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Best Books of 2017

Best Books of 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve compiled a “best of” list of the books I’ve read over the course of the year, but seeing as how I’m attempting to reinvigorate the blog, I thought I’d offer a list of my recent favorites. When looking back on my favorite books of the year, a couple patterns emerged. Apparently, this year I was really into politics, mystery and the musings of authors better known as actors. In random order, here are my…

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Remembering Ellen’s Coming Out

Remembering Ellen’s Coming Out

I watched “The Puppy Episode” 20 years later. Here’s what happened. I recently discovered that Ellen, Ellen Degeneres’s sitcom which ran on ABC from 1993 to 1998, is on Hulu! It’s funny as I’ve revisited the show how clearly I remember watching the episodes when they first aired – especially the infamous “Puppy Episode” from April 1997, in which Ellen’s character, Ellen Morgan, came out as a lesbian – just as Ellen Degeneres did herself in real life on the…

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Mountain Woman: Reflections on Life in the Appalachian Coalfields

Mountain Woman: Reflections on Life in the Appalachian Coalfields

On a typical Sunday morning drive through Omar, W.Va., about 10 miles south of the Logan County seat, there’s little activity along the two-lane road that winds its way through the community. Once a bustling coal town nestled between the mountains, empty storefronts and pothole-lined streets suggest a place whose best days may be behind it. Yet election signs dot front yards, people gather at the lone filling station to discuss the day’s news, and the parking lots of the…

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My Family Voted for Trump: Searching for Understanding Amid the Fear

My Family Voted for Trump: Searching for Understanding Amid the Fear

Several members of my family and friends supported Donald Trump in the presidential election. I’ve been trying to understand why, while grappling with the fear of an uncertain future. Fear is a familiar concept to any marginalized group. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I’ve experienced it all throughout my life. And in the wake of this historic presidential election, I’m feeling fear that I never hoped I would have to face again and fear that I’ve never quite faced…

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Prolific and Diverse

Prolific and Diverse

  "Learning to be prolific would be high on my list of the most valuable writing skills a professional writer can have." – Brent Hartinger The quote above, which Brent Hartinger recently made on his Facebook page, landed in my newsfeed at the most convenient time – a time when I was yet again questioning my future as a writer. As I’ve documented plenty of times on the blog, my journey has been stalled by rejection after rejection, even after…

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The Unfinished Manuscript

The Unfinished Manuscript

"I won't leave any unfinished manuscripts." – Harold Robbins (Good for you, Harold. I can't make such a bold statement.) Question for writers: How many unfinished books are collecting digital dust in your computer's filing cabinet? There’s a folder on my desktop called Writing. Within that folder are several additional folders for each of the projects I’ve worked on over the years – novels, screenplays, short fiction, poetry. There are outlines, character biographies, and of course the manuscripts themselves. Some of them are…

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Writing Actually is Rewriting

Writing Actually is Rewriting

You've heard it a thousand times: "writing is rewriting." Yawn! But actually, it's so true that it's punch-you-in-the-gut frustrating. I’ve documented the writing process of my first manuscript, Welcome to Straightville, ever since I started this website, and it’s a process that is still in motion. In a nutshell, I started writing the book during a semester break in graduate school back in 2008. I worked on it slowly over the next few years before I decided that a writer…

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How to Build a Book Tree, Part Deux

How to Build a Book Tree, Part Deux

In my last post, I provided a step-by-step guide to building a book tree for the holidays. I approached the project with limited research and a limited number of books, ending up with a rather small tree that, while cute, was just a little too little for my liking. If Charlie Brown had built a book tree for the Christmas play, it would've looked a little something like mine. Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad. But after staring at the…

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How to Build a Book Tree

How to Build a Book Tree

I'm a holiday decor minimalist. I haven't put up a Christmas tree since adopting pets (because I learned the hard way that cats and Christmas trees don't mix). Instead, I've opted for a novelty Charlie Brown tree and some garland around my fireplace mantel. But I was recently at Cathedral Cafe, a charming little eatery in Fayetteville, W.Va., and was quite taken with their giant book tree. Despite the fact that it's mid-November, I raced home to give it a try myself.  There…

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Writing is Rewriting

Writing is Rewriting

This whole novel writing without novel selling thing has been a blast, but… For those of you who may be new to my little corner of the Internet, let me catch you up before telling you how I plan to spend my summer rewriting pretty much everything I've ever written. 2008: I started writing my first novel. 2011: I finally finished what I thought was a decent draft of that novel and began querying literary agencies (far too soon, I…

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