New flash up at Jellyfish Review: “The Day the Women Walked Away from Alabama.”
My two most recently published stories have a very different path to publication. “Historic Preservation,” a micro published in the Irish magazine The Cabinet of Heed, grew out of a writing prompt that took an unexpected turn. I submitted it right after writing it–something I almost never do–and it got accepted right away. Isn’t it magical when that happens?
“A Key into the Language of the Dead,” a longer story, took nearly three years from first draft to publication, with many revisions along the way. But it was worth the wait–it found a wonderful home at the Arizona State University journal Superstition Review, where my story “Child Star” was also published.
Events & Workshops
I’m getting ready for Writefest 2019: a flash fiction workshop and a mini workshop on integrating elements of magical realism into fiction. While I’m there, I’m looking forward to meeting some friends from Spider Road Press and getting my first taste of Texas, which I imagine is as different from Rhode Island as it’s possible to be.
Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, I’m leading a Veterans Writing Group along with the wonderful Jane Granatino, reference librarian at the Barrington Public Library. I love seeing the stories–and the personal connections–that are growing out of this workshop!
I was invited back to Wheaton College for a reading and a mini-workshop helping senior creative writing majors get ready for their senior reading, which I also had a chance to attend. I love that this small school does so much to foster the arts!
Along with teaching, I’ve got lots of new writing projects in progress, too. I just finished another Flashathon writing marathon and wrote 8 stories in one day (and one the day after), so I’ll have a lot of revision to keep me busy.
I took part in a February Flashathon with a group of writers where we were challenged to write a new flash fiction piece every hour, based on different prompts. The need for speed and the challenge of working with random prompts (some visual, some word-based, some thematic) was both freeing and motivating and encouraged me to experiment with different styles and voices.
I’m excited that one of these new stories has just been published in New Flash Fiction Review, and hoping that more Flashathons are in my future!
The first line is posted below; click to read the rest of the story.
3Elements Literary Review
My story “Throbbing, Like Gristle” was published in the Winter 2019 issue of 3Elements Literary Review. Each issue asks writers to create a story or poem based on three elements. This issue’s elements were gristle, bolt, and kitchen table. It’s always fun to see what these seemingly unconnected prompt words can inspire! (You’ll need to download the issue as a free PDF to read the story.)
I’m happy to have a new story in the beautifully designed online journal Pidgeonholes. This story was inspired by a vintage postcard, and it’s part of a new series of postcard stories I’m working on. I’ve always been fascinated by old postcards, and I love using them in writing classes, as some of my students can attest.
Click the postcard to read the story!
Stories published in 2018: 11
Stories republished in anthologies: 1
- “Squeeze Box” from 3 Elements Review nominated for Best of the Net
- “The Girl Dies at the End” from Monkeybicycle nominated for Best Microfiction
Workshops taught: 1
Workshops attended: 1
It was a quiet year. No great triumphs, but I kept plugging away. I had 11 new stories published, almost one for each month of the year, although they aren’t really that evenly distributed. I was happy to have return engagements in some of my favorite journals–my third appearance in Monkeybicycle and Jellyfish Review and second in Smokelong Quarterly–and excited to publish for the first time in 100 Word Story and Longleaf Review.
I was a finalist in the Black River Press chapbook competition, but didn’t win. That was a disappointment, but I was included in a flash fiction anthology published in Argentina. My story “Under the Ceiling,” originally published in KYSO Flash, was included in a collection of translated works, Instantáneas de Ficción, edited by María Cecelia de la Vega. You can also read it online here.
I also had the opportunity to meet one of my online writing friends, Jacqueline Doyle, taught a flash fiction class at the Barrington Public Library, and served as a judge for the 2018 Write Rhode Island contest. This year, I’m looking forward to leading a writing workshop for veterans and having two stories in my new vintage postcard series published in Pidgeonholes and The Sunlight Press.
I just found out that my flash collection The Path the Lost Girls Take is a finalist in the Black Lawrence Press Black River Chapbook Competition! The winner has not been announced yet, but I’m honored to be a finalist. Black Lawrence Press is an outstanding small press that has published writers whose work I admire. All fingers and toes crossed!
