New piece on the use of the word "nonplussed"
Meredith Sue Willis Upcoming Appearances and Classes - Including a one day course at NYU, Jump Start Your Novel on Saturday, November 8, 2014, 1 to 5.
Latest Issue of Books for Readers #172-- comments on Pat Conroy, Donna Tartt, Alice Boatwright, Fumiko Enchi, Robin Hobb, Rex Stout, and more!
Poem by John Birch on Aftermath of 9/11
A good piece on how hard it is to workshop novels.
Amazon versus Hachette: What Some Authors Paid a Bundle to Say (in NY Times) ; What Some Other Authors Say; What Amazon Says ; What I Say
My short story "Sheherezade and Dunzyad" collected in Re-Visions, was translated into Arabic by Mohammad Abd alhalim Khanyam and appeared online in Elaph, republished in AlHilal Magazine (Cairo, Egypt, as a hard copy). It was used in a comparative literature class at Kuwait University, and the professor tells me that the students are impressed to see the influence of their culture on American literature in the twenty first century.
For your reading pleasure: an old short story by Pearl S. Buck
Scholarly article on Oradell at Sea: “A life of ‘Unfinished Business’: Cursed Inheritance and Blessed Heritage in Meredith Sue Willis’s Oradell at Sea” by Sarah Dufaure in Thy Truth Then Be Thy Dowry: Questions of Inheritance in American Women’s Literature, Stéphanie Durrans (ed.), Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, pp. 199-211.
Latest MSW publications:
Now in Paperback!
Oradell at Sea, still in print with West Virginia University Press as a hard copy, is now available as an e-book from Irene Weinberger Books.
Tips for Writers: Point-of-View Characters Whose Gender Is Not the Same as Yours!
“A Combination of Small Town and Long Perspective: An Interview with Appalachian Writer Meredith Sue Willis" by Sarah Dufaure in the current issue of Appalachian Journal (VOLUME 40, NOS. 3 & 4 (Spring-Summer 2013).
MSW has a story in the Winter 2014 issue of Persimmon Tree. It's an updated version of "Little Red Riding Hood" called "Feral Grandmothers: Little Red's"
Live on Youtube, out of the past: a 1979 television interview of MSW by Mary Lucille Deberry about the publication of her first novel, A Space Apart.
Recent Reviews of MSW's Books
Writing Tips for Writers This is a page where I'm collecting some blog entries of mine and links to other places with ideas about writing and revising.
I went through a period of looking up a lot of words, especially for their etymology. I loved Indo-European roots, and discoveries like the fact that the words "black" in English and "blanco" in Spanish go way back to the same Indo-European word for lightning or maybe blaze: brilliant white light that leaves things charred black.
I was less interested in usage, which brings up judgements about right and wrong and when change is good and when it is only inevitable.
Recently I was going over a manuscript for a colleague, and came across a passage in which the narrator is on a walking pilgrimage and bares her feet to protect a developing blister with moleskin: "The other pilgrims were nonplussed," she writes. "One nodded sympathetically and one asked to borrow my scissors." These sentences completely nonplussed me. They didn't seem to match. If the other pilgrims were so shocked by her bare feet, why were they calmly asking to borrow the scissors?
See the rest on Blogger Blog...
Hamilton Stone Review #30 Winter-Spring 2014 is now online for your reading pleasure!
(To buy any of these books as e-books, click on the image. They are also available at the Kindle Store and at the Nook Store as well as the iBook store and other e-book stores.)
A New Edition of Blazing Pencils: Writing Stories and Essays from Montemayor Press. Read a Sample Chapter.
A Space Apart (first published by Charles Scribner's Sons) has been republished as an e-book by Foreverland Press in all formats with an afterword by the author.
For New Jersey Residents: Lovely folks will take away your old books and get them to people who need them!
"The big theme of what stays with us as we get to what we become."
Praise for Love Palace
"We're in the Limina," says John King, the handsome, charismatic spiritual advisor to staff and clients at Love Palace,once a strip club now a community center/settlement house that seems doomed to fail. The waterfront neighborhood around the Love Palace is being razed and the tenants forced to make way for expensive new buildings and rich new tenants. For the neighborhood and the people in it, things are in flux. Everything seems to be, as John says, at "a threshold, a moment between time."
This is certainly true for Martha, 42 years old, "alone and lonely, chronically underemployed," maxed out on her credit cards, and behind on payments for her apartment. After she tells off her boss, who's arrears in paying her salary, she quits her job, and holes up in her apartment, consoling herself with pizza, buffalo wings, and spaghetti. Having eaten up the food in her apartment, Martha splurges at an expensive restaurant, where she meets Robby over her Eggs Benedictine with Canadian bacon. She strikes up a conversation with him and finds Robby, who's good-looking, winsome, well-built, and half her age (her car is older than he is), has problems of his own. After a few minutes of conversation, Robby asks Martha to marry him. Flattered, but judging him a sweet fruitcake, Martha takes him home—just for the night, she thinks.
Her plan goes awry, but in a good way. Due to this chance meeting, Martha ends up at the Love Palace, with a job and new living quarters. There she meets Robby's friends, intriguing characters like the Good News Crew, a Christian rock band; a young runaway; Black Frank; White Frank; an eccentric cook; and John King, the guru the whole group adores.
