MFA Confidential Blog

Helping Me Help You Help Me

Last summer, I took a lit course on postmodern fiction. It was a  sampling of different postmodern authors from Pynchon and Burroughs  to Foster-Wallace and Mark Leyner and, aside from being a very good  course, it had some sort of impact on my writing. As several peer- pressure induced incidents in my life can...

The Great American (Cellphone) Novel: A Writer's Digest Exclusive!!

I, like many youngish people, use the text message feature on my cell phone in an excessive manner, which is indisputably annoying and potentially harmful, especially when trying to cut things or cross major intersections. But unlike a lot of other young people who are probably just text messaging their friends to tell them...

On Taking (Non-Productive) Breaks

Hello friends, I hope you–like me– found time over the holiday to reflect on the year that was and consume nearly twice your daily recommended caloric intake in Lindt chocolate truffles and kind-of-gross, kind-of-really-good alcoholic Egg Nog. But now that I’ve New Years Resolutioned Up and thrown away anything and everything even vaguely brown...

The Holiday Hiatus

Friends, In order to best mentally, physically and socially emotionally prepare for a second year of sometimes helpful, semi-effective, consistently above-average blog entries, we three bloggers of WD are taking a holiday respite. Upon our return on January 7th, we will be giving away free cars like they did on Oprah!!! ready with an...

The Special Edition Deleted Column with Director's Commentary

Hello Friends. You know how–when you, um hypothetically, buy the DVD of The Notebook– there are all those special features and deleted scenes with Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling that you’re so glad you got a chance to see, because they really have a great chemistry? Well  consider this blog entry a sort of...

On Deadlines and Self Examination

I am working on a deadline for Boston Magazine. The deadline is this  Thursday. And, at the moment, that seems manageable. I am (mostly)  done with the reporting, I have (partially) transcribed the  interviews, I even (vaguely) know what I’m trying to say. Of course,  there are other things for me to do as...

The Two Question Novel Quiz Part 3: Voice

In order to sell your novel, books recommend having a unique “voice”that separates you from the pack and wins you literary, commercial,and social-emotional praise. The fact that books also recommend thatyou be married to the chairman of Random House and/or Judith Regan isneither here nor there. But what kind of voice do you want...

Pseudo-In-Depth Analysis of The Things I Read Online: Slate.com

As in gymnastics or morning visits to the bathroom, everyone has theirown routines for visiting the Internet 2.0. Before I can safely get to“work”, I scroll through a lengthy list of favorite blogs, news sites,social networking…networks, trendy sneaker information providers,and forums analyzing “The View” in an effort to get a more full andinformed view...

(Potentially) Sellin' Out

It is true that there are a lot of benefits to the writing life.  There are the hours, of course, that come with a flexible schedule,  not to mention the clothing choices. For example, right now it is  10:30 AM, and I am wearing sweatpants and a long sleeve t-shirt, and  I feel slightly...

The (Really Long) Two Question Novel Quiz Part 2: Know Thy Characters

Characters are, without question, the blood of life flowing through the veins of a novel. Without characters a novel would just be  setting, and there would be more adverbs and long, flowery dense  paragraphs describing said setting, which would no doubt increase the  need for anti-depressants. But you can’t just throw characters on the...

True Tales of Embarrassment Via The Internet 2.0

TOW books–in celebration of the release of their first two books–has a series of embarrassing admissions by writers on their website. My terribly true, terribly embarrassing admission is up now. You can find it here.And, just in case you thought I was the only one embarrassing myself from WD, Brian Klems also steps in...

The (Re) Write Blog: Issues, Perils, and Semi-Solutions

As those of you who read the print column and a few, scattered previous entries on said blog may or may not be aware, I’m working on a novel to use as my thesis for my MFA and then use as “walking around money” while applying for a post-graduation job as a bartender in...

C. Columbus Day: Now with Life Altering Literature!

Shameless Cross-Promotional Plug: My friend Sarah Walker’s book, Really You’ve Done Enough: A Parents’ Guide to Stop Parenting Their Adult Child Who Still Needs Their Money But Not Their Advice has been released from Tow books. It’s very funny. If you’re interested, Google it, then hit one-click purchase on Amazon to buy it and theFantastic...

(Meta) Life Changingly Awesome Query Letter Part 5: Tiger Beat

(In order to allow you, the reader, to play along at home and fully  utilize the time-tested, mother-approved formula that make LCAQ’s so,  so damn successful, I’m going to walk you through the steps I take  when crafting these timeless phenomenon’s of top shelf journalism.) (First: always find the name of the editor of...

The Two Question Novel Quiz Part 1: Conflict

Everybody knows that– much like the plot lines in the Wesley Snipes  vehicle Passenger 57– a good novel needs to have conflict. My novel,  for example, has so much conflict that my thesis advisor actually  wants me to call it either Conflict(ed) or Hot Damn!!: A Novel. But  today we’re focusing on you. And...

In the Marketplace of (Really Good) Ideas

I had an informal meeting the other day with a few of the editors at Boston Magazine to discuss stories for the Fall/Winter. I say informal because we didn’t schedule the meeting (I just sort of wandered over to one of the editor’s cubes, and the other editor happened to walk by and decided...

Back and Even Better

Hello, friends. First of all, I’d like to offer a quick apology for the lack of communication via the blog lately. You see, we at WD have been doing some thinking and talking and general housekeeping regarding just how we can bring you the best blog possible, and these things take time, manpower and...

No Seriously, Someone Interviewed Me

Friends, up today on the Novel Journey website is a Q and A with yours truly. The link is here: http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/Try to avoid asking yourself the obvious question of why someone would want to do a Q and A with me and just go with it. Have a fantastic weekend. KA