Sunday, August 13, 2017

Random notes

While visiting my sister in St Petersburg, I found Wilson's Book World on 9th Street (now MLK Blvd) and 24th, a store I'd heard much about. Inside, treasure wall to wall. Beside the usual rows of popular grocery store novels, there is one of the best collections of literary criticism and writing I have encountered outside a major library. After a half hour of soaking up the antique shop atmosphere and reading book spines on the well-organized shelves, I found three. A rare find, its top covered in bookshelf dust, Stuart Gilbert's Letters of James Joyce, published before the Ellman biography and one of its major sources. A paperback of Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. I remember Hemingway commenting somewhere that he learned about writing from reading Turgenev, though I think he was referring to the short story collection A Sportman's Sketches. And on a display of new acquisitions, Will In The World, the wonderful (nearly)new biography of Shakespeare by scholar and professor Stephen Greenblatt. At checkout, I talked about used book stores like Kendall Book Exchange with Wilson's owner Jeff Morris (His mother Helen Wilson started the store). My total price was twenty-five dollars but I only had a twenty, a not-unusual circumstance. So Jeff charged me for the Joyce Letters and Will/World and gave me the Turganev, an offer I could not refuse. Twenty dollars well spent. If you go to Tampa Bay and the Gulf Beaches, take a ride to Wilson's and relax and enjoy.

See the store here:  (Click the highlighted words to see the hyperlinks)

Friday, July 14, 2017

$1 Book Sale at Tea'N'Sanity/Kendall Book Exchange

There is a huge $1 a book sale at Kendall Book Exchange, which is the alt name for Tea'N'Sanity, in Kendall. There is a great selection of every kind of book, from literary novels to grocery store best-sellers, as well as Spanish language, childrens, YMA and they are also selling out a large collection of DVDs. Eunice and Manny also offer the best selection of herbal teas in the area, as well as many speciality homeopathic concoctions for what ails you. The store is located behind the Wendy's on SW 120th Street and Sw 131 Avenue. Truly a nice selection, great prices, wonderful tea. Buy 10 books, get one free. And the money goes to an animal protection charity. The sale is 10AM till 4PM this Saturday. Check out their flyer. They are the last used book store in Miami.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Jitney Books Launch

While I've been away on medical leave, the world has gone on without me. The folks at Jitney Books have another new author book launch party scheduled, and we want to get the word out.

Luis Garcia will be reading from his short story collection, Missing. There will be DJ sets and a performance as well. Sunday July 16 at Gramps, 176 NW 24th Street Miami.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Books for indigent artists

I read a lot, on a very limited budget. Very. So, I have become quite a shopper, looking for used books of merit and rock-bottom remainders. My idea is to not pay more than $3.00, with $1.00 being the sweet spot. And because I have little interest in books by grocery store authors, I have to work twice as hard to find works I want to read. Yes, I know there are free eBooks all over the internet, but to me those aren't really books, they're textual video programs. I prefer to avoid the glowing rectangle, in favor of ink on paper. EBooks are like Boneless Chicken Wings: not really like the original at all, but shamelessly borrowing the name. And I myself have eBooks for sale, somewhere. I withdrew most of them but they're harder to get rid of than to write.

You might be surprised to find that Dollar Tree and other stores with the $1 price point are excellent sources of books, particularly hard cover books that used book stores now avoid.

Here's a list of some  DOLLAR TREE BOOKS I bought. Please click on each hyperlink to see reviews and other information.

The GUTS---Roddy Doyle

The Childhood of Jesus---J.M. Coetzee

Two of the latest Easy Rawlins novels, Ruby Gold and Little Green---Walter Mosely

Freedom---Jonathan Franzen (didn't buy, already had. Have to give it a second chance.)

