Archive - December 2010

1
The Future of Publishing Is Yesterday!
2
How Tom Hanks got into the Peace Corps
3
Review of Bruce Stores' The Isthmus
4
Coyne Babbles on TV about Christmas in the Peace Corps
5
PCVs Sing Christmas Carols To Emperor Haile Selassie
6
School Garden Project, Madarounfa
7
Sandra Meek Awarded NEA Grant of 25K
8
Peace Corps Poets at AWP Conference
9
Theroux writes about 'The Trouble with Autobiography'
10
Talking with Fritz Fisher about Making Them Like Us: Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s

The Future of Publishing Is Yesterday!

This article appeared a few days ago in the LA TIMES. It was written by Alex Pham. If you are a  published writer or want to become a published writer, you should read this article on self publishing and the future (and past) of publishing. • Joe Konrath can’t wait for his books to go out of print. When that happens, the 40-year-old crime novelist plans to reclaim the copyrights from his publisher, Hyperion Books, and self-publish them on Amazon.com, Apple Inc.’s iBooks and other online outlets. That way he’ll be able to collect 70% of the sale price, compared with the 6% to 18% he receives from Hyperion. As for future novels, Konrath plans to self-publish all of them in digital form without having to leave his house in Schaumburg, Ill. “I doubt I’ll ever have another traditional print deal,” said the author of “Whiskey Sour,” “Bloody Mary” and . . .

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How Tom Hanks got into the Peace Corps

Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. I picked this story up from his blog. • This is a true “Hollywood” story of how my writing partner and I got Tom Hanks to star in our 1985 movie, Volunteers. We wrote the first draft five years earlier (so far this is a typical Hollywood story). The movie centers around a preppy Yalie who ducks a gambling debt and winds up in the Peace Corps. Hilarity ensues (at least on the page). Sargent Shriver, then the head of the Peace Corps, read it and said it was like spitting on the flag. I knew we were onto something. The producer asked whom we thought might be good to star and we suggested this guy who at the time was in Bosom Buddies on ABC – Tom Hanks. The producer scoffed. Tom Hanks couldn’t get a movie made. We were . . .

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Review of Bruce Stores' The Isthmus

The Isthmus: Stories from Mexico’s Past, 1495–1995 by Bruce Stores (Guatemala 1963–65) iUniverse 2009 392 pages $21.95 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) IN BRUCE STORES’ SECOND BOOK, he tackled fiction — a tricky craft for anyone since its aim is to entertain. In fact, many who attempt fiction forget this simple rule, Mr. Stores among them. A serious book about a serious topic, the author attempted to present a five-hundred-year panoramic historical view of an isolated portion of Oaxacan Mexico, an area known for poverty, cruelty and rebellion. This is historical fiction about “natives who have been in continuous struggle for local control.” The book includes eleven vignettes about moments in history, culminating in political activities during the last twenty-five years of the twentieth century: one piece about pre-Colombian history, two about colonial history, two about nineteenth century independence and six about the twentieth century. It is reported . . .

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Coyne Babbles on TV about Christmas in the Peace Corps

Doug Kiker was from Griffin, Georgia and had early success as a short story writer while still an English major at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. There’s a story about how he wanted to get published and he picked up Martha Foley’s short stories collection, went to the rear of the book and found the list of short-story publishers, closed his eyes and punched in the dark. He hit the Yale Review, to which he promptly submitted a short story. And they accepted his story. While still in college he worked as a reporter, covering the Senate race between Strom Thurmond and Olin Johnston. After college he joined the navy and was commissioned an Ensign, serving in Korean War. Discharged, he returned to Atlanta and worked at the Atlanta Journal and covered the first sit-ins at lunch counters in North Carolina. Out of that experience came his 1957 novel, . . .

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PCVs Sing Christmas Carols To Emperor Haile Selassie

In the first year the Peace Corps was in Ethiopia, way back in 1962, PCVs were invited to sing Christmas carols at Jubilee Palace, the residence of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, King of Kings, and Conquering Lion of Judah. (I might have forgotten a few of his other titles.) Jubilee Palace was the real thing, built in Addis Ababa in 1955 in commemoration of the first twenty-five years of the Emperor’s reign. We had been to the Palace once before, in September of ’62 shortly after arriving in country, when we had been welcomed to the Empire by His Majesty. We toured the palace’s park-like grounds of trees, gardens and pools, and viewed his private collection of animals. Besides the Imperial lions, antelopes and monkeys, his cheetahs were a special interest to all of us because we could step inside the cage and pet them. . . .

