Author Archives: Margaret Jean Langstaff

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor

“Long Ago and Far Away in a Kingdom by the Sea” – Poe, perhaps America’s most Musical and Cadenced Poet

Annabel Lee By Edgar Allan Poe It was many and many a year ago,    In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know    By the name of Annabel Lee; And this maiden she lived … Continue reading

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“A Poem Should Not Mean But Be” – William Carlos Williams

Few novice poets today are familiar with this major talent, the wholly original and inimitable physician William Carlos Williams. A medical doctor all of his days and exquisitely attuned to both the strengths and limitations of poetry in capturing and … Continue reading

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“The Frog in my Boot by the Door” a prose poem

Note: I have been so busy editing books for other writers that I have had almost no time to do my regular blogging.  I hope you’ll forgive me dear friends, but I have come up with sort of a makeshift … Continue reading

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Time to Update Your Book Marketing Methods!

I ran across the following article online the other day and thought it was quite timely and helpful for most authors.  Here is a brief excerpt, and you can (and should!) read the rest by clicking on the link at … Continue reading

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“It all comes out of that first line.”– E.L. Doctorow, 1931-2015

Writing advice and memories from prolific, revered literary American Novelist, E.L. Doctorow (Ragtime, The March, Billy Bathgate and more!) From The New York Times (with video interview!) E. L. Doctorow: 1931-2015   (link) By Emily B. Hager | Jul. 22, … Continue reading

Posted in American Literature, American novels, Book Reviews, fiction, Literary Lions, Literature, New Yorl Times Book Review, NYTBR, publishing | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Joyce Carol Oates on Writing – Advice from a Master

[Terrific interview on BuzzFeed with literary icon Joyce Carol Oates about “writing.”] “It’s been 52 years since Joyce Carol Oates published her first book, a short story collection titled By the North Gate. Since then, Oates, now 77, has written … Continue reading

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Grim Realities Face Women in India Today: New Book Sensation

Originally posted on cozybookbasics:
If you are not yet a fan of the young, award-winning writer, Fiza Pathan, her new novella Amina is a good place to start. I found it a compelling read. Here is the description from the…

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A List of Creative Writing Competitions in 2015

Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:
Start reading Infinite Waters for free with Kindle Unlimited You all know how much I love short stories, right? Well, enough to have published two collections so far, Infinite Waters being the latest one.…

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What’s the Big Idea?

I was scratching my head yesterday at the astronomical number of new books on writing on the market today–most by people I’ve never heard of before with slim writing resumes and credentials.  If you take the time to examine enough … Continue reading

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“Omit needless words!”–William Strunk Jr.

Patient blogging, book-loving followers, I have just finished editing a 385 page manuscript, and I am here to report that such a long editorial stint is corrosive to one’s own writing. Many of you may be aware that I wear … Continue reading

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Something to Argue About! The Ten Greatest Novels of All Time?

I ran across this short video recently and thought bloggers here might find it worth pondering. It is a kind of hasty overview of these great works, a little daffy at points, but in aggregate, it is a selection worth … Continue reading

Posted in Literary Classics, Literary Lions, Literature | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

And the winner is . . . . !

I’m sure everyone has been on the edge of their seats dying to know who the lucky duck would be to win the free copy of Katherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools ebook that Open Road Media gave me to … Continue reading

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Win a Free ebook of Katherine Anne Porter’s SHIP OF FOOLS!

I have been approached by Renata Sweeney of Open Road Integrated Media with a promo offer on their new ebook of Katherine Anne Porter’s classic SHIP OF FOOLS, a great novel that was made into a great film. I have … Continue reading

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Trials and Tribulations of the Writing Life

I have been watching with some resentment, not to say a gimlet eye, a book (one of three in a series) that I wrote in 2002 as “work for hire” (for a flat fee, no royalties) perform rather well on … Continue reading

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Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Where have I been? What have I been doing? Working! Some of you may know that I run a professional editorial and writing business Margaret Langstaff Editorial. Well, lately I’ve been swamped with book and poetry manuscripts to copy edit, … Continue reading

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“Hope Is the Thing with Feathers”

The following famous Emily Dickinson poem is apropos for any author concluding the arduous process of writing a book (as in your truly). A certain amount of apprehension always attends these times, apprehension in particular that the book will find … Continue reading

