A Writer’s Wishlist

Dear Santa,

I know we writers can be coy about what gifts we want. And I’m sure you’re tired of getting us the same things year after year (books, and the occasional desk accessory). So, I’m just gonna say what we’re all thinking and tell you what I really want for Christmas this year.

  1. Representation from my dream agent. You know, the one I’ve been surreptitiously stalking on social media. If you can’t get her, any agent with at least five bestsellers under their belt will do in a pinch.
  2. An acceptance letter from my dream lit mag or anthology. Preferably both.
  3. A book deal. Doesn’t have to be with my dream publisher—any of the Big 5 will do. Two-book deal, six-figure advance, nothing fancy. Maybe throw in some movie rights if you’re feeling generous.
  4. An international book tour with truckloads of adoring fans. Don’t forget the adoring fans. Have you ever had to sit through a book signing where only your mother and your yoga instructor showed up? It’s scary. (Neither have I, but I have nightmares about it regularly.)
  5. Fame and Fortune. With a capital F. Basically, what you’ve enjoyed for the last few centuries.

Most of these things are large and oddly shaped, so don’t stress about wrapping them. Just wedge them under the tree between the book-shaped packages and the ergonomic desk chair with the big bow on it.

Thanks,

Rachel

P.S. I got at least 35 rejection letters this year, without punching anyone in the face. If that doesn’t put me on the nice list, I don’t know what will.

P.P.S. If you’re still not sure, remember: I can turn you into a fictional character and kill you. Slowly and gruesomely.

 

Happy holidays from RMFW! The blog is going on winter break for the next two weeks, when our writers will be nestled all snug in their beds, visions of book deals dancing in their heads. See you in January!

All Hail Conan! (And Buy The Book)

I’m here today with a handy tip for the season of the gift.

Order a copy of Conan the Grammarian, Practical Guidelines on Grammar and Craft for Fiction Writers.

A mere $10.

(Actually, $9.95.)

And then give it to a writer friend for Christmas or your holiday of choice. Birthdays would work, too.

Boom, done.

Does the mere mention of the word ‘grammar’ force you to make a face like you’re eating cold undercooked lima beans? Or pickled beets?

Think again.

This book about grammar is (dare I say it?) refreshing.

Inspiring.

And very (very) funny.

cover-conanWritten by former RMFW president Susan Mackay Smith, Conan the Grammarian is a handy, engaging book that will linger around your desk or writing nook for many years.

The book is a distillation of Conan’s columns in the monthly RMFW newsletter. But everything has been re-written and beautifully organized. And, in terms of production values, Susan Mackay Smith shows all independent publishers out there that a self-produced book can look as sharp and feel as professional as anything coming out of New York City.

Conan claims grammatical errors are “unforgiveable” and, of course, this book goes out and proves that very fact. I didn’t spot one typo. On top of all that, the interior layout makes digesting this volume a snap. (Bibliography, glossary, and index, too.)

Yes, there’s a lot here about grammar. But focus on the second half of the title – practical guidelines and grammar and craft for fiction writers. Every lesson in grammar and usage is written with an eye on the fiction writers’ needs. Smith is writing this for you, the fiction writer.

The “Pets and Peeves” section might be worth the $10 alone (especially if you are about to submit to an agent or send a manuscript to an editor).

Same with “Toward More Colorful Writing.” This section will give you a boost and also give you a few issues to ponder as you edit. It’s a snappy checklist for self-improvement. This is “Perfect Abs in Twenty Minutes A Day” and, this time, it works.

I devoured Conan the Grammarian with a smile on my face and a pen handy to ink-up the pages with underlines at key passages and stars in the margins.

Do any of these sound useful? “Narrative & Description; Showing vs. Telling.” “Voice.” “Action.” “Clichés of Characterization.” “The Hated Revision.” Twenty-seven sub-chapters in all, you can do the math. The reading is brisk and the points are efficiently made. (Having judged Colorado Gold and other writing contests for years, Susan Mackay Smith knows when the brain starts to hurt or the eyes glaze over.) When I was finished, I felt as if I had a new, higher bar to reach. I felt like a better writer.

Conan wants the ideas and the story in your head to reach the reader in clear, efficient and powerful fashion. You may think you know what you are trying to say, but is the story in your head making the journey to your reader's imagination in the most effective way possible? The most clear?

Conan may not be cuddly, but he will set you straight.

Just $10!

Actually, $9.95.

(Get two; one for you and one for a writer pal.)

Order on Amazon here.