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It’s Time to Call Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction) a Genre

DP5G8TMV4AEL0CYDeep down, I wanted to label my novel Climate Fiction, but I wasn’t sure my book fit the criteria. Although I’d read a lot of climate-themed literature, I didn’t quite understand the scope of the genre. Is it even a real genre? Is a microgenre? I had some homework to do.

The term Cli-Fi was coined in 2007 by journalist Dan Bloom. Since then, it has been simmering quietly, but never making enough noise to become its own stand-alone genre in bookstores or on Amazon (although it has garnered buzz in publications such as Scientific American, Chicago Review of Books, The New York Times, and The Guardian.) Like all good books, Climate Fiction novels must tell a compelling story, but beyond the story, they must stir an awareness, an awakening in the reader. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE


Chronicling a Non-Chronological Story: Writing a Dual Timeline Novel

dual-timeline-graphWhen I conjure up an image of the word “time,” I visualize a long snake that winds and crosses over itself in random places. It’s a loopy mess. Completely illogical. I think that’s why I had so much trouble with time in my first novel. Time did not seem linear, so how could I tell a linear story?



Is Your Book Movie Material?


Do you ever get a feeling when you read a novel or memoir that this story is destined for the big screen? Maybe it’s a sweeping landscape like in Unforgiven, or an untold slice of history as in Unbroken. Or something…undefinable. You just feel it.

Like many novelists, I secretly dream about my words becoming a movie. (Don’t pretend you don’t do it too.) There’s no check list, no rule, for what kind of books successfully translate to film, but I’ve often wondered if there was some elusive quality that catapults a story from the page to the screen.

I set out on a quest to answer a single question: What makes a book a great candidate for film adaptation?



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Homegrown Books: Reading from my Local Literature Shed

book treeMy high school best friend, Jen, and I were discussing books recently. She started telling me, with great enthusiasm, about a novel she had just read that she thought I would like. But she stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh, never mind. You won’t read it anyway.”

I was taken aback because she has a pretty good sense of what kinds of books I like. We discuss books almost every time we talk on the phone. (She lives in Seattle. I live in Boston.) We share book recommendations all the time, and she obviously loved this book. Why didn’t she think I would read it?



It’s Not the End of the World: Rethinking How We Tell Stories About Climate Change

Intersectional Climate JusticeApocalyptic stories of rising sea levels and choking dust storms come to mind when most people think about climate fiction, the emerging genre often referred to as cli-fi. Dystopian anarchy where nations battle over water resources appear in books and films that imagine our environment in the not-so-distant future.

But maybe it’s time to expand what we consider climate fiction and how we choose tell these stories.



What NOT to Say When You Get “The Call”

facepalmAs writers, we expect rejection. We are told we should embrace it, that we aren’t really writers until someone slams a door in our face. Rejection seasons us, toughens our skin. I think I may have internalized this advice a little too much.

Ever since I submitted my first poem to a magazine when I was eleven, I have conditioned myself to assume everything will end in rejection. If I’m prepared, it won’t hurt as much, right?

Writers have plenty of strategies for deflecting the sting of rejection. That query rejection? I wrote that agent off weeks ago. No big deal. I didn’t get a fellowship? I forgot I even applied for it. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Writing Awe

shooting-starIn April I hiked through Zion National Park. I stood gape-mouthed, staring at the burnt orange, gold, and greens in the walls of a canyon so deep it made me dizzy. Layers of sedimentary rock rose up in swirling stripes of compressed time around me. It felt as if I could actually see time trapped in the striations.

I experienced awe. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

The Novel Pitcher’s Playbook

pitcherBaseball pitchers rarely rely on a single pitch. They mix things up with fast balls, changeups, curve balls, knuckle balls, sliders, sinkers, and cutters. They consider who they are pitching to, how many strikes they have, how many outs, how many base runners, and the score.

