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Showing posts from 2015

#NaNoWriMo #First50Words Contest Update

Hello my lovely writers! I have not forgotten about you, and I will be posting the final results tomorrow at the latest.  Thanks for bearing with me! --Jerusha In the meantime, check out 50 of the most beautiful sentences in literature  for some inspiration! Here's a few examples:  “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” —J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew” “What are men to rocks and mountains?” —Jane Austen,  Pride and Prejudice “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” —John Steinbeck,  East of Eden “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.” —Tom Stoppard,  Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead “I would always rather be happy than dignified.” —Charlotte Brontë ,  Jane Eyre “One must be careful of books, and what i

#NaNoWriMo #First50Words Contest!

Hey NaNoWriMo-ers! Jerusha Rodgers from Rabid Bader Editing here, and I have a couple big things to let you in on! First things first: Joni Rodgers and I put together a #NaNoWriMo book bundle just for you guys. It's Joni's book FIRST YOU WRITE: The Worst Way to Become an Almost Famous Author & the Best Advice I Got While Doing It, which is a hilarious and poignant book of essays that contain fantastic writing advice. There's even some pro tips from our League of Extraordinary Authors pals. It's also got my title, YOUR TITLE HERE: How To Craft a Killer Nonfiction Book Proposal, a step-by-step guide. Although it was written with (obviously) nonfiction book proposals in mind, it shows writers how to set out a clear path for their book complete with a deadline and marketing strategy. It's kind of like a mad lib for self-publishing, so if you're serious about taking your NaNoWriMo writing to the next level, this is for you. This book bundle is a limited-

Taking on the #NaNoWriMo challenge? Thinky thoughts and helpful resources

Every year when people start talking about Nanowrimo, I have the same mixed feelings. I love the idea of  National Novel Writing Month , which encourages aspiring authors to bite the bullet and blitz out a 50K word manuscript in 30 days, but it does bring out the angry little editor in me when people talk about submitting that NaNoWriMo ms to agents or slamming it up on Amazon without proper care and feeding. From the  NaNoWriMo web site : National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not q

Hilarious #HoustonProp1 polling moment = not so funny the morning after election

Here's me in a ladies room. Welcome, deviants! Voting early in Houston’s bond election last week, my husband and I ran the gauntlet of electioneers outside our polling place, including two guys who held up cap-shouting yard signs: “NO MEN IN THE WOMEN’S BATHROOM! VOTE NO ON PROP 1!” Skewing Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) as the “Bathroom Ordinance” was the latest ultra-conservative pitch for preserving their sacred right to hate on LGBT folks. The ordinance in no way authorizes men to use the ladies room. None of this is about the ladies room. Or the men’s room. It’s about the straw man’s room. One of the guys said to me, “We appreciate your vote, ma’am. We’re working to keep you safe!” “Who’ll keep us safe from the bigots?” I said. He gave me a grin and a big thumbs up, not understanding. I waited in line, cast my ballot to support HERO and headed out to meet Gary in the parking lot. As I came down the sidewalk, the same guy said, “Thanks for voting, ma’am. We

Quilts made by mothers and grandmothers. Landscape of love. #DiaDeMuertos

Hitchhiker's Guide to the strange and wonderful world of Mecha (guest post from MAGi Trilogy author C. Lonnquist)

I just finished the deep-dive line edit of the second book in C. Lonnquist's MAGi Trilogy , a sweeping sci fi/fantasy saga that's turned me on to the bizarre and beautiful world of mecha. Defined by the talented Mr. Lonnquist: "Mecha is a subgenre of anime that focuses on large, piloted fighting suits, either mechanical or biological or both, often accompanied by giant monsters and commentaries on war and humanity." Yeah, turns out, that is a thing! When I said I'd like to explore, he sent me down the rabbit hole with this interesting Facebook conversation and today's guest post. Enjoy! ~ jr Narratively and stylistically, this is jumping into the deep end of the pool for anime, but they're good places to get a good grasp on what Mecha is. Anime is a bit of a time investment, especially since a lot of it is subtitled and keeps you from really focusing on anything else, and a lot of it is just straight-up commercial without much value. That said, the

Listen Here: Discussing the spooky art of ghostwriting on @RNZNights in New Zealand

Last night I enjoyed the best interview I've ever had on the topic of ghostwriting. Bryan Crump of Radio New Zealand National invited me to chat it up, and he came to the conversation with an open mind and intelligent questions. We talked more about the craft than we did about what celebrities I've worked with, and that's pretty unusual. Listen here.

