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Results 1 - 25 of 65
1. A Perfect Passage from THE ROUND HOUSE by Louise Erdrich

No offense to any librarians out there, but I prefer to own books, not borrow them. I realize there’s a financial downside to my predilection, but what can I say? It feels good to support the industry, the book stores, the publishers, the authors themselves. If I can manage it, I don’t mind spending the money on books.

For starters, I like having them around, living in my rooms. Books make great furniture and, in a way, furnaces: they warm homes.

Secondly, I usually read with a pen in my hand. I underline passages, write comments, exclamation points, stars, notes and complaints. It is the dying art of marginalia, a direct reader-response. I can’t do that with library books, and Post-It Notes simply do not satisfy.

I’ve been on nice reading streak lately — have picked out some good ones. I just finished THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir. Fabulously entertaining, and a celebration of science and the intelligence of man. A geek-hero who survives through his attitude, his determination, and his brilliant mind.

Before that, I read THE ROUND HOUSE by Louise Erdrich. I loved it, every word. What a great writer. Seamless sentences, never a crack showing, and such human insight. A writer with soul. But I’ve got a problem and you can probably guess it: I borrowed the book from my local library and it’s past due.

I’ve been reluctant to return it, to drop it into the slot and hear the dull thunk as it hits the bin. Gone, gone, gone. My book no more.

One first-world problem is that I’ve been rereading, almost daily, the book’s perfect last paragraph. Over and over I return to it, stunned and speechless. That penultimate sentence, especially. What a beautiful evocation of lost innocence, the crossing over into something harder, more brutal and cold, adulthood and loss, “when we all realized we were old.”

I really didn’t want to let the book go, and maybe I’ll buy a copy for myself one day. In the meantime, I’ll type out that last paragraph here, so I’ll have it safely tucked away in the white, high-ceilinged halls of cyberspace. I don’t think there’s any spoilers revealed, it’s not that kind of book. A 13-year-old boy and his parents return home after a long drive.

Quick aside: I don’t play a musical instrument, but I love music. One of the things I’ve always envied about musicians is that they can play all these great songs, have those enduring melodies and fat riffs run through the fingers as they channel greatness.

That’s how I feel typing this passage from Louise Erdrich. Like I’m playing the guitar part from “And Your Bird Can Sing.”

How I wish that I could write as simply, as beautifully.

- - - - -

IN ALL THOSE miles, in all those hours, in all that air rushing by and sky coming at us, blending into the next horizon, then the one after that, in all that time there was nothing to be said. I cannot remember speaking and I cannot remember my mother or my father speaking. I knew that they knew everything. The sentence was to endure. Nobody shed tears and there was no anger. My mother or my father drove, gripping the wheel with neutral concentration. I don’t remember that they even looked at me or I at them after the shock of that first moment when we all realized we were old. I do remember, though, the familiar side of the roadside cafe just before we would cross the reservation line. On every one of my childhood trips that place was always a stop for ice cream, coffee and a newspaper, pie. It was always what my father called the last leg of the journey. But we did not stop this time. We passed over in a sweep of sorrow that would persist into our small forever. We just kept going.

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2. What NOT to do at a Book Festival or Writers Conference

The spring book festival season is underway. As a public service, here is a list of bad behavior I've observed and/or had to contend with.

Panel Moderator: 

  1. Wait to contact panelists till two days before the event—or not at all. 
  2. Be unfamiliar with panelists’ work: Not read author’s book (at least the first few chapters and website); not know who the literary agent represents; not know titles the editor has worked on. 
  3. Have no agenda for the panel, or a vague one, e.g., “I will read brief introductions, and each of you should speak for 12-15 minutes. Then we will take a few questions.” 
  4. Let panelists talk for so long that there’s no time for audience Q&A. (This happened with the panel in #3.) 
  5. Talk a lot about yourself or read from your own book. Your job is to help the panelists shine. If they look brilliant, so will you. 

