Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Doesn't Kill You

Check out the awesome new anthology from Press 53, which includes my short story, Dirty Girl.

What Doesn't Kill You, edited by Murray Dunlap and Kevin Watson.

"... sixteen authors share stories of struggle with inner demons, fear, loss, fitting in, family, a psychotic neighbor, stereotypes, self-esteem, love, and, of course, a protective and possessive hound."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Best Man

Here's a great story by Timothy Raymond, up at Necessary Fiction:

"Frank cut out his own tongue so that he wouldn’t have to give the best-man speech. I heard from Kate. She didn’t believe it, either, not until we saw the caterer wringing blood from his apron."
read the rest at Necessary Fiction

Also, check out this short-short from their current writer-in-residence, Peter Grandbois:

"You wouldn’t know it from looking at her but the girl in the green dress is a dancer. She doesn’t carry herself like one, at least not on the bus."
read the rest

My news: I'm as busy as ever, the novel is coming along VERY slowly and Bill and I recently joined the local Search & Rescue team. So now we have training every Thursday night and I feel even busier than before. Ummm . . .

Sunday, September 12, 2010


After climbing Mt. Elbert earlier this year, Bill and I managed to knock out Mt. Rainier in August. Trip report and photos here.

Now that mountain-climbing is over for 2010, I can finally catch up on my online reading! I haven't written a short story myself since the beginning of the year. I'm totally focused on my novel. Still hoping to finish it by the end of December.

Here's a memorable short-short that I found in the Kenyon Review Online:

MooseBlind, by Melinda Moustakis

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Last Pool Party

This week, Necessary Fiction posted an incredible story by John Minichillo:

"Clusters of Home Depot deck furniture, ambience of chlorine, of eighties music murmured from rock-shaped speakers, iced upscale beer and cheapish wine, a no lifeguard on duty sign, a no peeing in pool sign, the pool kidney-shaped and sensible, the too-blue water refracting a vinyl pool liner, platter of splayed white and yellow cheeses in the pool house, the Moores’ screendoor slowly creaked open and clanged shut, a small dog continuously yapping two houses over — all so familiar, like three years hadn’t crawled away and the Moores’ daughter, Candace, had never drowned here. In this pool. The invitations went out weeks ago, and we all thought what we thought, but none of us could say no, with their back patio crowded and an hour of summer radiance left before the sun would refuge behind the tall maple."
read the rest at Necessary Fiction

Last week, I fulfilled one of my New Year's goals by reaching the summit of Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the US Rockies. There's a trip report and some pics here. Still working on the second goal, which is to finish my novel by the end of the year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My short story Mucky is now up at Night Train:

"When I met him, he was thin and shifty and he did things to my body that no other man had contemplated. I called him the Mucky Man, blushing a little to think where his tongue had been. No crevice on the body too dark and fetid for him. I fell in love with his persistent fingers." read the rest at Night Train.

I've fallen woefully behind in my online reading, though I'm still plowing through novels at a good pace. I'm back in school part-time, working, writing a novel and training to climb a mountain. Also in physical therapy to rehab a torn rotator cuff. As you might expect, I have no social life and am sometimes twitchy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Future of Family Radio

Necessary Fiction just posted a beautiful story by Christy Crutchfield:

"Before his father ruins everything and they no longer have car trips, Daniel thinks about the future of family radio. When the whole family is in the car, his father rules a classic rock kingdom where everyone but his sister and her headphones resides. When his father is not in the car, the radio belongs to his sister. Daniel lets his eyes soften against the highway dividers rushing past him, blending into one line and jumping when the divider is dented. Years later, he’ll realize the car is the actual rushing object."
read the rest at Necessary Fiction

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Now SnowWhite Is Dead

Here's an unusual and disturbing story from Nannette Croce:

"You wake in the morning with something new and heavy in your chest––like a tight ball you can't breathe through. Then the bad thing hits you like the pan hits the face of the man in the cartoon and his face looks like the pan until he shakes it out, but you can't shake it out. Snow White is dead. "
read the rest at Bare Root Review

Nannette took a lot of risks with this one and really pulled it off!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Night Train 10.1

The new issue of Night Train is up and contains some mind-boggling fiction. Two of my favorites are Spanish and King by Murray Dunlap and Run Little Girl by Sheryl Monks.

