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Undiscovered Writers

Best Playwrights’ Festival Features the Work of Young Writers

The nonprofit Writopia Lab is hosting the 2011 Best Playwrights’ Festival this week.

Attendees can view 40 plays and eight monologues written by kids from grade school through high school. The kids will work with adult directors, including Terry Berlinger (resident director on The Lion King) and  Kevin R. Free.

Here’s more from the site: “The plays presented in the first five days of the Festival were developed in workshops at Writopia Lab. Sunday’s plays, though, went through an entirely different process. Thanks to the grant we received from Worldwide Pants, we were able to launch the playwriting competition we had long dreamed of. Our competition was open to playwrights in grades one through 12 from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. With only six weeks’ notice, young writers submitted 115 plays, screenplays, and monologues.” (Via NYT)

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Personal Essay Writing: Master Class

Personal Essay Writing: Master ClassStarting October 21, work with the senior editor at Marie Claire magazine to polish and publish your essay! Whitney Joiner will help you to develop your voice, narrative, and identity, draft your pitch, and decide where to market your essay. Register now!

Kendall Daddo Writes Kids’ Stories on Lunch Napkins

Storyteller Kendall Daddo blogs children’s stories he writes and illustrates on lunch napkins.

Daddo began drawing on lunch napkins for his then three-year-old daughter. He explained in an email: “While she was in elementary school I wrote a story to her on her lunch napkin each day. Soon, all of her friends in her lunch group were gathering around to find out what was going to happen next in the story.”

The first set of napkins features a story called “Hedginald Q. Phitch – One Extraordinary Hedgehog.” The second story, which is still in the works, chronicles Hedgie‘s second adventure.

Freeman Ng Writes 300th Daily Haiku

Poet Freeman Ng maintains the site Haiku Diem to post one haiku poem every day.

Today marks a milestone for Ng’s project as he has reached Haiku #300: “Stars fade, sun rises, / every day a fallen leaf: / I write one haiku.” What do you think?

By day, Ng works as a software engineer for Google. In addition to the site, he has also written a father-son story entirely in haiku and a manuscript for a young adult novel about Joan of Arc.

How Stephen Markley Went from Temp to Published Author

Stephen Markley wrote the forthcoming nonfiction title, Publish This Book. After listening to him read from his work at the In the Flesh reading series, we caught up with him for an interview.

Q: How did you conceive of the idea for Publish This Book?
A: Basically, I was getting tired of trying to break into a career as a writer. I’d written a few practice novels, queried for a few other book ideas and was living in Chicago making $320 a week as a temp and feeling like my life was essentially going nowhere. The book was born of this frustration. It began just as an irreverent idea but grew into a lot of different things as I began to write it.

Q: What pitch did you use to convince your agent to take you on as a client?
A: My pitch letter is included in the book (with the grammatical errors left uncorrected). Basically, I just thought to myself, ‘Catch someone’s–anyone’s–eye.’ And out of 50, approximately 1.5 agents were interested in my idea. I went with the one and not the point-five.

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Dzanc Books Looks to Indie Presses for Alternative ’20 under 40′ List

dzanc.jpgIn response to the New Yorker‘s much talked about 20 Under 40 list, Ann Arbor-based publisher Dzanc Books has pulled together an alternative: Its own list of 20 Writers to Watch (though not all are necessarily under 40).

An explanation from the press release: “As the staff of The New Yorker went to the sources they knew best when creating their list, and most of the authors they reviewed have either been published in The New Yorker or with major New York publishing houses, so we focused on writers publishing with independent houses.”

And they did a pretty decent job. Soft Skull, McSweeney’s and Featherproof are all well represented, as are a number of smaller indie and university presses. Throughout the bios, there are a couple publications at FSG and Harper Perennial for good measure, and a few mentions of serious literary anthologies (O. Henry, Pushcart Prize, Best American et cetera).

The press release goes on: “There is obviously much to praise about the work that is published by New York houses, and in The New Yorker, as well as the authors on the New Yorker list. Nonetheless, we feel it is the independent presses who best represent the heart and soul of understanding what is going on in literary fiction today, and the writers included here have all struck a chord with that community.” We tend to think they have a point.

The list is after the jump.

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Book Sales Boost Obama Income by $5 Million

51EPAQ7CT1L._SL500_AA240_.jpgThe White House posted the president’s 2009 tax returns online yesterday, revealing that he pulled in about $5.6 million dollars from sales of his two books last year.

Dreams from My Father earned him $3.3 million in 2009, while The Audacity of Hope brought in $2.3 million. This is more than double what the two books earned the Obamas in 2008, about $2.6 million. The Washington Post points out that $1.6 million of this year’s book earnings comes from foreign sales.

Readers will recall that Dreams from my Father secured an advance of more than $100,000 from Simon and Schuster in 1990, when Barack Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review. He then missed deadline, and when he did turn in a draft it was rejected for being too long. The book ended up being published by the Times Books imprint at Random House.

So How’d Your NaNoWriMo Go?

As this year’s National Novel Writing Month reaches its conclusion, we wanted to spotlight some advice that you may find helpful right about now.

“You’re not really done,” observes Justine Larbalestier. “Not even if you managed to finish a whole novel in one month.” (“Though if you did,” she adds, “congrats!”) Now it’s time to start thinking about rewriting… well, maybe in a week or so, after you’ve had a chance to decompress. It’s important to remember that you’re the one who sets the agenda here, not the book. Or, as Maureen Johnson puts it, “the book is your b%^#h.” (Well, she’s writing for an all-ages readership, after all.) That applies to NaNoWriMo, too, she adds—so you didn’t finish your draft tonight? So what? The important thing is you made a conscious decision to start writing, and you wrote, and you can keep writing. “Don’t use the fact that you are currently a little bit behind as an excuse to stop,” Johnson exhorts. “This is your opportunity to finish a book. So finish a book!”

Undiscovered Talent: A Writer to Watch

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Canadian writer, Russell Brooks has created an innovative way to build a fan base for his action thriller novel, Pandora’s Succession. He hired an actor to read serialized excerpts of his novel and even had the recording scored by a professional composer. The result? A compelling story worthy of editors’ and literary agent’s attention. The serialized audio excerpts can be found at: http://pandorabook1.com/ has garnered a lot of attention in the online community.

Although, a writer of color, Brooks chose to create a main character and storyline that is mainstream to broaden the appeal. He is an example of a writer who has not waited for opportunities to come to him but rather took the bull by its horns. Literary agents, you might want to take a look at this writer. He is worthy of notice.

To contact this undiscovered talent, you may email him.

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Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever My Lady and the founder of GumboWriters.com.

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