Feeding the Book Fetish

Sheet metal wall hangings (Bachman's)

Sheet metal wall hangings (Bachman’s)

If you are like me, you like all things bookish. I have a pretty good collection of coffee mugs, a Laini Taylor book lady, several fake book boxes, desk accessories that look like library furniture, book jewelry, and metal punctuation marks on my wall. But there’s always room for more.

MCBAI just spent a few minutes in The Shop at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and let me tell you, there was enough there to feed even the most ardent addiction. There were two little Shakespeare theater sets: one that was paper, which included 60 finger puppets (I also saw this in the Bas Bleu catalog) with the casts of several plays, and a paper Globe Theater you could set up; and the other with puppets made of cloth or felt that only included the main characters of Hamlet, and the box they came in became the stage. Less story, more sturdy. Either way, they were delightful.

There was also a book of Author Paper Dolls, which included several authors with three or four outfits each. The outfits would have you either dressing the doll as one of the author’s iconic character (think Dickens as Marley’s ghost), or include items they might have worn based on their interests (such as Dickinson wearing garb to garden in).

The killer, though, were these little houses. I mean, they were 3D puzzles that created houses that depicted fairy tale scenes. The house from Hansel and Gretel, the house from the Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You see? The set included the puzzle and a copy of the story book. This particular item deftly combines my two great addictions: tiny things and books. I love miniatures, and it has always been a dream of mine to create miniature room boxes of scenes from literature. I could do this with these (albeit with a little less detail than I had imagined), and I am seriously considering the Hansel and Gretel item. It would be perfect.

MatchboxesI saw a couple of other things elsewhere, today, that piqued my book-nerdy-ness. Apparently, matchboxes are a thing now. Or again. One of our local indie bookstores, Common Good Books, posted a photo of their new display of matchboxes, featuring – what else? – book covers. Oh, what fun. Think of the uses!

The last item I will mention is imbued with my passion for text, fonts, and letters – and turns it into high fashion, though with a grisly bent, because it’s also a tribute to one of my favorite authors. I’ve seen these with newspaper print, but never like this. PoePumpsPoe pumps. Yep, that’s right. Well, here, see for yourself. Oh. my. gosh. And you can buy them here.

Don’t mean to get off topic; I’ll have more insightful and valuable advice on publishing soon. But I thought some of you just might enjoy these little tidbits too. Think of it as your reward for getting through another week! In fact, I might be able to make it a regular thing – we can call it Freakin’ Friday. How’s that sound?

Writing Help

Last year, I started working with a writing coach. I know, how lame that I would need help, right? I’ve been writing my whole life. Or at least that’s what one person said when I told him. He didn’t believe that ‘real writers’ needed a coach. Well, I do. And I’m a real writer.

I was able to work out an arrangement that was beneficial to both of us, and I enjoy our weekly phone calls. It is a half hour each week. It’s a check-in, but it’s also a motivation. There is nothing like knowing that in a few days someone is going to be asking you how you did with your writing this week. My husband never asks me that. So this is nice.

There is also the question of ‘What would you like to focus on today?’ Sometimes the calls go off in a completely different direction than what I thought we would talk about. Sometimes I have no idea at all what I want to discus. But we always, always find something that is meaningful and helpful. This is because my coach is a professional coach, and she grabs on to little things that I gloss over. And sometimes, they are not such little things.
During my recent personal crisis, which comprised three different situations (any one of which would have been enough to deal with, thank you very much), my coach was invaluable. I was writing a lot, but it was mostly what I call grief poetry, which meant that most of it was just emotional outpouring. Not anything I’d care to share. But she helped me see the value in that. And the fact that maybe, someday, there might be a kernel of something, a little nugget of gold, in one of those pieces.

I spaced out at least two of our coaching sessions during the holidays due to rescheduling, but also because I was so out of my normal space that I simply forgot about them. But she didn’t guilt me about it. She didn’t accuse me of not being committed to my writing and not taking it seriously. She understood. And that was invaluable as well.

I have participated in coaching before, and this was not the case then. A coach is like any other relationship – you have to make sure it’s the right one for you. You have to have a connection, and above all, respect for each other’s work. I tell people this when they are looking for any professional to work with – a designer, a publicist or an editor. Some of these roles make it easier to overlook a bad fit. But they all benefit from a good fit.

And if you are a writer, and you think you might benefit from a prod now and then, consider getting yourself a writing coach. I know, lots of folks belong to writing groups. But for many reasons, this doesn’t work for everyone. I have never belonged to a writing group, and I think I finally figured out why.

Aside: I’m reading Quiet by Susan Cain right now, and in it, she writes about group dynamics for introverts. She explicitly discusses in chapter three why creatives may not work well in groups. Oh, this was music to my ears!

