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The Weird Week in Writing (plus a 4th of July prompt challenge): Harper Lee re-emerges, a novelist sells her first book at 82, and a writer pens the best worst line of the year

Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird and wonderful world of
writing this week (followed by a series of prompts):

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To feed a (mocking)bird: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird, a journalist tracked down the awesome, reclusive Harper Lee to figure out why she’s been so silent all these years. The reporter found Lee by agreeing not to talk about her famous book, and then fed the birds with her.

Late Bloomer: A writer sells her first novel … at the age of 82. And it’s part of a trilogy. As GalleyCat notes, take that, New Yorker 20 under 40 list that’s been haunting us for the last few weeks.

Throughout her Supreme Court confirmation, Elena
was asked about abortion, military issues, and another nationally
divisive matter:

Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.

Glenn Beck’s first thriller, The Overton Window, may have gotten criticallyslammed, but it’s still selling like hotcakes: No. 1 NYT hotcakes. As Beck said on his show this week, “It's not only meant to entertain, but also to be able to go back and pore over. … I think National Review did a review on this and said it's a book you can read a couple pages and just put down and think about for a while and do research on.” Let me know how that goes.

Paul is Undead: Jacket Copy reports on a new book detailing the British Zombie invasion. The Beatles = Zombies. However, Ringo = Ninja.

“For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair,they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil”: And the awesomely worst line of the year award, per the Bulwer-Lytton contest, goes to …

Sodapop / dreams of / Punky Brewster:
This week, memoir announcements broke for Outsiders star Rob Lowe, "I Dream of Jeannie" star Barbara Eden and "Punky Brewster" star Soleil Moon Frye.


Have an excellent Fourth of July. I’ll be out next week, taking a road trip down south (and hopefully reemerging with a notebook-full of Southern Kentucky-/Nashville-/twang-/Chattanooga-/bourbon-/Atlanta-infused prompts).

I’ll post some extra prompts below for the week to come. Here’s to hoping yours is a great one.

* * *



free to take the following prompts home or post a
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

[1] In fiction or nonfiction, describe a moment in a hard-fought quest for independence—for you, someone you know, or a character.
[Aside: It can be anything—freedom in the Revolutionary War sense, freedom from smoking, freedom from a relationship, freedom from prison.]

[2] Opposite Day: In a form you typically stay away from—nonfiction, fiction, poetry, etc.—describe what the Fourth of July means to you, someone in your family, or even a character, and why.

[3] A plane flies above your house. Leaflets tumble from it, and as they hit the ground you pick one up, and read.

[4] On a vacation that you won, part of the prize is something you never, ever wanted. But it’s part of the prize, and it’s mandatory, so you do it.


feature package on how to write and sell your
memoir. Interviews with Life of Pi author Yann Martel, and
the scribe behind “True Blood,” Charlaine Harris. The results of our
Pop Fiction competition. New markets for your work. For more, click

here to check the July/August 2010 issue of WD out.


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