Pitching a novel isn’t so different. You need to master the logline, elevator pitch, Twitter pitch, short summary, query letter, and synopsis. You must know which pitch to throw, when to throw it, and how fast. And, most importantly, you must be ready switch it up without getting flustered. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

In Pursuit of the Perfect Logline

LOGLINE: A novelist must distill her story into a one-sentence logline, or she will fail to sell her book and will end up alone in a padded room.  logline

Anyone pitching a book can relate to the angst of writing a logline, the single short sentence that captures the essence of your story. In one breath, you must command the attention of an agent, editor, or producer. You have five seconds (maybe ten) and you likely won’t get a second chance. But, no pressure. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Bonding with my Protagonist over a Dirty Secret

MuddyHands I love the time of year when my fingernails are always dirty. Really dirty. Deep under my nails, crusted in my cuticles, embedded in every crease on my knuckles. I love dirt. To be more precise, I love soil.

In the summer I run an organic farm where I grow a variety of vegetables and fruit. It’s a one-woman operation. I have help preparing the soil in the spring, and I usually can bribe some friends to help me plant, but after that, it’s all me.

It’s dirty work and I love it. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

The Big Pitch: Gratitude Over Fear

brainIt’s writers conference season and literary hopefuls all over the country are polishing their pitches, fine tuning their queries. Is the hook sharp enough? Are the stakes high enough? What if I freeze up when I finally meet my dream agent?

Fear hangs like a cloud over writers’ conferences. You can smell it. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Choose Your Super Power

superheroIf you could have any super power, what would you choose? Would you fly? Read minds? As a child, I would have opted for invisibility. But on inauguration day 2017 I changed my mind.

I now choose the power of story.


What are Your Intentions?

roadtohell-wJust as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, the path to my recycle bin is littered with fuzzy intentions. One of these scenarios tells a complete story. The other is just a pile of garbage. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE


Killing my Patronus

black-bear3If I had a patronus it would definitely be a bear.

I know this because a bear I conjured up in mind—and wrote into my novel—crawled off the page and intervened in my real life. But yesterday, that bear died. More accurately, I killed her.

Before you judge me too harshly, I need to tell you the whole story. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Through the Eyes of an Antagonist

My farm is a novel that writes itself over and over, year after year, always with a similar story arc: I plant, I tend, things go wrong, bugs invade. I fend off crows and raccoons. I pray for rain. I pray for the rain to stop. I harvest. Some years I am victorious, others years I stand defeated, but I always learn something. Each passing season leaves me changed.beetle

I often wonder, however, if I am the protagonist or the antagonist in this story. One of my favorite quotes about writing is John Rogers’ little gem, “You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.”

As I began editing my novel, this idea really bothered me. My antagonist thinks he is the good guy? But if everyone thinks they are the protagonist, who, really, is the champion? We can’t all be the hero. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE


Posts from GrubStreet’s Daily Grub


Creative Crying: The Upside of Getting Emotional While Writing

I sat alone in my local coffee shop, like I do so often. Large latte, 2% milk. A table near an outlet for my laptop. Twenty minutes in, tears streamed down my cheeks. If someone looked my way, I faked a sneeze, pretending I had a cold.creative crying

I had just killed someone I loved, and I couldn’t contain my guilt—or my grief.

Just to be clear, the deceased was a character in my novel. And I didn’t kill her because I wanted to. I had to. Her laugh, her ferocious loyalty, and the way she chewed on her hair as a girl were precious to me. Saying goodbye felt cruel, but necessary. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

A Visit from the Gift Fairy: Birthing that Tricky First Draft

After 12 hours of relatively uneventful, drug-free labor, I gave birth to my fourth child, my first son, 10 years ago. The nurse placed him in my arms then flopped dramatically into the chair by my bed, exhausted. giftfairy
“Wow,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone take pain like that, so calmly, without any drugs. That must be your gift,” she continued, but I didn’t hear anything else she said.
My gift? Are you kidding me? If I only got one gift, I sure as hell didn’t want it to be childbirth. I wanted to be a gifted writer. I would also accept singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument. But childbirth? No way. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE


Other writing (under construction):

The Charles River Review

CFO Magazine

Inc. Magazine

The Feminine Feast


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