  1. Cancel at the last minute because you just realized that the finances won’t work for you. Or cancel due to “family reasons”—but keep the plane ticket the organizers paid for. 
  2. Author: Leave book at home, or not have a reading figured out—and practiced!—beforehand. Agent/editor: Leave business cards at home. 
  3. Read for 15 minutes when you’re asked to read for five. 
  4. Monopolize the conversation and/or interrupt other panelists. 
  5. Belittle the moderator (“If you’d read my book…"), other panelists (“I can’t believe you’d say such a stupid thing!”) or audience members (“If you’d been listening, you wouldn’t need to ask that question.”) 
  1. Leave your cellphone ringer on. 
  2. Give copies of your manuscript or self-published book to panelists. 
  3. Pitch your book during Q&A session. 
  4. Ask self-serving questions instead of general ones. (“Why didn’t you answer the query I sent you six months ago?” vs. “What should a writer do if an agent hasn’t responded to their query after six months?”) 
  5. Engage a panelist in lengthy conversation afterwards, when there’s a line of people waiting behind you. 
  I'll be at VaBook Festival next week. Now go forth and be good!

0 Comments on What NOT to do at a Book Festival or Writers Conference as of 3/13/2014 10:07:00 AM
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3. Donalyn Miller’s “The Book Whisperer” Reaches Cultural Icon Status

I met Donalyn Miller at a Literacy Conference in Ohio. She was the keynote speaker and I came away impressed, inspired, and determined to read her book, THE BOOK WHISPERER: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.

I started reading it yesterday, frustrated over my own 9th-grade son’s brutal, book-hating experience in advanced, 9th-grade English.

I underlined this passage from Donalyn’s book, page 18:

Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters — the saints and sinners, real or imagined — reading shows you how to be a better human being.

The book is filled with passages that make you want to stand up and cheer.

Anyway, this morning Donalyn Miller shared her enthusiasm over this fun bit of pop culture stardom:

Good for Donalyn Miller, good for Jeopardy.

It’s funny, isn’t it? That’s a real touchstone in America today. An undeniable sign that you’ve arrived and made your mark. You become a clue on Jeopardy!

Donalyn is also a founding member of the Nerdy Book Club, which you should definitely follow. Seriously, I insist.

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4. Call for Poetry Readings: Woman Made Gallery Literary Series

Call for Poetry: Woman Made Gallery Literary Series
Theme: Balance vs. Imbalance in a Changing World
Reading: Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Submission Deadline: December 22, 2014

Woman Made Gallery’s first art exhibit of the year is Equilibrium: Art for a Changing World. The exhibit seeks to explore the tensions, demands and challenges inherent in living in a rapidly changing world: from environment, population, politics to social and cultural trends.

The poetry reading in conjunction with this exhibit, will also explore Balance and Imbalance in the context of change. Do you take the idea of “maintaining equilibrium” to suggest achieving healthy balance OR maintaining the status quo? What might change look like? Writers are encouraged to interpret this theme broadly.

Selections will be made with an eye to assembling a program that represents a diversity of poets, styles, and approaches to the theme.

Selected poets MUST be available to read in person. Please send 4 – 6 poems on the theme ALONG WITH a 50 to 75 word bio, IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to:

galleryATwomanmadeDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

by December 22, 11:59 p.m. We will make every effort to inform those chosen of our decision by December 30. Although we can't afford to pay readers, this is a great opportunity to sell books and read with other talented people in a very special environment.

For more information, visit our website.

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5. Seeking Prose on Poetry: Great Twin Cities Poetry Read

Seeking PROSE ON POETRY. Doesn't matter what form the prose takes (review, interview, essay, missive, etc.). Doesn't really matter how long it is (although it can be too long, I can't conceive of it being too short). I would like you to submit said prose on poetry to me for possible inclusion in POETRY CITY, USA, VOL. 4, an anthology of poems read at the Great Twin Cities Poetry Read (GTCPR) plus various prose on poetry (thus the call).

The GTCPR is an annual reading, held in April, at which 30 or so poets all read a single poem each. A year after the reading, the anthology comes out. That means that the GTCPR held on April 26, 2014, with be the fifth anniversary reading. That night will also be the night POETRY CITY, USA, VOL. 4 launches. Any prose on poetry that you submit, if accepted, will go in it.

I need to receive anything you want me to consider by Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Send pieces to:

mauchmauch [at] gmail [dot] com (Change [at] to @ and [dot] to . )

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6. Writing Competition: Love on the Road Toophilia Writing Contest

Enter the LOTR Topophilia writing contest by Dec. 24 to win €60, €25, or €15 and have your story performed at #touristwalkDublin.

There's no entry fee. Just send us 400-500 words (fiction or nonfiction) focused on love for a place -- any place in the world -- to:
topohilia13ATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

The winners will be chosen by our panel of judges: Irish writer Ruth Gilligan, Liberties Press publisher Seán O'Keeffe, the Tourist Walk team, and the Love on the Road 2013 team.

