Interview Transcripts

Interview with Louse Marley, opera singer and writer: Product and Process 2/5/04



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Good evening all! Welcome to our regular Professional Connection Live interview.

 

Tonight we'll be chatting with Louise Marley, For twenty-five years, Louise has been a concert and opera singer, as well as a teacher of singing. Her musical life informed her writing life in many ways.

 

She has published quite a bit of excellent fiction.

 

Sing the Light, a science fantasy novel about singers, was published in 1995. Sing the Warmth and Receive the Gift followed, in 1996 and 1997. The Terrorists of Irustan, a novel inspired by the takeover of Taliban in Afghanistan, appeared in trade paperback form in 1999.

 

The next year came The Glass Harmonica, a return to a musical theme, inspired by a concert Louise had sung a decade before which included a glass harmonica player. The Maquisarde is out now, with The Child Goddess out in May.

 

I recently red The Glass Harmonica...an historical fantasy, in a way

 

although it also takes place in the present. It's an excellent book Good read!

 

Louise, welcome! I'm delighted to have you here as my guest!

Louise Marley

Thanks, Mary. Hi, everyone.

Mary Rosenblum

I I'm fascinated by your dual career in both music and words

 

how have they influenced each other?

Louise Marley

This is always a hard question to answer

 

because I think it's hard to explain the artistic impulse and

 

how it finds its outlet. But in music

 

we study form and structure, and of course it's about expressing feelings

 

and that helped me a lot when it came to writing prose.

Mary Rosenblum

Indeed....are the form and structure of the two types of expression at all similar?

Louise Marley

As it turns out, they are! A novel, for example

 

is structured very much like a symphony, or a sonata.

 

There are themes, and motifs, and there is movement.

 

I relate, in my mind, the various themes to plots and subplots.

Mary Rosenblum

That's fascinating. Although I have played an instrument..more than one...I never really studied musical form, and I find that fascinating....

 

1. You published an article called "Five Music Lessons for Writers." What was that about?

Louise Marley

Ah, now that was about the discipline, which I haven't yet mentioned

 

and this relates to the title of our chat today. Because as an artist

 

you can't wait for the exact right moment to practice, whether it's the piano

 

or your ballet steps, or your pitching in baseball

 

practice has to happen on a regular basis, and that takes discipline

 

and discipline is one thing a classical singer understands, or they fail."

Mary Rosenblum

And it is one thing, in my experience, that a writer needs to cultivate if that person really wants to have a professional career in writing!

Louise Marley

I completely agree. One of my favorite ideas

 

is that talent is only part of the gift of an artist. Without discipline, and by that I mean

 

structuring your working life, the talent is wasted, or only partly utilized."

Mary Rosenblum

So how do you, for example, structure your writing life?

Louise Marley

The main thing, I think, is that I consider structuring my writing life

 

to be very important .

 

It does change, depending on what's going on at the moment, but

 

I always, always, have some sort of plan in mind for my days, so that I get everything in.

pook

How do you put structure in your day when it isn't external? Like 9-5?

Louise Marley

This takes some thought, and some effort at determining priorities .

 

Some writers hate deadlines, but I find them really helpful in keeping myself motivated

 

and I literally (this is a little boring, but true) have a working schedule that I stick to,

 

which includes exercise, the housework and cooking (I love to cook) and taking care of my dog

 

and getting a minimum amount of writing done every single day!

Mary Rosenblum

I must say that after spending quite a bit of my writing life with a very fluid schedule,

 

my website duties and Long Ridge students have really made me pay attention to schedules! There are no longer an 'infinite' number of hours in the day! :-)

Louise Marley

That's so true

 

and as you get more and more in demand, it gets harder

 

and you have to practice sayiing 'no' occasionally, which is where

 

priorities come in!

pook

Self initiated deadlines?

Louise Marley

Great, great idea! I learned to do that with music, because

 

if you wait too long, your performance will stink, frankly. So I would know

 

I had to know the music three months before, or three weeks, or whatever.

pook

What do you write? Are you published? I missed the very beginning.

