Author Archive

Because I Could Not Stop for the Death of the Novel…

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There was once a time when we’d all sit around reading essays on how novels are dead. We’d gather in the parlor of an evening—mother, father, daughter, son—the Victrola softly playing in the background, and each read, in our own various evening papers, about the death of the book.

Writers You Want to Punch in the Face(book)

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This is the story of Todd Manly-Krauss, the world’s most irritating writer. He’s a good enough guy in real life (holds his liquor, fun at parties, writes a hell of a short story)—but give the guy a social media account, and the most mild-mannered of his writer friends will

Prepare Your Battlements: Six Ways to Survive Reviews

Author: | Categories: Publishing 1 Comment
If you’re putting your writing out into the world, you’re going to get reviews. Maybe not in newspapers, or even from the woman on Goodreads who’s determined to start every single review with “I wanted so much to like this book,” but from your MFA workshop, your college professor,

So Sue Me…

Consider this a public service announcement. In 2010, I was nearly sued by the estate of The Music Man. Over an apostrophe and the letter S. In a literary short story. Bear with me, because this story is about you.

The Thirsty Games

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
It’s so cold in Chicago that the temperature isn’t even negative; it has one of those calculus sigmas in front of it, and there’s some kind of logarithm involved. Maybe you’re sitting in the sun on your California balcony, you ingrate, but here in the Midwest there’s little to

One Gift Guide to Rule Them All

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
It’s getting late, people. And your literary friends expect brilliant Festivus gifts from you. So let’s get cracking! Here’s something for everyone on your list. For the English major: These fake blood page markers and some hipster glasses. (Remember: your goal is not to educate the English major. Your

Dear Lois Lowry

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
I recently realized that the list of all the things I’ve written (a list that, weirdly for a fiction writer, somehow includes song lyrics, listicles, and sestinas), does not include a fan letter. I’ll Facebook message friends with “Hey, loved the new story!”—but I’ve never emailed a stranger, out

14 Ways to Tick off a Writer

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 259 Comments
“I love throwing rocks at tigers in the zoo,” you say, “but now that the weather’s cold, I need an indoor activity.” Look no further. Writers are fun and easy to annoy. Minimum effort, maximum rage. Try these 14 simple tricks, and you might never need to pay for

Write As If…

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 6 Comments
I have a problem with inversion. I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel, a handstand, or a headstand. On my high school swim team, I was consigned to the backstroke because I couldn’t dive off the blocks. (I balk, I panic, I freak out, I fail. It might

My First Nemesis

Author: | Categories: Writing 3 Comments
I can only admit this because I believe I’m not alone. I believe that every writer—maybe every creative person, maybe anyone whose life is ruled by ambition, by a calling beyond rationality—has an imaginary nemesis. The person isn’t imaginary, mind you. But the rivalry is. Here’s what I mean