Monthly Archives: May 2018

Six Surefire Ways to Make Yourself Miserable as a Writer

In honor of one of my all-time favorite books, Dan Greenburg’s How to Make Yourself Miserable, I offer these six surefire ways to torture yourself as a writer and insure continuous misery: Spend hours each day lurking on social media and reading about the sweet publishing deals your writer friends have gotten while you count your rejection slips. Visit Goodreads often and re-read the awful reviews on your last book; ignore the good ones. Obsess over those writers you secretly don’t think are very good but whose careers are going way better than yours. Make a list of authors whose work is so good you know you’ll never measure up. If you don’t have an agent, lament that you’ll never get one; if you do have an agent, convince yourself that you’re about to be dumped when he doesn’t immediately respond to your last email. To insure continued misery, repeat all of the above as needed.   So there you have it. If you are determined to be miserable, these are amazingly effective strategies. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear from you. What strategies have you found work well? All additions to my list are welcome! And if you’re not a writer, I’m eager to hear about the strategies you use either at school or in your field to insure misery. Of course, there is a limit to how much misery I can wallow in, so next week, I’ll talk about the antidotes to making yourself miserable.   [...]

By |2018-05-26T15:17:45-04:00May 26th, 2018|The Writing Life|3 Comments

Ask an Author! Inquiring Minds Want to Know

One of the things I hadn’t fully anticipated about becoming a novelist is the frequency with which folks ask me questions—not only about the work itself, but about where I get my ideas, what my writing process is like, and what a typical writing day is like. This past week, I learned I would be included in the next edition of Contemporary Authors, published by Gale Cengage. The editor asked me to respond to several thought-provoking questions. Here’s what I wrote: What first got you interested in writing? Like so many writers, I started out as a voracious reader. The joy I derived from books and libraries inspired me to want to write, as well as the encouragement of some early teachers. In seventh grade, for example, a wonderful teacher named Mr. Menna assigned our class to do a report on an author. I wrote to John Tunis, whose baseball-themed books I adored. I was thrilled to get a personal reply, and even more excited when Mr. Menna wrote on my report: “The only thing this paper lacks is publication.” I loved to write, and even as a twelve year old, his vote of confidence in my work meant a lot to me. My early career, however, was in my other passion, dance, which I combined with freelance magazine and newspaper feature writing. I delved into fiction writing when I retired from dance. Who or what particularly influences your work? I’ve read YA fiction all my life and my first [...]

By |2018-05-19T15:48:40-04:00May 19th, 2018|The Writing Life|0 Comments

Feeling Thankful

I’ve been having one of those weeks where I felt like yelling out, “Bah, Humbug!” every five minutes. I’d broken out in some horrible itchy rash that hadn’t responded to the steroid meds the doctor assured me would kick in immediately. Not only do I look like crap, but I feel like total crap! Meantime, I’m off to visit my family for a week. I adore my family, but visiting my 96 year old mom doesn’t qualify as much of a pick-me-up. Deep into progressive dementia, she hung up on me yesterday because I was not in Boston and therefore was “of no use to her” in escaping from her aide whom she believed was imprisoning her.   Sometimes, though, a meaningful gesture of thanks can totally turn things around. This morning, I got the loveliest email from a student I’ve been blessed to have for two semesters. A brilliant young man who’s shooting for a career in medicine, he confessed to me that the flirtation with drugs he’d alluded to in a memoir he wrote last year was much more serious. In fact, his addiction had gone on for two years. When he went into recovery, he moved away from his old friends and said he felt terrible about himself and had lost his self-confidence. He told me that my positive energy was a big morale boost for him. He thanked me for the care I give to students and  said: “Choosing you as a professor really helped change [...]

By |2018-05-09T16:51:18-04:00May 9th, 2018|The Teaching Life|0 Comments

Our Cat Lucy: A Member of the Family

Our Cat Lucy Years ago when I was in grad school in sociology, I remember an article appeared in The Journal of Marriage and Family which pointed out that researchers were ignoring a major role player in family dynamics if they didn’t consider the family pet. At the time, that struck me as funny. But I also knew it was true. As kids, my sisters and I had been terribly attached to our Scottish terrier, Spoofy, and were heartbroken when our dad moved us into an apartment and insisted we had to give him away. I know Spoofy has long since gone to dog heaven, but I still think about him and the days we spent roaming the woods near our old house. When I met my husband, I had a calico cat, Cleo, a gift from my brother-in-law. She was a love bug and lived to be twenty-two. A few years after Cleo, we adopted two new cats from the Humane Society and somehow ended up with four cats, when two others arrived who really needed homes. Unfortunately, they detested each other and nearly drove us mad. When they finally all passed away, we swore we were done with having cats. But a few years later, we decided one cat would work. So we adopted Lucy, a tuxedo cat, from the Humane Society. She isn’t terribly friendly to visitors, but she adores us, particularly my husband, and the feeling is mutual. She spends great amounts of time [...]

By |2018-05-03T09:34:58-04:00May 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments