#LitChat is a fun, fast, and friendly way for book-lovers to talk about reading, writing and publishing on Twitter. We have moderated chat with guest authors each Monday from 4-5 p.m. E.T.
The magic pixie dust for how to reach lots and lots of readers may be elusive, but two things about book discoverability are indisputable: readers are always on the look out for good stories and writers are increasingly desperate to find their people. While the definition of crossover fiction…read more
Writers have a complicated and ever-changing relationship with the reader. And by the reader, I mean that hypothetical audience to which you’re supposed to be writing, that intended receptacle for your wisdom, your crafted prose, the performance of your particular form of entertainment: the delivery of a story….read more
It’s easy to compare ourselves to other writers and it’s a maladaptive practice we all engage in all the time, like kids looking around the table to see who got the biggest slices of pizza. The truth is, for all the differences we think exist, we have so much in common….read more
Alan Zweibel author, comedian, actor said at a panel at BookCon 2015 in New York City, “if you’re really lucky, you get to be friends with the artists you admire.”
From May 26 to 31 I felt a buzz about me like none other I’d experienced as a writer. I walked into the Javits Center…read more
The AWP Conference and Book Fair is an annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join for four days of dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature. The 2015 featured over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings. The Book Fair hosted over 700 presses, journals, and literary organizations…read more
I’ve just returned from the biggest, brightest, zingiest writing conference of the year, the annual gathering of The Association of Writers and Writing Programs. (AWP or, if you were following the social media hashtag, #AWP15.) More than 11,000 writers, editors, agents and publishers… read more here…read more
Ben Mezrich is not the kind of author who worries about artistic or journalistic niceties, and even less about the opinions of critics. Janet Maslin, a reviewer for The New York Times, blasted one of his “nonfiction thrillers” by wryly noting his skill at “making up conversations he did not hear, sexing up parties he did not attend,” and other writerly techniques of which she does not approve. At a recent Breakfast Salon at the Betsy Hotel, where he was Writer in Residence, Mezrich laughed off barbs like that with no trace of bitterness or resentment.read more
Anyone wondering what writers talk about when they are at ease together might have liked being a fly on the wall at the Betsy Hotel the other night. Most literary events at the Betsy are not only public but also free. But this was a small private dinner party put together by the hotel and one of its literary partners, the Creative Writing Department at Florida International University….read more
February brings us Black History Month and along with it the usual thoughts about why attention to the culture of African-Americans is limited to one short month—and the coldest at that. Shouldn’t all the cultures of our society be a year-round presence and part of an ongoing conversation? I’d venture to say the answer is yes, read more here…read more
You shuffle from session to session, ingesting the proclamations of speakers as you would the invitations of a circus barker. Over here, a ten-step system for writing a synopsis! Step right up for everything you need to know about book marketing! Create intriguing characters! Hook readers with your first five words! Read more here.read more
By Fiona McFarlane; Reviewed by Mary Vensel White
Fiona McFarlane’s first collection of stories, The High Places, follows the 2013 publication of her well-received novel, The Night Guest. Her debut was hailed as a meditation on isolation, identity and memory. It’s the story of Ruth, a widower living alone in an Australian beach house. She becomes convinced she sees a tiger, both outside and inside her house. Her mental state is questionable and this unpredictable narrator adds to the feeling of suspense as the story unfolds….read more
By Kathy Wiechman; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin
Kathy Wiechman’s second historical novel, Empty Places, is well-researched, beautifully written, and evocative of time and place (the 1930’s in Harlan County, Kentucky).
Within the first few pages the reader meets spunky, 13-year-old Adabel Cutler who is trying her darndest to keep her family from falling apart. Adabel’s father is a coal miner who drinks too much and fights with her big brother…
By J. Albert Mann; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin
Scar: A Revolutionary War Tale, J. Albert Mann’s first young adult historical novel, is short but powerful. Spanning the course of just three days, Mann artfully alternates between Noah’s present predicament—he is wounded and is caring for a young wounded Indian—and the events leading up to it.
