Thursday, April 30, 2009

Writing Quotes of the Day

"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."
E.L. Doctorow

"Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer--and if so, why?"
Bennett Cerf

"My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying."
Anton Chekhov

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly."
C. J. Cherryh

"I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because when two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worries and only half the royalties."
Agatha Christie

"Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great or original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."

"My, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see. That - and no more - and it is everything."
Joseph Conrad

"Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it..."
Michael Crichton

"The imagination is the spur of delights...all depends upon it, it is the mainspring of everything; now, is it not by the means of the imagination one knows joy? Is it not of the imagination that the sharpest pleasures arise?"
Marquis DeSade

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My Friend Yoni's YouTube Vid: Tug of War

HipHop duo Most Hated present "Tug of War," the story of a Palestinian suicide bomber's encounter with an Israeli soldier, told by both characters.

Mazzi, the Iranian Muslim.
Sneakas, the Israeli Jew.

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The Inspired Word: Passionate Readings of Poetry & Prose/May 4!

The Inspired Word: Passionate Readings of Poetry & Prose

When: Monday, May 4
Time: 7:00-10 PM (though you're welcome to stay until closing time!)
Location: Tierra Sana Restaurant
100-17 Queens Blvd & 67th Road
Forest Hills, Queens
New York City

By subway, take the local R or V to 67th Avenue stop (and it's right there between 67th Road and 67th Avenue along Queens Boulevard).

Free wine tasting! Free appetizers! Awesome ambience and food! A great collection of writers and their work!

Performer Bios:

Babette Albin is a poet and enterpreneur who hosts The Back Fence poetry readings in downtown Manhattan. She sums herself up with this poem:

How is this poet different from all other poets?
Sunny disposition. Married w. children.
Not teaching English (anymore). Drives a Hybrid.
Home renovation is her passion.

How is she similar?
Is in love with the sound of her own voice.
Calls on the Muse frequently.
Enjoys a good argument.
Reads with ferocity. Writers with veracity.

Diana Arnold moved to NYC (from Los Angeles...please dont tell anyone) when she was 17 and never looked back. But she has been looking around, a lot, since she arrived. With acting training from NYU Tisch, and writing training from The New School she's been steadily performing original solo work throughout the city for the past seven years. She is working on a full length one woman show for the fall that blends poetry and monologue for a rhytmical narrative, and can currently be seen in Monologues at The Triad Theatre.

Shanna Compton's books and chapbooks include Down Spooky, For Girls (& Others),Big Confetti (with Shafer Hall), Scurrilous Toy, and others. Her poems and essays have appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry 2005, McSweeney's, Verse, No Tell Motel, Coconut, Abraham Lincoln, and the Poetry Foundation website. For more info, see,, or

Marron Cox is a singer/songwriter who's also the MC/Host of The Inspired Word and a notorious pool hustler. Originally from North Carolina, she's been heard in New York City subways--from Union Square to Times Square--and many Greyhound stations across the country.

Josh Medsker is a teacher and writer from Alaska. Josh began his writing career as a journalist, and wrote for magazines and newspapers in Alaska, California and Texas. He began writing prose and poetry roughly ten years ago, and is in what he and Larry Brown like to call "The Apprentice Period". He has enjoyed extremely modest success, having published work in, and AK Verve. He currently lives in Astoria, Queens, and can be reached at

Terri Muuss is an actor, poet, teacher, director, and social worker. She is the writer and performer of the one-woman show Anatomy of a Doll, which she performed at the Abingdon Theatre, Pulse Ensemble Theatre, 14th Street Y, 63rd Street Y, Producer’s Club, Theatre for the New City, Cornelia Street Café, and St. Clement’s Theatre. She was also the co-producer and host of the monthly poetry series Poetry at the Pulse for two years, and has read her poetry throughout NYC, at the 14th Street Y, Blue Stockings, Makor Theatre, and Cornelia Street Café.

Christine Timm is a NYC performance poet who produces and co-hosts the NYC College Slam, the annual international Love Poetry Hate Racism event, and Bowery Kids - all at the Bowery Poetry Club. She also co-produces and co-hosts the Smalls Jazz Club Lit Series. She has a Ph.D. in English Lit with dissertation on the Beats and spoken word and teaches poetry, creative writing, and composition at Westchester Community College. Christine’s “Sleeping with . . .” series book is forthcoming on Smalls Book Press.

Lauren Willig is the author of the New York Times bestselling Pink Carnation series, which follows the antics of spies during the Napoleonic Wars. The recipient of a degree in English history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard law, she lives in New York City.

MC/Host: Marron Cox.
Assistant MCs/Hosts: Laura Moisin, Aaron Wimmer, Sacia Bodden.

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Work from Our Inspired Word Poets

no matter

is this right then we put

all our ducks in a row all

our ducks of the under-word all made

of quarks which are or are

not matter but certainly are not

meaning though the ducks

mean as we line

the ducks up they make

a surface a surface of

water surface and water that

are not do not matter but

do mean the matter then

cannot mean the meaning is

nothing but we keep

on lining up the ducks beneath

the surface of water

is depth the more ducks the more

depth and dark and

murk all of which is no

matter no matter not matter but is

dark murk and deep story

layered upon story stories without

matter but with meaning how

is it possible to live like

this to make stories that

mean but are no matter

Joel Chace
Previously published in Ducky

New Life 2
Variation on a theme by Joseph Brodsky et. al.

Imagine that the war is over, that peace has reigned,
That you can look at your face in the mirror again.
That magpies, not bombs, whistle down upon your head
That outside the city, homes are not destroyed-instead
A baroque burst of laurels, palms, magnolia, pine;
Instead of hot gun fire a white hot Venus shines.
That war’s cast-iron swamp iscold and then
The boredom is over: Life has to start again.

