Writer's Life, Writing Events

Q: What’s the hardest thing about writing poetry?

The hardest thing about writing poetry is that the poem I write is never as fine or as satisfying as the poem I imagined I would write. In other words, perfection isn’t possible, and anything less is disappointing. There’s a process that I went through as a poet that I think most poets go through. When I first began writing poems at the age of twelve I thought each one was wonderful. I’m a poet, I told myself, and aren’t I great! When I finally began to try to place poems in journals I was quickly disabused of my “greatness.” At this point, a lot of would-be poets quit. But I was too stubborn to do that. Instead I started reading other poets to try to find those whose work excited me. I read them first for pleasure, then read them again to find out how they did what they did. I couldn’t be them, but studying them helped me learn the skills to be more me. In the end that’s perhaps what we ought to be after in plying the art of poetry. And if greatness is not achieved by most of us, we can at least become poets of our own substance and our own consequence.

Myrna Stone newest book of poetry, Luz Bones, came out last week from Etruscan Press. Stone is the author of five full-length books of poetry. She has received two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships and a Full Fellowship to Vermont Studio Center, is a two-time finalist for the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry, and was named 2001 Ohio Poet of the Year by the Ohio Poetry Association. Her poems have been included in nine anthologies, and have appeared in over fifty journals, including Poetry, Boulevard, The Massachusetts Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, River Styx, Nimrod, and Crab Orchard Review. Stone is a founding member of The Greenville Poets, a well-published group that meets monthly in Greenville, Ohio.

Upcoming arts events

MONDAY: The Atacama: The Driest Desert in the World. May 22, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Dayton Metro Library – Northmont Branch, 333 West National Road, Englewood, OH 45322. There are areas in the Atacama Desert where zero rainfall has been recorded in the past 500 years. Allen Johnson traveled to the desert to visit its unique environment and make astronomical observations at the Atacama Lodge, the home of the space center and telescopes, and visited the Salar de Atacama, El Tatio Geysers, and Aldea de Tulor. More.

TUESDAY: Biking to the Arctic Circle. May 23, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Dayton Metro Library – Kettering-Moraine Branch, 3496 Far Hills Ave, Dayton, OH 45429. Biking to the Arctic Circle? Impossible, there’s snow and ice up there. Regardless, Allen Johnson did just that. He couldn’t convince any of his grandchildren to join him for the whole four thousand miles, but family and coworkers joined him for portions of the trip across the Alaskan Highway and Canada as he faced flat tires and head winds and saw bald eagles, deer, and bears. Was it worth the effort? He says “You bet!” More.

TUESDAY: Dayton Grand Slamm! May 23, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Wiley’s Comedy Joint, 101 Pine St, Dayton, OH 45402. This is the Grand Slam event! Story Slamm Dayton is pleased to present each of the monthly winners from this season, battling it out on stage for the title of Grand Slam Champion. We are also proud to welcome guest judge and storyteller, Mary Coomer, Louisville Moth regular and two-time featured storyteller on the Moth Radio show. Doors open at 6:30 and the show starts at 7:00. More.

TUESDAY: Megan Whalen Turner debuts new book. May 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Books&Co, 4453 Walnut St, Beavercreek, OH 45440. MEGAN WHALEN TURNER, author of the entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels, will introduce her newest work, Thick as Thieves. It features Kamet, a secretary and slave to his Mede master, who has the ambition and the means to become one of the most powerful people in the empire. But with a whispered warning, the future Kamet envisioned is wrenched away, and he is forced onto a very different path. This epic adventure sees an ordinary hero take on an extraordinary mission. More.

WEDNESDAY: Wasahi Papermaking. May 24, 2017 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Antioch College, 1 Morgan Pl, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Japanese techniques for papermaking, like similar methods used in other Asian countries, allow the production of exceptionally thin, long-fibered sheets. This workshop will begin with each student making their own mould and mould covering which they will be able to keep for their own papermaking at home after the conclusion of the workshop. The fee for non-students is $40, which includes all materials costs, including your own paper creation to take home. More.

