Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Twitter Fiction Festival breaks storytelling into bite-sized bits

NEW YORK -- One of the newest forces in publishing is helping to revive an old tradition: Serialized fiction. When the first Twitter Fiction Festival kicks off in New York City this week, the micro-blogging platform will highlight 29 authors as they post new works of fiction in 140-character bursts.

"Twitter is a place to tell stories," wrote Twitter's Andrew Fitzgerald in a blog post announcing the event. "Often those stories are about news, or politics, or perhaps sports or music, but it turns out Twitter is a great place for telling fictional stories, too. As one professor from Michigan State University says, 'Tweeting can be thought of as a new literary practice.' We want to celebrate that."

A panel of festival organizers hand-picked a wide range of genres and concepts to feature. One participant will re-tell 100 Greek myths in 100 tweets. Another plans to invite Twitter users to help her write epigraphs for gravestones. Twitter also will showcase the serialized story of five strangers trapped on a bus, an exploration of censorship in China, and an interactive writing game that will involve the wider Twitter community.

"With this kind of medium, serialized writing can be taken in a totally new direction," said Johannes Neuer, associate director of marketing at the New York Public Library, which is hosting in-person facets of the festival. "All of the sudden you have readers in real time, and an opportunity to really incorporate the reader much more than previous generations of authors could have done."

Twitter has been a playground for storytelling experimentation before. The New Yorker magazine carried out a high-profile experiment on the platform with author Jennifer Egan, who tweeted installments of her story "Black Box," before the magazine published it in its entirety last May.
Comedians routinely have used the platform to tell stories or share vignettes in installments. Last fall, writer and actress Mindy Kaling posted a string of fictional observations about New York Fashion Week.

"Took off heels and pretended to be Malia Obama to sit in front row at Prabal Gurung," she wrote at the time. The series of tweets also included mock details of a dramatic faux romance with actor Adrien Brody. More recently, a parody account pretending to be New York Times polling analyst Nate Silver tweeted a psychedelic election-night journey. One of those tweets: "I am islanded in a stream of stars. Motes of datum gleam overhead. Am I their projection, or are they mine?"

Some may cringe at the idea of subjecting literature to the sometimes haphazard and rapid-fire unpredictability of a Twitter stream, but even now-sprawling classics have fractured roots. Celebrated works like "Anna Karenina," "The Brothers Karamazov," "Madame Bovary," and much of Charles Dickens' work first reached readers in snippets published in newspapers. But one of the goals of this festival is not simply to replicate serializations of the print era.

"Just taking paper books and putting them online, there's something not-so-beautiful about that," said Yael Goldstein Love, a novelist and co-founder of Plympton, a new publishing house that specializes in serialized fiction. "Part of what is really exciting about the Twitter Fiction Festival is it gets writers all over the world to think of other ideas, ways the online-ness of it enhances the story."

Goldstein Love was one of the judges who picked participants in the festival and says she was struck by the kinds of narrative experimentation Twitter encouraged. She says one entrant described the way his story's tempo -- and in turn the frequency with which he published tweets -- would vary based on what was happening at any given moment in the story.

"This guy saying he would change the rhythm depending on how much action there was, that kind of blew my mind," Goldstein Love said. "That can have emotional resonance. These are the kinds of things we just don't even think about."

Since it launched in 2006, Twitter has become a space where people play with narrative conventions. While the platform's web origins make it part of the disruption that has turned the publishing world on its head, Goldstein Love sees the creativity generated on Twitter as a harbinger of good things to come for the industry.

"Especially seeing all these submissions -- some from established writers, some from people who have never published a word -- it really puts to death a lot of doom-and-gloom rumors," she said. "People are imaginative and people are excited about publishing. Publishing is going to have to change a great deal, but so long as people are brimming over with creativity, I'm not at all worried."

Ryan Chapman of Penguin Press echoed that sentiment, calling Twitter one of the "green shoots for narrative storytelling" that keeps him optimistic.

"Maybe it's something to do with the fact that Twitter's maturing into this new space where people are so used to seeing it as a news source or conversation source," Chapman said. "As a reader, Twitter's obviously a place where everybody's already gathering for exchanging news and conversation. If people can use it as another part of their toolkit to create stories, that's really exciting."

— Adrienne LaFrance, Digital First Media

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ravenna author signing copies of her book in Stow

Ravenna, Ohio, author Samar Nouri will be signing copies of her book, "Syria and Summer," this weekend at Mocha Joe's Coffee House in Stow. Details from a news release below:

Author Samar Nouri Book Signing Event
WHEN: 12/01/12

TIME: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Mocha Joe's Coffee House, 3707 Darrow Road Stow, OH 44224

WHAT: Nouri, a resident of Ravenna, OH, will be available to sign copies of her book, Syria and Summer.

