New stories in Wigleaf plus postcard with apologies to the state of Nebraska

IMG_1094 (1) copyThis week I have two new short shorts in one of my all-time favorite zines for flash fiction, the wonderful Wigleaf, edited by Scott Garson. The first is a triptych, called “Enigma” and the second is a blocky, one-paragraph flash called “Game Show.” Scott also gives his authors an opportunity to write a postcard to Wigleaf. I’ve never done this before, but as I was on the road when the acceptance came, I actually stopped and got the postcard you see here and wrote exactly how I was feeling at the time. And for that, I have to apologize to the state of Nebraska. I was not feeling kindly toward you when I wrote it and nothing that happened was your fault. Except for the mean clerk at the Oasis Travel Center…

Anyway, here is the link. Hope you enjoy. While you’re there, if you’re not a regular Wigleaf reader I recommend you read the other stories. It’s consistently stellar flash fiction and I’m proud to have my work there. Wigleaf.

Beautiful Smokelong Quarterly: Part Two

And now for the remaining story excerpts from Issue 47 of Smokelong Quarterly, the launch of its beautifully redesigned site. I just continue to find the stories so original and breathtakingly written:

from “Mutable Pleasures” by Meg Tuite: “Attentive lust tasted as salty and unbridled as the wall. I holed myself up with the sock in my room. I sucked on it like a kid with a blanket for a few hours. It edged out the dark skid marks in my mind. Humiliation and anxiety were replaced with distance from school, homework or the need to be social. At some point, the alarm clock ticked out half past two, and I’d been seduced by sections of this cotton gnarled up and balled inside my intestines. I was a snake with a mouse stuck in the middle of me. There was no exit. It wouldn’t come out the other end.”

from “Rabbit” by Natalie Lund: “She emerges from the bushes and pauses, aware of us. It’s the first time she’s watched me and that eye reflects everything: the fear and the shame.”

from “Write Nothing Down” by Molly Faerber: “In the north they curve pocked and pitted, tumble down to pine trees and unplowed snow. We walk all day, stand by the milky waters, count the splay-toed prints in the underbrush. Our breath blurs and thickens in the air, and all around us shards of frozen water ring with cold, glistening.”

from “Map” by Susannah Felts: “Our homes, of sturdy floors and walls./ Slipping daughters’ freed teeth from beneath pillows, acting our parts./ Separated—by the lifted tips of our fingers./ We hammer out other lines.”

from “Rockaway” by Luke Wiget (and my favorite accompanying art by Lauren Crosser): “And he kissed her but couldn’t find anything. He only found her inside of her mouth. There wasn’t a fleck in the world that would convince him anything existed there besides her. The sea waved. Everything waited.”

from “Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World” by Annie Bilancini: “This Lady Tyger with the future in her strut and their children dancing around her, parrying against the encroaching night: the street lamps are little moons pulled in her wake. This woman is our sister, our daughter, they think. She will fight the battles that need to be fought, and she will win.”

from “Cords” by Gay Degani: “When my mother died, there was no hospital, just the morgue downtown, her little Honda T-boned, the medical examiner explaining she died instantly, no suffering. Can anyone die instantly? Wasn’t there terror in that split-second before? Did time slow down enough for her to deny or accept her fate? Did her life pass by like a hyper-speed movie? Did she miss saying good-bye to me? I asked myself these questions, I asked God, I asked Aaron. There was no harnessing the darkness. I clung to it. God kept silent, my father retreated, Aaron left.”

from “A Deer’s a Deer” by Taryn Tilton: “At dinner, I don’t say much, just tell my mother that everything tastes good. Everything’s actually cold, and we forget to say the blessing. My friend mentions the goats I raised for show, and my father cuts in. “Tell you what,” he says to me, “you and your animals, smost disappointing part.”

from “Nancy” by Coco Mellors: “Nancy is sensitive because she belonged to my grandmother, who is dead now, and who let her have her own electric blanket because the house was often drafty and cold. “Nancy is my reason for being,” she would say and pat her under the blanket.”

from “Antarctica” by Michelle Elvy: “The sky is heavy metallic: the hour before snowfall. He pulls his collar tight and heads home and when he gets there his wife’s standing naked in the kitchen. It has started to snow and the only colour in the room is the orange of her fingernails. The snow falls and they can’t get warm, no matter how hard they make love.”

