My first podcast! I’ve done recordings of my work before but never a podcast. So I was thrilled and trepidatious when SUPERSTITION REVIEW asked me to participate in their Authors Talk podcast series. I put together some thoughts on “Fireflies,” the essay I published in SUPERSTITION REVIEW last spring, THE MISSING GIRL, my new chapbook, my flash “Zig Zag,” winner of the “Under 1000: Poetry and Flash Prose Contest” at MIDWAY JOURNAL, writing creative nonfiction vs. writing fiction, and Michael Martone on process. Would love to have you check it out, if you have 9 minutes. Hope you enjoy it.
Flying to Ithaca tomorrow morning (leaving 4:30 am), where Steve has been awarded the Philip Freund Prize for Creative Writing at Cornell and will take part in a reading.
An acceptance at PERSIMMON TREE this morning, of a story I've been unsure about placing. I thought of it as a story that had already had a lot of rejections, and was startled to discover that it's only had two. (Two is nothing!) I think because the story is fairly conventional, and about an older woman who feels invisible, I had trouble deciding where to send it. PERSIMMON TREE is an online magazine of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by women writers over sixty, so it's the perfect place for this particular story.
That's always a tricky thing, finding the right match for a story. There's a useful post by Allison K. Williams over at the BREVITY blog this week ("Rejection Is Not Feedback") that points out the obvious (very hard to remember as a writer): "The process of reading work for publication is not the process of reading to give feedback. When journal editors read, yes, they are evaluating the overall quality of the work. But they’re also asking, Does this fit our mission? Do I personally like it? Did we already accept something similar last week? They are assessing where the work fits in the overall structure of the magazine and its mission. A piece that isn’t the right fit must be let go, regardless of how good it is."
I had a story published by PERSIMMON TREE a while ago that I've always liked. It's not about an older woman, but it's about the generation of women now in their sixties—their coming of age in the nineteen-sixties and seventies. It's not autobiographical (definitely not my mother) but I happen to be left-handed, and have a toe like that, and I grew up in suburbia where a lot of women in my mother's generation were questioning their lives: "Mary Most Contrary."
The great new flash mag ELLIPSIS ZINE has just published a Trump-themed story of mine. It was written in an optimistic moment last summer, when I thought: surely the entire country is coming together behind the impeachment and it will happen any day now. But the process drags on and I’m no longer sure at all about the jerks in the bar.
ELLIPSIS caught my eye because it’s published Cathy Ulrich, Stephanie Hutton, Rob Parrish, Damhnait Monaghan, Tino Prinzi, some of my new favorite flash writers, and then I read some more and loved their entire archive. I’m thrilled to be included among them. Take some time to browse!
Here’s “Happy Hour at The Eagle Bar & Grill.”
Originally I was hoping to place the story with Scoundrel Time, a new resistance magazine. I sent it to them on July 9; when I still hadn't heard from them by September I sent it to Ellipsis, where the editor Steve Campbell took less than a week to accept the story. I withdrew it from Scoundrel Time, and got a great note from one of their editors, Ellen Louise Ray, saying that it was a “lovely story” (“I am sorry we didn’t get a chance to publish it”). Which was nice.
I’ve only had a few notes after withdrawals from editors saying they were about to accept something. (One just this week about my flash accepted at Occulum.) The best was from Superstition Review when I withdrew “Long Distance” because it had been accepted by Under the Gum Tree. They were about to accept it, and wanted to know if I had something else I could send them instead. They took “Fireflies,” and I’m thrilled to be one of their authors.
My podcast about “Fireflies” and The Missing Girl and “Zig Zag” is coming out on the Superstition Review site next week.
Sonja Livingston, Lia Purpura, Dinty W. Moore, Brenda Miller, Jill Talbot, Ira Sukrungruang, Marcia Aldrich, Matthew Gavin Frank, Alison Townsend, Rebecca McClanahan, Anne Panning, Nicole Walker, Gerald Stern, Ander Monson, Paul Crenshaw. What do all of these writers have in common? They’re all outstanding creative nonfiction writers. Many are writers that I teach.
And they’ve all been published in ZONE 3, which just accepted my creative nonfiction essay “Some Things I Forgot” for their spring 2018 issue.
Which is pretty thrilling.
Friends north of San Francisco. I'll be reading with Peg Alford Pursell at Rebound Books, 1611 4th St., in San Rafael on Wednesday, October 25, 7pm. Would love to see some of you there!
Oh, and they've offered to keep some copies of The Missing Girl to sell, so it will now be available at five area bookstores:
Books on B on B Street in Hayward
Alley Cat Books on 24th St. in the Mission in San Francisco
Dog Eared Books on Castro St. in the Castro in San Francisco
Octopus Literary Salon and Bookstore on Webster St. in Oakland
Rebound Bookstore on 4th St. in San Rafael
This year there have been more really great new or relatively new flash magazines than I’ve ever seen. I started noticing Arielle Tipas's OCCULUM on twitter because of their surreal graphics and gifs (the artist is Bill Domonkos), then started actually reading their online posts when they published a string of authors that I admire and follow: flash writers like Cathy Ulrich, Rob Parrish, Jan Stinchcomb, Alina Stefanescu, J. Bradley, Dylan Brie Ducey, poets like Chloe N. Clark, Stephen Langlois, among others.
So I’m thrilled that my Shirley Jackson-inspired flash “He Looked Like James Dean” has been accepted for their second issue, posting on December 1. It’s spooky, so I was thinking Halloween somewhere, but OCCULUM, which describes itself as “an online journal/haunted home” for “the exquisite, the weird, the beautiful, the grotesque,” is spooky year round.