The winning stories will be published online and performed at the MART gallery in Dublin's Rathmines neighborhood on the evening of 3 January, 2014 as part of #touristwalkDublin, an event organized by Tourist Walk, a cross-discipline art project that seeks to explore and celebrate the unique character of location through live music.

The three winners can attend #touristwalkDublin and do live readings of their winning submissions, email audio recordings of their submissions to be played at #touristwalkDublin, or ask one of us to read their submissions for them at the big event.

The authors of the winning stories will get: First Prize: €60 and a signed Tourist Walk poster; Second Prize: €25 and a copy of the just-released anthology of stories about love and travel, Love on the Road 2013; Third Prize: €15.

For details, visit our website. For more information on #touristwalkDublin, go here. For more information on Love on the Road 2013, visit this site. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at:

topohilia13ATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

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7. Reading review - Wednesday Night Sessions

I had the good fortune to make it out to the October Wednesday Night Sessions two nights ago in Farmington, MI where a crop of SE Michigan based publishers and  literary journals sponsor a monthly reading series.

Each month they bring a trio of writers to read and this month the readers were: Jeremy Schall, Norene Cashen, and Anca Vlasopolos.

Jeremy read from one of his books and then some poems from a new collection he's working on. I'd seen Jeremy read recently at one of the last readings at Leopold's which happened to be a little more crowded than Wednesday night's reading (there was little thing competing with the reading called Game One of the World Series) but I noticed that the difference in crowd size didn't dissuade how Jeremy reads at all. His style is an interesting one as he makes sure to make some sort of eye contact with everybody listening between and during each poem.

Norene Cashen read poems that had been published in literary journals (from the journals), as well as new work herself. Norene's style has developed over the years to include interesting introductions to her reading in general, to the specific poem she's about to read, and beyond and it works great for her. I've seen her read probably half a dozen times over the past decade and each time seems better than the time before.

Anca Vlasopolos read poems from a couple of different previously published collections and then two new poems from a collection she's working on. She also gave good introductions to her works.

There was also an excellent story about Ingmar Bergman and his father that Dwayne Hayes, MC of the event, told after Norene read that worked nicely with her own introduction to her reading.

This series is a consistently solid one and I'm really looking forward to next month when Christina Kallery comes back to town to read, along with Steven Gillis and I have to apologize as I do not remember who the third person is going to be.

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8. The Poem I Read First Thing Today

Before I rubbed the sand from my eyes, before I drank a cup of coffee, before I got dressed, I read this poem by William Stafford. Then I read it again, out loud, to my wife, before she rose from bed. Then I went downstairs, saw that the day was sunny and crisp, and that a dusting of snow covered the lawn.

I promised myself to be awake to the day.

Isn’t that something?

“the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe –

should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.”

Later I found this reading of the poem by a guy named Dale Biron. Not exactly how I hear it, but a pleasure nonetheless, because it’s always best when the words are heard, familiar units of speech floating on meaningful sound. Have a great day, people. Recognize the fact!

I suppose I should get to work, stop wasting time, eh? But here’s Stafford himself, 46 seconds long, reading “Scars.” Ah, poetry.

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9. Poem by Norene Cashen

A little over a month ago, I saw Norene Cashen read and really loved one of her new poems. She's been kind enough to allow me to post the poem here at the EWN:


By Norene Cashen

I’ve never seen peace.
I’ve seen a foxhole, combat boots, a drill sergeant
and a gun. I’ve heard the gun rattle
and talk and talk and talk
in its fast language, the clink of brass casings
spit out after each syllable.
I’ve seen girls in dog tags and dust
crawling under the barbed wire of the world
as if their mothers waited for them
on the other side, but there is no other side.
That’s what you learn.
There’s only more war.
There’s war outside and inside
war speeding on the highway
to get to work on time.
There’s war in our mouths, our hair,
our eyes. The best wars are in the movies
where we eat popcorn and tell ourselves
nobody dies. Then somewhere in the middle
of Afghanistan a boy from Wisconsin
is smeared inside a turret
just like the old poem says. It’s possible
we’re all walking cages
and it’s our job to keep ourselves closed
to keep the violence
from shaking out of our bones.

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10. Poetry Competition: The Frost Farm Prize

The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH, and the Hyla Brook Poets invite submissions for their 3rd Annual The Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry. 

