Archive for October, 2009

by Richard Atwater as interpreted by Ana Livia Svenvold McPhee, age 8, 3rd grade,  first book project.  Livia gives the book five stars. By the way, it’s a refrigerator and the penguins live inside of it.


A beautiful little sister and a homely older one — Kathryn, Thelma.  1910.   An intrepid mother who wants freedom from a husband and the confining life of a wife.  They run away to Montana — beneficiaries of the homestead act of 1909 — leaving Vernon behind in Ohio to find a letter saying they are gone.  The girls are […]


Speaking about fiction….  My grandmother comes to mind this morning.  She used to say, “If I don’t like something the way it happened, I just tell it as I would have preferred it to have happened.”  An impoverished cowgirl in Montana, she worked so that her little sister Kathryn could go to school.  Their mother […]


“I guarantee you that no modern story scheme, even plotlessness, will give a reader genuine satisfaction, unless one of those old-fashioned plots is smuggled in somewhere. I don’t praise plot as accurate representation of life, but as ways to keep readers reading.” Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


A student came to see me today to ask for advice on applying to MFA programs.  The season is approaching.  Applications are due starting in December.  Here is what I told my student: 1) Do your research.  Learn which program will suit you best.  Find out where the writers you admire teach.  (Most writers teach.)  But remember, a […]


someone leaves to seek adventure…   “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened.” Willa Cather


“Read, read, read,” Faulkner said.  “Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.  Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master.  Read!  You’ll absorb it.  Then write.  If it is good, you’ll find out.  If it’s not, throw it out the window.”