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Mama Said There’s Be Days Like This


I was in the office today and the phone rang.

Me: Hello, DCL Agency.

Caller: I have a kids’ book.

Me: Excuse me.

Caller: I write for kids and adults.

Me: Are looking for an agent.

Caller: Are you a publisher?

Me: No, we are an agency.

Caller: What’s that.

Me: It’s someone who can help you find a publisher.

Caller: You’re not a publisher?

Me: No.

Caller: How does it work?

Me: The best thing to do is go to our website and go to the agents’ page. You will see descriptions for all the agents and you can choose the one that sounds best for you.

Caller: That’s it?

Me: Well, then you send your work in and they will let you know if they want to take you on.

Caller: But you’re not a publisher.

Me: Right, I said, we’re not.

Caller: Okay, thank you.

Me: Good luck.

CONTEST: We used to get these calls all the time. Most people reach out with a little more information these days thanks to search engines. Do you remember the first time you reached out to a magazine, agent or publisher via query letter or call? The best story will get a free book of my choosing. Submissions open until Monday.

Praying for This Moment to Last

Coming to the end of yet another revision. The more you see the more you see. A few first readers commented that one of my major characters disappeared in the middle of the book. I made a map of where and when all the characters appeared and sure enough she had fallen into the grand canyon. It took a lot of rejiggering to get it right, and then another reader pointed our that there was still a hole. I found the errant flashback and popped in its rightful chronological place. It slid in easily with a few minor adjustments. The world may rest easy.

Writing or revising? What turns you on?

I’m Never Gonna Stop the Rain by Complaining

I’m on a massive self-improvement kick, which basically means I’m flossing.

What about you?

Looks Like Love Has Finally Found Me

Watching Philadelphia Story. Tracy (Katherine Hepburn) doesn’t want to be worshipped, she wants to be loved. Deeply loved. I’d be super happy with being worshipped. Adored. Envied. What is love but having to say you are sorry all the time. I believe in friendship, colleagues, compatriots, partners, holding hands, and saving seats. I believe in playing with the dog. I love letters and movies and parades and people watching. I love being miserable and I love being happy. I love getting older except that I hate getting old. Love is too unreliable. Put me on a pedestal any day.

What about you?

Hey Now Hey Now Don’t Dream It’s Over

Last night I dreamt that I called a very big deal editor and pitched a project on climate change. She said, I think it’s been done. A LOT. I said that it was a book about inside climate change. And she said, Good luck with that. Then I had another dream where an editor (who I hate in real life) tried to snub me at a party when a big celebrity entered the room and asked me to leave with her. Dr, Freud?

Do you interpret your dreams?

Credit: Freud Museum

I’ll Send You All My Love Every Day In a Letter

I just received a couple of really nice letters about the Bridge Ladies all this time later. I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to know that someone is out there reading the book and liked it enough to reach out. When I wrote the Bridge Ladies, I was anxious that it might be too Jewish. When I asked my mother about it, she said, “Is Angela’s Ashes too Irish?” That was all I needed to hear and leaned into the insular Jewish lives of my bridge ladies. So it’s especially gratifying when someone mentions that they’re Italian or Episcopalian and related to the story. I’ve always believed that every story is universal is you find the details. I don’t believe in god, but I believe god is in the details.

Have you ever written a fan letter to an author? Spill!

You May Say I’m a Dreamer

Lost the Oscar ballot. The problem is I continue to vote with my heart instead of my head. The big message last night was (wait for it). HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAMS. I know full well that none of my screenplays are ever going to get made, I know full well that I won’t get to sit on set and watch Rachel Weisz do her seventh take of my favorite scene. Daniel Craig won’t direct. I know I’ll never get to the Oscars, never read the speech molting in my pocket book, never hob nob at the Governor’s Ball or hit the Vanity Fair after party. None of it is going to come true, but I don’t care.

What are you holding on to against all odds?

It’s a Wonder That You Still Know How to Breathe

What is perfectionism? A lie of the mind. OCD. Blinders. Obsession. Narcissism. Nit picking. Aspirational. When I was a child, if I made a mistake drawing a picture I would have to throw out the whole thing and start over. I couldn’t even handle erasure marks. I haven’t changed that much.

Are you a P?

Does It Ever Drive You Crazy Just How Fast the Night Changes

I’m in deep in the revision process and I apologize for not checking in. I’ve gone through the book again, this time printed out and marking it up with my blue pencil. Seeing mistakes, redundancies, too much exposition. Incredible how the screen lies. I thought I was very close to being done, but reading the book on paper has made me aware of continuity issues I missed, superfluous scenes, the need to turn exposition into scenes, calibrating characters and their motivations, finding active verbs, but not too active. Making a simile better, a metaphor more apt. Reeling it in and going more wild. Finding the hard nut and the tender center. And the gleeful, merciless killing of darlings.

What’s your revision process?

photo: The Cincinnati Review

I Was Feeling Kind of Seasick the Crowd Called Out for More

So DCL Agency has officially moved offices. Every book I packed and unpacked told a separate story. How I met and wooed the author, or how they pursued me, how we edited the pages that became the proposal, how we sold the project (or didn’t), all the million details up to publication and then after. Every book is it own narrative of working together, all the underground behind the scenes between the lines. The highlights and blows, the shocking world of getting published and how it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. How you have to make your fun. Memory lane littered with so many great moments of big and tiny successes. Shutes and ladders. Gratitude to all the authors who taught me so much about writing and life.

What is one thing you’ve learned?