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Besides having one of the best writer’s websites I’ve ever seen, Joan Dempsey has successfully merged the craft she loves with a business model that helps others reach their writing goals. On March 8 at 6 PM EST, she joins me on the Behind the Prose Radio Show to tell us how she lives the literary life oh-so-well. There are things I want to know like: what is a "writing shed” and how does one get one? How do writers decide which genre to focus on? And can you really teach an old writer dog new cut-clutter-from-your sentences-tricks?
Besides delving into her original course, Improve Your Writing: Ten Essential Tools for Streamlining Your Sentences, we’ll focus on the craft of her short story, “Wild Swan” which appeared in The Adirondack Review.
Joan will take your questions live on the air via my studio call-in phone number 347-857-2225.
Tweet your questions or SKYPE in by clicking the button on the live show! #noexcuses
Let's listen, learn, and write!
In this Behind the Prose exclusive, I interview Shapiro, who was my thesis mentor while I was an MFA student in the Creative Writing Program at The New School, where she's taught writing since 1993 and won a Distinguished Teaching Award.
The first time I took her highly popular "Instant Gratification Takes Too Long" Journalism course, I - like many of the other students -published a personal essay (on the website The Frisky.) I have to credit Shapiro with guiding my foray into the world of creative nonfiction. Once you listen to this interview, you’ll know exactly why I call her New York City’s Writer-in-Residence.
I’m not the only student whose writing life has been changed by her insight. More than 85 of her students have landed book deals over the last 10 years. The latest is Aspen Matis whose memoir Girl in the Woods is out this month from HarperCollins. Shapiro's students’ successes are reflective of a philosophy she lives by: publishing karma.
You can benefit from Sue's good publishing karma tomorrow at her open-to-the-public free Secrets of Publishing Panel at The New School, 63 Fifth Avenue, Starr Foundation Hall, UL 102, Lower Level, University Center. Joining Shapiro will be Aspen Matis, her literary agent Ryan Harbage, Heliotrope book editor Naomi Rosenblatt, and Daniel Jones, the editor of what might be the personal essayists’ holy grail, the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times.
Author Cameron Conaway is a triple threat. He writes. He teaches. He fights. The latter was literal several years ago when he stepped into the ring as a Mixed Martial Artist but now his battles are on the world stage, raising awareness for preventable diseases like malaria through poetry and prose.
His latest book, Malaria, Poems, is born of that call to advocacy. NPR selected the book, which is “spliced” (his science-influenced word) with facts about malaria, as a “Best Books of 2014.” In February, Newsweek published Cameron’s article, “A Working Malaria Vaccine that Can’t Get Money.”
In the midst of touring for Malaria, Poems, teaching classes at Penn State Brandywine, and getting ready to travel overseas, I caught up with Cameron at a reading at Penn State Berks.In our interview which will be released on March 15, Cameron discusses the craft in his Newsweek article and in his poem, “Silence, Anopheles,” as well as what martial arts taught him about writing, how he broke into Newsweek, and whether a poet can retain his voice in prose.
In this episode, I also talk about my obsession with McSweeney's Internet Tendency and in a new segment called Writer's Psych with Dr. Ike, I find out if it's healthy or not!
On Sunday, January 25, 2015, Jennifer Genest, MFA will join me on Behind the Prose to discuss two of her recent publications in the genres of fiction and creative nonfiction.
We will be close reading and discussing her flash fiction story "Ways to Prepare White Perch" and her creative non-fiction essay "Her Fighting Weight - A Postpartum Experience," published in New Delta Review and The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.
Genest holds and MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles and was a Peter Taylor Fellow for the 2013 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Currently, she is shopping her literary novel, The Mending Wall.
Listen at 6 PM EST / 3 PM PST this Sunday on BlogTalkRadio.
What do you get if you cross a syndicated newspaper columnist with a business book author on a Pearson imprint with an entrepreneur who owns Pro Blog Service and novelist who's the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida?
Erik Deckers, this week’s guest of Behind the Prose.
I interviewed Erik in August, just before he relocated to Florida. (Ironically, he was already planning a move there just before learning that he won the coveted residency).
By now, I’m sure he’s settled in and enjoying the “vibrant literary community” of Orlando that he talks about in this episode.
But before we get to the Kerouac Project, we go through his decades long career as a humor columnist and his book deals on Que Publishing.
In this interview you’ll also learn:
The rhetorical move he started using in his humor and now can’t stop
How travel writing led him to making an activist move that sent one of his posts viral and cost him a job
His trick to churning out content on a weekly basis
There’s also some discussion of Pluto. And if you listened to Sean Ennis’ episode, you might find this kinda spooky. Well, it is Halloween week. Or maybe I’m just subconsciously drawing this Pluto stuff to me. (Remember the Reading-Updike-Keillor thing?)
Either way, like Erik’s buddy Karl the Curmudgeon, I’m still kinda mad about Pluto too. Get show links at behindtheprose.com.
In this episode of The Prose and Ivy Chicago Cubs Internet Show, host Ryan Maloney discusses Milton Bradley's suspension, the 2010 rotation and lineup outlook, takes a look at Kosuke Fukudome's career thus far with the Cubs, and explains why Ryne Sandberg shouldn't manage in the majors until 2011. Call in and share your thoughts!
