Thursday, November 22, 2007

From July to November: A Pictorial

















Yes, getting lazy, or busy - depends on point of view. I am in the screenwriting class and LOVE it!! I'm also starting a reading series at Boxcar Lounge (see earlier posting for complete details). And seeing/doing as much as I can. Went to Cyrano with (meaning featuring) Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner, several readings and working my fanny off (oh, really, I do wish)....anyhow, New York is fabulous.



So here's a peek of last few months in mini-pictorial:
























And I give thanks :)
~~~

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And further support...."Heroes of the Writers Strike"

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I couldn't help myself. Lookit, I'm taking a screenwriting class now, right? Whether I actually become one of the ranks or not, dudes, writers should get paid for what they do!!!





PS!!! Watch until the end, and then scroll over the captions at the bottom. Watch "A World Without Writers." Seriously awesome!

~~

Writer's Strike....and, like, duh!

I know this clip is appearing many places now. But I say, the more the merrier (or in reality, the idiom probably came from the pen of an obscure Gutenberg Press writer, and due to the unsure nature of The Press' future earnings, didn't get paid a dime and went on to weave or sculpt - or went into law *shudder*).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Reading Series

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Alrighty!

Here are the nuts and bolts....Once a month "Friends of Tuesday Shorts" will be at the Boxcar Lounge.

The kickoff of the series will be November 28, 2007 at 8:00!

And here's the lineup:


Rusty Barnes grew up in rural northern Appalachia. He received his B.A. from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Emerson College. His fiction, poetry and non-fiction have appeared in journals like Pindeldyboz, Post Road, and Red Rock Review. After editing fiction for the Beacon Street Review (now Redivider) and Zoetrope All-Story Extra, he co-founded Night Train, a recently reinvented literary journal, which has been featured in the Boston Globe, The New York Times, and on National Public Radio. Sunnyoutside Press published a collection of his flash fiction, Breaking it Down in November 2007.

Linda DiGusta is a freelance writer and artist. Active in the NYC theatre for more than a decade as a director, designer and performer, the inventiveness of acting and collaboration on a screenplay re-kindled her early interest in fiction, and she has had several short stories published in print and online. In the fine art world, she currently has 2 still-life drawings in the exhibition "Lineal Investigations" at the Housatonic Museum of Art, and her assemblages and drawings have been seen in group exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including at Art Gotham in Chelsea this month. Integrating art and writing, Linda also writes for and serves as Executive Editor of Resolve40.com, an online publication created by artists in 2005 to present the art world from a fresh point of view. She lives in midtown Manhattan with artist Mark Wiener and their multi-species family. More at: http://www.lindadi.com and http://www.resolve40.com.

Anne Elliott has performed her poetry, with and without ukulele, at the Whitney Museum (with the Beats show), PS122, Lincoln Center, The Poetry Project at St. Mark's, Woodstock '94, and other venues in and out of NYC. Her poems have appeared in Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe, Verses that Hurt: Pleasure and Pain from the Poemfone Poets, and other anthologies. Her fiction has appeared in Hobart, Pindeldyboz, FRiGG, Ars Medica, and others, and she blogs on the writing life and feral cat management at http://assbackwords.blogspot.com.

Carol Novack, a former criminal defense lawyer and Australian government grant recipient, is the author of a chapbook of poetry, play, collaborative CD and two collaborative films. Writings may or will be found in many publications, including American Letters & Commentary, Action Yes, Del Sol Review, Diagram, 5_trope, Gargoyle, Journal of Experimental Fiction, La Petite Zine, LIT, Notre Dame Review, and the Star*Vigate anthology of best online writings. Carol publishes the multi-media e-journal Mad Hatters' Review (http://madhattersreview.com), curates a reading series at the KGB Bar, and runs lyrical fiction writing workshops. She'll be a resident at The Vermont Studio Center next year. For additional details, see her blog (http://carolnovack.blogspot.com).







~~~



SOOOO, if you're in NYC, please come. The folks at Boxcar are awesome!!




~~~

Friday, July 27, 2007

Prospects, places to go and limbo...

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That's right...look at the date on this. I guess I meant to add something and never got around to it. Well. Let me upload some pics here in a few, and I'm updating this baby!! (Actual date of post: November 19, 2007).





~~

Attended "The Flash" reading, KGB Bar. Met Nathan Tyree, Andrew Lewis Conn and Paul. Got the chance to ask Conn his thoughts on a program I've been considering (that he was in) - screenwriting - uh, huh, you heard me - and he said it was definitely worth it, EVEN if you're not making a career of screenwriting (or don't know which writing best suits you!). I've also been looking at another, IRL, workshop. Anybody have good info on Sackett Street in Brooklyn? Some good faculty (names I've recognized from reading journals I enjoy, so that might be a good sign!!) Please do let me know, whether here or by email, if you have any scoop!!

~~

I hope Tuesday is pretty. It's my only day off, and I want something dreadful to go to Coney Island. For some reason, I'm hearing the Cyclone screaming my name. Then I want to turn around and go on Friday night, because they have Fireworks every Friday this summer. And I like fireworks.

And what could follow-up a Nathan's hot dog better than a belly dancing class. Several girls at work have already begun, and I'm next!!


~~


Fenway Park Reading slated for tomorrow night at the Hairy Monk Pub. Tim Gager is reading, and I Sue Miller slated to visit for the evening, because....

Animationblock
party is all this weekend and I want to see the selections that are being shown on Saturday night. Almost wish I'd gone on the Rooftop Films presentations tonight for the experience, but hey, they have these "underground outside" shorts and feature-length films all the time.



~~
I am in some sort of revision limbo. I've been devoting (more like obsessing over) most of my writing time to tearing apart a year and a half old story. I love it and I want it to sparkle, I say. I've taken it down now to a sentence by sentence examination, then turn around and do it again. Round three is now in progress. Hopefully just a couple of more passes. It seriously feels closer anyway!


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I have new work coming out in elimae next month, too!


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BE SURE to at least check out Tuesday Shorts, and by all means, submit! Open to subs on Sat-Sun, noon to noon :)


~~

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Settling in ... comings and goings.

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My big present to myself this month is a SONY portable reader!! I'm so excited. I will also get $149 in free books from ebooks.com (that's through month's end, if anyone is interested), and it will be so much easier to tote my bookshelf around with me!!


~~

So, Monday I went to a reading at Mo Pitkins, featuring Rebecca Curtis. She read a portion of her collection's title story, TWENTY GRAND, published last year in The New Yorker (story link). Oddly enough, as soon as she started, I recognized the story (hard to forget the Armenian coin). I just hadn't remembered the title. I'm planning on getting the collection as an ebook once my reader comes in. Also met writer Alethea Black; looking forward to reading her work (Inkwell and Antioch Review).


On Tuesday, I attended [read: was late for] a reading at B&N, by Ronald Currie Jr. Met a whole lot of writers from the online workshop Zoetrope, and briefly chatted with them and with Ron. The premise of GOD IS DEAD is fascinating and the part he read - well, wow. Can't wait to get this one as well.

Then, I tried to make it to a first meeting group of NYC writers. Sadly, only 7 showed up, and I got there when they were disbanding. But I got to chat with one of the attendees for a bit, as I ate a fabulous prawn taco. If you're ever in West Village, go to to Miracle Bar on Bleeker St. and try it!


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Also announcing an upcoming interview with Steven Curtis, author of THE SPECIES CROWN, a novella and short story collection published by press 53. Stay tuned for that! I'm enjoying the collection so far (and I'll be able to download it onto my reader too :)

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Finally, I think I've found an active established writer's group: the Meetup New York City Writers Circle who meet monthly, it seems generally at KGB. I'm excited to get involved in a "real life" group. Each event will have a speaker(s), readings, a social time and what I'd call "focus groups" during each session. I'll just love meeting with folks of like mind, in person!!


~~

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Real life research (or My Internalization)

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Whew! It's been a busy month. I worked two jobs for a month, 60+ hours a week (on my feet - both restaurant capacities) and was exhausted. I've whittled down to one and now I'm getting to enjoy the city more.

THIS is my view on workdays -


I usually work the morning shift, have a few minutes to sit in Columbus Circle and read before I start. Very nice!!








Here are two neat sites I found recently.

As some of you may know, I'm a former chemist/oceanographer and well, this one lets me ponder another of my loves some. I particularly enjoy news regarding the encouragement of young girls to pursue careers in science~


Goodreads is a great site for weeding out the multitudes of books and discovering what to put on the top of your must-read lists! Be my friend (if you're not already!)

