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Showing posts from May, 2010

Writing Diary: Finding Voice

I enjoy interviews on craft and the writing life, especially by those writers I especially admire.  This way, if I ever meet them I wont feel compelled to ask questions they've heard a million times "What's your writing regime?" "How did you get published?" "What's your inspiration?" .... I hate blending in.

Anyway, lately one topic seems to come up often in these interviews that's especially interesting (and elusive): voice.  The question that usually precedes this topic is "What's your advice to new writers?"

In Zen in The Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury describes years of in which he confessed that most of his stories were mere immitation of his favorite writers' voices.  He says a writer doesn't truly begin to create worthwhile stuff until finding his or her unique and distinctive style, and this comes not from writing x number of word in a lifetime but from digging deep and creating from the source within.  Repetitio…

ATTMP Author of the Week

This space is devoted to a talented writer.  I've only read short pieces by Julie Achterhoff, but I look forward to reading her longer works.  Below are two of her books, and I can't decide which one to read first...
(I'll post again soon.  I've been lazy this week.)

TWO BOOKS by Julie Achterhoff
Quantum Earth

A team of metaphysical scientists is dedicated to finding out why the Earth is in crisis. The rate, size, and destructive power of hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions is out of control. All of these acts of nature have become more devastating to human life than ever before in history, but why? Is the Earth cleansing itself of humanity? Or could it be that human thought is the true cause? This is what the team is asking; the hardest question of all: Do we create our own reality?

Review by Danni Milliken:
It's not an easy thing to offer to review the work of an author you don't know very well. If it's a good friend that's one …

Reconsidering Rejection

What is it that keeps a writer going?  It’s a profession that guarantees regular rejection and demands of revision on one’s creation.  What’s more, it’s not a profession that promises great wealth or benefits (we’ll see).  In fact, the decision to write for a living is not rational on any level.  For many, it is a luxury to write, a hobby to take up after retirement or to indulge in on weekends.  But some of us work toward the dream of writing for a living, which is largely sold by a sort of writing-self-help industry that paints beautiful pictures of a writer's life: comfy retreats in the woods, secluded cabins by a lake with nightly wine and readings, only an occasional appearance at a quaint bookstore or literary event will detract from our time to write.  The truth is, most writers have to work.  As a result, there exist a few fellowships and retreats that promise a writer seclusion and inspiration.  I've been wanting one for a while, a writer's vacation, but as I was …

ATTMP Author of the Week: Kenneth Weene

Widow’s Walk by Kenneth Weene tells the story of Mary Flanagan and her search for meaning, life, and love. It is also the story of her Irish roots and her immigration to America, her marriage, her husband’s life and death, and the lives of her two children. And it is the story of her relationship with Arnie Berger, a man who is totally different in background, religion, and approach to life. Theirs is a deep and meaningful love that gladdens the heart. If only things could always flow along with such ease. But they do not, and Widow’s Walk becomes a powerful tale of human pain and emotional conflict.
Recently released, Kenneth Weene’s new novel, Memoirs From the Asylum, is a comi-tragic tale of madness and sanity, of desperation and hope, of possibilities and fate. Set in a state hospital, Memoirs From the Asylum focuses on three main characters, a narrator, who has taken refuge from his terror of the world, a catatonic schizophrenic, whose mind lives within a crack in the wall opposi…

Are Writers Full of Themselves?

Recently, I was asked if I thought writers were egotistical and self-indulgent by nature.  A student, who admitted to despising the very act of writing essays said that he felt writers are full of themselves, and he smartly asked if I agreed before suggesting he be dismissed of an essay assignment.  If I were teaching philosophy, I might have given him an A+ for the class, told him to go home.  Instead, let's just say that I said something incredibly concise, smart and profound in response, but I made him turn in the paper.  The fact is, his question has stayed on my mind and I wanted to address it here, in more depth.

According to Freud, the Ego is the rational part of the brain, the bridge between reality’s limitations and the Id, which contains a person’s passions and instinctual drives. The way the word ego is commonly used, it implies a person is full of self-rationalization or more simply put, is full of ones self. Many times writers and other artists are accused of being eg…


I began this blog to keep track of my writing life, to declare my goals, share my revelations and record the trials that I face, but sometimes-OK always-the personal stuff insists itself on my meditations.  This happens in my creative endeavors as well, even the fiction, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I notice this happens when I read lately, too, that my own personal experiences seep into my thoughts as I take in another author's creation.  I'll begin reading and thoughts of my car needing an oil change or the fact that I haven't seen a dentist in eight months will pop into my head and slowly the words, which I'm still reading, lose their meaning.  I think this is what attention deficit must feel like, and I want it to stop--which it most likely will.

Have you ever had this experience, when you try to read a book, even a damn-good book, and you just can't concentrate?

The fact that this has been happening to me makes me wonder how often I've put do…

ATTMP Book of the Week by Vic Fortezza

A Hitch in Twilight is a compilation of stories of The Twilight Zone-Alfred Hitchcock variety. Most involve ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Lucifer appears in two. Most are set in New York, particularly Brooklyn. They are designed to make entertain and to foster thought. They are 20 tales of Warped Imagination.


Beneath the Boardwalk, somewhere along the Brighton Beach side, leeward of a dune formed by the bitter winter winds, lay a long, narrow cardboard box around which rats were scurrying. There was a restless, troubled murmuring within it. Suddenly the flaps flew aside and a man inside sprang to a sitting position like a jack-in-the-box, casting pages of a newspaper, his blankets, aside in his wake. He fought to regain his breath, muttering angrily, fearfully.

His attention was snared by a click. His paroxysm had been vanquished. His senses had never seemed so alive. He peered beyond the dune, past the small gap between its peak and the underside of the Boar…

The Value of Constraints

I write in pocket-sized Moleskine or imitation-Moleskine notebooks, which means that there's always a notebook in my pocket or bag and I've grown accustomed to writing in extremely small print.  What I like about these small books is that they're portable, and I usually fill each page and consequently each book, quickly.  This provides a sense of completion, even if the story itself is not finished.

Standard size notebooks are a different story.  I admit, I've wasted a lot of paper by leaving blank pages in between stories and essays in my full size notebooks.  Recently, however, I set out to fill in all these pages, and to make my task all the harder, I've decided to write a complete piece in each one-two page space, which has caused me to write a lot of flash.  What I realized in the process of this environmentally savvy act, however, is that I have revisited a technique that was introduced to me in a course I took a year ago at Gemini Ink known as OuLiPo.

The t…


Placement, coffee and a certain amount of anonymity are my standard for a good writing spot.

It didn't, not really.  IHOP, or for those unenlightened, the International House of Pancakes, has not changed my life on a macro-level.  But the place sure cheered me up today.  Let me just begin by saying that a San Antonio IHOP on a Saturday morning is no easy place to enter.  Usually, there are people lined up outside the doors, along the always-too-small waiting area and clustered throughout the middle, making it difficult to approach the hostess and provide one's name.  But, if one is willing to persevere, to push and shove her way to that small wooden shrine that holds future diners last names, she will be rewarded with a managable "Ten minutes or less" wait.  Let me tell you, if you're a party of two, it will be less than ten minutes!
Once seated in a two person booth, coffee comes quickly, and sometimes it's waiting on the table (what joy!) and although there…