On Writing

16 March, 2016

Where I Write: Terry Gaspard

Terry Gaspard - Where I WriteOur next WHERE I WRITE, in which our authors share their favorite writing spots, is from Terry Gaspard, author  of DAUGHTERS OF DIVORCE (Sourcebooks, 2016)

“Although I have a comfortable home office with a coffee pot nearby, my favorite place to write isdaughters of divorce my local library. And today, as I sit in my preferred private room at the Portsmouth Free Public Library, I’m reminded of how I was teased by my three sisters and my father growing up about getting “dressed up” to go to the library on Saturday afternoon. My dad would say things like “There she goes again in her new outfit with her backpack full of books – she’s trying to escape our crazy house!” To this day, I’m happiest writing at my home away from home, where I hope to find solace once and for all!” – Terry Gaspard

Check out Terry on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

2 February, 2016

Where I Write: Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

My home office. Here I am signing my latest contract with Harper Collins!

This edition of  “Where I Write” is from Jennifer Alvarez author of the Guardian Herd Series from Harper Collins Childrens Books.  The third book of the series LANDFALL releases today!  And don’t miss the first two books STARFIRE and STORMBOUND.

 “I write a minimum of five days a week in my home office, but I do a lot of my thinking out on the horse trails. My current project is the Guardian Herd series, tween fantasy novels starring flying horses. The setting for each herd is based on a place I‘ve lived. The main character, Star, lives in Sun Herd’s territory, which resembles the wilds of Northern California where I live. Jack London called this area the most beautiful land in California, and I‘d have to agree. In fact, I‘ve ridden my horse right by his co
Jennifer Alvarez

My Mobile Office

ttage where he used to write. It’s often on these trail rides where I find my inspiration. I took this picture while riding my mare Maddie. See the hill we’re looking at? Well, I like to imagine my pegasi characters flying over this hill and landing at the lake for a drink of water. When I return to my desk at home, I‘m revived and ready to record the exciting things I‘ve imagined.” — Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

You can learn more about Jennifer on her Author Website: www.jenniferlynnalverez.com and follow Jen on Twitter @JenniferDiaries
You can check out all things Guardian Herd on the Official Series Website www.theguardianherd.com

15 December, 2015

Where I Write: Carol Masciola

Carol Masciola 2This edition of WHERE I WRITE is from Carol Masciola, author of the Young Adult novel  THE YEARBOOK published by Merit Press

“I write just about anywhere, on notebooks of the lowest possible quality, with cheap pens. I find that pens discovered on the sidewalk or stolen from the bank write the best stories. If conditions are too perfect, it makes me feel like I have to write something perfect, and for me, nothing is as debilitating as striving for perfection. It took me a while to figure this out. When I first set out to write fiction some number of years ago, I set up a picture-perfect writing studio. It had a new computer, the right chair and a wide, pretty rosewood desk with three drawers. I was living in Bogota, Colombia, then, and my writing room had an inspiring Andean view. There were green hills and moody, rain-splashed bricks.

But the room was no good. I didn’t understand what was wrong with it, or with me. I just sat there frozen and tortured and would either slide off my ergonomic chair and fall asleep on the carpet oCarol Masciolar end up down in the living room watching reruns of The Nanny in Spanish. I reacted to these failures by imposing greater self-discipline in the form of a strict schedule; I had to spend X number of hours each morning in that fantastic Andean chamber, creating. I couldn’t see that it was all hopeless folly—that my paralysis would continue as long as the quality of my writing could not hope to live up to the quality of my workspace. In the wake of this experience, after we had packed up and left Colombia, I found myself thinking a lot about my twelve years as a newspaper reporter. I had written hundreds of articles in imperfect conditions, in newsrooms full of the most outrageous loudmouths, on tight deadlines. Once I worked in a satellite office of a big newspaper in California, and when they remodeled our building, they put the floor in slanted by mistake. I had to hold onto my desk while I was writing to keep from rolling away. And yet I finished every single thing I ever started. How had I done all that? I didn’t know.