Imagine that all of this is true. Imagine, that you speak
Of yourself, speaking of others, that now you can seek
The irrelevant, the unneeded, the luxuries, the toys.
Life begins anew exactly thus: with noise
With erupting volcanos. and such catastrophes
A sloop lost below, friends lost beneath the seas .
Look straight at the tragedies, with the feeling these engender
That you alone can see them .With the small and tender
Feeling that, any minute now, you’ll turn away
To home, to the moment, to ask it to stay.

Imagine that the epoch ends in an idyl. The words that came
In monologues are rain dialogues now. And the flame,
That consumed others better than you, greedily, like logs;
In you it saw little use or warmth, and, like the dogs,
That’s why you were spared, why shrapnel gave you only fear.
Imagine that the more honest the voice, the less it has tears.
And when any Polyphemus asks you who it is that speaks.
“Say, Who, me? No one” like Odysseus the Greek.

--Larissa Shmailo


Blue atmosphere dazzles
somewhere above the green-crushed swelter
of the canopy. Soundlessly I pursue you
through the heat,
the wet snaps and shadow crackles.
Expertly I stalk you, smell the saline in your blood
through your slick black hide
and covert tread. You climb, you lope,
floating and furtive,
but cannot resist
mapping your existence, leaving the ragged autographs
of your claws. Those primal signatures lead me farther
into stillness.
All the signs are here, close now, I hear
the dangerous rhythm of your breath
hissing between the spear points of your jaw.
So close now
I taste the metal in your sweat

but never recognized the subtle curve to your path, never
knew you were right behind me
all this time
sighting in,
my glistening pelt already slung over your
deliberate shoulders.

--Kathryn Lorraine Rees

Please check out this Tiny Book link:
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Foamy - A Missing Element

Warning: Adult Language/For Mature Viewers Only

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Creative Cross Promotion

Creative Cross Promotion
By Don Lafferty

As much as we like to think our work is singularly compelling, the hard truth is, we’re faced with the daily challenge of breaking through the crushing onslaught of information bombarding our target readership.

Whether your promotional strategy of choice is print, radio, television, social media, or some combination of these, your ability to capture reader’s attention long enough for them to get your message requires just as much forethought and creativity as did grabbing the attention of your agent and publisher.

Step into the shoes of your target readers. What else do they read? Where do they surf the Net? What kind of music do they listen to? What movies do they watch and where do they shop? Which charities do they support?

The answers to these questions will provide you with countless opportunities to more effectively position you and your work in the places where your readers will take notice. Partnering with others will also leverage their networks to extend and multiply the reach of your own.
Create a local author marketing co-op.

We’ve all heard the sayings, “Two heads are better than one.” and “There’s strength in numbers.” This concept works for authors too. Bookstores, libraries, chambers of commerce and other local organizations are much more inclined to arrange a multiple author panel discussion [] than a single, up-and-coming author appearance.

If you attend local writer’s workshops and other writer community events, you already know the other authors in the same boat as you, so start with your closest connections and build from there. Don’t be concerned with building your group around a single genre since the goal is to expand your circles through each other’s networks.

Five or ten authors promoting an event will create significantly more buzz and attendance than one author doing it alone, and it’ll expose each author’s work to a fresh readership with every event. Your host will LOVE the traffic and be more inclined to have the group back for future events.

Ten is a good number to shoot for with the understanding that each author won’t make every event.

Align with a charity or non-profit organization that fits the material of your work or resonates with you personally.

Organizations such as Reading is Fundamental [] and The National Children’s Reading Foundation [] are always looking for donations of new and used books which they distribute to organizations nationwide. Local homeless shelters, prisons and military units too, are happy to accept book donations, and are usually open to sharing a website banner or placement of free printed advertising in their newsletters and other correspondence. Tie the donation of used books to your author appearances and you have the ability to cross promote your events with these types of organizations.

Consider which charities might have synergy with your material and make a list of potential partners to pitch.

Drive your readers to independent booksellers.

In the current economy, independent booksellers are under tremendous pressure to compete with the big box bookstores, and are much more inclined to support authors who support them. Indiebound [] and The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) [] are both open to cross-promotion including author events, banner swaps and print ad placement.

Provide links to Indiebound from your website, blog and social media outposts and let your local independents know you’re on their team.

Mine your material for logical product promotional opportunities.

Product placement can be a slippery slope, but more and more we see this tack being adopted in all facets of the entertainment industry.

Is your protagonist addicted to a certain type of chewing gum, soft drink or snack food? No matter what your creative motivation for making this part of your character’s personality, there’s no reason you can’t contact the manufacturer of the product to let them know their stuff is being advertised for free in the body of your work.

Legend has it that Myron Bolitar’s addiction to Yoo-Hoo in Harlan Coben’s breakout series of novels captured the attention of Yoo-Hoo’s marketing department who went on to provide free Yoo-Hoo for every book signing Coben did.

Creative use of cross promotion is a highly effective tactic for an up-and-coming author and has the ability to dramatically expand an author’s outreach into like-minded reader communities.

Don Lafferty is a sales executive, writer and, social media marketing consultant. He's the Social Media Director of the Wild River Review, and the Web's wackiest canine comedy series, It's Todd's Show. You can find his blog, Don Lafferty’s Strategies, Thoughts and Instructions for Including Social Media in Your Marketing Plan, at:
Click here

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

YouTube, Blogs, Texting, the Web: How Are New Media Changing Politics?

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Guest Post: A Freelancer’s Four Most Profitable Words

A Freelancer’s Four Most Profitable Words
By Dawn Allcot
Click here

Most of the freelance writing and editing work I receive comes through word-of-mouth and personal connections. Every few months, I’ll hit pot luck with a gig through Craig’s List or another job Web site and really hit it off with the client. But most of the time, I get to know my clients before they become my clients.

The four most profitable words in my freelance career:

“Do you hire freelancers?”

Who do I ask?

1. Since I often do marketing work as well as writing magazine articles, blogging and writing Web content, I often ask people at PR firms who pitch stories to me if they ever hire freelancers. Many do.

