Writers and Readers

By Robby Alan Marsh | All things books: the writer's life, craft, reviews, author interviews, and the pursuit of publication

Here are the winners of the 2017 PEN Literary Awards

Writers from all over the world came together to celebrate books Monday night at the 2017 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony.<p>The ceremony is an annual …

Books

H.P. Lovecraft Gives Five Tips for Writing a Horror Story, or Any Piece of “Weird Fiction”

Though the term “weird fiction” came into being in the 19th century---originally used by Irish gothic writer Sheridan Le Fanu---it was picked up by …

Writing

Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future

From Mary Shelley to Margaret Atwood, feminist science fiction writers have imagined other ways of living that prompt us to ask, could we do things differently?<p>Margaret Atwood’s evergreen dystopian novel <i>The Handmaid’s Tale</i> is about to become a television drama. Published in 1985, it couldn’t feel …

Science Fiction

Chet Cunningham, author who defied writer's block by churning out 450 books, dies at 88

Chet Cunningham didn’t believe in writer’s block.<p>The San Diego author’s catalog of 450 published books — Westerns, thrillers, military history, medical guides — included one that he wrote in less than a week because a publishing house was desperate to fill an unexpected hole in its production …

Writer's Block

'Handmaid's Tale' adaptation draws ire of Trump supporters

Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s classic novel about a dystopian world has drawn the ire of some Donald Trump supporters, who apparently believe the …

Donald Trump

Greg Iles concludes his spectacular “Natchez Burning” trilogy

In 2014, three years after surviving a near-fatal auto accident, Greg Iles returned to fiction in high style with “Natchez Burning,” an immense, …

Books

Is writer’s block a real thing, or just a figment of the imagination?

Diagnosing yourself as having writer’s block, rather than just not currently writing, will make matters worse<p>‘What do you do when you get writer’s block?” someone asked me the other day. I was happy to answer. I get up from my desk and wander around with a self-pitying expression on my face, …

Writer's Block

Fifteen Literary Journals That Respond Within A Month

Submitting to journals with a quick response time is one of the best ways to stay motivated, not in terms of writing, but in terms of submitting. …

Poetry

How to Tell a Good Story, as Explained by George Saunders, Ira Glass, Ken Burns, Scott Simon, Catherine Burns & Others

All of us instinctively respond to stories. This has both positive and negative effects, but if we don't understand it about ourselves, we've won't …

Ira Glass

This literature map of the world is simply brilliant

<b>One of the things that makes books so powerful is that they can let you sample other cultures and experiences you'll never get to have in your own</b> …

Literature

Trump Proposes Eliminating the Arts and Humanities Endowments

A deep fear came to pass for many artists, museums, and cultural organizations nationwide early Thursday morning when President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.<p>President Trump also …

National Endowment for the Humanities

Mastering narration: 5 deft examples of narrative

Narrating a story presents many choices. How will you bring time and place into your story? Whose POV will you tell the story from? How will you show …

Writing

New novel imagines Lincoln amid ghosts after son's death

"Lincoln in the Bardo" (Random House), by George Saunders<p>Days after his son Willie's death, Abraham Lincoln returned alone, late at night, to his 11-year-old's crypt.<p>In his new novel, George Saunders takes this historical nugget, gleaned from a cemetery watchman's logbook, and imagines a night in …

37 Of The Most Heartbreakingly Beautiful Lines In Literature

"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."<p><b>2.</b> "We accept the love we think we deserve."<p>– Stephen Chbosky, <i>The Perks of Being a Wallflower</i><p>Submitted by Carly Black, Facebook<p><b>3.</b> "Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I'll drift about forever, all my atoms, till …

Literature

The sums on creative writing degrees don't add up. So why do we do them?

There’s a certain natural creativity and lyrical flair in great writers. But, as with all art, there’s an element of skill involved that can be improved with instruction<p>When I tell people I’m doing a creative writing degree there are two questions that people usually ask: the first is “Why?’” and …

Writing

How a Writing Residency Helped This Woman Return to Her Craft

I arrived at Rivendell Writers’ Colony for the first time one November weekend just as the sun was setting. Signs along the long, winding gravel …

Books

See the cover for Ursula K. Le Guin's new book, No Time to Spare

Over the course of her career, Ursula K. Le Guin has written everything from fantasy to realistic fiction, while also keeping up a pretty consistent …

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Imperfect Romance with The New Yorker

There’s a doomed, romantic quality to the relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and <i>The New Yorker</i>; they were perfect for each other but never quite got together. By the time <i>The New Yorker</i>’s first issue hit newsstands, in February, 1925, Fitzgerald—who had published “This Side of Paradise” in …

Literature

Jonathan Franzen remembers author Paula Fox, whose work he helped bring back to light

Paula Fox, prize-winning adult and children’s author, chronicler of abandonment, loss and desperation — of what happens when things break down — died …

Authors

The Peculiar Power of a Zadie Smith Sentence

Dissecting a line from the author’s story “The Embassy of Cambodia,” Jonathan Lee questions his own myopia as a novelist.<p><b>By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. See entries from Karl Ove Knausgaard, George Saunders, Emma Donoghue,</b> …

Authors

Inside Oliver Sacks’s Creative Process: The Beloved Writer’s Never-Before-Seen Manuscripts, Brainstorm Sheets, and Notes on Writing, Creativity, and the Brain

Inside the “buzzing, blooming chaos” of a brilliant mind at work.<p><i>“The act of writing is an integral part of my mental life; ideas emerge, are shaped, in the act of writing… a special, indispensable form of talking to myself,”</i> Oliver Sacks wrote as he reflected on storytelling and the curious …

Creativity

New Horror Releases: The Blackcoat's Daughter (2017) - Reviewed

The concept of possession with regard to a supernatural versus an organic origin has been explored in many films. <i>The Blackcoat's Daughter</i>, director …

Pop Culture

Remembering Gabriel Garcia Marquez, icon of magic realism

Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of Latin America's most widely acclaimed authors, died in 2014. He would have turned 90 on March 6 this …

If You Liked 1984, Then You’ll Love These 7 Books

<b>When you feel like it might not be the “best of times,” as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said last week, then chances are pretty good</b> …

Literature

How Norman Mailer Blurred the Line Between the Literary and the Lurid - Los Angeles Review of Books

FROM THE VERY BEGINNING of his career, Norman Mailer was captivated by the idea of violence and crime, and particularly by the dividing line between …

Literature

The Rules of Being a Professional Writer

There are only two real rules to being a professional writer, and the rest of what I can offer are tips: things that work for me and may work for you.<p>…

Books

Interview With Paul La Farge, Author, The Night Ocean

How do you write a Lovecraftian novel without monsters? Making H. P. Lovecraft one of the characters is a great way to start. In Paul La Farge’s new …

Popular Fiction

13 books Ernest Hemingway thought every young writer should read

In 1934, a young man named Arnold Samuelson was fresh out of journalism school at the University of Minnesota when he read "One Way Across," a short story by Ernest Hemingway.<p>The story later became part of Hemingway's fourth novel "To Have and Have Not."<p>Samuelson admired the story so much that he …

The Last Book I Loved: House of Leaves

The first thing that you notice about the full-color second edition of Mark Z. Danielewski’s <i>House of Leaves</i> (just as with any book) is the cover. …

Books