Writing About Family and Friends

Here’s something memoirists (but not only memoirists) have to deal with: writing about family and friends “so they’ll still speak to you.” Hana Schank’s mediabistro.com essay offers some tips from Schank’s own experience. But in the end, as Schank concludes, “Either you’ve got a family and friends who, despite it all, will love you and invite you to holidays, or you don’t.”

Monday Morning Market Listings (Post-AWP Edition)

When I last posted here, I was on my way to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference (held this year in Atlanta). Now that I’ve had a little time to unpack and catch up with things back at home, and reflect a bit on the event, I must say, first, that the AWP staff did a fantastic job planning and running a conference for 4900 (that’s right, 4900) people. I was so happy to see old friends, connect familiar names with the faces to which they belong, and meet practicing writers new to me, too. I’m also very grateful for the Southern hospitality extended to me by my good friend, L, a practicing poet based in Atlanta. Among other treats, she and a friend took me to dinner Saturday night at Nancy’s, a wonderful restaurant where I enjoyed some delicious country fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans (see photo). It was yummy!

I’ll tell you more about the panels/activities in upcoming posts. Meantime, I thought I’d share with you the scoop on some markets/opportunities advertised at the conference:

Among the information sheets I picked up was one for the Astrobiology and the Sacred Fiction Competition. Administered at the University of Arizona, this contest awards a first prize of $1,000 plus an invitation to read at the University of Arizona in September 2007 (travel and lodging included). Second and third prizes will be $500 and $250, respectively. Details/submission guidelines here. NO ENTRY FEE.

Handouts were also available with guidelines for the 2007 Charles Johnson Student Fiction Award. Administered at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, this competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled full- or part-time in a U.S. college or university. It is “intended to encourage increased artistic and intellectual growth among students, as well as reward excellence and diversity in creative writing.” Winner receives $1,000 plus a signed copy of a Charles Johnson book, plus publication in Crab Orchard Review. There’s NO ENTRY FEE. NB: Given that the handout noted that submissions “must be postmarked in March 2007,” I have to believe the Web site will soon be updated very soon.

At the West Branch table I picked up an information sheet noting that the journal’s contributor rates for poetry have increased. “We now offer payment in the amount of $20/poem + $10/additional page, or $10/page of prose, with a minimum payment per writer of $30 and a maximum payment of $100.” Contributors also receive two copies and a one-year subscription to the journal. “Book reviews are typically arranged by assignment. If you are interested in writing reviews, please query with a sample. We currently pay $200 per assigned review.” Read more about the journal here.

I was also reminded that the 2008 Zoland Poetry submission deadline is March 15, 2007. More information here. This publication also pays its poets/writers.

Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, is offering a 2008 Visiting Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. Details and application guidelines here.

Here’s an interesting award I learned about from the folks at the Flannery O’Connor Review: “The Sarah Gordon Award is an annual $500 prize for the best article written by a graduate student on Flannery O’Connor and/or Southern Studies.” There’s NO ENTRY FEE. Again, I’m not sure the Web site has quite kept pace with the flyer I saw displayed at AWP. Check for updates (my understanding is that articles must be submitted between April 1, 2007, and August 1, 2007, and that each entrant must be a graduate student as of August 1, 2007) here.

Submissions Sought

echolocation, a journal based at the University of Toronto, is looking for “poetry, prose poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and interviews with writers.” Unpublished work only. No simultaneous submissions.

“Pay for the Winter 2007 issue is $10/page” (my guess would be that’s Canadian dollars, folks).

This (print) journal accepts only electronic submissions. “We accept submissions year-round; however, the deadline for our Winter 2007 publication is November 10th, 2006.”

Check the Web site for more information.

(via placesforwriters.com)

L’Affaire James Frey

A few people have asked me what I think about the current literary scandals, particularly the memoir-oriented James Frey case. Actually, a few of those who asked did so admitting they could already guess my take on it. They know I’ve never had much patience for what I consider nontruth in nonfiction. And by the way, I still consider memoir a sub-genre of nonfiction, with all nonfiction’s attendant characteristics, rewards, and responsibilities.

Maybe that explains, in part, why I really haven’t wanted to take on l’Affaire Frey myself. And maybe today’s Publishers Lunch summarizes even more clearly why I haven’t focused on the subject here: “It would be an understatement to say there is an abundance of stories on James Frey, his Larry King appearance last night, and Oprah’s dramatic last-minute blessing of the ’emotional truth’ of however it is that he told his tale. We presume that if you’re interested, there’s little new we can tell you, just as our subjective assumption is that you’ve probably already formed a firm opinion on the matter.”

Yes. Which isn’t to say that I won’t comment later, once I’ve had more time to think about all this. Maybe I’ll decide I have something original/potentially new and interesting and enlightening to contribute. I’m also looking forward to Mary Karr’s editorial on the subject, which, according to today’s PW Daily, is in the works.

But for the moment, I’m confident that you’re following the news yourself. In the unlikely event that you aren’t, here are just a few recommended readings:

A transcript of last night’s Larry King Live Interview with James Frey;

An editorial published in the Los Angeles Times;

And though it’s dated (from 2003), this article, “Memoirs: The Novel Approach to Facts”, published in The Age, is also highly relevant.


Here are two articles/commentaries from today’s New York Times with which wholly agree. You’ll need to register to read the full pieces; registration is free.

1) Randy Kennedy’s “My True Story, More or Less, and Maybe Not at All,” which appears on the cover page of the “Week in Review” section.

2) Mary Karr’s op-ed, “His So-Called Life”.