The Write Calling

Is writing your true calling? Here you'll find encouragements for writers, book reviews, publishing industry insider tips, and market news. Read musings on writing and publishing by Katey Coffing, Ph.D.: Life Coach for Women Writers.

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Location: Colorado, United States

Published fiction and nonfiction author who embraces her creativity and coaches other women to do the same. For information and prices, visit

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The "Right Way" to Write...

I just read a wonderful article by Diana Gabaldon (of Outlander fame). The article was about how to structure novel chapters—granted, not an engrossing subject—but it's terrific because it contains the following quote, which should be inked onto every writer's computer monitor:

"Once the book is printed and bound, nobody can tell how you wrote it. Did you work with an outline? Did you write it backwards? Did you work on it every day, or once a week? NOBODY CAN TELL. All they can see is that here's a book, period.

Which means that you can do it any dang way you want. Anything that lets you get words on the page is the Right Way to write."

Read the rest of the Gabaldon article here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Author-Editor Relationship

Music I'm listening to: Blue Nile's Tinseltown In The Rain on Generation 80s)

Vicki Hinze has a great new post about editorial styles and why having the right editor—and being the right writer—are equally important. She gives insight on what can go wrong, and how to be the best partner you can.

Alas, Vicki doesn't seem to have her blog posts sorted by date, so the link will only send you to her main blog page, but look for the 6-24-06 entry.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The WRONG Way to Get An Agent

I'm going to toss my cookies. Click to learn about the latest scam targeting unsuspecting writers.

In short: don't pay to get an agent.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Those Dreaded Form Rejection Letters

Has an agent or editor declined your manuscript with one of those blah form letters? Did you gnash your teeth and wonder what the heck it really meant?

"Thanks, but no thanks" is all you should take out of it. Nothing personal. It doesn't mean your manuscript sucks. It doesn't mean you suck, either. (Though that's the way most writers take it, especially when the envelope's just been opened).

If you keep getting declines, hire a writing coach like me or ask a good critique partner to check what you're sending out. Make sure it's the very best you can make it—then move on to the next set of names on your query list.

Evil Editor has a good blog post about rejection letters. Check out the comments after E.E.'s post, too.

"Do those manuscripts get read?"

A writing buddy once inserted a paper clip between the pages of a novel manuscript requested by an agent. The idea was that if the manuscript came back with the paperclip still in place, it meant the agent hadn't read that far.

It's certainly understandable to want more information, more control over the publication process. But for your own sake, please don't bother with these kind of tricks. Agents and editors know all about 'em, so you probably won't even get the correct answer. Besides, if you get a decline, whether it got read past page 10 (or whatever) is no longer relevant. Just make sure you have the best submission you can, then send it somewhere else. Onward and upward.

That being said, this is a ridiculous business. You knew that, right? :-) My friend may appreciate this confirmation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sad Personal News

I took two of our cats to the vet, one to check on that possible urinary tract infection, and another for a simple three-month follow-up after irradiation therapy for hyperthyroidism.

Well, the Pee Guy apparently doesn't have a medical problem, so his going outside the box is a behavioral issue. Oh joy. But much worse: our girl probably has cancer--a lymphoma--and perhaps only 1-2 months to live.

I'm shattered. She's an older cat, and I always knew she'd have to go sometime, but I also knew it would be hell when she did. I've had many kitties in my life, but she and I have always had an incredible bond. She's whip-smart, and though she was always pushing the limits of acceptable cat behavior, that only made her more beloved. She'd try anything she wanted, because she knew exactly when we weren't looking.

In 2000, she developed a fibrosarcoma. I had a difficult choice to make then, but I loved her like no other, and was determined to nurse her through. She survived and thrived through two rounds of surgery and chemo, and she kicked cancer's butt to be my little Stinkerbell again. I was graced with her presence for another six years.

Today we'll go in for an ultrasound, and if the vet feels she do it, an ultrasound-guided biopsy to confirm the lymphoma diagnosis. If it really is cancer, then from what I've read about GI lymphoma, the treatments out there could only extend her life for maybe 6-9 months anyway. She's almost 15, and has already had a long and happy life. Without a better chance of long-term survival, I wouldn't want to put her through additional trauma just so I can have her around for a few extra months. She's given me more than enough love for a lifetime, and I can only hope I've always done the same for her.

Please wish us both luck.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blogger Ills?

Ugh, Blogger seems to be having connection problems this morning. Ditto when I tried to upload my last post. (Or is it just me? Joy.) At least today I was able to get through, with only a duplicate post to deal with instead of a lost one. Duplicate now deleted.

Maybe it's just Monday.

Meows and StyleWriter

Sorry for the delay in blog posts, folks. One of our kitties has been peeing on our carpets, tile, towels, clothes, etc. Ugh. Worse, we couldn't tell which kitty was the perp. We finally have that figured out—we hope—and have a vet appointment today to see if it's a medical issue. (Frankly, we hope it is, though one that's solvable with prescriptions/treatment. From everything I've been reading, a strictly behavioral problem will be a LOT harder to mend. Sigh.)

In writing news:

As a writer and a coach for writers, I love checking out new software and tools. Although I'm a Mac devotee, I'm PC-bilingual, so I bought StyleWriter (Windows-only, dang it) last week. I ran four chapters of my latest novel manuscript through it, and though it didn't do the one thing for which I'd bought it—yes, ironic—I found it an interesting and perhaps worthwhile piece of software. More about that in a later post.

For now, please wish us luck at the vet's.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Point of View

Music I'm listening to: Silent House by the Dixie Chicks.

I get a little bored with the usual articles about POV (point of view), so here's something different—an amusing romance satire with some handy POV hints.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pacing The Da Vinci Code

Music I'm listening to: Blissful silence.

With The Da Vinci Code at the box office, people are talking about the movie. The talk is not, for the most part, complimentary, but there you go.

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the book. It did its job and kept me up all night. (It helped that I had the illustrated version. This meant that I, an admitted art heathen, didn't overtax my time or my Internet connection looking everything up.)

Check out this article for writers that explores why Dan Brown's pacing worked.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tools for Description

Music I'm listening to: Propaganda - P-Machinery (via Generation 80s on

I have a friend, the aforementioned author Shelby Reed, whose lush first-draft prose makes my fourth-draft stuff seem like it was written by a slightly literate beagle. I gnash my pearly teeth at her abilities. (However, as her critique partner, I'm delighted to read her work without cracking open a fresh red pen).

I'm no slouch with words, mind you. School spelling champ in fifth grade, National Merit Scholar, a Ph.D. from one of the finest universities in the country, yada yada. But finding just the right word doesn't come as easily to me as to Ms. Perfect Prose. >:-p

This is why I use the right tools.

A few favorites:, which has a near-permanent tab in my browser.

If need a great 3-D, on-the shelf thesaurus, the best one is Rodale's The Synonym Finder. Yes, I say that categorically. The best. It's wonderfully thick, so do yourself a favor and splurge for it in hardback rather than the shorter-lifespan paperback.

The Describer's Dictionary by David Grambs. While it's far from perfect (sorry, David), the sections on color terms and modifiers, gait, and facial expressions make it handy.

Speaking of colors, check out the color-sorted lists in "Writing with Color" by another friend and C.P., Gina Ardito. Thanks, GinaBabe!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Market(ing) Tidbits

Music I'm listening to: The Vapors' Turning Japanese

Two little morsels tonight:

Book cover blurbs
from a marketing (and realism) perspective


the growing romantica market.

Now I'm off to get some snoozing.