Tag Archives: The Rumpus

My Top 10 Literary Websites: 2013 edition!

Best EverIn 2010, I wrote the most popular post on Category Thirteen, ever. I listed my Top 10 Literary Websites and, apparently, people really dug that topic — enough, at least, that they ended up on my site and must’ve told others about it. Well, it’s 2013 and I’ve realized something: I was a slacker for 2011 and 2012 (among many other things, obvi.). So, in the spirit of giving people what they want, I’ve updated my list and am pretty damn excited about it!

Let’s take a look my top 10 literary websites, and by 10, of course I mean 12!

1 ) The Rumpus – The more things change, the more they stay the same. This should really be no surprise. Not only has the Rumpus kept on doing what it does best (i.e. just about everything), they continue to up their game, which very few websites can claim. Isaac Fitzgerald and Stephen have a truly amazing thing going with The Rumpus with some great original ideas (e.g. “The Daily Rumpus,” “Letters in the Mail,” “The Last Book I Loved,” “Where I Write,” etc.), and it doesn’t hurt that they have some incredible talent backing them up, specifically their essays editor, Roxane Gay, and Dear Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed. It seems incredible that I’ve actually written for this site given the level of talent surrounding it! Their book club is also stellar—you should join!

2 ) The Nervous BreakdownI really can’t say enough good things about Brad Listi and the work he puts into his Other People Podcast. Listi’s really on the bleeding edge of what’s hot in lit. right now and you needn’t look any further than his A+ guest list. The Nervous Breakdown serves as a truly wonderful compliment to the show with hilarious author self-interviews, fantastic essays, and kickass book club.

3) The MillionsThe Millions is still awesome. C. Max Magee’s site has been featured on NPR and noted by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Village Voice, among others. One of my favorite lit-related things in the universe is The Millions’ “A Year in Reading” where the editors ask a bunch of writers I really admire what their favorite books of the year were. The Millions’ “Top 10” and “Hall of Fame” are also can’t miss features.

4 ) HTMLGiant – Blake Butler & co. are still keeping lit. edgy at HTMLGiant. I’m a huge fan of their “25 Points” feature, as well as their giveaways, commentaries, and multi-part series (like “How to Be a Critic”). HTMLGiant also features a lot of writers I love reading like Jimmy Chen, Melissa Broder, Sean Lovelace, Lily Hoang, Adam Robinson, and Peter Tieryas Liu.

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A New Year & “The Next Big Thing” Blog Hop

dawn breakingSo, holy shit! It’s a new year already and the world didn’t end in 2012, much to the chagrin of a few Doomsday preppers. It’s a new year and my only resolution is to write more — to write well, often and, of course, like a motherfucker!

Also, there’s this thing going around the Internets, “The Next Big Thing” actually. It’s a blog hop where writers talk about what they’re currently working on and tag other writers to participate. I’m both incredibly humbled and excited to be tagged by Nate Tower, the man with the plan behind Bartleby Snopes (easily one of the best indie lit. mags on the web). Here’s Nate’s own post. Once you check it out, hop back over here (if you want, of course) and see what I’m working on!

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

I’m actually working on two totally different projects right now. One is a novel called Human Services populated with eccentric characters that work for a kooky social work agency.

The other is (ostensibly) an epic sci-fi/fantasy collaboration I dreamed up, of which my novel will be but one in a series tentatively titled Deorum et Viri (Of Gods and Men, working title). The project — at least as it’s sketched out on paper — is so big, I’d never be able to finish it on my own!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The driving idea behind Human Services more or less comes from my family’s eponymous business. The field of human services/social work can be pretty insane, and since the business started, I’ve seen countless — truly countless — situations play out that were almost too preposterous to believe, let alone describe . . . almost.

Deorum et Viri’s life was probably honestly (for better or worse) most inspired by Game of Thrones. I only just got into George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series this year (after watching season one of the HBO series), but suffice it to say, I’m all caught up through book five. The books were infectious, incapacitating. I felt like I couldn’t possibly function unless I knew what happened next. The series rekindled my long dormant love for the fantasy genre, as well as sci-fi by-proxy.

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Latest Cat13 News!

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, hop on over to The Rumpus and read my essay: “Where I Write #12: A Stable in the Floodplain” (don’t forget to click the link in the last paragraph to see how bad the floodwaters are in Nebraska and Iowa).

For the upcoming issue of Grey Sparrow Journal, I have been promoted to associate editor– exciting!!

