Monday, June 30, 2008

Kindle redux and a couple other things

Some good comments came through from the last post. I was going to try and batch them up and make some sort of intelligent post about them. But today has run away from me, and it's pushing 6p.m. I won't do that--but I will say that, to some degree, I agree with Art, who noted that the drop in price in iPods makes them nearly ubiquitous today. What will happen when the price of Kindle goes down? We shall see. Rob's addition to the dialogue is a must read. Check it out here:

Is Gooogal making us stoopider? U tell me!

Those of you who've been with me from the dawn of creation of this blog will have noticed some changes, including an image of my ugly mug. (Sorry abou that, everyone. I recommend you don't show it to your kids before bedtime!)Putting my photo on the blog seemed (still seems) like the right thing to do, though. The WC is a great place to be and work, but it cannot write. Many thanks to Gonzalo Fernandez-Coffey, who uploaded all this stuff while I was working on all the other things I had to do today.

It's been my goal all along to treat this blog as a kind of place where WC members, instructors, and friends can gather and communicate. Please feel absolutely free to subscribe to this blog--click on the little orange icon in the upper corner of the screen. You'll have some options to subscribe. You may have to open an account at, say, Google reader. But it's quick and painless and the benefits are many, should you subscribe.

IF you subscribe, I guarantee you'll get daily posts--most of which will be totally amazing nuggets of insight. Uh, yeah right. Tomorrow's post will feature an interesting excerpt from a forthcoming article in The Writer's Carousel. Instructor Ramola D will discuss her online workshop "Moms write Mothering, Fathers write Fathering," which will begin on July 2nd. If you'd like to see more about that course, check it out at

Friday, June 27, 2008

E-Books. The death of the printed book?

Let me start with a couple preliminary items. Writer's Center instructor Elaina Loveland's second edition of Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians, and Writers was published in June 2008. A pretty useful book, if you ask me. Learn more about it at

(Incidentally, Elaina will be teaching a 2-session workshop, Freelancing for Magazines, come August. Check it out here:

Another prelim item: This Sunday at 2p.m the WC is hosting a reading with Judy Neri, who reads from her new collection of poems, Always the Trains, and novelist Robert Friedman, who reads from his newest historical thriller, Shadows of the Fathers.

Okay, moving on to the subject of this post....

So it's Friday, June 27th. 4p.m. The week's winding down. I heard an interivew with Jeff Bezos recently on NPR's "On Point" (actually, two nights ago). It was an interesting interview. Bezos, as many of you know, is the founder and CEO of (I might be a little off with his titles.) At any rate, Amazon has recently begun selling its ebook reader, Kindle. It's hard to know what the figures are for the sales of that product, but judging by the commentary of some of the callers that night, the Kindle seems to be a popular new item among at least a certain segment of the population. By all appearances--and, though I don't own a Kindle myself, I have leaned over some guy on the metro who was reading a book on one--the Kindle is a reader-friendly device that does make reading longish books on an electronic doodad seem possible. More than that, it makes it seem like, truly, finally, we've reached the turning point on a new age--one that may take us away from books as we know them something we're growing increasingly familiar with and, more importantly, used to: an electronic device.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I own an iPod, a really cool gadget. I don't know how many songs I have on the thing, but it's really a lot. We've grown used to iPods pretty quickly: gadgets that can store scads of songs, podcasts, etc. on one easily transportable object. Granted, hearing music is far different from reading a book. It's more passive, for one thing. BUT. But it's the storage thing that gets me. When you can store so much on one easily transportable device, as you can with a Kindle, why own a library of books? Why wait for your book to arrive at the local bookstore? Why wait, in fact, for your Amazon order to finally get to you?

I don't know. Like I said, I've been thinking about this. I like books. I like holding them and lugging them around. What's going to happen to books? Will we be reading books electronically soon? If so, when? 10 years from now? 25? 50?

What do you think? Let me know. I'll talk to you on Monday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Publications

Instructor Barbara Lefcowitz has recently published an essay in Southwest Review, a prose poem in The Jewish Review, and individual poems in Bayou, Slant, Rockhurst Review, Phantasmagoria, among others.

And look for a post tomorrow from Writer's Center instructor C.M Mayo: tips on breaking through writer's block.

June Publications

It's been awhile since I last posted. Things are busy here these days (in a good way). In a couple weeks our new director, Charlie Jensen, will arrive. We're all looking forward to that.

Today I'd just like to announce some recent Writer's Center success stories--members or instructors whose work has either been just published or is forthcoming.

Instructor Nani Power's Feed The Hungry: A Memoir with Recipes was published by The Free Press. Carolyn See reviewed it favorably in the Post recently.

Instructor Adele Steiner has two books. The first is a book of poetry called The Moon Lighting (March Street Press) and the second is Look Ma: 'Hands' on Poetry from Dog Ear Publishing.

Instructor Nan Fry has had her work published in The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (Del Ray).

Member Alison Carter’s first full-length play won second prize in the WV Writer's Contest in the Stage Play category. Alison worked with instructor Martin Blank.

Member Solveig Eggerz' first book, Seal Woman, was just released from Ghost Road Press. Read about the book here:

One of David Taylor's students in his Fall '07 Science Writing workshop, Joy Hecht, published an essay she worked on during the course, "about environmental economics and the challenges of placing a value on a mountain." As David writes, "It came out as a beautiful photo essay, 'How much is that mountain?' in the April 2008 issue of Africa Geographic ( It's a lively read and a thought-provoking look at how we value nature and other aspects of our lives."

That's what we have for now. Look for these announcements in our upcoming editon of The Writer's Carousel. Also featured in the issue will be an interview with poet Kyle Dargan, a "From the Workshop" essay with Ramola D, and more.

If you're a Writer's Center member or instructor and have publications or announcements you'd like to have posted here, please send them along!

Until next time...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Writer's Center Turns One Blog Old

Dear Members and Friends of The Writer's Center:

My name is Kyle Semmel, and I'm the communications and publications manager of The Writer's Center. Today is Sunday, June 8th, and it's hot, hot, hot. Summer has returned to D.C. and it's time for me to once again pine for those cold, snowy western New York winters I knew growing up. But since I am sitting in the air-conditioned coolness of the Center with a little time on my hands, I've decided that now was as good a time as any to start The Writer's Center blog.

At this blogspot, which I hope to update regularly, members and friends and anyone who comes to the site will get a behind-the-scenes look at what's going on here. That means regular updates on our workshops, our events, our member and instructor publications, etc. Despite the heat and the record-high gas prices, there's plenty going on here these days.

On May 30th, for example, award-winning journalist Ann Hagedorn gave a lecture on writing 20th Century U.S. History to a packed audience. Then yesterday we had our annual Summer Open House, and there was a good turnout for that as well. We met some new folks and made some new friends. The Writer's Center community continues to grow. At the Open House we announced that anyone who mentions the Open House when registering for a multi-session workshop this summer will get $50 off that workshop. To get this benefit, all you have to do is call us before close of business on June 15th (10 p.m.) to register for your class. Unfortunately, you wouldn't be able to do this when you register online. You can view classes here:

I'll keep this first post brief and end here. Like the Center itself, this blog will continue to develop and expand in new and exciting ways. It will have no set format, but I will from time to time invite authors reading at the Center, instructors, and members to post entries. Additionally, I'll add links to cool lit-related places online where you can get all sorts of useful information to help you with your writing.

Well, until next time.

Kyle Semmel