THURSDAY: Molly Campbell introduces her new novel. May 25, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Books&Co, 4453 Walnut St, Beavercreek, OH 45440. MOLLY CAMPBELL will introduce her novel, Crossing the Street. In it, we meet Beck Throckmorton who finds herself living unexpectedly in a small suburban Ohio town with an 83 year old neighbor who has turned out to be her best friend, writing erotica and stewing over the fact that her ex has taken up with her sister. Enter a needy but wise little girl who finds a place in her heart and Beck finds herself “at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street.” More.

SUNDAY: Heritage Day Festival. May 28, 2017 @ 11:00 am – 8:30 pm. Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, OH 45409. Held on Memorial Day weekend, Heritage Day at Carillon Historical Park celebrates Dayton’s unparalleled history through special activities, costumed interpreters, and more. Draped in patriotic decorations, the Park welcomes thousands of guests each year to this family friendly event! After a full day of historical demonstrations, miniature train rides, and general merriment, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra fills the air with beautiful music. More.

Writer's Life

1. What has being an instructor taught you about writing?

I have learned through my teaching that there is so much I still need to learn about creative writing. One of the reasons I love creative writing is because there are countless ways to do it “right.” I am fascinated by the multitudes of ways to combine language and the different points of view my students bring to their writing. I work hard to create an environment in my classes where we all learn from one another. There is always room for improvement in my own writing. One of the best ways for me to grow as a writer is to engage in discussions about craft with other writers. I love to go to writing conferences and workshops for this very reason, and I always leave with a few new ideas of how to approach my own writing projects.

2. What’s the hardest part about writing for you and how do you push through it?

For me, the absolute hardest part of writing is finding time to write. Our lives are so very busy and noisy. We have so many demands for our time through work, family, friends, etc. I’m also not the most disciplined person in the world—given the opportunity, I will choose to binge watch Netflix or take my dog to the park instead of writing! It’s important for me to block out at least 2-3 days a week where I have a few hours of solid writing time. I’ve also found that there are too many distractions for me if I try to write at home. I work better if I go somewhere with the specific intention to write. I seek out coffee shops, libraries, pockets of silence at my workplace, etc. Another key element that helps me make time to write is a hard deadline. Sometimes I need that additional pressure of a commitment in order to get my work completed.

3. If you could only give your fiction students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Consider revision a gift rather than a chore. I know this is sometimes hard to do because it feels like a lot of work. Here’s the thing: writing IS a lot of work! Nathaniel Hawthorne says “easy reading is damn hard writing,” and I couldn’t agree more. Revision may feel like a chore, but it is essential. I’ve learned that if I walk away from something I’ve written and give it a week or two before going back, I’m able to find areas in the writing that need more work and clarification. The process of revision has grown on me, and I don’t think I could survive as a writer without it!

Meredith Doench teaches writing at UD. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in literary journals such as Hayden’s Ferry Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Lumina, and Gertrude. She served as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography and her first crime thriller, Crossed, was published by Bold Strokes Books in August 2015.  Her second, Forsaken Trust comes out this week.

Writer's Life, Writing Events

I had a great time last Sunday at the Tim Waggoner LitSalon — a fundraiser for the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. Dayton Daily News Editor Ron Rollins (left) spent about an hour interviewing Tim (right) on the writing life.

My three favorite parts:

1) Tim says the most important thing we need to know about our characters is how they respond to stress.

2) He thinks of short stories as paintings — paintings that start at or as close to the climax as possible. Novels are just four or five paintings put together.

3) He sees lots of students who have the ability to be writers in his classes. They’re creative. They have an appreciation for language, an ability to string together compelling sentences, but they never make it over the hump. It’s not talent that’s rare, it’s a commitment to the writing life.

Tim’s written more than 30 fantasy, horror and sci-fi novels and teaches writing classes at Sinclair Community College. Learn more about him at www.timwaggoner.com. I particularly love his post “Writing Dreams and Harsh Realities.”

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What makes you sexy?

Any idea what a woman’s most prominent sexual characteristic is? According to some psychologists, it’s her hair. “If that surprises you, imagine a woman you think attractive as bald,” writes Sol Stein in Stein on Writing. “Would she still be sexually appealing?” “The same psychologists hold that the most important sexual characteristic of a man is his voice (And if that surprises you, think of a man you believe to be attractive and imagine him with a squeaky, high-pitched voice. Would he still be sexually appealing?)”

