Monday, May 31, 2010

We Have Two Winners!

Congratulations to commenters #24 (John Vanderslice) and #2 (Cara Holman), who, with some help from, have triumphed and emerged as winners of our short story collection giveaway project offerings. John and Cara, please e-mail me and let me know which book you prefer (first e-mailer gets first choice). Please include your mailing address--I will order the books and have them shipped to you asap.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities

The Writer's Center of Bethesda, Md., has announced its Undiscovered Voices Fellowship: "The Writer’s Center seeks promising writers earning less than $25,000 annually to apply for our Undiscovered Voices Fellowship. This fellowship program will provide complimentary writing workshops to the selected applicant for a period of one year, but not to exceed 8 workshops in that year. We expect the selected fellow will use the year to make progress toward a completed manuscript of publishable work....In addition, the fellow will give a reading from his or her work at the close of the fellowship period (June 2011) and will be invited to speak with local high school students on the craft of writing." There is no application fee. Deadline: July 1, 2010.
Writers in Washington State, take note: "The Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) Program provides support for artist-generated projects, which can include (but are not limited to) the development, completion or presentation of new work. GAPs are open to artists of all disciplines and offer a maximum of $1,500 for projects." No application fee. Deadline: June 25, 2010.
"Oklahoma City University seeks applications for part-time faculty to teach in a new low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program, scheduled to begin in Summer 2011. We seek faculty committed to creative and professional writing, writing pedagogy, and teaching online as well as in workshop formats during twice-a-year residencies. Genres of interest include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and screenwriting, although writers who cross genres, or write in a secondary, specialized genre, are also welcome to apply."
The University of Michigan is looking for a Senior Writer, Harvard University (Mass.) seeks a Senior Writer/Project Manager, and Temple University (Penn.) is looking for a Director of Communications and Marketing.
Finally, all of our newsletter subscribers had time this weekend to peruse and get a head start on taking advantage of the (no-fee) opportunities presented within. Examples: the Bard Fiction Prize, the Poole Literary Festival New Media Prize, and the Quiddity Book Trailer Contest for Writers and Small Presses. Plus: calls for submissions/notice of submission deadlines from paying publications including The Pedestal Magazine, Orion, and West Coast Line. Sorry you missed out? Subscribe! It's free, and we do not sell/rent/share subscriber e-mail addresses.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Review of Carol Sklenicka's "Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life"


Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life by Carol Sklenicka. Scribner, 592 pages. Hardcover or digital, $35.00 (paperback to be released in November).

By Erika Dreifus

For me (and, I suspect, for many of you), delving into a biography of a famous author must resemble what non-writers experience when they sit down with a celebrity profile. What an incredible opportunity to know the person behind the reputation. What a way to gain an intimate and comprehensive view into a life we may have perceived mainly through the individual’s professional output and public persona (perhaps mixed with some apocryphal stories and gossipy hearsay). And for writers—especially short story writers who came of artistic age in the last quarter of the 20th century, few contemporary authors have proved more influential than Raymond Carver.

Carol Sklenicka’s recent biography, Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life, possesses an exceedingly apt subtitle. The book provides an absorbing and meticulously documented account of how Carver, born in 1938 in Clatskanie, Ore., to a millworker and his wife, developed into a world-famous author.

As Sklenicka notes in the Introduction, by the time of Carver’s early death (from lung cancer, in 1988), “Where I’m Calling From, a selection of his short stories that the New York Times named a favorite book of the late twentieth century, had just been published; he had just completed his third collection of poetry in five years. His work appeared in twenty-two languages and the Times of London called him ‘the American Chekhov.’ He was a full-time writer, acclaimed by the press and supported by royalties from his books and a generous five-year grant from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.”

But this road to literary success was far from smooth. Sklenicka not only demonstrates the struggles, sacrifices and sufferings that Carver’s achievements demanded —particularly from his first wife, Maryann Burk Carver—but she also reveals the extent of Carver’s own single-minded dedication to his writing and the incremental steps, decisions, encounters and experiences that combined to shape the history of his career.

The biography thus recounts well-known staples of Carver’s life story, such as his undergraduate creative writing studies with a then-unknown John Gardner at Chico State College (now California State University, Chico); the dynamics of his relationship with editor Gordon Lish; the alcohol-soaked times he shared with John Cheever when both were visiting professors at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; the reputation he earned (and disliked) for literary “minimalism”; and the second marriage, to poet Tess Gallagher. But readers are guaranteed to glean new insights and discoveries in this book, too.

For example, there’s the correspondence course that introduced to the 15-year-old Carver the “Essential Elements of a Short Story and How To Develop Them.” The first short story publications, in the spring of 1961: “Furious Seasons,” which appeared in Selection, a Chico State literary magazine for which Carver served as an editor, and “The Father,” which was published in the Humboldt State College (now University) student magazine, Toyon. The first book publication: Near Klamath, a poetry collection published by the English Club of Sacramento State College in 1967. The promises and efforts to produce a novel that was never completed. The reactions of his two children when they saw their lives rendered on the page. The genuine friendships with a staggering array of writers familiar to us all. The messiness and disputes surrounding his estate and the rights to his work after his death.

