Faye Rapoport DesPres


The Long and Winding Road…


It’s been a long road between my last real blog post and this one — and it will likely be some time before I really get back to blogging. The summer in Boston has been hot, hot, hot…and I’ve been focused on completing a large number of freelance jobs while preparing for the release of my first book next spring.

In the meantime, my wonderful webmaster, Justin Sablich, has been tinkering with both my blog and my website. He’s been transporting everything into WordPress so that I can eventually manage the site on my own. That makes sense, because Justin is “moving on up” at The New York Times and he doesn’t have the time he used to have to devote to projects like my little website. I appreciate very much that he’s putting his heart and soul into the re-do so that I have something to work with. Sometimes you meet someone wonderful without ever even meeting them in person, and that’s been the case with Justin. He was referred to me by a friend who is an editor at the Times, and I’ve loved every moment of working with him.

I do have some new things coming up. I’ll be teaching Writing 1 at Lasell College in the fall as an adjunct lecturer, and I’ve also just completed another guest blog post for Superstition Review, a literary journal that I admire greatly and that was kind enough to publish one of my earlier essays, “Tulips.” The post is scheduled to be published on August 10th on their popular literary blog. I’ll post a link when it’s up.

I also look forward to what’s coming next for my book, the “memoir-in-essays” MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY. I’ll keep you posted as it winds through all of the steps before it is launched in Spring 2014 — I don’t have an actual publication date yet. It’s exciting, but also scary. I can’t wait to hold that book in my hands.

Finally, I’ve been working (for fun) on a “cozy mystery” based on a story that I initially wrote as a NaNoWriMo effort last year and then transformed into a mystery short story a few months later. Now I’m expanding that story into a full book, and it’s been a fun exercise.

Still, my heart is always called back by personal essays, and the blog post I wrote for Superstition Review is really more of a short essay.

Well, that’s enough of a round-up for now. I hope to get this blog and website back online soon, and in the meantime, I’ll keep popping in with news and notes. Have a wonderful rest-of-summer — and stay cool!…

I have signed a contract for my first book!


I have just been given permission to announce some exciting news. I have signed a contract for my first book, tentatively titled MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY, with an independent press called Buddhapuss Ink LLC. Buddhapuss Ink was founded by 30-year publishing professional MaryChris Bradley, and its current titles include books in the crime thriller and mystery categories, as well as two Independent Publisher Book Awards winners from the Stone Trilogy series. I am honored that Buddhapuss Ink has chosen my manuscript as it adds the creative nonfiction category to its future interests. And could the logo below be more appropriate for my first book? This is in honor of my beloved elderly cat Tribbs, who is ailing but is still with us as of today.

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On Reading “This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff


I’m currently listening to an audiobook of This Boy’s Life, the well-known memoir by Tobias Wolff. I enjoy listening to audiobooks, and this one has kept me company during morning runs and short car rides. But I have wished, more than once, that I could see the words that I am hearing in this book — that I could read the sentences over and over and really appreciate the incredible craft of this writer. Show vs. tell? Move seamlessly from scene to reflection? Use interesting verbs? Find a creative, new way to say something ordinary? Set the scene? Find the universal in the individual experience? It all seems effortless in this book. It all seems, even, beside the point. Amazing.

Here’s a delectable taste (found online — I had to find these paragraphs!):

“We sat gazing out across the water. The river was swollen with runoff. More brown than green, it chuckled and hissed along the bank. Farther from shore it seethed among mossy boulders and the snarled roots of trees caught between them. From under the changing surface sounds of the river came a deep steady sigh that never changed, and grew louder as you listened to it until it was the only sound you heard. Birds skimmed the water. New leaves glinted on the aspens along the bank.

It was spring. We were both caught in it for a moment, forgetful of our separate designs. We were with each other the way kindred animals are with each other. Then we stirred, and remembered ourselves. Father Karl delivered some final admonition, and I said I would do better, and we walked back to the store.”

Sigh. I write like that in my dreams.…

Joy Castro’s NEARER HOME gets Pre-Pub Review in Publisher’s Weekly


Just a quick note this morning. Many of you know that Joy Castro, author of THE TRUTH BOOK, HELL OR HIGH WATER, and ISLAND OF BONES, was a faculty member during my tenure at the Solstice MFA Creative Writing program. Joy no longer teaches at the program and I graduated in 2010, but Joy was — and remains — one of the writers and teachers who influenced me most as a writer. I am honored that Joy has also become a friend, and to this day she is one of my favorite essay, memoir, and fiction authors.

Last year Joy’s debut crime thriller, HELL OR HIGH WATER, arrived to much acclaim and positive reader response. On July 16 the sequel, NEARER HOME, will be published. I always pre-order Joy’s books so that I’ll have them in my hands (or on my Kindle) the moment they’re available.

Here’s a link to the pre-pub review in Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-00458-1

Congratulations, Joy.…

Getting back to writing and literary news


The sun is shining in Boston today, although the air still has an early spring chill. Life is slowly returning to normal, and part of that process, for me, is to return to blogging about writing and literary news. A great place to start is some wonderful news from Joe Gannon, a graduate of the fiction track at the Solstice MFA Program in Creative Writing (my MFA alma mater). Joe, who currently teaches English in Abu Dhabi,  just announced that St. Martin’s press will publish his crime novel, The Kingdom of Death, in hardback in the summer of 2014. The house also made an offer on a second novel featuring the same protagonist, Captain Ajax Montoya. That book is slated for a summer 2015 launch.

