Your Story Matters

Space to Create

all about suzette Aug 03, 2021

Yoga Gives Me the Space to Create: What Works For You?

Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’m back on my yoga mat, in the yoga studio, five days a week. Boy, did I miss this during quarantine!

The sweat. The breathing. The realization that I am clenching my jaw and then trying to relax those clenched muscles. The drishti, the gaze on one thing. The community. The beauty of discipline. The beauty of just showing up and doing the thing.

And truth be told, I get some of my best creative ideas while I’m on my mat. Kind of like many of us experience in the shower. Maybe it’s just the mind’s way of telling us we need more time away from the phone and laptop. Time to allow our minds to wander, to open up to new possibilities. Time to see a story we’ve been telling ourselves in a new light, to see a new way to structure our book. 

I can’t pretend to know how the mind works but I know that getting on my mat regularly helps me create.

I know that...

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all about suzette May 26, 2021

Guess what happened this week? I got Shot #2! I’m going to continue to be careful—wear masks in public, physically distance, and wash those damn hands—but this is a hallelujah moment! Freedom on the horizon! Have you had your hallelujah moment yet or is it on the horizon? What’s the first thing you’ll do once you’ve got the “all clear”?

I’m a sucker for legal shows. Anything Law & Order. The Good Wife. Now I’m watching its spinoff, The Good Fight. These shows make me wonder whether I gave up on the law too soon, but trust me you’d never see me prancing around in the stilettos those female TV lawyers wear. Maybe I was meant to be a writer and a book coach after all. Birkenstocks suit me better. 

Somebody’s going to be a June bride—actually two somebodies are going to be June brides. LOL. And guess who’s walking down the aisle with us?

 I still marvel at how a single decision can change...

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Readers Corner: In The Dream House

readers corner May 12, 2021

In the Dream House is an extraordinary, genre-breaking memoir.

“Chapters” range from multiple pages to one with a single sentence.

Fragments, slivers, shards of memory.

Leaps back and forth in time, in point of view, in place.

But it works because the author knows what she has come to the page to say. 

She lets us know her point from the very opening pages:

“I enter into the archive that domestic abuse between partners who share a gender identity is both possible and not uncommon, and that it can look something like this.”

Skillful writers can break conventions but they still have to have a point.

The structure a writer chooses needs to be in service of that point. 

What’s the last genre-bending book you’ve read? What did you think about it?

Interspersed between chapters that are more narrative in nature—i.e, they follow the real-life story of the abusive relationship between the author and her girlfriend—are chapters that...

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Show & Tell - The Evolution of a Query Letter

show and tell May 04, 2021

A query letter is a short piece of writing with a single purpose: to pique an agent’s attention enough that they will be interested in reading more—whether that’s the opening pages of your manuscript or your book proposal.

An agent should be able to skim your query to quickly answer these key 5 questions:

  1. Is this a genre I represent?
  2. Is this book within the word limit guidelines for this genre?
  3. Is this a subject matter or a story I am interested in learning more about?
  4. Does the query make it clear what the book is about?
  5. Does the author have the expertise to write this book?

Here’s one of my early query letter attempts:

Dear Ms. …

[Personalize letter for recipient]

Imagine the book Glennon Doyle might have written had she ignored the inner voice that whispered, “There she is” when she first encountered Abby Wambach. Imagine Glennon, a married, mid-fifties empty nester, hearing that voice again. Wondering if it’s too late to listen...

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Show & Tell: Beginnings Are Hard

show and tell Apr 16, 2021

Beginnings are important. Beginnings are hard.

Where to start your book? This is one of the most important—and hardest—decisions for a writer—particularly a memoir writer—to make.

My memoir, Graveyard of Safe Choices, has started in at least four different places. Let’s look at the opening scenes for my last two drafts.

The Draft I Thought Was Close-to-Final

I decided to start this draft with a brief prologue. In a future post, I’ll dig into the pros and cons of prologues, but suffice it to say for now, some agents/editors love prologues and some hate them.

The opening scene in this draft showed me in my early forties, standing at a literal crossroads during a spiritual pilgrimage. Nothing much happens in this scene, but I really liked the image and metaphor of the crossroads because that’s exactly where I would end up in the “real story.” The prologue also allowed me to get in some backstory so that when the reader got to the...

