Category Archives: Uncategorized

From Close to Couric: Some upcoming events


      October 16 marks the official publication day for Erika Raskin’s debut novel, Close. Published by Harvard Square Editions, Close details the moving, wryly funny and ultimately fateful actions of a single mother trying to cope with raising three daughters.  The book has already generated some glowing advance reviews on (“an incredible family dynamic and a plot twist that makes it impossible to put the book down…”) Raskin, who lives in Charlottesville, says she has been writing “off and on since elementary school.”   Her fiction has been published in a number of … Continue reading From Close to Couric: Some upcoming events

Novelist Jane Smiley at Sweet Briar


On Wednesday, September 17th Jane Smiley presented a lecture and reading from her new novel, Some Luck, at Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia. The novel is the first in a planned trilogy, The Last Hundred Years, about an Iowa farm family. Coincidentally, that same day the National Book Awards announced her one of the nominees for the fiction long list. Sweet Briar’s Memorial Chapel was filled with students, professors and a sprinkling of the general public. Behind the lectern, J.S., attractive and slender, in her sixties, with shoulder length blonde hair, was personable and … Continue reading Novelist Jane Smiley at Sweet Briar



Like many other people, I have had Ferguson, Missouri on my mind in recent weeks. I have been thinking most directly, of course, about Michael Brown, his parents, family members, friends, all those who feel his loss in a very personal way. I have been thinking about other parents who have lost their children, and all those black parents who worry whenever their teenage sons are out in the world and vulnerable. I have been trying to take in the range of emotions that have been on display as people have taken to the streets … Continue reading Ferguson

Feeling Prosy


Spring for me means the Virginia Festival of the Book. To say this writer gets jazzed is an understatement. At last year’s Festival, I volunteered at an event called Poets In Prose and learned a lot. The first thing I learned, what a damn ugly crowd it was. Writers and poets and those who love them are not eye candy. I was the hottest guy around! Just kidding (maybe). The event took place in an old time bookstore — up the open staircase to the second floor—kinda like a movie set and with the characters … Continue reading Feeling Prosy

Saying No


    I worked in college admissions for a number of years and in all that time we never “rejected” one single student.  Honestly.  Instead we “denied” admission to them – thousands of them, most of them.  Deny does sound gentler than reject.  In fact, just reading the definition of reject makes me wince:  “Dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate or not to one’s taste”… “fail to show due affection or concern for…” But, of course, no matter what we called it to make ourselves feel better, the impact was just as harsh.  One of my tasks … Continue reading Saying No

Work Meets Play


A friend and co-worker, Caroline Eberly, shares her essay about mixing labor and leisure. This piece first appeared on Story Matters, the digital expression of Journey Group, a Charlottesville creative agency. [divider] Work Meets Play: An invitation to turn up my senses.   Looking out the window at this wide, dried-out wilderness, I have sympathy for the desert-crossers who have gone before me. The wayfaring types who pushed sand with feet to cover this bare country. Just minutes before, I’d been considering the people of the future — those beings who might live in these shiny, … Continue reading Work Meets Play

Christmas Chaos


Leaving for L.A the day after tomorrow and realize I have not rented a car, wrapped presents, packed for California chill and sun, booked a motel for the road trip up the coast, or logged my students exam grades, nor scribbled notes for my house-sitter, arriving tomorrow. The clothes in my dresser drawers (spanning decades) are packed so tightly I am unable to dig past the tangled surface to even guess what archeological layers lie below. I fling everything out and now, panicked, realize there’s not enough time to thoughtfully sort and neatly fold, and … Continue reading Christmas Chaos

How Marcy Got Her Groove Back or…what I learned at my writing retreat


  Late on a Sunday afternoon, after a nearly eight-hour drive, I arrived at The Porches in Norwood, Virginia. I met my host, got the tour, unpacked my stuff, opened my laptop and stared out the large window in front of my writing desk, which overlooked a porch, and beyond the porch, the mountains. It was then that I noticed several strange, faint noises: a slight breeze rustling the tree leaves, the low hum of my ceiling fan, crows calling in the distance and, somewhere in those endless trees, the low rumble of a train. … Continue reading How Marcy Got Her Groove Back or…what I learned at my writing retreat

Ten Books You Shouldn’t Waste Your Money On


  Okay, there is no such list.  In fact, you can go ahead and file that under Lists You’re Unlikely Ever to See in Our Current Culture.  Because, these days, it seems we’re all supposed to pretend that there are no bad books.  Critics may still pan movies, artwork, dance and theater, but fewer and fewer reviewers are willing to talk tough about a book.  Not long ago, the New Yorker’s web site published a rambling mea culpa from critic Lee Siegel who confessed that he’d written negative book reviews in his career, but has … Continue reading Ten Books You Shouldn’t Waste Your Money On

A Playwright’s Inspiration


Creative writing can come from many sources, and personal experiences and stories from friends can provide inspiration for your next writing project. Some people argue that you can’t tell a story with anecdotes alone, and that writing someone else’s life is biography and not creative writing, but I contend that “true stories” and even tall tales can pepper your writing with humor and local color. As a playwright, I am forever taking mental notes of my friends and family’s behavior to help me build realistic characters. We’ve all taken the role of observer when seeking … Continue reading A Playwright’s Inspiration