Over at InDigest Magazine, I will soon be taking over as Blog Editor while I continue reviewing films. Very killer! (My latest review for the film One Lucky Elephant should appear soon.)

I’ve also picked up a couple sweet new gigs at PANK Magazine as well: I’m reviewing books and serving as a first reader for submissions!! (My review for Johannes Göransson’s new Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate will be posted on the PANK blog on July 8. Reviews for Adam Novy’s The Avian Gospels, Christian TeBordo’s The Awful Possibilities and Darby Larson’s The Iguana Complex will be forthcoming soon after.)

All in all, I’d say this summer is off to a really good start!!

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The Author and The Rumpus Go Together like Peas and Carrots

Mega apologies for my absence! I’ve been in Nebraska City getting schooled on the finer aspects of the writing craft, low-residency MFA style!– or something to that effect.

Fear not, however (providing you were in the first place)! I’ll be back with regular posts List Thursdays and all news literary- and publishing-related.

First order of business, check out the interview I did with Ralph Steadman on The Rumpus: http://therumpus.net/2011/01/an-afternoon-with-ralph-steadman/ This was written in a frantic frame of mind once I realized I spent four hours with the man and didn’t even bring a friggin’ tape recorder!

And lastly, for this semester, I’ll be working with the wonderful and lovely Amy Hassinger (of Nina Adolescence fame). It’s my last one at the University of Nebraska so I want to make it count. Thesis, put your party pants on because I came to dance!

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Andrew Foster Althschul’s Deus Ex Machina: A Review In Process

The author has an ostensibly complete review of a pretty darn good book he’s ostensibly finished reading on The Rumpus.

On the surface, the novel is about reality television, specifically, a show that is ostensibly a cross between The Truman Show and Survivor (with aspects of nearly every other reality show ever created sprinkled in). But to say that the novel is about “a reality show on a distant island” would be to miss the multiple wonderfully-textured layers Altschul has weaved in so skillfully within the books tightly-packed 203 pages

Hit the jump for more!

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List Thursdays: My Top 10 Literary Websites

1 ) The Rumpus – I  might have a slight bias here but the quality of literary (and all other) content here is top notch, truly. Not to mention the fact that The Rumpus has one of the best Book Clubs around, a fantastic advice column and the reader-written Last Book I Loved series.

2 ) The MillionsIf The Rumpus is (hypothetically speaking), let’s say, Tin House, then The Millions is definitely n+1.  The essays and reviews found on The Millions are top notch and guest contributions from established writers definitely lends the site its due where credibility is concerned. The Millions is legit.

3 ) HTMLGIANTSticking with the literary journal comparisons, HTMLGIANT is the literary website equivalent to McSweeney’s, if for nothing else than its edge and personality. The editors and contributing writers are smart, probably too smart, but always provide thought provoking insight in their essays. It’s worth checking out to acquaint yourself with Jimmy Chen, Blake Butler, Roxane Gay (also of [PANK] renown) and Kyle Minor alone.

4 ) MontevidayoIf there’s one site (luckily there’s more than one) that gives HTMLGIANT a run for smart content, it’s Montevidayo. The biggest difference is that the crew at Montevidayo are interested in a sort of community conversation. Multiple authors chime in on a few topics which really gives the reader a feel for what’s being discussed.

5 ) Bookslut Want reviews? Book Slut’s got ’em! (Michael Schaub, specifically.) As well as tons of features, a fantastic blog section and truly great interviews. Read Bookslut.

6 ) Maud NewtonI have to thank Isaac from The Rumpus for reminding me how much I love this site. I feel as though I’ve been neglectful and that’s a hurtful thing to be. I’m sorry Maud, I’ll be a better man, I promise! Maud Newton is the blog Category Thirteen strives to be!

7 ) Galley CatAll the happenings, comings and goings of the Publishing World (the empire that it is deserves CAPS.) A subsection of the truly excellent Media Bistro, Galley Cat is— as its title suggests– the first word on the book publishing industry.

8 ) Book ForumCome for the Daily Review and Omnivore, stay for the Paper Trail and Outposts.  Book Forum has a print copy you can pick up in stores too should your little Luddite heart so desire [I kid! (about the Luddite thing, I mean; Book Forum really does have a print mag.)]

9 ) Action, YesBrought to you by the editors of Montevidayo, Johannes Göransson, Joyelle McSweeney and John Dermot Woods, Action Yes is actually a quarterly I love but forgot to mention in last week’s list. Action Yes is also online only so it seems that it might be more appropriately recognized this week anyway.

