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Guest Host: Jeanne Hess July 11, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host.
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Jeanne Hess in #litchatFrom the publisher: Sportuality, by Jeanne Hess, is an examination of sports at all levels from a Western perspective, focusing on how it reflects our cultural belief in separation and dualistic thinking, as well as how sports can grow peace, understanding, and joy. Sportuality crosses disciplines of sports and spirituality to help readers—athletes, coaches, parents, and fans—evolve a higher consciousness within sports and competition.

Jeanne Hess will discuss Sportuality in #litchat from 4-5 p.m. E.T. on July 12, 2013. Login to our dedicated chat channel to participate in the conversation.


Using a journal and questions for self-reflection—called a “box score” and “time-out”—readers can reflect upon and create their own sportual stories. By examining words traditionally used within sports, Sportuality helps the reader think critically about competition, community, communication, spirit, humor, enthusiasm, education, religion, holiness, sanctuary, sacrifice, and victory. Sportuality can also expose our learned beliefs in war and violence so we might be willing to choose the alternatives of joy and peace.

Jeanne Hess was born on the cusp of Title IX, grew up in suburban Detroit as a tomboy in the 1960s, and came of age as a varsity athlete at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. The allure of sports and spirituality was nurtured throughout her 28-year career as a volleyball coach, professor of physical education, and college chaplain at Kalamazoo College, and by virtue of being the wife of a coach and the mother of two professional athletes.

Raised as a dualistic Catholic-Episcopalian, Jeanne has embraced the universal nature of Catholicism, defining all people as God’s children united in spirit. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband, Jim, whom she met in a gym. Their lives have been defined, shaped, and enhanced by several different gyms and athletic arenas.

Follow Jeanne Hess on Twitter: @Jeanne_Hess.


Literary Agent Week July 1, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, literary agents, MediaMonday, Uncategorized, weekly topics, WritingWednesday.
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It’s literary agent week in #litchat. This week we’ll discuss the down and dirty of getting an agent. Here’s a sample of what we’ll discuss throughout the week:

  • When to know when an agent isn’t right for you.
  • What you can expect from an agent.
  • How much do agent’s likes and dislikes affect their choices of manuscripts?
  • How much does the market sway their choices of manuscripts?
  • What grabs them in a query letter?
  • Do the first five pages of a manuscript really matter that much?

#Litchat runs through Twitter at 4 p.m. E.T. on the dates noted. Follow the chat through our dedicated chat application at www.nurph.com/litchat.

Here’s the how the week will unfold:

Monday, July 1, 2013: Discuss the recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) feed from last week.

GalleyCat’s #MSWL curation of the feed in Storify is here.

A Tumbler with #MSWL feed is here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013: The Query Go Round

Today we’ll discuss everything about writing the perfect query, to making sure your manuscript is agent-ready, to finding the right agents to query, to record-keeping, to success.

How to Write a Query Letter

The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter
Brian A. Klem, Writer’s Digest

Anatomy of a Query Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide
Writer’s Relief Staff, The Huffington Post

Successful Query Letters for Literary Agents
Jason Boog, GalleyCat

9 Frequently Asked Questions About Writing A Query Letter
10 More Questions Answered
Chuck Sambuchino, Writer Unboxed

Query Shark [ed: The best damn query letter blog on the web]
Janet Reid, Literary Agent

Friday, July 5, 2013: Agent on Record

Lucy Carson, literary agent with The Friedrich Agency, will take your questions between 4-5 p.m. E.T. Read more about Carson from this interview in Writer’s Digest.

Follow Lucy Carson on Twitter: @LucyACarson.

Guest Host: Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, memoir.
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Josh Hanagarne in #litchatJosh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian, couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young man had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Meet Josh Hanagarne June 21, 4pmET in Twitter’s #litchat. Click here to join the chat.


Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.

Photo of Josh Hanagarne by Suzy Reed.

View The World’s Strongest Librarian book trailer here.

