Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: Happ(ier) Days

Thanks so much for the supportive responses re: last week’s post-publication post. I’m pleased to tell you that although I’ve continued to have a few trials and tribulations in the days since, there are plenty of bright spots to report as well.

First, I had a great day out at the Manhattanville College Summer Writers’ Week. Many thanks to Karen Sirabian and her team for making me feel so welcome (and feeding me lunch!). If you haven’t yet seen the online version of the social-media resource list that I shared at my session, you’ll find it here.

Next, although I found out this week that I didn’t win a(nother) fellowship I’d applied for (in this case, the Emerging Writer Fellowship administered by The Writer’s Center of Bethesda, Md.), I was honored when I learned that at least, I’d made the finalist list. (And what a list it is, filled with names of writers I admire. I’ll try to keep tabs on the award announcement, and if the finalist list is made public, I’ll share it with you.)

Finally, I’m proud to present a new essay of mine on the Center for Fiction’s lovely website. The essay appears within the site’s “Writers on Writing” section. And if you’ve been at all curious about how my story collection, Quiet Americans, got its title, you’ll want to read this essay.

Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: Confession Time

I hope that most of the time, these Thursday posts are upbeat, optimistic, and even inspirational. I’ve certainly received some wonderful feedback on last week’s post, for instance, both in the comments and offline, and that cheers me. But some weeks, it’s a little more difficult to find and focus on the positive. I guess this is one of those weeks.

Here’s a sampling of this week’s writing-related challenges and/or disappointments:

  • Although I’d sent myself multiple draft/test versions of the July Practicing Writer newsletter, when the actual newsletter went out to subscribers yesterday morning, ye-olde-spacing-gremlins returned with a proverbial vengeance. I always want the newsletter’s appearance to be as flawless as I can make it (to match the excellent content, of course!). So that was disappointing. (If you’d like to see a “clean” copy as it was intended to be published, please click here. As usual, you’ll find many paying calls for submission and no-fee competitions for fictionists, poets, and writers of creative nonfiction listed, in addition to all of our other newsletter goodies.)
  • I found out that I did not win a fellowship I applied for months ago. I didn’t really expect to win this particular fellowship, but wouldn’t it have been nice if I had?! Perhaps I should add that I also received a couple of rejections on more typical submissions this past week–but at this point, those barely make me blink.
  • As much as I love the Fridays-off part of my day job’s six-week summer schedule, I am finding it a little tougher than usual to adjust to the longer M-Th workdays. Simply put, the days really do feel longer. I’m tired, and I’ve been finding it more difficult to squeeze in writing, workouts, or anything fun on the margins of my workdays. (And yet, I know how lucky I am to even have a day job!)
  • Yesterday, the Jewish Book Council sent me an email saying that they’d received the initial round of requests for authors from most of its NETWORK members. Suffice to say that the requests for me and Quiet Americans were underwhelming. So that’s a big disappointment. (On the other hand, maybe I’ll be able to use all of those banked vacation days for a residency or for a New York-based “staycation” that allows me to do some research for my fledgling fiction project.)
  • And last, but not least, today (June 30) closes out the second quarter of the year, which means that I’ll soon be able to begin calculating my quarterly contribution to The Blue Card. As you may recall, sales of Quiet Americans dictate the size of the contribution, and thanks to the author-friendly structure of my book’s micropress publisher, I already know that I’ll be able to give The Blue Card less than half of what I sent last quarter.
  • Of course, as a certain literary heroine was wont to pronounce, tomorrow is another day. Things are likely to look up soon (and they’re really not that bad in the first place). Thanks for indulging me today!

    Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: One Writer’s Summer To-Do List

    North of the equator, we’ve just begun summer. Although I’m still going to be working 40 hours a week in my day job, still running the usual errands, still partaking in the same family responsibilities (and joys), I’m also hoping to accomplish certain writing-related goals before we merge into fall.

    After all, for six weeks this summer, my 40 hours at the office will be recalibrated: heavier on Mondays-Thursdays with “summer Fridays” off. I hope to use those Fridays wisely. And I hope that I can use the general light and energy of the summer to help infuse some projects under way and others that I hope to start.

    Herewith, items on my list of writerly hopes, plans, ambitions, and commitments for the season.


    • Continue promotion for Quiet Americans; track progress of new (non-Kindle) versions; calculate and send Q2 contribution to The Blue Card.
    • Complete work on new short story and figure out if it may be a novel chapter; begin new story/novel chapter.
    • Write at least one new poem; revise existing poem drafts.
    • Draft Israel-related essay.
    • Check where submissions are outstanding; follow up if appropriate; send out new submissions.
    • Research/apply for short-term residencies for winter-spring 2012.


