What I’m Reading – May 20th, 2016

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Photo on 5-20-16 at 7.19 PM #2

Video blog – What I’m reading Transcript-ish

This week I read:

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Writer’s Notebook II from Tin House

The Distant Marvels by Chantel Acevedo

The Epic of Gilgamesh by Some Old Dead Guy, Translated by John Harris

Medea by Euripides

Hi, my name is Becky Renner. I am a high school creative writing teacher. I just finished the first draft of my novel last month. It’s a YA mystery novel that centers around two teenagers who investigate a 75-year old murder that changed a famous family’s destiny. That novel is called The Illustrious Ashcrofts. I’m planning to submit it to agents in October.

Drift, a Short Story by Becky Renner

Drift: Short Fiction

51nccijczcl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Rebecca Renner’s debut collection of high octane literary fiction includes 8 stories:
– “Drift,” A truck driver unwillingly helps cover up a toxic spill outside Daytona Beach.
– “Everything’s New,” a pair of hurricane Katrina evacuees deals with friction from their interracial marriage.
– “The Rescue Club,” Shipwreck victims find themselves changed after reliving their trauma.
– “Elizabeth, Elizabeth,” The husband of a mentally ill woman comes to terms with a difficult choice regarding her treatment.
– “Sweet Water,” An unlovable Texan woman tries to woo a local invalid by teaching him how to swim.
– “The Nonquitt Key,” A do-nothing celebrity discovers his parents’ infidelity and just can’t deal with it.
– “Ekundayo,” A senator’s son gets wrapped up in violence in Africa.
– “Cathode Ray Gods,” A novella set in a violent future, “Cathode Ray Gods,” depicts the personal toll fighters endure to be famous. Is fame worth it?

Get a free preview right here:

Drift: Collected Short Stories Add this book to your Goodreads Shelf!

How Not to Suck at Writing Fiction


In this short collection of six essays, I go over the basics of fiction writing with a spice of humor. You can read it in one sitting!

Those same essays are also available for free on my website:

A Layman’s Guide to Storytelling

Writing Dynamic Characters

The Story Behind Your Character

Why I Hate the Letter Y and Other Character Naming Pitfalls

Write Better Dialogue

A Protist’s Guide to Titling

How Not to Suck at Writing Fiction Add this book to your Goodreads shelf!

Finding Time for Writing

As a teacher, I’ve come to learn the meaning of the phrase “burnt out.” Wake up at six, be in the classroom by seven – the bell rings at 7:25. I don’t slow down until 3, and sometimes I even work longer. Reading papers, making tests, grading essays. An English teacher’s work never stops. The thing is – this wasn’t the career I planned for. I wanted to be a writer. But as my days teaching progressed into weeks and months, I realized that the free-time fairy wasn’t planning a visit anytime soon. Even on winter vacation, I had an unending list of things to do. How?

rohnI needed to reassess my priorities. In other words:

Don’t find time, make it.

I tried a few things that didn’t work.

  • I woke up at 4:00 AM, as a professor of mine recommended. Then I promptly fell back to sleep.
  • I wrote during my lunch break at work. While this wasn’t the Holy Grail, I did start making progress.
  • What really helped was focus after school. I cooked all of my meals, did my chores, and ran my errands on Sunday. This left time for me to go full-on hermit-mode every day after school until I finished my first draft.