Saturday, September 27, 2008

West Hollywood Book Fair

Here's that link, again, for the West Hollywood Book Fair taking place tomorrow. My panel is at 2:00. There are a ton of great panels. You can find the schedule on the WEHO Book Fair web site. Hope to see you!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Westways article on writers events

My editor at Westways, Beth Fhaner, is the best. She sent me this link to my article in the current issue of the magazine.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anti-Palin rally in Alaska

Sorry, my Republican friends, but we're drawing upon the election and I just have to post things like this. People who voted for her as governor of Alaska do not want her for VP. If she makes it, I may really have to become an ex-pat.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Power of words

Sent to me by a friend. Moving....! Click to watch.

Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace

He was 46 and died in Claremont, CA, of suicide. Here is his 2005 commencement address at Kenyon.

More remembrances of David.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Save Lori Hall Steele's House

Lori is a fellow ASJA member and single mom battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and chronic Lyme disease. She faces the loss of her home to foreclosure within days because she's too sick to work. She has medical bills totaling more than $50,000, which may ultimately reach $120,000.

She has a seven-year-old son, and prior to the devastating neurological disease that has left her paralyzed and on a breathing machine, wrote over 3,000 published articles. She is 44, and determined to fight this disease with all her strength.

A fundraising drive is on to help her save her house. If everyone donated $25 to help her, it could get done. Click here to learn more. Or send a check to:

Lori Hall Steele
223 W. 7th Street
Traverse City, MI 49684

This is one of those deals where if everyone who could, donated a little, it would become a lot.

Westways Sept./Oct. 2008 issue

I will post the link if Westways puts it up on their website, but if you live in Southern California and you belong to AAA, you've received it. My feature on Southern California literary events and festivals is in its pages.

The last Sunday of this month, I hope to see you at the West Hollywood Book Fair. At around 2:00 in the afternoon, I'll be moderating a panel with literary agents BJ Robbins, Elise Capron and Jenoyne Adams. Please say hi if you come by.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A new Palin disorder

My friend Dennis Palumbo posted this on his blog:


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As a veteran therapist, I'm using this forum to announce the establishment of a new clinical diagnosis: IFP Disorder (Irrational Fear of Palin Disorder).

Since the McCain campaign picked Sarah Palin as their V-P candidate, poll numbers have swung ominously in their favor. The gun-totin', Bible-thumping, anti-choice, book-burning "hockey mom" is America's newest sweetheart.

But that's not the point: what really has amazed me in the past week is the change that has come over my therapy patients. Without fail, they seem oddly uninterested in dealing with their usual issues---relationship conflicts, family concerns, career crises, substance abuse, etc. All they want to talk about is their Fear of Sarah Palin.

Click here to read more.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin wants to ban books

If you've kept up with reports about Palin, then you know she's tried to get books banned.

She scares me.

So buy a button that says "I read banned books." Toni Morrison and Mark Twain are among the most challenged authors. Yup.

Here's a link for the button. Scroll to the bottom of the page.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Jim Tomlinson on short stories and novels

Jim Tomlinson was on the show some time ago with co-host Marrie Stone. I emailed him questions last week regarding the short story form and he graciously responded. Here you are:

BDB: Why do you write short stories?

JT: Short stories give the writer a way to look at some single thing that puzzles or interests. You can turn a situation over in the story and examine it in detail. And maybe, as you write, you'll reach some new level of understanding. Or maybe you'll just gain an appreciation for the mystery of how complex lives and relationships (both the fictional and the real kind)can be.

BDB: Have you ever considered novels?

JT: A novel is a different thing. It has scope. In general, it addresses bigger concerns, portrays the larger part of a character's lifetime, the societal implications of things, long-term effects, moral consequences of deeds, etc. A novel is built of a string of consequences and complications, and a hundred pages in it is hard to remember how different the world seemed starting out. While the short story is usually centered on a moment, the novel is a seemingly endless progression of "and then, and then, and then..." in a grand and pleasingly shaped arc.

Of course, when someone tries to define what a novel is, another someone can always point to examples that disprove it. Still, that's how I think of the novel. I've definitely considered the novel, Barbara. Yes. In fact, I'm working on a novel now.

BDB: Isn't it hard to publish short stories or don't you think that way?

JT: When I'm working on a story, my only concern is writing the next sentence and then the next paragraph and trying to make each word absolutely true. Until I've written and revised a story and polished it into as true a thing as I can, I don't give one moment's thought to whether anyone will want to publish it.

The total market for single short stories is huge. Unfortunately, the paying market (something more than complimentary copies) is a small part of that. And the demand by publishers for single-author books of short fiction is at a low ebb right now. It has been for several years. Writing short stories is not a lucrative business.

The only time I'm concerned with the market for stories is when I'm printing out copies to submit. The market doesn't really matter on the other days, the vast majority, when all you have to concern yourself with is writing.

BDB: Tell me about your latest book.

JT: Nothing Like an Ocean, my second book of stories, is in the publishing pipeline now. It is due out in March, 2009. It's a sequel of sorts to Things Kept, Things Left Behind (Iowa Short Fiction Award). Like those earlier stories, the new ones are set in and around fictional Spivey, Kentucky. Since it's a small town, it seemed natural that some characters and settings from the first book would show up again. And they do. Most of my stories are concerned, at their core, with characters in complex relationships, be they brother and sister, father and son, spouses, or teacher and former student. Gunshots are rare, high-speed chases and outhouses non-existent. There are church dances, though, and drinking on weekends, rainy craft fairs, copper thieves, fume-huffing teens, a rescue greyhound, a rare rabbit, and several flavors of burgeoning romance....something, in short, for everyone.

Barbara, just an hour or two ago I visited your blog and read the recent post. I can relate to the dilemma.

I had a discussion with Claire Messud about my efforts to transition from writing short stories to writing novels, and she questioned my motive for wanting to switch. There is pressure from the industry for every decent story writer to turn out a novel, and I'm guessing that Messud suspected that was motivating me. I told her that I genuinely wanted to write the "bigger story" that a novel canvas allows. "Maybe you aren't a novelist," she said. "Maybe you're a short story writer. That's not a bad thing to be."

She went on to name several writers whom she categorized as essentially story writers.

In trying to make the shift to novels (I've written three complete, unpublishable novels in years past, so I know something about it), I've come to understand how different they are from short stories. Yes, you have characters and scenes and use some of the same writing tools. But there's a whole 'nother level of storytelling and structure that you have to master to turn out a good novel. And I'm still working to get there.

But I'll echo what Messud told me...a short story writer isn't a bad thing to be. In fact, it's a lofty goal when you look at what writers like Chekhov, Carver, Dubus II, etc. have achieved in the form.