Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Link Corral: CNF ~ Book PR ~ "The Night Of" ~ Pink Gin!

What’s on your mind these days?

~If it’s working on memoir/CNF, read this piece in Brevity: https://brevity.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/drama-vs-drama/

“Where memoirists often get stuck is finding their own dramatic action. The situation felt incredibly dramatic while we were in it, because we were navigating the hundred small actions it took to get through every day. But in retrospect, what do they all add up to?”

~If it’s book publicity, read this piece on LitHub: http://lithub.com/spread-the-word-on-small-presses-and-the-fight-for-publicity/

“If you’re a writer who’s about to publish a book, whatever is being spent on publicity doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get involved as well. Authors are asked to find people to blurb their books prior to release; they’re asked to reach out to people who will be willing to review the books; they’re asked to maintain their websites and Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. The difference between being published with a “Big 5” publisher versus a small or independent press is not necessarily how much work the writers have to do, but how much that work gets noticed.”

~If you’re already missing “The Night Of,” as I am, first read this smart commentary on The New York Times and then go watch the Bogart movie referenced, “In a Lonely Place,” which we recently saw and which was startlingly dark and wonderful: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/arts/television/the-night-of-finale-recap.html?_r=0

A pox on the NYTimes that won’t let me cut & paste one tiny sentence (!), so I’ll quickly paraphrase that the writer notes that Naz was both changed by his experience and revealed, which I think is a tidy way to characterize his journey and is what made this show so fascinating (and harrowing) to watch. This and “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” and “The Americans” have been by far my favorite TV shows of 2016. Okay, and I'll admit to laughing to "Vice Principals" even though I suspect maybe I shouldn't be....

~Finally, if you've been longing for a pink martini, try this Pink Gin by The Bitter Truth. It's available in good liquor stores, or you can order here: https://www.caskers.com/the-bitter-truth-pink-gin/

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Writing Salon at the National Gallery--FREE Prompt Writing

Thanks to writer Cheryl Aubin for alerting me to this series, the Writing Salon at the National Gallery. Writing to beautiful artworks for FREE! What could be better?

Now online: The 2016-2017 Writing Salon schedule

Mark your calendars now and come find inspiration for original pieces of creative writing in the Gallery's permanent collection. This program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required due to limited space. Registration opens online at noon on the Tuesday before each new topic. A complete list of registration dates is available on the Writing Salon webpage.

Character: The Spoken Word
September 30; October 1, 2, 15, 16

Poetry: Words in Motion
January 6, 7, 8, 14, 15

Memoir: Art from Life
February 24, 25, 26; March 18, 19

Setting: The Power of Place
April 21, 22, 23, 29, 30

More information: www.nga.gov/writingsalon

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fall 2016 Events!

I will be out and about this fall, in DC, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Indiananapolis--sometimes reading with others, sometimes on my own; sometimes reading from THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST, sometimes not. I'd love to see you and/or your friends at any of these events...or better yet, feel free to road trip to all of them!!

Friday, September 9
7:30 PM
Imagistic Reading Series
Hillyer Arts Center / Dupont Circle, DC
9 Hillyer Ct NW
Washington, DC 20008
For Imagistic, we invite writers to respond to work by artists.  Each writer chooses an image and then responds with a piece of flash fiction of up to 1,000 words – a translation from the language of image into the language of words. For the first Imagistic in Washington, D.C., seven writers are responding to images by seven artists:

Leslie Pietrzyk, writing from work by Keith Morrison
Kyle Dargan / Larry Spaid
Paula Whyman / Angela Bartram
David Gewanter / Dove Bradshaw
Janet Passehl / Alyssa Salomon
Carole Burns / Janet Passehl
Rhian Edwards / Paul Edwards

Curated by Carole Burns and Paul Edwards, Imagistic was begun in 2012 as part of the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day. Some of the images chosen provide a clear narrative hook, a sense of place, a moment in time or an action interrupted.  Others are more obscure - through a glass darkly.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
7PM ~ 9PM
IUPUI Campus Library
Lily Auditorium - UL130
755 W. Michigan Street 
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Sunday, September 25
CityLit Stage at the Baltimore Book Festival
4:30pm – 5:30pm
Inner Harbor Promenade by the Maryland Science Center
Baltimore, MD

More New Releases
The second of two sessions celebrating the recent publications of local literati on both Saturday and Sunday. Though a battle between the sexes was not intended, this hour features Susan Coll (The Stager), Courtney Sender (The Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction), and Leslie Pietrzyk (This Angel on My Chest, Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize). Not to be outdone by the male writers in session one, this hour promises to be just as engaging, with linked stories each about a different young woman whose husband dies suddenly and unexpectedly, a novel that is a dark comedy of real estate and rabbits, and stories that range from a fictional second uprising in Baltimore, one year after the first, to a tale of a girl with a hundred-pound heart. Hosted by Marion Winik, Associate Professor, University of Baltimore MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts.

