My Year in Writing

Posted on December 29, 2014. Filed under: Short Stories, storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

When thinking about this past year in writing, I find that I can’t decide if I am a glass is half full or half empty kind of a person. Generally, in life, I tend to look at all angles. So, was it a good year? Yes. Could it have been better? Most definitely. Could it have been worse? Certainly.

For the sake of limiting my word count – so many words to write, but I need to save them for my novel – I am going to focus on the positive.

My storytelling troupe, Better Said Than Done, put on 11 storytelling shows in Northern Virginia. We were once again voted the “Best Performing Arts Company in NoVa” by Virginia Living Magazine. The attendance at the May show was somewhat disappointing, but every other show this year was packed, and all the storytellers were great. I personally told 9 stories, 8 of them at Better Said Than Done events – all true, personal, and new. It has been fantastic to watch the audience for storytelling in Virginia grow and grow and I look forward to our 2015 shows – just not so much to coming up with 9 more new stories.

The year of novel writing started out with me taking a fantastic workshop called “Publishing Your Manuscript.” I learned a lot about writing a query letter, finding an agent, and getting my manuscript publish ready. There’s another class in January, 2015. I cannot recommend it enough if you are working on a novel, a memoir, or any other book you’d like to one day see published. Here’s info on it:

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Live Show in Northern Virginia for Writers

Posted on September 15, 2014. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It occurred to me that I should do a little more promoting on this site for Thursday night’s storytelling show. You see, the show is part of George Mason University’s Fall for the Book Festival – a festival devoted to writers, and readers.  And the show, titled “Reading, Writing and Art,” features true, personal stories of what it means to be a writer, or an artist, or a fan.

fall for the book

My story deals specifically with the struggles of writing a novel and trying to find a literary agent.  Hopefully it will come across as filled with more humor than struggle, so let’s just say it’s about the journey.

Reading, Writing and Art: stories about the people, process and performance of art
September 18th, 2014
7:00PM (Doors Open 6:00PM)
The Auld Shebeen
3971 Chain Bridge Rd.
Fairfax, VA 22030
Free Show as Part of George Mason University’s “Fall for the Book Festival”
Please note – delicious food and drinks (full menu) available for purchase
Hosted by Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, the evening features storytellers Richard Barr, Ann Cavazos Chen, David Supley Foxworth, Karen Lee, Pierce McManus, Miriam Nadel, and Ellouise Schoettler—promising true and unforgettable tales.
More Info Here

I hope to see some fellow writers or readers in the audience. We can all commiserate.

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel

Posted on August 13, 2014. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , , |

Nope, not mine. Not yet, anyway. 🙂 Actually, I am pretty sure the only prize my first completed novel will win will be something like the “Best Beach Read of 2015,” or “Best novel to turn into an awesome summer movie!” I would be pretty happy with either of those.

But while seeking out representation – yes, still looking for a literary agent (apparently they don’t respond overnight) – and continuing to work on the sequel to my first novel, I have been reading a lot of other books.

Now, I don’t like to say bad things about books, in general, because I know how hard it is to write a book. And, having never had a novel published, I don’t exactly have the right to speak ill of other people’s successful careers. So I am going to try to say this without sounding like a horrible person – I don’t understand why The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer. I recently finished reading it and I really don’t get it. I liked the first half of the book. I cared about the main character. My heart broke for him. I thought the writing was amazing. And then it took a turn down an unbelievable alley and my sympathy for the main character disappeared along the way and I found it really hard to force myself to get to the end of the book when I just wasn’t buying it.

But it won the Pulitzer! I mean, it has to be great, right? Okay, okay, so there’s at least one other book that has won in the last decade that I don’t think deserved it, but mostly I have loved many of the books on the list. Mostly, I think they have chosen well. Which is why I have such a problem with this one. I keep thinking, what am I not getting? Is it because I have gotten old and my brain is too small to understand the genius of the book? Or maybe it’s because my life has had so many disasters in it now that I have survived this long, that I just prefer happier books?

