A History of Burning

Humans & other beings: My story, “A History of Burning” is now available in the Summer 2018 issue of Midwestern Gothic. This is a dream pub for realsies. Much like my story, “Must Believe in Ghost” and its appearance in The Normal School, I could hardly imagine a more fitting place for this story than Midwestern Gothic.

fireboyheartlandThis is the story that won the 2015 Tom Williams Prize in Fiction at the end of my MFA. Judge Kevin Brockmeier admired this story for “its energy, its color, its empathy, and most of all, because nearly every sentence is perfectly tuned to its own intentions.” Despite rejecting it, GC Waldrep praised this story for its “bravura opening” and for “making a wily virtue of telling rather than showing.” Tom Payne said, “Its narrative voice gets me, sailing far above this darkest blue of blue collar worlds with a sharp, historical intelligence.”

For me, this story was written in a single weekend, mostly out of a writer’s block of frustration. It’s also one of the most autobiographical of my stories. About 80% of what’s in this story are true events filtered through the lives of the characters on the page.

Order this. Support writers & small presses.

Shadow CV: This story was rejected 38 times before it found its home.

Important Subscriptions

A reminder! My story, “Must Believe in Ghost” will be appearing in the spring issue of The Normal School. If you want to read it (YOU DO YOU DO YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT BUT YOU DO) you should order a subscription now! mustbelieveinghostpicIt’s only like $12 a year. CHUMP CHANGE! Flaunt your affluence! Make it rain! Then, when April or May rolls around and I’m all getting in your grill to go buy my issue, you can be all, hey man, I’ve already been grooving on these sweet, sweet narratives!

Also, the cover of the first issue of Outlook Springs (for which I am the fiction editor!) has been leaked and the issue will be out on April 15th. You can get your hands on a copy (or a subscription!) here. 12113385_1580959672229693_7282374238860411513_oIt’s chock full of amazing writing and interdimensional weirdness and existential heartbreak and esoteric malapropisms.

Oh, and we’ve opened submissions for the next issue, so transmit us your wordwork!

Must Believe in Ghost

As I wrap up my MFA (which means a new subtitle to this blog is in order!) there have been a lot of lasts lately, like my last workshop which is this Thursday, my last day of teaching, my last Read Free or Die, the last time I’ll see people from my cohort who are going off to wherever their careers are taking them. (I have it on good authority that the place everyone goes to during the first several post-MFA months is Deep Depression, and from there, on to their careers.)

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Making words with my lips and teeth and tongue at Read Free or Die.

But there’s also some firsts which is ending my MFA years on a rather high note. As you may have seen, I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and I just found out on Tuesday that my story “Must Believe in Ghost” has been accepted for publication in The Normal Schoolwhich is a magical magazine and if you’re not reading it, you should. I met them at AWP last spring and was immediately impressed, got a subscription, and began avidly reading their fantastic work (which is beautifully designed, by the way.)

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“Must Believe in Ghost” primarily concerns the content of this photograph.


I MUST BE IN THIS!
, I said, and sent them the one story I had that I thought would really fit their aesthetic. DING! DING! DING! (See, kids, it pays to read a journal to understand its editorial inclinations and target your submissions, rather than carpet-bombing your story to everyone.)

I’ll update later when it’s out and available, or you can order a subscription now! It’s only like $12 a year. CHUMP CHANGE! Flaunt your affluence! Make it rain! Then, when April or May rolls around and I’m all getting in your grill to go buy my issue, you can be all, hey man, I’ve already been grooving on these sweet, sweet narratives!

 

Dispatches from the Zombie War

The cycle of submission and rejection continues. Which I’ve acclimated to, for the most part. The rejection never gets easier, but some rejections are easier than others.

For instance, I got a really nice and encouraging rejection from ZYZZYVA which absolutely made my day. Cloud 9. (A phrase which incidentally comes from the 1895 International Cloud-Atlas in which, of the ten cloud types, cloud No. 9, cumulonimbus, was the biggest, puffiest, most comfortable-looking.)

On the other hand, there are other rejections which make me want to blow raspberries of confetti from my mouth and throw up my hands in mock-surrender.

I had a story rejected from a journal for being eighteen words over their guidelines which, sure, I understand, even if that seems incredibly anal. But they also have a one submission every six months rule, which meant I couldn’t even resubmit it eighteen words shorter.

Another rejection came 196 days after submission where they said they’d recently made the decision to limit all prose submissions to 1000 words. That decision was made over three months ago. So for the first 100 days there was a chance, but for the almost next 100, was basically eh, no hurry.

And I get it. New writers must seem like zombie hordes to lit journals. Hundreds to thousands of drooling, groaning, gross corpses slobbering at your door and all you want is to let in the few remaining, good, living humans into your fortified compound.

On the bright side, with a single publication, my acceptance rate is “higher than the average for users who have submitted to the same markets.” Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 11.05.43 AMWhich means that either I’m doing better or am just luckier than most of these writers or the people getting published in these markets don’t use Duotrope to track their submissions. My bet is on the latter.

So ends my dispatch from the trenches. I’ve got twenty submissions out, seven stories in contests, and a nice clean suit and a confident strut so no one can mistake me for a zombie craving the brains of slush pile readers and fiction editors.