Monday, April 30, 2012

Fitzgerald Walking Tour

Check out this F. Scott Fitzgerald walking tour in St Paul, Minnesota:

You don’t even have to be in Minnesota, since the pictures are ample and the text is illuminating and detailed:

“Built in 1882, this house belonged to real estate developer Herman Greve. His daughter Alexandra Greve Kalman and her husband were lifelong friends of Scott and his wife Zelda. Alexandra was the realtor who helped them find several homes when they returned from New York in 1921. She rented them a house in Dellwood, but they were evicted after the pipes froze because they left the house unheated while they were away partying. They also had to leave an apartment at the White Bear Yacht Club because of their partying.”

Those crazy Fitzgeralds…maybe it’s more fun to read about them than to have them in the neighborhood.

(Thanks to my husband Steve for finding this link.  Surely I’ve mentioned a thousand times that he wooed me in the early days by quoting from The Great Gatsby:  “We’ll meet you on some corner.  I’ll be the man smoking two cigarettes.”)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Work in Progress: How to Chat Up a Writer

Out in the real world of the happy hour/reception/party/wedding/holiday gathering, there are plenty of people who don’t care that you’re a writer:

“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“Oh. Did you try that crab dip?”

I don’t worry about those people one bit.  Nor do I worry about the people who instantly pepper me with a thousand enthusiastic questions about writing: 

“A writer!  What do you write?”
“What kind?  Mysteries?  Or fiction novels?”
Sigh. “Yes.  ‘Fiction novels.’”
And off we go on to where I get my ideas from and whether or not I write on a computer.  These questions amuse me, and I’m happy to do my small part on educating the world on the writing life.  

The real world people who make me tense are the ones whose spines suddenly stiffen when they hear I’m a writer:  they’re either intimidated to speak to a writer, or they want to impress me in some ill-defined way.  Combine that with an overall DC quality of fear of not knowing-it-all (okay, guilty!) and a general East Coast aggression, and you’ve got a much more uncomfortable and irritating conversation from my perspective.  Friends, relatives, and total strangers:  here are some helpful hints on what NOT to say to a writer.


“A writer? Are you published?”
This is a punch to the gut to any writer not published, or not published much.  It’s a big, bold step for most of us to call ourselves a “writer.”  If we weren’t a “writer,” we would have called ourselves something else.  We’re writers, published or not.  And what we’re thinking is:  You’re a lawyer? Have you won any Supreme Court cases?
Try instead:  What do you write?

“So you’ve published two books?  Have I heard of them?”
Another punch to the gut, because while I want to say, Depends on how well-read you are, I usually bumble out something like, Probably not, with a horrible, false laugh that replays in my head all night long when I can’t sleep.
Try instead:  What are they about?

“How much money do you make?”
Hmmm…how much do you make?
Try NOT asking about money at all, which is exactly what I do when you tell me that you’re a K Street lawyer and I know you want me to know that you make a lot of money.

“I should write a book.  I have a great idea.”
Please do.  And I should go open a medical practice tomorrow.  I think I’ll specialize in heart transplants.
Try instead:  “I’ve thought about writing a book, but it seems so hard.  Do you know of any classes that might be right for me?”

“I don’t read.”
Thank you for giving me a reason to head off to the bar for another drink…excuse me.
Try instead:  “Are there any great books you love to recommend to people who may not read much?”


“So, have you found a publisher for that novel yet?”
Obviously not, because do you think I would keep this information a secret if I had?
Try asking:  How’s your writing going?  [This is an open-ended question that the writer can easily take any number of directions, depending on how fragile they’re feeling.]

“You know who’s a great writer: Jonathan Franzen*.  I sure love him.  He’s a genius.  Wasn’t he on the cover of Time magazine?”
*Insert whichever writer’s name is most annoying at this exact moment.
In hearing this statement, the only possible conclusion I can draw is that you think that I am NOT a genius.
Try instead:  What are you reading?
Try instead:  Have you read XX?  