The Black-Eyed Blonde--Benjamin Black (John Banville)

Tenth of December---George Saunders

Consider The Lobster, Both Flesh And Not ---David Foster Wallace

In Paradise---Peter Matthiessen

There are also short story collections by T.C.Boyle and Jonathan Lethem I have my eyes on, and Nathan Englander's last book. There are others I've bought and given away but this is a good representative list of what can be found. And Dollar Trees also carry Pears Transparent Soap, the favorite of Michael Ondaatje.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Books and Books now open in Pinecrest

"Thank you for the warm welcome to the neighborhood, Suniland Shopping CenterBooks & Books fans, be sure to visit us at 11297 South Dixie Highway in Pinecrest. #booksandbookssuniland"

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Miami Book Fair is sponsoring a contest for Novellas (17,000 to 40,000 words) with terrific prizes and recognition for the winners. Jan Becker, author of The Sunshine Chronicles and media publicist for the Miami Book Fair, sent us the info:

The Miami Book Fair, the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, presented by Miami Dade College, has partnered with The de Groot Foundation to launch the Miami Book Fair/De Groot Prize to be awarded to an author for an unpublished novella.

The Prizes
The winner of the Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize will receive a $6,000 cash award, publication by Melville House, a critically acclaimed independent press, an expense-paid (hotel, travel, per diem) trip to the Miami Book Fair after publication, and a chance to read/participate in programs at the fair. The two runners-up will each receive $2,000, an expense-paid (hotel, travel, per diem) trip to the Miami Book Fair, and a chance to read/participate in programs at the Fair. The three winners' work will be publicized in print and online media.
Prize Timeline
  • Submissions will be received beginning May 1, 2017
  • All submissions must be received online and paid for by midnight EST on June 15, 2017
  • The three finalists will be notified once the jury has made its decision on or before October 20, 2017.
  • The winners of the Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize will be publicly announced on or before November 1, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Coral Gables 6PM

Sunday is the book launch of The Sunshine Chronicles by FIU MFA grad Jan Becker at Books and Books in Coral Gables, Sunday April 23 at 6PM. Jitney Press is sponsoring the event for its author.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Weekend April 21-24

This Saturday, author extraordinaire and FIU Creative Writing professor Lynne Barrett will give a FREE seminar at the Palm Springs Public Library for writers, on What Editors Want. April 22, 10AM-Noon.
An excellent, cut through the b.s. manual on getting published in literary journals and elsewhere.

This Sunday is the book launch of The Sunshine Chronicles by FIU MFA grad Jan Becker at Books and Books in Coral Gables, Sunday April 23 at 6PM. Jitney Press is sponsoring the event for its author.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Almost forgot!

J.J. Colagrande has his Jitney Press Book Launch Sunday--today!-- at 6 PM at Coral Gables'
 Books and Books on Aragon Avenue. The following is from the Books and Books website:

Reduce Heat Continue To Boil is flush with details and subplots, including a look into the stripper world, a journey to a music festival, a horrible accident, an encounter with a super-star basketball player, and a lethal hurricane. The characters must overcome more than most Millennials will ever face or they’ll lose their sanity, heart and the city they love to hate, Miami.  
Jimena Quintero is anxious, beautiful and filled with wanderlust. Stuck in a cubicle, trapped in a crumbling marriage, she's haunted by her childhood and family secrets. That is until she meets Alex Lane, a local Wynwood bar owner.  
"Reduce Heat and Continue to Boil is more than a coming-of-age story of an engaging protagonist and the city she lives in. It attempts to re-brand Miami for the 21st century. So hold on for a wild new ride, you're not going to want to get off." 
Stuart Chase
President, History Miami Museum 
"J.J. Colagrande is one of the only writers to reflect the real Miami..."  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Please join writer and poet Roland Little for a reading and book signing in Lake Worth April 20th.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Used Books

Used books are like used people. We remember them once shiny happy in fine buildings in Coral Gables and Dadeland and South Miami and Gallleria, but later they're not so fine and mostly in the way and where do you put all of them anyway.

