Sunday, February 28, 2010

March 1-5 Everyday Genius line-up

Monday through Friday at Everyday Genius


I watched Thomas Pynchon lather himself with cologne samples from magazine ads

from Ravi Mangla’s “Visiting Writers”


Attention now count the damns/ Of remonstration the damn

from David Kaufmann’s “You’ll Poke Your Eye Out”


She developed a dappled scarlet rash and used it as a passport

from Kathryn Scanlan’s “Victorian Wedding Portrait”


a book you will never write can only be read by people fluent in the English language

from Jimmy Chen’s “Potential Prologue”


I thought about stalking her children. Finding her daughter and learning of her dreams

from Barry Graham’s “13 Ways of Looking at a Road Trip”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get out of that slushpile, what are you crazy?!?!?

Sure, these tips are gold, but they don't cover everything.

I give you

My 21 tips (apologies if I stole any)

1. Have you considered writing a sex scene or giving your protagonist large breasts?
2. Try adding Literary Ambiguity to your short story. If you are successful, your reader will always come away from your fiction with the ability to compare it to a film they once rented.
3. If your plot is too exciting or moving too fast, enhance realism by making your characters stop for a meal at an ethnic restaurant. Describe each course and allow your characters to re-cap the plot so far.
4. A well built character is one who refuses to change, regardless of the trauma he or she endures. Think: Rifleman or Mannix.
5. Do not write a single word unless you know how your story will end. You are the dungeon master.
6. Apply Epiphany directly to the forehead.
7. Trust your workshop peers. They aren’t in competition with you or anything, nor are they attempting to hijack your story to make it their own. Use all of their advice. Also, keep work-shopping a recalcitrant story for years.
8. Rashomon an insignificant event.
9. Heighten the emotional impact by making sure a kitten/puppy/baby is injured or killed by a Very Bad Person.
10. Leave it open-ended as to whether your point of view character is Insane.
11. Perhaps your story could use an erotic dimension involving a character with a very large penis.
12. Writing successful fiction is all about reinforcing separation between the classes: Definitely think in terms of Main Plot and Subplots. Organization is the key.
13. Write what you know, especially you white people out there.
14. Very Bad People are inherently interesting.
15. Last line=punch line. Seal that sucker off. Lock that story down.
16. Subtext means writing in code. Readers love to work hard at detecting what you really meant to say.
17. Italics, italics, italics. Especially for flashbacks.
18. Depression hurts everyone, so a story that is completely non-stop depressing—say a faithful chronicle of a terminal patient’s decline and death—is emotionally successful.
19. Children lead interesting lives and make wonderful point of view characters, mainly because they don’t know anything!
20. Make sure your readers know if your characters aren’t white.
21. Try writing a story from the point of view of an impossible object, like Dick Cheney’s hospital gown.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How the reading went

Coming off the high of participating in the Cheryl's Gone reading series last Thursday at DC's Big Bear Cafe, I got a great start on three new stories this weekend. Thanks to Wade Fletcher and Joe Hall for inviting me, and special thanks to Adam, Mike, Tara, Emily, and Art for coming out. The place was packed, and I ready two pubbed pieces ("Dusty Bastards" and "Do you know what it means to miss") along with two in progress pieces from the ghost-y vsf collection I'm putting together. Very positive response to the the collection concept, which has got me juiced.

The Cafe is lovely, serving excellent hot chocolate which took the edge off of having to scale mini glaciers to get there.

I read with poets James Belflower, who runs the Potlach Poetry exchange project, and Maureen Thorson of the In Your Ear reading series. Maureen was a riot, and James (who traveled from Albany) is an amazing fit in the DC Poetry scene. His book is Commuter, from Instance Press.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Retort Magazine

Brentley Frazer is a Fictionaut chum, and he's republished my story "Rot" at Retort Magazine, which I never really explored before even though it's been around since 2001.

But I gotta tell you this thing is a toy box of lit and art. Very few of the usual suspects here, I imagine owing to the fact that it's an Australian operation. Go there now.

"Rot" has had a fine run, and anyone reading my blog has probably already encountered it. It originally ran in Identity Theory, also a fine venue when you can get a reply.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Everyday Genius for March: My 23


Monday, February 15, 2010

Not Catholic

I'm reading some fiction for the "Cheryl's Gone" series this Thursday at the Big Bear Cafe in DC. I'll be reading with poets Maureen Thorson and James Bellflower.(Some guilt about this, as I was asked back in October, but for various health and weather reasons I have yet to attend any of the other Cheryl's Gone events.)

Brentley Frazer has suggested reprinting my short little "Rot" in Retort, which is lovely.

Got an acceptance from a journal that I forgot about. Feel weird.

Going back to the WORKPLACE today, after having been snowed in (out?) for the past week. My guilt there is that the week of inactivity is probably not going to make a big difference in what I do and when I get it done.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Progress and a Blind Item

So my selections for the March "edition" of Everyday Genius are just about complete, and I'm especially excited by the fresh work--that is, the stuff people have offered me from brand new projects. There's going to be a lot of funny and/or brain-folding prose and a little poetry, punctuated by a few moments of loss and despair.

I'm really happy that everyone I asked to contribute coughed something up, or tried to--that is, everyone except


--This writer who wrote the TWO best flashes of 2009.
--Both flashes appeared at premier venues that have rejected you multiple times (once on Christmas day!)
--This writer loves EG, appreciates being asked, but must decline. Because those two flashes were the only ones this writer has produced.

There's only one word for this: CRIPES-OH-JEEZ-YER-KILLING-ME

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adventures in editing

I'm in the process of making my selections for Everyday Genius--I'm the guest editor for March, and I've probably got around 1/2 of my picks. Keep 'em coming folks, but sooner than later--I want to be able to spend time on the arrangement before I hand over the files to Adam Robinson.

I haven't done this kind of thing before (well, we all experimented in college, right?), so I wanted to take a mo to make note of a few unexpected surprises.

1) my normally slacker friends, in their paranoia, are giving me super-awesome stuff.

2) I don't really "get" some of the submissions. And I'm not talking about understanding what they mean. I'm saying I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about them.

not so unexpected surprises:

1) My tastes in poetry are obscenely narrow

2) lotta snow imagery. Hey you guys, please ease up on the snow. I'm genuinely concerned about turning off readers who, by March, will have no more tolerance for or sense of humor about effing snow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Warmest Congratulations and Thanks

Congratulations to all those marvelous writers whose writing was selected for Dzanc Books' Best of the Web 2010 production! And another congratulations to editors Kathy Fish and Matt Bell for being who they are. As far as I can tell from the chatter, the selections are magnificent. (Is there a master list yet?)

My sincere thanks to Adam Robinson and Cooper Renner for nominating my work (mind still blown by that)--the stories didn't make the cut for the anthology, but I'm still high from the recognition.

2009 was a sweet year for our kinda fiction, and I continue to be moved by the generosity of spirit that pervades the scene.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I-viewed by Erlewine at the JMWW blog

Thank you David Erlewine and Jen Michalski for letting me go on like I do. Wow, am I needy. And DE is an excellent enabler.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Everyday Genius! I'm the March editor

I am blown away by the fact that Adam Robinson is going to let me select everyday genii for the March 2010 issue of Everyday Genius! Seriously, I'm over-excited.

You know my tastes in fiction--I like the weird common and the common weird, well under 500 words, but I'm a sucker for anything with a killer first line. As for poetry, I'm a fan of the DC poetry scene and Language poets in general, and not really into straight narrative poetry. I like poetry that forges new paths in my brain. But you never know.

Official guidelines here.