, inc. for the last month. A two-week vacation to Kauai also set us back a bit. But we're back now and revving up the writing engine. I'm sure many of you have had notebooks full of ideas simmering and that you are so irritated at me for keeping you waiting that you all went on to write the books anyway. Am I right?

Next post, Making Your Book Idea Relevant and Applicable for Today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

So You Want to Write a Book? Lesson 1

Last time, we left off on idea harvesting. Did you find an idea? Has it been baking in your brain for a few weeks now? Good. You've only reached the end of the beginning, to quote Winston Churchill.

At least you have a starting point for your book. You know it will be about gardening, not the history of tomatoes. You know it will help people find love, not real estate. Your book idea must be individual, alone, strong, tall. It must be a subject that you can put on your mental cutting board and slice into smaller sections, then dice into smaller pieces, then fry to get aroma (or the grease out), then cut into smaller bites, before chewing to get the flavor. In other words, you must now dig deep.

So for example, our subject is how to find love, or how to help others find love. Who do you want to help? Who's your audience? Singles? Teens? Retirees? Anyone who needs love? You must decide this now and if you want to write to more than one audience, you'll have to make sure you're writing directly to all groups. This can be done, we'll cover that later.


How to Find Love After Rejection
How to Find Love After Divorce or a Break Up
How to Find Love After 65
How to Find Love Every Day, No Matter Where You Are

Try to dilute your idea down and direct it to a specific group of people or a specific person that you have envisioned. This may take some serious brainstorming. It will also take some market research.

Market research sounds harder than it is. It's simply going to a bookstore (or to or and doing a search (through the bookshelves or through the bookstore search engine) to find out what other people have written about. Say you want to do a keyword search for books on finding love after divorce or break up. What do you find? Has it been done before? What did the computer (or bookstore clerk) come up with?

If you come up with other books on this subject, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just proves there is a market for your book idea and that is a head start. More about tweaking your book idea to make it saleable later. If you don't come up with other books on that particular subject, can you find books that are similar? Almost there? Too all-encompassing? Too sparse? This too is a head start. You can easily tweak a book idea to cover what these other books did not, or touched on too lightly.

If you come up empty-handed, this is when market research becomes difficult. You may have to get on Google and do a search for your topic on the web. Or you may have to go to your local library and find out if your librarian can recommend any books that are in your topic area. Unless you're doing a book on some far-out topic, chances are that you will find books in your topic. And when you do, that's when your real work begins.

Your book must be different from any book done before. This does not mean you cannot cover the same information in your book, but it means you must come up with something . . . wait for it . . . FRESH.

Fresh is the most overused word in publishing, especially amongst book editors and magazine editors. Everyone wants fresh, everyone needs fresh. The publishing world lives and dies by FRESH.

So how do you plug in and figure out if something is fresh or not?

A few tricks and then I'll send you off to do the research.

Google Zeitgeist

This Google site is fresh. Here's what people are searching for around the world on a monthly basis. Don't try to pick your topic based on this information. Figure out how to "tweak" your topic by utilizing this information to tell you what people are interested in right now. (Remember, that your book will not be published right away, unless you are self-publishing or doing an e-book. Traditional publishing commonly works at least 2 to 3 years in advance.) Don't take the zeitgeist information as gospel. Play with it, brainstorm with it, use your imagination, and have fun.

Read magazines. Magazines have to stay fresh or they are dead in the water. What is fresh for a magazine can be fodder for a book project down the road. Watch television. Is Dr. Phil or Oprah targeting certain topics regularly? This is fresh. This is what people are interested in. Can you tweak your book idea using the information you see them dispensing?

A common trick of magazine writers is to try and keep up with new scientific or medical studies from the big journals, e.g., JAMA, NEMJ, Nature. Is there a recently published study or new data that could help your book idea to be fresh?

If you really tackle some of this front-end research, your book will be stronger and you won't have spent time writing something that a publisher or agent will reject. It won't be dated, it won't be overdone, it won't be too broad, or too specific, it will be fresh!

Good luck. If you have questions, just ask and I will try to answer to the best of my ability.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I've Got Blogger's Block

Bear with me here, folks. This writer/editor is a wee bit overwhelmed this week. So there isn't Lesson 1 in writing a book quite yet, but I'm sure there will be one shortly. In the meantime, check out some of my updated links. I've been searching for the best blogs and info out there to pass on to you and I think I've found some pretty good gems. Also, check out my new writing web site (also in links).

