NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 7

I have completed one week of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. Today I worked for about two hours, earning a badge from NaNoWriMo for updating my word count seven days in a row.

For the next few days I am going to regroup  and spend more time sending out queries to try to find either a publisher or an agent. One of the main books we used during the year long PVWW  manuscript class was Tell It Slant.  My plan for the next few days is to re-read some of the book and do some of the exercises. I am hoping that stepping back will help me regain my focus and motivation which has been lagging.

First Quarter Report, 2022

In the post I wrote saying goodbye to 2021 I wished for a more even keeled year with less difficulties. Now that three months of 2022 are gone, I’m not sure I can say that has happened. Several members of my extended family have been ill and that has consumed some of my time as well as the fact that our house renovations continued into the new year.

Most of the work for our new mud room and laundry room finished in February and we have now been spending time filling the new space and reorganizing the old spaces. Because I am a neat freak and more than a bit compulsive, this work has elated me.

When the new year started my plan was to begin revising the first draft of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, which I completed in November. I have had a couple of false starts and will honestly admit I haven’t gotten that much done yet. The university press that I had sent a couple of chapters to in the fall eventually said revise it and then send it back to us again without providing any concrete advice about how to do that. It felt like a less than completely enthusiastic response.

This was a little discouraging, but I rallied and then sent off the whole manuscript including a book proposal for a writing contest that an affiliate of Writer’s Digest is sponsoring. You can read more about the contest here.

I also sent a query letter to an agent who then asked to see my book proposal. Other than that, I haven’t really done much work on the manuscript itself. I did sign up for a revision class that Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop is offering, beginning in May, which will hopefully  jumpstart my revision process.

I have managed to continue to post every week even though sometimes it is hard to figure out what to write about. As far as tweeting goes, Wordle has transformed that process. I jumped on the Wordle bandwagon a few months ago before the New York Times bought it. Doing the game every day and then sharing it on Twitter has increased my tweeting output considerably. On the other hand, I am not sure figuring out the word every day is so great for my overall productivity and focus.

This is how the year has been going so far. I will keep you posted on any new developments in my revision and publishing endeavors.


Book Contest

As part of my never-ending quest to become a better writer, a while ago I subscribed to Writer’s Digest magazine. As a result, I get a lot of emails from them. One that I’ve been getting for a while concerned what they call a “trusted partner” Book Pipeline having a contest for unpublished manuscripts.

Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to make the deadline because they wanted a book proposal, and I hadn’t really started working on that yet. However, on Sunday I got another email about the book  contest, and I decided to go for it even though the deadline was only five days away, Thursday March 10th.

Deciding to enter the contest motivated me to try to fix my book proposal and I did it. I worked very hard the last few days and on Thursday I submitted the book proposal and my nine chapters, which are just the first draft, for the contest. I won’t hear about the results until October 10th but revising the book proposal to enter the contest means that it is now in decent enough shape that I can send to other publishers and agents along with query letters. Therefore, I don’t feel that I wasted time applying for the contest. Since finding out whether I’ve won or not won’t be for seven months, I will let you know then what happens.

Another Update

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. As I mentioned in previous posts, I am having trouble figuring out how to proceed with the revision process. Since NaNoWriMo worked so well for completing the draft, I thought I would try it for revision. I have now done almost two weeks, using the hack where one minute equals one word and have posted a total of 1,403 words. Although I have consistently spent at least an hour a day on the manuscript since January 1st, the structure of NaNoWriMo has become somewhat oppressive and I don’t think it would be productive to continue.

My new plan, which I’m willing to admit could also be a flop, is to read through the manuscript as if I were reading a published book. Hopefully this will give me a sense of how a reader might approach the book. This kind of reading should give me information about what is missing, where I need to strengthen the writing and where I need to cut.

I am also going to work on my query letter and a book proposal since if the University Press I sent chapters to says no, I will have to start sending these items out to other publishers and agents. I know I will get more rejections than acceptances, so I am steeling myself for that.

I don’t think I will be doing NaNoWriMo again, at least until next November but you never know. Hopefully I will resolve my confusion about revision and not need to post about that again. Next week’s post will be on one of my usual topics, either beer, brewing, women, or nursing. Have a good week.


This coming weekend I am going to be involved in two activities that concern writing.  Both are from the Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop (PVWW). On Saturday, I  will be attending the workshop, Marketing Your Book Online! The presenter is Fungai Tichawangana.

I wanted to attend this session because, eventually, I will be done with my book and need to market it. I did almost all the marketing for Brewing Battles. That was almost fourteen years ago so I am sure things have changed.

The other event I am attending is on Sunday. It is the orientation for the year long manuscript group. As you may recall, I thought I was going to participate in that the last year, but I decided not to. This year’s group, which I will be part of, is nonfiction, non memoir. I think there will be people in the group who are writing things that are similar to what I am writing.

I am really hoping that the monthly meeting with the whole group as well as accountability buddies that you have during the month will  provide sufficient structure, motivation, and focus so that I can complete my manuscript. It is a big commitment, but I think it will be worth it.

Craft Beer Books

I came across this post about the “Five Best Craft Beers” on a website called The Manual. It reminded me of a post I did over nine years ago, “Beer Books on Amazon“. In 2009, Charles Papazian’s classic, The Joy of Homebrewing was no. 3 on Amazon’s list of “The most popular items in Beer”. It is one of the five  books The Manual thinks you should have on your book shelf.

