RIFT is coming to Kindle soon! And lots of other news…

RIFT 4th July*Happy to announce that RIFT (Unknown Press), co-authored with Robert Vaughan, will be available on Kindle soon. Will keep you posted!

There’s been a flurry of press for RIFT recently, in the form of reviews (Change Seven Magazine and Goodreads), two interviews (Midwestern Gothic and Bartleby Snopes) and research notes at Necessary Fiction. If you’re interested, please follow the links below:

Interview with Rachel Hurwitz at Midwestern Gothic

Research Notes for RIFT by Kathy Fish & Robert Vaughan at Necessary Fiction

Interview with Leonora Desar at Bartleby Snopes

Review of RIFT by Anne Weisgerber at Change Seven Magazine

Goodreads review of RIFT by Al Kratz

Goodreads review of RIFT by Steve Karas, author of Kinda Sorta American Dream

Goodreads review of RIFT by Meg Tuite, author of Bound by Blue & Lined Up Like Scars

I will be conducting another weekend workshop through Word Tango in May. This time, we will focus on writing flash creative nonfiction. Go here for more info and to get on the mailing list!

Tomorrow I begin my SIXTH Fast Flash© Workshop! Very excited to work with a new group of amazing writers!

*cover photography courtesy of Casey McSpadden

Recent Fabulous Books…

FullSizeRender (9)New books bounty! Some I’ve read, some I have not yet. I hope to do more book reviewing in 2016. January’s so busy, but soon…

They are:

Not Yet Dark by Berit Ellingsen (Two Dollar Radio, 2015)

Rattle of Want by Gay Degani (Pure Slush, 2015)

Moon Up, Past Full by Eric Shonkwiler (Alternating Current Press, 2015)

The Farmacist by Ashley Farmer (Jellyfish Highway Press, 2015)

Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz (Future Tense Books, 2014)

Grace Notes by Meg Tuite, David Tomaloff, and Keith Higginbotham (Unknown Press, 2015)

Kinda Sorta American Dream by Steve Karas (Tailwinds Press, 2015)

I am Barbarella by Beth Gilstrap (Twelve Winters Press, 2015)

New stories, nominations, a podcast, and more…

I have so much to be thankful for as 2015 draws to a close. The short short collection, RIFT, co-authored with the great Robert Vaughan, is set to officially launch from Unknown Press on December 1st. Huge thanks to Bud Smith and Unknown Press! When Robert was in Denver for the F-Bomb reading, the talented and energetic Levi Andrew Noe interviewed us both for “Rocky Mountain Revival: Audio Art Journal” and you can listen to the interview and Robert and me reading some of our stories. It was great fun to do and thanks so much to Levi for being such a generous host!

My story, “Grip,” was nominated for Pushcart by R.K.V.R.Y. and you can read it here. Many thanks to everyone at R.K.V.R.Y., particularly editor Mary Akers. “Grip” is included in RIFT.

On the heels of that news, Scott Garson, editor of Wigleaf wrote to tell me he’d nominated my Wigleaf Postcard for inclusion in Best Small Fictions, 2016. And you may find that by going to Wigleaf and scrolling down a ways. It was published in April.

Both “Grip” and my Wigleaf postcard are works that mean a great deal to me personally, so I’m especially grateful for this recognition.

My story, “Giant” is up now in the Fall 2015 Issue of New World Writing, edited by Kim Chinquee, who is now also the Senior Editor there. Much gratitude, always, to Kim. The issue includes work from Bobbie Ann Mason, Claudia Smith, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Robert Lopez, T.L. Sherwood, Tiff Holland, Pamela Painter, and more!

Also! I’m pleased to have two new stories forthcoming soon in New South and Alice Blue. (This week I believe.) This will actually be the final issue of Alice Blue, a great lit journal that’s been publishing for ten years. Sad to see them go. Edit: My story, “Sea Creatures of Indiana,” is up now and the issue is jam-packed with goodness. Go read the whole issue, because it’s stellar.

We have a page for RIFT now up at Goodreads and already have a review posted by David Atkinson, who read with Robert and me at F-Bomb. Many thanks to David!

Finally, the F-Bomb reading, hosted by the amazing Meg Tuite, was a huge success and great fun. Nancy Stohlman has created this great series of readings aimed entirely at furthering flash fiction, with monthly guest hosts and guests. November’s reading included Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, Kona Morris, Leah Rogin-Roper, Katharyn Grant, David Atkinson, Levi Andrew Noe, and more!

I will be hosting the next event on January 19th, featuring terrific writers and friends Sally Reno and Gay Degani. More details here!

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…

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

This Weekend: Twisted Readings in Santa Fe

twisted readings

Excited to be a part of this! A stellar lineup of writers, some I’ve met before and some not. If you’re in the area, please do stop by!

2013: Beautiful Books by People I Know

I’ve been bad about writing reviews in 2013. I’ve read so many good books and most were by writers I’m lucky enough to know, either well or fleetingly on social media. Anyway, I do HIGHLY recommend these books and the work of all of these writers and their disparate and necessary voices (I’ve also read & blurbed a number of incredible books forthcoming in 2014, but I’ll write about them later):

“The Merrill Diaries” (a flash novel) by Susan Tepper

“The Tide King” (novel) by Jen Michalski

“Cinéma Vérité” (poetry collection) by Sam Rasnake

“All The Roads That Lead From Home” (collection) by Anne Leigh Parrish

“Beyond Blue” (collection) by Meg Tuite

“Microtones” (collection) by Robert Vaughan

“The Virgins” (novel) by Pamela Erens

“Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise” (collection) by Justin Daugherty

“Musical Chairs” (memoir) by Jen Knox

“Watering Heaven” (collection) by Peter Tieryas

“Is That You, John Wayne?” (collection) by Scott Garson

“Conversations with S. Teri O’Type” (collection) by Christopher Allen

“May We Shed These Human Bodies” (collection) by Amber Sparks

“Magical Neon Sexuality” (collection) by Kevin Fanning

“Thank You for Your Sperm” (collection) by Marcus Speh

“The Whack-Job Girls” (collection) by Bonnie ZoBell

Also, read late 2012, but I wanted to mention again: “Beneath the Liquid Skin” by Berit Ellingsen. Another book I read and blurbed in August, 2012 but that was actually published in 2013 was Myfanwy Collins’ short story collection, “I Am Holding Your Hand.” These are both great collections I recommend highly as well!

