The less popular candy bars

My story Mohawk was published last month at the wonderful LitroNY.


I’m tempted to let those tags speak for themselves, but since you might want to know a tiny bit more: it’s a story about a girl and the guy she likes and his cool older punk rock friend. Much in the vein of my chapbook, it’s fiction that was fueled in part by details from my teenage ’80s Berkeley past.

I felt a little jealous about how much Mark liked hanging out with Denny. I worried that I’d get shut out. But to my relief, Mark kept inviting me along. And Denny always treated me like one of the gang, never acting like I didn’t belong there too, even remembering that mushroom was my favorite when he snuck us free slices at work. It felt natural to joke around with him, like he was the cool big brother I never had. I didn’t find him particularly attractive, though I could see how some girls would, with his lanky body, piercing eyes, and goofy lopsided smile. And being in a band never hurt, even one like his where the songs all sounded the same. But we never saw him with anyone.

Then one day in April we showed up at Denny’s and there was a girl in the chair. “Guys, this is Sara,” he said. She looked gorgeous and hard, like a dark princess, with long auburn hair, pale skin, and smudgy eyeliner. Her dusty black dress was either high-fashion or homemade, with weird drapes and ragged edges. She was taller than me. Older. Curvier. More of everything.

This story went through a lot of drafts, with a lot of help from early readers, and I’m so thrilled to see it published. I hope you will check it out!


2014, if you know what I mean

How did my writerly activities this year go? Let’s take a look! (Bonus: let’s see just how many links I can cram into one post! Hint: a lot.)

  • Two of my short stories were published: Like I Was Waiting in Eclectica, and All Monsters Welcome in Spartan.
  • My imaginary Infinite Jest-themed roller derby roster found the perfect home at The Toast.
  • alice blue books released my chapbook Dear Rosie AKA Ro-Ho-Zee AKA Rosarita Refried Beans (with the best illustrations ever by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs).
  • In May I read at Unchaste Readers in Portland with a stellar lineup, including several of my Wayward Writer pals: Nina Rockwell, Emily Newberry, Moe Bowstern, Dena Rash Guzman, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Margaret Elysia Garcia, Ariel Gore, and hostess extraordinaire Jenny Forrester.
  • And in September I read at Lit Fix, which was so much fun and also gave me the treat of listening to and meeting Jim Ruland, Kelli Russell Agodon, and Susan Rich.
  • I volunteered at Lit Crawl Seattle, helping out the night of the event and also running their Twitter account. Yes, that was me making jokes about the overlapping “weed” and “food” themed readings and throwing around hashtags like #dyingofawesomeness.
  • I went to lots of great readings and events in town, including book launches for local friends Litsa Dremousis, Anne Leigh Parrish, Judith Gille, and Theresa McCormick, and the debut of Waverly Fitzgerald‘s new mystery press Rat City Publishing. Plus, I had the opportunity to stand in front of Roxane Gay and giggle awkwardly on multiple occasions, which will probably never not be a thrill.
  • One of those occasions being my first ever AWP Conference in February, where I loitered around the Unchaste Readers table and accepted random whiskey shots from representatives of more than one small press. I also got to convert a few formerly-online-only friends into real-people friends, including lovely magical weirdos Erin Fitzgerald and Sean H. Doyle.
  • I got back into the Literary Kitchen for another class with Ariel Gore, which was productive and fun and inspiring as always.
  • My ten-year-old daughter and I started writing a book. She’s also doing illustrations and has proven to be a sharp editor. (“Mom, everyone uses Tuna Surprise for a gross school lunch. We should do something different. How about Tofu-Lentil Stew?”)
  • I did NaNoWriMo for the third time … and decided it will likely be the last time. Cranking out 50,000 words in a month was a completely invaluable experience the first time I did it, and I have nothing but love for the organization. NaNo taught me how to keep going and I will always be grateful for that. But now I think I’m better off taking more time to write fewer words. On the other hand, I did get a (very rough) draft down of a story I’ve been thinking about for a while. Whether I ever take it any further or not, it feels good to have it out of my brain.

