Monday, June 29th, 2009

Alice Hoffman: What Were You Thinking?

Have you seen the Alice Hoffman kerfluffle yet?

In a nutshell: Roberta Silman at the Boston Globe reviewed her latest book, The Story Sisters, and gave it what’s being called “a lukewarm review.” (Here is the Boston Globe Link – it opens in new window).

It’s not a glowing review, but I wouldn’t call it lukewarm, either. Silman has done her homework, and she’s obviously familiar with (and has even enjoyed) Hoffman’s earlier works. But, Silman does say that the book, “…lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired. Too much of it is told rather than shown…”

Silman does have nice things to say about the book, too: “Admittedly, there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close – about the heirloom tomatoes Annie grew in her garden and how Claire learns to design jewelry.”

Hoffman responded by tweeting Silman’s phone number  and email address  and told her readers to “Tell her what u think of snarky critics.”

Hoffman also disparaged Silman: “Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?”

And then Hoffman put down the Boston Globe: “No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore – they don’t care about their readers, why should we care about them”

Ed Champion says, “…I think it’s safe to say that Alice Hoffman is certainly the most immature writer of her generation. One expects such behavior from a whiny brat in a boarding school who didn’t get the latest iPhone, not a 57-year-old bestselling author who won’t have to beg for a writing assignment or a hot meal anytime soon.”

The Cajun Boy, writer of the Gawker story on Ms. Hoffman’s actions, says, Ms. Hoffman, “went insane on Twitter” and “acti[ed] like a petulant child.”

Wow, wow, wow! Ms. Hoffman’s been publishing since 1977. You’d have thought she would have developed some kind of thick skin by now.

As @davidgibbons tweeted, “[to survive web2 u have to check ur ego at the door].” How true that is!

I certainly won’t be picking up the latest Hoffman novel, will you?


Update: Ms. Hoffman has deleted both of her Twitter accounts as of this morning. Was she feeling the pressure?

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Cover Story

I would have posted this last night when I received it, but it just got to be too late. Check out this awesome cover for the Triangulation: Dark Glass  anthology, coming out July 26, in which my story On the Path,  appears.

Cover of the Triangulation: Dark Class Anthology

Saturday, June 27th, 2009


On one end of the spectrum…

I finished the edits today for Blood Soup….hundreds of edits and comments and commas (mostly commas)…most of which I agreed to; and some, I’m not adverse to changing…but I’d like more info from the editor. I just didn’t understand the changes she made.

This means I’ll probably have “round 2” edits to work through. No worries.

This editor has caught a number of issues that both my beta reader, my critique group, and a different editor all missed. She’s good. And everything she’s pointing out is going to make the piece tighter and stronger.

At the other end of the spectrum…

I received an email late tonight from the editor of the Triangulation: Dark Glass  anthology in which my story, On the Path,  is being published July 26. This was my editing document: an email. His changes: two sentences. That’s it.

And he complemented me for doing all the hard work already. Pete Butler, you’re one classy editor.

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Yeah, This About Sums It Up For Me

Comma Abuse

This comic brought to you by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, at

Friday, June 26th, 2009

More, Please

My novella, Blood Soup,  is being published by Eternal Press in September. I’ve been working on the edits for about a week now, and I hope to get them finished either late tonight or early tomorrow.

It’s slow going.

There are only 85 typed pages, and more than 100 comments from the editor. Most of the edits are a matter of style, IMHO. Mostly, she wants me to add more commas.

I started out in the journalism business where the Oxford  comma–that pesky comma which appears before the word “and” in a list–is anathema.

It’s my unflattering opinion that folk in the literary world waste commas. They shove them into every sentence they can and space be damned. But I know that if I omit a few here and there, I can write another word…and that might just be the perfect  word.

The literary folk put in all the commas and add the extra words, too.

I’m trying to be accepting of that fact, and that’s what’s taking so long. I read the draft, accept a comma here or there, and then start over. (See how I slipped that Oxford comma in there?) The next time I read, I accept another comma or two and then begin again. I suppose I could just accept all the commas at once, but that would be like giving in.

I need to put up a fight in order to accept this whole Oxford comma deal.

The other items (it’s not all commas, after all…) are (mostly) more of the same: the editor suggesting additional verbiage. It’s liberating, in a way, to be told, “Yes! You can write more here…” and yet, it goes against all my training.   :: sigh ::

Time to go accept a few more commas…

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Another Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future!

