Inside Story by Julia Goldberg

1. Julia–you’ve just published your first book–INSIDE STORY. The focus is a guide to writing creative nonfiction. I found the tone and approach very helpful. What in particular can the reader expect to learn?

My hope is that the book has appeal to many different types of creative nonfiction writers, from students to working writers and everyone in between. Inside Story delves into various categories of nonfiction—from memoir to journalism to the lyric essay. Each chapter endeavors to provide explanations about craft, writing exercises as well as references and resource lists. So, it’s a way to both learn more about the genre but also very much a practical guide to reporting and writing creative nonfiction. I have read many craft books myself, so I tried to distinguish my book in terms of it sounding like me—it has, I hope, much of the information one might find in a textbook, but it has a voice as well.

2. Was it easier–or more difficult–to write a book than you expected? You’ve been an editor in numerous capacities, including the Santa Fe Reporter but this is a different kind of endeavor. What surprised you?

I was surprised at how challenging it was! I’ve written on deadline my entire adult life and have written many long-form reported pieces. I worked as an editor on another book (Best Altweekly Writing, 2009-2010 from Northwestern Press). So I am familiar with many of the components needed to write a nonfiction book, such as research, reporting, organizing and, of course, the actual writing. But the accumulative process—writing for hours every day, day after day, and still not being finished, was a challenging—invigorating and difficult—experience. It set a bar in terms of my appreciation for the stamina it takes, for sure.

3. Anything else you want to add?
The book isn’t just my take on reporting and writing. I’ve been lucky in my career to both meet and read many amazing writers. I interviewed and reference numerous people for this book, whose own perspectives and experiences are in each chapter, and I’m very grateful for that.

4.How can readers buy a copy?
If readers are in Santa Fe, they can buy it at Collected Works. The book also is available on Amazon and all other online retailers. I’m also doing a giveaway on Goodreads May 24-June 23, so they can enter and maybe win one!

Amazon link:

Goodreads giveaway link:

My Second Hand Books

I got a request from a reader to re-blog this–so enjoy! It’s from 2010 but still holds true.

Dear Diary: Second Hand Books
Posted on February 6, 2010 by Miriam Sagan

A friend and I were recently in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. We went into the Black Cat Bookstore and discovered a local author with an interesting book. We each bought one, and complimented her. She immediately told us everything wrong with the book.
“Just say thank you,” I told her. Bossy advice, I know, but still good advice. And advice I was given many years ago.
My first book of poetry had come out. My sister-in-law Suzi was dancing in dinner theater in Connecticut. A fellow dancer said she liked my book. I was so stunned I basically told her that wasn’t possible.
Suzi took me aside. “Say thank you,” she instructed me. I have been ever since.
We stopped in Albuquerque on the way home. My friend, a well-known writer, asked the bookstore owner if the store had any books of hers. The owner recognized her and was pleased when she signed books. “Do you have any books by Miriam Sagan?” my friend asked. “Sometimes,” the owner replied and I was duly introduced.
Who has sold my books back? It is disconcerting. I see a letterpress limited edition inscribed something like “To Becky and Paul, thanks for the wonderful day at the ranch and the great lunch. Love, Miriam.” Who are these people? Ranch? Lunch? If it was so great, why can’t I place them and why didn’t they keep my book?
I once got a note from Australia. Someone had bought a book of mine in a second hand store. He liked the book, but wanted to know about the affectionate inscription. Who was it inscribed to? Why had she sold it?
Maybe I am just too gushy. I feel bad if I don’t find my books on the shelf and bad if I do. Next time I give you a book, just say thank you.

Couples: Trying To Understand Coming of Age in the 1960’s

I’ve been reading, of all things, COUPLES by John Updike. In my youth, it was a book I searched for when I was babysitting.(And found, sometimes in an underwear drawer). It was about sex, my teen-aged mind assumed. Now I’m discovering that its sometimes purple sometimes exquisite prose is something that would have been decidedly yucky to my adolescent view–the misery of marriage. Which frankly is somewhat yucky to my more than middle-aged one.
However, I’m an archeologist in my own life, often wondering–just what were my parents thinking? They weren’t WASP-Y swingers, as in COUPLES. Or wildly attractive New Yorkers (MAD MEN). But I was raised in the suburbs in the sixties.
Maybe it is because I recently have been reminiscing about elementary school. Or talking to a friend about whether our teen-age years were uniquely bad–driven by social chaos to a more than usual existential pitch. Maybe I’m just trying to make sense of parts of my past because I’m writing more fiction.
Or maybe, as a male friend said about MAD MEN and our generation, “We are ALL Sally.”