Upcoming literary events

SUNDAY: Incorporating Research into Your Work, February 19, 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Books & Co, 4453 Walnut Street, Dayton, OH 45440. You’ve done your research for your story, novel, essay, memoir or other writing… now, how do you use all those great, savory details to enhance your writing, without overwhelming your reader? Join us for some tips and techniques! Led by novelist Sharon Short. Learn more about Sharon at www.sharonshort.com. More.

MONDAY: Grand opening of the new Miamisburg Library. February 20, 2017 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. 545 E Linden Ave, Miamisburg, OH 45342. A ribbon cutting ceremony and sneak preview of the new library, open to the public. Among other things, the new Miamisburg Branch Library features a constellation-themed children’s area with a STAR Theater, a TeenEDGE area with a dedicated PS4 gaming system, a quiet reading room with cozy fireplace and an outdoor patio. Regular library hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. For more information, visit DaytonMetroLibrary.org or call (937) 463-BOOK.

TUESDAY: Poetry of Phyllis Wheatley, February 21, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Dayton Metro Library – Trotwood Branch, 651 E Main St, Trotwood, OH 45426. Phyllis Wheatley was the first published African American female poet. This re-telling of a poet’s life is presented by Winnie Johnson, Manager of the Madden Hills Branch Library.

TUESDAY: Story Slamm – Love Hurts, February 21, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Wiley’s Comedy Joint 101 Pine St, Dayton, Ohio 45402. Love is all around us in the month of February! The passions that we have are the ones that can burn us the most. Bold souls will step onto the stage to share their stories of love, loss, and moving forward. Doors open at 6:30. $5.00. Show starts at 7:00. Storytellers drop your name in the hat and 10 are chosen. Stories have to be true and about you. Limit your tale to 5 minutes. No notes, this is live and in person! Audience judges all stories and the winner gets $50 cash and an invite to the year-end GrandSlam event in May! More.

THURSDAY: Book signing with Didi Pershouse, February 23, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Yellow Springs Community Library, 415 Xenia Ave, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Didi Pershouse presents The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities. In The Ecology of Care, Pershouse takes us on a fast-moving, sharp-witted journey through her own life: from growing up with the neurosurgeon who accidentally discovered the seat of memory in the brain, to working in a smoke-filled office at New York magazine, to her career as an innovative acupuncturist in Vermont, and on to a passion for close-knit communities, grazing cows, and soil restoration as solutions to much of what ails us. More.

THURSDAY IN CINCINNATI: Ada Limón, February 23, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Elliston Poetry Room, 646 Langsam Library, University of Cincinnati. Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. More.

THURSDAY: PechaKucha Mini Lectures, February 23, 2017 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Hope Church, 500 Hickory St., Dayton, Ohio 45410. PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where a group of speakers show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and the speakers talk along to the images. Dayton writers Marsha Theresa Danzig and Jude Walsh Whelley will be among the presenters! More.

FRIDAY: Gabrielle Civil presents Swallow the Fish, February 24, 2017 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Antioch College Theatre, 920 Corry Street Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Free. Black feminist performance artist and former Antioch performance professor Gabrielle Civil will launch her new book Swallow the Fish, a memoir in performance art. Incorporating reading, live performance, storytelling and appearances by special guest stars, this event will crack open her text, and explore the medium of performance from within its beating heart. She will repudiate body politics, invoke racial history, and proclaim her overarching desire to be an artist. More.

SUNDAY: Fairy Tale Day with Dawn Paul. February 26, 2017 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Storybrooke Cafe, 556 S. Main St., Englewood, Ohio. Sunday February the 26th is National Tell a Fairytale Day! Author Dawn Paul will be visiting to help us celebrate, reading with us and giving us a “sneak peek” at her new book (The Tales of Christian Tompta: Gnomeling) due out 3/31 .. So come share the magic with us and have a happily ever after kind of day! More.

Writer's Life

A one-question interview with author, professor and martial artist Steve Bein

Answer: Three big lessons leap to mind, and they’re about frailty, being a beginner, and surpassing your own limits.