~~~

Although I haven't gotten a lot of new work done lately, I've been able to get a lot of subs out, and am starting some revisions today. I feel like I'm in an "Internalization Period." My whole life is a big experience right now, and I'm trying to enjoy it all, take notes and incorporate into my novels/stories one day. I'm also reading a whole lot - think I'll get a Sony Reader so it won't be as bulky/cumbersome on the subway.

Saw fireworks at the South Street Seaport. Awesome display. Coordinated music was piping too, and of course they finished the night with old Blue Eyes belting out New York. It felt almost Disney-like.

I got to the Transit Museum's exhibit at the Grand Central Station Annex. History of the beginnings of the subway design and architecture. Trains, and particularly the subways, fascinate me. And thinking how much thought and art they put into the system (not to mention the foresight of planning by the city) simply astounds me.

Here are the nuts and bolts...
ARCHITECTS OF THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY
PART I: HEINS & LAFARGE AND THE TRADITION OF GREAT PUBLIC WORKS
New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at Grand Central Terminal

Beginning in 1901, consulting architects Heins & LaFarge designed the subway’s earliest stations and buildings in the popular Beaux-Arts style, according to the vision of the system’s chief engineer, William Barclay Parsons. Incorporating design elements from other prominent New York City commissions, Heins & LaFarge achieved the mandate to bring beauty to New York’s first subway. Using original architectural drawings, objects from stations, and archival images, this exhibit explores the work of architects and engineers who designed the subway we travel through today.


Part II (PART II: SQUIRE VICKERS AND THE SUBWAY'S MODERN AGE) begins July 30.


Information on the New York Transit Museum is here.

I want to see more, so my next visits will be to St. John the Divine Cathedral and the Bronx Zoo, both projects of Heins and LaFarge.


I also HAVE to get to Coney Island. It won't be anymore next year! (Besides, I need some sun).




~~

Got some cheap tickets to OLD ACQUAINTANCE, and was so glad I did. The reviews weren't astounding, but it was very entertaining, the sets were fabulous, and I "learned" a lot. I really want to try my hand at playwriting now - but about the show....

It is the story of two WRITER friends - one quite prolific and successful (Mildred, played by Harriet Harris), the other more acclaimed (Kit, played by Margaret Colin). They are in alternate stages of love (new-found and lost). Mildred's daughter Deirdre (Diane Davis, who by the way, reminds me of Judy Garland) is sowing her oats, defying her mother, and searching for love in all the wrong places.

Here are my immediate impressions (which I jotted down right afterwards).

I like that they are not sprites - middle-age seems to be gaining popularity as baby boomers get older. The new 30's I think. Because they are writers, I liked the conflict of prolific and so-so writing vs. quality and sporadic output. Critical acclaim vs. popular appeal. There's a May-December relationship going on (you go girl!), and a very familial friendship (in other words, the women love and fight in ways similar to sisters). As well, Deirdre is more partial to Kit's company than her mother's.

I thought Harris (you may know her as Bebe from "Frasier") was phenomenally funny. I thought Colin was good too, but I think hindered in part by the script. Her character, Kit, seemed almost too good, too unselfish. Mildred, on the other hand, was a full-blown mess. So, I wasn't crazy about some of the characterization, perhaps a tad shallow (and then, a too-convenient turn and love scene, which I saw coming in Act I). I could say that was good foreshadowing, but would have liked a unique twist. Aw well.

[UPDATE to say, I read the Playbill [more] just now. OLD ACQUAINTANCE was actually written in 1940 by John van Druten, so it does explain some of the archaic-seeming storyline. However, at the time, I would imagine it would have been considered a progressive story - funny how things like time/setting can interweave throughout eras. Divorce, independent women, etc. Now I'll have to do further digging!]

[UPDATE II: Found the wikipedia info on OLD ACQUAINTANCE; the movie starred none other than Bette Davis! Obviously, one I missed.]

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Playing at the Roundabout Theatre (which is gorgeous by the way).

~~

All for now!


