How are writers shape shifters? Read on!

plant-426672_1920During a visit to Calgary, Canada, the city where I grew up, I had conducted a workshop at the event “When Words Collide.” It was entitled “The Origins of Fiction: A Personal Odyssey.” Preparing for the occasion had me thinking about narrative seeds, especially mine. What starts me on these explorations of others’ lives? Continue reading “How are writers shape shifters? Read on!”

What’s in a name?

clouds-2517648_1920I’ve been thinking about names and how they inform our lives. When we’re born, our parents select our name that starts us on a journey. It might have some mythical weight to it, like Adam or Naomi. In that case, we’re already embedded in an archetypal story. The Biblical Adam makes me think of a male archetype, one who is grounded in masculine stereotypes of responsibility and obedience. With Naomi, there is another Biblical connection. A woman whose life is filled with strife, she is fortified by Ruth, her daughter-in-law. Continue reading “What’s in a name?”

Meet the author Monday: On my blog today, I’m talking to the captivating Valerie Nieman, a novelist who has been a reporter, farmer, sailor, editor, teacher, and always a walker!

Valerie Nieman’s Bio:

Valerie Nieman has been a reporter, farmer, sailor, editor, teacher, and always a walker. She is the author of In the Lonely Backwater, called “not only a page-turning thriller but also a complex psychological portrait of a young woman dealing with guilt, betrayal, and secrecy,” four earlier novels, and books of short fiction and poetry. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, she has held state and NEA fellowships. You can find her online sites at linktr.ee/ValNieman

Continue reading “Meet the author Monday: On my blog today, I’m talking to the captivating Valerie Nieman, a novelist who has been a reporter, farmer, sailor, editor, teacher, and always a walker!”

Memorial Day musings about creativity and not about war

I’m thinking today of timing—how important it is to success. Timing and perseverance: the two go together. I’m also noticing the seasonal aspect of creativity, how cyclic it is. That too is hard to grasp. I want it all the time. I’m afraid if it isn’t there, it won’t return. But I need to remember that if I pursue my creative impulses, and if they’re in accordance with my abilities, then there will be success. Maybe not financially, though that would be nice. But I’ll experience the satisfaction of achieving what I’m capable of. Continue reading “Memorial Day musings about creativity and not about war”

Writers as Magicians?

The word magic gets thrown around loosely and can have many different meanings, depending on the context. For a child, the world must seem forever magical as s/he explores and constantly makes new discoveries. Even for adults who have retained their childlike enthusiasm for life this state still exists. Seeing sunrises or sunsets that astound viewers with color variations is just one example, but so, too, is the miracle of tiny, dried-out seeds eventually producing plants that can nourish us. Those who have done a little gardening know how magical this process can be. Continue reading “Writers as Magicians?”

How is writing like giving birth?

cherry-blossom-3308735_1920I recently took a walk with a friend who writes but hasn’t committed herself fully to being a writer. There is a difference! Someone who writes doesn’t necessarily need to take on all of the responsibilities that being a writer requires, including publishing and marketing her work. Her response to all of the things I’m currently going through (finding Advanced Review Copy (ARC) reviewers; seeking interviews; setting up readings—and so much more) as I prepare for the release of a new book, was “I couldn’t do that!” Continue reading “How is writing like giving birth?”

Do writers write for love or for money?

coins-948603_1920“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money.”  —Moliere

Recently, I’ve been struggling with this idea of writing for money. Moliere suggests writers are prostituting themselves if they write for money. But what of doctors or lawyers? Doctors charge patients for treating them, and lawyers do the same for advocating, things they’re trained and skilled to do? I’m sure Moliere had complex reasons for thinking this way about selling one’s writing, many connected to his era, economics, and his philosophy on life.

Continue reading “Do writers write for love or for money?”

How are fiction writers and magicians similar?

Fiction writers have been called many things, but magician seems the best description. They dip into the black hat of their imagination and produce an endless variety of characters, situations, images, genres, events, and styles. The effect on readers is nothing less than magical, the reader also becoming a conjurer, assisting in making visible what wasn’t there before. Continue reading “How are fiction writers and magicians similar?”

On my blog today, Linda Rosen talks about how women reinvent themselves in her novels despite obstacles thrown their way!

