a weblog for readers and writers

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Can You Hear Poe's Heart Beating?

Every Halloween night, a crowd joins together over Poe’s grave in Baltimore and listens to a dramatic reading from the work of Edgar Allen Poe.

Poe, after all, lived and died in Baltimore. His grave and memorial are in downtown Baltimore at the Westminster burying ground and the “Poe House” where he once lived is a few blocks away.

The last time I attended the graveside gathering on Halloween night, after listening to spooky music on the old Westminster organ and exploring the catacombs beneath the church, I remember actually sitting above Poe’s grave and listening to a reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

I remember thinking, as I sat over his grave, how appropriate it was to read that particular story with his clay-cold body right beneath us. I could almost hear his heart beating.

Around Halloween, I often turn to Poe’s writing. It seems to go with the holiday. Sure there’s the horror of Stephen King and the vampires of Anne Rice. But they don’t seem to hold a candle to Poe.

If you’re looking for new voices in the art of the ghost story, be sure to check out these books.

The Ghost of Colby Drive, by Kristin Groulx:


Portraits in the Dark, by Nancy Greene:


Or, you can always trust Edgar Allen Poe for a good scare.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Dark Reading for Halloween

There’s scary, and then there’s bone-chilling. I remember as a kid, sometimes I could watch an rated-R horror flick and laugh at it … then watch a g-rated episode of The Twilight Zone alone and creep around the house making sure nothing lurked behind the doors.

Nancy O. Greene’s Portraits in the Dark falls into that second category.

Portraits in the Dark is a slender collection of nine short stories examining the uncertainty, vulnerability, and darkness present in human nature and the world we live in. What it lacks in size it makes up for in substance.

Portraits won both the Editor’s Choice and Publisher’s Choice Awards from iUniverse, and some of the stories have placed in contests individually.

Find out why; read the reviews and more about the book on Nancy Greene’s website.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Literary Getaway

As one reader recently pointed out, it seems like I’ve been so busy lately with literary events, I haven’t even had time to write about them. I mean really write about the events instead of just mentioning them.

That’s true. Fall is always a busy time for literature. But this year seems to have been packed with more pages than usual. I’ve barely had time to transcribe notes from the events — let alone actually write about what the authors have said, what words of wisdom and writerly advice they had to share.

Rest assured that such posts will come in the near future. In the meantime, rest alone would be nice.

So I’m relieved to have the opportunity to experience a literary getaway of a different type this weekend. My wife and I have been invited to enjoy a weekend at The Spencer in Chautauqua, New York.

The Spencer is a literary-themed boutique hotel located on the grounds of the illustrious Chautauqua Institution, and is celebrating 100 years of history this year. The literary hotel celebrates the life and works of history’s most revered authors.

Each room at The Spencer pays homage to a renowned author, depicting scenes from their most famous works. For instance, in the C.S. Lewis (Room 302), a mural dedicated to The lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe depicts the image of stepping into Narnia, complete with the famed Wardrobe. In the Isak Dinesen (Room 203), a play on the Out of Africa theme allows guests to slumber under their very own dream-like safari tent while the Jules Verne (Room 306) gives the playful feel of sleeping up in a balloon traveling Around the World in 80 Days.

We’ll be staying in the Brownings Suite, named after English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wife of Robert Browning. Elizabeth Browning is best known for Sonnets from the Portuguese, a collection of love sonnets to her husband. We’ll be taking our copy along.

I look forward to reporting on the weekend. Well, the literary parts, at least. In the meantime, feel free to book your own literary getaway by visiting The Spencer online.


Join us in the Brownings Suite.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mixing Fiction, Poetry, Music, and Art

The “Rumi-esque Reading” last Sunday afternoon at the Watermark Gallery turned out to be a great event.

In the warm, inviting environment of the Watermark Gallery, decorated with the original works of Manzar, lovers of the arts gathered to hear two poets and three fiction writers read their work.

Deanna Nikaido opened the event by reading several poems by Rumi. She then read from her own collection of poetry, Vibrating with Silence.