Here's the craft-packed episode you've been waiting for - the exciting and extended episode featuring the award-winning international-selling humble and personable Neil Smith. Neil is the author of Bang Crunch, a wildly successful book of short stories. A few weeks ago, he stopped by the virtual Behind the Prose studio to discuss his new novel Boo, a captivating and imaginative Young Adult whodunnit.
In this interview, which promises to show you how he wrote a novel when he didn't know how, you'll learn how stumbling upon voices can help your writing, what makes young adult narrators come more alive, and how one can become a more serious writer. Though I tried to do the interview without spoilers, we just couldn't really talk craft without some of them. If you've read Boo and want to learn about writing YA, you should pull up a chair and your annotated copy because this show is for you.
Get the full episode and show links on behindtheprose.com
I've never read Frankenstein. And honestly, I never wanted to. But then I found "This Monstrous Heart" by Aimee Baker. By the time she finished weaving in and out of three narratives in the creative nonfiction essay, I not only wanted to read Mary Shelley's legendary tome and every autobiography about her messy life, I wanted to devour anything Baker wrote, including her grocery lists and text messages.
On February 8, 2015, Aimee will join me on my Behind the Prose Radio Show to discuss her writing life and craft. Make sure you read "This Monstrous Heart" which ran in the December 2014 issue of New Delta Review and tune into the show on Sunday at 6 PM EST. Aimee will take your questions on the air!
Aimee Baker is an adjunct instructor in English for Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh, both located in rural, upstate New York. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Arizona State University. She is currently working on a poetry project about missing women in the United States as well as a series of essays about her brother's struggle with mental illness. Her work appears in journals such as The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, and The Massachusetts Review.
*** UPDATE #2 - AFTER THE SHOW ***
This episode is filled to capacity with awesomeness.
First, you'll hear the rest of Associate Senior Editor Roxanne K. Young's interview about her work at the Journal of the American Medical Association and Dr. Andrew Bomback's essay "Errands" which ran in the "A Piece of My Mind Column" in JAMA. (BTW: His episode was named most popular writing episode by BlogTalkRadio. JAMA generously has made Andrew's episode available at no cost of a limited time.)
Next, we go behind the prose with Sarah Gerard, MFA whose novel Binary Star is blazing through the literary universe. SARAH GERARD WAS NAMED TO EIGHT BEST BOOKS AND WRITERS LISTS FOR 2015!!!
Finally, her publisher and editor, Eric Obenauf of Two Dollar Radio, talks book numbers and how his company keeps on picking winners.
Let me just start off by saying that after transcribing writer Sean Ennis' interview (Yeah, I'm back on that again!), I've decided that he's the most conscious self-editor I've interviewed this year.
As soon as the words leave his mouth, he’s already assessed whether it’s actually what he means, whether it’s “a dumb pun” or “too dramatic.” He often doesn’t retract what he says, just adds a disclaimer and keeps going. Somehow, the listener sees actually what he meant initially and what he means now.
The result? An interview that is thoughtful, humble, and personable. Sean's short story collection, Chase Us, fuels our discussion as we meander through the a narrative that is both engaging and mysterious.
In this episode, you'll find out:
- How the people you surround yourself with can help or impede your writing journey
- What one detail can do for an entire story
- What's Sponge Bob Got To Do With It
- The best writing advice Sean ever got
- The rhetorical move that made Sean “wiggle in his seat” when he wrote it
- The "Tom and Jerry Pitch" that landed his agent RENÉE ZUCKERBROT
The “pleasures of a good short story?”
BONUS: This is the first episode that the guest insults me! Listen to find out how. Then, learn something about writing. After, go write.
In May, nearly 200 folks descended on the historic city of Pittsburgh to rub writing elbows with authors, essayists, journalists, and editors at the 2015 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference.
Maybe you were there. Maybe you weren’t. If you find yourself in the latter, shame on you. Your penance is to listen to this great episode of Behind the Prose featuring an amazing structure analogy by the “Godfather of Creative Nonfiction” Lee Gutkind. If you’ve ever struggled with how to pull together the narrative in a nonfiction piece, this excerpt of his opening presentation has got your name all over it.
Plus, some folks in Michigan are giving away houses to writers. The innovative and perhaps pioneering initiative by Write A House takes the concept of a writers’ residency quite literally.
And of course, I’ve got the check in for you and my web find of the week.
Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.
In this meta-writing hour, author and fellow New School alum Scott Alexander Hess, dissects his use and balance of language to create scene and character in his latest book, a historical novel, The Butcher’s Son (a literary fiction hell-of-a-work if I do say so mahself.)
The author of three books, Hess masters juxtaposing elements of nature to “aggravate and propel things that are already happening” in the plot.
The novel, set in 1930s in New York City, gains its viscosity from something Hess calls “method writing” as well as immersion research. “When I’m writing a book, I basically live in a world,” Hess says. “So for a year and a half, I’m living in the 30s.”
For a day and half, the time it took me to read The Butcher’s Son, I too lived in the 30s in a Hell's Kitchen tenement with three brothers taking divergent paths that eventually lead Hess right onto my bookshelf of “writers I want to be when I grow up.”
But in the words of the first book reviewer I ever knew, “Don’t take my word for it.”
Listen. Learn. Write.
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