~~

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The road to Wicked.

~~~

Today, I am proud to post this interview with Gregory Maguire, of Wicked fame. He had an intimate Q&A/reading session at the Muse and Marketplace conference in May, and I became even more enamored, thoroughly impressed and awed by his intelligence, wit and great reading style.


Gregory Maguire's adult novels


Kristen Tsetsi, founder of Tuesday Shorts, had already been in contact with him briefly last year (and we're still hoping maybe someday he'll send us a short-short), so I asked after the session if I could have a few minutes. He had a prior engagement, but he generously allowed me to e-mail him some burning questions.

So here we go....


~~

SRR: First, let me say it was an honor and privilege to hear you speak at the Grubstreet Muse and Marketplace. I was already a fan, and your eloquence and "stage presence," if you will, are remarkable. I must say, I also think you're quite humble given your success and obviously much smarter than you claim!

During your Q&A, you mentioned something that I think will strike the hearts of all writers. You spoke of the devastation of your first review of Wicked by the New York Times and subsequent jump back up after the Los Angeles review was published, an underdog comeback of sorts. Could you talk a bit about that?

GM: All writers need a little humbling. Put another way, all writers need to be reminded that their work is not for everyone. No one's work is. I have been rather lucky with decent reviews and a popular following. However it comes at some cost: the packaging of my books disguises, I think, the more intellectual aspects of my prose efforts at the expense of the common-ground appeal of fairy tales. I joke around the house that I am not likely to get a long article considering my contributions anytime soon in the New York Review of Books.

So there are plusses and minuses to every stroke of luck. The New York Times reviewer didn't "get" WICKED, I felt; it's also possible she got it just fine but didn't like it. Fair enough. I've had other compensations.

Ultimately, one doesn't write for reviewers. One also tends to respect reviewers who point out flaws one has not seen; one tends to dismiss reviewers who point out flaws that are not actually pertinent to the novel at hand--that is to say, flaws in the book that the reviewer believes she has read, or believes the author should have written, rather than the book in hand. Reviewers (and I am one, so I know) can read incredibly quickly and sloppily.




SRR: You read a little from your novel in progress, DEPOSITION OF AN ORACLE, the final installment of the Wicked series (oops. Third of four). Initially, did you know that this would be a series? How did the inspiration evolve?

GM: DEPOSITION will be the third of four books. I didn't know the books would be a series until my readers wrote at the end of SON OF A WITCH that they would take out a contract on my life unless I began to wrap up some loose ends. Since fiction is meant to simulate real life--even life in a fantastic land like Oz--loose ends don't bother me at all. But I now see, too, that I don't want to be writing about Oz for the rest of my life, so I will provide some narrative closure by the end of book four (tentatively called THE WATERMARK) for my sake as well as for my readers (and my poor, punished characters).





SRR: When you talked about your process of writing, you used a piano analogy, that writing was something like practicing scales. You are so talented in your readings, it makes me wonder. Are you also a musician? Do you have an acting background as well?

Nice of you to ask! I play piano and guitar and I do sing (used to lead a church choir.) I do not have a background in acting--but do in teaching, which is much the same thing.




SRR: While developing your novels, you mentioned occasionally using notecards to keep track of your scenes. How often does it occur that you find the story jumping into totally different or alternate paths?

Very often--if not always. But it is akin, I think, to driving across country--that famous (and useful) metaphor. If I start out for San Francisco, I usually get there--don't change my mind and decide to terminate the trip in Topeka or veer up to Anchorage. However the discoveries along the way --sometimes just to keep one's self invigorated-- mean interesting diversions. San Francisco may be the destination, and I do reach it: but perhaps it looks and means something other than I expected when I started out.



SRR: As well, you use a journal method and write by hand; I believe you said it allows you to moves slowly and carefully in the development process – pushing the "whole cart." Could you expand on that notion?


Like all fourth-grade kids, I find it painful to write by hand. It goes slowly and the wrist aches. One has to stop and rest from time to time, which allows the mind to sort out words a lot more efficiently, to sift not only for clarity but beauty. I am a fairly glib writer as I am a speaker, but my prose style is improved by slowing myself down.




SRR: I found your words on writing for children quite moving. You said that children demand the best we have to offer and thrill to learn how to live. In your session, you described for us your move to adult novels. Could you tell the readers briefly about that decision?

In the mid 1990's, with the school book market ever more intimidated by the rist of Christian fundamentalizm (especially in Texas), children's book publishers were becoming cowed as to both subject and style. If a big segment of the book-buying market took against a book, there was little hope for it. (We see the same thing in the attention paid to the opinions of the buyers of Borders and Barnes and Noble.) I think that children's book editors began to play a little too scared just at the time that I was beginning to want to open up my subject area to more and more morally complex material. In the end, I was for a time crowded out of the children's book market because my work didn't suit the market needs at the time. I have come back, gladly--in my new novel for children, out on September 11 this fall, called WHAT-THE-DICKENS. The great success of HARRY POTTER helped publlishers of children's books to see that the wildly imaginative and morally complex could not be fully suppressed by twitchy school boards in one part of the country.



SRR: When I first started reading Wicked, I was not only drawn to the mysterious world these characters inhabit, but also the political and social metaphor. At the end of your session, we unfortunately ran out of time, and I had just asked my burning question. The writing immediately suggested a parallel in my mind to George Orwell. Has that comparison ever been made and did you "feel" his work as an influence?

Most of the books I have loved the best have had a moral question at their center--a question about the individual's relationship to society. So Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, though I only ever read it once, in high school, stayed central in my thinking. So too the work of Grahame Greene and, in a lesser sense (on this score), E. M. Forster. I have usefully reread 1984, come to think of it, too.



SRR: One of your last statements [in the Muse and Marketplace session] was that one of the writers tasks is to "Keep ourselves awake." I love that sentiment but also think it can be broadly interpreted. What does it truly mean for you?

All those wonderful metaphors--and I forget who said which one-- Kafka, was it, an axe chopping up the frozen sea within-- Emily Dickinson, "If I feel the top of my head is being taken off, I know it is poetry." None of that verbatim. If a writer can respond that way to other writing, a writer must also respond that way to the world--when and if it is possible. The axe should always be swinging, the head always exploding with revelation. Clearly one can't schedule this or self-medicate in the interest of encouraging revelation: but one can encourage in one's self a habit of study of each day as it comes, each moment of feeling, each perceived conundrum, quirk, or contradicton of human experience. They come at us hourly, moment by moment; reading poetry regularly hones the skill of seeing the world anew. At least it does for me. And I hope that translates into making me a better writer than I might otherwise be.


~~

I want to thank Gregory Maguire. His thoughts have greatly enlightened me personally, and if you haven't yet, read WICKED. It is a thoughtful and entertaining journey through the land of OZ and the exploration of good and evil. I can't wait to read SON OF A WITCH (the second of the series) now.

~~

Friday, June 08, 2007

Amy Guth interview, part deux

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Today, I'm continuing with Amy Guth's Q&A. We're talking about Three Fallen Women, her first novel.









SRR: I found it interesting that the jacket says the story is part anti-love story, where I actually felt it was perhaps more pro-love-of-self. In fact, I feel several of the "love" stories are beautifully tragic. Care to comment?



AG: I completely agree. I think it's a very inner-love sort of story. It isn't about what's happening in the relationship between Zach and Helen that is dictating Helen's actions toward Zach, but a sense of wanting to take care of herself. I think that's a good move, looking after yourself, that is. Because really, how available can anyone really be to a relationship, especially a romantic involvement, if you don't feel whole and relatively fulfilled yourself? Not very. And, sometimes, it hurts quite a bit to clear that personal space and set those boundaries for yourself. Always worthwhile, though, I think. To not do it is to put other people's feelings above our own and that never turns out well! Ha!




(SRR: Tell me about it!)



SRR: TFW is a far-from-comic, yet you began as a comedian/comic writer. Was it hard to separate your humorous inclination when writing about the intense characters and situations in this book?



AG: Strangely no. I think I tell a story in a certain literary voice, like every writer does, and sometimes the stories are tragic, and sometimes they are lighthearted and funny, but I think they all come from the same place. Dark stories resonate because we can identify with the character's struggle or pain and moments are funny when they're based in truth. It all boils down to truth and vulnerability, I think. Ha, also, people always comment on how quick I am with gallows humor, so maybe that's just me. I kind of feel like things just are what they are, not really categorizing things as good or bad. They just are. Most things are a balance of both and we opt to look at, or ignore, certain aspects.




(SRR: This gives me hope.)





SRR: Because I tend to focus on marketing on my blog, how did you decide upon So New Publishing, a rather new indy publisher? Did/do you have an agent?



I was working with an agent for a time and wasn't feeling heard at all. So, I took matters in my own hands and decided to do it myself. Everybody thought this was far too ambitious, but it made sense. I knew the kind of home I to find for Three Fallen Women. Once I found So New, I knew I wanted to work with them. They weren't taking manuscripts at the time, so I did the worst thing possible! I wrote as asked them to read it anyway! I hit send and thought "What the hell did I jsut do?" But, somehow it worked. It got down to SNM and one other publisher that I liked, but ended up going with SNM. And, I'm glad. James Stegall, the brians behind the operation there, is so talented and intelligent. I really had such a positive experience during all of it, but especially during the editing process. So many people told me to go in ready to fight for my words and pick my battles in the editing phases, but that wasn't the case at all. He and I worked through the manuscript and he gave every change such thought and care. We were very in synch and I feel like he really understood different complexities I was trying to show in the book and helped bring them out that much more.




(SRR: Again, more hope.)



SRR: I know from your blog, music pushes you into gear; does location stimulate you as well?



AG: In a strange way. It's hard for me to write about the environment I'm in. When I am in cities, I find myself writing about rural environments more and when I'm in the middle of nowhere, I can capture cities how I want to. I went to southwest, in the desert, to pull Three Fallen Women together, which I'm glad I did because it made me miss living in an urban environment enough to be a sort of taskmaster. I mean, I can write about the environment I'm in at any given moment, but I find it is easier to write from memory than sight.




