Author Archive: Marc Schuster

Small Press Pick: The Snow Whale

The blurb on the back cover touts The Snow Whale as a modern retelling of Moby Dick, but to limit John Minichillo’s debut novel to this description would be somewhat of a disservice. While a white whale is, indeed, at the heart of much action throughout the narrative, Minichillo also draws on the ethos of …

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What My Leaf Blower Taught Me About Writing

I moved into my current home about three summers ago. When Fall came, I tried to use my leaf blower, but it didn’t work. I plugged it into the electrical outlet in my garage, but when I switched it on, nothing happened. Assuming my leaf blower was broken (but being too cheap, lazy, and weirdly …

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Small Press Pick: This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey

This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey distills in its purest form author Steve Almond’s literary aesthetic by collecting a series of micro-essays on the ins and outs of writing and then exemplifying those ins and out with a brief selection of flash fiction. The result is what may be the most concise and helpful …

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Wherefore NaNoWriMo?

As a lot of writers know, November is National Novel Writing Month (or, as the hip kids call it, NaNoWriMo). As its name suggests, the basic idea behind NaNoWriMo is for aspiring writers to produce a novel (or at least a 50,000-word portion of a novel) in the space of 30 days. While I do …

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Small Press Pick: Love in the City of Grudges

I know better to conflate the poet and the poem, the writer and his creations, but I want to believe that the “I” of the poetry collected in Will Nixon’s Love in the City of Grudges is, indeed, the poet, for his “I” is honest and forthright about a time in his life that was, …

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The Point of Telling

A while back, I saw Junot Diaz speak at a writing conference, and one of the things he talked about was what he called “the point of telling.” He started his explanation by discussing his experience reading unpublished fiction and realizing that although the pieces in question had a lot going for them, something was …

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Small Press Pick: All Her Father’s Guns

In fewer than 200 pages — 190, to be exact — novelist James Warner manages to explore the full range of the American sociopolitical spectrum with verve and wit. The novel centers on the unlikely relationship between Cal Lyte, a right-leaning, gun-toting venture capitalist, and Reid Seyton, Cal’s left-leaning, bookish not-quite son-in-law. Faced with academia’s …

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Advice from Junot Diaz

A while back, I had the opportunity to see Junot Diaz speak at the Montgomery County Community College Writers Conference. Towards the end of his discussion, he offered some advice for writers that I personally found very helpful. Here are a few things he had to say: Leave room for your reader. Don’t spell everything …

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Small Press Pick: The Twoweeks

On the surface, The Twoweeks by Larry Duberstein is a masterful story about extramarital relations and the complications inherent therein. Read a little closer, and it’s about the eternal tension between time and memory. The plot of the novel revolves a pair of more-or-less happily married young lovers who don’t happen to be happily married …

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Dealing with Writer’s Block: What’s Lurking

At one point or another, pretty much every writer hits a wall. For whatever reason, you can be moving along at full tilt when, all of a sudden, you realize that you’ve either painted yourself into a corner or, worse, that you’re fresh out of paint. The technical term for this, I believe, is writer’s …

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