Whoosh. So that’s that. Go read, if you haven’t already…

Beautiful Smokelong Quarterly: Part One

Have you seen the new look for Smokelong Quarterly? It’s stunning. I’m so proud to be a part of this issue. I’m back from AWP and just getting all the stories and interviews read. Man, it’s impressive. As always. I wanted to talk about the stories, but time and exhaustion do not permit proper reviews, so I thought I’d pick out some bits from each to tempt you to go read the stories if you haven’t yet had a chance. Nine today and the rest in my next post…You won’t be sorry! The stories are phenomenal.

from “The Pool Guy” by Jessica Alexander: “Do you like it? He said like what. I said my body, Thomas. Touch it. He did not budge. It’s not a body. I said it’s a crack in a house where the TV plays all day.”

from “The Dentist’s Parrot” by Ann Hillesland: “While shooting x-rays, the doctor puts a lead blanket over the parrot’s cage. The parrot likes the muffled dreaminess—it reminds him of his rainforest home’s heavy air, so different from this air-conditioned chill. He closes his eyes and imagines the thick brown river, the shaggy heads of trees, green imprinting the sky.”

from “Alphabet War, Alphabet Letters” by Shannon Sweetnam: “Her dreams are simple, but unpleasant—bang she is shot, the bomb explodes crash goes her home caving in upon her, yet she does not wake crying because there at the foot of her bed is her favorite Siamese cat, there in the distance, the sound of Father talking quietly to Brother in the kitchen, the smell of coffee, the knowledge they have returned.”

from “Moon Wishes” by Mark Jabaut: “A bloated, pale orange moon bent the horizon like an overweight tightrope walker.”

from “At Night, By the Creek” by Ashley Hutson: “We have been pretending we are brave so long we believe we are brave. Bravery is like a sport we practiced until everyone said we were aces. We are young, I notice. We are always young.”

from “Six Ways to Break Her” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam: “Her father sculpted her from melted vodka bottles in his workshop where he slept and ate and molded this daughter from his mistakes.”

from “Wayne Kumai, Novelist, Centaur” by Matt Bell: “Our Wayne Kumai’s bio is getting dangerously close to being too personal. He tries to adjust his course. This is a professional statement, he thinks, not a tell-all biography. Stick to the basics. Magazine publications: Cryptozoology Lit Review, Centaur v. Fawn, Casa del Caballo. He writes a quick sentence about not having an MFA, for increased credibility with his intended audience, then deletes an additional sentence about the institutional insularity of today’s writers.”

from “The Replacements” by Kirsten Clodfelter: “Lemon is drawn to their mother shape and smell, climbing without any prodding into soft laps warmed by cashmere sweaters in bright colors she longs to taste.”

from “Discipline” by Michael Don: “Though Harold made it through an entire war, and only had one bad ear, the good one too good for his own good, the one I must have shouted into. I tried hard but couldn’t imagine anyone or anything able to harm Harold, so I imagined him even angrier, my head a basketball as he dribbled it off our dining room table. A flash of light and then I remembered the Shabbat candles, and my mother who lit them coughed.”

Aren’t those gorgeous? Part Two to follow!

A Thousand Perfect Strangers

It’s here and it’s beautiful. Smokelong Quarterly’s brand new website. I really love it. It’s suitably minimalist without being stark. The artwork accompanying the stories, which has always been great, is amazing. Kudos to Tara Laskowski and all the Smokelong staff. Issue 47 is dedicated to Roxane Gay, for making it possible for Smokelong to pay the contributors of this issue. Anyway, go and check it out! There’s great flash fiction along with author interviews and Tara has written lovely editor’s comments.