(SRR: This is just cool!)






SRR: Finally, I'm dying for the next novel. Can you tease us with a few words about your novel-in-progress?



AG: Which one? Ha! I have five manuscripts coming along. Two are dangerously close to being out into the world, but I'm keeping my cards pretty close. One is set in the late fifties, and explores some feminist themes again, though different ones, and the other soon-to-be-ready one touches on a lot of things, but is mostly about, uh, what is that one about? Well, I guess I don't have my "elevator speech" down for that one just yet. So it goes.




SRR: Wow! That's amazing (and actually seems like what I do) – and I have to say, I'm also relieved. So many renowned writers promote the "one-at-a-time" mode- it seems I've always heard NOT to work on more than one project at a time. . Maybe I have masked ADD. But seriously, has your writing process always been so free? Did you have to break some binds of traditionally taught structure and method?

AG: I think that one-at-a-time thing was tried on me, but it didn't stick. I get bored far too easily, just generally, so I tend to bounce between projects until then are all finished, while creating new things as things wrap up. I think there is a good amount of workaholism at play there, too. (laughs)





Amy, again I want to thank you, and please let us know when that next novel comes out. I'm in line!


~~



If I had to put one word to THREE FALLEN WOMEN, it would be "honest." It takes a particular brand of truthfulness to dole out such brutal situations and treat them with an empathy I don't see often, a realization of undisguised life.



And I'd like to add that my impression of Amy Guth is reflected in this passage from TFW:



"Beauty is beauty but gusto and passion make the world's skin burn. Not passion as in fucking, but passion in little moments that make up the day in the life. Smirking and ohhing over a delicious lunch, singing your head off in the shower, walking down the street with headphones on with a fucking groove in your shoe. Beautiful women are a dime a dozen, and really, quite and extremely dull, but take any woman and have Tinkerbell sprinkle the magic glitter of passion over her head and suddenly she's radiant."




I think Ms. Guth has that gusto and passion.


~~

HERE is Part I

~~

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sharing the joy!


















It's interview week. First with Amy Guth whose debut novel, Three Fallen Women, is a knockout, and then with Gregory Maguire, long-time children's author who found his fame in the adult novel, Wicked.









~~

Today, I'm celebrating the joy of a new job, Central Park in the rain, the sounds of the subway, and a conversation with Amy Guth, author of Three Fallen Women. These things may not seem related, but they are indeed. To fully understand how, you need to read this book.






~~
Interview with Amy Guth, Part I.

THREE FALLEN WOMEN is a novel filled with an intricate web of emotions and actions in which a reader is so involved that occassionally the feeling to slap a character and immediately hug her pervades the immersion. I gasped, cheered, gagged, shuddered, and yes – I admit – watered up too. I was lucky enough to have met Amy Guth just before this novel's release last fall at the Decatur Book Festival and have stayed in contact with her since. After reading the first two pages, I fawned all over her and begged for this interview. She graciously accepted.

Let's get started.

~~





SRR: First, I enjoyed Three Fallen Women so much, Amy. It was simply electrifying. I felt as though there is a part of me in all of them, so much of each of the characters resonated. Do you feel that women all have these extremely layered personalities? What about men?



AG: Thank you! I absolutely feel like there are many layers to our personalities. I'm sure we probably have access to different parts of ourselves at different points in our lives, hopefully discovering deeper layers as we age and rack up new life experiences. I'm not sure if that is sex-specific, because I think that's just part of being human. What is probably most likely is that women and men are socialized in such different ways that different dimensions of personality and psyche are taught to emerge, manifest and remain hidden, depending.




SRR: Because of these character complexities in Three Fallen Women, I have to wonder: Did you ever study philosophy, or is your socio-awareness a part of you inherently?



I love Philosophy. I did study it a bit in passing, but it wasn't my undergraduate focus so much. I say that, but I think I'm inclined that way and sort of put things through that kind of philosophical filter anyway. I'm really into physics, and I think a lot of that is present in TFW, too. I was reading a book about String Theory at the time, a topic I really enjoy reading about and considering, and that was really coming through in my writing. Around then, too, I was renting this place back in NYC and, upon moving a shelf one day, knocked a bit of plaster and found a bullet in the wall! I followed it's path back and found a patch in the wall, and the next wall. Finally I got the building super to admit that there was a robbery and shooting in the building over a decade prior. A few weeks later, I had people over for dinner and a couple I knew got into this horrible argument right in that area of the apartment. So, I started thinking about a room having scars of sorts and when I sat down to write and explore it, I think my mind went to explain it in terms of physics and philosophy. Probably a few other things I have tucked away, too.




SRR: True that! Three Fallen Women could be described as an ethereal glimpse into how our lives become interwoven – with others, dreams (both shattered and promising), ourselves. Here, I'd like to share a tad of this string theory theme from the book. (And now that I look back, perhaps it's why I became so hooked anyway, not even realizing the strings of TFW tied to my own science background and the love of magic realism variables in "real life").



"Déjà vu, you see, is little more than smelling trails you blazed in your last incarnation. It isn't stored in any shred of cognitive material (not the brain, not even the watery rawness surrounding it), for, as nobody knows, our underused brains are never to be trusted. No past-life memories are stored in our shifty heads, ready to be repressed or forgotten or dismissed in a moment. If you are a returner, past-life tracks are scattered about, left behind by the you before you. So déjà vu is never handled correctly. Instead of grabbing it, knowing you left strings behind in This Place, and following it around a while, it is marveled at and psychics and hypnotists are called in and the whole glorious thing is spoiled."




SRR: Did the concept of TFW arise from your own experiences or segments of your own life? Not in terms of having been an abused, confused druggie, but the feelings and situations that lead us astray from ourselves.



AG: That's interesting that you asked that, because it's sort of connected to something I've been thinking about a lot lately, the right to write. I never map out what I'm going to write, I just sit down and write and let it take on a life of its own. So, I sat to write one day and wrote about a character in the middle of such a sensitive issue and I stopped and wondered if I had the "right" to go there. I mean, if we were limited to write about only variations of our own experiences, doesn't that take a lot of creative wind out of our sails? Anyway, to bring it back around, I haven't ever been in situations anywhere near the situations in Three Fallen Women, but sure haven't we all had moments in life when we realized we'd gotten away from being our authentic selves? Everyone has. No doubt.

At the time I wrote TFW, I was seeing a lot of people, particularly women, who were having such difficult times enforcing their personal sense of boundary and without the roots that boundaries lend, these people were getting pushed more and more until they'd find themselves in their dire situations and people around them would wonder how things happened to suddenly or why this person had "snapped", when it felt so clear to me.

So, I tried to convey a sense of sympathy, I suppose, in the novel. I didn't just write Frieda lashing out and making these incredibly brazen choices, but I tried to leave judgement out of the text and understand how she got to that point, almost supporting her choices as reasonable ones to her, given her circumstances, even if they are painful and dangerous choices.



And that's all for today. On Saturday, I'll wrap up Part II!


Places to buy THREE FALLEN WOMEN; see reviews and such here at Amazon (with a 5 star rating, I might add).








~~


And now for something completely different...

A book called Private Soldiers by a talented writer and soldier, Benjamin Buchholz.

I know Ben and his writing, so this is one nonfiction book I'm looking very forward to reading - a true account of one battalion, complete with professional and candid photos. Proceeds are donated to family support groups and memorial funds, so we can not only support our troops and their families, but also engage ourselves, through first-hand accounts, about what's really going on in Iraq.

~~

And PS

Happy birthday to my son and my mom. They are both my most wonderful assets and biggest pains in my ass.

June 7 rocks!



~~

HERE is Part II

~~

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thinking Blogger?

~~




....I'd like to thank....


Amy Guth, who writes what is inarguably one of the best all-round blogs of all - "Bigmouth Ideed Strikes Again." She has bestowed the thinking blogger award upon me! According to tradition, I must now shine a light on my own selection of thinking bloggers.


(Subparagraph B, Article I:
The recipient of this award must follow these rules:
Acknowledge the origin of the meme/award
If you are tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think
Optional: Display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote using either the gold or silver versions of the award.)


As you can see from the date of her post, it's taken me a long time (plus the move) to choose those people I know I enjoy and stimulate me into working a brain cell or two - in a diverse number of ways.

Without further ado, may I present (in random order), Shell's Thinking Bloggers!



The incredibly talented and wonderful Bev Jackson. She's got a beautiful curious soul that emanates from her blogspot. She's got these gorgeous pictures that illustrate her propensity for seeing it all - whether visually or in words.

Ellen Meister's site is great! She's so funny, and I love her briefs on books: they come complete with casting profiles for the movie versions. You've got to visit!

Kelly Spitzer has two features I enjoy: the Writer's Project, where she interviews an author every week and The Showcase, highlighting some of her picks best recent/current reads.

Once upon a time, Patrick Rapa reviewed one of my stories in "I Read A Short Story Today." I love this site. Each story he reads and reviews gives a brief description, his opionions on it, plus the issue and volume it has come from (or link, if an online zine). Learn about stories out there (and get a glimpse into whether your piece might fit in that magazine...?)

I may be prejudiced, but Kristen Tsetsi's blog is great. Her random thoughts are often quite deep, often daring, versatile and never boring. She's clever and creative - and the force behind Tuesday Shorts!


~~

Well, that's all for today. I'm planning on going to see Joyce Carol Oates tonight at B&N Lincoln Center. If anyone nearby wants to join me!

~~



Moi? Er....thankyouverymuch.

~~


ooooooh, one bonus Thinking Blogger Award.....goes to [title of show].

I saw this production when I was here in September? October? Anyhow, for anyone with a creative spark anywhere in his or her body, this is a fantastic show. And the blog reflects it.

With songs like "Monkeys and Playbills," "Die Vampire Die" (one of my favs), "A Way Back to Then," and "Nine People's Favorite Thing"....well, I could list them all, but trust me, very inspirational! (Yeah, I own the soundtrack).

Meta-musical theatre. Was fabulous!


