Embracing Uncertainty, Solitude, and the Ticking Clock

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

I’ve been writing seriously for more than half of my life, and writing for the love of it ever since I could pick up a crayon and write two-word stories about my dog, a champagne cocker spaniel named Muffin who caused a great stir by biting a neighbor child beside our above-ground pool in Theodore, Alabama. Of course, my story contained none of those details. “Muffin bites” was the extent of it, although I did not quite get the spelling right. Muffun bits, I wrote. It was not an elegant beginning, but it was a beginning nonetheless.

I was not…

Waking up 20 years ago today in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Castro district, Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Michelle Richmond

On September 12, 2001, San Francisco-based magazine 7x7 reached out to Bay Area Writers for impressions of the day before. This is what it felt like in the Castro on that morning, as the attacks were still unfolding.

This piece was written in the immediate aftermath, when we still had no information. My husband and I had recently moved from New York City to San Francisco. Many of his FBI colleagues in New York and Washington D.C. served as first responders at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and many of them have since died of 9/11- related cancers.

(the writer asserts that the empty space above represents all the stories of the known universe. He recommends that you stare at the blank white space for at least five minutes to see this particular story in its entirety.)

(If you are having trouble discerning where one story ends and another begins, the writer suggests that instead of trying to interpret this particular story through reading it one word at a time, you should concentrate instead on the physicality of the story, taking the requisite information about plot and characterization and theme from the amount of space this particular body…

7 Great Books on Craft and the Writing Life

See this list and more books for writers on Bookshop.org

Every writer must be a reader first, and the best education you can get is by reading — not only in the genre you want to write, but also in other genres. Reading widely is essential. If you want to write literary fiction, reading crime novels can give you a stronger grasp on plot. If you want to write thrillers, reading literary novels can help you better understand the nuances of character development.

Immerse yourself in novels, story collections, essays, poetry. Read for pleasure, and read with analytical eye. See what makes the writing tick. When the well is dry…

Why Evangelicals Fear the Mark of the Beast More than They Fear Death From Covid

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If you’ve been paying attention, you know that some right-wing politicians and preachers are trying to convince constituents that the Covid vaccine is the Mark of the Beast. This is a dangerous provocation, as the one thing evangelicals fear more than a cancelled SEC football season is 666 (the numerical designation of the mark). Despite the insistence by many Biblical scholars that the vaccine can’t be the Mark of the Beast, fear-mongerers branding it such will cause the most strident evangelicals to dig in their heels and continue to refuse the vaccine, even if it leads to their own death…

Dear Writers,

I hope you’re having a great summer, filled with good books and good writing days. I’m excited to share a bit of news with you: my new novel, THE WONDER TEST, published by Atlantic Monthly Press, just hit shelves this week.

This Silicon Valley thriller with a side of espionage was a long time in the making. Although I’ve been an FBI spouse for 25 years, this was my first time to write about an FBI agent.

You can read the story behind the book in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s one of Amazon’s Best Books of July

“International spydom meets cuthroat suburban elitism…”

My new Silicon Valley novel, THE WONDER TEST, hits shelves today. This novel was a long time in the making, a final draft in hand months before the college admissions scandal hit the news. Although THE WONDER TEST isn’t about college admissions or cheating, it is about high-stakes education. The real-life scandal gave credence to the novel’s underlying premise: that the over-the-top pursuit of a community-sanctioned version of “excellence” can rise to cultish and terrifying levels.

In THE WONDER TEST, recently widowed FBI agent Lina Connerly relocates from New York City to an affluent suburb in Silicon Valley with her…

How to Stop Revising and Start Submitting Your Novel

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I moved to Paris in August of 2018 with a completed draft of a novel. Not just a completed first draft, but a draft that had been through several serious revisions. My plan was to take one more look at the novel, do one more round of revisions, and send it to my agent by December of that year so that I could start my next book.

I’m not sure what happened, but by the summer of 2019, I still hadn’t sent the book to my agent. I had started the new one, but fitfully, because the old one was…

Adventures of a Dilettante Doge-Mom

Photo by Petr Magera on Unsplash

A few months ago, I bought twelve dollars worth of Dogecoin at five cents per coin. I only did it to amuse my teenage son, who was making relentless fun of Doge bros. When I showed him the transaction, he started laughing hysterically and said, “You just threw away twelve dollars!” My husband said cheerfully, “Don’t tell your mom about Reddit memes. She’ll buy anything.” The two of them made jokes about buying me a garbage can where I could stash my money. Perhaps I’d like to keep my purse by the toilet? They started calling me Doge Mom. …

The brief and wondrous joy of reading and writing flash fiction

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Flash fiction is one of my favorite forms of narrative to write and to read. I enjoy writing it because I can take a break from a novel-in-progress and complete a flash fiction in an hour or less, which gives me a sense of forward momentum. As a reader I can take a few minutes to absorb a flash fiction and feel that I’ve been refreshed, or maybe shored up, or possibly even levitated, depending on the story.

For the Fiction Attic Press Flash in the Attic series, which I’ve been editing since 2012, I define flash fiction as stories…

Michelle Richmond

New York Times bestselling author of the THE MARRIAGE PACT and THE WONDER TEST. Books at michellerichmond.com Write with me at https://thenewMFA.com

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