Creative Paradox: Writers Who Think Inside the Box

AWP Tess CallahanHonored to have my thoughts on creativity shared in the September 2017 AWP Writer’s Notebook. Inspiration drawn from writing contortionists Jennifer Egan, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Haruki Murakami, Mary Oliver and George Saunders. They leave me breathless. You can find the article here.


Indie Bookstore Road Trip Stops at Mac’s Backs on Coventry

Mac's Backs on CoventryOur indie bookstore road trip brought us to Mac’s Backs Books on Coventry, a vibrant literary and community hub in the heart of Cleveland Heights. Co-owner Suzanne DeGaetano warmly acquainted us with the shop, offered suggestions of books she loves, and asked us what we were currently reading. We felt instantly at home.

Mac’s Backs began in 1978 when Jim McSherry bought a used bookstore in Chagrin Falls. The store moved briefly to Kent, Ohio before returning to Chagrin Falls where it became a popular book exchange and soon needed to expand to a second location. The Cleveland Heights store managed by Suzanne DeGaetano was opened in 1982 and has since had 3 locations on Coventry Road.

Mac’s began hosting poetry readings when poets Daniel Thompson and Dennis McDonnell needed a new venue for a reading series they sponsored.  The readings have taken place on the 2nd Wednesday each month since 1984. Recent poetry readings featured Chris Franke and Terry Provost.  The store offers a regular book club, (this month they’re reading MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout, a book I enjoyed), staff picks (such as Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jeanette Winterson and Mary Karr), and many signed books.

Fellow writers, you can count on Mac’s Backs to carry three excellent magazines, POETS & WRITERS, WRITER’S DIGEST and WORLD LITERATURE TODAY.

Mac's Backs on CoventryWhen you’ve had your fill of books, stroll to the adjacent Tommy’s Restaurant, owned by Tommy Fello, for excellent food and coffee.

Writing for Free: Like it or Not, the Information Revolution is Making us Generous

Word of Osama bin Laden’s death fired through social media networks before being reported by official news agencies, who rightly awaited the formal announcement. We used to get news from newspapers, poems from literary journals, and novels from bookstores. Now, all can be accessed with a flip of our laptops or phones, much of it for free.

It would be freer still if Google had its way. Although Google’s plan to scan, index, and make every book available online was struck down in court last month, we all know that sort of accessibility will eventually come to pass. Why? Read More »

Mod Podge Interview

Today, as part of Hearts, Flowers, Romance, Tess Callahan is here to share her most romantic memory- one that will have you all swooning and itching to pick up her debut, April and Oliver. Click here to read the interview.

A Friendship that Keeps Distilling Thirty Years Later

wlogoTess Callahan discusses how an unlikely friendship can change your life. (Originally published by
Waterstone’s Book Quarterly).

My novel, April & Oliver, germinated in part from my own experience. The book explores a tumultuous relationship between former childhood friends who alter the course of each other’s lives. Nowadays, we tend to pooh-pooh the idea that a single person can change your life. It’s more popular to think that we single-handedly manage our destinies. But do we? Read More »

Beauty and Danger

216_heron13k400Our 21 year old cockatiel sent alarm shrieks through the house at 6AM. I flew out of bed and downstairs to find a Great Blue Heron beside the pond, gazing in in at the trusting fish schooling in its reflection. Such beauty and magnificence. It took flight, but how long before it decides to risk the trip lines placed there to foil it? Thank you, old man cockatiel!

Are Human Beings Maturing?

The Oil Spill, the Dalai Lama, and Reason for Hope

One of our most exhilarating moments during a whale watching trip off Cape Cod was when a northern gannet skimmed the sea just beyond the bow. My children and I hung over the rail, taken by the bird’s power and agility. Its distinctive plumage and bluish beak made it easily recognizable when I saw one in the news recently, plucked from the Gulf Coast oil spill. The marine life that showed itself to us on Cape Cod – whales, terns, plovers and seals – had a magical effect on our suburban hearts. Now, as we see related species such as brown pelicans and sea turtles affected by the spill, the big space those animals created inside us is filling with disbelief. How could we let this happen? Read More »

Enemies Can be Good for a Child’s Development

Can your Child's Enemy be a Friend?Parents, take heart. Your child’s enemy at school may be contributing to his/her social maturity in the long run. Check out this excellent article from the New York Times science section.

The Creative Process: Painting, Writing, and the Case for Ruthlessness

hindu-gods-kaliEven before I began writing, I loved to draw and paint. Although it came easily to me, I never considered it as a profession. Maybe I was afraid of the impracticality, or like my character, Oliver, (in my novel April & Oliver), I was simply afraid. Accessing one’s own creative power can be terrifying. Disowning it, on the other hand, opens the door to catastrophe, as poor Oliver finds out. Read More »

Independent Booksellers Support Fledgling Authors

wine-women-books-chocolateMost of the events on my book tour so far have or will take place at independent bookstores. The people behind these stores, wave makers in the industry, are feverishly devoted to books.

Originally, I was supposed to have no book tour at all. After all, if you are a first time novelist without name recognition, who will attend your readings? The new trend in book publicity is the virtual book tour via the blogosphere. Indeed, I have been doing a healthy share of Q&A for literary websites I had never heard of before. But this is not the same as meeting people face to face, hearing their reactions to your work, and signing books for them and their loved ones. Read More »

The Perfect Day: An Experiment

cobblestoneSo, I’m trying an experiment. Bear with me.

Stacey Harwood, creative mastermind of the Best American Poetry website, commented on my post there, “Cracks in Everything: Parenthood and the Writing Life,” that she often has a perfect blueprint for her day that somehow eludes her. That applies to me, as well, not only in terms of days, but weeks, summers, my whole life, for that matter. Read More »

Cracks in Everything: Parenthood and the Writing Life

bell“Ring the bells that still can ring,/ Forget your perfect offering./ There’s a crack in everything./ That’s how the light gets in.” – from Anthem by Leonard Cohen. Read More »

Poem as Fissure: Geophysics and the Value of Weakness

The title here comes from poet Debra Wierenga, who offered a comment to this post when it was originally published on the Best American Poetry blog. Debra wrote: “I like the idea of poem as fissure, the artful crack in the mask through which authentic feeling becomes palpable to the reader.”

We’ve created a culture that worships strength – physical, social, psychological and professional – but is it possible that a degree of fragility is vital to our wellbeing? French geophysicist Xavier Le Pichon says yes. Featured recently on NPR, Le Pichon is famous for his comprehensive model of plate tectonics, or the large scale motions of Earth’s lithosphere. Read More »

Read the book review of “April & Oliver” on “A Novel Menagerie” Blog and win a free book!

Please go to the link and follow the directions on how to enter the contest.
A Novel Menagerie
Thank you Sheri for your wonderful review of my book!