Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

Writer MamaWhile I only recently met Writer Mama Christina Katz in person at her Northwest Writer Series events, I adored her from the moment we connected through an amazing little process called synergy. You know how there's a little click in your heart when you meet someone genuine? I got that click with Christina. And that click, friends, is audible in her writing.

It took forever for "Writer Mama" to leave my "Now Reading" list because it was one of those rare books that I keep turning to, kind of like a Magic 8 ball. I'd flip it open to the message I needed to hear at that moment. You won't be shocked to hear I often opened to a reminder to eat my emotional Wheaties. You'll be amazed at how much is packed into this little book. FYI, you can read with one hand by the light of your cell phone.

Here's your chance to win this awesome writing guide especially, but not exclusively, for all the writer mamas in the house.

The Writer Mama Two-Year Anniversary Blog Tour Giveaway! Post #4

How Not To Get All Tangled Up About Your Book Concept

The funny thing about getting ready to write a nonfiction book, whether you are pitching a concept or working on a book proposal, is that it’s easy to get yourself all kinds of tangled up. And isn’t this the way with so many things that have to do with a writing career?

Going back to our day one blog tour topic, I always emphasize to writers that it’s so important to have mentors and teachers to advise you along the way until you eventually land an agent. In fact, at every stage, I’d suggest that you have a whole team of advisors. Don’t attempt to pitch a book without them.

Before we move on in my story, I’m want to take a little break here to emphasize another important point: a nonfiction book must respond to an existing need in the marketplace. If your book concept doesn’t do this, then there is no point investing the time and the energy in a book pitch or proposal.

Why? Because to a publisher, a book is a business proposition, a product that must sell to earn back the money invested in it. So, to publishers, a book’s viability is fairly black and white. An idea is either viable in the marketplace or it isn’t. If it is: then possible book deal. If it isn’t: then no book deal.

Keep some of this black and white thinking in mind before you gear up to pitch a book. Get good solid advice on how to make your idea a viable book concept or you could literally spend months, even years, on an idea that will never become a traditionally published book. This dilemma was the reason I started teaching book proposal development. To make sure that writers would have the thinking they’d need before they invested the hours into the proposal writing process.

If your idea is not viable, it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend on the proposal. It still won’t get past the industry gatekeepers. So make sure you have a viable idea first. Okay, end of soapbox. Back to the Writer Mama story in tomorrow’s blog post…

Today's Book Drawing: To enter to win a signed, numbered copy of Writer Mama, answer the following question in this blog's comments:

What parts of having a writing career cause you to feel all tangled up or confused? Don't hold back! Tell us how you really feel.

Thanks for participating! Only US residents, or folks with a US mailing address can participate in the drawing. Please only enter once per day.

Where will the drawing be tomorrow? Visit  to continue reading the rest of the Writer Mama story throughout March 2009!

19 thoughts on “Writer Mama Anniversary Giveaway

  1. Joy says:

    Well, in true writermama style, I must admit, the balance between writing and being a mama is when I feel the greatest tangles. Which comes first? Which gets sacrificed? Is it laundry or blogging? Is it sleep or working on another draft?


  2. I’ve been finding myself getting ‘tangled up’ by the writing that is in my heart (my book) and the need for shorter-term income-generating projects.
    Sometimes it feels like anything other than moving forward on my book is a distraction from what my heart wants to do.
    Ay, ye, ye. I’m reading this as I’m writing and hearing Christina saying yesterday that a book is not a “baby”…it’s a business proposition…and thinking I must sound like such a flake and not a professional writer. But well…you asked. And This is where I’m getting tangled up. Trying to find the balance of art and business.


  3. First off, Nathalie – your site is gorgeous (and I also have a “Sam I Am”, he’s 5 and Ferocious!)
    Now to the question of the day: I get tangled in my writing career trying to find balance, as well. Specifically the balance in my writing duties and projects. Email is a problem. I’m obsessed with that damn refresh button. Also, I’ve begun teaching young writer workshops, so my focus is on lesson plans, replying to my students’work, setting up my next gig and keeping my blogs up-to-date with upcoming events and contests. However, my own writing, whether nonfiction or short fiction, has taken the back seat. (And my muse is getting car sick back there!)


