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.

Writing Events

MONDAY 1/9: Steve Bein and Angie Grigaliunas. January 9, 2017 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Centerville Library, 111 W Spring Valley Pike, Centerville, OH 45458. Montgomery County’s Steve Bein is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author whose work has been published in Asimov’s, Interzone, and Writers of the Future. His featured book is “Daughter of the Sword,” c2012, the first book in the Fated Blades series. Greene County’s Angie Grigaliunas is a fantasy writer and blogger who is a country girl at heart. Her dystopian fantasy debut novel being featured is “Sowing,” c2016, book one of The Purification Era series. Both authors will appear in the library lobby. For more information on Washington-Centerville Public Library events and services, call 433-8091 or visit wclibrary.info.

MONDAY 1/9: LEAP & THE NET WILL APPEAR: Steps for Creating Positive Change (3-week workshop). January 9, 2017 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Ave, Dayton, OH 45419. The New Year is a powerful time to clarify the dreams you have for your life. Katrina Kittle’s next LEAP & THE NET WILL APPEAR CLASS begins Monday, January 9. This is NOT a writing class, but a “life class” for absolutely anyone. Is 2017 the year you finally ________________? This class will harness all the energy of the New Year to help you take stock, take action, and start momentum rolling. Mondays, January 9, 16, and 23, from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Learn more.

TUESDAY 1/10: Hiking to Mt. Everest Base Camp 17,000 ft. January 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Dayton Metro Library – New Lebanon Branch, 715 W Main St, New Lebanon, OH 45345. Allen Johnson takes on the tallest mountain in the world – Mt. Everest 29,029 ft. Allen will present exciting pictures of the journey, including the trip across China and the Tibetan plateau to reach the Everest area. More.

TUESDAY 1/10: So you wanna write? ($45) January 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton, OH 45419. Is 2017 the year you’re finally going to start that writing project (…or finish it?) If you ever suspected that there might be a writer lurking somewhere inside you, or perhaps harbored a secret notebook of half-started stories, this class with author Katrina Kittle is for you. In this two-hour workshop you’ll release the writer within through creative prompts to get the words flowing, and will learn strategies to keep the muse turned on. This class is for anyone who longs to write but doesn’t know where to start, and for writers who have dabbled but lost their way. WARNING: this workshop just might seduce you into a life-long love affair with writing! More.

TUESDAY 1/10: Book Discussion – 13th Gift by JoAnne Huist Smith. January 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Cherry House Café, 1241 Meadowbridge Dr., Beavercreek, OH. Join a discussion of the 13th Gift by JoAnne Huist Smith. The author traces how the unexpected death of her husband posed painful challenges to herself and her three children. In random acts of kindness, they received anonymous holiday gifts on their doorstep that helped them find strength and healing. Local author Joanne Huist Smith will be attending this event. More.

FRIDAY 1/13: J. E. Irvin Book Launch. January 13, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Montage Cafe, 527 S Broadway St, Greenville, OH 45331. J. E. Irvin will speak on the path to publication of her award-winning novel The Dark End of the Rainbow and launch her new mystery/thriller The Rules of the Game for north Dayton area readers at Montage Cafe January 13, 2017, at 7 p.m. Books will be available for purchase, and the author will sign copies after the readings. (A launch for the south Dayton area is still in the planning stages.). More.

SATURDAY 1/14: Kickoff for fiction jumpstart weekly workshop with Katrina Kittle ($165). January 14, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm. Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton, OH 45419. Whether you’re an experienced novelist who needs your ideas energized or a beginner who isn’t sure where to start or somewhere in between and you rely on prompts and deadlines to keep you writing…this is the class for you. Each week will focus on some aspect of the writing life (such as creating and defending a writing schedule, dealing with the inner critic, and defeating writer’s block) , as well as providing prompts and exercises to stoke your creativity, fan your senses, and get the sparks flying — with light homework and plenty of sharing. DATES: Saturdays: January 14, January 21, January 28, February 4, February 11. More.

SUNDAY 1/15: Point of View Mini-Workshop with Rebecca MoreanJanuary 15, 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm. Books & Co, 4453 Walnut Street, Dayton, OH 45440. A free Antioch Writers’ Mini-Workshop. Add to your writing craft tool-box! Learn tips and best practices for using Point of View to enhance your stories, novels, essays, memoirs and other works… and connect with your readers! Led by novelist, essayist and short story writer Rebecca Morean. Learn more about Rebecca.

SUNDAY 1/15: Jennifer Sommer: Writing in Dialect: A Study for Writers.January 15, 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm. Wright Memorial Public Library, 1776 Far Hills Ave, Dayton, OH 45419. Fiction writers like to give their characters as much authenticity as possible by indicating where they are from and how they speak. But giving characters proper dialect can be a challenge. In this writers’ study and workshop, author Jennifer Sommer will focus on how dialect is communicated on the page, the history and evolution of dialect in literature, controversies, and best current practices for writers. Registration is requested. Jennifer Sommer is a writer who earned her MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University where she presented her Master’s thesis Writing in Dialect in Fiction: a History and Study. Sommer is the former Coordinator of Youth Services at Wright Library and has served on national selection committees for several American Library Association awards, including the Odyssey Award, which recognizes the best audiobook for children and/or young adults, and the Robert F. Sibert Award for non-fiction books for children. More.

