A Look Back on Summer

Tomorrow is the start of classes at Northwestern University, meaning summer has truly come to an end. Endings, of course, are an opportunity to reflect on what has passed, and so I thought I’d revisit my summer.

In June, I posted this reading list for myself. The first book on the list was Infinite Jest  by David Foster Wallace. As I mentioned, it is 1,079 pages long, and most of that, I discovered, is heavy literary strangeness that makes for a difficult read. I’m at 20% on my Kindle, meaning I’ve gotten through about 200 pages. It’s going to be another couple of years before I’m done with this one, I think.

However, I did get through other books on my list this summer. I finished The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a Pulitzer Prize winner by Junot Diaz, and I became slightly obsessed with Middlesex, another Pulitzer Prize winner by Jeffrey Eugenides, because it has great writing plus it takes place in Detroit, my sort-of-hometown. I also read the entire Harry Potter series and, as everyone predicted, wished I had read it a lot earlier.

Of course, I read a lot of books that weren’t on that list either, including my current favorite mystery series, the Molly Murphy Mysteries by Rhys Bowen. Plus I had quite a few manuscripts to read as an editor for Booktrope Publishing. Several of the books I worked on are now for sale, including A Kingdom’s Possession by Nicole J. Persun and Throwaway and Suddenly a Spy by Heather Huffman (links are to Amazon, but they are also for sale at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Booktrope.com).

I also kept myself busy this summer coordinating the AUTHORNOMICS Blog Interview Series over at http://www.andreahurst.com. I’ve gotten the chance to interview some really important people in the publishing industry, including freelance editor Alan Rinzler, former agent Nathan Bransford, and writing coach Margie Lawson. Luckily, I’ll be continuing the series throughout the school year, so my interviewing days are not over. And if you’re as bummed as I am about summer ending, you can still cheer yourself up by entering our end-of-summer contest, which ends this Friday. One of the prizes is a full manuscript critique from me!

And now a look as to what’s ahead for me: on Wednesday I start the fiction major sequence at Northwestern, meaning a year-long course with the same 15 people. For the first half, we’ll be focusing on writing short stories, and for the second half, we’ll write novellas (longer than a short story and shorter than a novel). I’m also managing editor of Prompt Literary Magazine, a student lit mag that just got a new website, promptmagazine.com. And finally, I’m president of an on-campus critique group, No Strangers to Fiction. I’m excited to invigorate the group with guest speakers (including NU alumna agent Sara Megibow) and off-campus activities like going to book sales and readings. All in all, this academic year should be full of good, literary fun, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts about it here!

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