Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Writers Ask: Livin’ on Maybes

This week we welcome back Jaime Fountaine and pepper her with questions about how to run a successful reading. Jaime hosts several reading series here in Philly featuring writers, comedians and storytellers. We want to know how to keep readers from being boring (or overly long), how to say no to a friend whose work you don’t really like, and how to keep things moving as a host.

We also discuss the ethics of using people’s real names in nonfiction, and of course we subject Jaime to the patented Book Fight Lightning Round.

If you like the show, please tell your friends! We rely on word of mouth to build our audience. And if you really like the show, please consider making a (tax-deductible) donation. If you do so before the end of the year, it’ll go toward helping us reach our fund drive goal–if we hit that goal, we’ll do a bonus episode featuring a book of our listeners’ choosing. Just visit our support page, and you can make a donation easily with Paypal. If you don’t have Paypal, you can just show up to Tom’s house with a briefcase full of cash.

As always, you can stream the episode here on the site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode.

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Writers Ask: Angry Peacocks

Another super-sized Writers Ask this week, not so much because we’re answering lots of questions but because we’ve got lots of opinions. Do you want to know what Tom thinks about the television show The View? Do you want to hear about the time in college when Mike was on a Dating Game-style game show in his dorm? Would you like some literary blind items about bad readings? If so, this is the episode for you. Also, we (nominally) answer some listener questions about, like, writing and junk.

Questions include: How can writers make public readings more entertaining? What weird editing marks do you make on your writing (or the writing of your students)? And how could the National Book Award people spice up their annual ceremony? Also, Mike’s got an update on his NaNoWriMo progress.

You can read Mike’s essay/argument/rant on readings here, on The Fanzine. You can watch full episodes of The View here. You can keep current on whether we’re alive or dead here. You can donate your hard-earned money to us, and receive valuable donor gifts here.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or download the mp3 file. We’re also in the iTunes store, on Stitcher, and in just about any other podcasting app you might use. If you like the show, please help us spread the word–on Twitter, on Facebook, on your town’s most crowded sidewalks. We rely on word of mouth to find new listeners, so we appreciate any help we can get. Thanks for listening!

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Writers Ask: Running a Train

We’re neck-deep in National Novel Writing Month, listeners, and that means this week we’re bringing you a super-sized Writers Ask. Mike reads an excerpt from his NaNoWriMo work-in-progress, and Tom digs up questions from the NaNoWriMo forums: how to name characters (people have so many questions about how to name characters!), what to do if you can control and/or travel through time, how many candles it takes to summon the muse, and how to get your stubbornly passive characters to just do something exciting already.

Before we get to those very pressing questions, though, we’ve got advice to dole out about MFA programs, to both a prospective applicant wondering if she should go through with it and a current MFAer who is very, very unhappy with his (unnamed) program.

In case you’ve forgotten, we’re still in the midst of our annual fundraising drive, trying to raise a couple thousand dollars to keep the show going for another year. If you like the show, please consider throwing us a few bucks. We love doing the show, but it’s also a lot of work each week. We’ve also got ongoing costs to cover, like file-hosting for the episodes, which add up over the course of a year. But we’re not just asking for your altruism; in fact we’ve got a bunch of cool donor gifts we will give you in exchange for your money. It’s almost like capitalism! Visit the support page for all the details, or just click on that piggy bank over in the right-hand column.

In addition to your donations, we’d love it if you helped us spread the word about the show. We rely primarily on word-of-mouth to find new listeners, so tell your book-loving friends to check us out.

Also! Barrelhouse Issue 12 is now available! You can order it here! Do it for America! And yourself! Because it is great!

As always, you can stream or download the episode below, or you can visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe to the podcast and never miss another episode. Thanks for listening!

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Writers Ask: Here Comes Your 19th Nervous Breakdown

Last year, we basically spent an entire episode making fun of National Novel Writing Month. This year, Mike is actually thinking about participating. What in the world could drive him to such madness? Well, stress, for one thing. Lately he’s been in a writing funk, and perhaps trying to write a “novel” in thirty days will break him out of it. Or will it only drive him deeper into despair? He’s got until the end of the episode to make a decision.

In the meantime, we answer questions–or, mostly we make fun of questions–from actual NaNoWriMo participants, while Mike debates the merits of joining their ranks. Questions include: What should you name an elf? Why would a young married couple break up? Who should a fictional ghost choose to haunt? And what do horses talk about when they talk about love?

Listeners, if this super-sized episode doesn’t make you want to donate to our annual fund drive, we’re not sure what will. This one has it all: Laughter! Suspense! Existential despair!

As always, you can stream the episode for free right here on our site, or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on past episodes and subscribe (for free) so you never miss another one. If you like the show, please do consider donating. And tell your friends!

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Writers Ask: Talkin’ Turkey

This week we’re answering questions about how to build an author platform, what to do (and not do) at readings, and whether editors care about all those super-cool literary awards you’ve won. Also, fair warning, we’re kicking off our annual fund drive, so you’re gonna get to hear about that for the next few weeks. But we promise to not be super-annoying about it. Check out our support page for all the details, including the fabulous donor giveaways we’ve got on offer this year.

We hope that if you enjoy the show, you’ll consider throwing us a few bucks to support it. Just think of it like a yearly subscription (and a pretty cheap one, really).

If you’ve got questions for a future episode of Writers Ask–especially if you’ve got spooky questions for our special Halloween episode–hit us up. You can also tweet your questions to us, or email us at bookfightpod(at)gmail(dot)com.

As always, you can stream the episode here, or download the mp3 file. Or, check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode.

