Category Archives: writing

A Bit of Advice

A friend of mine sent this to me recently.  I can’t imagine why.

Posted in book reviewing, Editing, Literature, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

In the Game of Life, Bad Spelling is Like Bad Breath

Why You Should Bother About Spelling I love the BBC.  They are so smart and always take time to do things right. They dot their I’s and cross their T’s, you know what I mean?. I stumbled on this excellently … Continue reading

Posted in Editing, Literature, Margaret Langstaff Editorial, online communication, Spelling, writing | 9 Comments

Mark Twain for President – 1879

MARK TWAIN * A Presidential Candidate I have pretty much made up my mind to run for President. What the country wants is a candidate who cannot be injured by investigation of his past history, so that the enemies of … Continue reading

Posted in American Literature, American Literature, Literary Lions, Literature, Mark Twain, Politics, Rants, writers, writing | 8 Comments

Love is the slowest form of suicide–Fiza Pathan

AN INTERVIEW WITH AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR FIZA PATHAN OF MUMBAI, INDIA
Fiza Pathan, a very young self-published author, recently was awarded three prestigious book prizes, one at the London Book Fair and two at the New England Festival of Books.

This is a penetrating interview with her editor, Margaret Langstaff, about how and why she writes. Shocking candor, shocking themes.
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Posted in Book Reviews, editing, fiction, Literature, novel, novelists, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

GOODREADS HORROR STORY: Writers, Listen Up!

Consider this a public service announcement for authors.  I can’t believe it, but it happened. And it happened to me. Two days ago I simply changed my GR password and email –for security reasons –and my whole account, five years … Continue reading

Posted in Amazon, book marketing, book reviewing, Goodreads, Reading, writing | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

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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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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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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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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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

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

Posted in fiction, Literature, novel, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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“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

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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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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 Ongoing Angst of Culling My Library – Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter

My long-suffering bibliomaniac followers have endured several of my white knuckled announcements of this or that treasured title that has to take a hike to a new home. Now I’ve stumbled on something I’d forgotten I’d had and darn well … Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, Elizabeth Hardiwick, Literature, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Reading, The Flowering Judas, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hibiscus Christmas: A Child’s Christmas in Florida

(c) Copyright 2014, Margaret Langstaff, All rights reserved [I don’t know if this is kosher or cool to re-post an oldie like this, but it still speaks volumes to me and suggests pretty clearly what a weirdly different place Florida … Continue reading

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What’s Your Genre, Bubba? “A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate” from the New Yorker

  Everybody (readers, writers, Amazon) thinks they know what genres are, but do they really–today? [EXCERPT from this fascinating article] It’s hard to talk in a clear-headed way about genre. Almost everyone can agree that, over the past few years, … Continue reading

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This is Poetry – and one of my favs – a lagniappe for tonight!

In a Dark Time By Theodore Roethke In a dark time, the eye begins to see, I meet my shadow in the deepening shade; I hear my echo in the echoing wood— A lord of nature weeping to a tree. … Continue reading

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Just Have to Share

Readers of this blog know I’m opinionated, have high writing standards (for myself at least and in what I read). So it is particularly gratifying when an astute reader of one of my works takes the time to write a … Continue reading

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“How to Write a Sentence” from the New Yorker (seriously)

[The following are, verbatim, the first several paragraphs of this profound and priceless sentence-writing guide as it appeared in the august New Yorker magazine. ]   Well, here you are, looking at this, trying, hoping, floundering, scrabbling, wishing, dying to … Continue reading

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Mystery Book Blog Tour – Look Out!

Some of you may be aware that I am not simply a dull over-educated literati, but also have a wild frivolous side to my writing and writing tastes. This “side” of me has produced to date two crazy funny Florida … Continue reading

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The Personal Library

This week’s New Yorker.  If only I were that composed and organized!!!

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“The Second Coming”–Circles or Lines? Cyclical or Linear? – History, Life and “Us”

I had a fascinating exchange of emails with a gifted poet recently about a poem he had written entitled “Circles.”Initially, I had mis-read the poem, missed his intent and allusions (happens to all of us on off days ;). And … Continue reading

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“Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads in Them” – Why Bother with Poetry?

This poem by the contentious, straightforward major American poet Marianne Moore came to mind tonight and I thought it was worth sharing. Cogently and succinctly she takes on the common objections and antipathy of the general public to the reading … Continue reading

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Have Hit a Major Roadblock – POETS ON POETRY – No “Emotional Slither!”

My library is fated to swell and I to be buried in the falling, cascading books from the shelves. An appropriate end for a misspent life, I suppose, monomaniacally focused on books. Have unearthed a modest looking old paperback anthology … Continue reading

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Poetry Dare – Can You Poetaster Wags Rise to the Occasion?

