Monday, October 15, 2007

Major Barbara, Jobs, and Interzone

It's early, and I'm at my work station at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Have to correct a bunch of letters to the landlord. A couple of weeks ago, I gave my students in English 900 a fun assignment. They receive a letter from the landlord, Boris Badinov, telling them that their rent is going up. They have to do an analysis of the rhetorical situation. Then they write a letter back to Boris. Boris (that's me) writes a letter back to them. Finally, they write an analysis of the entire situation. Some of my students wrote some creative letters. Some threatened Boris. Others tried to negotiate. Others appealed to Pathos. Then I got to be a jerk and respond back to them. It was fun being evil.

Meanwhile....back at the dystopia, I'm teaching Major Barbara, Shaw's dystopia. Parts of it are quite funny. The main character is Undershaft, an arms manufacturer whose religion is being a millionaire. He enjoys blowing people up. I wonder if Joseph Heller had this character in mind when he was writing "Milo Minderbinder" in Catch-22.

Job front is going well. I addressed envelopes last night. Found more great jobs on JIL.

And, last but certainly not least, I forgot to mention that I sold a piece, Ezekiel's Retreat, to Interzone last month. Thank you Jetse and Andy Cox.



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Upside Down in Reverse

Well, just got back from Kinko's. They are putting together a bunch of writing samples for me. Unfortunately, they screwed up and put the 15 pages of stuff in reverse order. Oh, dear. The writing sample is a published article on Stephen King's the Running Man, which very strangely predicts shows like America's Most Wanted and Cops!

Have recovered from my lackluster showing at the reading at the University of Minnesota Bookstore. I've learned my lesson. If you don't promote yourself, at least at the beginning, no one else will. This time, for my reading at Dreamhaven here in the Twin Cities, with the Writers of the Future grand prize winner Brandon Sigrist, I'm sending out invitations.

This morning, I had a bit of fun. has done an audiobook version of Writers of the Future and my story Primetime is the sample story. This morning, I was listening to Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power, which is a great meditation on how not to get screwed beyond belief. When I was listening, I realized, "Hey, I know that voice." I looked on the box and the voice talent was Don Leslie. Sure enough, he was one of the voices for So, I sent him an email thanking him for his great work. Here's the link to to the recording of WOTF.

It's a great recording.

Back to the job hunt.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jobs, Jobs

Just spending a beautiful Saturday in Minnesota holed up in Lind Hall, the English Department, working on my job applications. Had a motherboard die on me three nights ago. Static on the screen, and then Kablooie. Went to the data recovery boys at the University of Minnesota. They pronounced my re-furbished computer dead on arrival. I really liked that laptop. It had been to doctor's offices all over Western Pennsylvania this year, while I was taking my mother, who has dementia, to various docs and dentists. It had also seen duty in airport lounges and nasty motel rooms across the Northwest. Hated to lose it. This may be very dumb, but I always think that a laptop is to a writer what a good Colt 45 is to a gunfighter. Hated to see it go.

However, the job search goes on. Have to finish up job letters to 35 universities today. And then if I'm successful, I'll go see a movie tonight. Something with a few good explosions would be nice. I'm an SF writer. Explosions are good plot devices. And, as long as you're not in them, they're quite entertaining.

Had my first official reading for WOTF yesterday at the University of Minnesota Bookstore. Well, the crowd was very small, but I was so gratified that a former student of mine--Justin--remembered me and came. It was very sweet. It was great to be remembered as someone who had a positive influence on his life. Most of the time when I teach, I think I'm remembered as some icky fuddy duddy, somebody who was dumb enough to major in English instead of going to Wharton. Note to self-publicize, publicize, publicize.

Perhaps I am an icky fuddy duddy, but at least this time, I scored a victory of some sorts on the battlefield of education.