The first thing I learned as a martial artist was five different ways to tear apart the human wrist. This was before we did anything you could properly call martial art; it was just calisthenics. You’ve got these five basic wrist locks, and it’s good to apply them on yourself to limber up a bit before you start throwing each other around by the wrist. The point is this: I hadn’t shed my first drop of sweat and already I’d learned how easy it is to tear my frail little body apart. Something like eight pounds of pressure is enough.

The same thing happens as a writer. Once you decide you want to pursue this craft, you start reading differently—or at least you should—and then you start noticing how many people are better at this than you are. You come across that perfectly executed scene, that one detail that makes the setting come alive,  that single line of dialogue that transforms a character from flat to fully formed. You read things like that and you see just how far your own work falls short.

It makes you feel frail, but if you ask me, this is a very good thing. You should want to find work that’s better than yours. That’s the surest way to improve your craft: emulate writers who are better at this than you are.

That gets me to the next lesson, which is what it means to be a beginner. Shodan, the Japanese word for a first-degree black belt, means “beginner’s rank.” It took me six years to earn my first shodan—six years to get to the point where I could start getting serious. There aren’t many pastimes where you practice two or three hours a night, five nights a week, for as long as it takes to collect a couple of college degrees, just to get to the point where you’re called a beginner.

But then there’s that apocryphal quote floating around: “The first million words are just practice.” (I first heard it ascribed to Graham Greene, but versions of it are ascribed to Jerry Pournelle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ray Bradbury, and others.) If you were to write a thousand words a night, five nights a week, it would take you about four years to log your million words. Elmore Leonard agreed, and said that’s about how long it takes to figure out what you want your voice to sound like.

Log your first million, find your voice, write the next Great American Novel, and you’re still a beginner. You’ve still got to publish. If you go the route I went—traditional publishing, shooting for one of the Big Four houses—you’re going to need an agent. It took me three years to find mine. Signing on with her was a huge thrill, to say nothing of actually and getting the book contract a few months later. But even then I felt like a beginner. In hindsight my naïveté is just shocking to me. I signed a two-book deal with only the vaguest clue how I would write the second book. Then I decided it would be clever for the second one to set up a trilogy, blissfully unaware that the Big Four have no qualms about dropping an author midway through a series. But I got lucky, and today my trilogy is sitting on a bookshelf, not a thumb drive. If you’re stuck being a beginner, you might as well cash in on a little beginner’s luck.

It’s not all luck, of course. I worked hard to make sure my second book was better than the first and my third was better than the second. That’s the last thing the path to black belt taught me about being a writer: you have to surpass what you think you’re capable of.

In the dojo I came up in, the shodan test was a grueling affair: three hours of testing, followed by an hour of non-stop sparring where you get a fresh opponent every five minutes. It’s awful. It’s the greatest day of your life and it’s still awful. You can’t even take solace in the fact that you’ll be proud of this moment later, because in the moment itself you’re so exhausted that your only thought is of how to stay on your feet for one more round. It’s the longest hour of your life, and the worst, and the best.

This is exactly how I feel about writing. Maybe other writers don’t subject themselves to this, but I feel enormous pressure for each book to be better than the last. I also made a promise to myself from the beginning: you will never turn in a piece unless it’s the best work you could have turned in that day. So if the last book was the best I could have done, and the next book is supposed to be better… well, you see where the pressure comes from.

This loops back around to the lessons on frailty and being a beginner. Here’s the thing: no one is good at all of writing. Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same as tying your belt and stepping on the mat: even if you think you’re not a beginner anymore, there are still too many skill sets to learn for any one person to master them all. Even when you get close to mastering one of them, there are still those magicians out there whose talent leaves you convinced you will never, ever catch up.

I think that’s okay. We need geniuses to emulate. They’re the ones who can inspire us to raise the bar with each book and still find a way to clear it. If they leave us feeling a bit beat up, that’s part of the training.

Steve Bein (pronounced “Bine”) is a philosopher, martial artist, traveler, translator, and award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, and in international translation, and his Fated Blades novels were met with critical acclaim. Steve teaches at Asian philosophy the University of Dayton. You can find all of his work at www.philosofiction.com. Please follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Writer's Life, Writing Events

Question: How do you define an artist?

