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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Shakespeare's Bad Side


Think form rejection letters are bad? Just be glad you don't have Shakespeare as a critic!

"Thou crusty botch of nature," he said. "(Thou hast) not so much brain as ear wax." He could be rather harsh. "(Thou) hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults."

Check the link below, where Shakespeare will be happy to taunt you with lines like "There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune," "(Thou art) a wretch whose natural gifts were poor," and "(Your) brain is as dry as a remainder biscuit after a voyage."

"Methink'st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee." More literary insults await!


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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Making a Book out of Wrecks and Ruins


What, exactly, inspired my forthcoming novel, Wrecks and Ruins? Well, a few things.

This book was actually the joining together of two separate inspirations. I keep a file of ideas and concepts for future books and stories. One of those ideas was that of a husband and wife deciding to divorce and making it a celebration—still good friends, but letting one another go. In their new searches for new mates, they came to understand that what they were looking for was one another.

It was 2018, and I was entering a contest to write a novel in three days. I wanted something that didn’t require a lot of intricate plotting, like my last novel, The Color of Jadeite. This relationship-steeped story seemed like a good choice.

As I began to think of character development, it occurred to me that the characters from a story I had written years before, “Cicadas,” would perfectly fit the roles for the characters in this book. And I realized that Brood X would be back in a few years, making it a perfect “check-in” time. So the idea of a sequel, of sorts, for “Cicadas” meshed with the concept I had originally envisioned as more of a comedy under the working title of “Divorce Courting.” Wrecks and Ruins evolved into something different.

The best way to learn more about Wrecks and Ruins is to read or listen to the original story, “Cicadas.” You can hear or read an abridged version on WYPR or Syndic Literary Journal at the following links.




Sunday, January 09, 2022

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."

What do you think: is prose ever perfectly complete? If you are a writer, do you prefer to plot or feel your way through a novel?


Monday, January 03, 2022

Buzz for my New Book

Wrecks and Ruins will be my sixth published book, and my third consecutive book published by Loyola University’s Apprentice House Press. 

The short novel was inspired, in part, by the Brood X. Or, more specifically, the return of the cicadas after writing a story with their songs as backdrop the last time they emerged.


About 17 years ago, I was inspired to write “Cicadas” shortly after Brood X burrowed back into the ground. “Cicadas” was a short story, and one of my first to be both published in an anthology and featured on the radio. You can listen to an abridged version of the story as it aired on Baltimore’s NPR station, WYPR, at the link below—complete with Cicada sound effects as background music.


I recently revisited the characters from my story, “Cicadas,” at my writing desk. I had a few pages of basic notes for a sort of anti-love story that corrects itself, and as I hashed out the details, I realized the characters from “Cicadas” as older people would fit the roles well. I also realized that Brood X was inching its way back toward another emergence and that it could take place seventeen years later, when the Cicadas were back in full force.


The result: my forthcoming novel, Wrecks and Ruins. 


Get a taste by listening to the original “Cicadas” at the link.




Sunday, January 02, 2022

Welcome, 2022

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

Here's to a bright, new 2022!

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