Author Maralys Wills refers to herself as a “genre-hopping cricket.” She’s written both fiction and non-fiction books. Within fiction she’s written romance and techno-thriller novels. She’s also written books in the how-to, memoir and public policy categories.

And then there is this one, which is directed at the aspiring novel writer who seeks to be published. It deals not so much with craft of writing (though she offers some insights into that), but with what it takes to win over a publisher.

The first thing is to hone one’s writing skills, but even that won't put a finished book on he shelves if the author lacks persistence.

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Wills is resolute; she will get published. What she calls "The Book of her Heart", dealing with the deaths of two of her sons in separate hang gliding accidents, was finally accepted after fourteen years of rejections.

The story of that book’s eventual acceptance, its many rewrites and the tragedies from which it sprang forms a great part of this book and, if it needs to be said, a poignant element in the author’s personal life. Yet it is also illustrative of the author’s determination, and instructive for the reader.    

Part memoir, part writing tip sheet

Wills is also a creative writing instructor. She takes the reader on a journey of discovery, showing things as she herself learned them. A narrative chapter is often followed by a didactic chapter. This does not detract from the readability of the book in the least.

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The information is valuable and presented in clear, readily absorbed forms, often with humor.

For example, Wills discusses the sale of her first book, a non-fiction work on the history on unpowered flights. Her memoir on her hang gliding sons ended up with a particular editor who was researching to topic. He rejected it, as had many others. Wills was ready to write it off, but her agent suggested writing the editor back, offering to write a fiction or non-fiction book on his topic. She did so. The editor actually called. After a brief conversation, he asked for a book proposal. Wills readily agreed and called her agent.

“She’d never made me feel stupid,” Wills writes, “so I just blurted it out. ‘What’s a proposal?’”

The author does the reader the courtesy of describing the proposal she sent the editor, then saying how she would improve it if she were to send it now.

‘Why am I still doing this?’

Perhaps the most important question, since most will need day jobs to support their writing habit (at least until they can start earning the type of money Stephen King or James Patterson does) is why do it? It’s lonely, uncertain work, and not exactly glamourous.

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“…why am I still doing this?

“…when my writing income is about a nickel an hour… when no university is clamoring to drape in purple and make me its commencement speaker… why do I keep opening new screens on my computer and typing Chapter One?

“I am a writer.

“…Because any lengthy, non-creative interval makes me feel like a hamster on a wheel.”

In short, writers write. This book is designed to help them get published. It’s helpful, insightful and easy to read. #Buzz