The Inklings II. This week is all about my literary writing group, The Biscuits. This group actually began as a writing contest between author Melinda Combs and me. Yep, you read that right, a writing contest—that’s how nerdy we are. It all started during a camping trip when Mindi and I started talking smack about which of us was more prolific as a writer (copious beer consumption probably played a large role in boisterousness). To settle things, Mindi suggested a competition, and just like that we were off. We came up with an overly-complex set of scoring rules and poneyed up some cash to make things interesting. I don’t even remember who won that first contest, but it sparked a new contest, and then another, and before long we were recruiting new blood and spicing things up with bigger cash prizes and embarrassing punishments for whoever came in last place. (I once had to sing Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” at a karaoke bar, for example, but the joke was on them, as the only thing my singing punished was their eardrums.)
Along with the scoring competition component, we integrated the traditional aspects of a writing group—workshopping, talking shop, offering up reading suggestions, etc.—and at some point, the contest itself got a little played out and we scrapped it. These days we meet once a month to workshop each other’s work and talk shop, barbecue, and enjoy craft brew. No more cash prizes or embarrassing punishments. We’re an eclectic group, which is good because everyone brings something different to the table and we’re always learning from each other. I can tell you that they have all been a big influence in helping me become the writer I am today. Thanks, Biscuits!
Melinda J. Combs mocks the corporate world, overzealous brides, and the paleo diet in her fiction, which has been most recently published in Gargoyle journal. When she's not doing that, she is working on a memoir about her complicated relationship with her father, a big game hunter. Although she doesn't hunt and finds the practice to be barbaric, she relishes the time with him in the outdoors, whether it be in southern Texas or Mozambique. Prior to working on her memoir, she helped Jack Lindquist write a business memoir about his 38 years with the Disney Company. In Service To The Mouse is currently available at major bookstores and online. To learn more about Melinda's work, check out her website at www.melindajcombs.com.
New Yorker experiment, has a low success rate unless you have a collection to enter into contests in the hope that the literary magazines that all rejected you will come knocking on your email soliciting for first serial rights to a short story from said collection. Jennifer Carr has recently taken up drinking obsene amounts of coffee and alcohol. Aside from attending Sirenland Writers Conference and Tin House Summer Writers Workshops, she looks forward to her future as a gentlewoman of leisure.
Fell Swoop Playwright's Collective for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Her play, The God-Shaped Hole, was selected for a full production through the OC Centric Play Festival and, in 2011, her play, Puppets, was a semi-finalist (top 10) for the Samuel Goldwyn awards. In the world of film, Abbe has optioned a screenplay to the Hallmark channel and worked for several years as a reader for Lawrence Gordon Productions (the team behind Watchmen and Hellboy). She uses the writer's group as equal parts creative inspiration, group therapy, and a source for good beer.
BookFox, a literary blog, he has covered short stories, novels, and literary news for the past five years, gaining accolades from The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Utne Reader, Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly, and Huffington Post.
dirtcakes, a journal that explores themes suggested by the UN Millennium Development Goals to end extreme poverty by 2015. It's a lofty and sobering goal, but the writing inside isn't always. dirtcakes attempts to re-frame familiar words like hunger & doctor by compiling multiple perspectives on the words associated with each goal. The journal is a dedicated temporary endeavor, in the style of other short term activities like pop up restaurants, flash mobs—and attention spans. He blogs on cultural and literary happenings at the site, too. JJW's additional publications include The North American Review, Chaparral, DIAGRAM, SpiralOrb, and VOLT. He received a John Fowles Fiction Writing Award and was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda and James Hurst Poetry Prizes. Lastly and most importantly, he and his wife have two boys whose combined age is eight. A quick math quiz will show you why Josh's life is extremely fulfilled—and sleep-deprived.