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, September 25, 2006

WTFB--The Hardass Message

Music I'm listening to: Fascist Groove Thang by Heaven 17

I am many things to my clients. Some need their writing coach to give gentle nudges, others want companionship and commiseration, some seek help with the nuts and bolts of the craft, and some need a hardass to stand over them with a whip until they finish their books. My goal is always to do what is best and most helpful for each of my clients, whatever that may be.

Ahem. This message is for those needing the hardass whipcracker. You've been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

- - - - - - -

WTFB: Write the f***ing book.

An incredibly talented friend has been waffling about whether to continue writing. Frankly, her writing is so good that she makes other talented writers drool. The Goddess of Prolific and Swoon-Worthy Prose has rung her doorbell on many an occasion. Yet at times, I've had to drag my friend by her lovely locks to the scary Writing Chair, shackle her to it, and go open the door for the Goddess—otherwise, my friend would be feigning deafness and cowering under the duvet.

It's the darnedest, most contrary thing I've ever seen. And yet it's perfectly understandable to anyone who's spent time in That Chair.

Dearest readers, I was "blocked" for many years—which, for me, is really shorthand for I was too scared to try. Let me tell you, the pain of NOT writing, the guilt and shame of wasting creative dreams, is MUCH worse than the pain of actually writing.

And yet some people choose to take on the greater pain.

Why is that? Often it's because of that old saying: the demon you know is better than the one you don't. (Or at least that's what the D.Y.K.—the demon you know—insists, often and loudly, and right in your ear.)

Demons? Sure, they're out there. Call them what you will: D.Y.K., Inner Lizard, Bitchy Inner Critic, AntiMuse. But whatever you name yours, ignore its whispering. Or duct tape its mouth and lock it in a soundproofed closet. It will only lead you back into the pain of Not Writing.

So sit down and WTFB. Do it or don't. Because either you want to be a writer, and you're willing to do what it takes to make that happen, or you're not.

You decide.

Now go WTFB and make your coach proud.

Best of all, go make yourself proud.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Standing by an agent's coffee cup

Music I'm listening to: Step On by Happy Mondays

Check out agent Rachel Vater's musings on a day's queries. This hammers home the importance of a good novel opening!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Greatness, continued

By the way, Amazon has The Lions of Al-Rassan at a bargain $4.99 price...nudge, nudge...

Just for fun, here are a few more of my favorite authors to round out a top ten.

C.S. Lewis
James Herriot
J.K. Rowling
Nora Roberts
Ursula K. Le Guin
Madeline L'Engle
and Wendy and Richard Pini, the creators of the ElfQuest graphic novels.

A quick look at this and the last post makes clear my leanings toward fantasy, and the honored place of some novelists I first read in high school and continue to adore.

When a book you loved as a child is just as wonderful when you re-read it decades later...well, that's just beautiful.

So, may we all write such books!

Honoring Greatness

I was recently asked to name my personal heroes. Though I had to think for a moment, it wasn't much of a surprise to realize they're my favorite novelists.

J.R.R. Tolkien
Anne McCaffrey
Guy Gavriel Kay

I'm currently re-reading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan. If I ever meet Kay, I hope I don't crumple to the floor and grovel at his feet. He'd deserve that, but still, a little embarrassing for me.

Kay is a master of story, and he does it with an eloquence that makes me weep. Add in the rest of his brilliance at emotion, description, dialogue, tension, pacing, everything—sheer genius.

And I've never found a writer as adept at the art of magnificent surprises.

I hope someday to write a novel I love as much as The Lions of Al-Rassan. If I manage it, just kill me then. I'll die in glory.

I just bought a copy of Lions for my critique partner because I simply HAD to share this with someone. In a few weeks, we'll sit down together and study the book to figure out how Kay has created this jewel. But first, I just want to enjoy the story again. No, to bask in it.

And that is the mark of a great novel.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Agents and Idea-Stealing

Music I'm listening to: ABC's How to be a Millionaire

Today I held a consultation with another smart and successful woman—and a blog reader! (waving hello)

She has some great ideas, as well as manuscripts that have been lying around in the beginning stages for years. She wants focus and accountability, and I'm excited to help her get her manuscripts completed and submitted. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? :)

Lots to catch up on with the blog, so here's the first part. My new client had a good question, one I often hear from people newly come to the publishing world: how can a writer protect her book ideas from theft? After all, in other business areas, confidentiality agreements are standard practice.

In the U.S., it isn't possible to copyright ideas (and I'd assume this is true elsewhere). This makes sense for books, because the real value of a good idea is in the execution of it. Any two people with the same book idea would necessarily write two different books. So, your job is to finish a damn good novel (or nonfiction proposal) and send it out into the world. As long as you're submitting to reputable agents or publishers, there's no need to be concerned.

In the interest of being thorough, here are some more Web resources.

The simplest answer came from agent Rachel Vater, who's now with Lowenstein-Yost.

For a snarkier answer, read #4 here.

There are no posts at Miss Snark's stellar blog that address this in a nice way—but hey, we ARE talking about Miss Snark, so let's not feign surprise. (g) Here you go.

Also, here's an article at the SFWA website that might fill in any gaps about copyright.

I hope this helps!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rest in peace

Today my husband and I had to put our ailing kitty to sleep.

We were glad that we were able to talk to her and hold her as she drifted off, here in the home she ruled. :-) She had a great life for 15 years, and an especially good day today, when we let her (a strictly indoor cat) go outside and lie around in the real sunshine without a window filtering it. She purred almost the whole morning.

Rest in peace, baby girl.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Query letters: Don't be a bad date.

Music I'm listening to: The TV is on, actually. A Friends rerun. Comfort TV.

If you keep up with Miss Snark's blog, you've seen this link already. Otherwise, this is Kit Whitfield's take on why bad query letters come across like bad dates.

Kitty update: she gained two-tenths of a pound in two days—then lost three-tenths. :( I'm trying to tempt her taste buds with new flavors every day. Oddly enough, she hasn't lost her greed for Cheetos...