Nancy was recently injured in a head-on collision by a car going 60 mph. She is currently hospitalized and will not be able to teach this summer as she continues to heal. I can think of few writers in the literary community as energetic, inspiring, and generous as Nancy. Please contribute if you can:
Hey, the snow has finally melted here in Colorado and there’s some good news to share! Co-author Robert Vaughan and I were thrilled by this lovely review of RIFT by Amelia White at the JMWW blog:
“There were moments of peace and violence, of connection and loneliness, of levity and weight. Ultimately, the beauty of Rift lies both its scope and its detail. Even on the second read through, every story held its own surprises, some small, some large, all profoundly human.”
You can read the whole review HERE.
Also, some great new reviews on Goodreads by amazing writers Nancy Stohlman, Mark Kerstetter, Jen Knox, and Christopher DeWan. (Reminder: you can purchase a signed–by me–copy of Rift right here on THIS PAGE of my website.)
Also, my NEW Flash Creative Non-Fiction workshop with Word Tango is now open for registration. It will run online from May 20-22nd. These are a lot of fun and fill up quickly! More info HERE.
And stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Writing Workshop in Taos that Robert and I are teaching in August. That is also filling quickly! It’s going to be a very busy summer…
Organized by Monique Antonette Lewis, At the Inkwell has organized readings of fiction and poetry all over the U.S. Denver’s fiction event is this Monday night, Feb. 22nd.
I will be reading with Kyria Abrahams, Nancy Stohlman, Nicholas B. Morris, and Leah Rogin-Roper at the awesome and lively Syntax Physic Opera! Please join us!
I recently invited Gay Degani to Denver to participate at the Mercury Café where Nancy Stohlman curates the monthly reading series called the F-Bomb. The “F” refers to flash fiction, and because Gay has a collection of mostly flash stories, Rattle of Want, (Pure Slush Books), it felt like a good fit. She and Sally Reno took to the stage taking turns reading their short fiction. During the visit, Gay and I spent time talking about writing and about community. These are some of the questions I asked her.
(You may listen HERE to a podcast of the event with many thanks to the amazing Rocky Mountain Revival and Levi Andrew Noe!)
The F-Bomb readings are a community event. How has “community” impacted your writing?
I have to say that if I hadn’t discovered the writers I’ve met via the Internet, I’m not sure I would be writing today. I’d taken extension classes at UCLA, gone to the Iowa Writing Festival for several summers, and run a long-term writing group at my house, and even though I’d had a couple stories published, the process of sending manuscripts through the mail and following the “no simultaneous submissions” rule, made my publication prospects seem dismal.
Once I learned about the web and the writing community there, my world became brighter. First there were the forums at several e-zines including Every Day Fiction and through them, I learned what readers expected. Then I discovered Zoetrope and Fictionaut, both offering opportunities to learn from other writers. I understood that this was key to becoming good at something, anything. A writer must practice, experiment, and receive feedback.
The best part for me, however, was having access to so many wonderful writers that I could never have met in the real world, but were there, doing what I was doing in the virtual world. I learned much from what they thought and what they were doing. And Kathy, you were one of those people I admired and when you stepped in and critiqued one of my stories at Zoetrope, I was over the moon!
Author Christopher Allen says, “Rattle of Want is a narrative road trip across America.” Most of your stories seem grounded in community.
I feel as if we are where-we-live and who-we-know, especially writers, and a big part of our work comes from those who are part of our community. I’m not saying that we write about the individuals we know in particular, but our observations, our references for most of us come from the world around us, the people around us. In Rattle of Want, there many stories set in identifiable communities: desert towns, Midwest towns, Los Angeles, and points in between. Landscape and how towns form around that landscape almost always come up for me.
In “Isla Vista, 1970,” I draw on the campus unrest at UCSB over the firing of a teacher. The students burned down the Bank of America. This was a memorable event in my life, the impact it had on me. The story itself is not drawn from real life, though I did have a friend who was Miss Santa Barbara at the time, but the time and place together, the setting, is what I wanted to serve as an exploration into the dynamics of that time. “Small Town,” Starkville,” “Spring Melt” all concern themselves with people who exist in towns that suggest confinement. “Ruby,” “The Last Real Human Being in Hollywood,” and “Oranges” are about the alienation of living in a big city. The novella at the end of the collection, The Old Road, is about a small community on the edge of town and what happens in their lives after a huge windstorm knocks down an ancient oak, crushing one of their bungalows.
