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Dispatches from the Desk: Please Don’t Lie

 

by Libby Cudmore & Matthew Quinn Martin

…hello all, your president and vice president here with our another of our semi-regular featured blog posts.

…mmm…doughnutty!!!

Ah, autumn, where we are treated to hot apple cider and donuts, crunching leaves beneath our feet…and the annual reminder that a certain fellow writer in our circle has a novel coming out “next fall,”…the same novel that he’s told us was coming out next fall for the past six years. We’re starting to think that he’s been lying.

And we take a rather dim view of liars.

We see it all too often…as we mentioned in our article for the (now-defunct) Writer magazine, lying is not a good way to jumpstart a career. Unpublished writers (and sometimes published ones too) can sometimes have this terrible habit of referring to a work as “forthcoming” when it isn’t forthcoming from any place other than their desktop printer (or, more likely, imagination).

…who WOULDN’T want to read this???

While it’s great to think positive, if Libby went around telling everyone about her “forthcoming” marriage to Jason Sudakis, you’d look at her like she was crazy—so when writers talk about a “forthcoming” novel that they have yet to finish (or a “debut” novel that has yet to get published) they look just as nuts.

Here’s a great example––self-proclaimed “World’s Youngest Novelist” Gloria Tesch. Ms. Tesch, now 18, had her book Maradona and the Seven Bridges published through “Liberty Media.” This “small press” has only published a handful of other books, and ALL of them are part of Tesch’s the six-book Maradonia trilogy (yes, she calls a six-book series a trilogy)

It’s a bit like hearing a writer going on and on about their agent only for you to find out later that they were talking about their real estate agent. We knew a writer who boasted about her agent, only for us to find that not only did her “agent” not have her listed as a client, this “agent” didn’t have a single writer listed there. We were, frankly, embarrassed for her. We didn’t make a funny YouTube video about it…but perhaps we should have.

we’re 99% sure THIS is the agent she was talking about

And if we spot any of you engaging in these deceptive tactics…we just might.

Bottom line, if you want to be a successful, and more importantly a respected, writer…save the fiction for the page and keep it out of your press releases.

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Create your AWP Portfolio Page

I’m putting together portfolios to feature our alumni and faculty at AWP and other public gatherings in which we can showcase our collective work. If you’d like to be included in the portfolio, it’s really easy. Each person gets ONE page in the portfolio, which will comprise a series of 3-ring binders arranged by Stonecoast concentration.

I’ve included two different ONE-PAGE samples based on my own work that you can use as an example when putting together your portfolio page. Feel free to take a look at them and copy the style or come up with something of your own that you feel adequately represents your work. I think something along these lines is good since it gives you an opportunity to display book covers as well as text. However, the choice is yours. Use your one-page of space wisely. The only part of the portfolio that needs to be identical for everyone is the header since that is what I will use to organize the pages within each binder.

If you want to be included in the AWP portfolio, please be sure to send your ONE portfolio page to me as a WORD document no later than January 31, 2013. Please do not send late submissions. Note, whatever you send will include in the portfolio. So please make sure that your page is perfect before submitting it to me. Thank you for your understanding.

When submitting your page, please email it to Erin Underwood and include “Portfolio Page” in the subject line so that I can easily search my email to ensure that I don’t miss anything. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Cheers, Erin

Examples:

Portfolio Pages Received:

  • Armistead, Cal
  • Bouthillette, Emma
  • Bovenmyer, Karen
  • Martin, Amy
  • Rhodes, Steve
  • Roessner, Michaela
  • Schmitt, Catherine
  • Underwood, Erin

 

 

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Dispatches from the Desk: End of Summer Edition

…President Matthew Quinn Martin and Vice-President Libby Cudmore here again with our semi-regular featured blog post.

Labor Day weekend has come and gone. The bbq’s have been stowed in the garage. The white slacks have (hopefully) been folded up and dropped in the bottom drawer, and we’ve all felt what might be that last summer breeze.

There was a time, longer ago for some of us than others, that this change of season signaled the start of another school year. And while our own memories of that time might vary in their degree of fondness, there are two events most of us likely agree on enjoying: hearing someone creep into our bedrooms to whisper the immortal words snow day, and the joy of shopping for new school supplies.

…not bad for an afternoon doodle

There’s a wonderful thrill about holding open a crisp new mead composition book, about clutching a fistful of fresh pens, or un-boxing a cutting edge laptop (for the younger set), or that first typewriter (for those of us from a less digital age). What all those new supplies represent is potential, a world of possibilities in fact. A chance to start fresh, to try something different. Right now the pages are empty, the pens full of ink…it’s up to you to flip that around.