The last Used Book store in Miami is the Kendall Book Exchange, behind the Wendy's on SW 120th Street at SW 131 Avenue. Eunice, Manny and Lyla Rodriguez are the nicest folks you'll ever want to meet. Their main business is Tea'N'Sanity at this location, providing herbal teas and holistic remedies like an Old World apothecary. See CBS TV listing them as a Top TeaRoom in South Florida

This Saturday March 25 from 10 AM to 4 PM is their $1 Book Blowout, with over 2000 books for sale at a dollar each. Spend $10 and get a FREE book and they donate $2 to Wings of Love Animal Rescue.

I got Ovid's Metamorphoses and The Top Mystery Stories of 1996. $2.00. Great reads. Love 'em.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Jane Smiley will be at Florida International University Biscayne Bay campus March 30 to receive this year's Lawrence Sanders Award in Fiction. The event is open to the public, and a chance to meet and hear readings by one of America's favorite authors.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Jitney Books Launch Party


On Friday, March 10th, celebrate the launch of Jitney Books a new micro-publishing press committed to bringing local stories to life through Fiction and Memoir. Join us as this year's crop of Jitney authors and artists mingle to celebrate their new catalog for a fun night filled with interactive games and creative surprises. From 6pm to 8pm, the bookstore will offer guests complimentary drinks, snacks and entertainment. Music will be provided by The Uncanny reservoir and Zander. RSVP required.



Books and Books Wynwood
2602 NW 5 Ave
Miami, Florida 33127
Moonlight wins!

Kid actors return to school

Congratulations to Tarrell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins and the entire production crew. See earlier posts in Blog Archive

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lucky Jay Series

Are you a Lucky Jay fan yet?

Awards, News and Reviews

At the 2015 Miami Web Fest, 200 series were selected, 11 were nominated for Best Screenplay and Lucky Jaywon the gold trophy! Congratulations to writers John Dufresne, Angelo Eidse and Harper Philbin for this honor.

Watch Season 1 here

Watch Season 2 here

Monday, February 6, 2017

Interview with Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy is the author of over thirty novels and short story collections, a former president of the Florida chapter of  Mystery Writers of America hosting this year’s Sleuthfest, a teacher at Broward College, a social activist for LGBT issues, and a pioneer in eBooks and self-publishing. An incredibly active guy, Neil takes time to talk to readers of Miami Writers and Books.

1) Neil, it seems like a hundred years ago that I first met you at John Dufresne’s Friday Night Writers. That group included Ware Cornell, David Norman, Carol McFrederick, Mark Ginzburg, Henry Greenfield, and several other struggling writers. I can remember clearly what a stickler you were for good grammar, spelling and word usage, and how those who failed your standards got roasted quickly. Then encouraged, of course. You always encouraged improvement. Do you remember any of that?

I remember admiring John Dufresne for his commitment to helping writers -- all those chapters and stories to read! There were a lot of very talented authors there who provided me with insightful feedback, and it was an excellent opportunity for novice writers and those not involved with the MFA program at FIU to get the chance to put their work in front of readers and become familiar with the workshop method used in many creative writing courses.

Tell us about your involvement with MysteryWriters of America.

I joined MWA before my first mystery was published because someone told me I ought to. I started attending the monthly lunches and quickly got roped into helping out. I love the opportunity MWA provides to learn more about the craft of writing, the business of writing, and all the technical aspects that go into creating crime fiction. I have made many friends through MWA and participating in conferences like Sleuthfest. I’ve had the chance to meet many of my writing idols and also watch many talented colleagues succeed.

 Several years ago, you started your Mahu series, featuring a gay detective in Hawaii. I remember being shocked. For a redneck Catholic from Virginia to read a mystery where the good guy actually goes down on the bad guy and likes it, Good Lord man, I think I had an Afib right there in the bookstore. How are the Mahu books doing now, and where can readers buy them?

The company that published the first edition of Mahu was sold to another publisher who discontinued their fiction line, and I was lucky that a second publisher stepped up to continue the series. Then sadly they went out of business after I published three books with them. I started to worry that I was the kiss of death for publishers but then was fortunate to hook up with MLR Press, an independent publisher who has since brought out eleven books in the series. I’ve had the opportunity to work with MLR as an editor as well, strengthening their line in gay mystery. I’ve been able to edit some authors I really admire that way.

