Writers Chatting: Beach Read 1

We all seem to be in agreement that summer is time to kick back and relax a bit. So with that in mind, here is the first of the summer’s Writers Chatting open threads.


81 replies
  1. 1
    debbie says:

    Nothing about writing from me, but I love the illustration!

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    Though I will say I’m reading Richard Ford’s memoir about his parents, “Between Them,” and enjoying it immensely. I also feel better because I wrote a .memoir about my mother but thought it was weak because there was so much supposition on my part (my mom refused to talk about herself), but Ford does a lot of it too. Whew!

  3. 3

    @debbie: Our summer theme will be Art Deco beach art.

  4. 4
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    Thanks, TaMara!

    I submitted an essay to The American Scholar. It was rejected, but I’m not down. I was aiming very high and the subject matter was probably not quite as… stoic, remote as I take that ‘zine to be.

    Just moved into a house with my girlfriend and her three adult sons and their five dogs, so everything is a kind of turbulent, disordered… not in a great mental place for writing at present. We’d been in an apartment together(she and I), but her sons were sort of languishing and unhappy living with their father. It was causing great stress, and one of them has an anxiety-related disease (CVS), so hopefully this helps his situation (and doesn’t ruin our relationship).

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    Here I was, all worried that I’d overslept, and I’m the first one here! 😊

    I went to a writer’s retreat yesterday for one of the local chapters of RWA. It was pretty helpful — I was able to brainstorm some new motivations for my heroine and I won a Kindle! It’s a bottom-of-the-line one with ads and no backlight but … free Kindle!

  6. 6
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    We’re going to see Merry Wives of Windsor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this coming weekend, followed by a stay at the Oregon Caves and the coast. I am so looking forward to the Redwoods, the coastal air. I hope it recharges the writer in me.

  7. 7
    ruemara says:

    I am not focused on writing my book, but I have half a script that needs to be wrapped up for a sci-fi competition and 2 scripts to write for work. Plus I have an idea for a horror podcast that I’d like to detail. Oh, and I’ll be in Seattle for PodCon in early December. I decided the miniscule savings I’ve put together won’t save me so it’s much better to invest in my creative skills and see if that’s better.So more voice acting, more writing and more networking. What should I see & do in Seattle, besides Pike’s Market?

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): That sounds exciting. Is this the Ashland festival?

  8. 8
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    I’m trying to focus on the business of writing more: cover letters, submissions… not my favorite part. I go to Hillary Rettig’s blog for motivation.

  9. 9

    @Mnemosyne: I always envy the RWA people. The group is so active both locally and nationally.

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): I hope the living situation works out. Kids are a stress, no doubt, especially if they’re stressed themselves.

    I’m revising a novel, waiting for some magazines and small presses to get back to me, and watching a story I have posted on Swoon Reads for comments so I can eventually revise that book too.

    Also, considering switching to my real name, since I’m much less reticent about sharing my political opinions than I used to be. I’m fond of my IOL identity though.

  10. 10
    germy says:

    “Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself–it is the occurring which is difficult.”

    ― Stephen Leacock

  11. 11
    debbie says:


    My copy of Nonsense Novels just arrived! I’m looking forward to the guffaws

  12. 12
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:


    You ever give the NoSleep podcast a listen? It’s a horror show… I don’t care for the narrator, and some of the episodes are notably amateurish, but some of it is interesting, and might serve as inspiration (even if for just what not to do).

  13. 13
    germy says:

    @debbie: Keep in mind it’s a collection of parodies of various genres of novels. Everything from detective stories to science fiction to romance.

  14. 14
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:


    Yup! I went there first as a teen in 1977 and fell in love with the place.

  15. 15
    germy says:

    “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”

    – Robert Benchley

  16. 16


    hope you enjoy, debbie.

    for myself, today is a day of laundry, blogging, and getting another chapter done on my ongoing novel project.

    did I mention I was going to travel to Albany GA in mid-August for a local scifi con (Epicon). It’s an excuse to visit my birthplace – haven’t been there since I was 4 – and it’ll be my first Authors event outside of Florida. I hope to get a self-published work completed before then to have it as a new work to sell.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    debbie says:



  19. 19
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:


    What’s your blog named, Paul? Is it about writing?

