Diversifying the Canon on the Writers' Block.

Navigating the Book Cover Design Process

Posted on Mon, Oct 5 2015 9:00 am by Laura Drew

I spoke recently with an author who had decided to self publish her book and was finalizing the design of its cover. Though she had enjoyed the design process, she found it nerve-wracking to be making all the final decisions. At the same time, a friend of hers was pursuing a more traditional publishing route and didn’t have much say at all regarding her final cover.

“I don’t know which is worse!” she told me, exasperated.

The answer is that neither is worse. Both scenarios have their ups and downs, and both, if pursued properly, can result in an appealing and appropriate cover.

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An Interview with Author Vanessa Blakeslee

Posted on Fri, Oct 2 2015 9:00 am by Robin Rozanski

Vanessa Blakeslee's debut short story collection, Train Shots (Burrow Press) won the 2014 IPPY Gold Medal in Short Fiction. Her debut novel, Juventud, explores the idealism of youth, the complexities of a ravaged country, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive and is scheduled for release by Curbside Splendor Publishing this fall. She’ll be reading from Juventud at 7 p.m. on October 14 at Magers & Quinn Booksellers. To welcome her to Minneapolis I asked her to share some thoughts on the writing process, goal-setting, and writing with confidence.

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It's a Rough Draft, Not an Excuse

Posted on Thu, Oct 1 2015 9:00 am by Tierney Chlan

This is just a rough draft. A very rough draft. Definitely not finished. So, please, let me know what’s wrong with it, I want to know how to make it better, but know that I wrote it very quickly, and late at night when I was super tired, and also I haven’t read through it all because I didn’t have a chance to edit so…

If I had a nickel for how many times I prefaced a critique of my writing with some form of the above statement, I may have enough money to pay off my student loans. One of my chief writerly sins is using rough drafts as a crutch, as a cop-out for writing that doesn’t meet my standards for what I hope my writing can/should/will be.

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Loosely Literal: Seven Short Stories Made Possible By Birds

Posted on Wed, Sep 30 2015 9:00 am by Sally Franson

1. “Do you think we’ll ever be as happy as we are now?” Monica asked.

They were on the cabin’s back porch sipping white wine spritzers. Jake didn’t like wine, but a bottle was included in the honeymoon package. From across the lake he heard a loon call. He wondered when the pizza delivery guy would get there.

“Honey?” Monica poked his arm. “Haha, I mean, hubby?”

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Literary Roundup: Thurber Prize, Banned Book Week, and Julie Schumacher Interview

Posted on Tue, Sep 29 2015 8:44 am by Chris Jones

Today's roundup congratulates Julie Schumacher on winning the Thurber Prize, celebrates Banned Book Week, and looks back at a Julie Schumacher interview. 

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Inside the MFA: A Preface and Mixed Feelings

Posted on Mon, Sep 28 2015 9:00 am by Miriam W. Karraker

The title of this column is perhaps a little deceiving, I myself am generally skeptical of any title that alludes to sensation and am reminded of things like Dateline specials and conspiracy theories. I mean to say that Inside the MFA is a column in which I’ll be sharing my experiences as a first year student at the University of Minnesota. In a way, I’m “on the inside” of this MFA world, which, admittedly is somewhat secluded. However, my aim is to not to sensationalize. Rather, I’ll be describing my experiences here for perhaps potential MFA-ers thinking about applying to programs, and possibly current MFA-ers and creative writing educators interested in this particular experience, as I navigate teaching, writing, and building literary community.

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Writing from the Heart of the Rural

Posted on Fri, Sep 25 2015 9:00 am by Rachel Coyne

Small yellow houses. It’s August, the sky is high, bright. In a blink it’s September and I’m a child sitting in the yard. Playfully my mother throws a newly laundered sheet over me. Settling down. This is the sky. This how the sky feels in September outside those small yellow houses. The corn has red roots—have you looked? It’s all around. Hawk-footed, it claws fiercely at the earth. There are horses and snowmobiles and old cars in the yard. We’re all running around with soft lamb’s ears leaves hidden in our pockets. We hope they last. Of course they lose their softness. There’s always more in the field.

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Celebrating Banned Books

Posted on Thu, Sep 24 2015 9:00 am by Tierney Chlan

Banned Books Week is coming up. To celebrate (and in preparation for this blog post), I scanned my overflowing bookshelves to see what banned or challenged books I own. Turns out, I have quite a few, and that’s without me purposefully collecting the titles because they were banned.

I don’t know if I was more surprised at how many books are challenged or at the specific titles that have been.

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A Little Oof Goes a Long Way

Posted on Wed, Sep 23 2015 7:30 am by Barbara Poelle

I love my job. I love every part of it. The discovery of new talent, the dealing, the schmoozing, the lunches, dinners, cocktails, and calls. But as a literary agent, my favorite calls to make are the call to sign the author and the call to tell the author we have an offer on their work. These calls can sometimes be days apart…or years. The offer can be on the manuscript with which I signed them, or it can be on the third or fourth manuscript I shopped. There has to be that electric spark of right time/right book that creates that conduit, but above all else right talent: the writing has to be phenomenal in craft, technique, and narrative voice. And that has to start from page one. Actually, paragraph one. Actually LINE one.

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Literary Roundup: National Book Awards, RIP C.K. Williams, Harry Potter Lineage, and a C.K. Williams Reading

Posted on Tue, Sep 22 2015 8:44 am by Chris Jones

Today's roundup celebrates National Book Award nominees, mourns the loss of C.K. Williams, discovers Harry Potter's family tree, and takes time to listen to a reading by C.K. Williams.

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