A.C. Flory on the Makings of Vokhtah

Fascinating podcast interview with A.C. Flory, author of VOKHTAH, on where she drew inspiration for her characters and the world of this unusual and riveting story.


Self-Publishers: Do You Need Nurturing?

Food for thought on JW Manus’ post. My favorite part: “You don’t need nurturing. You need connections and support. One of the most fabulous aspects of self-publishing is that the community is large, noisy, active and supportive.” Holla.

QA Productions

I get several emails a week from people who are self-publishing or thinking about self-publishing. They ask me questions about the process.

Sometimes I can answer: “What’s a good program for making an ebook?” (look here)  “My ebook has weird characters. What’s causing that?” (look here) “What does Smashwords do?” (it’s an aggregator that distributes ebooks to various retail sites. Click here) “I have a backlist, but the books are old and I don’t have the manuscript as a digital file. Can it be turned into an ebook?” (not as difficult as it sounds. Here.) “Will you publish my book for me?” (I produce books, I don’t publish, but I can show you how to do it.)

Sometimes I have no answers: “What’s the most effective type of marketing and promotion?” (who knows?) “Will I make money selling ebooks?” (maybe, maybe not)

Sometimes I…

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It’s Boomer Lit Friday!

Dont_Tell_Anyone_200Happy Friday! Once again, it’s Boomer Lit Friday. Every Friday, a bunch of us who like such things post snippets from our “Baby Boomer Books,” and the lovely Shelley Lieber has graciously offered up her blog where you can see what other authors are up to. Here’s a teensy bit of Don’t Tell Anyone. Please hop over to the Boomer Lit Friday blog and read and comment on the other participants. Enjoy, and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Previous to this bit, Adam, Liza, and Charlie were attempting to get Estelle to agree to a biopsy.


Liza pounded the elevator button. “You’re sick. That was sick and cruel. How could you say something like that?”

Adam shrugged. “I panicked.”

“You couldn’t say something like, ‘We love you and we want you to get better?’ You had to tell your mother I was pregnant? In her condition?”

“You mean you’re not?” Charlie said.

They both scowled at him.

“I was looking forward to being an uncle.”

“Your brother is sick,” Liza said.

Charlie smiled. “Yes, but he’s creative.”

“So, what, I’m supposed to fake being pregnant now? Excuse myself every so often and pretend to throw up?”

“For a while,” Adam said weakly.

“And then what?”

“We are trying, Liza. Who knows, we might even be pregnant by then.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “At the rate I’m learning new things about you? I sincerely doubt it.”

He’s Dead, Jim…

Writers BlockThis has been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to admit to myself in a very long time. Harder than the realization that I’ll never be a child prodigy, that my bikini years are probably behind me, or that no matter how often my chiropractor attempts to relieve the compression in my spinal disks, I will never grow tall enough to become a Radio City Rockette.

The novel I’m working on has met an unfortunate end.

It coded a few days ago. I attempted to revive it through extraordinary measures, gave it CPR, a few jolts with a defibrillator, every lifesaving modality known to modern literary science. Time of death: 6:21 p.m.

This was not an unexpected loss. We’ve been to this point before, just on the brink of disaster. While the dialogue tried to fake its usual perky insouciance, the prose had not been looking well for a good few months. Privately it complained of fatigue, an unredeemable protagonist, and a plotline too predictable to survive. So I took it to a specialist. My suspicions were confirmed. “It’s a foregone conclusion,” one intoned, shaking her head. Another suggested organ donation, seeing particular merit in a first chapter that could breathe life into a decent short story.

But we have come to praise Caesar, not to bury him. Or, as my Unitarian friends and family are wont to say, “We are here to celebrate the life of Unnamed Manuscript #7.”

It started with the best of intentions. A conflict. A notion of where I thought it would end up and how I might get there. But I now know that the deadly flaw was that instead of going with my instincts and letting the characters lead the story, I tried to force them into a plotline designed to be a mouthpiece for my own opinions. I didn’t want to believe I couldn’t make it work. But I persisted. I’ve been taught persistence. To keep banging my head against the wall, trying to make the pieces fit. I could have continued, shoving these unfortunate characters hither and yon, even finished the damned thing. But I’d always know that it was rotten at its core, and readers would know. They always know. Can’t you tell a passionless read when you stumble into one?

So what have I learned from this Lazarus of a novel that twice rose from the dead? That persistence is an admirable trait, a vital one for an author. We need to be persistent to survive the process of learning our craft. We need to be persistent in creating a finished, quality product for the marketplace. And beyond, we need an extra bit of stubborn to sell the product and have the courage to start a new one.

