“Never Have I Ever” for Writers

imagesRules of the game: I make a statement about writers or writing. Anyone who has done the thing that I’ve said, must take a drink (or whatever your vice might be).

Warning – of course you must be legally eligible to take said drink and not planning to be responsible for small children or operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery any time soon. Writing is serious business, folks! 😜
So, here we go…
  1. Never have I ever finished writing my novel, novella, short story or poem
  2. Never have I ever gone back to revise one more time, after I said I was done
  3. Never have I ever had writers block
  4. Never have I ever written a stereotypical character
  5. Never have I ever info dumped
  6. Never have I ever used the words “just” or “almost” too many times
  7. Never have I ever been jealous of another writer’s success
  8. Never have I ever made an egregious grammar error
  9. Never have I ever used a word incorrectly
  10. Never have I ever looked down my nose at <fill in some genre of writing>
  11. Never have I ever wanted to quit writing altogether.
  12. Never have I ever told something when I could have shown it
  13. Never have I ever had a kind of dumb idea for a story and written it anyway
  14. Never have I ever written awful dialogue
  15. Never have I ever switched points of view without realizing it

Bonus, double shot question: Never have I ever thought I might have written the next blockbuster bestseller!

This is so disgusting to me I almost couldn't put it in the post.

This is so disgusting to me I almost couldn’t put it in the post.

Ok! Are you still standing? Did you get to the end without drinking (or whatever)? If you’re still standing and can see straight, go back and ask the same questions in Truth or Dare. Or while playing beer pong or quarters. Or from your Ouija board or tarot cards. Or just for the heck of it. If you’re not swinging full out, risking it all, making mistakes, sometimes falling into a pit of despair, chances are you’re not a writer and you meant to read a blog about 12 ways to clean your bathtub drain or something. That’s cool. Never have I ever successfully gotten all the hair out of my bathtub drain. I feel you.

Wait, you weren’t dumb about this, right? Because, you know, this blog post was metaphorically speaking. You knew that, right?  Um… Hey! Would someone out there get this reader some coffee, please?!


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Apples and Honey and Book Deals

imagesToday is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, a celebration of the beginning of the new year according to the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. It’s a time of reflection and reconciliation for Jewish people. For me, it’s a time of gathering with my family, checking in with my own spiritual beliefs, and cooking and eating traditional holiday foods. We Jews traditionally dip apples in honey on this holiday, wishing for a sweet year to come. As such, I’d like to acknowledge on the blog some sweetness from this past year and more sweetness that I’m looking forward to in the year to come.

imgresThe past year brought a big change for me, as I began working at Emerald City Literary Agency with Mandy Hubbard and Lindsay Mealing. I’m happy as a flying monkey in my new digs, and very grateful for the opportunity to be on the ground floor of building ECLA.

girlmansup (1)I’m so delighted for the recent publication of M-E Girard‘s young adult novel, Girl Mans Up, which is getting somevery  lovely recognition. Yes, this is an important book, but it’s also just a great read.

13879203_10210761791699981_1471649385510257844_nWhere are the Words?, Jodi McKay‘s debut picture book, will be out this November! I’ve never been so excited by punctuation in my life! Seriously. (Why don’t you believe me?

imagesWe get to hear what happens next with Rafe and Ben! The sequel to the award winning Openly Straight comes out this spring, as Bill Konigsberg‘s Honestly Ben (Scholastic, Spring 2017) hits shelves.

Are We Still Friends coverVery much looking forward to the publication of Ruth Horowitz‘s Are We Still Friends?(Scholastic, Spring 2017), illustrated by Blanca Gomez, which has been in the works for quite some time. It’s a story about apples, honey, bees, trees, and friendship! Mazel tov, Ruth!

Lisa Rosinsky‘s debut YA novel, Inevitable and Only (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2017) is also on the horizon! You can read a little about Lisa over here, in an article The Boston Globe did about her. This has been an unbelievably sweet year for her!

