Archive for the ‘Group Discussion’ Category

The short story form is something I have yet to master, yet it’s a form I love returning to again and again in my reading.  As Kurt Vonnegut once said, short stories are like “Buddhist catnaps.”  While even the bad ones can be a form of escapism from day to day activities and easily forgotten, some rise to the level of art and can be as complex, challenging, and unforgettable as the greatest of novels.

Having just finished reading James Joyce’s short story collection, Dubliners, I was inspired to create a brief list of the greatest short stories I’ve ever read.

1.  “The Dead” by James Joyce

2.  “The Basement Room” (aka “The Fallen Idol”) by Graham Greene

3.  “Two Soldiers” and “Shall Not Perish” by William Faulkner

4.  “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

5.  “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe

I was also tempted to include “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, though that is officially considered a novella, and at 80 some odd pages, it is rather torturous to get through (which is part of the suspense of it all). 

What stories would make your list?

For more on James Joyce’s “The Dead” and my current reads, click below:


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Please find below a press release about an event taking place in Baltimore on Monday the 28th. Feel free to contact me for more details.

Best regards,

-Eric D. Goodman –


CONTACT: Eric D. Goodman, MWA Public Relations Director

DATE: January 11, 2007

EMAIL: edgewriter@gmail.com

Your Chance to Steer Baltimore Writers

The year’s first monthly meeting of the Maryland Writers’ Association’s Baltimore Chapter is your chance to join in the discussion of what the organization will do in 2008. The event takes place at Ukazoo Books in on Monday, January 28 from 7-9 pm and is free and open to the public.

We’re not having a guest speaker this time — instead, we’re inaugurating what may become an annual tradition, a roundtable member discussion to map out where we’d like the organization to go in the coming year. Topics up for discussion will include meeting dates, venues, topics, guest speakers, activities, the financing of signs for the organization, and more. We will also discuss ways in which to reach out to other writers in the community, how to get more involved with the community and other organizations, and what sorts of activities the MWAB should initiate or participate in during the coming years.

If you are a writer in Baltimore or the surrounding area, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to make your voice heard.

Ukazoo Books
730 Dulaney Valley Rd.
Towson, MD 21204

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I have been busily marketing myself these days. I have made videos that advertise my skills and posted them on You Tube. I’ve done “cold emailing” to my clients, applied for temp work at agencies, which I swore I would never do, but my mortgage is calling me.

The writing season has been EXTREMELY slow, or at least that is what I am experiencing. I’ve started books for clients and then, whoops, they lost their jobs and can’t pay. Is anyone else experiencing this? In the meantime, feel free to take a look at my You Tube video and mention it to anyone who needs a writer!

Ms. Simpson is a freelance writer who is needing to pay her mortgage. Won’t you please assist her by referring work to her? Feel free to review her online presskit: http://www.Taryn-Simpson.blogspot.com

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So September is upon us. I’ve been feeling like I’m in a back-to-school mentality mode, though I have no reason to–my only child isn’t in school yet. And I’m not planning to start the edits on my novel until October, giving me a full three months for it to sit and percolate.

I haven’t been completely bored. I’ve been working on some fun freewrites that have turned into stories. Some of them I’ve been doing for contests, some just out of pure fun.

Mainly, though, I’ve been pondering how long I can do this. This whole “full-time writer”, work at home mother thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Being a stay-at-home mother is awesome. In staying home, I’m doing something valuable for my son. I’m extremely grateful for my hubby, who works very, very hard at his job, to allow me to do this. I really have no desire yet to re-enter the workforce. Granted, I had fun and I was good at being an administrative assistant. In staying home and working on my writing projects, I have a chance that so few writers get–some allotted time to focus on their work (albeit it is interrupted many times by “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”)

But being the worrywort that I am, I’m also looking towards the future. My kid won’t be a toddler forever. He seems to be racing towards independence faster than I can chase him. Just this week, we finally took down his crib and put up a bed, and that has opened new avenues for him to race down (with his mommy desperately panting behind him). Soon, my kid will be in preschool, and I will find myself with wondering, what now?

Should I continue to be a stay-at-home mom? Is it possible that I can bring in some extra money working at home? How can I do that and focus on writing at the same time? I know that you could never get rich writing fiction, but at the same time, I don’t want to get burned out working as a freelancer. I don’t know how to teach, nor do I have a desire to. So if I need to go to work and continue to write, what are my options? What, exactly, is a perfect job for a writer?

Perhaps the whole point will be moot. By the time next year rolls around, I could be flat on my back pushing out another kid. Or I could be working part-time at a cafe. Or full-time as a secretary again. Or maybe, just maybe, my novel will be such a big hit that I will become the next J.K. Rowling, and I will be rolling in money. Maybe get a huge house with servants. Make it so I will never have to work again. Just sit on the beach and crank out books.

