Author Archive

Calisthenics for Writers

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Writer’s Butt is a real and tragic thing. You might be making great progress on that novel, but is your seat getting wider with every word count goal? Is your back so tight that when you stand up your arms are permanently locked in that T-Rex typing position? Time

Ten writers to watch for. No, seriously, watch the hell out for these writers.

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There are writers to watch for, and then there are writers to watch out for. A sampling of the latter, for your safety: 10) Jack Hogue is a great guy, but if you listen to him for more than five minutes, you’ll believe the publishing world, if not the

Second Time’s the Charm

Author: | Categories: Series, Writing, Writing Advice No comments
We’re better at most things the second time around. Poaching eggs. Seventh grade. Guessing which hand the marble is in. Writers might not be better at things by the second book, but at least we’re better prepared. (And I’m talking here about the publication process, the “your book is

Seven Under One Hundred

Author: | Categories: Writing No comments
There are a lot of age-based lists of writers out there. A lot. Of. Lists. Here’s another one. Jake Strand, 34, after twelve years in the corporate world, recently found the courage to apply to MFA programs. He didn’t think he’d get in, but he did. His writing is

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think this Post is About You

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A friend once asked if I’d based the guinea pig (mentioned, but offstage) in my first novel on his daughter’s imaginary friend (of whom I’d never heard tell). In his defense: they had the same, unusual name. In my defense: ?!@&?#*%? Maybe people want novels to be true. Maybe

Drunken Acknowledgments, 2 A.M.

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A book is a labor of love, and this novel would not have been possible without the help of several people, and several bottles of wine—the last of which I’m enjoying right now. Infinite thanks to my editor, X, who talked me out of six bad titles, seven ill-advised

An MFA for the Rest of Us

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Writing 17 Comments
I’m in that small and shrinking group of writers who don’t have MFAs. Which I think makes me uniquely qualified to start my own MFA program. Haven’t most education reformers come from outside the system? My program will, for starters, involve napping and swimming pools. And the course offerings

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Fiction: Let’s Get Out of the Restaurant

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
“I need to tell you something,” he said. He twirled his spaghetti around his fork. She sipped her wine. “What is it?” “Well.” He shoved the tangle of spaghetti in his mouth and chewed. She fiddled with her spoon. Suddenly, the waitress appeared. She had a grease stain on

Writer Nightmares

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 6 Comments
You give a reading and only one person shows up. It is your ex. You spend five years working on a novel about Marie Antoinette’s wigmaker. The day you finish your final revisions, Margaret Atwood publishes a novel about Marie Antoinette’s wigmaker. Remember that guy whose poem you destroyed

The Things I Haven’t Read

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Legend had it that a famous scholar of nineteenth century American literature visited my college to lecture, and someone asked him a question about Melville. He began his answer with “While I’ve never read Moby-Dick…” At this remove, I still question the man’s scholarship and sanity—but I do admire his