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:


    I decided the miniscule savings I’ve put together won’t save me so it’s much better to invest in my creative skills and see if that’s better.

    Sounds like a plan to me. When I was at the Festival of Books, one of the women who spoke at the romance writers panel wrote her way out of Flint, MI, because she really didn’t have any other career options there. She said she thought of it as a “scam” because it was (relatively) easy for her and she was able to dedicate whole days to writing (because she was unemployed), so she was cranking out full-length novels within a month or two.

  21. 21
    JanieM says:

    @germy: That quote sure isn’t true for me. My brain produces a constant running stream of ideas, jotted down in a lifetime’s worth of notebooks, Word docs, scraps of paper, napkins, you name it. It’s making even the slightest bit of order out of them — or even one of them! — that I can’t seem to manage on a sustained basis.

    Oh well, different strokes, even when it comes to blockages. :-)

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while):

    You write nonfiction, yes? Blogging and social media are important even for nonfiction, so don’t forget to get an online presence for yourself. Most advice I’ve seen says to concentrate on a single social media outlet (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) and not drive yourself nuts trying to create content for all of them.

  23. 23

    @JanieM: I find scratching out a first draft to be painful. Getting ideas is easy compared to that.

    I have a comment in moderation because I experimented with adding my real name to IOL. That’ll teach me.

  24. 24

    @Mnemosyne: Have you used Klout to check your online presence score? My first publisher said they liked their authors to have a score above 50. I can’t achieve that most of the time.

  25. 25
    germy says:

    “Not too long ago I tried to write a story. I got my name and address on the sheet; a title, which stank; and the first sentence: ‘The stranger appeared in the doorway.’ Then I had to lie down with a wet cloth on my face.”

    – Dorothy Parker

  26. 26

    I “sold” a story to a local semipro zine almost three years ago. The issue it was to be in was supposed to come out in mid-2015. Then the publisher couldn’t raise the money, and it was pushed back to Christmas 2015. Then it was late 2016. As of October, it was supposed to come out in “early 2017.” I haven’t heard from him since. I finally got too frustrated and told the publisher that I was pulling my story out.

    I think it’s one of my most marketable, and I want to send it somewhere else. There’s an anthology soliciting for stories that it’s well suited for. I need to cut 700 words to get it under the 7,000 word limit, but that should be doable.

  27. 27
    Neldob says:

    I just finished Borne (Jeff Vandermeer) which was fabulous dystopian sci-fi. Inspiring. With you on the order thing, even my journal, but dialogue … is worse.

  28. 28
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:


    Mostly I write fiction, actually. YA, children’s stories, adult contemporary…

    I do enjoy personal essay form, too, though. Thanks for the suggestions! I’m in the process of launching a blog myself for the SM reasons you cite.

  29. 29
    JanieM says:

    @germy: Now this one made me laugh out loud.

    It also reminds me of something the instructor said in a memoir workshop I attended:

    “The cat is on the mat” is a situation.

    “The cat is on the dog’s mat” is a story.

  30. 30
    ruemara says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Oh, that’s easy. Be pithy on Twitter instead of properly writing.

  31. 31
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: Congrats!

    We have expanded our space by moving our business concerns into commercial space. This lets me have, at long long last, my own space for writing.

    Did the nomad with a laptop okay, but it had interruption time built in, and creative endeavors don’t get along with interruption.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    I don’t have my author blog set up yet, but I’ll keep that in mind for when I do.

    I was emailing with Schrodinger’s Cat about my proposed author blog and she thought it sounded interesting, so I’ll get some feedback here, too. The title would be something like “The Pop Culture That Changed My Life” and it would mostly be about the books and movies that influenced me, along wth some other stuff like music, TV, graphic novels, etc.