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The Pain and Perils of Revision

I just “finished” a book I’d been working on for nearly a year. Every writer will understand why I put the word finished in quotes, because, truly, it is never really finished until it is published, is it? The manuscript … Continue reading

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Letter G The April A to Z Challenge #AtoZChallenge

Originally posted on Rosie Amber:
Day 7 of the April A to Z challenge and you are joining me for my book character them, plus some audience participation below. Letter G is for Garnet Sullivan in The Devil, The Diva…

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In like a Lion, Out like a Lamb

Readers of this blog will know I’m a life long Emily Dickinson fanatic and have studied and written about her for years. In this messy business we call early spring, it seems I never fail to recollect her many poems … Continue reading

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Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writing

As you know I in the habit of publishing “writing rules” from various well-known writers as I stumble over them on the web. They won’t write your books for you, but they are food for thought. For what it’s worth … Continue reading

Posted in American Literature, writing | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Everyone Needs a Good Editor

Most of you here know me as an author and book raconteur, but the bulk of my time is spent editing other people’s books. I’ve been doing this professionally for over twenty years and find it very gratifying to help … Continue reading

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Writing Rules: Avoid the Hoopdedoodle

Elmore Leonard, the modern master of the “low life” detective story and mystery, was one of my favorite contemporary writers and when he died a few years ago I felt a personal loss of a very unique, important voice on … Continue reading

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Best American Novels? from The American Scholar

[Something to argue about.] One Hundred Best American Novels, 1770 to 1985 (a Draft) A reading enthusiast’s list By David Handlin Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on reddit Share on email About a year ago I put an … Continue reading

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Music to My Ears

After three years my MARLIN, DARLIN keeps on garnering great reviews. The latest — 5.0 out of 5 stars Thrills, Chills, rofl, Realism, and Just Plain Good Writin’!, February 8, 2015 By Deborah A. Bowman, author – See all my … Continue reading

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There’s Something About a Man in Uniform

This is off topic for this literary blog (unless I try to tie it to the many fine novels written about the travails of the military in wartime, which I won’t.).  But I observed an incident at the checkout at … Continue reading

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Writers, Is it a calling or a job? NYTBR

I don’t know how something can be both interesting and pedestrian at the same time. In this case it may be that it’s interesting that the New York Times Book Review has chosen to spotlight so pedestrian an essay about … Continue reading

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Oh, The Joys and Hardships of Revision!

As every serious writer knows, a good book has to be assiduously and meticulously revised to reach a satisfactory (if not “perfect”) state before publication.  After the initial flush of inspiration, one must go back over the text word by … Continue reading

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This Emily Dickinson poem is for our friends in the Northeast tonight– we hope they are warm!

It sifts from leaden sieves — It powders all the Wood. It fills with Alabaster Wool The Wrinkles of the Road — It makes an Even Face Of Mountain, and of Plain — Unbroken Forehead from the East Unto the … Continue reading

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This year’s National Poetry Month poster

National Poetry Month (is this an organization, an alliance or what?)  in this great land of ours is April and “it” has just released its annual poster which is rather cute.

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Free Books! Not Many, But Good Ones

[Also posted as separate page on the blog] Review Copies Each month I’ve informally off the record given away review copies of my books, usually three to five a month, to my followers with the understanding these eager readers will … Continue reading

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The Rigours of Publishing

I don’t know where this came from and I’d like to credit the source but can’t. Found it on Amazon.UK and had to pass it along.  The Big Ouch all writers go through countless times.  Get used to it. One … Continue reading

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Harsh Truths About Writing from Some Writing Legends

Writers, if you are struggling, you are not alone. It’s the typical state of mind for a serious writer! I stumbled on this and thought it worth sharing here. No endorsements intended or implied. Just food for thought and a … Continue reading

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Apply for English Department Scholarships! (deadline February 15th, 2015)

Originally posted on The Underground:
The English department invites applications for two scholarships available to English majors: the Ellin M. Kelly, Ph. D. Endowed British Literature Award ($1200) and the Honors English scholarship ($2300). Each scholarship has different requirements. See…

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Marlin, Darlin’ by Margaret Jean Langstaff