I know, I know…the world will not follow the script I write for it.  But isn’t it pretty to think so?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Link Corral: Executive Director Job; Write What You Know?; Poetry on Redux

The Hudson Valley Writers' Center, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to advance the art and craft of writing by encouraging writers and readers at all levels to participate in and enjoy the literary arts.  We seek an Executive Director with vision and proven experience in development of not-for-profit organizations and a dedication to the arts and literary pursuits.  The ED is responsible for overall management of the Center's programs, operations, and staff, and for development and fundraising.

Candidates should send a resume with a cover letter and three references as attachments to an email to John Allendorf, Chair, Search Committee c/o Jean Reyes at  Details and a job description are on our website at


Writer Sandra Beasley has some interesting thoughts on that old saw, “write what you know”:

My point is, what you know extends far beyond internal monologue. Write about the history of a Shenandoah National Park trail, not just a fight you had with your boyfriend as you hiked it. Write about how to make a perfect pie crust, or how to dock a sailboat with one knot. Write about fights your parents had over money when you were a kid, but look up what the actual state of the economy was at the time--how much did a loaf of bread cost? a house? what was the living wage?--and include that too. 


New on Redux: A lovely selection of poems by Kelle Groom.

From “Second Language”:

At the mosaic table in a coffee house,
I learned to say I love you in Croatian,
Volim te, we said it in every language
we remembered, laughing because it’s

always the third phrase you want to know:
hello, goodbye, I love you.

Read on.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Story in The Crab Orchard Review, Now Online

The Crab Orchard Review just posted a PDF file of its “Land of Lincoln” issue in which my story, “The Chicago Brother” appears.  This piece—since revised somewhat—is the first chapter of my Chicago novel.

Here’s the beginning:

Chicago, 1899

Sitting on the cold stoop as snow flurried around him, Jozef felt as useless as a third boot.   Upstairs, his wife was huddled deep in Ludwika’s bed, in the front room where the window was.  When any of them were sick, that’s where they lay to get better or to die:  little Janka with the fever was the last one, and she had passed on after a long, terrible week; mass was being said at St. Casimir’s in two Sundays.  Now his wife, Krystyna—not sick, but with a baby that had been coming for too many hours, so it was her turn in Ludwika’s bed, her turn to lie in the front room. 

He had resisted, wanting her to stay in the back bedroom; yes, it was on the airshaft, dark and dank, crowded with the bedding for the little girls, but wasn’t it better for Krystyna to be in a place she knew—the faded wallpaper with the roses, the cracks in the ceiling zigzagging like summer lightning?—“she’ll be fine back here,” he had said, but the women ignored him, lifting Krystyna, pulling her, prodding her into the front, into the bed where people died.  How Ludwika could sleep with those ghosts, but she did. 

“Go,” they told him.  “We’ll take care of her.”


“Go,” and he was nudged out the front door, and one of them even stood there, arms folded like a sentry, watching him clump down the four flights of stairs to be sure he was gone.
You can read the rest here.  Or go here:

and scroll to link for Issue 15, number 2. 

Note:  These links are to the entire issue of the journal; my story starts on page 117, though there’s a lot of great writing to explore in this issue!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Conversations and Connections Conference Report

I spoke at the Conversations & Connections conference at Johns Hopkins in Washington, DC, on Saturday.  This may be my favorite local conference, because it’s definitely always a fun time and a good deal for participants (who get a new book and a journal subscription along with their registration fee). 

My main purpose was to hang out, so I didn’t take a lot of notes, but there were a lot of good questions at the first panel I sat in on, about common mistakes made in fiction.  We were warned not to overuse food when writing about other cultures (or, really, to go deeper than just throwing around exotic dishes) and to think hard about that “wise grandmother figure” who often shows up in such stories.  (Hmm…see Pears on a Willow Tree?)  A quote from Zadie Smith also resonated with the crowd:  When building a novel you will use a lot of scaffolding. Some of this is necessary to hold the thing up, but most isn’t. The majority of it is only there to make you feel secure, and in fact the building will stand without it.”  The point is, panelist Susan Muaddi-Darraj said, is to take the scaffolding down after the building is up; you needed it to write the story, but the story may not need it.

(Side note:  I found that exact quote in a link to a lecture Zadie Smith gave about writing novels that is quite brilliant…go read that, then hurry back here!)

