Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Putting An Electric Fence Around Your Writing Life

antonychammond / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Some things just need protecting. Your emotions, your money, your loved ones...and, your time. I put my money in the bank, I keep my kids close to my hip, and I (try to) no longer wear my heart on my sleeve.

But sometimes, my time seems to just get thrown into the air and scattered by the hurricane-force-winds of life.

I often feel in debt. Deep, deep debt with time.

So in my control freak attempts to manage and keep track, there are lists--there are lists of lists. Lists for each of the two schools I work at. Lists of house chores. Lists of money management. Lists of errands, and kid activities, and appointments, and...just the every thing. It is so easy to get buried in the Every Things. They have hooks called "NECESSARY" and claws deemed "IMPORTANT." They attack me using swords of guilt, and defend their right to my time by wearing the armor of obligations. 

The Every-Things win a lot.

Writing often looks so small in the shadow of Every-Thing.

And it is small. Compared to children. Compared to the jobs that pay your bills, and the bills themselves. Compared to food, laundry, homework...a clean toilet. Writing looks so tiny.

It needs protection. It needs an electric fence. For me, that fence only has one power source--my will. There is only one person to defend my small parcel of time and space carved out for writing, and that person is me. It is getting up early, or staying up late, to write. It is saying, "No" to Every-Thing...at least when it is spreading like suburban sprawl and encroaching upon my already small refuge. It is making the decision that writing is not small, writing is big, writing is important, writing matters.

Even if, right now, it only matters to me. 

Because I matter to me.

How do you protect your writing?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Interview With Suzanne Palmieri (aka Suzanne Hayes)

Interview with Suzanne Palmieri (aka Suzanne Hayes):   


First, thank you so much for inviting me! This is my VERY FIRST interview, so lets hope I don’t get too wordy. Also, congratulations to you on your very own book deal! Wonderful news. Okay, here we go.

You have not one, but two books coming out this year. Tell us about THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY and I'LL  BE SEEING YOU. Are they the same genre or different?

They are both adult novels (though could be read by anyone as there is nothing in either that would be offensive to YA readers) and both can be categorized as women’s fiction. BUT: I’m sort of two different people. The books I write under my own name, Palmieri, are darker. They are full of magical realism and lost characters that yearn to be found. (That’s why I call myself The Lost Witch!) Suzanne Palmieri is contracted by Saint Martin’s Press/Griffin and TWOLI will be on shelves on March 26th!

I write as Suzanne Hayes with my co-author Loretta Nyhan. The books we write are being published by MIRA BOOKS and make magic of a different kind. Historical, lyrical, and dedicated to understanding the amazing relationships that women create with one another.  Suzanne Hayes is contracted by MIRA BOOKS and IBSY will hit those same shelves on May 28th 2013!!

(Phew. I really feel like I suffer from multiple personality disorder sometimes--only my people don’t black out and they all talk at the same time.)

What would you say makes them stand out from other books?

I don’t know! Sometimes, I go into a bookstore and it’s like looking out over an amazing ocean. Vast. So beautiful. The multitude of colors and covers and stories that sing. How will my books sing louder, or even as loud? I suppose I could say that my books with Saint Martin’s Press/Griffin are dark AND hopeful. The novels I write with Loretta sing a different tune because when we write together something astounding happens.

In the end, it will be the readers who decide what makes the books stand out. Does that make sense?

What current books would you compare them too?

TWOLI has been compared to Sarah Addison Allison’s work. Only a tad darker. Karen White readers will like them as well. And we can’t ever forget Practical Magic by Hoffman. She’s my idol. I tell a good ghost story! And I like to explore themes of loss and abandonment. Mystery too. There must ALWAYS be a secret!

IBSY is an epistolary novel. Letters written back and forth between two wives on the home front. And, in all honesty, I can’t think of a book like ours that was written the way ours was. So I guess I can’t compare it. Let me know if you think of something!

Are these books stand-alones or can we expect a series? 