But maybe part of that persistence, part of that discipline of learning the craft is in knowing when to walk away from something that can’t be saved. Letting this one go was a hard decision. It hurts like hell, but I have to do it.

Have you ever had to abandon a project? What did you learn from it?

Boomer Lit Friday!

Happy Boomer Lit Friday, where once again we show you bits and pieces of our baby boomer books. Check out the lovely Shelley Lieber’s blog to see what my compadres are up to.

Here’s a smidge from Don’t Tell Anyone. Estelle, at the stove making chicken soup for her sons and daughter-in-law despite their protests that she’s still too weak from chemo, has just passed out.


It was nothing, Estelle said, as Adam and Charlie helped her onto the sofa. No need to call the doctor. She’d just been feeling a little faint, a little light-headed. It was probably because she hadn’t eaten today. Since nothing tasted good, she didn’t want to bother.

But sometimes, her senses of smell and taste returned, not evenly but in rushes, like a breeze through an open window when the wind changed. They came with memories. They came with no warning. The soup did it to her this time. She’d put in the water and the cut-up chicken, skimmed off the fat, dumping spoon after spoon into the coffee can next to the sink. Still she could smell nothing. She added the quartered root vegetables, the salt, and the dill. Nothing. Then she looked over and saw Adam’s face, and Charlie’s face, and the different ways they looked like Eddie and like her parents, and it was as if someone had broken down a door. She smelled the simmering chicken, parsnips, and onions and saw her mother’s sickly face, the hollowed eyes and the skin stretched tight across the bone. Estelle saw her father’s hand raising the spoon to her mother’s lips. And then Estelle felt weak all over as the floor rushed up to meet her.


A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn’t Care About

I wanted to share this interesting and rather pointed post from David Gaughran. Clearly shows that Scott Turow and possibly the Author’s Guild have their heads planted firmly in the sand when it comes to self-publishing. What do you think?

David Gaughran

turowquoteScott Turow woke up from his slumber recently to bark nonsense about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads on the Authors Guild blog, before being thoroughly eviscerated in the comments.

Undeterred, Turow sought out the considerably larger platform of the New York Times’ Op-Ed pages on Monday to decry The Slow Death of the American Writer.

On reading the latter, my first thought was: if Scott Turow didn’t spend so much time hating Amazon and pretending self-publishing didn’t exist, maybe he wouldn’t be so depressed.

It’s easy to poke fun at Scott Turow’s views. A child could de-construct his arguments, while laughing at how a practicing lawyer is unable to grasp the definition of the word “monopoly.” If you want a proper debunking of his Op-Ed, Techdirt do a good job, but I think there’s no real point attempting to engage Turow on this issue. His hatred of Amazon and…

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The Writing Hat

LAURIE_1982_WIDMER-RDIn three months and one day, Husband and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. And we were together for six years before we made it official in the eyes of New York State and a rabbi who spilled wine down my dress. Anyway, that’s a heck of a lot of years to live with the same person. It’s made me kind of lazy about some things. Grooming. Watching my language. Putting away laundry. Whose turn it is to toss the dead mouse into the back woods. But one thing I’m trying not to get lazy about: defending my writing and editing boundaries.

Fortunately, I have a door that closes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a door that locks. Also, I need to get out of said room from time to time, to attend to certain vital functions like recaffeinating and grabbing snacks. Husband is a sensitive and intuitive guy, an artist as many of you know, but it’s only natural that he, well, forgets once in a while that even though I might not be actively pounding keys at the point when he chooses to interrupt me to tell me something funny he just saw on the news or that he’s going to get the mail, THERE’S STILL A BOOK GOING ON IN MY HEAD AND YOU’RE NOT INVITED.

Maybe I need a hat of some sort. Nothing fancy like those silly things Fergie’s daughters wore to Prince William’s wedding, but just a particular accessory to alert Husband that I’m not mentally present. So when he surprises me with the fact that I need to get in the car because we have to be at such-and-such’s house in fifteen minutes because I TOLD HIM IT WAS OKAY and even that I’d make a side dish, I can avoid further argument by hat default.

Yes, hat default. Was I wearing the hat when you asked about it? Yes? Okay, your protests are now null and void. Have a nice day. And don’t forget to put black olives in the pasta salad.

And There’s This…

Drawing Breath is a winner in the 2013 B&P Reader's Choice Awards. Thank you for your support!
My sincerest apologies! I’ve been so busy thanking people that I forgot to put it on my actual BLOG, where you all have been so supportive and lovely. Thank you for helping to choose Drawing Breath as a winner in the contemporary fiction category. Considering what this award meant to Hugh Howey, who won for Wool, I’m humbled. Most likely the only virtual stage I’ll ever share with him!

I haven’t heard who won the gift card, but I’ll let you know. Again, thank you.