The winner will walk away with $1,000, publication in Evansville Review and an invitation, with honorarium, to read as part of The Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry in the summer of 2013. This year’s judge is prize-winning poet and translator Catherine Tufariello. 

April 1 deadline. For more information, please read the guidelines at our website.

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11. a night of poetry for Barry Jones at fortyfivedownstairs

On February 12, fortyfivedownstairs is holding a poetry reading in honour of former MP Barry Jones' 80th birthday:

Barry Jones is one of the more remarkable politicians to have sat in the House of Representatives in Canberra, a much loved and respected figure on both sides of politics.

As a tribute for his 80th birthday late last year, the Chair of fortyfivedownstairs, Julian Burnside, has curated a night of some of Barry’s favourite poetry and music.

Readers include Race Matthews, Gareth Evans, Peter Craven, Marieke Hardy, Dr. Joan Grant, Max Gillies and John Stanton.

The Flinders Quartet will also perform on this memorable evening.

Get your tickets here.



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12. Call for Creative Writing Submissions: Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture

The Annual Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture since 1900 will be held at the University of Louisville, February 20-22, 2014. The conference committee invites submissions by creative writers of fiction, nonfiction, and/or poetry. Submissions should be suitable for a 20-minute reading. For full consideration, submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.
    Creative submissions
    Send an email to:
    submissions(at)thelouisvilleconference(dot)com Change (at) to @ and (dot) to .)

    with two attachments in pdf, rtf, or word format. 
    The first attachment is to contain poetry or short fiction/nonfiction selections suitable for 20-minute reading. The second attachment should contain a cover page. Submitter's name to appear on the cover page only. 
    Creative submissions may be published or unpublished works. Manuscripts cannot be returned. 

    Full guidelines here.

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13. Call for Poetry Readings: Women Made Gallery Literary Series

Call for Poetry: Woman Made Gallery Literary Series
Theme: Of the Land
Date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 / 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Place: 685 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL

We are seeing work that addresses all aspects of the theme of LAND:

Through history, connotations of the word LAND have ranged from the political and economic, to the emotional and romantic. Poems on this theme might invoke landscape, environmentalism, ethnic or national identity, imperialism, wealth and ownership, revolution and redistribution, land as food source, home and community, inclusion and exclusion, and, of course, the physical/natural earth itself.

Selections will be made with an eye to assembling a program that represents a diversity of poets, styles, and approaches to the theme.

Selected poets MUST be available to read in person. Please send 4 – 6 poems on the theme ALONG WITH a 50 to 75 word bio, IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to:

 gallery(at)womanmade.org (replace (at) with @ in sending e-mail)

by October 20, 12:01 a.m.. We will make every effort to inform those chosen of our decision by October 30. Although we can't afford to pay readers, this is a great opportunity to sell books and read with other talented people in a very special environment.

Read more about poetry events at Woman Made Gallery here.

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14. Call for NYC Area Writers to Read: Harlem Works

Harlem Works, a co-working space/artists collective based in Harlem, New York, is looking for dynamic writers to participate in a new reading series.

If you live in the New York area and would be interested in participating, please send a short bio (200 words or less) along with a description of the work you're interested in reading to:

harlemcoworkersATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

Or, if you would be interested in doing a workshop and a reading, let us know that too!

(Our readings are always Harlem-based; the next one will be held this Friday at Caffe Latte's 145th Street location.)

We look forward to hearing from you!

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15. Whatever you do, don't read

The Wall Street Journal looks at the increasing number of bookstores that are requesting that authors not read, or read only a little. The article points out that hearing the author read from the book is hardly value added, as presumably most bookstore patrons are more than capable of reading the book themselves.

Some alternatives they explore:

- Having the bookstore owner interview the author
- Teaming the author up with a writer friend or a writer who blurbed the book (potentially twice the audience)
- Powerpoint presentation on some topic related to the book
- Teaming the author up with their editor or agent (I'm presuming this only happens in NYC)
- Having the author tell background stories about the book
- Just having a Q&A

"When some authors read, I'll mutter to myself 'is that snoring I hear?'" said Charles Stillwagon, the event manager of the Tattered Cover, a bookstore in Denver.

Read more here.

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16. Belmar Arts Council, School talks and Puddle Awards

(Read more ...)

