Robert Vaughan & I interviewed on the Other People Podcast with Brad Listi

PodcastDuring our time in L.A. for AWP Robert Vaughan and I visited Brad Listi and chatted in his garage where he makes the fabulous Other People Podcast. We conversed at length about our co-authored collection, Rift, life, our childhoods, current events, and more. We’re told this was Brad’s first interview with flash fiction writers! He is a brilliant & generous host and we had a great time. Rift was The Nervous Breakdown Book Club feature for December and Brad heads up that as well.

You can listen here: Other People Podcast, Episode 411other people podcast

You can get the Other People Podcast App or listen via ITunes Or you can sign up for Go Premium which helps to support the podcast and gives you access to all the many great interviews with such writers as George Saunders, Elizabeth Crane, Roxane Gay, Cheryl Strayed, Edwidge Danticat, Jonathan Letham, Tom Perrotta, Susan Orlean, Sheila Heti, and more!

My upcoming collection, “Rift,” with Robert Vaughan!

Things are moving quickly with the upcoming co-authored short fiction collection with Bud Smith’s Unknown Press. Robert Vaughan and I are busy exchanging edits and deciding the layout and order of our stories. We have found an amazing photographer for the cover art (which I’ll reveal soon!), and we are actively seeking blurbs. And once again, I’m knocked out by the generosity of my fellow writers and literary heroes who are providing blurbs for us on very short notice! These are exciting times and I’m both thrilled and grateful. Look here for updates on the book’s progress, but we are hoping for a December launch!

fish tankJust last weekend I finished up with another two-week Fast Flash© Workshop AND a weekend flash fiction workshop with Word Tango. Both, I believe, were a success! The two-week group were extremely talented and hard-working and just all-around great. I’m happy to hear they have formed their own workshop now and they’re calling it:  “The Fish Tank!”

Word Tango , the brainchild of Jennifer Kircher Carr & Elizabeth Pettie, is a fabulous new resource for writers. They  will be offering critiques, networking opportunities, and weekend workshops, so check out their services. I’m very honored that they entrusted their first workshop to me! And what a wonderful group that was too!

And this made me very happy:

Twenty Female Short Story Writers You Should Be Reading RIGHT NOW in Entropy Magazine. The list includes: xtx, Amber Sparks, Roxane Gay, Paula Bomer, Alissa Nutting, Jen Conley, Heather Foster, H.L. Nelson, Steph Post, Amanda Gowin, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Christy Crutchfield, Berit Ellingsen, Letitia Trent, Mary Miller, Jac Jemc, Audrey Hirsch, Leesa Cross-Smith, Andrea Kneeland, and, incredibly, me. Many thanks to Entropy Magazine and Kevin Catalano!

That’s it. I have another Fast Flash© Workshop starting later this month. I am enjoying these so much! October is going to be VERY BUSY!

A Thousand Perfect Strangers

It’s here and it’s beautiful. Smokelong Quarterly’s brand new website. I really love it. It’s suitably minimalist without being stark. The artwork accompanying the stories, which has always been great, is amazing. Kudos to Tara Laskowski and all the Smokelong staff. Issue 47 is dedicated to Roxane Gay, for making it possible for Smokelong to pay the contributors of this issue. Anyway, go and check it out! There’s great flash fiction along with author interviews and Tara has written lovely editor’s comments.

As part of the Smokelong campaign to raise funds, one of the perks offered was that a donor would get to be in a story written by me. That lucky donor was longtime friend and master flash writer, Randall Brown. I really struggled with this “assignment!” I wanted Randall to like whatever I wrote for him. He assures me he likes it very much. This is my first science fiction story ever. It was fun to write. You can read it here: A Thousand Perfect Strangers. Randall also interviewed me and you can find that on the site as well. Hope you enjoy!

FullSizeRender (4)In other news, I was asked to take part in the beautiful series my friend Myfanwy Collins curated at the Pank blog, called “Pieces of Me.” The idea was that each writer would post an old photograph and write something based on it and Myf left that wide open. The stories are so strong and gorgeous. My piece is dedicated to my brother, Tom, who recently passed away and you can find it here “For Tom”. That’s him, in the photo, holding me on his lap. Tom was my hero and protector growing up in that houseful of boys. There was no one like him and I will miss him very much.

Also, I have two new flashes and a postcard upcoming in one of my all-time favorite flash fiction zines, Wigleaf, edited by Scott Garson. I’ll let you know when that’s available to read!

My Favorite Reads of 2014

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.

Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith, just a beautiful collection, I blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads and interviewed Leesa here on this blog!

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.

I read Avital Gad-Cykman’s chapbook recently released from Matter Press: Life In, Life Out, and reviewed it on Goodreads and interviewed Avital right here on this blog.

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.

Available for pre-order: "The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers"

Provocative cover photography by Jennifer Moore.

Provocative cover photography by Jennifer Moore.

So honored to be a part of this anthology, edited by the estimable Richard Thomas and published by Black Lawrence Press. Foreword by Alissa Nutting. The book launches in March, 2015, but is available for pre-order now from BLP here!

“There are women writing short stories today that take chances, risks—you might even call their work provocative. The Lineup is a collection of twenty-five of the most compelling, powerful, and honest stories that have been published in the last five years. Written by some of the most talented contemporary voices in literature today, this collection contains award-winning, anthologized, and recognized authors that are emerging as the voices of our time. These women are not afraid to tackle any subject, to write from any perspective, or to lay any secret bare. If the stories in this collection don’t make you laugh, enlighten you, and break your heart, then you should check your pulse, because you’re probably not alive.