2. If I hit it off with an interview subject who owns their own business and has their own Web site, I ask if they are looking for anyone to write for them.

3. And of course, I sometimes make cold-calls or e-mails to interesting trade magazines asking: “Do you hire freelancers?” Trade magazines often don’t have their writers’ guidelines posted online or listed in writer’s markets and sometimes you can’t tell by studying the masthead if they ever work with freelancers.

By asking this question in a cold call, I save myself the trouble of constructing a query, or even outlining my qualifications, only to hear, “Sorry, we do all our writing in-house.”

By asking interview subjects, I am targeting specific clients based on a rapport we’ve already developed. Since my gut instincts about people are pretty spot-on, this minimizes my chances of getting one of those “problem clients” we all dread.

If a PR agent is pitching me a story, chances are they are already familiar with my work and they like what they see. I have nothing to lose by asking if they’d like to work with me in a different capacity.

Sometimes, the people I ask aren’t hiring right now, but they will keep it in the back of their minds. Other times, they didn’t know they were looking for freelance help, but when I plant the idea in their mind, they grab it! Sometimes, you achieve that serendipitous moment when, indeed, a person is seeking freelance help, and there you appear, right in front of them!

Like so much freelancing advice, this, too, boils down to the JHS (Just Hit Send) philosophy.

“Do you hire freelancers?” Just. Ask.

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Keep Your Writing Life Out of the Dumps

Keep Your Writing Life Out of the Dumps

It’s easy to get down during bad economic times like these.

So here’s a 10-point checklist to keep your writing life out of the dumps:

1) Work hard on being a better writer every day, whatever it takes.

2) Don't let rejection keep you down for too long. It goes with the territory and despite the pain it brings you must find a way to leap over it and keep writing as well as you can.

3) Remember that networking is important. You need to talk to publishers and editors constantly, as well as other writers. You need to get on the inside looking out, rather than the other way around. Face to face meetings are the best, followed by phone calls, followed by emails or snail mail.

4) Read, read, read—not only the greats from the past but also the greats of the present, as well as trade publications and writing books and news about our business. Immerse yourself.

5) Be as creative as possible and keep looking for different ways to get into the game of publishing.

6) Finish things. Don’t write halfway through a story or novel or article and give up. Complete it and send it out for publication somewhere.

7) Reassess where you are in your development and what you need to do to reach the next level.

8) Find more time to write. Take advantage of every opportunity to find a quiet, alone moment to sit down at your writing desk or wherever else you write. It’s not easy to find sometimes, but you must try.

9) Steer clear of negative people, of spiritless naysayers and other going-nowhere types. They will bring you down way faster than you pull them up.

10) Write down your goals and check them off as you complete them.

And good luck!

Best always and stay positive,


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Journalism's Transition to the Internet

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Writing Exercise of the Day: Go Home

Go Home
By Ann Bogle

After a long journey—to college or overseas with your Japanese class or across the country to take a job—visit your ancestral past. Go to your old street. Stand in front of the house you lived in when you were in kindergarten. Remember the note your mother pinned to your jacket on the first day. Remember the steps in the bus. What was the largest tree in your yard or on your street or at your apartment complex? Is the tree still there? Do your parents still live there? Is your once-home a highway or parkland now? Write a paragraph about it:

“In 1959, when my parents and brother moved to Thomas Avenue few homes on the street had been built. The street was surrounded by woods and wetlands. Houses cost $20,000. The same houses today cost $250,000. Our house is still standing at 4001. The present owners have painted it beige with a turquoise garage door and have added to the building. They have let my mother’s pristine yards and gardens grow over naturally. The best climbing tree, a willow, has died, and only its stump remains. The tallest tree in the yard, a poplar, has fallen. The largest tree in the front yard, an oak, is even larger now. My parents had painted our house pink as if the house were in New Orleans instead of in Minnesota; later it was yellow, the color of farm houses in Wisconsin, where they had met and married and lived before returning to my father’s native state.”

or poem in language that suggests it:

… the same door added a yard
naturally built yards surrounded parents
the garage poplar color beige when native
is my house to my moved brother
wetlands tree with standing
$20,000 farm even yellow
my houses in the tallest
where oak now and died pristine
were homes at best the gardens
have parents met to returning …

You may be just visiting, or you may have returned home for good. You may travel the rest of your life, thinking of home as the starting point of a journey that changes you in all your details, or you may view your starting point as a place to return to write about where you have been.

Ann Bogle has published short stories, prose, and poetry in many literary journals in print and online. For a listing of her publications and a sampling of her writing visit Ana Verse at:
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Writer's Block the Vlog

Warning: Adult Language/For Mature Viewers Only

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Writing Prompts of the Day

Write about…

What you do very well.

Your greatest obsession.

Something you dislike about yourself.

The qualities you most admire in yourself and others.

Your greatest fear.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Interview with Author Christopher Moore

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Characterization: Why Short Stories are Limited by the Number of Characters Therein

Characterization: Why Short Stories are Limited by the Number of Characters Therein
By Bev Walton-Porter

I'll be discussing characters today—your characters, specifically.

If you’ve done a rough outline and perhaps started piecing together a skeleton foundation for a short story, then chances are you already have your characters in mind.

It’s very difficult to visualize a story without some idea of the players in the drama or comedy. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s impossible to visualize a story concept without some type of character popping into your mind.

Characters make the story live and move and breathe. Plot is important, of course, but what is plot without the characters that bring the situations to life? Readers want to jump into skins of other people–even people with whom they have nothing in common.
As writers, it’s easy to say we are readers, as well. Every writer I’ve ever met began as a reader. It’s a natural progression, of course. As a reader you vicariously experience life through the eyes of characters involved in stories.

Plots are meant to take your story to a climax and resolution, but the vehicles which move us to that goal are the characters themselves. This is one of the two vital ingredients of stories—both short and long.

In short stories, however, you would be hard-pressed to crowd hundreds of characters into a 2,000-word piece of work.

