A Dying Literary Genre: The Christmas Letter

It’s four days until Christmas, and I’ve gotten hardly any Christmas letters. You may remember those from the distant past….say, 1995. In mid-December, your mailbox would fill up with cards from great-aunts and cousins and friends from college who’d moved far away. The cards almost always included a one-page summary of what the family had…

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Cover Girl

The cover design process is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of publishing a book. A great cover helps sell your book to readers, but it also needs to convey the story and tone in the right way (so those readers know what they’re getting). And take note, aspiring authors: the publisher gets…

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Looking for Love

When a fellow writer recently told me she’d abandoned her latest manuscript after working on it for eight months, I felt awful for her. How terrible to spend so much time and mental energy on something that didn’t pan out, and how brave to finally say enough was enough. Sometimes you know it’s for the…

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Who are #LakeUnionAuthors?

IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST and my next, untitled book (coming Spring 2018) are published by Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon. This makes some people confused: “Amazon? So, you’re self-publishing now?” Nope. Lake Union works just like a traditional publishing house: there are professional editors, proofreaders, and copy editors, and I can say…

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Endings and Beginnings

Today was Publication Day for IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST, a book I spent years writing and rewriting and rethinking and agonizing over (in typical writerly fashion). And as thrilled as I am to have it out in the world at last, it’s not like today was all that different from many other days: I still…

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My Favorite Books of 2016

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when I flip through my reading journal and see how many books I’ve read this year, marvel at how many I’ve already forgotten, and get re-excited about the ones I loved. Here, in the chronological order I read them, are the ones I remember most fondly. (Note: only some of these were…

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So You Want to Be a Writer? Here’s the Real Deal

  I’ve always been a sucker for those lists of “Top Ten Writing Tips.” Which means I’ve read many versions of the same advice: get your butt in the chair; write at the same time every day; set consistent goals. All good stuff, but it doesn’t always relate to how I do things. I can’t…

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Social Grief

  It’s been a busy week for social-media grieving: one day my Facebook feed was full of David Bowie videos and quotes, a few days later it was dedicated to actor Alan Rickman. I was surprised by Bowie’s death, but it was Rickman’s death that hit me with deep, genuine sadness. Why? It wasn’t as if I knew him, or had…

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Best Books I Read This Year

I’m a sucker for a good End-of-Year list, so I’m sharing some of the books I most enjoyed in 2015. I read many other good books this year, but these are the ones that made a lasting impression and taught me something (either writing-wise or life-wise). These are in no particular ranking, just the order I read them. LOST FOR WORDS, Edward…

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