The Most Exciting Literary Time of the Year

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The Tournament of Books is not considered a great prize and there is no monetary award, just a rooster, but I contend that it is the most exciting literary time of the year–better than the Pulitzer, the Man Booker, the National Book Award, and even the Nobel.

All those other awards are given under a shroud and with just a few lines of justification. Spend a few days in anticipation while waiting for the announcement, yeah. Get a momentary thrill, sure. Question the decision process, yes. But a day or two later, the discussion ends. The Tournament of Books is not like that–not at all.

A project of The Morning News, the Tournament take place all through the month of March. It pits 13 books against each other in one-on-one rounds, with the judges for each round named and specifically discussing the two books and why they chose the winner they did. Two official commentators give their opinions and the public also comments. Still, the winner is the winner, and that book moves onto the next round while the loser is knocked out of the competition.

Or so you may think.

By the time the end of the month nears, and the books have been whittled down to two, the zombie round ensues. Two books that have already been knocked out are voted back in by the public. These two books compete with the remaining two in the final set of battles.

The Tournament of Books touts its transparency in coming to a decision, and specifies none of any of this is fair–it’s all taste and opinion. But it’s a fun discussion of books. Whether you have read all the books in contention and are rooting for your favorite, or you’ve read none and you get to hear what the judges, commentators, and public have to really say about these books to add to your reading list, it’s an active discussion of books that gets those who keep up with it excited about reading. Curious? Read the judging for last year’s play-in round between Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving and A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, judged by the writers of Bob’s Burgers.

When you’re done, check out this year’s short-list and prepare for another kind of March Madness.

Here is the Official Tournament of Books page, where you check out how the tournament works, the brackets for last year, and the history of the competition, which started in 2005.

Four Chambers Press is looking for eight local authors…

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Four Chambers Press is looking for eight local authors to respond to featured art installations at this year’s Canal Convergence Water + Art + Light in partnership with Scottsdale Public Art February 24 – 26, 2017 at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Open to all literary genres, performance styles, and forms. Authors will receive a $100 stipend (and a $20 gift card from Changing Hands). Interested individuals can learn more and apply online at http://fourchamberspress.com/canal-convergenceThe deadline for applications is Friday, February 10th, 2017.

You can click here to download the press release and the application packet respectively. You can download a flier here.

Four Chambers is extremely grateful to Scottsdale Public Art for providing such a wonderful opportunity, and we’re very excited to see what the authors will come up with (especially if it’s you).
P. S. Four Chambers is looking for individuals to perform short sets at this year’s Erotic Poetry Music Fest at Alwun House–1204 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006–on Friday, February 17th, 2017; e-mail events@fourchamberspress.com.

Classes at the Piper Writers Studio

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Announcing the Piper Writers Studio (Fall 2016)

Faculty include Michael A. Stackpole, Carol Test, Marshall Terrill, and Lois Roma-Deeley

Registration Closes Monday October 3rd, 2016

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU is proud to offer four creative writing classes through the Piper Writers Studio. Classes are taught by acclaimed and award-winning writers from the community, and cover topics such as first-draft novel writing, novel revisions, persona poetry, and creative non-fiction.

Classes are open to individuals of all backgrounds, skill levels, and experiences, and are designed to fit around the schedules of working adults (taking place weekday evenings or weekend afternoons).

Class sizes range between 8 and 12 students in order to ensure an intimate, individualized educational experience, and start at $75 (with discounts for individuals who are members of the Piper Circle of Friends). Classes can also qualify for professional development credit with the Arizona Department of Education. Individuals can register for classes through the Piper Center’s website until Monday, October 3rd, 2016.

Get more information here: https://piper.asu.edu…­

Check out my newest story in The Stockholm Review…

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I’m really happy to have my latest story published in The Stockholm Review of Literature. It’s actually the first short story I’ve published under my own name since 1993, and for some reason it’s a little scary not to use a pen name.

Check it out here: “Coral Luce entered the Organization’s residential treatment program for teenage mothers three days before we had the lice outbreak…”

And thank you for taking time to read it.

Love from your organizer,

Robin

What exactly does an editor do?

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When Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was published earlier this year, readers learned that this much anticipated “second book” by Lee was actually a first draft of what would later become the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee radically revised this early version of the book on the advice of her editor, Tay Hohoff. That made us wonder: How much do editors shape the final book we read?

