Monday, September 23, 2013

What Is A Worker Sentence?

Dear Writer, 
By my own definition learned from an earnest writer and professor of writing, a worker sentence is a
sentence that gets you from point A to point B in a story or novel.  It is regrettably not often a "pretty" or "glamorous" or "novel" sentence, it is a worker sentence, much like a worker bee.

When you write, do you try and make every sentence golden like William Faulkner or Toni Morrison?  Or do you employ the worker sentence as a means to a bigger end?  Or do you think that both are necessary in measure? 

Hot damn!  Tell me what you think!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to be a Successful Unsuccessful Humor Writer by guest blogger, Perry Block

A few years ago, Perry Block read my debut novel, and he liked it (so I really like him)!  He's very witty and cute (despite being "nouveau old").  Remember, folks: this age thing is going to happen to all of us.

Check Perry out @  

The Internet has indeed afforded a tremendous amount of opportunity to a great many people that never existed in the past, and in no area of human endeavor is this truer than that of the literary arts.  Today there are more ways than ever before to successfully become a failed writer.  
And I should know.

I am a successful unsuccessful humor writer.   You may find it difficult to believe, but it was only four short years ago I began writing a humor blog entitled "Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute."  Back in those days I was a callow inexperienced unsuccessful humor writer. Fast forward four years and all that has changed dramatically; today I stand before you as a veteran experienced successful unsuccessful humor writer. 

And you can be too.  Here's how:

Why become a humor writer?  Everybody secretly desires to become a writer.  You don't have to get up early, you can wear a turtleneck any time you want, and in some circles you may be considered an intellectual even if you think health care reform is a branch of Judaism exclusively for hypochondriacs. And being a humor writer is the easiest kind of writer to be because you just make up everything.   No research, no fact-checking, it's like being a Republican. 

How did you begin humor 
blogging? Several years ago I came to the realization that I had many unexpressed thoughts, ideas, hopes, dreams, desires, and aspirations. They are none of your damn business!  So I thought I'd write me a schlock comedy blog instead.  

How long have you been humor blogging? Oh, about an hour or so. Actually I'm due for a bathroom break.  

Where do you get your ideas?   Mostly from China.  I also import a smattering of ideas from several other Asian countries and a few from a real funny fat guy in Bolivia. Don't get me wrong, I’d love to source ideas from the United States, but frankly the concept-ship is shoddy and I've gotten zero customer service attempting to call the Help Desk for an idea that isn't working! 

Are there any tricks to humor writing?   There sure are!  Uhh, know any?

Isn't it important to have a quirky mind or vivid imagination?
 Nah, my imagination's about as fertile as the concrete on I-95. To be a successful unsuccessful humor writer the stuff only has to be as funny as the small print on a whole life insurance contract.

How successfully unsuccessful are you?  
I don't wanna brag, but I am totally unknown outside of Michele Young-Stone, and even she won't return my calls.  

Do you have a writing schedule or regimen?   
Yes, I do.  

What is it, jerk?   Oh yeah, sorry!  I awaken at 6:00 A.M., brush my teeth if it's Thursday, then I head down to the kitchen to resuscitate yesterday's coffee. I check my e-mail, put on Good Morning America and check my brain, then go back to bed. Whenever I get up, I write a bunch of stuff if I'm not too nauseous.

Do you ever struggle with Writers' Block?  Gee, I can’t think of a thing to write about that.  Yeah, coming up dry here.  Sorry.

Can you guarantee I too will be a successful unsuccessful humor writer? Absolutely!  To be a success in the humor writing business you have to have talent, drive, desire, and determination.  If you had any of these things, you'd be doing something constructive. 

 Thus, your successful unsuccess is assured!

Thank you so much to Perry for guest blogging.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Susan Gregg Gilmore, Author of The Funeral Dress (available now), talks family and inspiration!

Susan talks inspiration, family, and story!  Sometimes a single-wide trailer is the most idyllic place in the world.     Just ask Susan.  
Susan Gregg Gilmore

"A 1970s Kodak photograph got me to thinking.  And then it got me to writing.  It was a photo I had snapped of my great aunt and uncle sitting in their single-wide trailer (the same trailer they had shared for fifty years) back in the late 1970s. 

As a small child, I loved visiting my relatives, and I loved their house.  It felt like a doll's house.  It was cozy and warm and always smelled like chocolate.  My aunt and uncle never had children of their own so when my brother and sisters and I went to visit, we were spoiled rotten.  Baba would buy those cheap plastic floats from the convenience market down the road and we'd all play in the lake for hours, including my aunt who acted more childlike than adult.  I only recently found out that Baba didn't know how to swim! 

So as a grown woman, finding this photograph, I began to wonder what life had really been like for my Aunt Baba and Uncle Ed.  Both had worked hard, went to church every Sunday, and doted on their family.  But they never left the trailer.  In fact it was only at the end of her life did Baba admit to my mother that she'd like to live in a real house, one made of bricks. 

From all of this Leona and Curtis came to life on the page, and writing the chapters about Leona and Curtis and their life in their trailer were some of the most wonderful, fluid times of this entire three-year process.  The words spilled onto the page.  And every time I entered their world, I felt very at home."

Thank you to Susan Gregg Gilmore for guest blogging and sharing this wonderful story and inspiration.  Please visit her at

Above Us Only Sky is the epic tale of the Vilkas women, separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

What does "THE END" actually mean?

I like to flip the ms. page over when I'm revising.
Yesterday, I typed The End for my most recent work in progress, Where I am Born.  

What does THE END mean?

First, I am not finished.  It is not the end for me.  I will need to edit and revise and proofread a few more rounds.  