Spanish and King
"I want to tell you my fishing story. If you think you've already heard it, you probably have. But don't worry. It's different every time."
read the rest at Night Train

Run Little Girl
"Brother Harpy delivered serpents to their house, to her daddy, the minister of Lick Branch, who put them in the icebox so they'd grow sleepy enough to handle next day at church. "Takes just as much faith to reach into a bag of sleepy serpents," her father said, for the congregation was unaware, if she wasn't."
read the rest at Night Train

I also loved This Is Who We Really Are by British writer David William Rea.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


There's a great story by Brad Green up at Night Train:

"The cops took Cora's daddy away the day he kept putting out cigarettes with his fingers. With a forefinger and thumb calloused as cowboy leather, he squished the orange embers and she marveled at the sizzle."
read the rest at Night Train

And if you like his writing, check out this gorgeous post on his blog:

"I once watched a girl burn herself with a cigarette. With her left palm she carefully raised her right breast and twisted the orange ember into the folded flesh underneath. Her foot shook and her face came alive with maniacal bliss. She was a beautiful girl, able to look in one moment as pure as an apple on a plate and in the next distraught as unraveling rope. Those behind-the-knee tendons quivered whenever she hummed in the shower. Her beauty was a terrible force."
read the rest at Brad Green's blog

There are six weeks left now until our attempt on the West Face snow route on Mt. Elbert. I'm training so hard that at times I can barely stagger out of the gym. People keep commenting on my workout routine. Yesterday someone asked if I was training to climb Mt. Everest. Not yet, I said. Everest is a bit too crowded for me. I want to climb K2 one day.

My novel and my training are largely consuming my whole life.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Here's a story you'll never forget, though it might give you recurring nightmares! Stay away from this one if you're sensitive:

by Matt Bell

"The drowned girl drips everywhere, soaking the cheap cloth of the Ford’s back seat. Punter stares at her from the front of the car, first taking in her long blond hair, wrecked by the pond’s amphibian sheen, then her lips, blue where the lipstick’s been washed away, flaky red where it hasn’t. He looks into her glassy green eyes, both pupils so dilated the irises are just slivered halos, the right eye further polluted with burst blood vessels. She wears a lace-frilled gold tank top, a pair of acid-washed jeans with grass stains on the knees and ankles. A silver bracelet around her wrist throws off sparkles in the window-filtered moonlight, the same sparkle he had seen through the lake’s dark mirror, which had made him drop his fishing pole and wade out, then dive in after her. Her feet are bare except for a silver ring on her left pinkie toe, suggesting the absence of sandals, flip-flops. Suggesting something lost in a struggle. Suggesting many things to Punter, too many for him to process all at once."
read the rest at Hayden's Ferry

I got some good news last week - my short story Dirty Girl has been selected for an upcoming anthology by Press 53. The anthology, called What Doesn't Kill You . . . will feature stories about struggle. It's edited by Murray Dunlap and Kevin Watson and due out in June. It's sure to be a wonderful collection!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Shot of Whatever

I'm obsessed with working on my novel right now, so I've fallen a little behind in my reading. Luckily, I received a link to this great flash by David LaBounty, now up at Smokelong Quarterly:

"Stella was the first to arrive and she kissed me on the lips as I walked through the tavern door. I think the kiss was supposed to be passionate, intense; cinematic even.

It wasn't quite that."
read the rest at Smokelong Quarterly

David LaBounty is the author of Affluenza, a novel I reviewed on this blog last year.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dirty Girl

My short story Dirty Girl is now up at Storyglossia:

"I'd known Tina for less than three months and she already owed me two hundred dollars, money I needed for next semester's books. It was on my mind constantly, but I never mentioned it because no-one else had ever invited me out. I envied her bold clothes and loud, mouthy personality—the way she was good at attracting attention. But now I wished that I hadn't agreed to go gambling with her."
read the rest at Storyglossia

Anne Valente interviewed me about the story here.

Storyglossia is one of my favorite online literary journals, so I'm thrilled to be in February's issue. I've featured several stories from Storyglossia on this blog in the past year - here, here and here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baby Love

This story, written by Sara Levine and published by Necessary Fiction, has been selected for inclusion in Dzanc Books' 2010 Best of the Web:

"I had a baby.

“Why’d you have to have a baby?” Denny wanted to know. “There are so many babies on this block already. You know this neighborhood’s really changing. First the Starbucks and then we got a Gap
read the rest at Necessary Fiction.

Last week, fellow blogger and writer Dorraine Darden surprised me with a Sugar Doll award. The way it works is that the recipient has to reveal ten things about herself that readers of her blog may not know. So, with no further ado, here are ten little-known facts about yours truly:

1. I was born in Western Australia.

2. My husband and I met in a canyon in Utah on a climbing trip. At the time, I was living in Tennessee and he was living in Wyoming. For our first "date" we rendezvoused in Denver and went out to climb a mountain in the Wind Rivers. We had a terrible epic and I was so impressed with his calm demeanour throughout that I looked forward to climbing with him again. Roughly 3 years later, we spent our honeymoon ice-climbing in Alaska.