    I was going to call it “Books That Changed My Life,” but I’ll mostly be talking about romance novels and other genre fiction, and I think most people would expect me to be talking about Great Books with that title, not the fact that Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory (now Candace Camp) continues to influence what I want to write about.

  33. 33
    WereBear says:

    @ruemara: I decided the miniscule savings I’ve put together won’t save me so it’s much better to invest in my creative skills and see if that’s better.

    That’s the same conclusion we came to!

  34. 34

    @ruemara: Pithiness is a problem for me. That’s why I write novels!

    Betty Cracker is really good on twitter.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:


    Hooray! Congrats on the new space. It’s definitely nice to have a room of one’s own to write in.

  36. 36
    WereBear says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): Once you have blog posts, you have stuff to share on SM. I keep up with FB, Twitter, and I’m trying to get into Tumblr and Instagram more.

  37. 37
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: Did you ever read Virginia Woolf’s famous essay, “A Room of One’s Own”?

    Free online…

    I finally read it in honor of me finally getting one. (It is also going to be our space for entertaining guests, but that means I’m not writing, so close enough.) It’s really an interesting work which expands to metaphorical levels; about what women were allowed to write, and how they muscled their way into letters.

  38. 38
    Mnemosyne says:


    Also, if either of you needs a little inspiration, this local business started with an Etsy store after she got laid off from her job while she was on maternity leave. Ten years later, her bags are in national and international knitting magazines and she has opened a brick-and-mortar store near her home in Orange County.

  39. 39
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: What a wonderful story, thanks.

    I had moved all of my 401k into safe spaces because I am still certain the Sentient Circus Peanut is going to crash the market sooner or later and I hate suspense. (I can dish it out but I can’t take it.) So I used some of it as collateral for a business loan that will let me finish a book and Mr WereBear to make product.

    The plan that we would do this without adequate space to actually do this? Turned out to be a non-working plan.

  40. 40
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:



  41. 41
    JanieM says:


    I had moved all of my 401k into safe spaces because I am still certain the Sentient Circus Peanut is going to crash the market sooner or later and I hate suspense.

    Since he’s threatened the default on the national debt, what safe space is left? If I could hold a big chunk of Maine forestland in my 401K, I’d probably do it at this point.

  42. 42
    WereBear says:

    @JanieM: Yep If that goes down, we’ll all be using pretty shells.

  43. 43
    Greg says:

    I finally passed my first Microsoft cert test and promptly went on vacation. I’ve reworked my daily schedule to have the study time I need, the time to tend to my body, time for the family, and time to write every night. And I still get 6 to six and a half hours of sleep. Reworking the query. Next wave of 25 will go out by the end of this week. Line edits. Outlining the next story. Right now I’m rereading the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone in timeline, not publication order. Read four or five Discworld books on vacation. Next break will be for sibling’s wedding in September.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:


    Or we find out if BitCoin really is a viable currency.

  45. 45
    Laura says:

    @ruemara: ride a commuter ferry
    Go to the Fremont district and see the Troll
    Check out freeway park
    Catch a movie at Cinerama
    See a punk show and have a pizza at the Crocodile
    Alternate between fresh coffee and fresh beer
    Archie McPhee
    Theos Chocolates!
    Look at people!

  46. 46

    @West of the Rockies (been a while):

    I have a writer/librarian blog at wittylibrarian.blogspot.com

  47. 47
    tybee says:

    @Greg: which cert?

  48. 48

    The fourth Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m A Supervillain book has had a fantastic release. Nine days in, and I’m still at Amazon rank #517! I’ve spent the vast majority of that time #2 in my categories behind the first Hunger Games book.

    I need the money, so thank goodness. Being a full time author is a real financial roller coaster. Amazon Studios has inquired about the property for a series, but ‘inquired’ is like a 5% chance of anything happening, so I’m merely pleased and not excited.

  49. 49
    WereBear says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I am so happy this continues to work out well!

