28 Jan 2016

Some weeks before my artist friend Vicki Paret’s baby arrived, she stretched nine canvases of equal size. She gridded nine rectangles on each canvas. Eighty-one rectangles would form one epic painting. She worked methodically, left to right, top to bottom. On average,...

22 Jan 2016

The danger in reviewing Patricia Park's book is that in listing her many accolades & accomplishments, you’ll miss out on the smart fun of her debut novel, Re Jane.

She’s not only a Fulbright scholar, but a first-time novelist who earned the author trifecta:...

9 Jan 2016

For a couple decades, starting with Nancy Drew right on through to Elmore Leonard, mysteries were my constant companion. I was sometimes an anxious child and the effect of a whodunit was cathartic. Paradoxically, terror rinsed anxiety.

In my early 20s I worked as a volu...

15 Dec 2015

The last time Joshua’s father beats Joshua in the woodshed, they accidentally set the woodshed on fire. Joshua’s father is not just Amish, but a revered church deacon. Both father and son are badly burned. Eleven-year-old Joshua escapes, leaving behind his mom, his mai...

6 Oct 2015

Consider the Comic where what’s not on the page is as important as what is. So says comic artist and writer Scott McCloud in his deceptively simple book, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.

In the space between panels, the comic writer can move us across time, five...

7 Jul 2015

Bad juju comes to most of us, and sometimes it comes all at once and sometimes it is a staccato of bad news, one thing, another thing, another thing, another.

My response to trouble used to be assume professional stance at work. At home, I scarfed M&Ms and indulged in n...

26 May 2015

Perhaps you have heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Perhaps, you are not snarky and you have not thought derisively, Oh yeah, 30 days to write a novel, that’ll be real high quality.

Camp NaNoWriMo, is lesser known, less glam than big sis, NaNoWriMo. Camp...

10 Mar 2015

How Not to Write

I used to keep a book on my shelf to remind myself how not to write. The book, call it Stricken, consisted of a collection of essays on the author’s recent widowhood. She had written it perhaps too soon after her husband’s death.

It had all the hallmarks...

27 Jan 2015

Novels are my second love, the roast beef in my diet. And I relish the meal. But I down short stories like chocolates. For their density. For their Pow! of feeling and their electric insight.

I’d venture to say that much of what you need to know about writing a novel ca...

18 Nov 2014

I have just spent two-and-a-half years revising my novel.* The odds on getting it published feel, well, long. My writer friends (published and in-the-queue) tell horrific tales of editors** who do not buy the manuscript, but offer advice, “What if you told the story th...

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