I was hoping to review two wonderful books today, but I’ve been too busy to finish reading them. (Yes, I often read more than one book at a time.) You’ll have to come back next week—or the next—for those reviews. (Aren’t you curious?)
What have I been busy doing? REVIEWING a book for an academic press. This was an interesting experience. I kept imagining myself as the author whose work was being reviewed. But that didn’t keep me from being honest about the book’s weaknesses. The author can flat out write, but the book lacked some big literary elements that I deem necessary for a successful run (like a strong narrative arc) so I couldn’t recommend it for publication. As I worked my way through its 36 (short) chapters, I made notes to include in my review. Although this took me away from my own writing for a couple of days, it was a learning experience that hopefully will inform my own work as I return to REVISING my novel.
I’m also critiquing manuscripts for my writer’s group’s monthly meeting next week. Another activity that takes me away from my own writing, but these people can REALLY write, so it’s like being in a small MFA workshop each time we get together. Another valuable experience.
And then there’s the big REVEAL. I have an essay in another anthology that is coming out on March 3! Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, is edited by Nina Gaby—a brilliant and delightful woman I met at the 2013 Creative Nonfiction Conference in Oxford, Mississippi. (Nina did a guest post for my Mental Health Monday series last June called “Comments on Our Broken System.”) My essay in Dumped is called “High School Never Ends.” It’s probably the shortest essay in this collection of twenty-five stories by emerging and published authors from all over the country. And it’s ready for pre-order on Amazon NOW. We are thrilled to have this blurb from Dinty W. Moore, author, The Mindful Writer and publisher of Brevity Magazine, the Journal of Concise Literary Non Fiction:
This remarkable collection provides an exhilarating range of voices exploring what happens when female friendships falter. Wise, compassionate, and smart, each of these essays is a revelation. Give your best friend a copy along with a warm, thankful hug.
And this terrific blurb from Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts:
The essays in Dumped are ferocious and loving, devastating and hopeful, insightful and perplexing. A savage, thorny look at friendship . . . and a rare, uncensored, sometimes terrifying glimpse into the female psyche.
I love anthologies. Contributing to these three wonderful collections—Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul, and now Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women—has inspired me to consider putting together an anthology myself. (That’s what I need, another project, right?) I need to finish revising my novel first, but this project is definitely on the back—make that middle?—burner!