Mary Rosenblum

Actually

 

why don't you tell us a bit more about the type of fiction you write.

Louise Marley

I write mostly science fiction, with a bit of fantasy, and mostly novels

 

with a few short stories here and there. And yes, I'm delighted

 

to say that I have published six novels, with a seventh and eighth on their way.

Mary Rosenblum

And good ones, too! :-) But getting back to writing and discipline,

 

what about writer's block...the sort that simply freezes someone at a blank screen? What then?

Louise Marley

Actually, I've always said I don't believe in writer's block, but sometimes

 

I feel like I'm tempting fate when I say it. Just the same

 

it seems to me there are several ways to jump-start that flow of creativity that

 

results in material. For me, exercise is a great trick,

 

or housework, something that occupies the body or the hands

 

but not the mind. My son (also a writer) likes a shower

 

and then there's always the trick of working on a different project if one seems stalled. The main thing

 

is that you sit down at that typewriter or computer or yellow pad

 

every day! Or at least a certain number of days every week.

Mary Rosenblum

What about those times when you just DON’T feel like it? Is the writing really worse? Or does it just seem like it?

Louise Marley

I've written enough now that I can say, emphatically, that the writing does feel worse

 

but in fact is not. In fact, just beginning to write, even if you think it's going to be horrible

 

sometimes results in the most amazing stuff. I think the brain works like an electrical outlet

 

and you have to connect with it. And while we're speaking of that

 

I must say that I know some good writers who get completely sidelined by

 

watching television instead of writing! a mind-number if there ever was one.

Mary Rosenblum

Which is why

 

my TV is upstairs and relatively inaccessible... :-) I don't think it has been on in...months.

 

But as a teacher and I writer, I'd like to really

 

ditto what you had to say about feeling that your work is bad. Not only have I found that how I feel about a piece

 

often has very little to do with the quality...but as an example, I just received a story

 

from a student who apologized because it was...well, an unrepeatable word. It was actually

 

a VERY publishable personal narrative and I suspect she'll sell it on the first send-out.

Louise Marley

Oh, I think I know that word! LOL.

Mary Rosenblum

We are LOUSY judges of our own work at times!

Louise Marley

Yes, indeed.

coway

Did you ever feel like you would never be good enough to publish,,,,or did you just know that with enough effort it would come?

Louise Marley

My goodness, I thought the world of published writers

 

was like a closed, charmed circle, and I couldn't find the way in! But once that first

 

little miracle happens, I began to have confidence, and I have to say, I write

 

better and faster with a bit of confidence.

Mary Rosenblum

I agree. Sales REALLY help your confidence...as does reader feedback!

Louise Marley

Yes, yes, yes.

pook

I feel like I write a lot, character sketches, ideas for plot but I am not getting a piece finished.

Louise Marley

Very important consideration! I have a sort of pathological

 

abhorrence of unfinished stuff. Sometimes it just hangs out there for

 

an awfully long time, but I'm really obsessive about finishing things. . . not that

 

that's always good. Sometimes they deserve to be abandoned .

 

But we can't sell them if we don't finish them. Discipline again.

Mary Rosenblum

And remember that every piece you finish...even if you NEVER send it off...increases your ability. Practice. That must

 

have its counterpart in music, yes?

Louise Marley

Yes, it does, but this is one area

 

in which writing differs. In music, most of us are interpreting

 

the work of others, the original work, that is. When we write

 

we're responsible for the whole thing, beginning, middle, and end. And I do think

 

there is a sort of roadblock sometimes, worrying over whether we're making the right

 

choices, or taking our plot in the right direction. Sometimes

 

as Oliver Goldsmith wrote, you just have to put something down

 

so you have something to change later.

molly

I never feel my writing is good enough to send off, I cringe at the thought of someone else seeing it. Is this normal or is my work probably just that bad? lol, sorry but I struggle with this.

