Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall for the Book - Alumni

So far Fall for the Book has gone well, I believe, based on the few things I've heard around the department - unfortunately, I didn't get to the Mason Alumni reading on Tuesday, so I can't speak of how that went other than to say that I'm sorry I missed it (though I did get a T-shirt - if you still haven't picked one up, you'll need to attend Alan's discussion tomorrow at noon or listen to the current MFA students read on Friday before Haslett and Lethem). Danielle Deulen (poetry) and Ryan Effgen (fiction) both read their work along with Dallas Hudgens (fiction). Anyhow, the point of this post is to wish Dallas congratulations; his second book, Season of Gene, was just released by Scribner that very same day as the reading, so I bet he's pretty happy right now. You can visit him at his website for tour dates, etc.

Budgeting for Contests

As we move deeper into contest season, I'm curious to know how much you are budgeting for contests. It seems that most contests these day require a $15-20 entrance fee. How do you determine which contests to go for? How do you decide which are worth your money? And are you submitting for contests now?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Most sniglets are too clever for their own good"

The TimesOnline has an interesting piece about how we make up words to fill "lexical gaps," those ideas and things that we have trouble describing. Actually, I think it's an excerpt from The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker.

I think these made up words are called sniglets? That's what Pinker says, and he seems like he would know. Anyhow, here's an example:

Furbling v. Having to go through a maze of ropes at an airport or bank even if you’re the only person in line.

The excerpt also talks about how annoying these made-up words really are.

Pen/Faulkner Gala, Monday, Sept. 24

A list of readers (which includes our own Helon Habila) can be found here . No word yet on this year's theme.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sara Hov, bringing it live

Our own Sara Hov just heard from the Saranac Review that they have accepted one of her stories. Next time you see her, tell her congrats and happy birthday!

Ryan Call, coming at you by land, by sea, and by air

I would be remiss if I did not mention that our own Ryan Call has gotten acceptance notices from not one, not two, but three journals over the last three months:

Barrelhouse Magazine
Hobart Literary Journal
Avery Anthology

Congrats, Ryan!

If you've been published or know you will be published soon, let us know so we can buy you a drink!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Short Story in Peril?

One Story has been trying to improve the short story's odds of survival since the pocket-sized magazine published its first issue in 2002. Now they're asking for your help. Visit their newest project: Save The Short Story.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Phoebe Needs Readers

Dear Mason Fiction Writers:

Phoebe, Mason's grad-run literary journal, needs fiction readers for the 2007-2008 school year. We've just reopened our reading period and the submissions have started coming in.

Phoebe publishes twice a year; each issue generally has about 4-5 fiction stories, which we select from hundreds of submissions.

This is a good opportunity for fiction writers to see both the work that goes into a literary journal and the quality of writing that other authors are sending around for consideration.

Fiction readers also have the option of using their position at Phoebe to fulfill their MFA Project requirement.

If you are interested or want more information, please email me at as soon as you can.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fall for the Book!

This is from the Fall for the Book organizers—volunteering offers a great opportunity to get involved in the writing community, here at GMU and in general.

Hi Everyone,
We are very close to the opening of Fall for the Book, GMU's annual book festival and we hope you can all help—as little or much as possible! Below, you will find all the opportunities that we have available for you to volunteer. Please browse the list and let us know what sounds interesting to you. Also, you can check out our website, for up-to-date information on when and where your favorite authors will be appearing. Look forward to working with you!
—The Fall for the Book Team

1. Local Marketing & Program Delivery • Date: Throughout September (*we need you*) • Time: At your convenience

We need people to pick up and deliver programs around Fairfax/ Arlington/ Alexandra/ short, EVERYWHERE. You can pick up a handful of programs to drop off at your local coffee shop - or you can get a whole box to distribute throughout the county. We have a specific list of locations so that drivers don't overlap with one another - so please email me, for a copy and details.

2. Info Tent • Date: Sept 23 -- Sept. 29 • Time: 11 AM - 4 PM, Daily

Got time in between classes? 30 minutes? 2 hours? This is the job for you: We will need someone at the info tent to answer questions, direct confused students and promote events throughout the day. The tent will be centrally located outside of the JC—or, in the event of rain, will be moved inside to the JC.

3. Drivers (This is subject to change and may need updating.) • Date: Sept 23 -- Sept 29 • Time: Varies

Many of our visiting authors are coming from out of town. They need to be met at airports and train stations, driven to the festival hotel, picked up at the hotel and brought to events. If you're interested in meeting a writer and driving him or her to one place or another, e-mail Tara ( The following authors still need rides:

Orville Vernon Burton: Historian

(1)Departs Reagan, DCA Fri. Sept. 28 3:30 pm American Airlines 537
-Needs to be picked up from the Hampton Inn, Fairfax and taken to the airport.