As part of the Smokelong campaign to raise funds, one of the perks offered was that a donor would get to be in a story written by me. That lucky donor was longtime friend and master flash writer, Randall Brown. I really struggled with this “assignment!” I wanted Randall to like whatever I wrote for him. He assures me he likes it very much. This is my first science fiction story ever. It was fun to write. You can read it here: A Thousand Perfect Strangers. Randall also interviewed me and you can find that on the site as well. Hope you enjoy!

FullSizeRender (4)In other news, I was asked to take part in the beautiful series my friend Myfanwy Collins curated at the Pank blog, called “Pieces of Me.” The idea was that each writer would post an old photograph and write something based on it and Myf left that wide open. The stories are so strong and gorgeous. My piece is dedicated to my brother, Tom, who recently passed away and you can find it here “For Tom”. That’s him, in the photo, holding me on his lap. Tom was my hero and protector growing up in that houseful of boys. There was no one like him and I will miss him very much.

Also, I have two new flashes and a postcard upcoming in one of my all-time favorite flash fiction zines, Wigleaf, edited by Scott Garson. I’ll let you know when that’s available to read!

“There is no darkness.”

I’m sorry I’ve been gone so much. It’s been a sad, rough patch of late. But I’m writing. I’m reading. I’m getting stories accepted and published. I’m learning you can write through exhaustion and sadness. You can write through discouragement and despair. No matter what else is going on, you can put your head down and make art. There is huge comfort in that.

All I have for you today, is a chunk of incredible prose from the last paragraph of the last story of Kate Braverman’s short story collection, “Squandering the Blue.” This is from her story, “These Clairvoyant Ruins”:

“There is no darkness. It is all inhabited. It is dense with what has been cast off and barely survived, the events that also have half-lives. And the buildings, the inventions, the plazas and kisses. These are the bones of the known and the mysterious, all of the blue things racked by the moon. This is what glistens in the dark, the underbelly where we have lit matches and blown out candles and intoned wishes. It is in these clairvoyant ruins where we live between improvisations, consecrating the moments with our prayers and lies. Always we are abandoning the journey of recognizable destinations, the harbor with the breakwater and buoys. It is in the ruins of this darkness that we absolve the ones who love us badly. In the darkness where we know ourselves absolutely and we are fueled by ancient griefs and luminous without stars.” ~Kate Braverman

New Fiction & Video Interview at Connotation Press

Prior to the Twisted Reading in Santa Fe in January, Meg Tuite suggested that while I was there we should do a video interview. My first response to this was there was no way in hell I would do such a thing. I hate even getting my photo taken. But! I recalled that saying and I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt? Who said, every day do one thing that scares you. I figured a video interview would cover me for a year. My writer friend, Sally Reno and I arrived in Santa Fe that Friday afternoon with just enough time to check into our hotel room, very quickly freshen up, and meet Meg and the others at La Fonda. After hugs all around and having a huge glass of wine placed in my hand, I was whisked upstairs to Robert Vaughan & Len Kuntz’s suite (because it was swanky and had nice, soft lighting), to tape the interview. Meg’s lovely husband, Paulo, worked the camera. I tell you, I could not have felt more instantly and completely at ease talking to Meg. She’s SO wonderful and I had so much fun talking to her. You really have to meet this woman to appreciate how amazingly warm and generous she is. I could go on and on! Anyway, below is the link to our conversation as well as an excerpt from my work in progress, “Love Train.” So many thanks to Meg & Paulo & Connotation Press! Hope you enjoy!
Interview & Excerpt

The Lit Pub’s 4 Book Bundle of Awesome!!

4 book bundle of awesom copyFor a limited time, get my collection, TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT, Aimee Bender’s THE THIRD ELEVATOR, Liz Scheid’s THE SHAPE OF BLUE, Lena Bertone’s LETTERS TO THE DEVIL for just $40 from The Lit Pub bookstore: https://lnkd.in/bhXH2Mw