Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Finocchiaro’

Love poetry? Love Philly? Well then here is your chance as WragsInk has put out the long anticipated Anthology Philly, Poetry Edition. Editor Dennis Finocchiaro collects the finest of new poets from the Philadelphia area and publishes them into a nice little book with an amazing cover by Colleen McCarthy. Poets include L. Haber, Veronica Bowlan, Calvin Reed and many, many more!

It’s available on Amazon and, if you’re in the area, one of the following events:

Saturday, August 25th, Infusion 4pm
7133 Germantown Ave, Phila 19119

Friday, September 7th, 1518 Bar & Grill 6pm
1518 Sansom Str, Phila 19102

Saturday, September 15th Coffee Beanery 4pm
100 West State St, Media 19063

Thursday, September 20th Bindlestiffs 6pm
45th and Baltimore, Phila 19143

Saturday, September 22nd Princeton University 4pm
**Details to come**

Tuesday, September 25th Mermaid Inn 7.30pm
7673 Germantown Ave, Phila Pa

Saturday, September 29th Mugshots Fairmount 4pm
1925 Fairmount Ave, Phila 19130

Saturday, October 6th Coffee Beanery 4pm
100 West State St, Media 19063

Saturday, October 27th Infusion 2pm
7133 Germantown Ave, Phila 19119

Saturday, November 17th Mugshots Fairmount 4pm
1925 Fairmount Ave, Phila 19130

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Okay okay, I’ll calm down, it’s only two reviews on Amazon. But hey, one gave the anthology four stars, and the other gave it five!

“I found myself hoping for full-length

novels from several of the writers.” -Lou

“A great collection of short stories by

Philly authors. Each story incorporates at

little taste of what makes [Philadelphia]

wonderful and exciting.” – Nixie

So feel free to check out the book on Amazon or if you’re in the area, let us know and we’ll let you know about the readings!


Editor, Anthology Philly

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Records and bicycles

have made a comeback,

so why shouldn’t


By Dennis Finocchiaro


Imagine Bukowski hunched over a manuscript-in-progress with his bottle of wine, likely with a window view of a seedy bar across the street for inspiration. He watches the faces of patrons going in steadily and coming out less-so and types away on his typewriter.

Think of Kerouac clicking away at the keys, thinking carefully about every word and comma, working out the full sentences in his head before capturing them on paper so as to avoid typos, mistakes and having to redo a whole page.  The noise of his friends in the other room, fighting over nothing or perhaps just drinking heavily, waiting for him to go out on a short road trip.

Times sure have changed. I’ve probably gone back seven or eight times to change typos, diction or other small items in this article, but back then things were different. The sights, sounds and environment of writers were drastically different than they are today. Typing on a computer is nothing compared to the feel of a typewriter. Yes, I admit it, I am a lover of typewriters.

The cold of the keys keeps your fingers awake and alive, the clacking of the typebars smacking the ribbon, immortalizing a word that cannot be taken back (see image below for a description of typewriter parts). The sound of the platen moving to the left a character at a time until that lovable, familiar ding of the bell. There was something so definite and lasting about working on such a machine. There is no backspace, there is no delete, there is only forever.

I, for one, can’t imagine what it was like to type school essays on an old Brother Charger. The invention of whiteout must have been a godsend for those people. Think about it, one little mistake and it was either white out the spot and let it dry or rip the paper off the platen (causing a rapid clicking sound) and start over.

But these days, especially lately, the world has seen a mild resurgence of the old fashioned typewriter. A little CBS news piece substantiated that last week with a five-minute report on typewriters and their growing popularity. I, myself have been using two particular typewriters for a while now, mostly in my work on Capturing a Moment, a collection of flash fiction I type directly on vintage photographs. For a book signing I brought my trusty Brother Charger 11 and let people play with it, and they loved it. Kids asked what it was, and parents or grandparents gladly demonstrated how the old machine worked. And every one of them smiled when they heard the familiar snap of the letters appearing on the paper.

