Saturday, March 26, 2016



If you have found this through our "Should I Know Who You Are? Book PR for the Modern Age" panel at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles, welcome, and thanks for attending our panel. Bios (and contact information) for our panelists are below.

Here are our recommended resources to get you started as you contemplate or launch into promoting your book. Good luck!

We are all big, big, BIG fans of publishing professional Jane Friedman!
Here’s her blog:
These JF posts and articles are especially recommended by Kelly:
 Can You Promote a Book Without Making Yourself Miserable? by Ed Cyzewski
The Online Presence That’s a Natural Extension of Who You Are and What You Do. (Is It Just Fantasy?) by Jane Friedman
Follow Jane on Twitter: @JaneFriedman

Here’s an agent blog about promoting/marketing that Lori follows:
Rachelle Gardner:

Lori suggests looking at the site for the resources and writer blogs:  
Lori has recently launched a new blog there, “Lit Life,” with all things about the writing life: 

Lori has written these useful articles:
 Writer's Digest. "10 tips for making the most of the MFA experience." 
The Writer. "Get involved: Play an active part in the writing community." 

Kelly wrote this helpful article, Getting Your Book to the Top of the Reviewer’s List:

I blogged tips about how to give a great reading:

Kelly likes “Website Tips For Authors,” by Midge Raymond, in Author Magazine

Beth recommends this article about the client/publicist relationship:

Katie suggests following:
Books & Whatnot:
Ami Greko:
Here she is on Twitter: @ami_with_an_i
Here’s her “London Calling” book newsletter:

I definitely recommend Lori’s book The Write Crowd as a go-to resource for thinking about the community: (also available on Amazon or wherever you like to order books)
Bonus: The Bloomsbury book page for The Write Crowd also has some freebie articles and resources on a “Companion Site,” found here:

Find us on Twitter:
Kelly Davio, @kellydavio
Katie Freeman, @foxyhedgehog
Lori A. May, @loriamay
Beth Parker, @beth_parker
Leslie Pietrzyk, @lesliepwriter

Kelly Davio is the Senior Poetry Editor and US Publicist for Eyewear Publishing in London, England. She also edits Tahoma Literary Review and directs the poetry-focused PR consultancy Small Press Love. Her poetry collection, Burn This House, was released by Red Hen Press in 2013. More information:

Katie Freeman is the Associate Director of Publicity for Riverhead Books, and has worked at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Pantheon Books. She has served on committees for the Brooklyn Book Festival, PEN American Center, Words Without Borders, Narrative 4, and the National Book Foundation and can be found online @foxyhedgehog.

Lori A. May is the author of several books, including The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship & the Writing Life which was named a “best book for writers” by Poets & Writers magazine. Her writing may also be found in publications including The AtlanticBrevity, and Writer’s Digest. Lori is a faculty mentor in the MFA program at the University of King’s College-Halifax and a publishing internship supervisor with the Wilkes University MA and MFA writing programs. More information:

Beth Parker has been working in book publishing since 1999 promoting a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction authors ranging from debut fiction to celebrity memoirs, YA, and more. She has worked on numerous New York Times bestselling campaigns in all genres. In 2014 she started her own PR firm, Beth Parker PR. More information:

Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of two novels, Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day, and, most recently, of This Angel on My Chest, a collection of unconventionally linked short stories about the sudden death of her 37-year-old husband. It won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published in October by University of Pittsburgh Press. More information:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Robin Black's "Crash Course": Highly Recommended Craft Book!

I always like to say that one is never done learning about writing. I take advantage of many wonderful continuing ed sources: The Writer’s Chronicle, Poets & Writers, conversations with smart writer-friends, sitting in on craft lectures at residencies and conferences, the AWP conference, asking questions at readings, and, of course, craft books. I love tucking into a book that explores the writing process from a new vantage point, and so I must recommend Robin Black’s Crash Course: Essays from Where Writing and Life Collide.