What makes a community work?
We saw this in action in Denver, Nancy Stohlman working hard to give local (and not so local, like me) writers the opportunity to share their work, Sally Reno working hard to make sure we brought the showbiz to our reading, and you, Kathy, being the perfect hostess, keeping everyone relaxed and having fun. On a real life level, we have to make sure we participate and support the events that come our way. The same is true online. We have to be there for each other with encouragement at both ends of the spectrum, before we finish and polish our work, and then again, when we put ourselves out there in the public forum.
This isn’t pie-in-sky hope. This has happened to me: the support and caring from my community has been consistent and generous. I thank all of you writers out there in Germany, Canada, Australia, the U.K, and of course, in the U.S, for all you’ve done to help live my dream of becoming a writer.
Thanks so much, Gay! It was such a blast having you here in Denver for F-Bomb!
Bio: Gay Degani has had three of her flash pieces nominated for Pushcart and won the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize. Pure Slush Books released her collection of stories, Rattle of Want, (November 2015). She has a suspense novel, What Came Before, published in 2014, and a short collection, Pomegranate, featuring eight stories around the theme of mothers and daughters. Founder and editor emeritus of Flash Fiction Chronicles, she is an editor at Smokelong Quarterly and blogs at Words in Place where a list of her published work can be found.
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Please join us at Denver’s Mercury Cafe for the 1st F-Bomb reading of 2016! I’ll be hosting two PHENOMENAL writers and friends, Sally Reno and Gay Degani! The event starts at 7:30 and will feature an open mic, so bring your own amazing flash fiction to read as well!
Sally Reno’s fiction has appeared in more than a hundred print and online journals and anthologies, has been among the winners of National Public Radio’s 3-Minute Fiction Contest, the Moon Milk Review Prosetry Contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in a fumeous, vaporish, ivy-festered grotto where she serves as Pythoness to Blink Ink Print and Haruspex for Shining Mountains Press.
Gay Degani has had three of her flash pieces nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Glass Woman Prize. Pure Slush Books released her collection of stories, Rattle of Want, November 2015. Her suspense novel, WhatCame Before, was published in 2014 and a short collection, Pomegranate, features eight stories around the theme of mothers and daughters. Founder and editor emeritus of Flash Fiction Chronicles, she is an editor at Smokelong Quarterly and blogs at Words in Place where a complete list of her published work can be found.
F-Bomb, founded and curated by the amazingly talented and charismatic flash fiction writer, teacher, performer, Nancy Stohlman, is a long-running flash fiction reading series you should check out if you haven’t already! See you Tuesday night!
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!
Some new stories have been published recently in great, new zines, so I’m very excited about that.
The debut issue of The Vignette Review landed today, edited by Abigail Sheaffer, and it’s gorgeous. My piece, “River,” may be read HERE. The issue is bursting with beautiful summer themed vignettes, such as “Salt” by Camille Griep, “Time to Run” by Robert James Russell, and “Ladders Like Silk Stockings” by James Claffey, among others.
Also, I wrote a flash length creative nonfiction piece about my 5th grade music teacher for the 2nd issue of Change Seven Magazine, founded and edited by the great Sheryl Monks.
The piece is called “We Learned to Pronounce Prokofiev” and you can read it HERE. The issue also includes work by: Donna Vitucci, Susan Tepper, Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz, Frank Morelli, Jan Parker, Val Nieman, Eric Rampson, Laurel Dowswell, Patty Somlo, Peter Haynes, Ron Hayes, Rosalyn Marhatta, Allison Grayhurst, Shuly Cawood, Howie Good, Spencer K. M. Brown, Terri Brown-Davidson, Justin Hamm, Dean Pasch, and Corey Noll.
I was thrilled to see this story reviewed at fictionfeed.net. And you may read that review here: “Education, Musical and Otherwise”.