So, in the spirit of those days, why not head down to the stationary store (…heck, you might already be there with your kids or grandkids) and treat yourself to a small writing present. Buy a funky Lisa Frank folder to put drafts in. Pick up that fountain pen and leather-bound journal you’ve always had your eye on.

…required purchase for most pop-fic alumni

Try something different. Splurge on gel pens—if you write in black, try writing in purple. Doodle in the margins. Make colleges in the spaces that don’t look like they need writing. Write your scenes on index cards and tape them all over the garage…or wherever you find inspiration. Write a poem in the sand and take a picture of it before the waves wash it away.

Take risks. And do whatever it takes to turn that potential into something real.

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Dispatches from the Desk: August 23, 2012 – Distractions

by Libby Cudmore & Matthew Quinn Martin

…hello all, your president and vice president here with our new semi-regular featured blog post.

DISTRACTIONS

We’ve all been there. Maybe you are now. You sit down to write, all geared up, notes in hand, perfect story on the tips of your fingers. You’ve got the whole day just waiting to be seized. Nothing but you and the words. No distractions this time.

But you can’t be expected to write on an empty stomach. So you go ahead and make yourself some breakfast. Bacon, eggs, toast, a banana and some Tim Horton’s coffee you stocked up on during the reunion. Delicious. Now back to the keyboard or the yellow legal pad.

…dude, just got the new Call of Duty…and speaking of “duty” would it kill you to change the litter box?

Ten minutes later the cat is meowing, and to ignore him would be cruel. And besides, all that meowing is so distracting! Maybe he’ll shut up if toss the mousie at him a few times, snuggle him a little. That seemed to work and now back to work.

Then the phone rings. It’s your mother. Much as you’d like to, you can’t ignore her. Then just as you get her off the line, it buzzes again and now it’s  a friend you haven’t spoken with in months. You should just turn that phone off, but what if your boss calls, or there’s an emergency?

OK, back to work––right after you check your email. It’s been a while since you’ve gotten a rejection from McSweeny’s. And low and behold, you are in luck. A form rejection, your tenth in as many weeks, waits for you in your inbox.

You’re too depressed to write now. Maybe something to take your mind off it all for a bit. Monster High dollies were meant to be played with after all. You wouldn’t have put them on your desk if they weren’t there to inspire you. That bass guitar you save up for months to buy seems to be getting a little dusty. It stares at you reproachfully from the corner of your office.

DON’T judge me

Good thing it’s lunchtime. You eat fast. But then you feel a bit bloated. Maybe just a half hour of boob tube while you digest.

You’re getting worried. If you don’t get something on paper soon, this book will never get done. No book no advance. (or for those more literary types, no publications no tenure…no grant money). And then how will you afford health insurance? Good thing it’s only a year and a half until Obamacare kicks in.

But what if  Mitt Romney  gets elected? Maybe a quick peek at today’s tracking polls will put your mind at ease. Jeez look at that in the sidebar…Todd Akin said what! And that Lindsey Lohan had another nip-slip! She’s always getting into trouble.

Why are you so sleepy all of a sudden? Maybe a quick nap will actually help reenergize your brain. Twenty minutes turns into an hour. And hour turns into two. Luckily, the cat wants to play again, so he wakes you up.

Crap! Dinnertime already? Guess you could write after you watch your favorite show, right before you hit the hay. Man, where did this day go?

As writers, we’re naturally drawn to stimulation––physical, mental, spiritual, you name it. All those conversations, news stories, web articles, TV shows, new movies, are just there waiting…and any one of them might inspire you! You owe it to your writing to read the latest issue of Glamour, or scour the internet for hours in the name of “research.” But often what we reach for in the name of support simply becomes another distraction.

So, dear Alumni, what do you find gobbling up the most of your writing time? And what strategies do you have to share for slaying the dragon of distraction?

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Meet Your SCAA Board of Directors

Matthew Quinn Martin – President (PF S’10) – Matthew’s original screenplay Slingshot was made into a feature film it and is currently on DVD, distributed by the Weinstein Co. His prose fiction has been published in Transition Magazine, Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp Anthology, MFA/MFYou Literary Journal, JMWW, A Twist of Noir, Eastern Standard Crime, The Oddville Press, Aphelion and The Flash Fiction Offensive, as well as Arkham Tales, and Big Pulp (both co-written with Libby Cudmore) Currently is at work on two novels, one techo-thriller and one young adult (also co-written with Libby Cudmore). More at www.matthewquinnmartin.com.