It’s no surprise that I would love this book because I’m an admirer of Robin’s fiction (If I loved you, I would tell you this, her collection of short fiction, is ensconced forever on my Favorite Books Bookshelf) and I’m a tremendous fan of the online essays about writing she’s been sharing for several years. (Many have been adapted and are included in this book.) She has a smart and sensible eye for addressing writing conundrums, and the generosity with which she shares her own struggles—with writing, with life, with her “late bloomer” arrival to the writing life—is astonishing. (It’s notable that I’ve never seen a better essay on the dreaded writing jealousy than “The Success Gap.” This third rail topic that rarely is admitted, let alone addressed!)

I could go on and on, but I thought what might be more useful is to share a few of the passages I marked in my copy:

On knowing when the draft is the final draft:

            How do you know when a story is finished?...
            It took me a while to realize that the answer that I give to this question is itself an echo of the other, earlier one: I know a story isn’t finished until I can explain to myself exactly why I have made all the craft choices I have made.
            Or, to put it another way, if you plan on ending your relationship to a story and exposing it to the harsh gaze of those who didn’t write it, you had better be able to articulate to yourself why you think it’s time, because there are likely to be times when you doubt that you should have done so.

I’ll reductively label this “on plot,” though the essay covers so much more:

            Inaction [of characters], it turns out, is a strangely rich source for the imagination, a fact that I have found to be of help when I am struggling with a story that has taken on a moribund, fruitless quality…I hunt for the points of inaction that my characters might themselves later regret, those decisions that might inspire in them the rich fictions of which we are all such gifted authors when we are sorry to have chosen the safer, less active of two possible paths. 
On stepping out of one’s comfort zone:

            At some point, we probably all glimpse, even nurture, the fantasy of universal approval. But it is a better goal to evoke passion—even when it includes both extremes. On my good days, when my head is truly in the game, I would rather my work be adored by some and despised by others than that it be liked by all. That expansion of acceptable response allows me to take risks. And taking risks is the only way I can grow.

On envy:

            In my experience, envy rarely has much at all to do with what one wishes for one’s friend or colleague, and everything to do with one’s own doubts and anxieties about oneself. Maybe envy isn’t even the best word for the stomach-churning one can feel at a friends’ good news. Maybe the better word is fear.

Oh, there’s so much more! The book is divided in two sections, with the essays upfront taking on life challenges as they relate to finding one’s way as a writer, and the second half flipping the equation, focusing on the writing challenges as one works deeper into the writing life. Each essay is short and stands alone…perfect to dip into as you ease into your writing space, or to do as I did, devour in one delicious gulp of mad underlining.

Here’s more information about the book:

You can order the book on Amazon of course, but maybe you would like to support the small press instead? Here’s their link for orders:

And here’s Robin Black’s website:

Monday, March 21, 2016

THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST Featured on Story 366

Here’s a lovely write-up on “Ten Things,” the first story in THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST (which you can read in your already-purchased or soon-to-be-purchased copy of the book, or here, online). I love that Michael Czyzniejewski has chosen to blog about a different short story every day for an entire year—he is smart and passionate about the form, and his selections range widely. Reading his blog might be as rigorous as following a college syllabus, but 1000x more fun, because he’s also hilarious.

Anyway, here’s a tease from the post about “Ten Things”:

I feel for the protagonists, no matter what the stories are, and that’s not because of the obvious tragedy. It’s because this writer makes everyone into people instead of tropes, people who do things, need things, want things, and forsake things. I’d bet Pietrzyk could write this book even without this tragedy, or any other, in her own life. She’s got the chops. That’s pretty clear.

And here’s the general link to Story 366, the blog:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Survival Tips for AWP16!

Could there be a more incongruous setting for 12,000 angst-ridden writers—clad in black, oozing anxiety—than sunny California? Or is this exactly the thing writers need, a Joad-like journey to the “other” edge of the land, with mountains and valleys and a vast ocean beckoning, a land of milk and honey and book contracts? Yes, the traveling circus that is the AWP writing conference is headed to L.A. and I will be following, just one of the 12,000 bleary-eyed, name-dropping, crowd-scanning, black-clad, totebag-toting writers in desperate need of a drink and a blurb from Famous Writer. I haven’t been to L.A. in years, but the direct quote I remember uttering as I was being driven around in a convertible on an 80 degree January day was: “I feel my brain melting away, and I’m happy about it!” Perhaps existential angst will melt away, and we’ll be happy about it?