Nitin Jagdish read two stories: “Lines: A Portrait Contemplates Its Audience" and “Fragments from a Backyard Melodrama.” Two other readers read dialogue within Nitin’s narrative, which enlivened the reading.

Caryn Coyle read her story “She Walks in Beauty,” about a Native American ancestor guiding a twentieth century woman on a spiritual journey.

I read two sections from the novel I’m still revising: Womb. It’s a novel narrated by an unborn child still in the womb. I hope to have it polished and ready for agents and publishers around the middle of next year.

Cliff Lynn closed the program with a reading of his own award-winning poetry, followed by a reading of Rumi’s work.

During the intermission, live music was performed, over wine, refreshments, and conversation. Another live performance – from a musician at the Peabody Institute – was enjoyed after the readings.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the event was just gathering together during the intermission and after the readings to talk with fellow writers, poets, artists, musicians, and lovers of the arts.

Whether you’re an artist or a writer, a poet or a reader, I encourage you to go out and get involved with events such as this. Visit the art galleries, attend the readings, enjoy the company of fellow creative people. Beyond being fun, it can be an inspiration.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In the Mood for a Canadian Ghost Story?

Halloween is only nine days away. What better time than the present to sit by the fire with a good ghost story? Especially if you’re into teen chick-lit.

My friend and fellow author Kristin Groulx published her first novel earlier this year. The Ghost of Colby Drive is the story of Alyson Bell, a teenaged girl who moves with her family to a new town and experiences more than the usual bout of culture shock.

This young adult paranormal romance novel will appeal to readers who enjoy authors Katie Maxwell, Sophie Kinsella and Ann Brashares. It’s perfect for anyone interested in writing paranormal young adult novels.

Or for anyone who wants a good scare this Halloween.

Learn more about The Ghost of Colby Drive by visiting Kristin at her website.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Watermark Gallery Reading This Sunday

Just a reminder: this Sunday at 2 p.m. is the “Rumi-esque Reading” event. I’ll be reading from my new novel, Womb, and will be joined by two other fiction writers and two poets. In addition to literature and readings from Rumi’s work, there will be artwork, music, and refreshments.

You’re invited!

Below is information directly from a recent advertisement on the event.

A Rumi-esque Reading:

Celebrating 800 years of Rumi


The Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

Sunday, October 21 at 2 p.m.

Hightlights include:

· Readings from Rumi’s work

· Original, Rumi-inspired work from poets
Deanna Nikaido and Cliff Lynn.

Original, Rumi-esque fiction from three local authors:

· Womb by Eric D. Goodman

· “She Walks in Beauty” by Caryn Coyle

· "Lines: A Portrait Contemplates Its Audience" and
"Fragments from a Backyard Melodrama.” by Nitin Jagdish

Also for your enjoyment:

· “Diverse Expressions,” surreal artwork by Manzar

· Live, Rumi-inspired music

· Wine and refreshments

The Watermark Gallery is located in the Bank of America Center Skywalk Level, right across from the Inner Harbor, at 100 S. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland. The phone number is (410) 547-0452.

The event is free and open to the public.

And, if the event leaves you hungry for more, don’t forget that on Monday night, a number of Maryland writers — myself included — will share our work aloud at the new Ukazoo Books in Towson.

Learn more about both events at www.Writeful.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Lit-Filled Fall

Fall always seems to be a busy time when it comes to literary events, readings, and the culture of the book.

Already this season has seen the National Book Festival with such authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen L. Carter, David Baldacci, Ken Burns, and Lisa Scottoline, as well as the Baltimore Book Festival with authors like Stephen Dixon and Stephen Hunter.

But last weekend took the cake.

Friday night, I enjoyed a cocktail reception in honor of the legendary author William J. Kennedy. About 30 or so other guests celebrated the most recent recipient of the coveted F. Scott Fitzgerald Award over drinks.

Saturday saw the 12th annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference in at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. Rockville is the final resting place of Fitzgerald.

