Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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My Second Pandemic - Part 2

My Second Pandemic - Part 2
Apr 10, 2020 by Victoria Noe
When I wrote my latest blog post I hoped it would be the only time I wrote about COVID-19. I certainly did not want to write anymore about how this virus triggered painful memories of the early days of the AIDS epidemic. 

I was grateful that the response to that post was immediate and positive. I heard from other members of the HIV/AIDS community who were in a similar place. Our conversations, mostly on Facebook, were emotional and oddly uplifting: we’d discovered a new connection. I figured I said my piece and I was done.

In the past couple of weeks, articles have popped up on various websites. Most have been written by long-term survivors in the HIV/AIDS...

Still Connected, Even if Not Physically

Still Connected, Even if Not Physically
Mar 19, 2020 by Victoria Noe
Like most people, my life has turned upside down this month.

Last week I was in New York, for what would turn out to be a five-day visit instead of a three-week trip to four cities. I’d been there less than 48 hours when the emails started popping up: cancellations and rescheduling. The one event that wasn’t cancelled was drastically downsized. My hotel was emptying quickly, crowds were disappearing. Everyone was scared. What would have been a busy and lucrative month was now a financial disaster. Fear of the unknown - and so much is unknown about COVID-19 - overwhelmed every other consideration.

Still, I remained oddly calm. All...

Why New Year's Resolutions Are Made to be Broken

Why New Year's Resolutions Are Made to be Broken
Jan 02, 2020 by Victoria Noe
insurancejournal.com

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. They’ve always felt to me like a setup for failure. But something popped into my head this morning that has changed my mind.  

I thought about what others have said to me when I was trying to do something that seemed impossible. Their words of encouragement - “You can do it!” - sometimes rang hollow. But their encouragement wasn’t time-limited. They didn’t stop encouraging me if my first attempt fell short.

Whether it was trying to improve my grades, or applying for a grant, that ‘failure’ wasn’t permanent. Maybe my grades fell short that semester. There’s another semester starting soon. Maybe I didn’t get that grant. But...

What Kind of Author Are You?

What Kind of Author Are You?
Apr 30, 2019 by Victoria Noe
I’m not talking about genre. I’m not talking about pantser vs. plotter. I’m not talking about introverted or extroverted. I’m talking about your social media presence.

We’re all familiar with authors who post strident, desperate “BUY MY BOOK!” notices on their social media pages. They lament infinitesimal drops in Amazon rankings and newsletter subscribers, and the unfairness of publishing in general. Their focus is always, relentlessly, on their sales.

They’re exhausting.

But many people don’t know how to present themselves on social media without the constant use of a bullhorn. And if you’re a writer for the long-haul, you need to carve out a unique place for yourself. Getting noticed isn’t easy, unless you’re one of those annoying people. So how about making...

The Post-Book Launch Glow

The Post-Book Launch Glow
Apr 20, 2019 by Victoria Noe
I’ve had two book launch events in the last two weeks: one in Chicago, one in New York City, both at indie bookstores. Both events had delicious cakes that looked like the book cover.

This book - Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community - is very different than the Friend Grief series I wrote. It’s longer and more complicated, being published almost five years to the day after I first got the idea for it. My production team - editor, cover designer, interior designer - was different. I hired a publicist, for the first time ever. Like I said, very different.

But the biggest difference is that so many people were invested in this...

The Soundtrack of My Writing

The Soundtrack of My Writing
Feb 07, 2019 by Victoria Noe
I’m almost ten years out from my concussion. It was the first one documented, though it’s very likely it was the second. Over the years I’ve learned how to control the side effects so they don’t overwhelm me. Silence is my default remedy.

Well, not total silence. When I work at home, I’m usually sitting at the dining room table, which at the moment is covered with research, drafts and notes. Our house is on an alley, across from an auto body shop. As you can imagine, total silence is rare. I hear cars going too fast until they hit the speed bump, garbage trucks emptying bins, the ‘beep’ of trucks backing up. But when you live in a city, you...

Today I'm 8

Today I'm 8
Feb 02, 2019 by Victoria Noe
God bless Facebook Memories.

Thanks to that sometimes annoying, sometimes entertaining feature, I was reminded that my first blog post was eight years ago today.

I’d just returned from my first writing conference in New York. I’d spent a little over a year starting the research for what would become the Friend Grief series. I was in a writing group that was helping me observe and listen and be a better writer. But I’d never been to a writing conference before.