But on a more basic level, how can you survive the experience and live to tell the tale?  Read on for my own conference survival tips, based on my past AWP experiences:

Wear comfortable shoes, at least most of the day. There’s lots of traipsing around long hallways and the long (sometimes uncarpeted) aisles of the book fair. It’s also inevitable that the one panel you really, really, really want to see will be in a teeny-tiny room and you’ll have to stand in the back…or sit on the floor; see the following tip:

Wear comfortable clothes, preferably taking a layer approach. Wherever you go, you will end up either in A) an incredibly stuffy room that will make you melt, or B) a room with an arctic blast directed at you. Bulk up and strip down as needed. Also, as noted above, the AWP conference staff has a knack for consistently misjudging the size of room required for a subject matter/speakers (i.e. Famous Writer in room with 30 chairs; grad student panel on Use of Dashes in Obscure Ancient Greek Poet in room with 300 chairs), so you may find yourself scrunched into a 2’x2’ square on the carpet; see the following tip:

To avoid being stuck sitting on the floor, arrive early to panels you really, really want to attend. If you are stuck on the floor, hold your ground with a big bag and/or coat to get yourself some extra space. Whatever you do, do not be nice and squeeze over…those panels can seem VERY LONG when someone’s knee is wedged in your ribs. (Any resulting bad karma will be worth it.)

If a panel is bad, ditch it. Yes, it’s rude. Yes, everyone does it. (Be better than the rest by at least waiting for an appropriate break, but if you must go mid-word, GO.) I can’t tell you the high caliber of presenters that I have walked out on, but think Very High. Remember that there are a thousand other options, and you have choices. The only time you have to stick it out is if A) the dull panel participant is your personal friend or B) the dull panel participant is/was your teacher or C) the dull panel participant is your editor/publisher. Those people will notice (and remember) that you abandoned them mid-drone and punish you accordingly (i.e. your glowing letters of rec will instead incinerate). Undoubtedly this is why I have never been published in Unnamed Very High Caliber Magazine, having walked out on the editor’s panel.

There are zillions of panels: When you pick up your registration badge, you’ll get a massive tome with information about all of them, and also a shorter schedule that’s easy to carry around. Take some time right away to read through the tome and circle the panels you want to attend on your master schedule. Then ditch the tome. Better yet, go to the AWP website now and scroll through the schedule tome and decide now where you want to be when. And best of all, use the “my schedule” planning feature on the online schedule to mark the events you’re interested in and keep that stored on your favorite technology (mine is a sheaf of printed paper…which may be smart since I often forget how/where to re-access “my schedule,” which requires logging in and somehow finding “my account”).  Anyway…no point waking up early on Friday if there’s nothing you want to attend. I checkmark panels I might go to if nothing better is going on and star those that I will make a supreme effort to attend. Give yourself a couple of options at each time slot so that if a room is too crowded, you have an interesting alternative.

Someone will always ask a 20-minute question that is not so much a question but a way of showing off their own (imagined) immense knowledge of the subject and an attempt to erase the (endlessly lingering) sting of bitterness about having their panel on the same topic rejected. Don’t be that person. Keep your question succinct and relevant. Maybe even write it down first, before you start to endlessly ramble. And yes, if you are “that person,” everyone will mimic your annoying question to their friends in the bookfair aisle, and your career is over.

Don’t ever say anything gossipy on the elevator, unless you want the whole (literary) world to know it. Do listen up to the conversations of others on the elevator, and tell your friends what you’ve overheard over your offsite dinner, embellishing as necessary.

Same advice above exactly applies to the overpriced hotel bar.  Also, if you happen to get a chair at the bar, or, goodness, EVEN A REAL LIVE TABLE, hang on to it!!  People will join you if they see you’ve got a spot!  Famous people!  I mean it: the only reason to ever give up a table in the hotel bar is because the bar has shut down, you’ve consumed every bit of liquid in the clutter of glasses, and a beefy bouncer is headed your way.