Suzanne Palmieri (The Lost Witch) … me.. writes stand alone novels that all have a common thread. A common family of people who may or may not know one another, but it is NOT a linear series. (Sort of like Stephen King using Derry, Maine as a “go to” place.)

Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan’s books are stand-alone novels. (But I’m trying to weave in a few characters that people who read the first book may remember because as a reader I think it’s fun when writers do that.)

Can you tell us about your personal background?

I was a very bad teenager. I hated school. I’m an only child. I found myself pregnant, unwed and undereducated when I was 22 years old. And when my daughter was a baby I was on state and federal assistance for two years. I finished my college degree and dragged my toddler to the Bronx so I could earn my Masters at Fordham. (Thus, the BRONX looms large in TWOLI)

I got married, became a teacher and had two more little witches. I’ve struggled, but come out on top. Never, ever give up. Be the light in the eyes of your children. Having my daughter so young is the only reason I’m where I … well… am. Right? Right!

How long have you been writing fiction? What inspired you to become an author?

I’m an avid reader. I mean… obsessed. Always have been. And I’ve always wanted to write, but as mentioned above, I got a bit derailed. In 2008 I started writing something that turned into a novel. I didn’t intend to do it. And then… lets just say that’s my TRUNK NOVEL. But I liked doing it, weaving those stories, so I couldn’t stop!

I see that you teach high school, do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your writing?

First and foremost it gets me out of my pj’s. But really, my students are like I was when I was a kid. (I work at an alternative high school) I don’t know what I’d do without them. I learn from them all the time. And I get GREAT ideas!

How do you balance your professional career, your writing career, and family? 

I have no idea. I drink bourbon and I kiss my husband a lot. I write at the counter while I cook and I avoid laundry like the plague. It all just…happens. When I’m teaching, though… I’m just their teacher. And I love that.

I see that you also blog. With regards to social media, what do you feel has benefited your writing career the most?

TWITTER. Without a doubt. TWITTER.

What are your thoughts about the publishing industry today? Can you speak a little about your experiences with traditional presses?

Don’t listen to the doom profits. Publishing is NOT DEAD. Here’s the skinny. I buy about 7 books a year. Not counting library rentals of course. Now, with e-books, I buy 50 books a year. NO LIE. So all the creative ways people are publishing are simply GROWING the industry not killing it.

I know a lot of writers get frustrated with the process and go to e-pub. And I know this works for many. From my end? I can’t imagine not having the support I get from the teams at both publishing houses. From cover art to marketing to publicity and on and on. Suffice it to say, I simply couldn’t do it alone. And, writing is lonesome anyway. It feels so good to have a publishing house behind you. From the assistants to the senior editors. You feel like someone is taking care of you. I, for one, need that.  (Both of my editors if they are reading this are nodding their heads and laughing at me right about now)

I wrote three novels before I even began to get noticed by agents. And that’s the key. Keep writing. If you love what you write you can’t help but get published. The joy is contagious.  Trust me.

I think the e-book industry is lovely as well. I’m especially loving the e-serials and hope that I can write one for one of my publishing houses someday. (AHEM, proposal on SOMEONE’S DESK) Nudge. Wink. Please?

Tell us about your path to publication. I want to hear the story about selling four of your books on the same day.

TWOLI went on submission in May 2011. At around that time my Loretta and I were writing these letters (that would become IBSY) back and forth via email. She showed them to her agent, I showed them to my agent and we all agreed it should be a novel. So we revised over the summer. I was also revising for an editor at Saint Martin’s Press who’d shown interest in TWOLI. By the end of the summer both books were ready. I sent the revision to Saint Martin’s Press at around the same time we went on submission with IBSY. During one amazing week in September 2011 I got not one, but TWO calls from my agent (Anne Bohner.) When everything was done and the ink was dry, we realized that both contracts (for two books each) were finalized on the same day. CRAZY PANTS. That’s what that is. CRAZY PANTS. Also, I hope that rather than push writers away, this story brings people IN because dreams come true in the most astounding ways. It happens, people. It happens.