Talk soon!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So You Want to Write a Book? Introduction

I get requests constantly from people who are writing, want to write, or have written books and need advice on exactly how that is done. I've decided to write a series of posts (articles) here on my blog to guide people who are curious, or who have already asked me for advice, or who may just be searching the web for some information about writing books and how to go about that in an organized and realistic manner.

I've got over ten years of publishing experience. I've written, and had published nine books. I'm currently writing several more (yes, this is a working writer's true confession) and I work as a full-time book editor helping writers write and polish and prepare their books for publication. I may not know everything about writing and publishing a book, but I know a whole lot more than most people. So here we go.

Writing a Book

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. It is also not for those who think that once you write a book all your problems will be over. Pardon me while I go laugh out loud.

There are many, many people who just want to be published and famous and rich. Sure, I'm one. I'll raise my hand too, minus the famous part (blech, it has not done Paris Hilton any favors). But to get to that, one must first be just a writer. And a writer is someone who wants to know more about everything. And I mean everything .

A Few Questions for You

1. Do you go into a book store and come out discouraged because you couldn't buy all the books? Also, does it discourage you that you won't be able to know everything in your brief lifetime? (This kills me.)
2. Do you read voraciously, inhaling information? Do you frequently keep your family and friends held hostage on the phone or in a car while you spout forth hours and hours of rehashed material that you learned from these books?
3. Do you do masses of research about a topic, way overboard what you personally need to find a solution, and then wonder what to do with all that information?

Join the club. You're with friends here.

Curiosity is a great asset for a writer. Taking that curiosity and applying it to writing a book is our simple premise here.

For our first post, I'll ask you to simply brainstorm. Think about what kinds of topics you want to write about? Do you have a really great recipe collection? Do you have strong skills in sewing, knitting, or woodworking? Do you have a model train collection? How about model airplanes? Do you want to help people feel good about themselves? Do you want them to find love? Do you have a twelve-step program to getting a good deal on a home purchase? Do you want to write a novel?

You need to have down on paper and in your mind what exactly you want to accomplish in book form. If you don't know, figure it out. But don't fret if you're still stuck.

Step 1 in our Write-a-Book Help series will be finding a great idea.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Didn't Anyone Like Frey's Book?

QUOTE: A screenwriter wanted to change the details of Frey's memoir of addiction for a film script being written for Warner Bros.
Frey said they didn't have the right to alter the facts in the book, the observer recalled this week. "How could they do this? This was his life! How could they change the facts of his life?" Eventually, Frey fired his agency.

LA Times story on Frey
QUOTE: "In light of what we now know, the reasons that James left our agency are certainly ironic, and it's nice being on the right side of irony," said Jeremy Zimmer, a top agent at United Talent Agency and one of Frey's agents before the confrontation.

And that's all, folks.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Frey's Editor, Sean McDonald's, Fall From Grace

As the Frey story winds down, there is one more key element that we have not covered yet. Frey's editor.

Surviving James Frey

Now, I still do not understand how an editor would not start to have doubts about a book's authenticity. Heck, I'm a book editor and above my desk is my mantra, "Editors don't know everything; editors doubt everything." So, if that's not Sean's mantra, why is he an editor?

This is pathetic. Yes, there is a place in editor-land to trust the writer, to be strictly behind the scenes supporting the writer, to uphold the integrity of what the writer has accomplished. Duh. I do that every day. I strive for this and I think I have a good handle on it. See the January 15, 2006 post about a client's recent huge success. This was because I did not heavy-hand her manuscript and I believed in her story, and I knew, in my gut, that it worked. Of course, it was fiction, just like A Million Little Pieces.

Editor-land is not a place to just let a writer do whatever because it will make you, the editor, very famous, and probably very rich from bonuses.

Sean McDonald embarrassed our industry, right along with his client. Go away, Sean. Just go away.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Frey's Royalty Money

So the discussion today is about Frey's Oprah-related royalties (about 3 million dollars) and his promise to donate 15% to his favorite charity.
Now, since his big check should be to him around March 31, we think he should be preparing to donate his 400,000 bucks anytime, right?

That ain't the word on the street.

Word is, no one is saying a thing about it, and if Oprah truly cared about "truth," don't you think she would be squawking about this? Several industry insiders think so.

