Thursday, April 18, 2013

book-writing learnings, for today

1. One chapter due at a time.

2. Life happens.  Reforecast, without losing the learnings.

3. I’ve been advised that if I ever want to publish outside of blog-land, I shouldn’t put more than fifty pages of material, --rough draft or not-- out there.  Only the first page and a one paragraph summary for the remaining chapters, which in the end, looks something like a book proposal.

4. Editing ain’t cheap, but its necessary.  I’ll have more time to work on that fifteen chapters from now, and eventually I’ll explore editing help by working on one chapter with two to three editors, to see how we work together, and to see how things turn out.  I’ve been quoted $50 a page- which looks like $500-$1,000 a chapter.  So conceivably, it could cost ten to twenty thousand for one book.

5.  Once I’ve completed the first draft twenty chapters, I’m interested in seeking input from some of the people in my stories, some of the helpers and guides in my life.  Sounds messy, but that might just be the point.  

6. In researching one of my grandmothers, I came across a book called:  "The Unknown Habsburgs" by David McIntosh. There are some serious royal watchers out there, which reminds me that I should keep a list of potential audiences for the book(s). So far, Foster care alumni, national child welfare community members, social workers, therapists, cult survivors, cult members, ’royal watchers’ round the globe, Texans, Austinites, Coloradans, Goldenites, Native peoples, and all the German, Greek, Spanish, Austrian relatives.   

7.  Its fine for friends to be distracted by comments on my blog, but not me.  Did I mention that friendships are priceless?

8.  As a writer, my version of linear takes lots of twists, turns and loop-de-loops.  

9.  Friendships are priceless.


My colleague late at night, a year or two older, was Bill Lyon, who covered Champaign High School sports and became a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. … Bill and I would labor deep into the night on Fridays, composing our portraits of the [football] games. I was a subscriber to the Great Lead Theory, which teaches that a story must have an opening paragraph so powerful as to leave few readers still standing. … Lyon watched as I ripped one sheet of copy paper after another out of my typewriter and finally gave me the most useful advice I have ever received as a writer: ‘One, don’t wait for inspiration, just start the damn thing. Two, once you begin, keep on until the end. How do you know how the story should begin until you find out where it’s going?’ These rules saved me half a career’s worth of time and gained me a reputation as the fastest writer in town. I’m not faster. I spend less time not writing.


  1. Opinions are like assholes...everybody has one.Yours just flaps more than others.

  2. One can only imagine the lies you will conjure up about poor innocent Max,Sam,& the way Assunta dispised Germans...your ignorance is showing...

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  4. I came to your blog through your bio in FLUX. Amazing book; really helping me. I so hope to help the foster youth I see as a CASA volunteer. Thank you for writing. I'll check in when I can.


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