The conference featured intimate writing workshops and larger panel discussions and craft lectures alike.

Jay Parini, a prolific author known for his fiction, poetry, biographies, and essays, talked about Kennedy, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Faulkner, and other writers who successfully use place in their work.

William Kennedy spoke about his fiction, what it takes to become a successful novelist, and what he thought about the movie adaptation of his award winning Ironweed.

Other authors featured at the conference included Susan Coll, Courttia Newland, Alix Ohlin, and Carly Sachs. I’m already looking forward to the next conference in 2008.

Then, on Sunday, I participated in the “Movable Feast,” a luncheon with about two dozen authors talking about their books. The event was part of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Conference.

At the Movable Feast, I got to finally meet in person Sunshine O’Donnell, author of Open Me, a novel that has gotten a lot of good ink this year.

I caught up with Deborah Norvill who chatted with me about her new book, Thank You Power, which she’s been promoting between Inside Edition shoots.

I also got to meet Bathsheeba Monk, who has successfully published a collection of interlinked stories called Cokesville – not unlike my own TRACKS. And Felicia Sullivan, whose memoir The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here is due out later this year. And Robin Gerber, whose book Eleanor Vs Ike may make for perfect reading during election season.

And in the category of visual books, I got to talk with Barbara Lehman, a Caldecott Medal winner for her illustrated childrens’ books and pop-up artist Matthew Reinhart.

Later that evening, I caught Lake Woebegone author and Home Prairie Companion radio star Garrison Keillor, who packed the Pratt Library with more people than I’ve ever seen in a library.

And it didn’t stop at the weekend.

Monday night, Pulitzer winner Edward P. Jones read from his work and talked about his experience with writing at Goucher College.

And tonight, Augusten Burroughs will share his thoughts on the writing life at Towson University.

Then, this Sunday, I’ll be joined by two other fiction writers and two poets in “A Rumi-esque Reading,” where we’ll share our fiction. And on Monday night, a number of Maryland writers—myself included—will share our work aloud at the new Ukazoo Books in Towson.

It’s been a lit-filled week, and this fall the lit keeps falling.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maryland Authors Share Their Work

There have been quite a few reading events lately: myself and a number of other authors read at the recent Baltimore Book Festival. William J. Kennedy at the Fitzgerald Conference last Saturday. Sunshine O’Donnell in Baltimore last Sunday. Edward P. Jones last night at Goucher. Augusten Burroughs tomorrow at Towson University.

And, of course, the “Rumi-esqe Reading” this coming Sunday, where I’ll be reading from my novel Womb at the Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s inner harbor along with two other fiction writers (Caryn Coyle and Nitin Jagdish) and two poets (Deanna Nikaido and Cliff Lynn).

But some Marylanders may consider all of that a lead-up to the reading on Monday, October 22. If you happen to be in the Baltimore-DC area, you won’t want to miss a reading of Maryland writers sharing their work.

The October meeting of the Maryland Writers Association Baltimore Chapter takes place on Monday, October 22 at 7p.m. at the new Ukazoo Books in Towson Town Center. Directions are available on the Ukazoo website at www.ukazoo.com.

Stop by to listen to the fine work of some of Baltimore’s finest authors.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Author Augusten Burroughts Does Towson

This Wednesday, October 17, New York Times bestselling author Augusten Burroughs comes to Towson University to talk about the craft of writing, answer questions, read from his work, and sign books.

Burroughs is the author of Dry, Running with Scissors, and Possible Side Effects.

The question and answer session takes place at 3:30 p.m. at the University Union Potomac Lounge.

A Reception and Book Signing is set for 6 p.m. at Stephens Hall.

Mr. Burroughs will read from his work at 7 p.m. in Stephens Hall.

For more information contact Campus Life at 410-704-2332. Admission is free and open to the public.

