Annotations of the writers, by the writers, for the writers.

Annotation Nation was founded in 2008 by fiction writers Kate Maruyama and Diane Sherlock.  We found  that reading books closely and looking for tools to bring back to our own writing was incredibly useful. The result is Annotation Nation, where we have amassed a comprehensive and diverse look at literature through the eyes of many different writers who write about the tools of the craft in the books they read.

These aren’t reviews (although you will hear definite opinions expressed) or critical essays, but a closer look at writing, answering questions such as, “What made that so great?” “Why didn’t this work for me?” or, more importantly, “How’d they do that and how can I use it in my own writing?”

We welcome all styles of annotations and we also love to see different annotations of books already annotated here–each writer has a unique and interesting way of looking at a book. If you have any doubt, read the different annotations of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close or of Jesus’ Son.

Wendy Hudson is the editor over at our Creative Non-Fiction site.   The guidelines are the same.

Editor Lisa Cheby manages Annotation Nation Poetry. Please check the site for guidelines.

Please feel free to share annotations in any genre of fiction or non-fiction, particularly those you found useful; we don’t promise to post everything, but we will post what we can. You don’t have to love every book. We certainly don’t!

We want to read everything out there, but simply don’t have the time. Sound familiar?

Then welcome to the Annotation Nation.

submit to: annotationnation@gmail.com


Subject Matter These aren’t book reviews. We are interested in your response to the work as a writer.  If you loved it, (and “it” can be anything from POV, character development, narrative, dialog, setting, sentence structure to use of metaphor and so on) how do you think the writer did that? How can you learn from his or her technique? If you hated it, what has reading this work taught you to avoid? How did the experience of reading the book inform your own writing?

Length 1-3 pages is a general guide (250-1,000 words). Keep in mind that most people will not read long pieces online.

Genre Please note whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, include the title and author’s name.

Annotations may be edited We may edit annotations submitted for language, content or length. You retain the copyright on your annotations. If you would like to view your edited piece before we post it, just let us know.

Thank you!

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Author bios:

Diane Sherlock has written four novels, DEAD WEIGHT, WILLFUL IGNORANCE, GROWING CHOCOLATE, the upcoming WRESTLING ALLIGATORS as well as a book on writing for high schoolers with Aaron Gansky, WRITE TO BE HEARD (Lighthouse). Her short work has appeared in The Rumpus, scissors and spackle, The Citron Review, Mo+th 1 & 2 (Bombshelter), and Bird in the Hand: Risk & Flight (Outrider). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and maintains a blog on writing. There’s a Facebook Author Page just waiting for you to “like.”

Kate Maruyama‘s novel, Harrowgate was published by 47North in September 2013. Her work has appeared in Arcadia Magazine and Controlled Burn as well as on Salon.com, The Rumpus, Halfway Down the Stairs and the Citron Review.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and lives, writes, teaches, cooks and eats in Los Angeles.  You can follow Kate on Twitter or on Facebook or on her website.

Lisa Cheby is a poet and an educator currently residing in Los Angeles, CA.   She is currently  completing her poetry manuscript, Stop and Read Yourself for the First Time, and developing her critical writing on confessional poetry and gender, both projects she started while completing her MFA at Antioch University.  Lisa is also creating two chapbook manuscripts: Harmony was Always Here and Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has taught English, journalism, and filmmaking in public schools after dabbling in careers in social work and video editing.  In addition, she has mentored young writers through poetry clubs and writing workshops.   Lisa is on the Board of Directors of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a non-profit organization working to promote quality poetry to the San Fernando Valley.  When she’s not experimenting with formal and free verse, Lisa tries to spend as much time as possible practicing yoga, salsa dancing, and exploring her natural and urban surroundings. You can follow Lisa on Twitter.