Friday, December 15, 2017

New #Book. Finally....

It is done. Agent's response: "I FUCKING love this." Submission starts after the first of 2018. Are you ready?  I will be

Monday, March 20, 2017

Closing in on the #Elusive and #Painful #Memoir about Being #Disinherited

LROD has been quiet lately because I've been finishing up the memoir based on this article, which is currently titled #Disinherited: An American Tradition of Betrayal. Why does it take me so long to write a book? Is it just how long books take to write? Is it me?  How long does it take you to write a book? Anyway, I did a ton of research, so it's a memoir with some information on disinheritance. I am finally nearing the end of the process, but only because my paid clients have gone underground and not needed me lately. I hope I have enough savings to go the distance here. It's been great to focus on my writing, but a little hairy not to have a paycheck.  

Friday, November 25, 2016

#PretendImYourFriend in #PeopleMagazine (@people) and #EntertainmentWeekly (@EW)

Pretend I'm Your Friend: Stories has launched with some very cool reviews in People and Entertainment Weekly! People puts me next to Ms. Carly Simon and EW gives both me and Michael Chabon a B+.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Speaking to STCC Students on the First Day of #TRUMPNATION

I spoke to two different groups of students at Springfield Technical Community College on Wednesday, November 9. It was very heartening to talk  to young people who are working so hard to get an education, especially after such a rough election night.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Today I Am Thinking About the Late, Great #GracePaley: #Shortstory #Genius

Here's a memory of mine published over The Story Prize Blog about Grace Paley. What a writer.

Paley offers this advice for you today:

  1.  Have a low overhead
  2. Get a spouse/bf/gf/lover who has some regard for you work
  3. Learn to tell the truth all the time
  4. Watch out for being trendy
  5. Work, work, work
  6. As you work, you'll get better or worse. If you get worse, get out of the business
Watch this amazing video about her (which didn't know existed) called GRACE, so you can see her chewing gum for yourself.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Something #Original For You: Experimental Animals: A Reality #Fiction by Thalia Field

I know that this is story month here at LROD, but I've come across something so new and original (a reality fiction) that I felt I had to post it today. Thalia Field's Experimental Animals is a book about humans and our treatment of animals. Karen Joy Fowler (author of the best-seller We Are Completely Beside Ourselves) calls it “A beautiful and thought-provoking collage of a tale of rescued history and a sobering tribute to some of its victims.”

The experimental novel revolves around a moment in modern science when a choice was made to base human research on the bodies of animals. As you all know, I'm a medical writer by (paid) trade, getting my start when HIV/AIDS was a nascent topic of scientific study (but mostly because my friends were dying), so I am fascinated by this topic, as will you be. Here's what she has to say about the book:

When did you first start writing this novel?  I've been working on this book in fits and starts for 20 years. I had no idea where it would lead me, and no idea how it would be in its final form until long into my later drafts.

How is this novel different ( the same) as your other writing? What makes them fit into the category of “experimental” Experimental Animals shares some genetic material with my last book, Bird Lovers, Backyard. Both involve history of science and a range of narrative forms, a combination of fiction and non-fiction. I think my work is innovative in that I don't rely on previous styles or forms with each project... in other words, each book, every piece, finds its own "way of being" that is pretty unique.

How many revisions did you write? The first draft that felt like it even approached what would be the whole book was over 800 pages long! It wasn't in the form the book finished in, and it didn't have the same focus. Over the course of a few more years I worked very hard on shaping and cutting and forming the final manuscript, at about 1/4 of the length. It was devastating to get rid of so much amazing material, but... for the sake of the novel's success as a novel, it had to happen.

Who read your drafts? A select group of writer-friends read drafts once it was in a readable form, in other words, pretty close to what I was willing to show and send out. It's a lot of work to ask someone to read a draft and give feedback, so I tend to limit that request until I'm desperate, and also until I really know what I'm asking that reader for in particular.

Did you use an agent? If not, why not? I have no agent. No agent will take me, it seems.

