A few small updates

I try to give tidbits of news in one fell bloggy swoop… not sure why. One would think that the more successful technique would be to write as many blog entries as possible. But not me, boy, I know you’ve got jobs and kids and TV shows to watch and pad thai to inhale. In other words, I got your back, time-wise.

So, on to the news!

1. Sometime in mid-2012, I had a story called “Camouflage” accepted at Kaleidotrope, and it looks like it’ll be in the next issue, which, I believe, comes out in October. Stay tuned!

2. About a month ago, I had another story accepted by the high-class folks at Shimmer… super-psyched to be a part of that publication too! The story, long-windedly entitled “Ellie and Jim vs. Tony ‘The Nose'”, will be in Issue #19, which comes out sometime early 2014.

3. And finally, I’ve started writing for Chicago’s mega-blog Gapers Block, in the books section! I’ve even undertaken the herculean task of compiling and then reviewing a list of Chicagoans’ favorite books by Chicago authors. You can check out the first two reviews (for Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars and Crossing California) if you’re so inclined.

Freelance Writing and Editing

In addition to fiction writing and the occasional ramblings, I am also a freelance writer and editor. Check out the appropriately named page on this site for more info and links to my online portfolio!


WisCon Reading

Will you be at WisCon? I will! And I’m doing a reading on Sunday. You should come!

Here’s the deets;

Exotic Worlds group reading

Sunday, May 26th, 10:00am-11:15am (location TBD…. check your programs!)

Featuring: Bradley Beaulieu, Holly McDowell, Wesley Chu, Tom Underberg, Dustin Monk, and me!

We’ll read things. It’ll be glorious.


Oh hey guys. So, I’m back in Chicago, slowly and arduously unpacking all seven circles of cardboard box hell (only seven, you ask? No no, I’m just trying to be literary here. In reality, the circles are endless; they are circles upon circles upon circles. Circles all the way down.)

Anyway, I took a break from unpacking for this blog meme thingie that fellow writer and weirdie Caren Gussoff tasked me to do. You should read hers and then you should read her book when it comes out because it’s awesome.

But for now, hold on to your damn hats because this is going to be the thrill ride of a lifetime.

What is the working title of your book?

It’s called The Grand Adventure of Aught-Nine. Originally because I started the book in 2009, but luckily for me it ended up making sense with the actual story too!

Oh, I also just started writing a new book which is tentatively titled As Big as the West. It’s a weird western involving Jews and magical Teddy Roosevelt, and I just wanted to briefly mention it because I’m super-excited to be writing it, and seeing the title written down makes me even exciteder.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for The Grand Adventure started out as an epistolary war story, told from the perspective of two tiny brothers who were stationed on the bodies of two regular-sized humans who were fighting on opposite sides of some war. Then I realized I hate war stories and epistolary novels, so.

I wrote it first as a short story for a terrible contest I used to have with my Clarion West ’08 buddies, where we would write as many stories as we possibly could for about a month and then end up hating each other at the end.

What genre does your book fall under?
I pitched it as literary fantasy. Whatever genre George Saunders is. Saunders-ary fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I love this game! Here’s what I’m thinking at the moment for a few of the characters:

Christoph Waltz as Teeny

William H Macy as Boston

Anjelica Huston as Fiona

Richard Jenkins as Walter

Julianne Moore or Meryl Streep as Penelope

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Teeny, who was once the world’s finest Gentleman Adventurer — and who, like the rest of his kinsmen, stands no taller than a cocktail fork — is given the opportunity to go one final adventure to save his good name, find his lost love, and discover the true nature of his people’s origins, but finds instead that in this new world, dangers lurk in places that he could have never anticipated, and proving his own relevance is the very least of his problems.

(I’ll admit I cobbled this together from a two paragraph synopsis. My apologies for its clunkiness and many commas.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. And when I say that, it makes me feel like I’m introducing a British lord, which maybe I am. Trumpets and trilled R’s!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
First draft? I want to say it took about 8 months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Indiana Jones meets Gulliver’s Travels? Can I do that?

George Saunders’ books. Kelly Link’s stuff.  Sherlock Holmes for sure, and some of the older adventure books like Around the World in 80 Days. I’m also going to say Kurt Vonnegut, though that might be wishful thinking.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was in an awful rut at the time and was just dying to have some kind of wild adventure, so I figured I’d write one. Plus I wanted to learn how to write a novel without putting too much pressure on myself, and this story seemed as good a starting point as any.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I want to BE these characters.  I’m jealous of them. If you’ve ever wanted to go to Morocco or Cuba or Paris, ride in a hot air balloon over the Atlantic, outwit an assassin, or search for priceless artifacts with your very best friend, then this story is your jam.

Now, I tag these authors to answer these same questions next Wednesday:
Oh let’s see.  I know these guys are working on stuff and I want to know what it is:

Kira Walsh: Multidisciplinary genius and baker of elaborate matryoska desserts.