Then I went to a non-fiction oriented panel called “The Art of the Interview.”  No, I’m not becoming a journalist, but it seemed like it might be interesting to learn about something new that I know little about, and I was right.  Great stories about interviewing subjects, and we were left to ponder whether interviewing a tough subject was more akin to a negotiation or a date, or if, in fact, those are the same thing.  Frankly, I also left the room grateful for all the hard work journalists do in service of getting to the Truth.

After a chatty lunch with some Hopkins fiction students, I had no plans for the break before the keynote address, and in one of those fluke moments during which I learn (yet again!) that having no concrete plans can often be the best plan of all, I met another conference speaker, writer Josip Novakovich, and we had a fabulous conversation over a glass of wine while watching Real Madrid and Barcelona battle it out.

I bought his new book of essays, Shopping For a Better Country; based on the first essay I dipped into, this is for sure going to leapfrog to the top of my To Be Read heap.  He’s also known as a fiction writer, and here’s an interesting interview with The Rumpus in which he discusses working in those two different genres:

“Some topics, if they are important, I work in one form and rework in another. Poe, if he had a good theme, would usually write three stories on it with different twists and I think that just writing it (the theme) out once, in one permutation, is not enough. I never quite get it right so I could actually keep going with more permutations, and in some cases, such as death stories and culture clashes I keep going beyond three, in both fiction and nonfiction. And sometimes I don’t know whether the story will remain an essay when I start it as one—if I see I am making shifts, exaggerating, embellishing, I know I have crossed the boundary into the free West.”  (Read the rest.)
My panel went well—everyone offered some interesting thoughts about how to find/create/maintain a literary community in Washington, DC—I’m sure I’ll post more about this later.  And then on home, sorry to miss the after-party at The Big Hunt…as I said, always a FUN conference, and I’m already looking forward to next year!  (Although, maybe I don’t have to wait?  They’re gearing up for the first-ever Philadelphia Conversations & Connections, so be sure to check that out, Philadelphians!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Work in Progress: Re-Reading Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners

From “Writing Short Stories”~~

“Another thing I observed about these stories is that most of them don’t go very far inside a character, don’t reveal very much of the character.  I don’t mean that they don’t enter the character’s mind, but they simply don’t show that he has a personality.  Again this goes back partly to speech.  These characters have no distinctive speech to reveal themselves with, and sometimes they have no really distinctive features.  You feel in the end that no personality is revealed because no personality is there.  In most good stories it is the character’s personality that creates the action of the story.  In most of these stories, I feel that the writer has thought of some action and then scrounged up a character to perform it.  You will usually be more successful if you start the other way around.  If you start with a real personality, a real character, then something is bound to happen; and you don’t have to know what before you begin.  In fact it may be better if you don’t know what before you begin.  You ought to be able to discover something from your stories.  If you don’t, probably nobody else will.”

From “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”~~

“The fact is that the materials of the fiction writer are the humblest.  Fiction is about everything human and we are made of our dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction.  It’s not a grand enough job for you.”

From “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”~~

“But it is from the kind of world the writer creates, from the kind of character and detail he invests it with, that a reader can find the intellectual meaning of a book.  Once this is found, however, it cannot be drained off and used as a substitute for the book.  As the late John Peale Bishop said: ‘You can’t say Cezanne painted apples and a tablecloth and have said what Cezanne painted.’  The novelist makes his statements by selection, and if he is any good, he selects every word for a reason, every detail for a reason, every incident for a reason, and arranges them in a certain time-sequence for a reason.  He demonstrates something that cannot possible be demonstrated any other way than with a whole novel.”

And for any beleaguered writing students, this gem, also from “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”~~

“I don’t believe in classes where students criticize each other’s manuscript.  Such criticism is generally composed in equal parts of ignorance, flattery, and spite.  It’s the blind leading the blind, and it can be dangerous.  A teacher who tries to impose a way of writing on you can be dangerous too.  Fortunately, most teachers I’ve known were too lazy to do this.  In any case, you should beware of those who appear overenergetic.”