Follow Josh Hanagarne on Twitter: @JoshHanagarne.

Guest Host: Brian Sweany June 13, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host.
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Brian Sweany in #litchatYou’ve likely heard or read someone’s claim that life was more simple before mobile phones, texting and Facebook. But was it? Brian Sweany draws a compelling argument against that notion in his debut novel, Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer.

Imagine a literary Bart Simpson and his wild and wonderful family. Call them the Fitzgeralds. Set them in South Bend, Ind. in the late 1980s when hair was big, jeans were tight, and SUVs were called station wagons. A for-sure set-up for comedic nostalgia, but Sweany slips in a couple of serious sidelines that suck your breath away.

Swing by #litchat on Friday, June 14, 4 p.m. E.T. to catch author Brian Sweany discuss his novel, Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer.

exotic_music_of_the_belly_dancerHank Fitzgerald is your average hormone-drenched teenager in a comfortable middle class home. He has all of the things most teenage boys dream of—a car, a sexy girlfriend, good looks, indulgent parents, and a younger sister to tease. His parents don’t though. They want another baby. As Hank parties his way through high school, he keeps gimlet eyes on the bedroom highs and miscarriage lows of his parents. When the unthinkable happens, Hank is forced to accept that life isn’t what happens to you, it’s what you make from what happens.

Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer may not feature exotic music, nor a belly dancer, but its vivid voice, wry asides and satirical winks make up for it.

From Sweany’s website bio:  “Since 1999 Brian Sweany has worked for Recorded Books, one of the world’s largest audiobook publishers. Prior to that he edited cookbooks and computer manuals and claims to have saved a major pharmaceutical company from being crippled by the Y2K bug.

Brian has a BS in English and History from Eastern Michigan University, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1995. A former semi-professional student, his collegiate tour included stop-overs at Wabash College (the all-male school that reputedly fired Ezra Pound from its faculty for having sex with a prostitute), Marian University (the former all-female school founded by Franciscan nuns that if you don’t count Brian’s expulsion has fired no one of consequence and is relatively prostitute-free), and Indiana University (via a high school honors course he has no recollection of ever attending).

Brian is about halfway finished with the sequel, Making Out With Blowfish. Brian has spent most of his life in the Midwest and now lives near Indianapolis with his wife and three children.”

Follow Brian Sweany on Twitter: @briansweany.

Summer Reading Round-Up June 3, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, MediaMonday, WritingWednesday.
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June is here and summer is just a few paragraphs away. This week in #litchat we’re celebrating the books of summer with our annual Summer Reading Round-up. Check out what’s going on this week and then pop into our chats to share news about your summer releases or discuss the books you’re looking forward to reading.

MediaMonday for June 3, 2013: Summer Reading

Today we’re discussing this piece in the New York Times“What I Read That Summer,” by Louise Erdrich, a compilation of 12 authors recalling their favorite summer reading experiences. Read the piece, then join the conversation with your own summer reading memories.

GoldWritingWednesday for June 5, 2013: What’s New This Summer

We’ll have authors, editors, agents and others chatting about their summer books.

Guest Host for Friday, June 7, 2013: Chris Cleve

Novelist Chris Cleve, author of the critically acclaimed Little Bee joins us from the U.K. to discuss his newest novel, Gold.

Guest Host: Rebecca Lawton May 30, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in commercial fiction, guest host, Uncategorized.
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Rebecca Lawton - Melinda Kelley

Rebecca Lawton connects the powerful forces of human understanding and environmental action in her debut novel, Junction, Utah. Protagonist Madeline, “Mad,” Kruse is more at home on a river raft than a conventional home. Her father was shot down and went missing during the Vietnam War and her mother’s a peace and environmental activist. She gets by as a river guide—think raft pilot—for rich people wanting whitewater rafting thrills.

Rebecca Lawton and literary agent Sally van Haitsma visit #litchat on Friday, May 31 to discuss publishing Junction, Utah. Follow #litchat in Twitter to follow the chat.

