I had a feeling it was going to be hard to write a review when I agreed to do it, and I'm not in a hurry to do another one. But I got to say a few things about flash nonfiction and name some writers that I admire. My review of the new anthology THE BEST OF BREVITY is up at CRAFT today.
An acceptance of my microfiction "Head of the Household" from COTTON XENOMORPH, a magazine I love. (I love the editor-in-chief Chloe N. Clark's poetry and fiction too.)
The micro has been rejected at magazines that are less interesting (in my subjective hierarchy of flash magazines, that is). CX has had the piece since September. In my paranoia, I thought they didn't like it and were hoping I'd withdraw it! I also was sure I'd been rejected by them before, but in fact this is the first time I sent something to them. Always nice to hear something specific in an acceptance: "What a wonderfully written and deeply unsettling piece."
They seem like just the right place for this eerie ekphrastic micro based on Dorothea Tanning's surreal painting "Portrait de famille (Family Portrait."
I haven't heard from them, or seen proofs of my flash "Charcot's Monkey" (probably I won't), but the print journal SONORA REVIEW, long overdue, just posted a tweet saying they're coming soon.
I've been writing during the pandemic (has it really been a year?), but sluggishly, sporadically. This past week I managed to finish a partly written essay and write a brand new flash that I like a lot. Sent it off to the Magic-themed anthology that inspired it, but if it's rejected there, I'm happy with it and will feel fine sending it out further.
And Sarah Freligh wrote to me today that she used my essay on Jayne Anne Phillips' chapbook SWEETHEARTS in her "Less Is More" class. "Flash, Back: Revisiting Jayne Anne Phillips" is the closest I've gotten to publishing in SMOKELONG QUARTERLY. (Tyrese Coleman solicited it from me for their blog when they started their Flashback series.) Haven't sent to them in a long time, since they always reject me.
I'm thrilled to appear FICTIVE DREAM's #FlashFictionFebruary series for the third year running. All the stories have been great so far. My flash "The Recliner" just went up today.
The artist Claudia McGill does gorgeous original art work, and generously sends it to the writer if they ask. In past years she's created art specifically for each story; this year she created a body of abstract art for editor Laura Black to choose from. This piece seems to fit the emphasis on colors in "The Recliner" very well.
Another of those next-day acceptances that I love in the flash world. Nick Olson at mac(ro)mic (where I've published once before) accepted my flash "Mistaken" less than a day after I sent it. (And before it had been rejected anywhere else.) Laura Black at Fictive Dream (where I've published several times) accepted my flash "The Recliner," which is coming out next week. And I have flash coming out in Ethel, NUNUM, Free Flash Fiction, and Sonora Review, as well as a slightly longer story in Midway Journal. Feeling better about my productivity in 2021.
Love hearing that my work is being taught in college classes, especially when it's by writers whose work I admire. Jill Talbot wrote to me a while ago that she taught "Little Colored Pills" in her creative writing class at the University of North Texas. Yesterday Andrew Bertaina wrote to me that he is about to teach "My Mother's Suitcases" in his writing class at American University.
I love publishing essays in print journals, but the downside is that only one of my six Notable Essays in BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS is available to read online. So I'm thrilled that NEW OHIO REVIEW is going to post a lot of its content from issues 21 to 23 online, including my essay "Haunting Houses." Steve was looking over my shoulder when I filled out the permission form, and he urged me to say yes, I'd do a recording, and now I'm wondering whether that was a good idea. Not sure whether Garage Band on the Mac is as easy to use as it used to be, but I'll give it a try.
I just finished a draft of an essay for THE LUNATICS' BALL that I've been expanding and compressing and reworking and revising for a couple of years now. The newest version is labeled draft #25. Sent it out to one place that asked to see work from me soon, fingers crossed. Print journals generally take at least several months to respond, even as long as a year.
Thrilled to get a next-day acceptance of my new metafiction "Life Without Randall" at MIDWAY JOURNAL, where my flash "Zig Zag" won the "1000 Below" Contest a few years ago when Michael Martone was judge. I was sure they'd take much longer to decide.
I just sent "Life Without Randall" out and hadn't gotten any rejections yet. Always special, when that happens.