Christopher James, editor of the dynamite, relatively new Jellyfish Review, just posted a list of the flash zines he considers really hot. A lot of them are new: Split Lip, b(OINK), Lost Balloon, Threadcount, The Fanzine, SmokeLong Quarterly (old and venerable), People Holding, WhiskeyPaper, Cheap Pop, Ellipsis Zine, Moon Park Review. (I've been in lots of these. Looking forward to a flash fiction in Ellipsis posting next week, and a nonfiction flash in Lost Balloon later.)
I'd definitely add Occulum, Literary Orphans, and Flash Frontier to the upcoming and relatively new, and Monkeybicycle, matchbook, Fiction Southeast, 100 Word Story, and Wigleaf to the well-established and venerable.
There are many mediocre flash zines out there, but so many really really good ones. I'm thrilled to have flash coming out in two stellar literary journals (Post Road and Hotel Amerika), but though they're among the top journals in the country, I'm so used to being online in flash zines that part of me wonders who'll read them. Probably not the flash community. Even the very best print journals have a much smaller readership than zines do.
Jellyfish Review published a powerful flash by Kathy Fish last week that went viral, with over a thousand shares on facebook, probably more on twitter. Here's Kathy Fish's mind-blowing "Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild." Jellyfish is only two years old, but so central to the flash scene already, due not only to Chris James' unerring good taste as an editor, but also to his appreciation of his authors, all-round generosity and community-building.
Such a good reading with Susan Gubernat on campus tonight. Really fun.
And just before I left I got an acceptance from an online creative nonfiction magazine that I love (UNDER THE SUN) of an essay that has gone through so many revisions that I can't count them any more. I thought I'd never get "Another Mary Doyle" right, and never get it placed, but I didn't want to give up on it.
This will be my second appearance in UNDER THE SUN, a wonderful journal that had a long life as a print journal and now has a renewed life as an online journal. Its excellence under editor-in-chief Heidemarie Weidner has long been recognized by Best American Essays (see their BAE roster) and by writers and readers in the creative nonfiction community. It's a great place for "Another Mary Doyle" (and I think I've finally got it right).
Steve's reading last night at Lit Crawl was great, as were the other events we attended. Here's a picture of him reading at Faye's Espresso Bar, and another outside the Mexican crafts store where some kick-ass Latino poets and fiction writers read.
And there I am in a surprise appearance (to most of them and to me) at the Black Lawrence Press Reading this afternoon at the Octopus Literary Salon, a GREAT reading with Genanne Walsh, Cynthia Manick, and Matthew Raymond. What happened was Genanne was in Steve's Lit Crawl reading, I introduced myself, and she said, "Come read with us tomorrow. Someone just dropped out." So I did, and had a lot of fun.
A bunch of readings coming up.
Faculty Writers Reading and Book Launch
with poet Susan Gubernat
Wednesday, October 18, 7pm
Biella Room, Cal State East Bay Library, Hayward
Under the Gum Tree Sixth Anniversary Reading
with Deborah Meltvedt, Gary Lomax, Tricia Saveloy, and Jennifer Cross
Saturday, October 21, 6pm
Sol Collective, 2574 21st St., Sacramento
Here are the editor Jana Marlies Maron's instructions:
visit underthegumtree.com/live at 6p Pacific/9p Eastern and you can watch the event from the comfort of your own couch, with beverage of choice in hand. Join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #gumtreelive and I'll see you there! (I'll be doing shout-outs to the virtual audience, so be sure to tag us @undergumtree and use the hashtag so that I see your comments!)
Reading with Peg Alford Pursell
Wednesday, October 25, 7pm
Rebound Bookstore, 1611 4th St., San Rafael
10-21-17 p.s. When two of the authors bailed, Under the Gum Tree cancelled tonight's reading in Sacramento (a bit of a relief because that's a long trip from Castro Valley, but I was also looking forward to it). Still waiting for details about the San Rafael reading next Wednesday; so many readings North of San Francisco were canceled or postponed last week and the week before, and this is a very small one anyway. When a Canadian author cancelled, I got a last-minute invitation to read at a fund-raiser in Napa Tuesday night, which I would have loved to be part of, but I teach until 6pm on Tuesdays, and have already cancelled a couple of classes for readings. Really chafing at the constraints created by my job this quarter.
With my tiny micro "The Blackout."
I got two rejections from b(OINK), first when I failed to win their terrific postcard contest (the postcard and the winner Meghan Phillips were great; loved Kara Vernor's winning entry in July too), then when I sent a hybrid flash I really like and got a tepid response. When I lamented online that I’d never be one of the cool kids published in b(OINK), Meg Tuite suggested that I submit to the “Voices” section that she edits, but it had to be right away and address the prompt about alcohol. I dashed off my micro “The Blackout” on the spot. Sometimes that’s the best way to write.
Still not one of the cool kids, but it was interesting that the desire to be cool emerged as a “lifelong affliction” when I wrote the flash. Clearly a desire that has led me astray more than once.
James Claffey, one of my favorite flash writers, has creative nonfiction in this issue, there's also stunning cnf from Alina Stefanescu, and lots of other great work this time around. In just eight issues b(OINK) has published flash greats like Kaj Tanaka, Jonathan Cardew, Hilary Leftwich, Anne Weisgerber, Ilana Masad, Meg Tuite, Ashley Hutson, Christopher Allen, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Tara Isabel Zambrano, Cathy Ulrich, Jad Josey, Jan Elman Stout, Stephanie Hutton, Kathryn McMahon, Tommy Dean, Melissa Goode, Lori Sambol Brody, Monet Patrice Thomas, Santino Prinzi, Chelsea Voulgares. I know I’ve missed some in this long list. And those are just the writers whose work I regularly follow. There are many other good writers that were new discoveries for me.
(Confiding my dejection about the b(OINK) rejection on Facebook inspired a lot of responses and spirited dialogue. Who knew?)