Got Revelation?(Ceci n’est pas une GoT post.)

A local client of mine, another baseball aficionado and HSP (highly sensitive person) who came to cheer on my softball team last night, brought with him to our last editing meeting a copy of Good Prose, by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. He wanted to read portions of it aloud to me. Who doesn’t love to be read aloud to over a milkshake?

After our meeting, we walked straight over to the bookstore and I ordered my copy. I’m about to dive into a full five weeks of final revisions (I mean it this time, this is IT!) on my novel, Outta Here!, after having received some “just right” insight two weeks ago. Funny how you can go through years of workshopping a piece or a manuscript, how other agents you’ve queried can suggest smart things to you, but then one day, one agent says one thing… and it fully clicks.

I hope this bit from Good Prose will be just what the doctor ordered for someone somewhere today:

“It is a misleading truism that drama comes form conflict. Conflict in stories is generally understood as an external contest between good guys and bad guys. But to say that Hamlet depicts the conflict between a prince and usurper king is (obviously) to oversimplify that rich, mysterious drama, indeed to misunderstand it completely. The most important conflict often happens within a character, or within the narrator. The story begins with an inscrutable character and ends with a person the author and reader understand better than before, a series of events that yields, however quietly, a dramatic truth. One might call this kind of story a narrative of revelation.

… Revelation, someone’s learning something, is what transforms event into story. Without revelation, a story of high excitement leaves us asking, “Is that all?”

… For a story to have a chance to live, it is essential only that there be something important at stake, a problem that confronts the characters or confronts the reader in trying to understand them. The unfolding of the problem and its resolution are the real payoff. A car chase is not required.”

Here’s to everyone working on those car chase-less no-murdering stories this week. Here’s to you and yours learning something.

*And hell, here’s to anyone working on a story as character-rich as the most violent show I’ve ever been able to tolerate (see HSP, Item #6, scary/violent things).



In the past three years of querying agents for my novel, Outta Here!, I’ve gone from running on pure high hopes and confidence, to almost hitting the game-ending “I quit writing forever” button.

After working on my pages for four years and attending a master novel workshop in 2013, where I was told, “It’s ready. Start querying;” and after having 10+ full reads in the first two rounds of letters I sent, friends were behind me: “It’s gonna happen fast, Fadden. You’ve got Book Two ready, right?”

Fast. Um. Hah. I love how much my friends believe in my work, but I feel like I’ve been living inside the slowest game of baseball ever.

I’ve had amazing rejections, you know, the kind all writers truly are thankful for. “I loved these and those elements, but the ______ didn’t quite ______” or, “I would snag this in a heartbeat, but I don’t quite know where to sell it.”

Very early on, in 2010, a short story version of Outta Here! earned a praisey-rejection from The New Yorker: “Your writing has merit.” (Trust me, non-writers, this sounds flat as f*#k, but it is dance-inducing champagne-popping praise).

In 2014, an excerpt won the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Prize. The judges said beautiful things, and several people have since recommended me to their agents. More bits and pieces have been published.

When I made the Hobart 2014 baseball issue, I thought surely the right sports’ loving, girl-power backing agent would find me.

I thought, “If I see the Phillies play, it’ll happen.”

I thought, “If the Phillies do well this year, it’ll happen.”

I thought, “Mo’ne Ikea Davis pitching… hot damn, yes, now it’ll happen! Now is the time of the girl pitcher, and now is the time for Outta Here!!!!”

Last fall, an indie film team in L.A. asked to read my novel, believing they might option it. (I’ve been told countless times that because Outta Here! is so dialogue heavy, it’d make a great film. I’ve touted it as A League of Their Own meets The Sandlot.) And these film guys are legit and wonderful, but their own film is experiencing such wild success (going from the film festival circuit to the big screen this fall, and well… hey… I get how long shots go, I really do.)

So then today, TODAY, I saw this clip of Pitch…


and I thought, “Yes, now! Really now is the time to strike!” (No pun intended.)

And then I realized, I haven’t sent a round of query letters in four months. 

I thought about all my silly softball/baseball/girl power novel superstitions.

I reviewed my query records: On and off, these past three years, when I am in the “empty  and maybe this novel was just the love of my life and that alone is what it is worth,” phases, which come regularly and have lasted at times for months, I am not doing the work necessary to keep my pages in front of people’s eyes.

So, tonight, I’ll go to softball practice.

I’ll think: “If tonight I catch every ball and if tonight I throw a bit further and if tonight I hit a few doubles (no, a triple or two– god is that possible, do I have any triples left in me?). And if don’t injure my thumb, my Achilles tendon, my damn face (the shiner from last week has almost fully faded)–yes, if tonight I do all this and then in two weeks our team wins our first game, I know one of the agents I reach out to tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, will verify, finally, that my work is everything I believe it is. And this novel, a gift to my long gone Phillies’ loving grandmother, will be home.”


