The Writers' Loop

For Readers and Writers



How long does it take to write a book, including revisions?

“What?  You wrote a novel in one year?  That’s crazy, it takes years to write a novel.” This was a friend’s response when I gave her the news.  At the time, I thought she was really off base.  Years?  What was she thinking? 

eight lives to finish novelBut here we are, a century later, and I’m still revising, rewriting, and rethinking my manuscript. Well, it hasn’t been exactly a century, but it feels like it. It’s a little less than that—let’s make that seven years later. So I’m the unwitting proof of my friend’s hypothesis.    

Writing my novel has been a slow and steady labor of love. It must be the longest labor ever experienced by any woman who ever roamed this planet.  I’m hoping for the day when this baby is finished gestating! 

I’m wondering:

Fellow WRITERS, how about you?  How long have you been working on the same project?  If you’ve completed your book and its revisions, how long did it take?

Fellow READERS, when you’re deep into a great read, do you ever wonder how long it took the author to write that book?                                                                                           


Online and in magazines for writers, I’ve seen trillions of articles, businesses, books, and other opportunities that practically guarantee writing success in its many forms.  I started a search to find the remedy to my snail’s pace and lack of progress in snagging an agent.  Reading the titles, I became rapturously encouraged and giddy with hope that I had found my manuscript’s deliverance.  Yes, with these resources and a few months of installment payments, I could be published!  No doubt.  Can you say: SUCCESS

I’d like to share my findings with you, but to protect the innocent, I’m only offering titles in these lists.  (You’re welcome to Google, too. Remember, “God helps those who help themselves.”)  I’ll also share my comments and questions, FYI.  Have fun!

My List of Sure-Fire Paths to Publication

On writing a best seller…

best seller

How To Write A Bestseller In 40 Days Or Less

How To Write A Bestseller In A Weekend

Well, I’ll be…did I waste eight years of writing?  Dang.


On writing just plain successful novels…


How To Write A Successful Novel 

How To Write Successful Nonfiction

I get it now— successful books take longer to write than best sellers. 


On secrets…

Self-Publishing Secrets

The Secret To Writing A Bestselling Novel ~ Tell me!  Tell me!

Are they really SECRETS if they’re all over the internet?


On learning how to write…


The Best Writing Instruction On The Web – New Workshops Start Weekly 

How To Add Tension In Your Scenes  ~ Eh, I’ve got plenty of tension already. 

Top Ten Errors Writers Make That Editors Hate  ~ Yeah, but if writers didn’t make errors, would editors still have jobs? 


On getting started…

How To Hook Your Reader   hook In The First Sentence

Get An Agent With Your First 10 Pages

Eight Things First-Time Novelists Need To Avoid 

How about eight things first-time novelists need to DO?


On the subject of query letters…

killer whale

How To Write A Killer Query

How Not To Write A Killer Query

Huh? But I don’t want to KILL an agent!


The Holy Grail, better known as getting published…


Learn How To Write And Publish Your Memoir In 10 Painless Steps!  ~ Ibuprofen?

Write And Sell Your Mystery, Suspense, Or Thriller Novel For Any Market

How To Get Your Book Published In Six Painful Steps  — Ouch.

How To Get Your Nonfiction Book Published By A Mainstream Publisher

Step By Step Guide To Publishing Your Novel

How To Get Your Book Published – For Dummies  ~Yada yada, I want to know how THIS dummy gets published! 


On your writing career…


Get Paid For Your Writing     ~ Ya think?   

                                Write For Publication!  ~ Duh, what else would I do with it?  Stock the OUTHOUSE?

Enhance Your Writing Career In 3 Months

How To Be A Ghostwriter     ~ Do I have to be dead to be a ghostwriter?


Before you give up…

don't give up

It’s Time To Finally Get Published

Publish Your Book Today!

Piece of cake…eh?

       ©  Susanne Marie Poulette



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Author Robin Antalek Discusses Her Second Novel, The Grown Ups, and Her Writing Journey

By Peggy Morehouse

I’ve become a different kind of reader since I began writing fiction several years ago. It’s not only that I pay more attention to the traits of a fascinating character or the elements of a riveting plot. When I find myself lost in a book, I hold it with admiration. I understand what the author went through to take an idea to a published novel that has the power to sweep me away. Many readers attribute that ability to special talent. A gift that propels a writer to pick up a pen and a notebook and scribe a story that will keep the pages turning into the wee hours of the morning. But it’s so much more than that. It involves hard work and persistence. John Irving, author of The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules, and so many other greats says,

“More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.”