But that's not all. They went and chatted with Frey's literary agent, Kassie Evashevski of Brillstein-Grey, who says that Frey's book "was never submitted as a novel" and that "she no longer represents Frey." So, these industry insiders ask, what happens to the agency's cut of 500,000 dollars? Is Brillstein-Grey going to give their cut to charity?

Can you hear me laughing?

Jon Stewart Making Fun of Frey: Now That's Good TV

I guess Jon Stewart was really funny. Damn, I missed it. Someone send me a tape, pretty please? So much still on Frey, I cannot believe this.

Isn't it time for us to move on from this? you may be asking.

Sure, as soon as I've made sure I find all the best juicy bits for us to chew on, okay?

Chill out, people.

First though, we've got another interesting case in book publishing. Some author copied a children's book word for word.

What? Yes.
Author claims she never read the original

I think the disease is spreading. Someone check our water supply!

Good grief. This is the sort of thing that we don't want to see more of. I mean, we've spent years of our collective lives on James Frey, can we just set a bunch of snakes on this lady and be done with it?

Which led me to think, what should be James Frey's punishment? Give up his royalties? Check himself back into Hazelden? What say you?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ideas For the Future

And Advertising Age chimes in on the changing face of magazine advertising

Ad Age Media Guy column

Instead of Lucky magazine including a page of post-it ready tabs for readers to use to earmark future purchases, why not download the Lucky issue onto an iPod with internet access and let the readers purchase the items directly, sparing the using of those post-it tabs.

Genius, says I, who hates trying to remember what she tabbed to purchase in what issue.

Yes, I'm a fashion junkie. What are you laughing at?

Monday Morning With Frey

I was hoping the Frey controversy was long gone, especially when we have news stories about more important things. Thinking of Bob Woodruff and his videographer today.

But now, Frey's planned movie adaptations are on the chopping block.

LA Times story

Anyone surprised? If they do get made, I bet the movies won't attract A-list actors. It will be one of those straight to dvd projects. I can just see it.

But in a positive spin, I read the definitive wrap-up on this entire Frey issue in Patricia Holt's Holt Uncensored, an email newsletter covering the publishing industry.

Forget what I have talked about. Forget what everyone else has ever said about James Frey and read Holt Uncensored. Subscribe even. Anything Patricia Holt has to say should be engraved in stone. This lady knows her stuff.

Holt Uncensored and read the current issue. But while you are there, check out her other archived issues and Terry Ryan's columns, author of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids in 25 Words or Less, which was turned into a movie in 2005 starring Julianne Moore.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thank You, Oprah!

I don't usually watch your show and I didn't watch yesterday's with the public shaming of Frey, because I can't stand the man, but thank you.

Even if you did it to save your franchise, to polish your tarnished image after your disastrous Larry King call-in, or simply to help Frey sell even more books, I still thank you.

Truth is not subjective. You cannot change it because it's not interesting. Truth has to stay rock-solid or this society will fail. Truth has to be what we all reach for, or we're striving in vain.

As a writer, communicator, and consumer, I am appalled at Frey's behavior, and I was appalled at your behavior, but you set yourself right. Now to see if Frey will.

I recommend AA.

"My name is James and I'm a liar."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Books Blogs

Wanna know book blogs that I read?

Book Nerd has compiled a great list.

I'm hoping to join the book blogging circle of greats. So . . . got a friend who loves books, send them to my blog and I promise to link them to every other excellent blog on books out there!

Sue Them All?

That was fast.

How to get your money back, and more, from Frey

I think this is dumb. If this were to win, I think I'm going to take movie and television studios to court for wasting half my lifetime with their offerings (Beauty and the Geek? Ashton Kutcher, I'm coming for YOU!).

This is when you realize that Frey, really, was just following the audience. Sara Nelson of Publisher's Weekly for January 16 made the same point. If we, as readers, watchers, and participants of media entertainment (of which Frey was a HUGE part) don't start getting pickier and demanding more of our entertainers, why expect so much?

That point can be construed as supporting this lawsuit. Absolutely not.

I took one glance inside Frey's book. It was badly written, even on the first page. It was way too emotional too. I knew, from that quick glance, I was not interested.

If those people bought and read the entire book, that's their fault. Not Frey's. Refunds yes, compensation for time spent reading, c'mon, grow up.

Oprah Backtracks To Save Face

James Frey will appear on Oprah today and I won't be watching. I am glad to see someone finally saying something. It's about time, Oprah.

Oprah backtracks on James Frey

C'mon, the guy lied, we all got duped. It's time for him to go away so we can get back to real literature, real issues (Hamas wins in Palestinian election), and real life.

