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Where do you get story ideas?Usually some moment will pop into my head, or I’ll see someone doing something that will interest me. Or someone will say something -- one little line that plays over and over in my head. Or sometimes, it’s a news story or even click bait that intrigues me. Or maybe I have something I just need to say about the world, about humanity, about resilience, in general. As much for my own sake, as anyone else’s. That’s where my stories begin. I never -- ever -- have an outline, or know where the middle or end will take me. Just the spark of an idea and I start writing. Everything after that is a pure leap of faith.
How long do your books take to write?The first draft usually takes me between six to eight months to get from the first sentence to the typed words “The End.” Then I’ll usually do at least one revision, if not two, before I’m ready to show anyone what I’ve written. After some feedback from “beta” readers, I’ll do some more revision and send that off to my agent. Based on his feedback (I have a wonderfully skilled editorial agent) I’ll revise again trying to tackle problems and then we’ll send it off to editors. After a manuscript is purchased, I’ll work through yet another revision with my editor, before we’re finally read to move on to smaller tweaks and copyediting.
What's your writing process like?Messy. Erratic. Distracted. Immersed. And, watery. Messy because, like I said, at least for the first third, I’m writing without a real story in mind, developing characters, chasing ideas and possibilities. And, while I’d like to say I write every day, some months I do. Some months I do not. Some days I’m busy with other things (I still maintain a small legal practice, for example). When I’m entrenched in a manuscript, focus comes easy and I get lost in the words. A twelve hour day at the computer might come easy those days.. When I’m struggling, I’m popping on and off of social media. Getting caught up in the woes of the world. And the place I do my best writing? In the water, whether the pool in the winter or the open waters of the Long Island Sound in the summer. If only I could hold on to all the good ideas and perfect words when I reach the shore!
What's your best advice for me, as an aspiring writer?"Read. And allow yourself to write utter garbage. Crapola. Then, rewrite it. And don’t expect everyone to love what you do, or get how you do it, or fawn over you. But someone will. And your words will fill them. And your stories will be their favorites! And always keep your eyes on your own paper. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Yeah, it is.
How about resources? Will you help ME get published?First, a basic and trusted how-to guide is the Guide to Literary Agents 20__: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. This includes both updated reputable literary agent information and the proper ways to query & submit. Writer's Digest also runs a pretty good site chock full of information: https://www.writersdigest.com/ You can also follow the hashtag #MSWL (which stands for Manuscript Wishlist) on twitter, or go to the MSWL website to see what both agents and editors are currently looking for. If you are local to Long Island, I am periodically teaching novel-writing workshops, and you may feel free to reach out to me via my email to see when the next one is scheduled!
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