It’s been a while since I posted something here other than a cartoon, but I had a few thoughts I wanted to share about writing–by way of talking about cake.
Have you ever baked a cake? It’s more challenging than you might think. Many bakers will tell you that “cooking is an art, but baking is a science.” Getting the right flavor, shape, and texture means carefully balancing ingredients (chemistry actually comes into this, because a lot baking is about balancing pH), methods of mixing and combining ingredients, baking time, and sometimes advanced tricks like freezing layers between baking. Continue Reading
Richie’s TV was on the fritz, and Mom was parked in the living room watching her American Idol or The Apprentice or So You Think You Can Castrate a Dachshund or some other bullshit. He had to pull the old Magnavox from the back closet of the basement, its plastic belly bulging with tubes and capacitors. It was hidden behind three dusty boxes of old magazines that Richie relocated, swearing under his breath. When he wrapped his arms around the Magnavox, strands of sticky spider web clung to his hands like a mummy’s wrappings. They tore free with a sound like Velcro, and Richie swore he felt hairy legs scramble across the backs of his fingers.
Medium is a great site for readers, and I’ve been experimenting with using it to publish fiction. This is the first time this particular story has been available anywhere for free, and I hope you enjoy.
Let’s begin with the reason there’s a mentee blog hop at all: If you’re looking to enter the publishing industry, you need to have an online presence. There is some disagreement as to what exactly that presence should be (in particular, whether actively blogging is worth a writer’s time) but nearly everyone agrees you need some presence to help market yourself and your work, and that you shouldn’t wait until after you are published to start.
It seems like that message got around, because it’s been less than 48 hours since we opened the #PimpMyBio blog hop and we’ve already got over 100 listings. As I went through and stalked mentees, I got curious about how people were making use of the web, and so I thought I’d take a survey and quantify some trends. The following is based on a review of our first 107 applicants; I will update this data periodically as the list grows. Continue Reading
Hi there, fellow writers! I’m delighted to announce the third annual PitchWars mentee blog hop, affectionately known on Twitter by the hashtag #PimpMyBio. Dannie Morin, 2015 mentor and host in our first two years, asked me to take over this year, and I couldn’t be more excited.
First and foremost, one point must be made explicit:
** This is not an official Pitchwars event and is in no way required. **
This is something fun, a way for contestants to show some personality, get to know one another, and cheer each other on. As it happens, I know some mentors take the time to read contestant bios, but you do not have to write a bio to compete in PitchWars.
Is that all clear? Good, then let’s proceed. Continue Reading
1. What’s the deal with the Pitch Wars mentee bio thing?
It’s a fun, totally optional and unofficial way for mentees to get to know each other, and for mentors to stalk and study their would-be mentors. We follow the pattern of the mentor blog hop, but encourage creativity and variety. Continue Reading
Yesterday I posted about The Book of Speculation, the debut novel from my friend and author Erika Swyler. Then I hopped on a train to Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side for her book launch, where she read an excerpt and answered questions from the audience and from host Maris Kriezman. Continue Reading
At left is the cover of a new book, but not just any book. It’s The Book of Speculation by my friend Erika Swyler, who I have known since we were larval writers, maybe 11 or 12 years old, attending summer nerd camp together in upstate New York.
I couldn’t be more excited for Erika, and I think everyone should buy and read this book. It’s available anywhere books are sold, and you can even read the first chapter at Medium.
The summary, from the publisher:
One day in June a mysterious old book arrives on Simon Watson’s doorstep. Filled with elaborate script, sketches, and whimsical flourishes, it tells of doomed lovers and generations of circus “mermaids” who have drowned—just like Simon’s mother, on the same day: July 24. Could there be a curse on his family?
The book has been favorably compared to Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. Personally I haven’t read any of those, but I really like their titles, and isn’t that the most important thing?
I know an awful lot about how this book came to be, but I don’t know what parts of the story Erika would want me telling. I know she’s willing to share her experience hand-binding books as part of the publication process. As for the rest, maybe I’ll get her to sit down with me one of these days and see what she’ll share. Maybe I can even squeeze out a few stories from when we were mung-blasting [sounds way dirtier than it is] pre-teens dreaming of someday being writers.
In the meantime, run out and pick up your own copy of The Book of Speculation, or pull it down from the invisible magic air network, where all things are immediately accessible, and read it on your electronic device of choice.
As for me, I haven’t read it yet; I’ve been waiting for publication day. I’ll be at the book launch party tonight, so I expect to be digging in for Chapter Two around 10 or 11 PM.
How many stories is the average person currently holding in abeyance?
If you’re like me, you’re currently reading at least one novel, watching a couple of episodic television programs, playing one or more narrative-based video games, and viewing a couple of movie series that stretch one story across multiple films (Hunger Games, Divergent, and the like.) Add in other long-form or serialized narratives (comic books, web series, podcasts and radio programs) and you have maybe a dozen or more stories that you’re partway through. Continue Reading
This story first appeared in Black Treacle magazine in August, 2013. I encourage you to go read it there and support them.
NELL WATCHED a beetle trundle past her shoe. The white lady gurgled like a backed-up sewer, and then she was quiet and there were only the wet smacking sounds of Grandmother eating.
The white lady’s gun lay in the dirt. Nell thought about taking it, but it was too heavy and too long–at least twice as long as the rifle Mama was teaching her to shoot. Instead she dragged it into the shadows and hid it beneath some scrap wood. The spyglass on top looked valuable, but Nell didn’t have time to salvage it.
Nell raised her head to scan the wooden walls of Fort Jefferson. They were in terrible danger this close, she knew, but Grandmother got the woman’s throat before she could raise an alarm, and the rest of the fort was still and quiet. It wasn’t the first time Grandmother’s hunger had got them out of trouble. Continue Reading