That’s why, when a book is born it’s cause for celebration. In fact, the next time you’re in a bookstore, take a look around. Each creation had a unique, often strenuous, journey to its spot on the shelf. A new book was added to the literary world on January 27, 2015. Author Robin Antalek released her second novel, The Grown Ups, through William Morrow and introduced it at Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY. Susanne of The Writers Loop was at this special event while I was stuck in traffic on the Adirondack Northway. :o(


The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

It was welcomed with wonderful reviews including this excerpt from Library Journal, “…an engaging ensemble piece with revealing insights about friendships.” Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.


Robin talks with fans at her book launch, Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Robin was kind enough to answer a few questions about The Grown-Ups as well as her writing journey. Her engaging and informative interview follows:

  1. Where did you get your idea for The Grown Ups?

Robin: Before I started writing what would become The Grown Ups, I had just shelved a project I had been working on for two years. My agent told me to take some time and think about what I really wanted to write – but I was still in that feeling sorry for myself stage even though it was my choice not to continue on with the manuscript. One day, I found myself at my local library’s used bookshop, sitting on the floor surrounded by a pile of potential purchases. I was also half-listening to the conversation between the two elderly volunteers, (in my defense it’s a really small space) when one of the women said to the other ‘It was the summer all the children in the neighborhood caught a virus.’ That single sentence captivated me so much I wrote it down inside the cover of one of the books I was going to buy. I thought about it forever until I had a neighborhood, a group of children, a family going through a very public meltdown, a box of provocative photographs and a first kiss between friends. That sentence became the first sentence of The Grown Ups.

2. How long did it take you to write The Grown Ups? What inspired you to begin this novel and take it to completion?

Robin: The first draft was very fast – three months. The editing took about a year. Once I started creating this world there was really no stopping. Originally, I wrote in first person POV from Sam, but then my editor at William Morrow asked me to try writing a few chapters from Suzie and Bella’s points of view. Once I did that the story opened up with the multiple view points, bringing more questions that needed to be answered, and some that couldn’t. But that’s the joy of editing.

3. Tell us about when you first decided that writing was a vocation you wanted to pursue.

Robin: I’ve always been a reader. Writing was the natural evolution. I’ve been doing this in one form or another for as long as I can remember. Some jobs are more lucrative than others. But I took anything I could when I was starting. I wrote ad copy, press releases, and once worked for a business news network writing 30-second business briefs. I wrote for pennies per word or free for experience and a byline. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do.

4. What frustrations did you encounter on your novel writing journey? How did you move past them?

Robin: I think that the most frustrating part of writing is that sometimes, despite a massive effort, you have to admit that a novel is not working. That’s where I was right before The Grown Ups. The thing to remember is that any writing, whether it becomes a novel or not, is writing. You are honing your craft, you are working the muscle, and that experience allows you to learn what works and what doesn’t by showing up to do your job. That’s half the battle of writing.

5. The road to finding a traditional publisher isn’t easy. What method did you use to make that happen?

Robin: For years I wrote short stories. I also read the literary journals, making lists of my favorites, the maybe not so attainable, and the second tier, the maybe more attainable. I submitted to both. Eventually I moved from generic rejections to more personalized rejections. I took the names on the rejection slips and began submitting directly to them. At the same time I read everything I could get my hands on – and when a book was similar to the kinds of things I wrote, I would read the acknowledgements carefully, for a mention of an agent, (writers always thank their agents) and from that I began to make a list of agents I would query. When I finished my first novel I began querying those agents. This takes a long time. Yes. But chances are if you have only written one short story and think you’re ready for an agent, you’re not. Again, you really have to do the work. There aren’t any short cuts. As a writer you should arm yourself with as much information as possible. Know the market, know the trends, attend readings, buy the book if you can, and be a good member of the literary community. Write what interests you. I have written four novels and published two. The first novel ended up getting me an agent, but the book deal fell apart. The second novel was my first published, The Summer We Fell Apart. During the third novel I parted ways with my agent, acquired a new agent and realized that I didn’t want to continue with that novel. My fourth novel is my second published, The Grown Ups. It’s a journey. You have to be able to be in it in for the long haul. That means you love the writing, you live for the writing, you do the work.

6. Can you tell us about a little about what’s involved with a book launch?

Robin: A book launch is all about the lead-up to publication and then a reading/party that usually happens soon after your on-sale date. My on-sale date is January 27th and the launch is January 29th at Northshire Bookstore. It’s that first debut into the world – and a ton of pre-publication stuff is involved. Mostly interviews, (radio, newspaper, TV) Q & A’s and whatever press opportunities come my way set up by my PR and Marketing team at Harper Collins. It’s a really exciting time this lead up to publication – and you get to talk about the book a lot. This isn’t really a writing time for me – my only writing now is really answering interview questions, writing blog posts etc., and doing all I can to get The Grown Ups out in to the world.


