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Upcoming Events

  • ---The Writer's Loft---
    See you all at Middle Tennessee State University the weekend of September 18-19--that's orientation for THE WRITER'S LOFT! Loads of great lectures, discussions, readings, and a fabulous reception where graduates will read their work. Can't wait! I'll be giving a lecture/discuss.
  • ---Classes Begin at the University of South Alabama---
    August 17 marks the beginning of classes at the University of South Alabama. I'll be back in the classroom teaching fiction writing on the Fairhope campus. Looking forward to meeting all these great writers!
  • ---Workshop at Page & Palette---
    I'll be teaching a seven-session workshop at Page & Palette Book Store in Fairhope this fall--Wednesday mornings 10-12:30, running September 9-October 21. Register through Page & Palette www.pageandpalette.com
  • ---Panama City, Florida August 13, 2009---
    On Thursday, August 13, 5:30-7:30, I'll be the guest in a fiction/nonfiction workshop on the campus of Florida State University, Panama City. Dr. Milinda Jay Stephenson runs the creative writing program there. She continues to add more, more, more wonderful events for students and for the writing community. Hope to see P.C. writers on Thursday!!
  • ---Dothan, Alabama, September 2, 2009 Houston-Love Library Luncheon---
    Wednesday, September 2nd, I'll be the luncheon speaker for the Houston-Love Library in Dothan, Alabama. This is a fundraising event for the Friends of the Library--that group has a wonderful new look for the library in mind! Thank God for library friends. Good libraries go back to the founding of our nation and set us apart as a country sharing ideas through the loan of books! The chair of this event is Sharman Burson Ramsey, a writer as well as a great reader! I'm looking forward to being in Dothan!

Quote of the Day

  • 10/30/09 From Anna Quindlen's novel, BLESSINGS
    "There were deer in the fields that surrounded the house, cropping the rye grass with their spotted fawns at their flanks. But the fields stretched so far from the drive on either side, and the deer kept so close to the tree line, that the does did not even raise their divot heads from the ground as the car slid past."
  • 10/28/09 From THE FIFTH SEASON by Linda Busby Parker
    "I'm reading the Bible cover to cover," Mary Ella said. "It's not that I want to grab hold of some kind of magic. The Bible is not a rabbit's foot, her voice raised slightly as a child might speak. She pushed lightly against the porch floor with her small feet clad in light blue satin slippers, fleur-de-lis in navy-blue across the toes. "I want to do it. I've never read the book from first word to last. I've always said I would, and the time has come."
  • 10/27/09 Quote of The Day from THE FIFTH SEASON by Linda Busby Parker
    "A chill started at the nape of Estella's neck, ran like the flash of a strobe light up to the center of her head. When the flash reached the top of her skull, it traveled back down her head again, and swept across her shoulders, and down her arms where her skin transformed into gooseflesh . . . She could not take her eyes off Mary Ella, who nearly glowed with subdued light. The luminosity of life--yes luminosity--seeped out of her, the radiant lavender-blue of phosphorescence . . . Light oozed from her skin and there was nothing that could be done to prevent it--her skin no longer sealed life inside."
  • 10/26/09 From my own novel-in-process, THE FIFTH SEASON
    "My own backyard is like the tropics. Jungly. It's lush as a salad field." Aubert Bodet
  • 10/24/09 from introduction to EDITOR TO AUTHOR, the collected letters of Maxwell Perkins
    "When a writer has written his masterpiece he will often be certain that the whole thing is worthless. The perpetrator of the dimmest literary effort, on the other hand, is apt to be invincibly cocksure and combative about it."
  • 10/23/09 from Vivian Gornick's book, THE SITUATION AND THE STORY
    "Every work of literature has both a situation and a story. The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer: the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say."
  • 10/19/09 From John Casey's essay titled "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch," in SEWANEE WRITERS ON WRITING
    "The only definition of a novel that I remember is an old joke: a novel is a long piece of prose that has something wrong with it."
  • 10/13/09 From Eudora Welty's ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS
    Eudora Welty's mother, like all mothers, hoped her children as young adults would select jobs that made them happy, but, at the same time, offered safety from the world's great dangers. Welty wrote: "But I think she was relieved when I chose to be a writer of stories, for she thought writing was safe."
  • 10/12/09 From Ernest Hemingway's, GREEN HILLS OF AFRICA
    "Writers should work alone. They should see each other only after their work is done, and not too often . . . Otherwise they become like writers in New York. All angleworms in a bottle, trying to derive knowledge and nourishment from their own contact and from the bottle."
  • 10/9/09 from Richard Russo in his essay, "In Defense of Omniscience" in BRINGING THE DEVIL TO HIS KNEES, Editors: Baxter and Turchi
    "But it's a sweet, lovely, rich, generous stick shift of a technique, and it'll take you places you can't go with an automatic transmission. The first few times you try it, it'll buck you all over the narrative road and send you fleeing back to the vehicle you already know how to drive, wondering what perversity would make anyone want to make a hard job harder." --On using the omnisicient point of view--
  • 10/6/09 from Ernest Hemingway, ON WRITING
    "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstacy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
  • From Silas House's Novel CLAY'S QUILT
    "It was hot and white, and all up the hillsides, tangled trumpet vines wilted and thirsted. The blacktop of the parking lot glistened, so soft that it threatened to seep down the hillside. There was only the hint of a breeze and it felt as forced and tired as the heavy-footed men who made their way out of the coal mine."
  • 10/3/09 from Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD
    "The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little."
  • 10/2/09 from Anna Quindlen's novel, BLESSINGS
    "The moonlight slipping at an oblique angle through the windows and the windshield of the car picked out what there was of her to be seen; a suggestion of the whites of her eyes between the curtains of her hair, the beads of sweat on her arched upper lip, the silver chain around her neck, the chipped maroon polish on her nails--a jigsaw puzzle of a girl, half the pieces not visible."
  • 10/1/09 from Mary Hood's short story "How Far She Went"
    "The girl walked close behind her, exactly where she walked, matching her pace, matching her stride, close enough to put her hand forth (if the need arose) and touch her granny's back where the faded voile was clinging damp, the merest gauze between their wounds."
  • 9/30/09 Charles Baxter, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
    Hell is story-friendly. If you want a compelling story, put your protagonist among the damned. The mechanisms of hell are nicely attuned to the mechanisms of narrative. Not so the pleasures of Paradise. Paradise is not a story. It's about what happens when the stories are over.
  • 9/29/09 From Edward P. Jones' short story, "First Day"
    "One monkey don't stop no show."

