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Showing posts from April, 2010

ATTMP Feature of the Week

Drum roll please.
And here it is...


Timothy Stelly’s HUMAN TRIAL (2009, All Things That Matter Press) and HUMAN TRIAL II: ADAM’S WAR (2010, All Things That Matter Press), present the tale of a ragtag group of survivors of an alien-launched thermal war that has destroyed nearly all human amd animal life on the planet. HUMAN TRIAL raised the question, What happens when all that remains of the world is fear, distrust and desperation? HT II follows the group on a cross-country trek that results in a final, frenzied battle against the extra-terrestrial invaders.  
Reviews for part one of Timothy Stelly’s sci-fi noir thriller, Human Trial, have been positive. Readers and critics from the U.S. and Canada have praised the book for its grittiness and frightening tenor.  
“…Superb. It's as if I'm one of the 10 going through the same trials they are. I can hardly wait to read the next installment.”—T.C. Matthews, author oif What A Web We Weave 
“The book scares me because of the possibility o…

My Writing Notebook

This, folks, is the scary part of the job.  I have a mess of notes, handwritten and typed.  I have a few possible outlines, none of which I'll likely follow.  I've clocked a lot of hours meditating on this project, and now I look at my pile of characters, scenarios, conflicts and possible resolutions that I have to a. put in some chronological order and then b. shape into a story that c. people want to read, and I feel my heart quicken.  This will be no easy task.  And I've been putting it off, telling myself that there's more to consider before I really get to it.
I don't think I can put it off any longer because lately, when I sit down to meditate or ruminate or take notes, I fall asleep or find silly chores to keep me busy.  So here it goes... wish me luck.  I'll need it.

Method Acting for Writers

I'm a sixty-three, burdened by what Dr. Randall calls, "Unresolved anger surrounding my wife's premature and unexpected death."  He's an ass.  I'm not angry at Wendy.  I mean, everyone has to die; I guess the thing that pisses me off is that she left me alone with our irresponsible, pansy-ass son.  She left me in this house that's falling to pieces, and the neighborhood-the one I've lived in my whole life-is going to hell; the economy is in the toilet; and to make all this worse, I'm getting fat. I mean, I'm getting really fat.  At least I still have my sense of humor?  Yeah, well, it's fading fast, and if something doesn't change soon, I'm going to go batshit, just like everyone around me, and when that happens, watch out... 

This is Wallace, a brief character sketch of the protagonist I've been tussling with over the past year.  I've been blocked with this guy, and for quite sometime I've felt his character is falling…

They Plotted Revenge Against America: A Synopsis

(Excerpt – page 148) An American attack on Baghdad leaves heartbroken and angry survivors. Two families, one Muslim and one Christian, are wiped out; their young adult progeny are determined to avenge the loss of their loved ones. David Levy, an Israeli Secret Service Agent with a grudge of his own, knows just how to tap into the vulnerabilities that grief leaves, and organizes the training of select individuals whose desire for vengeance is strong enough to consider a deadly covert mission in America. Trainees will learn to blend in, disappear in the multicultural mix of the US and then infest the food and water supply with a deadly flu virus capable of mutating and infecting the human population. The antidote - if it works - will only be revealed under strict demands. Some team members come to realize that they could ultimately be responsible for millions of innocent deaths. Their actions could break the stalemate between the Israelis and Palestinians - or bring on unparalleled trage…

Advertising fear and guilt

I'm curious about this sort of advertising campaign.  In a way, both of these pictures are powerful and will potentially stick with a person, but can they really evoke change in a person's behavior?

Take this one on the left.  Sure, it could be argued that smoking is a slow suicide, as is any action a person takes that is not health-conscious: overeating, eating the wrong things, drinking, or a sedentary lifestyle; but are guilt, fear and antagonism really the way to help people make better decisions?
In these cases, the ads are for good causes, and they're powerful enough to stick with a person for a while.  But, are they actually defeating the purpose of the cause?  I mean, what's the response?   If I run half a load of laundry, is this image supposed to haunt me or simply capture my attention? More likely, it will make me think of all the natural resources a person must have wasted to create this campaign. 


I agree that smoking is dangerous and that environmental re…

A Meditation on Marriage: Year One

The first thing I learned about marriage is that it's not at all the way anyone, especially married people, told me it would be.  It's been a year (see my earlier post (without reading it, the following might seem mushy), and now I wake up each morning and put on my wedding ring each day, without thinking, just the same way I brush my teeth and put on my shoes before leaving the house.  But other than this, what's really changed?

