Upcoming in May

May will be full of wonderful things.

I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be among the inaugural month’s stories for the brand new venture, Cartridge Lit, a mag dedicated to literature inspired by video games. Run by the epic Justin Daugherty and Joel Hans, they’re tapping into an influence that many of us writing today have experienced and been shaped by in some manner.

I began gaming when I was quite young on my giant, slow, warm-plastic-smelling Apple machines. I played the Black Cauldron and Kings Quest and Carmen Sandiego and Astroids and Dungeon Master. It helped me process and still does. I’m not embarrassed to be a 36 year old who plays Diablo and Final Fantasy and Torchlight.

Over at The Los Angeles Review, I slushed a couple of gorgeous video game inspired pieces. And I started — and abandoned — my own. Maybe I wasn’t in the space I could write it yet. But after Justin announced the start of Cartridge Lit I knew I had to finish the piece. And, you know, it’s one of the pieces I’m most proud of. Yes it’s strange. Yes it’s personal. Yes it’s surreal. Yes. It’s mine. And I can’t wait to share it with you 5/15/14.

The other exciting event will be my 15th college reunion. I don’t even know how to quantify that time, since it still feels like yesterday. I didn’t attend my 5 or 10 year reunions for reasons that seemed important then, but inconsequential now. Mostly I wasn’t proud of who and where I was in life and I didn’t want to go back to the place where I once felt like I could conquer the world, the place I was surrounded by people I believed in and who believed in me. But in early May I’m headed to Southern California to gather with those friends once again. And, honestly, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. Even though I make almost nothing right now as a writer, I feel so much stronger and richer than I ever did when I was posing my way through corporate gigs. I can’t wait to share the stories and the pictures and the energy I’ll get from that journey.

xo

Counting Flowers (on the wall)

I hear it’s spring in some parts of the country. It’s trying here in the Pacific Northwest, but something keeps eating the tops of my flowers, so it’s difficult to say for certain.

This week has been a funny one. I feel as if I’m floundering — putting out fires and making the wrong choices — keystone copping through my task list. I’ve pissed someone off in almost every area of my life in the last three days. But I’m slowly and surely catching up with everything I abandoned in January and February. My right arm continues be a problem, however, due to *ilfe* I’m not able to have surgery to repair the disc that is sitting on my radial nerve until May. I can work for most of the day, with and without help from heating pads and changes in position and other therapies. Neck surgery is terrifying, but I’ll be glad when this nonsense is all over.

I have placed a couple of pieces in the meantime. Mad Scientist Journal bought my Viable Paradise 2012 story “Alphabetus Cymbid.” I wrote the story as a VP exercise and I’ve been repeatedly frustrated by comments that a protagonist “couldn’t be that stupid” or that the story is somehow sexist because I wrote about a careless and aimless woman finding how to apply herself to her interests. Is she stupid? No. Am I sexist? No. This is a character arc — a comedic one, at that — and a cautionary tale from my own experiences. So I’m thrilled to have sold the piece. Bonus, I wrote the story alphabetically — though very few editors, if any have caught that on the readthrough.

I also placed a deeply personal and deeply strange piece of nonfiction at Synaesthesia Magazine called “Pros & Cons of Montana.” I spend a lot of time reconciling this strange place that is my home, the pull and the revulsion, the beauty and the brutality. I’ve probably never had more personal rejections for a piece as I have for this one. I am so happy it found a home in such a gorgeous magazine. That’s the news for now. There is much ahead. Trips and more trips and surgery and trips and more trips. But all that later. xo

Tradeoffs

Recently a person innocently remarked that they had not seen any stories out from me in awhile. I was mortified, because I am a person who is somewhat vain and results driven. But, I also remember making a conscious choice last fall to finish Letters to Zell. This meant little to no new short form creations, less time subbing and obsessing over the Duotrope submissions tracker and more time doing serious editing.

There are a few things forthcoming. This Sunday (3/9), the gorgeous WhiskeyPaper features my literary piece, “Think About Airplanes.” WP is a market I’ve been interested in since they started. With an aesthetic that I feel very close to and their love of pairing music with pieces, I waited a long time until I had a piece to send their way.

Two anthologies are also due out this spring. First, The Sea, from Dark Continents Press features “Songs of the Sea,” a story about the end of the world and a ship of heroes (pirates) stealing back music from the Silence, who has drown songs in the sea. The second anthology, Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails includes my beloved story “Robodog,” follows a mechanical dog who wants, more than anything, to be real.

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Involuntary Rest

Over the last couple months of 2013, I pressed hard to finish 3 projects while juggling family commitments back in Montana. I wanted to ensure I met my goal to get Letters to Zell off to an agent in 2013 and I met that goal with mere hours to spare. I also had a fellowship application and a chapbook to finish. December was filled with very long days. Not wanting to take time away from my family who’d traveled from Europe, I spend my late nights writing eschewing sleep. I’ll take a little break when I get home, I said. Famous last words.