If you are put off initially by the sheer size of this book—the quintessential “doorstop” tome—I have two words of advice: Don’t be. I guarantee that you will find Sklenicka a talented writer in her own right, and, again, there is something simply captivating about reading such a detailed account of an admired author’s life and literary career.

Beyond that, you will discover that nearly 90 of the book’s pages are devoted to extra-narrative material: acknowledgments and sources, an inventory of Carver’s works, endnotes and an index. You will leave this book with an infinitely expanded understanding of Carver as a gifted author - and, just like the rest of us, an imperfect human being.

(A version of this interview appeared in The Writer magazine.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Find: Free Books (Short Story Month Collection Giveaway Project)

I know, you're all getting tired of my yammering on about the Collection Giveaway Project. Especially if you're kind enough to be following me on Twitter.

But we are entering the Project's LAST WEEKEND. This is your LAST CHANCE to win one of the two collections I'm offering (Susan Perabo's Who I Was Supposed to Be or Margot Singer's The Pale of Settlement) and/or any of the books that have been promised by other participating bloggers (you'll find them all listed and linked at the end of this post).

Good luck to everyone who has entered to win a book so far...and for all of the procrastinators out there, you don't have much longer to join in!

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you back here on Monday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday's Pre-Publication Post: Permissions Update

So, back in April I told you about my quest to procure permission to use certain words penned in a book that was released by a Big Publishing House, because I want to use these words as an epigraph to my forthcoming story collection, Quiet Americans. Then, last week, I mentioned how incredibly helpful it was for me to simply pick up the phone after weeks of apparent non-response to check in on the process. (Apparently, not all of my e-mails had made it through.)

All of which led to my receipt of a hard-copy agreement a few days ago. The good news: The fee the Big Publishing House is requiring is manageable, if exponentially more than anything I've ever earned per word. There are seven words in this particular excerpt--two sentences and seven words.

But (you knew this was coming, right?) here's the not-so-good news: I neglected to realize that my request would cover only the print format of the book. So on Monday, I had to bother my very kind and patient contact at the Big Publishing House to ask for an amendment to cover an electronic version, too. I believe that a revised agreement is on the way. In fact, I was hoping it might have arrived yesterday, in time for me to write this post.

Alas, I'm still waiting. Which means I'm waiting to see how much more they're going to charge me. Double? Less than double? How much less? What's your guess?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Wednesday Web Browser

Happy 50th Birthday to To Kill A Mockingbird.
Philip Graham writes about French memoirist Jacques Lusseyran and the power of the spoken voice.
Linda Formichelli offers 7 tips for freelancing at Starbucks (and similar locations).
Creating Van Gogh reaches its 100th post (and gives us a nice shout-out--thanks!). Especially if you're interested in historical fiction, Creating Van Gogh is a blog to follow.
You still have a few days to win free short story collections! Check out the list of the Collection Giveaway Project's participating bloggers at the end of this post.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quotation of the Week: Diane Lockward

Asked to offer suggestions/advice for beginning poets, Diane Lockward recently responded:
"Have patience and persistence. Respect your tears; they are often where the poems reside. Learn the craft. Be willing to serve an apprenticeship. Read the masters to learn where you came from. Read contemporary poetry to learn what’s being done today. Buy books by other poets; that’s one way we support each other. Mark up the books and learn from them. When you ask for a critique, be sure you are not just looking for compliments; otherwise, you won’t grow as a poet."
Source: Diane Lockward, interviewed by Nicelle Davis for The Bees' Knees Blog.

A side note: It's still somewhat difficult for me to address Diane by her first name, since for many years she taught English at my high school (my sister was one of her students!). But it has been lovely to refind her in the world of poets and poetry. You'll find her blog, Blogalicious, linked to the right.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities

