Celebrate our finalist!

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Lisa Carroll-Lee, who’s been in one of my writing groups for more than two years, has landed another short story as a Finalist in the Austin Chronicle 2009 Short Story Contest. The Chronicle has a really lean word limit, but Lisa has made it to the Top 10 with her story, Monsters of Nature.

We saw Monsters in October at our manuscript group meeting and gave her our responses to her flight of fancy about furry children. Congratulations to Lisa, and best of luck in the finalists’ round. As they say at Oscar time, it’s an honor just to be nominated.

Lisa has made the finalist cut before on the contest. The Chronicle will publish the top three of this year’s 2,500-word gems on Feb. 13.

Writing a double life

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My friend Laurie Cosbey, who’s working on a psychological thriller, spread the word about a storied novelist’s double life as a writer. Joyce Carol Oates has a well-known literary bibliography, including her more-than-autobiographical novel The Falls, based on Oates’ formative years in the Niagara Falls area of Western New York.

But Laurie told our manuscript response group that Oates has got two other outlets for her creativity.

She is a bestselling literary writer, but she also writes genre fiction under a pseudonym Rosamond Smith. She says her genre work is all about doubles. I think that’s something all writers are interested in, because we seem to be living double lives, one in our work and one in the world. She also writes suspense novels under the name Lauren Kelly.

There’s even more to Oates. She’s a prolific essayist, too.

In her book of essays, The Faith of a Writer, she’s interviewed about her 738-page epic Blonde: based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Oates won the National Book Award at age 32, one of the youngest winners ever for a novel.