I recall that you literally had to go to New York City and pound the pavement to get your early work published. How has that changed over the years?

I think you still have to pound the digital pavement to find the right home for your works. Right now I publish with two different online presses—one for mystery, one for romance, which both put out my books in print as well as electronically. Last year I hooked up with a small operation in New York, Diversion Books, started by a pair of literary agents, and was very happy with the treatment I got for my first FBI thriller, The Next OneWill Kill You.
At the same time, I’ve seen several formerly well-regarded presses go out of business, so you have to know who you’re getting in bed with before you start taking off your clothes!

You were the first person I ever heard say that literary fiction was going nowhere, or held no interest for you, and that genre fiction was the right path for writers looking to get published. Maybe you could elaborate on that, since I’m sure I mangled your comment.

Literary fiction, when done well, is awesome and I hope there will always be publishers ready to take on those books. But you don’t have to be able to write something worthy of an American Book Award in order to get published today, and if you can tell a good story then the world of genre fiction is wide open. I consider myself a story-teller rather than a literary artist. Sure, I’m capable of writing a great line now and then, but what I want is to grab you by the lapels and make you listen to the story I want to tell. I try to do that using the tropes of romance and crime fiction to create characters you’ll want to meet and situations you’ll want to explore.

You taught a seminar at the 2010 Sleuthfest I attended. Will you be doing that again?

I won’t be at this year’s Sleuthfest (so you might want to skip this question.)

 Do you self-publish any of your work these days? At one time, you actually produced an excellent PowerPoint on self-publishing and marketing. It seems like that industry has grown tremendously.

I still self-publish my Golden Retriever mysteries, and I’m not opposed to self-publishing new work if that’s the way I can best (and most profitably) reach my readers. But as an example, I signed with Diversion because they could provide excellent editorial feedback, terrific cover design, and help with marketing. Self-publishing requires the author to do all those things, and more, so if I can find a partner with mad skills I’m happy to split my royalties.

I’m going to be the March luncheon speaker for Florida MWA, where I’m trying to take that old presentation a step further. Once you have a book published in print or electronic format there’s still more you can do—audio books are exploding in popularity, and I think the next wave is going to be translation into other languages. I’m going to talk about my experience in those areas.

Who are some local writers who should be featured at Miami Writers and Books? I know I’ve seen many writers from this area at your Book Launches. You introduced me to Barbara Parker at the Mahu Surfer booklaunch at the Mai-Kai years ago. She certainly had a great affection for you.

Sharon Potts, who like me is a hybrid author – published by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint and Oceanview, as well as self-publishing a couple of romances.
Two of my colleagues at BC might be worth a look. Lourdes Rodriguez-Florido has published 2 YA books. I edited the second one for MLR—A Whisper of Angels. An interesting mashup of YA, M/M romance (very little romance) and angels.
If you’ll consider a poet, there’s Elisa Albo. She has two books out so far.

What is your schedule like this year?

Wish I knew! Still trying to figure out where to go and what to do.

 Do you do your own marketing and social media? Your sites look very professional.

Thanks – I used to be a technical writer and web developer so I enjoy getting into the HTML and fiddling with images, layout and so on. Social media is a huge time suck and it’s hard to strike a balance between “buy my book!” and “here’s something interesting about me.” Still working on that!

 Do you write every day?

Yes, I try to write for an hour every day, almost always in the morning and almost always at Starbucks. Writing is work—so my reward for putting my butt in the chair and opening my laptop is a nice grande mocha with whipped cream and mocha drizzle. Doesn’t do anything for my weight but does get me to knuckle down.

What’s your idea of a great vacation?

