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Where am I?

by Laura Munson

I’m home now after two months on the road promoting my book, and every morning, I wake up with a start:  Where am I?

I could be anywhere.  I could be in a Hampton Inn in Dayton, Ohio.  I could be in a Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles.  I could even be in my own bed.  And it’s an interesting experiment lying there, daring the early morning birds, living into that not knowing. 

I’ve known exactly where I am when I wake for many years.  I am in my bed in Montana, once again waking to the same cool celadon green of my walls, the same mahogany antique desk that I’ve ruined with hot tea mugs, the rings to prove it.  There is a stack of books covering those rings, and I’ve read too little of those words, and so usually, I awake to guilt.  Guilt in the rings and books and inevitable dust—a dead fly or two on the window sill.  I feel guilt, but I feel comfort.  I am the keeper of these inanimates.  more...


The Anatomy of a Book

by Erin Brown

I want to spend this month celebrating the printed book. You remember them, right? They sell them at places called bookstores. Of course, when I drove to my local Borders last week to grab a book I’d had my eye on, the lights were off and a hand printed sign on the door read, “FOR LEASE.” Through the windows (and through my tears) I saw a few empty bookcases still waiting to be broken up for kindling, and I felt a sadness descend upon me. Of course, I just drove down the road to the bustling Barnes & Noble and felt A-Okay again, but you get the idea.

It’s getting much harder for traditional books to survive and thrive in this world of ebook publishing. more...

The Vanishing Apostrphe

by Cherie Tucker

We used to use the apostrophe plus an s to pluralize things, such as the 1920’s.  Now, however, with our continuously evolving language, in many instances the apostrophe is omitted, and we simply add the s. I’m sure you’ll still see it done both ways, because we did it the apostrophe way for years. You will find apostrophes in older printed material, and people who were trained to include them will still automatically add one.  Here are are some guidelines to tell you when to leave it out or put it in.

Plural numerals do not require the apostrophe.  Merely add
the s:  
 I’m out of W2s.
 I wore that in the ’50s.


Be As Perfect As You Are

by Jennifer Paros

Lately, I have been working on unraveling my impulse to try harder, along with an addiction to feeling strained and stressed – as though these conditions are true indicators of putting in proper effort and guaranteeing desired results. I love to write and draw, but when the work is marked with heavy effort it becomes chore-like, a signal that I am attempting to outrun fear and insecurity by trying harder.

When I was a child, I wanted to be pretty the way I thought some other girls were pretty.  I took to getting different haircuts to try and achieve “pretty”.  But each haircut led to a greater sense of hopelessness.  I felt jealous of the girls for whom being pretty seemed easy - and undeniably separated from what I wanted. 

One day, while tagging along with a schoolmate, Liz – who had long, thick, straight blond hair – we stopped by her home and I watched as she went to the bathroom mirror and pinned her bangs back with small clips and put the rest in a ponytail.  I stood in awe of her comfort with her own reflection, with her hair, with the choices she was making.  more...


The Dreaded Ask

by Joan Frank


Something strange happened when I sent out a handful of respectful queries, some months ago, to writers I knew—and to some I didn't—hoping they'd consider blurbing a new novel of mine. 

The novel will be my fifth work of literary fiction. I also review literary fiction every month for a major west coast newspaper. I've won grants and awards—I await verdicts, as a nominee, for many others. Do these elements count? Enhance anything?  

Hard to say. Some of the writers I petitioned, thank heaven, consented happily. (To them, I pledge lifelong gratitude.) Some declined, with polite regret. Fair enough. 

But several—some of whom I knew—never answered at all.  

This was a first.  more...


The Unavoidable Character

by Jason Black

What character is in every scene and on every page of your novel? Don’t be so quick to say “none.” I don’t care what kind of book you’re writing. Even a third-person omniscient book with dozens of characters has one who is in every scene and on every page.

It’s you.

Memoirists, I’m not talking about you; for you, that’s the whole point.  I’m speaking to novelists.  You, Mr. and Ms. Novelist, are inescapably present in your novel. Readers will suspend disbelief about your premise, but they never fully forget that they’re reading a story you wrote.  It doesn’t matter that you do not intend to be in the story. You are anyway.

The question is, does your writing minimize your own presence on the page?  more...





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