Chris and I had spent six years living together before taking what some people refer to as the plunge, and when we both woke up on the morning of our wedding day, we agreed that we would not change; we were happy, and we entered matrimony with cautious optimism.  When I say cautious, I might mean anxious, I'm not wholly sure, but there was an undercurrent of trepidation.  Let me be clear, I wasn't worried that I wasn't marrying the right man nor was I concerned that Chris wasn't in love with me.  What worried me were the numerous di…

ATTMP Book of the Week

Carol Smallwood has appeared in English Journal, The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, The Writer's Chronicle, The Detroit News. Short listed for the Eric Hoffer Award for Best New Writing in 2009, a National Federation of State Poetry Societies Award Winner, she's included in Who's Who in America, and Contemporary Authors. Writing and Publishing: The Librarian's Handbook, is one of her recent American Library Association books. Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages, co-edited, is her 22nd book.  Check out her latest, here:

Lily's Odyssey unfolds in three parts with the inevitability, impact, and resolution of a Greek play. The dialogue rings true, the concrete conveyed along with moods and half-tones to paint Midwestern middle class flawed characters with poignancy. The psychological detective novel explores the once largely unacknowledged: it is not only soldiers who get post-traumantic stress disorder and child abuse whether it is overt or c…

AWP, Denver, Other Stuff...

Much of my trip to Denver for the AWP Conference was enjoyable—it turned out to be, surprisingly, like a big writing reunion and hardly the intimidating networking deal I'd anticipated.  I had the opportunity to participate in an impromptu reading with staff and friends of Our Stories and to meet many of my favorite writers and editors in person.

Sure, the B&B where I was staying was dusty and chilly and adorned with competing flower collages that are imprinted forever in my subconscious, not to mention the fact that the establishment was tucked snugly between two bars and a liquor store, which made a night's sleep difficult. Oh, and  I lost my phone and credit card due to my sleep-deprived, zombie-like state, but in the end, it was utterly worth it (and my property did eventually show up again, thanks to the honest nature of writers).

I was at home with a community of my peers and literary heroes They're all as crazy (dedicated) as I am, I thought, as I navigated t…

ATTM Press ~ Blog Tour

In all honesty, I haven't read Shooting Angels by Nicolas Sansone, but it sounds fascinating... A NASA Space Shuttle plummets to Earth. A team of eight rescue workers plunges into a treacherous Texan wilderness to recover the wreckage, and become entwined in a cosmic conspiracy. An uncouth disembodied head enslaves an elderly rancher and uses his cellar as the war room of its campaign against God, a noir-style slickster with a buxom blonde wife and a taste for margaritas, who rockets down from the suburbs of Heaven on a comet to do battle with metaphysical evils. "Shooting Angels" races from the jungles of Texas, to the dark corners of undiscovered space, to the innermost reaches of the human mind, to the smoggy streets of Central Heaven, where people are free to give in to their most detestable urges. The novel asks its characters to confront their ordering theories of the universe, and raises questions of how we are to envision divinity in a technological …

Fiction vs. Memoir: Part I

It's early in the morning, when I'm at my best, most sarcastic, most energetic; right now, it's a magical time for me, just between the buzz from that first cup of coffee and the crash I usually get from the obscene amount of sugar I put in said coffee.  And I want to discuss memoir as a genre and it's place in the literary world.  I recently read an  article that claimed memoir is easier to write than fiction because the material is already there.  Allow me to examine this claim...

I am currently writing a novel, and I've written and published numerous short stories; Musical Chairs is the only widely distributed piece of nonfiction I've written.  So, there's my authorial statement: I have experience on both sides of the game.  Now for the examination:

Critics of memoirusually cite absence of plot as a primary reason for disliking the genre.  This, I agree with.  It is easy for some memoirs to fall into the trap of structureless rambling.  I found that The …

Another Set of Eyes: Some Obvious Advice

I went through a creative drought after graduate school, and although I'm still a bit dehydrated, I think I'm recovering well.  Writers out there, only you know the anguish of not writing.  It's serious stuff!  But again, I'm recovering, and I owe it in no small way to other writers.  I am confident I will be fully recovered one day, but this confidence came after I addressed another interrelated and serious problem. (Go figure, right?) You see, as I replenished myself with a few words a day, a story a week, I realized that I no longer had a paid audience of teachers and mentors to read my work.


Being a teacher myself now, I tell my students that, when revising, they need readers (at least one), who will tell them the truth about their writing and provide feedback. I think this is true no matter how long a person has been toiling away the business.  Writers need second opinions.  And these second opinions must be somewhat objective (sorry, Mom).  Without some feedback, …

Weekly Book Recommendation: Shaman Circus

Shaman Circus by Gail Gray is a unique and well-written book that makes a reader question percpetions as she teases out the fantastical in this timely tale.

Here's the book jacket description:

In New Orleans following Katrina all bets are off; all masks dissolved. “Don’t forget the sham in shaman,” Jacob Laguerre lies to his new apprentice, Alex Hampton. When Alex, a twenty-eight year-old anthropology professor goes on field-study to post-Katrina New Orleans, he enters a chaotic and altered landscape where he’s psychologically, physically and spiritually challenged by the sarcastic mentoring of the mulatto, Laguerre, a current day voudou shaman.

Both Laguerre’s and Alex’s psyches struggle through stages of transition and rebirth as their lives are enmeshed with a group of quirky fringe-dwellers, as colorful and eccentric as New Orleans itself. Lily Hampton, a sculptor, torn between her love for both men; Mavis, an artist who spent nights in her attic, but survived the floods; Perr…