A Personal Message from the Proprietor: Argus Editorial Services is open for business

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I’ve been writing and editing for over 35 years — and teaching these skills for nearly 20 years.

After several years practicing law in the 1990s and nearly two decades teaching high school English and Journalism, I’ve decided to open up shop as a professional editor and writer.

I created Argus Editorial Services to help anyone who needs an expert to review, copy edit, or proofread their work, whether it’s a manuscript of a story or novel, business marketing materials, a thesis, or website and social media content.

I chose the name Argus because, like the mythological watchman with a hundred eyes, my mission is to ensure that your writing is as close to flawless as it can be.

If you’re looking for an editor with an eagle eye to polish your work to a high gloss, I hope you’ll consider Argus Editorial Services.

For more info, including a complete bio and rates, visit https://arguseditorial.com.


“Bill Wolfe is that rare editor who thinks like a writer. He thinks about flow, about character, about context. I came to him as I was about to share my manuscript with agents and wanted to avoid embarrassing typos. He fixed the typos, but he also gave me great suggestions for changing dialogue, addressing inconsistencies or, in several places, fixing anachronisms in my historical fiction. I trust him to make my writing better and cleaner.”

Phyllis W. Jordan, author of Taking the Waters

“With Bill’s help, my manuscript is tighter, cleaner, and stronger and something I can now feel proud to put my name on. I was surprised to see my pages riddled with errors, from overused words and phrases to improper sentence structure and inconsistent tenses. Bill’s service extends beyond a basic grammatical sweep and clean-up. He offers advice on the layout of scenes, character voice, and description of setting, and he made me rethink certain adjectives and verbs for greater effect. There is a real value in professionally-edited work. I will never again submit another book without Bill’s strategic advice and thorough polishing.”

Suzanne Simonetti, author of The Butterfly Garden 

Literary Women’s 34th Festival of Authors makes an impression with seven standout writers

What happens when you gather seven outstanding women authors to speak and sign their books? Women readers turn out in force to show their support, over 800 of them, in fact. Literary Women began as an informal group of readers in Long Beach in the early 1980s and has expanded over the years to the point where their annual Festival of Authors is now held at the beautiful Long Beach Convention Center. One feature that stood out was the placement of stages with podiums at both ends of the ballroom, ensuring that no one was at the “front” or “back” of the room for the entire day.

This year’s conference featured Karen Abbott, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jami Attenberg, Maya Lang, Aline Ohanesian, Jean Hanff Korelitz, and J.A. Jance, each of whom spoke for 30-40 minutes.

Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott opened the day with a compelling talk about her latest book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy (Harper Perennial), which profiles the four women who served as spies during the Civil War (two Union, two Confederate). She proved conclusively that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. As she said after sharing a particularly surprising anecdote about one of the women, “You can’t make this stuff up!” Her energetic, humorous delivery was the book talk equivalent of a venti capuccino.

bonnie-jo-campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell followed with a talk that was as earthy and frank as her writing, which has been described as “rural noir.” While one could be excused for assuming Campbell is a dour pessimist from her dark tales of working class people’s struggles, she turned out to be a funny, self-effacing storyteller. She spoke about the things she learned from her mother, a hardscrabble farm wife and mother in rural Michigan, which tied in nicely to Campbell’s latest story collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters (Norton). Campbell is best known for her story collection, American Salvage, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2009, and her novel, Once Upon a River, an update of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn featuring a female protagonist.

At that point, the conference moved into three breakout sessions featuring Korelitz, Lang, and Ohanesian. My wife and I split up so we could hear Lang and Ohanesian speak.

Maya Lang

Maya Lang discussed the genesis of her debut novel, The Sixteenth of June (Scribner’s), which grew out of her PhD studies of modern literature and her fascination and frustration with James Joyce’s epically difficult “Ulysses.” Her novel explores, in part, the circumstances of three characters in their late 20s attempting to cope with their sense that their lives are not just not what they thought they would be, but also not what they “should” be. It led to a thought-provoking discussion of the effects of “shouldness” on all of our lives.

