Monthly Archives: June 2008

New Banner for Book Promo Tour

Here’s the promotional banner for my volume of short fiction featured on my July blog book tour:

The President\'s Parasite book tour banner

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Controversy Over “Fireman” Story at The Writer’s Eye Magazine

The editor had an interesting blurb about my story at “The Writer’s Eye.”  I’m kind of glad it has stirred up some controversy:  it was meant to!

“A quick note about Efraim Z. Graves’ story, ‘The Fireman.’ Living in California, as I do, with all the wildfires currently raging throughout the state, I was tempted to pull the story from publication. It’s a story that’s almost too close to home. Yet, it’s a good read, and we have to remember that it’s fiction. The premise of the story is not, in any way, a reflection of this magazine’s opinion: we greatly appreciate the men and women of paid and volunteer fire departments throughout the state who brave personal injury to save lives, properties, and the wild. Enuff said. Happy reading!”

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New Blog for The President’s Parasite Blog Tour!

I now have a new blog for those who want to travel around with me in July as I visit different blogs, talk to folks, and plug my new volume of short stories.

 

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Blog Tour in July

I’ll be doing a month-long Blog Tour for my book of short stories, The President’s Parasite and Other Stories in July.  You can follow me around the Web by looking at my tour schedule, and you can also get archives of my presentations and Q & A.

The President\'s Parasite and Other Stories

I hope you can follow me around and give me some support!  See you in Cyberia!

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“Fireman” Rages in Summer Heat

Fire Destroys San Diego Homes

I just had a new story published at The Writer’s Eye.  It’s all about how some of these California wildfires may be caused by something a bit more nefarious than Mother Nature.

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Sym(phony) Space Writing Contest is a Sham

I know, most people could care less about writing “contests” and what we writers are doing to get our creative wares into the public’s EYE, but I had to share this tidbit about a little contest that was held in New York City that I believe was a cooked-up farce that had no business selling itself as a non-partisan contest.  I’m referring to the 2008 Selected Shorts Stella Kupferberg Memorial Award held at Symphony 30 Space.

Selected Shorts Contest 

I want to conduct a little experiment here.  I am going to let you download and read the winning entry, and then I’m going to let you read one of my stories (not the story I entered in this contest) or a “classic” story and you be the judge.  What is my hypothesis?  I believe this contest was a set-up, and the judge, writer Amy Hempel, chose the winner either 1.  because of who the winning author was, or 2.  because the story was the most “politically correct” and/or the “least offensive” to a listening audience. 

You see, my theory is that no longer are there writers who can write out of the depths of the vast unknown to become brief, literary stars in the audience’s ears, kind of an American Idol of creative writing hopefuls, if you will.   The “Selected Shorts” radio program, for example, was a show where American classic short stories used to be read and enjoyed (by people like me!) when they were presented over KPBS radio.   However, these stories were always “classics” and never did the show feature any new writers out of the socio-political slush pile.  At least with a show like American Idol, even the least talented people get a shot at fame once in awhile.  Not so with these so-called “literary” contests like the one at Symphony Space.

Do me a favor.  Read this winning story here.  (Note:  you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer.)  This supposed “fair and impartial” contest did not require that names and identities be taken off the short story’s title page.  In any contest I have ever heard of, the judging was done “blind,” which means the judge or judges did not see the identity of the writer.  Unlike American Idol, writing contests are not about image or who the writer is (or even does).  They should be, ideally, all about the story and what it does for/to the reader.  Believe me, there are established “rules” about what makes a story work.  It is my hypothesis that the winning story in this contest was nothing more than what literary types classify as a “vignette,” a little “slice of life” that has no meaning other than what it shows.

In contrast, please read the short story by Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery,” or my story “The President’s Parasite” (title story in my independently published collection).  These are stories that say a lot to the reader.  In fact, Jackson’s story, first published out of the “slush pile” in the New Yorker, during the 1950s, caused the most letters to be written to the magazine about a fiction story that the magazine had ever received (I think this is still the case, even after all these years).

My point is this:  why don’t the “powers that be” have the equivalent of an American Idol for creative writing hopefuls?  However, instead of having it all about image and who the writer is, why not focus on the content of the story?  The identities of the authors should not be known, and you could have a panel of professional short story writers who comment upon and actors who present (read) the stories for a national audience.  The authors should only be called out on the “stage” when he or she is chosen as the winner.  In creative story writing, I belive the identity of the writer should be secondary (or not important at all) to the work itself.  As noble Shakespeare said, “The play is the thing!”

So, let me know which story you would have chosen to be read at “Selected Shorts.”  It can even be your story (let me have the link and I’ll publish it here).  Explain why you believe the story is better than “Best Western” and why you think your selected story can stand the test of time.

Power to the People!  Right on.

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Press Release for Client

I just finished the following press release for a client in San Diego.  If you like my work, then I am available for your hire:  jimmusgrave@contempinstruct.com

CIC Publishing and Writing Services

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

“A Friendly New Business in Town”

 

San Diego, CA–Patina Gifts at 957 Turquoise Street, across from the French Gourmet Restaurant, is a welcome addition to the community of shoppers who like a no-pressure, calm atmosphere to browse and find that “special” gift.  Paul and Barbara Holz, the two proprietors who will greet the customer in search of a special gift, are long-time La Jolla residents, and they have obviously taken the time necessary to create a homey atmosphere that makes the buyer feel “taken care of” the moment the store is entered.

 

The red brick façade outside is instantly recognizable and friendly.  As one enters the store, the pleasing arrangement of the variety of unique gifts, in all price ranges, is organized in a way that attracts the eye at once.

 

“We grew-up in La Jolla, went to school in La Jolla, dated in La Jolla, and we now live in La Jolla,” says Barbara.  “We like to inspect every gift we receive and every gift we send out.  We enjoy pleasing the customer in any way we can.  Paul will even deliver to your house,” she smiles, pointing to her husband.

 

What kinds of gifts can one find in this unique shop?  The assortment is quite wide, and they are all clearly and neatly laid out on elegant, home-like wall displays all around the clean and well-lit store. 

 

“We are one of the biggest sellers in San Diego County of Vera Bradley bags and accessories.  We have Jay Strongwater frames and jewelry, and Michael Aram exquisitely handmade metal pieces,” Barbara says.

 

“We also have Thymes, wonderful hand and body essences, Mariposa handmade aluminum service ware, and Archipelago, Vance Kitira and many other lines of candles,” she adds.

 

The gift card selection is especially interesting to the new shopper.  The Patience Brewster cards are personably humorous and special, as are the “bookmark cards” that let the reader use the attached bookmark with a moving saying or poem on it.

 

This gift shop even has a section devoted to the garden, kitchen and bath.  The gifts are not generic, as you often find in “tourist shops” or other stores that are obviously run by some indifferent conglomerate more interested in mark-up profit than they are in the customer.  Everything about Patina Gifts makes one feel at home.

 

Patina Gifts welcomes new business, and they are open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 5:30 pm.  You can call them at 858-488-4488 and email them at Barbara@patinagifts.com.

 

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