Nancy Stohlman, who hosts Denver’s long-running F-Bomb Reading Series, is launching the first annual National Flash Fiction Festival, July 21st at the Mercury Cafe and it’s going to be HUGE! I will be reading along with the brilliant flash fiction writers, Paul Beckman, Robert Vaughan, Karen Stefano, along with all of the F-Bomb Series All-Stars. I’ll say more about this great event as it gets closer to July 21st but here is the announcement: F-Bomb National Flash Fiction Festival!
Whew! That’s all for now. Hope your summer is off to a great start!
Last night’s reading at the Mercury Cafe went really well! Huge thanks to uber talented Katharyn Grant, who hosted the evening and who also very generously read a couple of my stories and did them more justice than I ever would. Thanks also to Sally Reno, who read a fantastic story of her own before giving the kindest introduction, ever. The F-Bomb series that Nancy Stohlman curates is a fun, interesting, flash fiction only event and I was glad to be a part of it. So thanks also to Nancy for the invitation! I think I read better than usual last night, so maybe with practice I’ll come to really enjoy giving readings. Anything can happen!
I want to talk a little here about the intersect between microfiction and prose poetry. How do we tell them apart? Is it even necessary to distinguish them? For myself, prose poetry is more imagistic, metaphoric, and well, poetic. It doesn’t require the arc that flash fiction does (and some would argue even flash fiction doesn’t require an arc, but I would say, it should at least give the sense of an arc, if that makes any sense). Prose poetry, to me, is pure sound and image and language and rhythm and flow. I like to write it. I like to get out of pure storytelling mode sometimes, though I don’t consider myself a poet at all.
So! I’ve started participating at Fictionaut again and I’m having a lot of fun. Just throwing up whatever strikes me to get new readers to the work and also reading all the fantastic stories and poems on there. Jane Hammons is posting her work again and do go and find her, she’s a genius.
Anyway, here is a link to three prose poems/micros that appear in my Matter Press chapbook, WILD LIFE. They are…strange, be warned:
I’m the featured reader for January in the long-standing monthly event, The F-Bomb Flash Fiction Reading Series, curated by the amazing Nancy Stohlman. The multi-talented Katharyn Grant will hosting (and kindly performing some of my pieces), with introduction and reading by terrific writer Sally Reno. There will be an open mike as well for other readers to participate! Details below:
As usual, my favorite reads were published predominantly by small presses, written by writers unafraid of taking chances with their work:
I bookended the year with collections by the innovative Robert Vaughan: Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (blurbed, reviewed on Goodreads) and Addicts & Basements, also reviewed on Goodreads.
I also read and blurbed Nancy Stohlman’s book Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories. Nancy is another original who performs her stories live as well as she writes them.
If I Would Leave Myself Behind: Stories by Lauren Becker, which I also talked about here.
Understories by Tim Horvath, which is terrific and I gave five stars to on Goodreads.
I read two Gay Degani books in 2014, her collection, Pomegranate Stories and her novel What Came Before, which I blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads. I also interviewed Gay right here and she has lots of smart things to say about writing in general.
Bald New World by Peter Tieryas, reviewed on Goodreads. This book was recently nominated for the Folio Prize in the UK.
Bones of an Inland Sea by Mary Akers, reviewed on Goodreads.
The Last Days of California by Mary Miller, reviewed on Goodreads.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, reviewed on Goodreads.
My Mother Was An Upright Piano by the talented and versatile writer of flash as well as longer works, Tania Hershman, reviewed on Goodreads.
Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp by Edward J. Rathke, reviewed on Goodreads.
Doll Palace by Sara Lippmann, this book was one of my favorite short story collections of 2014 and one of my favorites, ever…reviewed at The Lit Pub.
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro, a great inspiration in 2014 and mentioned in various posts on this blog.
I reread The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (who incidentally drafted the novel in four weeks according to this article in The Guardian).
Understudies by Ravi Mangla, reviewed on Goodreads.
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Don’t Tease the Elephants by Jen Knox. blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads.
Quarry Light by Claudia Smith Chen, reviewed at The Lit Pub.
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. A fascinating, harrowing read.
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp, another inspiring read, also mentioned a time or two on this very blog.
Smokelong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years 2003-2013, a book I contributed to and reviewed on Goodreads.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, reviewed on Goodreads. I loved this book so much I read it twice.