My next vacation goal is a river cruise somewhere in Europe. I have this fantasy of relaxing on deck with my laptop, writing while the world floats by! Breaking up the writing with stops in picturesque locations, and no need to pack or unpack every day.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Jitney Books

John Dufresne forwarded me the media kit from a new Miami Micro-Press, Jitney Books.

Jitney Books was founded by J.J. Colagrande, author of several novels and short pieces, including Deco and Heatz, and more recently, Reduce Heat Continue To Boil

Jitney Books is also uniquely a micro-publishing company focused on producing only original titles by local authors writing local stories with the intention of this material being produced into film or plays by local filmmakers or playwrights.

All cover art will always feature local artists and photographers. We are interested in the city of Miami, but also its media market, which stretches from Key West to West Palm Beach. All intellectual property rights will always remain with the artists and authors. And all we want to do is share the love."

Contact Jan Becker, Publicity

Jan Becker is the Jan Becker from FIU, not the automotive parts designer. Louis K. Lowy recommended her in his interview last week. I'll be tracking her down for an interview in the near future.

"Jan Becker is from a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania. She didn’t stay there very long. She grew up in a Marine Corps family, on military bases all over the United States, and wandered the US for many years before settling in South Florida. She is currently an MFA candidate at Florida International University, and has taught courses there in composition, technical writing, creative writing and poetry. She is on the regular faculty at Reading Queer Academy, where she teaches a Boot Camp for Queer Writers and serves as a mentor. Her work has appeared in Jai-Alai Magazine, Colorado Review, Emerge, Brevity Poetry Review, Sliver of Stone, and the Florida Book Review. She is the 2015-2016 Writer in Residence at the Girls’ Club Collection in Fort Lauderdale, and winner of the 2015 AWP Intro Journals Award in Nonfiction. Her first book, The Sunshine Chronicles was published by Jitney Books in 2016."

Jitney has also published Just Johnson: The London Delivery by Timothy Schmand.

Praise: Just Johnson: The London Delivery is a funny, fast-paced spy thriller filled with zany over-the-top characters who find themselves entangled in events larger than themselves.” Huffington Post
Author Bio: Timothy Schmand fled upstate New York’s oppressive winters and settled in South Florida in 1982. Schmand’s award winning fiction has appeared in literary journals, popular magazines and anthologies, including the Miami Herald, Time Out Miami and the Holland Herald. He is a recipient of the Calvino Prize.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Lit of Flawed Democracy

These are days when millions of people in America and around the world question the recent election. Is democracy flawed in the United States? There are several books of note that have dealt with this very question over the years.

I.F. Stone (no relation to Sly Stone)had a famous weekly in the Dick Cavett  era, and also wrote an informed but opinionated history of the most famous Greek philosopher, Socrates. The Trial of Socrates. Most people know Socrates had to drink hemlock as his death sentence, but not many know why.

Socrates thought that allowing the common people to vote in a democracy was a bad idea. The undereducated could be easily swayed by a popular demagogue making promises of wealth and glory with little or no substance to back up the claim. Disaster would result.  A history of the Peloponnesian War would later bear out his argument.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon is probably the most famous tale of outside interference in a US election. Communist Chinese have brainwashed American soldiers captured during the Korean War and transferred to a secret "re-education" center in Manchuria. One of the Army officers is the son of a wealthy politician running for president, and he is the main target, brutally conditioned by torture and hypnosis to become a sleeper agent and assassin. The book has been in print for over fifty years, and made into two tremendously popular motion pictures. My favorite is the 1962 film starring Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Henry Silva, and Academy Award winner Angela Lansbury.

Recntly, I have seen posts encouraging people to read It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, which recently sold out online. An article in the Washington Post referred to both the Lewis novel and the more recent National Book Award winner by Philip Roth, The Plot Against America, a dark tale of pro-Nazi Americans led by national hero Charles Lindbergh who win the 1940 election and send America into a Fascist spiral. The article, by Carlos Lozada, June 9, 2016, gets into Trump-bashing more than I care to share here in this blog. I'm not into political statements; I'm writing about books and flawed democracy. Obviously, I am not the first or last to do so.