Raffi Hadidian

Aline Ohanesian‘s debut novel, Orhan’s Inheritance (Algonquin Books), uses a Romeo-and-Juliet love story to explore the complicated nature of the Armenian genocide. How should we view it from our position in 2016? What effect does it have (or should it have) on a contemporary Turk who possesses only a general knowledge of the events of a century ago? Ohanesian gave up her PhD studies in history to write the book, choosing historical fiction over a dissertation.

Jami Attenberg

After a long break for book signing and lunch, the conference resumed with Jami Attenberg, an alternately sensitive and witty writer who gave what is probably a 60-minute talk in less than 40 minutes. She had the attendees vacillating between heartbreak and hilarity as she described the progress of her early career (three critically acclaimed novels that “sold really poorly”), how her breakout novel The Middlesteins was rejected by her publisher before becoming a bestseller for another publisher, and how she discovered Mazie Phillips, the subject of her latest novel, Saint Mazie. Phillips was the  larger-than-life “good-time girl” who worked in the ticket booth of a movie house on the Lower East Side during the 1920s and 1930s who, after working a 13-hour shift, went out onto the streets of the Bowery after midnight to help the countless homeless men, who came to view her as a saint. Before long, she was known as “the Queen of the Bowery.”

One notable anecdote in Attenberg’s talk involved her writer’s block after the first three novels. She was recovering from a broken ankle in a friend’s apartment in the funky, artsy Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. A friend gave her a copy of Elizabeth Strout’s novel-in-stories, Olive Kitteridge (which won the Pulitzer Prize), and it led to Attenberg’s epiphany that she should write about the people and life she knew best, Jewish-Americans in the suburbs of a big city. She cranked out the novel that became The Middlesteins. And the result was a hit that has been published in ten countries and has allowed her to travel the world.

Unfortunately, prior commitments required us to leave before J.A. Jance spoke, so I can’t report on her talk. But her gesture of ensuring that copies of her latest novel, Clawback, were available to purchase four days before its official publication date was well-received by the attendees.

It’s a rare event at which one can learn about female Civil War spies, James Joyce’s Ulysses, life on a Michigan farm, and the Armenian genocide, as well as the challenges and triumphs of the writing life. My wife and I came home with a shopping bag full of books for ourselves, our sons, and our friends (some inscribed).

The entire event ran like a well-oiled machine. Kudos must be given to the 26 members of the Festival Committee for the quality of the conference, as well as for managing the cancelations of Lily King (due to her mother’s death a week earlier) and Claudia Rankine (who had to cancel all of her March appearances). The committee was able to arrange for Bonnie Jo Campbell and Aline Ohanesian to step in at what was close to the last minute. I’m looking forward to next year’s Festival.

Photo of Aline Ohanesian by Raffi Hadidian

My Favorite Books of 2015 (and those I regret not reading…yet)

2015 was a terrific year for fiction by women. I say that based on my own reading, along with reviews and word of mouth among people whose judgment I trust. There were more books on my TBR list this year than ever before, but I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I’d hoped because I returned to teaching English full-time (five classes, 125 students) after a year on a temporary administrative assignment. So my time available for reading and blogging plummeted starting in August.

This is a very idiosyncratic list, based on what I managed to read. That’s why the title is “My Favorite Books,” not “The Best Books” of 2015. Most of the books were published in 2015, but a few are from 2014 that I read this year and which also came out in paperback this year, giving them a second (and usually better) chance to find an audience.

Reviews are in alphabetical order by author.

Click on the link to see my review.

The Enchanted

The Enchanted — Rene Denfeld (Harper Perennial)

Louisa Meets Bear

Louisa Meets Bear — Lisa Gornick (Sarah Crichton Books)

Black River

Black River — S.M. Hulse (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — review to come next week

The Tusk That Did the Damage

The Tusk That Did the Damage — Tania James (Knopf)

Charmed Particles

Charmed Particles — Chrissy Kolaya (Dzanc Books) — review to come next week

Frangipani Hotel

The Frangipani Hotel: Stories — Violet Kupersmith (Spiegel & Grau)

The Other Language paperback

The Other Language: Stories — Francesca Marciano (Pantheon)

Of Things Gone Astray

Of Things Gone Astray — Janina Mathewson (The Friday Project)

Cowboys and East Indians

Cowboys and East Indians — Nina McConigley (Curtis Brown Unlimited)

Girl at War

Girl at War — Sara Novic (Random House)

Unraveling-of-Mercy-Louis-hcc-226x342

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis — Keija Parssinen (Harper)

Happy Are the Happy US cover

Happy are the Happy — Yasmina Reza (Other Press)

On a special note, I would like to add that the writing of Violet Kupersmith and Nina McConigley made me say “wow” repeatedly.