3. If I go too long without a run, I get extremely irritable.

4. I gave up my dream of being a professional writer many years ago and became a software developer instead. I dragged my old manuscripts all over the country with me and one day I read a few of my stories to my husband. With his encouragement, I started writing again and submitted two of those old stories to the 2009 Writer's Digest Writing Competition. They placed 1st and 4th in the Literary/Mainstream Short Story category.

5. I used to be fluent in French, but now can barely string a sentence together. I'm not happy about that!

6. I love Reggae music.

7. My two favorite books of all time are The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, and Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham.

8. I'm crazy about birds, especially penguins. OK, I'm crazy about ALL animals. When I was a kid, I went back and forth between wanting to be a zoologist and a marine biologist.

9. I love to cook dishes from all over the world. A typical week's worth of dinners at my house might include Ethiopian curry, Greek moussaka, South African meat pie and Sri Lankan sates. I make an Afghan sweet bread called rhote to take with me when I travel.

10. I drink home-made redbush chai all day long. Because I cook a lot, I order spices in bulk from The Atlantic Spice Company. To make the chai, I grind 3 tsp black peppercorns, 1.5 tsp whole cloves and 5 3-inch cinnamon sticks in my spice grinder, then mix with 6 tbsp loose-leaf red tea (redbush) leaves. Sometimes I add whole cardamom pods and/or Jamaica all-spice berries to the mix. Good stuff!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I ran across this story by Lily Brent last week:

"They couldn't get her to stop doing it. Crusts of bread, leaves of boiled cabbage, twenty-six grapes, flour in small plastic bags choked with red twist ties. They couldn't get her to stop doing it until she stopped doing everything, and after that it wasn't long until the end. Half bananas browning in their peels, dollops of sour cream in drawers, potatoes in slippers under the bed, red beets bleeding through the pockets of her pale yellow bathrobe."
read the rest at 42Opus

My good news for the week is that my short story The Shock Is What Kills You has been nominated for the 2010 Million Writers Award. I'm very honored by the nomination!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In Search of Biswas

My short story, In Search of Biswas, is now up at Amarillo Bay:

"My husband, Leo, loved me far too much. His face when he gazed at me in the silent evenings wore the patient, imploring expression of a good dog left out in the rain. And, like a good dog, he never barked, but simply sat on his haunches prepared to be saved. I didn't want to save him."
read the rest at Amarillo Bay

The new issue includes short stories by Lora Rivera, Timothy Reilly, David Regenspan and Robert Wexelblatt.

Due to the nefarious activities of a few unsavory characters, I've had to turn on comment moderation for this blog. This simply means that all comments have to be approved by me before being posted. I'll approve anything that doesn't include links to porn sites. In the meantime, don't click on any questionable links that you see in the comments.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Whale Hunter

This story, by Steinur Bell, was named one of the Top Ten Online Stories of the year by StorySouth. Parts of it are somewhat gruesome, so don't read it if you're very sensitive.

"On the Faroe Islands, men hunt puffins. They clutch long poles with a netted basket on each end and rappel sheer cliffs in makeshift harnesses. The puffins build their nests in the cliffs but are otherwise not so smart. Suspended, with rocks and frigid water hundreds of feet below them, the men net the birds and kill them. They tie the dead puffins around their waists."
read the rest at AGNI Online

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Way To Do Good

Hans and Edna are a hard-working married couple living in Haiti. Until recently, they had three children: Immacula (14), Clifford (16), and Alex (9).

After the earthquake struck Haiti, Edna was the first to reach the family home, around 9pm. The house had collapsed. She heard her children screaming for help. She couldn't move the huge concrete blocks that had fallen on them, though she tried with all her might. She stayed with them in the darkness, calling into the rubble, trying to comfort them with her voice.

Finally, her husband arrived, bringing help, and they were able to free Clifford, then Alex, whose legs had been crushed. Hans carried Alex through the streets, trying desperately to find medical help, but his youngest child died in his arms. By then, Immacula was also dead. Hans had to bury both children himself, lying them side by side in a shallow grave.

If you're anything like me, you can't read this story without crying. But I'm not telling you about this just to ruin your day. Roxane Gay, editor of PANK magazine, is directly involved with this family and is taking up a collection to help them try to rebuild their lives. You can donate through Paypal. Even $5 would help - Roxane says the American dollar goes a long way in Haiti.

You can read more about the family on Roxane's blog, here and here. She has posted some pictures of them. To donate, send money via Paypal to rgay74 at gmail dot com. Anything you can spare, anything at all. All contributions go directly to Hans and Edna.