Philadelphia even recently had a type-in, much like a sit-in, except nobody was demonstrating against something; they came together with a similar love of the old machines and a large number of people sat and typed. Michael McGettigan, founder of the Philadelphia type-in, said, “Your thought goes directly onto the page without a lot of intermediaries, and it produces an artifact in a time when so much of life has become so virtual…” That explains, to a certain extent, why typewriters have started a comeback.

McGettigan also points out that typewriters help with focus. “It will not let you play a video game or go look for bargains on Ebay…so if you’re sitting at a typewriter, you’re either going to write or fall asleep.”

He goes on to discuss the fact that the MP3 hasn’t pushed away the vinyl record, something to which I can attest. I started collecting records about fifteen years ago when I realized how much music was at my fingertips when I yard saled. At the time, records went for a quarter. But these days, hit a record shop or even the Punk Rock Flea Market and it’s clear that records are not a thing of the past. And that’s what typewriters are slowly becoming today.

So why not try it? Go to a thrift shop, start yard saling, see what you think. Spool some paper, hit a few keys, get a feel for it. Who knows, you could become a part of the ever-growing revolution of the typewriter. You could be the next Kerouac.


Dennis Finocchiaro is the author of Capturing a Moment and editor of the upcoming Anthology Philly. Images also by Dennis Finocchiaro.

Image taken from Xavier.edu.


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The Greatest Love

Story Ever Told

(in My Opinion)

by Dennis Finocchiaro

Love stories come and go. Most anyone can say they cried reading The Notebook. And let’s face it, The Princess Bride is probably the actual greatest love story ever told, or we can at least agree to disagree. But whenever I think of true love, I think of a small segment of my favorite book of all time, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Of course, these days, everyone has heard of the book because it’s now a movie, or they’re just finding out the movie is based on a book as they read these words. Surprise! (This surprise is only for the misinformed, and I doubt that includes people who end up on this blog). But no, while this book is about the love between a mother and son and in no way romantic, a story within the story is the absolute purest form of love ever created.

I am writing about, of course, the fairy tale Oscar’s dad tells him, of The Sixth Borough.

In this tale, there was once a sixth borough of New York, an island that nobody remembers. Every year they had a big party, the climax being when a man famous for jumping would jump the small amount of water between NYC and this sixth borough. Once year, he finds he can’t make it across. And the next, he jumps and lands in deeper water. At first, the people think the logical: the jumped is getting old. But he insists he has not lost any of his jump (haha) and so they measure the distance only to find that the island is moving away from New York City.

And, of course, this doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it? The story continues past this celebration to two children, a boy and a girl, who are in love. The boy lives in the sixth borough and the girl across the small amount of water. They chat through cups on a string, which of course is absolutely adorable in and of itself. But as the island escapes the mainland, they have to keep adding to the line.

The string from his yo-yo.

The pull from her talking baby doll.

The list goes on. The two kids slowly destroy everything they love just so that they continue talking until, one day, they realize it’s going to end. The boy asks the girl to say “I love you” into her can and captures the words on his end, sealing the cup and placing it on a shelf so that, to this day, as the sixth borough has ended up in Antartica, “On a frozen shelf, in a closet frozen shut, is a can with a voice inside it.”

Why do I think this is the greatest love story of all time? Maybe I don’t, maybe I just absolutely adore it and couldn’t think of another story that gave me the same feeling as this one. But whenever I think of the sixth borough, I get chills. I even went to NYC once and took pictures that reminded me of the tale. Jonathan Safran Foer told a hell of a story in ELIC, but he also made up this fairy tale that made me fall in love with New York and the romantic side of the city. The purity of the love between these two children is described with the diction of a master, and hell, maybe I just have a soft spot for fairy tales.

But then again, there’s always those terrible moments in novels, and let’s face it, not everyone can write a good love story. Vonnegut, for instance, is without a doubt one of my favorite writers. But his stories tended to sway from romance, which was smart. He knew his genre and what worked with his stories; but one of his greatest unrecognized traits was that he avoided what he knew didn’t work. Brilliant. But not everyone is as intelligent as that; ask anyone who reads the Twilight books.