Worry/Way Through

“I worry when I feel good and giddy about what I’ve written that I’m delusional.”

How much longer would this great piece by Susannah Felts, “Here Are the Things You Should Worry About While Writing a Novel,” become, if passed around the online literary community for 24 hours? Hard to say, because it feels like Felts has nailed every single writer worry EVER!

The beauty in this list is that it is so damn accurate, you just have to laugh. Laugh your worries down, and write.

Or loop your way out of the worry loop, and then keep at your dream (telling myself this after a week that began with a car accident and ended with another agent kindly rejecting my novel).


For the Love of Interviews

For my novel–like most (aspiring!) novelists, I suppose–I combined a tiny percentage of real life with a huge percentage of the imagined. I also did some research. I watched the entire Ken Burns’ Baseball miniseries while at a writers’ residency in Wyoming, checked out the incredible online libraries of MLB stats, read “Watching Baseball Smarter” and “The Glory of Their Times,” and played phone tag with a former MLB pitcher that a friend of a friend knew.

The player and I never made the connection–we were on different coasts at different times and something called a “landline with an answering machine” was involved. But I did call him– twice. And he called me–once.

I didn’t really need to interview this player for my novel, but thought it would be fun to meet up and listen to ball stories. At the height of his career, he had been a rebel, and I thought surely he’d say something offhand that I could tweak and work into a girls’ Little League softball game. Then, of course, the plan was to ask him to coach me some on pitching. Just for a half an hour or so…

Fiction is my baby, and though I’ve done research for stories, interviewing people isn’t usually part of the process. Interviewing is what I do when I ghostwrite or collaborate with someone on a non-fiction book or memoir. Now, four years into it–I’m suddenly realizing how much I love the interview process.

As an undergrad, long ago, I changed my major often. At one point, I told my dad that I wanted to become a “professional student.” He laughed, but I was serious. I had no idea the term “professional student” was used not to describe someone who loved learning, but someone who didn’t want to face reality, i.e. ~~GET A JOB~~

I do love school, and I do still play with the idea of earning my doctorate, but it was a client that pointed out to me last year that as a ghostwriter–as a writer–I AM a professional student. I ask experts and amazing people from all walks of life questions, and they give me very thorough answers. It’s a free education, baby!

It’s rewarding when I bake a pie with “almost flakey” crust; it’s rewarding when I feel tired after twenty minutes in the pool, but stay in for forty; it’s rewarding when someone tells me as we are about to hang up: “You pulled something out of me I didn’t even know I wanted to say.”

During an interview, whenever the person on the other end of the line says, “That’s a great question,” I get a rush.

I once photocopied the John Steinbeck interview from the Paris Review, put stickers on it, and slept with it under my pillow. I declare no abnormal fandom of John Steinbeck, but I think, I had partially fallen in love with… a wonderful interview:

In the very early dawn, I felt a fiendish desire to take my electric pencil sharpener apart. It has not been working very well and besides I have always wanted to look at the inside of it. So I did and found that certain misadjustments had been made at the factory. I corrected them, cleaned the machine, oiled it and now it works perfectly for the first time since I have [had] it. There is one reward for not sleeping.

                                                                                                      –John Steinbeck


Who knows–I think the MLB pitcher I never connected with is still playing in some pro-level circuit. If I find myself where he is one spring or summer, I might just show up. “Hi,” I’ll say. “I called you three years ago and I have this novel that was triggered, basically, by Harry Kalas dying. Do you want to hang out for an hour?”

Writing Inspiration: 1

Don’t these notebooks make you want to be a kid again?

Maybe you’re writing a memoir about the darkest moment of your life, or your novel’s protagonist is a brutal thieving scumbag–and yes, maybe the line spacing in these Mead notebooks is way too old-school to draft seriously in–but there is something to be said about reminding yourself that writing can be FUN. It should be fun.

We all hit the wall, where we stare and pace and decide vacuuming the blinds is necessary now, but I swear, add a little color to your writing space and bammo! Color is to black words on white screen what the power pose is to the stuck hunched-over writer’s body–a burst of bountifulness in the form of a juicy rainbow.

Stop doing all your creative work on a computer. Break every once in awhile from your keyboard and scratch up a scene with a pencil–against paper. Buy a notebook with pages that feel like silk (I ♥ Rhodia), or buy a grown-up version of Mead’s “OOH, BURRRRN” with tulips or trout on it, and let go.

Go out and get yourself a roll of white craft paper, tack it to your wall, plot your scenes, and then attack your creation with a set of fluorescent highlighter pens and colored star-shaped Post-it® Notes. (I like Post-it® stars because they remind me of what to aim for with every revision–better clarity and sparkle).


Ooh! Looks and feels like a Creamsicle!