• Essays

    On Writing and Motherhood: Navigating a New Way of Life

    Lofty Expectations for Writing and Motherhood When I was nine months pregnant with my son, I was a completely different person than I am now. I didn’t really think about writing and motherhood as being connected. My baby would fit neatly into my writing life, of course. Like a puzzle piece. And into every other aspect of my life as I knew it. In other words, I was one of those obnoxious pre-parents who thinks she’s the best parent ever. Who thinks parents and their kids should live tidy lives where kids shouldn’t throw tantrums or bother parents too much. Yep, you know the type I’m talking about. I was…

  • The Business Side of Writing

    How to Get A Literary Agent

    What is a Literary Agent? When I’d just had my baby son and was searching for agents, I would tell non-writer friends about the process. But I struggled to explain what an agent was. “Do they publish your book? When is it coming out?” they’d ask. A fair question for someone not in the publishing world. But the answer is no, agents don’t publish you: they do all the work that comes before. Besides writing your book, of course. Only you can do that! There are some great articles out there on what good literary agents do. So I’ll just say that a good literary agent will: (In some cases)…

  • The Craft of Writing

    How to REALLY Revise Your Novel

    In Which I Come Face to Face With Real Revision As a freshman in College Writing 101, I wrote a narrative essay that my English professor thought was pretty good. It was exciting, about the time I popped my trail motorcycle off a log blocking the trail. So when it came time for the step of revising the rough draft into a more polished piece, I figured I didn’t need to do much more than check my commas. My story had everything it needed to earn me an A. “So what should I do for revision?” I asked my professor, expecting to hear something like,¬†oh, your paper is perfect. You…

  • The Writing Life

    7 Tips for Finishing the First Draft of a Novel

    In the 10+ years I dabbled in serious, sit-at-your-desk-every-day writing before I turned 21, I had one idea. So I wrote the first draft of one novel, AND THE BLACKBIRDS MOCK. I revised it a few times. Then when I entered my Master of Fine Arts in Writing program as a 21-year-old, current students in the semesters above mine advised me not to work on that existing novel. “Write something new,” they said. “Test your limits while you’re here. See what you can do.” I took that advice. In the course of two years, I wrote—or, ahem, started—three novels and one short story. Now I’ve added to that number one…