They are my example of romance that doesn’t work for me. And trust me, it’s not the teen angst aspect of the story, I eat that shit up when it’s well-written. But those books were just plain terrible. I know it’s become cliché to make fun of them, but the writing isn’t even any good. Many people ask me how I can love Harry Potter but hate Twilight, and that’s so simple: it’s the writing. J.K. Rowling is one hell of a writer. Her imagery creates moments in my mind out of things that are purely fiction. Like I know what a thestral is, right? But her words describe it and I imagine it. That’s what’s missing from all of the scenes, not just the love scenes, in the Twilight saga.

I can willingly admit I am a fan of a romantic novel. Nick Hornby has written a few that I love. Caprice Crane has, too. But they are artists, working words into stories that grab the reader and pull them in. Twilight just didn’t do that for me. I could never understand Bella’s love for a vampire, nor could I see the attraction. And trust me, I’ve even admittedly read books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember (would anyone believe me if I claimed they were read for a class?), and as embarrassing as it is, I will admit that I fell in love with the characters. Jamie Sullivan from the latter was written with such a love of life and a purity that I couldn’t help but adore her.

That’s what was missing with Bella Swan and her boys. There was no real reason to care about them, to connect with them or to even want Bella to clearly be with either Jacob or Edward. Readers chose a side with no real reason. Or because they thought one actor was cuter than the other.

So there you have it; I admit, I enjoy a nice, mushy, well-written love story sometimes, but it has to have some literary merit. Is there anything wrong with that?

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Kim and Erica Minutella recently met up with Dennis Finocchiaro, editor of the upcoming Anthology Philly, for a chat.

By Dennis Finocchiaro

A chat with the Sisters Minutella (read: Brothers Grimm) is about as entertaining as they come. Kim, a self-proclaimed introvert, chattered away as her older sister Erica listened on and chimed in when necessary.

Kim and Erica are the recent winners of a contest held by WragsInk Publishing to find fresh new writing talent in the Philadelphia Area. Their story, Beautiful Things, took first place in the contest and will be the opening story in Anthology Philly, due out in March. I met with the co-writers of the story for a chat.                

Beautiful Things is the story of a strange man, Julius Taylor, who moves to a small town where everyone notices his eccentricities. Most gossip about the newcomer, everyone except his neighbor Ellie. Her curiosity gets the better of her and he comes home one day to find her sitting in his living room. The story that started as a horror short ended up “more as a fairy tale” in the end, says Erica.

Elle was based off of Kim, ultimately,” Erica explained. “She was bullied a lot as a kid, picked on for being different. That inspired both the character and the story. I wanted to write something that she could relate to so I made some changes to [the original] story.”

After a moment of quiet reflection on her past, Kim perked up again and explained. “Beautiful Things was a story I came up with in the eighth grade. I wanted people to know that being different was okay, that there wasn’t anything wrong with it. It’s about society and acceptance of different people. I told Erica the story, and every few years we would discuss it, pull it out, and add some details to it.”

It ended up in the anthology editor’s hands, namely me. And as I read it, I knew right away it was one of, if not the, best we received. I was blown away. It had this sense of magical realism, mostly created by the fact that the newcomer, Mr. Taylor, collected oddities of his own. He had a violin that would play melancholy songs on its own and other similarly strange objects. This idea drew me right into the story.

My favorite books as a kid were the Narnia series. I just loved them,” Erica said.

Kim quickly interjected, “She used to look in wardrobes all the time for another world.” I can only assume she meant as a child, but you never know. Creative people never fully give up on the childlike dreams, do they?

So after years of revisiting and editing the story, the sisters decided it was time to free the story into the world and into my hands. And I was absolutely thrilled.

One of the more intriguing parts is when two of the characters, a little girl and an older man, end up as friends. The diction of the story was carefully chosen to keep them from treading those dangerous waters; any feeling of negativity would have seriously diminished the power of the story.

I wanted to maintain a sense of innocence in the characters,” Erica said. “I felt like that was so important. Not everything has to relate to everyone’s bad nature.”