~~~

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Grubstreet continued...Muse and Marketplace.

~~

Sorry I lapsed in my reports - between looking for employment, finding necessities and trying to take in a few readings and street festivals and such, I've been quite busy. I think I am going to start reporting on the authors and readings as well. Some have been stunningly brilliant and others not so dazzling; I also went to a play reading too, which was great fun and quite interesting.

Anyhow, due to lack of time, I'm going to abbreviate the next three sessions and just focus on the main points.

~~

Sheri Joseph: "Have You Got a Novel or Not?"

Looking over my notes, I can say I got a lot of information regarding the novel vs the short story. Simple things like experience vs. moment, marriage vs. sex, the world vs. a slice. She also talked about "shaping" the elements that create a successful novel.

I loved these two particular bits she shared:

a) "Shine a light, then deepen the dark." [My apologies because I believe she credited that saying with someone in particular, but I didn't get it]

b) Determine the signature of the story (as opposed to even the elevator pitch or synopsis). This is the basis of what drives the story. Even though there may be stopping points along the way, the driving force that determines where it actually ends - "the address of the destination, even though we make many detours and stops" sort of thing. Very similar to thinking about "what the character wants and what happens on her way to get there."

Sad to say, however, I'm still not fully sure about determining which I have: novel or story, and that's OK. I think the main point she was making was that you should write what you want to read, the topic/theme/story that obsesses you, and in that manner, the novel will begin to unfold as such. She also emphasized the importance of that opening in terms of setting up the entire story to unfold.

~~

Side note: I have a piece coming up in Right Hand Pointing - August issue.

It's a piece I wrote using pointers on detail from the Rishi Reddi workshop!



~~

The title of Ellen Litman's workshop was "Shaping a Short Story Collection." In many of the community workshops I'm in, this is a very hot topic. And the answer is truly however you want. Successful collections (including the currently popular novel-in-stories) have been arranged according to theme, setting, a group of people (race or culture), recurring characters, and stylistically sorted stories.

The most outstanding points she shared (at least for me) were to:

a) begin and end with strongest stories

b) develop an arc according to whichever unity ties them together

We went into detail of the connections, disparities and contrasts of the stories in Jumpha Larhiri's "Interpreter of Maladies" and analyzed the arc of the collection.

~~

Jamie Cat Callan was a delightful presenter. She is the creator of the Writer's Toolbox, which I loved. We did a couple of exercises using these tools, and whether in a block or just needing help to get started, this is a great inexpensive set to get your mind going.

She also discussed some different structures of short stories, which really was great for me. I enjoyed learning different ways of thinking of developing the story (tacking, Aristotlean, Native American). It really helped to expand my mindset. Sometimes I let the left brain control too much and get pigeonholed into thinking there's only one way to tell a story.

~~

Be sure to keep track of Tuesday Shorts. We are collecting pieces from the issue to be featured in a special section of Opium.print #6!!! Get your micro in print, boys and girls!

~~

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How I feel....

~~~

By the way, it is Tuesday, and time for a very short short.

Tuesday Shorts

Enjoy!

~~~





I just love this picture of the train. You know, I've been working on a train (so what if it is an excursion train - it's a real train!) and I love the subways. I'm infatuated, in fact. Today, I heard one let the air off the brakes. SHIT! I said to myself. I looked over and sure enough, the bubble neon signs said, "Last Stop."

And I thought "Huh, I learned something after all!" There's an exhibit at Grand Central about the development and architecture of the subways. I'm SO going!

Anyhow, here's one more visual, just for aesthetics.




~~~

Okay, now I have a huge treat very soon. Hint: Amy Guth, Three Fallen Women, Q&A. The book is amazing, and I'll tell you why soon, and she'll tell you - well - something :)


~~~

Friday, May 11, 2007

Telling the truth....

~~

I didn't know what to expect of Rishi Reddi - no preconceived notions whatsoever. I did absolutely love her story in the 2005 BASS, "Justice Shiva Ram Murthy," and I am very anxious to get that Karma collection now.