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
University of Missouri–St. Louis
7:00 PM
UMSL 1 University Boulevard
SSB Room 331 -
James S. McDonnell Conference Room
St. Louis, MO 63121

November 20, 2016
5:30 p.m.
Reston Reading Series
Reston's Used Book Shop
 Lake Anne Village Center
1623 Washington Plaza N
Reston, VA

With Nathan Leslie and Eric D. Goodman

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Moving from Office Life to the Writing Life

I'm happy to turn over the blog place to an old-time buddy I knew way-back-when when I worked at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. She has made the transition from the biz life to the writing life, and here are some thoughts on how to make that move:

How I Escaped the Feeling of Solitary Confinement

By K.P. Robbins

When I ditched the office workplace fifteen years ago to write fiction, I never foresaw that a major disadvantage of the writing life would be loneliness. After years of daily interactions with coworkers and clients, suddenly no one was around. I remembered the days when I would have spoken to dozens of people. True, most of the conversations were nothing earth-shaking, just ordinary chats about work projects, movies we liked or didn’t, books we read, or the fluctuating fortunes of the Redskins. Real friends did stay in touch, but with others, once our ties through work disappeared, so did they.

With just my computer for company, I couldn’t keep my butt-in-chair for long before feeling the urge to call a friend or turn on the TV for company. I knew I’d have to figure out a better way to deal with the loneliness. From my solitude emerged the idea for a novel, PMS: The Power & Money Sisters, whose characters would become my imaginary friends. While none were based on an actual person, they were all amalgams of businesswomen I knew in the late 90s in Northern Virginia: a never-married woman with a commitment-phobic beau, a breast cancer survivor, a single mom working in a male-dominated industry, a free-spirited divorcee and a young MBA hotshot. They kept me company as I wrote about them, and I no longer felt so alone.

When I began my next novel, I discovered this feeling of imaginary friendship transferred to characters totally unlike anyone I knew personally. A California Indian girl, a Franciscan priest and a Spanish military governor became my new friends as I explored the complexities and confusions that made each uniquely human.

Despite these literary friends, I think I would have given up on the writing life if I hadn’t found a supportive writing group. It took a few tries before I found the group that works for me. We meet weekly to read our works in progress aloud and get comments and suggestions. We don’t send written drafts ahead of time, like some groups do. Reading aloud allows us to go beyond copy editing. When I read aloud to other writers, I hear my mistakes in a way I don’t see them on paper.

My fellow writers’ strengths in setting the scene with poetic descriptions or devising intricate plots show me where my own writing needs improvement. The weekly deadline not only keeps me on track, but also provides the camaraderie I missed. We share information, commiserate over dashed hopes, and bitchily wonder how certain books ever got published!  As one member said recently, “I feel I’m in a dark cave, and you are reaching in to pull me along.” Even after moving away from the group two years ago, I still participate in the weekly meetings, but now via Facetime on my iPad. The group keeps me going whenever the odds of publication seem overwhelming.

I keep a quotation from Isaac Asimov pasted just below my monitor. “You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success—but only if you persist.” Persistence is easier, I’ve found, when you’re not in it alone.

K.P. Robbins (www.kprobbinsbooks.com) is the author of The Stonehenge Scrolls, historical fiction, and PMS: The Power & Money Sisters, women’s fiction. Her short stories have appeared on WashingtonPost.com and in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers and Imagine This! An Art Prize Anthology 2015, among others. She lives in Montclair, VA.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Prompt Writing Class at Politics & Prose

I’m excited to be teaching an all new class in my series of prompt writing based on poems at Politics & Prose bookstore. In this class, we'll focus on writing about PLACE.

September 7
6:30 ~ 9 PM

Here’s the description:

Right Brain Writing: Place
Explore your creative side in this session, one of a series of stand-alone classes with prompts designed to get your subconscious flowing. Through guided exercises, we’ll focus on writing about places we know, places we remember, and places we imagine. 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 projects and are looking for a jolt of inspiration. Our goal is to have fun in a supportive, nurturing environment and to go home with several promising pieces to work on further. 

Book (which is being used for the entire “Right Brain Writing” series):
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, ed. by J.D. McClatchy 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Always of Interest: How Do I Submit Work? Do I Need an MFA?

Here are a couple of excellent links to articles about some always-pressing issues that people often ask me about:

Number One:

How do I start submitting my work to literary journals? There are SO MANY and I feel overwhelmed. Well, grasshopper, start here:

Number Two:

Do I need an MFA? What are the drawbacks and benefits of an MFA? What if I don’t want an MFA; will I survive and thrive? Many sides of these questions are explored here:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Finalist for Award for VA Authors!

I’m both honored and thrilled that THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST is one of three finalists for the Library of Virginia fiction prize! The winner will be announced on October 15, so it’s fingers crossed for me until then.


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