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

1.     Try not to write in order to get published. Write what you need to write HOW you need to write it. Don’t think about where it will go or what will happen to it. Just write it and enjoy it. Let it make you laugh and cry. Be the adventure. Avoid the rules. (NOTE: pay attention to the rules when querying. But please, be your own writer. If you want to put in an adverb, put it in. If you want a prologue, put it in. The story tells you what the story needs. Listen to it. And then? Later when the book is sold? LISTEN TO YOUR EDITOR AND TAKE THE STUFF OUT. J)

2.      Also, get a good CP (critique partner). I would be dead in the water without my little coven. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

3.  If you LOVE IT… don’t ever give up. Not ever. Every single wall that you hit has a door somewhere in it. Like the Secret Garden. Look for the Robin, she’ll lead you to the key….

4.  Prepare for success. It can be startling, and more than a little terrifying!

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my multiple personality disorder with you! No, really. Thanks. And please, all you readers? Yeah, you… feel free to contact me. I’m nice and I don’t bite. Okay, there was that ONE time…XO

Where you can find Suzanne Palmieri (Hayes)
Website: www.suzannepalmieri.com
Twitter: @thelostwitch
Facebook: Suzanne Palmieri (Hayes)
Blog: The Lost Witch 
Suzanne, thank you so much for taking the time to share with readers about your books and your amazing experiences. We'll be looking forward to the release of your first book on March 28th!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How Do I Handle Criticism?

How do you handle criticism of your work?

When I first stated writing, I was terrified of critique. I know I was not alone in this terror because I witnessed plenty of other writers become a variety of emotions that ranged from quiet and upset, to defensive and angry after receiving less than stellar feedback on their MS.

I feel like one of the biggest growth experiences I ever had as a writer was learning to put my work out there and not freak out about it. Of course, this only happened because I continued to put my work out there, repeatedly, to be rejected. After awhile, I think I just got bored with the drama and decided to think of it more as work I was doing rather than A PIECE OF MY SOUL.

I mean, I'm not personally offended if someone doesn't like a psychological report I've written. 

Anyway, I'm thinking this because of a comment I left on J.A. Kazimer's blog yesterday. This is what I said when she shared about her revision process and asked about how other writers managed their revisions:

I just do little parts at a time. When the notes come from my agent, I read them through once, put them aside, come to them latter and work on a few of them. Oddly, revision notes don't really bother me the way they used to. I remember when I first started writing and a critique would hurt my feelings--that seems so silly now. 

To which she replied (I'm not quoting exactly here) that critique didn't bother her, but reviews could be tougher to handle.

It got me thinking and I realized that yes, not-so-positive reviews might be more difficult to handle than criticism from crit partners and/or agents/editors. Here is why I think this is so; my agent and editor send me a private email with what they feel is wrong.

Reviews are out there for the whole world (well, the parts of the world that cares to look at them) to see. It is public criticism.

Yes, that might be just a little bit harder to manage.

How do you handle criticism?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New York Times: Favorite Book Cover Desings of 2012

Some amazing book covers from 2012--click the link below.  

New York Times: Favorite Book Cover Designs of 2012 Slide Show

Personal favorite was for BLOOD LAND by Alan Glynn. It feels like you're falling.

The Day After Goals Are Set

Just a friendly reminder that the day after your goals are set, you have to start moving towards them. Take one step today, then one more tomorrow. Before you know it we'll all be 365 steps closer to our dreams.

And just imagine how far we'll be if we take two steps every day.

Here are the things I'm doing today:

1. No more cookies
2. Finish chapter 19 in Midheaven
3. Research trips to Mexico for spring break. 

What one thing are you doing today to step towards those goals you set on the 1st?

And please come sign up for my Book Club Blog Hop. We're reading The Diviners by Libba Bray this month!!