Featured online class: Is the Hero's Journey All There Is? with Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich starts September 14.

Literary Roundup: Press Existence, Rethinking Backlists, and Best Library Surprises

Posted on Tue, Aug 4 2015 9:35 am by Chris Jones

Today's roundup wonders whether a press can exist without people behind it, rethinks backlists, and lists some of the the best library book surprises. 

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Ask Esther: Staying True to Your Vision While Considering Audience

Posted on Mon, Aug 3 2015 9:00 am by Esther Porter

At what point in the writing process should you start to consider audience? I want to take into account who I'm writing for, while also staying true to my vision.

I would begin by asking whether your vision and your intended audience are mostly aligned or mostly disparate. It certainly depends on the writing project, and some writing projects require you to hang your vision in the closet for a time. And, to a point, that’s okay. In an ideal world, we would have countless eager readers and we would maintain a constant loyalty to our selves and our crystal-clear vision. We would write our truest sentences, then let the right audience stumble upon our work. But our world is frequently not ideal. We do need to write for audiences who ask for something other than the novels we’ve been wringing from our souls for a decade.

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Doing Nothing for Self Care: Seriously, Doing Nothing IS Self Care

Posted on Fri, Jul 31 2015 9:00 am by Rosanne Bane

Writer’s block consists of exerting an excruciating amount of energy to accomplish nothing. I suggest you skip the painful part, and do nothing right from the start.

Writers need plenty of time to do nothing and do it well.

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Could You Tell This Was Written By A Woman?

Posted on Thu, Jul 30 2015 9:00 am by Clair Dunlap

In a couple of my college classes, I guess my professors decided I was the resident writer and intersectional feminist so I also became the expert opinion on can you tell this was written by a woman?—a dated, sometimes mildly offensive (depending on how gracious you’re feeling that day), ridiculous game often played in the classroom. Perhaps some of you reading this post have heard versions of it yourselves—you can substitute any category that’s not “white cis man” in for “woman” and it works just fine. Whenever a professor posed the question, I didn’t know how to answer.

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Writing Animals

Posted on Wed, Jul 29 2015 9:00 am by Matthew Fogarty

When she really wants something—food, often, or attention—my dog, Nora, sits up on her back end and raises one paw and then the other. To keep her balance, she flails her arms and claws at the air. We call this pose "bear" and all it takes now to get her into it is for my partner or me to hold out an arm for a perch and tell her to "go bear." This is one of the many games she plays.

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Literary Roundup: Doctor Zhivago, Dr. Seuss Discovery, LEGO Book Scenes, and Behind the Scenes for Loft Lipdub

Posted on Tue, Jul 28 2015 9:02 am by Chris Jones

Today's roundup follows the story of Doctor Zhivago, discovers a Dr. Seuss manuscript in a likely place, marvels at some LEGO book visions, and shares behind-the-scenes of the recent Lipdub video. 

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Captioning and Composing

Posted on Mon, Jul 27 2015 9:00 am by Robert Root

A long time ago, when I was teaching freshman composition and trying to dream up engaging exercises to help students connect with their writing, I happened to subscribe to Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress. The first issue I received introduced me to a recurring one-page feature titled “Caption: What’s in a Picture?” It invited writers to interrogate or investigate an image of their choice and included the image above the text.

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Self Care in a Reactive Culture

Posted on Fri, Jul 24 2015 9:00 am by Khary Jackson

We live in the era of instantaneous news. Social media has made it possible for events to be reported to the public within hours. Hashtags are trending 24/7. Atrocities are delivered to ears and minds in an unending stream. There is always something to grieve for, to be angry about, to protest against, to fundraise for, to petition, to debate about, to dissect in think pieces, to retweet and to like, to wonder if we are powerless to stop it.

As an artist, it is a daily challenge to remain both stimulated and grounded in such a reactive environment.

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An Interview with Cynthia Swanson

Posted on Thu, Jul 23 2015 9:00 am by Clair Dunlap

Cynthia Swanson’s debut novel The Bookseller has only been out from HarperCollins since the beginning of March, but already she is seeing great success: the novel is being translated into 11 foreign languages and its hardcover version is already in its second print run! Set in 1960s Denver, Colorado, The Bookseller tells the story of a woman caught between fact and fiction when she begins to have vivid dreams of a life completely unlike the path she has chosen. A mid-century designer herself, Cynthia has woven a compelling, fast-paced story with a beautifully intricate backdrop.

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Realistic Characters

Posted on Wed, Jul 22 2015 9:00 am by Aurelia Wills

Most fiction writers, even writers of speculative fiction, hope to create realistic characters. Such characters are the great ones—they seem like actual people who remain in your memory like someone you met. And what qualities does a realistic character have? They are complicated, often funny, conflicted, surprising, someone with a past, experiences, memories, dreams, and habits. They are riddled with insecurities, yet full of self-importance. That is, a character is a person like you or me.

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