I have a weird hybrid piece out today about a mysterious Bosch painting: "Prayer to the Bearded Virgin Martyr: On Hieronymus Bosch's St. Wilgefortis Triptych." Not the first female saint I’ve written about. (Check out “My Saints” in Duende and “Mary Magdalene’s Tibia” in Southern Humanities Review if you’re obsessed by saints too.)
Thrilled to appear in the ever-wonderful Jellyfish Review again. (Scroll down the page to see recent flash by Kathy Fish, Meg Pokrass, Cathy Ulrich, Kim Magowan; Jellyfish got a well-deserved bouquet of awards from Best Small Fictions 2018 this year.) It was nice to see a long twitter thread from editor Chris James this week about why he often turns down submissions from previous contributors (so he must have liked this one). He takes risks, publishes great flash, does a wonderful job of building a community despite living far away from all of us. (Chris is a well-published writer himself, a British expat in Jakarta).
I've been thinking off and on about a longer feminist project centering on female saints. I've always loved Pat Mora's book of poems, Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints, and recently started following Anne Champion's wonderful saints poems. Back when I was doing scholarly essays, I wrote about Mora and other Latina writers and saints. One of my "flood subjects" (Emily Dickinson's term for an overwhelming subject you return to frequently).
Some rejections. Two flash that I specifically wrote for anthologies have been rejected by those anthologies (one accepted somewhere else, one in submission limbo). I'm glad I wrote them, but I'm taking rejections harder these days. You'd think I'd toughen up over the years.
But there's been a lot of good news lately. THE MISSING GIRL has sold out its first print run and is going into a second!
Robert Vaughan and Meg Tuite, great writers, the editors at BENDING GENRE, do retreats in New Mexico where they teach flash. They reported on their first day on Facebook: "Today at Synergia Ranch for the Bending Genres Retreat we spoke about Point of View in writing. Meg Tuite and I shared teaching examples from Mary Reufle, Dennis Cooper, Alvarado O'Brien (Jacqueline Doyle), Kim Addonizio, and Ryan Werner." Wow.
Just back from the Writes of Spring festival at Rio Hondo College in Southern California, where Steve was one of the keynote readers. His reading was at 8am and I was sure there'd be no one there, but the large auditorium was packed. He also sold a lot of books. Every time we drive to LA I remember what a really long drive that is.
Great fun reading with Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen and Zachary Tyler Vickers at Moshin Salon yesterday, and going out to dinner with them and Marcy Gordon afterwards. A longer drive than I remembered (2 hours at rush hour) but a gorgeous one, with dark clouds mixed with sunlight, splatters of rain, and rainbows.
My Shirley Jackson-inspired flash “He Looked Like James Dean” and an interview about my writing process is part of the Other Voices section in this cool traveling exhibition “The Creative Process.” Other Voices highlights writers in dialogue. So I’m in Belgium, sort of. Excited to be part of this ambitious, wide-ranging project.
It’s getting so a 1000-word flash seems very long to me. I’ve been publishing micros under 200 words, in Wigleaf, matchbook, CHEAP POP, and now formercactus, an up-and-coming zine with seven issues so far. They’ve published Cathy Ulrich a couple of times (one of my favorite flash writers), Ingrid Jendrzejewski, also Megan Phillips and Steve Campbell in a special issue they did just on micros. Tommy Dean and Pat Foran have stories in this issue. My micro “Interrogation” is another short one, under 100 words.
I'll be in a cool reading with Zachary Tyler Vickers and Stephanie Rosenbaum next Monday in wine country. Stop by and taste the Moshin Vineyards wines. April 16, Moshin Vineyards Tasting Room, 10295 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 6:00-7:30 pm.
I'm also hard at work putting together a talk on memoir for the California Writers Club, Sacramento Chapter, which follows a noon lunch at Cattlemens Restaurant, 12409 Folsom Blvd, Rancho Cordova. Catch me between 1:00 and 2:00 on Saturday, April 21, if you're in the area.
The Lit Chat on Friday night in Santa Cruz was wonderful. Despite the rain, a large, warm audience showed up (full of interesting questions), It was great seeing Catherine Segurson and Lisa McKenzie of Catamaran Literary Reader.
Lots of introspection lately about my attraction to dark subjects (I reread Caite Dolan-Leach's fascinating essay about missing girls and also some essays by Alice Bolin on noir before the Lit Chat. Bolin's essay collection Dead Girls is coming out in June.) The Lit Chat has me thinking about literary influences too.
I just named some literary influences in an interview with The Ginger Collect about my story "Raney's Imaginary Friend." Today, a completely different list of my “Medusan muses” (Oates, Phillips, Cisneros, Morrison, Cixous) in a short piece I wrote for the cool website Many Gendered Mothers. Many Gendered Mothers is a “project on literary influence featuring short essays by writers (of any/all genders) on the women, femme, trans, and non-binary writers who have influenced them, as a direct or indirect literary forebear.” Love browsing through the other entries. I keep thinking, Yes! How could I not mention Maggie Nelson/Joan Didion/Virginia Woolf/Angela Carter/so many more?
Oddly related: I just heard this morning from an anthology I'd forgotten. Two years ago, they accepted my flash nonfiction essay "Mirrors and Reflections" (reflections about mirrors, aging, my body, teaching mirror scenes in literature, all in 1000 words). Now Feminine Rising, edited by Andrea Fekete and Lara Lillibridge, foreword by Anna March, has found a publisher (Cynren Press) and will be out in April 2019.
Do I finally have a story with a happy ending? My story “Nadine’s Broken Heart” is out today in FICTION SOUTHEAST, which has published heavyweights like Aimee Bender, Joyce Carol Oates, Rigoberto González, Pamela Painter, Marilynne Robinson Michael Martone, Virgil Suarez, and too many others to list here. FICTION SOUTHEAST is an all-round wonderful magazine that I’ve been trying to get into for a long time. They’re also a great resource for writers and students of flash, with interviews with writers and editors, reviews, stories about the stories they publish (I'll have one on Nadine later), and many craft essays about flash.