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

Monday, July 24, 2006

Guest Post—Getting the Manuscript Requested

From one of my fabulous clients, Laura Armstrong, who recently got a request for her full romance manuscript. (You GO, girl!)

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Well, I was squirmingly ready, and, hallelujah, Katey Coffing did appear.

In 2004 I stumbled into a pitch to a well-known editor and staggered out with a request for a partial. Dumb as they come, I thought the editor was being nice to everyone that day. The problem was further complicated by my pitch being better than the manuscript. "No problem," I chirped to myself, "I'll fix it."

2005 = hacked up manuscript and me with a sinking feeling that I was in deep doo-doo. Procrastination is a cover for one emotion: fear. I found myself dragging that manuscript around with me like an anchor, realizing every day that if I didn't get published, it was my own darn fault. I was afraid of getting it done and having it rejected, not getting it done and being a "could-have-been," or—new one, here—getting it done, getting it published and then having people I knew read it! Argh!

Enter the lovely Katey. With a gentle but firm hand, she pushed, encouraged, prodded and cajoled me through the following (among many other things): 1) how to finish a manuscript for the second time; 2) how to write a synopsis, short, long, one-page, 3) how to write a blurb that would roll off my tongue whenever someone asked, "what's your story about?; 4) how to hold my head up in my local RWA chapter (yes, Nora is a member—no pressure there) because at least I had my PRO pin finally, and 5) how to pitch when you know what this is really about this time.

2006 = I just sent off my first requested full manuscript to a wonderful editor. Katey, knowing me so well by now, emailed me a smiley and said, "Let me know when it has ACTUALLY LEFT YOUR HANDS." I was sliding back into the "well, let's take one more little look at it to make sure it's just perfect" routine, i.e., procrastination, aka FEAR.

Once it disappeared from my mailbox, I got a little Zen about it. At what point does a manuscript cease to be part of its author and become an entity onto itself? Or does it ever? I felt as if I'd pushed my baby bird out of the nest. I can only hope it remembers what I said about the cat.

But let me bask a moment—I finished it. It was requested. I sent it. Please, dear Universe, may I take the next logical step? I promise I'll answer the Call, lickety-split—

(And thank you, Katey!)


Aw, shucks, Laura. You got me blushing, grinning, and puffing up like a proud mama all at once!

Everyone who reads this, please wish Laura the best of luck!

RWA National Craziness :-D

Music I'm listening to: Um, CNN doesn't really count as music. And these days it's damn depressing, too. :-(

My clothes are packed, along with my business cards, my new brochures (ooh I LOVE this set!), and computer. The cat instructions have been left for the hubby, and there's just one more night to get kitty and hubby cuddles before I head to Atlanta.

I'll be visiting with my mother (yay!), and then on Wednesday I'll be meeting my CP in person for the first time—after six years of stories, edits, personal chats and a ton of shared girlie laughter. Can't wait to hug ya, Shelbs!

To those of you going to the conference, I look forward to seeing you! To those who aren't going, just go there in spirit. We'll miss you—but use the week to write! And we'll bring back tips and tidbits to share.

Happy Writing to All,

P.S. Special Guest Blog Post coming up...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ah, That Crucial Opening Paragraph...

Music I'm listening to: International Bright Young Thing by Jesus Jones

POD-dy Mouth has a new post about the opening paragraphs of recent print-on-demand reads. Granted, most of these openings beg for ridicule...but a few of them (2, 9, and 11) make me want to KEEP reading. Yes, I'm easily amused.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

It's Agent Day at the Blogs

Music I'm listening to: "Forever Young" by Alphaville.

And now, for your reading pleasure, here's a roundup of the latest agent-related blog goodies.

How important is an agent? Evil Editor illustrates his opinion with fruit. Yum, I'm going to go forage in our fridge now...

Should you only target agents in New York? Miss Snark knows the answer.

The BookEnds, LLC agency intern gives her tips and gripes about submissions to her agency.