My short story Lucky Clover  earned an Honorable Mention in the 2nd Quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest. If I remember correctly, this means it placed in the top 5 – 15% of all stories entered. You can see my name up in lights here (Edit: No you can’t. They removed the entry.), or visit the main contest page for rules.

If you write any sort of speculative fiction, you should investigate WotF. If you win, you’ll be flown to California for a week’s retreat to learn from some really famous authors  (the list changes) and your story will be published in the yearly anthology. (Plus, you win cash!)

There’s no entry fee, but your story is judged against the bazillion  others entered during the quarter. (Okay, bazillion  might be just a tad inflated, but WotF doesn’t publish the real number of entries because they don’t want to scare people away from entering.)

I’ll post a scan of my nice, shiny certificate once I receive it…

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The Baltimore Chapter of the Maryland Writers Association is Very Cool…

Mr. Boh - Copyright Pabst Brewing Company…they invited me to speak about my writers conference experiences and they didn’t act at all bored with my suggestions for getting the most out of a workshop (my biggest worry).

In fact, questions were asked, business cards were disbursed, and I think most attendees left knowing more about how to evaluate what conferences and workshops will work for them.

I got to chat informally with the fascinating folk who make up the group both before and after the event. Had there been time, I think the many of us (25 or so?) could have stayed another hour or two and discussed All Things Writing. It’s a comfortable group and I could feel quite at home in it.

And besides all that, they have this really kewl logo.

The venue was the Cyclops Independent Bookstore, a place so new and shiny that books don’t line the walls yet. I can tell tell it’s going to have just the right amount of glitz and trend married to Traditional Bookstore Goodness to make it a winner. Look for lots more events — music, as well as writing — at the Cyclops.

If you’re a local writer, check out the Baltimore Chapter of the Maryland Writers Association, or look to the main Maryland Writers Association if you’re a little father away.

Many thanks to Paul Lagasse, Gary Lester, Nancy O. Greene, Ally E. Peltier and the rest of MWAB for inviting me.

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

On Writing Workshops

I’m speaking tomorrow evening –on Writing Workshops– at  the Cyclops Bookstore, 30 W.  North Ave. at Maryland Avenue in Baltimore (7:00 p.m.).  It’s  a wonderful opportunity which just fell into my lap.  I’ve been to several writing workshops  (or conferences or retreats or whatever you want to call them…) and I love to talk about my experiences, so this should be a lot of fun.

I’ve been to the Taddle Creek Writer’s Workshop at University of Toronto, Viable Paradise on Martha’s Vineyard and, most recently, Seton Hill University’s Writer’s Retreat in Greensburg, PA.  There have been others, but these stand out in my mind.

At Taddle Creek I met Robert J. Sawyer for the first time.   Many of his lecture’s points pop into my head at appropriate moments when I’m writing, even after all these years (it’s been at least five, maybe more, since I attended Taddle Creek.) Viable Paradise is equally memorable. It is hosted by Teresa & Patrick Nielsen-Hayden, James D. McDonald and Debra Doyle (and others). Elizabeth Bear and John Scalzi instruct there now, too. The Writer’s Retreat at Seton Hill University allowed me to scope out the campus and instructors to determine whether or not I wanted to enroll in their MFA. At SHU I met J.A. Konrath, author of the “Jack Daniels” mysteries and Ginjer Buchanan, Editor and Chief of Ace Books.

I could write quite a bit, but why don’t you let me know what you want to know? That way I can focus. Do you have any burning questions about writing workshops?

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in my life.

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

How Do You Perfect Your Craft?

I write.

I write, write, write. Then I edit, delete, and write some more*.

American author Henry Miller once said that you have to write a million words before you produce anything good. That’s probably true. (This gave me a laugh, by the way: how to get a leg up on writing a million words of crap, the Million Words of Crap Generator v1.0.)

I also attend conferences and workshops for writers. (More on this in a later post…)

The other thing I do is read books on writing. I go through phases: I’ll read several in a row and then ignore them for quite a while. Many I borrow. But it struck me recently that I’ve enjoyed a few so much I’ve kept them and occasionally refer to them.

With that in mind, I thought I’d begin reviewing them here on the blog. Are you interested? What books would you like to see me review? (And if you’ve written a book on writing, drop me a line. I might be interested in taking a peek and reviewing it here.)


*Actually, it’s more like: write, write, edit, delete, edit, write, delete, write, write, edit, write, delete, edit, edit, write, write, write.