You should try to stick to a handful of characters at the most. Anything different and you’ll probably alienate your reader. Novels give you enough space and freedom to explore numerous
characters; a short story does not. In shorter pieces, your framework is limited and beyond confusing your reader with barely-known characters who jump on and off the stage, you could cause your readers to lose interest and stop reading entirely. This, of course, is the last thing you want to do as a writer!

Author and editor Michael Seidman once wrote that 99 percent of all writers who sent him manuscripts began with what happened in a story, rather than to whom it happens. He noted that flat characters will make a piece of writing flat, and as an editor at a publishing company, he wouldn’t work with that particular author. Basically, lifeless characters lead to diminished sales—or no sales!
Avoid the “this guy” syndrome, as Mr. Seidman puts it. You may have the plot, but you must flesh out the characters—especially the MAIN one, or protagonist -- before you have ANY story. I’ve yet to read a short story without characters. Someone has to carry out the wonderful or dastardly deeds, and as a writer, you should be as familiar with those characters as you are with your own self. If you aren’t, your plot won’t matter one whit.
So how do you come up with characters, you ask? How do you discover the people who will people your short story? This one is easy: one of the best sources you have for finding characters is living life itself. By watching, observing people you know, strangers and even yourself.

A word of extreme caution is necessary here now.

You can get into big trouble by using the specific details of people you know. And it can be very embarrassing and costly for friends or family members to recognize themselves in your story.

“But didn’t you just say . . . ?”

Yes, I said that.

However, there’s a simple adjustment you must make. Go ahead and use people you know as the beginning of your characters, but then use the process of interrogation, or questioning your characters, to turn the people you think you know into people that aren’t really people you know. Literally interview your characters, ask a lot of “what if” questions, see what your instincts tell you about the character, and make sure to strip the extraneous features.

Also, if you’re modeling a character on your Aunt Sue, it doesn’t mean you have to make your character look like Aunt Sue. Give your character different looks, some character tags or quirks apart from Aunt Sue, and mix the other details. You’re basically remaking your Aunt Sue into a whole new person. Only you’ve used her as a starting point, not as the finished product.

As for the interrogation process, you literally make a list of questions to ask your characters to see what they tell you. It sounds off the wall, but it does work! Give it a try. You’ll be surprised at the results. Getting to know your characters means you must know what they look like on the outside, AND how they think and feel on the inside, as well. If you miss this important step in writing your short story, you’ll literally be writing a story peopled with strangers!

When bringing your short story characters to life, you must find out what each character’s motivation is. Why does he do this, but not that? And his or her motivations must resonate with the character. A reader knows instantly if a character does, indeed, do something out of character. Readers are smart like that. Your character’s actions must make sense, and there must be a reason for doing that particular action. Better yet, those particular actions must make sense to the story. If the actions don’t contribute to moving the story forward, then why add it in the first place?

Think about your characters’ pasts and reputations, where they grew up, who their families are, how educated they are, what their habits are, and how they got to this point (where your story begins). What was the road leading to the roles they play in your short story? Knowing these things will make your story and your characters more authentic. It will also do something else–it will be a safeguard against having your characters act uncharacteristically. And that’s one thing readers definitely notice!

In your story, you’ll have several types of characters. Your major characters are the ones we care about. Their actions move the story to a satisfying conclusion—and these characters are good or bad—protagonist (good) or villain/antagonist (bad).

When working with major characters, remember this: An appealing character strives against great odds to obtain a worthwhile goal.

Second, you may have characters who serve as minor characters. These are the ones who make a difference in the plot of the story, but they won’t show up all the time throughout the story.

Generally, minor characters perform one or two actions in a story, then exit stage. They may add an interesting turn to the plot, but they play no major role in how the continuing story unfolds.

Don’t allow your minor characters to upstage your major ones.

Finally, you may have walk-on characters who show up in your story for a specific purpose, then disappear just as quickly. They still have a reason for being there, but their roles are extremely minor.

One mention here regarding naming your characters–be careful what you name your people because you just might get it! What I mean is this: when we hear a person’s name, we generally hold an idea of how this person acts. When I say Melvin Smerdstuffer, would your mind conjure up a dashing, romantic hero? Probably not. How about Charles Dickens’ character, Ebenezer Scrooge? Sound like a generously happy-go-lucky guy? Not.

For me, I’ve had luck using books with baby names. It’s fun to find the meaning of names, and often I discover ones I would have never thought of on my own! You can also search the Internet for sites pertaining to names and their meanings.

One intriguing site is There’s an extensive list of names here, in alphabetical order. Just be careful what you ask for in a name, your character just might get it!

This week, work on bringing your own story’s characters to life. List the characters in your short story and work up character sketches for each. Begin with physical characteristics (height, weight, eye and hair color, etc.) and proceed to more in-depth interviewing of your characters—their backgrounds, beliefs, and lifestyles.

By the end of this week, you should know the people who live in your story.

Once you’ve discovered more about your characters, work some more on the rough draft of your short story. Use the information in this column to refine what you’ve written so far. Remember, what you write in the first draft won’t be the end result. Don’t be afraid to go back and make changes!

Have fun with it and make the story YOUR story using your own private writing voice.

Bev Sninchak (writing as Bev Walton-Porter and Star Ferris) is a professional writer/author who has published hundreds of stories on a wide variety of subjects and written four books: “Sun Signs for Writers,” “Mending Fences,” and “The Complete Writer: A Guide to Tapping Your Full Potential,” co-authored with three other writers. Her fourth book, “Hidden Fire,” is due out in 2009 from Whiskey Creek Press.

Bev also works as a contract editor, writing instructor and creativity coach. She has edited and published the award-winning e-zine for writers, Scribe & Quill, for the past eleven years. She is a member of The Authors Guild as well as the co-founder of the International Order of Horror Professionals.