Anyhow, the title was: "Microscopic Truthfulness"

What I liked is that Rishi seemed very sincere in wanting the participants to get as much as possible from her presence and opened by asking us what had drawn us to attend her workshop. [Incidentally, I forgot to mention that during each of these sessions there were SIX workshops from which to choose.] Rishi's was very well attended.

We looked at an excerpt from a story and gleaned information from its details and from those observations (type of car, descriptions of others, the kinds of music playing, etc.), we get more than stereotype. She said something to the effect, you can use a broad brush, but must also do the detail work to avoid that stereotype. I have to add, she also said one of my observations was very astute - like a little blushing schoolgirls I was - but it pointed out to me that even the smallest of clues will be picked up by your good readers. I guess what that means to me, is to write for your very best readers, those that want and desire that (and if someone doesn't get it, it's all right).

I loved looking at the detail under a microscope; I tend to use the generalization too much, and bringing the universal into context by using the detail is a talent I hope now to develop. (This is paraphrased from a book called "If You Want to Write," Brenda Ueland).

Someone asked a question regarding the truthfulness of magic realism or fantasy, and I ADORED her answer.

She used a phrase - "tyranny of the real" - in describing how we need to sift through the details, use the fact (even push it away) to get the truth. In order to establish authenticity, the true authorial voice, we need the underlying details that allow a reader to "buy into" our fiction. The difference between saying a coffee shop on the corner, or saying the Starbucks at 63rd and Broadway is that by being specific, it doesn't matter that the reader has or hasn't been there; he can visualize and imagine because there's no question the author knows (again, whether or not he has or hasn't been there!)

We also did an exercise that she drew upon from Ron Carlson: Person, Place, and Song, and several people read theirs aloud.

This session was such a pleasure to have attended, and by all means if you have the chance, do see her in person.

~~

By the way, is anyone familiar with Tao Lin? I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years ago when we were both reading at Opium.print #1 Launch Party. Anyhow, he's like featured in the book section of Time Out New York this week. Very cool. I hope to see him read on Sunday. I'm also going to a reading tonight (and I've already forgotten who I'm going to see...).

Did I mention I got a job? I'm hostessing, starting Tuesday, so I'm trying to cram all the evening activites I can into the next four days. All free, of course!

~~

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Whew, so much to report!

~~
It has been a whirlwind of a week starting with the delayed flight to NY last Wednesday to the superb conference in Boston over the weekend, from job searching and sight-seeing to discovering my own little corner of Manhattan. I think I have mashed potatoes for brain matter right now.


(picture across Boston Commons from my phone :)


There really is a lot to write about this conference (so I may chop it up a bit), and I do highly recommend it. Grubstreet has a very small staff, yet they were very well organized. The selection and variety of workshops and the conference speaker selections were fabulous. Bookmark this for next year folks: Muse and Marketplace.

I'll just start from the top, and forgive me if I ramble. I'm so eager to put all of this into action; my muse is waiting patiently for me however: She knows I need to find a job first before pampering her.

FIRST, on Friday night before the Muse and Marketplace, I also got the opportunity to meet with a bunch of super writers at the Dire Literary Series in Cambridge; I even had the chance to do an open mic reading (The New Eve, which I had to hand-write in my hotel room, copied from Elimae's website...because once I arrived in NY, discovered my printer's inkwells were dry...ain't that the way?). Anyhow, among the talented crowd (with whom I socialized for pizza afterwards) were the series' head honcho Tim Gager, Sue Miller (GUD), Rusty Barnes (Night Train), Matt DiGangi (Thieves Jargon), and Kenneth Ryan and Nadine Darling (writers extraordinaire).


Saturday morning I had the pleasure of having sex with Steve Almond, writing workshop, that is. "Sexing the Story."

So, I found him better than what I expected. That is, there has been so much hype about him that I didn't set my expectations high, perhaps, because that's an easy set-up for disappointment. However, he was extremely good with an audience, helpful, informative, and I think very intelligent. One of the things he had us do was to write as BAD of a sex scene as possible in five minutes or so, and several people read theirs - some got 'awful' down to a tee.

Try this and see what happens. One of the most striking things was that the sentence structure, even though written in porn or romance style, began to emerge as if it were good. The pacing and frenzied energy of sex will become apparent even though its language is atrocious. It's that urgency that we are [supposed] to build in a good scene.

Another point he made that really hit home was that sex is in many ways a conflict or danger. When used as a characterization tool to illuminate fears and desires, sex is wonderfully "showing."

Finally, he passed out some examples of "good sex" scenes and we discussed how it's often the "what's not said" or internalization (mind play) that reveals the consciousness of the sex without overtly stating the physical actions and body parts.

I am very very anxious to try out a sex scene now, as I've always shied away from them; they always seemed either stilted or overblown.

Steve Almond is very active in the conference circuits from what I can tell, and I urge you to take see him if possible, ESPECIALLY if you have a sex problem.

So, discuss. How do you feel about writing sex? What are your promise and pitfalls with incorporating it into your fiction?

~~More later~~

Please do go check out Tuesday Shorts as well. We've had three weeks of great stories so far, all under 100 words, and now an open call. Check us out!

~~~

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jury's still out...

~~


Well, I didn't dazzle anyone at Sewanee. I'm on the waiting list which is all right. I was quite disappointed at first, but they may have already been filled up by the time they got around to reading mine. It'll be ok.

I've been doing research on writing colonies now: Squaw Valley, there's a small one in Arkansas, VCCU, MacDowell, Yaddo, and many many more. I really think it's going to be the way to go. Will let you know more as I find out more. Found an interesting bit here about colonies, especially first-timers, that I thought was quite good.

But first things first...
found on flickr by Arnold Pouteau





Sorry for my absence. I was getting chapters ready for the Grubstreet conference, and also getting ready to move! Yes, that's right. Going to NYC! Date: May 2, 2007. Yippeeeeee!


Finally, I'm co-editing a great blogzine, founded by Kristen Tsetsi. Check us out soon. Guidelines for submissions will be posted tomorrow!!!

Tuesday Shorts.

Check us out!!

this one by airport_sleeper


~~~


One last PS - I got into each and every one of the workshops I wanted at Grubstreet, and I'll meet with Devin McIntyre of Mary Evans Agency.

WISH me luck and success :)

~~

Friday, March 23, 2007

The road to happiness....

~~

First, some book notes:

A recent purchase is Fires from Nick Antosca. Can't wait to get into it: !! Here's his blog!

And a feature...Amy Guth has agreed to let me interview her. Meanwhile, check out her blog, and sometime in Arpil, be on the lookout for words of wisdom from Amy: Bigmouth indeed strikes again.

Why must I wait until April. Simple. I have two weeks to get my manuscript in. I'm definitely going to the Muse and Marketplace and have to get prepared!! Charles Baxter is the keynote speaker.

Here are my first choice seminar selections...can you tell I'm excited!!?? The agent choice isn't confirmed til May, so I'll wait to give you that!


Author: Steve Almond
Title: Sexing The Story
Description: This intensive workshop will involve a quick examination what makes a sex scene sizzle, or fizzle. The key points here:
1. How to avoid sounding clinical, or gratuitous.
2. How to make sure your sex scenes engage all the senses
3. How to ensure that your sex scenes are serving to reveal character, not titilate the reader.
This will be an informal session, and might get raunchy, so people should leave their inhibitions at the door.