One of my favorite books ever is Burr by Gore Vidal. In this well-researched historical novel, Vidal examines the character of our Founding Fathers, and takes a close look at the Electoral College, where Aaron Burr tied Thomas Jefferson in electoral votes. Vidal also wrote another historical novel about rigged elections, 1876. Both should be popular reading these days.

Mark Frauenfelder at recently posted about another excellent book on outside interference, The Twentieth of January.

If you have other books to recommend, please do so. Try to avoid blatant attacks on the current president, no matter how strong the temptation. Remember what Frank Zappa said: Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Guest Author Louis K. Lowy
In the interview below, the highlighted words are hyperlinks. You can click on them and go to the website represented, either an author site or book or even, thanks to Louis, a YouTube video of him and the band Hemlock performing in the 1980's. Find the online book review in one of the links.

Q & A with Louis K. Lowy

 When I first met you, you had written some short stories with very real characters and dialogue. Now you have three full novels published. Tell us about the development of your work.
First off, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be on your site, Neil. It’s an honor to be included. Regarding how I transitioned from short stories to novels, it was more a natural progression than a conscious effort. My short stories started out around 6-8 pages and gradually increased to forty-eight pages, which is venturing toward novella territory. When I started my first novel, Die Laughing, it was intended to be a short story, but as wrote it, I kept finding new avenues to explore. About fifty pages into it, I made the decision that it was going to be a novel. Of course, I had no idea how I was going to do that, but I kept plugging away.

 You have the official Book Launch for To Dream: Anatomy of a Humachine coming up Saturday January 28 5p.m. at Books & Books in Coral Gables. You must be very excited. How do you set something like that up?
Yes, indeed. I’m very excited! As to how you set it up, welcome to the business of writing. Basically, it boils down to contacting Books & Books, speaking with the person in charge of events and working out the details; contacting the caterer and working out the details; contacting the publisher and making arrangements to have the books; sending out notices via word of mouth and social media; figuring out what you’re going to present and then practicing it. There are numerous details in-between, but that’s the basic steps. It’s sometimes uncomfortable and time consuming work, but in the end it’s wonderful to see friends and book lovers gathered to hear your work. I also love the question and answers, I never know what’s going to pop up—or for that matter how I’m going to answer. One other thing, let me throw a special shout out to John Dufresne, he’s graciously agreed to do my introduction.

Do you have an agent? How did you find your first publisher?
I don’t have an agent. I found my publisher—IFWG Publishing—the old-fashion way. Hard work. First, and most importantly, before sending out my manuscript (or any of my work, for that matter) I made sure it was as perfect as I could make it. That includes edits and typos. When I felt confident the manuscript was ready, I researched publishers and how to contact them. There are great online resources these days. I also researched how to write a query letter and put one together. I sent it to many publishers and was fortunate to find that IFWG was interested in work. They’re great to deal with. Word of advice, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. I won’t lie, they sting, but the key is persistence. Remember, it’s not the amount of no’s you may receive, it’s only that one yes that counts.

 I see some very active social media campaigns promoting your work, on your website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, for example. Do you do all that yourself?
Mostly, but not all of it. This is my third novel and I’ve made some wonderful acquaintances along the way in person and online. They’ve been generous in supporting me, reposting, retweeting my notices. I would be negligent if I didn’t mention how supportive the South Florida writing community is. My creative writing alma mater, FIU, has been particularly encouraging, that includes the staff, fellow grads, and the instructors.

Has your background as a musician helped you with the literary arts? Tell us about your music and bands. Do you still play professionally?
Playing music has definitely influenced how I write. I tend to think about the rhythmic structure of words and sentences, which is a throwback to my music. I unconsciously throw in bands and music in nearly all of my stories—certainly in all of my novels. I also think of playing music and writing in similar same terms. Both take discipline, constant listening (or reading), and practice.
Regarding bands—the most well-known was a group called Hemlock. We were signed to Warner Brothers Records and had a minor dance hit called “Disco Break.” This is super-embarrassing, but here’s a YouTube link of us playing it on a local TV show: I played in original bands after Hemlock and loved the creative process. In most of the groups I was the go-to guy for lyrics, which helped later on with my writing.
I don’t play professionally anymore because I love writing too much. I do have to admit, though, that writing is like being in a one man band. You make all of the decisions about timing, structure, pacing, feel, and length. When it works, it’s very satisfying creative wise.