This Monday's post will be relatively brief, since I'm busy polishing the June Practicing Writer newsletter, which will go out on Friday, before Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. If you're not yet a subscriber, join us! It's free, and we do not share/sell/distribute your e-mail address.
Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf opportunity for Wisconsin poets: "Woodrow Hall Editions is accepting proposals from Wisconsin poets for a project that presents poetry to the public in an unexpected or unconventional manner. An award of $500.00 will be given to help him or her implement the project. In addition, an award of $250.00 will be given to a runner-up for the same purpose. A panel of judges will make the selections. See past Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf projects for examples of the kinds of ideas the panel will be looking for. The winners must initiate their projects in summer or fall 2010. No entry fee. Multiple entries from same poet welcome." Deadline: June 1, 2010.
Next submission deadline for Nashville Review is June 1. Check the site for guidelines and pay rates.
From Creative Nonfiction: "For an upcoming issue, we are currently seeking experimental nonfiction for our 'Pushing the Boundaries' section ('experimental,' 'boundaries,' yes, these can be loaded terms). We want writing that blows our minds with its ingenuity, essays that not only push the boundaries of the form, but tear down the borders. Be ambitious and send us work like we've never seen before." Send by June 4. "We typically pay $10 per printed page."
The Guide to Literary Agents blog introduces us to Sarah LaPolla, a new who works at Curtis Brown and is seeking "literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, literary horror, and young adult fiction. She loves complex characters, coming-of-age stories, and strong narrators."
Stanford University's Graduate School of Business is looking for Bay Area residents to work as writing coaches.
Stanford University (Calif.) is looking for a Copy Editor (appears to be a half-time position), Northern Kentucky University seeks a Director of Alumni Publications & Special Projects, and the New Hampshire Writers' Project is looking for an Executive Director.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Find: Free Books!

Just a reminder that in the spirit of Short Story Month, Fiction Writers Review is coordinating a multi-blogger "Collection Giveaway Project." If you're a blogger and want to participate (by running a short story collection giveaway yourself), there's still plenty of time to do so, and you can read the details here.

There's also still plenty of time to win one of the books others (including me) are offering as their giveaway prizes, including (so far) collections by Robin Black, Skip Horack, Joshua Furst, Susan Perabo, and Margot Singer.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and see you back here on Monday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday's Pre-Publication Post: The Week in Review

First, THANK YOU all for the amazing response to last week's post, in which I solicited your feedback on author photo possibilities. You're a terrific group!

I've now gone ahead and asked the photographer to retouch two photos (as I said, one retouched photo is part of the package I signed up for; I'm going to kick in the extra bucks for a second one). In the meantime, I want to share with you a useful post on author photos that I found. I've sent it along to the photographer, too, to explain my request for images with different resolutions.

Other pre-publication activities this past week have included going through a copy-edited version of my manuscript (and if you're wondering about the use of the hyphen with "copy-edited," you have a sense of some dilemmas I've been facing). I've also been following up with the Big Publishing House from which I have been awaiting a permissions response. Important (relearned) lesson here: Sometimes, you really have to pick up the phone. And progress toward a cover design, about which I've heretofore said little, continues.

So, that's what's been happening with Quiet Americans this week. Thank you all so much, again, for your interest!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Wednesday Web Browser

HTMLGIANT brings us an interview with poet/translator/publisher Lawrence Schimel, whose Fairy Tales for Writers we mentioned here way back in 2007.
Next, the Huffington Post presents the provocatively-titled "Iowa Writers' Workshop Graduate Spills It All: Interview with John McNally, Author of 'After the Workshop.'" (via the Poetry Foundation)
Then, The Days of Yore website, which "interviews artists about the years before they had money, fame, or road maps to success, and inspires you to find your own," turns its attention to author Gary Shteyngart. (via the Jewish Book Council).
In other-than-interview news, big congrats to Jane Roper, who has just signed a book deal with St. Martin's Press for a memoir loosely based on her blog about mothering young twins. This will be Jane's second book--her first, a novel titled Eden Lake, will be published by Last Light Studio next spring (shortly after the release of Quiet Americans, by yours truly!). I'm so happy for Jane, and I know that both of her books will be well worth your attention.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities

"ABC-CLIO seeks contributors for an Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants. The encyclopedia will include entries on 350 cultivated plants: crops, ornamentals and medicinals. Contributors shall receive full authorial credit for their entries, a small honorarium and, in the case of 5,000 words of entries, a free set of the encyclopedia."
"The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is seeking two college students for summer internships. From May 25 through September 17, interns will assist with publicity, writing contests, and event planning. They will work 5 hours per week with $500 stipend and must be available for long hours during the conference weekend, September 10–12. For more information or to request an interview, please send a resume and cover letter (both are required) to womenwriters(at)uky(dot)edu." (via the Kentucky Foundation for Women "Hot Flash" newsletter)
Nicholls State University (La.) is looking for an Assistant Professor of English, "Creative Writing (Fiction/Poetry) Specialty." Find the listing here.
"Hofstra University's Publishing Studies program seeks an adjunct instructor to teach two courses in book editing for the 2010-2011 academic year. Candidate must have extensive experience in book editing. In addition, experience in copyediting, proofreading, and book acquisition, as well as teaching English or book publishing at the college level, is a plus."
The Muffin, the blog of WOW! Women on Writing, is looking for a Fiction Blogger: "Are you a fiction writer who enjoys sharing your knowledge, tips, and advice with fellow writers? We're looking for a blogger who is dedicated to fiction--someone who has a novel under her belt and/or published short stories--who can craft short posts on how-to topics related to fiction writing." They're also looking for a "Tech" Topics Blogger: "Do you like to write about SEO, social networking for writers/authors, blogging, book promotion online, etc? We're looking for a blogger who can write about various "tech" (okay, not so tech, but sort-of) topics in a woman-friendly voice. A blogger who can guide newbies through the labyrinth of the web. Posts can be about anything from how to burn a feed to how to find groups on Twitter. Posts should be short, simple how-tos written for beginners." To apply: "All posts will be roughly 250 - 500 words. Familiarity with Wordpress and blogging is preferred. This is an ongoing blogging position where you'd be required to blog regularly and come up with your own post ideas with little or no supervision. Starting pay: $5 per post, paid monthly through PayPal. If you'd like to join our team, please send an email to editors(at)wow-womenonwriting(dot)com with 'Fiction Blogger' or 'Tech Topics Blogger' in the subject line. Include links to sample blog posts related to the topic you're applying for. Include links to your blog(s) and/or links to blogs you currently blog for. Let us know how many days a month or week you'd like to blog. We look forward to hearing from you!"
From, a few paying gigs for bloggers--this time, especially for those of you who teach off the tenure-track. I received this info via e-mail last week from "We are looking to add to our roster of blogs. Right now, we have ten blogs. We are looking to add another half a dozen blogs to the site. At the moment, gets 79,000-120,000 unique visitors each month. Do you have the desire to share your experiences with teaching colleagues from across North America and around the world? Here are the bloggers we're looking for:

1. One blogger to write about teaching online. You are an experienced distance education faculty member, and can write once weekly about the ins and outs of life as a virtual adjunct.

2. One blogger to write about the higher education unions. You are an experienced unionist faculty member, and can write once weekly about the ins and outs of the movement to unionize the nation's 700,000 faculty off the tenure-track.

3. One blogger to offer up teaching tips to new faculty. You are a very experienced faculty member, perhaps you've designed faculty orientations and/or orientation materials. This blogger will offer teaching advice to new adjunct faculty members on a weekly basis.

4. One blogger to write about life as a freeway flyer. You are an experienced faculty member, and can write once weekly about the ins and outs of life as an adjunct who is piecing together full-time work from part-time teaching jobs.

5. One blogger to write about life as an adjunct by choice. You are an experienced faculty member, and can write once weekly about the ins and outs of life as an adjunct who is NOT piecing together full-time work from part-time teaching jobs. You teach part-time because you want to, and enjoy it.

6. Pitch your own blog topic. I realize that there are as many different kinds of adjuncts as stars in the sky. Is your teaching situation unique? Pitch a blog.

If you are interested, please email me at editor(at)adjunctadvocate(dot)com. Indicate which blog you would be interested in writing and send along a 350 [-word?] sample blog entry. Please include contact information (phone number), and if your sample blog entry stops me in my tracks, I'll be in touch. Pay is $30 per weekly entry to start. I look forward to hearing all who are interested in blogging for Sincerely, P.D. Lesko, Executive Editor."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Find: Author Radio Interview Tips

I've only been interviewed on the radio once--so far--so I was interested to see these author radio interview tips on The Book Publicity Blog.

Have a great weekend, all. (And if you haven't yet signed up to win one of the short story collections I'm offering to buy and send you, please do so! If you want to host a giveaway of your own as part of a Short Story Month celebration, even better!) See you back here on Monday.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday's Pre-Publication Post: Please Advise Me On My Author Photo!

So, when we last left our heroine (moi), Author Photo Shoot Day was approaching. It came and it went...well! I have so much admiration for photographer Lisa Hancock, who did some really nice work (I think so, at least!).

You've seen some of that work with my new profile picture right here on the blog (if you haven't noticed it yet, take a look on the right sidebar). But here's the deal: The photo shoot package includes one complimentary "retouching," which means I can ask Lisa to retouch one of the 200+ shots at no extra cost. Presumably, that's the shot I'll use for the book jacket (and maybe elsewhere, though it's kind of fun to have a choice of photos to post as a blog profile, Twitter thumbnail, etc.).

I've received some good advice from people close to me, but now I'd like to hear what YOU have to say. Here are a few more photos for you to peruse. Which do you suggest I ask Lisa to retouch and use for Quiet Americans? (Or do you think I should go with the one I'm currently using for my blog profile?) Thanks for chiming in--I look forward to your comments!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Wednesday Web Browser

On the Barrelhouse blog, Dan Brady argues that the Poetry Foundation's move away from blogging (see last week's Web Browser) is a bad move.
When agent Julie Barer talks, I listen. So should you.
Don't forget about the short story collection giveaway project!
When I catch my breath, I'm looking forward to reading Nathan Englander's short story in the current New Yorker. Englander's Q&A with Cressida Leyshon piqued my interest, too.
Note the new category label for "blogging." So overdue. Someday, maybe (after I've caught my breath and read the aforementioned story), I'll go back through archived posts and relabel them. (Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen, though!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quotation of the Week: Cate Marvin