Please visit her Web site at:
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Foamy - Creative issues

Warning: Adult Language/For Mature Viewers Only

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New York Writers Workshop’s Perfect Pitch Fiction Conference

New York Writers Workshop’s Perfect Pitch Fiction Conference where novelists pitch manuscripts to editors from major New York publishing houses (Viking, Penguin, Random House, Scribners, Simon and Schuster, others). Saturday special: a panel of agents.
Date: Fri – Sun, May 29-31, 2009
Location: Midtown Manhattan
For details visit
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Or write

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Monday, April 20, 2009

An Interview with Legendary Poet, Songwriter, Novelist Leonard Cohen

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Finding the Genius Within: A Writer's Guide

Finding the Genius Within: A Writer's Guide
By Rob Parnell

This is a three-stage process.

First, you need to break down your preconceptions about what you think being a genius is.

When you call someone a genius, what do you mean?

That they seemingly display characteristics to be above the common herd? That they think ahead of their time? That they seem to be able to create perfect art with little or no effort?

Einstein was a genius they say. So were Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven and Van Gogh. Why? Because they displayed a unique way of thinking that separated them from the mainstream.

Did genius just bestow itself upon these individuals?

No, every so-called genius is a craftsman first. They learn the basics. They study them, copy them until they are implicit. So that when it's time to create for themselves, they know and understand their influences.

Good artists express themselves with honesty and skill. They also learn—and keep learning—from other artists. No influence is a bad influence. It all helps.

Genius is a not a thing in itself. It is merely a qualitative judgment made by individuals and critics—usually after the artist is dead!

What marks you out as a "genius" is your willingness to be true—to yourself and to your art. In other words, genius is really about having the courage of your convictions—the courage to be yourself.

Stage two: some practical advice now.

Clear your mind. To do this, meditate or go for a long walk in the country, undisturbed.

First, try to visualize nothing. No feelings, influences or distractions. Try to find that inner essence that is pure calm, joy and strength. It’s there, inside all of us. Get in touch with it.

Then, calmly tell yourself you’re a genius. Repeat the phrase to yourself until it becomes almost meaningless.

I am a genius.

Do this about three to five times a day for five days. (You can do this with any phrase you want your subconscious to believe.)

For stage three, when you’re ready, take the plunge and write.

Write a paragraph or two about a character or a situation that you totally believe in—even if it’s fictional. Edit it afterwards until all the words represent that particular view of reality, as if it IS true, 100%.

Read it back. Is it convincing? If not, keep rewriting until the logic of each word and sentence is, in your mind, incontrovertible.

That’s the trick. Make your work totally convincing TO YOU on your own terms. Do not write for others. It doesn’t work. Be true to yourself and others will follow.

In the end, it's about how much you believe in your own vision of the world. If you don’t really believe in something then neither will your reader, no matter how clever you are with words.

In brief, to be a potential "genius" you must trust your instincts, believe in yourself and write from the heart. To do any less is to cheat yourself—and your readers.

Rob Parnell is a prolific writer who’s published novels, short stories, and articles in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, and a teacher who’s conducted writing workshops, critique groups, and seminars.

Please visit Mr. Parnell’s Web site at:
Click here

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Facebook Writer

Please check out Debbie Ridpath Ohi's wonderful site:
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David Farland's "Kick in the Pants" Advice for Writers: Agents

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Tip of the Day: Literary Focus

Literary Focus
By Will Greenway

Focus in journalism is assumed, but many writers don't realize that it is of equal importance to fiction. In journalism, the focus is on facts and instilling knowledge. Extraneous words and ideas get in the way of the message the author is conveying. In a world of waning attention spans, the material must be catchy, evocative, and pull the reader in right away. In this media-saturated world, there are dozens of alternatives to whatever it is you are presenting. You must the hook the reader, or he will move on. This particular truth applies to ALL writing—YOUR writing.

When we consider letting others read our work, we turn our creative efforts toward polishing, and that's when focus comes into play.

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Corbet Dean: Nietzsche's Prophecy

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5 Twtter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know

1) #journchat
Journalist-to-Journalist, Journalist-to-P.R. People Chat
Click here

Host: Sarah Evans
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2) #editorchat
Writer-to-Editor Chat
Click here

Co-Host: Tim Beyers
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Co-Host: Lydia Dishman
Click here

3) #journ2journ
Journalist-to-Journalist Chat
Click here

Acting Host: Chuck Welch
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4) #writechat
Sunday Afternoon Writing Salon, 12-3PM (PST)

Host: Julie Isaac
Click here

5) #queryday
A place to test out queries with publishing pros

Hosts: Colleen Lindsay
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Jenny Rae Rappaport
Click here

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Expanding Within Your Niche

Expanding Within Your Niche
By Patricia Fry

Do you have a pet subject that you would like to write about? Or maybe you are already doing some writing on your favorite topic. Are your efforts paying your way? Or do you feel that maybe you’re just spinning your wheels without monetary results? Maybe that’s because you are trying to write with a focus that is just too narrow. Are you aware that you can expand your horizons even if you want to stay focused on one basic topic?

So what is your topic? Pets and animals (a very popular one), aviation, the environment, horses (this is the subject I wrote about when I started my writing career over 30 years ago), quilting, cooking, relationships, parenting… Do you feel as though you have exhausted all of the article/story possibilities related to this topic? If so, I have two things to say in response: I seriously doubt that you have written on your topic from all angles and perspectives. And if you absolutely have, you’ve probably been writing on this subject for a thousand years, so just start all over again—recycle those early articles. I’m going on the assumption that you have not tapped all of the ideas and resources available on your subject and I will throw out some suggestions for you to consider when formulating your next 100 articles on your favorite topic:

• Write about what you know related to your topic—your experiences with it as a participant and as an observer.

• Write about what you want to know with regard to your topic. In other words, do some research to discover aspects of it that you have wondered about.

• Interview experts as well as novices who have had experiences different than your own. Form articles around these interviews.

• Use what you discovered in the interviews to come up with new article ideas.