Support the publications at the bookfair. Set a budget for yourself in advance, and spend some money on literary journals and books and subscriptions, being sure to break your budget. Do this, and then you won’t feel bad picking up the stuff that’s been heavily discounted or being given away free on the last day of the conference. But, please, do spend some money! These journals and presses rely on OUR support.

Just because something is free, you don’t have to take it. Unless you drove, you’ll have to find a way to bring home all those heavy books/journals on an airplane. Or you’ll have to wait in line at the hotel’s business center or the UPS store at the convention center to ship them home. So, be as discerning as you can when you see that magic markered “free” sign on top of a pile of sad-looking journals, abandoned by the grad students with hangovers who didn’t feel like dealing with their university's bookfair table.

Try not to approach the table of each journal at the bookfair with this question:  “How can I get published in your journal?” Also, I recommend avoiding this one: “How come you didn’t publish my poem/story/essay/screed?”  Try instead: “What a beautiful journal. Please tell me more about it.” Even better: “I’m thinking about subscribing.”

It may be too late for some of you, but it’s inevitable that you will see every writer you’ve ever met in the aisle of the bookfair at one AWP or another…so I hope you were nice to all of them and never screwed anyone over. Because, yes, they will remember, and it’s not fun reliving all that drama as the editors of The Georgia Review gaze on.

Pre-arrange some get-togethers with friends/teachers/grad student buddies, but don’t over-schedule. You’ll run into people, or meet people, or be invited to a party, or find an amazing off-the-beaten-track bar.  Save some time for spontaneity! (Yes, I realize that I’m saying “plan” for spontaneity.)

Don’t laugh at this, but bring along Purell and USE IT often.  For weeks after, post-AWP Facebook status updates are filled with writers bemoaning the deathly cold/sore throat/lingering and mysterious illness they picked up at AWP.  We’re a sniffly, sneezy, wheezy, germy bunch, and the thought of 12,000 of us packed together breathing on each other, shaking hands, and giving fake hugs of glee gives the CDC nightmares.

Along the lines of healthcare, don’t forget to drink a lot of water and pop an Advil before going to sleep if (haha…if!) you’ve been drinking a little more than usual.

Escape! Whether it’s offsite dinners/drinks/museums/walks through park/mindless shopping or whatever, do leave at some point. You will implode if you don’t. 

This is a super-secret tip that I never share, but I’ll share it as a reward for those who have read this far:  there will be a bathroom that’s off the beaten track and therefore is never crowded. Scope out this bathroom early on. Don’t tell anyone except your closest friends the location of this bathroom.

Finally, take a deep breath.  You’re just as much of a writer as the other 11,999 people around you.  Don’t let them get to you.


If you're interested, I will be on the following panels and signing books at the following places at the Bookfair:

Friday, April 1, 2016
AWP Panel: “We’re on the Road to Somewhere: Approaches to Managing the Writing Life”
9am ~ 10:15am
Room 407
L.A. Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
F114. We're on the Road to Somewhere: Approaches to Managing the Writing Life. (Josh Rolnick,  Yiyun Li,  Austin Bunn,  Sonya Chung,  Leslie Pietrzyk) There are no shortcuts when it comes to writing. Sometimes, the challenge isn’t getting started—it’s sticking with it through criticism and rejection; doubts and confusion with the material itself. In this inspiring panel, successful writers discuss their own winding paths to publication and offer practical suggestions for building a creative and professional life in a variety of writing fields—including editing, blogging, and screenwriting—while managing a writing life over the long haul.

Friday, April 1, 2016
AWP Panel: “Should I Know Who You Are? Book PR for the Modern Age”
4:30pm ~ 5:45pm
Room 408A
L.A. Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
F280. Should I Know Who You Are? Book PR for the Modern Age. (Leslie Pietrzyk,  Lori A. May,  Beth Parker,  Kelly Davio,  Katie Freeman) Turns out that writing the book is a cinch compared to promoting the dang thing. How can writers embrace shameless self-promotion while avoiding the dangerous humble-brag? How can we claim media and reviewer attention in a crowded marketplace? How will readers find us? An independent book publicist, a small press publisher, and two publicity-minded authors offer insight and tips to help writers of all genres navigate old and new media.

