#DearLaura,   As a white writer, how do I write characters that represent ethnicities, genders, orientations, etc. that I’m not? The real world is a melting pot, but I’m terrified of getting something wrong and being blacklisted.   From: Scaredwriter Dear Scaredwriter, this is a question that begs for a much larger conversation about authenticity, representation, and who has the right to tell which kinds of stories. I, being a white cishet lady writer, am conflicted about this subject because my characters are far more varied than my own identifiers. I have… Read More

Let’s Talk About Sex (in YA)

“I’ll never write young adult fiction because you can’t have sex in it.” I was at a cocktail party when I heard this. The speaker was an academic enrolled the MFA program at the nearby university. I was invited because I’d befriended his wife and our kids went to the same school. But when he found out that I was also a writer, of young adult fiction, he made that statement. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation, where someone, oftentimes another writer, makes blanket statements about YA without really knowing what… Read More

The Truth About Rejection: Part 3 (Now What?)

So what happens when the industry rejects you or you reject the industry? What is a writer to do when no major publishing house wants to sign them, for whatever reason. Twenty years ago, there wasn’t much you could do but lick your wounds and try again, but nowadays, we have this thing called the Internet which has given rise to the self-published author and a myriad of small presses, both in print and online. A quick True/False quiz: 1. Self-published books are vanity publications. FALSE. Many self-published authors are professionals with… Read More

The Truth About Rejection: Part 2 (It Aint Always Pretty)

I used to take it personal. I say that like my Vulcan heart is now calloused and impervious to rejection, but that is simply not true. Rejection hurts, in whatever form, whomever it comes from, and with whatever it entails. Unfortunately, part of being human is caring what other people think of you and our creative work is largely an extension of ourselves. When I get a rejection, usually in the form of an email, I get bummed for a few hours, distract myself with some activity where success is assured (cleaning… Read More

The Truth About Rejection: It Happens

“The road to publication is long and fraught with frustration.” –Virgil Suarez This was what the award-winning poet and writer said to me 15 years ago when I had just finished my first full-length manuscript and was beginning to query agents. Poor guy, I thought, life has really put him through the ringer. For me, things would be different. Getting published would be simple: send out my query letter to a handful of agents, receive an immediate and overwhelming clamor for representation. Pitch that puppy and let the bidding wars begin. Ha!… Read More