Renegade Muse

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— Julie Morgenstern, SHED

A Zen parable tells of a wanderer on a lonely road who came upon a torrential stream that had washed out the bridge…he spent several days cutting down trees and vines to build a raft.  The raft was solid and heavy and carried him safely across.  On the other side he thought, “This is a good raft—if there’s another stream ahead, I can use it.”  And so, he carried the raft for the rest of his life.

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— Steve Jobs (New York Times)

When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

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— Alison Luterman

The whole world keeps whispering or shouting to you,
Nibbling your ear like a neglected lover

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— John Scalzi

Art isn’t what the creator could be, any more than a 100 mile an hour fastball is what an athlete could be. Art is what we can do.

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— Elizabeth Law, Publisher, Egmont Books

Just write your heart out. I promise you that’s what matters. I would much, much, much rather find a great, unusual, distinctive book by a phobic writer covered in oozing sores who lives in a closet than a decent but not amazingly original book by the world’s best promoter. I could sell the former a lot better, too.

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— Seen on bumper sticker


Wag more, bark less.

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— Moonrat, anonymous NY editor

We all have our foibles, and we are all part of a creative industry, which of course means you’re going to get rather a lot of personality from anyone you work with…

Hubert Proved Himself a Splendid Gentleman

And he's a star in the illustration from LESSONS IN FRENCH!

Find out winners and see a scan of the original artwork by Charles Rutledge, the scene of Callie and Hubert in the kitchen, on the lam from the constable.

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How to Plot a Book

Laura and her crack team of Tea-Drinking Plotters figure out What Happens Next

Ever wonder how the pros (haha) get it done?  A behind the scenes look at a plotting session for Lessons in French, starring Laura, Chas and EK.  Plotting.  No nets.  No spell-check. 

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The White Stallions and Me

How I almost didn't get the wish of my heart--and then did

I was too young and naive to verify that this was the right tour. Finally, I asked the German guide if we were going to the Spanish Riding School. Oh, no, she said. The Summer Palace was the last stop. I had boarded the wrong bus.

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Renegade Muse

Scenes From the Author's Battle with Writer's Block

If you don’t think there is such a thing as a genie (or daemon or genius) of the creative process, then you don’t need to read this one.  There’s no advice for blocked writers here.  Just my experience of what it means.

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Writing is not a service industry

Because writing is an art

This is a copy of a commentary I made at Smartbitches.com several years ago, in response to a discussion about whether writing (and authors) are a service industry.  I was somewhat surprised to find out how controversial my opinion was.  But reading this again after several years, it remains the truth for me.  I didn’t write this to hurt any readers’ feelings, or diminish the consumer’s role in the publishing industry, or suggest that any other author should feel the same way as I do.  I just wrote it because it’s my experience of what it’s like to write, and to publish what I write, and to write the best books that I can.  Feel free to discuss (and disagree) in the comments.

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