Originally posted on Rosie Amber:
Marlin, Darlin’: Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida #1 by Margaret Jean Langstaff My rating: 5 of 5 stars Marlin, Darlin’ is a very well written and fun mystery set in Florida. Garnett Sullivan earns her…

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Cold? “The Snowman” by Wallace Stevens – that’s cold

The Snow Man WALLACE STEVENS One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The … Continue reading

Posted in American Literature, Literature, poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Tradition and the Individual Talent – T.S.Eliot

[This is in  a sense a public service announcement of sorts, a refresher, if you will, for poets and would be poets of all stripes among us.  Eliot’s erudition is bullet proof.  If you don’t study the masters, you will … Continue reading

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The Soul Selects Her Own Society – Emily Dickinson

(c) 2014 Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved I recently had the rare and arduous experience of re-reading for the umpteenth time all of Emily Dickinson‘s 1,775 surviving “poems”–but this time straight through over a period of two weeks. I’m working … Continue reading

Posted in Emily Dickinson Poetry, Literature, poetry | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Now That’s a BOOK!

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“Authors are Upset at Amazon. Again.” — New York Times

[In a surprisingly candid and forceful piece the NYT 12/27/14 covers the widespread  Kindle author rage at Amazon’s latest bells and whistles–“enhancements” which cost ’em big bucks. Some best-selling authors have seen income drop by as much as 75%—] Brief … Continue reading

Posted in book marketing, New and Recent Books, publishing, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

MERRY CHRISTMAS, BOOK PEOPLE!

Wishing you abundant Christmas blessings–and lots of great books!

Posted in Literature | 4 Comments

Are You a Writer? Most of the Followers of This Blog Are…

I am too, have been for nearly 30 years.  I also own a Writing and Editorial Consultancy firm, Margaret Langstaff Editorial. I work every day with writers trying to make their books better before publication. But even the best book … Continue reading

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I don’t get it, but “toot-toot” anyway, book sots

I wrote this book more than four years ago, the first in a series of over the top, raucous Florida based mysteries featuring a red haired wild woman, Garnet Sullivan.  It was the first novel I wrote under my own … Continue reading

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Emily Dickinson’s Encounters with the Sublime

Originally posted on Margaret Langstaff:
© Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved.                                          Nature and God – I neither knew                    Yet Both so well knew me                    They startled, like Executors                    Of My identity.—E.D. Dickinson…

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Rosie’s Book review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews Home For Christmas by Margaret Langstaff

Originally posted on Rosie Amber:
Today’s book review is from Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com Noelle chose to read and review Home For Christmas by Margaret Langstaff ? HOME FOR CHRISTMAS Home for Christmas is a compendium of Christmas stories…

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Twitter horrors: “Im a genius, buy my book”

I swear, I’ve got to do some serious UN-following. Most recent egregious case in point: “Visit me and the other talented authors at Self Publisher’s Showcase.” This way way awful.  Don’t people know how they sound? How do they think … Continue reading

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So here we go again! NYT “10 Best Books of 2014”

Something to argue about or totally ignore (NYT) The year’s best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. We should be so grateful for this priceless direction. The Times used to have the best readers/critics … Continue reading

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100 Notable Books of 2014 – NYT

[Just another tidbit of wit (?)] The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Worth reading (pardon the pun), the list, that is. FICTION & POETRY ALL OUR NAMES. By … Continue reading

Posted in Commercial Fiction, Literature, New Yorl Times Book Review, NYTBR, Reading | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Apropos of Twitter Self-Promotion and New “Authors?”

“The better the writers, the less they will speak about what they have written themselves.” —Ernest Hemingway http://bit.ly/1n7nZpz THE PARIS REVIEW

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“Satisfaction is a lowly thing, how pure a thing is joy.” — Marianne Moore

Need a lift or some inspiration to escape the gloom of winter and the doldrums of the winter heart? Here’s a short, beautiful poem that might impart the courage and resolve to get through the season (and life!) by the … Continue reading

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The Flood

After re-reading Emerson’s essay “The Poet” late last night, I became more convinced than ever that human beings have never been more miserable and unhappy than in the last century. This, despite more material abundance, security and personal freedom than … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, poetry | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments