Producer, Dear Katie: Survivors on the Page Book Club
Editor, Dear Katie: Survivor Stories

I joined the Katie Koestner organization as Producer, Dear Katie: Survivors on the Page Book Club, and Editor, Dear Katie: Survivor Stories (should you click on the above link, I’m on the far right).

This is a wonderful opportunity to help trauma survivors get their stories and work out to a wider audience.

For those who don’t know, Katie Koestner was on the cover of TIME Magazine at the age of 18 as the first person to speak out nationally and publicly as the victim of “date” rape. She is now the Producer and Host of the Dear Katie: Survivor Stories podcast.

My function is two fold. One, to find any creatives (not just authors) whose work deals with trauma and healing, and engage them in podcast conversations regarding their work and their lives post trauma. Two, to help find trauma survivors who’ll share their stories for the main Dear Katie podcast, review episodes before they go to air, edit, and make suggestions as necessary.

My own work in this area can be seen in the material listed below. Your work doesn’t need to mirror or echo my subject matter to be considered; it only needs to be well-written and deal with survivor issues.

Please leave a comment if you or someone you know has written a fiction or non-fiction book, article, or story about surviving trauma. Include the title of the published work, the publisher, a synopsis of the story, and a link to where I can find it online.

Thanks.

First Rejections

I received a rejection on Meteor Man last week. The editor wrote

I can appreciate the attention to detail in your world, but without knowing about the world or characters or what’s going on, the terminology bogs me down a bit too much.

The comment intrigued me because no first reader commented anything similar. Even first first readers – those unfamiliar with my work – didn’t make similar comments. I often gets comments about my world-building but they tend to be more like “Amazing!”, “Rich!”, “Vividly detailed!”, and “Immersive!” (one of my personal favorites).

When I do live readings of works-in-progress, I sometimes get a comment along the lines of “You do more world-building in ten pages than most authors do in the first hundred” and I should spread things out.

I ask in return, “Would you continue reading? Do you want to find out more?”

Unanimous yeses often accompanied by listeners leaning forward in their seats and sometimes by outstretched hands seeking a copy.

All of which tells me I did an excellent job world-building. If people were overwhelmed to the point of being numb, they’d back away rather than continue forward.

Two Recent Classes…
I’ve long suspected that storycrafting and storytelling aren’t the paramount reasons work is accepted or rejected.

Sadly, this was confirmed by two different classes I took over the past few weeks. The classes were from different sources and a little over a week apart. One class had an agent and a publisher, the other had two magazine editors.

I take such classes because I want to understand what got Story A accepted and Story B rejected. A con panel with editors explaining what stood out pro and con in stories from their slushpiles would be gold to me. I’d pay serious dollars to attend such a panel session.

Me, I look for common threads in everything from character to theme, action to plot, … Sometimes the common thread is obvious, other times…?

And always it comes down to “How come this and not that? Give me a list of what works and what doesn’t so I’ll have a better idea how to perfect my own work for publication.” (by the way, two books that do a great job of this are Barry Longyear’s “Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop – I: An Introduction to Fiction Mechanics” and On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back).

Want to know what I found out?


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Terry “Tales from the Greenhills” Melia and I talk about Writing, Authoring, and Publishing

The amazing and incredible author Terry Melia talked with me this past Saturday. It was a fun chat and we covered lots of ground, hopefully some of it will be useful to others.

Here are two excerpts starting with using your own emotional experiences to add realism write fiction events

 
and one with some advice to writers.

 
You find the full video on Terry’s YouTube channel (and we both hope you do and comment).

A Tale of Three Critique Groups

Be so confident in knowing what you bring to the table you’re willing to eat alone until you find the right table.

 
Warning: This is not going to be a happy post.

I’ve been in three critique groups from the end of 2020 to now. One I formed, two I was invited to join. There were two more I helped form and turned over to others (both are non-US based and there were timezone and language issues which made regular exchanges with them challenging).

Let me be blunt.

  • Most people calling themselves writers have no hope of becoming international bestselling authors.
  • Most people calling themselves authors have no hope of becoming anything more than self-published wannabes.
  • Most people in critique groups want a pat on the head, a hug, and a rousing cheer of “Good for you! You put words together!” and not a serious critique of their work with the goal of improving their craft.

Some people proudly tell me they never pay for online courses and only take the free ones.

“How long you been doing that?”

A few years now.

“You been taking courses for a few years and your work still sucks this much? Put your money on the table now, honey, otherwise your work ain’t going nowhere.”

(you may enjoy the complete “Can I Be Honest About Your Writing?” series starting with Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all!). I also talk about what makes a good critique in my interview starting at about 1:35m in)

What Makes Writing Worth Reading? Continue reading “A Tale of Three Critique Groups”

Principles

Katie Koestner and Claire Kaplan interviewed me last night for an upcoming segment of Dear Katie.

At one point, I mentioned some Principles Susan and I put together over the years based on our journey. These Principles are the ones we used to guide our lives and the company we created. They’ve appeared in many places over the years.

Someone once asked me if I lived up to the Principles myself.

“Hell no. That’s why I post them. So they can be a guide to me, so I’ll know when I’m not following them.”

Like so much in my life, they are for me. If others benefit from them, wonderful. But first and foremost, they are for me.

You may not like them all. You may only be comfortable with one or two.

Good start. Work to integrate them all. Find that difficult? As noted above, if they were easy for me to follow I wouldn’t have to write them down.

Katie and Claire took interest in the Principles and asked where they could find them. I posted the full list here on my blog as Principles.

Below are the first ten. Feel free to read through the rest of them. Feel free to make them your own.

  1. Do unto others as if they were you.
    In other words, cut out the middle man. Treat others the way you treat yourself. People do this anyway. All we do is suggest you become aware of it.
  2. Trust yourself.
    Until you do this, you’ll never be able to trust others and you’ll put what trust you have in people who will hurt you.

  3. Be Honest.
    With yourself first because it makes it easier to be honest with others. Honesty will cost you and what it returns is worth it. Tell tall tales, lie with the best of them and exaggerate all you want when people know that’s what you’re doing. The rest of the time, be honest.

  4. Respect people’s boundaries and limits.
    There’s a difference between being selfish and being selfless. Realize what this means for you and you’ll realize what it means for others.

  5. Keep it Simple.
    Because it’s so much easier that way.
  6. Take responsibility for your actions.
    When you make a mistake and before anybody else knows the mistake has been made, raise your hand and say loud enough for others to hear you, “That one’s mine. I did that.” If the people around you are more interested in pointing their fingers at you and distancing themselves from you than helping you clean things up, you’re standing around the wrong people. Let them distance themselves. They won’t be around you when you succeed, and you will, because you’ll have learned how to stand up tall, proud and free by recognizing, owning up to and cleaning up your own mistakes. From this you’ll also learn compassion and dignity and how to help others clean up their mistakes, as well. Along with this…
  7. Mistakes are just that; You can reach again.
    So learn to stretch when you have to and to recognize when what you’re reaching for isn’t something you’d want to hold in your hands. You’ll be better for it and so will those who love you.
  8. Innocence is not Naivety and vice-versa.
    Think of this as a self-recognition of “…wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

  9. Your rights end where your willingness to harm and hurt begin.
    If you need this one explained, you won’t get along here. If you needed a moment to put this into a context you could get comfortable with, you won’t get along here.

  10. Language is a tool, like Maslow’s Hammer.
    Some people think everything’s a nail. Be neither. This is part 1.

(read the rest)

Until the interview goes live, you can get a taste here from my tech check.

Enjoy.