About Me

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My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Peace on Earth

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. I'm tucked in with my family on this dark rainy day--which, if there's no snow, is the next best thing.

See you in the New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

SmokeLong Quarterly's

newest issue is live and WOWEE that's a gorgeous cover. And look at all those talented writers inside!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I've been meaning to get to my much neglected blog but Life (flu, trip to D.C., submissions, holiday...)has been getting in the way lately. However, I see a break in the clouds coming soon (after Thanksgiving and before New Orleans trip?) and I have so many good books to talk about and some more thoughts on process and links to good work. So hopefully in a couple of days I'll be back on track...

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

StoryGlossia Issue 36

The new issue is out! It's all about music and obsession.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Leveling Appalachia"

thanks to Mary Akers for this link.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Planning a Novel: Amy Tan in Conversation with Roger Rosenblatt

To hear what she says about planning a novel, click on "Watch Full Program" then scroll down to the appropriate section. You have to pause the original link or the introduction will keep going...

Read This: Bad Monkey by Curtis Smith

Curtis Smith has a gift for conjuring any kind of character imaginable, so much so, that I suspect he walks around with whole worlds in his mind, as varied and intriguing as they are familiar.

The first story in "Bad Monkey" is fiercely detailed and will likely haunt you. With chilling subtlety, Smith reveals, or more accurately, hints at, what happened to the smiling girl in the video. "The Girl in the Halo" is one of the few stories I've read in which the second person POV is so well done and fitting, I didn't notice it until the end. In "Think on Thy Sins" a son grows up quickly and takes on his father's businesses, both legal and illegal, after his father has an accident. In "What About Meg?" a widower, recovering from heart trouble, wants to down-size and sell the family home, but first he must decide whether or not to place his adult special needs daughter in a permanent care facility.

Smith's shorter stories are as richly layered and weighty as his longer pieces. In "In the Jukebox Light," a town looks at a promising local couple with a kind of loving awe which later turns to a wistful sadness after tragedy strikes. The piece "Caravan," reveals how the kind of unquestioning faith that lures people into the cult life can be as ominous and deadly to the spirit as the worst kind of evil. And in "Fever," one of my favorites of the collection, a mother cares for her feverish son as an ice storm snaps branches and makes a trip to the emergency room as treacherous as the fever itself. Smith creates atmosphere and suspense with concise precision. As the mother scolds herself for an affair that drove her husband away, she considers her son's future:

"She stroked her boy's flushed cheek, tasted the salty residue on her fingertips, and wondered how many nights he would spend trapped in a fever of one sort or another, his bearings undone by a fire within, a flame he could no more explain than he could resist."

Just as Parker has to deal with his troublesome monkey in the title story, the characters in this exquisitely crafted collection are forced to contend with their own bad monkeys.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Read This: Normal People Don't Live Like This

by Dylan Landis. This is an incredible collection. Landis has delivered with precision, honesty and art, the adolescent female mind. Her sentences, vivid and daring, are honed to the clarity of a mountain stream. The details in her prose will surprise as will her characters even as their actions seem inevitable. I enjoyed the science threaded through the stories as well.

It's difficult to pick a favorite story in this even collection but the title story captures so well the precise moment in which a well-intentioned but disillusioned mother realizes she no longer has a handle on her daughter.

'It will hold, Helen thought. She was not lost. She was merely trying all sorts of stunts. Leah Sophia, one name from each grandmother. The cigarette was nothing. It was only smoke. It was only a moment: daughter, fifteen.'

The first story, "Jazz," is also striking in its raw honesty and head-on look at how a young girl rationalizes allowing a much older man to have sex with her. This passage shows so well how limited a thirteen year-old girl's understanding of herself and her place in the world is:

'She has known Richard since she was a toddler. She doesn’t have to be polite.
“Five minutes,” says Richard. He has freed a breast with his teeth. Rainey, propped on her elbows, sees how her breast lights up in the dark. It pumps out its resplendence like the sun. When Richard sucks on the nipple, the water rolls up through the pipes in Bethesda Fountain and rains on the heads of angels.
Rainey punches him in the head.
“Five minutes,” he says. “In five minutes you’ll be thirty-nine and I’ll be fourteen and then we can go.”
Rainey says, “Goddamit, Richard,” and she is half-crying. She is not getting raped but he won’t get up. She still wants to go too far but she is not sure how far is far.
“You think I just want one thing,” says Richard. “You think there’s only one part of you that’s special.” He kisses her mouth again, and she lets him, even though he has a beard and his mouth does not have that boy-sweetness; it tastes of tobacco and steak.
“Thirteen,” Rainey says, but there is clay in her mouth.'