And, don’t forget that Edward P. Jones, author of The Known World, talks about his work at 8 p.m. tonight at Goucher College. For more information, see the previous post on Edward P. Jones.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Celebrate 800 Years of Rumi

The great Persian poet, teacher, and philosopher, Rumi, turned 800 on September 30 of this year. Or at least he would have, were he still alive. Many writers and readers would argue that he does live on today — in his writing, his teachings, his philosophy, and his writing.

To celebrate 800 years of Rumi, there will be a literary event — call it a birthday party — at the Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Sunday, October 21.

The event, “A Rumi-esque Reading,” promises to be packed with diverse fiction, emotive poetry, surreal artwork, eastern music, rich wine, and celebratory camaraderie.

Hightlights of “A Rumi-esque Reading” include readings of Rumi’s work as well as readings or original, Rumi-inspired work from poets Deanna Nikaido and Cliff Lynn.

Three local fiction writers will share their work.

Caryn Coyle will read her story, “She Walks in Beauty,” about a Native American ancestor guiding a twentieth century woman on a spiritual journey

Nitin Jagdish will read "Lines: A Portrait Contemplates Its Audience" and "Fragments from a Backyard Melodrama.”

Eric D. Goodman will read excerpts from his novel, Womb. Womb is written from the point of view of an unborn child.

Diverse Expressions,” a collection of surreal artwork by Manzar Rassouli-Taylor , will be on display.

Eastern, Rumi-inspired music will be performed to enhance the mood. And speaking of mood-enhancement, did we mention the wine?

During the intermission as well as after the readings, members will have the opportunity to mingle with the authors, artists, and each other to talk about Rumi’s work and how his spirit lives on in the works of new artists today.

The Watermark Gallery is located in the Bank of America Center Skywalk Level, right across from the Inner Harbor, at 100 S. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland. The phone number is (410) 547-0452.

Learn more about the Watermark at their online gallery.


Learn more about “A Rumi-esque Reading” at Writeful -- new posts are on their way.


Brush up on your Rumi here.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kennedy Honored with Fitzgerald Award

This weekend, at the 12th annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, critically-acclaimed author William Joseph Kennedy will be presented with the Fitzgerald Literary Award.

Kennedy’s in good company. No, not because I’ll be there for his cocktail reception, award presentation, and craft lecture — because past winners include the likes of John Updike, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Edward Albee, E.L. Doctorow, Ernest J. Gaines, Pat Conroy, William Styron, Grace Paley, John Barth, and Jane Smiley.

William J. Kennedy is best known for his Albany cycle, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Ironweed, for which he also wrote the Academy Award nominated movie.

Kennedy’s acceptance, reading, and comments on his distinguished career as a writer may be the highlight of the conference. But there are so many other reasons to attend the day-long event.

The conference spans from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. this Saturday, October 13. It offers craft lectures and workshops with a number of accomplished writers and practical advice on honing your craft, beating writers block, getting published, and more. There’s even reading of Fitzgerald’s work and a tour of Fitzgerald literary haunts.

Don’t listen to R.E.M.’s advice — DO go back to Rockville for this day-long literary event. Get all the details on the conference website.


And watch William talk about writing with Charlie Rose.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Edward P. Jones at Goucher

Pulitzer-prize winning author Edward P. Jones will read from his work at 8 p.m. on Monday, October 15, in Goucher College’s Kraushaar Auditorium.

The event is sponsored by the Kratz Center for Creative Writing. A reception and book signing will follow the reading.

This is free and open to the public, but you need to reserve your tickets in advance. Just call 410-337-6333 or email boxoffice@goucher.edu.

Most people probably know Jones best for his novel, The Known World, which won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. But until about five years ago, Edward P. Jones spent most of his writing hours working on “Tax Notes,” a weekly publication featuring short, digestible bits on tax policies.

To learn more about the event—and Jones—visit Goucher College online.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Dig Rumi?

On the heels of the successful reading at the Baltimore book Festival comes yet another literary event — this one inspired by and celebrating the 800th birthday of the great Persian poet, Rumi.

Whenever Manzar, the owner of the Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, was introduced to my novel, WOMB, her first reaction was that it was “mystical, spiritual, surreal,” and that it reminded her of Rumi’s work. I was flattered.

