Category Archives: Publishing

storySouth Million Writers Award Finals

The short-list for storySouth’s Million Writers Award has been released and is now open to public voting.

I’m happy to report that my story, ‘The Grinning Man’, published by Eclectica Magazine, has made the cut. Please go check it out and, if you are so inclined, place a vote through this GoogleDocs Form. I’d greatly appreciate it!

Thanks to the judges! And Eclectica’s editors Tom Dooley and Anne Leigh Parrish!

Also, in other news, the Sententia Books website has been redesigned, and my short story–one of the favourites I’ve produced–“Conversations with the Rest of the World” has been put up online. Thanks to Paula Bomer and Adam Robinson for allowing me to share this story with the world, and in so many different mediums!

Two Stories!

Update: Turns out I see the release of two stories today. The e-book and Kindle version of Sententia: The Journal’s Issue 5 has been released (print version to come in July). I really love the piece included here, entitled “Conversations with the Rest of the World.” It’s an exploration of my own personal life fantasy: to communicate with a great ape through American Sign Language. I don’t know ASL, though I’m trying to learn. In this story, a young girl is born deaf, ASL being her “native language,” and she discovers during a zoo trip that she can communicate with the gorillas. I owe Paula Bomer and Adam Robinson a tremendous amount of gratitude for picking this story up and sharing it with others.

Original Post:

My friends over at Big Lucks have put up a fun little short story I wrote. I’ve just recently joined the masthead at what I think is one of the most stellar indie presses at DC, but long before that, I had this piece accepted by these lovely and amazing people. “The Phantom Harlot” is, in essence, a ghost story that stemmed from an idea I originally had for a novel: a couple moves into a haunted house and begins conducting recording sessions in a particular room, hoping to capture what’s known in ghost hunting circles as “electronic voice phenomena” (EVP). These are disembodied voices captured on recordings that were inaudible at the time of the recording itself.

It’s a really fascinating phenomena to me, this EVP business. I wondered what it’d be like to have a consistent call-and-response with a ghost in this way. You’d give a sort of monologue, leave the recorder running, and listen to the response the morning after. I thought, If people can fall in love with each other solely through emails and the written word, why not a “letter exchange” through spoken word? The novel itself didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to. The idea wasn’t large enough and I was forcing it, so I rewrote it as a short story.

Hope it’s an enjoyable read. Thanks so much to Mike and Mark for publishing this!

The Collection Moves Forward

For the past year, I’ve been making edits to, arranging, and re-arranging my short story collection into some form that I’m happy with. Every detail has been considered, stories pulled and replaced, older pieces revisited only to get slashed apart and reconstructed into new experiences, and the sequence of stories–oh, the sequence! I wrote each title on Post-It Notes and arranged a horizontal line on my wall. I flipped the first and last stories a hundred times over. I read everything I could find on arranging a collection.

And then I began to submit and to enter contests. Each response I’ve received has been utterly elating, whether just a small friendly comment like ,”We liked this. Good luck,” accompanying a rejection letter or a response to a partial asking for the full manuscript.

Press 53 announced yesterday the ten finalists for the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, and I am happy to say I’ve made the short list. I won’t find out until May 3rd, but to even be a finalist is surprising, unexpected, absolutely wonderful. Thanks so much to Kevin Morgan Watson and Christine Norris! I’ve got my fingers crossed. 🙂 I did take a peek at some of the other finalists’ work and it is all very good, so a pre-emptive congrats to whoever wins this year.

I made the Best American Essays 2013’s Notables list

The Best American Short Stories 2013 details have been posted and it looks really good. Laura van den Berg has two notable stories (as well as a notable in Non-Required Reading too!) and Lauren Groff has a story on the Notables list for each too. Karen Russell made Non-Required Reading! I’m really excited for both anthologies.

This, of course, led me to Best American Essays 2013’s details page. I did a quick scan of the authors who made it and then I immediately popped over to the Notables list. It was a long shot and I didn’t have high hopes, but I also really believe in the worth of my essay, so I clicked and scrolled. And there it was. Right at the bottom of the page. My name. My essay.