With that in mind, you should know I'm writing quite determinedly on my novel. It is fiction, completely fiction.

This story started as a dream I had back almost ten years ago. I wrote a first draft that really wasn't good and my agent turned it down September 12, 2001. It has taken me this long to get back into it, to realize that my plot worked just fine, but that my writing, my thinking processes, need to be stronger.

The second draft is blowing me away. I see plot tricks in there that subconsciously appeared, tricks such as the likes of Michael Crichton would be so proud of. I have two so far, that may be all I can bring forth. But I'm so happy with the first 15k words. This is the story I want to tell.

I admit, I know people who can pour our novels at the speed of touch type. I cannot. It irks me. Maybe I'll get faster after my first novel is done. Maybe I'll figure out a better system for writing a novel. Charles Dickens churned out novel after novel after novel, but Jane Smiley insists that his best novel was one of his last, the one that took the longest and caused him the most angst.

So I'm okay for now. I like the plot, I like how it is coming down to the page, and I like the momentum. It's working.

My goal is to have a first draft by June 1. Think I can do it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New York Times Still Talking About Frey

So now the truth in Frey's memoir is up for debate.
New York Times on Frey, yet again

But let's stop right now.

No one cares. (Well, except the New York Times and yours truly, it seems.)

I have said all there is to say. The guy lied, seems Doubleday may have played a part in it, seems Oprah continues to play right along, and booksellers display Frey's books next to Elie Wiesel's Night, which by the way, is 100% accurate.

Have we learned anything? I doubt it. This is not going away, that's for sure.

As Frey's book continues to climb the charts and curiousity continues to kill cats, I am reading, for the second time, vicariously through my husband, Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat. It has yet to bore us. How our world is changing in front of our eyes, literally, blows the mind. And yet things change again and again. Two or three months ago, if you missed LOST and did not TiVo it, too bad, catch a rerun. Now, download it from iTV. But that's just one obvious interpretation of how things are changing. Does anyone have any other examples?

2006 is going to be quite a year.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Book Clubs

The talk is book clubs today.

I never did understand the whole furor over Oprah's book club. So she recommends a book. I have yet to actually take her word for it. I started reading James Frey's book on my own, because I read memoirs (Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs and Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett), not because Oprah told me to. And during her first book club, every book she picked was about dysfunctional people. I don't mind that for every other book or every third book, but I do need a bit of happy to make my life worth living. I live with a glass that's partial full, not heading toward empty.

So I probably won't be too interested in Osama's book pick, Rogue State, by William Blum. I hear Mr. Blum's point though. I find myself nodding my head at his insistence that U.S. support for rogue leaders in third-world countries, heck, in any country, does not bode itself as supporting democracy. But hang on, Mr. Blum.

I voted for the GOP in the last two elections. I put these people into power. So it is not you who have the right to be furious as much as it is my right to be furious. There are certain people in power right now who lied, seduced, manipulated, and played with my vote so as to ensure their ability to cheat, embezzle, and coordinate the powers for their advancement. You know who you are Bill Frist and Tom DeLay and others in Congress who say you care about these things, but turn and do otherwise. Walk softly, gentlemen. You have a GOP party that now says "Cheat on us once, your fault, cheat on us twice, our fault."

We will no longer walk blindly behind your rogue policies. You cannot change the law because you "feel" like it.

But, Mr. Blum, walk softly yourself. Painting the United States as this threatener of the world is not the answer. We must answer the Bin Ladens with definitive military action, lest they come again with their suicide bombers and kill another 3,000 people. I do not think all of Iraq is a mistake. I do not think all of the Patriot act has been a failure. Mistakes in each of these things. Oh yes. But we don't throw the baby out because the bath water is dirty. Moderation now. Men fail because they crow too loudly.

If we are to figure this out, both extremes, Mr. Blum's extreme left and the blasphemous extreme right, must meet in the center and work together. There has to be give and take. There has to be truth. And there should be no more Osama's book club.

What do Oprah and Osama think? That we're stupid? I beg to differ.

Friday, January 20, 2006

UK Publishing Faces Death, Er, Suicide

So, the talk of the day is about UK publishing imploding.

Read this.
"The unromantic truth is that British chain bookselling - with Waterstone's as its battered figurehead - now looks suspiciously like a murder victim who has decided to speed up his demise by committing suicide."