If you’ve never read O'Connor's essays on writing, you must!  (Wow, I really hate this cover…so happy my edition has a peacock on it instead!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Link Corral: Grammar Wars Over "Hopefully"; New on Redux

From the frontlines of the grammar wars:  The AP stylebook has approved the modern usage of “hopefully” to mean “it is hoped.”  It used to mean only  “in a hopeful manner.” (I.e. Hopefully, we'll have lunch soon used to be incorrect, even though many people would say such a sentence.  The correct usage would be, "Perhaps we'll have lunch soon," she said hopefully.)

I admit that I broke this rule at will in conversation, in my fiction, and sometimes even in formal writing, but it’s still a little sad to see the end to one of those super-snobbish rules that always separated the grammatical folk from the snobbishly grammatical folk.  I mean, I always knew I was using the word incorrectly.  Just don’t you dare cave on alright, which will NEVER be all right with me!

Here’s a funny and informative article in The Washington Post about the “hopefully/it is hoped/in a hopeful manner” issue:

You know these kinds of arguments. You know them well. Linguistic battlefields are scattered with the wreckage left behind by Nauseated vs. Nauseous, by Healthy vs. Healthful, by the legions of people who perpetuated the union between “regardless” and “irrespective,” creating a Frankensteinian hybrid, “irregardless.”

These are the battles that are fought daily between Catholic school graduates, schooled in the dark arts of sentence diagramming and self-righteousness, and their exasperated prey. They are fought between prescriptivists, who believe that rules of language should be preserved at any cost, and descriptivists, who believe that word use should reflect how people actually talk.

“It was an unconscious mistake,” say the descriptivists.

“You mean subconscious.”

“Well, anyways — ”

“You mean anyway.”

“That begs the question. Why do you care about grammar so much?”

“No. It doesn’t! It doesn’t beg the question at all. It raises the question. It raises the question!”

“I’m going to beat you subconscious.”


Wonderful poem by Dan Rosenberg on Redux…and don’t miss the “story behind the poem”:  “I sometimes find myself saying overblown things to my students like ‘poets are the gods of the little worlds they create.’ And then I have to think about what the hell I was trying to say.”

From “Here”:

Here’s the word for an ant’s single leg.
I plucked it and breathed it.
I caught it beneath my gum line.
Here are some plants I grew by speaking to them.
Here are the aphids that happened when my mind wandered.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yearlong Novel Workshop Accepting Students

If you're looking to work on a full novel in a workshop format, this might be the class for you:

Write Your Book Workshop --

This very special year-long workshop allows you to workshop your novel or memoir in progress in 30 pages "chunks" over about 28+ sessions from September 24, 2012 until July 22, 2013.  Each session involves a writing exercise, instruction on an aspect of writing, and 30-40 minute "workshop" on each "chunk."  The goal is to have each participant workshop 7+ "chunks" over the year in the hopes of completing a draft manuscript.  Meeting on Mondays 7:30-10pm in Falls Church City. there are 3 week breaks before Winter, Spring and Summer sessions.  There is ample parking and it is public transit accessible.

Questions?  Contact the workshop leader, Hildie Block at
Hildie Block has been leading writing workshops since 1996 at American and GW Universities, through the Writer's Center and now on her own as a part of Hildie Block's Workshop.  She's published over 50 short stories, many many essays and articles and her book Not What I Expected came out in 2007.  This will be the 7th year of the Year-Long Workshop.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jobs! Festival/Program Assistant Director (Money & Glory) and Online Book Reviewer (Glory Only)

Split This Rock Is Seeking Assistant Director
Application deadline: April 30, 2012

Split This Rock calls poets to the center of public life and fosters a national network of socially engaged poets. From our home in the nation's capital we celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination. All of Split This Rock's programs are designed to integrate poetry of provocation and witness into public life and to support the poets who write and perform this critical work.

Split This Rock's cornerstone program is a national festival, held every two years in Washington, DC. The next festival is scheduled for March, 2014. We also have a robust youth program, publish poetry online, organize social justice campaigns, and present readings, workshops, and discussions year-round. For more information, please see the website:

The Assistant Director's role is to provide organizational, fundraising, and programmatic support to further Split This Rock's mission. The mix of duties varies based on the cycle of the organization; during festival years, the festival is the primary focus. In off years, the focus will be on organizational development, fundraising, and Split This Rock's other programs.

