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Girls on the Edge

Jellies
It’s been a year of stories about journeys and disappearances, magic and mysteries, the monstrous and the beautiful. I finished out the year with two new stories about girls on the verge of adulthood, girls standing on the edge between danger and safety.

“Jellies” is published in Pinball.

But not “the body.” That’s the breaking news. She has a name now. They keep showing the same picture, grainy, badly cropped. The kind of picture you get when someone dies who had no one in her life to tend her memory.

Read the rest of the story here.

And “We the Underserved” appears in the Winter 2017 issue of The Citron Review.

We the underserved, the undeserving poor, sitting underground, in the street-level window of an Eighth Avenue pizza joint, where we share a large extra cheese and pick garbanzo beans out of our side salad and make fun of passing feet.

You can read the full story here.

Image found on Pinterest.

The Uncool Kids’ Table

It’s been a tough week for me as a writer: seeing the nominations for Pushcarts and Best Small Fictions make the rounds on social media, reading the lists of winners and finalists, and knowing that this year, too, I’ve been passed over.

It’s a week that makes all the dormant high school mean girls in my soul come to life, spitting out their judgments on me and my writing. Loser. No-talent. If you haven’t made it by now, you never will. Why don’t you just give it up?

Maybe those girls live in your soul, too, always ready to let you know that no matter what, you are not good enough. You will never be good enough. Never be included in the big-name anthologies. Never be published in the top-tier journals. Never, as a writing friend said recently, be asked to sit at the cool kids’ table.

Should it matter? Is there a reason to keep writing even if you’re not ever going to make it into the canon? (Is there even a canon anymore?) Should I just grow up, give up, find something sensible to do? Something that might even pay the bills?

The only time I don’t ask these questions is when I’m actually writing. When I’m absorbed in the work that is play, the mean-girl voices shut up for a little while.

My writing group and writing friends are my lifeline, and when we write together, sometimes things happen that are a little bit magic. I can start with a few prompt words …

And suddenly, there’s this story taking shape on the page, and I’m not even stopping to worry if it’s bad or good or if it’ll be rejected or accepted. (This one was, at JMWW, and I’m very thankful to them for giving it a place to live.)

There are little victories along the way, but I don’t know if I’ll ever shake those feelings of inadequacy completely, ever stop worrying that I’m not as widely published as X and don’t have as big a Twitter following as Y. But I don’t really know X or Y. I don’t know what Greek chorus of mean girls lives in their own heads, telling them Forget it! You suck. You’re nobody.

I wish I could remember that all the time. Too often, I forget it when I’m listening to the chorus. But I think I know it when I’m writing, like the heroine of my story who confronts her rival, and finds her “only lonely and scared, like everybody else.”

I’m nobody. Who are you?

 

“How to Find Your Way to Black Bread Lake”–Two Ways

My story “How to Find Your Way to Black Bread Lake” was published in the always-wonderful and strange Jellyfish Review last week, and then I learned last night that it was featured on the podcast Mr. Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon/The Secret Lives of Stuffed Animals, along with some other magical, fantastic stories and music. Give it a listen–the music and stories are perfectly combined to take you to a mysterious, watery place.

Black Bread Lake

Month of Stories – Part 1

I’ve always loved fall and the sense of renewed energy and creativity it brings. This October, I have several new stories coming out in different journals.

“Breach” made its debut in 3Elements Literary Review. The story grew out of a writing prompt supplied by this quarterly journal, which asks writers to incorporate three words into a poem or story. Issue No. 16 features the words peppermint, breach, and scale. To see how they’re used in the story, download a free copy of the journal here.

Accidentally Like a Luddite“Accidentally Like a Luddite” was published in Atticus Review, a journal I’ve admired for its strong flash fiction. I’ve worked on versions of this story for a while. It’s close to my heart, and I’m so glad it’s found the perfect home. You can read it here.

More stories are coming soon–in Pinball and Jellyfish Review.

Visiting Wheaton

I was happy to be invited to teach two flash fiction workshops at Wheaton College this past week as part of the Evelyn Danzig Haas Visiting Artists Program. Despite a little interference from Hurricane Jose, it was a peaceful drive to a beautiful campus, and I enjoyed talking and writing with a class of talented young writers.