Some of the story is told through Martha's sessions with her therapist, a peroxide-blonde called Madame Landowska. We learn about Martha's low self-esteem and her tendency to try to escape anxiety by having sex with different men. Adding to her problems is her feeling of guilt because she can't bring herself to visit Nana, her grandmother, who has had a stroke and is in a nursing home on the brink of death.
Nana, who raised Martha and her younger sister, Mari, had belonged to the Old Left and worked to overcome economic injustice. She's at the heart of one of the major themes in this story, the theme of social responsibility and the questions of who will take up the traditions of working to change things for the better and what how are those traditions changing. One of the first people Martha meets in her new neighborhood is Ace, once a Black Panther, now continuing his work for social justice through tenant organizing in the Waterfront District neighborhood.
Love Palace treats basic human issues like sexuality, class conflict, religion, family conflict, and death with the currency, seriousness, and humor they deserve. Fans of Willis's Oradell at Sea will love this story, and readers who like this story should read Oradell at Sea. Both books feature a smart, good-hearted woman with a slightly checkered past at the center of a small but important struggle against heavy odds, and both books show Willis's page-turning story-telling comedic talent at its tough and gentle best.
— 5 star review by Eddy Pendarvis at Good Reads
What keeps the reader turning pages is Martha, endlessly sassy and smart, often impulsive, sometimes unbearable, but in the end rendering the people around her with sympathy and complexity.
— "Riding," 5 star review on Amazon.com
Love Palace made me realize that a good novel opens like life– with innumerable paths spread out before you. The development of the novel is a gradual closing off of choices– and the reader is eager to follow Martha's. —Rebecca Kavaler, award winning author of the Further Adventures of Brunhild, Tigers in the Wood, and Next of Kin among others.
This character Martha is so genuine. Every thought and every spoken word rings true.
— Shelley Ettinger
Praise for the new edition of A Space Apart:
....In 10 chapters, each from a particular character's point of view, Willis follows the Scarlins from about 1950 into the 1970s. The chapters are like a series of home movies, rich in detail and emotion; we see all the characters from the inside and the outside, older and younger, and in little more than 200 pages we get a remarkably complete picture of them....
-- Michael M. Harris, author of Romantic History and The Chieu Hoi Saloon
Also, another review by Diane Simmons, author of Little America and Dreams Like Thunder.
The City Built of Starships
I love the way the ethical imagination is torqued into a surprising, nightmarish narrative. Some of the characters are astounding– and there is the Death yaeger and his dive. It's a wonderful, dark, hope-giving book.
–Marc Kaminsky, author of The Road from Hiroshima and Daily Bread
As soon as I finished this book, I started looking for another science fiction book by Willis. She's one of my favorite writers of Appalachian fiction, but I didn't know she wrote science fiction, too. Along with Bradbury-esque science fiction, there's a little of the "jack tale" in this journey-quest, with characters like "Big Cook," "Tiny," and, best of all, "Brash," who changes sides so often that he could be a weather vane for gauging who's winningthe battle. I got a kick out of the "yeagers"--huge, flying creatures (a salute to Willis' fellow West Virginian, Chuck Yeager, the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound). The links aren't as direct as in the "hunger games" series, but Willis' Appalachian links are there. I really like that this fable--in which the innocent young Seeker, Espera, manages to outmaneuver evil in the "second world"--holds mountains as places of refuge and glowworms as magically healing.>
-- Edwina Pendarvis, Professor of Education, Marshall University
Now an ebook. Click here for Kindle and here for Nook.
Online Book club discusson of Oradell at Sea
Review of Re-Visions by Diane Simmons on Women Writers, Women's Books
The stories were so vivid and natural that after a while I forgot to think of them as based on actual classic myths and felt them alive in my modern world, real as any other stories. My favorite was the one about Lazarus (for the wonderful imagery about fire and moths and desire) --but so many engaged and moved me.
- Leora Skolkin-Smith, author of The Fragile Mistress
T.S. Eliot, in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," wrote that every new story or poem takes its place in the context of all the stories and poems that have ever been written. An ideal reader would have read them all, yet would bring fresh appreciation to each new work. The old stories -- "the tradition" -- would set up expectations about form and content that the new story would confirm or rebel against. And the new story in turn would make us read the old stories in new ways....Most of these eight stories are about women in pre-feminist times. Willis doesn't create 21st-century people and insert them into costume dramas, as pop novelists and Hollywood often do. These women remain embedded in the mental atmosphere of their own times and places. Yet she somehow makes us see them in ways the original stories never intended -- whether her heroine is the legendary storyteller Scheherezade, the slave girl Topsy, St. Augustine's teen-age concubine or Martha, the practical sister of Mary and Lazarus, who has to see that the house is clean and guests are fed when Jesus comes to work a miracle.
-- Michael Harris, author of The Chieu Hoi Saloon
Review of Out of the Mountains by Diane Simmons at Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review (Volume 39, Numbers 1-2, Fall 2011/Winter 2012), p. 179. Read whole review here .
Praise in Appalachian Journal and Good Reads!
New Pages called Out of the Mountains "full of engaging plot and rich characters. Strongly evocative of place."
Out of the Mountains was nominated for a Weatherford Award. For more information, click Here.
Booklist Praised Out of the Mountains : "Her characters possess a conversational familiarity, and the reader feels absorbed into the small community that is both distinctly Appalachian and markedly universal. This finely crafted collection is worth reading twice to discover all its intricacies and connections."
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