Grammar vs. craft

My day job requires that I be an expert in the nit-picky, mechanical, stylistic parts of language: I am a proofreader. I am the person people come to with grammatical questions, who must concentrate on all the details of our communications, eliminating all typos. I deal with the miniscule. My most common buzzword is "correct."

I work for the National Court Reporters Association. Court reporters are those people who type on those little machines in the courtroom, preparing the verbatim transcript of what everyone says. I got really excited during the pilot episode of Growing Up Fisher when there was a court reporter in a brief scene. Those same skills, by the way, also translate into the area of captioning. The next time you're at the gym watching the closed captions on the news, thank a court reporter.

A "verbatim transcript" means capturing everything that was said and writing it down correctly. They're aiming for 100% and


This is your elevator pitch

My friend Cherisse is amazing at networking. She knows everyone. And she knows how to get everywhere. And she keeps up with these people -- she knows the important details she should and doesn't know what is too private. She's up on their writing or how they're connected with the literary community. Of course, she's also heavily involved with the literary community, primarily on the west coast but still with east coast ties. I'm continually amazed.

I'm not good at networking. I have a lot of people I know from college and that's as close as I get. But networking makes me nervous. Whenever I think "I should network", I start getting nervous... and suspicious. I start imagining going to events, sliding up to people I don't know, trying to start witty conversations, and making a connection. But I wonder, "Why would this person do anything for me? They don't even know me." And then I wonder, narrowing my eyes, "What are they going to want


More resolutions: Three ways to get my book into the hands of readers

I described my New Year's writing resolutions in my last post. However, along with simply finding time and space to write, I have some goals for the business end of writing as well.

The big one revolves around my book. In case you're unaware, as part of my graduation requirements, my MFA thesis was self-published and is available for sale (there's a sidebar button to purchase it through PayPal). However, due to lack of self-marketing, sales stagnated after the initial wave of purchases. This isn't surprising, but it does mean that I still have a box of books in my house wanting to be read (and means I haven't recouped my losses -- this was, after all, an expensive project).

One way I plan to get my book out is to take advantage of used bookstores. Many of them allow patrons to sell back their used books for store credit. This doesn't get me any actual money, but it does give me a new-to-me book, which is probably just as good. It also gets my book into an actual store and, hopefully, into the hands of someone who has never met me.

Another method is to use the powers of Amazon. Ever since graduation, I've intended to release an e-book version of my short


New year writing resolutions

I've always liked rituals. I know any day of the year is a good time for a new beginning, but I like using the new year as an opportunity to readjust and make some changes. Some of my resolutions are more in the form of to-do lists (i.e. projects I'd like to get done around the house in 2014) while some are more abstract goals.

One of the big ones, of course, is writing. Since I've finished my degree, I haven't been terribly productive at writing. I've had all sorts of excuses -- planning a wedding, starting a full-time job, difficulty managing time, wanting to hang out with my new husband -- but they're all excuses and I know that. One of my writer friends said that she's heard a lot of people don't do much writing for the first six months post-MFA because graduate work is so exhausting. Well, I don't know if that's true, but that sounded like another great legitimate excuse to add to the pile. Except now I'm definitely six months out of school, so time to get back to work.

I know one of the most successful ways to keep a goal is to be specific, but right now the goal is simply "find a writing


Guest post: An interview with Jeffrey Barken

Jeffrey Barken is a colleague of mine from graduate school. A fellow fiction writer, we spent many classes together, culminating in being in the same editorial group during our thesis project. As always, Jeff has a few irons in the fire all at the same time. He's busy promoting his first book, This Year in Jerusalem, as well as his website, Monologging.org, and all of the projects that entails. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about what he's been up to. In true Jeff fashion, the interview was conducted long-distance between the United States and Israel.

What prompted you to start Monologging.org? How has it evolved since its creation?

Monologging began two years ago as my final project for an electronic publishing course that I was taking at the University of Baltimore. Initially I used a basic WordPress free blog site, but quickly became frustrated with the design limitations. In the winter of 2012 I purchased the domain and began introducing myself to authors and writers around the world in order to