"[S]ome of your best poems may never appear in a journal, and you have to trust your own knowledge that the poem is good despite the fact no one has 'picked it up' (a phrase I hate)."
Source: Cate Marvin, interviewed by Brian Brodeur for How a Poem Happens (via The Writer's Center)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Short Story Month 2010: The Collection Giveaway Project

UPDATE, 5/31: Congratulations to commenters #24 (John Vanderslice) and #2 (Cara Holman), who, with some help from, have triumphed and emerged as winners of our short story collection giveaway project offerings. John and Cara, please e-mail me and let me know which book you prefer (first e-mailer gets first choice). Please include your mailing address--I will order the books and have them shipped to you asap. And thanks to everyone for participating!

Remember last month, when I stumbled on the National Poetry Month Poetry Book Giveaway? Well, all of the wonderful energy and ideas behind that project made me think that a similar enterprise should be undertaken for May, which has lately become something of an unofficial Short Story Month (as Poets & Writers recently noted, crediting organizations such as the Emerging Writers Network for the development).

Because I have such huge respect for the work of Anne Stameshkin and the entire team over at Fiction Writers Review (FWR), I contacted Anne to see if FWR might want to take on the considerable work involved with hosting a multi-blog "Short Story Collection Giveaway" this month. Fortunately, Anne agreed, and FWR is the hub for the project, and that's where you'll be able to check the full list of participating bloggers (improve your chances for winning by entering multiple giveaways, and get to know some bloggers who love short story collections in the process!).

Now, following the rules that FWR has come up with, I am happy to recommend to you two story collections. On May 31, I'll announce the names of two winners selected at random from the comments section for this post. And then I'll purchase two books and mail one to each lucky winner.

To participate in Practicing Writing's portion of Short Story Month 2010: The Giveaway Project, I'm asking you to add a comment here, telling us about (or at least the name of) a collection you love or one you're looking forward to reading. Comments that don't mention a specific collection will not be eligible for the giveaway. Comments should be submitted no later than noon (U.S. Eastern) on Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day here in the U.S.), and I'll have the winners' names posted before midnight.

And now (drum roll, please)...I am delighted to announce the two story collections that this practicing writer will be purchasing and sending to two lucky winners:

First, we have Who I Was Supposed to Be (published in 1999 by Simon & Schuster), written by Susan Perabo. One of the bright lights that sustained me through my MFA program was my friendship with Susan Perabo, a gifted teacher (her "large group" workshops and craft seminars were among my very favorites) and equally gifted writer. I read Susan's debut collection, Who I Was Supposed to Be, very soon after meeting the author at my first residency in May 2001. And then I reread it, bought it for friends' birthdays, etc. I even mentioned it right here on the blog three years ago. And now I'll buy a copy for one of you.

Meantime, in preparing this post, I discovered a terrific interview with Susan that I hope you'll all take a few moments to listen to. If you're very time-pressed, skip ahead and read through some of the praise that the book received from The Los Angeles Times and The Baltimore Sun. Who I Was Supposed to Be was named a "Book of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Moving on to the second book I'll be delighted to purchase and send to a lucky winner, allow me to present The Pale of Settlement (published in 2007 by the University of Georgia Press), written by Margot Singer. This is another book I have mentioned here before. (I've also written about it for Kenyon Review Online.) Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction, and the Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, The Pale of Settlement is also another book that I've been unable to stop recommending to others.

But don't just take my word for it. Read excerpts from one of the stories on the National Endowment for the Arts website. Check out interviews with Margot Singer in The Southeast Review Online, Reform Judaism magazine, and the old Nextbook (now Tablet) site. And listen to Alan Cheuse discuss the collection for NPR.

Want to win one of these books? Remember, to be eligible, you need to submit a comment to this post, telling us about (or at least the name of) a short story collection you love or one you're looking forward to reading. Comments that don’t mention a specific collection will not be eligible for the giveaway. If your comment doesn't link to your personal site, please leave your e-mail address for me to use if I need to contact you about your prize. I look forward to reading all of your recommendations, and I thank you for participating in any way you are able: commenting, joining the giveaway project as a participating blogger, or even simply spreading the word.

Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities

For you practicing writers who are based in New York State outside the five boroughs of New York City: New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Strategic Opportunity Stipends "are designed to help individual artists of all disciplines take advantage of unique opportunities that will significantly benefit their work or career development. Literary, media, visual, music and performing artists may request support ranging from $100 to $600 for specific, forthcoming opportunities that are distinct from work in progress." Deadline: May 25, 2010. No application fee.
Maine writers, hurry up if you want to apply for a Maine Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship ($13,000). Deadline is May 14. No application fee indicated.
From Robert Lee Brewer, in the Writer's Market newsletter: "I will be editing the 2011 Songwriter's Market, which means I have another hat to put on my head. It also means I need to assign some articles for the book. This is where you come in. Please forward this newsletter to anyone who may be interested in pitching an article for the 2011 Songwriter's Market. Also, please tweet or post on online forums, Facebook, etc. You have my permission. Here's what I need: Articles on the business of songwriting and/or interviews with those in the business. If you're unsure, please use a previous edition of Songwriter's Market as a guide. Please send pitches (without attachments) to me at robert(dot)brewer(at)fwmedia(dot)com with the subject line: 2011 Songwriter's Market Pitch. Deadline for pitches: May 31. Good luck!"
From the discussion boards: "Hazard Cat can now pay more to our contributors. We are looking for cat fiction, poetry, art, essays, and personal cat stories. We pay 1/2 cent per word for fiction, essays, and personal stories, and $5 for art and poetry. Here is a link to our submission guidelines: We look forward to hearing from you."
StoryCorps (N.Y.) seeks a Manager for Marketing & Communications, the College of Notre Dame of Maryland is looking for a Writer/Editor, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Mass.) seeks a Writer.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Find: Dispatch from Iowa City, A Guest Post by Ronald H. Lands, M.D., M.F.A.

Ron Lands has to be one of the most impressive (and modest) people I met in my M.F.A. program. So when I learned that Ron - who earned an M.D. well before he tackled the M.F.A. - was attending a two-day event on "The Examined Life: Writing and the Art of Medicine" at the University of Iowa's Carver College at April's end, I was eager to request a guest post. Ever generous, Ron agreed. Here's his dispatch from the conference (you can learn more about this event, and check out the online archive, here).

“The Examined Life: Writing and the Art of Medicine"
University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine
April 28-April 30, 2010

by Ron Lands

Medicine and literature often share the same topics; life and death, suffering and loss and everything in between. As they have every year since 2006, medical students, physicians, nurses, patients, and caregivers convened in a city known for its great writers, to collaborate regarding the power of writing in making sense of these grand themes and to demonstrate that the practice of medicine is an interpretive work.

A cardiologist put a human face on illness by blending his profession with his hobbies, interpreting the patient’s heart pathology by ultrasound then photographing the person in their home and writing poetry about the experience. An English professor wrote a play based on her personal experience with cancer and an actor interpreted and performed this dramatic work. Academicians shared tools and techniques to empower other educators to exploit the power of writing to cause reflection and nurture empathy in their students. Researchers presented data hoping to identify a physiologic link between writing and stress reduction in caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. A literary scholar turned physician offered a powerful examination of metaphor in the language of pain. A leukemia patient and her hematologist shared their five-year journey from diagnosis to a durable and sustained remission, using essay, memoir and colored pencil sketches drawn during the trauma of her bone marrow transplant.

Flannery O’Connor, one of many great writers associated with Iowa City through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, said, “I write to find out what I know.” “The Examined Life: Writing and the Art of Medicine,” further demonstrates the clarifying effect that reading, writing and reflection can bring to the chaos of illness for those who suffer and those who witness the suffering.

Ronald H. Lands teaches in the Department of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus, where he practices and teaches Internal Medicine, Hematology and Palliative Care. His fiction has appeared in New Millennium Writings, descant, Washington Square, and many others. He has published essays from the intersection of writing and medicine in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Geriatric Society, and the Journal of Palliative Medicine. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Thursday's Pre-Publication Post, or What I Have in Common with the Real Housewives of New Jersey

Time for a shift in these pre-publication posts. Up to this point, we've been spending a lot of time on things like subject matter, permissions, and author websites. Serious stuff.

Readers, it's time to talk about eyebrows. Mine, specifically.

Earlier this week, I went for my very first "brow sculpting." What does this have to do with my book? Well, the publication of my short story collection, Quiet Americans, is an occasion for a proper author photo.

And that photo will be taken on Saturday.

Even my mom - who is so d.i.y. she not only colors her own hair but cuts it, too (I love you, Mom!) - thought that a visit to the "brow sculptor" my sister has visited from time to time was in order. So after work on Tuesday I hopped on the subway and trekked downtown for the "procedure." It wasn't quite as painful as I'd feared, and I was very interested to learn that the sculptor is also a practicing writer (and sculptor to the Real Housewives of New Jersey!).

The bigger issue, of course, is that I've never been particularly comfortable having my photo taken, and I have to say that this entire part of the pre-publication process is something I'll be relieved to have finished. Any of you have tips to share on how you survived your first author photo shoot?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Persistence and Purpose: An Interview with Charles Conley


By Erika Dreifus

One July day back in 2004, I arrived at the Prague Airport to begin two weeks participating in Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program (PSP). Among the first people I met as the PSP contingent gathered to board a bus to the city was Charles ("Charlie") Conley. It turned out that Charlie and I had been assigned to the same fiction workshop. Back then, Charlie was an MFA student in the program at the University of Minnesota. I've followed his progress post-Prague, and since there has been so much to follow - including multiple fellowship and residency awards - I asked Charlie if he'd be willing to be interviewed for the newsletter.

