Monday, June 28, 2010

Halfway There

Most writers would agree that the most wonderful moment in an author's life is the day his book is accepted by a big-name publisher. But what about the second most wonderful moment? Future best seller Natasha Peterson offers an interesting view of a milestone in her budding career. Here's a peek into another writer's life.

A.A. Milne wrote a little poem called Halfway Down. In the first verse, Christopher Robin explains that he always stops and sits on the middle stair, “I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top.” This pretty much describes my feelings these days.

I’m a nonfiction and marketing writer by profession, but over the winter I completed my first novel, Delta Babies. It’s a fictionalized memoir about a group of teens coming of age in New Orleans. After one last rewrite, I felt ready to submit and emailed agents I had met at conferences and workshops. In March, Delta Babies was picked up by Lisa Hagan, Paraview Literary Agency – what a happy miracle! Just like that, I was halfway to finding a publisher.

Then a weird thing happened. After three years of living and breathing my novel, it disappeared from my life, out there somewhere. Research, rewrites and submissions were suddenly off my to-do list.

“Halfway up the stairs isn’t up, And it isn’t down,” so reads the poem. No kidding; I’m so there. Then it goes on, “And all sorts of funny thoughts Run round my head.” That’s when it starts getting intense. I can feel myself next to Christopher Robin on the middle stair conversely weepy, giddy and freaked out with funny thoughts, OMG it’s getting submitted. I can feel people reading it. Where are they now? Will they laugh when..? Will they get the part when..?

Granted, the current trend is to always think positive, in which case my version of Milne’s perfect nursery scribble would be Halfway Up instead of Halfway Down. Trends notwithstanding, the time between signing and sale is strange indeed, as strange as the middle stair. “It isn’t really Anywhere, it’s somewhere else instead.”

You can keep up with Natasha Peterson's career at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Search Engines for Writers

Finding the information you need as a writer shouldn’t be a chore and as I've recently learned, there are loads of search engines out there that can help us find what we need. A website for Accredited Online Colleges seems like an unlikely source, but I just read a blog on that site that is a collection of 60 Awesome Search Engines for Serious Writers.

The search sites are broken into logical categories. For example, under the Professional heading you'll find sources like the Writer’s Cafe, an online writer’s forum to find and share creative works; and the Literary Marketplace, a great place to learn about the publishing industry.

The Writing list includes WriteSearch which focuses exclusively on sites devoted to reading and writing, and the self-explanatory Writing Forums. Under Research you’ll find Google Scholar for reliable, academic results for your searches, OpenLibrary which can help you find books you can use, and lots more.

And if you need to look up a quote or a fact, check the Reference search engines such as, Literary Encyclopedia and Acronym Finder. There are also search engines for Niche Writers, books and Blogging.

Every writer can benefit from this fine collection of sources to start his or her search.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Everybody Loves E-Books!

If you’re a Kindle, Nook or Sony Reader fan I just want you to know that you are no longer a member of a tiny minority of readers who go for e-books. Recently the Boston Consulting Group completed a survey of 13,000 people on the subject. They say that e-readers are poised to take off if they just get a little less expensive and have more features. Apparently the ideal would be a $200 device that will accept e-mail along with the books, magazines, and newspapers.

Almost all the people surveyed said they’d use the device to read books, which is good news for Echelon, but maybe not so good news for other publishers who will need to give up their fight with e-book prices and start offering new titles at more reasonable prices.

Some interesting statistics from the report: 49 percent of the respondents planned to buy a tablet device in the next three years. The three countries with the greatest awareness of these devices are India, China, and Japan. Some 71 percent of the people in India were at least somewhat aware of the tablets vs. 54 percent in the USA.

The survey also had bad new for the iBook. Consumers want to be able to buy content from multiple sources rather than being locked in to the iTunes store.

I just hope that more eBook readers sold will mean more eBooks purchased (like my own Blood and Bone available on Kindle for $2.99) and, most important, more people reading!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Five Questions - Another take

Hank Quense saw my last blog post responding to 5 basic questions on writing and accepted my invitation to add HIS answers. Quense writes humorous fantasy and science fiction, and with more than three dozen short stories and articles published he is well qualified to offer his opinion.

What is the most interesting part of your work?

I write humor and satire. The best part of the job is creating characters with bizarre mentalities. I also love to put them into absurd situations and figure out how to get them out harm's way.

The least interesting?

Editing and revising. My general practice on short stories and articles is to keep revising them until I realize that I read it one more time, I'l l get sick. That's when I send it out to an editor.

If I wanted to pursue this area, what advice would you give?

Read and write: constantly. Limit your exposure to TV. The stuff on TV will rot your brain and fill it with material that won't work in print. See my blog post: Daytime TV: a valuable addition to your writer's toolbox. If you commute to school using public transportation, that is great time to read and write. I wrote a lot of stories while riding on a bus to Manhattan.

What skills should I be working on in school?

I can't add anything to what Austin said. All I'll do is emphasize that you follow his advice.

How can I get more information?

The best way to improve your writing is to have other writers (NOT family or friends!) read and comment on your writing. If you write fantasy, scifi or horror, join the Critters, a world-wide organization of writers who critique each others work.

Readers: check out Hank Quense's writing, which is always great fun, at

Writers, get more of Hank Quense's valubabl insights at