AWP 2017: Kudos

That annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (#AWP) at the Washington, DC, Convention Center two weeks ago wasn’t all bad.

I talked to some smart, exciting people as well as many drudges. Here are my favorites.

Kudos to:


  • Bix Skahill, author of Dope Tits and other titles and founder and proprietor of Thicke and Vaney Press: Publishers of Fair to Middling Works  in St. Paul, MN. I could have talked to Bix all day.
  • Soho Press passed out double-fold bookmarks that listed all of their crime authors and titles. Very cool.
  • Paper Monument distributed a wonderfully ironic postcard promoting its book, “Social medium: artists writing, 2000-2005”. You can see it at right.
  • Indiana Review printed a 2 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ preview (about the dimensions of a small cell phone) of its coming issue. The literary magazine fit four excerpts and one complete poem within its 16-pages. Cool idea, even if it’s still print.
  • Robert Kerroberts-rulesbeck, Michal Lemberger, Sujata Shekar and Zach Powers presented an informed and informative panel on “Emerging from the Slush: How to Get Your Short Story Published.” They understood the low-tech nature of the convention and passed out their key points on a book mark. It will hold my place in every print book I read from now on. Bravo!

More to come from AWP 2017:

  • Books I Could Not Resist – I didn’t intend to buy; I don’t need more books; but some thing are too good to pass up.
  • Hitchcock: What to Tell the Reader – What?

Things I Wish I had Known


Florence Osmund

Florence Osmund wrote a wonderful piece for The Book Designer blog back in July entitled “Four Truths and Four Myths That Every New Novelist Should Know.”

I might still have tried this fiction-writing thing if I had known this, but maybe not.

We’ll never know.

I hope some new writer will.



What No One Tells You About Publishing

I suspect I am like many aspiring authors. I overindulge in research on how to  get published, lessons learned by established authors and the like.

So when I came upon Curtis Sittenfeld‘s post on BuzzFeed entitled 24 Things No One Tells You about Book Publishing, I immediately read it and liked it.

rectangle-38507_1280She focused more on human behavior and less on nuts and bolts. Which is not to say she didn’t touch on a few nuts, like these two.

  • Blurbs achieve almost nothing, everyone in publishing knows it, and everyone in publishing hates them. [I knew it. I just knew it. None of my favorite authors seem to share my taste in books.]
  • But a really good blurb from the right person can, occasionally, make a book take off. [So, I guess she’s thinking Oprah or Stephen King.]

But what I really liked was her attitude:

  • Sometimes good books sell well; sometimes good books sell poorly; sometimes bad books sell well; sometimes bad books sell poorly. A lot about publishing is unfair and inscrutable. [Emphasis mine.] But…

  • …you don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission to enjoy the magic of writing — of sitting by yourself, figuring out which words should go together [I love that.] to express whatever it is you’re trying to say.

    Brava, Curtis. Useful and comforting at the same time. Just what aspiring authors need.