Friday, February 24, 2017

The Most Exciting Literary Time of the Year

The Tournament of Books is not considered a great prize and there is no monetary award, just a rooster, but I contend that it is the most exciting literary time of the year--better than the Pulitzer, the Man Booker, the National Book Award, and even the Nobel.
Woohoo! Image: rubyblossom on flickr.
All those other awards are given under a shroud and with just a few lines of justification. Spend a few days in anticipation while waiting for the announcement, yeah. Get a momentary thrill, sure. Question the decision process, yes. But a day or two later, the discussion ends. The Tournament of Books is not like that--not at all.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Stuck in the Middle? Getting Past the Middle: A Novel Project, Step 2

If you recall, way back before Christmas I challenged myself and you to finish writing the second half of the first draft of a novel by the end of January. I said I was going to check in a couple times a week.

I did not check in.

The first exercise I gave you worked really well for me, and I was busy working on my book. But now we have about a week left and I want to continue with the plan, because I think it’s quite good.
Too busy to blog! (Image: Chris Brown on Flickr.)
This next exercise actually comes from Caroline Leavitt, author of at least 10 novels—so it seems like she

Four Chambers Press is looking for eight local authors...

Four Chambers Press is looking for eight local authors to respond to featured art installations at this year's Canal Convergence Water + Art + Light in partnership with Scottsdale Public Art February 24 - 26, 2017 at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Open to all literary genres, performance styles, and forms. Authors will receive a $100 stipend (and a $20 gift card from Changing Hands). Interested individuals can learn more and apply online at­. The deadline for

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stuck in the Middle? Getting Past the Middle: A Novel Project, Step 1

Stuck in the middle of your novel? Start again here.
When the path through your novel becomes obscured... (Image courtesy of Dianne Lacourciere on Flickr.)
Remind yourself of your novel's story question. Don’t go looking up your notes from the past to see what you wrote way back when you first started this project. Write what you see the moral question as

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Getting Past the Middle: An Invitation to a Novel Project

I can start novels all day. I’m full of ideas, full of intriguing starts, lines, scenes, dialogue. I started writing my first book when I was 12. I also started writing my second book when I was 12. The problem has always been getting through the second half to the end.
Words. (sigh.) Image: Jim Pennucci on flickr
I did finish one novel. It didn’t make much sense, in terms of traditional storytelling, but I was young (like 30), full of myself, and not really sure how to revise this tangle of words and scenes and

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Writing about writing is like writing about air...

...or rather, it's like air itself. You know, like we barely notice air—other than in certain circumstances: when the fragrance of orange blossoms fills the air in spring, or when it's misty outside and light reflects off the fine droplets floating in the atmosphere, or when there is a sudden drop in temperature, or a million other things that might draw our attention to the air around us for a moment. Most of the time we hardly notice we're breathing it, and just like that, we shouldn't notice writing much, except for a few moments of beauty or strangeness or extremity.
So when I spend so much time writing about what is, essentially, air, I get a little fatigued. It's like walking around noting every inhale and every exhale and every shift in the breeze and the smell of the kitty litter. Yes, it's valuable to be aware, but I have other things to concern myself with. I mean, I have to change the kitty litter. I have things on my mind.