Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

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Writers Ask: Worm Cans

On this week’s Writers Ask, we counsel someone who’s been rejected from all the MFA programs to which he’s applied. Should he simply give up? Choose a different path? Or put his head down, keep working, and apply again next year? We also tell someone whether they should self-publish, and we share a few of the writing prompts we use in our creative writing classes that have proven particularly useful.

After this week, we’re taking a little break from our Writers Ask episodes so we can embark on a special summer project. We share some details of that project this week, and also workshop potential names for it. (Not to worry: there will still be an episode every week; but these alternate-week episodes will be a little different for the next 2-3 months).

Talking points this week include: rejection, cargo sweatpants, bookshelf organization, worms, Philly dirtbags, and clubs: welcoming or off-putting?

Here’s a link to the Jill Talbot essay Tom mentioned w/r/t formal experimentation.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, download the mp3 file, or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back issues and subscribe (for free) to never miss another weekly installment.


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Writers Ask: Retweet This

On this week’s episode we’re answering questions about personal statements for MFA applications, books about religious characters, and why it annoys Tom (but not Mike) when writers retweet people’s praise and positive reviews.

Talking points include: Book Fight fan fiction, Bobby Bowden, Tom the Grouch, Texas, dogs eating chocolate, and pork bullets.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or check us out in the iTunes store. If you use a program other than iTunes–and we get it, iTunes is sometimes a pain in the ass–you can find the RSS feed for our show over there in the right-hand column. Subscribing to that will get you all the new episodes, too.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to tell us in the comments how right or wrong we are with this week’s advice. Or you can send us an email, by clicking on the ‘Fight Back’ link at the top of the page. Or hit us up on Twitter.


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Writers Ask: On the Nose

This week we cover listener questions about writers’ desks, literary agents, and recommendation letters. Also, Mike defends his choice of hardboiled eggs as an “anytime snack,” and Tom breaks his legendary silence about his brief turn as a reality-television star.

It’s a jam-packed episode, folks, with a little bit of writing and publishing advice, and a whole lot of jibber jabber.

Got questions for us? Send it our way! Your queries power the show; without them, we’re just two dudes talking to each other about nonsense in a basement.

If you’d like to spend even more time with us on the internet, there’s still time to register for a Barrelhouse online workshop–8 week classes begin June 2 and are capped at 12 people apiece. Tom’s teaching a workshop on nonfiction, Mike’s teaching one on fiction, and our friend and colleague Stan Mir is teaching a poetry class. The tuition helps support Barrelhouse, a nonprofit literary journal, and also helps Mike and Tom continue to eat food. Sign up here.

Finally, please support our sponsor, Powell’s Books, where you can buy such modern classics as The Silver Linings Playbook or How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age. Just click on either of those links, or any of the Powell’s buttons on our site, then shop as you normally would: a small percentage of your purchase price will come back to Book Fight as a donation, and you’ll be supporting a great indie bookstore.

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.

Thanks for listening!


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Writers Ask: Goofus and Gallant

On this episode of Writers Ask we actually dole out some real, earnest advice: on applying to MFA programs, keeping your life and work in perspective, and how to find books in a Barnes and Noble. Also, why shouldn’t you include the phrase “Pushcart Prize nominee” in your cover letter to literary magazines?

Here’s a little sample of Goofus and Gallant, for anyone who wasn’t a regular Highlights for Children reader in their childhood (or adulthood; we don’t judge).

Goofus and Gallant

Solid advice! Unless Gallant drops those scissors and they spear him in the foot.

Stream the episode here, by clicking on the little player thingy:

Download Writers Ask: Goofus and Gallant (right-click, save-as)

You can also find us in the iTunes store, by clicking on the link below. And if you’re buying books, click on that Powell’s badge (or any of the book links on our site), then shop as you normally would. A small percentage of your purchase price will come back to us, and help support the podcast.