For anyone wishing to understand those defining, and yet often lost moments, of a girl trying to leap into womanhood, this is a must read.

Monday, October 12, 2009

TED: Isabelle Allende

This woman is amazing. Her talk is filled with humor and of course, passion.

Wabi-Sabi, Slowing Down, and Acceptance

Right now, I'm reading a book I orginally bought for my husband and after he read it, he told me he thought I would enjoy it. I put it down in my stack, months went by, and then, as is usually the case, I picked it up at just the right time. It's a book called The Wabi-Sabi House: the Japanese Art of Imperfect Beeauty.

I've recently returned from a trip to Paris. That trip could be labeled a trip of imperfect beauty. I felt right at home in Paris. I've always loved the language and found when I was there I could speak enough to get by very well. I loved the food, the architecture, the people, the fact that there are flower markets on nearly every street corner in some parts and that grapes hang in bunches in the sunlight. I love that the women there, of all ages, take the time to present themselves with imperfect beauty. I loved seeing the joy in my son's eyes at the city life he loves so much: the metros, the glittering, magnificent lights of the Eiffel Tower, the hustle and bustle of transportation of all kinds, and I loved seeing my world-traveler husband adapt, take charge, as he does so well in any country. My trip was marred only by the fact that what I thought was a sinus infection turned out to be an abscess, so for the whole week, I lived on Advils and an antibiotic I'd never seen before. That could have ruined it for me, but it didn't. I still went out, pain and swelling be damned. I still enjoyed. I still soaked in all the beauty that was around me. After all, I could have had the abscess anywhere, much better that it was Paris!

When I returned, I started to take stock of my own life, its balance or lack of, and my priorities. I've not written a word since August--or maybe even July. I've stopped counting. I'm not blocked. I'm letting some air in. I'm taking notes, letting the novel stew, working out some issues. (I did manage to write two outlines of stories while I was in Paris, one sketchier than the other, so I guess that counts as writing, but barely). I haven't sent out a story to a magazine in almost a year though I have a couple of stories almost ready, and three others ready to be drafted. This is a departure from my determined, driven manner of the past few years of writing and sending stories out for the end result: publication. At this point, when I think about my novels and stories there's a kind of freedom I feel, the freedom of taking my time with them, of letting them be what they will, imperfect as they are. Of protecting their imperfection against the judment of others, of myself.

Wabi-Sabi is defined in the book as: "...the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered--and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores, aged wood, not Pergo, rice paper not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, water, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet--that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came."

For the moment I've removed myself from the race. I'm accepting this is where I need to be. I'm enjoying the quiet. I'm taking note of the things for which I'm grateful. I'm drinking tea with reverence and I'm enjoying the beauty of imperfection.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Books

Some new story collections waiting on my shelf (!!):

"Bad Monkey" by Curtis Smith
"Girl Trouble" by Holly Goddard Jones
"Normal People Don't Live Like This" by Dylan Landis
"In an Uncharted Country" by Clifford Garstang
"In the Valley of the Kings" by Terrence Holt
"Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing" by Lydia Peele

Not to mention some amazing novels sitting right next to them. Ai! I'm going to have a fabulous time when I get back from Paris!

(I've already dipped into Smith's collection and the first story is powerful and beautifully written.)

I'll begin posting my thoughts on these and other books after I return. Have a productive couple of weeks. Happy writing and reading!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Paris and the Novel

I thought I'd get right back into revising the novel when school began but instead I'm taking notes for it and trying very hard to learn French as we're going to Paris in three weeks. I've had five years of French in school, however, I wasn't always paying attention and now I'm trying to cram because while I struggled with Spanish in Madrid last year I feel as if I should be able to speak the language in France. Or at least try.

