Friday, January 29, 2010


This is a test post coming at you from the tech resistant mountains of the WV panhandle. After several weeks of disappointing attempts to get some kind of better internet access at the cabin in Great Cacapon, we discovered that an ATT laptop connect card works pretty well for my purposes, without the installation costs/destruction.

While I played online this afternoon, Dean went out in the freezing woods to try out the metal detector he got for xmas. He found another hunting knife. He's always finding knives, which makes me wonder just how many knives are out there. We may put up our wildcam tomorrow . . .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wigleaf: "Bog Redaction"

So very proud to have my story "Bog Redaction" at Wigleaf. It is, so far, the major story of the collection of creepy vsf that I'm working on. It's also the best thing I ever wrote.

It's an interesting thing when the bar is set and you know it.

Thank you, SG.

The Graveyard

My several times removed cousin Ned Bennett Crislip put together the 600+ page book entitled, Ancestors and Descendants of Norris and Elizabeth Bennett, published in 2001. As you can guess it is a genealogy + anecdotes about one zig-zagging branch of our family, beginning in the 1590s.

There is so much to love about this book, especially the fact that the illustrations for the first third are all photographs of tombstones and snow covered farmhouses.

Let me just flip to a page--

p. 275: Concerning John Doane, ordered to "get a pair of stocks and whipping-post made for use of the town." Further down the page it says "In 1701 and 1702, he was one of the Negative Men." I'll look up what that means later, but for now I am content to savor the possibilities.

ps--my rough understanding of "The Negative Men"--a council with the power to veto/limit the sale or gift of communal land offered by popular decision.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dzanc National Workshop Day: March 20

I'm very excited to be helping out with the DC Dzanc event for Dzanc National Workshop Day, March 20, 2010. So far it looks like there are 25 cities involved, running lectures, workshops, etc, with the proceeds going to support all those awesome Dzanc charities and initiatives. I'll be there as "flash fiction writer Laura Ellen Scott," with Reb Livingston, Dave Housley, Mike Ingram, and Dan Brady.

Strangely enough, flash fiction writer Laura Ellen Scott's only Barrelhouse pub is a 15 pager.

More news as we get closer to the event.

Hey Danny, isn't Wonderland Ballroom close to your house? Can we have a party there? Lucy won't mind . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rambling through Mississippi Review 16.1

I'm reading through the Kim Chinquee edited volume of the Mississippi Review, entirely dedicated to Flash Fiction. There are two pieces I don't get yet--Carol Novack's "Quantum Physics" and Diane Williams' "Wrigglework"--and by "don't get" I mean I don't know why they wind up the way they do, but I'll give them another go tomorrow when my head isn't swimming with the words of everyone else.

My hope is that the volume will work as a reader for the flash unit of my junior level fiction workshop. Our first class meeting is Tuesday 9am, and I have yet to write the syllabus. But the first quarter of the issue has got me a little worried--most of the stories, while brilliant, are devoted to domestic and relationship subjects, sorting out into Mom, Dad, and lovers categories. While achingly beautiful and unflinching, the set is starting to make me--a writer of surreal, glib trifles--nervous. So when I get to Greg Gerke's "I Want to Write Flash Fiction" I get pretty paranoid and take his satire personally. However, relief comes quick from the marvelous weirdness of the Grandbois bothers, Daniel and Peter. I never read their work before, but already I wanna buy their books and watch their family on Thanksgiving-cam. But it isn't until I reach the stories by Holland, Landon, and Lisicky that the organization opens up to me--here are three stories about individuals attempting to escape life . . . So part one is about families and lovers, part two transitions into weirdness, part three is existential, and--

wait. Holland, Landon, Lisicky? Well, crap. It's alphabetical. I'm an idiot. I must give up reading for purposes.

An hour later, I can now attest to the excellence and variety of this collection, as well as its appropriateness for my students. I hope they plagiarize "Mr. Cat," "Interstate," "Rodney and Chelsea," and "Save Me or I'll Kill You." That would be fun.

I can see how hard Kim worked to represent the state of the art while putting together the strongest possible issue. That said, there aren't any pieces in the "shock first-story later" punk mode. I wonder it that was that on purpose or did she not get those kinds of subs? I'm curious, because some days it seems that self-obsessed rumination on blood/sex/feces is to flash what "my wife doesn't understand me after twenty-five years" is to conventional fiction--overdone and rarely original.

Friday, January 15, 2010

the eyes have lasers in them!

My husband made a wooden mallet today. He also disassembled a remote control dinosaur. But not with the mallet.

In other places we have discussed the bullshit of “process,” but as I’m coming off a successful revision—if our mallet wielding dino dissector is credible— the how of it is very fresh in my mind, and I kinda want to nail it down.

The problem was intention. The original idea came from a scene in my WV novel where the main character is in her remote cabin, and she’s freaked out by a late night trespasser. From there I was shaping something fairly conventional—a story of transformation that to fit into my spooky vsf project. The draft, having outgrown flash, teetered into Poe-like Gothicism. On those terms it needed more rational development.

Like a mercenary I started writing the linkage, which was easy-peasy. When I write fast without breaking an emotional sweat, I always think I’m phoning it in. But very often that writing turns out to be my best. And sure enough, one day later I reread the work to discover that the craven linkage was more clear-eyed and dramatic than any of the original work.

So I threw out most of the old draft and re-built from the linkages (now free from plot servitude). I think I ended up with something much cooler than I planed for. Editors? Start your bidding now. (I always make that joke).

RIP Duke

Duke belonged to my in-laws, and he was a hunting dog, crazy for rabbits. Yesterday he had a fatal encounter with an illegal trap, but at least he never knew what hit him. I wasn't close to him, but he was a decent, simple bloke. When he was a puppy he took a HUGE dump in the middle of all the presents we were unwrapping on Christmas morning. I don't think he ever did anything else that interesting again, but he was sweet. Career beagle, 100%.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

From Laura's Pocket Guide to Eastern Europe: Poland and the Ukraine

First of all, Writer's Bloc (Rutgers), with its ever-changing format and constant wit, is one of the most engaging lit venues around. I'm super pleased that my "Pocket Guide" has found a home in the latest issue alongside the work of rock stars like Jimmy Chen and Ben White.

Another Pocket Guide was published over at Hobart a long while back--to Belize City & Beyond, and for a while there I thought I'd do a collection of pocket guides, but then three things stopped me-1) they're super hard to write. 2) the EasternEuro guide enjoyed double digit rejections. 3)Kuzhali Manickavel did it better.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

worried about the weather

CNN crawl predicting "broken clouds."

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Fictionaut Fave: Katrina Denza's "Soap"

Over at the Fictionaut blog they've started a new feature for members to discuss a story they have faved. Looks like my note about Katrina Denza's ever re-readable "Soap," first published in Wigleaf, is up first.

My "Dusty Bastards"

New story up at JMWW with a dedication to the delightful and wise Erin Fitzgerald. Cool timing too, as she's put me on the A list.