Happy 100th Birthday to the fabulous Margo Kurtz

While I was working with Swoosie Kurtz on her memoir Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work, and Family , I got to know her mom, Margo Kurtz, who turns 100 years old today. Margo's advancing dementia has changed both their lives, but she still has a remarkable grace about her. The poetic way she expresses herself now has the same lyric spirit that shines through in her memoir, My Rival, the Sky , published by Putnam in 1945 and rereleased as an ebook by Perigee last year. Every time I see Margo, she's delighted to meet me, and I always tell her, "I read your book, Margo, and I really loved it. You're such a wonderful writer." She's always surprised and thrilled to hear it. "You just made me so happy," she said last time I saw her. "And what do you do, darling?" I told her, "I'm a writer like you." "Oh, then you know," said Margo, "the way words come out of their cocoons."

Me, this man, and the one thing Kim Davis will never understand about marriage

So the Gare Bear and I have been married 32 years as of today. The first three words he said to me were "I love you," and I hope those will be the last three words I say to him. Words are my stock in trade, but I have none to express how truly grateful I am to have this beautiful, funny, intelligent man in my life. Over the past three decades, we raised two children to responsible, dynamic adulthood. We've traveled the world together, negotiated the treacherous territory of cancer and chemotherapy , and lived together for several months on a fire tower almost entirely cut off from civilization. We've debated politics and fought over money. We keep gaining and losing the same 50 pounds. We're still into each other. Still onto each other. The only thing we're religious about is doing the New York Times crossword puzzle together every morning. We don't have a good marriage; we are a good marriage. This is a concept people who oppose marriage equali

Brave YOU World: Create & Fund an Unorthodox Life

Jerusha rockin' it a la peacock at Houston Pride 2015 My fabulous daughter, Jerusha Rodgers , spent the better part of two years traveling the world with nothing but her own ingenuity, a genuine desire to live in a yurt, and an income cobbled together from freelance editing and online essay grading. My amazing dad, Del Lonnquist , scaled tall buildings and toured with a rock band in his youth. More recently, he cared for my mom as she was dying of Alzheimer's and then took to the road on his motorcycle-sidecar rig. He's since ridden tens of thousands of miles and, at age 80, earned his Iron Butt certification as one of the World's Toughest Riders. And then there's me. Hate to toot my own horn, but I will claim for myself that I discovered the absolutely WORST Way to Become an Almost Famous Author . In addition to the gene pool and our love for lefse , all three of us share a flare for the arts, an insatiable curiosity about what lies around the next bend,

Into the Mystic: Prepare to discover/rediscover the great WB Yeats in Her Secret Rose by Orna Ross

On the flight over to Ireland this weekend, I was reading The Secret Rose , a strange and wonderful collection of stories by William Butler Yeats. One of the many lines that leapt off the page: "...the dreamers who must do what they dream, the doers who must dream what they do." The words find new context in Her Secret Rose by Orna Ross , the first in a trilogy of novels about young Willie Yeats and Maud Gonne, a British heiress, change agent, mystic seeker and champion of Irish civil rights. Gonne was the muse that catalyzed Yeats' career as she became the object of his unrequited passion/obsession. Their political and personal lives were intimately entwined; they were kindred spirits, soul mates, and partners in a long journey of spiritual exploration that included mind-altering drugs and secret occult rituals. But Maud had another life, another love, that Willie knew nothing about, and inevitably, the two worlds would collide. With great insight, wit, lyrica

Top 10 succulent Southern lines from Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

Can we set the controversy aside for a moment and just enjoy what a masterful writer Harper Lee is? I devoured Go Set a Watchman in one sitting this morning with just the right balance of laughs out loud and lumps in my throat. The Southern dialogue and character sketches are incredibly rich, astonishingly well done when you think how young she was. As I read, I grabbed screenshots of one great line after another, just so I could revisit and wallow in her wordsmithery. A few of my favorites: 1) "The music instructor. He taught a course in what was wrong with Southern church music. He was from New Jersey. He said we might as well be singing 'Stick your snout under the spout where the gospel comes out' ..." 2) "A bigot. Not a big one, just an ordinary turnip-sized bigot." 3) "You've turned and tackled no less than your own tin god." [Apply as needed to swirling controversy.] 4) "If you wish to continue in darkness, that is your

