Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jennifer Colt Interview with Liz & Lisa

I did an interview with two of the smartest people I have run across in the business: Liz and Lisa over at ChickLitIsNotDead.

These girls are such savvy marketers, and genuinely nice people too. I can't wait to read their book.

Meanwhile, check back here for a reverse interview. I have things to learn from these two!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


According to Ann McIndoo, writing coach and former protege of Tony Robbins, it's doable.

I'm going to listen to her teleseminar tomorrow and find out where I've gone wrong. It's taken me eight months to write 61,000 words on my memoir, and it's still nowhere near completion.
I can write fast. I've written 6,000 words in a sitting on more than one occasion. Working at that pace would mean I'd have myself a 60,000-word piece of non-fiction in less than two weeks.

The problem? The sixty thousand words would be garbled garbage. The sentences sloppy, the word choice careless, everything so far out of order you'd think you were watching the movie Memento. Don't put it past me to change the POV right in the middle of my own memoir.

Ann doesn't say anything about the editing process in her promo material, but I'm sure it will be addressed, along with the twin devils of procrastination and insecurity.

Join me on Twitter manana, where I'll tweet the highlights of this phone conference starting at 11:00 am Pacific Time. Together we will see if it's possible to write your book in 90 days!:

@WriterRevolt    Chain self to desk

@WriterRevolt    Disconnect Internet

@WriterRevolt    Come up with subject for book

@WriterRevolt    turn Internet back on, search for subject

@WriterRevolt    Come up with title for book

@WriterRevolt    as soon as subject nailed down

@WriterRevolt    Yippee! Why no one told me it this easy 2 b author

@WriterRevolt    B rite back after coffee

@WriterRevolt    READY 2 WRITE THAT BOOK!!

@WriterRevolt   Forgot to take Scooter for walk. Back in 5

@WriterRevolt   Chapter 1

@WriterRevolt   2 late to work now. Better start fresh tomorrow

@WriterRevolt   89 days till blast-off!!!!

See you tomorrow for real-time authorship lessons!

Friday, July 9, 2010


I've been spending a lot of time on the CreateSpace boards. From reading the book descriptions, it's clear that many of these authors are writing their own copy.

Why is it inadvisable for you as the author of an 80,000+ word book to write the synopsis for it yourself?

You know too much.

Also, being a conscientious editor you've pared the book down to its most essential elements. There's nothing left that doesn't serve the story or the characters. You're attached to every remaining word, and that's why you will try to put too much information on the back cover.

Ever watched a trailer that tells the whole story of the film? Afterward, you turn to your mate and say, "Well, I guess we don't have to pay to see that one."

Or a trailer that gives away all the best jokes? (The shame is that out of context, they're not as funny as they should be.)

This kind of overkill betrays a lack of confidence in the material. You've heard people talk about the "elevator pitch," right? The idea is that you should be able to pitch your story to someone in the time it takes to get from one floor to another.

Notice I didn't say "in the time it takes for the firemen to rescue you after you've gotten stuck between floors."

You have someone's attention for ten seconds. Use it wisely.

Short, sweet, to the point.

Hook, complication, question.

A phobic blind woman has inadvertently picked up a doll at the airport containing heroin. When the bad guy comes looking for his contraband, he breaks into her apartment and lies in wait until her husband goes to work. She's left alone in the apartment with a killer she can't see...

The question is implied: Will she get out alive?

She's Audrey Hepburn*, so it's a good bet she will. But the point is we know we're in for one hell of a thrill ride from the opening to the final scene.

Audrey Hepburn - Waiting Room MagazineImage by drinksmachine via Flickr

A book description will be longer than the elevator pitch, but not by much.

If you must write your own copy, cut, cut, cut those extra words. Pare the description down to the main characters and the most gripping plot points. Don't try to sell the book based on tangential complications and secondary characters. Sell it on the spine of the story.

Again, I don't recommend it. (If you were a doctor, would you operate on yourself?)

Let someone else write your book copy, someone who'll be ruthless with the backspace key. You owe it to the rest of the 80,000 words to present them in the very best light.

*Wait Until Dark – still a great movie after all these years!

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Monday, July 5, 2010


I’m watching the first season of Damages again (courtesy of Netflix). This amazing FX series, starring Glenn Close in the role of a high-powered Manhattan attorney, has some of the best writing I've ever seen on TV.


The protagonist is lawyer Patty Hewes, who specializes in bringing class action suits against white collar criminals – industrial polluters and stock swindlers. She's a passionate and fearless advocate for the little guy, but hercutthroat techniques and underhanded methods rival those of her corporate adversaries. Put her up against any Wall Street manipulator or toxic waste dumper or pharmaceutical poisoner, and then hold your breath for the most intense cage match you’ve ever witnessed.