This position is full-time, including some evening and weekend hours. Split This Rock, though an independent non-profit organization, is housed within the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, located blocks from the White House. We are a small, scrappy organization fueled by passion for social justice and a love of poetry and the arts.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Lead festival planning and implementation
    • Work closely with the Executive Director to recruit and support a volunteer Festival Planning Committee
    • Maintain a festival work plan and calendar
    • Serve as liaison to panel and workshop facilitators
    • Manage featured poet travel, accommodations, and hospitality
    • Serve as liaison to venues and vendors
    • Administer registrations and scholarships
    • Provide oversight for program book and festival materials
    • Ensure festival accessibility
    • Oversee volunteer recruitment and management
    • Document processes and procedures
  • Assist with other programs as needed
    • Plan and implement Split This Rock events
    • Build partnerships, both local and national
  • Manage website, including a 2012 redesign process
  • Coordinate Split This Rock communications strategy
  • Work to increase subscribers to all forms of communication, including snail mail, email, Facebook, blog, Twitter
  • Oversee festival marketing
    • Develop marketing timeline, in consultation with committee and director
    • Manage marketing procurement
      • print materials (postcard, brochure, poster, etc.)
      • website, email campaign, social media
      • mailings
      • advertising
  • Research and acquire donor management software
  • Implement donor management system
  • Work with the director to develop a fundraising calendar
  • Monitor foundation and government grant and reporting deadlines
  • Oversee direct mail and email fundraising campaigns
  • Assist the director with grant writing, as needed
  • Work with the Fundraising Committee to plan and carry out fundraising events
Administration and Finance:
  • Recruit, train, and manage volunteers and interns
  • Manage electronic and paper filing systems

Reporting: The Assistant Director will report to the Executive Director and will work in partnership with staff, board members, and volunteers to assist in preparation, organization, implementation, and documentation of Split This Rock's programs.   

Skills and Background: The ideal candidate for the position of Assistant Director will have:
  • A commitment to social justice and the role that the arts can play in social change
  • Extensive experience in events management and working in non-profit settings
  • Strong intercultural understanding
  • Proven written and oral communication skills
  • Fundraising experience
  • Volunteer management experience
  • Demonstrated excellent attention to detail
  • A BA or equivalent experience

The projected start date is late May, 2012. Salary is in the 40s, plus benefits.

Split This Rock is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and encourages applications from people of color, women, differently-abled, LGBTQ, and other groups that have historically been subject to discrimination. 

To apply: submit a résumé, writing sample, and thoughtful cover letter to with "Application for Assistant Director" in the subject line. No calls please. 

Deadline: April 30, 2012. 


The Los Angeles Review literary journal is looking for three to five book reviewers. These reviewers will primarily be responsible for our new online review section, which includes reviews of self-published books. Some reviews may also be published in the print journal. Fiction, poetry and nonfiction reviewers are all welcome to apply. Online reviews are 200 to 500 words in length. Print reviews are 200 to 300 words.

Applicants should have some experience reviewing books, preferably for a literary journal. This is a volunteer position at this time; a stipend may be added in the future.
To apply, please send an email to the Book Review Editor, at in sending email). A resume/CV and links to published reviews are appreciated. To find out more about us, please visit our web site at:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest in Progress: Julie Wakeman-Linn on Writing in Tanzania

In this report, guest writer Julie Wakeman-Linn follows up her previous post about creating writing space in her new life as an ex-pat living in Tanzania…what has happened during her time away from her real life?  (And, yes, how I love the format of the “letter” to a publication, as if we’re back in the pages of The New Yorker in the fifties with Janet Flanner and her “Letter from Paris.”)