By T. M. Causey; Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass
T.M. Causey is no stranger to fiction. Writing as Toni McGee Causey, she is author of the critically acclaimed and best selling novel series featuring the zany Tammy Faye. Taking a wide turn from the quirky, non-stop action of her three Tammy Faye books, Causey’s latest novel, The Saints of the Lost and Found, goes into a dark place where some families have special paranormal gifts and though they share the strangeness of their abilities, they may or may not be trusted….read more
By Yann Martel; Reviewed by Mary Vensel White
Fans of Yann Martel’s international bestseller, Life of Pi (2001), will find many familiar elements in his new novel, The High Mountains of Portugal. Once again, Martel plumbs the relationship between storytelling and truth and mixes tragedy with healthy doses of humor. There is another leading character from the animal kingdom; religion and faith are integral themes. But The High Mountains of Portugal is a more difficult, less cohesive read, and will no doubt produce polarized reactions.
The novel is divided into three dissimilar parts….read more
By Bryan Reardon; Reviewed By Linda Lindsey Davis
In Bryan Reardon’s Finding Jake, Simon and Rachel Connolly are like many other married couples: they have a house in the suburbs and two children. They differ from other couples in that they made the decision 18 years ago for Simon to shift his writing career to be the stay-at-home parent caring for their children, and Rachel, an attorney with a major law firm, would be the one who commuted to work in the city. Their story is told from Simon’s point of view, as he reflects on being a stay-at-home father.
Seventeen years ago, when Jake was born, and then three years later when his sister Lanney arrived, Simon learned to accept being the only father on the children’s playground…read more
By Alex Palmer; Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass
It all began with the dead letters department at the New York City post office. Every year letters to Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, and other derivatives of the name, were destroyed as undeliverable mail per the policy of the U.S. postal department. In 1911 that policy changed and the New York City postmaster sent out a call for someone to receive all of the Santa Claus mail on behalf of the city’s children. A couple of years went by before John Duval Gluck, Jr. acted on impulse and stepped up. In 1913, fresh off an arrest and fines from his part in promoting the first and only bullfight in New York City, Gluck saw an opportunity to restore his reputation, bring joy to poor children on Christmas, and provide a lifestyle of prestige and privilege. The International Santa Claus Association was formed and Gluck became known as New York’s Santa Claus.
By Margaret Atwood; Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass
The meaning of life and love is central to Margaret Atwood’s latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. Now before you think Atwood has gone soft and written a romance, stop right there. The Heart Goes Last is a brilliant satirical look into modern society with emphasis on the breaking economy, its opportunities for corporate greed, and its impact on the middle class. How far would you go to sleep in a bed every night? Would you kill your husband to preserve your comfort?
In a not-too-distant future the American economy has collapsed to the extent that cars have become real estate, rolling from place to place to protect the inhabitants who live inside from those on the outside who would commandeer the vehicle and abuse the residents ….read more
By Lynne Griffin; Reviewed by Karen Struble, Ph.D.
Lord Acton’s famous saying, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” rings deafeningly true in Lynne Griffin’s new novel, Girl Sent Away. For parents of rebellious adolescents, Griffin’s story is a Nightmare with a capital N. Basing her work on actual reports from teenagers sent to remote wilderness therapy camps, the author spins a harrowing tale of mental health care gone awry.
The novel’s main character, Ava Sedgwick, is a sixteen-year-old Massachusetts girl haunted by the unresolved trauma of losing her mother and sister during the 2004 tsunami that wreaked havoc on Thailand’s …read more
By Matthew Neill Null; Reviewed by Billie Hinton
By turns graphic and poetic and sometimes both at once, Matthew Neill Null, in his literary debut, shapes vivid characters, West Virginia history, and a landscape under siege into one finely-hewn novel.
Null meticulously chronicles a community in West Virginia in 1904, as old growth forest is cut by hand using horses to haul the logs. The landscape herself seems to oversee the machinations of men: businessmen, loggers (called timber wolves), union men, a preacher, women. There is union-building going on, conversations in back rooms, and men named Cur and Neversummer, Seldomridge and McBride. The landscape is perfectly rendered, the work of cutting trees is brutal…read more