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I'm a San Francisco author and writing teacher here to provide resources for writers of any level of experience. I am the author of the novels Extraordinary Means (William Morrow) and California Street (Simon & Schuster), as well as two books on writing: Get that Novel Started and Get that Novel Written, both published by Writer's Digest Books. Visit often for updates about newly released books and trends in publishing. Send me a message--and be sure to read and add your comments on my new blog, below.

Full Inclusion: Twenty Years in the Making

Posted by Donna Levin on May 01, 2015 | Read More & Add Comments >>

         This piece first appeared as a guest blog in Laura Shumaker's column at on April 15, 2015.

          In the fall of 1995, my son Will started kindergarten at Claire Lilienthal Alternative K-8 here in San Francisco.  It was only the second year of their full-inclusion program and there were only a handful of students so included. 

          Will was first diagnosed as PDD-NOS, but by then, just around the time of his sixth birthday, he had grown into the more readily identifiable symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome: echolalia, perseverative scripting, and a preoccupation with certain narrow interests.  (Actually one: Power Rangers.)

Role Models I Don't Want to Emulate

Posted by Donna Levin on April 15, 2015 | Read More & Add Comments >>

            There are many stories of writers overcoming great obstacles in order to find the time, the place ad even the raw material to write. 

            The French poet, playwright and novelist Jean Genet did time in a French prison (because he was French, and also because he stole, and did a couple of other things that would be indelicate to mention here).  The inmates were put to work making paper bags and Genet stole, no, let’s say he liberated, some of the paper to write on.   He worked on his first novel Our Lady of the Flowers,hiding the pages under his mattress, until a guard tossed his cell and threw the manuscript away.

            He started again.

The Deadline Dilemma

Posted by Donna Levin on March 04, 2015 | Read More & Add Comments >>

            I can sit at my laptop for three hours and have virtually nothing to show for it besides a wastebasket full of Geotze’s caramel wrappers.   

            Then my husband calls and says he’ll be home in an hour but can I please pick up his laundry before they close, because otherwise he won’t have a clean shirt for tomorrow.

Are We There Yet?

Posted by Donna Levin on January 19, 2015 | Read More & Add Comments >>

            There is a profusion—nay, a glut, an excess, a veritable avalanche of books and instructors out there who will help you to get started writing a novel.

            I myself contributed to this surfeit with my book, imaginatively titled Get that Novel Started. I was so grateful for having overcome my own writer’s block with the help of a compassionate teacher that I wanted to spread the joy.  I also wanted to pass on what that first teacher had drummed into my head: just get that first draft written.

Not So Desirable

Posted by Donna Levin on December 30, 2014 | Read More & Add Comments >>

            Unless you’ve been vacationing on Neptune for a decade or so, you know about Laura Hillenbrand and her two “runaway” (hahaha) bestsellers, Seabiscuitand Unbroken. 

            I read them, and was duly impressed.    Her attention to detail, her thoroughness and, most importantly, her ability to tell a compelling story at a fast pace (we’ll let that one slide) – well, it’s what all writers of fiction and narrative non-fiction aspire to.

            Then I read this:

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