Getting ready to defend my dissertation--after a couple of minor disasters. In a couple of weeks, they'll lock me in a room for two hours, and a group of professors will grill me. I'm wondering if they will use thumbscrews and mace. One never knows. Since my dissertation is on dystopian literature, I'm playing with the idea of putting a sign on the room door in Lind that says, "Room 101," from the Ministry of Love.

Next week, I'm teaching my students at St. Thomas Brave New World. I'm getting really excited about that. It's one of my favorite books in the world--carried it with me when I journeyed across Europe several years ago. I'm hoping that I can get everybody to read all the voices that end the first section of the novel. If it works, such a reading could be really fun. Did it once at the University of Minnesota a couple of years ago and everybody went "Oooh" when we were done.

On the writing front, as soon as I'm done with the job stuff, I'm going to be revising "Rumspringa"--my WOTF workshop story--and doing another revision of "Rescue Man," a story about a Vietnam rescue pilot who left one man behind in 1966 and is haunted by that pilot in 2006. Of course, the story is really about my own father's death last year. It's a tribute to courage and loyalty, and it's about second chances. As soon as that is done, it's back to Nadia's Gift, which I hope will be my first novel.

Upcoming events: I'm doing a reading of Primetime at Dreamhaven in two weeks. Hope it's well attended. I'm going to be sending out invitations via email next week.

Well, back to the job search.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Back from Toronto

I'm just back from Toronto, where I attended the annual meeting of the Society of Utopian Studies. At first glance it may seem kind of weird to have a bunch of people sit around and talk about the perfect society, but it's really fun. And given the shape that the world is in right now, I think that the world will not be harmed by the meetings. I chaired a panel on George Orwell, and I talked with a bunch of people who knew most of my Clarion instructors. Everybody was really sweet. I also went out to lunch with Tony Pi, one of my fellow winners in Writers of the Future. We had Dim Sum. I loved everything but the chicken legs. ICK

Recent news: I had a story accepted at Interzone recently. That's really sweet, and I had a rejection from Paradox. Not so sweet. But in general it's been a hell of a year, with the WOTF win and a bunch of other things accepted.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Plato's Republic

Well, it's Sunday night and I'm getting ready to teach tomorrow. In my utopia/dystopia class, I'm going to introduce students to Plato's Republic. We're doing a couple of hundred pages of the Republic this week as an introduction to utopian thought. The Republic is quite interesting and not a little weird. One of the things that I find most troubling about Plato's work is his stance on fiction and poetry. He thinks they're quite harmful to the young, especially to the young of the Guardian class, his proposed rulers. The way Socrates talks about approaching major poets and saying, "Sorry, you can't say that because it will corrupt the youth" is almost funny. I suppose in a way he's probably right. Literature is subversive (an overused word if ever there was one). It offers new ways to see the world. And if you're running the world, you might not like people having that option. All despots hate art because art is about changing one's vision of the world.

In my other teaching, I'm doing a Fundamentals course. Although this is some of the most difficult teaching I ever do, it's some of the most rewarding. The students challenge me regularly. And that's great. I respect these folks tremendously. They're full of life (even though a few of them have been dealt some harsh blows). I hope that I can help.

Well, off to read.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

School's In

In addition to being a writer, I'm also a college instructor. I just started semesters at three schools. It's been a good start.

What a whirlwind it's all been. During the week of August 19, I was at the WOTF Workshop and Awards Ceremony. It was an incredible week, one full of treats. Then on the 26th I flew back to Minneapolis. And I started teaching at MCTC the next day. This week, I started teaching literature and Professional Writing at ST. Thomas and the U of M. Three very different teaching experiences, but all very rewarding.


But I'm Not Either

Hi. I'm Doug.

I'm a writer.

I am a published writer.

While I recently won The Writers of the Future contest and I was lucky enough to have my story lead the book. (On Sale here and here), I don't consider myself that important.

And neither should you.

Which is why my first book "You're Not Very Important" (On Sale here and here) was good enough to spawn this blog.

If that is not enough Doug for you, I also have a website.