My only social media experience was a couple years on Facebook, and that was pretty much 100% social. Pre-conference, we’d been asked to life-tweet during our sessions. Tweet? You mean on Twitter? Yikes. On the way there, I signed up for...

Writer's Block...or is it?

Writer's Block...or is it?
Jan 23, 2019 by Victoria Noe
writing.inside.tru.ca

I didn’t write a blog post last week.

Writer’s block is something that most - if not all - writers experience at some time. Even non-writers recall the panic of sitting down to write a term paper and having no idea where to begin.

A writer friend of mine described her situation as scraping the bottom of the barrel. I’ve read her scrapings. We should all be so lucky to write scrapings like hers.

What if it’s not writer’s block? What if it’s something else?

It may be news to some, but writers are human beings. Their lives are filled with the usual things: relationships, bills, traffic, grocery shopping, doctor appointments. Sometimes those things run smoothly. Sometimes they...

The Joys of Binge-Reading

The Joys of Binge-Reading
Jan 13, 2019 by Victoria Noe
Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis

Several years ago I found myself in Brooklyn, at Armistead Maupin’s signing for the final book in the Tales of the City series, The Days of Anna Madrigal. I had fond memories of the mini-series on PBS, of the colorful characters who lived in Barbary Lane in pre-AIDS San Francisco, and had read most of the books. I was there to experience Maupin in person, and the unexpected thrill of seeing Laura Linney, who played Mary Ann Singleton, in the audience was a bonus. But I put the book aside. I knew I’d have to refresh my memory before digging into it. Sometime later I decided that my reward for writing my...

Focus, Distractions, and Pie

Focus, Distractions, and Pie
Jan 04, 2019 by Victoria Noe
The beginning of a new year finds most of us clutching to lists of things we hope to accomplish in the next twelve months. For writers, that can mean finishing a book, signing with an agent, or just perfecting their craft.

I have a friend who’s writing a memoir right now. Actually, I have several friends who are writing memoirs, but this one is doing something a bit extreme. Always involved on social media, he’s taking a four month break to finish the first draft of his memoir. No gradual withdrawal, no plans for regular check-ins with friends and followers. No social media until May 1st. None.

Well, I admire him for his commitment. He’s been working on the memoir most of...

What Do Writers Dream?

What Do Writers Dream?
Nov 23, 2018 by Victoria Noe


Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality. - Malala Yousafzai

 

A post popped up on Facebook a couple weeks ago that got my attention. It was an event involving the writer-in-residence at the Savoy Hotel in London.

I’ve had an unnatural obsession with the Savoy since at least high school; maybe earlier. I have no idea how it started, but I think it was sparked by this 1923 photo of Fred and Adele Astaire dancing on the Savoy’s roof. It’s a photo I still love: dancing on the roof, on a foggy day in London town. Maybe it’s the joy on their faces.

On my first trip to London in 1988 I spent as much...

Speak Your Mind, Even if Your Voice Shakes

Speak Your Mind, Even if Your Voice Shakes
Oct 25, 2018 by Victoria Noe
Writers are often told to keep politics out of their public lives: don’t post about issues or politicians (pro or con). Don’t wear buttons, put campaign signs in your windows, bumper stickers on your car. Don’t participate in marches or testify at public hearings.

That advice typically comes from traditional publishing: agents and publishers who are afraid of anything that might adversely affect sales and their personal bottom lines. It’s not necessarily bad advice.

If you know for a fact that your audience skews in a certain political direction and you are the polar opposite, you very well may lose readers by sharing your views. There’s always the chance that you will gain readers, but that’s not how the argument is framed....

The Right Writing Conference for Me

The Right Writing Conference for Me
Oct 11, 2018 by Victoria Noe
I drove to Cincinnati recently for a conference for indie authors. IndieLab was put on the same folks who produce the annual Writer’s Digest Conference that I attend in New York every year. This one was different, in many ways.

First, obviously, it was for indie authors. At other writing conferences, anyone who self-publishes is usually looked down on or ignored. The assumption is that you’re only doing ‘that’ (self-publishing) because you’re not good enough for a traditional deal or you’re hoping to attract a ‘real’ publisher. There’s a hierarchy, both implied and spoken.

So the atmosphere was very different at IndieLab. It was a much smaller conference than the mammoth WDC weekend. The size was a terrific advantage: no long...

