After a semi-disastrous day of getting completely lost in our rental car in a maze of Idaho snowmobile trails (unpaved of course, no cell reception of course, no maps of course), we found our way back to the cabin where we’re staying this week and a cascade of good news.
First, my flash “Nadine’s Broken Heart” was accepted by FICTION SOUTHEAST, a magazine I love.
Second, more news on my micro in MATCHBOOK. Some wonderful flash writers have been praising “Heartbreak Hotel” on Facebook and Twitter. Yesterday the excellent flash writer Kathryn Kulpa (editor at Cleaver) reposted it with a really nice comment. Today the excellent flash writer Kara Vernor retweeted it with a really nice comment. Her retweet caught the attention of more flash writers that I greatly admire, including queen of flash Kathy Fish (real flash royalty), who retweeted it, as did Chelsea Vulgates (fine writer and editor of Lost Balloon), as did Jolene McIlwain (another really fine writer), as did Mr. Bear (Georgia Bellas, a fine writer and a tastemaker with a podcast). Tara Isabel Zambrano, another fine writer, commented on Jolene McIlwain's repost. Mind you, this isn't the same as going viral on the Internet, but in my very small corner of the literary scene, it's something like that.
And then I turned to a closed flash group where members recommend “excellent flash fiction” and found that the flash writer Ashley Hutson had posted "Heartbreak Hotel" there. (I wasn’t tagged, since I have a different name on facebook, so I just stumbled across it by chance.)
Saturday, Yellowstone. Monday, the total solar eclipse.
It's up! Check out "Heartbreak Hotel," my tiny new microflash at the wonderful MATCHBOOK.
Talk about flash magazines I’ve always wanted to get into. Another one: WIGLEAF! Wigleaf just accepted my micro fiction “Little Darling.” I use an old school filing system and keep index cards for magazines. My Wigleaf index card is soft, well worn from handling, and the back and front are both covered with penciled submissions and rejections. I see that I started submitting batches of flash in 2010, so it’s only taken seven years and many tries to land there. They have published SO many great flash writers that I can’t begin to list them. Browse their full archive.
Check out Wigleaf's longlist and shortlist of the “Top Very Short Fictions 2017,” which they famously compile, with different guest editors, every year. If you click “Archive,” you’ll get the archive of those lists. If you click “Main,” you’ll get their most recent stories (“featured shorts”).
Their shorts run from September through late May. Mine will be up in the late fall or early winter. I’m thrilled.
My microfiction “Heartbreak Hotel” was just accepted by matchbook, an elegant online flash magazine that I’ve always been crazy about. (Just checked my records: I've been trying to publish in matchbook without success since 2011.) According to duotrope their acceptance rate is 0%, which can’t be true, of course, but they don’t publish a lot: two flash per month, by flash luminaries such as Tara Isabel Zambrano, Meghan Phillips, Shasta Grant, Kara Vernor, Claire Polders, Megan Giddings, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Lauren Becker, Tara Laskowski, Jimmy Chen, Leesa Cross-Smith, Meg Pokrass. I see just about everyone on the list of flash writers I swoon for is female, but matchbook publishes lots of great male writers too! I’m really excited to join their company. (Oh, and they pay!)
Elvis Presley died on my husband Steve’s birthday, which is coming up on August 16. We’ll be in Idaho this year for the solar eclipse.
A very cool interview about my forthcoming chapbook THE MISSING GIRL is up at William Woolfit's site SPEAKING OF MARVELS. He asks good questions. He also searched out links on his own to include them. (The new Caite Dolan-Leach essay on missing girls is particularly thought-provoking and I'm pleased that he linked it). Here's an excerpt, but I hope you'll check out the full interview. Among other things, I recommend recent chapbooks by writers that I love.
What obsessions led you to write your chapbook?
Joyce Carol Oates said somewhere, “When people say there is too much violence in Oates, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.” For a long while I was haunted by stories of abused or murdered or missing girls. The newspapers are filled with their stories, often consigned to the back pages, seemingly unremarked. Caite Dolan-Leach just published a fascinating article in Lit Hub (“Why Do We Love to Read About Missing Girls?” June 29, 2017) suggesting that missing girls have become a central cultural obsession, symptomatic of the systematic disempowerment and erasure of women in American society today, and reflected in many recent novels (including her own novel Dead Letters). It’s a disturbing reality that continues to obsess me.
What’s the oldest section in your chapbook? Or can you name one piece that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook?
The stories were written over a period of four years, when I published many other flash on very different subjects, and I didn’t think of them as a group until later. They’re not arranged chronologically by composition, but in fact the oldest piece is also the first story in the collection, “The Missing Girl,” published in Vestal Review in 2013, and the last piece in the collection is also the newest: “Nola,” published in Monkeybicycle last year. I was tremendously encouraged when J.T. Hill and the editors at Monkeybicycle nominated “Nola” for Best of the Net and a Pushcart, and when Ross McMeekin included “Nola” in his “Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week” series on the Ploughshares blog. “Nola” became a kind of magnet that attracted the earlier stories like iron filings. The missing girl was an absent center, the way the dead woman that you can’t see in his painting becomes an absent but palpable center for the artist in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. She’s the “dark spot you might not notice,” the painter says, “the beginning of everything.” I was tempted to reword my epigraph from Anderson to make that clearer, but only Edgar Allan Poe (and maybe David Shields) can get away with altering and making up epigraphs.
read the full interview here
Readings! I was just invited to read in the Flash Fiction Collective Series at Alley Cat Books in the Mission in San Francisco, the best flash series around, a book store I love. I'm very excited. Unfortunately it's on September 7, so my flash chapbook probably won't be available yet. They in fact want to highlight my appearance in an anthology that came out last year: NOTHING TO DECLARE: A GUIDE TO THE FLASH SEQUENCE. I love the anthology, which I don't think attracted much attention when White Pine Press published it. Looking forward to the reading.
