Friday, December 18, 2015

The Books that Resonated in 2015

I love lists.

Everyone does. Admit it. There's a post on Facebook about the year's top movies, coffee shops, the ten best-dressed celebrities—or the ten worst—the twenty best songs of the year, or the ten cutest dog breeds, you eat it up, right? Lists are fun.

So, that said, here is my list for 2015. The books that RESONATED the most in 2015. Not necessarily published in 2015, just resonated for me—personally—more than any other.

I have a short list of the three and brief reasons why.

What books meant the most to you this year? That's the subject of our two-part special of THE BLEEDING TYPEWRITER. Episode 8 is below and downloadable at iTunes. Feel free to subscribe. Part-two of the duo comes in Episode 9.

Oh, yeah, those books...

1. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

The recent terrorist attacks reminded all of us that we are all Parisians, and that what Hemingway brought to life in this book is the Paris we all want to remain forever.

2. Beatlebone, Kevin Barry

A book that blends reality and fantasy and the Beatles. But, for me, what is so impactful is how Berry shines a light on the universal need to understand ourselves. It truly is a book for our uncertain times.

3. Love and Other Ways of Dying, Michael Paterniti

The essays in this book were not written in 2015. But no matter the date of publication, the words in it tell lyrical, ultimately uplifting stories about the wonder of everyday people. And what better time to celebrate the everyday.

Part-2 in Episode 9...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hop a Train

There are train tracks near the home where I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. They snake through the hills and valleys and part of a dense forest. These are not the rails for passenger trains, but rather freight cars, mainly carrying steel and coal.

As a boy, I desperately longed to ride those trains.

I  wanted to jump on like Jack Kerouac. I never did, of course. I was too scared. But I watched the trains rumble by, chugging and squealing through train crossings, and I listened for the occasional piercing whistle.

Living in Chicago now, train travel is a part of daily life. Commuter trains are the landscape and the EL trains clatter around the city 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Amtrak leaves regularly from historic Union Station. More than ever I want to be on one of those trains leaving for long rides across the country.

There is an incredible draw to train travel. It's in the American DNA. And it's in mine. As a writer, it seems entirely natural to possess the desire to travel and Amtrak knows that's likely true for anyone who tells stories. That's why it continues to offer the Amtrak Writers Residency.

Some doubt the intentions. "It's a PR move," they say. "It's just a way to promote Amtrak,"  they say. But as one former Amtrak resident told me, "Wouldn't you like more of corporate America to support the arts?"

Erika Krouse lives in Boulder, Colorado. She was thrilled to be selected as an Amtrak Writer-in-Residence. Her summertime ride was an opportunity to indulge in observation, thought, journaling, and yes, as you might expect, it informed her writing. Still does. And, she wants to do it again.

I spoke with Erika in this episode of The Bleeding Typewriter. Listen, and then go get on a train.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Soon to be Famous

Do you want to be famous?

Before you answer that I would suggest considering what it means. What it REALLY means. And how do YOU define famous? There are more definitions we can count right now. 

But if it's about recognition for your artistic self, acknowledgment of your work, and not fame defined by money or the Kardashians, then this is for you.

Write a book during National Novel Writing Month? Want now to get it published? Plenty of nontraditional ways to do that these days. I did it early on in my career with what is called a hybrid publisher. The process got my memoir Accidental Lessons out there. A good editor, a good designer, and good marketing plan sent me on my way.

Did I become famous? Again, back to my first inquiry: Depends on what you mean  by famous.

But, despite your thoughts on fame and all of its meanings, the Soon to be Famous Author Project has to be a consideration.

This is a wonderful initiative to give self-published authors a chance to shake things up, to make a mark, to get recognition for their writing. And who better to review these works and judge them than your local librarian? Who better to champion the self-publisher?

We are no longer in the world of your father's publishing. Librarians are no longer the geeky spinsters of the community. And writers are no longer keeping their manuscripts hidden away in desk drawers.

Check out the project. Pull out that manuscript, brush it, up and get it out there.
The Soon to be Famous Author Project is the subject of the latest episode of THE BLEEDING TYPEWRITER.