Libby Cudmore – Vice President (PF/CNF S’10) – Libby’s essays and fiction have been published (or are forthcoming) in PopMatters, Pank, Knee-Jerk, Citron Review, Hardboiled, Thrilling Detective,Crime Factory, Needle, Curly Red Stories, The Southern Women’s Review, Pulp Pusher, Celebrities in Distrage, Thrilling Detective, Arkham Tales (co-written with Matthew Quinn Martin), Mysterical-E, Sunsets and Silencers, Big Pulp, Powder Burn Flash, Shaking like a Mountain, Nefarious Muse, Xenith, Espresso Stories, All Things Girl, True Confessions, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Thrillers, Killers, and Chillers,Shaking Like a Mountain and A Twist of Noir. Her short story “Unplanned” won the August Bullet Award and in 2010 was nominated for a Short Mystery Fiction Society Derringer Award. In 2004 she was awarded The Subway Chronicle’s Essay of the Year, and Long Story Short named her its Author of the Year. She blogs at recordofthemonth.

Mikhu Paul – Treasurer  (S’10)  – bio and pic forthcoming.

Jessica De Koninck – Secretary – bio and pic forthcoming.

Lynette James – Director (PF S’12) – bio and pic forthcoming.

Adam Kreutz Gallardo – Director (PF S’12) – Adam has published three comic book series: Star Wars: Infinites — Return of the Jedi (Dark Horse Comics), 100 Girls (Simon Pulse), and two volumes of Gear School (Dark Horse Comics). He’s currently preparing to send his horror YA novel, Zomburbia, out into the void to try and find an agent. He lives and works in Oregon where he’s a full-time stay-at-home dad to his two sons. He blogs (sometimes) at adamgallardo.blogspot.com.

Mike Langworthy – Director  (CNF W ’11) – Among the jobs Mike’s had:  busboy, dishwasher, factory worker, credit investigator, lawyer, pension consultant, standup comic, television writer. Currently he writes “The View From Away” for The Forecaster, a weekly newspaper serving Southern Maine. Co-creator and executive producer of “Club 86,” a radio comedy series. He’s also writing a memoir about working and raising a family in Hollywood, as well as developing scripted projects for television and the web.

Bunny Goodjohn – Director (F P’07) – Bunny graduated in  in poetry after jumping from the fiction ship mid-channel. She puts Admiral Wormser squarely behind her defection. Her novel Sticklebacks and Snow Globes was published in America (Permanent Press), Australia (Scribe) and Russia (Centrepolygraph). She has published in various journals includingThe Texas Review, The Cortland Review,  Zone 3, and Connecticut Review, and recently won Reed Magazine’s Edwin Markham Poetry Prize. Bunny teaches English at Randolph College in Virginia and is working on a novel entitled The Beginning Things and on Running 24 North, a collection of poetry. She blogs at www.bagoodjohn.blogspot.com

Erin Underwood – Director (PF’09) – Erin’s fiction, non-fiction, and interviews have appeared online and in print. She is the co-author of “The Bag of Holding,” a regular column published by the SFWA Bulletin. Erin is also the founder and editor of the popular fiction literary blog UNDERWORDS and co-editor of Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science with fellow Stonecoast alumnus Hannah Strom-Martin. She is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program and lives in Marblehead, MA with her husband.

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Announcing Stonecoast Writing for Social Change

One of the exciting things to come out of the recent Stonecoast alumni reunion was a new project called Stonecoast Writing for Social Change. Three of us – Jeff Kass, Amy Alvarez and Elli Meeropol – met to begin the work. Like many of you, we are compelled by injustices of our world to use writing as a tool for social justice, and that’s what this project is about.

The goal of the Writing for Social Change Project is to create opportunities for the Stonecoast community to use our passion for and skills in writing and reading to create social change locally and globally by:

  • Collecting the stories of Stonecoast alumni, faculty and students involved in projects that use writing to empower targeted or vulnerable members of our communities, or to promote social change in other ways. Sharing these stories with the Stonecoast community along with resources, and encouraging other alumni, faculty and students to become involved with writing-related social change activism,
  • Deepening the commitment to writing for social change (race, class, gender, environment) in the MFA curriculum by offering ongoing residency seminars, workshops, and readings, facilitating third semester projects and internships for social change, and preparing writers for careers with underserved communities.

If you’d like to join our working group on the project, please email Elli at ellenmeeropol@verizon.net before August 5, 2012.

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Stonecoast MFA Community Directory

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