Heart-stopped, stunned, I stared at the screen for a good ten minutes. I stopped all work. I couldn’t process anything. I haven’t been writing seriously for very long, even if it’s something I always knew I had to do, so no part of me expected to make a list like that so soon in my career. I cannot thank non-fiction editor Nick Anderman and the Carolina Quarterly enough for running my essay. I’m really just in awe right now.

I guess this counts, huh? I’m on the right path in life, moving in the right direction.

Update: I’ve also placed a story in the Southern Humanities Review. Whoo!

Now I’m Just Babbling…

I suppose, from time to time, I might actually use this blog as a proper blog, though my general busy-ness is a great preventative measure there. Lately, I’ve been reviewing the manuscript I wrote, a novel on the shorter end of things about college-aged ghost hunters. There’s always been some disquiet about this piece because, thematically, I really love it. I can’t help but to, even if I’m exhausted of it at the same time (the curse of any novel-length project, I imagine). I kept thinking that there was something off on a structural level, something missing in the first part of the story (which I wrote several years ago) that lacked motivation, drive, stakes for the characters or the readers.

Still, the structure seemed okay to me. Rereads went on and I still liked what I’d produced. So what was wrong? When I decided to go ahead and write a synopsis out, I saw pretty quickly. There’s something about condensing a whole chapter into a single sentence and seeing those sentences side-by-side that make you think, Oh… well… how the crap do these two ideas follow? How did we get from there to here at all? I could see the gaps. And I could also see how I had neglected one simple thing.

When I approached this novel, I wrote an outline. This outline changed a lot and it existed as a perpetual Gmail draft so that I have no record of what the original looked like nor even what the final looked like (the outline was deleted). So I always had a relatively clear idea of where I was going, but not necessarily how I got there. I think that as things changed and shifted and moved, the original stakes were lost (in fact, the original narrative is nothing like the final) and I simply forgot about it. With the synopsis, I can see very clearly what the stakes should always have been. It’s so simple that I feel really dumb for not seeing it before. And it requires only a very minimal retouching of some lines here and there, and suddenly, everything makes sense and the narrative is cohesive (enough anyway).

I’m debating whether to continue calling this a work of literary fiction or to start marketing it as “young adult.” Maybe I’ll query it out as both and see what bites first.

Anyway, lesson learned: write your synopses.

One More Forthcoming and Another Article at the Good Men Project

My second installment of writing about vigilantism at the Good Men Project is a lot more real, taking a close examination of what it means to be an American and whether taking the law into your own hands (and sometimes defying the government itself) can be an act of patriotism. Thanks to Noah Brand for working with me on this and to my friend (who knows who she is) for being the first set of eyes on it.

In other news, I recently had a story recently accepted to the next issue of Sententia: The Journalmany thanks to editor Paula Bomer for taking the chance on this piece. And thanks to my co-worker, who is now a good friend, for not being creeped out when a relative stranger told her that he used her likeness for a character in a story. This particular piece is inspired by an item on my Bucket List (Item 56 — Have a conversation with a bonobo or gorilla in American Sign Language). This has been a story I’ve struggled with repeatedly, so I am very very grateful for this acceptance.

“Becoming Batman” on The Good Men Project

I began discussing with my friends recently about procuring the pieces to my battle suit–the one I’ve been planning for years now. Since a great deal of my friends are comic book geeks like myself, they saw pretty quickly what I was up to. After all, I’ve been in the martial arts since I was nine; after two years of powerlifting, I placed top ten nationally and took four state records and a host of titles; I spent years studying the science of training so that at every moment I could keep getting better. The idea of blogging the rest of this journey came up and I was all for it. Then I thought this might be better served if it wasn’t exactly a blog. Gender issues are very important to me. I’ve done a lot of suffering in my life for being a sensitive man and I no longer want men to be ashamed of their feelings. I wanted to use this project to also address issues of manhood and I’m incredibly lucky and grateful for the Good Men Project running my article today.

I owe a deep thanks to Matthew Salesses for putting me in touch with Good Men Project Editor-in-Chief Noah Brand; to Brand, I owe a deep thanks for working with me enthusiastically on the concept and politely turning down my first article attempt for one far better. I’m excited for this opportunity, not only to show the world this insane little hobby of mine but to also simply because I’m being given the opportunity to be much more forthright saying what I want to say, what I think is important to say.

I was a little worried about not being very productive this year, but I feel a lot better now. Thanks to everyone!