March 26, 2017

Guest Blogger Clark Zlotchew – “Havana, 1959”

Guest Blogger Clark Zlotchew – “Havana, 1959”

Editor’s Note: You may recall Clark Zlotchew’s poetry in our December Submissions. I had a chance to talk with Clark about his experience in Cuba and his writing. Did this trip inspire the poem and photo you shared with us? Yes, my several trips to Cuba did inspire the poem “Dancing in the Tropics” but with a little help from what I witnessed in Haiti as well. These events took place in the last years of Fulgencio Batista’s regime, while Castro was in the mountains at the other end of the Island.  I was there in 1957 and 1958.  Those guns and pup tents on the roof of the Presidential Palace were protecting Batista.  The occasional bomb blast in Havana was set by Castro’s agents.  Castro took over the whole Island in 1959. Was it scary seeing…

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March 20, 2017

“Journaling Abroad” by Rachael Allen

“Journaling Abroad” by Rachael Allen

I’ve been studying in Italy for over two months, and have become a journaler. I’ve become a dedicated one too, sitting down to write for almost an hour each day in these flexible canvas-covered, orange-detailed notebooks I purchase from a bookstore off Bologna’s main street. In these journals, I recap my day. I write about the food I ate. I spiral into analyzing my emotions, then pick myself up with a second-person pep talk, occasionally feeling strongly enough to address myself by name. I am glad my Italian roommates don’t understand English well nor know the spot in the second drawer of my bedside table where I stack the journals, beside a jar of Skippy peanut butter from home and my monthly food allowance. What are these journals worth, really? Are they worth all the…

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March 14, 2017

Our Intrepid Barista in Paris

Our Intrepid Barista in Paris

Simran P. Gupta, our newest Barista and a student at Simmons College in Boston, is doing her study abroad semester in Paris. For her, it’s Literary Paris, and we’re delighted to share her impressions, feelings, and experiences with you. Stumbling Through Paris: On Settling In During My First Five Weeks As I write this, I am sitting in Shakespeare and Company’s bookstore café, situated right on Rue de la Bûcherie with a view of the Seine and the Notre Dame de Paris. The winter weather is temperate, which means I can often sit at the tables outside this and other cafes, under a heated terrace with a blanket over my lap while I sip my chocolat chaud or café au lait. I often joke that I have “moved in” to Shakespeare and Co. It’s my…

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March 2, 2017

Guest Blogger Kathy Parker – Creativity Matters: Jumping Without A Parachute

Guest Blogger Kathy Parker – Creativity Matters: Jumping Without A Parachute

Editor’s Note: Kathy Parker is a Fictional Café member, poet and Instagram All-Star. She wrote this piece about her work in the writing field on her blog. We loved her honesty, courage and hope she inspires to fellow creative folks so much, we asked if she would share it with our community. We hope you enjoy her piece. * * * Creativity Matters: Jumping Without A Parachute With the year still fresh and shiny I’ve been thinking lately about my goals and direction for the coming 12 months. After much thought, I have decided I will no longer continue to write for Elephant Journal. While having that kind of exposure can be of benefit, I can simply no longer advocate an organisation who do not pay their writers, yet still demand exclusive ownership and rights…

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January 27, 2017

A Fun Survey for Creative People

A Fun Survey for Creative People

Our friend and publishing colleague, Michael Boezi at Control Mouse Media, has offered Fictional Cafe members an interesting opportunity to help you focus your creative efforts, the results of which he is going to share with us. Michael and Jack know each other from book publishing days and reconnected at the recent Independent Publishers of New England conference, where Michael gave an outstanding, SRO presentation. Here, in his words, is his enticement for you to take the short survey. If you’re interested, please jump right on this. Hi Fictional Cafe Members, Creatives have unique challenges when trying to market and sell their art. Over the years, I’ve seen many writers, musicians, and visual artists struggle to build a business – even if they produce great work.   In my experience, the issue always seems to boil…