Samar Nouri, a Syrian refugee, has been running her entire life. She's always dreamed of a life of freedom; free from the oppression of her people, her father, even her husband. She dreams of the day when she and her children can live in peace, far from the flying bullets, crashing car bombs, and the weight of a man's hand.

Samar shows the true spirit of motherhood: protecting her children, preserving her family, and trying to create a happy life. However, she is doing so on the backdrop of the war-torn Syrian city of Damascus.

In Syria and Summer, the reader is taken on an unforgettable journey of a mother, a wife, a woman. This epic tale of perseverance and determination will inspire, enrage, and encourage its audience for years to come.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Ohio author signing copies of her book in Seven Hills

Shelby, Ohio, resident Aileen Stewart will be signing copies of her book, "Fern Valley," this weekend during the Christmas Craft Holiday Gift Fair at the Seven Hills Community Center. Details from a news release below:

Author Aileen Stewart Book Signing Event
WHEN: 12/02/12

TIME: 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Seven Hills Community Center, Christmas Craft and Holiday Gift Fair, Seven Hills, Ohio 44131

WHAT: Stewart, a resident of Shelby, OH, will be available to sign copies of her book, Fern Valley.

Follow the adventures of delightful young farm animals who are just like you.

Fern Valley is home to a group of wonderful animals who have fun and face some of the same problems children everywhere do. Roberta and Mildred Cornstalk are creative chickens dealing with the loss of their beloved granny, and they're looking for something to do to cheer them up. Want to know what adventures they find? Want to know what happens to Roberta and Mildred's brother, Edward, when he goes fishing, what birthday surprise is in store for Betsy Woolrich, or what lesson Kimmy Curlytail learns when she keeps something that isn't hers? Then follow this endearing cast of characters as they enjoy their time together and learn important lessons.

A perfect addition for any child's personal library and a joy for families to share, Fern Valley is a collection to be treasured for many years to come.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Local author's work available for digital download

Can't wait to share more with you from my fantastic conversation with local author Rosa Shine Raskin.

She's written "Walk Forward," the story of her search for her sister lost in the Holocaust.

But I wanted to quickly let you know that the ebook version will be available on Amazon at no charge Nov. 15-16 and Dec. 13-14.

Stay tuned for more from my chat with Raskin and my thoughts on the book.

See you in the stacks,

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Charles Dickens’s original manuscript of "A Christmas Carol" on display

Heading to New York City this holiday season? Be sure to stop by The Morgan Library & Museum for a chance to see Charles Dickens' original manuscript of "A Christmas Carol," which will be on display from Nov. 20 through Jan. 13.

From The Morgan:
Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’s original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in Pierpont Morgan’s historic Library. Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity, beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication. He had the manuscript bound in red morocco as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s. 
Find out more about what's happening at the Morgan this holiday season in their news release. Sign up to get the institution's emails in your inbox by visiting and clicking the "E-NEWS" button in the center of the page at the top.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Terri Nighswonger releases new book, 'The Grace Assignment'

A news release was sent last week about Novelty resident Terri Nighswonger's new book:
NOVELTY, Ohio – This week marks the nationwide release of “The Grace Assignment,” the new novel releasing nationwide this week by Ohio author Terri Nighswonger.

The book introduces readers to CJ Dennis, who is an ineffective, mediocre Christian until God begins to work in ways he doesn't understand. As a journalist, he begins to write a story on homelessness in Cleveland, where he lives and works. While interviewing for the story, he meets Mary Ann and her three children and feels a strong pull to get them off the streets.

When his story runs, he unwittingly provides Mary Ann's ex-husband with just the clue he needs. Mary Ann is murdered and her children are left without a mother. Readers learn if, as CJ struggles to find peace and understand God's will, his budding faith will survive the test of learning to love three children and the threat of having them taken away from him.

“I have three children adopted out of the foster care system,” Nighswonger said. “We all think there is no one else who knows what they are going through, but I have found personally that there are more out there than I could imagine.”

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at, or by visiting or

Nighswonger is an awarding-winning journalist and the former editor of Family Magazines. She enjoys encouraging women, whether it's at the Geauga County jail or in her home church, Word of Grace Church in Chesterland, or mentoring budding writers. She and her family, including one biological and three adopted children, reside in Novelty, Ohio.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Infographic: What Should I Read Next?