Welcome! I'm a published novelist; an advice columnist; and a freelance writer, editor, and video/audio tech. Check out my journal for news about the book business, recipes, free short stories, travel tales, and more. If you want to learn more about my books or my services, navigate using the links above!

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Hannah's Quick and Dirty Guide to Book Publishing

Since I hear from a lot of friends, acquaintances, and friends-of-acquaintances asking about how to get their book(s) published, I thought I'd boil down the three methods here. This post is meant as a starting point, both for making your own decision about which method to pursue, and for starting your own, more in depth research. Also note these suggestions are most useful when seeking to publish a work of fiction, though they're still mostly true when publishing nonfiction as well.

One note applies to all three methods though: If you want to publish a book, your first step is to finish writing it. It sounds obvious, but it's actually very difficult, because writing a book is extremely time-consuming and draining, and it can be hard to finish something like that without any reward along the way. So the temptation is to write a little bit, and then either use that little bit to query agents or publishers "on proposal," or to self-pub it as the first installment of something. The first way leads to a situation where (joy! happiness!) an agent or publisher expresses interest...and asks for the rest of the manuscript, which does not exist yet and you cannot possibly complete, in good quality, in the next week or month. The second way leads to readers who (joy! happiness!) got hooked on your story...but then lost all interest or got angry or swore it off when it took too long for you to post the next bit.

Click to read more ...


Writers eat too.

I needed to make something for dessert because a completely mysterious and unknowable force has been eating my chocolate bunny.

It was windy today and I didn't want to go for a run, so my beautiful and talented assistant roommate Becky suggested creating a workout that I could do while baking. Now I just have to figure out how to describe it in MyFitnessPal. The idea originally sprang up when I told her that this glorious and forgiving calorie counter actually lets you list cooking as an exercise activity (after all, you're burning calories with all that standing, and mixing, and bending and reaching).

Note: this workout is not proven to improve your health, figure, or complexion. In fact, the only thing that it has been proven to do so far is, under certain very specific circumstances, make you fatter.

I adapted it from this kind of embarrassingly dull Bon Appetit recipe for banana bread. First of all, no vanilla or nutmeg?! Seriously, is this Soviet Russia? Secondly, I had some pineapple that needed to be used up, so I replaced one of the bananas with that. Thirdly, while I was working, the rest of my chocolate bunny disappeared. Investigators are still examining the scene.


Pineapple Banana Breadercise


1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 overripe banana

1 cup pureed pineapple

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup oil


While gathering ingredients, complete 20 squats.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mash together banana and pineapple. MASH HARD.

Cream together fruit, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil. While doing this, complete 20 calf raises.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Do the standing tree yoga pose.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. If you're especially confident and flexible, throw in 20 lateral lunges.

Pour batter into two greased loaf pans and bake for 40 minutes.

This workout will not in any way whatsoever compensate for the amount of sugar you are about to consume.


A good column for bad advice

Check out my latest on PJ Lifestyle, about the three best advice column questions -- and then submit your own questions for my new advice column. A little bit of bad advice will do you good. Send them to PJMBadAdvice at gmail dot com.


"Relaxing" Reading

I've been reading The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, a fascinating account of the first American astronauts, told in Wolfe's trademark frenetic style. It's a stellar read...but not exactly relaxing material. In fact, I realized that when I read it right before bed, I turned the light out feeling mildly stressed out and keyed up, as if Wolfe were still narrating things in my head: "And then she puts down the book, this tome, charged with its righteous energy and all these hypermasculine righteous powerstrong men are now in her imagination getting amped up on run-on sentences peppered with italics, alternating their dirty little cusswords with polysyllabic symphonies of overeducated prose!"

So I decided I need more relaxing bedtime reading, and The Right Stuff could wait for the weekends. I cast about my bedroom for something I hadn't read before, because I was craving new material. That narrowed the field significantly, because the books I keep on the bookshelf in my bedroom are my old favorites. I took a mental inventory of the newer acquisitions within arm's reach, so I wouldn't have to go downstairs in the cold.

They included: Angela's Ashes, which is about kids starving to death in Ireland; The Beast in the Garden, a nonfiction account of a recent string of cougar attacks on humans in Colorado (not to be confused with In the Garden of Beasts, the new book about Nazi Germany); and the collected short works of Herman Melville, which are mostly (as far as I've got in it) about people being stranded on desert islands.

I sighed, looking once more at the shelf of old favorites, resigning myself to relaxing with a re-read after all, something soothing, not too thinky...and my eyes alighted on my collection of JD Salinger's works.

I think I need to go to the bookstore. 



Lana Del Rey's relationship advice

I have a new post up on PJ Lifestyle: I Hear You Like Bad Girls Too, a look at Lana Del Rey's music and why it's become such a fad to hate on her. Check it out.