Goodbye to magnificent Miss Ellie, mom of Susan G. Komen and Nancy G. Brinker

So sad to hear about the death of Miss Ellie Goodman , mom of the fabulous Goodman sisters, Susan G. Komen and Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker. It was a joy getting to know her while I was working on Nan's book, Promise Me . Miss Ellie was 90 years old then, still remarkably sharp, and one of the most authentically beautiful human beings I've ever known.  Tough and direct, she'd seen her share of heartbreak, but there was not whiff of bitterness about her. She was joyful, generous and quick-witted, but also deeply pragmatic and very smart. Once you meet Miss Ellie in the pages of the book, you quickly understand why Suzy and Nancy grew up with a deeply ingrained sense of service to others and an unbreakable bond with one another. From Promise Me : Mom was beautiful and stylish, making the most of everything, even when there was little money to work with. Aunt Rose passed along an evening dress with a beautifully crafted pearl and rhinestone collar. The fancy gown w

Initial thoughts having just devoured Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

I loved it, for starters. I think what the book says about life and racism is profound, and what it says about the publishing industry is a serious kick in the head. I came in skeptical, but I loved this novel for exactly what it is: a brilliantly written, beautiful southern novel about a young woman who discovers her father is not a god. And I'm angry that some pompous, patriarchal publisher back in the day squashed it and told her to instead write a brilliantly written, beautiful southern novel about a young woman who discovers her father is a god. WATCHMAN is about growing up, "killing the Buddha" and laying claim to one's own world view. It's about the danger of holding on to our innocence for too long, and the author brings that meaning boldly home with a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking parable about how her ignorance about the facts of life almost results in her untimely death. I can certainly believe the story that this is Harper Lee'

Listen to Reese Witherspoon read the first chapter of Go Set a Watchman

In anticipation of the release of Harper Lee's new (kind of) novel, Go Set a Watchman , Guardian serves up  this nifty ambient-train-sound-optional audio chapter . “Tired of New York?” he said. “No.” “Give me a free hand for these two weeks and I’ll make you tired of it.” “Is that an improper suggestion?” “Yes.” “Go to hell, then.”

“This has to be a breach in the time space continuum. No...

“This has to be a breach in the time space continuum. No way could he grow up this quickly.” (Happy Birthday, Malachi!) via Tumblr

Mrs. Grey will see you now (3 things I learned coming out of the hair color closet)

Continuing the extended metaphor I began back in 2011 with this post on My Publishing Career as Illustrated by My Hair , in which I detailed a circuitous journey that began in the 1970s. Back then, a slow-to-blossom tweenage flower child, I was ironing my hair straight and selling erotic short stories in the girls' bathroom at the local roller rink. My long auburn locks disappeared during chemo when I was in my early 30s. For ten years, I kept my hair super short and colored it various shades of red in an attempt to ward off the bad cancer juju. During my 40s, I let it grow, gave up on the auburn and went with an ash blond that made the increasingly ashy roots less noticeable. When I hit my 50s, I decided to stop coloring my hair and embrace my grey. That was easier said than done, but here I am, and along the way, I learned three important lessons, which I intend to apply to life and writing as I enjoy my hard-earned silver era. Thing #1:  It's a process. Whatever &q

Goodbye with enormous gratitude to my friend and editor Marjorie Braman

Stunned and sad to see this news today: "Marjorie Braman , 60, died July 2 at her home in Taghkanic, NY of complications from breast cancer. She began her 26 years in publishing as an editorial assistant and worked her way up to svp, publishing director at HarperCollins and then vp, editor-in-chief at Henry Holt. She has worked as a consultant at Open Road Integrated Media. Authors she worked with include Elmore Leonard, Michael Crichton and Sena Jeter Naslund. Most recently Braman worked as an independent editor and was a member of the independent editors' group 5e..." It's an understatement to say that Marjorie changed my life. She acquired my memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair for HarperCollins in 2001, my doorway to what was then The Big 6 and my first crack at the bestseller lists. While it was in the pipeline, she encouraged me to start a syndicated newspaper column and, even though it was way outside her job description, provided feedback and advice that