What are you working on now?
I’ve recently completed a fantasy novel about a gambler on the brink of death who gets a chance to save his soul, and a late Victorian era horror story. I’m current working on my sixth novel - a crime story that takes place in Florida, circa mid-sixties.

What sells best for you, print books or eBooks? Do you have to format your own eBooks?
Hmm, I don’t know. It’s probably a combination of the two. I’ll have to look at my publisher statements closer.
As far as formatting eBooks, I don’t do anything involving the actual process of publishing, including formatting. The publisher handles that. I do get a say on the interior look and the cover, which I’m always happy about.

In addition to their support, the beautiful thing about the Creative Writing program is that it saved me time. Through their classes I was given the opportunity to learn the craft of writing, and to avoid a lot of trial and error. Not all of it, of course, but more than if I had worked on it without any guidance and instruction.

Who are some of your favorite authors and books?
Charles Dickens – Great Expectations, James Joyce - Dubliners, Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice, Stephen King – Carrie, etc., Ray Bradbury – R is for Rocket, Stan Lee – his Marvel comics body of work, William Gibson – Neuromancer, Louise Penny – Bury Your Dead, J.R.R. Tolkien – Hobbit, etc., Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood, Ernest Hemingway – To Have and to Have Not, and the one I’m currently reading, J.D. Salinger – Nine.

What is your schedule like this year?
Busy! Between my writing schedule, preparing for my book launch of To Dream, keeping up with my writing groups and sending out queries for my other novels, days zip by.

Do libraries carry your books? Where do they get them? (Direct from the publisher or through Ingram, for example)
Some libraries do carry them. Sometimes I’ll make the acquaintance of librarians and they’ll get the book through me, other times they’ll order them through the publisher, I suppose, but possible Ingram, too.

It’s my most ambitious piece to date. Four key storylines are going on in different centuries and different planets, but they all intertwine and affect each other. As to the actual plot, I’ll quote from IFWG Publishing: “Guilt ridden over the death of her 17-year-old son, Jay, scientist Niyati Bopari heads a team that creates a Humachine (human machine) for mega-corporation Ameri-Inc. Niyati dubs the Humachine J-1 and creates it in Jay’s image. She secretly infuses it with Jay’s DNA. J-1 is the most sophisticated robot ever created and its purpose is to replace human labor. Before J-1 and his blueprints can be transported to Ameri-Inc. headquarters a rogue Ameri-Inc. agent attempts to steal them. 
“Anatomy of a Humachine is a science fiction epic spanning two centuries and crossing two planets. Book I: To Dream centers on J-1, an artificial intelligence struggling to find his humanity; the grieving scientist who created him; the ruthless head of the corporation who owns him; and the iron-willed leader of a rebel force seeking revenge for the death of her family and the destruction of her planet.”

Do you write every day?
This is my writing schedule: Monday through Friday, minimum three hours a day (though I rarely go over three hours). I’m strict about it and only break it if I have no choice.

Who are some local writers and artists you’d like to see featured at Miami Writers and Books?
There are so many amazing local writers, including, but not limited to, Mike Creeden, Jan Becker, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Corey Ginsberg, Fabienne Sylvia Josaphat-Merritt, Nina Romano, M.J. Fievre, Rita Fidler Dorn, Cathleen Chambless, Laura McDermott, and, of course, John Dufresne, Lynne Barrett, Julie Marie-Wade, Campbell McGrath, and Denise Duhamel.

