Review of Author In Progress

author-in-progress-coverFirst, An Admission: I’ll come clean up front. This is a review of a book for which I am a contributor. Is that weird? Hope not.

In fairness, I’m one of fifty-four contributors. And fifty-plus of the others are best-selling authors, editors, teachers, or well-known publishing industry leaders, and no few are many of those things. Me? No, none of those (yet!). Yeah, I ended up in excellent company. How’d I get so lucky? (I pose the question rhetorically here, but the roots of my answer can actually be found in my essay in the book, Community Comfort).

The Book Itself: I’ve said from the very beginning that there is nothing like this book available. Most writing and publishing books are fairly segmented and/or focused on a particular aspect of the writing journey, or on the business of publishing. The scope of Author In Progress (AIP) is uniquely unprecedented. It covers everything from one’s first ideas and tentative steps into writing fiction, all the way through being published, and beyond.

AIP’s breakdown is easy to understand and follow. The parts are: Prepare; Write; Invite: Improve; Rewrite; Persevere; and Release. The segments beautifully correspond with the steps of most writing journeys (including mine), which allows one to home in on their own special interests and needs. But I must say, reading the book from front to back provides the best overview of the entire journey from conception to publication that I’ve seen. It’s one of those craft books you’ll want to keep close-to-hand in your work space. I’ve already reread certain essays that motivate or inspire me in a specific way. It’s very handy that way.

I’ve read Writer Unboxed almost daily for about eight years now, and I’ve got to say—boy-oh-boy did the contributors step up for AIP. Every single essay is strong—among the strongest ever offered by each individual contributor. I have a few favorites, but I’m not going to single them out, because each reader will find their own favorites. And because they’re all so wonderful.

If Only I’d Known! My wife and I were just talking about the days after I finished my first draft, in June of ‘09. “Man, remember how clueless you were?” she said, laughing. At the time she asked, “Now what?” I shrugged. “Send it to someone to read, I guess.” (My sister Marsha turned out to be the poor “someone” to struggle through—Thanks, Marsh!)

At the time I’d read almost nothing about the craft of writing fiction or the publishing industry. When writers mentioned the need to rewrite, I honestly had no idea what they were talking about. Did they mean actually writing the same story all over again? I couldn’t imagine it then. I honestly had no idea what I was in for. And it was a struggle. I’m not just talking about finding my way to getting a manuscript in shape, and finding my way through the submissions process. It was a struggle coming to terms with everything that being an artist who wants to make their work public entails. It’s about so much more than the work itself, or the industry. It’s about you, the artist.

Over the years, through all the sleepless nights, the days of allowing self-doubt to creep in and usurp my work time, I’ve often thought, “If only I’d known then what I know now.” I think the best gift AIP offers to someone new to writing is that knowledge—the awareness that you don’t just sit down and write till “The End,” send it in, and wait for the praise and paychecks to arrive. AIP demonstrates, better than any resource I know of, that the writer’s journey is more about the transformation of the writer than anything else. And I’m so pleased and proud to be a part of offering that gift to those just beginning the climb.

Hail to the (Editor-In-) Chief: As I mentioned, for this review I’m an inside player. So I’d like to take advantage of my unique perspective, and take a moment to praise the one person whose creative vision, energy, and personal magnetism made AIP the wonderful resource that it is. I’ve often said that Writer Unboxed’s Editorial Director Therese Walsh is the sun in the WU universe. She drew each of us into her orbit, and she provides WU’s warmth and light.

The importance of Therese’s vision for AIP, and her guidance to each of us, and her boundless energy in assembling it into a whole, cannot be discounted. I can only speak for my own experience, but T patiently guided me—through several complete do-overs, then to a transformed and polished version of my third or fourth concept—to what you see in the book. I’m guessing that others struggled less, but that her shepherding was critical to each and every one of us. Talk about a herculean effort!

Therese has done more for writers than anyone I know, and it starts with her personal dedication to empowerment. WU is what it is because of her. And the same goes for Author In Progress. She has my eternal gratitude, and she deserves the gratitude of everyone who appreciates WU and/or this book.

the-contributors-dinner-2016How Appropriate… that I should become a published author with this book. It’s so fitting. WU has made me who I am as a writer. And to be a part of that same journey for even one other writer is a privilege and an honor. In closing, as Mama T would say, Write On!