10 ) Big Other I dig Big Other for a lot of reasons, but none perhaps more than their interviews and their Experimental Threads.  Check out their recent interview with HUSH author, Dave Kress and their article, “A New Technology for the Culture Industry” about Fignment.com, good stuff!

Honorable Mention —The Regulars: Salon.com/books, Huffington Post Books, Daily Book Beast, as well as The Nervous Breakdown, Sensitive Skin, ARTFACCIATK ReviewsLarge Hearted Boy, the full Media Bistro site and Agent Query.


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The Author and The Rumpus, together again!

It looks like your author and TheRumpus.net will be in bed together again, er, wait, I mean—

Keep an eye out for my review of Ben Percy’s debut novel, The Wilding in The Rumpus’s Last Book I Loved section, as well as an excerpt from the extended version of my pseudo-interview/ reportage piece, “An Afternoon With Ralph Steadman.” Both should be appearing soon!

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The Author (me) + Featured on TheRumpus.net (awesome) = big w00t!!

I am very excited to announce that my review of Adam Levin’s debut novel, The Instructions, is now on TheRumpus.net for their “Last Novel I Loved” feature section.  A very exciting day, indeedy!

Click here for the jump!

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OK, The Recap [part 1 of 2] of the rest of the AWP Conference (finally!)

I figure I can only entertain my 6 or 7 readers (which are most likely comprised of family members and possibly 2 friends) with excerpts of my novel for so long before they want actual writerly info–which is what I assume a lot of web-surfing writerly types search other writer’s sites/blogs for anyway.

So, OK–here goes: I wish that I could regurgitate more information from the David Shields et al panel on Blurring the Lines Between Fiction/ Nonfiction/Memoir/Etc., but the fact it, it was absolutely freezing in the auditorium and I was severely underdressed.  One interesting quote Shields had where James Frey was concerned was: “Frey should be a better liar.”  Essentially, Shields is in favor of not just blurring the lines and boundaries between the genres of wrting, but completely obliterating them.  See herehere and here.

The next panel was called From MFA Thesis to First Novel, which I thought was pretty good. Number one: Be a writer [even if it takes 4 – 5 years (or more)].  How long it takes [to “make it”] will always vary. Write the book you want to write and don’t worry about what other people are doing.  These are ostensibly direct quotes.  Another great tip was stop rewriting the same scenes and write the book to the end; finish it!  Don’t get daunted by “experts” and forays into fact-checking—Learn, revise, move on. Disheartening things happen.  Be prepared to revise, revise, let it go and revise it again.

Keep in mind that query letters are your first introduction to agents and editors–make it pop! Let your voice really come through. Calm down and enjoy being a writer.  The business is slow; it’ll wait for you.  “Making it” (whatever “it” is) will not happen when you want it to OR how you expect it to.  Oh, and these are good tips too: A) Meet an agent before you sign B) Novels are easier to sell, C) Research agents a lot!

If you are in an MFA program, take full advantage!  Cross-pollinate genres; don’t pigeonhole yourself.  Apply for contests, grants, awards, scholarships, fellowships—everything out to which you can get your name.  Finish your novel first; don’t send it to publishers before it’s ready.  And it’s a good idea to have an expiration date on your query letters; don’t let them have it forever.

The final panel for this update was Insider Strategies for Getting Your Book Published.  Agent, Jeff Herman, began the panel by reminding everyone that, “Just because your writing is good doesn’t mean that it’s going to get published,” which I think is really sage advice for the unpublished writer.  “No one is entitled to be published—regardless of talent.”

So, then: how do you do it?  Just because your dog likes your book isn’t good enough.  Sometimes, deals do get made by someone discovering (read: stumbling upon) your manuscript in the publisher’s gigantic slush pile (which, if you are unpublished, without an agent, your manuscript will wind up)—which is more like a slush warehouse or largishly-sized room—but it’s extraordinarily rare.  There are, unfortunately, invisible walls within the publishing world.

Determination can help you overcome these walls, however.  Walls are made by humans—keep hustling!  You have to help create the demand for your book; don’t let yourself get weeded out.  Make connections. Get an agent.  The rest, I’ve already pretty much written about.  Keep in mind that agents get you access to the right people.  Just don’t be arrogant about the marketing.  Be discerning and pitch multiple agents simultaneously.  “Don’t tell [agents] what you don’t have; tell [them] what you do have.”

The rest of the conference panel recaps I’ll post tomorrow—I promisefor realz this time.  Later!

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