Joe was always a warm, friendly colleague to run into at Pine Manor College in Newton, where the Solstice program hosts its bi-annual writing residencies. And now he’s quite an interesting Facebook friend as he reports on his life in Abu Dhabi. Congratulations, Joe!

The Solstice Program also has released book news from a number of other current and former students:

John Theo (July, 2008)
The Grotto Under the Tree (Astraea Press, http://www.astraeapress.com/index.html)

In John Theo’s first novel, a pair of young explorers, Sebastian and Sara, mistakenly descend into a mystical land where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mythological creatures live.

John Theo, Jr. has numerous published articles on arts, culture, and sports figures. During the day John serves as Vice President of Operations for Blue Sky Holdings, which owns many commercial fitness clubs. John is also an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, where he teaches screenwriting.

Alison Stone (January, 2011)
They Sing at Midnight (Many Mountains Moving, http://www.mmminc.org/)

If you’re not careful, Alison Stone will devour you,” Thom Ward writes of the first winner of the Many Mountains Moving Poetry Book Contest; her poems “whisper and howl, implore and grieve. Their versions of the mundane and the mythic engage us, offer shape and texture to ‘the messy bright life we are born for.’ Her poetics serves notice of the metaphysical amid the imminent, how Persephone is always and forever descending and returning, death into life and life into death.”

Alison Stone’s poems have appeared in myriad publications, including Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Many Mountains Moving.

From the Fool to the World (Parallel Press, http://parallelpress.library.wisc.edu/poetry/)

The poems in this collection make up a series in the voices of the Major Arcana of the tarot. Alison Stone’s poetry extends and complements her own work as a visual artist in creating the Stone Tarot. The poems are rich with visual language and are filled with stories of light, journeys, and transformation: “If you won’t dance, / then who’s the fool? / Inside my cloth bag – apple, table, stallion, sky. / Come! The rich / cliff tempts like wine.”

A visual artist, Alison Stone spent ten years painting the images of the tarot, which were published as The Stone Tarot (www.stonetarot.com). She earns her living as a Gestalt therapist in New York City and Nyack.

Donna Coffey (January, 2011)
Firestreet (Finishing Line Press, https://www.finishinglinepress.com/)

“Donna Coffey’s wonderful poems combine merciless candor and merciful empath–the necessary gifts of a poet working to “fix broken things,” to record, reconcile, and transform discordant lives and landscapes. Fire Street is, as the title suggests, a place–a path of illumination and calamity. In this breathtaking, heartbreaking collection each spark of memory blazes into poetry of acuity and beauty.                                                –Terrance Hayes

Donna Coffey is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Humanities Program at Reinhardt University. Her poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

Teresa Sutton (July, 2011)
They’re Gone (Finishing Line Press, https://www.finishinglinepress.com/)

“Teresa Sutton’s poems are haunted; lost brothers, months apart, lost mother, soon after. Like Emerson with his wife in her closing poem, Sutton’s poems, with their straight-to-the-point music of plain speech, visits them daily, digs them up, perhaps to see if they are really dead, perhaps to touch them again, perhaps to test the relationship of the soul to the world. We close this book, carry our dead with hers.” –Cornelius Eady

Teresa Sutton is a poet and a teacher. “They’re Gone” is her first poetry book. Teresa’s work has been published in numerous literary journals, including: Stone Canoe, The Healing Muse, and Fourteen Hills.

Alison McLennan (January, 2013)
Falling for Johnny (Twisted Roots Publishing, http://www.twistedrootspublishing.com/)

McLennan’s debut novel tells the story of Johnny McPherson, an organized crime boss in Boston, and Riley Donavan, a young woman who’s drawn into Johnny’s world by chance and circumstance. As they grow closer and Riley’s life spins out of control, their bond cracks. What will become of their friendship when Riley learns the truth of who Johnny is and what he’s done?  “A dark, violent story with a heart”–Kirkus Reviews

Alison McLennan was awarded the first Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction by the Solstice MFA Program in 2010; Falling for Johnny won an honorable mention in the 2012 Utah Original Writing Competition.

Kim Suhr (current student)
Maybe I’ll Learn (Red Bird-Red Oak Writing, www.kimsuhr.com)

Follow this novice mom as she navigates the joys and challenges of raising kids in the Baby Einstein era. Determined to Do It Right!, she recounts moments that all parents will recognize: from sibling rivalry to overcoming fears to grappling with life’s big questions. Each of these light essays can be read in the time it takes to boil water for mac-n-cheese.

Kim Suhr is a writer, educator and mom who lives in Wisconsin. Her writing has been recognized by the Wisconsin Writers’ Association in their Jade Ring and Florence Lindemann Humor Contests. Her work has appeared in Grey Sparrow Journal, Full of Crow, and Staccato Fiction.

Beth Grosart (July, 2012)
Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption (Touchwood Editions, http://www.touchwoodeditions.com)

The third book …