• Explore the many facets of your subject. If it is pets and animals, just look at the number of different types of animals you can study and write about. Multiply that by the number of issues around each of these types of animals. If your subject is quilting, just imagine how many different types of quilts there are—each with a story behind it. Likewise, how many quilters are there? Can you see how these two topics could keep a writer busy for several lifetimes?

• Consider all of the angles related to your topic: the history, the personalities, the businesses established around it, the hobbies, the organizations, the events. What about celebrities involved in this topic, the laws pertaining to it from country to country and so forth.

• Widen your horizon when it comes to placing your articles and stories. Of course, you are aware of the traditional, well-known magazines of the trade. But are you also submitting to appropriate newsletters and websites? And what about publications not related to the topic? Consider submitting your piece featuring an older celebrity and his pet llamas to AARP The Magazine, for example. A general interest magazine might be interested in your piece on flying as the new high for young pilots, your article on unique ways with legumes as a way to save money in these difficult economic times or one featuring quilting as a stress-reliever.

If these few suggestions didn’t give you new ideas for presenting your niche topic, you are either already practicing excellent skill as a freelance writer or you have closed your mind to the huge array of possibilities. Do yourself a favor. If you want to get more work writing in your field, open your mind and allow your success in.

Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of 29 books. Her articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Entrepreneur Magazine, Cat Fancy, Your Health, The Toastmaster and many others. View her collection of books at And visit her informative publishing blog often:

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Mike Geffner's 20 Ways to Know You’re Addicted to Your Blog

20 Ways to Know You’re Addicted to Your Blog
By Michael P. Geffner

You know you’re addicted to your blog when...

1) You get terribly depressed when your monthly “unique visitors” is down by a smidgen of a percent.
2) You check Google Analytics every five minutes just to see if you’ve gotten more page hits.
3) You dream constantly of, if not obsess upon, the words “Digg” and “StumbleUpon” and “”
4) You change the font 20 times in just a couple of hours and the color around 50, frantically going up or down, down and up a single shade.
5) You are utterly convinced that virtually everything you do in your life is worthy of a post. And if something you did wasn't, well, you vow never to do that thing ever again.
6) You think about your blog while eating out with friends, or even when you're in the bathroom.
7) You Google the name of your blog at least once a day simply to see who’s mentioning it.
8) You get goose bumps when you think you written a great post.
9) You thoroughly loathe people who don't visit your blog after you've invited them.
10) You pull up your blog five times a day just to stare at it lovingly.
11) You check your Adsense numbers more than your bank account.
12) You suffer withdrawal symptoms, like the shakes or a twitching eye, if you haven’t blogged in an hour.
13) You take three seconds or less from the time you finish your post to sharing it on Twitter.
14) You get incredibly sad that no one has commented on your last post.
15) You wake up from a deep sleep just to post something, then go right back to bed.
16) You sometimes whisper the letters RSS as if it were a mantra.
17) You look at your bio and it ALWAYS looks wrong.
18) You will do anything, even something a tad undignified, simply for a little link love.
19) You break into a feverish sweat while desperately searching for the “perfect” image to go along with your post.
20) You alternately think your blog is absolutely brilliant, or totally sucks.

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Spotlight Interview from the Archives: Jenna Glatzer/Part 4 of 4

(An oldie but goodie from the archives)
Jenna Glatzer, Writer/Editor/Author

Jenna Glatzer is an award-winning writer who has authored several books, including Celine Dion’s authorized biography, a Marilyn Monroe bio, and exclusively for writers Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen; Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer; and The Street-Smart Writer.

She’s also written for countless magazines and online publications and is a contributing editor at Writer's Digest, as well as the founder and former editor in chief of the infinitely respected writers’ resource site, Absolute Write (

To learn more about Ms. Glatzer, please go to her site at:

The following is the final part of the exclusive interview I conducted with Jenna several years ago:

Mike: is such a wonderful site for writers. I applaud you. How did that come about?

Glatzer: Well, in 1998, I started up this tiny little Web site just for myself and my screenplays. I wrote screenplays early in my career. In fact, I was more focused on writing screenplays than anything else. So I had pitches for each of my scripts, some of which had been optioned. I had my agent’s name and all his info. And for some reason, I don’t know why, this little teeny free site got so much traffic. Not from producers (which is what I was aiming for) but from fellow writers. I got a ton of questions from them. Like: How did you option your scripts? How did you get an agent? At the time, it felt funny for me to be answering these, because I really wasn’t an experienced screenwriter. I was new at this also.

The thing is, screenwriting is such a difficult field, and I was having some minor successes. So I wrote up what little I did know, of how I achieved these successes. I figured this would stop people from asking questions. Instead, I got more questions.

So I figured there was a need for this, not just for screenwriters but writers of all kinds.

It began as a geocities page called “Jenna’s Screenwriting Spot.” I was participating in a lot of message boards and so it got around through word of mouth.
I didn’t want it to be only screenwriting. My focus had changed and broadened. I quickly moved on to magazines, greeting cards, books, copywriting. I’m the Jill of all trades, you could say. I’ve done just about every form of writing you can do.
Then I bought a domain name. I knew I wanted the word “write” in the title somewhere, for search optimization. A lot of search listings are alphabetical, so I wanted an “a” word. I thought of amazing, at first. But then I went to the first letters in the alphabet—a-b—then the came up with the word absolute, then absolutewrite. I said to myself, “God, that’s perfect!”

Mike: How did this type of initiative play into your freelance writing career?

Glatzer: I definitely put in a lot more work into my query letters in the beginning than a lot of people do, to show the editor I could handle the story.

I’d write the first three paragraphs of story. I’d include the relevant stats and facts. I’d include the people I’d be interviewing. I wanted to give the editor the assurance that he or she wouldn’t have to hold my hand, trust me with more complicated assignments.

I completely broke the rule that says, “Don’t go beyond one page.” I think you have to do more to prove yourself when you’re starting out.

