Monday, November 30, 2009

The Manufactory

Here's an odd, creepy story I ran across yesterday:

"It was the third grave I’d cracked that night and the third twitcher I’d found inside. The little girl was curled up in a tight ball, thumb in her toothless mouth. Her shaven head was bloody where the wires had been ripped away, and her lips were covered with sores. I crouched over the broken lid, rope and hook in hand, and nearly pissed myself when her eyes snapped open. I couldn’t tell if their glitter was light from my lantern or a leftover galvanic charge still dancing through wires too deeply embedded to remove. "

It's by Dru Pagliassotti, published in the current issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. BCS is an online magazine that publishes literary adventure fantasy. Interesting read. Get the rest of the story here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Free Book Alert!

Get a free book from Seven Stories Press if you rush over there before 4pm EST today (Friday Nov 27th). I ordered Dream With No Name, an anthology of contemporary fiction from Cuba, but there are several titles available.

From their website:
"In honor of the festival of brutal late-capitalist commerce that the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, has become in America, Seven Stories Press wishes to offer—as our contribution to the alternative tradition of celebrating the day after Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day—free copies of some of our classic titles.

The books below will be available from noon to 4 PM EST on Friday, November 27, 2009. Ten copies of each title are available, except where limited. Each customer can take one copy of one book, which will ship with a free catalog and a chapbook containing the opening chapters from our Fall 2009 lead fiction title, The Old Garden by Hwang Sok-yong. (Due to restrictive postage costs, we can not ship books outside of the United States.)

No payment of any kind is required—no book price, no shipping, nothing. The books are absolutely free. All that’s required is that you create an account with, allowing you to buy books from us in the future at a 25% discount, if and when you choose.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I'm grateful to have a good job, a wonderful marriage, and people who care about me. I'm not rich and I don’t have a huge house or fancy car, but sometimes I just look around at what I do have and realize that I am so lucky to be living in comfort, with plenty of food in my pantry, nice clothes in my closet, new books on my coffee table, a down comforter on my bed. There are so many people out there who are cold, hungry, lonely, afraid; people who don't have running water, people living in cardboard boxes, people begging for food for their children to eat. People all over the world are suffering things that we can't even imagine.

If you're looking for a way to reach out to the less fortunate this holiday season, here are a few ideas:

Angel In Queens

This man is a saint. He has been feeding the hungry every day out of his own pocket. Find out how to help him at the link above.

A 17 year-old boy came up with this idea to help the women of Darfur avoid being raped when they search for firewood outside their refugee camps. One $30 donation buys a fuel-efficient stove and relieves a lot of suffering.

Sponsor wheels, a roof, frame, mattress, or an entire EDAR shelter for someone who is currently living on the streets.

Don't have any money to spare? Take a vocabulary test at Free Rice. For each answer that you get right, FreeRice donates rice through the United Nations World Food Program.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dogs and Refugees

My short-short story, Dogs and Refugees, is now up at Necessary Fiction.

Necessary Fiction is the web journal of So New Publishing, a small press based in Eugene, Oregon.

Necessary Fiction publishes a new story each Wednesday and is currently serializing the novel New Hope for Small Men, by Grant Bailie.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Passages North Acceptance

Yesterday, I received a phone call from Passages North to let me know that they wanted to take my short story Oh Tree.

Passages North is an annual literary journal that has been publishing for thirty years. They sponsor the Waasmode Short Fiction Prize, the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize and the Thomas J. Hruska Memorial Nonfiction Prize.

Essays published in Passages North have appeared in the anthology, Best American Essays, on numerous occasions.

It's a wonderful journal and I'm honored that my story was chosen for the next issue.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writer's Bloc 5

Today, I came across this great story by Timothy Raymond:

The Cotton Man
In the morning a man covered in cotton knocked at my door. I answered. He stood there outside, the cotton from the trees blowing in the wind and sticking to the sweat on his skin. The air was dry and hot.
Read it

I liked that one so much that I looked around for anything else by Timothy Raymond, and I found this:

Box of Fire
There was the man with the urn. William. He stood in front of my bedroom door holding the thing in his hands.

He said, “Nick?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m coming down.”

He said, “That’s fine. Just fine.”

“You’re William,” I said.

“Oh,” said William. “She mentioned me. That’s so fine.”