Charles Conley, born and raised on Long Island, is currently a fellow with Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York and was a 2008-2009 fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, The Harvard Review, and Canadian Notes and Queries. He is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant in 2010 and a SASE/Jerome Grant for Emerging Writers in 2007. In May, he will be attending the Sozopol Fiction Seminars in Bulgaria.

Please welcome Charlie Conley.

ERIKA DREIFUS (ED): Charlie, please tell us what a typical day is like for you as a Teachers & Writers Collaborative Fellow.

CHARLIE CONLEY (CC): I do most of my best work when I have a well-established routine, and I've been lucky recently to have fellowships that allow me to do that. The day I'm going to describe to you is representative of probably 80 to 90 percent of my days at Teachers & Writers. I get into the office between 7:30 and 8:30 (how close that is to 7:30 is almost a direct correlation to how my writing is going-the better, the earlier) and drink tea or coffee while I go through my emails and read the Times online. Once my brain is awake, I start writing-for almost all of this fellowship period I've been revising short stories, though I participated with a couple of friends in National Novel-Writing Month in November (I was getting to the office really early that month). I write until about 11:00 and switch over to my fellowship responsibilities.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative is a teaching-artist organization that's been around since 1967. We also publish Teachers & Writers magazine and books about teaching creative writing and literature. My work here has involved researching and writing grant proposals to fund next year's fellowship; working on the "resources" section of our website, primarily the lesson plans; writing for the magazine; observing teaching artists in the classroom; and co-curating (with Carla Ching, this year's other fellow) the 2020 Visions Reading Series. Additionally, I just started co-teaching with David Stoler, an experienced teaching artist, which is just a great experience (as well as being great experience for future work in the schools I might do), and I've had the opportunity to sit in on the planning meetings T&W has been conducting this year in response to the changing Department of Education and funding environments.

ED: For contrast (I suspect!), please tell us about a typical workday at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., where you were a fellow in 2008-09.

CC: Actually, the contrast is not as stark as you'd expect. At Provincetown, I was waking up probably between 8:30 and 9:30, drinking coffee while I read emails and the Times. I'd start and finish my writing later, and the writing day was probably longer in Provincetown (though I suspect I'm just as productive now, despite-or maybe even because of-my fellowship responsibilities). By lunch on most days I'm done with my writing, and if I haven't started by about noon I'm not going to write that day. I've tried, but something essential about the way my mind works just seems to change in the afternoon and anything but the most basic editing makes me feel like I'm working in an unfamiliar language (and not in a good way).

I've never been the kind of writer who can work for eight hours in a row. I try to make up for that with diligence, which is pretty unromantic, and I don't think what anyone pictures when they imagine "the writing life." It certainly wasn't what I imagined.

ED: What changes have you noticed in your writing (and/or writing habits) since you began your journey through residencies and fellowships?

CC: That journey began shortly after I got my MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2006. If I remember correctly, I taught that first semester after graduate school. In what would have been the spring semester, I had two residencies-two months at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska (which I believe you've also been to) and a month at Can Serrat, near Barcelona, Spain-and I've been alternating semesters of teaching, periods of travel and residencies, and fellowships ever since (which I see as three distinct phases).

Even when I'm teaching, it's not a full course-load, so whatever phase I'm in, I tend to have long days with a lot of space in them. In this situation, writing is what grounds me. Getting that day's writing done earns me the rest of the day for myself (teaching a class only earns me money). In grad school-and before grad school, when I had a career-writing was something I squeezed into the free time I found. Now, the day is built around it.

ED: What advice do you have for writers who may just be starting to approach fellowships and residencies?

CC: To find out about these things, Poets & Writers is a great resource, as is The Practicing Writer e-newsletter, where I found out about a couple of things I eventually got. Being friends with other writers and sharing information with them is also helpful (a recent grant and my current fellowship were both word-of-mouth discoveries). Deadlines come year-round, so it's important to keep track of everything in one place-I have a single spreadsheet where I keep track of everything, especially when I've applied in the past and what stories I've sent (so I don't resend work they didn't respond to the first time).

I rarely get something the first time I try, so in my case diligence has paid off. The Fine Arts Work Center fellowship came on the third try. The first year I was a finalist, but the second year I wasn't even a finalist, which was disheartening. Actually, I half-jokingly consider all the applications and story submissions I do as opportunities to practice being rejected. It's one of the essential facts of the writing life-at least mine-and I'm getting better at accepting it.