Linda Rosen’s Bio

Linda Rosen’s books are set in the “not-too-distant past” and examine how women reinvent themselves despite obstacles thrown their way. A central theme is that blood is not all that makes a family– and they always feature a piece of jewelry! Her debut novel, The Disharmony of Silence, released in March 2020, and her sophomore novel, Sisters of the Vine, one year later from Black Rose Writing. Linda was a contributor to Women in the Literary Landscape: A WNBA Centennial Publication for the Women’s National Book Association and has had stories published in online magazines and print anthologies. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Women’s National Book Association where she is Selections Coordinator of the Great Group Reads committee which curates a list, published annually, of novels and memoirs perfect for book clubs.

Linda lives with her husband in New Jersey, but when the leaves fall and she has to swap sandals for shoes and socks they move to their home in Florida. Continue reading “On my blog today, Linda Rosen talks about how women reinvent themselves in her novels despite obstacles thrown their way!”

How are writers garbage pickers?

white-male-2064827_1920When I arrived at the gym yesterday, I parked the car next to the Big 5 Sporting Goods store’s huge garbage containers, located in my gym’s parking area. I felt embarrassed for the man I saw lurking behind the bins. He wore a baseball cap and tried to appear invisible as he rummaged through the trash. The image of him prowling there stayed with me, and I couldn’t help but think of it as a metaphor for writers.

Continue reading “How are writers garbage pickers?”

Thanks to Mary Helen Sheriff and Author Talk Network for this post: “Book Marketing: The magic behind the fairytale of a book’s success”

Once upon a time, marketing books was a key function of publishers. Now, though, most authors, whether traditionally or independently published, are expected to invest time and money into marketing and promoting their books. With over 2.2 million books published a year, the competition to garner attention for any specific title is intense. And, let’s be honest, we want our books noticed, so investing time and money wisely is the first step in marketing success. Continue reading “Thanks to Mary Helen Sheriff and Author Talk Network for this post: “Book Marketing: The magic behind the fairytale of a book’s success””

Where is an expatriate’s home?

Since becoming a California resident in 1963 and an American citizen in 1974, I’ve grappled with what the word home means to me. Over the years, I’ve returned to Canada, my birth country, many times and have wondered what it’s like for people who always have lived near their family and their beginnings, who haven’t adopted another country or area as I have. How do they measure their growth if they never have the distance of time and miles between them and their families—their roots—that accentuate such changes? Continue reading “Where is an expatriate’s home?”

Do writers excavate themselves as they work?


I’ve been reviewing the notes I’ve kept for all my four published novels, going back to the first one Fling! I was amazed to discover I had started working on it in 1999. When I first began, I had hoped to write a lyrical novel a la Virginia Woolf. But my husband called my attention to a review of another Canadian writer’s book, Barbara Gowdy’s Mister Sandman. When I read of her comic sense, “both inventive and tough,” I realized again how much I wanted to write in this way. But I also had resisted it because the style seemed limited to certain topics. I felt it was difficult to write beautifully and be funny, and I was letting my desire for a certain kind of elegance to inhibit the progression of what later became Fling!

Continue reading “Do writers excavate themselves as they work?”

MEET THE AUTHOR MONDAY: In today’s blog post, and in celebration of Women’s History Month, you’ll meet the talented writer LESLIE LEHR, A BOLD VOICE FOR FEMINISM

Leslie Lehr’s Bio:

Leslie Lehr is a prize-winning author whose latest, A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession shaped Me… and You was featured in People Magazine, Glamour, Good Morning America, and in Entertainment Tonight’s short list of books by “trailblazing women changing the world.” Salma Hayek is producing a comedy series based on A Boob’s Life for HBO Max. In addition to her novels and nonfiction books, her essays have been in the New York Times Modern Love column (narrated by Katie Couric for NPR). Leslie is the Novel Consultant for Truby Writers Studio.

Here is my interview with Leslie:

What inspired you to write A Boob’s Life?

One night when my husband and were about to celebrate our first home together, I got out of the shower and noticed my breasts didn’t match. I’d just completed breast cancer treatment and was grateful to be alive. But I was also upset. My husband accused me of being obsessed. As a feminist, I was insulted. Then a comedian on TV made a boob joke, proving it wasn’t just me. I couldn’t sleep.

