Monthly Archives: June 2011

Anais’s Editor at Swallow Press Has Written a Book

Donna Ippolito, Anaïs Nin’s editor at Swallow Press has written a book which is reviewed by writer and poet Rochelle Holt. Ms. Holt titled her review “Dangling Lure” and referenced her poem at the start of the review, but to focus attention on her review of Ms.Ippolito’s work, we are editing her referencing words, and putting her poem at the end. To order Donna’s book, please go to her website. Writing Fiction: Ask The Editor

Dangling Lure
Drawing on twenty-five years experience as an editor for Swallow Press that first published Anaïs Nin; and editor-in-chief for FASA (novels in science fiction and fantasy published by Penguin and Times-Warner, i.e. Battletech; Shadowrun; MechWarrior; Earthdawn), Donna Ippolito has written a unique reference and guide to not only writing fiction but publishing as well.
Succinct responses to questions writers pose comprise Craft; Writing Well; Roadblocks and Inspiration; and Getting Published. Not only apprentices and novices will gain much from this truly supportive source, but experienced writers also can read the craft book to brush-up or re-hone their skills.
CRAFT includes twenty-six responses, lessons, so to speak, that range from Titles; Setting the Scene; Characters Need Plots through Seamless Inner Dialogue; The Antagonist to Reading Like a Writer and Literary versus Commercial.

In Beats and Dialogue Tags, “you can handle multiple speakers with a nice mix of dialogue tags and action tags (or ‘beats’). “Beats” are the gestures, facial expressions, small movements, and even thoughts or feelings that occur in the midst of dialogue.”

The author uses a brief or longer example from a story to illustrate her advice. For “The Antagonist,” usually another person, she says “it could just as easily be an animal, a spirit or nonhuman creature…also a force of nature. In Titanic, it’s an iceberg….”

In WRITING WELL, readers learn to Kill an Adjective. She uses quotes throughout the book to support her advice, i.e. Mark Twain. “If you catch an adjective, kill it.” As she affirms, “Adjectives (and adverbs) do tend to tell rather than show….Readers are looking for an experience…” Knowing the color of a character’s eyes isn’t a way to understand his character unless he’s as cool or cold towards others as his aquamarine peepers!

In ROADBLOCKS AND INSPIRATION, she quotes Jodi Picoult, “who trained herself to grab even 10 minutes at the computer when her three kids were all under the age of 4.” The novelist says, “Writer’s block is for people who have the luxury of time.”

GETTING PUBLISHED is also too glib regarding the ease of publication for novice or professional. “Slush Pile (from which Twilight had luck) or not, your job is to keep writing and to keep your manuscripts circulating. If you know what an editor is looking for and then deliver it, your work will always stand out.”
What writer wouldn’t like to believe this to optimistically and blithely keep sending out work, snail mail preferred (according to the editor) to the tune of what must be $400. a month now. In my day, forty years ago I spent $200. a month on same. Perhaps, the main complaint with this excellent guide book is the absence of truth regarding publication.

Somewhere in the last section of the reference tool should have been mentioned the plethora of self-produced books in the last decade or more. This is due to the ease of publishing that exists via computers with many reputable presses, including Kindred Spirit. Most writers have weighed the decision, i.e. continued wasted postage and long waiting vs. publication and instant gratification regarding a book of poems, stories or a novel.

However, I do believe one should struggle for a short period, maybe a year with the editor’s recommended methods before launching your own work into the public arena and only after consulting some reputable readers who are not family members though they might be friends.

Otherwise, this veteran recommends the veteran editor’s book to everyone who seeks succinct and serious advice regarding writing fiction and publishing as well, hopefully not with the big commercial magazines in mind as they are now fewer than small press.

Reviewed by Rochelle Lynn Holt


Can’t writing be a hobby, just pleasure?
Must writers become artists to prevail?
In these times, one can self-produce to share.

Not everyone requires fame, for sure.
In truth and in fact, most books rarely sail.
Can’t writing be a hobby, just pleasure?

In dire days only certain authors endure;
See, Alice Hoffman, Shreve, Picoult don’t fail.
In these times, one can self-produce to share.

Few magazines publish literature;
so many writers miss hammering nail.
Can’t writing be a hobby, just pleasure?

Reading and writing both offer cure
to philosophical struggles that ail.
In these times, one can self-produce to share.

Still, masses like fish reach for dangling lure
when manuscripts end up frozen in pail.
Can’t writing be a hobby, just pleasure?
In these times, one can self-produce to share.