Author Archives: Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Write something beautiful

When exercising in the morning, I watch TV because it makes exercise tolerable.

This morning, “The Hours” was on. The movie is based on the magnificent and Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Cunningham. The movie is also wonderful with Nicole Kidman in her Oscar winning role as Virginia Woolf, and a cast of fantastic actors, from magical Meryl Streep to Julianne Moore to Ed Harris.

Needless to say, I stopped exercising and watched because it is such a damn good movie with screenwriter David Hare adapting Cunningham’s novel.

The language in the novel and the film is beautiful, poignant, and heartbreaking. But it is also hopeful and complete with truth. I cried at the end of the film because of that hope, truth and the beauty of what I had seen and heard. The message about what makes our lives rich and worth living. Even though we experience with loss and pain, it makes us what we are.

As a writer the film inspired me want to write something as beautiful. Granted, I may never be a Michael Cunningham or Virginia Woolf, but I can be me and write my own message of hope. My own beauty. It may be a long journey, a journey of a lifetime. But that is what makes life worth living doesn’t it?

For all those other writers out there, may you find your own version of beauty, truth and hope.

—Patricia Santos Marcantonio


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Knowing what to accept and reject


I usually advise  new writers to grow a thick skin. We’re talking rhino skin. We’re talking skin thick as the Earth’s crust. That’s because editors and people in critique groups  will make dents in that skin when editing your writing.

We need to be a good listener and hear their suggestions. They may have a point about problems in your story. That’s because they are reading it as readers. It is painfully true we can sometimes get too close to our work to see beyond our keyboards.

It is an editor’s job to make your writing better and people in critique groups only want to help (good people that is.) Be open minded about work. I remember a woman asked me to read and comment on one of her stories. It was good but I had some suggestions to improve it. She got so mad she never talked to me again. Her writing skin turned out to be thin as rice paper.

That said, we must also learn when to reject, politely, criticism with which you totally disagree. You know your writing best and if there is something you believe is necessary to the piece, then stick with it and be prepared to defend it to editors or critiquers. You might have to compromise but usually they will understand and let it stand.

Be willing to listen to advice on how your writing can be improved. Don’t get insulted. Don’t get mad. Be professional.

Realize that not every word we write is gold, but those words might polished into shining brightly nevertheless.

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I’m not retired, darn it. I’m writing

A few years ago, I quit my day job to focus on writing. It has been a productive period resulting in a new book and near completion on two more. But when people hear I no longer have the proverbial day job, they ask me how I like being retired.
Maybe I’m sensitive but it makes me crazy.
No, I am not retired. In fact, I am working harder than I ever did at my day job on novels and screenplays. Of course, I am enjoying it more, but I am working.
My writing friend and I were talking about how non-writers don’t necessarily believe that we writers can be toiling away at a computer telling stories. Some people probably believe that if we aren’t receiving a regular paycheck or filling out a time card, that we must be just playing around.They don’t understand the sacrifices, frustration and how much labor it takes to come up with stories, the right sentences and descriptions. How much pounding our hands and fingers take to get it all right.
Yes, I love it. And I will keep at it until I do decide enough is enough and I have told all the stories I want to tell. Until, then I am working, darn it.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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In time for second canyon jump, check out YA novel about the famous Knievel stunt

In 1974, daredevil Evel Knievel failed to cross the Snake River Canyon in his Skycycle near Twin Falls, Idaho.

Forty two years later, stuntman Eddie Braun will attempt the canyon jump in September. His rocket bike, called the Evel Spirit, has been constructed by Scott Truax, the son of rocket engineer Bob Truax who built Knievel’s rocket .

Billie Neville is a young girl who wanted to be a daredevil like Evel Knievel when he came to Twin Falls. Check out a free preview of the award-winning YA novel BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP by Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio.

Billie Neville Takes a Leap

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Filed under Archives 2016, kid's books

Be thankful for privilege of writing

I had a recent book signing at Barnes & Noble and got there a little early to buy a book for my sister’s birthday. Walking around and checking out all the books, it was overwhelming. The number of books, the number of writers. All stories to tell, some good, others not.

I remembered that as a fledging writer without a published book, the book store gave me hope that I too would have my book on the shelves someday. When my first book was published, I was so excited to have finally made my goal. My book was there.

As I wandered around the book store, which I love to do, I began to feel so privileged that I was doing what I loved to do, and that is, write and to tell stories. I have been honored that traditional publishers have wanted my books and that I earn royalties from their sale.

Along with a writing friend, I have also self-published several books that have not only paid for themselves, but made us a little money.

Not many people love what they do. Even if you hold a day job and write at night, which I did for years, you are still privileged to have found your passion.

Enjoy it and be thankful.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Make Monday your marketing day

The rack. The iron maiden. Those forms of torture are nothing compared to the way some writers feel about marketing.  We love writing, but not especially marketing because we’d rather be writing and marketing takes time away from us sitting in front of our computer, or writing on our yellow pads of paper.

Make no mistake, we are damn proud of what we wrote and want to get it out there to readers. But we also consider ourselves writers and not necessarily advertising madmen.

I have been both traditionally published and self-published, and have gotten use to the fact that marketing is just another part of the business. If you are self-published, no one else is going to market your book for you, unless you pay someone to do it. Even with traditional publishing, you will be expected to help spread the word about your book.

Marketing requires a different mindset. As a writer friend of mine is fond of saying, it is time to put on your big girl panties and just do it. For male writers, you can do the translation.

To make it more palatable and convenient, I set one day aside and have designated Monday as Marketing Day. I make my business calls, write news releases or contact reporters, arrange book signings, seek reviews, update my website, etc. And part of that mindset is doing as good a job at marketing as you do at your writing. Get creative. Have fun.