"Artists lead. Hacks ask for a show of hands." (A blast from the past and peek at the new #SteveJobsmovie)

When a ghostwriter friend mentioned she was suffering from increasing pain in her hands (hazard of the profession), I told her, "I just posted something about that on BoxOcto last year." When I searched it out, my mind was blown a bit. It was actually posted in October of 2012. Here's the post , followed by an update: Gary sprained his hand last night at work, and it's swollen up like one of those old fashioned baseball mitts. For years I've always kept bags of frozen peas specifically for the purpose of icing my aching wrists, fingers and hands after hours of typing. I got one out, and it was frosted solid. I suddenly realized I haven't had to ice my hands since last Christmas when Gary gave me a MacBook Air. I'm not one of those rabid Apple heads, but this was a profound improvement in my quality of life. There are times when my ghostwriting schedule forces me to crank out 3K words a day (and if you're a writer, you know that 3K good words mean

Hulk Balls! Integral to summer morning workout

Hulk Balls! Integral to summer morning workout via Tumblr

“My fear,” said Venus, “is that the discovery...

“My fear,” said Venus, “is that the discovery of the matrix will lure her even farther from reality.” via Tumblr

#KeepItDown Two eloquent statements that changed my mind about the Confederate flag

Living in Texas, I've grown used to the image of the Confederate flag on everything from pickup trucks and beer cozies to dorm rooms, children's lunch boxes and baby jammies and onesies. For years, I've just rolled my eyes, assuming that living in the South meant having to accept the Confederate flag as if it's as innocuous and unavoidable as the roadside Cracker Barrel. Last week, two things changed my mind about that: The first was  this bluntly cogent statement by my nephew, Jared Sacramento , which he posted on his Facebook page: If you don't IMMEDIATELY recognize why the confederate flag is racist and offensive, then you are completely delusional. "Southern pride"? "Southern heritage"? Why are you proud of your racist ancestors? Why are you proud of the time when America went to war over the right to own and torture people? Why are you proud of the people who kidnapped Africans from their home countries, dragged them here kicking and

#TheStruggleIsReal Why I’m Not Mad That You Didn’t Hire Me (Freelance editor Jerusha Rodgers on a millennial dilemma)

Today we hear from Jerusha Rodgers (aka "The Plot Whisperer") of Rabid Badger Editing  in a post prompted by a conversation about agism in publishing, which I see from the perspective of a, um...let's say "experienced" author/book doctor in my 50s and she sees from the perspective of a fresh new face in her mid-20s. Ironically, yes, she had to explain to me about "the struggle is real." Shortly after graduating, a friend of mine posted the greatest Facebook status ever: “I would love to reenact some the of the fantasies in Fifty Shades of Grey, specifically the one where she gets a full-time job straight out of college.” With an economy that clings to safety (read: tradition and money) and a workforce and community that strives for advancement (read: cooler, more accessible stuff), applicants whose limited practical experience is backed up by open minds and inherent expertise in the use of technology often get left out of the running. It’s the st

Trying to get that adolescent kid to read this summer? SHABOOM. You're Welcome.

I rarely review YA or New Adult fiction for Joni's List, but this book really entertained me, and I think it's a sure bet if you're trying to get your tween/teenage kids to read this summer. Howard Pickman has a terrible secret. If anyone finds out, it will mean death for everyone he loves. Even worse, he's the new kid at the most abysmal high school in America. All Howard wants to do is remain anonymous, but being a teenager can be dangerous. He'll have to fight true monsters in order to survive.

My Facebook-free summer begins today. And I LIKE it.

A while back I adopted a small policy that triggered big change: "Facebook only while standing." That simple step made me suddenly mindful of the way I'd been unconsciously getting on FB at my desk, in the car, as I lay in bed or sat at the table in a restaurant. I justify the time I spend on social networks as part of the "platforming" I'm obligated to do as an author and ghostwriter, and I'm more than willing to admit that maybe I'm just not doing it right, but the net gain for me has been very low. It certainly doesn't justify the time it's taken away from reading and writing. Even Mark Coker of Smashwords said this year at LBF that loitering on FB and other social network time-sucks was one of the worst mistakes commonly made by indie and legacy published authors alike. The days when LIKEs converted to book sales have expired. Now we're just nickle and diming ourselves to death. The only thing I'll really miss is lurking an