I wrote a book called THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. It's an advice book for writers, though it's more about what makes writers tick. For four years, I blogged every day about the agony of writing and publishing, and the self loathing that afflicts most writers. A community of like-minded malcontents gathered and thus ensued a grand conversation. I post less frequently now, but hopefully with as much vitriol. Please join in!

    Gluttons for punishment can scroll through the archives. If I’ve learned one thing about writers, it’s this: we really are all alone. Thanks for reading. Love, Betsy

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And the Jay-Z Song Was On


barr-hill-logo-goldsqWork parties are weird. All parties are weird if you’re a writer. They call forth all your anti-social skills. Personally, I lurk by the walls, find one person to talk to, and monopolize them. I don’t drink because of my meds, or maybe just one glass of white wine or bar hill gin and some artisanal tonic. And I don’t smoke either, except in some vestibule and or atop a manhole cover erupting with steam. It’s always great when somebody snubs you or loves you or asks about your work.


Have you ever been trapped by a writer at a party?

Hello, It’s Me



I hate to bring this up again, but query letters have gone off the fuckin’ rails of late. First, crazy over-familiarity. Just because you may read this blog doesn’t mean that you know me or more important know me as an agent. It doesn’t mean I love expletives even though I use them, and they certainly have no place in a query letter. It doesn’t mean that you can call me dude, man, or Hey Betsy! It’s Dear Betsy. End of conversation. It doesn’t matter what you read here, writing a query letter is a formal gesture meant to introduce an agent or editor to your work. Short and sweet. Lead with your best foot: credentials, idea, research, story, sources, etc.  Have  a great title. Be polite. And winning.

If you dare, post your query letter and we’ll see what everyone thinks, including me.




Gold Teeth Grey Goose Tripping in the Bathroom


rearloadergarbagetruckI‘m in the middle of a revision. Ah, revision. Fucking’ revision. It’s all about the revision. Why is it so hard to put on your boots and go back into into the fray. To find the squirrel’s soft belly? To grab the monkey or climbing rope. To rethink, reimagine, regroup. How do clear the static, the white noise, the maw of the garbage truck, the thrum of rain. What is that between your toes, how did you let yourself go? Fill in a character, a trajectory, a chronology, a slow burning fuse you forgot to explode.

How do you go back in?

These Streets Will Make You Feel Brand New



I spent an hour in a B&N today. First, I check the poetry section. The sign of a really good bookstore, as far as I’m concerned, is the quality of their poetry section. I’m looking for breadth and depth. Then, I check if my clients’ books are in stock. Often I’ll photograph them and forward with a note. Sometimes, shelf-elf that I am, I move them to the front tables. And finally, I search for my three little fuckers.

What’s the first thing  you look for in a bookstore?

This Is Not Your Beautiful Wife




Today, I walked by two guys. One said to the other, “Let me get this right, you have an LA nanny and a New York nanny. Who’s bougie now?”

The other guy said, “No, man, it’s not like that.”

What’s the best thing you’ve overheard lately? Do you use it in your dialogue?

Now I’m Wondering If Your Love’s Still Strong


Found an abandoned diary, from a few years ago, abandoned after just a few pages. It started as many do, with a solemn promise to write every day. I don’t know why some diaries take and others don’t. Those few pages talked about wanting to write the Bridge Ladies book. Just my first thoughts about what it could be. That was mind blowing. The other pages were about an amazing conversation with my daughter, which I had totally forgotten. And which makes me sort of sad for failing to record so many more. I started a new diary a week ago, which is a dedicated project diary. I wonder how quickly I’ll forget all about it.

Do you love and leave your diaries, or are you loyal?



I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Is Gone


snow-leopard-cubs“He’s got a great nose for story, but he wouldn’t know a telling detail if it bit him in the ass.”  I heard a seasoned editor say that about a journalist over thirty years ago.  I never forgot it. I was just beginning to learn what telling details were, but what I wanted to know was whether the writer knew this about himself.  Or did he have a blind spot. Maybe he was more forest than trees. How do you know what your bad at?

What’s your blind spot?