Tag Archives: Matt Briggs

Dopefiend Forthcoming from Central Recovery Press in October 2011!

Four Views of a Book Press

I signed a contract with a book publisher!

Dopefiend* is forthcoming from Central Recovery Press in October 2011. I am so excited and pleased.

Central Recovery Press first contacted me in early spring. I signed in late September. In-between was much book publishing drama. It’s nothing like what I imagined. I say that, but I am no longer even sure what I imagined. I just know I agonized over everything.

You always read about these wonderfully talented writers who were poor business people and ended up dying penniless and lonely in some terrible place. I was determined not to let that happen to me. I asked about print runs, wholesale and retail prices, and means of distribution, but the person I worked with—a kind soul from upstate NY named Tom Woll—liked to answer these type questions in general terms. I could never tell if he thought I was somewhat slow or if he was  just trying to protect me from myself.

Probably a little of both.

In the end, I had to reach out to all my writer friends and acquaintances for help. That’s what really turned the tide and helped me understand what was going on. It’s one thing to see yourself as a promising new voice. No matter how many rejections come, you’re always able to shrug it off. Writers get rejected. This is just what we do. In a sense, we’re manufacturing rejection. But being asked to deliver on a vivid and engaging manuscript is another story altogether. I didn’t see it right off, but now I realize I was overwhelmed, intimidated, and mabye even a little frightened.

Fortunately I had a host of writers and friends to rely on for everything from sanity checks to encouragement. Much thanks to: William Bradley, Dinty Moore, Matt Briggs, Rachael Brownell, Diane Diekman, Karna Converse, Carter Jefferson, Grace Skibicki, William Pitt Root, Tom Catton, Ira Sukrungruang, and I am sure a few others who I am forgetting as I write this.

And many thanks to Holly—a wonderfully talented writer in her own right, and my best reader and favorite critic—for putting up with me all summer long and for cleaning out some room in the house where I can write. I realize that I have been offered a wonderful opportunity, one that not many writers get.

Now my job is to write the best book I can produce.

*Dopefiend is the tentative title. I agreed to come up with a new title, but I haven’t found anything I like just yet.

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Seattle Book Fest: A Big Success


Last night’s reading at the Seattle Book Fest was fun.

I surprised myself by getting nervous about three hours before Matt and I spoke. Holly said you couldn’t tell from listening to me, but I don’t see how that’s possible. The good news: I didn’t faint or throw up.

We were talking about flash non-fiction, so I read I Am and Jimi Don’t Play Here No More. I thought my first story, “I Am,” went really well. Halfway through Jimi, I just wanted it to be over. 

But I kept reading.

Fortunately for me, Matt was there. What a pro! I’ve attended enough of these panels and workshops to know what’s expected, but each time Matt interjected something helpful, it seemed like a revelation:

“Can everyone hear?” “Is anyone interested in learning where to submit their own flash for publication?”

In the end, it seems like it’s the simple, obvious stuff that makes or breaks a good reading. I am pleased I was able to participate. Once I started writing, it took me a long time to start sending things out for publication, but it was an obvious next step, and one I’m glad I finally took. Now I’ve done my first reading. I just need a book deal (and maybe a groupie) and then I’ll be solid.

All kidding aside, I want to thank Matt Briggs for allowing me to read with him. What a great opportunity.

Thank you, Matt!

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Shoot the Buffalo

Although I rarely read fiction these days, I do read a little, especially if it’s good.

Shoot the Buffalo, Matt Briggs latest novel, is my kind of fiction. A coming of age story set in the dark woods of the Pacific Northwest, it features some of the saddest, yet most oddly compelling characters I’ve read in a long while.

I seek out coming of age stories. The best memoir is written to read like fiction, so all the coming of age stories I read actually count as research toward my own on-going memoir project. One of the inherent problems of writing this kind of story is that something big has to happen to your main character, but not so big as to prevent a minor from rising to the challenge and overcoming in a way that’s believable and (hopefully) compelling to read.

In American literature, this sort of story often presents itself as a Hero’s Quest, typically a redemptive story where the hero overcomes some great adversary. But it’s not always so cut and dry. In This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff’s well-known coming of age memoir, a no-account stepfather is young Wolff’s big challenge. In a stunning act of guile, Wolff manages to (literally) reinvent himself, escaping to a prep school in the Northeast. Wolff’s use of deceit to overcome his situation has always made the story stand out for me. There is nothing more poignant then a child trying to cope with grown up issues the best he can, especially if that child is saddled with lousy parents. For a boy in this situation, the most believable thing to do is make a poor choice.

Shoot the Buffalo deals with the guilt a boy feels after he leads his siblings into the woods in search of their parents and his little sister dies of exposure. What struck me was the clever way Briggs uses the story’s structure and setting to move the main character from childhood guilt and confusion to a believable resolution as a young man.

It’s fiction, but it feels real. It’s just a genuine story about a hard childhood.

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