The chapbook should be out in plenty of time for my October 12 reading in the Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series in Sausalito, though, and my October 18 reading at Cal State East Bay.
It's always a season of readings in the Bay Area, and every week I miss at least one that I wanted to go to, including readings by friends and writers I know. This past week I managed to catch Frances Lefkowitz, who was wonderful, at the Get Lit reading in Petaluma, and Shawn Wen at her book launch for A TWENTY MINUTE SILENCE FOLLOWED BY APPLAUSE (Sarabande) at Green Apple Books in San Francisco (the new one by Golden Gate Park), also wonderful. I love Shawn's book, a spectacular lyric essay about Marcel Marceau, which I've almost finished. Was pleased to hear the first half of Frances' terrific new essay, "When I Was Invincible" (excerpt here) and read the rest in the current issue of THE SUN. I seem to know so many talented writers.
Many thanks to editor-in-chief Kevin Morgan Watson for publishing my story about gossip, “Just Between Us,” in PRIME NUMBER MAGAZINE, and to guest editor Jen McConnell for selecting it.
Just as PRIME NUMBER was about to accept the story, I withdrew it because I’d done an extensive revision. Luckily Jen McConnell loved the new version and it all worked out. This is my second appearance in this great online magazine, which is well worth following. Browse their archives too, if you haven’t been reading them already. Maybe you can even find my creative nonfiction flash, published ages ago. Their nonfiction editor at the time wrote me the most enthusiastic and detailed acceptance letter I’d ever gotten (a letter that sustained me through many doubts and rejections thereafter), so I’ve always had a soft spot for PRIME NUMBER. They have a press (PRESS 53) and catalogue of book publications also.
Here's a link to the whole issue, which includes a great story by another Bay Area writer, Siamak Vossughi, whom I once heard in Emily Kiernan's back yard reading series in Berkeley.
Steve and I have occasionally collaborated on fiction under the name Alvarado O'Brien, once on a strange longer essay ("Imaginary Friends") under both our names. A newly revised version of that essay (which was published in GRIST: THE ONLINE COMPANION) has been accepted for publication in a kickass anthology coming out in June 2018: THEY SAID: A MULTI-GENRE ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY COLLABORATIVE WRITING, edited by Simone Muench and Dean Rader (Black Lawrence Press). Here's an announcement and list of contributors (some great names here).
Three creative nonfiction rejections today. It might be of interest to fledgling writers to record them all, but anyone who's been publishing for a while knows how many there are. I loved it when the very well published and experienced writer Molly Giles did a bio at a reading last spring that listed all of the literary journals that had recently rejected her, in alphabetical order. It was a surprisingly long list.
More unexpected, $150 that I never imagined I'd see, for a short story published in the alternative weekly DigBoston two Christmases ago. They've been in tremendous financial disarray, and despite the best efforts of their consulting fiction editor Rachel Branwen (also the editor of Slush Pile magazine, which reprinted my story), it looked like they were going to stiff all of their fiction writers. Not so! The new editor-in-chief will pay all of us. Between that, and a nice check from Gettysburg Review, and smaller checks from a few other magazines, and $500 coming up for winning the chapbook contest at Black Lawrence Press, this has been a great year.
Oh, and one of today's rejections was a very warm and personal and complimentary note from AGNI, who assured me that "this is not our customary rejection" and encouraged me to submit more. Crazy business when a rejection leaves you feeling good.
Still so thrilled to be in The Gettysburg Review (while worrying that this will be the high point of my career), which I haven't even finished reading yet.
It’s here! I have a personal essay ("Family Pictures") in the summer issue of THE GETTYSBURG REVIEW! I’m completely floored to be in this top literary journal (among their writers: E. L. Doctorow, Rita Dove, James Tate, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur). A big check arrived from them last week, but I didn't expect the magazine to come out so soon. Walking on air.
When they accepted the essay, the editor Mark Drew called it "a smart, compelling, and moving look at the reasons why we keep and display photographs." He was a wonderful editor, a very close reader with great suggestions.
Print and digital copies of the journal are available here.
This is one of the first creative essays that I wrote, and I've revised it off and on for years (sometimes shelving it for very long periods). It's completely different now than it was then, but has retained an academic element (the outside readings from Sontag, Barthes, and others all confined to section epigraphs now). My San Francisco writing group, the Leporine Conspiracy, was enormously helpful. An essayist that I only know from an online essay group, Lucy Bryan Malenke, did a thorough close reading of the essay and made invaluable suggestions. And it was fun to get the edits from GETTYSBURG REVIEW when my good friend, the poet Sharon Dolin, was visiting from New York, and get her input too. It takes a village.
Great cover art by Tina Newberry. There's a color insert with 8 more of her paintings.