 

Honorable Mention

My Life as a Mermaid

My Life as a Mermaid — Jen Grow (Dzanc Books)

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Orhan’s Inheritance — Aline Ohanesian (Algonquin Books)

Baby's_On_Fire_

Baby’s On Fire — Liz Prato (Press 53)

Dreams of the Red Phoenix

Dreams of the Red Phoenix — Virginia Pye (Unbridled Books)

Landfall-Cover-FINAL-web-sized

Landfall — Ellen Urbani (Forest Avenue Books)

 

Books I Wish I’d Read Because I Think Some of Them Would Be on My Favorites List

After Birth — Elisa Albert

In the Country: Stories — Mia Alvar

The Lower Quarter — Elise Blackwell

Juventud — Vanessa Blakeslee

Washing the Dead — Michelle Brafman

Gutenberg’s Apprentice — Alix Christie

The Story of the Lost Child — Elena Ferrante

The Mare — Mary Gaitskill

Fates and Furies — Lauren Groff

Speak — Louisa Hall

Safekeeping — Jessamyn Hope

The Moor’s Account — Laila Lalami

The Half Brother — Holly LeCraw

H is for Hawk — Helen McDonald

Church of Marvels — Leslie Parry

Honeydew: Stories — Edith Pearlman

A Night at the Fiestas: Stories — Kirstin Valdez Quade

Find Me — Laura van den Berg

Gold Fame Citrus — Claire Vaye Watkins

The Visiting Privilege: Collected Stories — Joy Williams

A Little Life — Hanya Yanagihara

 

 

My Favorite Books of 2014

Everything I Never Told You  The UnAmericans  The Hundred-Year House  The Home Place  Life Drawing    Now We Will Be Happy  Be Safe I Love You  Faulty Predictions   The Bees   Flashes of War

2014 was a very strong year for literary fiction by women. I tried to make a Top 10 list, but that proved impossible. So I decided instead to make a list of my favorite books of the year and ended up with 30. They are listed in alphabetical order rather than by ranking. I will say that a handful of books knocked my reading socks off and stayed with me for a long time. Those titles are noted with an asterisk. I think there is something for everyone here.

It should go without saying  that there were hundreds of books that I did not get around to reading (some are still on my to-be-read list), and I’m certain many of them would have made this list had I read them. So this is just a very idiosyncratic list of the best books one guy read in 2014. Make of that what you will.

The links will take you to my review of each book. I hope you will also take the time to read my interviews with many of these authors. You can find them by visiting the Index page or using the Search bar.

Molly Antopol — The UnAmericans: Stories*

Robin Black — Life Drawing

Vanessa Blakeslee — Train Shots: Stories

Katie Crouch — Abroad

Karen Joy Fowler — We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves 

Amina Gautier — Now We Will Be Happy: Stories*

Lisa Gornick — Tinderbox

Cristina Henriquez — The Book of Unknown Americans

Cara Hoffman — Be Safe I Love You*

Lacy Johnson — The Other Side: A Memoir*

Kristina Kahakauwila — This is Paradise: Stories*

Lily King — Euphoria*

Maya Lang — The Sixteenth of June

Carrie La Seur — The Home Place*

Lisa Lenzo — Strange Love: Stories

Jessica Levine — The Geometry of Love

Karin Lin-Greenberg — Faulty Predictions: Stories*

Rebecca Makkai — The Hundred-Year House*

Francesca Marciano — The Other Language 

Laura McBride — We Are Called to Rise

Celeste Ng — Everything I Never Told You*

Laline Paull — The Bees

Virginia Pye — River of Dust

Claudia Rankine — Citizen* (poetry-essay-memoir hybrid)

Katey Schultz — Flashes of War: Stories*

Brittani Sonnenberg — Home Leave

Emily St. John Mandel — Station Eleven*

Rene Steinke — Friendswood

Natalia Sylvester — Chasing the Sun

Tiphanie Yanique — Land of Love and Drowning

 

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop is back!