WEDNESDAY 1/18: Wright State Visiting Writers’ Series: Amy GustineJanuary 18, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Pathfinder Lounge, Student Union, Wright State University. Gustine is the author of the short story collection You Should Pity Us Instead, a book The New York Times Book Review describes as “an affecting and wide-ranging debut.” Her fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, PRISM International, and elsewhere. Click for more information, or contact Erin Flanagan at erin.flanagan@wright.edu.

WEDNESDAY 1/18: Kristin Bailey introduces The Silver Gate, January 18, 2017@ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm, Books&Co, 4453 Walnut St, Beavercreek, OH 45440. KRISTIN BAILEY, author of Legacy of the Clockwork Key, will introduce her new children’s novel, The Silver Gate, which is set in the medieval era of lords and serfs. We meet 13-year old Elric, who is a shepherd, and his 11-year old sister, Wynn. Wynn had been born with developmental delays, and so the village folk determined she must be a changling left by the evil fairies to cause havoc in their village. According to them, she must be abandoned in the woods. More.

THURSDAY 1/19: Antarctic Plunge: Tour of Penguinland. January 19, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Dayton Metro Library – West Carrollton Branch, 300 E Central Ave, West Carrollton, OH 45449. Allen Johnson will describe his two week trip across the Antarctic Circle to the icy mainland. He encountered thousands of penguins, hundreds of seals and dozens of whales. More.

THURSDAY (OUT OF TOWN) 1/19: Veronica Roth (author of the Divergent Series)January 19, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Rd M, Cincinnati, OH 45208. Join us for an evening with Veronica Roth, creator of the Divergent series! She’ll be in conversation with “First Draft” podcast’s Sarah Enni, discussing her newest book, “Carve the Mark”. Everyone who purchases a ticket for the event will receive an autographed copy of “Carve the Mark”, and 100 lucky audience members will be randomly chosen at the event to meet Veronica and Sarah and get their pictures taken with the author. For tickets and more information, please call the store at 513-396-8960. More.

FRIDAY 1/20: Chris Bohjalian introduces The SleepwalkerJanuary 20, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Books&Co, 4453 Walnut St, Beavercreek, OH 45440. Bestselling author CHRIS BOHJALIAN will introduce his new novel, The Sleepwalker, which tells us of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night. BOHJALIAN has written 19 books, including Midwives, which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah’ Book Club. More.

SATURDAY 1/21: 2017: The Year of Complete Victory for Your [Love] LifeJanuary 21, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Dayton Metro Library – Northwest Branch, 2410 Philadelphia Dr, Dayton, OH 45406. If you want something different, you have to do something different. Create the love you desire in 2017 beginning with this interactive and transformational book club discussion. Start your year with specific, intentional actions to create the love transformation you desire. Your registration includes an autographed book, refreshments, door prizes and lively discussion about those creatures we love so much…MEN! This women-only discussion is the prelude to It’s Raining Men: the all-male panel with answers to your burning questions of love and relationships. More.

Writer's Life, Writing News

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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.


Here’s a one-question interview with local author Daniel Craig:

Q: Why bother writing books?

A: “I write books so that I can explore the ideas floating in my head, especially ideas that I don’t feel are expressed or covered enough in the media I enjoy. I ask the question “why” to everything in life, and writing gives me the ultimate power to ask it. Also, I want to be able to give other people the same kinds of experiences, the same kind of escape that has been given me my whole life by the books, films and other stories that inspired me and gave me solace when the world proved itself a cruel place.”

Craig is the author of After Terra: Year 200. Here’s the logline: “For thousands of years, human civilization flourished. We thought we had all of the answers. We were wrong. Now, two hundred years after the total destruction of Terra, a hollow shell of humanity remains. It is in this time that one man on a simple quest of love unwittingly puts himself in a swirl of events that will question everything it means to be human.” You can find it online here. Preorder the next book in his series and get Year 200 for free. 

Writing News

My literary calendar on DaytonLit.com is empty through the end of the year, but January’s already filling up. Here are three of the coolest events coming next month:

1) Point of View Mini-Workshop with Rebecca Morean. Sunday, Jan. 15, 2 p.m.
Hosted by the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, this free event will teach you tips and best practices for using Point of View to enhance your stories, novels, essays, memoirs and other works… and connect with your readers. Led by novelist, essayist and short story writer Rebecca Morean. Learn more about Rebecca at www.ramorean.com

2) OUT OF TOWN: Meet Veronica Roth, Thursday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.
The creator of the Divergent series will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati. She’ll be in conversation with “First Draft” podcast’s Sarah Enni, discussing her newest book, “Carve the Mark”. Everyone who purchases a ticket for the event will receive an autographed copy of “Carve the Mark”, and 100 lucky audience members will be randomly chosen at the event to meet Veronica and Sarah and get their pictures taken with the author. For tickets and more information, please call the store at 513-396-8960. More.

3) Dan Rather, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m.
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. He’ll speak at the Wright State Nutter Center. More.

Help decorate a brand new library

Dayton Metro Library is running a contest now through Jan. 9. Anyone can vote on the art that will inspire a newly-commissioned piece to adorn the future Southeast Branch (near Belmont High School). Click here to vote for your favorite of five pieces that are in the Dayton Art Museum’s permanent collection. The piece that wins will be the inspiration for a brand new work of art.

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.