Answer: “My definition is, perhaps, a bit non-traditional, because I truly believe that everyone is an artist. Every day, each one of us is shaping this world. We are all leaving an indelible imprint on this Earth and altering the trajectory of humanity with every action, every thought we make.

For example: a mother is an artist, as well as a business owner or scientist. They, too, are all creators that bring life, products, and ideas into this world that were not in existence before they gave birth to them.

It’s empowering to think of oneself in this manner, and very necessary. Now more than ever, this world needs all of us to find our own unique artistic gifts so that we can heal and beautify our shared reality.”

Tiffany Shaw-Diaz runs a cooperative poetry group on Facebook called The Co-op Poetry Lab. The group creates poems cooperatively with people all over the world and plans to release its first book of poems later this year. Learn more on Facebook.

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Upcoming literary events

SATURDAY: It’s Raining Men! (Panel), $99February 11, 2017 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. St Margaret’s Community Room, 5301 Free Pike, Dayton, OH 45426. Does this sound familiar? “All the good ones are taken.” “I am tired of waiting for Mr. Right and attracting Mr. Wrong.” “All men are dogs.” Not to worry! A fulfilling relationship is possible for you! Join us for an all-male panel sharing real relationship advice that women would be crazy to ignore. Enjoy chair massages by professional male therapists, dinner, an autographed copy of the I Love Myself Journal, and a custom goody box gift filled with goodies selected just for you. Based on the bestselling novel, The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box: Relationship advice that your father didn’t tell you and your mother didn’t know. More.

SUNDAY: LitSalon: Tim Waggoner, $20. February 12, 2017 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Home of Kate Geiselman, AWW Acting President. Tim Waggoner, author of more than 30 published novels in the fantasy, horror and sci fi genres will chat with Dayton Daily News editor Ron Rollins. Tim’s publications include his own original work as well as television series tie-ins and feature film novelizations, so he will offer insight not only into his own writing life, but into these unique areas of fiction writing. Learn more about Tim and his achievements at www.timwaggoner.com. The LitSalon will be hosted by and held at the home of Kate Geiselman, AWW Vice President, essayist and Sinclair Community College creative writing instructor. The afternoon will also feature tasty treats and beverages, and a fun raffle auction… all in support of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop! More.

The Hoopla

Since I use Overdrive to borrow audiobooks and ebooks from the library on my phone, I never bothered downloading Hoopla. Last week, I got an email from Dayton Metro Library saying they were offering double the Hoopla downloads this month, though, so I decided to try it. Pretty amazing. The interface is simple and intuitive. If you have a library card, you’ll get instant access to a great selection of audio and ebooks … and it’s a selection that grew by more than 50% last year. Check it out.

Writer's Life, Writing News

Question: How can we boost our creativity?

Answer: Ah, creativity … that fickle Muse! Without getting too much into the inspiration-versus-discipline debate, I often return to (and highly recommend) Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2009 TED Talk “Your Elusive, Creative Genius.” She reminds me that, sometimes, we just need to “show up” – at our desk, at our laptop, wherever we write – so the Muse knows where to find us.

For me, gatherings like the Antioch Writers’ Workshop (disclosure: I serve as Assistant Director, but that’s not why I think it’s great!) and those offered at several local colleges are wonderful places to recharge. Mingling with “my tribe” – folks who don’t think I’m crazy when I talk about listening to the voices in my head – can do wonders for a flagging spirit and an empty creativity well. Of course those are sporadic and not always accessible, so on a more regular basis, meeting with a handful of like-minded writers in a regular writers group, even if it’s online, is a great way to keep ideas flowing.

But we writers tend to be solitary people. The introvert in me doesn’t like to get out much, so I turn to books. I can’t read fiction while I’m writing fiction (at least in the same genre), because I tend to mimic the voice of the author. Fortunately, I also love nonfiction. Whether it’s a classic like William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, or one of my favorites, Stephen King’s On Writing, I’ve found a good craft book can do as much through the guidance it offers as in the language it uses to stir creativity and give the Muse a place to light.

If I’m feeling philosophical, I love Gail Sher’s One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers or Dinty W. Moore’s The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life.

