Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

It seems like it’s been forever since we talked, Blog, and I feel bad about that. I’ve just been so busy and so much has happened! I’m sorry I don’t always remember to keep you posted on my life. I guess I’m still getting used to this relationship.

In the last few weeks, I did book events in both of my hometowns, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, and several other bookstores in my current home, the San Francisco Bay Area. I read to packed rooms full of new and familiar faces. I made people laugh. I was asked interesting questions. I got to talk about writing and my book and people listened and seemed interested. I did an interview on Capital Public Radio—live!—and managed not to sound like a bumbling idiot. I received a bouquet of tulips and three other beautiful flower arrangements in one day. Hand Me Down was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle three times, the Salt Lake Tribune and several other papers, a bunch of blogs, and People magazine! I hugged two ex-boyfriends’ mothers, my best friend from elementary school and her mom, my favorite high school teacher, people I’d only previously known online, and tons of other old friends and landlords and teachers and coworkers. People were so excited for me and I felt so supported.

I know you deserve more than a quick recap, Blog, and I will write more, soon, I swear, but I have to go now. I have guest blogs to write (I know how painful that must be to hear) and interview questions to answer and event pages to update and emails to respond to…you know. I told you in the beginning that life as a published author would be different, busier. You said you understood, and I hope you’ll stick with me for the slow patches. I promise I’ll always come back.

Yours,

Melanie

The Sun Will Come Out

Three weeks ago I was in Hawaii, Maui, tropical paradise, on the first vacation W and I have taken together without our families in five years, our reward to ourselves for the last two really difficult years, and we were having a horrible time.

For starters, we were violently ill. Not just I-have-a-cold-and-I-feel-kind-of-crappy ill. Seriously, disgustingly-so-I’ll-spare-you-the-details ill. We had one great beach day and then the clouds rolled in, literally and figuratively, and as the wind whipped palm fronds outside our condo window we lost four full days during weather that made it too cold and unpleasant to even sit on our lanai once we could move.

I’d hoped so much for this vacation to be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience. Instead, everything kept going wrong. Continue reading

Writing Wednesday

I’ve been thinking about how to share all the great posts about writing I read, which is a lot, and this seems like the best way, so welcome to Writing Wednesday (until I think of a better title)! Since I am, you know, a writer now, it’s part of my job to be a involved in the larger writing community. So I read a lot of author blogs and articles about the industry and the writing process and the ones I find particularly interesting/helpful/funny/inspiring/just generally good I’ll share with you. Enjoy!

  • Improv performing tips that relate to writing in How to Write Like a Funny Woman from The Rumpus. “If you can’t kill your darlings, anesthetize/copy & paste them in a separate Word document.” I do this. It is easier than killing them outright.
  • The Port Townsend Writer’s Conference this year has Pam Houston, Cheryl Strayed, and Dorothy Allison on staff this year. What an amazing group of women! I wish I could go.
  • Sarah Pinneo, whose book Julia’s Child was just released, talks about her first book not working out and how that led to something better here.
  • Two gems from Pam Houston: an interview at Fictionaut Five and an essay called Corn Maze, in which she discusses the blurry lines between fiction and non-fiction, and what language and truth can really mean, and why her narrator in her new book Contents May Have Shifted is named Pam. Did you know she taught James Frey?
  • As an introvert, I found this post, The Perks of Being an Introverted Writer, really interesting.
  • And finally, a quiz from Book Riot to see which author you are. I got Flannery O’Connor.

Tusked Dolphins and Copywriting

Okay, these two things aren’t actually related. Or maybe they are in some metaphorical way that I could figure out if I thought about it for a while, but mostly I wanted to share these two links.

Seventy five ancient whale fossils were found in a Chilean desert, which all seem to have died at the same time. Other creatures, including a dolphin with tusks and a sea-sloth were also found. Fascinating! As a kid I wanted to be a whale trainer at a park like Sea World or a marine biologist, and I still love this stuff. Whales are awesome.

PhotobucketAnd, here is some helpful advice from Jane Friedman: learn to copywrite. It’s not just about grammar—though it’s good if you know the difference between your and you’re—but persuasive, attention-grabbing writing is important for authors, and she’s right, no one seems to teach it. I was “lucky” enough to have copywriting jobs, where I learned to manage word count, use SEO (search engine optimization), and how to sell. Not fun necessarily, but helpful for the career I actually wanted: being a writer. My query letters were pretty good, my description of the book was used for part of the catalog copy, and hopefully I’m not boring you all with my social media updates. Meaning, essentially, knowing how to copywrite is very helpful, even if I learned it by writing three hundred articles about eye health and travel guides for places I’d never been. It’s worth practicing, and the end of the article offers resources.

Bonus! Here’s an extra resource for writing tips: an article I wrote last year on why good writing matters, inspired by a coworker who asked how to spell sawl. She said, “You know, like I sawl it yesterday at the store.” Yes, seriously. But since it’s not a real word, I’m not sure I spelled it correctly.

Sarah Jio Interviews Our Shared Editor

Sarah Jio, author of THE VIOLETS OF MARCH and blogger extraordinaire, has started a new “Behind the Scenes” series on her blog in which she’ll interview some of the people in addition to the author who help make a book come to life. Her series kicked off with this interview of her editor, Denise Roy, who also happens to be my editor. And Denise really is fantastic—patient, talented, understanding, and just a joy to work with. Read the interview to find out more about what an editor actually does, and look for the shout out for Hand Me Down at the end.

Funny note: Denise and I haven’t met in person, since we live on opposite coasts, so the picture attached to the interview was the first time I actually saw her! It’s so nice to now have a face to go with the voice I’ve been talking to for the last nine months, with the added bonus of a new author friend in Sarah!