Louise Marley

Molly, you have lots of company! I think this is an area

 

where a critique group really helps, or even a class in writing to make certain

 

you have the basic tools at your disposal. But self-doubt is probably the hardest

 

challenge an artist of any sort has to face.

Mary Rosenblum

It sure is, and we ALL wrestle with it, even AFTER we publish!!

Louise Marley

Yep.

sailor

I try to allocate time to write, but many days all I get done is research or working on an outline instead of actual writing. I feel like that does not count - I need to spend some time actually writing each day. Is that what you do?

Louise Marley

It is, in fact, and it's a good point. Because

 

while research is great (and really, really fun) it only counts when you put it into the work! And as to outlines

 

omigosh. I hate them, but they're a necessary evil. And they're only what they're called --

 

outlines. They're not a story.

chatty lady

I sent a sample story into a publishing house and got a email from the Publisher himself asking for more stories, 8 to 10 in a book. It took awhile but I did it and before sending it in, emailed him to ask if he needed anything besides content page, intro etc. I got an email back saying they went out of business due to lack of sales. As Mary said, welcome to the world of publishing. Bummer!!! Is this normal?

Louise Marley

Normal, no. Common, yes.

 

I'm so sorry that happened to you! It's great you have someone with Mary's rep and experience

 

to help you get through it. Still

 

weren't you encouraged? I would have been.

Mary Rosenblum

Very good point, Louise. He DID want to publish your work, Chatty. Someone else will, too!

paja

Even with a schedule, I've never knowingly been able to repeat actions, other than hygiene, for more than a few days. Any ideas to help me get on track?

Louise Marley

Well, hygiene is a start! LOL

 

but I do think that sometimes having a critique group that meets regularly

 

helps you keep yourself on track. If you know

 

that you're expected to read ten pages of your work every two weeks

 

that would maybe help you go to the computer on a regular basis

 

and I do mean regular, inasmuch as possible.

 

Every day at 8:30, for example. You know it's coming, and

 

more importantly, your brain, the creative part, knows it's coming.

Mary Rosenblum

Habits are not always BAD! :-)

Louise Marley

Hope not. We're such creatures of habit.

pook

It is so self revealing to write.

Louise Marley

Is that a question? It is, indeed. Sometimes we scare ourselves, and sometimes

 

we heal ourselves.

shoutjoy

I don't do outlines, is that OK? I just write what comes out.

Louise Marley

The thing about not doing outlines

 

is that you can make yourself have to do a lot more substantive rewriting .

 

At least with an outline you have an idea where you're going, but

 

you're still free to diverge from the plan!

chatty lady

Yes I was encouraged and thank you. decided I'd either sell the entire book or have 8 short stories to peddle, as they can all stand alone if need be.

Louise Marley

Get 'em out there!

pjwriter2

I am one of the worlds great procrastinators how do you overcome that?

Louise Marley

Ah. I am married to one of your kindred spirits. Just watching him

 

struggle with the messes caused by procrastination is enough to get me organized!

 

However, it's just not my nature. I'm obsessive, about my work, about my exercise, even about

 

my poor dog (Scottie) who has to be the best -behaved, the best-groomed, the best . ..

 

well, you get the picture.

Mary Rosenblum

Maybe starting small would help?

 

Make one deadline, get one thing finished by that time. The sense of getting it done may be rewarding enough to help you face the next deadline!

Louise Marley

Great suggestion.

pook

I need an outline or it doesn't go where it's supposed to. I have to think it thru to the end.

Louise Marley

Terrific! I do find that thinking the plot all the way through exhausts me, but then

 

as I'm working on the novel, I'm glad I know where I'm going to end up. Still

 

I feel free to change the way I get there.

chatty lady

There are certain activities I enjoy, certain TV shows I like and even certain treats which I will not allow myself until I have written X amount of pages, sort of a reward system. If you are honest with yourself, this really works.

Louise Marley

Of course it does. But it means that you have a natural flair for discipline! Congratulations.

 

Let me add

 

I know too many writers who do more talking about writing than actual writing. Not helpful.

coway

What do you do? For example: I thought I mastered show vs tell, but learned from several writers I still tell...I feel hopeless, what would you do?

