How The Funeral Dress Inspired Me to Write A Novel This November

Confession: I have not read The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore, the From Left to Write October book club selection. I fully intended to when I signed up to read it and write a post inspired by it.  But, between writing assignments, book reviews and motherhood, I haven't had a chance to even crack the spine. The Funeral Dress is about a young mother who takes it upon herself to sew a dress for her mentor when that woman suddenly dies. There was something about the plot and the small town setting that stirred a story in me. So, I've decided to participate in my second National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. For years, I have been talking about writing a novel. Just talking about it. For. Years. I've started several, and by started I mean I've written a page or two here and there. The most fiction I ever wrote was 75 pages for a grad school class seven years ago. That novel is still languishing unfinished. This November, I am going to write 50,000 … [Read more...]

Saying Goodbye to Maryland Life Magazine

Saying goodbye is never easy. Six years ago, I faced a tough decision. Well, tough for me. I had to decide if I was going  to attend the Iowa Summer Writer's Workshop or accept a job at a new magazine. I opted for the later. As much as I wanted to go to Iowa -- attending that prestigious writing program is still a dream -- I couldn't pass up full-time employment to spend the summer writing amidst cornfields. So I chose the practical option. And I haven't regretted that decision for one single moment (but I did frame my acceptance letter from the University of Iowa). However, today, I'm saying goodbye to Maryland Life magazine. Not because I want to but because I have to. Today, Maryland Life magazine will cease publication. I am sad. That's for certain. I've shed many tears and will probably shed a few more. I have loved this job. Correction: I LOVE this job. It's my passion. I get to write and edit and travel and be creative. Its been a dream. What … [Read more...]

Writing Advice From Alice McDermott

I recently attended the Washington Independent Review's first annual Books Alive conference. One of the many speakers in attendance was award-winning author Alice McDermott. In college, I read Charming Billy, for which McDermott won an American Book Award and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction, and loved it. I grabbed a seat at one of the front tables in her breakout session, "What's Novel About the Novel?" I dream of being a novelist, after all. Someone asked the panel a question that I don't exactly remember. But Alice McDermott's response stuck with me. She shared writing advice that resonated with her when she was trying to write and raise small children -- a boat I find myself I at the moment. I'll paraphrase: As soon as your children have left for school or daycare or for grandma's house, clear off your kitchen table with one sweep of your arm (she animated by making a sweeping motion with her arm) and get to work writing. Don't stop … [Read more...]

Why Writing is Like Running

I haven’t posted in a while because my site was down and I wasn’t sure how to fix it (thank you DreamHost for coming to my rescue). I have been writing in my head, though, so look out for a slew of posts to come, hopefully, more regularly. Yesterday, as I was driving, I had an epiphany as to why I haven’t written a novel yet. Writing a novel is like running a marathon – it takes a good chunk of time to get from the start to the finish. I doubt I’m the first person to come up with this analogy but it was an a-ha moment for me. I have no desire to run a marathon but, if I did, I would train. Training builds strength and endurance and requires discipline. So maybe I should apply that same concept to writing. What if I adapted a marathon training schedule to writing? I could replace miles with minutes. Over the course of several weeks, I’d dedicate a few days to writing, gradually increasing the amount of time spent until I produce a novel. Here’s the Novel Writing Training Schedule I … [Read more...]

NaNoWriMo 2011

It’s November and that means its National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a 50K word novel in 30 days. I attempted it for the first time last year and failed. I only managed to write 5K words. I want to try again but not this year. Its just not feasible with an infant. I was going to devote these 30 days to writing an e-book about food allergies. Instead, I’m going to give myself six months and publish it in time for Food Allergy Awareness Week. And now that I’ve announced that on my blog, I guess that means I have to commit to it. : ) Wish me luck! … [Read more...]