Maybe you just don’t know anyone with whom you could form a group. Maybe you live way out in the middle of nowhere, or have small children that make it difficult to commit to meetings. Don’t let this isolate you or make you feel as if you are not committed to your writing. If you can get a writing coach, that might work better for you than a writing group. Or it might be a good addition to belonging to a writing group. You will get a different kind of help from a writing coach. The point is that writing coaches are not just for elite writers. You are eligible.

But if you can’t do either, don’t dwell on it. Put it on your “someday” list and get your butt in the chair.

And just keep writing.

Further Resource: My writing coach is Rosanne Bane, author of Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance. You can find her at If you’d like to see further articles on this topic, let me know in the comments below. Questions? Concerns?


Bookseller Friends

booksellerLast week, one of my very favorite booksellers left one of my very favorite bookstores to take a job in corporate publishing in New York City. Now, I couldn’t blame her, of course. It was a great opportunity and she will be great at it.

But it’s sad to think that next time I go there, there is little or no chance that she will be there. I only go there once or twice a year (it’s in Milwaukee, a five-hour drive), but still, it’s nice to have a friendly face waiting on the other end, someone with whom you have more in common than the books (though often, the books are enough). Still, there are others there that I know I can talk to, and they miss her as well. So we’ll have that in common.

I am lucky, though. I have many bookstores in my town, and they are filled (to the brim) with wonderful, interesting, friendly, wise booksellers. There are several that I visit many times each year, and a few that I only get to once a year or so. And believe it or not, there are a few that I have never visited. Maybe that’s a mission for the new year.

Because each time I step into a bookstore, I feel like I’m home. I walk right up to the least busy clerk and start a conversation. It doesn’t take long to find someone with whom I can feel an affinity. And often, that is borne out when I look over the Staff Picks, and find that person loves the same books that I do. Sometimes, I know, they are busy and I have to rein in my enthusiasm and let them work. But then I get to wander the shelves. Which is just about as good.

There is nothing like a lovely little bookstore. If you have one near you, stop in. Especially this time of year, you are likely to be able to strike up a wonderful conversation with someone who is well-read, curious, and enthusiastic about books. Don’t feel obligated to buy something (but if you can, please do). Stop in often and look around. Chat with the employees. Sign up for their newsletter.

I guarantee that you, as a writer, will form a mutually beneficial relationship with your new bookseller friend, should you make the effort. It’s not too cold. Get on out there and try.

Free Computer Key In Green Showing Freebie and Promo

FREE Registration on now!

Hey, you bone-crushers out there! I am happy to share that we now have double-digit members on Publishing Bones!

Tell all your peeps! I know you have peeps. Tell your friends, those in your writer’s group, the struggling writer in your book club. Tell them about Publishing Bones. Registration will be free until the end of this month. This site will only be as good as its community. And that means you!

Never fear: we will be adding more functionality as quick as we can. I’ve got plans: a forum for you to talk to each other, regular segments in which you can ask questions, videos, great interviews with industry insiders (so far, I have interviewed Coffee House Press master Chris Fischbach and Rain Taxi leader Eric Lorberer – I just have to transcribe the beasts), plus a program of monthly bonuses that will reward you for being a member.

All this and more. Yes, it’s all for you! Plus great new content, being developed as we speak. What are the Bones? That’s the blog here. Then we’ll flesh it out as we go… hehe, sorry, I couldn’t resist.

And don’t forget, you can follow @PubBones on Twitter, where I will be sharing some of the latest industry information for writers, including this great list of Writer’s Conferences. And my own writing elsewhere, including my most recent post on the Loft’s blog Writer’s Block. Start your year off right by checking out these two links.

The site is coming along, believe it or not. And you are invited along for the ride! If you’d like to register – FREE – just click here to get to the Free Registration form. Fill it out, hit Submit, and you’re done! I hope to get to know you all as we go. Can’t wait to meet you.


I guess this is it. The launch of Publishing Bones! Not as big a deal as I had imagined – the site is not quite where I wanted it to be, and I didn’t get a lot of the pre-hype stuff done (read previous posts if you want to know why). But I want to welcome anyone that is clicking through from Writer Unboxed! That ad starting to run today was my deadline. And I want to assure everyone that what they see here is just the beginning – I have the tools and technology and information to make a great community here, and I hope you will decide to be a part of it!

In light of the issues I faced that kept me from working on the site and getting it to where I wanted it to be for launch, I am going to extend the Free Registration for another two weeks. But that’s it. Get yourself registered and you will be grandfathered in to be a free member forever! The regular membership fee will be $10 a month. So, while that’s not much, why not join now? What have you got to lose?

Come on a journey to make your book the best it can be. I hope you join me and many other writers for industry news, original interviews, articles, tips and more. If you haven’t already, feel free to follow Publishing Bones on Twitter too, at @PubBones. You can find out more about what is going on with my other business, BookMania, at, but that is not what this website is about. I’m not doing this to sell you other services. This is the service. And you are what will make this a valuable and enriching experience for everyone!

Thanks for checking it out, and I hope you will join us.