When Mad and her river guide friends discover an energy company threatening the pristine wilderness they love, Mad reluctantly draws on her mother’s activism experience to fight Big Oil. Mad expects to go head-to-head with her cancer-stricken mother, endure flame fights with her ex-boyfriend, and suffer the antics of her raft passengers, but what she doesn’t expect is to fall in love. With a town, with a farm, with a farmer. Rebecca Lawton in #litchat Enter Chris Sorensen, a widower and a cowboy as rooted in the land as Mad is home on the river. Unlikely partners, Mad and Chris join forces against the encroaching oil rigs for a conclusion that will have you turning pages back and forth to fully accept.

Junction, Utah opens with a hair-raising whitewater ride down the Yampa River and never lets up as it explores the wildness within a person as well as the wilderness without.

Rebecca Lawton was among the first women whitewater guides on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and on other rivers in the West. Her essay collection on the guiding life, Reading Water: Lessons from the River (Capital Books), was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist. Her essays, poems, and stories have been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, THEMA, More, and other magazines. She blogs about writing and environmental issues at Writer in Residence.

Lawton’s writing about the West has won the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, three Pushcart Prize nominations (in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), and other honors. She has received residencies at The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in Langley, Washington.  Her debut novel, Junction, Utah, set in the resource-rich Green River valley, is available as an original e-book from van Haitsma Literary.

Lawton works as a writer and scientist and serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the River.

Follow Rebecca Lawton on Twitter: @LawtonRebeccaC.

Follow Sally van Haitsma: @SallyJVH.

Photo of Rebecca Lawton above by Melinda Kelley.

Friday Guest Host: Priscille Sibley May 16, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, mainstream fictio.
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Priscille Sibley in #litchatAn unspeakable tragedy becomes wrapped in a bittersweet blessing in Priscille Sibley‘s debut novel, The Promise of Stardust. Years before the accident that would put her on life support, Elle McClure went into space to study the stars, but came down to earth to marry  a man grounded by a career in medicine.

High school sweethearts, Elle and Matt Beaulieu have everything money can buy, except a child. After suffering a string of premature stillbirths and miscarriages, the day after she learns she is pregnant again, Elle falls from a ladder and is pronounced brain dead. The Promise of StardustElle hasn’t yet told Matt of the pregnancy, and when the initial trauma examinations miss her pregnancy, Matt is shocked when another test reveals a pregnancy nearing the end of the first trimester. This is when The Promise of Stardust shoots to the stars.

Years ago, Elle filed an informed consent directive that ensures that in case of brain death, her body would not be kept alive by artificial means. Torn by the knowledge of his wife’s no-resuscitation wishes and the possibility of artificially maintaining her body long enough for the baby to incubate to the point of life outside the womb, Matt chooses to save the baby. When his mother, who holds Elle’s power of medical attorney, sides with the paper, Matt’s fight hits the headlines, leads him into court, and nearly tears their families apart.

Within the inter-fused trails of death with dignity, right to life, personal promises, and medical law, emerges a story with the best kind of champion—the unlikely hero who fights for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Born and raised in Maine, Priscille has paddled down a few wild rivers, done a little rock climbing, and jumped out of airplanes. Sibley knew early on she would become a nurse. And a poet. Later, her love of words developed into a passion for storytelling.

Born and raised in Maine, Priscille has paddled down a few wild rivers, done a little rock climbing, and jumped out of airplanes. She currently lives in New Jersey where she works as a neonatal intensive care nurse and shares her life with her wonderful husband, three tall teenaged sons, and a mischievous Wheaten terrier.

Follow Priscille Sibley on Twitter: @PriscilleSibley.

Guest Host: Heather Fowler April 3, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, poetry.
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Guest host for Friday, April 5, 2013: Heather Fowler.