My soon to be eight year old son (who will be going with us, bien sur!) is not thrilled with the constant auditory vocab lessons: "Can we shut that French off? I can't think!"

Meanwhile...the note-taking is getting me excited to work on the novel again when we return.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


The talented and award-winning writer, Pia Ehrhardt, has guest-edited this very special issue of Guernica/ After the Flood.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Read This: Everything Matters!

Ron Currie's second book impressed me, captivated me and ultimately slayed me. The end is so damn beautiful I stayed up late so I could finish and I had to remind myself to take a breath once in a while. The end is so damn beautiful I reread it this morning and wept again.

Ron Currie is a generous author. He's given us an amazing story and then some. He's offered us food for the intellect and for the soul. If you, as you're reading along, think your mind can't handle any more surprises and that a book couldn't possibly hold so many twists and turns, Currie proves you wrong time and again.

"Everything Matters" is a novel of contradictions: elegant restraint/ raw emotion; pragmatic/ spiritual; despair/ hope. It shows us we are alone and at the same time we are bravely and wonderously connected.
Currie's imagination takes us on a white-knuckled ride and in the end, screeches to a halt in front of the undeniable truth that everything does indeed matter.

Do not miss reading this book. It will change your expectations of what literature can do. It may even change your life.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Collagist

(I love the name!) is going live Saturday afternoon!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In An Uncharted Country

a short story collection by the talented writer and blogger Cliff Garstang is now available for preorder from Press 53 or Cliff's new website!

Read: "Wash, Dry, Fold" by Myfanwy Collins

in the summer issue of Mississippi Review

Push the Limits

Twice in one week this wisdom has come to my attention, though it may be fairly obvious to some of you, for me, at this particular time, it was like receiving permission from the universe.

From Poets & Writers Magazine's interview with Joshua Mohr:

Any advice about navigating publishing?
"I think it's vital to remember that no one knows what will succeed and what will flounder in the marketplace, and therefore, writers should take that intimidating unknown as license to write the craziest books they can imagine. If there are no guarantees for success, why not shove the boundaries so far away that they're invisible?"

and after watching the powerful,sexy, and haunting movie "Little Ashes" last night, which, by the way, was critically chastised, but I loved it, I was reminded Dali lived by his belief it was important to push the limits in art and in life if one wanted to be recognized as an important artist.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


is the number of books I want to bring on my two week trip.

8 is the actual number of books I'll be bringing.

4 is the number of books I'll probably end up being able to read.

Oh why can't I read faster?????

Out of Touch

I'm going to be without internet access for the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to this "quiet" time with family and travel. I'm also looking forward to coming home, getting back to routine, my writing, and specifically, the novel.

Be well. Be fruitful.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Read: Everything Matters!

The second novel by Ron Currie Jr.. It's getting rave reviews and Ron's offered a free download of his first chapter on his website.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

To friends in Iran

May you be safe, may your voices be heard, and may your country come to a peaceful resolution.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Introducing: The Collagist

The new online literary journal produced by Dzanc books!!

I imagine this journal is going to be amazing since it has Dzanc Books behind it as well as Matt Bell as editor and Mathew Olzman as poetry editor.

Read This: Freight Stories

There's a new issue out and it has a piece by one of my very favorite writers: Alicia Gifford.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Novel, Story, Novel, Story...

I sat down with my rough draft this morning and read and took notes on the first five chapters. At first, I panicked at the amount of work there was to be done after looking at the thing in the harsh morning-after light. But there's definitely something there that still excites me and that's really all I can ask of a first draft.

Oddly, in the last day or two, I've been getting flashes of inspiration for a story/excerpt of my other novel and am now desperate to revise that piece. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rough Draft of My Novel is Done

Ah. I never thought I'd get to write those words. I'm both excited and relieved. And today I'm going to take a day off from writing.!!!

In other news, I've been put on a waitlist for Bread Loaf. Which means if someone who was invited decides not to go, I may have a chance to get in. On the postive side, going to the mountain in 2006 was one of the most validating experiences I've had and on the negative side it's a lot of money to go as a contributor. I'm not going to worry about it now. If it's meant to be, it will.