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Rustycon

The 31st Rustycon will take place this coming weekend, January 17th-19th and I’ll be there! If you’re in the Seattle area, come see me and my fellow writers talk about the process of writing. Specifically I’ll be:

1. Moderating a panel on Worldbuilding on Friday from 4pm to 5pm. I’m looking forward to a great discussion on building colorful and believable worlds with my friends K.c. Ball and Rebecca Birch as well as some writers I’ve not yet met.

2. Moderating a panel on Voice on Friday from 6pm to 7pm. Rebecca Birch, Alaina Ewing, and others will discuss the importance of voice, how POV can help your writing, common taboos, and how to keep your characters unique.

3. On Saturday from 3pm to 4pm, I’ll be speaking on a panel discussing art and Passion. No, not erotica, but how art consumes our lives and the pros and cons of living as a passionate artist.

4. Later Saturday evening from 5pm to 6pm we’ll discuss Humor in Writing. Not only humor as a writing tool, but the funnier moments of writing. The terrible slush piles. The inside jokes. The things that can’t be said on social media…

5. Finally, I’ll participate in a panel on Sunday from 1pm to 2pm discussing how to Create Your Own Water Cooler as a writer. Ours is a solitary business so how do we create safe and supportive communities to help us along the way?

Stop by and say hello at any or all of these events. I look forward to seeing you there!

Things

It hardly seems possible that Thanksgiving is a few days away. Two weeks ago, I was walking through the streets of my alma mater’s town, basking in the Southern California sunshine, hunting for jewelry at our favorite boutique. I attended several events for the Los Angeles Review, where I read slush, and met with other writers and artists for a full and exhausting ten days. There wasn’t time to rest when I returned home. There’s editing for another magazine, workshop tasks for Cascade Writers 2014, and oh yes, that novel I’ve been finishing.

Whenever I talk to my mom on the phone, she says “It’s just one thing after another.” And she’s right. But the older I get the more I believe that those things *are* life. Those things *are* the journey we take. Sometimes pleasant and sometimes horrible, things are the part and parcel of the road. Waiting for them to clear off to start doing what we want to do is an exercise in futility. Despite being busier than ever, I’ve done a good job of keeping on task for my November 30th deadline to finish Letters to Zell.

A few other things have happened in the meantime:

  • My story, “The Search” came out at Bumples interactive, online magazine for kids. I wrote “The Search” during the Clarion West 2012 Write-a-thon. The characters were named by one of my sponsors and the imagery of the final tableau was sent to me by another sponsor. The editor in chief of Bumples has asked that the yak from the story stay on in Bumpleville and I couldn’t be happier to agree.
  • After many trips into the personal rejection pile, my beloved story “Robodog” has finally found a home in Dragon Roost Press‘ as yet untitled anthology to benefit canine rescue. Editor Michael Cieslak tells us proceeds from the book will help puppies find homes. I couldn’t be happier that the story ended up here.
  • The “Farewell” issue of Skive Magazine was released in advance of it’s December 1st target date. Copies can be purchased in ebook or in a huge, gorgeous print edition.
  • I can also announce officially that my fantasy “Songs of the Sea” will be featured in the 2014 anthology The Sea via Dark Continents Press. I’ll be working with editor Nerine Dorman on edits over the next couple of months.
  • And, finally, the lush and beautiful WhiskeyPaperaccepted “Think About Airplanes,” a literary fiction story of dreams and loneliness and coming of age in a single terrible moment.

xo and happy holidays. I’m thankful to you for reading.

Superlatives

My email brought me some good news last week. Vine Leaves Literary Journal‘s Best of 2013 anthology will feature my one-sentence vignette, “Groceries.” I’m humbled by its inclusion, as Vine Leaves produces issues jam packed with beautiful words and works by a plethora of artists.

In case you missed it, “Blazer,” the story of our ill fated red truck and the journey we took alongside, was named “Most Memorable” for the July issue of Hippocampus. Again, I’m honored that so many people enjoyed the piece. And that I finally found a home for the sensational pictures from the insurance agent!

I’m still writing short pieces here and there, but I’m continuing to buckle down on the novel, pulling plot threads through the entire garment and trimming and pressing and all that nonsense. It’ll need a copy editing and then it’s off into the wide, wild world. xo

Orange to Emerald

On Saturday, Adam and I were out and about, having a pre-dinner drink in advance of a birthday dinner for two of our good friends. The subject turned to the Pantone color of the  year and for brevity’s sake, let’s just say we disagreed and I was wrong. Well, I wasn’t exactly wrong, I was just off by a year.

Loss does funny things to one’s sense of time. Last Friday was marked one year without my grandfather, but the year preceding it was so strange, it’s as if it never happened at all. Or perhaps the rest of the world slowed down or fell away. But it didn’t. Pantone moved on to Emerald from Tangerine, without my acknowledgement or cooperation.

I’d been dreading the anniversary for awhile, trying to figure out how to fittingly mark the day. But, mortifyingly, I woke up on the 18th with a story idea and hunkered down, eschewing breakfast and a second cup of coffee. I had forgotten what day it was until it was halfway over.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve made any progress in my processing of his death and, yet, it’s clear that it no longer pervades things as it once did. The missing is that same evil ache. There is so much I wish I could share with him. But time does smooth things over and pat things down, letting us walk an even surface once again.