  4. emily says:

    Do I have a writing career? This question tangles me inside out. I’ve only recently began to call myself a writer in public, though for several years I’ve actually been writing for money. Not a lot of money, but it pays for a grocery or two. A typical conversation about my vocation previously went like this:
    “What do you do?” Nice person asks.
    “Well, I was a teacher, but now I stay at home with my kids. I have a very part time job writing features for a local newspaper. It’s just a small paper though.”
    I always felt like I needed a qualifier to let people know I understood my place in the writing world and didn’t think myself so high and mighty that I could actually call myself writer. I’ve finally moved beyond that. I wonder what responsibilities lie with my new title, writer? I’m anxious to wander up and down it’s paths, but on a day when I’m feeling particularly tangled, I’m uncertain where I might end up. But opportunities seem to present themselves and I am compelled to travel on.
    You see some days clarity and confidence win the self-talk battle and I feel the rewards of hard work and persistence. It’s those times that I am able to step beyond the tangles and say, “Why not me?” And at that moment, I know I have a writing career.
    On a side note, I am very proud of Nathalie’s website launch. She is an excellent writer, terrific mom, and someone I am so thankful to call friend. Keep your eye on her, this girl’s going places 🙂


  5. What parts of having a writing career cause you to feel all tangled up or confused? Don’t hold back! Tell us how you really feel.
    My biggest struggle is ideas. I have so many, and they constantly threaten my ability to focus on my WIP and my day job.


  6. jane, candid says:

    First things first, beautiful blog. I’ll be back.
    I become tangled up in the desire to “write it the right way”. As a beginning writer, I research proper query letter form and manuscript guidelines. There seem to be so many rules; this double-spaced and that size margin. I’ll get close to feeling ready and *then* the intended editor’s name (carefully researched as the correct match for my work) has an androgynous ring to it and I’m back to researching whether to address the letter to Mr. or Ms….
    Not a complaint, just an observation that trying to follow all the rules can leave me in a mental paper jam. Nothing worthwhile is easy, right? I have to sidestep the trap of “must do it right”, and let the writing happen, every day. (Then do the research as a separate business related task.) Tangly business, it is.


  7. My writing “career” currently resides in the linty cracks and yogurt splattered spaces of days devoted to too many things. Some days my multitasking ends up more of a multi messmaking. But I guess the trade off is that somewhere in the midst of this mothering madness I have found my best ideas and most creative spurts. The tangle for me is the balance of doing the work (getting stuff on paper) and finding outlets for it (the all important $ bit). Patience, persistence and pressing on – it’s not glamorous – but it’s a goal.


  8. Stacy M. says:

    I left my “writing career” behind when I moved to Oregon, or so I thought. While I immensely loved being a published journalist on a regular basis, the lifestyle was frantic. Heading out of LA to McMinnville 10 years ago, I left my writer friends behind and focused more on a financially solid career and being a parent.
    However, when I got here I found that leaving writing wasn’t to be a part of the plan. I freelanced for a couple of dailies and became a blogger. I loved the freedom of not having it be my daily job!
    Now I have two boys, and muse over the written word. Although it is not my daily job, I find that when I do write it gives me immense joy and it is usually a topic that makes me laugh.
    My personal struggle in writing: being honest. I have a hard time coming forth with the details of who I REALLY AM. And I don’t foresee that changing for quite a while. I have secrets that need to be kept until they won’t hurt anyone. Or, I will have to confront those secrets under a pen name and start shedding some of the fear I hide behind.


  9. Stacy M. says:

    Write first. Care about “rules” later. Don’t let the mundane be a stopping point.


  10. Nadya Zimmerman says:

    Let the tangling begin . . . as I write this during my son’s naptime and then plan on going ahead and finishing one dry and tedious academic article, one abstract that attempts to outline new research ideas, and maybe just maybe getting some of the ideas down about a poem that has been hatching in the back of my mind(rather than the scribbling on scraps of paper and book margins that I usually do on my drive down the interstate to work.) I suppose the tangling is in the time and the disbelief that good writing, and more importantly, developing writing that doesn’t stagnate and sit on the same ideas and turns of phrase, will actually happen in the spare minutes that it reaches the keyboard or paper. I relish the slight twinge of envy (but more often it is a pang of joy) at mothers who balance their writing with all the other things that this life offers and I thank them for telling their stories and inspiring me to continue to strive for the balance . . . and the time.