I found this in a box of antique ephemera today.  It’s for the old timey 18th-19th century binocular viewer, stereopticon thingy or something. One inserted it and voila! a 3-D tableau of a camel caravan headed for Egypt right before … Continue reading

Posted in Humor, Literature, poetry, writing | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Skimming over the Surface of Our Lives and Missing the Point

A disturbing and all too true assessment of our writing, lives and our times. Read it. Your life depends on it. A Memoir Is Not a Status Update  by Dani Shapiro On the absence of depth, insight and hard won … Continue reading

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The Writing Life and Dealing with the Inevitable Failures (from the New York Times)

[An excerpt from an honest and compassionate look at the terrors and disappointments unique to the writing life.  Recommended!]    “In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do … Continue reading

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The Force That Through the Green Fuse ….

I am so easily side-tracked and waylaid from my plans for any given day, particularly by the mysterious and beautiful effulgence of the natural world–and (no surprise to my fellow bloggers here) by poetry. This morning a dew speckled massive … Continue reading

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Behinder and Behinder: Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain

Rather than feel ridiculous and un-horsed, I’d prefer to “feel” (in public at least) as “tested” and perhaps “tried.”  Hence the henceforth herewith. (Something like that, anyway). I am so far behind with work, not only with blogging, as a … Continue reading

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Too Many Bad Books? The Status of Books Continues to Plummet

(c) Copyright 2014, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved  “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” –Erasmus Wow, have times changed all that much? Every author and publisher … Continue reading

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Word Crimes – “The Movie” Cute, Clever!

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“And whence they come and wither they shall go/the dew upon their feet shall manifest” – Wallace Stevens’ “Sunday Morning”

[ I referred/alluded to this essential Stevens poem, a poem that is really key to understanding the rest of his work, in my previous post. I felt I should post it here for your convenience and reference. I believe I … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, writing | 2 Comments

Like running on a tight-rope – Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing

[This is a shorty and to the point, interesting and worth considering. Elizabeth Gilbert is an accomplished writer, and offers here some controversial, though perhaps helpful, observations about writing while describing her own way of going at it. Confession: the … Continue reading

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Banville on Banville – A Great Contemporary Novelist Speaks Frankly

One of my favorite novelists interviewed by the PARIS REVIEW From THE PARIS REVIEW John Banville, The Art of Fiction No. 200 Paris Review Interview with British novelist John Banville EXCERPT Interviewed by Belinda McKeon When I first arrived at … Continue reading

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Writers & Reviews

Though many author friends of mine claim they “never look at reviews” of their books, assuming the transparently fake pose of pretending utter indifference and total superiority to what the mass of the reading public may actually think of their … Continue reading

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“Twilight’s Indian Princess” – a new story

Sarah Sloan McCorkle of Piney Point, TN is a smart, hard-working schoolteacher, a good wife and great mother, who “married down”—according to her Southern aristocrat mother. Way down. One day she finds herself at the end of her rope, exhausted, … Continue reading

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“Some Place” (is better than no place at all)

In the rural South, if you are a newbie in town, or just passing through, and pull into a truck stop or Mini-Mart, for however brief a time and however chintzy a purchase, you are sure to be asked a … Continue reading

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An Author’s Query for Info About Stanley Elkin and William Gass

  This just in– I have been briefly corresponding with a researcher-scholar and novelist who is seeking sound information regarding the Elkin-Gass friendship, both personal and professional, to wit, their relationship.  Both of these literary lions were/are profs at Washington … Continue reading

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“Poetry: Who Needs It?” by William Logan in today’s NY Times

“The dirty secret of poetry is that it is loved by some, loathed by many, and bought by almost no one.”—William Logan ~.~ I know several readers of this humble blog (including its writer) are deeply interested in poetry. Many … Continue reading

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In Her Own Voice: Flannery O’Connor Reads Aloud A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND

This recording will add tremendously to the reader’s understanding of this classic story. Straight from the horse’s mouth, a great author in her own voice tells the story in the way she wanted it to be heard and interpreted. This … Continue reading

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Hot tip for aspiring writers today: Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest

The prestigious literary magazine Ploughshares with a long distinguished history of discovering and publishing tomorrow’s literary greats, has announced this year’s “Emerging Writers Contest.” Go for it, hatchling writers!  Whether you win or not, you will get experience and exposure, … Continue reading

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“The grandmother did not want to go to Florida.” Flannery O’Connor’s Mastery of the Short Story Form

(c) Copyright 2014,  Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved. “The grandmother did not want to go to Florida” is the first line in O’Connor’s short story masterpiece, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” It is a masterful opening line in … Continue reading

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“What Each of Us Is Seeking the Poet Already Knows” – Harvard Classics (now free online)

Poetry: A General Introduction. HARVARD  CLASSICS The Harvard Classics have just now become available–for free– online. The nearly 60 books in this series are so well written, erudite, thoughtful and stimulating, that I want to share them with you. If … Continue reading

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