I'm not giving up though. When an industry gets pressed (unlike countries who frequently go to war; think Iran), it gets innovative. Methinks the UK needs Alex Mandossian, hm?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

James Frey's Fall Into Darkness

We'll be discussing this for months.

I won't, I promise. I'm moving onto other things.

But the publishing world will be gazing at its navel for quite a long time, I predict.

New York Times

James Frey's Memory Is Really Bad

And I'm still finding more good gems about James Frey and his book of lies . . . er, memoir, A Million Little Pieces.
I think someone could collect all the articles written about the incident and have quite the encyclopedia. I will digress and save us all some boredom. While Frey may believe he's raking in the dough by staying in the public eye, he's not gaining any fans in the literary world. Nan Talese (his editor) scolded him publicly in this article:

Observer story

QUOTE: On Monday, Jan. 16, Nan Talese was on vacation in Bermuda with her husband, the nonfiction writer Gay Talese. It was Ms. Talese’s imprint at Doubleday that published James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces in hardcover, and she had something to add to the still-evolving controversy.

“When the manuscript of A Million Little Pieces was received by us at Doubleday, it was received as nonfiction, as a memoir,” said Ms. Talese by phone. “Throughout the whole process of publication, it had always been a memoir, and for the first year and a half it was on sale, it was always a memoir with no disputation. It was never once discussed as fiction by me or anyone in my office.”

Ms. Talese’s statement appears to contradict Mr. Frey, who has said that it was his publisher’s decision to foist A Million Little Pieces onto the public as a memoir rather than a novel, as he had originally written it. Just a few days ago, during an unrepentant appearance on Larry King Live, Mr. Frey said: “We initially shopped the book as a novel, and it was turned down by a lot of publishers as a novel or as a nonfiction book. When Nan Talese purchased the book, I’m not sure if they knew what they were going to publish it as. We talked about what to publish it as. And they thought the best thing to do was publish it as a memoir.”

So, the end result? See the next post.

J.K. Rowling Has Written the Last Chapter

In better news for book addicts, J.K. Rowling has been talking about her future plans, her past heartaches, and just all sorts of great stuff, such as the final chapter of the Harry Potter series is written! (She's one of those writers that just gets me so jealous that I must go write something!)

Telegraph on J.K. Rowling

QUOTE: This year, she will finish writing the Harry Potter series. The final chapter sits, already written, in her safe. A new children's book is also complete. It is about a monster and is what Rowling calls a "political fairy story". It is aimed at children younger than those who read Harry Potter. "I haven't even told my publisher about this." There are also some short stories already written.

She is disarmingly normal. Her favourite drink is gin and tonic, her least favourite food tripe. Her heroine is Jessica Mitford and her favourite author, Jane Austen. She gave up smoking five years ago and has spent most of the past three years pregnant or caring for a small baby. She is a Christian (Episcopalian) and "like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes about if my faith will return. It's important to me".

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

AdAge Magazine Smacks at Oprah

Oprah gets smacked around a little by AdAge magazine (industry watch publication read by just about everyone in marketing/advertising) and I, for one, am glad to read it.
I mean, we've trusted Oprah for years to tell us the truth (I know, gullible me), especially during last year's launch of a campaign to nail child sex offenders. Why is she still defending James Frey? He lied. That is not helping addicts or victims. What about the people that he hurt?

AdAge editorial, worth reading.
QUOTE: Memo to those in the media who worship at the altar of Oprah: It is not OK for James Frey to have passed off his fictionalized life story as nonfiction just because a talk-show host says it is.

In all of the coverage of the controversy over the truthiness of “A Million Little Pieces,” perhaps the most disturbing element of all is how the media reacted to Oprah’s continued endorsement of the book -- treating it as somehow the last word, one that in effect excused the lies and ended the controversy. She was lauded for riding to the rescue of the publishing business, rather than called out for trying to minimize the damage to the businesses involved, including her huge and profitable empire -- one whose continued growth relies heavily on maintaining her power to move products as well as people.

What few have dared to suggest
Most of the coverage ignored the fact that Oprah has something at stake, as much actually as Frey and the book’s publisher: the credibility on which her brand is based. Few have dared to suggest her continued endorsement may have been driven by commercial considerations, not just altruistic motives.

The response by all interested parties to The Smoking Gun’s revelations about the book has been a carefully orchestrated marketing strategy that relies on an artful dodge. No one involved in this mess apologized or took accountability. Read the coverage and transcripts of the “Larry King Live” interview and Oprah’s statements; The core issues are never addressed head-on, just skirted. Yet it’s clear that many readers -- this one included -- feel betrayed."