Louise Marley

Ah, go to the opera! LOL. . . . But seriously

 

I learned very well from singing opera scenes about what action is, and what is

 

simply narration. Can you imagine your characters DOING what you want them to do, rather than

 

the narrator TALKING about it? And dialogue is a fabulous tool for this, too  --

 

which is what opera is, of course. All dialogue.

pook

Isn't dialogue the best way to show?

Louise Marley

Not always. What about great action scenes? Have you seen Lord of the Rings? Wow . . .

 

such an incredible balance between huge action scenes and intimate character dialogue. Love it.

Mary Rosenblum

Actually, to add to your answer to Coway...there are articles on the website on how to actually DO show don't tell...

 

including examples. They're in Writing Craft. Check the index there, Coway.

Louise Marley

I think I will, too.

shoutjoy

Word count seems to organize my writing a lot like outlines do. I have to change my plot sometimes just to make word count.

Louise Marley

Hmmm . . . I only use word count for getting paid, or for fitting into a format. For example, I'm at work

 

on a YA novel, and they only want 60,000 words. I normally write about twice that,

 

but you know, if it works for you, and you're producing good stuff, don't change! Be true to your own muse.

Mary Rosenblum

On the other hand....as someone who writes predominantly short fiction...there is a benefit

 

to realizing that your plot is NOT going to work with 5000 words but will need 10 or 15000

 

and changing it BEFORE you realize you have no market! :-)

 

Different mindset, Louise. :-) I feel very schizophrenic at times!

Louise Marley

Well, when we do it for a living

 

we have to consider everything.

sailor

I may have the opportunity to join a local critique group, but I write nf articles and the rest of them write fiction novels. One member used to write nf books. Do you think they would be able to give me good feedback? I'm in a small town and don't have a lot of options in this area.

Louise Marley

I have two writer's groups, and in one of them, the oldest, there are six writers. No one in it

 

writes sf or fantasy. Everyone is doing different things

 

and it works very well.

Mary Rosenblum

If it doesn't work for you, Sailor, you can always leave it! You're not marrying it! :-)

Louise Marley

Well said.

cloux

Do you keep a writing journal? If so, do you keep the journal for just writing ideas or personal thoughts?

Louise Marley

Journals are being discussed a lot these days, what with blogs and so forth

 

but my feeling is that when I'm writing, I want to be working on the project at hand. so for me

 

a weblog or a journal or diary would be wasting the writing. People have different

 

needs, however. But I had a couple of friends who tried to help their writing by

 

doing something called "The Artist's Way." Problem was, all they did was "The Artist’s Way." Still no writing.

 

See, I am obsessive.

shoutjoy

You only use word count for getting paid, isn't that the goal? teehee

Louise Marley

Tee hee hee. Well, with short fiction

 

you get paid by the word, and of course the editors have to buy

 

what will fit in the magazine. But I did run into a problem

 

with one of my novels being too long, and thus too expensive to print. And I DID and I DO

 

want my publishers to be happy with me.

Mary Rosenblum

Did you end up cutting the novel to fit, Louise? Or simply sending it elsewhere?

Louise Marley

This was a great experience. My editor suggested

 

taking out a few scenes. Instead, I went all through the manuscript, and took out one

 

page from every chapter by tightening the prose. Wow. What a fabulous exercise

 

that was, and the book was incredibly stronger for it! (Terrorists of Irustan)

Mary Rosenblum

Now that's a timely observation! I just finished doing a Forum on basic editing...tightening without changing! Aha! It IS worthwhile!  A real-world example!

pook

I can't seem to get a short story plot going. It seems like there is too much to develop. That is why I never finish anything.

Louise Marley

Oh, yes . . . I have a little trouble with short forms myself. I seem to have ideas like yours,

 

that simply take a lot more space. Nothing wrong with that, intrinsically. The nice thing about short

 

forms is that you can see your results in less time. But frankly, I think short stories are just as hard to write

 

as novels. I'm interested to see what Mary has to say about that, too.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, I agree! I actually think short stories are harder to write than novels

 

because you have to do much more in much less space!