Stories by: Paula Bomer, Karen Brown, Shannon Cain, Kim Chinquee, Monica Drake, Kathy Fish, Gina Frangello, Amina Gautier, Roxane Gay, Amelia Gray, Tina May Hall, Jessica Hollander, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Holly Goddard Jones, Stacey Levine, Nina McConigley, ŸMary Miller, ŸJanet Mitchell, ŸEthel Rohan, ŸLaura van den Berg, ŸxTx, ŸClaire Vaye Watkins.”

Such riches in so small a space…Quick Fiction 18

QUICK FICTION 18

Cover art by Andrea Zuill

Edited by Jennifer and Adam Pieroni, Quick Fiction has been a long-time favorite literary journal of mine. I saw that Pia Ehrhardt was in Issue 4 and being a fan of Pia Ehrhardt, I subscribed and have been a subscriber and sometime contributor since then. I’ve held on to every issue and go back and reread them often. I brought all my issues to my flash fiction class at American University (the Discover the World of Communication summer program for high school students). The kids ate them up and learned so much by reading what I think has always been the best of what flash fiction has to offer.

The design and look of Quick Fiction has remained simple, with stunning artwork on the covers. Quick Fiction has only ever been about flash fiction and prose poetry, most of the work covering only one, small page. The work inside consistently great.

But Issue 18 may very well be the final one for this great little journal and that breaks my heart. There is amazing work to be found here and you can buy a copy here: Quick Fiction. Issue 18 includes 27 stories and prose poems, all truly excellent.

Some of my favorites from the issue were “The Train” by Curtis Smith, “Temporary” by Myfanwy Collins, “Seagulls” by Eric Bosse, “Parenting, From Chicago to Abu Dhabi” by Mark Yakich, “The Polar Bear” by J.A. Tyler, “Infinite Things All at Once” by Rachel Yoder, “Voodoo Child” by Roxane Gay, “More Love”by Greg Gerke, “Forgive Us, We Feel Less Confident Than We Appear” by Andrew Michael Roberts, and “Vs.the Mailman” by Charles Lennox.

These works and really everything in the issue work so well on the level of language and emotional evocativeness. I love this perfect line by Nathan Clay Barbarick in “Who Are You Kidding?”: “Nothing ultimately develops between us but the calm horizontal line of our reciprocal knowing”. The diction in “Temporary” by Myfanwy Collins, words like “unblinkered” and “cabbagey” and how the whole, small thing is layered over with images of dismantling. The simple truth of “I didn’t know her but I knew her” in Roxane Gay’s “Voodoo Child.” How there are no missteps, tonally, to the short, sharp story “Seagulls” by Eric Bosse. The “smart surprise” (to use a term of Jennifer Pieroni’s) at the end of the James Grinwis story “Village 51 Glimpse.” Two stories with two different takes on a lifetime in a paragraph are “Washington ‘The First Shall Be First’ Franey and “Mindy ‘Baybee’ Byrne by Stephen Cicirelli and they are both impressive in their scope and number of emotional punches.

I love Rachel Yoder’s writing and here, this paragraph, in “Infinite Things All at Once”:

“I copied six types of cool loneliness from a book onto unlined paper and then considered how I was so cool and lonely I might shard apart into ice flakes so delicate and infinitesimally complex they ruin your heart the precise moment you are able to comprehend them.”

Well, yes.

The last page of this issue of Quick Fiction contains one simple sentence, so in keeping with a journal that has always been classy, elegant and great: “Thank you for reading.”

Two New Reviews of WILD LIFE

Nice to get two new reviews before the year is out. Jim Ruland, author of Big Lonesome, included a mini review of WILD LIFE in this article at San Diego City Beat: Collections of Short Stories to Hang by The Fire With Care

“The most slender of the books assembled here—each story in Fish’s “collection of undomesticated flash fictions” is fewer than 600 words—Wild Life has teeth. Although you can read it from cover to cover in a few hours, there’s nothing slight about these slim fictions. These stories are culled from real life, making them all the more harrowing.

Quote: They discovered the baby in the grass, under the frantic cotton sheets. The clothesline spun and creaked throwing light, then shadow on his face, his wee head smooth and curved as a doorknob.

Also reviewed are: VOLT (Alan Heathcock, Graywolf), MUSEUM OF THE WEIRD (Amelia Gray, Fiction Collective 2) MAGNIFICENT MISTAKES (Eric Bosse, Ravenna Press), TUND (Thor Garcia, Litteraria Pragencia) and AMPERSAND, MASS. (William Walsh, Keyhole Press). I’ve read Museum of the Weird, Magnificent Mistakes and Ampersand, Mass. and recommend all three highly.

Also, the great Roxane Gay reviewed Wild Life at Beyond the Margins. And says, among other kind things: “Fish does what the best writers of flash fiction hope to accomplish—she finds the most necessary moments, and reveals their complexity with an economy of language.” There, I’m also in good company with reviews for The Rest of the Story by Chris Tarry, Green Girl, by Kate Zambreno, Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp, and the debut issue of Unstuck, which is excellent.

Latest posting during my month as Writer-in-Residence at Necessary Fiction: a reprint of a Robert Lopez story (originally appeared in Sententia), “Inconsequential, Oklahoma” and you can read it here: Robert Lopez story.

Three Good Things

1. Congratulations to fierce writer friends, Julie Innis and Sara Lippmann who have been nominated for the Pushcart by WomenArts Quarterly Journal. (via Danny Goodman @Fwriction Review)

2. This fascinating interview between John Warner and a reviewer who really hated his book, The Funny Man (at the Morning News, via Kevin Fanning, Twitter)

3. Another thoughtful and amazing essay by Roxane Gay at The Rumpus