Do People Even Care? This is Frustrating.

Most people just don't care that James Frey wrote lies and then published them as truth.

Most people just think "well, it's helping people right?"
It's fiction, folks. FICTION. Doubleday refused to publish it as a novel (original submission form) and told Frey to "make it true." His failure to do so only reflects his lack of ethics, and no one else's. (No matter what Oprah says.)

New York Times
QUOTE: James Frey's admission last week that he made up details of his life in his best-selling book "A Million Little Pieces" - after the Smoking Gun Web site stated that he "wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms and status as an outlaw 'wanted in three states' " - created a furor about the decision by the book's publishers, Doubleday, to sell the volume as a memoir instead of a novel."

Another Memoir Writer Unleashes Her Wrath At Frey

And the fallout over James Frey continues this week.
Heather King, who wrote her own memoir, Parched, talks about truth in memoir writing and what in heck Frey thinks he accomplished (besides the millions of dollars in book royalties) from writing his memoir.

Well worth a read, even if you don't care a snit about James Frey or his book, A Million Little Pieces.

Publisher's Weekly by Heather King, author of Parched. Excellent piece.
QUOTE: I first read about James Frey's A Million Little Pieces in a New Yorker review. I was working on my own memoir, Parched (Chamberlain Bros.), at the time, so I scanned the piece with interest. Frey and I had a couple of things in common: we'd both had major substance abuse problems; we'd both been to Hazelden (him for six weeks, circa 1992; me for four weeks, six years earlier). But there the similarities seemed to end. It wasn't so much that we were of different genders, that I was a teensy bit older than him, that we'd chosen different approaches to staying sober. No, it was that Frey was angry. The whole tenor of the review was that Frey was angry. The testosterone-fueled rage! The studly ire! In light of my own 20 years as a falling-down blackout drunk, it struck me as an odd stance. The people who really had cause to be angry, it seemed to me, were the ones I'd trampled, cheated on, stolen from and lied to on my way to the nearest bar.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

What's the Weather Like in San Francisco?

I don't know!

I haven't been outside since January 12 since I ate very hot Indian food with friends. I'm at Dr. Harlan Kilstein's Six-Figure Copywriting Seminar. What a mind-blowing experience! Ever been in a hotel suite with 40 people and their laptops all working online at the same time? It's pretty cool. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing."

But, as they say, good things come in threes.

First off, what a banner week for our Novel Support Team (NST) at Freelance Success. Our star, Allison Winn Scotch, sold her novel to William Morrow (HarperCollins) at auction (publishers were fighting over this book!) and I have never been so happy in my life. I'm proud to have been part of the process as an editor and writing buddy extraordinaire. Allison is a magnificent writer. Watch for her novel, The Department of Lost and Found, in hardcover in spring 2007! As my husband keeps saying, "Are you done with your novel yet?" Ha! Stay tuned to this blog for my updates. I'll explain more about my novel this coming week.

My best friend, Jenny, landed a great job as a marketing director after six years and three kids (a set of twins!) and will soon be rocking central Ohio with her expertise and marketing prowess. You made that look so easy, Jen! What an inspiration to mothers everywhere!

And finally, I have seen Internet phase 3.0. Wow. Content IS still king. I miss Steve Brill's incredible print magazine right now (Brill's Content). He really would enjoy this tremendous flutter--Google AdSense, Google AdWords, and virtual book tours--over content as we begin 2006. The future is now!

I've learned a ton and have to much more to absorb in the next twelve months. We'll be back to San Francisco in January 2007 and I, for one, cannot wait to see what will happen!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Yes, I'm Pretty Mad

Damn James Frey.
It really ticks me off when writers who have the chance to really make a difference with their books fuck it all up instead.

Smoking Gun Article. The facts are all here.
Maybe I'm just grumpy tonight. I worked so hard all day long, answered all the email, turned in all the projects that were due, paid the bills, vacuumed the house, found every single dirty dish in the house and put it in the dishwasher, and I haven't written one damn thing (except this blog post) because I'm so mad at James Frey. As if he has anything to do with me.

I vow, right now, whatever I write, will be truth. I vow, right now, that whatever I report will be fact-checked within an inch of its life.


Just when you had hopes that good writing could still be discovered. Hopefully I can believe that tomorrow morning.