I hope to dive into a couple of short story collections for Dan Wickett's May is Short Story Month, and soon I'll be scouring the internet for interviews and advice on revising the novel and who knows what else...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Question on Process

Okay, so I have these three chapters that have just been sketched in as place markers. I'm going in now to fill them in, but I'm considering (but not decided) a major change to the book, a main character getting banished to back story. Do I fill in the chapters with new change in mind, or with same character and make the changes in revision?

What would you do?

Here's what I'm going to do...postpone killing the character until I have the full draft done.

Oh boy. Can't wait to see what kind of mess I have when I'm finished.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wigleaf's Top Fifty

Here is this year's amazing group of short-shorts, wigleaf's top fifty. I see many writers I admire on that list. I can't wait to dig in!!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Read This: "Dear Everybody" and "Lawnboy"

With apologies to Dan Wickett at Emerging Writers Network I want to take a moment out of short story month to talk about two novels I've read recently that blew me away. They're quite different, and yet there are enough similarities to inspire me to write about them both in one post. Both are coming of age stories, both deal with strained relationships between brothers, and both are written with an uncommon level of emotional vibrancy.

The first is "Dear Everybody" by Michael Kimball, which has already been nicely summed up at the offical website:

"A Novel Written in the Form of Letters, Diary Entries, Encyclopedia Entries, Conversations with Various People, Notes Sent Home from Teachers, Newspaper Articles, Psychological Evaluations, Weather Reports, a Missing Person Flyer, a Eulogy, a Last Will and Testament, and Other Fragments, Which Taken Together Tell the Story of the Short Life of Jonathon Bender, Weatherman."

In this brilliantly designed novel, we learn right up front that the main character of the story, Jonathon Bender, commits suicide. Kimball then takes us through bits of archeological evidence to show us what is too often left unknown after a suicide: why. And we gradually learn that in this broken, dysfunctional family, the young man who kills himself was actually the sanest one of all. What I loved most about this book, aside from its beautiful structure, is the depth of character and emotion. It left me feeling as if the author left a huge chunk of his heart on the page and it is this generosity and depth that left me stunned when I finished and grateful I had read it.

Here's a small excerpt from Bender's crushingly innocent point of view:

"Dear Mom and Dad,

I know that I must have looked strange after I pulled most of my eyelashes out of my eyelids. It must have looked as if there were something wrong with me. But I want you to know why I did it: this girl at school told me that if you blow on your eyelashes and they fly away it's good luck."


I found this same level of depth and emotion in Paul Lisicky's "Lawnboy." A beautiful coming of age story set in south Florida. The reader finds dysfunction in this family as well, if a bit quieter, still a dispiriting dysfunction all the same. And our main character must navigate his teen years under the blanket-like unhappiness of his parents and without the guidance of his adored and elusive older brother. The narrator eventually breaks away from his stifling parents and grows into himself. I found his embrace of his true self, his reconnection with his brother, and his finding "the one" when he was least expecting it, beautiful and affecting. Lisicky writes with the attention of a poet. His ability to go deep into experiences gives us passages such as this one:

"Hector and I floated in the pool one night. No talk. My suit floated off on the surface, an empty bag. Our mouths fastened. We were circling, hands pushing at each other, muscles tensing. I wanted him closer. I studied his face: that scar beneath his ear, those fleshy pink lips. How to get him closer? How to get deeper inside the body? Our bodies. I tried hard as I could to inhabit it, us, closing my eyes frenetic."

And Lisicky isn't afraid of shocking us with startling images such as this one on the first page:

"They didn't know that I spent hours inside a concrete pipe, a cool, cramped cylinder in the middle of a field, whenever I needed to get away. They didn't know about the morning in my thirteenth year when out of sheer boredom, I stitched my fingertips together with needle and thread, making an intricate basket of my hand and giving myself a tremendous infection."

But for me the most amazing part of the novel is the moment in which the narrator sees for the first time his lover, really sees him, in all ages, future and past, in his vulnerability and strength, and it is this seeing that is the eventual undoing of our narrator's protective armour, and he has made the leap to living life fully.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Read This: Women Up On Blocks by Mary Akers

What better way to kick off Dan Wickett's designated short story month then a riveting, unique collection of stories by my talented friend, Mary Akers. I'd read most of these stories prior to reading them in the collection and it's a testament to Akers' talent that I was just as dazzled by them this time as I was then--even more so, actually.