Of course, there was also a bunch of other writing that didn’t result in anything I can link to or point at … yet. And I read a lot and maybe one of these days I will start keeping track of books and stuff but obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

And I’m excited to start 2015 with a literary bang: I’ll be reading on Thursday, Jan. 8th at Hugo House for the next installment of the always-entertaining, free-donut-laden Wage Slaves: Tales from the Grind series. Plus I have some other secret squirrel stuff in the works … so stay tuned! And have a super fantastic new year. You look great. Really.

You look great!


The chapbook has landed


Dear Rosie chapbook

I am so thrilled that Dear Rosie AKA Ro-Ho-Zee AKA Rosarita Refried Beans is finally in the world as a physical object. It’s a story I wrote (first published in Unshod Quills) in the form of a letter from an 8th grade girl, written while listening to David Bowie. Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs provided incredible illustrations and wrote the whole thing out by hand so it looks like a real letter.

Dear Rosie excerpt

It’s almost alarming how much it looks like an actual artifact from my 8th grade life, like something I would be scanning and adding to Teenage ’80s Berkeley (if and when I ever get back to that).

Wanna check it out for yourself? Grab a copy via alice blue books for five bucks!


Hittiest girls of all time

very scientific diagram

If you fall into the purple sliver above, then you will probably appreciate this short piece of mine that appeared earlier this week on The Toast (!!!): The Wheeled Assassins: An Infinite Jest-Themed Roller Derby Roster.

Infinite Jest was one of those books I’d kinda sorta felt like I should probably read some day. But for a long time that didn’t translate into actually picking it up. I mean, it’s huge. And I wasn’t sure it’d be my thing at all. Then I read Elissa Bassist’s “Baker’s Dozen Of My Feelings” about the book, and thought you know what? It’s go time.

Happily, it didn’t take long until I was completely enthralled. And for some reason, when the character of Madame Psychosis was introduced I thought that’d make a great roller derby name. I pictured her skating into the arena, face covered with a veil … and of course her number would be 60 +/-.

Things escalated from there.

Completing the roster was like an amazingly fun word game. The most challenging part was finding just the right number to go with each skater name.

I know the audience for this piece is a very select and small group … surely even tinier than my primitive Venn diagram would suggest. But I’m thrilled that it’s out there for those few wonderful freaks who will appreciate it to enjoy!


A monster, a real one

My story All Monsters Welcome appears in the fall issue of Spartan.

I based my costume on a vague memory of this ridiculous ‘50s movie I once saw. There was all this anticipation about some horrible creature terrorizing the town. Then when it finally appeared onscreen it looked like something a rug shop had puked up. My costume looks a bit better than that, if I do say so myself. I went to Nielsen Brothers and spent $75 on marked-down orange shag. I flirted with the stockboy and he threw in a couple of burgundy remnants, which I used for horns and demonic pointy eyes.

Even a monster could show some leg, I figured, so the outfit ends jaggedly above my knees, showing silver stockings and my favorite high-heeled boots. I don’t think Ted will remember those. He’s only seen me in them once or twice, and they came off quickly.

This is the same piece I read at Lit Fix in September.

Jenny Hayes reading at Lit Fix. Photo by Mia Lipman

What a fun night!

Lit Fix 7 readers. Photo by Mia Lipman

Pictured above: fellow readers Susan Rich, Kelli Agodon Russell, and Jim Ruland, hostess and organizer extraordinaire Mia Lipman, and me, right after the event. Not pictured: Jon Frum, who provided the evening’s excellent musical interludes. Pretty sure he’d already snuck back to the bar.


The fix is in (a few days)

On Thursday, Sept. 18th I’ll be one of the readers for Lit Fix #7 at the Rendezvous.

Lit Fix

I’ve been to a few Lit Fix events and they are always a good time, so I’m excited to be a part of this one. It looks like a great lineup, with Susan Rich, Jim Ruland, Kelli Russell Agodon, Jay Ponteri, and me, plus music by my pal (and long-ago coworker) Jon Frum. I have no idea what anyone else is gonna bust out, but I’ll be reading a short story that takes place at a monster costume party. More details on the full shebang is here!

P.S. I recommend the Rendezvous Old Fashioned.

Rendezvous Old Fashioned


Summer science

The Unchaste Readers Series back in May was so much fun. Great venue, great audience, great bunch of readers.

Photo by Olivia Olivia
(Photo by Olivia Olivia)

I have no other news. I am enjoying summer.



