May is Short Story Month

Who says so? Dan Wickett, and that’s good enough for me.

There are months for just about everything, it seems. Since 1996, April has been National Poetry Month. As the 2009 edition of National Poetry Month wound down, Dan decided to step forward and declare May Short Story Month. Dan is a tireless literary enthusiast, founder of the Emerging Writers Network, and now co-director of Dzanc Books–which under its own name and various imprints does as much as anyone on the current literary scene to bring new short story writers into the light.

In its few years, Short Story Month has gained momentum and is observed by a number of presses and literary sites. Check in with the Short Story Month Facebook Page and see what’s going on. At the Emerging Writers Network, Dan will be posting about three stories a day, many of them live on the ‘net. Fiction Writers Review will observe the month with reviews, interviews and more. Matt Bell–editor of Dzanc’s new online literary journal The Collagist, and author of the recently published How They Were Found–also promises a full slate of short fiction goodness. And don’t forget The Short Review, devoted entirely to reviewing short story collections.

News from Dzanc

Dzanc Books is one of the best independent publishers out there, particularly when it comes to the short story. Under their own imprint, as well as Other Voices, Black Lawrence, and Monkeybicycle, they publish a number of story collections each year, many by first-time authors. Their new online journal The Collagist is yet another venue. To this stable they now add the already established Absinthe, a bi-annual print journal devoted to the best new European writing.

Dzanc has an activist/charitable side as well. Now in its third year, the Dzanc Prize awards writers who are not only producing outstanding fiction themselves, but are engaged in some manner of community service relating to education or literacy. They also sponsor the Dzanc Writer-in-Residence Program utilizing writers to increase literary in the public schools–for now limited to Dzanc’s home in Michigan but looking to expand.

Right now you have two easy ways to support these ventures. One is to vote Dzanc a recipient of Chase Bank’s Community Giving Program. Chase is allowing people to vote for their favorite charities on Facebook–follow the appropriate link here (note: you need to become a ‘fan’ of Chase’s Community Giving Program before you can vote). Second is to participate, as a writer or donor, in the upcoming Dzanc Write-a-Thon. Participating writers will be given a prompt on Dec. 17 and will have until the 20th to do something with it. Follow the link for info on how to sign up. Or sponsor me by dropping at note to scribbler3@mac.com.

Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm  Comments (5)  
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Online Study

As I’ve stated elsewhere, while there are certainly some arguments for getting an MFA (particularly if you wish to pursue teaching), I myself prefer my cobbled-together, custom MFA–comprising mainly courses through the UCLA Extension Writers Program, and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. I’ve further spiced up my program of study with other classes, some online.

When I first began taking classes at the UCLA Extension Writers Program, they were all of the in-person variety. I approached their online classes skeptically, but have been pleasantly surprised. Some things are lost, but others are gained: the ability to study with teachers and fellow students from anywhere; the freedom to follow up on and extend certain discussions; the ease of posting documents and links. Furthermore, it’s encouraged me to branch out outside my comfort zone and take classes in poetry and screenwriting. (Classes run year-round.)

A relatively new addition to the workshop scene are online classes offered by literary journals. The student gets feedback from a working editor as opposed to a teacher; the journal uses the income to subsidize the largely losing proposition of running a literary magazine. I’ve taken a workshop given by Mid-American Review, and later one by American Short Fiction. Both were worthwhile and reasonably priced. MAR offers a three-year subscription along with the class, and very generously has set up an ‘alumni’ site so students can stay in touch and continuing trading stories and notes. (They’re currently mid-workshop; inquire at the website about the next round.) I’d probably give the nod to the ASF workshop, mainly because their sensibility is closer to mine, and because they offer a 30-minute chat with an editor that I found invaluable. (Classes at both the introductory and advanced level begin July 15.)

A different option is that offered by Dzanc Books–a non-profit independent press that through its various imprints is doing great things to promote both the short story form and emerging writers. They are offering one-on-one, flexibly structured Creative Writing Sessions with some of the most exciting young writers out there. Many have donated their time, and all funds go toward supporting another great Dzanc initiative: free literary and writing classes for students grades 4 – 12.

Other classes I’m less familiar with include: the Stanford Online Writer’s Studio, and an array of classes through the Gotham Writers Workshop, some in conjunction with the literary magazine Zoetrope.

Emerging Writers Network

A nice mention of New Madrid and my story “Call It Beautiful” in Dan Wickett’s February 20 post at the Emerging Writers Network blog. Both at EWN and Dzanc Books, Dan is a tireless champion for new literary voices, and has a particular love for short stories. He edited a recent anthology called Visiting Hours published by Press 53, another independent press doing great work.

Dzanc Write-a-Thon

At a time when the major publishing houses are taking fewer chances on new authors, Dzanc Books is going in the opposite direction. Under their own name and their three imprints (which now includes Other Voices), they release an impressive number of titles every year, many of them short story collections. A non-profit, they also engage in charitable work of a literary nature. Chief amongst these is a Writer in Residence program, which places fiction writers in public schools (now mostly in Michigan, but they’re hoping to expand).

On Saturday November 15, I’ll be participating in a Write-a-Thon to raise money for these efforts. In response to a prompt sent out that morning, I’ll write all day and see what I can come up with. If you’re interested in sponsoring me by word or a flat rate of say $10 or $20 (go with the flat rate–who knows maybe I’ll write a novel), shoot me an e-mail at scribbler3(at)mac(dot)com. Or go to the Dzanc website if you’d like to participate as a writer.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 3:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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