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, May 31, 2006

Jetlag Blues

Music I'm listening to: Actually, none. A Star Trek: Next Gen episode on the tube. The one where Worf has to be Keiko's midwife. Earlier today, though, I opened the new Dixie Chicks CD. Excellent stuff.

So, four days back in the right time zone, three days back home, and still feeling like a zombie. When we weren't able to sleep through the first few nights at home, DH and I took half a Xanax each to get back on schedule. Went to bed last night at 10:45 p.m. Woke up at 12: 45 p.m. this afternoon, and could still barely rub two thoughts together. Ugh.

I've run across this amusing (and snarky) blog for writers, complete with hilarious instructions for writing a romance novel: Mr. Writing Person.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Goin' Home

Leaving Thailand today. Gorgeous country, wonderful people. We'll miss it. But home is always best...

We're each only allowed 7 kg (about 15 lb) of carry-on weight on the flight from Singapore to LAX. My writing notebook and files take up a good chunk of that. I look forward to a lot of pondering and writing on my WIP on the insanely long trip home.

I wish you all just as productive a weekend!

Monday, May 22, 2006

What Agents Want

Music I'm listening to: Nothing, as hubby is in the bedroom of our timeshare, sleeping soundly. We're in gorgeous Phuket, Thailand on our honeymoon, still dealing with jetlag, though it's getting better. It's close to 9 a.m. here, and gaining on 7 p.m. yesterday at home. (Love that International Dateline.) I think I'm on schedule here--though I've only got a few days to enjoy that, before we head back home with 24-plus hours of flight time between here and there. Meanwhile, we're contributing in our own small way to the tsunami-affected economy by pigging out on fabulous Thai food and enjoying massages on the beach. Life's good...

Agent Kristin Nelson has several good blog posts about the manuscripts that got away from her. Read Parts One, Two, and Three for useful insight into decisions on submissions.

Agent Jenny Rappaport has a new post listing her preferences for manuscript submission format. Her formatting prefs are pretty much standard for the industry, so this is good info. Be sure to follow the links.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Freelance Trail

Current music: U2's Where The Streets Have No Name

Want some company (or commiseration) on the road to article publication? Here's a blog from a freelancer trying to break into the national market. It's called Query a Day. (Which is a fine thing to do, if you have a similar goal.)

(And she's yet another writer who shares my taste in templates...)

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Snark Bite

Happy Monday! (What, are those moans I hear? ;-) )

Here's a new blog interview with Miss Snark. Several handy tidbits on the author-agent relationship.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Want to know what's zooming in commercial fiction these days? Here's my agent's take.

The erotica surge is definitely intriguing. Seems like every publisher on Earth is opening up an erotica or erotic romance line. A fad, you ask? Well, many things in publishing are. (We can play nice and call them "cycles" instead of "fads".) Either way, I like steamy books, and it's great fun to see them selling. I also enjoy books with great characters who don't spend most of their time bedding each other. Luckily, there's room in publishing for all kinds.

[SHAMELESS PLUG COMING UP. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.] Do you like erotic romance? Consider the books of Shelby Reed. She's a friend worth her weight in latinum*, my favorite critique partner, and an enthralling author of lush settings and gorgeous prose. If you like your books hot AND romantic, she's a great bet.

*Yeah, I mean latinum. Anyone else an unabashed Star Trek geek?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blurb Magic

Today I had the nagging feeling that something was a little off with my latest novel manuscript. Something needed to be tweaked, shifted, or nudged into the foreground of the story, and I didn't know quite what it was. Grrr, frustrating!

I found the answer by working through one of my favorite resources—the notes from a blurb class I took from Suzanne McMinn. What's a blurb? An endlessly useful marketing tool for your book—as well as a way to hone in on the juiciest parts of your story.

If you get the chance to take a class from Suzanne, do it. And visit the "For Writers" page of her website. She discusses taglines and blurbs in areas 4 and 5. Read, learn, and create!