Pass it on.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Shark Attack Can Teach Us About Love

This beautifully written story, by Caryn Cardello, is the author's first publication:

"The room is full of candles and the apartment is too small, making everything seem aglow and also slightly dangerous. We’re here for dinner and girl-talk in this empty desert town, all of us miles from home. The ex-Catholic from Louisiana makes gumbo at her graduate student stove while the atheist from Alabama talks to the Mormon about sex. Alabama married her high school sweetheart and—maybe it’s the accent—often sounds the most conservative among us, despite the fact that she isn’t, that none of us are, that she’s the only one brave enough to breathe the word “atheism” even after all these university degrees.."
read the rest at Spork Press

Last week, Necessary Fiction asked contributors to send in a few words about what inspired them to write in 2009. This is my contribution.

Also last week, Night Train accepted one of my short-shorts. I'm a huge fan of Night Train, so this is very exciting for me. Check out this amazing flash currently up on their site (by Laura Valeri):

"You were always too slow, your father used to say, too slow dodging the other girls' hands blocking your shots, slow to move out of the way, slow to catch up, slow to make the basket—just like when you were ten, at ski camp, he'd remind you, where you were sent in hopes you'd learn some self-preservation skills, hopes all but lost the day of the storm when the competition was canceled. . . ."
read the rest at Night Train

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Things I Know About Fairytales

The disaster in Haiti reminded me of this story that I first read quite a long time ago, before I started this blog. It's by Roxane Gay, the editor of PANK. Pank is currently donating all proceeds from subscriptions to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

Things I Know About Fairytales
"When I was very young, my mother told me that she didn’t believe in fairy tales. They were, she liked to say, lessons dressed in fancy clothes. She preferred to excise the princesses and villains and instead concerned herself with the moral of the story.

Once upon a time, not long ago, I was kidnapped and held captive for thirteen days. Shortly after I was freed, my mother told me there was nothing to be learned from what had happened to me. She told me to forget the entire incident because there was no moral to the story
read the rest

Here, also, is some interesting commentary on Haiti, from The Kenyon Review.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When Jimmy Fishes For What Was His Mother

Here's a disturbing tale by J.A. Tyler, who has a very distinctive style. This story appears in Issue 37 of Storyglossia.

"I don't know what this is.

This is true.

Jimmy fished, his pole hung in the water, the tip making ripples. And yes, Jimmy caught a fish that was his mother. He brought it home, this fish that was his mother, and he wrapped it in bathtub water. And yes, the bathtub had claw feet, so it was very much like dropping a fish into the mouth of a hungry tiger. And in the middle of the night he heard his father screaming for something that was missing and sweat collected on the back of his head, wet as water, swimming. Jimmy dove in
read the rest

Also, despite the fact that this is a fiction blog, I have to include a link to this poem that blew me away. It's by Natalie Eilbert.

And here is a link to a very amusing confessional by Roxane Gay.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Black Oyster

My first story recommendation for 2010 is this gem by one of my favorite emerging writers, Murray Dunlap. I told Murray once that his prose sometimes makes me feel drunk and it's true - it's so evocative and has such perfect cadence that it sweeps you away. When it ends, you're left reeling for a moment, because it's hard to snap back out of his world and find your body still sitting where you left it.

The Black Oyster

"I step into the Black Oyster. Cigarette smoke hangs in the stale, bone dry air. Barstools creak beneath a handful of heavyset regulars. A blanket of dust covers the pool table and the jukebox sits unplugged. Photocopied pictures of missing children hang by thumbtacks on the wall next to the door. I read the names—Rhonda Spencer, Cindy Oates, Bart Wiseman, Holly Dorn—and my stomach turns. My leather shoes stick to the floor as I make for the bar. I wear a white oxford button-down and beige chino slacks. The regulars sit with raised elbows in T-shirts and studded leather. An old sign behind the bar reads: Great Service Deserves a Great Tip! "

read the rest

Read an interview with Murray Dunlap.

Then visit his website for links to more amazing stories.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

New Year's is my favorite holiday, though I no longer celebrate it by drinking vast amounts of alcohol and staying up past midnight. What I like about the beginning of the year is the chance to set new goals for myself. I'm a very goal-oriented and results-driven person, so New Year's Resolutions are right up my alley. Sometimes my resolutions are about bettering myself, but this time I have simply set myself two goals for 2010:

1. Finish my novel
2. Climb Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado (14,433ft). We will ascend via a 3,000ft snow couloir on the West Face.

Which of these two goals will be harder to achieve? Tough call.

Writing a novel is similar to climbing a mountain in many ways. There are (occasional) moments of bliss and moments of great suffering. You have to go into it knowing it will hurt. There will be times when you lose all hope and want nothing more than to just give up and admit defeat, and that is when you have to make your greatest effort and keep plodding on.

The nice thing about climbing a mountain is that once you've made it back to where you started, the journey is over. You can sit on the couch for a few days and eat as much pie as you want.

Finishing a novel, however, is just the beginning . . .