Writers' Newsletter

Issue #248
November 2023

Should You Write Something Different?

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Sunday October 22, 2023

The obvious answer to that simple question would seem to be yes, but it’s not the answer I’m going to give you—since I care about the outcome for you. I’ll, instead, give you a qualified yes and tell you to write something different than everything that’s out there if you can’t help yourself—if the urge is too strong to resist.

Rather a while back I wrote a wholly different novel about Jesus the Christ. Quite different, in fact. That is to say an actually spiritual novel based on my training in a secret spiritual lineage: an original novel. (Which you can find currently on Smashwords—Jesus of Nazareth.) I knew I had only a few publishing houses I might approach and very few agents, but I was impelled to produce this rather different novel due to the materialistic understandings offered in a few contemporary novels. Jesus starting out as an anti-Roman revolutionary? Seriously? I had to utter a resounding no to something missing the mark by that far. Or a Jesus so fully human that not a touch of the divine might be found within his suffering. Puzzling. From a Christian publisher, I got “If we want a book about Jesus, we’ll have one of our own people write it.” So then, forget about originality and creativity. Apparently people only want their own opinions played back. Yeah, no surprises there.

Or picture me hunting down an agent amid the negatives directed at my latest production of human wisdom (if I may say so myself). An agent I knew through other means told me, “You write well, but I don’t like the book.” Yes, I’m quoting. Never mind “Not for my list. Best of luck.” You know, the typical phrases that agents use to convey a pinch of faux humility. This guy had none of that.

The book my agent acquaintance hated (though he probably read no more than a page or two), is Rescued, now out on Amazon from an honest-to-goodness publisher, having been rejected by the very few agents willing to even have a peek. And all would no doubt have thrust book two in the Rebirth series, Re-Live, aside as well—a wholly different book from what is being published these days, certainly suited to follow Rescued, both presenting transforming protagonists who are deep into the martial arts and have some appearance of contemporary heroes. Are you, like me, the victim of your own inspiration and what an editor I listened to recently called the flatness of our culture?

[Read the full article]

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Some of this month's news for writers from around the web.

Indie Press Network launches to connect small indie publishers

Indie Press Network launches to connect small indie publishers – Tuesday November 14, 2023

The Indie Press Network has launched with the aim of connecting independent publishers with each other, as well as with booksellers and readers.

The open network will offer promotion opportunities for established presses’ titles and authors, as well as free, open-access resources for those starting out.

The Indie Press Network was founded by Will Dady of Renard Press, and is launching with an inaugural cohort of 10 member presses. It is open to all small publishers with five or fewer employees and aims to encourage and support new "would-be" publishers.

According to Renard Press, the network seeks to build on the work being done by other membership organisations to "decolonise publishing and to raise the profile of smaller presses who don’t have big marketing budgets".

[Read the full article]

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Loch Long crime writing residency launched

Loch Long crime writing residency launched – Friday November 10, 2023

A new two-week residency for crime writers has been launched by Cove Park.

The fully-funded programme is for Scotland-based writers developing new work in crime fiction and scheduled to run in late March next year.

The writer will receive a total residency fee of £1,100 (£550 per week) and a travel allowance of up to £75 from the arts centre on the Rosneath Peninsula.

To apply, writers must be based in Scotland and have published at least one book with a traditional publisher.

[Read the full article]

Demand for creative writing courses outpaces supply

Demand for creative writing courses outpaces supply – Tuesday November 7, 2023

It might seem that putting words to paper is hard, but for those interested in creative writing classes, it might be more difficult to get into a class.

Many creative writing courses are known for their long waitlists and enrollment caps, but the root of the issue lies with a low supply of lecturers and courses to meet the high student demand for courses. The low supply of lecturers stems from an even larger problem: funding. 

For Kathaleen Mallard ’25, it was incredibly difficult for her to get into the creative writing classes she wanted, even as an English major with a creative writing emphasis. 