  11. Jenni says:

    Nathalie, this is a very lovely site. Thanks for keeping it up so beautifully. I’ll check back.
    I have to agree with Joy and all the other writer mamas I’ve known since starting out on my writing path last year. What to tackle with the bit of time I do have as the full-time mom of young kids? When my son is napping (as he is now), do I research a source for an interview or start a blog post (I can almost never finish one before he wakes up)? Plant the irises I got from my neighbor way back in the fall or work on that children’s book idea that’s been kicking around in my head? Stay up late to finish the post I started during naptime or get some sleep and vow to get up an hour early to get a jump on the day?
    Another tangle: I’m trying to remind myself that my goal right now is to lay the groundwork for a writing career so when my youngest is finally in school, I won’t have to start from scratch. But three years sound awfully far away and I have so many ideas right NOW.


  12. Bernadette says:

    Time is the key tangle in my writing life. Finding it, choosing to schedule it for writing, and being realistic about how long it takes to make even short pieces work.
    I feel bombarded by ideas (a great issue to have) and am always discouraged because I know I’ll never have time to work on them all. And I’m always surprised by just how much time and commitment it takes to complete one project. So my projects tend to be small and, often, incomplete.


  13. Erika says:

    My personal challenge is finding the balance between writing and learning about writing. I seem to be able to spend countless hours working on the craft of writing without actually advancing my book forward one single word. There is so much to learn, so many new blogs to visit, so many great books to read… And then time has passed and I still havne’t written anything. Visiting your blog is an excpetion though – I am creating my own blog to better define my platform before I sell my book so this is solid – and necessary -research!


  14. emily says:

    I appreciate what you said about laying the groundwork. This is where I am too. I want to remain present for my children now but I also want to make sure that I am creating a foundation to build on when my responsibilities shift and time to write presents itself…though I’m not totally convinced it ever does. There is always something else isn’t there? I think “time to write” is a more intentional act than I want to believe. Thanks Jenni!


  15. Luci says:

    Glad to have found your very lovely site.
    Honestly, I feel my life is so full, four healthy happy kids, a nice house, a really great hubby, ‘too blessed to be stressed’ attitude that sometimes I doubt my own desire to make a go of this writing. It’s a paradox.
    I love it, it’s my ‘life’s work’ and my calling, but staring at that colossal Mt. Everest in front of me, then trying to scale it frightens the bejeezus out of me. Sometimes, I don’t want to push on, make the time, wake up early or stay up late, tweet, blog, and still do the laundry.
    In the end though, always in the end, I return to my first love. If nothing else than for the sheer pleasure and magic that words hold for me. So, maybe the obsession and passion to do what it takes.


  16. Deb says:

    Honestly, it’s the having to convince other people that I can give them what I know I can give them–the salesmanship part. Why don’t they just TRUST me? (grin)


  17. mel says:

    I agree with the mamas who wrote of finding balance! It is one of the hardest things-to be all things to all people especially the little ones in your life.


  18. Steph says:

    What tangles me up is…well me! Since I stopped writing for a local paper after my daughter was born a year and a half ago, I am constantly tangled up in my own fear. Am I a good writer? Do I have valuable ideas? What is my “voice?” Not to mention all of the things I need to do to move forward towards getting published. I waver back and forth between confidence and paralysis, add in two young kids and a house to keep clean and I feel like a tangled knot.
    I borrowed the book “Writer Mama” from the library and fell in love with it, only to have it yanked from me by someone else’s library request. (Good for Christina! Bad for me! 🙂 ) I would love, love, love this helpful manual that makes a mama put one foot in front of the other and untangle into a real, honest-to-goodness writer.


  19. As I was reading these responses, I was wishing I could give everyone a copy of Writer Mama! But even though we’re only giving away one copy today, there are still 26 more chances. I hope you will all continue to participate. Like my other giveaway in September, answering the questions can be very educational.
    Hope to see you over at Jenni Crain’s Write the Journey today…
    Cheers, mamas!


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