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17. Poetry Friday: Frank O’Hara, “Why I Am Not a Painter”

Conversational and accessible, Frank O’Hara’s poems read as if he jotted them down on a scrap of paper during lunch break, or told you them as you walked down the hall. Don’t let the surface casualness fool you, the man could write and he did it with care. This is one of my favorites, and one of the best poems ever written about the creative process and its attendant mysteries.

Why I Am Not a Painter

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

Here’s Michael Goldberg’s expressionist painting, “Sardines.”

Lastly, below, Frank O’Hara reading “My Heart,” because it is always a thrill to hear the poet’s actual voice, his pauses and cadences, the sound his own work makes.

Don’t you think?

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18. “My Life’s Sentences” by Jhumpa Lahiri (on the art and craft of writing — and reading!)

I have to share this brilliant piece from The New York Times Sunday Review, March 18, 2012, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri. I powerfully identified with every word, thought, sentence.

In it, she expresses her core-deep love of sentences. Everything about this piece confirms, echoes, and expands upon my own feelings as a writer. Because this is where I come from, too — perhaps with less grace and craft, Lahiri writes so beautifully — for I have the exact same relationship to reading and writing. It’s about the sentences.

Though we’re told that Lahiri’s piece is part of a series about “the art and craft of writing,” it is just as much about reading. Perhaps more so. Teachers, librarians, editors, readers, please check out it.

Art by Jeffrey Fisher.

Here’s the opening . . .

In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.

I remember reading a sentence by Joyce, in the short story “Araby.” It appears toward the beginning. “The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed.” I have never forgotten it. This seems to me as perfect as a sentence can be.

As I’ve said many times on this blog, that’s exactly how I still read — with pen in hand, underlining sentences, making marks, asterisks and exclamation points, my beloved marginalia. But the thought that really had me nodding my head in agreement was how the best sentences make me stop reading. I look up from the page, thinking, feeling, dreaming. It’s counter-intuitive. We want readers to keep turning the pages, right? To devour the book, consume it. Well, maybe not. Sometimes we want them to slow down, to stop altogether.

From my copy of Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann.

That’s why, I think, that I’m so often uncomfortable when I encounter the counters and the tickers, the well-meaning folks who inform us how they read exactly 214 books this year and so on. I don’t mean to insult anyone, but I’m so tired of the idea of quantity.

Pause and reflection, that’s reading too.

Of course, there are different kinds

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19. Call for Poets/Poetry: Woman Made Gallery Literary Series

Submissions for Woman Made Gallery Literary Series
Event Date: Sunday, June 3 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: 685 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago IL

Theme: Consumer Culture

In tandem with the concurrent art exhibit, poems might consider consumer culture “as it relates to natural or environmental resource issues, the financial and cultural impact of consumption, body/social image.” Additional topics could include (but need not be limited to) the following:

Mass production, marketing and selling of consumer goods
Desire, status, competition, impulse, addiction
Credit & debt
Fashion & trend-setting
Big-box vs. mom-and-pop and other economies of scale
Economies dependent on waste and planned obsolescence

Selected poets must be available to read in person. Please send five poems on the theme ALONG WITH a 50 to 75 word bio* IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to:

gallery(at)womanmade.org (replace (at) with @ in sending email) by April 21, 2012. We will make every effort to inform those chosen of our decision by May 4, 2012.

Although we can't afford to pay readers, this is a great opportunity to sell books, read with other talented people and, since we've developed a partnership for the gallery with WBEZ's Chicago Amplified, to have your reading archived for future listening (a really great publicity feature).

Read more about poetry events at Woman Made Gallery here.
* if you have a performance background, please include this or any other information that might assist us in putting together for a varied program.

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20. An Olympic Debut and THE BOXER'S HEART

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21. Quote of the Day: “If you have to be sure don’t write.”

I was in the library today, reading poetry . . .

—————-. . . when I was supposed to be writing prose.

I found a poem called “Berryman,” by W.S. Merwin.

Here’s the last seven lines . . .

I asked how can you ever be sure

that what you write is really

any good at all and he said you can’t


you can’t you can never be sure

you die without knowing

whether anything you wrote was any good

if you have to be sure don’t write

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22. Tips for bookstore events

Great tips from agent Jennifer Laughran about what to do at a bookstore event.

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23. Readings

Some random thoughts (not entirely my own, as they've been bounced off a few others over the years) about giving readings. These come from one that attends many readings and has, over the years, determined what I think works well and what maybe doesn't so well. Take them how you will.

