Austin Institution Hosts Water Lessons’ First Book Signing

On Sunday, November 16, Water Lessons traversed another milestone: its first book signing. And it occurred at one of my favorite locales in Austin: BookPeople, designated Bookstore of the Year by Publishers Weekly in 2005. Yes, BookPeople, that magnificent three-story monument to literature at the corner of 6th Street and Lamar. Speaking venue of writers, chefs, […]

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Water Lessons Published, Premieres At Texas Book Festival

On Saturday, October 25 and Sunday, October 26, the recently-published Water Lessons debuted at the Texas Book Festival, held annually in late October on the capitol grounds in Austin. Despite the myriad of books sold or displayed at the event, I ended up a few copies away from selling out completely (only two went to people I […]

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Two Lessons From My Afternoon With Walker Percy

As a boy of eleven, when I asked Bunt, the perennially charming wife of Walker Percy, if I could meet the great writer, little did I know I would soon feel such inspiration, and years later, such admiration for the man’s character.  Percy taught me two lessons valuable to any artist, lessons I want to […]

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Boston Strong, and Massachusetts Remarkable

If Boston is anything to a writer, it is a city worth commemorating. As a native New Orleanian, born and bred, I can tell you that the popular motto “Boston Strong” seen and heard in the wake of the horrific 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was apt. Like New Orleans after numerous hurricanes, Boston displayed a […]

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The Nautical Background of Water Lessons

The Nautical Background of Water Lessons

New Orleans remains both a poor city and a major port. Boston continues to undergo rapid gentrification and has lost most of its identity as a port. Today Boston and New Orleans may seem like vastly different cities indeed, but for many generations this was not so. For centuries, the two great American cities shared scores of […]

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Why Most Writers Return To Writers’ Conferences

Why Most Writers Return To Writers’ Conferences

Many accomplished authors go their entire lives without attending a writers’ conference, either as a speaker, teacher, or workshop participant. No Tin House, no Iowa, no Bread Loaf, no Sewanee. Many writers actually attend several writers’ conferences, year after year, and never publish a line. Regardless, many writers consider the experience of participating in a top-notch writers’ conference a […]

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Why First Novels Are Unique

Why Debut Novels Are Unique

It is true that for most novelists, their first novel is not their greatest. You can probably say this about Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison, Hemingway, and scores of other greats. James Joyce and Walker Percy might be exceptions. But it is also probably true that for most novelists, their first novels emerge from how they deal […]

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Finding Your Maxwell Perkins, Somewhere Out There

Finding Your Maxwell Perkins, Somewhere Out There

Whether a fiction writer elects to publish in a traditional or digital form, that writer should ideally search first for a skilled independent editor to ready the manuscript for submission. If that writer chooses the legacy route and must inevitably go under the knife of that publishing house’s editor, the help provided by an independent editor can pay […]

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No Writer Is An Island: Why A Writer Needs A Writers’ Group

No Writer Is An Island: Why A Writer Needs A Writers’ Group

Truly one of the shrewdest decisions an author can make is to participate avidly in a writers’ group or club. A writer is like the man in John Donne’s poem: “No man is an island/Entire of itself,/Every man is a piece of the continent,/A part of the main.” Almost always, a writer will produce better work during or […]

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