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Likeable, Relatable, and Real

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When I was a junior in high school, we read The Great Gatsby in English class. I hadn’t read the book yet, but I knew the rest of my family hated it. (They’re Hemingway fans.) “Ugh, that Daisy,” my mom said. “Who cares?” Obviously a lot of readers care

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Never Tell Me the Demographics

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I’ll read anything if it’s great. A romance novel, or a soldier’s tale; a book about Zsa Zsa Gabor, or one about Obama. I know what kinds of books dorky, urban-literary type of guys are supposed to be reading–those by Jonathan Safran Foer, and things titled Introduction to Banjo–but I hate

Writers Do It Best: Robin McCarthy

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In the ‘Writers Do It Best’ series, contributors reflect on how their education and experiences as writers have uniquely prepared them for their lives outside the writing world. Today, we hear from Robin McCarthy, an MFA student studying fiction at Northern Michigan University.  You can follow Robin on Twitter

The Ploughshares Round-Down: The Calvary Film and the Purpose of Art

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“[T]he barrier between one’s self and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things we would rather not know! — James Baldwin John Michael McDonagh’s film Calvary begins with priest Father James (played by Brendan Gleeson) preparing to hear an unseen confessor. The confessor reveals that as

The Ploughshares Round-Down: What NYC Publishing REALLY Thinks About Self-Publishing

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Last week, I had an author ask me the earliest his publisher could have his book out. I told him January 2016. Even if he turned it in this week. “And, they wonder why big publishers are dying,” he said. He wondered aloud if he should crowdfund a shorter

Episodia 2.9: I’m Not a Writer, I Just Play One on TV

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I’ve spent the past few weeks preparing for the publication of my first book this fall, and a key ingredient of this process is the “public” part. I’ve been updating my website, beefing up my social media presence, and reaching out to people to spread the word about the

The Ploughshares Round Down: 10 Times in Life When Writers Have the Upper Hand

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I’ve interviewed a lot of entry level job candidates. I’ve had plenty of recent college graduates sent to a conference room to meet me with a strong thumbs-up from Human Resources. Bright, well-dressed, great resumes, and eager. This impresses the HR types. However, when I’d ask questions, especially follow-up

Lit GIFs: Romeo and Juliet

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The Montagues and the Capulets don’t like each other very much. Romeo and his cousin crash a Capulet party anyway, looking for girls. Romeo’s on the rebound when he meets Juliet. The party was supposed to give 14-year-old Juliet the chance to check out her potential husband-to-be, Paris.

The Ploughshares Round-down: The Problem with Literary Doomsday Laments

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We who love literature face an urgent crisis: a gruesome epidemic of articles worrying over the demise of literature, reading, English Departments, and apparently (along with them) culture, art, morality, humanity, and ALL KNOWLEDGE AND CIVILIZATION. We’re in dire need of an antidote for this doom–prophesying fever, these impassioned warnings about “philistinism.” (A word that, btw, needs

The Ploughshares Round-Down: No, Books Aren’t a Lost Cause

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Have you ever shown up at a party only to find out the keg’s already been emptied? I meet a lot of writers who feel like that’s what happened to books. They’ve chosen to write a book at a time when that’s as old fashioned as typing it up