    • Practice and deliver presentation for Manhattanville Writers Week session on “Social Media Strategies for Writers”.
    • Research and write article due to The Writer on August 1.
    • Prepare Q&A re: The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai.
    • Prepare Q&A re: Rethinking Creative Writing, by Stephanie Vanderslice.
    • Prepare Q&A re: The Little Bride, by Anna Solomon.
    • Peruse fall/winter catalogs for possible titles to review and monitor reviews-in-progress (track ARCs, read, write, etc.).
    • Prepare and distribute July/August/September issues of The Practicing Writer.
    • Consider if I want/need to seek additional fall/winter assignments.


    • Research and purchase new computer.
    • Have “writing dates” with friends.
    • Make (and keep) annual appointments with ophthalmologist and optometrist. (Considering how much time I spend squinting into screens, taking care of my eyes seems more and more important.)
    • Get apartment windows washed (and other household tasks). (It’s nice to have a clear view once those eyes are checked.)
    • Read, read, read.
    • Catch up on movies/go to museums/attend concerts & readings. Art feeds off other art! (And I live in New York City, for crying out loud! I’m practically tripping over all of these opportunities!)
    • Get to the gym or go for a jog 2-3 times a week. (Sure, more would be nice, but let’s be realistic here, given my schedule and my usual response to heat and humidity.)  Exercise energizes the body and helps clear and focus the mind.

    And what about you? Have any of you made summer writing to-do lists? Care to share what’s on them?

    Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: New Project, Old Questions

    Last week, by sheer force of discipline, I managed to start my day earlier and NOT fritter away the extra time working on this blog, catching up on Facebook or Twitter, or indulging in any one of a number of other distractions. What did I do with this “extra” time?

    Reader, I wrote. Even more wonderful, I wrote fiction.

    Over the course of a few days, I wrote what could be a short story. Or it could be an opening chapter in a novel. Or perhaps it will end up as one of several “linked” stories in another collection (the characters and their histories are very closely related, if not identical to a few characters in some published stories that I did not include in my first collection, Quiet Americans).

    These uncertainties–Am I beginning a novel? Am I writing a discrete story?–are familiar. At least, they’re familiar to me.

    True, sometimes the work’s form seems utterly clear right from the start. The day in July 1996 when I discovered the archival documents that inspired my (agented-though-unpublished) novel, The Haguenauer Line, I recognized at once that I’d found the seeds of a novel. Several of the stories in Quiet Americans–“Floating” and “The Quiet American, Or How to Be a Good Guest,” for example–always seemed destined to grow into and be published in story form.

    But for a long time, I thought–yes, I hoped–that the book’s closing story, “Mishpocha,” would turn into a novel. And given that a few of the other stories feature some of the same characters, I’ve been asked if I considered novelizing their storylines and/or writing a full-fledged book of linked stories in which those characters would provide the connective tissue.

    For me, finding the “right” fictional form sometimes presents real challenges and can take a long time. I’ve long wondered how other writers make these decisions (or if they find there are even decisions to be made).  I’m still wondering, and I’d love to hear what other practicing fictionists have to say.

    Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: Seeking Suggestions

    Three weeks from today, I’ll be presenting a session on “Social Media Strategies for Writers” at the Manhattanville College Summer Writers’ Week. (I’ll be using a hard-earned vacation day from my day job to do this, and that’s always a sacrifice, so I’m especially eager to make sure that the session adds something valuable to the conference attendees’ experience and leaves me feeling as though I’ve lived up to my own high standards, too.)

    The conference director and I have agreed that at least part of the session will focus on the virtual book tour that I planned for my short-story collection, Quiet Americans, and how social media contributed to its success. But I also want to provide an overview of “social media” (starting with a decent definition of the term itself).

    I have 90 minutes, total, so there’s no way that I’m going to be able to provide individualized, detailed how-tos for each and every form of social media that’s out there. But I do hope to hit the key tools and techniques (you can bet that Facebook and Twitter will be among them).

    I’d appreciate some guidance from all of you practicing writers out there:

    1. How do you define “social media”?
    2. How have you created your own “social media strategies”? Any resources that you’ve found especially helpful?
    3. What do you consider to be social media’s most significant benefits for writers? (Speak only for yourself, if you wish, or opine more generally.)
    4. What do you consider to be social media’s most significant pitfalls for writers? (Again, please feel free to share a general impression or speak directly from your experience.)
    5. Which social media sites that are specifically for writers do you frequent? What appeals to you about said site(s)?

    I’d love to incorporate your advice in my presentation–I’ll cite you by your name if you leave it.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!