Dread Country: Colin Winnette’s ‘Coyote’

I don’t normally write or reblog book reviews here, but when I came across this one, I knew I’d have to share it. This is one of the most entertaining, honest, and useful reviews I think I’ve ever read. Enjoy!


coyote-colin-winnette-front-cover-featureThis week I reached into a pile of January galleys and removed a hideous green object called Coyote. It’s written by Colin Winnette, an author I’ve never heard of, for Les Figues Press, a publisher I’m not overly familiar with. It was selected for the 2013 NOS Book Contest, a prize I don’t know, by Aimee Bender, a writer who I’ve been meaning to read.

Poised somewhere between a long short story and a novella, Coyote selects a handful of clichés from the rural imaginary — missing children, trashy talk shows, crime procedural, domestic violence, etc. — and overcooks them in the deranged mind of its protagonist. This is a good thing. In order to write about rural America, writers must deal with its viciously circular self-image: the rural imagination is mediated by its own minstrelization on television and in cinema. It has absorbed a representation of itself that it never…

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Best Comedy Books of 2014

As some of you may know from checking out my Publications page or some of my previous posts, I served as Developmental Editor for former Seinfeld writer Peter Mehlman’s debut novel, It Won’t Always Be This Great. And while I would say “I’m not one to brag,” that’d be a bald-faced lie. I can’t help myself — just check this out! The novel made the top FIVE of The Washington Post’s Best Comedy Books of 2014!! Can I get a “Huzzah”?


Here’s the clip from Rachel Dry’s December 2014 article, “The Best Comedy Books of 2014“:

It Won’t Always Be This Great

By Peter Mehlman (Bancroft)

What would the internal monologue of a Long Island podiatrist embroiled in community intrigue sound like if the good doctor had some of the neuroses and self-perception of “Seinfeld”?

That question — a surprisingly entertaining one — is what Peter Mehlman explores in his first novel.

Mehlman served as an executive producer on “Seinfeld” and is credited with coining such immortal Seinfeldisms as “yada yada” and “shrinkage.”

There aren’t any catchphrases here, but he has brought sweetly funny family dynamics, with a side of low-stakes “Law & Order” plot, to life.

Opportunities & Places to Submit Your Writing in 2015

As a writer and reader, I’m always, always on the lookout for new publications. Here are just a few good lists I’ve come across so far for the New Year:


Entropy has a terrific list of presses, journals, and other submission opportunities now available, highlighting especially those with reading periods open ahora — right now! So get hoppin’!


This contest for great fiction in fewer than 1,000 words is coming to a head — the deadline is February 1st, so don’t miss out!


It’s true — this website doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2011. But as a field guide to feminist presses, it’s still a good place to get your feet wet.


Your resource for current writing and book contests!


Check out this page from Lambda Literary for a compendium of LGBT and LGBT-friendly publishers. (Hint: You might have to scroll around on the page a moment before the list actually loads :-p)

Happy Writing!

Diversity in Writing, Diversity in Reading

“Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story”

I’m not normally much of a TED Talk person, but I can’t say enough good things about this one. If you watch/read the news, write, read, share stories, make assumptions, have ever been surprised by someone or never been surprised by anyone, then this is a video you ought to check out. The way we share, interpret, and use stories in our daily lives can have a massive impact on how we understand and interact with the world–sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. If you’re a reader (and/or writer), then this talk on the nature of stories and storytelling is definitely worth a listen.

Some Writing Advice & Inspiration from 2003 for 2015

Stephen King, Recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN LETTERS AWARD, 2003, National Book Foundation, Presenter of National Book Awards.

In 2003, to much controversy, Stephen King was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award. Ever since, I’ve returned again and again to his acceptance speech for guidance and inspiration (much as I often turn to his book On Writing). 

I highly recommend that anyone interested in issues of genre, writing, reading, and literary politics read the entire speech (c’mon guys, it’s not that long and it’s a freakin’ fantastic speech), but I’ve highlighted here a few of my favorite parts/ideas/inspirations for your initial consideration:

  1. Don’t Give Up – Dedication to Craft is King: King begins his speech by paying tribute to his wife, Tabitha, who supported him in his writing even when it wasn’t paying. King’s circumstances early in his writing career are uniquely…sticky, difficult, trying, and a whole slew of other adjectives. But despite these, King kept writing — and when Tabitha, his Ideal Reader, told him to keep going, he listened.

  2. Tell the Truth & Get the Job Done: Don’t pussyfoot around with things that don’t hit straight to the heartwood. Even if you write about things you don’t know well or things you’re actively learning about, you can still use your instincts, your past, your fears, your loves, your you to inform and bring down the hard-hammerin’ Truth. To this end, King refers to Frank Norris: “I never truckled. I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn’t like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth.” — McTeague


  3. Don’t Chicken Out: Related closely to #2, the truth isn’t easy to tell, even with the added mask of fiction. But it’s vital that — when it comes to telling the truth in fiction, in writing in general — you don’t half-ass it. Go whole-hog or don’t go at all, because if you tiptoe toward the truth only to give up on it at the last moment, then not only will you will know it, but so will your readers, and your story/writing will suffer.

  4. Keep Growing: Improve yourself and your craft with every word you write, but don’t let it become an obsession that keeps you from moving forward from one project to the next. Strive for growth, not perfection.

  5. Don’t Dismiss Possibilities Due to Genre: This is one of the largest and, arguably, most important points that King makes here. There is (and has long been) a great rift between “popular fiction” and “literary fiction,” and it often serves little purpose (at least in my humble opinion) beyond extending petty prejudices, buffering old insecurities, and drawing arbitrary lines in the sand. What value this distinction once had, it seems to me, has been greatly diminished in recent decades. (I won’t go into this point further here, as I can’t discuss it more thoughtfully than King does — definitely check it out.)




Travel Writing with Nat Geo

The Quality Quotient: Travel Writing That Matters 

by Don George

My father has recently been working to get more involved with Nat Geo as both a teacher and writer. In speaking with him about his goals and work, I was reminded of just how useful a resource Nat Geo can be to us writers. So when I came across Don George’s Nat Geo articles on travel writing, I knew I had to share them here. If you’re at all interested in writing and/or traveling this upcoming year, George’s series of On Travel Writing is well worth the read!

Here’s his basic bio:

Don George is an editor at large at National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing. He has also edited several award-winning travel-writing anthologies, including Better Than Fiction.

And here are a few highlight from “The Quality Quotient”:

Also consider checking out George’s “The New World of Travel Writing