    I have my own series planned. As a reader, I do love them; as a writer, I see them as a way of continually being challenged to develop a character and keep a story going.

  50. 50
    Another Scott says:

    @WereBear: Being comfortable with your investments is very important, but think about when you will get back in. Almost nobody can “time” the market. Everyone who got out of the market in 2007-2008 while waiting and waiting and waiting for the DJIA to hit 5000 missed the recovery. People were predicting a crash in 2012, also too..

    I don’t know what’s going to happen any more than anyone else, but one has to think that any “default” would most likely be a technical one (there was a technical default in 1979). There are too many institutions and countries that have US debt for the prospect of it to be taken lightly. It’s the last thing the bansksters want, also too.

    If you’re worried about things like this, think about your alternatives. There are risks in being in cash, and being too timid.

    (Who is a fan of dollar-cost-averaging.)

  51. 51
    HeleninEire says:

    Reading David Sedaris’ “Theft by Finding” Very good.

    Also on a kinda same note. Went to the theatre here on Friday. Saw a play called “Stones in his pockets” Excellent. Small theater where the audience was right on top of the stage. Two male actors play 20?? parts and the only way you know they are switching is by their accents and demeanor. Fascinating. My only complaint is that the American accents were not quite right, but who cares. Absolutely wonderful.

  52. 52
    WereBear says:

    @Another Scott: The way I see it, I don’t have enough for retirement, even though I’m not at retirement yet. I dodged the effects of the 2008 Recession by careful research and adjusting, but this go round defines loose cannon.

    At this point, I’d rather invest in myself rather than the market.

  53. 53

    Summer is the season of theatre festivals: Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder, Oregon Shakespeare in Ashland, Stratford Shakespeare (along with other writers) in Stratford, Ontario, and a lot of short play festivals. In the interest of shameless self-promotion, there’s the Odenbear Theatre Bench Play Festival in Taos, New Mexico June 14-25 and City Wrights Playwrights weekend June 22-25, both featuring my play “A Moment of Clarity.”

  54. 54

    Oh, hey! I thought it was only yesterday, but apparently the free sale on the adult reading level Supervillain book set in 1980 is still going on. Since it’s free and I have fans here, I can urge you to glut yourselves on verbage without guilt!

  55. 55

    @Frankensteinbeck: That’s fantastic! MG and YA writers, ftw!

  56. 56

    @ruemara: the Seattle Mystery Bookshop is my favorite bookstore.

    I get seriously almost all my new book recommendations from one of the staffers.

    @Mnemosyne: if you change ‘changed’ to ‘saved’ you get a bonus Smiths reference

  57. 57
    Josie says:

    I’m still slogging along about 2/3 of the way through a really rough draft of my historical fiction about the Mexican revolution. The more research I do into genre, the more confused I am about whether I am writing a historical novel, a historical romance or maybe something in between. Is it harder to sell a book that doesn’t fall cleanly into a specific niche? Also, how in the world do you know if something is actually worth trying to sell or if it is way below par? I have done academic writing for years, but this is my first attempt at being creative, and I have to say that this stuff ain’t beanbag.

  58. 58

    @Josie: Being able to fit into two niches may be an advantage. Think of it that way. :-)

    Re whether a book is ready to go out, it’s hard to tell. It’s good to let it sit for a month or so to get some objectivity and revise. It’s good to have feedback from beta readers. But also, never think that the quality of a book is the sole reason it sells or doesn’t sell. Luck and market trends play big parts too. The only way to see if a book sells is to put it out there.

  59. 59
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): It does sound a bit hectic in your life for writing much.

    @Iowa Old Lady (aka Dorothy Winsor): We like your IOL identity also too.

    I made a snotty comment about Cole’s music library woes at his twitter timeline ( a reply to Why?). Mostly so I could show off my new avatar that I’m quite proud to have copied from someone at another timeline.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Iowa Old Lady (aka Dorothy Winsor):

    Aha! Your comment was finally freed from moderation.