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Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop is hosted by Leeswammes at http://leeswammes.wordpress.com/. Between now and Wednesday November 5th, you can hop to 30 different book blogs, all offering one or more giveaways of books or bookish items. All books will be literary (non)fiction or something close to that. Follow the links at the bottom of this post to find the other participating blogs.

My Giveaway THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. 

I’m giving away a copy of Karen Joy Fowler’s brilliant, award-winning We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. This compelling and heartbreaking story was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize awarded last month (the winner was Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North). You can read my review of Fowler’s unforgettable book here.

WINNER ANNOUNCED! April @steadfastreader is the winner of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop from Read Her Like an Open Book. Congratulations, April! 

The rules:

  1. Anyone can enter. You do not need to have a blog.
  2. You do not have to be a follower of my blog or become a follower, although if you like my blog I hope you will! You can follow by email or by RSS (see buttons in the side bar on the right at the top).
  3. There will be one winner.
  4. First, please leave a comment about the giveaway or Read Her Like an Open Book generally. I’m looking for some feedback from readers. Comments, complaints, suggestions, you name it.
  5. Then share the news about the Literary Blog Hop Giveaway and Read Her Like an Open Book via Twitter or Facebook. Be sure to tag me (@Austraphile on Twitter, Bill Wolfe on FB) or send the link so I can confirm your post.
  6. Use this text: Win WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler in the Literary Blog Hop.  @Austraphile   
  7. That’s it! You’re entered to win.
  8. The winner will be chosen randomly on November 6 (my wife draws a name out of a hat — really!). I’ll contact you to obtain your address and will mail to the book to you that day.

Now start blog hopping!

For more giveaways check out these blogs. There are some real treasures out there for grabs!

Giveaways are worldwide, meaning people from most or all countries of the world can enter, unless mentioned otherwise.

Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books on the Table (US)
  7. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  8. Words And Peace (US)
  9. Booklover Book Reviews
  10. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

Her Poison Pen: How Britain’s grand dames of mystery help a male writer spin tales of deadly intent

By Pete Prown

As an author, I often find it hard to divine whether a good author is male or female, or what literary traits define each gender. It’s all the more confusing when I grab one of my go-to books by Charles Todd, the pseudonym for a mother-and-son writing team from America. They weave mysteries so devilishly complex that I would have no idea whether it’s the mother or the son who wrote a given passage. Their stories are so addictive that I stumble from one to the next without giving gender a second thought, but writing duos are rare in the mystery genre.

Much of my early teen reading was geared towards male authors, as the fantasy/science-fiction genre is packed with names like Tolkien, Asimov, Moorcock, and Niven. I did try reading some notable women writers in the field, such as Ursula K. LeGuin and her Earthsea trilogy, but it didn’t click with me, nor was I attracted to the tales of Marion Zimmer Bradley or Anne McCaffrey. I recall enjoying Ayn Rand’s brief Anthem at age 16 or so, but that’s only because it was directly related to my favorite band, Rush, and the Rand-fueled plot behind their epic 2112 album (though in retrospect, Rush was a rock ‘n’ roll band that urged their fans to read more books, so we must thank them for that).

Fifteen years later, my tastes evolved into the arena of British murder mysteries and – What ho! – my appreciation of women authors soared. In contrast to the male-packed sci-fi category, it seemed that every other mystery author was a woman and a fiendishly clever one at that. I must confess I already knew many of their names since my mother sat our kitchen table in Connecticut, day after day, year after year, reading well-worn paperbacks of the English murder mystery. In retrospect, she often woke up early, long before the rest of the family, and enjoyed a cup of coffee, along with a generous portion of murder most foul. As I found out in my thirties, I had inherited the gene.