 

Novels are my relaxation. Short stories are my obsession! LOL

senicynt

Hi, How would you compare an interesting story arc to music? For instance, rap is uninteresting to me musically because it is atonal, monotone or dual note. Whereas blues covers a wide array or notes.

Louise Marley

I agree about rap, but my much more hip son tells me rap is about the words, not the music. But yes

 

story arc and musical form have a great deal in common. Particularly, in my mind, the large forms, sonata

 

and symphonic form. I sort of feel it in my gut as I work, which I think may come from having studied

 

and performed classical music for such a long time. I also

 

performed a lot of folk music, and that may relate to short story form,

 

but I haven't thought that one through!

Mary Rosenblum

While we're on the topic of music...clearly music and musicians play a large role in Glass Harmonica...but in general...

 

how has music and your study of music influenced your writing?

Louise Marley

Directly, I think my musical sense inflects my prose style. And I think my acting experience

 

as in the operas and musical theater roles I did, informed my sense of drama

 

and my favorite fiction is dramatic. Something HAPPENS. Which is why I'm impatient

 

with literary fiction, particularly literary short fiction.

Mary Rosenblum

Here here...:-) But your fiction is also quite strongly character driven. Has your acting experience

 

in opera also affected your sense of characterization?

Louise Marley

Yes, a thousand times yes! Opera characters

 

have very little to go on. A few words, a lot of notes to sing, a costume --

 

it was always hard to pin down a really interesting characterization. And so now

 

I expect each and every character to leap out of the page, be really distinctive. Hardest, of course,

 

with principal characters. Easier with the 'comprimarios'--the minor ones.

Mary Rosenblum

So what is your process for creating a really strong, three dimensional character? Where do you begin?

Louise Marley

This is a tough question, and I think there are different answers. In some cases, as in my

 

newest book, the main character had form in my mind before I even started. But sometimes

 

the character's personality and nature are determined partly by what their role in the plot will be

 

and so I guess it depends on the kind of story I'm writing. No one technique.

 

And of course, it changes as the book goes on, and then

 

I go back and make it all tie together.

Mary Rosenblum

Do you make notes about your character, give them a complete past before you begin?

Louise Marley

No, but I know people who do. There's my obsession again . . . if I'm going to write, I want it to be part of the story.

 

Let me add, though

 

its so important for characters to have motivations, and challenges. If they're not in trouble

 

there's no plot . And so I do spend a good bit of energy

 

figuring out their backstory, their reasons for things, and find a reason why they got into the jam they're in.

sailor

Do you play music in the background as you write? Do you ever listen to or recall a piece of music to get into the mood to write a particular scene?

Louise Marley

Only with The Glass Harmonica! Usually I find music distracting. But when I was writing that one

 

I was in a heavy Mozart period. String quartets, especially! If I do

 

listen to music, it's always instrumental and classical. No singing, because then I start listening to that instead

 

of seeing the scene in my mind that I'm at work on.

Mary Rosenblum

That's interesting. When my kids were young, I used headphones and music to create a private 'office'...I didn't have a separate roo

 

but now, I find music distracting while I write.

Louise Marley

Oh, how curious! . . .

 

Our habits do change, don't they? For me, when I light my little aroma therapy candle, it means it's time to get off

 

eBay, and get to work! LOL.

Mary Rosenblum

I guess we each have our own routines and rituals! :-)

senicynt

Opera - It has relatively few words and many notes. How would you compare that to writing? Would the multiple notes be the background information, the descriptions of place or scene? Then would the few words be the dialog that crystallizes the scene?

Louise Marley

I think you've expressed that beautifully .

 

In fact the definition of the aria/recitative is that the recitative tells the story

 

and the aria expresses the emotions about what's happening.

 

Tere's the old joke about someone asking why everything is sung in opera

 

and the answer is, if you have to ask, you won't understand the answer.

