Life, Death, and Everything Is Copy: Nora Ephron’s Final, Most Revealing Lessons

Jacob Bernstein, Nora Ephron, Max Bernstein

No writer revealed more about her own life than Nora Ephron. But if everything is copy, why didn’t she write about dying? A new HBO doc, made by her son, searches for an answer.
How do you write about the life of Nora Ephron?
That sentence sat lonely in an otherwise blank Word document for hours. It’s not that there isn’t an answer—many have, and beautifully—but that it seemed like a fool’s errand to even try.

Excerpt from Kevin Fallon’s article in The Daily Beast- read more.

Author Interview: Annie Dillard, Author of ‘The Abundance’

The writer Annie Dillard has a new collection of her narrative essays. It’s called “The Abundance.” And the first piece in the book is a real stunner. It’s 1979. She’s on hillside near Yakima, Wash. She’s there to witness a total eclipse of the sun – more about that in a second. Dillard won a Pulitzer for 1974’s “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek,” which was set in and around that creek in southwestern Virginia. She’s 70 now, the author of a dozen books, and she spoke with me about writing and more from her breezy porch in Key West, Fla.

Excerpt from an NPR interview with Annie Dillard- read more

Calliope Revisited

Copy (2) of SAM_1540

Joe: Good morning Calliope.

Calliope: Good morning, Joe. How are you?

Joe: Fine, but I thought it was time we had another chat.

Calliope: I agree. I have enjoyed your posts about the writing life. Yet I have wondered what is happening in your life, particularly regarding your writing.

Joe: Fair enough. I have been meaning to update you. First, I lost my position with the Batavia Daily News where I published my column for fifteen years and which I also distributed as Sliding Otter News.

Calliope: Sorry to hear it. What happened?

Joe: New management arrived at the paper in the Fall of 2015. I inquired as to why my payments had been reduced. In response I received a contract to sign which said the paper would treat my columns as work for hire, suggesting that they would have exclusive rights to my writing for them. In looking up the meaning of work for hire through the US copyright office, I learned that such work would become the exclusive property of the paper for a period of 95 years, after which I was free to republish it. Not planning to live that long, I called the editor to negotiate. He claimed he did not know I was sent a contract but did say that his goal was to have exclusive rights which was not acceptable to me.  He promised to look into the matter and get back to me. I never heard from him again. On the next date my column was due to be published, it did not appear in the paper. My attempts to contact him about the status of my column were in vain. I was left to conclude that our relationship was over.

Calliope: A sad development in this age of instant communication. So now what?

Joe: I decided to continue distributing my newsletter on the Internet and also concentrate on my other writing. Since I was away for a while, I published some former articles for a while in Sliding Otter News.

Calliope: Anything else afoot with you?

Joe: I have been researching a new book on addressing violence. In the process, I realized that violence was a result of the direction our society is taking and not a problem of its own. Therefore I have reshaped my project as dealing with living in peace. That’s where I have been placing my efforts lately.

Calliope: Glad to hear you are still on the creative path.

Joe: So am I. I will keep you posted.




When you’re a writer, people–writers and non-writers alike–ask you a lot of questions.

They ask you where your ideas come from. How you get so much writing done in a day (or why you don’t). If you think you’ll ever be as successful as [insert their favorite author here].

For me, the hardest question to answer–possibly the most terrifying question anyone has ever asked me–has nothing to do with my ideas. I have a few theories about those.

Excerpt from Meg Dowell’s WordPress blog- read more

An Author’s Best Support

Martha's Vineyard Aquinnah Lighthouse

Aquinnah Lighthouse- Martha’s Vineyard

I always find the acknowledgment and dedication pages to be tender beginnings to a book. Here the author takes a moment to mention those people who stuck by her when she doubted herself and who believed in her story when no one else did. Without their love and support, the author often suggests, the book you hold in your hand simply wouldn’t exist.

Excerpt from William Kenower’s blog in the Huffington Post- read more