Author: Rishi Reddi
Title: "Microscopic Truthfulness"
Description: What makes some fiction seem true, like a depiction of real life, characters, emotions and events, while other writing falls flat? In the words of Brenda Ueland, it's "microscopic truthfulness," the author's ability to convey great truths and large amounts of information through the use of the tiniest and most carefully chosen details. We'll examine some good examples of microscopic truthfulness and try some of our own during an in- class exercise.


Author: Sheri Joseph
Title: "Have You Got a Novel or Not?"
Description: This is the perennial question for anyone working on a literary novel, especially for those trying it for the first time. A novel, after all, is more than the equivalent of a certain number of words. Its content requirements are not satisfied by representing, however faithfully, a random portion of someone's life. A first chapter is probably not the same as a short story. So is this a viable novel you're writing, and how can you tell? Perhaps you cannot - at least not before finishing, and revising, and revising again?but a few practical techniques can help the process. We'll discuss some of the troubles common to ailing first drafts, as well as some of the elements required to keep a reader turning all those pages. Time permitting, we may try a few brief writing exercises to help in assessing or redirecting a novel-in-progress.



Author: Gregory Maguire
Title: "A Conversation with Gregory Maguire"
Description: Maguire will read from sections of five or six novels for children and adults, both published and in progress, and comment colloquially on the inspirations, intentions, satisfactions and/or regrets that pertain to the work at hand. He will speak on the downstream effects of the success of the Broadway musical, Wicked, on his subsequent enjoyment or distress about writing for the theater and the writing of novels. In this regard he will also complain politely about the elusive movements of the muse whom, he guesses, most reliably arrives sitting on the back of the wolf who slavers at the door.



Author: Ellen Litman
Title: "Shaping A Short Story Collection"
Description: Short story collections are notoriously hard to get published. Editors complain that collections don’t sell. Agents ask for a novel. Magazine articles regularly proclaim that short story itself is dead. And yet, every year new short story collections come out, win awards, generate buzz. Some have recurring characters, others are labeled “a novel in stories.” Some center on a specific theme, while others are set in a particular location. What makes for a compelling short story collection? How to arrange the stories? How to develop an arch? What mistakes can one avoid? We will look at some recently published collections and try to identify the strategies their authors use. We will also discuss how to pitch a short story collection, especially when approaching an agent.

~~Hour of Power Sessions include:

Jumpstart Your Writing
Instructor Pamela Painter will provide unique and inspiring prompts that get you brainstorming ideas for new stories and writing new scenes. The focus will be on creating memorable characters and settings, inventing plots and improving dialogue. What better way to end the day than by producing new work to take home with you?
Pamela Painter is the author of two collections of short fiction, Getting to Know the Weather and The Long and Short of It. She is the co-author, with Anne Bernays, of WHAT IF? Fiction Exercises for Fiction Writers. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Kenyon Review, and Story. She is a founding editor of StoryQuarterly, and has received grants from the Massachusetts’ Artists Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Jumpstart Your Writing
Instructor Jamie Cat Callan will provide unique and inspiring prompts that get you brainstorming ideas for new stories and writing new scenes. The focus will be on creating memorable characters and settings, inventing plots and improving dialogue. What better way to end the day than by producing new work to take home with you?

Jamie Cat Callan is a master teaching artist with the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. She has taught writing at N.Y.U., Yale University, U.C.L.A. Extension, Fairfield University, and Wesleyan University. She is the author of the recently published Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain. She is also the author of three novels for young adults and a Hooking Up or Holding Out, a book on relationships for women.


Open Mic

Your chance to show off your skills by reading five minutes of your work (usually about 600 words of prose) to your fellow participants and any guest authors, editors or agents who drop by.

~~

I'm very excited!!

Photos from flickr/creative commons by: Istrong2k

~~

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Procrastinators....get off your duffs, thus says your Queen

~~


I say it's high time to put something into action, and I'm dusting off my tushie. I'm doing something for myself! I tend to be one of those that "can't say no," so whenever someone asks for something, I will. Enough, already!!

In my own defense, last week I had a paying gig, proofreading/editing for a biotech company (protein chemistry, oddly enough - and for those that don't know, it was the subject of my own doctoral research) AND last weekend, I had to travel two states and move things out of my mother's storage as she is moving (and yes, I've known for over a month I needed to). So. My excuses for the day. Now, ready-set----go!

I want to get something completed. I look over my novella, and think it should be a novel; I look at all 40,000 words of the novel-in-progress, and think I want to get going on it. I do so love the story. I'm going to make the monumental decision - which one of the two I'm going to have critiqued - and make plans to go to grubstreet.

Picture from flikr, josh.ev9

Do take a look at the cast:

Charles Baxter is the keynote speaker, along with Steve Almond, Gregory Maguire, Pamela Painter, Sue Miller and many other super authors, agents, editors, 5 workshop sessions plus two "Hour of Power" seminars. It's very inexpensive for such an impressive ensemble, IMHO.

PLUS you can pay an additional fee to participate in the "Manuscript Mart" - in a twenty minute session, an agent or an editor provides feedback on your story or portion of book-length project (20 pages). I am really looking forward to hearing what someone from the "other side" has to say about my work.

What do I need to focus on? What am I not able to see for myself? On the other hand, if I just plain suck, I want to know that too. Then I'll really throw myself into some conferences!!

So that's the deal. I like a little pressure now and then; in fact, I almost think I need it. For some, it paralyzes, but for me it creates an energy funnel that helps me focus. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself ;-) We shall see.

Anybody game to attend?

Here's the link again:The Muse and Marketplace, Boston, May 5-6, 2007.

~~

By the way, I finished "The Ice Queen," and absolutely loved it. I was so absorbed, I must say, there was a twist that totally surprised me at the end, and I always like that unpredictability in a novel, in a good story.


~~

Oh My!! I just realized - perhaps a larger fault than my procrastination - is my obsession with subbing. During the next month, I cannot take any pieces that have been rejected, nit-pick to death, and spend hours looking for the exact match, THE place that wants it. I have twenty-something subs out plus I just got ink from a super DUPER magazine, so I should be able to sit tight for a month, no?

:)

~~

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Do re mi...finding a voice.

~~Isn't this photo awesome?




Reading notes: OH MY GOSH!! I bought books again last week, including a new audio (and now I have to get reading; I'm officially banned from hardcopy, but NOT audio...)and...

I've found my new idol!

I got Alice Hoffman's "The Ice Queen," and I'm enthralled. It's also read by Nancy Travis, who's doing a marvelous job. Once, someone commented that my work was slightly Alice Hoffmanesque, and now I understand. And boy do I hope so!!

I've also started Amy Guth's book, "Three Fallen Women," in spite of my reluctance not to finish a book, Kavalier and Klay is very long and more of a cruise-through book than a page-turner. If that makes any sense.

Anyway, her writing is energetic, brutal, honest and heart-stopping....I keep reading and my heart is racing. Great stuff. Will let you know more later.

~~

So that's about it. I'm working on developing my own voice, and I think I'm some sort of hybrid. But I think it very exciting to have finally discovered AH; her style and voice - the magic realism - seem to reflect to a great degree, what I perceive mine to be (or leaning toward, or hoping for...)