 

But in fact, the melodies and harmonies and rhythms (and high and low notes, of course) do tell us things

 

about how the character is feeling, as well as build tension about the events on the stage.

Mary Rosenblum

Hmmm...how do those melodies and harmonies relate to the rhythms of the words and the descriptives we use in prose?

Louise Marley

Well, sometimes, as in something I'm reading now (Gregory Maguire)

 

the prose is so lovely, like a gorgeous melody, that it has value in and of itself. But other time

 

as with--oh, that man who wrote Get Shorty--the prose is so minimal you hardly notice it

 

and it's all about what happens next. Both things happen in opera, as well .

 

The tunes in the opera Carmen, for example, are so fabulous that the composer (Bizet) set them

 

into a suite for string quartet. But they also express the distinctive natures of each of the characters

 

the gypsy, the lieutenant, the too, too sweet little girl from back home. If you know the opera!

Mary Rosenblum

I played that suite on the violin. :-) I love that opera.

Louise Marley

Let me add

 

it doesn't have to be opera! Jazz, too, or even folk music --

 

those kinds of music tell us a lot about a story or the people in it, and the music itself

 

has a lot to do with creating emotions. In my own writing, I feel best about it when emotions are running

 

high, for both the characters and, I devoutly hope, the reader.

 

But the most important

 

attribute of music as it relates to prose, is that there can be a lovely rhythm to the way words are strung together ,

 

which is why I like to read my work aloud, to see if it flows or not. I always read everything aloud, and if it

 

is easy to speak the text, then I have confidence it's my best work.

Mary Rosenblum

Have you ever tried reading it into a tape recorder and playing it back?

Louise Marley

No, but that's a good idea! I usually read to my critique groups

 

rather than have the 'homework' arrangement some groups do. I like reading it in the presence

 

of critical ears. Sometimes I'm surprised at how well it goes, and sometimes

 

I catch really clunky stuff, or just plain glaring errors

 

when I hear it spoken aloud.

Mary Rosenblum

I have found that if you can get someone ELSE to read it out loud, you will hear every tiny problem in your text!

Louise Marley

But don't you sometimes think, I wish they wouldn't read so fast, or so slow, or stumble?

Mary Rosenblum

It really does work best with a good reader! Which is why I don't get to do it often.

chatty lady

I have to agree with the writing obsession and admit to having one big time. I am barely out of the bathroom in the morning before my computer is turned on. I would dry up and blow away, literally, if I couldn't write something daily. I love to write. I love to read too, not mentioned here but very important don't you think?

Louise Marley

I am SO on your page! I decided two years ago

 

after sitting on an award jury

 

that if I didn't read for pure pleasure, I wouldn't write for pleasure. And I do love to write, even though it's my work .

 

I'm afraid if I didn't love it, my readers wouldn't either.

 

And as someone else said earlier, yes, if I haven't done what I consider 'real' writing in a day,

 

I feel all tensed up!

rachel

How long did you write before you made your first sale?

Louise Marley

I was a bit quicker than most, I think--I had a couple of strokes of good luck.

 

I sold my first novel about three years after I started writing it. I found a very helpful agent

 

who is also a writing teacher (Peter Rubie.) He made me rewrite the book three times until

 

he thought it was ready, and then he sold it in two weeks! Bless him. .

 

But I was trying everything, short stories, nonfiction, children's stories . . . I really, REALLY wanted

 

to be published.

Mary Rosenblum

How did you acquire Mr. Rubie? A lot of writers here are hungry for an agent...or will need one soon.

Louise Marley

Yes, agents are crucial. Partly because

 

so many publishers don't look at unsolicited manuscripts these days. There are just too many being sent

 

around, and people don't always do their homework (I didn't either, at first, because I didn't know enough.) What I did

 

was study the Writer's Market (Writers Digest Books) thoroughly. I tried a few publishers, without success,

 

so I decided to try agents instead. I sent about about two dozen letters, and got a few people

 

to look at partial or full manuscripts. I got a lot of insults, a bit of encouragement, a lot of just plain

 

rejections, and three offers of representation. Not really a bad mix. I signed with Peter

 

because he told me what was wrong with my book!

