5/3: It’s National Press 53 Day!


Today, May 3, is National Press 53 Day. (5/3 — get it?). I love Press 53, publisher of my 2009 linked story collection In an Uncharted Country as well as my forthcoming novel in stories, What the Zhang Boys Know.

It’s a great small press that specializes in short story collections and poetry.

Help me celebrate! There are lots of ways. If you already have my book, take a picture of it and post it on Facebook. (Seriously!) If you don’t yet own my book, please consider buying it from Amazon, your local Independent Bookseller, or directly from Press 53. (You can even order it from me at CliffordGarstang.com, which will get you an autographed copy.) And while we’re celebrating, visit Press 53 and see all the great books they’ve published.

Writing the Short Story: Make Your Story Great! New class begins May 7


I teach a short story class through Writers.com and the next session begins in a little over a week, on May 7. In the past, students have found this course extremely beneficial. Not only does the class cover the fundamentals of fiction writing over the course of 10 weeks, but also every student has the opportunity to workshop a 20 page story with the class, PLUS share revisions of that story based on the feedback in the class. The combination of lectures and workshop is a great deal!

Topics covered in the class include beginnings (finding traction), character, plot, setting, dialogue, theme, time, symbolism, and endings. For the complete course description, go here.

Please consider signing up for the class or passing the information along to a friend.

April 25 is End Malaria Day — How You Can Help


April 25 is End Malaria Day. You can help. Watch the video. Then go to the website  and read about the book. Then buy the book. (I just bought the Kindle version so $20 will go toward the cause.) Here’s the email I received about this project:

End Malaria, http://www.EndMalariaDay.com, is an astonishing new book by more than sixty best selling business authors and social thought leaders who joined together to share information in a book whose entire profits go to buy malaria bed nets. Malaria is a disease that causes more childhood death than HIV/AIDS.
Malaria bed nets are simple nets that hang over a window or a bed. They’re treated with a chemical that mosquitoes hate. The mosquitoes fly away, they don’t bite, people don’t get malaria. 

Every single penny spent on the Kindle edition goes to Malaria No More, giving them enough money to buy one or two bednets and to deliver them and be sure they’re used properly. Low overhead, no graft, no waste. Just effectiveness. None of the authors or anyone at the Domino Project receive money to be part of this project.  

Wait, there is one ulterior motive: We hope you are inspired. One of the sixty plus contributors might share a gem or spark an idea. The book is a collection of essays from 62 business and social thought leaders about the key drivers to live a life of meaning and impact. Contributors to the book (all of whom donated their work) include David Allen, Tom Peters and Keith Ferrazzi; TED speakers Brene Brown and Sir Ken Robinson; New York Times‘ best-sellers Jonah Lehrer, Gary Vaynerchuk and Dan Pink; Daymond John and Dave Ramsey; and leaders from organizations such as Google and GlaxoSmithKline.
There’s a second motive: Stepping up feels right. It’s a few clicks to buy a book and for the rest of the day, or even a week, you’ll remember how it felt to save someone’s life. 
END MALARIA was born out of a passion to save lives by author and Senior Partner of Box of Crayons Michael Bungay Stanier. Teaming up with marketing and publishing innovator and creator of Squidoo.com Seth Godin, they found a way to sell a book and give away all of the profit in the fight against malaria.

” This is the power of authors working together, the power of ebook distribution and most of all, the power of people who care to make a difference. Over and over, we’re seeing that a new generation cares about business not just as a way to make money, but as a way to make a difference. These authors (and their readers) are making a difference at the same time they’re saving lives.” – Seth Godin.  

End Malaria Day is April 25, Twitter #EndMalariaDay , www.Facebook.com/endmalariaday 

New Issue of Prime Number Magazine: No. 19


The new issue of Prime Number Magazine has just gone live.

Issue 19–that’s the 8th issue, for those familiar with primes–includes short fiction by Laretta Andrews-Mitchell, Frank Scozzari, Arthur Powers, and Gerry Wilson; poetry by Richard Downing and Mary McMyne; nonfiction by Eileen Cunniffe, Michael Royce, Michael Brantley, and Susan Grier; a craft essay by Maria Giura; and reviews of books by Kevin Simmonds, Kirby Gann, and Marc Schuster. The cover photo, shown here, is by Cath Barton.