Although the series has it all – great acting, directing, editing, music –  it’s the writing that continually knocks me off my couch. The labyrinthine plot is impossible to follow unless you’re paying rapt attention, but when was the last time a TV show made you want to do that? I don’t think I could follow the story without frequently rewinding to see what just whizzed past me.

(Very little of the drama actually takes place in a courtroom. Most of it is a behind-the-scenes chess game played out between the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ attorneys and their investigators.)

Patty Hewes is a fascinating, complex character – someone who is capable of charming the pants off of you one minute and publicly humiliating you the next, with only the slightest shift in tone or gaze. (Props to Glenn Close for her nuanced performance.)

In the pilot, there’s a ten-second exchange of dialogue that gives you an immediate sense of Patty’s character. It's the kind of pitch-perfect writing I’m talking about.

Her firm is up against a charismatic business tycoon played by Ted Danson who's pulled an Enron-style scam. He dumped his company’s stock right before it tanked, enriching himself to the tune of billions while bankrupting the employees who’d invested all of their retirement funds in the company.

The law office is in an uproar as a deadline approaches. The camera tracks down the bustling hallways where we see associates shouting at each other in passing, exchanging documents, engaging in rapid-fire discussions about points of law. Through a glass wall, there's a lawyer talking on the phone wearing only a white Oxford shirt and blue boxer shorts. Seconds later his suit is delivered in a dry cleaning bag.

Patty is pacing the camera in her own tailored suit and striped shirt, her short blond hair perfectly coiffed, accompanied by a young male associate who’s breathlessly attempting to brief her as they zip along. He makes a passing reference to his girlfriend, and without missing a beat, Patty responds—

PATTY: Your girlfriend? I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.

ASSOCIATE: Yeah, she’s a teacher at your son’s school.

PATTY: I thought you were gay.

Then the two of them dash off-screen before the associate can even react.

What do we learn about Patty in that short exchange? We learn that...

1) She knows nothing about the personal lives being sacrificed by her associates, who are virtually camping out in the office in order to win the case of her career;

2) She knows nothing about the staff at her own son’s school; nor does she seem to care;

3) She’s blunt to the point of rudeness, but seems unaware of the fact (or again, simply doesn’t care).

It took a mere ten seconds to provide this tightly focused snapshot of a fast-moving target.

But is it the whole story?

Is Patty a narcissist, as pathologically self-involved as the Wall Street criminal she has in her sights? Or is her intense focus, this dispensing-with-the-niceties tunnel vision, necessary to protect the disenfranchised of the world against the titans of industry? Has Patty sacrificed some, or all, of her own humanity in order to protect the powerless?

Stay tuned! I guarantee this character will surprise you at every turn. She’s far too interesting to be nailed down in the very first episode.

And now, thanks to our DVR’s and Netflix, we can all try to keep pace with Patty Hewes, while getting a crash course in great writing.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010


Welcome to the inaugural post of!

This blog is dedicated to informing you on one of the most exciting developments in our time – the burgeoning DIY literary movement.

Until recently, a handful of large corporate publishers had a stranglehold on the book business. Due to the high costs of printing, inventory, and shipping, their profit margins had shrunk, causing them to focus on an ever-dwindling number of bestselling novelists or celebrity authors. New writers had fewer and fewer opportunities to get noticed, let alone published...

But no more.

Digital technology allows you to upload your finished book in seconds and make it available for purchase within hours. For a little extra investment, it can marketed to distributors for resale to bookstores.

This means that talented unknowns can take their destinies into their own hands. Even established authors are now selling ebooks for the price of a cup of coffee.

With the advent of the Kindle and iPad, people carry hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and full-length novels on hand-held devices stashed in their purses and briefcases. You can download the latest bestseller during a boring commute, or even during a boring phone conversation.

It's a brave new world, and plans to be a part of it.

If you have a book that deserves to be published, let us help you make it stand out in a crowded field. We'll start you on the road to authorship with expert, hands-on editing and marketing support.

Meanwhile, check back here for the latest developments in on-demand publishing, as well as insights into the publishing world at large.

There'll be interviews with authors — who's making it happen and how.

Discussions of the latest trends.

Advice on DIY publishing companies.

We'll keep our finger on the pulse and we'll share it all with you.

If you're ready NOW to see your work in print, contact us at All services in July are 10% off in honor of Independence Day.

Let the fireworks begin!
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