My story “Squeeze Box,” published in 3Elements Literary Review, was nominated for the Sundress Publications Best of the Net anthology. If you’d like to read it, it’s in Issue 18. More fingers and toes to cross!
In my “early” writings, when I was a kid, I invented a comic character, “Mee-Too” (no relation to the #MeToo movement, but I rather like the coincidence) whose claim to fame was that he had 10 legs and 10 arms and rolled around like a pinwheel. If I were that character right now, I’d have all 200 digits diligently crossed.
In addition to the wishing-hoping-praying stuff, I’m also excited to have work accepted by Pidgeonholes, Longleaf Review, Fiction Southeast, and 100 Word Story. These stories will be coming out at different times over the next year and into 2019.
And although I haven’t published a ton this summer, I’m happy with these two pieces that came out recently:
“Things You Think About When You’re a Girl” was in the August issue of Bending Genres.
And “When God Closes a Door” is in the September 5 issue of Jellyfish Review. That marks my third appearance in Jellyfishlandia. I’m going to be keeping an eye out for tentacles. And a close and hopeful watch on that email of mine.
Sometimes stories come together almost instantly. I would say “easy as pie,” except I make pies. I know how much time it takes to get them right!
Sometimes stories take a long time to simmer. An idea might get started, put away, re-started, put away again, and then reappear in a different form. And sometimes, even when a piece feels finished, it can take a long time to find it the right home.
Two examples. My erasure poem, “50 Shades of Spry,” and a flash fiction piece, “The Day Before,” were just published in the Evansville Review.
“50 Shades” grew out of an erasure exercise my writing group did, using old texts about “femininity”–cookbooks, recipe pamphlets, advertisements–and subverting the original messages through erasures. My piece was originally accepted for an anthology that didn’t end up being published, but now it’s published, beautifully, in Volume XXVII of The Evansville Review, a print journal.
“The Day Before,” published in the same journal, started out as two different exercises I assigned in a teen writing workshop a few years ago. One was to start a story with the first line of a song, and one was to describe a particular moment in time. The original image of a “girl in a harbor town,” riding the bus just as the sun was setting, remained constant through all the many forms and titles the story took before finding its way to Evansville.
Meanwhile, back in Rhode Island: I’m teaching a summer flash fiction workshop at the Barrington Public Library. We have a dry-erase whiteboard, and I often ask students to throw out prompt words, characters, settings, or situations. In our first class, we wrote 10-sentence stories, starting with a sentence of 10 words and working our way down to a one-word sentence. One of the prompt words (not shown in the photo, sorry) was “wheelbarrow.”
That word took me to the old song about Molly Malone, and I went with it, giving Molly her own voice. And quite the pissed-off voice it was, because who’d want to be stuck wheeling a wheelbarrow of smelly shellfish throughout eternity?
I liked the voice that came through in that 10-sentence story, so I worked on it a bit more, and several drafts later, sent it out to Bending Genres. Two (!) days later, I found out it’s going to be published in their August issue.
Sometimes it takes two days. Sometimes it takes two years, or longer. A few things I’ve learned:
- Always be open to inspiration, however odd or random the source.
- Never be afraid to start a new story, even if you have multiple unfinished ones going.
- If something’s not working right away, put it a drawer for a while and let it ferment. There will always be new ideas (see #1).
Starting Tuesday, June 5, 2018, I’ll be teaching a 6-week Flash Fiction Writing Workshop at Barrington Public Library in Rhode Island. The classes are free and will meet from 6:30-8 p.m. at the library through July 10th. The library is also hosting poetry and memoir workshops, and their classes tend to fill up quickly, so if you’re interested, visit their site and sign up now!
Speaking of teaching, I was surprised (in a good way) to find that one of the students who took part in a flash fiction workshop I taught at Wheaton College had blogged about the experience. It’s so encouraging to hear positive feedback from students! Read about it here at the Wheaton Blog.
I’m off to Cape Cod next week to work on a new project, so things may be quiet here for a while, but I hope to have some new work to report on soon!