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School Garden Project, Madarounfa

by Margot Miller (Niger 1972–74) This essay was first published on the blog of PeaceCorpsWriters.org on January 31, 2006 THE SUN SLIPS ABOVE THE HORIZON on the dot of six in Madarounfa, a mere thirteen degrees north of the equator, close enough that sunrise and sunset vary almost not at all the year ’round.  The ten primary school teachers who have gathered for this late-December, weekend school-garden-project instruction are up within minutes. Once they have washed and made their separate trips to the bush, they gather for breakfast under the old baobab tree. It’s still cool and they drink hot tea, brewed very strong, with great chunks of sugar chopped out of a cone that comes wrapped in blue paper. Jon, the American who is instructing them, has made oatmeal. It’s nice of him but the teachers find it rather bland. They add sugar and salt and are polite while . . .

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Sandra Meek Awarded NEA Grant of 25K

Sandra Meek (Botswana 1989–91), who is the Poetry Editor of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, co-founding Editor of Ninebark Press, and Professor of  English, Rhetoric and Writing in the Department of English at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia, writes me that she just received a $25,000 grant for poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the only recipient from Georgia to be selected for the Creative Writing Fellowship, which alternates annually between poetry and prose. NEA grant selection is made through an anonymous review process, and the fellowships encourage the production of new works of literature by allowing writers the time and means to write. Last year the NEA received 1,064 applications and gave out 42 fellowships nationwide. Sandra was the only poet selected from Georgia and one of a handful in the Southeast. Meek was granted a Fall 2011 sabbatical from Berry to finish her . . .

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Peace Corps Poets at AWP Conference

A group of RPCV poets, gathered by Virginia Gilbert (Korea 1971-73), will have a panel discussion entitled,” Broadening the Poet’s Vision Through the Peace Corps Experience” at the 2011 Annual Conference of the Assocation of Writers & Writing Programs on February 2-5, 2011.  The panel is scheduled (subject to changes, of course) on Thursday from 1:30-2:45 in the Harding Room of the Marriott Wardman Park, (Mezzanine Level). Here are the details, if  you are attending the conference: R167. Broadening the Poet’s Vision Through the Peace Corps Experience. (Virginia Gilbert (Korea 1971-73); Sandra Meek (Botswana 1989-91); John Isles (Estonia 1992-94); Ann Neelon (Senagal 1978-79); Derick Burleson (Rwanda 1991-93). “How does a stint in the Peace Corps influence a writing life? This panel investigates the question of how living in a developing country as a volunteer contributes to the growth of a poetic voice. Five award-winning poets who served in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe discuss . . .

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Theroux writes about 'The Trouble with Autobiography'

Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) dropped me a note to say that in the January 2011 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine, “there’s an informative article by Paul Theroux entitled:  ‘The Trouble with Autobiography.’  Don found it “quite informative and insightful.” And recommended it to all Peace Corps writers! The piece is long and full of details on books by famous writers. And then Theroux sums up, with a typical Therouxism: “The more I reflect on my life, the greater the appeal of the autobiographical novel. The immediate family is typically the first subject an American writer contemplates. I never felt that my life was substantial enough to qualify for the anecdotal narrative that enriches autobiography. I had never thought of writing about the sort of big talkative family I grew up in, and very early on I developed the fiction writer’s useful habit of taking liberties. I think I would find it . . .

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Talking with Fritz Fisher about Making Them Like Us: Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s

Fritz Fischer is a professor of history and history education at the University of Northern Colorado. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, taught for five years in middle/secondary schools, and then earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern University in 1994. His research specialties are 20th century American cultural and diplomatic history. He wrote Making Them Like Us: Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s published by Smithsonian Institution Press. It is, as Dr. Fischer points out, his PhD. dissertation at Northwestern University. The title, as he writes in his Acknowledgments, “might appear to some as an indictment of the Peace Corps and its volunteers. Quite the contrary . . . the experiences of volunteers promoted a new spirit of dialogue and understanding between Americans and the rest of the world. This book does not argue that the volunteers tried at all times to make them like us. Rather, the volunteers . . .

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