Yeah,” Kim added. “It was about the guy’s good nature. We wanted to show that just because the guy is into oddities [he isn’t] so bad. Everybody is so worried about people who are different. They’re not weird; they’re just into different things. Everyone is different. We just wanted to make these characters good people.”

Everyone has that inspiring adult in his or her life, and Ellie finds that in Mr. Taylor. “There’s always an authority figure in life that inspires you, whether it’s a teacher or the cool uncle that you have,” Erica said.

Kim actually had a friend when she was little, an older neighbor Bob. They had a similar relationship, and we wanted to capture that in the story. Everyone knew him and nobody thought anything of his friendliness. And they were right to feel that way; Uncle Bob, as Kim referred to him, was just a nice guy who lived on the street and got along with everyone.

As a child, Kim needed a friend like him, considering her history with her classmates. “He was actually a really good person who also happened to read a lot of conspiracy books.” Eventually, Kim would also turn to graphic novels and Manga as not only an escape but also for inspiration. The Visual Studies major is currently attending Tyler School of Art and aspires to work as a graphic novelist.

I owe it all to Erica. She got me into Manga and graphic novels, especially DragonBall Z, Batman and stuff like that. It’s what I want to do when I grow up.” Her dream job, she went on to say, would be to work for DC Comics.

A sketch by Kim Minutella

Erica works promoting visual artists in Philadelphia and is working on her first novel, one that she doesn’t like talking about too much in the early stages. “I’m working on a novel, it’s set a thousand years in the future and is a parody of video game culture.” But that was as much as she would say about it as she moved on in the conversation.

When I was in third grade I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always wanted to write novels at some point, and writing a short story is probably the best way to get started,” Erica said.

The funny thing that came up was the fact that Erica wasn’t sure what genre she wanted to work in until a certain professor informed her of a quote, allegedly by Isaac Asimov (I tried to find it but could not).

I switched back and forth between fantasy and horror. Finally I took a science fiction class in which the professor quoted Asimov in saying that women couldn’t write science fiction and that it was the province of men and they shouldn’t even try. So once I heard that I accepted the challenge.” And while Beautiful Things isn’t exactly science fiction, it is an excellent mixture of fantasy, fairy tale and sci-fi, which is part of what makes it so appealing.

One thing the sisters have in common is their love of the characters they create. Kim spoke of them as if they were her children, while Erica backed that up even more.

I think of my characters…they’re all pieces of my personality, not only do I identify with them, but it’s as [Kim] said, they’re like my children and I’m watching them grow up. I hate when I have to kill one off.”

I had to wonder what the process was like between not only two authors, but two who are also siblings. Their process is simple: conversations. They bring up the story once in a while, bouncing ideas off of each other, and as they tell it, the story began to form on its own. “We actually talk about our ideas all the time. I have a sketchpad at all times where I take notes and then I share them with Erica.”

Erica continued her thoughts. “It’s very chaotic. We change ideas all of the time.”

We’re actually really close, practically best friends,” Kim said. This was obvious from my time with them.

While neither of the girls had been published before this anthology, it won’t be long before we hear from both of them again, of this I am sure.

If you want to check out the story by The Sisters Minutella, then check it out on Amazon.

Photograph by Antonio Greco

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Horror Writer and Filmmaker Speaks to Wrags About Upcoming Short Story

By Dennis Finocchiaro

Robert Angelo Masciantonio is a local writer and filmmaker. Editor Dennis Finocchiaro caught up with him to ask him about his short story, New Girl in Town, part of the upcoming collection of short stories by locals of the Philadelphia area, Anthology Philly, and about his role in the movie business.

DF: Your story is called New Girl in Town and it’s about a murderous
young woman who moves into the neighborhood. Where did you come up with the idea for this story?

RAM: The story actually serves as a prequel to my film, Neighbor.  The movie picks up in the middle of the main character’s week and follows several days.  When I see the audience at screenings or conventions a lot of their questions involve The Girl’s [the main character remains nameless throughout the story] past so when the opportunity came up to write the story, I thought it would be a fun subject.  The short story starts about six weeks before the movie and ends about three days before the movie’s opening shot.