Mary writes about motherhood, marriage and desire with a fierce honesty. Fierce! "Medusa Song," the opener, is an affecting story of a harried, exhausted mother with little support and we follow her through her afternoon, breath held from the fear of what will happen next, and then Akers ends it in the most desperately beautiful way. "Wild, Wild Horses" offers a look at the strength of a woman, both literally and figuratively. "Mooncalf" blew me away with its raw, emotional power. Who would dare to write about motherhood from the perspective of a woman with cerebral palsy? Mary Akers did and she does it with veracity and heart and this story will slay you. And then there's "The Rashomon Tree," a story of two women with very different views, each mired in their own brand of righteousness, discovering the middle ground, learning what it means to love "the other". Mary Akers has a gift for empathy, for getting inside the heads of all kinds of women, and giving them a voice full of bravery, honesty, strength, humor and love.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Interview with Elizabeth Strout

at Failbetter

I love everything Elizabeth Strout writes.

In terms of process I'm quite interested in "Olive Kitteridge" being considered a hybrid, and in the reasons Elizabeth Strout gives for the structure. My other novel, not the one I drafted in March, but the one I've been working on for over two years now, has come to me in a similar fashion. And knowing that kind of hybrid isn't considered as marketable as a novel has done nothing to whip my muse into compliance. I'm not sure why the novel is coming to me through stories, perhaps because the span of time and the subject matter are daunting for me to handle in one neat line. Before I drafted this other novel, though, I thought it was a failing on my part of being able to write a normal novel. I'm proving that theory wrong. (I'm not talking about quality of content, mind you. That will remain to be seen.) And I'm beginning to understand that each project demands its own kind of attention and process.


Wordle is fun and the results are visually interesting. I'm not sure how useful it is in analyzing your work, but the clouds are pretty. I don't post mine, but instead, I just print them out for fun. I've done three short stories so far. I haven't tried it for a micro (probably won't make much of a cloud--more like a wisp) or a novel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Narrative's Winter 2009 Contest

The results are in. Congratulations to the all the talented winners and finalists!!

Laila Lalami interviewed

at Powells.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Olive Kitteridge wins PULITZER!!!!

I love, love, love this book. I am so thrilled that it was recognized in this way!! Many deserved congratulations to Ms. Strout.

And it's a novel-in-stories!! Hooray!

*Thanks to New Pages for the original link.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Congratulations to Ron Currie Jr.

and the rest of the writers honored this year!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Read This: Jim Tomlinson's Nothing Like an Ocean

Jim Tomlinson’s stories in his collection Nothing Like an Ocean and the characters who inhabit them run as deep as the ocean. There’s something endearing about these people struggling to get by, get past, get closer. Tomlinson’s writing is smooth, his worlds easy to enter.

My favorites were the title story; Angel, His Rabbit, and Kyle McKell; Overburden; and A Male Influence in the House. Perhaps they stood out for me because Tomlinson does not shield his readers from the uncomfortable, or the uneasiness of despair. He doesn’t shield us from three quietly broken adults all complicit in a child’s death, doesn’t shield us from a soldier’s brokenness and anger, doesn’t shield us from the murder of whole mountain tops and all the life reliant on those ecosystems, doesn’t shield us from the horror of a young man poisoning himself in an attempt to feel something other than his lonely anguish.
There are no neat, happy endings but therein lies the veracity of this collection. And often Tomlinson’s endings are spot-on gorgeous such as the one in Overburden, juxtaposed as it is against so much destruction:

“Inside Sarah will tell him that her labor has started, early pains, but unmistakable. There’s no need to rush, she’ll say, but they shouldn’t delay, either, getting to the hospital. It’s only a matter of time. Yes it’s five weeks early, maybe six, but their future, she’ll assure him, is most certainly happening now.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More about process...

Laila Lalami has a post about process today that I found interesting--quite near the end of the process, but still resonates all the same.