My Hopes for My Book

My Hopes for My Book
Sep 27, 2018 by Victoria Noe
Every author has hopes and dreams for their work. Some aspire to make a lot of money; others want only to see their name on the cover of the book. Some want to become international celebrities; others hope to fill their mantel with awards. But there are other dreams as well. I would certainly like to make a lot of money from writing, though that hasn’t happened yet. My next book will be my seventh and it’s very different than the previous six. That presents its own challenges and opportunities: it’s the first book to consider the contributions of straight women in the AIDS community throughout the epidemic. My hopes are many:

That I know it’s the best book I could write.

That...

Why Writers Can't Hit 'Send'

Why Writers Can't Hit 'Send'
Sep 21, 2018 by Victoria Noe
I wrote four drafts of my next book and shared it with a few beta readers before I sent it to my editor. I’m working with a different editor this time, so we’re getting used to working together. Nothing bad, believe me, just different. I knew there were glaring weaknesses, but I wasn’t prepared to see so much red ink when he returned the manuscript. If you think writing is hard, wait until you get to the editing phase.

It took me a solid month, 100+ hours to work through it. Editing takes more time, at least for me. I couldn’t work more than 4 hours a day on it without my brain turning to mush. That’s okay. No complaints.

This past...

Writing in the Summer - Part 2

Writing in the Summer - Part 2
Aug 30, 2018 by Victoria Noe
The Mermaid sundae from Big Gay Ice Cream

A few weeks ago I wrote about the beginning of my six-week trip to NYC. I had finally sent my manuscript to the editor and was surprised when he sent back the first chapter 48 hours later. Because Writer’s Digest Conference was starting in a few days, I was determined to power through that chapter before it started. I did, though not easily.

This was the 8th time I’ve attended the Writer’s Digest Conference here (9th if you count the one I went to in Los Angeles). The first year I knew less than nothing, but I fell in with a terrific group of writers who have remained trusted friends....

Writing vs. Marketing

Writing vs. Marketing
Aug 25, 2018 by Victoria Noe
Ed2Go

I’ve been self-employed most of my adult life. I’ve worked at home with bulky word processors and fax machines, from 800 numbers to social media accounts. Writing, to me, has always been a business: not necessarily very lucrative, but a business nonetheless.

Recently I attended Writer’s Digest Conference in New York. WDC was my first writing conference in 2011 and I go back every year. Because of the constant changes in publishing, there is always a lot to learn. I take notes on my netbook during every session. If something is discussed that I need to apply to my own writing or business practices, I type it in boldface. Those are assembled into a new, intimidating to-do...

Writing in the Summer - Part 1

Writing in the Summer - Part 1
Aug 09, 2018 by Victoria Noe
I’ve been in New York City now for almost two weeks. The first ten days were spent in a mild - or not so mild - state of panic getting my manuscript ready for the editor. I have to pace myself: I learned the hard way that post-concussive syndrome will ruin my plans if I push too hard. I have to rest my brain. If I don’t, I lose the focus I need for my work.

I varied the places where I worked: my favorite tea parlor, three different branches of the NY Public Library, the place where I’m staying. That variety gave me a little boost in energy.

By the time I hit ‘send’ last Friday, I knew I...

Choosing the Right Writing Conference

Choosing the Right Writing Conference
Jul 26, 2018 by Victoria Noe
I’ve been slowly getting back to normal in my writing career. I’m blogging regularly, sending out my email newsletters, going to networking meetings. My next book is at the beta readers right now and goes to the editor August 1. As you can imagine, I’m busy.

I haven’t been to a writing conference since last August’s Writer's Digest Conference. It’s my favorite, and I’m going again this year. This week I registered for a new and very different conference at the end of September, Indie Lab, also produced by F&W Media. And it gave me a chance to reflect on why I’m going.

Although they’re an investment in your career, conferences aren’t cheap. There’s the registration fee, travel, parking, meals, hotel....

Why You Have to Keep Writing in Crazy Times

Why You Have to Keep Writing in Crazy Times
Jun 20, 2018 by Victoria Noe
It’s hard to focus, isn’t it?

You don’t even have to be on Facebook or Twitter. Just watching the news is more than enough. No matter your political persuasion, it feels like the world is spinning out of control. The last time I felt that way was 1968. But this is different. I’ll write about that difference later, but not today. Today I’m going to tell you why your writing is still important.

There are writers who identify as ‘transformational’ or ‘inspirational’. I don’t. You probably don’t either. On a good day, you might think that what you write is mildly important. On a bad day you wonder why anyone would ever read anything you write. We all have those days, the...