Heather Fowler in #litchatPoet and author Heather Fowler turns ordinary words into seductive coils of ideas and impressions. “Writing is my mode of expressing the thoughts that become poisonous if let to sit. I write in many genres because the ideas demand them, request them.” Fowler joins us as guest host on Friday to discuss the importance of poetry in contemporary literary arts.

Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books, forthcoming May 2013), and Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness (Queen’s Ferry Press, forthcoming May 2014). Fowler’s People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction. She received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Feminist Studies, Quarterly West, Surreal South, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, Short Story America, The Nervous Breakdown, and others, as well as having been nominated for the storySouth Million Writers Award, Sundress Publications Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine and a Fiction Editor for the international refereed journal, Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures & Societies (USA). Please visit her website: www.heatherfowlerwrites.com.

Follow Heather Fowler on Twitter: @hfowlerwrites.

Guest Host: Jordan Rosenfeld March 28, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, literary fiction, paranormal.
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Guest host for Friday, March 29, 2013: Jordan E. Rosenfeld, author of Forged in Grace.

Jordan Rosenfeld in #litchatMost people walk around with scars on the inside. Grace Jensen wears them like a permanent Halloween mask on the outside, while smoldering from their pain on the inside. In Forged in Grace, Jordan E. Rosenfeld animates a woman grotesquely scarred by fire and emotionally stunted by the betrayal that made her so.

Chatscript of #litchat with Jordan E. Rosenfeld available here.

Grace and Marly were BFFs growing up in the small community of Drake’s Bay in Northern California. Marly, the beautiful one, is forced to embrace the power of her sexuality far too early. Grace, the insecure follower, idolizes Marly and plays into her recklessness. When Grace’s parents block their friendship after a late-night pick-up from an out-of-town police station, a dangerous game of adolescent angst and envy embroil the girls. Grace is severely burned, while Marly escapes with a tiny burn on her arm.


Adolescent relationships are volatile. As young people sort through who they are, the expectations of and pressures from the adults in their world—especially the trusted caretakers—can twist their psyche in harmful ways. Rosenfeld explores this concept through the eyes of the adult Grace with such insight, you don’t realize she’s also revealing the scarred heart of her best friend Marly.

After years of silence between the two women, Marly’s return to Drake’s Bay for the funeral of her grandmother kindles a reconciliation. A pariah in her small-town community, Grace accepts Marly’s invitation to Las Vegas where she can blend in with the hoards of other misfits who call the glittering desert oasis a home. This is when Rosenfeld’s insights into psyche and character ignite. With prose so raw it bleeds, Rosenfeld reveals a connection between Grace and Marly that singes the words on the page.

Ever since the fire that nearly took her life, Grace has been unable to tolerate human touch. Her doctors can’t find a physical reason why she burns with pain when people touch her. Psychologists say it’s psychosomatic. One night after Marly is beat-up by an angry lover, Grace reaches through her own pain to soothe Marly’s injuries. The next morning Marly has no swelling, bruising, or abrasions. The pain Grace felt all those years when touching people was their pain, not hers. And now she has a way of reaching into them to heal the sickness and injury. Marly-the-manipulator immediately pushes Grace into a type of sideshow act to heal the sick and wounded, which leads to more conflict between the two. The story flares up here for genuine tearful conclusions that answer the questions Rosenfeld so deftly scatters throughout the novel.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld learned early on that people prefer a storyteller to a know-it-all. She channeled any Hermione-esque tendencies into a career as a writing coach, editor and freelance journalist and saves the Tall Tales for her novels. She earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of the books, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books) and Write Free! Attracting the Creative Life with Rebecca Lawton (BeijaFlor Books). Jordan’s essays and articles have appeared in such publications as AlterNet.org, Publisher’s Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazine. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio. She lives in Northern California with her Batman-obsessed son and Psychologist husband.

Watch the Forged In Grace book trailer.

Follow Jordan E. Rosenfeld on Twitter: @JordanRosenfeld.