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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Baltimore Review's Fiction Winners Announced

The winners of The Baltimore Review's 2005 Short Fiction Competition have been announced. Three Place Winners were selected and two Honorable Mentions. The winners are:

First Place: Mystic Dawn Hood of Nottingham, England, for her story, "Temp."

Second Place: Gail Strickland of San Francisco, California, for her story, "You Can't Take It Upstairs."

Third Place: Susan White of Ashville, North Carolina, for her story, "Unclaimed Baggage."

Honorable Mention: Eric D. Goodman of Baltimore, Maryland, for his story, "Out for a Walk."

Honorable Mention: Eleanor LaBerge of Gig Harbor, Washington, for her story, "The Bologna Sandwich Adventure."

My story, "Out for a Walk," began as an assignment in last fall's Write Here Write Now Workshop co-sponsored by Baltimore's Creative Alliance and the CityLit Project.

Want to take the walk? Just email me and I'll be happy to forward you a copy. edgewriter@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Prescription for a Novel

Let's go back to the end. John Irving always begins his novels with the last sentence. It may be awhile before his next novel hits bookstores, but he's already begun the process by penning down the final sentence. In fact, he wrote the last line to his next novel on a prescription pad in January of 2005.

"I had it in my head and I was waiting in my doctor's office and I grabbed the pad and started writing. The doctor came in and I had to explain what I was doing."

But don't pre-order the new novel yet. Expect it to take half a decade or so. "It usually takes me six months from the last line to a first draft of the first chapter." Irving figures it takes an average of five to seven years for him to write a book. But consider yourself among the first to know that the coming Irving novel began as a line on a prescription pad.

Friday, March 17, 2006

James Joyce on Irresponsibility and Art

Top of the morning to you! (Or bottom of the evening, depending on when I get this posted.)

On St. Patrick's Day, whether Irish or not, many writers will be tempted to put aside their work to patron the Irish pubs and dip into green beer and Guinness. Don't be disheartened. Remember what Irish novelist James Joyce said: "Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art."

For more on James Joyce, visit his center.

Or, if you'd prefer, visit his pub.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Oscar Winner Stresses Culture of the Book

Larry McMurtry isn't your typical Academy Award winner, and his acceptance speech this week showed it. He won the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (along with Diana Ossana) for Brokeback Mountain, based on the story by Annie Proulx.

McMurtry's a novelist as well as a screenwriter, and he's no stranger to westerns. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for his novel, Lonesome Dove. He's also author of The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment -- 24 novels in all. Not to mention his screenwriting for television and the big screen.

To top it all off, he's even a bookstore owner. Booked Up began as a bookstore in Washington DC and has since moved to his hometown of Archer City, Texas.

In his acceptance speech for the Oscar, he stressed the importance of the culture of the book. "I'm going to thank all the booksellers of the world. Remember, Brokeback Mountain was a book before it was a movie. From the humblest paperback exchange to the masters of the great bookshops of the world, all are contributors to the survival of the culture of the book. A wonderful culture, which we mustn't lose."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Prose is Never Finished

National Book Award Winner Alice McDermott describes writing prose as a never-ending endeavor. "Prose is never finished. It's a process that only ends when you allow it to. You can always improve your writing."

She suggests writers feel their way through a novel rather than target a specific destination. "Writing fiction is intuition, the sculpting of material and selection of words. There are turns in a story that writers don't expect, that they don't see coming."

It's that mystery -- the not knowing where she's headed, that McDermott finds fascinating. In fact, she always begins without a plot and develops it as she writes.

"There's the danger of losing enthusiasm if you know the plot before you start writing. With literary fiction, it's best to begin without knowing exactly where the story is going."

With that in mind, who knows what we'll stumble upon in the next installment of Writeful?