    I keep telling JMN that he should join his local RWA chapter, or at least give a meeting a try, if he’s looking for published authors to network with. They usually have a LOT of meetings and seminars and Becoming Phoebe counts as a New Adult/Women’s Fiction book.


    Finish your first draft before you decide. These days, the main difference between historical romance and historical fiction is the prominence of the romance in the story and the happy ending. You can decide once you finish your first draft and start revising it,

  61. 61

    I’m still working on my novel. As one does. My second draft currently stands at 93,359 words. The third fifth definitely needs some tightening up, but that’s the only major revision I have left, I think. I’ve decided the ending doesn’t actually need work because I’ve remembered the novel’s absurdist roots, the main influences–The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Cat’s Cradle didn’t really have endings that made much sense either, and Moby-Dick and Catch-22 were never particularly focused on the plot anyway. So, onward!

    I write ever day on the train to work, which is about enough time to get in 400 words. I polish this sometimes throughout the day and then touch it up a bit at night. This is whether I’m revising or writing. While revision happens more in chapter-size chunks, it amounts to roughly the same rate. If I write any more than 1000 words in a day, unless it’s two-character dialogue, my writing almost always starts to suffer noticeably. So that can work for the creation phase but not the editing phase. Anyway, I’m getting there! In the final act.

    I’m also about ready to go with the webcomic series I am going to start. I’ve put up some sample art and a possible first strip here.

    This is Jesse Grunwald. He just finished two years at community college in Santa Fe. In a fortuitous coincidence, earlier this year, he got offered a four-year scholarship at a Denver university and inherited his grandmother’s estate–a vintage victorian right by the lake in southern Denver. Now it’s fall, and he’s moving in. He’s prepared to balance the quadruple demands of keeping up his GPA, holding down a job, making new friends, and keeping repairs up on the undoubtedly shitty car he’s about to buy.

    Unbeknownst to him, he’ll have to add two more demands–taking care of grandma’s pets, and holding up his magical karmic duties as the only grandchild of the powerful witch Clarita Grunwald.

    This is ‘Against Stupidity’. With Jesse, an unassuming demi-stoner with a knack for history and a journalism scholarship, Cooper the calico, and Ginger the African grey.

  62. 62
    Joyce H says:

    I haven’t been writing ANYTHING! Earlier in the year, I finally did a bit more writing on my long-stalled Regency, which I am determined to finish one of these days because I think it’s such a cute story.

    But then Robin Hobb dropped Assassin’s Fate onto the world and I had to get back into the Realm of the Elderlings. And now I’ve finished it and am in deep mourning/denial (the series is OVER? It can’t be!), and also suffering from an enormous inferiority complex. So it might take me a while to get back to my usual level of devil-may-care insouciance.

  63. 63

    @Joyce H: I am reading Assassin’s Fate this very moment from the kindle sitting on my desk. I cut back and forth from it to BJ.

  64. 64


    Finish your first draft before you decide. These days, the main difference between historical romance and historical fiction is the prominence of the romance in the story and the happy ending. You can decide once you finish your first draft and start revising it,

    This is also very important. Finish your first draft. Just do. Before anything. Maybe not before breakfast.

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I’m finishing up my outline before I re-start the main writing, but I have a solid 4 or 5 chapters already written. Bringing my heroine’s mother back to life really raised the stakes, and I’m happy to add that in.

    As part of my early birthday presents to myself, I bought some novel outlining software from KM Maitland (?), who’s one of the bloggers at Helping Writers Become Authors and who has written several writing craft books I’ve found very helpful.

    I say “outlining software,” but she basically took her workbook for outlining your novel and put it into a FileMaker Pro database so you can answer all of the questions without marking up the workbook or making all of your notes on scraps of paper. I still have to do all of the work, it’s just all gathered in one location so I don’t misplace anything.