Mary Rosenblum

So Louise, when you started getting the 'no thanks' and even more importantly...the insults,

 

which agents can do in spades!...what kept you from feeling that your work just plain

 

wasn't any good? What kept you believing in yourself?

Louise Marley

You know, it really was my critique group that helped a lot

 

and then, also, I loved the world I had created, and the people in it. I mean, I really

 

loved being there! So I just persevered. I can see how people give up, though.

 

I have a friend who has written about eight middle-grade novels, good stories, and just

 

can't seem to get through that door! I think she's beginning to lose hope. Easy to do.

 

But there's always something else to try!

Mary Rosenblum

But you also stuck with that first novel rather than putting it aside after a rejection or two

 

and writing a new one, putting that one aside after a rejection or two…

Louise Marley

Well, I rewrote a lot, and I studied, and took classes .

Mary Rosenblum

Do you think sticking to that first one was the better option?

Louise Marley

It was a choice I had to make

 

and I liked the book enough, and I felt the idea was original enough

 

that it justified my faith. Then, when it was finished

 

I sent it off to Peter and started on short stories and things. . . of course by then I had Peter in my corner!

senicynt

Why would a potential agent insult you? You could potentially be a huge blockbuster writer some day. That's burning bridges.

Louise Marley

No kiddin'. It's amazing how insulting their rejections could be

 

and it didn't serve any purpose! They weren't personal attacks or anything

 

but some letters were dismissive, and unnecessarily negative. I don't know why they do that. Maybe

 

they just can't put themselves in our shoes!

Mary Rosenblum

I've never figured it out either. Editors are MUCH more polite. They know they may work with us later! :-)

Louise Marley

Of course, editors

 

have agents to sort out the slush for them! LOL

chatty lady

Do you find an agent that's a writer, too, better or worse?

Louise Marley

The most important thing is that the agent is a salesperson, because that's the crucial part

 

of their work for you. It's true, though, that these days, more often than not, a lot of the editorial process

 

takes place in the agent's office, before the manuscript goes to an editor.

 

I'm glad Peter's a writer, but I sometimes have to remember that these are MY books, and they

 

really need to stick with MY vision. He's great, though, really he is. And he's written

 

three fine books on writing.

chatty lady

Have you ever read a friend's work -- one that was having no luck -- and sent their stuff to your own publisher?

Louise Marley

I would never send it to my publisher

 

but I have recommended my agent three times. He said no each time, but

 

it was worth trying. I only recommended friends I thought had good work to show.

 

Let me add

 

it's important to have an agent you sort of 'chime' with--someone you can talk to, maybe even someone

 

you like. Mary probably has thoughts about that, too.

Mary Rosenblum

You really DO have to get along with your agent and work as a team.

 

That may mean a different relationship for different writers.

Louise Marley

Peter and I have become great friends

 

but I consider that to be one of strokes of luck

 

and a great blessing for which I'm grateful.

molly

There are so many people out there writing now, how do we find our edge...the one thing that sets apart from the vast majority? Is it our story, our style, our timing or all of the above?

Louise Marley

Well, Molly, as you say

 

it is all of the above, but the essential thing is that you write

 

what is, if you'll permit me to say it, divinely yours to write.

 

Everyone wants to write the next bestseller, but believe me, there is no one

 

anywhere in the business who knows what that will be. I mean, really .

 

The Lovely Bones? who would have thunk it? I love the book, but

 

I never could have guessed it would have had the run that it did.

Mary Rosenblum

If anybody CAN guess, they'll make a million on the first printing of the how-to! LOL

Louise Marley

So true! Another lesson

 

I learned the hard way from my musical life

 

is that you must sing with your own voice. Imitation doesn't work, and it doesn't satisfy .

Mary Rosenblum

Write what you love, is my recommendation. And send your work out. You'll find the editor who loves it eventually!

