This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays. –Douglas Adams
Calling all writers and readers. Starting with today’s post, I’ll be featuring new books and reviews on Thursdays. Each post will include a contest where you power up your lie-dar to separate fact from fiction and win fabulous prizes! (Well, prizes anyway…)
I’m thrilled and honored to have Mary Rosenblum as my first guest. She’s an award winning author of many SF and mystery novels published with New York publishers and overseas, as well as dozens of short stories that have been published in major magazines all over the world. In addition, Mary has taught writing for more than fifteen years, including as an instructor at the prestigious Clarion West, and now she’s also the Literary Midwife! As editor and mentor guiding new writers to publication, Mary’s recent publications have focussed on the path and process of getting your book published.
Mary is stopping by today to answer questions and talk about her new book, Self-Publishing Success, A Handbook for New Writers. (See my review)
1. What was your first car? I still love my first car! It was a 1952 International Harvester pickup truck, born the same year I was and sky blue! I was a scholarship student in college with no money and I found guys who were willing to teach me how to work on the engine…no computers back then, it was pretty straightforward. Could barely afford parts for it! It had a bad starter motor — which was too expensive to replace — and I had to push start it. I got to know every hill in Portland where I could park it, let it roll, and pop the clutch! A friend of mine borrowed it, busted the oil filter off, and ran the engine out of oil. It got towed because he left it on the street and I let the city auction it to pay the tow bill. I couldn’t afford to put a new engine in it. Somebody did put a new engine in it, I saw it on the street a couple of years later. I hope someone restored it and it’s doing the car shows now! Was a great truck, even if I did have to park it on a hill, and I was SO proud of it!
2. Star Wars, Star Trek, or Firefly? Star Trek of course! I’m going to wallow in nostalgia unabashedly here! Science Fiction…my first love in literature…came to the popular media in the late sixties with Captain Kirk, Spock (whom I had a crush on) and the crew. I loved those early adventures. They were mostly written by SF authors I got to know later on, when I was one of them. Only later did Captain Kirk start chasing women across the galaxy when Gene took more control of the scripts. The first season was pretty cool.
3. Who would you most like to sit next to on an airplane? Oh, Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, Labrynth, the Dark Crystal, and a bunch of short animated pieces that were awesome but never got huge attention. What a genius and I literally wept when he died. Of course, the fact that he is dead is going to make it a serious ‘uh oh’ moment when he sits down beside me. Darn. I knew I should have flown my own plane… Oh, and you didn’t ask, but my life’s role model? Peter Pan. No kidding. I actually saw Mary Martin play the role on Broadway when I was four years old or younger and still remember watching her swoop across the theater in a harness at eye level from where I stood at the rail of the balcony. I could see she was really a girl! That was SO cool! My kids tell me I still haven’t grown up and it’s probably too late now…
4. Best guilty pleasure ever? Flying. No kidding. It eats up my disposable income…as in ALL of it…it’s just for fun, I don’t make a dime doing it…and I love it more than anything else in this world! You just don’t worry about anything when you’re 3000 feet in the air. It’s just you, the plane, the sky, and the eagles.
5. Who would play you in the movie? I have NO idea! Which actresses are a bit nuts, take too many risks, and too independent for their own good? One of them would do fine, as long as she’s on the skinny side. (I’m well on my way to becoming a Boney Old Person…)
6. As a child (or now!), what did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut. NASA wasn’t taking women back then, and neither was the Air Force…not to be pilots anyway. I settled for exploring the universe through my SF and flying my own plane, thank you, and did more than I would have been able to do on the Space Station, so there, boys! And of course, a woman was a Space Station commander. Her hair is awesome in zero-G by the way!
7. What is the most common mistake new writers make? Giving up. No kidding. People believe, still, that you are gifted with Natural Talent or you are Not Talented. Write something, try to sell it, and if nobody wants it, go become a plumber, because you’re clearly Not A Writer… Oh, pulleeeze. Why do we expect concert pianists to work their as… uh, their behinds…off and expect a writer to leap to best seller stardom right out of the gate? How silly. Okay, Beethoven did it, but how many Beethovens are there anyway? And if you want a career that pays your bills, you’re going to have to work at it as if it’s a business…because it is. I did, back when I was a NY midlist author, supporting myself and two kids as a single parent. It’s a day job, folks, it was a 40 hour a week day job, not something that you do when the Muse urges you and then cash $100,000 checks! Get over that myth!
8. For the average manuscript you are editing, if you could only make one (global) change, what would it be? Characterization. That is always the weak spot. Always. It is HARD to do characterization well. I was known as a character writer and it’s why my fiction succeeded the way it did, bringing me into at least the finalist category for every major award. I’m a mediocre plotter, I’ll admit that! But my characters lived and breathed and readers didn’t care. No new writer does characterization as well as it can be done. It is a very complex tapestry made up of many many small things.
12. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard? Don’t quit. See my comment on the most common mistake! Write more, read good work and analyze it, give your work to good readers and other writers to read, listen to them, but make your own decisions about your strengths and weaknesses. Build on your strengths, work on improving your weaknesses. Remember…writing is for life and if you keep doing it and keep working at improving…you will! I’m up to the third book with some of my clients and they are all SO much stronger now as writers than they were with the first book!
Mary has had an exciting and adventurous life. But only one of the following statements is true. Do you think Mary:
- Had a walk on part as an extra in the ‘Night of the Living Dead’ movie.
- Trained a rat to play basketball.
- Raised fainting goats.
Please add your guess to your comment below, and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of her new book, Self-Publishing Success, A Handbook for New Writers.