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Must Read: “Why I Write”

30 Aug

Wow. All I can say is that you MUST go read Stephen Elliot’s article “Why I Write” over at the Rumpus. Especially if you have any interest in writing whatsoever. You will not regret it, promise.

The thing I really liked about the article, besides his wonderful honesty, is how relatable it is. I think that every writer could read it and point to one section of it and say: “that’s where I am right now as a writer.” As for me, section 1 all the way.

Now I am DYING to start reading The Adderall Diaries. I think I will. Right now. Well — I should do some work, then start it tonight. It’s a plan!

Oh, I finished Ron Rash’s first novel — the first he published, he’s got four out now! — One Foot in Eden last night and I really enjoyed it. Especially how the novel is divided up into sections, by different character’s perspectives, and the only scene in which those four characters are together is (debatedly) the last major scene in the novel. Very nice.


flash-ity flash flash fiction

29 Aug

Just read a hilarious, provoking, overall fun to read blog post by Sean Lovelace and you should too.

In it, he defends flash fiction, responding to an interview with Robert Scott Leyse in Shattercolors Literary Review.

To be honest, I hadn’t really been exposed to flash fiction until this year. My college is really traditional, doesn’t even have a creative writing major — just a concentration — and the thought of me bringing it up in a short story class makes me a little nausea, out of fear.

And, to be honest again, even when I started to see it on the web, I was a little surprised when I liked what I read. I ordered Amelia Grey’s AM/PM and absolutely died for it — in a good way. (Have I been watching Rachel Zoe too much?) Last week, I discovered Wigleaf and it’s become one of my favorite sites already; go check it out. It’s a Saturday afternoon… what else do you have to do?

Anyways, in short, I am a fan of flash fiction. You should be too.

Oh! And I’m a fan of Sean Lovelace — really want to read his book How Some People Like Their Eggs — which is, hey… whad’ya know, a collection of flash fiction!

Book Sale Buys

29 Aug

I have a problem. A major problem. An out of control, book-buying problem.

Okay, so, my friend Alex and I were hanging out, wasting time, and we decided to go to Books-A-Million — what we always end up doing. Books-A-Million is pretty much the only bookstore in our town — unfortunately this really cool used bookstore on the square closed a few years ago — and I had this whole discussion with Alex on the way there about how Barnes and Noble, which we have in town where I go to school, puts BAM to shame in terms of selection.

Well… despite all my arguing, BAM was actually having an AWESOME sale. Check out my buys:

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon

Wives and Lovers by Richard Bausch

Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis

When the Nines Roll Over by David Benioff

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

the day’s events

27 Aug

Today I…

– woke up two hours later than I planned.

– discovered Replacement Press and Dark Sky Magazine. Be sure you check out Replacement Press’s why we exist page; I’m always interested in the why when another independent press or literary magazine comes about. Is there a reason other than, oh… we just wanted to make one of our own? RP has a good answer. As for Dark Sky, I really like what I see. They post weekly, they’re interested in brevity when it comes to the stories and poetry, and I like how they interweave the works they publish on their Web site with the editors’ posts — which are really great reads. They’re currently holding their first poetry contest and accepting submissions for their first print issue, out January 2010.

– bought a six-month subscription at mudluscious. Appears to be an AWESOME deal: for $36, you get 18 chapbooks — 3 a month — plus a copy of WE TAKE ME APART by Molly Gaudry, which I am dying to read.

– cleaned out my room and reorganized my books by gunpoint — aka my mother. My bookcase has been full since I was 16 and it’s gotten astronomically worse since college. I had books in stacks everywhere: on both dresses, on the floor in front of my book case, closet, on top of books already shelved in the bookcase. So we took a three-tiered  rolling rack that I found in the trash on move-out day last semester — don’t you love those finds? — put all my loose books on it. Well, of course not all of them… I put aside books I’m taking back to school with me and put the others in make-shift shelves I made out of old shoe boxes, and I think there’s still a big box in the attic. How does this happen? Bargin book sales, specifically one in Greenville last summer. I made out with about 45 books for $60 — something my mom found more than a bit excessive. But today, I realized it was a great thing. I hadn’t really been through a lot of the books ever since I picked the 10 or so I wanted to take to school with me; quite frankly, I really had forgotten what I bought. Well, I’m just here to say, I am one expert at book-loving predictions! I found SO many books that I had only recently, maybe in the last six months, put on my must-read list. African literature that I found out about through the African Diaspora lit class I took in the spring, one book by an author that just recently visited my college who I had never heard of prior to his visit — how awesome is that? A good day for Sarah’s book collection, for sure.

– read an intense blog by PANK about race and gender in the literary publication world — intense in that it generated SO many reactions. I think there was something around 49 comments to the post when I read it. It raises some great questions, and I’m really glad Roxane wrote it.

