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Nov. 28th, 2010

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memkns

Christine Mason Miller

"My husband and I had an appointment yesterday—one of those official, grown-up appointments where official, grown-up documents are drafted, signed, and filed. There will probably even be some sort of official, grown-up stamp or sticker applied to these documents, but that’s just a guess. During this appointment, I had to answer the question, 'What do you do?' and, without hesitating, I said, 'I am a writer.' I have never given that answer before. It has always been..."

Read More » What the World Needs

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Why Are Romantic Comedies So Hard To Get Right?

"Opposites attracting. Forbidden romances. Love triangles. Workplace romances. Wedding hijinks. Unplanned pregnancies. Conflicting jobs. Mistaken identities. Infidelity. Lies and bets. Teen comedies. Sex comedies. It's hard to write the usual events of a relationship in a new way. What haven't we seen? It's rare that a romantic comedy concept feels new and fresh and interesting. And remember that for every movie you see, there are dozens of sold scripts and hundreds of unsold scripts making their way around Hollywood. You may not have seen a 'men and women can't be friends' kind of movie since When Harry Met Sally, but I've read at least 10 of them in the last year. I also think I'll have to take my own life if I have to read any more wedding movies or raunchy female sex comedies. Great characters and relatable themes should be enough to create a good movie, but they may not be enough to sell a movie anymore. As a result, we sometimes get silly, overly concepty and set-piecey ideas. I think sometimes writers get so caught up in the hook that they forget what we really want to see in a romcom: people falling in love."

Read More » Why Are Romantic Comedies So Hard To Get Right?

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Nora Roberts

But this humble 60-year-old grandmother, who lives on a country property in Maryland, measures her success in smaller ways. Like the time she reduced a truck driver to tears. She treasures his letter about how he listened to audio books on his long hauls, and unbeknown to him his wife uploaded Roberts' Irish trilogy, The Gallaghers of Ardmore.

"He wrote, 'Here I was and I pulled into the truck stop and I had to sit there, because I was crying and I can't go into the truckstop where the guys were and order my grits'.

"He said, 'You know, you can be a real guy and read these'."

[...]

Roberts says it's rewarding to know her books not only entertain, but help people through difficult times. "If reading one of my books has made it easier for them to get through cancer treatment, divorce or the death of a loved one, then that's such a tremendous compliment."

Nora Roberts: $60 Million Woman

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Nov. 19th, 2010

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Royal Engagement

"In an important sense, this betrothal has far more to teach a new generation about relationships—and fidelity, too. Young women write to me full of worried frustration because—just like Kate Middleton—their boyfriends and live-in partners were reluctant to commit. I've also received letters from young men who’ve witnessed the bitterness of parental divorce—just as Prince William did—and, as a result, feel terrified that 'happy-ever-after' is unachievable. That's why I believe the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton will give all such young couples hope. This is a real love based on friendship, shared interests and understanding."

Royal Engagement

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Nov. 14th, 2010

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Crystal Wilkinson: The Book Deal

"Someone told me the other day that most publishers want a fiction writer to have at least 2,000 Twitter friends that could turn into solid book sales before they will consider publishing a first novel in today’s market.

"My conversation with this person was depressing. I never wanted to hawk my books like I was selling hotdogs, 'GET YOUR BIRDS OF OPULENCE HERE!' And I still think that's annoying when I see people doing it.

"I always thought that I'd write a book and I'd put it in that Moses basket and send it on its way across the pond and I would stand on the other shore and watch it float where it might. And maybe Pharaoh's daughter would pick it up and take care of it and show it to the world. I guess this is not true anymore..."

The Book Deal: Keeping It Real

Oct. 28th, 2010

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Sue Monk Kidd

"I write not so much to cause people to know things in their heads, but I write to affect their hearts. I believe that the heart is where the potential for change lies. The seat of the will is in the heart and that's where I want to go. I certainly want to enlighten people and make them think, but mostly I want to get to their hearts. One of the most direct ways into the human heart is a story." —Sue Monk Kidd

Oct. 20th, 2010

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The Writer's Life...

"She writes in a room alone for 10 or 12 hours a day, usually Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. During this time, she says, 'I don't talk to anybody; I don't answer the telephone. I'm just a medium or an instrument of something that is happening beyond me.'"

The Museletter

***

"Right now, all the drama in my life is on the page. Boring as this may sound, it's working for me. A couple of summers ago, I spent a month at an artists colony. A young man, just out of school, was complaining that nobody was staying up til three in the morning doing shots of bourbon and having tumultous affairs. A woman landscape painter, still wearing her stained apron, looked at him and scoffed. 'Do you know how rare it is that I get time to work? I am not going to waste it drinking with you!' Everyone laughed. And then got back to work."