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November 22, 2016

Notes on Surrealistic Poetry by Michael Larrain

Notes on Surrealistic Poetry by Michael Larrain

Our frequent contributor and friend Michael Larrain is, first and foremost, a poet. And, in some of his verse, he is  a surrealist poet. Thus it’s quite natural for him to comment on surrealistic poetry. We found this short article very interesting and hope you will, too. Notes on Surrealistic Poetry by Michael Larrain To do any kind of serious writing work, you need—simultaneously—to sink both into yourself, your own torments and obsessions, and the world’s multifarious irresistible corruptions, to learn the savor and cost of every vice and the weight of every disappointment, and at the same time to rise up in great joy, to rise and rise always like bubbles in a glass of beer. The tension between the sinking and the rising holds you in place, listening to your own mind, overhearing…

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October 18, 2016

When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two YA Book Reviews

When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two YA Book Reviews

Note: We welcome contributor Simran P. Gupta back to the Café with reviews of two new young adult [YA] novels. She’s not only a thoughtful literary critic and skilled essayist, but she’s opening an avenue into a literary genre which we haven’t given the attention it deserves. When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two Essential YA Novels To Help Ring in the School Year By Simran P. Gupta             The title of YA novelist Tony Wallach’s second book, Thanks for the Trouble, may have a sarcastic echo to it upon a first read. Upon reading the book, however, a wry and heartfelt tone emerges. The “trouble,” after all, is what forces the development of protagonist Parker Santé. Wallach’s story starts out as an enigma, through sullen, introverted Parker’s POV. A mute who prefers to spend…

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August 29, 2016

Emily Harstone says Writers Must Be Readers

Emily Harstone says Writers Must Be Readers

There are essentially two schools of thought about how to become a writer. The older European school says read, read, read. The newer American school says, go to college – in particular a graduate creative writing program – and study to be a writer. Emily Harstone (a nom de plume) wrote the following article, “Why Writers Need To Read To Be Writers” for the AuthorsPublish website [if you’re a writer and you aren’t a member, you should be]. Following AuthorsPublish guidelines, here is an excerpt from Emily’s article. Go to the article link above to read it in its entirety. “When I was a child I read one book every day. And by a book, I mean a one hundred to two hundred page novel. Usually it was part of a series. Often it was nothing that would…

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August 23, 2016

“Fear of Commitment: My Relationship with Writing, Time and Discipline” by Rachael Allen

“Fear of Commitment: My Relationship with Writing, Time and Discipline” by Rachael Allen

Time moves differently when I’m home from college. An hour at home means deciding what to do, watching two Food Network episodes at my grandparents’ house, driving to the beach, or puttering out half-sentences at my computer that I tell myself I’ll finish later. An hour at school means completing a homework assignment, attending a newspaper meeting, reveling in this unusually lengthy chunk of free time, or simply talking with roommates right before bed, making me lose sleep but feel the good tired of a full day. This discrepancy in time is a welcome product of summer and its lazy days of food excess, television and marathon reading (most recently for me, Emma Cline’s The Girls and, of course, the latest Harry Potter). It’s also a product of place. School is an academic environment of…

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June 19, 2016

Children’s Lit Issue – “Chou” by M. J. Sterling

Children’s Lit Issue – “Chou” by M. J. Sterling

Editor’s Note: For the final installment of our Children’s Literature Issue, we have an essay by one of our members, M. J. Sterling. She writes about the agony of anticipation that comes with hoping for parenthood. * * * In Chou on Spruce and Sacramento one crisp November day while the city reverberated with the tap tap tap of keyboards under blue lights in cardboard cubicles, we were two deserters and a stowaway drifting through the jewel box of smocked, pinstriped, hand-knit and starched cotton treasures as through an enchanted forest. Just past three. Nestled on that too beautiful San Francisco street, clear brilliance of red and blue and green skyline — the city paused here in quiet repose. The owlish shopkeeper in giant black glasses and 50’s polka dot scarf peered into her dog-eared…

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