Tag Archives: writing advice

Being Accountable: Mette Ivie Harrison

How did you do this week? Did you reach those goals? Write as you should? Stretch?

What better writer to interview on our Day of Accountability than Mette Ivie Harrison (many of you know her) about working hard. Some cool stuff is going on in her writing life.
Let’s see what it is.

I’ve watched you ‘grow up’ in the publishing world, Mette, from when you were taking those first steps in writing until now. Will you briefly tell us your journey? What has been the most exciting part of your career? The most devastating part?

The most exciting part was probably when I sold the trilogy starting with Two Princesses to Harper for a lot of money. I felt on top of the world, like I was really starting the best-selling author career I’d always wanted.
And then, two years later, the whole deal was canceled. That was devastating. I loved that series and I thought Harper loved me. I’m still recovering from that blow.

We all kind of have ideas about what publishing will bring. I always thought if I published a book I’d be famous and get rich. What did you think this world would be like and how is it different?

I did imagine that I would be rich and famous, if only I worked hard enough. But after fifteen years of working harder than any author I know, I’m still kind of a lower end midlist author. And the funny thing is, I’ve come to terms with that. I wouldn’t mind money, I don’t think, but I’ve seen a lot of effects of fame that I don’t envy in other authors. And I don’t really care to write books to other people’s specifications, either editors, publishing houses, or even readers. I want to write books that I care about and I have the luxury these days of doing that, since my husband is now earning an income that easily takes care of our family.

Will you tell us about this adult series you have that’s coming out?

Earlier this year,  I sold to Soho Press The Bishop’s Wife and a second book in the same series, about a Mormon Bishop’s wife who solves crime. It’s not what she sets out to do, but she is drawn into it because of her place in the community. And she isn’t a strictly orthodox Mormon, either. Make whatever conclusions based on that you’d like. She’s spent time as an atheist and she sees Mormons almost as an outsider would. She also argues with her husband plenty about the place of women in the church, and that is part of this mystery that is partly based on the Josh Howell case that was so prominent in the headlines in Utah a few years ago.

When we were chatting back and forth, you mentioned that you’re ‘doing a lot of different stuff.’ Can you tell us a little about some of that?

Oh, wow. Tons of things. I have a series of books I am looking for a publisher for I think of as re-romances or as marriage romances, about married couples who have fallen out of love and find their way back to each other. I also have a bunch of non-fiction books with Familius, from living on food storage to doing neighborhood plays and how to manage a homemade Christmas. And I still have plenty of YA and MG fantasies I am working on, including one about a girl who discovers she is the only chance for magic since the last fairy godmother in the world has chosen her as an apprentice, and one about a girl who has grown up with the ability to time travel then gets involved with a Committee of adults who want to use her power for their own purposes, and a dark YA about a girl who accidentally kills people by taking life magic from them, and a couple of retellings, one of The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde and another of Cinderella which you saw long ago.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

Oh, gosh. Mostly I would change me. I really struggle with the social aspects of this job. I don’t manage publicity well and I struggle with the taxing time away from family that appearances take. I really love teaching, though. I think I’d like to do more of that.

 One of my favorite books of yours is THE MONSTER IN ME. I love that novel. Do you have more contemporary stuff coming out for mid grade readers or teens?

I have a book called EVOL that my agent hasn’t seen yet, though it’s almost ready to show him. It’s about four teens, two couples, who are just the best of friends and also deeply in love in high school in Cambridge, MA. But when one of the couples falls in love with the opposite member of the other, there are a lot of problems in store.

How do you work your life out so the important parts are successful? I mean, I know you are publishing, raising good children, staying married, and racing. How do you it all?

No one can do it all. I just give up a lot of stuff that other people don’t do, like cleaning my house and watching television except when I’m exercising. I also don’t spend much time on the phone or enjoying chit-chat. I don’t volunteer at my kids’ schools, either. I’m a little embarrassed about that, but I don’t have time right now. Other than that, I tend to keep a really strict schedule and I don’t cheat on it. When I sit down to write, I write. No excuses.

What is your best writing advice?

Don’t let yourself blame other people for not getting it done or not prioritizing it. When other people don’t care about your writing, it’s because you aren’t prioritizing it enough yourself.