1. Read for at least 10% less time than you think would be appropriate. Yes, at LEAST 10%. Those attending might be there as friends, might be there as potential buyers of a book they heard good things about, might be there as patrons of a great store or readings series--they most likely are not there because they really wanted to be read to for 20 minutes.

2. Be loud and clear. While I've rarely been overly happy at the end of a longish reading, I've never been happy at the end of one that I had to strain to hear the reader.

3. Find a place in your work, be it a story, a novel, or non-fiction, that demands your listener NEED to find out what happens next. Do NOT tell them what follows--make sure they are left on the edge of their seat so they rush to the table to grab a copy of your book. To me, this probably could easily be number one on the list--there is rarely something as disappointing at a reading than to have a reader his a note that has me think to myself--Perfect ending--only to have their voice continue on with the next sentence.

4. If you write humorous material, TRUST IT. Leave some room for the listeners to laugh before you move on after your punch lines.

5. Q&A's are great. If you have 30 minutes slotted for your event, read for between 10 and 15 minutes and use the rest for allowing the audience to ask questions--it brings a more personal experience for those in attendance--to me this is similar to being on a panel--those in attendance usually have something they want to know, and it rarely seems to be what you've prepared. If those watching you read get more involved via a Q&A, they are probably more likely to pick up your book.

6. Always remember to thank everybody for coming out and the store/series for having you.

Again, these are just some thoughts, not from one that does readings, but from one that has attended many and  founds trends in those that I remember fondly.

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24. The Closet goes to Albuquerque NHCC

A reading and book-signing of Rudy Ch. Garcia's

The Closet of Discarded Dreams

Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 2:00 p.m.

at the

National Hispanic Cultural Center

1701 4th Street SW
Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico

For info: 505-246-2261

Some of my promotion efforts for my new book, like the above, have born fruit. I'm honored at the opportunity, but a little nervous at the prospect of the Hispanic Center's membership cringing when I utter the word Chicano. Hopefully the literary experience will be good for both of us. Their September events will be listed here soon.

By coincidence, I'm in the same publishing stage as Melinda Palacio who posted yesterday on La Bloga about turning in her final manuscript for her upcoming book of poetry, entitled How Fire Is a Story Waiting. I too just turned in the final for my upcoming novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams. Dos frijoles in a pod?

By an even greater coincidence, Melinda graced our patio in Denver this past week at a small gathering of writers, artists and familia. In her post Melinda wrote how she preferred live readings and we were treated to a sampling of both her work and her voice. It wasn't the sing-song rendition that some poets perform, it was more hearing descriptions of thought and feeling from the poetess' own mouth. Four poems representing the book's four sections gave us a great experience of the literary lyrics in her book. I highly recommend not only buying it, but seeing and hearing her in person. Melinda was a delight.

With all the work preparatory to my book being released in September, my head and days seem to be filled with book business, if not the literary. And with little prospects for employment this next school year, my life seems to be transforming into something like the writer's life, albeit with little to no income to support it.

Last week on my front patio the Friday evening, end-of-week cervezas turned into a discussion about the of starting one's own publishing company to distribute one's novels. Manuel Ramos, Pocho Joe of KUVO La Raza Rocks fame (that you can stream on-line here), myself and a neighbor who's completed a novel batted around this idea, ending with an agreement to agree that every novelist should decide his own path. Goes to show you how deeply cervezas can uncover the ultimate truth.

And one morning this week, an aspiring author and I traded our entries for Esquire Magazine's 79-word story contest. (No entry fee, great prize and only a couple of weeks left to enter.) This was no reading out loud experience, but instead a process of reading each other's work to ourselves several times. Some authors prefer not to undertake this sharing, but I sometimes find it beneficial, as happened that day.

My initial promotion was a great success. The first 25 autographed, monogrammed and numbered copies of my novel have been spoken for. I now know I'll sell at least that many the first week it's out. About mid-September or earlier when it's available, I'll have to aim for 26. Possibly even more.

Over on The Closet of Discarded Dreams website, it's obvious that it's not easy to give away an autographed copy of a new book from a debut novelist. Maybe I made the rules too difficult, so I decided to change them to make it simpler. Below are the new ways to win, so I encourage La Bloga readers to enter.

Winning an autographed copy – now made easier!
Beginning Sept. 1st, readers can enter to win an autographed copy of The Closet of Discarded Dreams (continental U.S., only; an unsigned E-book or pdf for others), following its release in Sept., each week I’ll randomly pick one lucky person.