So, do you have your copy of AIP yet? If not, why not? Click here, and make it happen! (It also makes a fine Christmas gift for the writers in your life.)

Chatting With A Hero – A Video Interview of Therese Walsh

ThereseDefining “Hero”: So I was sitting here wondering how to title this post. I jotted the words: “Chatting With A Hero.” Then I wondered if I was overselling (I’m sure she’d humbly say as much). But a hero is someone admired for their courage or outstanding achievements. And, I would add, someone who inspires courage or the aspiration of others to strive for the outstanding. I was surprised when I googled “hero” to find the words “typically a man” in their definition. I consider quite a few women to be heroes, my wife first and foremost. So then I wondered if I should switch it to “heroine.” But that word seemed to relegate the subject to the pages of a story or the script of a movie. And Therese Walsh is definitely a real-life, flesh-and-blood person that I admire; for her courage, for her example in persevering to accomplish the outstanding, and for her inspiration. She fits the billing. So hero it is.

An “Interesting” Experiment: What (I hope) you are about to witness is an experiment. I’ve never really interviewed anyone, let alone in a video format. But when Therese and I stumbled across the idea, I thought that it would be a lot of fun, at the very least. And it was. But in hindsight, it also gave me a huge appreciation for those who interview writers they admire, and for those who do so on camera all the more. I hope you’ll forgive my inexperience but, as I said, at least it was a lot of fun. And although I’m not the most experienced moderator of such a discussion (we occasionally got a little carried away, enjoying our shared passion for writing), thankfully my subject is interesting and wise and her new book is wonderful. These things, I think, come clear throughout our occasionally rambling discussion. Besides, as I said, T inspires me. And I’m willing to bet she’ll inspire you, too.

So, without further ado, please enjoy my discussion of a new favorite book of mine, The Moon Sisters, with its author–my hero and friend, Therese Walsh.

(Side Note: The reason I’m laughing at the opening is that I couldn’t get our Skype session to record. My guest was not only gracious during my 20 minute technical struggle, she googled the problem and read the step-by-step solution to me as I fumbled to success.)

About The Moon Sisters:

“The night before the worst day of my life, I dreamed the sun went dark and ice cracked every mirror in the house, but I didn’t take it for a warning.”

After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides toThe Moon Sisters get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother’s spirit to rest.

Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches on to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As Jazz and Olivia make their way toward their destination, each hiding something from the other, their journey toward acceptance of their mother’s death becomes as important as their journey to understand each other and themselves.

Buy the book! (Yes, now, before you forget.) 

About Therese Walsh: 

Therese’s second novel, The Moon Sisters, was published in hard cover on March 4th, 2014 by Crown (Random House). Her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009, was nominated for a RITA award for Best First Book, and was a TARGET Breakout Book.

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a site that’s visited daily by thousands of writers interested in the craft and business of fiction.

Before turning to fiction, she was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then a freelance writer. She’s had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online. She has a master’s degree in psychology.

Aside from writing, her favorite things include music, art, crab legs, Whose Line is it Anyway?, dark chocolate, photography, unique movies and novels, people watching, strong Irish tea, and spending time with her husband, two kids and their Jack Russell.

Visit Therese: At Her Website, On Twitter, and On Facebook:

Your turn! What are the unique aspects of your writing process? Have you read either of Therese’s books? If not, what are you waiting for? Could there be a more gracious interview subject, or a more bumbling interviewer? Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

What Women Read (on What Women Write)

Skolani Warrior, blade over shouldersToday I have the pleasure of being a guest on my good friend Kim Bullock‘s blog, What Women Write. Kim’s a very talented writer I met through Writer Unboxed, and she and I serve together on The WU Mod Squad–the moderating team for the WU group page. Kim is a talented writer, and I’ve had the opportunity to read her manuscript and sure-to-soon-be-a-hit-book, The Oak Lovers, based on the fascinating life and times of her great-grandfather, painter Carl Ahrens. She shares contributing duties on What Women Write with five other talented writers, so being invited to post there was a bit daunting. Being a guy was just a small part of it. But, since it’s almost Independence Day here in the US, I decided to take a bit of a gamble, and write my take on what women read. I figure this time of year, even with the chance it’ll be a dud, or worse, blow up in my face, it’s worth the risk. If it flies, it could be fun to watch the fireworks.

So please join me on What Women Write, for my take on What Women Read!

Image credit: <a href=’’>demian1975 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>