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Writers Ask: Katherine Hill

This week we’re welcoming back our friend Katherine Hill, author of the novel The Violet Hour, out this year from Scribner and endorsed by Oprah! Katherine helps us answer questions about low-residency MFA programs (she went to Bennington) and working a writing-related job while trying to write a novel.

violethour

We also talk about YA novels, perpetual adolescence, lightning strikes on Amtrak trains, offensive mascots, Philly vs. Princeton, and why we can’t get more ladies to join us in Tom’s basement.

Please help support the show by clicking on any of the Powell’s links on our page–including the cover image of Katherine’s book above. If you use our site to get to theirs, Powell’s will donate a percentage of any money you spend to our show, helping us keep the metaphorical (and literal) lights on. We’re also gearing up for our annual fund drive, kind of like NPR but with much lower stakes. So get ready for that. We promise not to be too annoying.

As always, you can download the episode here on our site, or stream it by clicking on the little player thingy below. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. Thanks for listening!

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Writers Ask: Justin St. Germain

We’ve got a special guest this week, author of the memoir Son of a Gun, which the New York Times called “spectacular.” He was nice enough to drop by the basement on a trip to Philadelphia, where he was reading at The Spiral Bookcase and hanging out with his cousins.

With Justin’s help we answer listener questions about college admission essays, and what we’ve learned from reading literary journal submissions. We also subject Justin to a special Book Fight lightning round. Talking points include: scorpions vs spiders, junior college vs the army, print journals vs online journals, and whipahol vs the rain.

Got a question for us? Just click on the Fight Back tab at the top of the page, or hit us up on Twitter, with the hashtag #WritersAsk.

You can learn more about Justin, and his book, at his website. You can learn more about the 1989 film How I Got Into College here (sadly, it’s not available on Netflix Streaming). If you’re in the Philadelphia area, we’d love to see you at our annual Conversations and Connections writing conference, this Saturday (Sept. 28) at University of the Arts in Center City. A full day of craft sessions and panels, a keynote from J. Robert Lennon, feedback from editors, and a free boxed-wine happy hour. For more details, including a complete schedule, check out the website, where you can also pre-register.

Finally, if you enjoy the show, help spread the word by telling your book-loving friends. You can also help us out by supporting our sponsor, Powell’s Books. If you use any of the links on our page to get to their online store, they’ll give us a little bit on the back end. Win-win!

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Writers Ask: Take This Job And Shove It

Summer’s over, listeners, and this week shit’s getting real. We talk about writers in academia, specifically adjunct instructors. How long should you do it? Do the benefits of teaching outweigh the costs, financial and otherwise? We discuss our own experiences, both as adjuncts and as full-time (though non-tenure-track) instructors, and ponder how it is that so many supposedly liberal, labor-friendly academics conveniently turn a blind eye to the plight of their part-time faculty brethren.

Also, we answer a question about the distinctions between fiction and nonfiction, and defend our ratings system against a past guest who thinks we’re lousy at math.

As always, you can stream or download the episode right here on our site, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can quickly catch up on past episodes, and subscribe, so you never miss another one. While you’re there, please consider leaving us a rating and a comment, which will help us reach new listeners. And if you like the show, tell your book-loving friends! A special thanks to all of you who’ve been spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook and your open car windows.

Writers: Only a couple weeks left to register for our Philadelphia conference, Sept. 28 at UArts in Center City. It’ll only cost you $65 ($55 if you’re a student) and features a keynote by J. Robert Lennon, a full day of panels and craft sessions, and a boxed-wine happy hour at which there’s a pretty good chance one (or both) of us will get kinda drunk. Check out the conference site for a full schedule, and to sign up.

Please consider making a donation to help us keep doing the show for free. Just click on the piggy bank over there on the right. For $10 or more, we’ll write you a custom blurb and read it on the air. Also, if you’re going to buy books online, considering doing so at Powell’s, a great indie bookstore in Portland that also sponsors our show. If you use any of the links on our page to get to Powell’s (like the one at the bottom of this post) we’ll get a little kickback for every dollar you spend at their site.

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Writers Ask: Who Likes to Type?

This week we’ve got a question from a teen! We try to give her some writing (and life) advice without being creeps. We also talk about the difference between comedy and humor, windowless vans, Bazooka Joe, and a service for writers who hate to type.

Do you have burning questions about writing, reading, or life more generally? Send ’em our way, and we’ll answer them in our usual, roundabout way.

If you live in or near Philadelphia, and you haven’t yet registered for the Conversations and Connections writing conference, what the hell is wrong with you? Check it out, sign up, tell your friends, et cetera.

As always, you can stream the episode here on the site, or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe so that you never miss another one. If you’d like to throw us a few bucks to help keep the lights on, click on the piggy bank over there on the right. For $10 or more, we’ll write you a blurb and read it on the air!

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Writers Ask: Are We Not Men?

This week we’re back from vacation and answering questions about agents–how to get one, whether you need one–and for a little while there things threaten to get weird. Then we bond over a line-by-line response to a recent email we received accusing us of giving short shrift to young adult literature.

Do you have questions for us? Shoot us an email, or hit us up on Twitter. And feel free to send us your angry rants, so long as you’re okay with us responding to them on air.

As always, you can stream or download the episode here on our site, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. Also, while we’ve got your attention, maybe we can persuade you to support our sponsor, Powell’s Books. If you use any of the buttons on this site to get to their site, anything you buy will throw a little coin back our way. This quarter, we managed to pay for a happy hour (i.e. business meaning) with our Powell’s affiliate cash. Next quarter, we’re aiming for either a full-on bender or a road trip to Delaware. Tax-free shopping!

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