Or maybe the Apocalypse will come instead.

Time is precious. What is happening today could be completely different a day, a month, a year from now. As writers, we need to be strong managers of our time, whether the time we allotted for write is only 15 minutes, or whether it’s several hours. We need to decide when we should work hard and when it’s okay for us to take time off to rest. It’s all equally good. But whatever we decide, we need to use the time wisely.

Hmm. Maybe I should move my novel editing phase up by a week. Then again, I do want to finish these stories and get them out the door. But I shouldn’t rush through them. Oh no. I think I’ll just take my own, sweet time.

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Summer is a great time for catching up on reading.  This summer has seemed endless to me, as have some of the novels I’ve devoured during these lazy, hazy days.

Check out what I’ve been reading:


…and feel free to share what you’ve read this summer–other than Harry Potter!

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I know that title sounds awfully conceited, but I assure you, I am truly blessed to have had this project plop into my lap as it did. I feel like I just co-wrote the best book of my career. And, this magical book has provided some opportunities and surprises along the way:

1. The book was shipped to New York last week and is on its way to the Beijing, China International Book Fair. Hopefully, the book sellers in this region will request to carry the book in their stores which will increase the book’s popularity.

2. Someone created a Yahoo group for the Book! It’s called “MangoTreeCafe” and everyone reading this blog is welcome to join by CLICKING HERE

3. As I mentioned before, the book is for sale and you can order a copy (or several hundred!) by CLICKING HERE

4. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank everyone here at the Writer’s Block for being patient while I blabbed incessantly about “The Mango Tree Cafe, Loi Kroh Road”! Its an important book and I believe will be very successful (From my mouth, to God’s ear as my grandmother always said).



I would love to hear from anyone who has bought the book. Now to continue Marketing the book. A writer’s job is never done. 🙂

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I’ve had quite a few people ask me “What does it take to be a great writer?” There are all types of answers depending on the style of writing and so forth.

But for me? Great writing allows you to see. My favorite type of writing and reading for that matter, is storytelling or fictional writing. I’ve read some books and by some well-known authors (or their prospective ghostwriters I suppose) that were…well…not so memorable. Do you ever find yourself reading a chapter and then suddenly realizing, “What is going on in this chapter? Who is this character again? Why are they acting a certain way?”.

When that happens to me, 2 words inevitably come to me. Famous author or not. BAD WRITING.

If I’m reading about a character, I want to know what they look like, what they are thinking, if they have crooked teeth, bad skin, a stutter or any other distintive trait. I want to SEE them in my mind. I want to know this person like the back of my hand.

If a character is so largely forgettable in a book, then why introduce them? My favorite example of this is John Grisham’s The Firm”. When I was reading about Mitch (the main character). I instantly got a picture of a clean-cut version of Tom Cruise. And, when I read about his adventures, I could SEE Tom Cruise in my mind’s eye.

By the same token, the reason I am such an OPPONENT of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s TV version of her wonderful books is mostly because of the “Pa Ingalls” character. When I read her books, I SAW Pa. I knew that his hair was straight, course and thick. He had a matching beard. His hands were calloused as a result of his hard work. He was well-liked in the town and provided for his family. He was not necessarily handsome, but he was like any other homesteader in early American times.

He was NOT the curly headed, handsome, clean shaven actor in the series. And, Laura Ingalls’ character wasn’t the actress I saw either. I knew that when Hollywood tired of the actual events that happened in the book they would embellish. And, boy did they. The Ingalls adopted a boy so they could have that all-important son, Mary married a blind teacher, Pa never aged but Ma did and so on.

None of that ever happened in the book. Mary never married, Pa and Ma aged at the same rate, Laura’s 2 sisters (Carrie and Grace) died fairly young, and the only boy the Ingalls had was stillborn. Those are the facts.

I know these things because Great Writing Allows You To See.

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a>Alan Solomon taking a coffee breakSo what type of person does it take to write “The Mango Tree Cafe’, Loi Kroh Road”? Meet Alan Solomon as this very private man invites you in to his side of the world and all his wondrous experiences.

Then you will learn about me, also very private with wonderous experiences. Then, watch our progress as we collaborate to write The Mango Tree Cafe’, Loi Kroh Road. 1 author in Beijing, China, and 1 author in Nashville, TN USA. And, one very strong internet connection.

Alan Solomon was raised in New Zealand but left the country to live and work overseas. He traveled to countless vivid locations and witnessed events enthralling and tragic, but not until reaching a small village in the jungles of Mae Rim, 40 minutes from Chiangmai, Thailand, did he feel overcome by the inspiration and urge to write of the individuals, places and creatures he saw each day. The influences of the natural warmth of the Thai people, the lush, green countryside and the unpolluted spirits of the animals – particularly the elephants – affected him more with each passing moment, and so Alan spent great periods of time with these lovely, caring beauties.

