On Writing and Publishing

Want to write a book and don’t know where to begin? Here you will find help from our editor and much-published author John Coyne. Plus information about getting your work into print.

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Peace Corps Writers MFA Program: Now Open for PCVs and RPCVs
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PC Writers MFA Program: Now Open for RPCVs and PCVs
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“Be a Literary Agent” article on AWP website by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
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How to make money writing books
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Words of wisdom from the world of self-publishing
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Obama is waiting
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Writers who joined the Peace Corps to “burn with a hard, gemlike flame”
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Write a Book in 18 Holes
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In Case You Haven’t Heard Enough About The Hemingway Exhibition at the Morgan Library
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Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71 ) Teaches Dangerous Writing

Peace Corps Writers MFA Program: Now Open for PCVs and RPCVs

Peace Corps Writers MFA Program: Now open for PCVs and RPCVs Do you want to earn your Master’s Degree in Creative Writing while serving in the Peace Corps? Or do it today as an RPCV and not have to step onto a college campus? Would you like to write a memoir or book about your Peace Corps experience? Here is your chance to do both! I have arranged with National University in California to offer an online only Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program for Peace Corps writers. This MFA is sponsored by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). PCVs & RPCVs will receive a tuition discount. The tuition for the MFA is in the area of 20K. National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California and the 12th largest in the United States. It is one of the very few universities that offer a . . .

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PC Writers MFA Program: Now Open for RPCVs and PCVs

Are you inspired by your Peace Corps service? Do you have an affinity for writing? Looking to write a memoir or book about your Peace Corps experience? John Coyne (RPCV Ethiopia 1962-64), editor of Peace Corps Worldwide, has arranged with National University in California to offer an online MFA program in non-fiction, fiction and poetry writing for PCV and RPCV writers. Courses are currently under development and will be taught by published Peace Corps authors and National University faculty members. Coyne will teach the introductory class and serve as an adviser to Peace Corps students. The inaugural program is slated to begin in Fall 2016 – will be accepting a class of 15 exceptional students. The MFA is flexible program. Students can complete the degree in between one to two years, taking a single one or two-month class at a time. As the course is online, students have the opportunity to progress at their own pace. This also allows . . .

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“Be a Literary Agent” article on AWP website by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

CAREER ADVICE Be a Literary Agent John Coyne profiles six literary agents and offers suggestions for that career path for the Association of Writers & Writers Programs Website. April 2016 I called a novelist friend (Mary-Ann Tirone Smith Cameroon 1965-67) and asked her if she knew of any MFA graduates who were employed as literary agents and she replied, “MFA graduates are writers, not agents.” She was categorically right, but she wasn’t totally correct. Just as there are book and magazine editors who also write fiction, nonfiction, or poems, there are also literary agents with BAs in English and/or MFAs in writing. Some later change horses and become agents, putting their own literary knowledge into play when advising their clients. Others continue to write but work as agents for the sake of having a steadier income while finishing their next novel or waiting for the last one to be made . . .

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How to make money writing books

If you are interested in writing books, especially ebooks, you might want to check out Mike Shatzkin’s blogs on the net or his ebook entitled, The Shatzkin Files, Volume 1. Shatzkin has been involved in the publishing business for nearly 50 years. For the past two decades he has been focused on the digital changes in publishing. Recently he published a blog item about Hugh Howey. Howey is best known for the science fiction series Silo published on Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing system. Shatzkin quotes Howey: “Too few successful self-pubbed authors talk about the incredible hours and hard work they put in, so it all seems so easy and attainable. The truth is, you’ve got to outwork most other authors out there. You’ve got to think about writing a few novels a year for several years before you even know if you’ve got what it takes. Most authors give up before they . . .

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Words of wisdom from the world of self-publishing

  Reading the Winter 2016 issue of Authors Guild Bulletin I came across Angela Bole’s column on “Indie Publishing: A Primer” Bole is the CEO and executive director of the Independent Book Publishers Association and her current column in the issue covers all sorts of publishing in today’s world. However, her paragraphs on self-publishing were interesting for a number of reasons. She writes that the fast-growing segment of independent publishing is self-publishing, and that Bowker — the “world’s leading provider of bibliographic information” — reports that in 2013, 458,564 self-published titles came out, a jump of 17% since 2012, and 437% over 2008. There are basically two kinds of self-publishing, assisted self-publishing and DIY self-publishing. She is not a fan of DIY self-publishing, saying, “Considering the complexities of the publishing business, there are almost no circumstances in which I’d recommend a fully DIY self-publishing approach.” She goes onto write, “The . . .