Neal Figgens

drosophila IIA tall, skinny boy enters the pediatrician’s office wearing a Poison t-shirt, jeans, and a fisherman’s cap, pulled low over his eyes. He drops into a seat and the back of it bangs against the wall, startling a little girl.

She says, “You should probably sit over there,” pointing to the portion of the waiting room reserved for the unwell. There’s a picture on the wall there of a droopy eyed child with a thermometer in his mouth.

The boy says, “hmm” and begins rifling through a copy of “Modern Parent”. He’s thinking about a boy named Phil. Over and over in his mind the boy is whispering Phil. Phil. Phil.

The girl walks over and stands in front of him. She’s rubbing a satin pillow against her cheek. Her left eye is covered with a yellow patch with a smiley face on it. The boy hears a humming sound and doesn’t realize at first it’s coming from her.

He closes the magazine. “What I have isn’t catching. Besides, I’m just picking up my mom.”

“Very well,” the girl says and returns to her seat. Her mother, sitting next to her, has not looked up from her book.

The girl sits swinging her legs for a bit, then jumps up and looks out the window. “Is that your truck?” It’s an old 4 by 4, green, with “Midnight Dream Lover” stenciled on the side and an accordianed right fender.

“That would be my truck, yes. That’s very distracting by the way,” he says, pointing to his eye.

The girl touches her patch. “It’s meant to be.”

The receptionist hangs up the phone. “Neal, your mom has a couple more patients. I let her know you were here.”

The girl, whose eye is drawn to the front desk, shifts her gaze back and forth from a poster on the wall behind the receptionist and the boy.

“That’s you,” she says.

Finally the girl’s mother looks up from her book, to the poster, to him. He rubs the frayed edges of his fisherman’s cap between his thumb and forefinger. The mother regards his toenails, poking out of his sandals. They are magenta colored and in need of trimming.

The poster shows a senior picture of the boy. He’s sitting under a tree holding a guitar, managing to look both earnest and irritated. The particular name of his disease is written in block letters, as is his name: NEAL FIGGENS. The fundraiser was the receptionist’s idea. She made the poster with markers and glue and glitter pens.

The boy says, “The deal is you can purchase a chocolate bar or you can purchase a bracelet that says ‘hope’ on it. Most people get the chocolate but it tastes like tofu.”

The girl jumps off her seat again. “Do you get all the money?” Her other eye, the one without a patch, darts around as if seeking its mate.

“The money goes toward my medical bills,” the boy says. He watches the mother’s eyes flick away from her book for a moment, to somewhere over her kneecap.

“How does it feel?” the girl asks.

“Beth.”

Upon hearing her mother’s voice the girl starts humming again.

drosophilaIn Biotech the teacher teamed him with Phil for the drosophila project. Three times a week they stand side by side in the lab, breeding fruit flies in jars. Phil’s lower lip is much fuller than his upper lip. The boy would like to bite it. He closes his eyes and feels himself sinking through the floor. As if to the bottom of a snowy ocean. It’s happened before and it’s not terrible but he never gets used to it. Alarmed, he opens his eyes again. Phil!

“This helps,” the girl says. She hands him her pillow. The boy presses it to his cheek.

“It smells good. It smells like lavender if lavender were very lonely.”

His mother is a phlebotomist. She works drawing blood all day long. It is just the two of them. Soon she’ll emerge with her lab coat slung over one arm and she’ll touch his cheeks with small, careful hands and he’ll ask her about the veins. If it’s been a good day she’ll smile and say the veins were great, as fat as earthworms.

“Do you fish?” the girl says.

“What?”

A woman walks in with a baby on her hip. She swings her hip back and forth as she signs in and the baby swings with her, its eyes growing wide. The baby looks substantive and wise like a future emperor. Neal Figgens thinks he would like to hold this baby for maybe a minute. He watches the baby suck on its pacifier. The motion reminds him of a small, beating heart.

*This story was originally published in January in Connotation Press. Many thanks to Meg Tuite.

Interview + Two New Flashes @Connotation Press

Many thanks to the lovely Meg Tuite for interviewing me and featuring two of my flashes at Connotation Press.

“I just read “Wild Life,” again and am mesmerized by the movement of your characters, dialogue, stories. They have their own pulse. I find something buried deeper with each reading. I’ve been sharing “Petunias” with my flash fiction classes. You have many admirers in Santa Fe as well as everywhere else on the map. I’m a huge fan. I am looking forward to your new collection coming out through The Lit Pub.

Your two exceptional stories, “Neil Figgens,” and “A Pirate or a Cowboy,” are both intimate moments in very different ways between two characters.

“Neil Figgens” had a touch of Flannery O’Connor in it. I’m remembering her story, “Revelation,” set in a doctor’s office. But more than just the setting, it’s the intriguing exchange between the two main characters, Neil and Beth. He’s the older of the two, but she is direct and keeps at him even when he goes inside himself from time to time.”

Read the rest of the interview and the stories here