Dear Leslie,
My year of writing by the Indian Ocean is ending and it has been amazingly productive despite being under heavy assault by life. I’ve had three stories accepted, created an anthology and published it, and my first novel, Chasing the Leopard Finding the Lion will be launched this month.
Several distractions dragged me away from my desk. My husband’s job morphed like international postings do, I was recruited to run a big charity bazaar, and my daughter was seriously injured in a hit and run accident.
The writing life anchored me through all these wild upheavals. The best news is that my daughter is making a complete recovery. The charity bazaar was a huge success, raising $40,000 in a single day, and my husband’s job shook itself out in a new better direction. All year I observed and recorded and even bitched at these twists in my Tanzanian existence.
But… the year, you ask… what do I do? I wrote daily and if I didn’t, I got unbelievably cranky. I set wildly ambitious goals. In May I tried to write or at least start a short story every single day in honor of Short Story Month. Daily I recorded oddities of Tanzanian life in journals, in emails and in a list that now runs to ten pages.  I planned to revise the second novel and then start on the third, the prairie novel. Well, something had to give. The third novel is notes only.
Two tasks reinforced my triple role as writer, editor and teacher. Last spring, missing my network and my writer friends, I volunteered at the Bethsaida Secondary school for Orphan girls. After a four week workshop course, their stories so impressed me that I worked with the girls to produce a beautiful anthology of their stories that is now a fundraiser for their school. It’s available through Amazon or ABC or you can email me.
Last summer I edited Issue 50: Best of Potomac Review. My PR editorial team had pulled together all the selections in an amazing collaboration of associate editors, poetry editors and all my interns.  I did the final edits and shepherded the issue through the publication process—all of this from 16,000 miles from the PR offices.  It is a beautiful issue. You can order it here.
Bookending my summer, I attended two writers’ conferences to re-connect with good friends and to study with one of my favorite teachers.  I returned to  Gettysburg and all my pals in June. In September, my time in Sicily studying with Margot Livesey and the Breadloaf crew was a week out of time. I love Sicily for its antiquities, its food and the wonderful people. It was hard to go back to Dar Es Salaam with the power cuts and the heat.
In contrast to other writing residencies, Tanzania has its own strengths. It was completely unlike VCCA with its near-monastic quiet of the day.  In TZ, the writing was special. When properly quiet and working, I could have been anywhere. My housekeeper Elris quickly figured out that I didn’t want to be interrupted. She would run interference, answer the door, deal with the pool cleaners, the guards, the gardeners or the handyman or fundi , as much as possible.  If some unavoidable daily crisis erupted, she’d stand in the door to my writing room and say, “Madam.” I would jerk to alertness and then she’d say so sorry to disturb you. She protected my work.
Tanzania is not normal for an American citizen.  It’s wonderful or terrible:  there is never ever an ordinary boring day. Extraordinary beauty of flora, fauna and the Swahili language inundate the senses.  In the ocean air, everything rusts, roads crumble, rains flood.  “Kiswahili Time” means ‘whenever’ but certainly not now. Tanzanians are unflappably polite even while they are lying or avoiding the truth.
The key to the writing life was the ocean. Staring at it from my desk or walking on the balcony, it was soothing against the zaniness of power cuts, Swahili time, and my initial loneliness for my writing network, my circle of friends.  Later, when I got inevitably connected to the ex-pat society, the ocean would draw me back to my desk, when life in Dar heated up with volunteer activities.
Living in Tanzania, while revising my second novel, the Zambian novel, has been enlightening .The two countries have cultures as different as Massachusetts is from Georgia, as Germany is from France. I will sift through my ideas and story starts and notes for another five years until hopefully I will return again to Africa. But for now, I am enjoying my last weeks, watching the ocean.   

ABOUT:  Julie Wakeman-Linn's novel, Chasing the Leopard Finding the Lion, which was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize, will be published this April by Mkuki Na Nyota, an award-winning Tanzanian publishing house. A dozen of her stories have appeared in JMWW, Rosebud, Grey Sparrow Review, Santa Clara Review, Danse Macabre, and other journals. She blogs at Gecko Tails and her website is

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From This Morning's Writing Prompt Group

Write for 15 minutes on each of the following:

--Word prompt:  Lists

--Tea-tag prompt:  “A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck.” 
(This was said by James Garfield, and yes, we noted the irony in that he was assassinated and could have perhaps used a bit more luck in his life.)