And then I had two kids. By then we were in a tiny apartment in London. I no longer had time, or a workspace, or a clean shirt on, but miraculously, I was writing again. I would steal ten minutes here or thirty minutes there, at my now-squalid kitchen counter, or sitting in bed, or wherever I happened to be, writing on miscellaneous available surfaces. My infant son ripped the “T” key off my computer keyboard, so I had to press very hard on the space where the “T” had been every time I needed a “T”. I gave myself a blister, but I finished my first screenplay, Baghdad Bureau. I felt very proud of myself and bought a new “T” to celebrate. I went on to write two novellas, a children’s book, five more screenplays and my novel The Yearbook in that haphazard way, just grabbing at those small moments in imperfect rooms and remembering not to make writing too sacred. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, but that’s what I do.” — Carol Masciola
Follow Carol on Twitter and learn more about her and her book on her website.

15 March, 2015

Where I Write: Theresa Kaminski

Theresa KaminskiThis edition of “Where I Write,” our series in which authors share their favorite writing spots, is from historian Theresa Kaminski.

“While I was growing up, this secretary was in the corner of my parents’ dining room, and my father used it as his home office.  With six people crowded into a small ranch house, it was the only available space.  I have the secretary now and it is in the corner of my dining room, which I have chosen as my work space because it is open and airy, with great window views of the neighborhood.  The secretary reminds me every day of my father, who went to the Philippines with the U.S. army after World War II, and passed along his interest in the islands to me.” — Theresa Kaminski

Theresa’s latest book Angels of the Underground about American women who were active in the resistance against the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during WWII will be published by Oxford University Press in Spring of 2015.

Follow Theresa on Twitter to learn more about her and her work.

1 March, 2015

Where I Write: Kerstin March

This entKersten Marchry in our “Where I Write” series is from Kerstin March whose debut, Family Trees, will be published by Kensington in Spring 2015.

“Although I have a desk to file my research and drafts, my favorite place to write is also my favorite place to read… my favorite chair in our living room. And today, when Minnesota’s weather is being compared to the North Pole and Mars (!), and making snowflakes with the kids inside is preferable to playing in the snow outside, I’m happy that there is also a fireplace in my “office” and a coffee pot percolating nearby.” — Kerstin March

Check out Kerstin on website,  Twitter and Facebook.


11 July, 2014

Wrapping Our Heads Around Amazon

If you are a writer, you would have to be living under a rock not to be aware of the David and Goliath battle between Amazon and Hachette.  There has been so much media coverage of this that I don’t need to add my analysis of the situation here, blow by blow. I do need to address the latest twist in this bizarre drama that is playing itself out in full public view.  There is no question in my mind that the “letter” fro4m Amazon to Hachette this past week suggesting that authors receive 100% of e-book revenues, thereby bypassing the publishers, is an extraordinarily manipulative ploy to win “customer” support and turn customers against publishers, once more deriding the roles that publishing professionals and companies play in financing, developing and publishing books.

I have spent more than three decades–my entire working life–in book publishing.  I have worked on both sides of the fence, both as an editor and publisher, and for the past 13 years, as an agent and entrepreneur.  I have helped to shepherd thousands of books through the process in one guise or another.  I am only too intimately aware of the extraordinary care, passion and expertise the best publishing professionals bring to their craft.  If you, as a writer, could sit in on the countless discussions that go on behind-the-scenes that help to shape a book and its message, you might be humbled by the hundreds of decisions/choices that go into birthing a book and bringing it out into the world.  And that doesn’t take into account the years that a writer may have put into writing a proposal and then a book, and the joint efforts of the author and agent to bring it to publishers in the best possible shape to entice the publisher to take it on in the first place.  This is just not an exact science and there is not always one right way to write and publish a book.

We all know advances are down, but we sometimes forget that advances are exactly that–a loan or investment to finance the writing of a book, without which many writers would not be able to write at all.  Those of us who have poured over subsequent profit and loss statements after the book has been published know all to well that many, many books do not make back this money for publishers, although enough do to keep the publishers who are healthy and strong and make wise decisions afloat.  This is a very tough, low-margin business.  If you want to get rich–do something else.  Go work for a hedge fund.

To suggest that publishers should not then share in the revenue produced by that book is an absurd business proposition.

