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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.

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:


Posted by Donna Levin on December 18, 2014 | Read More & Add Comments >>

        Help me.  Please, please help me.

        You: the pedestrian.  Me: the driver of a modest automobile.

        I don’t want to hurt you.  Partly because I’m a nice person, but mostly because I’m a selfish one.

        If I hurt you, you will sue me.

        If I hurt you badly, or G-d forbid kill you, I will never forgive myself.

        It is not easy driving in the city, in the dark, in the rain.  A surprising number of intersections remain unlit, even in high-density neighborhoods.

        After a couple of close calls with pedestrians approaching from my left, I trained myself to look in that direction, only to find Satan’s own hoard approaching from the right.

        And so, several times this rainy autumn I have rolled past outraged – outraged! – pedestrians, waving furious arms at me.  They are dressed entirely in black.  Sometimes I wonder if they’re angry that I missed them.

        Your anger at me isn’t fair.  A car is not human, but a driver is.  My eyes have a range of approximately 180 degrees, but they stick together, those eyes, and they can’t cover that entire width simultaneously.

        She who is a pedestrian today may be a driver tomorrow.  And tomorrow I will be the pedestrian.

        I’ll look out for you if you look out for me.

The Last Endangered Species

Posted by Donna Levin on April 12, 2014 | Read More & Add Comments >>

George Orwell, in 1984 (one of my favorite books, and I’ll leave you to wonder what that says about moi), predicted many horrors that have come to pass: government spying, “enhanced interrogation,” and strangling political correctness.  The prediction that hasn’t come true – yet – is factory-produced fiction (Winston Smith’s lover, Julia, repairs “the novel-writing machines”).  But when I saw how the auto-correct capability on my iPhone changed “cyxt” to “Hi there,” I realized that this final abomination cannot be far away.

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