December 2009

Doomed Goals/Projects/Resolutions?

With the 2010 a few hours away, I’ve decided to post some of my doomed goals/projects/resolutions for the coming year. These are things that I’ll probably try to achieve for a few weeks in January, then I’ll forget about them as the more important aspects of my life churn through the waning giddiness of the New Year. Feel free to share your own for 2010. I’m really interested to hear about what goals HTMLGIANT readers set for themselves aside from the standard ‘I will finish a manuscript this year’ sorts of goals and whether or not you’re able to follow through. Sometimes I follow through, most of the time I don’t. Enjoy.


Behind the Scenes / 58 Comments
December 31st, 2009 / 6:34 pm

What begins tomorrow? Is it “two thousand ten” or “twenty ten”? …Shouldn’t we start getting used to saying “twenty” as the first part? We’re not still going to be saying “two thousand fifty” in 2050, right?

John Updike died in 2009 with a whimper and 100+ books (written or edited). Does anyone care?

Conversation with the fabulous Kathleen Rooney

Kathleen Rooney is a rock star, and don’t you doubt that! Rooney has written & published a gizzillion books, most recently FOR YOU FOR YOU. She’s also co-editor/publisher of Rose Metal Press.

Here’s the thing about Rooney: You see her and she’s got this inky hair, long, and she’s usually wearing black. She’s a bit intimidating from afar. (People in black are usually intimidating to me. You’ll notice I’ve mentioned attire for both Rooney & Jeremy Davies, yeah?) Then, you start talking to her & she’s chipper as anything. Then, you read her poetry & damn, if you’re not completely knocked far far away!

What I mean is: If this interview/conversation isn’t enough to make you fall in love, read any of her ten thousand books & you’ll be convinced. You can try them out here or here or here or here.


Author Spotlight & Massive People / 12 Comments
December 31st, 2009 / 2:01 pm

They Shoot the White Girl First…

The title of this post from the opening line of Toni Morrison’s, Paradise.

Opening lines are like titles. I am going to briefly discuss titles. This might help you, or will maybe interest any students you might attempt to shepherd/lose. I’ve found students often go no-title, and I am against no-title, unless you have been writing for 20 years and work in minimalist miniature black and white photos. Or do heroin.


See that young lady and her cleavage (probably done by this guy) on the cover of a magazine I consider vituperation to the brain, body, beauty, soul? It is going to help me.


Craft Notes / 42 Comments
December 31st, 2009 / 1:18 pm


hello friend

So for a while, whenever I looked at Amazon’s page for one of my own obscure books, the system recommended something called Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti. According to the unfathomable Amazonian formula, if you liked one, you might like the other. (Because both their covers feature masks?)  Ligotti’s name came randomly to my attention other ways, too.  I’d be searching for something unrelated and a relevant keyword would pop up in some message board post about Ligotti.  I found a site devoted entirely to his work, which by then I realized had a hardcore cult following.

The work itself sounded Lovecraftian in content and style.  I don’t like Lovecraft much.  A purple writer with visceral but repetitive and fairly superficial ideas.  But out of curiosity I finally bought Teatro Grottesco.  I’m pleased to report that it’s fucking phenomenal.


Author Spotlight / 56 Comments
December 31st, 2009 / 10:46 am

Guest Post: Dave Clapper on New Editorial Directions at SLQ

Blake had a post a while back about the problems that slush presents for every lit mag. When magazines start out, their slushes are pretty small, the editors are really excited about reading, and for the most part, they go into reading each piece with the hope of finding a piece to publish. As lit mags get older, their slushes get larger, the editors get a bit more burnt out, and because the amount of space the mags have is the same, they can’t accept as high a percentage of subs, and tend to start reading each sub with an eye toward finding a reason to reject. It’s kind of horrible and numbing. How do mags avoid this?


Uncategorized / 89 Comments
December 31st, 2009 / 10:00 am

What words did you learn from songs? I learned laxative and libido from Nirvana, dildo from Beck.

Don’t write about this please…

Holidays are fun. By fun, I mean unpleasant.

I always find it funny that especially during the holidays, people remind (ask) me not to recount what’s happened in a book. Sure, I get it: my first two books (the only ones in print) have autobiographical elements, so of course, people would be “worried” I may write about them.

But when it comes down to it, isn’t this more than a little egotistical? People are worried that by virtue of me being around them, I’ll naturally find them or their lives so compelling that I’d want to chronicle it in a future book.

I recently had this conversation with Shane Jones about all this. We talked about how everyone (by which we both meant family) thinks they can find themselves in our characters. So I ask you this:

  • How often do you really steal from real life?
  • Do you worry about other writers putting you in their stories? (I’ve heard horror stories about this!)
  • Where is the line drawn between fiction & fiction?

    It’s funny because I had this quasi-embarrassing situation arise between myself & another writer a while back & my first response was: “Please don’t write about this!” Why is this the most natural reaction? I’m totally guilty of my own criticism…

    Craft Notes & Random / 40 Comments
    December 30th, 2009 / 11:30 pm

    Writing Down Your Goals [6.5 years later]

    In light of Justin’s excellent post below, I started thinking about how I used to think about things. Early on I wrote a lot, and constantly. I had a lot of things I hoped to do. I remembered at one point a friend had told me that one common element to many successful people was that they had early on written down their goals on paper. The concrete object of those goals existing in words then was supposed help them become true. I think I remember scoffing at that some, but then one day in 2003, before I’d really published anything I can remember, I followed his advice. Today while digging through my hard drive, I found the file there in an old folder. This was just after I’d finished the first novel I eventually abandoned, before the next 3 novels I abandoned, before I got to anything I would keep today: each one, as I realized I had to give it up, from which I learned something that helped me write the next one, and write it better, I believe. In the meantime, while those to-be-destroyed words were growing older on my hard drive, I continued to work more.

    Which is maybe at least part of the point Justin was getting at: that, in all the makings, it should be about the making first, and that the spread thereafter is something else entirely, and by no means necessarily a goal in and of itself, but one that should be attended to with care. I don’t think I knew then it would be I think 3 years before I started to gather toward actualizing the first item on the list. Maybe if I knew that then I would have done something else. Maybe not. Still, since 2003, a lot has changed, environments, forums, access, but on the other hand, a lot has not. Whatever these mean for ‘where I am now,’ and as goofy or green as they may seem almost seven years later, you can take for what it is: a continuation of an idea, one still in the manner of its cycle, every day:

    My Goals as of May 5, 2003

    – Get short stories printed in small to medium sized magazines, starting probably with online ones, and then hopefully spreading out to print.

    – Get either an agent or a publisher to accept my novel. In the meantime, continue editing the second one. In this case, a publisher would be better than an agent, but in the end, both are acceptable.

    – Continue working on new short stories and random text ejaculations. Keep working on the next thing.

    – DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE. Refuse to allow my aspirations to be subverted by narrow margins. Create.

    – Continue to make small relationships with other writers, no matter how unaccomplished they might seem to be. At the same time, no unwarranted ass-kissing.

    – After one of the first two novels has been finished, hopefully substantiate readers by spurring interest online. This part of the plan is still hazy, as I’m not sure how that operates yet, but it will come.

    – Writing is writing.

    Behind the Scenes / 62 Comments
    December 30th, 2009 / 8:06 pm