On hearing the news about the role Lee’s editor played in the creation of To Kill a Mockingbird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg was surprised at first…

…continue reading at npr.org…

2016 Firecracker Award Deadlines Approach!

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The Firecrackers seek to celebrate and promote great literary works from independent literary publishers and self-published authors. We’re looking for language that smolders, crackles or explodes on the page. We’re looking for voices we’ve never heard and will never forget. The Firecrackers will spotlight books that make a permanent contribution to our literary culture and introduce them to readers far and wide.

Submissions in fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and young adult are due on December 15th.

Submissions for graphic novels have been extended to January 15th.

Visit www.clmp.org/firecracker/ for details.

Crisis Girl by Augie Gold

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Crisis Girl

Augie Gold

 

Belinda comes to us with blood under her nails. “I think I hurt myself.”

We, the counselors, look up from our activities planning session in the TV lounge. Belinda’s legs are streaked red; ragged scratches slide down her arms, her chest. She wears only shorts and her giant greying bra, which has stayed miraculously clear of blood. When she wipes the tears from her face, she leaves a pink smudge behind.

“Will you help me?” She says this directly to me.

…continue reading at Watershed Review…

The New Branches of Writing without Workshops

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We’re getting around. You can now find us in Tucson and Washington. If you find yourself in either place and need to get your writing fix in, contact:

Jodi Eyre at Writing without Workshops Tucson Chapter.

Lynn Murphy at Write Now Without Workshops in Poulsbo, WA.

Both chapters emerged from our original Phoenix/Scottsdale group and both Jodi and Lynn know how Writing without Workshops runs well since they were once regulars here. The philosophy may be the same, but that means that each group is a little different to best serve the needs of their communities and their leadership roles.

Visit them when you get a chance!

Shadows on a Lighthouse

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by Neil Connelly

Over one hundred and fifty years ago, on a snowy night off the coast of the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada, many of the people I now love most came close to extinction.

When I make that dramatic claim, I’m thinking of my father and my sons, of my brother and my eight sisters, along with all my siblings’ children and their children’s children. That number itself runs to the dozens. These are the people I have in mind, but in truth the loss would’ve be far greater, extending through multitudes of cousins, second cousins. And really, “extinction” is probably not the most accurate term. To capture the real threat, I’d need to stretch for a term like “non-existence,” for that is what we truly faced. On that singular night, the actions of my great great grandfather, Cornelius O’Boyle, were responsible for the lives of hundreds of people in his bloodline. For any of us to ever be, he had to survive a disaster.

Like everyone else in my immediate family, I had no idea of Cornelius O’Boyle’s brush with death until a yellowed slip of newspaper (no date, no page number, no title) was discovered in our attic back in the 90’s. It read:

A monument has been erected for the Irish immigrants that were shipwrecked at Cape Rosiers, Gasp’e, Quebec, Canada, 1847.

The Brig “Carricks” of White Haven, England, with R. Thompson as its Master, was 87 ft. long, had beams of 26 ft., and was 16 ft. deep. The Carricks was built in 1812 and its burden was 244 tons.       

While on a voyage from Sligo, Ireland with 167 Irish immigrants bound for Quebec, Canada, she was caught in a northeast snowstorm while entering the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The Carricks was driven ashore and wrecked about a mile east of the present Cape Rosiers lighthouse and became a total loss on May 19, 1847.

Out of 167 passengers only 48 reached shore alive; all the crew were saved except one boy.      

The Carricks was seven weeks and four days at sea when wrecked.         

Cornelius O’Boyle and his brother Owen from Bangor Erris, County Mayo, Ireland were among those who were saved.

My father, named Neil O’Boyle Connelly just like me, knew of Cornelius, could tell us that he was the father of his own dear grandmother, Rose O’Boyle, who ran a boarding home during the Depression where my father spent most of his youth. But he’d never heard about the passage over or the wreck. This didn’t strike my father as unusual. I recall him shrugging and saying, “We didn’t talk about things like that.”

…continue reading…

Are you ready for Saturdays in Fountain Hills?

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The Writers Without Workshops tree is growing. I’m Reitman and I’ve started a writers’ Meetup in Fountain Hills. All the other arts are well-represented, in our town: painting, photography, and sculpture; it’s time we had our own community.

The first session will be on Saturday, Oct. 31st, from 9am to noon at:

Mountain View Coffee Co

12645 North Saguaro Boulevard, Fountain Hills, AZ

Writing is a lonely art. Join us!