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The Ploughshares Round-Down: How To Screw Up A Book Proposal

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When I first start working on a proposal or a manuscript with a writer, I tell them I have two stages of advice: breaking things and fixing things. At first, I’m going to keep asking hard questions and recommending big changes, until I think the writer has said what that writer wanted

Episodia 2.7: Gilmore Girls & The From-Aways

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CJ Hauser’s evocative debut novel The From-Aways will take you deep inside small-town New England, a budding friendship, and troubled family ties. It’s a whip-smart and heartfelt book. It also shares some common ground with the fan-favorite television series Gilmore Girls, and below CJ and I discuss the show,

Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch

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If you live in a smaller city and you have even a speck of success as a writer, chances are at some point you’ll be tapped for what I call “The Ladies Who Lunch Literati.” Sometimes they might be fans of your work; in my case they are often

The Ploughshares Round-Down: The State of Poetry in the US

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Early last month, PEN International publicly condemned the killing of Thai poet Mainueng K. Kunthee. The poet had been shot to death on April 23rd, presumably because of his public criticisms of the monarchy and Thailand’s lèse majesté law.  Known as a poet of the people, Kunthee was immensely popular; his work “spoke of social justice,

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “An Animal Under the Ground” by Steven T. Gibbon

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I think most of us who have ever had customer-facing jobs can say: dear god, it’s exhausting. Human beings, while resourceful and tenacious, are made of meat and therefore susceptible to all manner of physical and mental abuse. There’s only so much we can handle. After long enough, having

Least Appealing Summer Residencies

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Writing Lessons: Amy Mackin

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In our Writing Lessons series, writers and writing students will discuss lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. This week, we hear from Amy Mackin, a candidate in the Communications program at Curry College. —Andrew Ladd, Blog Editor In my late thirties, I decided I wanted

A Checklist of Book Proposal Essentials to Go Through Before You Start Schmoozing Agents

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In my wildest fantasies, an editor from Seal Press stumbles upon that personal essay I wrote about the awkwardness of babymaking sex—or the blog post I wrote about landing a husband despite being a crazy cat lady, or that other piece I wrote about my shifting body image—and feels compelled to email me,

Lit GIFs: The Scarlet Letter

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Hester Prynne lives in 17th-century Puritan Boston. She’s been branded with the scarlet letter A because supposedly she had an affair. This makes sense to everyone around her, because as far as they know her husband never made it over to the New Land and yet she currently has an infant

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Stop Stressing About the Bestseller List

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BookCon sold out all 10,000 tickets! That’s kind of amazing. It’s also an opening that probably means absolutely nothing to you. It should, even if you never plan to go. Every year, the book industry has an annual conference in New York City called BookExpo America (BEA). I haven’t