Even more surprising was when she asked me if I would help her organize an event of fiction, poetry, artwork, music, wine, and camaraderie in celebration of Rumi’s 800th birthday — and make excerpts from my own WOMB the centerpiece of the event.

The result: at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 21 at the Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, “A Rumi-esque Reading” will take place.

Highlights include readings of Rumi’s work, readings from poets and Rumi scholars Deanna Nikaido and Cliff Lynn, diverse fiction readings from Nitin Jagdish, Caryn Coyle, and Eric D. Goodman (that's me), surreal art by Manzar, eastern music, and a chance to talk to other readers and writers about Rumi’s work and how his spirit lives on in the works of new artists today.

The Watermark Gallery is located in the Bank of America Center, Skywalk Level, right across from the Inner Harbor, at 100 S. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland. The phone number is (410) 547-0452.

Learn more about the Watermark at their online gallery.


Check out these photos from last weekend's Baltimore Book Fest reading.


Brush up on your Rumi here.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Literary New Year

One weekend, two major literary festivals, hundreds of events -- and lots of lit! I could write a book on this weekend's Baltimore Book Festival and National Book Festival -- but I'll stick to few brief highlights.

Friday night, the action was at the CityLit tent with Narrowhouse Night, featuring readings from Narrowhouse authors, live music, and even a little beer to go along with it.

In DC, on Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing such decorated writers as Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen L. Carter, Lisa Scottoline, Harry Turtledove, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. I got to chat with bestselling author David Baldacci for the second time. I missed Edward P. Jones, but he’ll be in my neighborhood later this month.

Finally, Sunday's Works-in-progress reading went well. It was my second year reading from TRACKS, my novel in stories, at the Baltimore Book Festival – the largest celebration of the literary arts in the Mid-Atlantic region.

I even bumped into Project Runway’s Tim Gunn (why couldn't it have been Heidi Klum?) in the author's lounge – who happened to be the largest line-getter at the festival, despite the appearances of literary great Stephen Dixon, bestselling local Stephen Hunter, and Mister Baltimore himself, Rafael Alvarez.

It's always a pleasure to see old literary friends and new at these festivals -- fellow writers, local literary agents, CEOs of publishing houses, and editors of magazines and journals. Not to mention those who run the events, like Gregg Wilhelm of the CityLit Project.

I was thrilled when one person told me they'd read my story, "Out for a Walk," recently published in The Baltimore Review and said they loved it. Another person had heard me read "A Good Beer Needs a Good Stein" on NPR.

Readers enjoying your work ... telling other writers how their work has touched you ... both are worth celebrating.

Paul Lagasse, author of Seeing Through Clouds, summed it up well in his recent papercast when he once again called this weekend the “literary New Year."

Here are pictures from the Baltimore Book Fest reading.


Read Paul’s paper cast here. And happy literary new year!


Monday, October 01, 2007

DO Go Back to Rockville

When R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills wrote “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” as a plea to his then girlfriend Ingrid Schoor, he must not have know about the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference.

Had he know about the event, which takes place at Montgomery College this month, he certainly would have written something like “(DO go back to) Rockville” or perhaps “Let’s Go Back to Rockville (Together).”

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference is set for October 13, 2007.

This year, the conference honors William Kennedy for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. Past winners of this honor have included John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, E. L. Doctorow, Norman Mailer, Ernest J. Gaines, Edward Albee, and Pat Conroy.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference offers a full day of workshops, discussions, panels, and salons for writers. This year's workshop leaders include Susan Coll (fiction), Alix Ohlin (short story), Carly Sachs (poetry), Donna Andrews (mystery) and Margaret Blair (young adult) — to name only a few.

The Conference takes place October 13, 2007, from 8:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and is held at Montgomery College's Theatre Arts Center in Rockville, Maryland. The cost is $85 with discounts available for students and seniors.

Register today by visiting the link below. Hope to see you there!