When my clients are ready to market their books, I urge them to learn Suzanne's blurb method. Clients love the new way they view their manuscripts, and especially the confidence that comes from knowing they can hook the interest of agents and editors. You'll use a great blurb in pitches, synopses, and query letters—and if you're lucky, the back cover of your book.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Right to Write

As I've mentioned before, I think of Julia Cameron as the patron saint of writers. Heck, of creatives everywhere—a group which should include every human being. The Artist's Way is a glorious journey for anyone who has felt blocked or afraid, and all her books help writers feel the glory and beauty in what they do. Now one of her later books, The Right to Write, has performed a small miracle for me.

Has your life ever seemed so busy that you can barely remember to breathe? Yep, I thought so. It happens to most of us. And especially, I think, to women. We handle tremendous responsibility for our families and lives. (And, I'd argue, often more responsibility than is taken by men, even in this relatively enlightened era.) Women form the core of my coaching clientele, and most of my clients have told me they're overwhelmed by everything they're supposed to do/fix/tackle on a daily basis. When there are a thousand screaming things on your to-do list, it can be hard to find time to write. Or rather, it gets easier to tell yourself you can't...

In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron suggests a way to help you "start dismantling your sense of victimization around time."

Think about that. One hell of a concept, isn't it? Sense of victimization around time.

She suggests setting a timer for 15 minutes, during which you write 5 postcards to friends you love but don't stay in touch with the way you'd wish.

I did as Julia suggested. I mailed the postcards, the first to someone who's been like a sister to me—a wonderful woman whose deep friendship I have greatly missed, and even mourned, though I never quite took the right steps to get it back.

My friend got the postcard. And picked up the phone. And almost like the distance between us had never been, today we talked for hours.

I love you, Peej. *HUGS*

And thank you, Julia.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mwa ha ha

I have overcome my own laziness and spotted the answer among the archives of RomanceScholar. Jayne Ann Krentz: Dangerous Men & Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance.

Tip of the day:

And I really must learn to space my posts out, or I will be spending all my time on this blog. Definitely addictive.

If you love romance novels I certainly do, check out the following.

First, Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels. Their slogan is "All of the romance, none of the bullshit." Today's post is particularly relevant. Be sure to click on the "More, more, more!" for an excellent rant.

Next, as pointed out in the above blog, there's a new listserv called RomanceScholar—"A Listserv for Scholars and Teachers of Romance Fiction". Huzzah! As a Ph.D., former academic, and a romance lover, I've always been peeved by the perception of romance within the academia. And without.

If you're the type to enjoy the above listserv, you may want to peruse A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis, an English professor and advocate of the genre.

Which reminds me of a previous, edited book about romance novels and perceptions...the title of which escapes me. The editor, too, darn it. Judith Ivory, perhaps? I can't recall, and I'm feeling a mite lazy to Google it at the moment. The book is inevitably mentioned in at least one workshop at every romance conference I attend, where I make, alas, yet another mental note to track it down for a read. If any of you astute visitors know of this particular book, spill the details, please.

Finally, because ofttimes romance readers need an excellent sense of humor to abide the covers on our beloved books, or at least I do, check out Longmire does Romance Novels, and these additional reader submissions. Tell me your favorite. Warning: these links may induce coffee-spewing.

Hmm, someone remind me to divulge why the classic "clinch" romance covers exist (and continue to plague us). When I found out, I had a facial-twitch moment.

Oh, the horror...

Current music: Hypnotize Me by Wang Chung

Just to balance the previous post about agents, here's one that will make your eyeballs spiral in their sockets. Link courtesy of Miss Snark's archives (the "Snarkives"). If you've never read the blog of Miss Snark, literary agent, rectify that. Immediately.

Monday, May 01, 2006

So how do agents sell books?

Current Music: The Plimsouls—A Million Miles

Getting an agent for your book isn't essential. A good one, though, can move you from "close" to "sold"—and save you the agony of slush pile waits. (Some publishers' responses take two to five years from the time a submission is logged.) It's no wonder writers fret over agent queries and pitches, and why all the fretting and crafting can be worthwhile.

But once you find an agent who loves your manuscript, what happens? How do agents pitch to editors and get books sold? Find out in this insightful article from