Agatha_Christie

Agatha Christie opened the door for me, both in book form and later, brilliantly, on British television. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot caught my imagination immediately and indoctrinated me into the world of the so-called “village mystery,” notably the aforementioned spinster sleuth who lived in the fictional St. Mary Mead.

ngaio_marsh   Margery_Allingham   Dorothy Sayers

Fast on her heels were Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham, who gave us those brilliant and ultra-dapper detectives, Inspector Alleyn and Albert Campion. Together, Christie, Marsh, Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers (author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries) solidly define the British murder mystery. I would be lying, however, if I said their collective books, which must run into the hundreds of titles, are not formulaic. Instead, they are highly so, but that formula gave me ample training to write my own fantasy/mysteries, starting with Thimble Down and continuing in Devils & Demons. It was through this British crew that I learned about crafting believable red herrings, MacGuffins, and squirrely sub-plots galore. Christie, Marsh, and Allingham, in particular, showed me how to build suspense, confuse the reader with almost-sadistic glee, and lead them to the precipice of disaster—only to unveil the solution to the crime with a dash of P.T. Barnumesque showmanship. The sleuth in my tales—a certain Mr. Dorro—even displays his share of Hercule Poirot’s neuroses and shameless vanity. It only makes Dorro a more enjoyable, believable character to my mind.

P.D. James

In the modern era, the tradition of lady crime masters has continued unabated in the United Kingdom. P.D. James is perhaps the best known for her Adam Dalgleish detective stories, later made huge popular via Anglia Television and, in America, our PBS.

Val McDermid

Scottish writer Val McDermid has penned dozens of dark novel. I’ve only read A Place of Execution, which was so brilliantly constructed and terrifying that I’m afraid to approach her other work. I’m still in awe of her ability to scare the living hell out of me.

mc beaton

Instead, my everyday taste runs more towards the hand of M.C. Beaton, one of the pen names for Marion Chesney, a writer so prolific that she has over a hundred books to her own credit. I find her sleuth Agatha Raisin a bit cloying, but the Highlands cop Hamish Macbeth hits the spot every time. He’s a good-looking loner of a policeman who, despite admirable detective skills, tries to play down his abilities of logic, lest he get promoted and transferred to the dreaded city. (He much prefers his little coastal village of Lochdubh and the company of his sheep, chickens, cat, and dog to most humans, aside from the occasional girlfriend.) Beaton/Chesney is formulaic in the Agatha Christie tradition, but that’s what we crave sometimes. She understands that a great character placed in an envious setting is something the reader wants to return to, again and again—that’s called shrewd marketing. Both Miss Marple and Hamish Macbeth stories illustrate that “sense of place” and helped inspire me to create the fictional village of Thimble Down. Like a realtor, a deft woman crime writer drills the notion of “location, location, location” into our psyches.

jk-rowling-official-portrait

One might argue this coming point, but to me, you can’t talk about British mystery without mentioning the queen of the young-adult genre, J.K. Rowling. Despite all the hoopla about witches and wizards, magic and castles, the Harry Potter stories are essentially one, long mystery novel or perhaps, several sandwiched together. Either way, Rowling knows her way around red herrings (Severus Snape) and MacGuffins (the horcruxes and deathly hallows), at least enough to tell us she’s read plenty of Brit mystery. The author, of course, also likes to spoon in some comedy and children’s lit, all culminating in a masterful mix of Margery Allingham, Roald Dahl, the Nancy Drew stories, and more than a little Stephen King. One must give Rowling her due.

So, what makes a woman mystery writer different from a male of the species? It’s been remarked on how the intricacies of the murder mystery is something better suited to women writers than men, the latter of whom might favor more action, muscle and verve (though there’s no shortage of great American mystery writers: Dick Francis, Raymond Chandler and, the master of them all, Edgar Allan Poe). I also enjoy the sub-genre of “historical mysteries” and, in this category, there is a greater emphasis by its men on achieving historical, even scholarly accuracy with regard to time, place, culture, and period artifacts (to wit, David Liss, C.J. Sansom, Bruce Alexander’s wonderful Lord Fielding mysteries, and Iain Pears’ masterwork, An Instance of the Fingerpost). The male writer wants you to know how well he’s researched his work and achieved such historical verisimilitude; the female wants you to know how dangerous and fiendishly clever she is. A literary black widow? Perhaps.

When I think about the stories in my own fantasy series, I can say with confidence that I look to the lady masters of mystery more than the gents who craft major works of fantasy and historical fiction. I want Mr. Dorro to summon the impeccable panache of Inspector Alleyn; the fussy genius of Hercule Poirot; and the goofy, offbeat charm of Albert Campion. And the village of Thimble Down is based just as much, if not more, on the brooding charms of Miss Marple’s St. Mary Mead or Hamish Macbeth’s Lockdubh as Bilbo Baggins’ Hobbiton. Without doubt, I stole plenty of inspiration from men with pens, but when you finally crack the case, it’s clear I received more from mystery-lit’s lady practitioners. They’re deliciously diabolical.