I love the story and was diligent about submissions, though I'm much less familiar with the market for very short fiction than I am for flash fiction and cnf. I had to withdraw it from seven magazines, but I feel like this is my reward for managing to send it to so many. I haven't submitted anything to MIDWAY JOURNAL since they published "Zig Zag" (one of my weirdest flash—I'm fond of it, and not just because it earned me $500), but this seemed to fit their description: "The work we publish aims to complicate and question the boundaries of genre, binary, and perspective. It offers surprises and ways of re-seeing, re-thinking, and re-feeling …"
This story was so much fun to write.
I woke up to see a tweet from Pat Foran about my flash "Roll Out the Barrel" in SCHUYLKILL VALLEY JOURNAL. I didn't know it was out! Pat manages to stay abreast of everything that's published; I don't know how he does it. It's a relief to get this out there finally, after so many revisions.
I sent here at the suggestion of Wilson Koewing, a reader at CRAFT and very prolific flash writer who's in this issue too. Love all that I've read there.
I've been enjoying reading year-end roundups by writers I admire, and discovering what I missed and reading that. This morning I was happy to see one by Chelsea Stickle, whose writing I love, and to discover that she'd reviewed six chapbooks at FRACTURED LIT earlier this year, and THE MISSING GIRL was one of them! I also love three others on her list (by Damhnait Monaghan, Tyrese Coleman, and Jules Archer) and want to read SJ Sindu's, Shasta Grant's, and Francine Witte's. Here's what she said:
In the eight stories of The Missing Girl, victims and perpetrators drill in, slowly, slowly, until your equilibrium is off and you’ve been marked in a way you can’t quite explain. Read this chapbook in a gulp and find it hard to swallow after.
Standout Stories: “The Missing Girl,” “Something Like That” and “Nola.”
Purchase Link: https://blacklawrencepress.com/books/the-missing-girl/
2020 was a year spent on Zoom that felt like five years spent on Zoom. There were some big changes. In March, when the shelter-in-place started in California, my creative writing workshop at Cal State East Bay abruptly shifted to online. In June, I retired after thirty years of university teaching. In July, I started a new job as Creative Nonfiction Editor at CRAFT. Now it’s December and I still haven’t moved out of my university office, indeed have barely ventured out of the house, except for curbside pickups at the local library and local bookstore. I’ve read in a number of Zoom events, and attended more Zoom readings and Zoom meetings than I can count. My wonderful bimonthly San Francisco writing group The Leporine Conspiracy has carried on via Skype. 2020 has been markedly less prolific for me, but I’m proud that I accomplished anything at all, and met the new challenges of my writing-in-progress and post-teaching career. Many thanks to the magazines that published my work, to my students at Cal State East Bay for adapting to impossible conditions, and to the Editor in Chief Katelyn Keating and editorial team at CRAFT for making my new work such a pleasure.
Notable Essay, Best American Essays (“Visitations” in Ghost Proposal)
Pushcart Nomination from matchbook (“The Madwoman on BART”)
Pushcart Nomination from The Disappointed Housewife (“Two Guys Carrying a Toilet into Taco Bell”)
Longlist, “Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions” (“The Lost Umbrella” in Pithead Chapel)
Best Small Fictions Nomination from Juked (“Framed”)
“On Being Told That Her First Husband,” Fourth Genre (print)
“Last Medley,” Atticus Review
“Madeline’s Trunk,” Passages North (print)
Flash and Micros
“Prospero’s Last Party,” Yellow Mama
“Often During the Pandemic,” Love in the Time of Covid
“End Times,” Dream Journal
“Where Did Sissy Go?,” Menacing Hedge
“The Madwoman on BART,” matchbook
“Lizzie Halliday,” 100 Lives (Pure Slush Books) (print)
“Two Guys Carrying a Toilet into Taco Bell,” The Disappointed Housewife
“New Shoes,” 50WS: Fifty Word Stories
“Sooner or Later,” Little Fiction/Big Truths
“What Remains,” The Bending Genres Anthology (print)
“Why Indeed,” Fictive Dream
“Johnsy Seen Her Too,” Crack the Spine
“Butterfly,” the minnesota review (print)
“Interview with Joy Castro,” CRAFT
I did readings this year with Rolling Writers in San Francisco (my last in-person reading), and via Zoom with Desert Flash in Arizona, Flash Fiction Forum in San Jose, F Bomb Flash Fiction in Manhattan (twice), and A San Franciscan Racket in San Francisco.
I hope we see a lot less of Zoom in 2021 and more of each other. Happy holidays and love to you all.