More recently, as I’ve hit a particularly rough patch in my writing life, I’ve found a measure of comfort in an odd little book written by Marcel Bénabou of France’s Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, “workshop of potential literature”), Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books. It’s a parody of sorts, but because of that quirk in me that loves Dalí and all things surreal, it resonates and inspires.

Another, more logical, book I’m finding fascinating these days is Peter Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic. I’m a puzzle fanatic, too, in addition to writing, and Turchi explains why.

But in the end, all of us must return to Gilbert’s advice: just show up. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard/pen/crayon, and if we’ve sufficiently primed the well with good words from whatever source – books, videos, puzzles, or stimulating conversation – the brain will find a way to transfer them to the page.

C.L. (Cyndi) Pauwels holds an MA in creative writing from Antioch University McGregor in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Her debut novel Forty & Out, released through Deadly Writes Publishing in September 2014, is a police procedural set in Toledo, Ohio. Her short fiction has appeared in Mock Turtle ‘zine, Over My Dead Body!, The View from Here (UK), and other journals. In 2009, she published the award-winning non-fiction Historic Warren County: An Illustrated History. Sugati Publications has selected two of her essays for their Reflections from Women anthology series, and Sinclair Community College’s literary journal Flights has published several of her pieces over the past few years. In addition to writing, Cyndi’s portfolio career includes book editing (The Enduring Legacy of Kahlil Gibran and The Essential Rihani), teaching as an adjunct at Clark State Community College and at Yavapai (AZ) College, and serving as assistant director for the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Yellow Springs with her husband of thirty-eight years, three spoiled dogs, and six chickens. Find her online here.

Upcoming literary events

TUESDAY: Dan Rather, January 31, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. WSU Nutter Center, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy #430, Dayton, OH 45324. For more than 50 years, former CBS News anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent Dan Rather has been the embodiment of the intrepid broadcast journalist. From the Kennedy assassination—where he was the first to break the news that the president had been killed—to the Indian Ocean tsunami, he has covered every major story of our time with distinction and a fierce dedication to hard news. More.

THURSDAY: Kickoff for Breaking bad writing with Breaking Bad and Katrina Kittle (5-week workshop). February 2, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton, OH 45419. One of the most critically acclaimed series ever produced, Breaking Bad unfolds like a great novel. Much about the craft of fiction can be learned from studying this five-season, ground-breaking, multi-award winning show. Each night of this five-week course, we will view and focus on an iconic scene from the show, and will use those scenes to dissect and discuss the brilliant use of dialogue, character arc, symbolism, foreshadowing, character voice, and amazing lessons in plot—how to start and finish a scene, how to end a “chapter,” and more. You are not required to have watched the series, but you will benefit more fully if you have. LOCATION: Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton, OH 45419. DATES: Thursdays — 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 2/23, 3/2, 6:30-8:30 pm. Price: $165. More.

LOOKING AHEAD: LitSalon: Tim WaggonerFebruary 12, 2017 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Home of Kate Geiselman, AWW Acting President. Tim Waggoner, author of more than 30 published novels in the fantasy, horror and sci fi genres will chat with Dayton Daily News editor Ron Rollins. Tim’s publications include his own original work as well as television series tie-ins and feature film novelizations, so he will offer insight not only into his own writing life, but into these unique areas of fiction writing. Learn more about Tim and his achievements at www.timwaggoner.com. $20.00 per individual or $35.00 per couple. More.

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Writer's Life, Writing News

Question: Does poetry matter in modern America?

Answer: “In an age where fingertips can conjure information javelined at us as quick as lightning, and it’s still too slow — the relevance of poetry’s immediacy for its condensed storytelling abilities, is a large part of the appeal that today’s reader-on-the-go finds attractive. For the poet: the ability to seize upon a current event, fashion into art and deliver back to the public while the topic is still fresh. For the reader: to be able to ingest a high-quality gourmet meal in one sitting, put their hands behind their heads and feel completely satisfied. Same is true for a painting, photograph or song — because of its brevity, one can revisit and be wonderstruck as often as one’s time allows. If Time is one of humankind’s most precious commodities, then (as the arts are concerned) one could consider poetry as one of Time’s most valuable distributor of goods. Poetry delivers. It delivers fast and hard. Therein lies its power.”