When I get to a new residency, the first thing I do is figure out what my writing routine will look like in this new place. Where will I actually write? What desk or table is the most comfortable, has the best lighting, has the fewest distractions? How will I get breakfast? Is it provided? If so, at what times? Is Internet available? If not, how will I replace that waking-up part of the routine? (Usually by reading a book about writing before I start writing.) The answering of these basic questions tells me how my routine will go.

Then I try to be friendly. Residencies are a great opportunity to meet artists working in different disciplines from all over the country and the world. There's a real chance to meet people I'd never get to meet otherwise, and I try not to waste it.

ED: Besides your upcoming reading in New York City (on Monday, May 10), is there any other news you'd like to share?

CC: Thanks for mentioning the reading, which is something I'm really looking forward to. [Co-reader] Steven Polansky was a professor of mine at the University of Minnesota, and he taught a class called "English Prose Style" that profoundly affected the way I think about my writing. The reading is a celebration of his newest book, a novel called The Bradbury Report. I just found out I will be one of ten fiction writers attending the Sozopol Fiction Seminar in Bulgaria at the end of May. I've been applying since the first time the seminar was offered, three years ago, and was a semi-finalist both times. So once again, persistence proves my greatest virtue.

At the end of June, I have a two-week residency up in Pocantico [site of the Rockefeller family estate] as a part of my T&W Fellowship. The Rockefeller Brothers funded this year's fellowship, and this is an additional benefit they've generously offered. Then in early August I'll be heading to South America to (re-)learn Spanish, travel, write, and research, particularly a story set in La Paz, Bolivia. The Elizabeth George Foundation was kind enough to provide the funds for me to stay through the end of the year.

In all this, it's sometimes easy to mix up the ends with the means. I pursue these opportunities because they fuel my writing (with time and ideas and interactions with new people), not the other way around. I just finished a story I'm very excited about and feel pretty near the finish line on another. Making each story as good as I can and then doing my best to find readers for it is why I do all the rest.

ED: Wise words to end with, Charlie. Thank you so much, and safe travels to you!

A version of this interview was published in The Practicing Writer.

The Wednesday Web Browser

Another set of useful notes on grammar, usage, and style, courtesy of
"The blog as a form has begun to be overtaken by social media like Twitter and Facebook," says the Poetry Foundation, explaining the reasoning behind some online restructuring. Matters I'm thinking about, too, as I seek to consolidate and streamline my online presence in these months before my book release.
Eloquent reflections on "Stalking Bret Lott" by Susan Woodring ("The Habitual Writer").

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Quotation of the Week: Chang-rae Lee

"'Sometimes students seem shy about writing about people who do the wrong thing -- we're all taught to do the right thing and focus on the right thing,' [Chang-rae] Lee said. 'But all of literature is about people who do the wrong thing, despite themselves. What would the story be if they did the right thing? No story at all. Fiction wants to look at all the things that go wrong.'"
Source: "Acclaimed Novelist Lee Shares Meticulous Writing Approach in Classroom" (via The Book Bench)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities

Win a free online poetry class or manuscript critique/consultation with Sage Cohen through the no-fee "Life Poetic iPoem Contest." Deadline: July 4, 2010.
From last week's "Have a Freelance Success Story to share? We pay $40 on acceptance, non-exclusive electronic rights only. Success stories run around 300 words but we're very flexible. Our guidelines are here."
U.S. writers only: Family Circle Fiction Contest welcomes short stories. There is no entry fee. Deadline: September 8, 2010. Prizes: Cash ($750/$250/$250) and AvantGuild memberships (grand-prize winner also gets class; second-prize winner gets another perk). (Found this one on Twitter via @inkyelbows, who found it via @anitanolan.)
"The Department of English at The University of Montana-Missoula periodically hires part-time adjunct instructors and professors from a pool of eligible applicants. Successful files will be placed in a pool from which the departments will fill the positions as they become available in three disciplines. Applicants should apply separately to each of the disciplines for which they qualify." Includes assignments in creative writing (poetry, fiction, nonfiction).
From Framingham State College (Mass.): "The English Department invites applications for a one-year, full-time appointment starting September, 2010, to teach creative writing, first-year writing, and literature. The course load is 3/3 and includes two sections of first-year composition, one literature course, and three creative writing courses. Framingham State College is a wireless, laptop campus and welcomes instructors with experience using computers in the classroom."
Stevenson University (Md.) seeks a Digital Marketing Specialist, Hofstra University (N.Y.) is looking for a Director of Communications-Student Affairs, and Stanford University (Calif.) seeks a Development Writer.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Poetry Book Giveaway Results

Update on our National Poetry Month Poetry Book Giveaway: Congratulations to #14 and #25 (Kelly Luce and newzoopoet), who won the lottery! Please e-mail me with your mailing addresses and your title preference--whoever writes to me first will get "dibs." Congrats to the giveaway winners, and thank you all for playing along!