I don’t know. So, here’s my question. Is it just me? Have I lost my reading taste buds? Or is it that maybe, just maybe, the Pulitzer Prize is not always given to the most fantastic book?

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Writer Etiquette

Posted on August 28, 2012. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , |

Writing is not a very thank filled job. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely without it’s perks. When you churn out some amazing piece of literary genius, it can be fairly gratifying, even if no one reads it, but, for the most part, writers aren’t going around getting loads of praise, or loads of money, or loads fans everywhere they turn.  So it is really nice to have a support group to turn to for the occasional pat on the back or just a smiley face scribbled on a returned critique. I am very appreciative of my writing family.

However, sometimes a person comes along who does not understand the ironically unwritten rules of a writing circle.  Occasionally someone does not respect the way it is and always should be, and they take advantage of the one measly little buoy that us drowning writers have to hold onto. I am speaking, of course, about the users and flatleavers of the creative writing circle.

Here is the deal, if we insecure and artistic souls open our arms and welcome you into our worlds, real and fictional, then there are a few things we expect in return. Rather than blather on about the oh so many ways I have seen the literary pond scum abuse the system, I will just spell out, in much too obvious detail, writer etiquette.

1. Upon joining a writing circle, plan on staying for some time. Now, if you instantly hate everyone in the group, or find it is just not your thing, get out fast. Don’t dawdle for a few meetings and then leave us all wondering what we did to make you abandon us.  Get out fast or commit to the long haul.

2. This is minor, but don’t submit your work for the very first meeting – unless it is the very first meeting of the group in general. If it is a pre-existing group and they have asked you to visit – to assess if you do in fact want to marry your writing career to theirs – then don’t make your first meeting with them all about you. Take the time to get to know them a little before making them read through your masterpiece.

3. To follow up on that, attend meetings even if you didn’t submit your own work. This is my biggest pet peeve. I have seen it time and again. A member will submit their chapter or story or what have you, show up for the critique, praise, etc., and then skip the next meeting or two, before returning when they again have something to submit. There is nothing worse than someone who expects you to help them when they are unwilling to help you.

4. Last but not least, put some effort into your critique. I can’t say write a good critique, because everyone’s editorial skills are different, but at least try to do right by the work. I can’t say be nice in your criticism, because everyone’s personality is different, but don’t just point out all the bad parts.  Try to explain to the writer what you liked, what you didn’t like, and why. Just do your best to help them create their best.

I am so grateful for all the wonderful advice, suggestions, and comments I have received over the years from some very smart and talented writer friends. I just wish all the writers in all the circles of support out there could follow a few basic rules.

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Edgar Allan Poe

Posted on October 9, 2010. Filed under: Events | Tags: , |

I am so excited to be part of a “Poe-a-thon.”

I will be reading one of my favorite Poe stories, “The Cask of Amontillado,” today at the outdoor stage in Silver Spring around 3PM. I am looking forward to hearing “The Raven” and the “Tell Tale Heart” among the other readings today. By the grayness of the sky right now, I am thinking the weather will be perfectly appropriate!

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Commentary on Health – September 2009 – Meets In Defense of Food

Posted on March 24, 2010. Filed under: Books, Commentaries | Tags: , , , , |

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars This book reads like Fast Food Nation meets The Schwarzbein Principle. In other words, it has a lot of great information about the way we, as Americans, should be eating, but in a very easy to digest (hehe) format. I read the whole book in two days and felt like the research put into how “nutrition research” is done was very interesting and I agree with his points on taking food as a sum of it’s part rather than breaking them down into one element or another. He quoted a lot from the Schwarzbein Principle, whether he knew it or not, especially with the idea of shopping around the supermarket. I was also happy to see that he agreed with the hypothesis I put forth in my WAMU commentary September 2009… and had the research to back it up! View all my reviews >>

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SWAN Day in the Washington Post

Posted on March 24, 2010. Filed under: Press, Short Stories, storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , |

Even though I wasn’t personally mentioned in the various performances to check out, 🙂  I am still pretty excited that SWAN Day was listed as something fun to do this weekend in the Washington Post.

Read the full article here!

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