Second, I know that no matter how many times I revisit a sentence or paragraph, it will never be as perfect as I want it to be, and third, as happy as I am with the ending of the novel, I know that not everyone will approve.  

We all want different outcomes in endings.  Some readers want less and others want more.  It's always a close call,
Just a few of the drafts; most were recycled.
deciding how much to share.  This is the part of the novel where I have to trust myself the most.  I always feel like it's "pick an ending."  Do you want sappy sweet?  No, of course not.  Do you want tragic?  Not really?  But, then I dig and wait and think and see what emerges from the swamp into the light.  This week, I found my ending.  I'm quite in love with it.  I hope that you will be too.  

I hope hope hope that Where I Am Born will be available some time next year.  We'll see.  I'll be sure to let you know!  Thanks for your continued love and support on this journey.  XO  

*And thank you to David Pandolfe for guest blogging on Independent Publishing.  If you missed his post yesterday, it's just below this post.  ...And if you are interested in guest blogging on a Wednesday, shoot me an email:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Guest Post: David Pandolfe, author of Jump When Ready

From MFA, to agents, to indie publishing (and why I think it’s great)

Thanks, Michele, for inviting me to guest-post on your blog. The idea is to talk a little about writing so I thought I’d say a few words about “indie” publishing and how much I’ve been enjoying this experience I wasn’t particularly open to not long ago.

A few years back, I completed an MFA program (hey, Michele, didn’t I see you there?) and, within the same year, was offered agent representation for my first novel. The stuff of writer dreams and I felt sure I was on my way to securing a traditional publishing deal. A brilliant, hopeful, exciting time in my life while emails flew back and forth and revisions were made to the manuscript, preparing for the big day. Eventually, it was time to submit the novel to editors. I waited, fingers crossed. Then, radio silence. When I finally inquired, I learned that a few editors saw the manuscript (five or six). Some said nice things but they passed. I never heard from that agent again. Yep, really. So, I dusted myself off and decided to push on and keep writing. Before too long (a few years but, hey, we’re talking the writing world, after all), I was offered representation again, this time for a YA novel I’d been working on. A really nice agent, very well-known agency! So, the first round was a dud. No biggie, right? My moment had definitely arrived. A writer couldn’t possibly snag two agents for two novels and still have nothing happen. No way. Well, guess what. You got it. The process wasn’t quite as absurd as the first time around (in other words, the agent didn’t suddenly vanish into thin air) but the result was the same. A few editors saw my book and that was basically it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am simplifying here to a degree. My second agent was a nice person who I enjoyed working with. However, when she suggested that I put the novel on the back burner for a while and move on, I decided otherwise (but we did part ways amicably). So, I was back to square one.

The fact is, I wasn’t sure I had the heart to start the process all over again. And, while I did start sending queries, in the meantime I kept hearing about writers gaining a readership through indie publishing. Yeah, I know it’s self-publishing but I like the “indie” designation since (at least, to me), the term signifies a writer who’s taking every step possible to professionally publish his or her work. So, I started looking at independently published writers in a totally new light. As a result, I read some fantastic (and, in some cases, very successful) books (for example, Annelie Wendeberg’s The Devil’s Grin and Hugh Howey’s Wool, the holy grail of indie publishing success). Soon, any remaining doubts about self-publishing were history. In fact, the more I looked at it, this looked like the new model. If not the definitive future of publishing, certainly a part of future publishing that wasn’t going to recede into the background again.

Fast-forward to the day I published my YA novel, Jump When Ready, on Amazon. No, it wasn’t the lifelong dream coming true. All the same, it was still a very exciting moment. People, actual readers out there in the world, were experiencing one of my novels! I had made that happen, without anyone’s permission, without waiting several more years. Amazon allows for free promotions, and on my first promo Jump When Ready hit the top 100 free list. Thousands of people downloaded the ebook version of the novel, which just amazed me. To keep this reasonably short, I’ll just add that I love setting my own deadlines, choosing my own cover art, the fact that I can add new reviews to my back cover or interior whenever I’d like, or change front or back matter as new ideas occur to me (for example, adding a link to a new mailing list or blog). And, when my next novel is ready (I’m working on another YA to follow the first one), I can send it out into the world too. I’m excited about that, although I’m editing just like I would if I was about to send it back to my agent for an editor to consider. So, it might be a few more months. Then, maybe I’ll publish that other novel I finished during the MFA program. Who knows, but the future remains wide open.

So, that’ how it went for me. From MFA to agents to indie publishing. To be honest, I was almost thinking of bailing, starting to wonder if my books might not, in fact, have what it takes. Evidently, not the case (knock wood), at least based on the reviews Jump When Ready has received so far from readers, bloggers and book reviewers (all of whom, I thank very much for their kind words).

In fact, here are a few of those review quotes below. How’s that for a segue? Thanks again, Michele! And to my fellow writers, whether published traditionally or independently, good luck!

"Whether you're 14 or 24, this is a fun read with endearing characters and a quick-moving plot. Jump When Ready is not a book to miss."
- Portland Book Review 

"An engaging, poignant book that stayed with me long after I read the last word." 
- Tracy E. Banghart, author of By Blood.

"I loved this book and am looking forward to seeing what the author will come up with next!"
- A Little Shelf of Heaven 

"The combination of  coming-of-age, philosophical and thriller story comes together to make a fascinating and engaging book."
- The Real Bookshelves of Room 918

"It impacted my thoughts in a serious way, and I will most likely spend the next few days going over it, and over it, in my head."
- Bound by Words

"There are few books out there that have characters that make you wish you had friends like them."
- Book Nerds

"This was a great story. I personally have never read anything like it."
-  Reading is Better than Real Life

To buy a copy of Jump When Ready on Amazon
Jump When Ready blog
Jump When Ready on Facebook