Pictures of Process

Sandy Novack, author of "Precious," has generously posted pictures of her process during the writing of her debut novel. I'm always fascinated by how other writers work, and I suspect many of us are. It's such an insular act and so when we're allowed a peek into another writer's world, I think it may alleviate some of the loneliness.

It's also a superb example of the power of revision and the power of the process itself. Reading Sandy's book, you can see for yourselves how something amazingly beautiful can emmerge from a process that's allowed to get "messy."

Here's to getting messy.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Read This: Precious by Sandra Novack

I've been a fan of Sandy Novack's short stories for years. And I've come to know her a little through the internet and through her sage advice on my own writing. What I know about her personally is this: she's smart, funny, and extraordinarily kind. What I learned about her after reading her debut novel is that the depth of her soul and her heart must be so large as to be immeasurable because surely one cannot write a story like this one with anything less. This novel had me sobbing not just at the end, but also in the middle at the most unexpected times. Novack is a writer who understands the power of connecting emotionally to her reader.

Precious is the story of what happens to a family when a little girl goes missing in their small town. But while the disappearance hangs heavy in the periphery, a storm is raging within the Kisch family. And journeying through that storm, one learns just how vulnerable a child's (and teen's) limited understanding of the adult world makes her. The aftermath leaves no one untouched, including this reader.

As a writer I was impressed with Novack's technical ability: lovely, exciting, elegant sentences that weave the tale, seemingly effortless, from start to finish; masterful handling of the omniscient pov; and brilliantly carved characters--all things to be admired, and for me at least, to be studied.

Reading this book was a rewarding and gut-wrenching Experience. I cannot wait to read another by this extremely talented author.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm Done!

In more ways than one.

I've finished my first draft of my novel (63,000 words) though four of the chapters (about 20,00 more words to go) are just sketched out. But I have the whole thing written down from start to finish and have come to the conclusion I cannot. write. another. f****. word.

I'm done.

I'm DONE!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going on vacation two days early and when I come back to the novel in mid April, when my son is back in school, I'll fill in those chapters and start revising!!!!!

Many thanks to all who encouraged me and inspired me!!

Now I'm off to take a much needed brain break. Before I write something stupid and embarrass myself.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SmokeLong Quarterly Issue 24

The new issue is live and is loaded with wonderful reading!!

And as usual, Marty Ison's cover is amazing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Read: A New Story by Myfanwy Collins

Read Liar at Pank.

Yet another great story by the very talented, Myfanwy Collins.

Dzanc Creative Writing Sessions

I've recently signed up to volunteer for this worthwhile project:

The DCWS is founded on the principle that many authors' lifestyles do not afford them the opportunity to obtain feedback on their writing - be it where they live, their work schedule, or finances. We feel that all authors deserve the opportunity to have their work reviewed. Unlike most of the current workshop opportunities - MFA programs, Low-Residency programs, colonies, online classes, etc. - the DCWS is unique in that it allows the writer to determine the parameters for their own review sessions. With the DCWS, you sign up for what you want and need, not some pre-determined program.

The DCWS is set up to provide a one-to-one working relationship with a published author, allowing you the benefits of their experience, in many cases both writing and teaching. Nearly 100 great authors have already agreed to volunteer their services as mentors in our DCWS program. The names you'll find in our database include award winning authors and teachers such as: George Singleton, Myfanwy Collins, Dawn Raffel, Peter Markus, Leora Skolkin-Smith, Katrina Denza, Laura van den Berg, Kevin Wilson, Nancy Cherry, Jeff Parker and Mike Czyzniejewski. From this list, writers paying to participate in the DCWS may select an available author to work with. Participating writers will then have their work critiqued and can discuss in detail their writing and any other areas of writing in general they wish to explore with their DCWS author.

The DCWS will utilize email to reduce the difficulties writers such as yourself have when looking to find feedback on your work. Our workshops remove the limitations of both time and distance as you'll send your work and questions to your mentor when and where you have access to the internet. Each participant will determine how many hours of mentoring they need, as well as how to progress - you asking specific questions about your work, or you asking for your manuscript to be edited (10 pages per hour), or simply looking for a back and forth conversation about your work after the mentor you select has read the work.

