Joan Steinau Lester
  • Female
  • Berkeley, CA
  • United States
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Latest Activity

Melissa Gween Meek commented on the blog post 'Pruning Your Prose'
"Elements of Style is the first book I read when pursuing writing years ago, looking at my copy here on my desk. Still read it over and over.....Thanks for your words of wisdom!"
Jan 18
Melissa Gween Meek liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 18
Laurie Buchanan liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 17
Victoria Chames commented on the blog post 'THE ROLE OF THE WRITER IN PERILOUS TIMES'
"Well, you see Karoline, that's the problem, so many people actually believed the absurd lies like that. If you look at Obama's record, the Truth, you can't help but notice that: He got the economy back on its feet again, (even after…"
Jan 16
Joan Steinau Lester commented on the blog post 'THE ROLE OF THE WRITER IN PERILOUS TIMES'
"Today's NY Times features a front-page story by  President Obama on the value of reading. He says that reading novels gave him "the ability to get in somebody else's shoes," and affirms how "invaluable" that…"
Jan 16
Leah Rae Lake commented on the blog post 'Pruning Your Prose'
"Thanks so much for this wonderful pruning advice. I've known all this from years of editing, and writing and editing my own, but over the years I lost my list of words to purge. This is so useful to me now, especially, since I'm mentoring…"
Jan 12
Karin Finell; liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 12
Lisa Thomson commented on the blog post 'Pruning Your Prose'
"Ah, this was so beautifully written that I won't forget it. Crutch words and grieving as part of the editing process really stands out to me. Thanks Joan!"
Jan 12
Lisa Thomson liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 12
Joan Steinau Lester commented on the blog post 'Pruning Your Prose'
"Thanks, women. Glad the blog is useful. It's fun to write. Really, really fun! :)"
Jan 12
Cynthia B Ainsworthe liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 12
Paula Wagner commented on the blog post 'Pruning Your Prose'
"Great metaphor especially for this season. Just a word of caution: I have to reign in my inner "ruthless editor" so she doesn't cut out the heart of the story or rip out necessary details in her zeal. Some writing styles are…"
Jan 12
Paula Wagner liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 12
Lloyd Lofthouse liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 12
Janis Couvreux commented on the blog post 'Pruning Your Prose'
"I get this. Describes my method to a "T"! The "paintbrush flings, spattering dots of color," and "lump of clay" are exactly my computer screen, and yes, it IS fun and satisfying to hone it down. I always say that…"
Jan 12
Janis Couvreux liked Joan Steinau Lester's blog post Pruning Your Prose
Jan 12

Profile Information

Who I am:
I'm an author, newspaper (and radio) commentator, and considering a blog.
Books I've written, anthologies I've contributed to, and any scripts or plays I've authored:
Books: The Future of White Men and Other Diversity Dilemmas; Taking Charge, Every Woman's Action Guide; Fire In My Soul (biography of Eleanor Holmes Norton); Black, White, Other--a novel forthcoming in Sept.
Media outlets that I currently write for:
My writing is:
Fiction, Nonfiction
Outlets where I review books, TV, or film:
Services I offer to other writers:
yes, writing coaching and editing, but my client list is pretty full now.
I'm part of these writers' groups or salons:
no; have been in the past but strictly focusing on the writing of myself and clients now.
My professional associations:
Authors Guild
I found out about She Writes from:
Kate O'Mara (through LinkedIn)

Joan Steinau Lester's Blog

Pruning Your Prose

Posted on January 9, 2017 at 2:23pm 11 Comments

Every year we have the stunning Japanese maple in our back yard trimmed by a gifted gardener. Each time, I’m astonished to see the graceful structure of the tree’s inner limbs, their beauty revealed after excess branches have been cut away.


One of the great joys of writing, for me, lies in revision, especially cutting words, sentences, even paragraphs, from my own breathless prose. Though there’s satisfaction in that first draft, where I face the blank page and let ideas fly,…



Posted on December 22, 2016 at 2:46pm 5 Comments

I’ve been sitting at my computer wondering if it’s selfish to be staring at the screen, searching for the perfect word, when our democracy is under threat? What is my role in times like these; what can writers do?


Searching for writers’ impacts in previous eras I think first of the long, difficult sojourn of African Americans, for whom every decade of their four hundred years on this soil has been perilous. But part of the resilience they built came from inspirational…


Satisfying Endings

Posted on June 23, 2016 at 2:30pm 1 Comment


Recently I was outraged after I finished the last pages of a novel I’d loved. “What?” I railed. “How could the author abandon one of the two main characters, let her disappear so completely I’ve no idea of her fate. Give me a hint. One sentence, please!” We do get a scene of her husband after the family’s deportation, as he approaches the ancestral village, anticipating the luxury their U.S. dollars will afford.…


The Courage to Write

Posted on May 25, 2016 at 12:02pm 0 Comments

“It is always a thrilling risk to say exactly what you mean, to express exactly what you see,” wrote the marvelous author Patricia Hampl. Each sentence we write boldly asserts, This is my viewpoint and I believe it worthy of utterance.

That takes courage, especially for women constantly defined as “other,” with its…


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At 11:52am on June 16, 2011, Meg Waite Clayton said…
Joan, Belated welcome to She Writes. I hope you're enjoying the site! Love to have you join us in the Novelists – Struggling or Not group if you're looking for a place to jump in. We also have a fairly quiet SF Bay area group, but we do occasional face-to-face gatherings with that group.

Meg Waite Clayton
Moderator, Novelist Group
Bestselling Author of The Four Ms. Bradwells and The Wednesday Sisters
At 8:56pm on May 11, 2011, Julia Barry said…
Hi Joan,

So glad you are here, and welcome to She Writes! 

You can check out the Getting Started section to help you find your way around, or a great way to jump in is to get involved with our Groups and Live Chats.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

Warm best,
Julia Barry
Social Community Manager @ She Writes


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