Richard Peck: Children's Author

(1)Monday Sept. 24 6 pm--reception at GMU Dewberry Hall
-Needs to be picked up from Hampton Inn and taken to event
-Needs to be picked up after event at 7:30 and taken back to Hampton Inn

(2)Tuesday Sept. 25 6 pm--reception and reading at Smart's Mill Middle School in Leesburg
-Needs to be picked up from Hampton Inn and taken to school

Janet Holmes: Poet

(1)Departs DCA, Reagan, Tues. Sept 25 6:40 AM Northwest Air # 883
-Needs to be picked up from Hampton Inn and taken to airport

Jonathan Ames: Comedian/Writer
(1)Arrives DCA, Reagan, Thurs.Sept. 27 12:47pm United Airlines Flight# 608
-Needs to be picked up and taken to the Hampton Inn

(2)Event is on Thurs. Sept. 27 3:00 pm
-Needs to be picked up from Hampton and taken to GMU; tent outside Johnson Center
-Needs to be taken back to his hotel after the event is over at 4:00pm

(3) Departs DCA, Reagan, Fri. Sept. 28 11:40am Flight# 615
-Needs to be picked up from Hampton and taken to the airport

4. Venue Managers • Date: Sept. 23 -- Sept. 29 • Time: Varies

Each event needs a Fall for the Book representative to greet the author and be there as the audience arrives. The Venue Manager will be in the room before the event begins and after it ends in order to answer both the author’s and audience’s questions. Email MANY of the events are still open!!!

5. Found Magazine Gallery Managers
Date: Sept. 24, 11-9 PM • Sept. 25, 11-9 PM • Sept. 26, 11-9 PM • Sept. 27, 11-9 PM • Sept. 28, 11-9 PM

This year, we also have the Found Magazine web phenomenon coming to the Mason campus, with a presentation by creator Davy Rothbart as well as exhibitions from Found Magazine. We need people to staff the exhibition in the Johnson Center, 123 Gallery while it is open. If you're willing to help with the exhibition, e-mail Sarah at

6. Introducers • Date: Sept 27 - Oct 5 • Time: Varies

Every speaker needs an introduction - and we still have a few spots available. We will provide you with an introduction (author bio) to read - or, if you prefer, you are welcome to create your own. Email Sarah at for more info. The following writers need to be introduced:

Janet Holmes, editor of Ahsahta Press
Richard Norton Smith, discusses Gerald R. Ford
Betsy Andrews, author of She-Devil, In Trouble, and New Jersey
Chester Gillis, professor of theology at Georgetown University
Michael Richman, author of The Redskins Encyclopedia

7. General "I Want to Help but I Don't Know What to Do" Volunteers • Date: NOW ‘ Sept. 29th • Time: Any

If you just want to meet and greet people, or are willing to help out with anything and everything, e-mail me, Sarah ( with your availability and I will let you know what we have open.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hayden's Ferry Review

Hayden's Ferry Review is reading new submissions.

Here's a note from the editor, Beth Staples.

Hayden's Ferry Review is looking for prose, poetry, and visual art for its upcoming issue themed The Grotesque. Work should explore the humanity, beauty, and reality of the literary grotesque - the monstrous, the unusual, the abnormal. Postmark deadline: January 15, 2008.

Send to:

Hayden's Ferry Review
The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Arizona State University
Box 875002
Tempe, AZ 85287-5002

Online Stuff

I know it's not Friday, but I need to catch up. Here are a few random things I've found to look at in my spare time:

  • Mark Z. Danielewski interviewed at Metromix about his latest experimental novel, Facebook, and idyllic writing retreats to Montana. *Spoiler Alert* For those that haven't read (nor flipped through) one of his books, he uses lists. Lots of them.
  • Peter Sacks takes a break from his labor in the trenches of the "midlist" to diagnose the poor state of reading and writing in America today. The culprit: " the Huxleyan drug of American Idol and Paris Hilton." I think my favorite part of the article is the link right beneath the title, which takes the concerned, intelligent, liberal, middle-class reader to some articles about Paris Hilton. And people say The Huffington Post doesn't have a sense of humor. Actually, I don't know if they say that, it just seemed like a good, empty phrase to add here.
  • Whatever happened to Scotland's literary efflorescence? I did not understand this article at all, and so I thought it was hilarious.
  • George Saunders on Letterman here. Watch it now.
  • Bookninja is funny, but it certainly helps to have an easy target.
  • World's longest novel by Richard Grossman et al to be published by FC2. To me, this sounds like it's not just one doorstop, but 4,000 doorstops.
  • Poet David Keeling has been rating his rejections here for a while now. It's a pretty interesting project and has gotten him a small bit of attention from the Virginia Quarterly Review. Local writer Clifford Garstang hasn't quite followed Keeling's lead, but he does have a funny rejection story in his latest post. I still can't figure out what journal he's talking about though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Visiting Writers Reading Schedule