DF: The Girl has no given name. What was your reasoning behind that?

RAM: The main motivation was to add that extra flair of mystery.  I’ve always known what it is and have only told America Olivo (the actress behind the screen’s incarnation).  I do eventually reveal her name but even now in that script it reads: [Girl’s Name] smiles as she picks up the knife…

I also wanted to add a little banality to the character.  After all, she’s just your average girl.

DF: Female serial-killers are a rarity in fiction and film. What made
you choose to use a female as the main character?

RAM: Some of the reasoning was to break up the monotony.  In fiction, whether it’s film or literary, the killer is always a guy: Michael Meyers, Jason Vorhees, Hannibal Lecter, Dexter Morgan… the list is endless, where I can think of, maybe there female killers.  I also thought it would be more fun.  In a way, I think it would be easier for a girl to commit the crimes The Girl does because she uses her charm and instincts.  If a guy tried to pull off some of her moves, he’d come off like a creep immediately.  Most of my writing is about strong women though.  At the end of the day, I just think it’s more interesting… and I like to see girls kick ass.

DF:  I know you’re also a filmmaker. Could you tell us a little about
your film career?

RAM: I wrote and directed my first feature, a light horror, Cold Hearts, when I was 23.  It’s still out there in the ether, which I’m proud of.  I did a couple shorts and then took time to contend with life.  I knocked the rust off with a very small dramedy a few years ago and decided to go back to horror with NeighborNeighbor has a time frame, from conception to screening, of nine months, which is pretty insane.

DF:  Was jumping from screenwriting to fiction a difficult move for you?
What were some of the obstacles/problems you encountered?

RAM: lt sorta came back like muscle memory; the first couple curls were hard but then it kicked back in.  This was the first time I’d written a narrative piece since 1994 so it took a few sentences to really get going.  One of the hardest things to get used to was changing verb tense.  Screenplays are always in the present.  I also had to remind myself to describe locations a bit more.  In a screenplay it’s: INT. LIVING ROOM and unless there are some specific objects that are important in the room, you count on the fact that it’s just going to be on film.  In a book, you have to paint the picture of the room for the reader… or at least give them the colors and let them paint that as they see it.  Something like that.

DF:  How did you prepare for writing a short story? What is your
inspiration when it comes to writing?

RAM: I don’t take notes or anything like that.  An idea will just kinda pop into my head and I let it marinate until it’s ready to come out.  I’ll make a soundtrack and listen to that while I stew about ideas and then I just let it rip.  I’ve always written that way, no matter the format, so I didn’t fight it this time.

DF: What kind of music is on a Robert Masciantonio inspiration soundtrack?

RAM: Well, for the short story, it was the soundtrack to the movie but before there was a score, when I was writing the script it was a lot of music from “Halloween” and “Dexter”.  The last one I put together was from a short called “Fairyland” and that has everything from Elmer Bernstein to Duke Ellington, the Rolling Stones, Beastie Boys, Monkees, Cee Lo and Dean Martin.  Something to go along with a vigilante script has Gary Numan, Robert Plant, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Dougan… they all sort of fit the mood of the stories.

DF: Your films are classified as horror. What are some of your favorite
horror films?

RAM: An American Werewolf in London, Halloween, Jaws, Psycho (1 & 2), The Shining, Mommie Dearest (I think the idea that she was someone’s mom is scary as hell)

DF: What film are you most anticipating in 2012?

RAM: I can’t wait to see Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.  Oh, and Haywire. Gina Carano kicking people in the face?  Yes, please.

DF: Do you have any advice you’d give budding fiction writers or screenwriters?

RAM: Don’t stop writing… and reading.  Feed your brain. Exercise your mind.  And take notes.  You’re not that good.  I had to learn that one the hard way.

Anthology Philly is the upcoming collection of short stories written by authors from the Philadelphia area. It includes around twenty authors and has a wide variety of genres, from horror to romance to science fiction. It is available on Amazon and is published by WragsInk.