Here’s how: This novel is filled with dreams, nightmares, aspirations and passions that people have abandoned. DON’T send me one of yours. Instead just send 5 words or more that pertain to your dream or whatever. If you don’t have one, make it up; I won’t know the diff. Example: bicycle, monster, nighttime, my BFF, eating nachos. Simple, huh?

Fill out the “Contact the Author” form on the homepage, put “My dream” or nightmare, etc. in the Subject line. Send me your words in the Message box. I’ll blindly draw one winner. I’ll only announce the winner, not their words, unless you prefer to.

 Feel free to pass this info along. And hurry before the Closet’s Door slams shut!

This week Facebook and Twitter sites should be ready for the book. Hope you "like" them.

Es todo, hoy,

3 Comments on The Closet goes to Albuquerque NHCC, last added: 9/8/2012
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25. It’s Like Riding a Bike

I basically took the summer off from blogging, so feel a little wobbly about it, my palms sweating on the handlebars, not sure I remember how to do this. I don’t know what happened, exactly, just somehow tired of the “James Preller” corporate thing. Ha. Mostly, I wanted to concentrate on other writings, as I’ve been deep in a new series that I’m writing for Feiwel & Friends. It won’t launch until The Fabled Summer of ‘13, but I’ve nearly finished the third book in the series.

NOTE: I just reread this and had a chuckle about that “nearly finished” line. It only signifies that I’m an old pro when it comes to deadlines and editors: a manuscript that has not yet been handed in is always “nearly finished.” Any writer who says otherwise is a fool and a boob.

As for my new series, it feels like I’m that kid behind the snow fort, busily stacking up a supply of snowballs. Can’t wait to fire ‘em out there. More on that topic another time.

I’m usually a one-book-at-a-time guy, but I’m now reading three very different but equally remarkable books concurrently: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem, and Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor.

Normally I don’t do that to myself, the three-books-at-once bafflement, but the mixture of long novel, short nonfiction, and poetry seem to complement each other nicely.

I have a long and sordid relationship with poetry, and I’m especially happy to find this sweet collection by Keillor, based on poems featured on “The Writer’s Almanac.”

Writes Keillor in the introduction:

Oblivion is the writer’s greatest fear, and as with the fear of death, one finds evidence to support it. You fear that your work, that work of your lifetime, on which you labored so unspeakably hard and for which you stood on so many rocky shores and thought, My life has been wasted utterly — your work will have its brief shining moment, the band plays, some confetti is tossed, you are photographed with your family, drinks are served, people squeeze your hand and say that you seem to have lost weight, and then the work languishes in the bookstore and dies and is remaindered and finally entombed on a shelf — nobody ever looks at it again! Nobody! This happens often, actually. Life is intense and the printed page is so faint.

Keillor, as curator, has a point of view. He likes poems that tell a story, poems that are direct and clear, that don’t sound too “written.” Poems that communicate. He quotes Charles Bukowski, “There is nothing wrong with poetry that is entertaining and easy to understand. Genius could be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”

And I put a big star in the margin when Keillor described his former English major self — a tender self I identified with, all those lessons that have taken me so long to unlearn, the bad habits of academic thought, “back when I was busy writing poems that were lacerating, opaque, complexly layered, unreadable.”

I have a file drawer jammed full with opaque and unreadable poems.

Now I see that as my writer’s quest, this effort to write clearly (and yet, even so, to write interestingly, to achieve moments of “lift off”), to overcome my own big stupid fumbling ego, those temptations to craft “look at me!” sentences that dazzle and bore readers. Perhaps that’s the great gift of writing for children of all ages. They don’t go for the bullshit. You can deliver any kind of content — really,  there’s nothing you can’t say in a children’s book — but please don’t overcook it.

One last phrase from Keillor, in praise of Maxine Kumin and Anne Sexton and, for that matter, all Good Poems:

“They surprise us with clear pictures of the familiar.”

So that’s how I’ve vowed to begin my days, by reading a few poems each morning. To sit in the chair, coffee at hand, and try on the silence. My favorite from today was Charles Simic’s “Summer Morning.”

You might enjoy it, too.

As a final treat, here’s Tom Waits reading “The Laughing Heart,” a poem by Charles Bukowski. Full text below.

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

@Charles Bukowski

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