Pete Prown head shot

Pete Prown -- Thimble Down cover art  Pete Prown -- Devils & Demons cover art

Pete Prown is the author of Thimble Down and Devils & Demons, as well as a journalist, editor, photographer, and darn-good guitar player. Find his books on Amazon and at peteprown.com and his music (under the moniker Guitar Garden) at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/GuitarGarden. 

Tour de Blog stops at Read Her Like an Open Book

A few days ago, author and blogger extraordinaire Caroline Leavitt invited me to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour (having been named by fellow author Bill Roorbach).

Caroline is the author of several novels, including the New York Times bestsellers, Is This Tomorrow (2013) and Pictures of You (2011), which was a Costco “Pennie’s Pick.” If you haven’t read any of her books yet, you should remedy that as soon as possible. Here’s my review of Is This Tomorrow, from July 28, 2013. Leavitt also recently published a mini-ebook with SheBooks, The Wrong Sister, featuring the title story and “The Last Vacation.”

Leavitt is also a writing teacher,  editor, manuscript consultant, book critic, screenwriter, and mother to a talented young acting student. On top of all that, she has been a good friend and major supporter of this blog.

You can enjoy Leavitt’s distinctive wit and wisdom (mixed with a dollop of Hoboken, New Jersey neurosis) on her blog, CarolineLeavittville at http://carolineleavittville.blogspot.com/.

1. What are you working on? 

I am always reading at least two novels, and I write reviews for my blog once or twice a week. And I’m usually working on lesson plans and/or grading for my high school English classes. My other hobby is portrait photography; at the moment I am taking some senior portraits and working on a few other projects.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My blog is unique (to my knowledge), as it is the only one dedicated to literary fiction by women that is written by a man (I know of at least one such blog published by a woman). My purpose is to demonstrate that men can read and enjoy novels and stories by women, that they are not all romance or mystery or other “genre” novels. I reviewed several novels and story collections about the wars in the Middle East written by women partly to drive home that point. (See my reviews of Flashes of War by Katey Schultz, Sand Queen by Helen Benedict, Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman, Stop Here by Beverly Gologorsky, and You Can Tell When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.)

3. Why do you write what you do?

In the summer of 2013 I began to come across essays on gender bias in the publishing world. This bias was present in what books are published, the cover design and marketing of books by women, which books are reviewed by major publications, and which reviewers are selected to write about those books, as well as the fact that men virtually never read books by women (although women will read books by men).

I realized that 25-50% of the novels I read were by women and that it had never occurred to me that I “shouldn’t” read books by women or that doing so was unusual. I investigated and concluded that a blog in which a man read and wrote exclusively about fiction by women did not exist. My intention was to fill that void and make a small contribution toward balancing this gender bias.

Since June 2013, I have read books by women almost exclusively. (I have read perhaps five books by men in that time.) I doubt that there are many men out there who have read more fiction by women in the last 15 months.

4. How does your writing process work?

As I read, I use Post-It flags and take notes. After I finish a book, I let it percolate for a few days to see how it speaks to me and what is worth discussing in a review. I write a relatively fast first draft and then revise it from one to three times in an attempt to ensure that it reflects my thoughts and feelings and is well-written. Then I cast my fate to the wind and hit “publish.”

For the next stop on the blog tour, I nominate Beth Kephart, another thought-provoking writer of novels and nonfiction, as well as a blogger with a unique and impassioned voice. Her blog, Beth Kephart Books, features essays on the personal and the political, as well as the literary. She is the author of the YA novel Going Over (2014), which was the Gold Medal Winner in Historical Fiction at the Parents’ Choice Awards, an ABA Best Books for Children & Teens, and a YALSA BFYA selection, among many other honors. She is also the author of Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir (2013), which was named a Best Book for Writers by Poets & Writers. Most recently, she published a short memoir, Nest. Flight. Sky. On love and loss, one wing at a time (available from SheBooks). I recommend her blog to you enthusiastically.