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By Dennis Finocchiaro

With the start of 2012, everyone is thinking about resolutions; some plan to lose weight and exercise, others might want to try new things, start a hobby, hit that museum they keep thinking about…so I asked some of the WragsInk staff and the Philly Anthology authors about their writing/publishing resolutions for 2012. Here’s how they responded:

Rich Okewole, publisher extraordinaire, says

“My resolution is to do a better job of handling my task list on a daily basis and to constantly try to fix things from the day before.”

Dimeji Okewole, more of a list guy, says,

  • Ongoing improvement as a publisher.
  • Do more legwork (as much as possible).
  • Get to more local readings

Bill Freas of the story Baked Goods had this to say:

1. Adhere to style standards enough to be respected, but not so much you lose your soul.
 2. Develop characters rich enough that you actually would want to have a drink with them to get further in their brains.
 3. Only write stories that I NEED to tell and set the crap aside – those may turn from crap to gold next year.
 4. Stop letting the negative voices from outside my head get inside and make noise, thus disrupting the writing.
 5. Don’t feel constrained by genre – hybrids tend to be more effective anyway.

Jordyn Occhipinti – author of How Do You Like Your Deer Meat?, says

“My writing resolutions are: to quit making excuses, to quit being so scared, to be more daring, adventurous, precise and delicate, to be less embarrassed, to write so much more, to find some sort of comforting discomfort or discomforting comfort in truth and practice and commitment to craft, to find the time, to stop abusing the thesaurus, to stop avoiding the impulse, to finally share and to finally show.”

Kathryn Evans Ombaum, author of Fresh:

“My writing resolutions for 2012 are simple: write everyday in some
way.  I have my blog, my editing clients, my unfinished short stories,my recent trip to Kenya to get out of my head –  I have so much to do! So no excuses for too much Facebook and reality television, if I’m not working, caring for my child, or sleeping, why not write?”

John Fowler of the story Peephole, says,

“My resolution for 2012 is to break this writer’s block.  The last story that I wrote was over a year ago and that was for a creative writing class.  It was a lot easier to discipline myself when I knew I had a grade to earn.  Aside from procrastination, I also need to start reading more.  The more you read the better writer you become. ”

Eric McKinley, author of Lamar’s Inheritance:

“I have a couple of resolutions: 1). Make every character I write this year have one memorable moment. 2). Finish a first draft of the novel I’m working on.”

Angela Marchesani of the short story Open had this to say:

“I resolve to continue practicing the verbal description of physical experiences—- something I struggle with and avoid.
I resolve to move forward with my book project and to take steps EACH day toward the final product.
I resolve to experiment with different types of writing and seek new arenas in which to share my writing.”
Steve Rauscher, author of New Face in Hell:

“I need to devote an hour a night to my writing so I can finish the novel I’ve been working on since 2008 by 2013!”

Shawn Proctor, author of Heartwood and another list guy, says:

1. Find an agent for first novel. Stop wondering why it took so long to finish.
2. Finish second novel.
3. When in the middle of a project, write according to the Michael Chabon’s writing plan: 5 days a week, 1,000 words a day. (Try it. Your mileage may vary.)
4. Submit three times for every rejection. Seriously.
5. Read writers who inspire me. Write them each a message thanking them for being amazing.
6. Write something so amazing another writer will send me a thank you message.

Robert Masciantonio of the short New Girl in Town had this to say:

“In 2012 I’d like to get a few literary and comic books out there.”

Alisha Ebling, author of The Letter:

“My New Year’s Resolution for writing is to just continue to do it every day, no matter what. The more practice, the better it gets, and the less likely your characters and story are to become something foreign that you can no longer relate to.”

So how about other authors out there? They always say it’s good that goals that have been written down are more likely to be achieved, why not comment here and let us know? Thanks for stopping by.

Anthology Philly is the upcoming collection of short stories by Philadelphia authors. Editor Dennis Finocchiaro, author of Capturing a Moment and The Z Word, chose the best of new authors from the area and WragsInk compiled them into a book.

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