Some time after his arrival and at the behest of a friend, Alan took an unplanned walk down Loi Kroh Road, a street that exposed him to the other side of Chiangmai, a place of dirty avenues and alleyways that also concealed some of the most beautiful art and local fashion shops in the town. The street had a mystical pull and spiritual feel – not always a positive spirit but not overtly malevolent either – and as a result he purchased a small restaurant, naming it The Mango Tree Café. The café became very popular, and within eighteen months the number of staff grew from the original three to a bustling twenty.

Alan spent much of his time seated in a cane chair on the veranda of the café watching the life of the street; during this time he received the inspiration to write a novel named after the street and the café.

Upon the novel’s completion, Alan searched for a person who would sort his thoughts and sentences into something more presentable; here he found Caroline Killmer, who spent hours structuring the novel and guiding the flow of his words. Once Caroline completed her task, Alan searched for a professional writer who could infuse his words with the clear vision he wished to express. Through sheer good fortune writer Taryn Simpson acquired a copy of the story, and with her skills the novel sprung into animated life, vibrantly channeling Alan’s experiences of Loi Kroh Road.

Alan previously has written short stories and poetry; this is his first novel. He currently resides in Beijing, China.

Email me for more info about the book: alansolomon54@hotmail.com

Taryn SimpsonTaryn Simpson
Taryn’s background not only includes writing, but she also enjoyed success as a classically trained musician. She participated in a master class with Leigh_Howard_Stevens, famed marimba expert. She also performed with Beaumont and Lake Charles Symphony Orchestras where one of the featured artists included Doc Severinson. She was accepted to the University of Texas at Arlington’s college level percussion camp when she was 12 years old, auditioned at the famed Juilliard school in New York at the age of 17. She holds a Bachelor of Music in percussion and counts her musical background as an important stepping stone to her successful writing career. Although she loves music, she discovered that writing was her true passion.

Today, Simpson has written 2 screenplays, 3 books and is about to have her fictional thriller, “Glittering Secrets” converted to an independent film. She is pursuing Ashley Judd for the title role and expects the film to be complete by late summer 2006. Her other screenplay, “Conversations with Pearl” garnered attention from the Project Greenlight critics and is currently being shopped to various companies. Taryn’s company, Simpson – E Publishing is quickly growing into a very profitable business.

Her Ghostwriting clients have raved about her writing skills and have included such comments as:
Ghostwriting Services – Fictional Thriller
“I just read the first two chapters, when does the movie come out!?”

“You are an excellent writer.. Agatha Christie does not have anything on you.”
Ghostwriting Services – Fiction Novel

“…I can’t believe it. Either you are John Grisham writing under psuedonym, or you’re the best damn writer I have ever read…”

Ghostwriting Services – Fiction Novel
I only have one word to express what I have read…Awesome…no maybe the word PROFOUND might serve the chapters better. Great Job!


Ghostwriting Services – Fictional Thriller Novel
“Whew…I got a serious RUSH while reading the end!!! You are great!, I really feel you entered my
story and brought it to life!”


And there you have it. A bit about both writers. Make a point to follow our progress. You won’t regret it.

That’s a promise.

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To cross or not to cross? That is the question for today. Bookcrossing.com has become one of the more popular “sharing” sites for books.

According to thier website, bookcrossing is defined as follows:

n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

(added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in August 2004)

They actively promote a program called ‘The Three R’s.”

The “3 Rs” of BookCrossing…

  1. Read

a good book (you already know how to do that)

  • Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book
  • Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, “forget” it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records a journal entry for that book. And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it!
  • Many authors and publishers fear losing royalties if too many readers practice this.  They imagine a world where hundreds of readers are passing along one copy of their book, instead of each of those individuals going to a store and buying a copy.

    As a self-published author, I know the key to success is to build strong word-of-mouth, and what better way to do so then through giving away free copies of your book?  I personally have registered and released a dozen copies of my novel The Thief Maker into the wild, and encourage friends, family, and readers to do the same.  I have also donated copies to local libraries and used book stores.  The idea that this type of practice robs us of royalties is ridiculous.  For me, it’s about finding readers and connecting with their minds, not their wallets.  Plus, it spreads good karma, as Bookcrossing says…and who knows…some of those who find the free copies you release and like the idea or like the book might encourage others to go out and buy it.

    Releasing a book into the wild does involve a little bit of strategy on your part.  Leaving a book behind at a Barnes & Noble cafe table is probably a better idea than releasing a book on a park bench in the dead of winter.  You have to get into the mind of a potential reader.  Where might readers be congregating, and where might a “lost book” catch someone’s attention? 

