CIA Connections to Paris Review

According to this article in Bomb, the publishing world has known for a long time that the CIA was involved in the founding of the Paris Review. I only found out two months ago. but then I’m not in the loop.

I always thought of insiders at literary journals as rather bookish intellectual types. Who knew that some of them were on the edges of the spy world. Hmmm, could be a setup for a thriller.

 

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Your first five pages

I received a professional critique of the first five pages of my historical novel in progress, American Gold, from Jodi Henley. Your first five pages are the most critical when submitting to an agent or publisher, or  grabbing a reader who’s browsing online or in a bookstore.

woman with handwritten pagesI’ve taken classes with Jodi before and found them worthwhile. She is known for being generous in her workshops. In this case, she went beyond critiquing the first five pages. She offered participants a a cursory review of additional pages.

The writing I submitted was private between Jodi and me. The other workshop participants saw neither ,y pages nor Jodi’s specific feedback.

The class I’m in is sponsored by All Writer Workshops (AWW) and runs until Feb. 11. AWW offers affordable classes on a variety of writing related subjects where you get to interact with your instructor. They are not pre-recorded sessions.

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A Man Called Ove

I didn’t want this book to end. I wanted to keep on reading more about Ove and the situations he gets into. The book is both humorous and sad. It’s written in present tense in conversational tone.


Ove is a curmudgeon who can be both exasperating and kind. He reminded me a lot of my father and somewhat of my husband. (I refuse to consider that Freudian!)


Read A Man Called Ove. If you’ve had a lovable curmudgeon in your life, you will smile at the similarities in Ove. If you haven’t yet experienced a curmudgeon, memories of Ove will help prepare you in case you do. If you’re unlucky enough to never have a curmudgeon in your life, at least you can experience one vicariously.

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Find Your Perfect Writers Conference, Retreat, or Workshop

solitary writer in natureIt is so frustrating when I learn about what sounds like the perfect writers conference or retreat only to find that it’s already happened or registration is closed.

Instead of waiting for your favorite writers magazine or author group to list a conference, retreat, or class that suits you, try targeted searches instead. They’re much more efficient way to find what you’re looking for.


You can find a great listing of conferences, retreats, etc. courtesy of 
The Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

Shaw Guides has long been the goto place for finding events aimed at writers. Their site lets you search by genre, location, or month and year.

Hope you find something of interest! If there’s a writer event you’d like to recommend, share it in the comments.

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Do All Writers Need a Platform?

Do all writers need a platform? Just what is platform anyway?

What if you’re an unpublished fiction writer?

I still struggle with the platform questions such as what to do and when. I write short nonfiction and some short fiction, and I’m writing a novel.

Part of me wants to just write, but another part enjoys engaging with people online and offline. So for now, I blog what interests and enlightens to me, and hope you feel the same.

This excellent post on platform from Jane Friedman is too good not to share and keep. What are your thoughts and/or strategy?

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Get your rocks in order

Firewords over waterHappy New Year everyone!

Are your rocks in order for 2017? Successful author Joanna Penn uses the analogy of rocks in a jar for determining major, medium, and minor goals in her podcast.

Maybe it will keep you from getting mired in the sand of minor tasks and social media addiction. I did better avoiding the sand this year compared to last year, but there’s lots of room for improvement. Check out her plan to achieve creative goals. (There’s some chit chat in the beginning of the podcast, but, after that, it gets into some good info, especially for writers.

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Norman Rockwell Moment

The e-cards I sent this year included an audio file of a child singing “Silent Night.” That has always been my favorite Christmas carol. I love the simple melody and lyrics, and it reminds me of my own childhood when I played the spinet on Christmas Eve and my German father and aunt loudly sang Silent Night and few other carols in their native German. I picture it now as my family’s own Norman Rockwell moment.

Springerle

Dessert at Christmas Eve dinner was the Christmas stollen plus German cookies – pfeffernusse and springerle. Pfeffernusse are a gingerbread type spice cookie, springerle are anise flavored. One could not cut into the stollen until Christmas Eve or else you would have bad luck. Mom used her Czech recipe for stollen, but the result worked for both sides of the family.

My mother was born in Nebraska to Czech parents, so Christmas in my house was a two-day affair. Christmas Eve was German night; Christmas Day was American/Czech day with my mother’s side of the family.

Medvedi tlapcicky

Roast goose and dumplings for a Christmas afternoon dinner, more stollen, and Czech Christmas cookies – vanilla crescents and medvedi tlapicky or “bear paws” because they are baked in individual molds or a madeleine pan to look like paws. They are a savory chocolate cookie. Good old American chocolate chip Toll House cookies were also there.

This story dates back to the 1920s. That’s well before my time, but I think you’ll enjoy it: The Real Flying Santa.

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Instead of killing bookstores, Internet is now helping them!

The prediction that online booksellers would hurt bookstores seemed to be coming true. But lately, instead of killing bookstores, the Internet appears to be helping them. Social media is a factor.

people readingCustomers are reportedly willing to pay up to 30% more for the bookstore experience: being able to pick up a book and browse or talk with someone who has read it.

Special events scheduled in stores don’t hurt either.

Check out this 122-year-old bookstore in California.

 

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How to Choose a Small Publisher

I’m busy with the holidays and fighting a cold, so I’ll make this short and sweet.

Here’s some good info from Jane Friedman on how to choose a small publisher.

It can be tough to sell any of the Big Five on your first novel. Even if you do, you’re not likely to get the marketing support you envisioned. They typically concentrate on their top selling authors.

Small publishers want your book to be successful as much, or almost as much, as you do.

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Beryl Markham West with the Night

Beryl Markham was a fascinating and controversial person – horsewoman, author, and aviatrix involved in more than one scandal. After reading her adventurous memoir, West with the Night, Ernest Hemingway wrote, “I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer.” Who needs more of a recommendation than that?

Born in England in 1902, Markham moved with her family to a farm in Kenya (then British East Africa) at the age of four.  Her mother and brother soon returned to England, but Beryl stayed in Africa with her father.

She learned to speak both Swahili and English. Her playmates were African tribal children and some remained her friends into adulthood. Her blonde beauty became legendary in Kenya.

She became the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya. One of her charges won the prestigious St. Leger race in Nairobi. Markham won the Kenya Derby six times.

She became an accomplished flyer, initially as a bush pilot and later as one of the first to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west (against prevailing winds) in 1936.

51xvwuh5htl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Markham was no angel, but I applaud her courage in pursuing her goals which defied cultural norms of the times. I heartily recommend reading West with the Night before you read what other have written about her.

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