T.J.’s first book of poetry, Mid-Life Chrysler (God, I love that title) just hit shelves:

Check it out on Amazon.

Writer's Life, Writing News

Dayton poet T.J. McGuire does his writing in a walk-up attic nicknamed the Rock Room (click the image for a larger version):

It’s where he’s been crafting his upcoming chapbook Mid-life Chrysler from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. Stay tuned for an interview with T.J. when the book comes out. Thanks for sharing, T.J.!

You can also check out some of T.J.’s work here: Flights (Issue 4 2016) and Mock Turtle Zine (Issues 8-14 and audio recordings). T.J.’s poems have also appeared in Slippery Elm.

Writer's Life, Writing Events, Writing News

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?

A: “1. Start early. Life intrudes and, as it did with me, pushes your dream to the back of the line. 2. Find a mentor and/or a writing group. Once you connect with good feedback and direction, your writing grows exponentially. 3. Submit, submit, submit. It’s the only way to get published. 4. Relish the process, including the rejections, which help you grow. 5. Reward yourself for every step along the path. Wine and chocolate work for me! 6. Read widely and often, especially the work of authors whose work is accomplished. Enough said.”

J. E. Irvin is the author of The Dark End of the Rainbow, and she’s celebrating the launch of her new mystery/thriller The Rules of the Game on Friday, January 13 at 7 p.m. at Montage Cafe in Greenville.

Writer's Life, Writing Events

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop has a cool fundraiser planned for #GivingTuesday (Nov. 29). They’ve secured a $20,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. That means any money they raise that day (or through the end of the year) will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $20,000.

Out of curiosity, I asked workshop co-founder Teri Rizvi about Erma’s “most interesting bit of advice for writers.”

“In 1991, I interviewed Erma Bombeck for the University of Dayton’s alumni tabloid,” Rizvi said. “I asked her about her writing process, and she talked about discipline. ‘I can’t imagine any writer saying to you, “I just write when I feel like it.” That’s a luxury, and that’s stupid. The same for writer’s block. If you’re a professional writer, you write. You don’t sit there and wait for sweet inspiration to tap you on the shoulder and say now’s the time. We meet deadlines. I write for newspapers, and newspapers don’t wait for anybody. You write whether you feel like it, you write whether you’ve got an idea, you write whether it’s Pulitzer Prize material. You just do it, that’s it. Discipline is what we’re all about. If you don’t have discipline, you’re not a writer.’

“She also wrote on an electric IBM Selectric typewriter, which we now have in the archives at UD. She insisted that word processors might be quicker, but ‘not funnier.'”

Rizvi’s encouraged writers who donate to the workshop on the 29th to post #unselfie pics on social media to encourage others to give.

Upcoming literary events


With Thanksgiving coming up, there aren’t any notable literary events this week. There are some really cool events in the coming weeks, though. Here are some you’ve got to add to your calendar!

David Sedaris tickets go on sale, December 1, 2016. Sedaris will be at the Victoria Theatre on April 25, 2017. I’ve seen him in the past, so I’m not going, but I have a presale code. If you want it, just shoot me an email and we might be able to score you tickets before they go on sale to the general public. Tickets will be available to the public on 12/1 at www.ticketcenterstage.com.

LitSalon with Joanne Smith, December 4, 2016. Joanne Smith (author of The 13th Gift) will talk writing in an event em-ceed by Dayton Daily News Editor Ron Rollins. LitSalons are put on by Antioch Writers’ Workshop, and they’re always hosted at interesting settings (this one will be at author Katrina Kittle’s house). They’re among my favorite literary events in Dayton. Last I saw, they only had five slots left, so sign up! More

B.A. Shapiro, December 6, 2016 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Wright Memorial Public Library, 1776 Far Hills Ave, Dayton, OH 45419. New York Times bestselling author B.A. Shapiro will talk about her latest book The Muralist. RSVPs requested. More.

Michael Chabon, $25 (includes his latest book), December 10, 2016 @ 7:00 p.m. Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Rd M, Cincinnati, OH 45208. Pulitzer-winner Chabon will talk about his latest book, Moonglow.