    The one catch to Bookcrossing.com is that the person who finds the book has to register on the site to be able to leave an entry stating they found the book, and some people might not bother doing that.  This means people could be reading and passing along the book without your knowledge.  It makes it difficult to measure the true success of such a practice.  So far, there’s only been one confirmed “catch” of The Thief Maker.  I personally like the “mystery” aspect of the process and enjoy imagining others finding the books and simply never registering.

    What other ways can you spread word-of-mouth and build “the karma of literature?”  Are there other sites like Bookcrossing.com that promote similar practices?  Are there other revolutionary ideas out there that could help writers find an audience?  Feel free to respond and share!



    David H. Schleicher, author of The Thief Maker


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    The following was originally published on my personal blog last month and is presented here to spark discussion of what inpsires you to write or what specifically has inspired some of your latest projects.  In this day and age, I think it is very important to discuss how other forms of media (art, music, films, etc…) can be mined for inspiration and how this can be incorporated into a mult-media approach to writing.  I’ve often thought of music soundtracks to accompany books (as music so often plays a part in my characters’ lives), and of course, my ultimate dream as a movie buff, to one day see a work of mine adapted for the big screen.  Here I show how art and my natural surroundings have inspired The Thief Maker.



    The tumultuous events of The Thief Maker span four decades and speckle the landscape of the East Coast from New York to South Carolina.  The novel takes place in “my own backyard”–inspired by locations near where I have lived, visited and studied over the years.


    The House on 22nd and Green Streets in Philadelphia where Felice Morrison, and later Marie Gail and her son-Rex Thomas Gail-live, is an actual location in the Art Museum district of the city.  I was completely transfixed the first time my friend and I came across the building while walking down 22nd Street towards the museum and knew immediately that it had to be in the book.  Upon my next visit to the area, I was smart enough to have someone take a photo seen below:

    Book Heaven, the used bookstore where Felice Morrison and Rex Thomas Gail have their fateful run-in with Frank Morrison that triggers the landslide of tragic events leading to the end of the novel, is directly inspired by an actual used bookstore called “Book Haven” located exactly as described in the book on Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia across the street from the famed and haunted Eastern State Penitentiary.  In fact, I donated some copies of The Thief Maker to this very store, so if you are ever visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art or Eastern State, I encourage you to visit this delightful establishment and see if they still have a copy on their shelves.

    St. Vincent’s Hospital, where Billie and Lucas Tolliver work and Rex Thomas Gail is born on 9/11, is meant to represent the actual St. Vincent’s Hospital of Manhatten that stands at the heart of Ground Zero.

    Other real locations in the novel: St. Mary’s Hospital in Langhorne, PA and Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, PA.


    Abram, South Carolina, the kudzu vine-infested hamlet and source of seemingly all, is a purely fictional town inspired by the many leizurely drive-thru’s and visits I made to the state of “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” while living in North Carolina for over five years.

    Many of the specific locations in the novel were inspired by the work of famed American Realist painter, Andrew Wyeth.

    “…that old farmhouse on top of the hill” (page 80) in Abram, was partly inspired by Wyeth’s haunting “Christine’s World.”

    One of the characters who lives in the house, Annie-the childhood sweetheart of private investigator Marcus Pierce, was in my mind’s eye the spitting image of Wyeth’s beautiful “Siri.”

    The Morrison House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is somewhat based on Wyeth’s stark and chilling “Soaring.”  The feelings I wanted to invoke when describing the house where the tragic climax to the novel occurs is perfectly captured in the painting.  Like the barely visible white house in the painting that is eclipsed by the swarming carrion birds, the Morrison House is but a vague specter of a peaceful past now overshadowed by suburban sprawl and new developments dotting the once tranquil landscape of parts of Lancaster County.


    The One-bedroom apartment on Mickle Blvd. in Camden, New Jersey where a 12 year-old William Donovan spends his last days together with his mother and younger siblings-James and Susan-is a combination of an actual set of run-down brick rowhomes located across from the County Court House on Mickle Blvd. and the historic Walt Whitman House at 330 Mickle Blvd. in Camden.

    And finally, the primary location in the novel, Talia on the Glen, where Tara Morrison lives, William Donovan runs his con-games, and Alice Hope, Marie Gail, and Lucas Tolliver work is not meant to represent any particular place.  It is an amalgamation of at least half a dozen retirement communities, assisted-living facilities, and nursing homes I visited for research in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.


    Ready to meet your Maker?  Steal a copy of The Thief Maker…

    Purchase Now from Barnes and Noble

    Purchase Now from Amazon.com

    …or learn more about the characters in the The Thief Maker by visiting the following:


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