October 30, 2013

October 23, 2013

August 17, 2011

August 10, 2011

July 21, 2011

May 27, 2011

May 26, 2011

April 14, 2011

April 13, 2011

April 11, 2011

Books & Articles on Craft

  • Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
    This is a beautifully illustrated book with illustrations by Joe Ciardiello. The advice is good and the book is gorgeous. It's a good list of rules for writers to keep at your fingertips and a great coffeetable book even though the format is small. I own it and enjoy looking at it!
  • Judith Barrington: Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit

    Judith Barrington: Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit
    A narrative account of writing the memoir.

  • Anne Bernays: What If?  Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers (3rd Edition)

    Anne Bernays: What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers (3rd Edition)
    A great collecton of writing exercises and prompts for fiction writers. Intended as a college-level text. A little expensive, but the only book of its kind out there.

  • Ernest Hemingway: Ernest Hemingway on Writing

    Ernest Hemingway: Ernest Hemingway on Writing
    A thin book chocked full of Hemingway's observations on writing. The quotes are thoughtful and beautiful--so unlike the he-man hunter image. He loved writing--loved perfecting his craft. His quotes about writing reveal his love for writing. An inspirational book that should be on the shelf of any/all fiction writers.

  • : Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

    Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
    If you're a writer and haven't read Anne Lamott's book, you've cheated yourself. It's inspiration and rings true. It's become a classic for writers--especially those just beginning. I'm going back and reading it again. I need a little inspiration right now!

  • Charles Baxter: Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

    Charles Baxter: Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction
    A collection of essays by Baxter in which he mixes commentary on society and fiction writing. I read this book shortly after it was first published and my copy has increased in weight from all the marginal notes I've made. In truth, the book is a little academic, a bit heavy handed--so, it might be for the writer who truly wants to delve into the mix of theory/writing/social commentary. But, by my way of thinking, Baxter is always a good read!

  • Phillip Lopate: The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present

    Phillip Lopate: The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present
    If you're interested in the personal essay, you've got to have this. It's considered the seminal text. This book has a little of everything--although the first part is definitely academic. Most of us will be more interested in the last of the essays--the ones by contemporary writers. Check out the essays by James Baldwin, Mary Gordon, Scott Russell Sanders, Joan Didion, etc.

  • Collection: The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House

    Collection: The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House
    This is a collection of essays from the Tin House Writing Conference in Oregon. It's terrific! I especially like the essay by Susan Bell, "Revisioning THE GREAT GATSBY." Reading a collection like this gives the workshop experience without being there!

