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Third Girl from the Left started as the story of a woman who failed -- and it stayed that way. The short story that later grew into my most recent novel was quite a surprise to me -- but as I've continued to write novels, I've come to believe that that's how you know it's working. I wrote the story "Show Business" (anthologized in Mending The World) in graduate school. It in turn, had grown out of a short exercise that I did at a place called the Writers Studio in New York City, where I've lived for the past 21 years. Here's the first line of the story: "Every night, I dream of actors." And here's the first line of the novel: "My mother was an actress." In both cases, I went on to tell the story of an actress in the films of the 1970s's that are commonly referred to now as blaxploitation. Actually, the person telling the story was her daughter, who was (I like to think) rueful, wise and a bit more clear sighted than her mother.

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Blog Excerpts

Top 10 Blogs for Writers

Business writer and author Michael Stelzner has compiled his list of the top ten writer blogs. He says they "all provide extremely useful information for writers." See if you agree. Check out the list here.
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Blog Du Jour

The Writing Life

Want to know the ups, downs and sideways of being an author? These blogs talk about the writing life:

Rantings and Ravings of an Insane Writer

Paperback Writer

So You Want to be a Writer

Confessions of an Author

No rules. Just write.

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Are your olfactories overjoyed by oenology? We called wine director Jennifer Malone-Seixas, sommelier at New York's elegant Fleur De Sel restaurant, to ask her about words related to wine:

Legs. "They're a factor in examining a wine, something you discover before you taste it. When you swirl a glass you'll see the drips of wine sheeting off the sides -- those are the legs."

Weight. "When I'm talking about a full bodied wine or a wine moving in that direction I'll say it has a lot of weight to it. It's a palette-related comment."

Texture. "When we say a wine is surprisingly smooth or surprisingly velvety we're referring to its texture."

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Jon Franklin is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer and distinguished journalism professor at the University of Maryland, and the author of the classic writing book Writing for Story. He's a pioneer in applying the literary techniques of fiction to nonfiction stories. We had a fascinating conversation with Jon about writing creative nonfiction.

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Dog Eared

Books we love

Zen of Books

Garr Reynolds, the author of a terrific blog on communicating through presentations called Presentation Zen, posted a list of some of his favorite reads on the subject. But he says, "ironically, the books are not about presentations." The following are a few of his suggestions. To read the entire list please click here.

The Zen of Creativity

If You Want to Write

The Laws of Simplicity

A Whole New Mind

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I am an incurable optimist by trade. But even I began to see visions of glasses half-full when first one, then two, then three, then four, then five years passed without a book sale. During that time, I was losing my beloved maternal grandmother, on top of some other personal stressors. Let's just say, I was safely off the chart on sad.

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