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Readers Corner: The War of Art

readers corner Apr 09, 2021

I love talking books, and I’m always happy to share the ones that move me or teach me something. I'll be highlighting books that speak to me and pulling quotes that resonate. I hope you find value in these snippets and that they open your eyes to authors you haven’t read before.
So while I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you, I'd love to hear how these quotes resonate with you too.

My first Readers Corner book is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This book helped me understand why I was having trouble getting traction on my writing, and it offered me a simple solution. I hope you’ll find it useful too.

Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.”
~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Resistance is an invisible and insidious force that keeps us from doing the creative work we were put on this earth to do.

It presents itself in many forms: fear, distraction, self-doubt, and procrastination.

Maybe you beat yourself up for when you’re...

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So You Want To Write A Book: The #1 Enemy to Creativity

You want to write, but you aren’t writing. You say tomorrow will be different, but it’s the same story, different day. There’s a battle going on inside you, and the wrong side is winning. There’s a crucial mindset shift that every writer needs to make to end up on the right side of this battle.

Practically every writer has experienced this problem. 

As a book coach, I see this struggle every day.

As a writer, I battled this problem for years.

The desire to take my writing seriously started in my late thirties after I emerged from the fog of early motherhood. You know, when I wasn’t getting up every few hours to nurse a baby. I’d left the practice of law and yearned for a professional purpose, a creative outlet, something that was my own besides my identity and role as a mother and wife.

Now, I wasn’t one of those kids who had written her first novel when she was in second grade—I have never been drawn to write fiction. But I have...

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Better Late Than Never

all about suzette Mar 31, 2021

I’ve made a few big leaps in midlife, and one of the best is becoming a “dog person.” Meet Lucy, my first ever pet (if you don’t count goldfish, guppies, or turtles). I was severely allergic to cats and dogs as a child so we didn’t have any in our home. Truth be told, I didn’t “get” people who talked about their “fur babies.” Now I get it. Lucy’s the best, even though I’m way below Wendy, aka Mommy #1, in Lucy’s pecking order. It’s never too late to take the leap.

During the pandemic, I’ve been putting in long hours revising my memoir, and I’ve made an amazing discovery: you really only need 3 pairs of pants. Preferably with elastic waists. My new capsule wardrobe. Ha!

Taking a break from the madness and trying to watch The Handmaid’s Tale .... so intense! I want to keep watching but after one episode, my body forces me to switch to lighter fare like Schitt’s Creek....

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Let's Get Real: Bravery & Accountability

let's get real Mar 30, 2021

Bravery means doing something scary—Elizabeth Gilbert

Writing is an act of bravery. Putting your thoughts, ideas, your story, your choices—your life!—onto the page for the world to see is scary. And it’s also exhilarating. 

>> We do it because the work matters to us.
>> We are not hobbyists. We’re creators.
>> We’re scared, and we write anyway.

Ask yourself: When does fear show up in your writing life? What are your strategies for handling it when it does? 


How to write: Stop not writing. Get and keep your butt in chair—Anne Lamott

Distractions, procrastination, self-doubt, and fear: all forms of resistance that keep us from putting our butts in the chair and writing.

Resistance is universal and insidious—all writers experience it so don’t beat yourself up when you do.

TIP: Find out what works for you and stick with it. My personal plan for getting my work includes non-negotiable time blocks...

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So You Want To Write A Book: Creativity and Fear

A few weeks ago, my whole body was shaking as my right index finger was poised to press SEND. The email on my laptop screen was a request for a “blurb,” aka a testimonial, for Graveyard of Safe Choices, my memoir about weighing the costs of authenticity and becoming brave at any age. I had a list of authors—some famous, some less than famous—with whom I had some personal connection.

Their testimonials would help elevate my manuscript as I pitched it to agents and editors—the gatekeepers in the book publishing industry.

That rush coursing through my body? I recognized it. It was fear. What if no one said yes to my request? What if no one even deemed my request worthy of a response?

I thought of the hours—truly the years—I had put into this book project. My story, my life, my choices, AND my ability to effectively communicate all of that on the page—were about to be put on display for the world to judge …

FEAR. It shows up for...

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