Monthly Archives: August 2010

Teacher Man

Author: Frank McCourt

Publisher: Scribner (2005)

Frank McCourt’s third memoir, following ‘Tis, was about the years he spent as an English and Creative Writing teacher. The schools he taught at were: McKee Vocational and Technical School on Staten Island, Seward Park High School, New York Community College in Brooklyn, and Stuyvesant High School.

The book is sectioned off based on the places he taught at in order from McKee and ending with Stuyvesant. Continue reading

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Writing Workshop – Summer Cycle

Tuesday night I attended the last class in the summer cycle of my writing workshop. One person was not present for critiquing (which makes me wonder, real time conflict or resistance to listening to criticism? But I digress) and the other person was.

I must say I have never delved so much into another person’s work as deeply as I have in this workshop at FDCAC. What sets my instructor, Laura Pegram, apart from the other instructors I’ve had is her devotion and compassion for illustrating what sets mediocre stories apart from exceptionally written stories by respected authors in the writing world.

I read authors like Edward P. Jones, Louise Erdrich, and Edwidge Danticat – all authors I’ve never heard of until this workshop. The introduction to different authors and styles aided my voyage to finding my voice on the page. I was exposed to the heavyweights in most of my classes like Mary Gaitskill, Margaret Atwood, John Cheever, Junot Diaz, ZZ Packer, and so on; this workshop exposed me to more authors of color that are probably well-known in literary circles but not familiar to me.

Apart from a fantastic instructor, my classmates provided very helpful and supportive feedback that I will use during my revision process. They were present in class, constructive comments, and most importantly, contributed useful suggestions when revising my story. Not just suggestions like, “If I would have written this, I would have included this…” but more on the lines of, “Perhaps a scene illustrating why she was feeling like this in the first place would make the end result clearer to the reader.”

I wish every writing workshop was like this and every instructor was like Laura! I cannot wait to take another workshop next month. FDCAC is what’s up! Gotham, take notes.

Smith Street Stage Presents Romeo and Juliet in Carroll Park

This Friday, I had the privilege of witnessing live theater in it’s truest form: in Brooklyn’s Carroll Park in the Carroll Gardens section.

I learned about this play because a friend of mine portrays a few characters throughout and I thought, “It’s free. Why not?”

Upon arrival at the park, I was quite confused because the park wasn’t huge or even pretty like Central Park’s Delacourte Theater where Shakespeare in the Park takes place. There wasn’t even a stage!  A towering bronze 1920 World War I Soldier and Sailors monument was surrounded by a playground where kids were flouncing and running around.

Continue reading

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Author: Haruki Murakami

Published by: Vintage International (2009)

Murakami has run marathons for about twenty years and this book are his musings during marathon training. He seamlessly discusses the life of a writer and how running every morning aids his writing process.

When a writer friend suggested this book to me, I said to myself, “When I read this book, I’m going to train again.”

After the completion of Murakami’s memoir, I am focused on my goal to complete a full marathon. This year I am not eligible to run in the ING NYC marathon but I am going to join a running class to keep me motivated.

Diligence, determination, and discipline: three tools prominent in Murakami’s memoir that I can use to be successful in both my writing practice and marathon training.

This book can appeal to everyone because apart from being a memoir about running and writing, it’s also a memoir about Murakami’s life (well, a part of his life). He’s witty, honest, and candid about his running and writing career; his forthrightness is respectable because he’s not trying to be anyone he’s not – just himself.

I devoured this book in two weeks (or less, I think which is a record for me because distractions come up often for me) and it’s a pretty small book.

Anyone interested in Murakami, reading, writing, or memoirs, pick the book up. You will not be disappointed.

Idioms

According to the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus (1996), an idiom is a group of words established by usage and having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

I will never forget the first time I learned about idioms. I was in the third grade and our homework assignment was to figure out a group of phrases that were completely alien to me. Continue reading

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

Published by: Crown Publishers (2010)

Henrietta Lacks, born in Virginia, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. She was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital where a sample of her cancer cells were taken for testing without her knowledge. After she died, her cancer cells multiplied and scientists were able to use her cells for curing diseases all over the world. Continue reading

Publishing Your Own Book – Advice from SARK

I discovered SARK three years ago and fell in love with her books that allow you to be yourself and own who you are.

I stumbled upon her website and had to share her publishing advice. It’s simple and inspiring; hope ya’ll enjoy and check out her work. She’s fabulous.

SARK’S PUBLISHING ADVICEPlanet Sark

Dear creative soul,
I wanted to put together a brief letter for you to have as a guideline to publishing. I know this process is somewhat daunting and scaling this wall is brave. It takes strength and endurance, but It can be done. Above all, stay centered envision and don’t give up. You will make your dreams reality if you continue to believe in your work.

"We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"
-Marianne Williamson

If you wish to publish use this affirmation:
"A Publisher will be lucky to find me!"

Continue believing in your own writing and message. Use this expression for your benefit:
"If I’m not getting rejected, I’m not reaching far enough."
Visualize your published book and keep going!

Here are some simple things to keep in mind as you stroll into the world of publishing your work

Make it real
Take your idea, and turn it into a physical book with a cover, art and a table of contents. Make it look as much like what you’ve seen in your imagination as possible. Lay out the design, add some writing. Give life to your book. Does it not have a life of its own anyway?

In the Beginning
Choose safe, gentle souls who are willing to not criticize, but support you in this state of your publishing journey. Share your book with them. Let them be thrilled with you. Listen and hear what they are saying to you. Do not dismiss their compliments or encouragement.

Read
Study and read everything about publishing you can find. The library has a lot of resources. Bookstores are good places to check out the newer books. Start to pay attention to who publishes books you like and admire. Read books that inspire you to continue writing. Read anything that helps you to stay close to your vision, encourages you, makes you laugh, makes you cry and feeds your soul.

Start a List
Start keeping track of publishers you like. Ask questions. Call a publisher you like and ask for submission guidelines or who you could talk to, to get this information. Be gently persistent and wildly curious. Check the current year’s Writer’s Guide for more submission information. They also have current editors and phone numbers.

Remember this:
The only reason publishers exist
is because of authors