Also, I learned to crawl before I walked. Before I broke into the big magazines, I had a lot of small-time credits.

I was persistent and creative. I didn’t just look through all the help wanted ads or job sites, where so many people were competing for those jobs and the sheer number would overwhelm editors. I was applying to places that weren’t advertising for writers. I didn’t hit a lot. Out of every 10 that I contacted, nine I never heard back from. But for every hit, I was constantly casting out my net. Doing that a lot early on has put me in a position now to not have to cast out that net anymore. I now have editors who call on me. I don’t send out proposals, or query letters anymore. It’s a terrific place to be. It allows me to only work on things that I have a genuine interest in.

Mike: What’s your biggest trade secret for being a good freelancer?

Glatzer: Diversifying. The market for freelance writers, no doubt, is very difficult. Anybody who says it’s easy to make a living is lying. It’s tough—but doable.

One of the challenges is that there are so many magazines that fold or change directions. Or hire a new editor and kill all the previous editor’s articles and pay very low kills fees. It’s a field where the rug could be yanked out from under you very easily. So building relationships with many editors in many different markets is the way to go. And never stop. Keep diversifying. Keep trying to land assignments. Have backup plans. Don’t be just a magazine writer, or newspaper writer… consider even things like greeting cards as an option. I made a quarter of my income from greeting cards one year. It’s a fun field to be in, and it’s very, very short-term work. You can make $100 sometimes for an idea that popped into your head watching TV.

Mike: How about dealing with editors?

Glatzer: Occasionally you’ll run into a writer-friendly editor, and that makes it easy. But your mindset should be: I’m here to provide a service. What can I do to make your job easier? What do you need that I can provide?

I didn’t start out my career thinking that way. But once I started, it seemed like the writer-editor relationship was much more of an equal one, rather than seeming like some desperate writer begging to appear in this publication.

Mike: How do you develop good relationships with editors?

Glatzer: There’s nothing really hard about it. You need to network with them, but not to make it feel like networking. You can’t just pop up and call saying right out of the blue, “Hi, how are you? How’s the dog and family?” It has to feel natural to both you and the editor. It’s a fine line between fake and too chatty and being genuinely interested in working for that editor. When you hear about a person getting a promotion or getting married, that’s a great opportunity to call them. Or in an email or letter, compliment an editor on a good issue they put out. Editors really appreciate that.

Also, if I’m happy with the end result of a story I wrote for a magazine, I’ll write a thank you note to the editor who worked with me.

I’ve had some great editors along the way. You need someone who’s going to challenge you. It’s important to your growth as a writer.

Mike: Where do you get your ideas and how much research do you do?

Glatzer: I’m a big, big researcher! The ideas come from all over—conversations with strangers, public relations people who send me stories about their clients, things I read in other publications that I can then spin off and pitch to other markets, television, web searches. I specialize in a few areas, like health and nutrition. So I keep on top of current research and keep my eye out for potential stories in those areas. I pride myself on my research skills, and I think that’s helped me to earn the respect of many editors. I always “over-research,” meaning that I do far more than will ever fit into an article.

Mike: How did you get the Celine Dion book and what was Celine like to work with?

Glatzer: She was a doll to work with. I didn’t know what to expect from her, but she was a total sweetheart.

How I came to do the book is a funny story. I didn’t get it through an agent. What happened is that I sent samples of my work to a book packager two years before that, and they kept it on file. So an editor there, after going through old files, emailed me out of the blue one day to ask me if I’d be interested. It was thrilling. Serendipity? Whatever it was it felt like a big reward for all the hard work I’ve ever done as a writer

Mike: What’s your five best pieces of advice for writers?


1. Stay open to all possibilities. Don't label yourself as a sci-fi writer, a poet, a tech writer. Keep learning and be ready to apply yourself to whatever challenge arises.

2. If you can stick to your deadlines, you're already ahead of about half the writers out there. This is a business where days and hours count; never make an editor sweat it out at the last minute.

3. Share your crayons. Make friends with other writers. When you find an opportunity that you can't take, pass it along to someone who might want it. Share your contact information and leads; don't hoard it for yourself because you're afraid of the competition. Karma. It'll come back to you.

4. Don't be afraid to negotiate. Contracts are negotiable, and are usually not written with a writer's best interest in mind. Editors expect you to negotiate. Do so with fervor, and don't settle for a contract that disappoints you.

5. Stay away from anyone who seeks to separate you from your money. Legitimate agents don't charge fees until after the sale. Legitimate publishers pay you, not the other way around . . . and they don't rely on having you hound your friends and family to buy your books. Seek publishers with established channels of distribution and watch out for hyped-up claims. Publishers who are advertising for writers all over are likely not legit - real publishers (and agents) don't need to campaign for writers—they get plenty of submissions as it is!

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Writing Quotes of the Day

“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Writing is not competition to me. Writing is fun and I am simply a storyteller. What I really enjoy about writing is the self-discipline that it takes to do it. To me, it is a great challenge, like learning to celestial navigate or becoming a seaplane pilot. Any man or woman bellied up to a bar with a few shots of tequila swimming around in their bloodstream can tell a story. The challenge is to wake up the next day and carve through the minefield of the hangover and a million other excuses and be able to cohesively get it on paper.”—Jimmy Buffett

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done. The writer's only responsibility is to his art.”—William Faulkner

“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.”—Anna Quindlen

“For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity.”—George Orwell

“The writer who cares more about words than about story (characters, action, setting, atmosphere) is unlikely to create a vivid and continuous dream; he gets in his own way too much; in his poetic drunkenness, he can't tell the cart—and its cargo—from the horse.”—John Gardner

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”—Winston Churchill

“Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write a book so when the reader gets to the end of the chapter, he or she must turn one more page. When people tell me I've kept them up all night, I feel like I've succeeded.”—Sidney Sheldon

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.”—Gloria Steinem

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's works is all I can permit myself to contemplate.”—John Steinbeck

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Foamy – Writing with Distractions

Warning: Adult Language/For Mature Viewers Only

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Writers at Work: Joseph Campbell

Writers at Work: Joseph Campbell
From The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work:

So during the years of the Depression I had arranged a schedule for myself. When you don’t have a job or anyone to tell you what to do, you’ve got to fix one for yourself. I divided the day into four four-hour periods, of which I would be reading in three of the four-hour periods, and free one of them.

