12 March 2018

RevPit 2018!

I'm thrilled to be a participating editor again in this year's Revise & Resub (#RevPit) Contest!

For those who are unfamiliar with this contest, it's a chance for authors who are querying or getting ready to query their novels to win 5 weeks of editing with a professional editor. There is no submission fee, and all the editors volunteer their time and expertise. The feedback we got last year was intensely gratifying: those who followed the Twitter feed, whether they submitted to the contest or no, learned a ton about writing and querying and were able to improve their query letters and opening pages as a result. As an added bonus, many came away from the experience with new writer friends and critique partners. Regardless of whether you're thinking of submitting, I highly encourage you to learn more about the contest at reviseresub.com. Submissions open April 21st.

This is my fourth time participating in a contest like this (P2P16 twice in 2016 and RevPit last year), and by now I have my approach to selecting and working with authors pretty well nailed down. Since the editors' processes tend to be of interest to authors submitting to the contest - both to get a sense of how much work is involved for us and to learn what to expect - in this post I'll give you a peek into my own process. Please note that each of us editors take a different approach; unless otherwise noted, what I am about to divulge pertains to me alone.

19 January 2018

Podcast episode on self-publishing

I'm featured in a podcast! MUCH EXCITE!

Last month I recorded a (very long) podcast episode about self-publishing with R.R. Campbell, creator of the Writescast podcast. (His debut novel, Accounting for it All is coming out later this year, btw, and I cannot wait!) In this episode I downloaded pretty much everything I've learned about self-publishing over the last 5 years, from distribution platforms and ISBNs to psyching yourself up for the long game and why you'd ever want to offer your book for free. Rather than edit out some of the juicy bits, Campbell decided to split our conversation into two episodes, and GUESS WHAT! Part I went live today!

So if you're thinking about self-publishing or you've decided to self-publish and are wondering, What now? - this episode is for you. It's roughly 44 minutes long, perfect for a meal break or a wind-down at the end of the day. (Even better: my voice doesn't sound as horrible in this recording as in normally sounds to me. Gotta celebrate small victories.)

I hope you enjoy this episode and return to the Writescast page next Friday for Part II!

Jan. 26, 2018 UPDATE: Part Two is now available!

26 October 2017

Writing vs storytelling

It should not have come as a surprise. After all, it had been ages since I'd had a similar epiphany about academic writing. Because my high school teachers and undergrad professors had almost only ever marked errors in style and mechanics (word choice, the use of "I", spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.), I'd gotten the mistaken impression that a good paper was an error-free paper written in an academic style, but in reality my grades were based on the ideas I frequently failed to adequately develop. This made my undergraduate years as an English major incredibly confusing: despite being a strong writer, able to clearly communicate with few copy editing errors, my grades rarely rose above a B.

More than a decade later, I found myself once again confused. Despite having spent the better part of the last twenty years working on my writing, I had four self-published novels that weren't selling well. The reviews said the writing was good, but people weren't falling in love with my characters and world the way I had. Something was missing. Something was wrong.

It should not have come as a revelation, but it did. 

Being a good writer is not the same thing as being a good storyteller.

12 October 2017

More clients' books published!

Two books I've worked on have been published in the last couple of months, and I'm feeling like a very lucky editor.

In August Michael Sussman published Incognolio, the surrealist novel we worked on together.

Bewildered but lovable author, Muldoon, is trapped in the dreamlike narrative of his own surrealistic novel. Beginning with just a title—Incognolio—he enters a bizarre fictional realm that plunges him into an identity crisis of anguishing proportions. Is he writing a story in which his stillborn twin sister has come to life, or is he the one who died at birth and it’s his sister who’s writing the novel? Guided only by the whims and dictates of his subconscious mind, Muldoon must unravel the mystery of Incognolio and write his way to freedom or succumb to madness.

And now, just a couple of months later, the book I chose to work with for the 2017 ShoreIndie Contest - a far-future biopunk novel, Malfunction by J.E. Purazzi - is out, too!

When Menrva, a geneticist in the subterranean city of survivors known as Bunker, responds to a call for help from Cowl, her former best friend, and Bas, a renegade cyborg, she makes a vital mistake and places all three of them in danger. As they struggle to escape City guards, cyborg soldiers, desperate scavengers, and ravenous aliens, they find in each other something they never expected: family.

During a battle, an attacking cyborg manages to overcome her programming just long enough to deliver a cryptic message. The trio is forced to decide if they will risk death - or worse, capture - to seek out the truth about the City, or if they will fight only for themselves.

This fast-paced, gritty first book of The Malfunction Trilogy introduces a future caught between destruction and oppression, where Menrva and her friends must decide if the ends justify the means.

You can check out Purazzi's brief interview about writing, editing, and self-publishing on the ShoreIndie blog.

I'm currently working on a blog post about the unusual structure of Incognolio, which I'll publish later this month, but in the meantime you can read Sussman's guest post about writing from the subconscious here.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to happy-dance myself down to my favorite coffee shop for a celebratory fancy espresso drink.

15 August 2017

Guest post: Writing From Your Subconscious Mind by Michael Sussman

A little over a year ago, I read a partial manuscript that burrowed deep into my brain and set my mind on fire. For days I thought and dreamed about it, and every time I told someone about the book, this fire re-ignited, fueling my speech and gestures and turning me into a version of myself that my closest friends and relatives hardly recognized - I was that excited. This book resonated deeply with me and felt important. It contained a narrative whose underlying message was near and dear to my heart, presented with lit geeky humor and a transparent prose style that I love. I believe a large part of why the book resonated so deeply with me was because the author set out to let his subconscious guide the writing process. And when the manuscript found its way to me, our work consisted largely of naming what had come out of that process and identifying where the gaps in the narrative were. A reverse outline, if you will. That book was Incognolio by Michael Sussman, which I am THRILLED to say is now available on Amazon. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys funny surrealist literature or lit geekery, and/or who is on a path to reunite the pieces of themselves. You'll find info on where to find the book at the end of this post. And now, I am most pleased to welcome Michael to the blog to talk about his method of writing from the subconscious mind.

Writing From Your Subconscious Mind
by Michael Sussman

One way to approach writing fiction is to let your subconscious mind lead the way.

This is not to denigrate the conscious mind. It is a critical component of the writing process, especially once you’ve completed a first draft and must begin reworking and polishing your manuscript.