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Obama is waiting

The current issue of The Atlantic has a long article by Nicholas Dames entitled “The New Fiction of Solitude” where, according to Dames, “For an influential group of writers, the purpose of novels is to bear witness to the spectacle of aloneness.” In this article, Dames refers to a long, long conversation that the novelist Marilynne Robinson had with President Obama last September which was published a few months ago in The New York Review of Books. That “conversation” touched on a number of topics, from troubled relationship between Christianity and democracy to the fragility of public institutions. Dames (as did others) wondered why Obama focused time and attention on a novelist, such as Robinson, and Dames linked the Obama conversation–some of you might remember–that took place at Hyannis Port in 1960 when JFK, then running for president, met with Norman Mailer, according to Dames, “in order to rouse the discouraged liberal elites who were . . .

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Writers who joined the Peace Corps to “burn with a hard, gemlike flame”

Cupple House, St. Louis University This is an article I wrote for my college alumni magazine at Saint Louis University about a writing professor of mine who also was the teacher of several other PCVs in the early years of the agency. This professor was the mentor of dozens of future poets and writers and shows, I hope, how one professor can influence and encourage students to write, whether they join the Peace Corps or not. • “To Burn With A Hard, Gemlike Flame” Let me tell you what it was like to be in the English Department in the ’50s during the Silent Generation, at the time of the Beat Poets, when Gas Light Square was in its infancy, and everyone was on the road. I came to Saint Louis University in 1955 because of the Writers’ Institute founded by Dr. James Cronin. Dr. Cronin was the first person to tell me . . .

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Write a Book in 18 Holes

Write a Book in 18 Holes Last year I published a book entitled How To Write A Novel in 100 Days. Now I thought I might attempt to tighten that frame of reference (and time) and focus on, How To Write a Book in 18 Holes. Over my writing career I have published three novels on golf, and edited three books of golf instruction. Now I have some advice on how to do both for anyone who writes or plays golf, or both, like myself. In my mind, playing golf and writing a novel are incongruously connected. I’m not the only writer who would know so. The wonderful novelist, John P. Marquand wrote Life at Happy Knoll (1957) and John Updike Golf Dream (1997), then there’s Herbert Warren Wind who started to play the game at 7 and wrote about golf all his life for The New Yorker, or James . . .

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In Case You Haven’t Heard Enough About The Hemingway Exhibition at the Morgan Library

Thanks to a “heads up” from Bill Preston (1977-80) I heard that Leonard Lopate ( WNYC All Things Considered) interviewed the curator of the current Hemingway Between the Wars exhibit at the Morgan yesterday, January 5, 2016. Declan Kiely is the Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at the Morgan Library & Museum, he offered an inside look at the exhibit  which explores a vital period of creative development in Hemingway’s life between WWI and WWII, a period that influenced his seminal works. The exhibit includes rarely shown manuscripts, letters, photographs, drafts, typescripts of stories, first editions and artifacts. It runs through January 31. You can listen to the 16 minute interview. Here’s the link: http://www.wnyc.org/story/declan-kiely-discusses-hemingways-creative-explosion-during-interwar-period/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+%24%7 Blopate%7D+%28%24%7BLeonard+Lopate%7D%29&utm_content=%24%7Bfeed%7D

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Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71 ) Teaches Dangerous Writing

The sixth Poets & Writers Live event was held at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Mediatheque Theater on October 17, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The editors of many of the area’s presses and literary magazines joined the editors of Poets & Writers Magazine to explore the art of writing and the business of independent publishing. One of the speakers was Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71), author of Faraway Places, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, In The City of Shy Hunters, Now Is the Hour, and, most recently, I Loved You More (Hawthorne Books, 2014) winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award. He presented a talk on Dangerous Writing, an innovative approach to writing that forms the basis of the workshop he has been teaching in his basement classroom in Portland for years. Dangerous Writing, Tom says, “is to go to parts of ourselves that we know exist but try to ignore–parts that are sad, . . .

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