Robin signs copies of her new novel, The Grown Ups, at Northshire Bookstore on January 29.

7. Do you have any word of wisdom for people considering writing a novel or a memoir?

Robin: You have to write. You have to sit in the chair and do the work. And when you start writing you cannot edit yourself. You have to write until you are uncomfortable. That’s where the honesty comes in. Don’t worry about your parents, your friends, or an anonymous reader. If you want to be a writer then write. It’s that simple.


Robin Antalek, author of two novels, The Summer We Fell Apart and The Grown-Ups


ROBIN ANTALEK is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart (HarperCollins 2010) chosen as a Target Breakout Book and The Grown Ups (William Morrow 2015). Her non-fiction work has been published at The Weeklings, The Nervous Breakdown and collected in the following anthologies, The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in Salon, 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review and Literary Mama among others. She has twice been a finalist in Glimmertrain Magazine, as well as a finalist for The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
You can visit her site @,

Thank you Robin and congratulations on your success!




The Challenge of Shifting From Writer to Reader

By Peggy Morehouse

I’ll never forget the first time I took my son, Max, to see the ocean. He was seven months old and we were vacationing on the outer banks of North Carolina. The morning after our arrival, I dressed Max in his cute little sweat suit and told him that he was about to meet one of nature’s most spectacular scenes. I carried him up a weathered wooden staircase a few yards from our house rental and voila, the glistening green sea and pristine white sand greeted us. Instead of bursting with squeals of excitement like I imagined however, Max screeched, gripped my shoulders, and buried his face into my neck.

It never occurred to me that this massive body of water with its crashing waves would frighten him. I assumed Max would view it with a sense of wonder not like a monster that might swallow him whole. We both witnessed the same sight, but we viewed it differently. I’d walked and played on hundreds of ocean beaches on the east and west coast during my life and regarded the shore as a place to contemplate, relax, and enjoy. Max reminded me that it also had ferocious side. I changed my plan of strolling toward the surf and instead, sat on the top step and comforted him with a gentle hug and soothing words.


Max’s view of the ocean.

beach_walkway and two chairs_horizontal

My view of the ocean.

A shift occurred as I took the perspective of my young son. That is exactly what I needed to do when I  left the writing phase of my novel and entered the editing phase. It was no longer all about the story I wanted to tell. I needed to examine it from a reader’s viewpoint.


As I read the story, I asked myself questions like:

  • Do I understand the main character’s motivation?
  • Do I find myself rooting for the character?
  • Do I laugh a little?
  • Do I cry a little?
  • Do I feel scared at certain points and happy at others?
  • Am I ever confused?
  • Am I ever bored?
  • Do I want to continue reading at the end of every chapter?
  • Do I feel I’ve changed a bit when I reach the end?

And on and on. Personally, I didn’t find shifting from being the writer to the reader to be all that simple. After a few rounds of fine tuning, the story seemed clear to me, but it was my creation. I found it impossible to be objective so I hired a professional editor.

I sent my manuscript off to Ms. Editor on December 15 and she returned it on December 26 with a developmental evaluation, a line by line edit, and her compliments for a job well done. Of course she made some grammatical corrections, which I expected. But as I reviewed her notes I was amazed at some of the other things she found.  Just like I was surprised at Max’s reaction when he first saw the ocean, Ms. Editor found shortcomings  that I totally missed.

For example, in one instance she questioned why a certain character suddenly appeared in a scene, asking, “Where did she come from?”

My response: I mentioned she was coming along in the previous chapter.

Not good enough. The reader doesn’t remember every detail, like the writer. They need reminders without being repetitive. A one sentence cue at the beginning of the chapter like, “Lani glanced at Paige who was thumbing through a magazine…” is all the reader needs to indicate that Paige did indeed come along.

Ms. Editor was also intrigued by a side character that I almost cut from the story. She even suggested that I include her in at least one more scene.

Luckily my list of content edits was short. I will be ready to start querying literary agents by the end of next week. With Ms. Editor’s guidance I added the subtle touches that will keep the pages turning.


Like introducing a child to the ocean, a reader must be led through a story with sensitivity and  precision. Details must be carefully woven, reminders must be subtly given, and the pacing has to seamless. A writer must be acutely aware of a reader’s perceptions. As with Max on the seashore twenty-five years ago, I sensed when his body relaxed as I held him on the steps that led to the ocean. I noticed when he lifted his head and looked out more in awe than fear. I felt his hands lift off my shoulder and saw his feet flutter in anticipation. It was then that I knew he was ready to inch toward this new wonder.


For the sake of clarity, a writer would say, “The water reached his neck.” or “The water reached his ankles.”