September 1, 2022 § 2 Comments
Next up, new writing craft series at The Skills. I’m pretty excited about this: The Skills is an on-line coaching/learning platform somewhat similar to MasterClass; they started out mostly in sports and have some pretty well-known instructors involved, including Michael Phelps, Maria Sharapova, and Shaun White. The classes or “group lessons” are on-line and open to the public, wherever you happen to be on the planet; you can either attend live or watch a recording on your own time. My first offering is a three-part series called “Sentence Level Music,” on September 17, 24, and Oct 1. The classes can be taken consecutively or stand-alone—or, if you’d rather, you can buy the whole package any time and watch all three recorded sessions by clicking here:
This is a great investment for working writers looking to take your prose up to the next level, anyone wanting to jumpstart or return to a practice of creative writing, and really anyone interested in refining your skills in high-impact writing.
For anyone interested, here are more detailed descriptions for each group lesson:
Sentence-Level Music I: The Core Qualities of Great Sentences (September 17, 10am PST)
Most writers produce good sentences, but few produce consistently great ones. Members of this club tend to be authors of some notoriety; the purpose of this three-part virtual lesson is to nudge ourselves a bit closer to that level. In Part I we’ll break down a selection of great sentences in an attempt to discover what makes them effective. We’ll look at such topics as the importance of economy, specificity, and musicality, the uses of parallelism, and repetition for rhythmic emphasis. Brief writing exercises will help integrate our observations in the interest of endowing our own sentences with greater clarity, vividness, substance, and impact.
Sentence-Level Music II: Sentence-Level Suspense & Cumulative Syntax (September 24, 10am PST):
In Part II of this three-part virtual lesson intended to increase your skill in sentence-level prose, we’ll begin with the surprisingly useful concept of the proposition as the basic building block of sentences. From there we’ll turn to building our skills in establishing sentence-level suspense, serial constructions, and the broadly underestimated power of cumulative syntax to capture the distilled meaning that is an essential characteristic of gripping prose. Brief writing exercises will help integrate our observations in the interest of harnessing the capabilities of the sentence to enrich and expand the range and musicality of our own writing.
Sentence-Level Music III: Making Sentences that Sing (October 1, 10AM PST)
Language is the paint; sentences are the brush strokes. The best painters are the ones who’ve become so good with the brush that they paint without thinking and in a style that can be none but their own. In the third installment of this three-part virtual lesson we’ll go beyond core principles to explore the sublime potentialities of the sentence. We’ll look at the ways in which great sentences can “sing the meaning of themselves,” and explore methods for varying sentence length to create mesmerizing rhythms and evoke specific emotions. A final writing exercise will help to integrate what we’ve learned across all three lessons, demonstrating a new facility with the art and music of sentence-writing.
Read more and/or sign up for a session here. Buy the whole package any time and watch all three recorded sessions by clicking here. And check out the other topics offered at The Skills; I’m thinking of taking a tennis lesson myself. I definitely need one!
April 13, 2022 § Leave a comment
Elated to be heading to Oaxaca, Mexico, from May 3 – 10. It’s research for a new novel, and for a museum trip focused on art, cuisine, and sacred medicine scheduled for April 2023 (open to anyone!). Other upcoming programs include a Newport MFA writing residency in Havana in January, 2023 (open to writers outside the Newport MFA community!), and several potential small-group cultural trips to Havana in 2023. If you’re interested in any of this, or in setting up a custom trip somewhere, please don’t hesitate to send me a note. And/or bookmark this page for dates and descriptions as they come in!
December 20, 2021 § Leave a comment
Shepherd Books is an interesting new independent book site that is trying to compete with corporate giant Goodreads. They found out about Will Poole’s Island and asked me to come up with a list of the five best historical novels of Early Colonial New England. It was a fun exercise, and while I’m sure not everyone will agree with my selections, here they are for your reading pleasure: https://shepherd.com/best-books/early-colonial-new-england
By the way, did you know that Will Poole’s Island is now available on Audible and other platforms, narrated by yours truly? Click the cover image below and add it to your audio library!
September 9, 2021 § Leave a comment
A cynic might say something like “always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” but I’ve never been a cynic and I’m pleased to report these recent honors:
Semi-Finalist, 2021 Leapfrog Press Global Fiction Prize, for a novel, THE HAVANA STANDARD
Finalist, 2021 Southern Humanities Review Editors Chapbook Prize, for a novelette, AMONG THE MONOLITHS
Honorable Mention, 2021 Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition (Mainstream/Literary), for a short story, VIRGIN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Honorable Mention, 2021 Cisco Writing Club, Annual Summer Writing Contest (Short Stories), for a short story, SKIN MONKEYS
None of these works has been published yet. Stay tuned!
March 17, 2021 § Leave a comment
While winning is always preferred, I’m pleased and honored to have received this recognition from Ireland-based Fish Publishing, which holds an international competition for their prestigious yearly short fiction anthology. You can see the list and read about this year’s excellent winners here.