The program is being offered at an extremely low rate - many of the instructing authors volunteering their time to Dzanc do similar work as freelancers and charge much greater rates than are being offered here through the DCWS. Other workshops and writing programs charge a lump sum of several hundred dollars up front. Not only does the DCWS allow you to control and target your expenses, but 100% of the money brought in by Dzanc by our DCWS goes to supporting the writing programs we run for students grades 4-12. These additional programs - currently being run nationally by Dzanc - are offered free of charge to students who would not otherwise be able to afford and experience these sort of writing programs.

The DCWS sessions are set up in hourly blocks and can be ordered as follows:

1 hour - $20
2 hours - $30
4 hours - $50

The DCWS eliminates your need to travel to a university. It also eliminates your need to lay out a few hundred dollars up front for an 8 or 10 week online course. It allows you to jump in and out when you are available, and also allows you to select from the list of authors that have generously volunteered their time to this project. A full list is available at our website. This list includes published novelists, short story writers, flash fiction writers, poets and non-fiction writers. If you don't feel the need to select a specific author, we'll simply assign a writer to you.

For more information on our Creative Writing Sessions program, please send an email to info@dzancbooks.org.

In order to sign up now, head over to visiting the DCWS page at our website http://www.dzancbooks.org/creative.html and select your author. After deciding how many hours to work with your mentor, click on the Paypal button that corresponds to that number, and fill in the mentor name in the appropriate field and we'll get you started.


Steven Gillis
Dan Wickett
Dzanc Books

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Words of Wisdom

from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Prey, Love, among others.

Here's a snippet from an interview she did for Barnes and Noble Meet the Writers Series:

I can't get behind the ambition to be "discovered" as much as I can get behind the ambition to write beautifully and honorably and steadfastly. Here's what I believe about creativity. I believe that creativity is a living force that thrums wildly through this world and expresses itself through us. I believe that talent (the force by which ephemeral creativity gets manifested into the physical world through our hands) is a mighty and holy gift. I believe that, if you have a talent (or even if you think you do, or maybe even if you just hope you do), that you should treat that talent with the highest reverence and love.

Don't flip out, in other words, and murder your gift through narcissism, insecurity, addiction, competitiveness, ambition or mediocrity. Frankly -- don't be a jerk. Just get busy, get serious, get down to it and write something, for heaven's sake. Try to get out of your own way. Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results -- the only thing it craves is the PROCESS. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless. Just love the work. --Elizabeth Gilbert

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rest in Peace, Bob Arter

Bob was such a big-hearted part of our online writing community at Zoetrope and beyond. And he was also a damn good writer and to read his work aloud is to know how amazing his talent was.

Rusty Barnes wrote a nice tribute to him with a link to one of Bob's many great pieces at Night Train.

There are more links to Bob's work and a tribute to him on SmokeLong Quarterly's blog as well.

Bob was greatly loved and respected and we will miss him.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Books, Links, Inspiration, News, and Where I'm At...

The last month or so has been an amazing transformative time for me in terms of my process. I've been working on a novel for over two years and I'm little over halfway finished with the first draft. I'm a slow writer, it's true, but unlike short stories that came before, this project has been particularly excruciating because the chapters refused to come to me in a straight linear fashion, but rather in stand-alone story form, and therefore would require me to not only write the story, revise and revise until it worked as a viable stand-alone, and then publish it (Okay, maybe that part has more to do with my insecure writer self than the process), after which I would need to go back in, alter the stand-alone so that I could weave it seamlessly into my forced linear narrative. All painstakingly slow work. And I was frustrated, dismayed, frightened, that all my novels to come would have to be written down in this way and well, it didn't make me give up, but nearly.

But! Along comes this other novel, a novel that I had begun three years ago but had put aside to write the other. And here it comes back to me, knock, knock, knocking on my door to write. it. now.

For three months or more I thought about it and worried about it and wondered can I just stop writing my first novel in the middle like this to write another. What am I thinking? Am I to now spend the next two years toiling over an elusive idea that refuses to allow me to tame it just to end up with TWO half finished novels? Ai! Even more daunting is the fact that while I may write the first draft of a short story in a week or two, it takes me months, sometimes a whole year, to revise that story. So, with this knowledge of my process and my so very limited abilities, I sweated over this decision until I finally decided to let go of any preconceived notions of what a writer should do, and just write what I want to write. What am I doing if I'm not writing for my own enjoyment? This is my journey after all and who says I need to walk it a certain way? As soon I gave myself permission to write this other story, the one that's burning to be written, and for no one else, at this point, other than myself, it started flowing. And after a few weeks of listening and writing, I've learned that to respect my own process is key, that I can actually write in a straight linear fashion (hooray!!), and that my writing this book will be key to learning how best to write my other book.