The editors are now reading for Issue 23 and beyond. As always, we need distinctive poetry and prose: short stories and essays up to 4,000 words; flash fiction and non-fiction up to 1,000 words; short drama; craft essays; book reviews; interviews; poetry of all kinds.

Take a look at a few of the past issues to get a sense of what we like, and then go to our Submission Manager to submit your best work!

>Forthcoming Books: The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan


I found this trailer for Deborah Copaken Kogan‘s novel The Red Book (Hyperion, April 2012) quite by accident. I’m possibly not the target audience for this novel, but I like the concept anyway. It’s about a group of women who graduated from Harvard and now, in anticipation of a reunion, they have to share their accomplishments for The Red Book–true or otherwise.

>Virginia Festival of the Book: Day 3


Friday was a busy day, so I’m only just now getting around to writing about Day 3 of the Virginia Festival of the Book.

I met about 25 writers for lunch at Bashir’s Taverna, which was fun–lots of people I knew and some I did not. Then I headed over to the Library for a panel sponsored by WriterHouse: Readers and Social Media: New Ways to Communicate. I had heard much of what was said, but I learned that maybe I need to look into Pinterest. I’ve been resisting.

I stayed on at the Library for another WriterHouse panel, this one on Retelling the Tales–three novels that are retellings or reimaginings of familiar stories. The panel featured Margot Livesy, Sharyn McCrumb, and Hillary Jordan.

And then I had to run out to the Barnes & Noble for the panel I was moderating: Reconstructions (“novels of war, man-made destruction, and their aftermaths”) featuring Casey Clabough, Taylor Polites, and Joe Samuel Starnes. I thought the panel went really well. All three authors presented their work clearly and read relatively brief sections, and then did a great job of answering questions–mostly posed by me, since I’d read their books.

By the time the panel was over I felt guilty about leaving the dog alone so long so I rushed home. Saturday is another day.

>Follow Me


I promise I won’t inundate you with Tweets. Some days I post more than others, but usually it’s not too much. But I’d love it if you would Follow Me on Twitter. Click on the Follow Me button in the Right sidebar, or find me @cliffgarstang.

And if you follow me, I’ll try to reciprocate.

>Virginia Festival of the Book Day 2


Today I managed to get to three events and enjoyed them all.

First was “Finding Your Way”–four authors sharing the tales of their characters’ journeys. This one featured Ernessa Carter (32 Candles), Sarah Pekkanen (These Girls), Lolette Kuby (Writing Personals), and Jason Wright (The Wedding Letters). I enjoyed the talks/readings of all four.

Then “Running From the Truth”–about the consequences of running away–featuring Amy Franklin-Willis (The Lost Saints of Tennessee), Elizabeth Nunez (Boundaries), David Huddle (Nothing Can Make Me Do This), and Robert Olmstead (The Coldest Night). I enjoyed all four of these authors’ presentations, too.

Last of the day for me was “Conspiracies and Obsessions”–four authors discuss their novels of unraveling lives. This one featured Alma Katsu (The Taker), Amelia Gray (Threats), Virginia Moran (The Algebra of Snow) and Joe Lunievicz (Open Wounds). Again, all good presenters. In this case the moderator took a different approach. Instead of having the authors read or present their work, she just started in with questions, eventually leaving a little time for questions from the audience.

More tomorrow, including the panel I’m moderating . . .

>SWAG Writers: WriterDay and OpenMic Night


SWAG Writers (the Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta Group of Writers), the organization I started a couple of years ago, continues to grow. Tonight we had a terrific turnout for our monthly gathering–the WriterDay and OpenMic Night–which occurs on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, starting at 6pm, at the Darjeeling Café in Staunton.

Tonight’s group was especially fun. We had 16 readers, including a wide variety of styles, genres, and ages. Some serious stuff, some dark stuff, and some lighter work was included. And besides the readers we had a dozen or so folks who came out just to listen (plus a few patrons of the café who had no choice).

We’re grateful to the Darjeeling Café for hosting this event each month!

This month we also have a second event, a talk by Charles Shields, biographer of both Harper Lee and Kurt Vonnegut. That talk will be held on March 28, at 7pm, at the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement at Mary Baldwin College. The talk is free and open to the public.

Let me know if you’d like to be on the email list to receive notice of future events.