Has anyone else had that moment of pseudo-self-recognition?

~~

I've located a couple more conferences, and I really really like they are both small-ish and have some excellent guest speakers and agent in attendance:

Grub Street, a two-day conference in Boston (I've gotten some good verbal input about this one) and

Writers at Work, in Salt Lake City, UT.

I've put applications in for both Sewanee and BreadLoaf too. I really want to go to as many as my pocketbook will allow, hehe!

What a perpetual student I am!

~~

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tinkled pink, purple....and ultraviolet....

Someone recently mentioned that subbing was making her blue - the same things we all go through and think: "Why's is taking so long?" (13 hrs, 24 minutes and 42 seconds after the fact)

I think that what takes the fun out of it is the fact we are
a) not sending to the right markets or
b) not sending enough simultaneous submissions/enough pieces out.






Impatiens found on Flickr
Writers are an "impatient" sort, eh?!!


~~


I recently became distracted waiting on one piece for over 10 months. Finally, I took it off my duotrope radar, and already feel better, but I'll say hanging out at the mailbox for that SASE has been exhausting.

I contend it's the waiting that is making us crazy, and we should be out there writing like mad divas. BUT I also think part of the fun is getting loads of work out there; it's so nice to get that occasional 'yes' and with loads of subs out, one little 'no' doesn't mean diddly!

I belonged to a group that used to focus for half the month on subbing, half on writing and I had (I think) thirteen pieces published during that time and at least three or four of the things I wrote during that time were accepted later. I miss that energy and that "in it together" feeling. (*sniff*) The sharing of what works for one magazine or another also helped to focus and target the right markets, i.e. help reduce those pesky rejections because we hadn't sent the right piece. [Upon a rejection, we'd also immediately send the piece out again, AND send the rejector another piece]

Aw well; here's to successful subbing and processing info as we go!

~~

Places to check out...


Does anyone know about this one? Or am I just attracted to it because I used to study fluorescent spectral characteristics of proteins when hit with UV?

Ultraviolet Publishing - seeking short stories for an anthology.

This is such a funny place to go when you're pulling hair out. Get a few chuckles at The Onion

A new (to me) humor mag: The American Drivel Review. Looks pretty fun.

~~~


I've also finally finished Ellen Meister's audiobook. It was a great listen. I laughed out loud and cried. Dangerous to driving, but good for the soul :)
Now, I'm missing listening to lit in the car, so I got Alice Hoffman's "The Ice Queen" for my back and forth.

~~

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Start your engines.

Today was indeed, the opening day of racing season, featuring the Daytona 500. Can't help it. I do love racing.

It also makes me wanna get my own engine in gear. I'm definitely getting my applications ready, signed and sealed today, for Breadloaf and Sewanee. If I don't apply, I certainly won't get in, and will have no options.





Photo from Rogergw at Creative Commons.







I was also looking at AWP, in Atlanta. I had NO IDEA it was $200 to go (and apparently there aren't any "day rate" only fees). I'll be going anyway, to the book fair on Saturday, which is free and open to the public. What a shame.

That's really about it. Unproductive week, although the new elimae did come out, and I've gotten some great compliments so that was very nice. I'm going to have a great week or die trying. (okay, I'll drop the theatrics now :)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mojo rising

Major idea!

Having trouble getting my mojo to rise...pondering workshops and gurus and magic charms.

What if rather than plunging my money into more workshops/whatnots, I arrange a private secluded trip (with internet access, hehe!) to go get my motivation, my momentum going.

Is it not true that I've learned the basics? Why not go apply them?

The reason, in terms of everyday life, is that everyday life consumes a person to the extent that even reading/writing become chore-like. Why do I need a retreat with other people? I tend to be someone who, in order to get things done, needs a proper amount of time to focus and then I'm obsessive. My job is highly energy-draining, and at the end of the day, most of the time I can't even focus enough to cook. This is bad.

This is definitely a question for me to ponder. Has anyone else ever had that thought, or am I a recluse trying to find her excuse?

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While I think about this epiphany, I need to get all my good stuff subbed and applications in to the structured things.

Picture from Codeworm at Flickr

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Focus and shoot

OK, my honey is a photographer and the best advice he's ever given me is to focus and shoot. Get the picture.

If it doesn't work, oh well. And I can't go back and grab that moment.

This is what I'm thinking as I'm trying to iron out my semi-green phase, and remember I took shots that didn't work.

Picture from: Studiozero.net



What are you ranting about?

Recently a couple of writerly-type friends have gotten accepted into mags I would have given my left hoof for two years ago. Now, I think, damn I'm jealous. Then I think, wait....I'm not really void of persistence or willingness to work for what I want, but realize, my focus has simply shifted. Getting into those journals would be nice (even now), but they aren't my holy grail anymore.

Sometimes I joke, and say those mags didn't/don't like my style of writing. This may or may not be true, because I never even got a personal rejection. What's important though, is that as my writing grows, and obviously other well-respected places do enjoy my work, it becomes less important to get that particular publication credit. Now, I'm writing to say what I want to, in the way I enjoy, and if it suits any given publication, then off it goes.

Now, I don't even know what my holy grail is - and not sure it's important. I think it's unrealistic to shoot for the New Yorker, as they deal largely with agented novelists/writers and aren't known for slush pile selection. I know my main focus now is writing a novel that lets my little heart pour and bleed all over the pages, and have that sold. Then maybe the other fringe benefits will fall into place, huh?

There are a couple of magazines I have targeted now, because I like them, and would be proud to be published in them. I think as well, that I'm targeting better than I used to, and these are magazines that currently publish in my style. These are the types I'm planning on putting my focus, my persistence into.

Pent-up energy over supposed failure can't be good for productivity, huh?!

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Now, it's time to go put in applications for those conferences! Gak!

I found another that might be of interest:
Algonkian. In particular, I'm considering the Harper's Ferry one.

Anyone have experience/knowledge of this? I know of one person that I've been trying to round-up, but haven't gotten her input yet.




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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Book reports


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I just got my copy of Amy Guth's Three Fallen Women . Take a look.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this one. Reportedly, her style is offbeat and the themes are dark (even though she started out in stand-up comedy!). I'm a sucker for such.


In a completely different vein, I'm also still listening to Ellen Meister's Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA. I've been listening for some time, but found I'm quite dyslexic when it comes to listening, driving and actually absorbing information at the same time. I'm getting better though.

I like to "listen" the same way I read - I want to not only enjoy the story, but also explore the style. It's light and funny. The last few chapters were terrific, starting with a frenzied kitchen painting scene to a crazy group scene (dare I say too much?) with almost the entire cast of characters. It's a very filmic story - I definitely can see this as a movie. If Ellen checks in here, maybe she'll let us know if it's heading that way? Ellen's blog is here!


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I have a new piece that will appear in February at elimae. I love that zine.

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My main project, Songs of Cicadas, has finally undergone its last set of revisions and was sent to the Ohio State University Fiction Prize contest. I fear it still needs more, but I'll wait for a little bit before I pick it back up. Now, I'm going to work on my novel.

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Finally, there's a new ezine that you should check out. The talented Stefani Nellan is coeditor for Steel City Review. The first ish is up, and looks great with super writers as well including: Marc Lowe, Maggie Shearon and Claudia Smith.

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