By getting up at eight o’clock in the morning, by nine I could sit down to read. That meant I used the first hour to prepare my own breakfast and take care of the house and put things together in whatever shack I happened to be living in at the time. Then three hours of that first four-hour period went to reading.

Then came an hour break for lunch and another three-hour unit. And then comes the optional next section. It should normally be three hours of reading and then an hour out for dinner and then three hours free and an hour getting to bed so I’m in bed by twelve.

On the other hand, if I were invited out for cocktails or something like that, then I would put the work hour in the evening and the play hour in the afternoon.

It worked very well. I would get nine hours of sheer reading done a day. And this went on for five years straight.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Inspired Word Readings of Poetry & Prose in NYC/April 27th!

The Inspired Word Poetry & Prose Readings in Queens!

When: Monday, April 27th!

Time: 7:00-10 pm (though you're welcome to stay until closing time)

Location: Tierra Sana Restaurant
100-17 Queens Blvd & 67th Road
Forest Hills, Queens
New York City

By subway, take the local R or V to 67th Avenue stop (and it's right there between 67th Road and 67th Avenue along Queens Boulevard).

Free wine tasting and appetizers! Awesome ambience and food! A great collection of writers and their work!

Performer Bios:

Joel Chace has published poetry and prose poetry in print and electronic magazines such as 6ix, Tomorrow, Lost and Found Times, Coracle, xStream, Three Candles, 2River View, Joey & the Black Boots, Recursive Angel, and Veer. He has published more than a dozen print and electronic collections. Just out from BlazeVox Books is CLEANING THE MIRROR: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, and from Paper Kite Press is MATTER NO MATTER, another full-length collection. Just out from Country Valley Press is SCAFFOLD, the first part of an ongoing poetic sequence, and "(b)its," from Meritage Press. For many years, Chace has been Poetry Editor for the experimental electronic magazine 5_Trope.

Becky Froman is a wayward performer and a graduate student at The New School for Media Studies and Film. She obtained her Bachelors Degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in Women’s Studies and Afro-American Studies, with a minor in Music Performance. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and hopes to one day have assets. She loves her tattoo and hates anything in bulk.

Sinje Ollen is a writer, knitwear designer, sculptor, and former actress. She has acted on Broadway, performed in the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival , appeared in experimental theater productions in New York and Europe, and starred in "The Tourist", a docudrama which aired at Lincoln Center, at MoMA, and on PBS. Sinje’s knitwear designs have been featured in the Fashioning Brooklyn show at the Brooklyn Library, and on the cover of the New York Sun. Her blog features an ongoing series of Sinje’s reviews of New York yarn shops. She is also rewriting (hopefully for the last time) a memoir about her German family’s Nazi past.

An 82nd Airborne Paratrooper (98-01), Naropa alumni (02-06) and Long Island University M.F.A.(06) candidate, Gary Parrish co-edited with Leann Bifoss, Poems From Penny Lane (farfalla press 03) an all inclusive anthology featuring over 70 poets chronicling 20 years of poetry in and around Naropa University. He co-curated the year long Bowery Broadside Reading Series 07 featuring original artwork by George Schneeman at the BPC in New York City. He is the 2006 Pedro Pietri Memorial Prize recipient, awarded by The Bowery Arts and Sciences, LTD and The Ester Hynamen Award winner for poetry given by Long Island University (08). Gary's poetry and commentary can be found in Pinstripe Fedora, Big Bridge, Trans-Mountain Poetry, The American Drivel Review, Downtown Brooklyn, Four-Quarter Review, Puppy Flowers and Bombay Gin among others. The Meek, a long poem was published in the Italian Journal, Ludwig (Torino Poesia Press 08). Gary is a co-founder and editor for Farfalla Press, McMillan, and Parrish located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn where he lives.

Aja Mujinga Sherrard is a multi-cultural, multi-racial wanderer, daughter, artist and student who fell into spoken word by the inspiration of her peers and influence of artists like Saul Williams and Ella Fitzgerald.

For the last six years, Lorraine Rees lived in the rolling mountains of central Virginia where she trained horses and worked as a consultant for fine dining restaurants. She published her first book, Contents Under Pressure, in September of 2007. Lorraine currently resides in Manhattan and looks forward to publishing her second book, The Goodbye Zoo, in 2009.

Larissa Shmailo translated the Russian Futurist opera Victory over the Sun by A. Kruchenych; a DVD of the original English-language production is part of the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Hirschhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art. She also contributed translations to the recent anthology Contemporary Russian Poetry published by Dalkey Archive Press. Her poetry CDs, The No-Net World (SongCrew 2006) and Exorcism (2008) with music by Bobby Perfect are frequently heard on radio and Internet broadcasts. Her latest chapbook is A Cure for Suicide (Cervena Barva Press 2008). Larissa’s full-length collection of poetry, In Paran, will be published by BlazeVox Books in May, 2009. Larissa lives happily on the upper West Side of Manhattan.

Carrie VanDenburg has been writing poetry since the 8th grade. She has been an editor of and been published in two college creative writing journals: Revisions and She's Aloud and was involved in creative writing groups in her undergraduate colleges. Currently, she spends most of her energy in graduate school studying social work but hopes to someday combine her love of creative writing with her love of helping people. Carrie lives in Flatbush Brooklyn with her roommate and two cats.

MC/Host: Marron Cox

All you need to bring is your love for the written word, but...PLEASE do your best to support the restaurant, your servers, and the performing writers.


Mike Geffner

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