Signing @ the Bookfair:

Friday, April 1
@University of Pittsburgh Press
Booth 403

Saturday, April 2
@Tahoma Literary Review

Salad Days

I love reading about a writer's salad days...these reminiscences by 97-year-old Doris Grumbach are wonderful! Doris Grumbach came in to teach a workshop when I was getting my MFA at American University and she seemed (as I recall) mostly unimpressed, except for one remark that she spoke while handing back a story to another writer: "I enjoyed reading this." Oh, but I was terribly envious! Even now, I think this might be the rarest, most perfect compliment to receive as a writer.

Here’s a juicy tease:
The custom in the [Iowa Writers’] Workshop was to submit a short story to everyone in the class, note their criticisms and comments, and then resubmit the rewritten story later in the semester. I came away from those three sessions with a great respect for the collaborative way the Workshop operated, and with one favorite and perhaps apocryphal story. Paul Engle, the director of the Workshop, told me that Flannery O’Connor shyly submitted her first story and sat behind the class circle, taking down all the criticisms that were offered. When that story, “The Geranium,” was resubmitted, it was exactly in its original form. Not a word had been changed. It appears as the first story in her famous collection,The Complete Stories.

It's been a long time, but I remember loving Life in a Day, sort of a memoir/extended essay that she published in 1997, about aging and Maine and writing and a million other things:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Right Brain Writing Class on 4/27

This is one of my favorite classes to teach, and I’m so pleased that Politics & Prose is now offering classes AT NIGHT! Registration is limited, so don’t put this off if you’re interested. And if you’re doubtful that prompt writing is for you, please read my recent article on the benefits of prompts for any writing practice here. 

Right Brain Writing: class
Wednesday, April 27
6:30 – 9 p.m.

Politics & Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Price: $45 (10% off for members)

Explore your creative side at this afternoon of guided writing exercises designed to get your subconscious flowing. No writing experience necessary! This is a great class for beginners and also for those fiction writers and/or memoirists with more experience who might be stuck in their current project, looking for a jolt of inspiration. The goal is to have fun in a supportive, nurturing environment and to go home with several promising pieces to work on further. Please bring lots of paper and pen/pencil or a fully charged computer. Details and Registration.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Can a Prompt Group Help Your Writing Practice?

My article about the neighborhood prompt writing group is up today at the AWP site. How can prompt writing help your writing practice? Why turn to prompts…aren’t they for students and workshops?

I’ll be honest. Much of what got me thinking about prompts was needing my own hand held. I had poured myself into writing a novel that didn’t sell and was left flailing around, unable to commit to another long project. Anxieties about the publishing biz sapped my creative energy. More than anything, I wanted to remind myself that writing could simply be fun, not exclusively a pathway to publication. Starting a low-stress prompt group felt manageable.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How (Really) to Promote Your Literary Book

We need some humor today (or at least I do), so here’s a link to a funny piece by poet/fiction writer David Ebenbach, about how to promote your book of poetry. Example:

#8. Reviews really help put the book out in front of people, at least if the review is from the New York Times. So, you know, if the New York Times offers to review the book, I say go for it.

And, actually, speaking of promotion, David will be one of the three readers at lovely Upshur Books in Petworth/DC on Thursday, March 24 at 7PM. He’ll be joined by Baltimore writer Kathy Flann and yours truly!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tension & Suspense....

I’m delighted with this write-up of my recent visit with the George Mason University MFA Program. We talked about ELEVEN different manuscripts in 2.5 hours, which meant that I focused on larger writing issues that could be relevant to all, which also meant that I got to share some of my favorite bits of writing advice, including Alfred Hitchcock’s theory on how to create suspense, which is included in this blog managed by Stillhouse Press:

“A Life in Tension” ~

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Keep Yourself Writing

by Joanne M. Lozar Glenn

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are five ounces of prevention to cure "falling off the wagon" of a writing practice. Consider making one of them a habit--because meeting your blank page or screen regularly (whatever "regularly" means to you)  is lots easier than trying to get reacquainted after a long absence.