The Writer's Life is Best When It's Boring

Oct. 11th, 2010

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Stephen King

"I look for stories that care about my feelings as well as my intellect and when I find one that's all-out emotionally assaultive—like 'Sans Farine,' by Jim Shepard—I grab that baby and hold on tight. Do I want something that appeals to my critical nose? Maybe later (and, I admit it, maybe never). What I want is something that comes at me full-bore, like a big, hot meteor screaming down from the Kansas sky. I want the ancient pleasure that probably goes back to the cave: to be blown clean out of myself for a while, as violently as a fighter pilot who pushes the eject button in his F-111. I certainly don't want some fraidy-cat's writing school imitation of Faulkner, or some stream-of-consciousness about what Bob Dylan once called 'the true meaning of a pear.'" —Stephen King

Sep. 9th, 2010

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The Power of Perseverance

"In my twenties, I dreamed I'd hit it big -- and then I got to learn the hard way that it's all about finding that intersection of heart and craft and mind that is writing. And that takes some time. And a lot of work. I don't necessarily believe in MFA programs. I had an author tell me a long time ago that they're over-rated. 'Do you write every day? Do you have a writing group? Do you read all the time, and treat those books as textbooks, underlining, and re-reading? Do you have writer friends? If the answer is yes, you don't need an MFA. Just write.'

"And so I did. I drove a flower delivery truck, worked as an office temp, nannied, tended a lady’s orchids, waitressed, cocktail waitressed, was a sous chef at a cafe. I did whatever I could to make my life a funnel that all came out through my 'pen.' And, after 14 books, I finally got one published."

The Power of Perseverance

Aug. 5th, 2010

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Light Doesn't Have to Mean Stupid

"'The problem' with chick-lit, I'm told, is that it doesn't deal with the real issues that women face. Well actually, some of it does. From sibling rivalry to infidelity, addictions to poor body image, a woman can take her pick within the genre if she wants to. And the rest of it? It's meant for pure indulgent enjoyment, and there's nothing wrong with that.

[...]

"And it's not as if women who read chick-lit read it exclusively. Most of us enjoy chocolate cake, but we don't eat it every night for dinner."

Light Doesn't Have to Mean Stupid

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Aug. 4th, 2010

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Dorothy Koomson

"Fast forward a few years, I’ve finished uni, I’ve finished my masters (in journalism), I’m working in magazines while still writing my stories in the evenings.

"Why? Why did I continue to put pen to paper and finger to keyboard even though I wasn’t getting paid or had no hope of getting published? Because I had to, is the short answer. And that answer is true today – even after being published. I can’t not write; I can’t not create characters and situations and stories – even if no one is going to read them.

[...]

"I write because I have to. It’s a compulsion and a passion. A passion I throw myself into doing. I tell a story with all my heart and all my abilities. Writing is a huge, huge part of my life and who I am."

Dorothy Koomson: Why I Write

Jul. 30th, 2010

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JK Rowling: Imagination

"Many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

"I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

"What is more, those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

"One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."

JK Rowling

Jul. 28th, 2010

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memkns

How to Write in 700 Easy Lessons

"Recently, at a college where I was lecturing, a student told me, with great pride, that he had 'over a hundred books' in his library. I could see that I was meant to be impressed by the number, and that he considered himself a vastly well-read type of guy. He went on to say that many in his collection are how-to books. This person wants to be a writer, but he doesn’t want to do the work. Being a writer is a stance he wants to take. He did not come to writing from reading books, good or bad. He came to it from deciding it might be cool to walk around in that role. I meet this kind of 'writer' far too often now in my travels around the country—even, occasionally, in the writing programs."

How to Write in 700 Easy Lessons

Jul. 27th, 2010

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memkns

Blogging About the Process

"I realize a blog is a good way to keep your website alive and to involve your potential audience. But explaining how you make a dance, the problems you encounter and how you solve them, is not going to help either you as the choreographer or your potential audience. To dig into your imagination enough to make a dance, you need to be embroiled in a place where there is no explanation."

[...]

"I think this rush to explain is part of a larger trend of people thinking a simple how-to set of instructions can make them an artist. In The Atlantic’s Fiction 2010 annual issue, the novelist Richard Bausch says, with dismay, that there are 4,470 titles under the rubric 'How to Write a Book.' He thinks they are pretty much useless. 'One doesn’t write out of some intellectual plan or strategy,' he says, 'one writes from a kind of heartfelt necessity.' And no one can tell you how to transform that necessity into art."

Blogging About the Process

Jul. 7th, 2010

bookworm

memkns

Save the Contemporary

"Jane has mentioned before that the contemporary romances that don’t feature vampires, campy vampires, werewolves, immortal peril, mortal peril, suspense out the wahoo, or extraordinary extraterrestrial extraneous circumstances seem to be fewer and far between..."

Buy a Contemporary, Save the World

Save the Contemporary

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