Think of things unpure unchaste

On Tuesday, May 20th I’ll be reading at the Unchaste Readers Series in Portland!

Unchaste Readers Series

The lineup for 5/20 is pretty darn exciting, with Nina Rockwell, Emily Newberry, Moe Bowstern, Dena Rash Guzman, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Margaret Elysia Garcia, and Ariel Gore (and of course, hosted by the wonderful Jenny Forrester). I’ve read with some of these writers before (you can see a pic of me, Jenny, Margaret, and some of our other comrades here) and have taken classes with Ariel Gore many a time. Looking forward to meeting those I don’t know yet, and taking in the whole evening.

All of the former and upcoming Unchaste Readers were also invited to answer some interview questions, and mine’s up now. More are still being added so if you don’t see it right there, scroll down a bit. And read the rest while you’re at it! They’re great.

Now, to figure out what to read … so many possibilities. Cannot wait!


Maybe just Canadian

First of all, can I just say that if you noticed it looks a little different around here, that’s because I clicked the button to update all the themes I had installed on WordPress and … the free theme I was using had COMPLETELY changed its look. In a bad way. I mean it got JANKY. I guess that’s the risk you run when using a free theme, but jeez! Anyway, this new one will have to do for the time being, but maybe I’ll get inspired to work up something fancier and more personal one of these days.

In much more pleasant news: the story I read at the Lit Crawl has found an online home! Please check out “Like I Was Waiting”in the latest issue of Eclectica Magazine.

In the morning we drank some coffee and D drove us into the city past the golfball-looking Expo thing and on into downtown. We didn’t know what to do and we went into a vintage store in the basement of some building but it was lame and overpriced and then D said someone told him there was better stuff a few blocks away so we walked over and looked at expensive shoes and went into a t-shirt shop and passed by some stripper clubs and there were hotels around and D said this is where we should have stayed as if I should have known. I kept thinking you’re the one who’s been here before even if it was when you were like fourteen with your parents but I didn’t say anything. He said let’s go and we got back in the car and drove across some other bridge that I didn’t recognize from anywhere and the new area seemed cool like quiet but still cool and there was a place that looked good for lunch but D wasn’t hungry. So I went to get a candy bar because I heard that they’re all different like English or something or maybe just Canadian and I got a Coffee Crisp which was really good and also a Mr. Big to bring back as a souvenir but then D ended up eating it and he said it was just okay.

I’d also like to direct your attention to a new project I’ve started: Teenage ’80s Berkeley, a place where I’ve been scanning and posting of various artifacts from, yes, my teenage years in Berkeley in the 1980s. I really have a lot of potential material, and it’s definitely going rather slowly and sporadically, but if you do the tumblr thing I hope you’ll follow, or just check in once in a while. You’ll be rewarded by things like these. (Click the pics to go to the posts and read more.)

Shades of Alligator
Big Fun
Miss Dish

And in pre-teenage matters, here’s a pic of me at the Salon of Shame back in November, reading a story I wrote in 6th grade in front of a giant projected picture of my 6th grade self. Which is really kinda awesome.

Jenny Hayes at Salon of Shame

Finally, I’d like to say that despite having already been sick twice since the new year, I feel excited about 2014.


Vampires (disco & heavy metal varieties)

The Lit Crawl reading was so much fun! All the Jennys kicked butt and the place (Sam’s Tavern) was packed.

Me reading at Seattle Lit Crawl. Photo by Jenny Forrester
Me reading at Seattle Lit Crawl. Photo by Jenny Forrester

The whole evening was a lot of fun. And now? I’m getting ready to do a reading of an altogether different variety: a story I wrote way back in 6th grade called “Dracula Is Alive And Well In Berkeley.”

Dracula Is Alive And Well In Berkeley

Apparently Dracula liked to boogie in discos and … well, I won’t spoil the surprise! All will be revealed next Tues., Nov. 12th at the Salon of Shame. (Which is already sold out, though they say if you show up at 7 and get on the waitlist you’ll almost certainly get in.)

Completely unrelated to this was the costume theme my friends and I ended up with for our annual trip to Halloween bingo at the Greenwood Senior Center: heavy metal vampires.

Heavy metal bingo-playing vampire
Heavy metal bingo-playing vampire

You know, to be honest I think it’s kind of a good look for me.