– listened to the rain raising hell outside and finished this blog!

Seven Literary Journals Based in the UK… That You Should Be Reading

17 Aug

Okay, I’ve kept it hidden until now, but I just can’t hide it any longer: I am in love with the UK. London, in particular, as you probably could have guessed.

I might be a little — a lot — biased; last fall I spent a semester studying in London and completely fell in love. It was around this time that I started to consider writing something that I could seriously pursue, and, even though London has one of the richest literary histories, I really don’t consider my decision to delve into writing and my semester in London that connected.

Sure, we become different people when we’re away from home. I was very much away from home: it doesn’t take longer than 20 minutes to get anywhere in my hometown, yet my trip to class everyday took an hour — if that’s any indication. I was a different person, too. When I arrived in London, I was terrified of walking to the Tube station by myself, but by the time I left, I had come to cherish the little trips I would take  — to museums, awkward monuments no one else would want to see, bookstores… many, many bookstores. Not to mention traveling to Amsterdam and Siena, Italy with only my backpack to accompany me. And the pink tights — those did not belong the pre-London Sarah; I think my mother something between a yelp and scream when she saw them.

But back to the point: the whole writing shift, I think that happened more coincidentally than because of London. I don’t think we should attribute major things like that to entire cities, that’s a little too much. A month before I left for London, I went to Hub-Bub’s annual Writing in Place Conference. While I was in London, I took my first creative writing course, and blogged for IES, the program with which I studied. It was just time, time that I start taking writing seriously.

Despite that, when I think London, I’ll always think writing. So, in honor of my unforgettable times there, I’m giving you a list of seven delicious magazines based in the UK. I was going to do ten, but I was also going to get up and go for a run this morning… did it happen? Negative.

1. Pomegranate

They only publish poems written by people under 30. Have no idea how you would monitor this, or if I agree with it, but I think it’s a cool concept nonetheless.

2. Fuselit

Love the site — they’re all about spur of the moment writing. Each issue revolves around a “spur word” — might just be the cure to your writer’s block.

3. Ambit

A lot of their stuff is really loud, in-your-face — in a good way.

4. Stop Sharpening Your Knives

Okay, so I haven’t technically read anything in their magazine, since they don’t have anything up online for me to read, but you should really just check out their site anyways. I find it fascinating. My curiosity may even be heightened enough that I pay the six pounds to get an issue, who knows.

5. Brittle Star

Good stuff — they do some nice little interviews.

6. blue-eyed boy bait

They are new and ambitious, and who doesn’t love that? They’re stuff is going to be a lot of fun, I can tell.

7. Read This Magazine

It’s all in their name.


go read fou

16 Aug

This is why you should read Fou Magazine:

Under Submissions Guidelines, it demands —

“You must grab us by the cockles of our very souls and eyeballs.”

Plus, I’m assuring you, it’s amazing.

back and ready for action

5 Aug

Oh. My. Gosh.

It has been way too long since I’ve blogged. Unfortunately the duties of being a summer researcher have swallowed me whole for the past week — and I’m not sure I’ve entered regurgitation phase quite yet.

But, alas, I miss blogging way too much. Therefore, I’ve given myself a little leeway to fulfill my blogging desires. It’s like $1 hot-fudge sundaes at McDonald’s — is it really hurting anybody? Besides the waist-line?

Resounding no.

A few updates —

Better World Books is having a Win Free Books for a Year Contest. Deadline is this Friday (Aug. 7), 11:59 p.m. You should get on that. Like right this very instant.

I have recently become quite infatuated with the sunnyoutside press. Check them out — I officially want to buy pretty much all of the books they publish, in particular Tim Horvarth’s novella Circulation.

I am looking for any kind of job reading submissions. Takers? Going once? Going Twice?

And last, but not least, I have officially received via beautiful book packages The Adderall Diares, MLKNG SCKLS, Secondary Sound, Maps and Legends, The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers and the Best of McSweeney’s Volume 1. All in the past week. And have not read any of them.

Why? It starts with a “re” and ends with a “search”-ing for my soul in this avalanche of information. Geez.

AND I have Through the Pale Day, by fellow South Carolinian — when I say fellow, I assume myself a temporary South Carolinian — Brian Ray, coming in the mail.

Wait, actually, I just read Brian Ray’s bio once more on his website and we are officially the same person: both grew up in Georgia, both travelled to South Carolina for undergrad, both published novelists… wait, definitely not that last one. Anyways, you should check this book/this guy out. (I’m pretty sure I mean that in a not-so-creepy-way). Through the Pale Door was published through Hub City Writers Project, which I fully believe everyone in the world should support. So there.

Man, oh man. Feels good to be back.