What is your best mom advice?
Well, besides making sure your kids have food, shelter, and don’t get hit, I think you just fill them up with love. That gives them all the energy they need to follow their dreams. And you just listen and let them lead you on the adventure of a lifetime. I think teens are wonderful! I love mine to death.

What is your best wife advice?

Really try to see things from the perspective of your spouse. Other people are different from you are. This does not mean they are wrong.

What is your best racing advice?

Train hard, race easy. By this I mean, let your anxieties go as much as possible and try to have fun at a race. If you’re not having fun, you may be pacing yourself wrong. All the work should happen before you hit the finish line. And trust yourself that if you’ve done it, you will do well.


I need a nap after that interview!



Filed under CLW, writing process

What it Takes

I just read this article. *

My favorite quotes are these:

“Without a narrative structure in place, even the most elegant and powerful prose plops to the ground in a heap of moist, quivering helplessness.

Order and structure is always – whether planned or retrofitted – a function of design. And design, by definition, is a practice based on certain physics, principles and those proven laws and models.

Learn them, then build your writing upon their proven strengths, and your story will be set free to elevate itself to art.”

This has taken me awhile to latch onto but it’s true. There must be a plan–maybe loose, maybe tight, but it has to be there. I am a messy, unorganized person and writer and sometimes I like to say, you know, that i just follow my character around and see what happens. That sort of does happen but in truth, I have a plan. Whether it’s in the back of my head or written out on a piece of paper, there has to be a goal. With my latest novel, which happens to be very plot driven, that this even more crucial (and painful).

“Writing is very much like singing, playing an instrument or excelling at athletics. The more you do it, the more evolved and polished your sensibilities become, until finally you can instinctively add subtlety and nuance to your performance.”

Writing takes time. It takes practice. And the more you do it, the more you can feel the rhythm of it. The more you sense when it’s working and when it’s not. When the pacing is slow or way too fast. It’s one thing to trudge through twinkle twinkle little star as a beginner and another to play a concerto onstage as a guest performer. The beauty and excitement of writing can come, but it’s not without a lot of hard hard hard work.

“Persistence is every bit as important to a writing career as talent and craft. This isn’t a business for the thin-skinned, and it isn’t a marketplace for the uninitiated.”

Never ever give up. Take a break. Get some rest. Rewrite. Start over. But don’t give up. It’s a journey and it can be brutal, but it’s worth it.

“Your story needs more than a genius writer, a crack idea, a ruthless editor, a maniacal advocate and a few lucky breaks. It needs someone to love it.

Someone to will it into a state of excellence, who understands and accepts that good isn’t good enough in today’s market. Good is just the ticket to someone’s submissions inbox. The ultimate winners bring more.

What they bring is the love of their story, forged and coached and loved into existence at a motherly level of commitment.”

You have to love your writing, love your book, your novel, love it enough to work you tail off for it. To push yourself, to make it happen, to be resilient and be willing to write and rewrite and send it out and revise and send it out again and through all of this, to love it.

So what do you think?  Do you love your book? Do you want this? How much do you want it?

*there’s a little language. FYI. Sorry.


Filed under Ann Dee

My Quilog on Writing Tips

I would like to produce a ‘vlog’ (that’s a ‘video-blog’ for those of you born in the last century), something as cool and smart as John Green’s.  Unfortunately, I lack the technical skill of John Green.  Well, that and the coolness and smartness.  Anyway, in lieu of a cool, smart vlog, here’s a ‘quilog,’ a quilt work of videos posted in a blog.  Each of these videos has a lot of truth about writing, and each one seemed especially fitting during National Novel Writing Month or whatever it’s called.

The titles and links to each video appear above the screen shots of the video itself.  Clicking on the link will take you to Youtube, and from there you can watch these videos and remark to yourself how cool and smart Chris Crowe would be if only he were John Green.

“So You Want to Write a Novel” http://youtu.be/c9fc-crEFDw

“Bob Shea, Literary Death March” http://youtu.be/vZ27P9GvjaE

“How Not To Write A Novel: The Bookfomercial”: http://youtu.be/ocvlo3XG8aY

Neil Gaiman’s writing advice: http://youtu.be/bpNb5NwxX_g

“So You Want to Write A Romance Novel: Chapters 1 – 3”  http://youtu.be/hoiOnZ5otSo

Next week, if you’re lucky, I may show you my first book trailer.  Beware!


Filed under Chris