Category Archives: writing

#WriterWednesday: To MFA Or Not To MFA, That Is The Question

“Can a serious, ambitious writer get by without an MFA?,” a fellow writer asked me this morning. My answer, as the proud recipient of an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University, may surprise you.

* * *
HI! Your To MFA Or Not To MFA is a great question and I can’t answer it for you; it’s a decision you have to make for yourself. What I can do is give you my experience, tell you why I did it and what the pros were for me.

#WriterWednesday: How To Start A Novel

“Dear J: I’m trying to start a novel because I feel the time is right, but I have no idea how to do it. Can you please give me some advice? Thank you! ~Madame S.”

* * *

Dearest Madame S:

Oh my goodness, I wish I knew. I am still trying to jumpstart two novels I have jostling in my head and they are elbowing each other trying to fit through the same small doorway (my brain), with a logjam result. If I had a magic novel-starting button I would certainly share it with you!

#WriterWednesday: Inside The Writer’s Studio

Last night I had the great pleasure of my first book club via Facebook chat! and at the end, the host played Inside The Actor’s Studio with me–except it was Inside The Writer’s Studio. The questions were so much fun, I thought I’d share them with you!

What is your favorite word?
That’s a good question. My most recent favorite word is “crenelation,” about the snow castles here in Boston. My first favorite word: “inchitate,” as in “Don’t inchoate me” (I meant irritate. I was 2 years old).

What is your least favorite word?
Congrats. If you want to wholeheartedly congratulate somebody, for goodness’ sake, take the time to spell the damned thing out!

How Long Should It Take To Write A Novel?

How long should it take to write a novel?

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 10.49.16 AM

Dear Jenna: After another listen to “The Author at Work“, I have a question for you. You said you spent three years on Those Who Save Us. Could you break that down for me (i.e. how much time on 1st draft, revision, pollinating, etc)? I have been worrying that I am taking forever w/ my novel (15 mos in so far), but perhaps I am not doing so badly after all. ~ Mr. M

#FridayReads: THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA by Mary Miller

Dear Readers:

You know a novel has to be good when it can overcome my traditional aversion to teenaged narrators–Holden Caulfield, Katniss Everdeen, Gabriela from Iris Gomez’s TRY TO REMEMBER, and Karen Thompson Walker’s Julia from THE AGE OF MIRACLES excepted. To that company I’m adding Jess, the heroine of debut novel & Indiebound pick THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA, who tells this story of a Rapture-bound road trip with her family that starts in a Waffle House en route from Alabama to California (where the world will naturally end).
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 1.01.58 PM

#FridayReads: I’d Tell You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You.

Dear Readers,

I’d love to tell you what I’m reading this week, but then I’d have to kill you. Because it’s for research for my next novel, and if I disclose it, you might figure out what I’m working on. As somebody who like to stay very much behind the curtain until the Big Reveal, I can’t have that, can I?

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 1.07.33 PM

Okay, I lied a little bit. If you’ve been in a book club I’ve visited recently or an event I’ve spoken at, you know I’ve taken your temperature in terms of whether you like my current idea. I do like to get a sense of how readers will respond by whether there’s an “Oooh” or “Ahhhh” factor, whether people are nodding when I disclose or whether they’re actively falling asleep.

So You’ve Been Told, “You Should Write A Book!” What Now?

Dear Readers,

Have you ever been told, “You should write a book!”? Thought about accepting this challenge?

This morning I received an inquiry from a gentleman who has–& is finding it not so easy. He wrote:

I’ve been told by a number of people that I should write a book about my life experiences. I can write but have found there’s a huge difference in being able to write and being a writer! (Jenna’s comment: True, dat.) I have so many life experiences that I have a hard time putting them together so they “flow”. I know others who’ve had authors tell their story. I’ve written a synopsis but am overwhelmed with more. I need help! Thank you for any guidance you may have 🙂

Tornado Safety–anywhere

Dear Readers,

In the wake of the NWS-confirmed tornado in Revere, MA this morning–a rare but not unprecedented event–here’s a reprise of my 2011 article for the Boston Globe about tornado safety. Please stay weather-aware and be safe!

upBlum
From The Boston Globe, June 2011

I’m a professional stormchaser. On Wednesday, I was in the surreal
position of issuing tornado warnings to friends back home in Massachusetts while sitting in a stormchase vehicle beneath a tornadic thunderstorm in rural Nebraska. Some of the questions and comments I received over Facebook and Twitter were deeply distressing. One said, “No way am I waiting anything out in a basement. I’ll take my chances.” Another, during a
tornado warning, asked, “Can I drive into Boston?” A third, married to a newsman, wrote: “My husband is stormchasing for tonight’s story!” When I asked whether her husband had any experience whatsoever with severe weather, I got no reply.