What follows is by no means a comprehensive listing. For that see some of the sites below. My list is simply a point of departure. The list of writers’ sites is for now unapologetically biased toward authors I know and like, many of them from Los Angeles.
For the Writer Generally
- Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) – First, a place to start if you’re looking for an MFA program. Second, their annual conference is a great way to get a bead on the state of literary life, and to meet editors from dozens of journals. Also, they put out a decent magazine, The Writers Chronicle, that comes with membership.
- Poets & Writers Magazine – As stated elsewhere, essential for the serious writer; some features on website.
- NewPages – A site I use mainly for its listing of literary magazines, but which offers a wide range of information on: independent bookstores, MFAs, contests, publishers, blogs, even independent record labels.
- Duotrope’s Digest – Searchable database for literary magazines, and publishers of novels and collections. Support this free service with a small donation when you can.
- Lit List – Same as above, but fairly new and not nearly as comprehensive (thus maybe a good place to start). Allows you to create a writer profile and save links to favorite magazines.
- Council of Literary Magazines & Presses (CLMP) – To which many literary journals belong; puts out a valuable annual directory.
- Zoetrope – Your on-line connection to the literary journal Zoetrope All-Story–and to all things Francis Ford Coppola: movies, wine, retreats, the whole deal. And the Zoetrope Virtual Studio. Which has two components, the first a workshopping forum where you post a story for critique in exchange for commenting on stories by five other writers: it’s a mixed bag, but Zoe veterans tell me you get better stories to review the longer you’re there. Then there are the discussions that take place both in the forums and in the ‘Private Offices’: a serious exchange of notes and ideas among serious writers and editors.
- Poets & Writers Speakeasy – The Poets & Writers on-line forum. Lively discussions on literary magazines, publishing, craft, etc.
- Emerging Writers Network – A real labor of love: one man with apparently boundless energy and enthusiasm for literature trying to get the word out about emerging writers. Reviews of books, journals; links to both, and to author sites. Of interest to writers and readers. Check out both the blog and the network site.
- Finally, there are a number of new sites devoted to readers sharing their book lists. Library Thing seems to be the most substantial of them. Good Reads is also good, and some writers use it to promote their books.
Later I will put up an entire section called The Reading Life that will, among other things, go more into the question of independent bookstores and why you should support them. I don’t entirely abstain from spending money at the chains and Amazon. But the bulk of my literary dollar goes to independents and these links will help you do so as well:
- Powells.com – the on-line presence of the massive Portland, Oregon independent; fast service, deep inventory; can’t match Amazon’s discounts, but carries a wide selection of high-quality used books; also out-of-print; newsletter, blog, interviews;
- IndieBound – a national marketing effort by the nation’s independent bookstores; store locator, recommendations from independent booksellers; BookSense also coordinates a national gift certificate program among independents, so you can buy one at your local store in Boise and send it to your niece in Birmingham to use at her local store;
- For used books, go to ABE Books (American Book Exchange), which draws upon a network of 13,500 independent bookseller; Alibris is also good and has moved into music and movies.
- The Elegant Variation – writer Mark Sarvas’ popular literary blog. Essential for the Los Angeleno literati. Reviews, readings, links;
- Book Fox – fairly new blog with a particular focus on the short story. Also with an LA slant (yes we read books here);
- Book Slut – actually features a number of contributors, women & men; reviews, columns, features, blog;
- Maud Newton – popular and opinionated literary blog;
- Laila Lalami (formerly Moorish Girl) – also an author (Hope & Other Dangerous Pursuits), Lalami and her blog are a popular source of book news and thoughts on the Middle East.
- Search out other literary blogs at BlogCatalog–and check out a fine and annotated list of literary sites at The Complete Review
Literary Los Angeles
- Both The Elegant Variation and Book Fox (above) list LA happenings and cover the local literary scene.
- Also check out Counterbalance, the literary blog by Callie Miller, who is also the Book Editor for LAist
- Local bookstores Book Soup, Skylight Books, and Vroman’s each have an active reading series.
- The New Short Fiction Series, Word Theatre, Tongue & Groove, Hammer Readings, ALOUD (Central Library), Writers Bloc, and Vermin on the Mount are all local reading series of note.
- Finally, PEN Center USA is based on Los Angeles and sponsors a number of local events (particularly in relation to their Emerging Writers program); and the Dave Eggers-founded 826la has a full calendar of events as well, many literary in nature, to raise funds for the free tutoring and writing classes they provide for local youth (go to the bottom of the page and click on Events).
- Steve Almond – the prolific short story writer, essayist and candy freak
- Aimee Bender – short story writer (Girl in a Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures) and novelist (An Invisible Sign of My Own) extraordinaire
- Pia Ehrhardt – author of a wonderful and dark collection, Famous Fathers
- Tod Goldberg – novelist (Living Dead Girl, Fake Liar Cheat), short story writer (Simplify), popular UCLA instructor; literary news, Tod news, general irreverence
- Mary Otis – author of one of my favorite collections of 2007, Yes, Yes, Cherries
- Rachel Resnick – kick-ass writer (Go West Young F**cked Up Chick) and teacher; if you have a little coin to drop look into her writing retreats
The Short Story
- The Short Review – devoted exclusively to short story collections
- Story – not to be confused with the American journal, this is a tremendous British site brought to you by the BBC in partnership with others
- Save the Short Story – spearheaded by the wonderful journal One Story; check out their blog as well
- I Read a Short Story Today – one man’s readings