Agent Jennifer Jackson comments on
rejection etiquetteauthor etiquette, that is.

Now go write that fabulous query letter!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

RWA National Conference Heads-Up

For those of you who'll be attending (or even just going there in spirit), there's a new blog with plenty of links and info to get you jazzed.

I'll be there (in both my writer and coach capacities) and loving every minute of it, so if you see me, do say hi!

Writer's Karma: Addendum

Author M.J. Rose has a timely post on the effect of blogs (and thus, word-of-mouth) on book sales. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Writer's Karma: Read and Share

Music I'm listening to: Duran Duran's The Chauffeur. (Oh, what a crush I had on Nick Rhodes...)

I've been on an Indian novel kick lately. (To clarify, Asian Indian.) That's one thing that attracted me to my agent—she mentioned M. M. Kaye on her first website. I had just started reading Kaye's wonderful The Far Pavilions after loving John Shors' Beneath a Marble Sky: A Novel of the Taj Mahal.

The current tome on my nightstand (and I do mean tome!) is Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. If I'd realized it was almost 1500 pages long, I probably wouldn't have ordered it. Now I'm glad I didn't see that in the Amazon fine print. I find myself taking this novel downstairs to read during lunch, keeping it open as I brush my teeth, and falling asleep with it late at night. While it doesn't have the bullet pace of some other novels I've read lately, it's full of the quiet moments of truth in people's lives—the contradictions in character, the changes of direction and mind from one moment to the next. I still have 1150 pages to go, and I look forward to every one of them.

If you've read any books you'd like others to know about—ones that floated you into another life or culture without thought of the clock, tell someone. Or tell the whole world. Think of it as karma, as paying it forward. We're writers, but we write because we love books. So do a good deed for other writers by shouting your reading pleasures to one and all.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Book Team

Music I'm listening to: Time Zone's World Destruction. (I always boogie to this song. It's guaranteed to make me stop typing and fling myself around the room for a few minutes.) Ahem.

Agent Jennifer Jackson has a new post at Romancing the Blog. She writes about many of the people important to giving your book life and getting it into the stores. (Naturally, I'll add that a great book coach can be crucial, too. ;-) )

Anyway, when you're holding your gorgeous book in your hands at long last, keep these folks in mind for "thank you" notes.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Agenting 101

Music I'm listening to: Marc Anthony's "I Need to Know." This makes me miss salsa dancing. :-( Why oh why can't I find any out here?

This week, agent Kristin Nelson is blogging about what an unagented author should do if s/he gets The Call from a large, NYC publisher. Read and learn.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th; New Blog Tools

Music I'm listening to: Something or other on my hubby's WinAmp tuner, I know not what. I recognized Harvey Danger a few songs back, though.

For those of you in the U.S., Happy Independence Day!

Hubby and I spent a fun twenty minutes on our roof, watching the fireworks. We had the best view in town, though our cats thought it bizarre that we were crawling in and out of the window.

Okay, I finally joined FeedBurner (and the modern age) and have put an easy-to-use "subscribe" link on the blog.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Writing Conference Packing List

I'm listening to: CNN. I'm a bit of a news junkie.

Time for me to gear up for the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference. I LOVE this conference—smart and motivated women writers, great workshops, and enough excitement to fill the heart of any novelist. This year, the conference is in Atlanta (my former hometown), and I'll get to visit with my mother, not to mention hang out with friends and critique buddies. In fact, after knowing my favorite critique partner and wonderful friend Shelby Reed for the past six years online, we're finally going to meet in 3D and be roommates for the conference.

All this energy makes me doubly careful not to forget anything. (Besides, I'm an anal listmaker.) So I love articles about what to bring. My own list is ten times longer than any other list I've seen, but again, I'm anal. And no, for me it's not about clothes. I have only two or three comfortable and spif conference outfits I bring every year. (grin) Anyway, here's an article to help out writing conference first-timers.