Louise Marley

Exactly! As Tolkien and CS Lewis agreed, they had to write the books they wanted to read

 

and look what happened to those poor dudes.

senicynt

With that information, I'll view agents as politicians rather than creative helpers. It seems they are just seeking fancy lunches with editors on your dime.

Louise Marley

Oh, no, not at all! I think my agent

 

works very hard for me, well, for both of us. He's been patient

 

and never difficult or critical (in a negative way.) He and I

 

have been building my career as partners.

 

And besides, I have never paid him a cent. He earns commission only when he

 

by which I mean, we . . . sell a book.

 

Let me add, as I'm sure you've heard before, writers don't pay agents! Publishers pay agents.

Mary Rosenblum

Your agent really does pay his or her way and is, in my opinion, well worth the commission. That agent has a LOT more experience in the

 

publishing world that we do!

Louise Marley

Yes, and they are a buffer between the author

 

and the editor. They can soften the bad news, and celebrate the good with us."

Mary Rosenblum

Louise, we're getting to the end of our hour. I don't want you to get away without telling us a bit about your new books. The Maquisarde is out now, right?

 

And Child Goddess will be out in May?

 

What are they about?

Louise Marley

Yes, The Maquisarde came out in hardcover last year, and will be out in mass market in May, with Child Goddess in

 

hardcover. The Maquisarde is about

 

a classical musician, a flutist, who becomes a resistance fighter (it's what maquisarde means)

 

and The Child Goddess is the story of a woman Roman Catholic priest and the very, very old child she tries

 

to help. A story of lost faith, commitment, and love . . . I can't wait. There's more on my website

 

www.louisemarley.com

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! The Child Goddess sounds particularly intriguing! I can't wait!

Louise Marley

And such a lovely cover painting

 

by John Jude Palencar, who also did Terrorists of Irustan .

 

He won the Chesley award for that cover.

Mary Rosenblum

You've had great covers, that's for sure!

Louise Marley

Five out of seven. Tee hee.

chatty lady

I realize when you send out a MS, there are no guarantee's. But what if they ask for more, like in my case. Should I have asked for a contract or is that considered amateur or pushy? HELP!!

Louise Marley

Oh, no, at that point you send the cleanest manuscript you can

 

and light candles every day! (LOL) And you're right ,

 

there are no guarantees, but they mut have liked your partial. Marvelous! Good luck.

Mary Rosenblum

Unfortunately, Chatty, there are no guarantees at this point, and small press publisher

 

do tend to have cash flow problems that can overwhelm them suddenly.

 

But your work was good enough to catch HIS interest. It'll catch another's.

Louise Marley

There are some really good small presses these days, aren't there, Mary?

Mary Rosenblum

There are indeed!

senicynt

Roman catholic WOMAN priest? SciFi or alternate history?

Louise Marley

It's science fiction . . . she's such a cool character . . . she's really my pastor

 

at St. James Cathedral, in drag . . . but don't tell him I said that.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm laughing. I actually am working on a short SF story with a woman priest. :-) Looking forward to reading Child Goddess!!

sweet_muse

Wow you sound so interesting, and I am enjoying these last few minutes. I want to thank you for coming to speak with us, I'll read the rest of your transcript when it is posted!!

Louise Marley

Thank you so much. And please drop by my web site--I always answer e-mail! and the covers are all there.

molly

I'd like to thank you for your insight and knowledge tonight, Its been very helpful.

Louise Marley

I'm so glad, Molly. You keep writing, and sending out your material. It will happen!!

senicynt

Thanks for visiting Louise! and thanks Mary for always bringing in interesting people! :-)

Louise Marley

This was a joy for me.

Mary Rosenblum

Louise, thank you so much for coming!

 

Goodnight, Louise! See you soon!

 

I enjoyed that, and I really recommend her books.

 

She is a thoughtful writer who gives you a strong plot, interesting ideas, and rich characters.

 

WELL worth the cover price!

 

Thank you all for coming!  Good night!

 

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