Last week I announced the sale of Miriam McNamara‘s debut YA novel, The Unbinding Of Mary Reade (Sky Pony Press, Fall 2017) a YA novel based on the actual historical pirate Mary Reade. I’m pretty darn psyched about it. Raising a glass of grog to Miriam! 🦄⚔☠⚔🦄

The sequel to Joe McGee‘s Peanut Butter and Brains will be coming out next fall! It’s called Aliens and Jelly (Abrams, Fall 2017) and again is being illustrated by Charles Santoso. You guys… this book is SO cute. Joe and Charles did a great job, again!

I’ve got a couple of other pretty awesome picture book deals that haven’t been announced yet, as the publishers are still solidifying the illustrators attached. I know how difficult it is for my clients to remain patient and only privately celebrate their book deals, so I will “acknowledge” them here. We’ll be able to crow about these soon, my chickadees!

And a film deal! I can’t publicly say anything about it yet. But one of my clients’ books has been optioned to be made into a movie! Which is ridiculously exciting.

There have been foreign sales and translated copies of previous books. There have been kudos left and right, in the way of awards, recognitions, and acknowledgments.

As I reflect in synagogue today, it won’t be difficult for me to tap into how grateful I am for all that I have. I will also be renewing my commitment to being a good human being, wife, mother, relative, friend, and agent, and always looking for ways to be better.

Shanah tova, to those who celebrate. Peace & love, to everyone.red-scribble-heart







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Guest Post Regarding Writing: Editor Kendra Levin & The Hero is You

headshot2013Kendra Levin is my guest today on The Blabbermouth Blog. She is a senior editor at Viking Books at Penguin Random House, a certified life coach, an author, and a teacher. Kendra helps writers and other creative artists meet their goals and connect more deeply with their work and themselves. Kendra’s new book, The Hero Is You, goes on sale November 1st. 

5 Tips for Being Your Own Life Coach for Writers

 I’ve worked in the publishing industry since 2002 and in that time, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with dozens of authors and writers from seasoned bestsellers and award-winners to first-timers. But when I added “certified life coach” to the “special skills” section of my resume ten years ago, I had no idea I’d end up using coaching so much in my work as an editor at Penguin. I’ve discovered that just about every person who picks up the pen—whether professional or aspiring—could probably benefit from a little life coaching.

Here are five ways to be your own life coach.


The most fundamental act a life coach performs is being a good listener. When I listen to a client, I’m not just listening for what the person is saying on the surface level; I’m listening for the deeper agenda, what’s under the surface of the words. Listen to yourself. What are the deeper themes you might not realize you’re trying to explore in your work? What is your piece trying to be?


As a coach, it’s my job to ask clients questions that will help them investigate themselves, not necessarily make them feel happy and comfortable in the moment. So rather than asking yourself a judging question (like “What the hell am I doing with this chapter?”) try to come from a place of natural curiosity (“Wow, I wonder what’s going to happen in this chapter! How will I resolve these plot dilemmas? I’m so curious to find out what the solution will be!”).


Hold silence for yourself as a writer: when there is a question you don’t have an immediate answer to in your writing, don’t push yourself to immediately resolve it. Instead of rushing to tie up every loose end right away, hold the silence and see what bubbles up gradually.


If you find yourself feeling stuck, be willing to consider a massive change to your work or a hyper-ambitious challenge to your process. Even if you decide against it, you may renegotiate—“I won’t try to finish the manuscript this month, but I will set a more aggressive goal about finishing it in the next three months”—and in doing so, find a way to refresh your thinking about the issue.


Remember to treat yourself the way a good life coach treats a client: with compassion, respect, and boundless faith in your potential. Judging yourself helps nobody, and nor does punishing or browbeating yourself if you don’t meet your exact goals. You are not perfect and nobody expects you to be. You are a beautiful work in progress, and you are making progress all the time.

Pre-order The Hero is You at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. You can find Kendra online at kendracoaching.com and @kendralevin.

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