a weblog for readers and writers

Friday, June 29, 2007

Czeched Out

I'm back from my visit to the Czech Republic! After a few weeks of devouring Czech literature, film, history, and culture to prepare for the trip, I spent an enjoyable week in the country, centered around Prague.

As often happens on such trips, time seemed to stand still and race by at the same time. The week was over far too fast — we could easily have remained in Prague for another week or two. Ideally, I’d love to spend a few months there and really soak in the city and nation. But we saw a lot of things and had many experiences there, so that made it seem like it was more than just a week.

Outside of Prague, we ventured to the village of Chodovar Plana, near Marianski Lazne, and soaked in the beer spa of a 14th century brewery. We explored the silver mines of Kunta Hora and visited the church where human skeletons become art. And we made the steep climb to Karlsteijn Castle.

Inside Prague, we most enjoyed Old Town Square with the Astronomical Clock Tower and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, the Castle area with St. Vitus’s Cathedral and Golden Lane, and we enjoyed crossing Charles Bridge and veering off to Kampa Island.

The Czech food and beer was great; so was the Becherovka and Slivovice.

Of course, I’m only touching on a few of the highlights. There was so much to see and do. And, as I mentioned, we were only there a short time, so we barely scratched the surface. I could easily spend months exploring and enjoying Prague and the Czech Republic.

It interested me to see some of the places mentioned in the Czech literature I read before visiting. Even the mentions of some of the metro stops in books came back to me as I got off on those very same stops or saw the very same streets, buildings, and sights as mentioned by novelists.

I've settled back into the dialy grind, and I've begun to work on some travel writing about Prague and the Czech Republic. I may have checked out of my hotel in Prague, but I’m by no means Czeched out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Fiction Featured at XandO

Members of the Maryland Writers’ Association Baltimore Chapter will read from their work this Wednesday night, June 27. The 7 p.m. reading takes place at XandO coffee and Bar.

There’s some debate regarding the pronunciation of the venue’s name — is it Xando or X and O? — but there’s sure to be agreement about the refreshing coffee and cocktails. Not to mention the main course: a hearty serving of local literary fare.

I’ll be delivering the opening pages of the novel I’m currently revising: WOMB.

Be the first to hear the opening chapter of WOMB, which is told from the perspective of an unborn child.

Stop by XandO at 3003 N. Charles Street #1, Baltimore, Maryland tomorrow night for lit and a latte or beer and a book excerpt.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kick-Start Your Journal

“A man loves to review his own mind. That is the use of a diary, or journal.”

--Samuel Johnson

Join Christine Stewart, Writer-in-Residence at the Creative Alliance and Director of the Write Here Write Now workshops, for a four-week workshop on starting a writer's journal. You don't have to be a regular writer, or have even written anything before to enjoy this class.

A writer's journal is the best place to try out ideas without pressure for perfection. The best part is that you can get messy. You can try something and let it go if it isn't working. You can be daring. You can make mistakes. You can make lists and ask questions. Anything goes —overheard conversations, dreams, memories, anecdotes, images, descriptions, lyrics, and more!
The workshop begins June 30, so act now if you’d like to register.

Get all of the details at the link below.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Fiction Reading This Weekend

Fiction writers Nathan Leslie and Jen Michalski will be reading at the Kensington Row Book Shop at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 24.

Nathan Leslie is the author of five books of short fiction. His latest collection, Believers, was published by Pocol Press in September, 2006. His poems, essays, and stories have been published in over a hundred literary magazines. He is editor of The Potomac and fiction editor for Pedestal Magazine.

Jen Michalski's fiction has appeared over twenty publications, including McSweeney's, Failbetter, The Pedestal, The Potomac, and Hobart. Her collection of short stories, Close Encounters, is forthcoming from So New Publishing. She is the editor in chief of the online literary quarterly JMWW.

To learn more, visit the Kensington Row Book Shop online.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Check Out Czech Lit

Tomorrow I'm off to Prague, so I’ve been checking out a bit of Czech literature and cinema. The history, literature, and culture of the Czech Republic — and Prague specifically — is fascinating.

Serious Czech literature dates back to the early 14th century, around the time of Jan Hus and the Hussite Wars.

An influential Czech writer from the 14th century was Jan Amos Komensky, sometimes known as Comenius. He believed in improving society through education and was often referred to as “the teacher of nations.”

Another bit of trivia: a Czech writer came up with the word “robot.” Playwright Karel Capek coined the term in his play Rossum’s Universal Robots. Robot is derived from the Czech word robata which means labor.

Popular poet Jaroslav Seiferet won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984.

Two contemporary greats I’m currently reading are Milan Kundera and Bohumil Hrabal.

Kundera is author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and Slowness. Rumor has it he’s been short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature himself.

Before Bohumil Hrabal died in 1997, Kundera referred to him as the best Czech author writing today. Hrabal is known for such works as I Served the King of England, Closely Watched Trains, and Too Loud a Solitude.

Closely Watched Trains was also an academy-award winning film. Other good Czech movies I've seen recently include Autumn Spring, Divided We Fall, Up and Down, The White Dove, and Loves of a Blonde.

Looking to check out some Czech lit? I recommend I Served the King of England and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I’ll be taking both on the plane with me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

MWA Fiction Winners Announced

The Maryland Writers Association recently announced the winners for their 2007 Short Works Contest.

In the fiction category, the winners, as published on the MWA website are:

First Place: Vicki Fang for “The Little Girl Who Thought She Could Shoot Down the Moon

Second Place: Allison McCarthy for “Road Veins

Third Place: Eric D. Goodman for “The Stein

All winners received complimentary admission to the popular Maryland Writers’ Conference.

The Stein” is the same story that I recently read on National Public Radio. It is an abridged version of “A Good Beer Needs a Good Stein” from TRACKS, a novel in stories.

To learn more about TRACKS and to hear me read “The Stein,” visit the TRACKS blog.

Learn more about the contest and the Maryland Writers’ Association at their page.