Read it

Monday, November 9, 2009

decomP November

There's a great story in the November issue of decomP, Edge of the Horizon by Susan Buttenwieser:

"Mr. Dunn squeezes right up against April’s backside, wrapping his thick arms all the way around her as they cast out together. His breath is a combination of coffee and unbrushed teeth. Finally he uncoils his grip, returning to the seat by her father in the back of the small outboard motorboat. "
read it

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Storyglossia 36

The much-anticipated Music + Obsession theme issue is live now, full of quirky, interesting stories. Here are two I especially like, both very strange and dreamy and lyrical, like poetry waking up in fiction's bed after a wild night out.

Green Haired Girl by Alan Stewart Carl
"The green-haired girl sang with a voice from a bad neighborhood. I couldn't help but drop my pool cue and watch her groaning up there on the little stage, black spandex stained to her smooth dark skin. I lit up a cigarette and fell away."

Music For My Son by Zdravka Evtimova
"They say you've got an ear for music. It's nothing important, of course," Yackow said. "But I want to know how it happens. How you catch it, that damned music of yours. Tell me."

I told him nothing."


Monday, November 2, 2009

Free Book Alert!

Win a free copy of Awkward One from Awkward Press by commenting on this post at Lit Drift.

Read about the book here.

Awkward Press is a brand new small press "founded in 2009 with one simple goal: to print imaginative fiction by incredible writers at an affordable price."

From their website:

"In Awkward Press’s publications, we strive to showcase works by talented artists who choose to create outside the realm of traditional publishing. As the major publishing houses latch onto flavor-of-the-month trends in search of the next blockbuster, readers must turn to smaller houses to find writing that’s risky, original, and alive. And that’s what Awkward Press is all about—bringing a sense of adventure back to reading. Exploring the fringes of literature. And selling our releases for less than the cost of a movie ticket." more

Great mission statement. Check out their website and support them if you can!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Editor's Advice To Writers

Are you a wicked child or a good child? An ambivalent writer, a self-promoter, a natural, or a neurotic? Betsy Lerner was an editor in New York's top publishing houses before she became an agent and she has dealt with all sorts of people. In The Forest For The Trees - An Editor's Advice To Writers, she challenges us to take a good look at ourselves as writers – at what motivates us, inspires us, frightens us and keeps us from being honest.

"If you are going to be honest and write about all the untidy emotions, the outsize desires, the hideous envy, and disturbing fantasies that make us human, how can you not offend your loved ones, your neighbors and community?".- p 66

She examines the emotional pitfalls of writing – the neuroses, addictions and mental illnesses that writers are famous for:

"Imagine the anxiety level of a job that requires you to start all over from square one each day. But that's the writer's situation. Every day you are starting from scratch, even when you're in the middle of a project." - p 99

" Judging one's own writing is like looking in a mirror. What you tell yourself about what you see in the reflection has far more to do with how you feel about yourself than with how you actually look." – p 99

"Writers love to worry. By their very nature, they are neurotic. And they tend to exhibit the gamut of phobic behaviors from nervous tics and insomnia to full-fledged paranoia and delusional episodes." – p 93

Don't know about you, but I've been an insomniac all my life and lately I've been having some delusions that I might actually finish my novel one day.

I love this advice on page 101:

"Whoever you are, whatever your bizarre behaviors, I say cultivate them; push the envelope. Becoming a writer never won anybody any popularity contests anyway. And most writers couldn't win one if they tried."

"I've come to look at neurotic behavior as a necessary component of a writer's arsenal, the necessary defenses to screen out the rest of the world so that the ballet inside his head can begin to take shape . . . The writer struggles to satisfy himself and also meet the minimum requirements most spouses and families expect. He loves his cage and hates his cage. "I am in chains," cried Kafka to his beloved. "Don't touch my chains."

In part 2, Ms. Lerner moves on to take a look at getting published. This section is full of good advice, anecdotes from the publishing world, and a strong dose of reality. She explains in great detail what actually happens after you land a contract – the jacket meeting(s), the presales conference, the sales conference, etc. Ms. Lerner looks at all the things that can go wrong and prepares you for them. And, of course, the worst thing that can go wrong is your book being largely ignored. Her advice is sound:

"I urge all my writers to get to work on their next project before publication. Working on a new book is the only cure for keeping the evil eye away. After publication, the writer opens himself up to reviewers and critics – or their glaring silence – and is extremely vulnerable."

Overall, this is a really marvelous book and I recommend it to anyone who has not yet been through the publishing process. Even those who have would probably benefit from it. It doesn't contain any how-to writing advice, but it does offer advice about finding an agent and working with your (eventual) editor. And it does get you to take a good hard look at yourself.

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers