Some wonderful books available now

My review of Charles Frazier's superb new novel Varina was published yesterday by the Washington Post. And it has been my pleasure to read and blurb three other novels so far this year. Madeline Miller's Circe is a reimagining of the story of Odysseus, told by the minor goddess Circe, who loves him in her way.  "Written with power and grace, this is an enchanting, startling, gripping story that casts a spell as strong and magical as any created by the sorceress Circe." "Reading David Sosnowski's Happy Doomsday is like watching an Olympic gymnast soar into air, do six impossible things, and stick ...
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SOLD!

Two months ago, I wrote that my agents had sent Unremembered Lives out to publishers. In that blog, I compared the publishing process to selling a house. Well, last month, the right buyer took a good look at the property and said, "I love this. Let's talk." Tara Parsons is the editor-in-chief at Touchstone Books, a Simon and Schuster group. She is especially drawn to novels and nonfiction about the lost or hidden history of women -- forgotten but important figures who shaped today's world. Unremembered Lives is the story of the women who formed the backbone of a copper miners' strike ...
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The Earps in childhood

When I base characters on real people, I pay particular attention to their childhood. I believe our first fourteen years are the basis of much of what comes afterward. We build on a solid foundation, or we spend years trying to repair the damage, or we wander in the wreckage of those years. When writing about Wyatt Earp in both Doc and Epitaph, a single source allowed me to glimpse the father who raised the famous Earp brothers: the Sarah Rousseau Diary. I think Wyatt spent most of his adulthood trying to be a better man than the one who raised ...
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For Sale: One Manuscript

"Publishing a book is one accomplishment you get to celebrate over and over." That's what my friend Karen's mom used to say. You finish the first complete draft. YAY! You finish editing it. You sent it to your agent. YAY! The agent likes it but suggests changes. You finish editing it. YAY! The agent sends it out for sale. A publisher accepts it but suggests more changes. YAY! You finish editing it again. It goes to the printer. It is released. It gets noticed and reviewed. YAY! It sells well. Your advance pays out. You get a royalty check. YAY! That whole ...
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Advice for a novice writer

From the morning email: "Hi Mary! I'm Teri I'm from California. I'm your biggest fan. I'm a novice writer. What is the most important advice you can give to someone who is beginning to write a novel? And why? I hope you are having a great day. Thank you very much!" Study grammar. Look up any unfamiliar word before using it. Be careful about spelling. Get the basics solid. Read, read, read. Read 19th century classics. Read the very best. And read trashy airport paperbacks. Learn the difference. What's literary popcorn and what's a six-course sit-down dinner with a white tablecloth? Read good ...
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Starting another novel

Unremembered Lives is about ready for my agents to send out to publishers. Usually I have a little break between novels, but this time I started the next one almost immediately. It's a story I've thought about telling since before I started writing The Sparrow back in 1992. Now's the time to tell it. This one will bring me full circle -- back to anthropology, back to religion, back to elements of history that have interested me for decades. The first two chapters just flew into existence. The structure is clear to me. The tone feels natural. This is going to be ...
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Jeremy Renner on the DOC/EPITAPH project

Jeremy Renner recently commented on playing Doc in the Palmstar Production based on my two novels, Doc and Epitaph. “I’ve been looking at doing a Doc Holliday origin story as a series for Netflix or Amazon.” Although still in early stages, his focus for it seems intense and genuine, according to this Esquire article, and he's mentioned the project in other interviews. They're seeing it as a limited series. “It will be one of those cable sort of situations, where you can binge watch 10-hours of it. That deep level of character-driven storytelling really interests me.” More when I get additional details.   ...
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Every year at this time…

My brother has asked me to repost this blog every year. Jeanne's grandbaby Brinn is now in kindergarden and has a beautiful little brother. Days of Awe September 26, 2012 According to Jewish tradition, the ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Years) and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim). Those ten days are set aside for serious introspection. They are a time to consider our lives and deeds during the past year and to think about how to do better in the year to come. If indeed we have another ...
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That will teach me not to check this website…

I've been in lock-down for the past three months: finishing the first complete draft of Unremembered Lives, doing the first five editing passes through the manuscript, sending it out for comments, re-editing, fixing errors, filling in, filling out, "linearizing" chapters that looped around in time and tense. Etc. While that was going on, I didn't check this website, and when I opened it up today, there was enough spam to denude the world of both pigs and rectangular aluminum cans. You'd be amazed by how many young ladies (who assure me they are adults) would like to engage in remarkable feats of ...
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Writer Tech: complete vs. finished

A week ago, I got to the final scene of my work-in-progress. It is complete, which is to say, it's got a coherent plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end. My elevator pitch for Unremembered Lives is "a Romeo and Juliet story set against the backdrop of a bitter 1913 copper strike in Michigan." At 91,000 words and 363 manuscript pages, it's the shortest of my novels so far, but that's not surprising. Unremembered Lives has a relatively compressed time period (seven months in 1913) and it takes place mostly in one small town (Calumet, Michigan). Now comes the editing. Usually ...
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