“I feel like the demand was obviously much greater than the amount of classes that there were, so it was hard to get into anything,” Mallard said. Some of her courses required course enrollment forms, but seniority remained a large factor of selection, making it difficult to enroll into the classes that were part of the core major requirements. 

Mallard believes that this could affect students in the future who wish to pursue an English major with a creative writing emphasis or a creative writing minor, who may not get to explore classes in the department because of low enrollment caps. She also raised the waitlist experience for creative writing courses. Since most people are unlikely to drop their spots in class, it’s really hard to get off the waitlist for these classes, Mallard said. 

[Read the full article]

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A selection of the new listings added to this month.

New Publishing Imprint Listing: Gold SF – Thursday November 16, 2023

Dedicated to discovering and publishing new intersectional feminist science fiction, promoting voices that answer to the unprecedented times in which we find ourselves, and orientated towards to social, economic, and environmental justice.

[See the full listing]

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New Literary Agent Listing: Anna Olswanger

New Literary Agent Listing: Anna Olswanger – Monday November 13, 2023

Has been an agent since 2005. Represents a wide variety of genres but is currently focused on illustrated books (picture books and graphic novels).

[See the full listing]

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New Magazine Listing: Abridged

New Magazine Listing: Abridged – Monday October 30, 2023

Aims to publish and exhibit contemporary/ experimental poetry plus contemporary art. Each issue is themed. Themes focus on contemporary concerns in a rapidly changing society. We are offering an alternative and complete integration of poetry, art and design. We experiment continually.

[See the full listing]

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Click here for more of this month's new listings >


Some of this month's articles for writers from around the web.

Peek inside a successful book proposal

Peek inside a successful book proposal – Friday November 17, 2023

Author Kim Cross annotates the lengthy proposal that landed a contract for the book that revisits the 1993 Polly Klaas kidnapping

This is one of two posts featuring Kim Cross on the successful pitch-and-proposal process that led to her new book, ‘In Light of All Darkness.’ In this post, Cross annotates the proposal that landed her a contract after previous pitches fell short. In a companion piece, Cross answers questions about agents, timing and money.

[Read the full article]

5 Pieces of Terrible Writing Advice You Should Totally Ignore

5 Pieces of Terrible Writing Advice You Should Totally Ignore – Thursday November 16, 2023

We've all heard some terrible writing advice in our lives. It might have been from so-called "experts," professors, or even in an unhelpful YouTube tutorial, but there are good writing lessons at the heart of every bad note. Let's look at a few together to see what you can glean.

Tell me if this rings a bell, you're attending a screenwriting seminar, listening to a lecture, or getting notes from someone, and they lean in and tell you they have a piece of advice. After hearing it, you shake your head. You feel a little worse off than you started, and you're not sure what to do next.

Terrible writing advice is all around us. Bad writing advice comes from many sources. We hear it in blogs, podcasts, and all over Social Media.

Today I want to go over the 5 biggest pieces of terrible screenwriting advice I've heard, debunk each of them, and give you the proper lessons to take away from each of them.

Ready? Let's go...

[Read the full article]

My First Thriller: Joseph Finder

My First Thriller: Joseph Finder – Thursday November 16, 2023

Joe Finder must have thought he knew the secrets to selling a book. His first, a work of nonfiction, Red Carpet: The Connection Between the Kremlin and America’s Most Powerful Businessmen, had a hardcover run of 10,000. 

It sold out.

Sounds like an early and smooth ride into the literary sunset. But there’s a catch. (There’s always something in book publishing.)

Finder, a Harvard graduate student in Russian Studies at the time, managed to anger one of the richest and most powerful men in America while writing Red Carpet. The man was so mad he approached Finder’s academic advisor with a proposal: kick Finder out of school and he’d write Harvard a check so big they’d have to use a wheelbarrow to deliver it. He also tempted the university with a trove of personal papers for its archives.

[Read the full article]

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