This just in from the Department:

Visiting Writers Reading Schedule

Fall 2007


James Houston

Reading: Thursday, Sept. 27, 7:30pm, Grand Tier III, Concert Hall

Reception: 6:30-7:30pm*

James D. Houston is the author of eight novels, including his newest work, Bird of Another Heaven, published by Alfred Knopf in March 2007. His recent Snow Mountain Passage, described in The Washington Post as "a dignified, powerful narrative of our shared American destiny," was cited by The Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Times as one of the Year's Best Books. His often anthologized stories and essays have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, GQ, Ploughshares, The Utne Reader, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Honolulu, Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, and Zyzzyva (The Last Word: west coast writers and artists).

Peter Ho Davies

Reading: Monday, Nov. 12, JC Cinema

Reception: 6:30-7:30pm

6:30-7:00pm, Q&A with Peter Ho Davies for ENGL 699 students only

Peter Ho Davies’ work has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers, and his short fiction is widely anthologized, including selections for Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards 1998 and Best American Short Stories 1995, 1996 and 2001. His own first published collection of short stories was The Ugliest House in the World (1998), which contains tales set in Malaysia, South Africa and Patagonia. This collection won the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award and the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. His second collection, Equal Love, was published in 2000. In 2003, he was named by Granta magazine as one of twenty 'Best of Young British Novelists'. His first novel, The Welsh Girl, set in a Welsh village during the second world war, was published earlier this year.


Bich Nguyen

Reading: Thursday, Sept. 27, 7:30pm, JC Gold Room

Reception: 6:30-7:30pm*

Bich Nguyen’s first book was Stealing Buddha's Dinner (Viking Penguin, February 2007). It received the PEN/Jerard Award from the PEN American Center. Her work has also appeared in publications such as Gourmet magazine; Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing up in America; and Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose. She has also coedited three anthologies: 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years (Penguin Academic); Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye (Longman); and The Contemporary American Short Story (Longman). She is currently working on a novel, Short Girls.

Michael Martone

Reading: Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30pm, JC Gold Room

Reception: 6:30-7:30pm

Michael Martone is a Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alabama where he has been teaching since 1996. Martone is the author of five books of short fiction including Seeing Eye published in September of 1995 by Zoland Books as well as Pensées: The Thoughts of Dan Quayle (Broad Ripple Press, 1994), Fort Wayne Is Seventh on Hitler's List (Indiana University Press, 1990), Safety Patrol (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988), and Alive and Dead in Indiana (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984). He has edited two collections of essays about the Midwest: A Place of Sense: Essays in Search of the Midwest and Townships: Pieces of the Midwest (University of Iowa Press, 1988 and 1992). He edits Story County Books, and his newest book, The Flatness and Other Landscapes (University of Georgia Press, 2000), a collection of his own essays about the Midwest, won the AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction in 1998. His next book, Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins, is forthcoming.


Claudia Rankine

Reading: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 6:00pm, Harris Theater

Reception: 7:00-7:30pm

Claudia Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf 2004), PLOT (2001); The End of the Alphabet (1998); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1995), which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. She is co-editor of American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century (Wesleyan University Press). Her work has been published in numerous journals including Boston Review, TriQuarterly, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. Her poetry is also included in several anthologies, including Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, Best American Poetry 2001, Giant Step: African American Writing at the Crossroads of the Century, and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry.

James Longenbach

Reading: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 7:30pm, JC Gold Room

Reception: 6:30-7:30pm

James Longenbach published his first book—Modernist Poetics of History—at the age of 27, and to date he has written five influential works of scholarship and persuasion. Longenbach's three collections of poetry Threshold (University of Chicago Press, 1998), Fleet River (University of Chicago Press, 2003), and Draft of a Letter (University of Chicago Press, 2007) reveal his unerring command of sound and line. He is a Professor of English at the University of Rochester.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Opening Day

For those interested in sending out finished work, September 1st typically marks the day on which many journals officially reopen their reading periods and review fresh submissions. Newpages and Duotrope's Digest are a few of the many market resources that might help sort through the options. Take out a subscription, do your research before you submit, and don't carpet bomb anyone.