  66. 66

    @Iowa Old Lady:
    I’m reading the Gesta Danorum. Saxo Grammaticus is, uh… interesting. I was expecting vikings, shieldmaidens, and Danish history. I was not expecting so many kings named Frodo, and Saxo’s fanatic dedication to admitting women were warriors and generals, but never actually telling you anything about them. Those two things at least did not surprise me. What I really, really did not expect was the lecture about how effeminate German sausage is destroying Denmark.

  67. 67
    Josie says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:
    Thanks for your replies. I am determined to finish at least a first draft, even if it’s just something to leave for my kids. I’m thinking that, since a romance is the backbone of the story, I could join a RWA group in the city where I serve as nanny for my granddaughter two weeks every month. That way I could network and get advice when I am ready to start revising. It doesn’t really follow the formula for a romance book, but maybe that is not so important.

  68. 68


    Bringing my heroine’s mother back to life really raised the stakes

    Necromancy will do that, yes.

    I don’t do workbooks too much myself, I don’t know why.

  69. 69

    @Frankensteinbeck: I can’t say it’s ever occurred to me to read that. It sounds like Tolkien did though.

  70. 70

    @Iowa Old Lady:
    Oh, yeah. Gesta Danorum and the Prose and Poetic Eddas were a huge influence on Tolkien. Gandalf is a name that pops up occasionally in the Gesta Danorum, for example. Tolkien and Saxo could not have more opposite feelings about food, though.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:


    As long as you pay the dues, most RWA chapters don’t get too fussy about insisting that you specifically write romance. Many of the members I’ve met write women’s fiction or YA/New Adult with female leads.

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I’m a workbook geek. I blame my mother — when I was little, she would buy me phonics workbooks to do for fun.

    But I’m also writing in a genre that has some specific reader expectations that I need to meet (including two fully rounded co-protagonists) so I need a little more structure.

  72. 72

    My writing has totally suffered, need to get back in the game.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:


    I got a message from the county library that my DVD of that movie we were discussing is in, I just have to go pick it up.

  74. 74


    But I’m also writing in a genre that has some specific reader expectations that I need to meet (including two fully rounded co-protagonists) so I need a little more structure.

    I imagined this was the case. I mostly deal in “it’s like genre X but…” things, so I have more flexibility. Also said genres are well-known ones like “major natural disaster” or “crime procedural” or “spooky inherited house”.

  75. 75

    @Mnemosyne: Oh good! When is TCM showing the other classics we were discussing, can you mail me the dates? I am working on post about upcoming summer attractions. I hope it has subtitles, because the movie assumes that you know the background of the interwar Indian freedom struggle both the leftist strand (HSRA* headed by Azad, Bhagat Singh etc), and the more centrist strand (INC* headed by Gandhi and Nehru) and about the massacre of peaceful protesters at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919.
    *INC==Indian National Congress
    *HSRA==Hindustan Socialist Republican Army

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’ll try to email you before I run out to do errands. One of the movies isn’t scheduled to be aired this month, but they run it pretty often.

  77. 77

    @Mnemosyne: No hurry do it in a day or two! I may even do a brief post and give peeps links to the historical events that the movie is based on. So they can look it up if they are so inclined.

  78. 78
    Greg says:


    70-410. Server 2012. I’m going after the Server Infrastructure MCSE. I already invested in 2012 study material so I’m doing that for the MCSA section.

  79. 79
    Jonothan Cullinane says:

    Iowa Old Lady – an idiot writes… re your comment about Betty Cracker’s tweets (I love her!). The only place I read tweets is on BJ because I can’t find them anywhere else. I took a deep breath recently and signed up to follow Maggie Haberman from the Times, but crickets (unless she’s stopped tweeting?) Do you get notified when someone posts a tweet or do you have to check that person’s feed every day? Or do you just have to be smart?

  80. 80

    @Jonothan Cullinane: If you formally “follow” someone, their tweets should show up when you log onto your twitter account–when you’re on your twitter “home” as represented by the blue house at the top left of the page.

  81. 81
    tybee says:

    @Greg: good on ya, mate. that’s an interesting set of exams even if it’s mostly memorization.

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