I’ve been finding short stories to be a refreshing form to work in during the breaks between novel drafts. This one is based on some research I did on Charles Darwin’s experiences in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. It was titled “The Origin” when I submitted it; it’s now, tentatively, “The Tawny-Green Steppe.”
Here’s a photo of yours truly in Torres del Paine, one of the landscapes that served as inspiration for the story:
September 3, 2020 § Leave a comment
|I’m thrilled to announce the impending release of a new audiobook of Will Poole’s Island—narrated by yours truly! It turns out that recording an audiobook is an exacting, time consuming process—but also a surprisingly enjoyable one. This slightly whimsical fish-eye photo taken by producer and sound engineer Reggie Martell in the spare room of my Vermont house that he converted into a sound studio doesn’t really do justice to how rewarding it was to re-immerse myself in that first published novel, a book that will always hold a special place in my heart.|
|Years had passed since I’d last revisited Will Poole’s Island; there were moments when I felt like I was reading it for the first time. And I’m pleased to report, in my humble opinion, that the story holds up well, offering a rewarding temporary escape from the tense stretch of history we’re currently living. This is especially so thanks to Reggie’s professional expertise and the hauntingly beautiful original musical interludes composed by the talented ETC Kid.|
|The audiobook and Kindle e-book are set to be released on September 15, with a new edition of the paperback to follow in Spring ’21. If your interest is piqued, I encourage you to ORDER THE AUDIOBOOK NOW from Audible or the vendor of your choice. You’ll have my sincere gratitude. And I know you’ll enjoy listening to the novel!|
|The last time I was in Havana was January, 2020, but it feels like fifty years ago! Very much looking forward to getting back next year. Care to join me?|
|As a place to visit Cuba is as interesting as ever, perhaps even more so given the effectiveness of the response to COVID-19. Unlike certain other countries in the world, the country has been used its excellent medical system and organizing capacity to good effect, keeping new cases of the pandemic limited. In fact my Cuban friends are constantly checking in to express their worries about how we’re all doing up north in the U.S.—which says quite a bit about the situations in our respective countries.|
|Depending on how things go, the next year or so looks to be an opportune time to revisit this fascinating country that I know and love so well.|
|I’m considering putting together two or three small-group trips to Cuba, dates TBD, in winter/spring 2021, late fall 2021, and/or winter/spring 2022.|
|I’m also available to set up custom independent trips if you have a small group of family or friends that want to go. If either of these options is of more than casual interest to you, please send me a note with any thoughts on what your interests are in terms of trip content, and if there is a best time frame for you.|
|I’ll keep a careful list and update you specifically as I hear from people and actual trip dates begin to take shape. You can also bookmark this page, on which I keep an updated list of upcoming writing workshops, travel programs, talks, readings, and other events.|
|Meanwhile, I hope you are holding up well, staying safe and healthy, and managing to enjoy life in all its varied moments! Please don’t hesitate to send me a note if you’d like to touch base in a more personal way. |
August 18, 2020 § 4 Comments
Had a lot of fun writing this essay now up at CRAFT Literary: “Practicing the Ecstatic: On the Value of Escapist Fiction in the Internet Age.”
“Novel-writing is another kind of work that demands a sustained and often grueling daily practice. While scribbling or typing is less explicitly physical than dance or carpentry, ecstatic transportation is a defining characteristic of fiction as an art form.” Read the full essay here.
This isn’t my first time around with CRAFT, a nicely produced, very well edited publication dedicated to, well, the craft of writing, both fiction and CNF. You can check out all their stuff here.
June 11, 2020 § Leave a comment
Very much enjoyed this conversation with my talented Newport MFA faculty colleague, novelist and memoirist Danielle Trussoni, which you can sample or enjoy in its entirety here. We discuss Danielle’s wildly entertaining new novel, The Ancestor, writing, genealogical research, escapist fiction in a time of pandemic, fiction vs memoir, and much more. Part of the Literary Cocktail Hour series sponsored by the Brattleboro Literary Festival. A conversation I won’t soon forget!
Will Poole’s Island featured in video wiki: “7 Captivating Historical Novels Full Of Intricate Detail”
May 26, 2020 § 2 Comments
The video wiki has been published by the California technology company Ezvid Inc. It’s kind of a cool concept: “Ezvid Wiki evolved from the message board surrounding Ezvid For Windows, first released in 2010. In those years it has grown from a small user-generated forum into the largest and most comprehensive video wiki on the planet, providing useful, unbiased information and actionable guidance to hundreds of millions of users around the world, in thousands of knowledge categories.”
March 20, 2020 § Leave a comment
Working on a novel? Not too late to join me for these live-remote classes, part of Grub Street’s acclaimed Novel Revision Series!
March 21, 2020. Genre, Concept, Premise, Theme – in which we’ll come up with answers to an essential question: What’s your novel-in-progress “about”?
April 18, 2020. Dramatic Structure & Narrative Drive – in which we’ll explore the hidden structures common to all good novels and the secrets to creating a page-turning read.
Keep tabs on all my upcoming classes and events here.