Archive for January, 2014

Augusten Burroughs Helps Celebrate AWC’s 100th Birthday!

January 29th, 2014 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

The Atlanta Writers Club is an fantastic organization which brings exceptional workshops, conferences, and speakers to the Atlanta writing scene throughout the year, and in April they are celebrating their centennial! I’m definitely going to be there, but if you need extra incentive, so is Augusten Burroughs, hilarious memoirist and author of Running With Scissors, This is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t, and Magical Thinking: True Stories, plus several other great works.

Here are the deets on how to get tickets. Hope to see y’all there!

April 19, 2014 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
535 Means Street N.W.
Atlanta, GA


Tickets Available Now at the Early Bird Price of $30 Per Person for AWC Members (guest is an additional $30) or $70 for non-AWC Members, which includes yearlong membership in the Club (guest is an additional $30).

Ticket price includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer, music, and a copy of our official Centennial Booklet providing a history of the Atlanta Writers Club and highlights from 100 years of AWC activities.
To order, e-mail AAL Officer Emeritus George Weinstein at
And, please provide the following information:
  • Number of tickets being ordered
  • First and last name
  • Preferred email address
  • If two or more tickets are being ordered, the guest’s (or guests’) name(s)

An Edgar Nomination for CRIMINAL!!

January 16th, 2014 by Terra | 1 Comment | Filed in Criminal

Criminal has been nominated for an Edgar Award! This is a hugely prestigious award granted by the Mystery Writers of America. To even be on this list is an enormous honor, and I must thank everybody who had anything to do with making this book, or reading it, or talking about it, to get it there!!

We’ll find out what happened on May 1st!!


I must also thank the folks at YALSA for nominating Criminal for 2013 ALA/YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and for the Teen Reads nomination for Teen Choice Book of the Year. (You can vote here!) This book is incredibly special to me, and that so many people have been reading it and affected by it –that so many people want to share it, and find it deserving of even a nomination– means more than this girl who has been writing her whole life can find the words to say.

Thank you, everyone!!!

(Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed.)

What George Saunders Said

January 8th, 2014 by Terra | 1 Comment | Filed in Writing and Reading

Last night George Saunders read from his amazing short story collection, Tenth of December, and answered audience questions at the Highland Inn Ballroom. It was an amazing evening of conversation about writing–the kind of inspiring, exciting dialogue that reminded me of going to readings in graduate school. It felt like everything Saunders said about writing was an emerald-encrusted diamond dropping out of his mouth, and I took notes as fast as I could. Here are a few of those gems:

On his Early Start with Fiction:
“I’d given up on being Hemingway, and I was making breakthroughs.”

“I thought, ‘I’d rather go into this unknown area [letting go of being "Literary" with a capital L"] with the stuff I actually know’ (pop culture, technical writing).”

“Writing a story is trying to get something interesting down, and then not worry about it anymore.”

(Quoting the great Flannery O’Connor): “A person can choose what he writes, but can’t choose what he makes live.”

On Revision:
“If you have something that’s a little off, as a writer, part of you knows it.”

“You’re cleaning out the weeds so you can put some flowers in.”

“You have to mimic a first-time reader. Have a little needle in your mind that goes from positive to negative, read through the story, and ask what your energy is doing [according to that needle] as you go.” [Saunders then described going through a sentence such as "Bob crossed the room to sit down on the blue couch," and narrowing it down bit by bit. "Why 'to sit down on' instead of just 'sat'? Is crossing the room necessary? What about the fact that the couch is blue? Then, do we even need this sentence at all?" He did admit this process is slow.]

“You should aim for, maybe, making the draft 3% better the next pass . . . Then, maybe one day, you let the inner nun run the asylum.”


On Criticism:

(Based on advice he got from Bill Clinton [while traveling with him to Africa for a writing piece], advice Clinton had actually received from his wife, Hillary):  “When someone throws something negative at you, rather than ducking, or even throwing something back, just stand there. What you need to hear will stick, and the rest will go by.”

“If you find someone who really likes or hates your work, but has at least thought about it carefully, that’s really useful.”

On studying writing:

“You’re in a contest to have a fire lit under you by this lineage of writers to whom you’re just finding out you belong.”


It was so amazing to be in the company of this self-effacing, funny, accessible, generous and friendly genius. If you haven’t yet read Tenth of December, I encourage you to pick up a copy (paperback version was just released), especially if you are interested in studying the craft of writing in any way. The hype you’ve heard is absolutely true. I’m positive this is the best book I read in 2013, and the best short story collection possibly, ever. (And yes that means even better than Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, or Raymond Carver.)

In fact, I’d love to help you win a copy, signed by Saunders himself. Tell me one of your favorite short stories (by Saunders or anyone else), and I’ll put you in the hat.

To hear more of George Saunders, here’s an interview my pal Kate Sweeney did with him for WABE.