Random ideas and images now free-floating through my mind after two hours delightfully spent with the group:

--undercurrents of anger that we fear
--The Keg restaurant in Evanston, IL (which, BTW,  back in my day was a fancy restaurant, not the place to get served underage!)
--the loyalty of animals
--the sound of the word “chunky”
--dialogue without quotation marks

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

3 Contests: For Military, Fitzgerald Fans, Hemingway Fans

The Iowa Review is holding a writing contest exclusively for military veterans and active duty personnel:

The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans
This writing contest for U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel is hosted by The Iowa Review and made possible by a gift from the family of Jeff Sharlet (1942–69), a Vietnam veteran and antiwar writer and activist. The contest is open to veterans and active duty personnel writing in any genre and about any subject matter.

Judge: Robert Olen Butler
Prize: $1,000 plus publication in The Iowa Review
Deadline: June 15, 2012
Entry fee: $15

Please read all the rules here.


Publish in Fitzgerald’s old stomping grounds, The Saturday Evening Post:

In its nearly three centuries of existence, The Saturday Evening Post has published short fiction by a who's who of American authors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Louis L'Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, and Edgar Allan Poe. Now you have the opportunity to join that illustrious line-up by taking part in the 1st Annual Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest. The winning story will be published in the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of the magazine and on our website. The winning writer will receive a payment of $500. Five runners-up will be published on our website and receive payment of $100 each.

Entries must be character- or plot-driven stories in any genre of fiction that falls within the Post's broad range of interest—one guided by the publication's mission: Celebrating America, Past, Present, and Future. "We are looking for stories with universal appeal touching on shared experiences and themes that will resonate with readers from diverse backgrounds and experience," says Joan SerVaas, publisher of The Saturday Evening Post.

Stories must be submitted by the author, previously unpublished (excluding personal websites and blogs), and 1,500-5,000 words in length. No extreme profanity or graphic sex scenes, please. All stories must be submitted via the following form and should be in Microsoft Word format with the author's name, address, telephone number, and email address on the first page. There is a $10 entry fee, which you can pay via credit card. Deadline for entry is July 1, 2012.


Or, if Hemingway is more your thing, try this:

$2,500 Awaits Winners of Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

Writers of short fiction are encouraged to enter the 2012 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. The competition has a thirty-one year history of literary excellence, and its organizers are dedicated to enthusiastically supporting the efforts and talent of emerging writers of short fiction whose voices have yet to be heard.

Lorian Hemingway, granddaughter of Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway, is the author of three critically acclaimed books: Walking into the River, Walk on Water, and A World Turned Over. Ms. Hemingway is the competition's final judge.

Prizes and Publication:

The first-place winner will receive $1,500 and publication of his or her winning story in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. The second - and third-place winners will receive $500 each. Honorable mentions will also be awarded to entrants whose work demonstrates promise.

Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts was founded by editor-in-chief Pamela Uschuk, winner of the 2010 American Book Award for her book Crazy Love: New Poems, and by poet William Pitt Root, Guggenheim Fellow and NEA recipient. The journal contains some of the finest contemporary fiction and poetry in print, and the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition is both proud and grateful to be associated with such a reputable publication.

Eligibility requirements for our 2012 competition are as follows:

What to submit:

* Stories must be original unpublished fiction, typed and double-spaced, and may not exceed 3,500 words in length. We have extended our word limit for the first time in thirty years to 3,500 words rather than 3,000. There are no theme or genre restrictions. Copyright remains property of the author.

Who may submit:

* The literary competition is open to all U.S. and international writers whose fiction has not appeared in a nationally distributed publication with a circulation of 5,000 or more. Writers who have been published by an online magazine or who have self-published will be considered on an individual basis.

Submission requirements:

* Submissions may be sent via regular mail or submitted online. Please visit our online submissions page for complete instructions regarding online submissions. Writers may submit multiple entries, but each must be accompanied by an entry fee and separate cover sheet. We do accept simultaneous submissions; however, the writer must notify us if a story is accepted for publication or wins an award prior to our July announcements. No entry confirmation will be given unless requested. No SASE is required.

