December 6, 2014

“War and Peace” Reading Group is Now Reading!

On October 27, we posted a message about starting a Goodreads group to read a book few, if any, would undertake without some external motivation: War and Peace  by Leo Tolstoy [The Louise and Aylmer Maude translation]. My friend David Bond suggested creating a Goodreads group to read it together, and I heartily joined in sponsorship and the read. [I think my copy has been sitting on my bookshelves for about 40 years.] We’re proud to announce our group of eight people officially began reading December 1. One of us was so excited he finished in 24 days, in November. You can be sure we’re going to have questions for him! Few would dispute this is a masterpiece, and many believe it to be the greatest novel ever written. Others suggest it represented a major shift in…

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December 5, 2014

10 Reasons Writing For a Living Kicks Ass

    As we close our first year of operation and look forward to 2015, we have to say it’s been a bumpy road. A lot of things went wrong. More things went right. In most ways, it’s been just like our careers as writers: tough, but worth it. Coming to the end of your writing year, you might be tempted to look at the “Con” column and think about giving it up. Here are ten reasons not to.   There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be a Writer Forget what some doomsayers like Scott Turow might tell you – the Internet has democratized distribution, simplified publicity and created massive demand. These changes might make Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings a bit less common, but it’s easier than ever to make your living…

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November 3, 2014

Early Twain by Michael Mavilia

Early Twain by Michael Mavilia

  Buried beneath alternate praise and censure of his “Great American Novel,” Huckleberry Finn, lies a wealth of widely unheralded work by Mark Twain: his short stories. Twain’s penchant for writing in the vernacular translates magnificently to his tall tales, overheard while mining for silver in Nevada. His characters run the gamut from rugged and folksy to clever and charismatic, creating a circus troupe of dusty allure. In his 1880 short story “Jim Baker’s Blue-jay Yarn,” Twain retells a tale about “a middle-aged, simple-hearted miner who lived in a lonely corner of California,” who claims he can understand the language of animals. What follows is a short but tall tale of what he overhears a blue jay saying one day in the woods. As is the case with many of Twain’s yarns, the joy is…

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October 27, 2014

“War and Peace” Reading Group – You’re Invited!

Leo Tolstoy wrote one of the world’s greatest novels, War and Peace, between 1861-63. The backstory goes like this: He toyed with several versions [with pen and paper – remember, no computers back then!] until 1866. He began a massive revision he did not complete until 1869, when it was finally published. It is at once a story of an aristocratic family, the invasion of Russia by Napoleon, a romance, a tragedy, an attempt by a novelist to set history right. In short, it’s one of the world’s great stories, fiction or nonfiction. You love to read. We love to read. This is a great book, but one you might not tackle on your own. Let’s read it together. Just in case you’re on the fence about reading a novel over 1,200 pages in length, check…

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October 1, 2014

Jack Kerouac: “The road is life”

I have a photograph of Jack Kerouac typing his famous piano-roll manuscript of On the Road hanging on my study wall. I saw the scroll when I visited the museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was amazing to see it stretched out. Jack wrote it in a three-day, hyper-caffeinated marathon in his mother’s apartment. She made the coffee and taped the pieces of paper together. Three days. Then he revised it for three years. You could sum up his philosophy in the four words quoted above: “The road is life.” Lowell has honored its once-maligned author by giving him a new headstone at his grave site. You can read about it here. If you’d like to know a bit more about Kerouac, here is a fine essay about him and his writing. The photo of the…

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