Michael Jackson’s opinion on the best beer in the world, Ultimate Beer was number 23.  The Manual chose another Michael Jackson book, Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion.

I decided to look at today’s listing on Amazon to see what has changed in nine years. The number one listing is the Kindle edition of Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser Busch by  William Knoedelseder. The sale of Anheuser Busch to InBev  was a pivotal event for the brewing industry and it is great that someone wrote a book about it. I would like to read it when I get a chance.

Today on Amazon’s list of books about beer, Papazian is no. 72  and  Michael Jackson’s Companion is no. 408. That book is 25 years old which probably accounts for it’s lower listing. Michael Jackson, however, remains an authoritative source on all things related to liquor and drinking.

In 2009 the paperback of Brewing Battles was no. 84 and today it is at 1264. Oh well, it has been in print for 11 years.

In my post from 2009, I said I would, at some point, look  and see if Amazon had any listing for temperance books.  It turns out they don’t have a separate category for that and in the Social Sciences list, I didn’t find any books about temperance or prohibition. The takeaway is that Amazon lists reflect sales and popular interest not scholarly concerns.

Drinking Responsibly

Someone recently wrote a letter to the editor of The Roanoke Times complaining about the ubiquity of beer related stories in the paper. Writing from a public health perspective, Mr. Klein found it bewildering that a women’s health event that a local clinic was sponsoring was being held at a brewery. He wrote, “Have we really gotten to the point as a society where alcohol is so pervasive that it has to be used to entice people to every social event even those designed to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Klein finds the integration and normalization of alcohol throughout society troubling. This was a big point of contention for the public health activists on the Massachusetts Alcohol Tax Force sub-committee that I served on. They were all people who were working to prevent underage drinking. They also felt that the presence of alcohol at so many community events sends mixed messages. This is something Klein also pointed out.

Klein reminded readers that alcohol consumption can lead to addiction; something that is overlooked in the promotion of events. He apparently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia which is a college town. I also live in a college town where students periodically drink to excess.

There were seven comments in response to Klein’s letter. One pointed out that college students are probably not drinking craft beer which has a higher price point. Most of the other comments focused on the economic benefits of beer to the local economy This is the perennial tension between the public health movement and officials seeking economic development.

Social Media

I have wanted to write a a post comparing Twitter and Facebook for a long time. I have been on Twitter for a longer period of time than I have been on Facebook. I have felt from the beginning that Twitter is a better arena for news, politics and connection with people I do not know.

Like anything, Twitter is what you make of it.  It took me quite a while to get over 100 followers – now I have 108.  Hash tags are everything; I could be better at coming up with good ones and more consistent in the use of them.

I have gotten the most responses to tweets that were essentially complaints about one or another big company.  Not only did individual people chime  in when I tweeted about Blue Host or Turbo Tax but the companies themselves responded.  There is something a little Big Brother about that but it also felt good to vent the frustration that comes with dealing with a faceless mega corporation.

Facebook, on the other hand, feels like a throw back to a village or bar where everyone knows your name.  It is very personal and enables you to stay in a minimal level of contact with friends and relatives. It is great that Facebook tells you when  it is someone’s birthday. Last week I dyed my hair purple and I got over seventy responses on Facebook to the picture I posted. I didn’t get a single response on Twitter to the same information. Once again, maybe a better hash tag would have helped.

To me, this shows that Facebook is about people you already know and Twitter is about a larger community. As a writer, I think Twitter, with the proper hash tags and tweets,  would be great to promote my next book. I don’t think Facebook would help that much except to tell people about the book party.





Book Review: Gilded: How Newport became America’s richest resort

Gilded: How Newport became America’s richest resort by Deborah Davis is a history of Newport Rhode Island with a focus on its wealthy inhabitants. In many very short chapters she tells interesting anecdotes about some of the famous and not so famous people who passed through Newport.

I read this book because I am always looking at popular non-fiction to see if there are ways to make the book I am working on more marketable. The book was easy to read but it was a little light on substance.

I didn’t really know that much about Newport before I read the book. I have been there once and saw the Touro synagogue (which she doesn’t talk about) and one of the Gilded Age mansions – the Breakers I think.

Her narrative goes from the colonial period to the present. Newport gained its identity during the Gilded Age. Davis’s depiction of twenty-first century Newport does not seem that different from the nineteenth century period. She describes opulent, extravagant parties in both eras. The book is similar to taking a tour of one of the mansions where you get to peek in on the lifestyles of the rich and famous.


Book review: Amy Bloom

A few weeks ago, I read a review of Amy Bloom’s Where the God of Love Hangs Out in the New York Times. The review said the book was a collection of related stories about academic couples. I decided to read it since I am using literature in Dames, Dishes, and Degrees.

A collection of two interrelated sets of short stories and four unrelated stories, Bloom’s work is only tangentially about academia. Despite this, I really enjoyed reading it. I have been reading so much nonfiction, watching reality television, and listening to the news that it felt like a real treat to enter the world she created.

Fiction, if well done, can be more realistic than reality. I thought the stories about William and Clare, a middle-aged couple who briefly find love, were the best. The people in Bloom’s stories are often deeply flawed but manage to survive.

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