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.

Summer Loving

This summer I’ll have at least two new publications out: My story of high-octane American childhood grief, “A History of Burning” will be published by Midwestern Gothic and “The Bangor Crows”, a tale of a woman overwhelmed by depression and the mystery of the chthonic evil that inhabits the town that Stephen King calls home, in Longleaf Review.

I’ve only just finished grading for the semester, a taking a quick jaunt to Wisconsin for my dad’s 60th birthday, then returning home to write a goddamned novel if it kills me.

It’s been two years of depression and writer’s block and it’s time to get busy writing. I’ve found ways to keep engaged: teaching writing and editing for Outlook Springs, but I’ve hardly written anything, paralyzed by the gap between how great I felt finishing up my MFA and the harsh reality afterward of my blank screen with the monsters of what-is-art-for-especially-in-the-face-of-advancing-fascism chanting, chanting, chanting, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” and shutting down all avenues of escape.

Creating characters, a whole world, is like getting into a new relationship: you have to be ready for the deep dive, to learn another person completely. But since the end of my MFA and the aftermath of the election, I have this bandwidth problem, this lack of signal, this literary attention-deficit disorder where I can’t pay enough attention to do the deep dive, to put in the time and attention of making people. There’s enough horror in the world; why should I torture fictional people too?

And suddenly, I am inspired to write a story where everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

 

 

At the Speed of Light

If you like tales of people attempting to construct cosmologies that allow them to process grief and guilt, then whoa baby, do I have a story for you. In other words, The Coachella Review has published my story, “At the Speed of Light.”

7769872630_da79a95e30_oThis started out as the final story for my undergraduate creative writing thesis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It evolved and focused through my MFA at New Hampshire, and finally found it’s home. This is also the first solicited work I’ve published, which was a nice process to go through. Many thanks to Coachella‘s fiction editor, Chih Wang, for her help bringing this story to publication.

Now, go read it!

Pop, POP!

spectrumpicThis summer, “Spectrum”, the shortest story I’ve ever written (around 350 words!), which had previously been a semifinalist in Mid-American Review‘s Fineline Competition, will be published by my favorite microfiction venue, CHEAP POP. If you’re not already reading them, get on it!

The semi-finals are different than the final semi.

Good news: My short story collection, And When the Ghost Has Vanished, was a semifinalist for Black Lawrence Press’ The Hudson Prize. So that’s kind of a big deal.

The collection, which is comprised mostly of my MFA thesis stories, also includes “Must Believe in Ghost” which is being published by The Normal School in their fall issue. (You still have time to subscribe before it’s out!)

After a long slog of rejections (though, some very positive) it felt very nice to know I’m up to something good.

In the meantime, I’m going back to teaching composition (and joining the “long line” toward teaching creative writing courses) and expanding my book design work into independent and literary presses.

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!

Yes, please judge these books by their covers.

I’ve been fond of saying recently that until someone agrees to publish the inside of my book, I’ll have to settle for designing the outsides of other peoples’ books. I’ve been getting some great recognition for that lately.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.24.58 PMYesterday, I found out I won (was one of three winners, but yeah, I won) the Harvard Book Store contest to design the cover for their latest short-short story anthology, Microchondria III.

Then, today I found out that my design for Christina Stoddard‘s Brittingham Poetry Prize-winning collection HIVE is a finalist for The da Vinci Eye Award for superior book jacket design. Stoddard_Hive_hires_RGBIt’s also been entered in the AAUP Book Jacket & Journal Show, so my fingers are crossed for both of those awards.

Can I get a huzzah? Want to hire me to design your book cover? I’m this close to being an award-winning book designer. THIS CLOSE, Y’ALL.