And This is How They Get You ~ A Reader’s Response


Image From

By Philip Hartigan

And this is how they get you: waiting for you to step off the bus after school, watching you from behind the fence that rings the potato fields, snowballs embedded with sharp stones in their hands, watching for the moment when the bus pulls away, and you walk a few yards along the grass next to the bus stop, looking for a break in the traffic (there isn’t much traffic at this hour on a dark winter afternoon), and as you cross the road, they appear over the top of the fence and start hurling the snowballs at you with pinpoint accuracy, the first one catching you on the back of the neck so hard that you feel the warm blood trickling out of the cut, the next few snowballs thudding against your coat as you duck, and stagger, and try to dodge the assault, managing to keep your head from being hit again, but only at the expense of your back, and your elbows, and your calves, which are bare because the Catholic school you attend forces boys to wear shorts, even in winter, and as you slip and nearly fall when you reach the other side of the road and the safety of the corner, you feel the stinging of stone and ice on the skin of your legs, and you begin to cry, cursing the local boys, and the school that makes you wear shorts even in winter.


→Thanks, Philip Hartigan, for your response to Journal Prompt #3. A reminder to all–an invitation was made with Journal Prompt #100: add your response to any journal prompt published (1 – 100) and submit as a comment. I will be posting the fine writing I receive. As always thanks for reading (and writing!) -PMc←


Left Bank Books ~ Great Books, Great Places

→The following is a post published by Philip Hartigan on his blog Praeterita on April 16, 2012. It is reprinted here, with permission from the author. -PMc←

Meet Me in St. Louis

I’ve always wanted to go to St. Louis, but in the ten years I’ve lived in Chicago, just 300 miles up the road, I never went there until yesterday. Patty had to go to read at Left Bank Books, in the west end/Forest Park area of the city. She and her fellow Elephant Rock Books author, Stacy Bierlein, were doing a joint reading as part of their promotions for their books,THE TEMPLE OF AIR (Patty) and A VACATION ON THE ISLAND OF EX-BOYFRIENDS (Stacy), both of which were published by ERB in the last eight months.

Left Bank Books is at the corner of a street in a neighbourhood that looks astonishingly like parts of Vienna, or Prague, or the un-bombed bits of Berlin:

Not surprising given the massive German influx into the area in the late 1800s. Home of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch, and all that. I understand that this area has been through several up and down cycles, and is currently enjoying one of its upswings, with cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques, interior design shops, and art galleries working out of these elegant old Bohemian style buildings. It felt like a relaxed, low-key, hip but not precious area — a great place to buy books, read books, and listen to authors read from books.

The reading started at 4 pm, and was attended by a princely, bushy cat called Spike, who is the bookshop presiding king, it seems. Here is a collage of the reading:

That’s a bronze statue of T. S. Eliot outside the door — the great poet was from this city. On the other two corners were statues of two other writers associated with St. Louis, Kate Chopin and Tennessee Williams.

After the reading, we were taken to dinner by Sheena and Dan, owners of the Shlafly Breweries in St. Louis,   at one of their places downtown:

It was an added delight to be hosted by two well-travelled, interesting, and generous people. Sheena is Scottish, which might (or might not) explain why we ended up talking about Curly-Wurly chocolate and Gary Glitter concerts.

Stacy’s delightful 7-year-old daughter, Elliott, also drew something in my sketchbook:

I know that I only caught a glimpse of one fairly well-heeled corner of St. Louis, but I came back from this 24-hour trip mightily impressed, and keen to go back and spend more time exploring its different neighourhoods.

UPDATE: And I also just found out that Newt Gingrich, who was in town for the NRA convention (grr!), visited the St. Louis zoo and was bitten by a penguin. I love this city!


3 Reasons to Help Support the Chicago Writers Conference

Recently, I had the occasion to have a chat with Mare Swallow, the force behind the new Chicago Writers Conference. We talked about the plans for the event (September 14-16, 2012) and about the endeavor to get the gig up and running through Kickstarter. I asked Mare to share with us the top 3 Reasons To Support the Chicago Writers Conference.

Here’s what she said:

1. One-stop shopping for Chicago Writing Connections.

We have an amazing literary city, but sometimes it’s nice to have a guide. Author William Shunn talks about how, after arriving in Chicago, it took him five years to find his connections in Chicago’s literary community. He says it was fun, but it took 5 years. “I would’ve liked a conference when I arrived in Chicago,” William tells us.

2.  Practical, brass-tacks advice.

What do I do with my manuscript, now that I’ve written it? Should I look into digital publishing? What if I want to write a cookbook? We’ll tell you. The Chicago Writers Conference exists to connect writers with publishing professionals to help writers get their work out there, and into the world. Publishers from Agate Publishing and Sourcebooks will be on hand to dispense advice, as well as Chuck Sambuchino, editor of Writers Digest and the Guide to Literary Agents. And we’ll even have a panel discussion with literary agents who will tell you what to do (and not do).

3. Fun, education, fun.

In addition to all the new stuff you’ll learn, we’re including events like evening reading series, featuring conference attendees, where you can mix and mingle with your fellow writers, eat, and drink. (C’mon, you didn’t think we’d have a conference without some drinks being involved, did you?)

Read more about the conference, and see who’s speaking here.

See our video and help us get going on Kickstarter.

At the time of this post, there are two days left to donate to the conference through Kickstarter. Consider helping to make this event happen! And as always, thanks for reading. -PMc←