June 16, 2016

My fiction students and I have spent a healthy amount of time talking about how to achieve authenticity in our work. The trick is not going too far nor withholding too much. In work about a specific subculture, historical era, region with unique speech patterns, or other worlds in sci-fi/fantasy work, how do you give the reader enough to make the world feel real and authentic and yet not...

May 14, 2016

I had a great week in terms of writing life—three rejections rolled in. Two I completely expected. I'd aimed high in sending a new story to two highly competitive contests.

 

The third I had cause to hope for an acceptance, as it came from an online litmag that I've received encouraging rejections from with specific feedback. Also, the editor and I now communicate directly via email as oppo...

April 13, 2016

My advanced fiction workshop class and I have been talking about voice a lot. Voice—that somewhat enigmatic characteristic of a work that can make or break the reader's (or publisher, editor, or agent's) willingness to come along. I told my class, and believe, that voice can't be taught. Fortunately, the components of compelling prose that meld together to create a writer's unique voice c...

March 24, 2016

In a recent "Getting to Know Our Instructors" interview for WriterHouse, one of the questions was about writer's block, and if I had any strategies for overcoming it. Confession: I don't really get writer's block. Sometimes I don't make time for writing and other times I feel like I should be working on something (like my 3/4-completed novel draft) but get inspired to write something...

February 27, 2016

I'm super-psyched to report my short story, "The Fine Art of Goldfish" is out in Apeiron Review's Issue 10. Check it out on page 5 in the issue. Many thanks to Meredith and the team at Apeiron. Also many thanks to the folks in charge of the 2015 WriterHouse/C'ville Weekly 2015 Fiction Contest, especially author Jill McCorkle who selected the story as an honorable mention. I'm so glad "Gol...

February 6, 2016

While teaching this past week, my class engaged in an interesting conversation about description. Specifically, we discussed how the level in detail in description feels akin to an extreme close-up (or wide shot) in a film. How close we enable readers to get (or not) to important details determines how effective they can be as co-authors of the version of our work in their imaginiation....

January 13, 2016

I first fell in love with Julie Orringer's work while in graduate school when I read How to Breathe Underwater. Ever since I read that book, I would occasionally look in bookstores or hunt online for new work from Orringer. Finally, my quest resulted in finding her novel The Invisible Bridge, though I'm a bit late to the party as it came out January 2011. But if I'd found it then or findi...

September 8, 2015

Upon reaching page 100 in my novel draft, I realize that I know one of my trains really well. By train, I mean my protagonist. The other train in question is a mysterious woman key to the plot but who hasn't been on the page much yet. It's her I don't know.

 

 

When I was at UCF as an undergrad, professors said the writer's job was to set trains on the tracks in a plot to prepare for the cra...

September 3, 2015

 

Writing a difficult scene last night, I almost made myself physically ill. It was like method acting (or like I imagine method acting I should say, as I really know squat about the actual mechanics of method acting). I had gotten so deeply into the moment with my character (or she had become so rooted in my mind I couldn't separate), that I found myself feeling what I put her through. I...

August 24, 2015

The man made me really, really care about taters. Now I am already a lover of potatoes, but it's kind of a generalized love—to quote Samwise Gamgee, "Boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew." But in The Martian, author Andy Weir got me super-duper-intensely emotionally invested in a specific group of potatoes. And darn, that was unexpected. 

 

My nephew, a self-proclaimed history and spa...

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