We worked on a writing prompt with three elements, then talked about revision, and I shared my own revision process, cutting down a much longer first draft of several (messy!) pages into the published 53-word story “An Ordinary Day, With Spin Art.” Not all revision is this radical, of course, but writing with a strict word limit as a goal can be a helpful way to learn the art of compression. Or, as the elder scribe Bob Seger put it: “What to leave in, what to leave out.”

Approaching Totality

Solar Eclipse As I write this, I’m waiting for the solar eclipse and thinking about flash fiction.

Because I don’t live in the path of totality, the sun won’t be completely blotted out today, but it will be partially covered. Not fully visible, but still there, underneath the darkness.

In flash fiction, the brevity of the form means that not all of your story will be visible on the surface. You have to trust your characters and story enough to know that all of it is there, to reveal enough to let readers understand what may not be spelled out.

My microfiction “Filament” was just published in Blue Fifth Review, a journal specializing in poetry, very short prose, and forms that walk the line between the two. “Filament,” sparked by an image one of my students suggested during a workshop, has been pared down quite a bit, from flash (around 500 words) to micro (less than 300). I like it in its leaner, tighter form–just enough light shining through to reveal the essentials.

I’ll be exploring the boundaries of flash and microfiction in my writing workshop “Flash Fiction Speed Dating” at Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford on Sunday, August 27 at 2 p.m. I hope to see you and write with you there.

Stories & Workshops & Conferences, Oh My!

Lots of writing news lately–so much that I’ve been too busy to post it. But now that I can peek my head out from under the pile of work…

First, and most exciting: I’ve been invited to be a visiting writer at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Deyonne Bryant, an associate professor of English at Wheaton, is teaching a flash fiction workshop in the fall and has assigned my chapbook, Girls on Film, as a text.

Girls on Film chapbook coverThat means the signed copies I’ve been selling on my Etsy shop are officially SOLD OUT. But they can still be purchased through the publisher, Paper Nautilus, and we are looking into the possibility of doing a second printing. If you’re looking for a copy of Girls on Film, I encourage you to buy it from Paper Nautilus–you’ll be supporting a small, woman-run press, and that’s always a good thing!

I’m also going to be a presenter at the Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford. The conference runs from Friday, August 25 through Sunday, August 27, 2017. I’ll be teaching a workshop called Flash Fiction Speed Dating from 2:00-2:50 p.m. on Sunday. Sign up here for the conference. It’s $29 for a day pass or $69 for all three days, unlimited workshops.

And some summer publishing news: I have two stories in the current issue of KYSO Flash magazine, “The Museum of Curiosities” and “Under the Ceiling.” I seem to be in a rather Gothic vein of late, and it will continue with “How to Find Your Way to Black Bread Lake,” forthcoming in Jellyfish Review this fall.

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The Call of the Changeling

I’m honored to have been chosen as one of two winners of Bracken Magazine’s flash fiction contest. My story, “Path of Stones,” was the finalist and is published in the current issue of Bracken.

The story is part of the “Black Bread Lake” story cycle, some loosely connected tales I’ve been working on, based on a lost town in rural Rhode Island. “From A Short History of Black Bread Lake” was published in a past issue of Literary Orphans, and “How to Find Your Way to Black Bread Lake” is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review.

As a young teen, I had a series of nightmares in which I found out that I came from some mysterious “folk in the hills”–fairies or goblins–and would be called back to them. I don’t remember a lot of the details of those dreams, but the sense of waiting and listening in the dark inspired this story. Thank you to Gwendolyn Kiste for choosing it!

New Flash at R.KV.R.Y. Quarterly

My flash prose piece “Shelby County Courthouse” is published in the “Shorts on Survival” section of the July issue of R.KV.R.Y.  Quarterly Literary Journal.

The story was inspired by a poetry exercise that a friend from my writing group shared with our group. It used a tight structural template that I found inspired more creativity than some open-ended prompts, and I went on to use it successfully in both teen and adult writing workshops I taught through Goat Hill Writers. It’s amazing how many different kinds of poems and stories grew out of the same template, and that’s one reason I love working with writing prompts–they take away the anxiety of a blank page and still give you room to take any path your mind can imagine.

Summer Reading Sale

If you don’t have a copy of my award-winning flash fiction chapbook, Girls on Film, summer is the time to get one! The chapbook was a winner of the Vella Chapbook Contest and is published by Paper Nautilus. It is normally $8, but from now until Labor Day, I’m selling signed copies through my Etsy shop, Bookish Girl Goods, for just $5.

Girls on Film chapbook coverRead a micro review

Buy the book

 

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