How long did it take to find a publisher or the collection? This book took a few years, which is about my average. My work is deemed difficult, and since each book is unique and different, it seems like it takes awhile to find the perfect publisher. But I've lucked out with Solid Objects, they are amazing and have incredible literary insight and follow-through.

What is your worst rejection story? I have so many...from horrible rejection letters telling me "you must not know anything about literature"* to the harsh rejection by editors who cite their marketing departments. Horrible.

What is your best rejection story? I'm not sure what's the difference between worst and best... It's always pretty hard to hear someone hates your work. I guess sometimes people try to be kind, but...not really. There's a weird amnesia that seems to overtake they forget what it feels like to put work out there...

Where were you when you received the offer for the book to be published? Aww... I was teaching at the Vermont Studio Center... what a great day!

Has your philosophy on getting published changed? I think small presses are the best, especially for literature. They give an artist time to develop an audience, and they don't rely on marketing departments to make their decisions for them.

What words of advice would you give to a writer on the journey toward story and story collection publication?  I always try to remind my students that you can't base a life's work on any one book, or story, and that it's impossible to know where one is heading next. Getting published is important, but going only for name-brand status is not. The smallest publishers are so often the ones doing work that eventually goes into the mainstream. It's worth always considering the smaller presses.

*Thalia Field is a professor of Literary Arts at Brown University.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Allegra Hyde on Her #Debut #Story Collection, Of This World

Allegra Hyde is the winner of the 2016 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Her debut story collection, OF THIS NEW WORLD (University of Iowa Press), is our feature today. She is young, fresh, and ready for you to buy a copy of her book, which offers a menagerie of utopias: real, imagined, and otherwise.
Q. What was your process for putting together this collection? 
A. Of This New World emerged organically from my longtime fascination with utopian communities. I’ve always been drawn to groups of people seeking to live out an ideal—groups like the Shakers or the hippie communes of sixties. No matter how well planned these utopian endeavors are, conflicts inevitably emerge. This is ripe territory for a fiction writer! Of This New World starts with a retelling of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden and ends in a Mars colony. The collection includes stories told using conventions of science fiction, historical fiction, realism, absurdism, and other modes, but every story offers a different way of considering the utopian experience.

Q. How long did it take from start to finish to complete the collection? 
A. I wrote “Free Love,” a story about an uprooted flower child, back in 2009. The story was later published in the Bellevue Literary Review—my first appearance in a print journal—and this publication gave me the confidence to keep going. The rest of the stories emerged in the subsequent years, the last one being written in the spring of 2015. I received the news that Of This New World would be published in January 2016.

Q. Who read your drafts? 
A. My husband, Alex McElroy, is also a writer. We met in the MFA program at Arizona State University, so you could say our relationship was born from a fiction workshop. For better or worse, we work closely as writing partners: exchanging draft after draft of our stories. Alex has read my book, Of This New World, more times than either of us can count.

Q. Did you use an agent? If not, why not? 
A. I didn’t use an agent. Conventional literary wisdom seems to be that agents avoid short story collections, so I decided to go the contest route. There are actually quite a few contests out there, including the Iowa Short Fiction Award series run by University of Iowa Press, which I ended up winning.

Q. What is your best rejection story? 
A. A few years ago, I wrote a deeply personal story called “Bury Me.” I showed it to a professor who suggested several literary journals as possible homes for the story, though he said specifically that The Missouri Review probably wouldn’t be interested. After unsuccessfully submitting “Bury Me” to numerous journals and contests, I started to believe the story would never go anywhere. On a whim, I submitted to The Missouri Review. Several months later, I received an acceptance letter from TMR’s editors. Even better: the story was later selected for inclusion in The Pushcart Prize anthology.

Q Where were you when you received the offer for the book to be published? 
A. I was actually living in Bulgaria when I received an email from Jim McCoy of University of Iowa Press. He wanted me to give him a call, but I had to wait about six hours for our time zones to align. Those were a long six hours!  

Q. What words of advice would you give to a writer on the journey toward publication?  
A. I must turn to Anne Lamott for this one: “I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”