  • If it's just you and a buddy, pledge to meet at a coffeehouse and write for 30 to 60 minutes every week. You don't even have to share what you write. Just write, and go home. Mission accomplished.

  • Or make a pact with that buddy to write (on your own) for a specified amount of time each week, using any old prompt to start you off--and agree on a regular time and day, say Thursday at 3 pm,  to report your progress. Then call each other just to say you did it, or to read to each other what you wrote. Alternatively, you can do this by email.

  • If it's you and a few others, decide together whether you want to have a writing group (where you write together) or a critique group (where you respond to each others' writing). Let the first meeting be a discussion of what kind of group you'd like it to be; who will be responsible for keeping the group on track; how the group will work; when, where, how long, and how often you'll meet; and what ground rules you want everyone to follow.

  •  Or if the writers you'd like to hang with are geographically scattered or pressed for time, create an accountability group. Agree that you will each set at least one writing goal a week, share it with the group, and report (the following week) on what you accomplished. Then rinse and repeat. The size of the goal is up to you. What's important is the regular checking in, aspiring, accounting, and doing it all over again. You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish with regular attention to this practice and the group's support.  

  • If you're overscheduled and "writing" is impossible for now, first forgive yourself, then try to at least capture the ideas for "someday writing" that flit through your brain. You could jot each idea in a small spiral-bound "idea catcher" or use a manila folder to hold the scraps of paper, one per idea, that you pile up. You could jot ideas on index cards or post-it notes and file them in a zipped pouch for easy retrieval and sorting. You can even use the "Notes" section of your smartphone. What kinds of ideas, you ask?  Ralph Fletcher, author of A Writer's Notebook, suggests jotting down mind pictures, snatches of conversation, memories, doodles, things you wonder about, and even photographs you capture with the phone's camera.

No matter which of the above practices you try, doing it consistently guarantees that you'll not only have "written" more than if you'd done nothing at all--you'll also feel that, despite whatever else fills your day, you're living more of a writing kind of life.

Joanne M. Lozar Glenn is an independent writer, editor, and educator. She leads destination writing retreats that feature writing from prompts as simple as a photograph and as shameless as eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations. Her book Memoir Your Way (co-authored with five other writers) is forthcoming from Skyhorse Press. For more information: 

Link for destination writing retreats:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dan Wakefield's Novels/Memoir Are Now Ebooks!

My friend Dan Wakefield is delighted to announce that his most popular novels (and one memoir) are now available in ebook format, thanks to Open Road Media. While I love all of Dan’s work, I have a special place in my heart for the memoir, New York in the Fifties, which I keep on my “Favorite Books Bookshelf.” It’s a wonderful and wonderfully personal history of those post-war, pre-hippie days in New York City when you might say, “I’m going over to Jimmy’s,” and mean James Baldwin’s apartment—at least if you were fortunate enough to be Dan Wakefield!

Here is the list of Dan’s titles, and a link for more information is below:

Under The Apple Tree: A young  boy ‘keeps watch’ over the girlfriend his big brother leaves behind when he goes off to fight in WWII.

Going All The Way
: “. . . wonderful, sad, funny, a scathing portrait of middle America through the eyes of a new fictional character” – Gay Talese

Starting Over
:  This story of divorce  is “a modern Pilgrim’s Progress . . .with all our contemporary hangups, frustrations and temptations. . .” - Chicago Tribune.

Home Free:
My novel of the ‘Sixties – read it while listening to Janis Joplin as the hippies and hangers-on search for a new meaning of “home”

Selling Out
:    “”. . .killing-funny, killing-sad, fires everywhere.  War is hell, maybe, but so is L.A.” – Tim O’Brien

New York in the Fifties (Memoir)
:  “A precise and moving recreation of a time and a place when the world seemed small and we knew everyone in it.” – Joan Didion

To read more about Dan Wakefield:


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