* The author's name should not appear on the story. Our entrants are judged anonymously. Each story must be accompanied by a separate cover sheet with the writer's name, complete mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, the title of the piece, and the word count. Manuscripts will not be returned. These requirements apply for online submissions as well.

Deadlines and Entry Fees:

* The entry fee is $15 for each story postmarked by May 1, 2012. The late entry fee is $20 for each story postmarked by May 15, 2012. We encourage you to enter by May 1 if at all possible, but please know that your story will still be accepted if you meet the later deadline. Entries postmarked after May 15, 2012 will not be accepted. Entries submitted online after May 15, 2012 will not be accepted. Writers may submit for the 2013 competition beginning May 16, 2012.

How to pay your entry fee:

* Entry fees submitted by mail with their accompanying stories may be paid -- in U.S. funds -- via a personal check, cashier's check, or money order. Please make checks payable to LHSSC or The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. Entry fees for online submissions may be paid with PayPal.

Announcement of Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Winners of our 2012 competition will be announced at the end of July 2012 in Key West, Florida, and posted on our website soon afterward. Only the first-place entrant will be notified personally. All entrants will receive a letter from Lorian Hemingway and a list of winners, either via regular mail or e-mail, by October 1, 2012. All manuscripts and their accompanying entry fees should be sent to The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, P.O. Box 993, Key West, FL 33041 or submitted online. For more information, please explore our website or e-mail:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Link Corral: New on Redux, Work for the Sun Magazine (!), Learn How to Podcast

New on Redux:  John Guzlowski’s poems about his parents’ experience in the Nazi camps.  Here’s a glimpse of the “story behind the poems” that he wrote:

“My Mother Was 19” is about what happened the day the Nazis came to my mother’s farm in Poland and killed much of her family.  It wasn’t an easy poem to write.  I had been trying to write this poem for about thirty years.

Read on.  Harrowing work, indeed.


This is truly a dream job:  Managing Editor at The Sun magazine.  Maybe it could be yours?

We need a full-time Managing Editor at The Sun, a nonprofit, ad-free magazine in its thirty-ninth year of publication. This position is in our editorial office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The job requires impeccable editorial skills, proven management ability, and a meticulous and exacting eye for detail. We offer competitive compensation, excellent benefits, and an appealing work environment. Click here for details. (No e-mails, phone calls, faxes, or surprise visits, please.)


On May 5, writer C.M. Mayo will be offering a one-day workshop at the Writer’s Center about how to podcast.  Sounds intriguing and useful.  More details here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Work in Progress: Play Ball! My Baseball Story Is Reprinted

In honor of Opening Day (that’s baseball-speak, for any non-sports fans), I’m pleased to announce that my short story “What We All Want” is included in the new, expanded edition of Baseball’s Best Short Stories, edited by Paul D. Staudohar.

I know that when people write or say “not to brag,” they immediately start bragging, but not to brag…this book includes stories by some real heavy-hitters:

--P.G. Wodehouse
--Ring Lardner
--T.C. Boyle
--Michael Chabon
--James Thurber
--Tobias Wolff
--Robert Penn Warren

And me!

Here’s the beginning of my story:

“We came here because of Fernando. Everyone knew what had happened to Fernando Valenzuela, how he’d pitched for the L.A. Dodgers in the 1980s until his wondrous arm collapsed.  Then he disappeared.  Several years later a scout from the Baltimore Orioles found him pitching here in Mexico, striking out batters like it was as easy as drinking water.  Want to try it again? the scout asked him.  He did.  The arm was back.  In ’93 he was a starting pitcher for the Orioles.

“If it could happen to Fernando…I sat in the stands and watched them each think it.  Luis Torres, Manual Ramirez, all the rest, and especially my husband, Lee.  During batting practice, during warm-ups, during a game, the words rose from the dusty field:  Then it could happen to me.

“Why not? In baseball it’s a way of life, not a question.”

As a secret insider note on the writing process, I remember that when I wrote this story, I was stuck on how to end it…so I took my own advice I often give my classes and tried to think of the least expected way the story might end, and that took me to the only possible ending, IMHO.

Read more about the book here and on Amazon.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.