Archive | March, 2011

Where Do Ideas Come From? at Plumb Blog

I posted a short essay in response to two questions that always  seems to be asked of fiction writers: “What percentage of your work is fiction?” (100% — it’s fiction) and “Where do your ideas come?” from:

The phrase, “Don’t get any ideas,” is of course, impractical. When this is said to me, I already have many ideas and just the breath issuing the phrase gives me more ideas. “Don’t think of an elephant,” gives you some ideas about elephants. The phrase “don’t get any ideas about elephants,” is probably too filthy to contemplate.

Click here to read the entire thing at Plumb Blog.

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A Night of Matthews: Tuesday at Pilot Books in Seattle

Matt Briggs and Matthew Simmons

Reading 7 p.m. at PIlot Books FREE!

Matthew Simmons the author of the Jello Horse, victor of the first Literary Death Match in Seattle, and author of THE book defining the emerging genre of black metal fiction, The Moon Tonight Feels My Revenge, will be reading and answering questions at Pilot Books at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. I will also be reading from my new novel, The Strong Man, about the Gulf War. You can read a copy or buy one here. If you are in Seattle I hope you can make it for an evening of sludge, sand dunes, and SCUDS.

Here is the post at Pilot Books with some video footage of Mr. Simmons reading. They also found a video of me doing something.

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On Blurbs and Laurie Blauner’s Instructions for Living

Instructions for Living by Laurie BlaunerI recently read Blauner’s brand new and excellent novella Instructions for Living and wrote this blurb. I wonder if there is anyone who really excels at blurb writing? When I had my first book accepted for publication, I had to go hat in hand to authors I admired hoping they would say something. Chris Offutt who I had corresponded with on Salon’s Forums and whose work I really admire agreed to write something if he liked what he read. So I sent him the first part of the book. (He said he didn’t want to see the whole thing.) He sent me back a great blurb but also lamented the whole process. Who was he, he wanted to know. A good blurb would be from someone like Flannery O’Connor or John Cheever, and they were dead. I kind of feel in a similar vein about my own endorsement of a book. But as a writer I realize blurbs are about as important as jacket art — they come to represent the book and if they are accurate they help form an idea about where the book fits into the larger flow of books and words about books. I suppose in some way blurbs are a kind of protection for a book, like a jacket. The author is getting someone to create a short representation for the book and to vouch for the book. And in this case, I totally vouch for Blauner’s book. It is a chilling and increasingly relevant story about living in a bombed-out and repressive time.

Here is my blurb:

In sparse language, Laurie Blauner teases out the beauty of resisting the inevitable: the end of love, the end of life, the end of the world. At the core of her book, Instructions for Living, there is nothingness. The novella is a testament to Blauner’s remarkable skill; she has created a narrative that dissolves rather than advances. This is a chilling story appropriate for a world of pirate corporations, international gangs, and secret police forces.

You can buy the book here.

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Plumb Blog

I just posted my first entry in a group blog, Plumb Blog. I am pleased to be among such excellent company including Matt Baker, Charles Dodd White, Lavinia Ludlow, Cynthia Reeser, and others.

One of the paradoxes as a student of creative writing was the number of times I heard my teachers declare that writing cannot be taught. In what other profession than writing could a professional declare that the reason for his employment, the teaching of this vocation, is not possible? At the time, I wondered why I was paying this or that teacher’s tuition. And yet despite their best attempts not to teach me writing, I did learn how to write stories and novels from these instructors.

Click here to read the full entry.

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