Here we are at the end of June. What’s been happening in the last three months? Well, lots of writing and submitting (and a fair amount of metaphorical pounding my head against the wall) … plus a few tangible happenings I can tell you about.
Last month my story “Double Zero” was published at Hobart. Here’s a li’l bit of it:
Our first stop was Red Rock Canyon, down at the bottom end of the Sierras. The rocks, as promised, were red. It was pretty. We ate our cellophane-wrapped gas station sandwiches and drank our six-pack of Bud and watched the sun go down. I made an inventory of the cooking smells that wafted over from different campfires, craving some, rejecting others. We decided it was stupid that we didn’t do this kind of thing all the time, even for a weekend or a day. A five-hour drive and then a total different world. Around ten o’clock, Caitlin crawled into the tent. I stayed out for a while, listening to the noises around us. I couldn’t tell if they came from animals or humans, but some of them seemed menacing, and I froze in place, steeling myself for a fight. I felt let down when nothing happened.
Back when Yard Sale Bloodbath was still active, we had a policy that it was too boring to ever start a blog post explaining why it had been so long since we’d done a blog post, so … Let’s just leave it up the imagination and get right to the goods.
When we were little, Lina and I used to do stuff together all the time. We still like each other, but now she has her friends and I have mine. Or at least she has hers. People always circle around her. Girls and also boys. And now men too. That’s why she’s in therapy. Because of a man. A substitute teacher. Although I don’t think he’s going to be a substitute teacher any more.
She was beautiful—which I suppose shouldn’t have been surprising: she was Allie’s mom, after all, and they had the same bronze skin, the same piercing eyes, the same thick mane of dark hair, though her mom’s was shorter and tinted with a burgundy sheen. Everything about her seemed deliberately curated: green jumpsuit, golden scarf, red lipstick, things that you wouldn’t have thought would go together but somehow made a striking effect. She seemed to come from a completely different world than my mom, with her stringy hair and thick mascara and beaded halter tops and old suede jackets. Her slew of awful boyfriends. Her huge drafty house with dirt-cheap rent because she used to party with the landlord back in the day.
Exciting stuff after what felt like eons out in the barren wastelands of Rejectiontown … and most recently I’m thrilled to have a tiny poem, “Feminist Cocktails”, in the Unchaste Anthology Vol. 3, a publication from the fab Unchaste Readers. To steal from their website: Please come to Table T2060 at the Oregon Convention Center during AWP, March 2019… Many of the Unchaste will be there with their beautiful books and other merch. I’ll be one of them, hanging around the table and selling a handful of the last remaining copies of my chapbook Dear Rosie AKA Ro-Ho-Zee AKA Rosarita Refried Beans (an illustrated version of this short story in letter form) and trying not to succumb to AWP freakout … who am I kidding, freakout will be surely be had but I hope to make it the most enjoyable freakout possible!!
Slacked off on the posts the last couple of years. I hear blogs are back though?! Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, the Writing section is sparkling fresh, so feel free to take a gander. Or a goose. Or whatever you can find.
… and one to go: A Loose Leaf Reading on Tues. Jan 26, 7 PM in the Den at Chop Suey. For a wee preview, check out this interview with me and fellow reader Kristen Millares Young right here! (And check back later in the week for interviews with everyone else on the bill: Michelle Peñaloza, Patty Belsick, Casandra Lopez, and Nora Hughes.)
I can’t read the title above without thinking Reading chicken soup with rice. Which sounds pleasant, really, in this crisp October weather! But soup aside, I have two readings coming up. First, it’s a thrill to be part of Lit Crawl Seattle again this Thursday, Oct. 22nd.
Then a week later it’s time for another installment of the always delightful Dock Street Salon (hosted by local publisher Dock Street Press) at Phinney Books, Thursday Oct. 29th at 7 PM, featuring me and Nicole Hardy! There was talk about making this a whole kooky Halloween themed event — bobbing for apples was mentioned — but I don’t think that’s actually going to happen. Which is probably for the best. Still, feel free to come in costume if that’s your thing.
Finally I just wanted to echo the thoughts in this fantastic Resources page put out by our local new wundersite Seattle Review of Books: “Seattle is right now in the middle of a great and vibrant literary boom. All over the city, you’ll find literary organizations, libraries, bookstores, and festivals celebrating writing, comics, and the pleasures of publishing…” It is so true, and so fantastic. I’m happy to be a part of it.
Here is a video of my reading at Seattle Fiction Federation in June. I was a little nervous when I realized they were recording us, but now I’m really thrilled to have this captured.
I’m glad I chose “Words in Black Marker” – it’s not a new piece but one I like a lot, and had never read to an audience before! The whole night was such a blast (check out the videos of my fellow readers Ian Denning, Kristen Millares-Young, and Sheldon Costa). The organizers are the best and the format is lots of fun, with the randomly-selected volunteers from the audience mixed in with the longer featured readers. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
On Monday, June 22nd I’ll be reading at the 4th installment of the Seattle Fiction Federation, which is definitely a contender for coolest reading name around.
The concept is pretty cool too: along with four featured readers, audience members can sign up to participate in an open mic. Eight readers are chosen at random, and then the audience votes to determine which one should be a featured reader at the next event. Like so many good things, it takes place at Hugo House.
I wrote a story called “The Stories” … which is perhaps a bit of an odd title. But it’s one of my very favorites. It’s also super short and was just published in New Flash Fiction Review. Usually when I do one of these “woooo! new story published!” posts I put a few lines in as a teaser, but since it’s so tiny I think you should just go read it and see what those stories are all about.
I like the idea of picking a song that somehow fits a story (a la WhiskeyPaper) and when I was thinking about this one I went back to the 90s and the girls I hung out with then who might have had stories and friendships a bit like these and this song popped into my head. I couldn’t remember most of the lyrics or the title but as it turned out it is kind of perfect.
Speaking of stories on the shorter side: I’m reading next Thurs., March 26 at an event hosted by Spartan, where anything over 2,000 words is just not happening. The reading is one of many events next week as part of the APRIL Festival.
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!