What else would you like to say to readers interested in your work?
Check out my website, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m easy to find and love to hear from anyone interested in reading and writing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The gentleman in the photo is my friend Sam Hazelrig. Sam figures in Miami literary history in several ways. One, as one of the co-heroes in Ron Oliver's book, Mock Two. Mock Two is a novel written about fighter pilots like Sam and Ron and the wild life they led during the VietNam war and back here as bachelors in 1960's era Coconut Grove. The Grove at that time, just imagine. That's where 
Fred Neil and friends played music, where Spanky MacFarlane met them and got together a group called Spanky and Our Gang. Sam continued his legendary life, and figured as a central character in my story, "Ladies Man" in the collection Believable Lies. His life story lives on in the hearts of friends and family from California to Florida, Tampa and Miami, Alabama to Washington, and we share this with his lovely widow, Gabrielle Ayala, a modern-day Delta Lady if there ever was one.

This post is to show that Miami Writers and Books has a far reach, and will include folks near and far, like James Jones, who taught briefly at Florida International University, Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, Peter Matthiessen, whose Killing Mister Watson tells the history of the Ten Thousand Islands, Ted Smallwood's store, and how Alligator Alley got built. More to follow.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Checking out the morning news, I came across the story "Playwright Who Inspired 'Moonlight' Comes Home To South Florida High School" at I read with great interest how Tarell Alvin McCraney grew up in Liberty City and attended the New World School of the Arts, the SoFla school mentioned in the article. I also read that his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue had been made into the award-winning film Moonlight by another talented man from Liberty City, director Barry Jenkins. The film was shot in Miami, as you can see from the official trailer on YouTube.

What I didn't read there I found by a little research. McCraney also taught until just recently at the University of Miami. He is now the department chairman of Drama at Yale University, where he won his graduate degree.He also had a Writing Residency at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, and has won Whiting Awards and GLAAD Media Award For Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway and Off-Broadway, as mentioned in his interview for The Guardian .In 2013, he was awarded a MacArthur "genius" Grant.His books include The Brother/Sister Plays , Choir Boy and American Trade.

In his numerous interviews, for The Guardian, NBC News, the New York Times, the LA Times and others, (look at his Google links here), he talks about growing up poor and black and gay with an addictive parent in Liberty City. He also talks about the responsibility of art to show us the world as it really is and to help us learn to see, to change and to grow.

I am amazed, the more I learn about this talented young man. All the best to Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Now that I have a domain name, I'm looking to build a website to connect to this blog. All the ads you see for free and easy website building, you'd think it would be free and easy, but it's not. But first I need to work on design. And project focus.

Like: Who are the Miami writers and what are their books, articles, movies, web videos, etc.?

My plan is to have a list of writers I know or know of or would like to know or wish I had known.

List: John Dufresne, Les Standiford, Lynne Barrett, Mike Creeden, Louis K. Lowy, Nina Romano, Leonard Nash, Gonzalo Barr, Denise Duhamel, Campbell McGrath, James W. Hall, Cindy Chinelly,
Neil Plakcy, Preston Allen, the late Barbara Parker. This is a partial list with a FIU connection.

Now I will add hyperlinks to each of their individual websites. Click on each name to go there.

That took about half an hour. What I want is to have photographs of each, and hyperlinks from there. And interviews. I need to get the email addresses of everyone, establish a format of interviews, (I prefer written questions and answers as more accurate---after all, we're all writers), and then establish a link to places where someone can actually purchase or read the author's work. Not every reader will be able to go to Books&Books, for example, though most will want to do so. Or they will not know that John Dufresne has written the scripts for the online video series, Lucky Jay Or that Les Standiford's book The Man Who Invented Christmas is being made into a movie. Or that Louis K. Lowy will have his book launch for his third novel To Dream: Anatomy of a Humachine January 28 at Books&Books in Coral Gables. That's the info I want to get out to the world.

Here's my info: Neil Crabtree

By linking to Amazon Author Page, you can see I have a lot of work to do. It looks awful. But you can also my two books for sale, Believable Lies and The Barricades of Heaven .