Big girl panties, remember?

We want to get our writing out to people to read otherwise, it’s just a journal for our eyes only. And in order to do that, we need to tell readers about our book with marketing.

So designate your marketing day. Be it Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Even Tuesday and Thursday will do.



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Learn the writing business

Whenever I tell people I’m a writer, they usually say they’ve also written a book and want to have it published. Usually my first advice to new writers is about craft and becoming the best writer they can be. But after having been around publishing for awhile, I have additional advice. That is, learn about the writing and publishing business.

Look at it this way. If you decide to start a restaurant, you’re not just going to throw open the doors to your new place and start cooking. You’re going to learn about the restaurant business.  The same is true for the writing business.

I will emphasize that most of my experiences have been good with people, but I too have had my hair singed on occasion. So start by learning about what type of writing you’re interested in, from novels to nonfiction to screenplays to magazine articles. There are hundreds of books and internet sites with advice.

Here’s some things I learned along the way that I hope will save you heartburn.

  • If you’re offered a contract by a publishing company and don’t have an agent, hire an attorney and have him or her look at it. This is well worth the money to make sure you aren’t giving away your rights and do you have an option to get back your publishing rights.
  • Do research on the publisher or whoever is interested in buying your writing. There are many sites on the Web to warn you about the good, the bad and oh so ugly.
  • Ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy. If a publisher doesn’t want to answer, beware. But always be polite and never obnoxious about it.
  • Get paid. Don’t give your writing away. If someone wants to publish it and make money off your talent, then get your share. And get this in writing. A guy still owes me money for a writing job.
  • Keep copies of everything, including emails. Hopefully you won’t need those but if you do…

I know many of you may not care about making money from your writing and your reward will be to share it or give it away, which is great. However, if you want monetary compensation — even if you consider writing a hobby — then it’s best to learn the business or you may end up getting the business.







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Waiting for a query reply? Don’t wait. Write

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.

Paulo Coelho

I remember the first time I got a request for a manuscript. I thought this is it, man. The big time. Money. Fame. A Charlie Rose interview.

I sent off my manuscript and then I waited and waited and waited. It was worse than meeting a cute boy when I was younger, giving him my phone number and then waiting for the call, which never came.

Now when I query, I don’t wait. I write.

If you want to be published and your last name isn’t King, Grisham or Patterson or some of those other people on the Amazon bestsellers list, the reality is you’re probably going to have to wait. Like waiting for an agent to decide whether he or she will represent you, or for a publisher to get back to your agent or you. The great thing about the industry today is that you don’t have to wait a week for your letter to get where it’s going. There’s email. But that doesn’t necessarily speed up the wait. (Although it is a bummer to get a rejection email five minutes after you sent a query. It’s like Ouch!)

This all takes time so don’t let it get to you. Don’t check your email ten thousand times a day because it will only increase your angst. In many instances, you may not even get a reply because agents and publishers are busy and get a billion queries.

Forget about anxiously awaiting for snail mail. Only rejections end up in your mailbox if you get one at all.

If you focus too much on waiting, then the painful self-doubts rise up like an El Niño storm. As your grandmother once uttered, don’t put all your writing eggs in one basket.

My advice is that once you send your manuscript, immediately start work on another, if you haven’t already done so. The best way to forget you are waiting is not to wait, but write. Use the days productively. We only have so many, after all.

If you are fortunate and your work is accepted for publication, that takes time, too. Sometimes up to two years to get your book published. The same advice holds when it comes to waiting.

Don’t wait. Write.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

I received some great comments on this, especially C.S. Wilde’s. Thanks for your comments!

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Filed under Archives 2015, Writing

Kid’s book about Knievel jump on sale on Kindle in time for anniversary

billiecover2014- 3

Ten-year-old Billie Nevile wants to be a daredevil, just like her hero Evel Knievel. She also wants a best friend. When Evel comes to town to jump the Snake River Canyon, Billie learns she has to be a friend to make friends and that not all heroes have to soar over canyons.

“BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP” is an award-winning young adult book by Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio and inspired by Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump on Sept. 8, 1974.

In commemoration of the upcoming anniversary of jump, the Kindle version of “BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP” will be on sale for 99 cents now until September 8.

Soar with Billie and enjoy the ride.

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Filed under Archives 2015, kid's books

Writing takes as long as it takes

When I was a reporter facing a deadline, I had to learn to write well, accurately, and fast. I had to see the story in my head and do it.
As a fiction writer, I’ve kept that mode. That doesn’t mean I don’t research, edit and rewrite, and rewrite and edit. But often, I felt bad that could write so fast because aren’t all writers told it takes years and years if your project is going to be good. Of course, some of my projects did take years. But some didn’t and that made me feel like a hack. Writing was starting to feel like work, which it is, but it should also be damn fun and fulfilling or why the hell are we doing it?
Then at a conference, authors Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch spoke about how they write quickly. And they are successful writers. Indeed, they have great credentials.
To me this was one of those ah-ha moments that made me extremely happy.
It was okay that I wrote quickly. But writers still wrestle with this.
Recently on the Stage 32 network, of which I am a member, there was a long discussion about how long it takes to write a screenplay. The opinions were all over the place.
My only opinion: It takes as long as it takes.

Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby,” considered to be one of the best American novels, over a summer and fall in 1924 with revisions the following year, when it was published, according to a University of Southern Carolina website.

It takes as long as it takes.

Weeks, months or years. No matter how long it takes, the thing we shouldn’t give up is telling a good, well written story.
Time is relative, after all.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Filed under Archives 2015, Writing