On the other side, I am an agent who has sold books to Amazon, and a reader who owns–among other devices–a Kindle which I love dearly, and scores of books that I’ve bought from Amazon.  I am a customer, a very loyal one actually, who has been with Amazon literally from day one, and I love many things about the site and the service.  Let us remember that Amazon revolutionized bookselling.

There’s no simple way to resolve the conflicts in one’s own mind, as a reader and a publishing professional.  The takeaway here, I hope, is that the battles that are being fought today are complicated, fraught, and the issues are nuanced, not easily reduced to black and white.

This is not just about good guys and bad guys. We all know that there are times when publishers do a poor job and let writers and readers down.  And there are things that companies like Amazon do brilliantly.  I can only hope that there can be at some point a genuine dialogue.  Vendors need books.  Books need distribution. Customers need ease to make the right choices and get great service.  Let’s just keep talking, reading, thinking.  At some point, this too shall pass.

–Joelle Delbourgo


13 May, 2014

Where I Write: John Gaudet

John GaudetOur next Where I Write, in which our authors share their favorite writing spots,  is from John Gaudet. 

“Nothing takes the place of a bare, dank, fifth floor, cold water garret in Paris in December (as exemplified by James Joyce ‘s digs in 1902.  He said he ate from one pot, never cleaned it, just added bits of food, re-cooked it and ate!)  My preferred spot is Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea Co., a McLean coffee shop in the Giant’s shopping center, frequented by about a half dozen other writers, a theatrical director and several artists.  The picture shows me talking to my Ba, the essence of my soul.  He’s telling me all about how the ancient Egyptians used papyrus.  So when I say “A little bird told me…” you know I’m not just shooting the breeze.” — John Gaudet

John’s book PapyrusThe Plant that Changed the World: From Ancient Egypt to Today’s Water Wars  will be published in June from Pegasus Books. Check out John on Twitter, Facebook, and his website .

15 April, 2014

Where I Write: Joseph Kelly

Joseph KellyThe next post in our “Where I Write” series, in which JDA authors take you behind the scenes to their favorite writing spots, is from Joseph Kelly, author of America’s Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March Toward Civil War,  which Library Journal described as a, “vivid and engrossing study of slavery in and around one of its trading hubs, Charleston, SC, site of the first and longest Civil War siege and a hotbed of political, economic, religious, and moral debates about importing, owning, and trading slaves. Well written and finely detailed, Kelly’s debut historical work is an important contribution to Southern antebellum history…”

Describing his favorite writing spot, Kelly says, “It’s a moveable feast.  I start at the kitchen counter, with the house still asleep, the laptop elbow distance from the kettle on the boil for coffee.  When the teenagers get up, their bagels, Cheerios, and chatter push me and my second cup to the sectional and coffee table where my wife’s reading the paper.  On days I teach, it’s all over by 7:30.  On days I don’t teach, there’s another couple of hours after breakfast in a room full of sunny windows, where I’m supposed to write, where the desktop computer sits, patient as a piece of furniture.”

1 April, 2014

Where I Write: Lindsey Palmer

Lindsay PalmerOur next Where I Write post is from Lindsey Palmer, author Pretty in Ink just published from Kensington.
“My favorite place to write is the Park Slope coffee shop Kos Kaffe. Kos has good, strong coffee, plenty of sunshine, and just enough background chatter—often clearly from other writers and artists—to make me feel like I’m out in the world in a community of creative types without distracting me from my own work. It takes me about 10 minutes to walk to the cafe, which feels like just the right amount of time to separate myself from whatever else is going on with me, and to prepare myself for writing. I think it’s become a bit of a Pavlovian response at this point: As soon as I sit down to one of Kos’ small circular tables and breathe in the steam from my coffee, I know it’s time to focus and begin writing.” — Lindsey Palmer
Learn more about Lindsey on her website!

27 February, 2014

Where I Write: Deborah Swiss

Deborah Swiss

The next installment of Where I Write, in which our authors share their favorite writing spots is from Deborah Swiss the author of the fascinating Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women.

“I seem to do my best writing when I lead with my heart rather than my head. To find my voice, I follow the historical paper trail with my feet.  Here I am at the Cascades Female Factory in Tasmania where The Tin Ticket takes place.”  — Deborah Swiss

Learn more about Deborah and her work on her website.