  • Julie Checkoway: Creating Fiction

    Julie Checkoway: Creating Fiction
    CREATING FICTION--a collection of essays by writers and professors, published by the Associated Writing Programs (AWP). I use this book in some of my classes. A great collection of essays on craft. Some of my favorites include essays by Richard Russo (on place/character); Debra Spark (what gives rise to fiction); John Barth (incremental pertubations in plot); Jane Smiley (on revision). This collection should be on every writer's bookshelf.

  • Janet Burroway: Writing Fiction A Guide to the Narrative Craft (6th Edition)

    Janet Burroway: Writing Fiction A Guide to the Narrative Craft (6th Edition)
    This is the basic--the standard. Every writer should own a copy of Burroway. There are seven edition. I prefer one of the older editions. I think the 5th edition is my favorite. Find chapters on everything from plot to characterization, to point-of-view. After each chapter, find short stories that illustrate points made in the chapter. Burroway is a starting point for building a fiction writing library.

Favorite Books

  • Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

    Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games
    Stephen King in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY wrote: "A violent, jarring, speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense . . . . I couldn't stop reading." Exquisitely plotted--superb tension and pacing! Linda Busby Parker

  • Annie Proulx: That Old Ace in the Hole : A Novel

    Annie Proulx: That Old Ace in the Hole : A Novel
    A novel about character transformed by place. A young man working for an agricultural conglomerate scouts land for pig farms along the Texas/Oklahoma border, a lonesome place of stark beauty. The place is reminiscent of the moors of England--lonesome and starkly beautiful indeed! But, it's not England, it's that flat, harsh middle-of-the-USA land. The boy becomes a man as he travels alone on a mission of questionable value.

  • Annie Proulx: The Shipping News: A Novel (Scribner Classics)

    Annie Proulx: The Shipping News: A Novel (Scribner Classics)
    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and The National Book Award, a story of how place transforms a young man. Place becomes salvation! An elegant rendering of character development within place. In terms of literary novels, this is indeed a classic, having a couple of essential ingredients of literary fiction--character transformation and elegant writing.

  • Susan Vreeland: Girl in Hyacinth Blue

    Susan Vreeland: Girl in Hyacinth Blue
    A series of related stories about a would-be Vermeer painting and what it meant to several families and individuals. Vreeland writes about famous painters of by-gone days. She's an artist herself and does an outstanding job of describing color, texture, and emotions engendered by a great work of art. You might want to also read her novel, LUNCHEON OF THE BOATING PARTY, about Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1880.

  • Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a Pearl Earring, Deluxe Edition

    Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a Pearl Earring, Deluxe Edition
    A gorgeous book about a teenager working as a servant in the home of the great painter, Johannes Vermeer, in Holland, 1664. The book smoothly and elegantly transports the reader to the time and place. The character come alive. The book is much better than the movie, however!

  • Barbara Robinette Moss: Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir

    Barbara Robinette Moss: Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir
    This was one of the first books I put on my blog, but, I'm adding it again to get it close to the front. A must read!

  • Kent Haruf: Eventide

    Kent Haruf: Eventide
    The two old brothers in this novel are two of my favorite characters in all of literature. They are the larger than life ordinary/extraordinary people. Their standing on the front porch waiting to receive a pregnant teen is one of my favorite scenes in all of literature. You've missed a treat if you haven't read Haruf. Bring a hanky to this read--you'll need it! The sense of place is exquisite too!

  • Kent Haruf: Plainsong

    Kent Haruf: Plainsong
    So beautifully written. Kent Haruf makes you feel lonesome to be in the places he writes about. His characters come off the page. Haruf's books explore longings in the hearts of everyday people--but each of the characters in PLAINSONG is extraordinary in his or her own way.

  • David Pierce: Don't Let Me Go: What My Daughter Taught Me About the Journey Every Parent Must Make

    David Pierce: Don't Let Me Go: What My Daughter Taught Me About the Journey Every Parent Must Make
    A memoir about a father and daughter running marathons and climbing mountains. Both grow closer to each other and closer to God. We have our children for a short while before they are grown and out on their own. David Pierce discovered a way of enjoying this limited time. It's an easy read--inspirational!

  • Helene Cooper: The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood

    Helene Cooper: The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood
    This memoir is about a Liberian childhood. I love works like this because they give me insights into lives I could never know outside of books. I bought the hardcopy and also purchased the audio version. It is a fabulous audio book. As a reader, you're actually there--in Liberia. It was a N.Y TIMES best seller forever!

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