Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Year's End - Writing News, Books

Hello. It is nearly Christmas 2008. Hope this finds you well.

Currently, I am beginning to revise and rework a very rough draft of my first novel. There’s over 60,000 words to go through and I need to write more. I keep reminding myself that writing is rewriting. Recently, I am assisting a Baltimore-based small press edit some manuscripts. Well, really I am a reader, going through a few manuscripts to find some “gems.” This proves to be interesting and educational.

My other recent writing projects have been minimal but rewarding. A review of My Morning Jacket’s DC-area show is up on Popmatters.com, a well-respected, oft-quoted (by BBC, PBS, NPR…) music and culture website. Also, last spring I was a featured poet-reader as part of Towson University English Department’s Spring Reading Series. That was fun and an honor.
Currently I am reading some inspirational writing: Jon Krakauer’s INTO THE WILD and Bernard Malamud’s THE ASSISTANT. One non-fiction (the story of Chris McCandless) and the other a novel.

As poet Clarinda Harriss says, "Onward!"

Please see the right sidebar for links to my writing. Peace.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Morning Jacket - DC Show at DAR

To read my review of My Morning Jacket's recent (Sept. 2008) show in DC, click this link to go to PopMatters -- www.popmatters.com

PopMatters is a prestigious e-zine covering all things pop culture, and they are quoted by such entities as BBC, PBS, NPR, MSNBC, and others.

If you care to leave a comment about my review, or My Morning Jacket, there is a link there to do so.

My Morning Jacket Show Review

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Useless Pop Culture Tidbits

A quick list. Lists are now an essential part of American Pop Culture and the world over, too. For better or worse, we’re consumers of all sorts of media and information, in addition to our dietary needs. So here's some stuff:

Recent Reads:

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse - reading for a book club.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - a cool graphic novel set in Paris during the 1930s.


Into the Wild
, directed by Sean Penn – finally saw this engaging, thought-provoking film.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – highly entertaining in a campy film-noir style. Luckily, even though Lucas was involved, no obnoxious Jar Jar characters.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Books on Writing - Some of the Best

For creative writers, there are myriad books that will provide inspiration and information on the craft. If you are looking for advice on character development, plot construction, scene descriptions, and overall writer-centered resources, the following might help. I’ve listed some of my favorite books on writing – believe me, I’ve read a ton of ’em. Books on writing cannot make us better writers, but they can inspire ideas and give some insight to an often-mysterious craft. Enjoy.

No particular order:

How to Write by Richard Rhodes. One of the first I ever read. Good, straightforward, sound advice.

On Writing by Stephen King. The master of horror and suspense gives away some of his secrets.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. One of the best.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Creative, inspirational writing tips and motivation. Includes some great exercises.

Story by Robert McKee. Designed for screenwriters, but has excellent information and advice on plotting strong stories and creating believable characters.

Making Your Own Days by Kenneth Koch. A great book on writing poetry by one of the masters of the genre.

Fun with Grammar

Woe is I by Patricia O’Connor. Grammar advice with a sense of humor. Who knew?

And if you still need more inspiration, try viewing Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited. It's a great visual odyssey with eccentric, disfuntional characters. Of course it does; it's a Wes Anderson film.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Literary Agents: We are Working for You

OK, writers out there - You want an agent... need an agent, right? Well, the first thing we writers have to do, of course (hello), is write something highly readable, dare I say "marketable."

If you are wondering what's going on in an agent's mind, or someone that works for an agency, here are a couple starting places/blogs: [read them quickly and then Get Writing for goodness sake! The fate of the universe, or at least the state of reading and literature, depends upon you. No pressure.]

Pub Rants

The Rejecter
(yes, she reads your query letters and rejects most - 95% according to her "rants")

But the best advice I've heard, for fiction writers, is to write what you like and make it the best writing. Simply make your months, years of toil and revision seem effortless and not like self-conscious prose. Piece of cake - especially avoiding cliches. Good writing.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Writing Challenges - Motivation: Some Straight Talk

Writing is a lonely job. Writing while working another job is even more challenging. Some of the links here might motivate and inspire you to write something from your heart. Writing from the heart is about the most honest thing you can do as a serious writer. There are a lot of books getting published, but only a small percentage is actually successful. Seems like many publishers are willing to take risks on the “next great writer,” but if that first book doesn’t sell well, then the odds of a multi-book deal with that publisher are very low.

What can we do to improve our chances of getting published, and getting the lucrative publishing contracts? Well, we can write the best possible work we can and make sure it is passionate, bold, honest, daring, and, yes, “from the heart.” See this link to Ann Kroeker's blog form more inspiration and thoughts.

In rewriting my current novel, I’m trying to strip the prose down to the barest of sentences without taking away essential elements like character, voice, and description.

Of course, finding the time to write – and rewrite – is also very challenging if you have other commitments. But to consider yourself a serious writer, put butt to chair and fingers to keys every day. Write something every day. More serious goals – a novel, short story, several poems – will require more commitment and looking at your writing with fresh eyes. Living life and enjoying other interests also builds experience that you can later write about. To create art, or at least readable, engaging writing, you need to work on it. Hopefully it’s a form of work you love and have to pull yourself away from. Good writing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Need Ticket/Pass to AWP Conference - NYC !

The AWP Writer's Conference is at the end of this month...

I hope you have tickets and ... CAN GET ME ONE!

** I need ONE STUDENT PASS to the Associated Writer's Program Conference in NYC **
If you haven't heard, the popular conference is sold out and, per AWP's site and Professor Byrne's (Valparaiso Univ.) on his blog, is closed to on-site registration (although they've had this in the past).

Please e-mail me -- see the banner above -- if you have a student (or regular) pass to the conference, or know someone that is looking to sell theirs. I'll pay $50 for the student pass. I am a grad student and would love to take it off your hands. Thanks!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wishing You What's Great in 2008


Nearly done the first draft of my novel-in-progress. Its working title is X-Ray Machine for Souls, which I borrowed from a William Vollmann book (p. 54 of his Rising Up and Rising Down).

The current draft weighs in at 45,000 words and counting. It will go through revisions and polish and you will hear about its release here… first! Send me your e-mail and I'll let you know when it's available.


Listening to: The Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Feist, Fionn Regan (check him out), and The Waterboys, among others. Always checking out jazz and playing my Coltrane, Brubeck, and Mingas CDs until their melodies are ingrained into my brain.

Reading: Why Kerouac Matters by John Leland (thanks, kids!), Poor People, a non-fiction work by Vollmann, and writing-related articles to keep up on the craft, eh?

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Also, my prayers and thoughts to all serving in the Middle East, especially Doug. Let us materialize productive, peaceful solutions to conflicts and forge positive international relationships that increase harmony and humanitarian efforts. TN