Next to my bed was my favorite picture of my mom and sister and me in matching red bikinis. It makes me laugh because my baby sister couldn’t keep her nipples covered, I was three and I already knew that nipples were taboo. How can this not be a huge influence about how we feel about our bodies?

I went to my computer to find an answer. There were books about breast cancer and breastfeeding and of course lots of porn, but nothing that put it all together. I could track my whole life by my breasts – wanting them as a girl, hiding them to work, showing them to date, breastfeeding, breast implants, breast cancer… I had to investigate further. Turns out that the way we view breasts, the part of a woman that enters the room first, has influenced both men and women in profound ways.

How do you come up with book titles? Do you know them from the beginning, or do they evolve?

Titles are super important, so I always decide at the beginning. It’s the easy part for me, and the most fun. A good title can also remind me of my story goals as I write. When I consult or teach, I suggest that writers brainstorm titles based on character, setting, plot, and theme to come up with options. Sometimes the publisher changes it, but at least I’ve had my version.

As people learned about your book, what unexpected things happened along the way?

The most unexpected was having a producer want to make A Boob’s Life into a TV comedy series. That was before I even got a book deal. It’s in development now with Salma Hayek’s company for HBOMax. I also am always surprised at the letters I get, and the real opportunities I have supporting related causes that help people. From cancer to breastfeeding to parenting, divorce, and domestic violence, I’ve been able to have a voice to attract support and fundraising. Different themes of the book really speak to all kinds of readers. And recently I’ve had one fan sending me her favorite lines – a lot of them! Writing is lonely, so this is a best result.

What is your preferred genre to write in?

I write to explore the lives of contemporary women. I think that’s why reviewers have called me a “bold new voice for feminism.” I use whatever genre works best for the story I want to tell. I usually start with personal essays that evolve into books, from nonfiction (Welcome to Club Mom) to drama (66 Laps, Wife Goes On) to thriller (What A Mother Knows) to this pop culture memoir (A Boob’s Life).

Where do your ideas come from for stories/books?

You know that old saying, write what you know? I write what I want to know, to find ways to understand the divide between sexy and sacred, the way women are challenged and defined and limited when we are truly complex and doing our best. This passion drives all my work. And, of course, I want to have fun and entertain readers while doing it.

What have people most liked or found most meaningful/funny/creative/ challenging about your book?

Readers of all ages are relating to my personal experiences because all of us with boobs get up in the morning and decide what to do with them. We all get judged by them and have feelings about them. I get letters from both women and men, mothers and daughters, teens and seniors, because it’s A Boob’s Life for all of us. That’s why the subtitle is How America’s Obsession Shaped Me… and You. The mix of memoir is woven with anecdotes and songs and fun facts about how our culture was defining women at each stage. This unique combination made it hard to sell. But it’s also what makes the book so popular, especially now, for Women’ History Month. It’s the history of how America has defined women by our breasts for decades.

Why do you write?

I write to have a voice. I started with essays to figure things out and have my opinion on record. I wrote the NYT Modern Love essay to show something that truly surprised me about love. I had no intention of going deeper. Then one day I knew I had to write a book related to it and go much deeper. It’s incredible to start with an idea and make it real, to work hard and create something that can move and delight others. It’s magic.

What’s the hardest part of writing or publishing?

Writing is the fun part for me. Not the first draft but revising. It’s like having a puzzle and playing with the pieces. Publishing is all hard. It’s such a gamble. Writers have no control unless we do it ourselves and publish independently. But that is not my strong skill set. I just want to write!

What are you currently working on or have future plans to write?

I’m currently working on a novel based on real events that I’ve been trying to approach from different angles for decades. It’s a historical novel combining love story and drama. Just recently, I found a notebook from high school saying I needed to write this story before I was 25 and “over the hill.”  Ha!

What is your most bizarre talent?

I don’t know of a bizarre talent, but I sure have a bizarre lack of talent: typing. I was forced to take typing in high school because girls needed to have a fallback career as a secretary. I was not interested, so I nearly failed. (I wasn’t planning to be a writer.) I still type with four fingers.

Visit Leslie at www.leslielehr.com