I'm going to follow this spark until it fizzles out. I've been putting in hours upon hours a day and the words are coming in a flurry and I'm writing as quickly as I can. And I know after I'm finished will come the fun part: revision, the whole part of the process I most love.

And when I'm finished with the first draft I have some amazing reading waiting for me:

Precious, by Sandra Novack; Nothing Like an Ocean by Jim Tomlinson; Big World by Mary Miller; Secret Son by Laila Lalami; The Greatest Gift and Women Up On Blocks by Mary Akers; and the latest by two of my favorite writers: Antonya Nelson and Mary Gaitskill.

These are the carrots that are keeping me in the chair. Happy reading when I'm finished!

In writing news, I'm excited that REAL, a journal that has published three of my stories previously, is publishing another one in April.

And lastly, because I saw this first on Sandy Novack's site and was so inspired that I wanted to have it here, too:

Friday, March 06, 2009

Trailer: One World

This is such an amazing project with a wonderful spirit. I will most assuredly be buying a copy. I'm proud to know many of these generous writers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Trailer: Secret Son

Laila Lalami's Secret Son is coming out in April! Here's the trailer to whet your appetite:

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I have a micro piece up at wigleaf:Peace

I really admire the work editor Scott Garson publishes so I'm thrilled to have another piece in his journal.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Caroline Leavitt interviews Sandra Novack

on her blog about Sandra's debut novel, "Precious," (see post below for link and more information) scheduled for release on Feb 17th.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Congratulations to Roy Kesey and more...

for winning the 2008 Missouri Review Editor's Prize Contest:

Congratulations to the winners of The Missouri Review's 2008 Editors' Prize Contest. It was a tough competition this year, and we’d like to thank everyone who submitted their work to our judges. Look for the winners' work in our Spring issue. Here are the winners and finalists:


Roy Kesey, “Double Fish”, North Syracuse, NY

Jennifer Arnspiger, “Foie Gras”, San Diego, CA
Mike Murray, “The Underwater Man”, Pittsburgh, PA
Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, “Jack and His Disappearing Act”, Concrete, WA

Frannie Lindsay, Belmont, MA

Matthew Fluharty, St. Louis, MO
Jennifer Grotz, Greensboro, NC
Christina Hutchins Albany, CA

Deborah Thompson, “What’s the Matter with Houdini”, Fort Collins, CO

Gail Kezer Lowe, “Around the Rosy”, Brunswick, ME
David MacLean, “The Answer to the Riddle is Me”, Houston, TX
Robert Rebein, “The Sisyphus of the Plains”, Indianapolis, IN

Also, we continue our long history of innovation. Beginning this year, you’ll have the option of receiving The Missouri Review digitally online or in audio. That’s right. You can listen to every short story, essay and poem on your iPod, MP3 player, computer or other electronic devices—read by voice actors or by the authors. Watch our website for more details, or send us an email requesting more information.

The Missouri Review. Remarkable writing delivered to fit your lifestyle.

--The Editors

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

REAL has a beautiful new website up and they are looking for submissions!

Monday, February 09, 2009


What's Going On Over at wigleaf?

I see there's an awesome story by the talented Kathy Fish called "Swicks Rule!" and also one by Kuzhali Manickavel, another talented writer, called "How to Wear an Indian Village."


I'm so excited about the fact that Sandra Novack's debut novel "Precious" is scheduled for release on Feb 17th!! Click on the text at the left to view larger...

Sunday, February 08, 2009


to Joyce Carol Oates talk about her novel "The Gravedigger's Daughter" here.

Narrative Contest

The rules for Narrative Magazine's Story contest have changed. Read them here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kyle Minor

has a powerful new piece in Brevity

Narrative Magazine's

newest issue is live.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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