Coming Home to Nan A. Talese/Doubleday

After years of intense work, my novel Lilli de Jong has found a home. It was sent out by my agent to editors in early July, and twenty days later, I had to choose between two wonderful, caring editors at strong houses. What a difficult choice. But there was something about the Nan A. Talese imprint and my editors there, Nan A. Talese and Ronit Wagman, that made me feel as if the novel was coming home.

Through the several years to come, in which little about the book's reception will be in my control, I hope to remember this time of relief--and to put regular effort into the most important aspect of this process, which explains why writers bother to sell their work at all in this tough market: making new writing. 


Pam Jenoff's latest novel

My former student and private client, now touring to promote her eighth published novel, is interviewed here by the wonderful Lynn Rosen of Open Book. Thank you, Pam, for mentioning my old writing workshop at Temple University, where we met.


Thanks for the Interview, Alaina!

Broad Street Review editor Alaina Mabaso is laid up temporarily by surgery--so I thought I'd repost this interview she did with me on her blog a while back--my favorite interview ever. 

Here's a bit: "What are the stories that only you can tell? To me that’s the first step. What do you know because of what life gave you?…If you can tap into that material, and you can explore it bravely, and put it into words, you will be giving other people a gift, and it’s a gift for you, too . . ."


On Books and Babies

Throughout the process of writing my current historical novel--the diary of an unwed Quaker mother in 1880s Philadelphia--I've thought a lot about babies.

The early reasons were obvious. I had a baby when I started the novel. And the novel's central character has a baby. I did a lot of research about babies. But then the use of the notion of babyhood became more metaphorical.

As the novel progressed, and I told others of my dedication to it, they often said things like, "It's your baby!" When I first spoke with my agent, she described the book as a baby and the agent's role as that of a midwife who delivers the novel into the world.  

Soon the novel is due to be delivered. Throughout 2015, we've moved farther along the timeline. I've told myself, "Any month now!" Then "Any week now!" One day soon, POOF! The novel will appear on the desks of selected editors.  

No wonder I dreamed last night of being very, very pregnant--at that point when labor feels preferable to continuing to carry so much weight around. But I was unable to get my labor to progress. I walked as vigorously as I could (an old trick) and did everything else I could think of, but I had no luck moving my body from cramps to contractions. I wondered if I should get the baby's heartbeat checked. Could the baby be in danger, struggling in my womb in some untenable position, or even no longer alive? 

So, yes. Books and babies. They can't be rushed, and they often matter more to us than most other aspects of living. With luck, they bring great joy.





Writing Is Worth the Effort, Whether or Not You're Published!

Here is what I sometimes tell workshop participants:

When all’s said and done, regardless of what our hopes may be for publication or recognition for our writing, we write for ourselves. I encourage you to write what’s most meaningful to you. Do the best you can. Maybe some of your work will be published, and maybe this will bring some satisfaction; maybe not. But if you write and write and do your best at it, then what can you be absolutely sure will happen? You will have a more meaningful life.