A Prologue or not? That is the question

I've heard a lot of pros and cons about Prologues. So I'd like your opinion. I'm definitely on the fence. And if I do decide to take my Prologue out, what should I do with the material? Please help me out. Please read my novel's Prologue and let me know what you think. 1906 Prologue As Ira Schuman pulls on his beard with one hand and twirls his payess with the other he looks at the steady stream of customers going in and out of the shop with the red and white awning. Some men wear their tallit fringes hanging below the hems of the heavy black coats and matching wide-brimmed black hats that rest lightly atop their bushy hair. Their beards and coiled payess appear long and straggly. But Ira eyes focus on the men who display short hair and smooth shaven faces. Since he's been in Chicago one week already, he decides today is the day to go inside. He meanders around several card tables of goods for sale on Maxwell Street and enters through the shop's open door. Hello, Mister, s … [Read more...]

Reviews are powerful

Ever since my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, received its first review, I've felt how powerful reviews can be. Whether good or bad, what a reviewer says directly affects the author of the book reviewed and its salability. I found the following quote recently that I think all reviewers (besides book-review-editors) ought to think about when they write a book review: "Nearly every writer writes a book with a great amount of attention and intention and hopes and dreams. And it's important to take that effort seriously and to recognize that a book may have taken ten years of a writer's life, that the writer has put heart and soul into it. And it behooves us, as book-review-editors, to treat those books with the care and attention they deserve, and to give the writer that respect." - Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review editor in a "Poets & Writers interview.  My Choices guest today, Nina Guilbeau, the author of God Doesn't Love Us All the Same, discusses her thoughts about … [Read more...]

Short Fiction Break

While I'm awaiting feedback on my novel, I've been dabbling in other writing. Of course I'm always writing poems, but I'm now ensconced in editing some of the poems I wrote during our trip to Africa with the goal of putting together a book of images with poems. I've also written a couple of pieces of short fiction, inspired by an article I read in "The New Yorker" a few weeks ago about Lydia Davis, a short story master. According to her Amazon page: "Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections, the most recent of which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the acclaimed translator of a new edition of Swann's Way and is at work on a new translation of Madame Bovary." I immediately bought a copy of The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis.  What intrigues me is that she writes stories of varying lengths - some only a short paragraph or a line or two long. I like writing short poems -- Haiku and Twitter-140-character poems -- so I like the i … [Read more...]

Does fear of rejection cause procrastination?

I'm procrastinating about getting my novel ready to send off to my first group of beta readers. I keep thinking what will I work on while it's being reviewed? I don't have another book in mind unless it's poetry, or maybe a book of essays. I feel at a loss right now about what I'll work on next. I'm also procrastinating because I'm worried about what the reviewers will think. After all, this is my first novel most of the stuff in it is totally made up something I've never done before, so it is a huge confront to send it to people who will actually read it and hopefully give me their honest opinions and criticisms. However, Seth Godin one of my favorite bloggers came up with just the right words in his blog today: "But I might get rejected Indeed, you might. You might get your hopes up only to find them dashed. You might decide on where you want to go, and then not get there. You might fall in love with a vision of the future and then discover it doesn't … [Read more...]

Writing critiques are not all alike

Sherwood Smith I attended a Greater Los Angeles Writers Society critique session yesterday afternoon that was different from any I have ever been to before. It was led by author and writing workshop leader, Sherwood Smith. First a little about Sherwood. She walked in at exactly 2:30, the time we were supposed to start. She was wearing a long flowing blue skirt that only showed her Birkenstock sandals and a ruffled jacket type top that matched. Her reddish brown hair pulled back from her plain unmade up face fell down her back past her butt and seemed to fold into her skirt. She had a black leather tote bag and carried a parasol it was definitely not an umbrella. She sat down, got out her bottle of Fuji water, and arranged herself while Tony, our GLAWS leader, in his usual way started the meeting late, made lengthy announcements, and didn't introduce her until almost 3:00. As she was waiting she took a fan out of her bag, unfolded it, and began to fan herself furiously. I was … [Read more...]

Write down fifteen favorite books in fifteen minutes

"So many books, so little time." Here's my list, though surely not complete, in no particular order: Gone with the Wind - Mitchell The Fountainhead - Rand Angle of Repose - Stegner The Blind Assassin - Atwood The Robber Bride - Atwood Mao's Last Dancer - Cunxin The Corrections - Franzen Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - Joyce From Here to Eternity - Jones Catcher in the Rye - Salinger East of Eden - Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath - Steinbeck The Hours - Cunningham Mrs. Dalloway - Wolfe Lolita - Nabakov … [Read more...]