Shane Hoversten: Neuroscientist, cat lover, champion eater.

Pamela Rentz: Organizational whiz, grower of impressive vegetables, charmingly grumpy Karuk

Is this thing on…?

I’ve been avoiding this website like I avoid my voicemail…

But there are a few pieces of housekeeping (I imagine mostly for my own benefit, at this point, which is silly because being me, I already know these things):

1. I’m traveling! Check out my travel photos and commentary on my Tumblr page (which I actually do update regularly, unlike certain blogs I know).

2. I plan to reconfigure this website so that it’s less blog-focused at some point in the next year or so! Hopefully someday I will have writerly news to post on it, and perhaps something else interesting TBD.

3. Speaking of writerly news, I have an agent! Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency has graciously offered to be the front lines of my novel-selling army, though I could have probably come up with a better metaphor. Hopefully our super-duo will have yet more news in the coming months.

4. Oh and! Stay tuned for the publication of my short story “Camouflage” in some 2013 edition of Kaleidotrope.


So much news! I should go on a six month vacation more often.

Keeping up with carnivores.

This started as something else entirely.

Not really sure what to do with these. Use as pot holders? Stuff in strangers’ pockets? Hide them in plastic easter eggs?

Right now they’re on the coffee table, next to my feet and a neglected guitar tuner.

Improv Embroide-poetry

Today I bought one of those embroidery hoop thingies, some thread,  cut up an old shirt, and decided to write a poem.

At first I thought I’d write it first and then sew it, but then I decided just to make it up as I went along. Hence the “improv.”

The inspiration was an article that the ever-inspiring An Owomoyela linked to. I was particularly drawn to this section:

4. Use your hands

…I think the more that writing is made into a physical process, the better it is. You can feel the ink on paper. You can spread writing all over your desk and sort through it. You can lay it all out where you can look at it.

Oh and also this one:

5. Side projects and hobbies are important

…By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.

So? Well… my embroidery is terrible (never done it before) and my poetry is worse (though not as bad as that diary filled with poems from high school) but it felt good. Really good. Can’t wait to do another one.


Advice and the giving of it

I’ve been writing a novel for almost three months now, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m an expert at novel writing. In other words — you can pretty much take my words as the gold standard on this particular endeavor and success, women, and riches will inevitably be showered upon your person.

Wouldn’t that be nice to hear? I’d love some definitive advice on novel writing. But it isn’t to be. Each novel, they say, is different. Each writer is different. Each writer is different while writing each different novel. How irritating is that? So I found when I turned to Twitter for advice on whether or not to start editing my novel from the beginning before finishing the first draft.  The resounding answer? Yes! And also: No!

What’s a girl to do? I decided to do both. When I feel inspired to write new stuff, I plow ahead in the rough draft. I’m not much of an outliner, not yet anyway, so I usually set my sights on a distant plot point and try to swim steadily toward it. When I’m feeling more analytical, I take a look at my first chapter, ripping it up, writing new stuff, taking notes, thinking about character. And you know, this method has been working really well for me. It satisfies both my need to create new stuff and to feel like I’m making progress toward a story that actually makes sense and that I wouldn’t be upset about the world seeing if I got run over by a bus.

I’ve also been steering clear of buses, just in case.

But of course, if there’s any advice to be given about writing, it’s that no one way works for everybody. And I’m always open to new ideas… so does anyone have new ideas to share? What writing/editing combo works for you in shorts or long stuff? How much has the advice of others worked for you?

Support Our Zines Day!

Happy Support Our Zines Day! As the proud parent of one of these ‘zines, I can’t tell you how important it is that we all (writers and non-writers alike) continue to read and financially support short story zines.  I feel a little bit like a panhandler with a Starbucks cup in downtown Chicago, trying to stand out in the crowd as the one worthy of your change, but whether you support Brain Harvest or any of the scores of other worthy zines, I hope you will do something.

Caren, Shane, and I started Brain Harvest in March of this year with nothing but a vision of the kind of weird fiction we wanted to read, an awesome website, and some change in our pockets. We’re lucky in that BH doesn’t have much overhead (as a flash fic market with no print counterpart), but it’s too expensive for us to pay for all on our own, being aspiring un- and underemployed writers ourselves. But we are adamant in our desire to provide a quality pro-rate market to our community. And so we rely on the generosity of our loyal readers to help us through.

Because of this low overhead, even a donation of $5 is huge. $10 gets you a hand-knitted mustache (by yours truly — see Paypal link on the main page. You can also send donations directly to our Paypal account at fresheyes(at)brainharvestmag(dot)com)). $25 gets you a critique by one of us (and ask our Clarion West classmates — we’re pretty damn good at critiquing). So if you like what we do and want us to keep doing it, won’t you chip in?

And while you’re at it, check out what our other comrades are producing — make a point to read and comment on at least 2 online stories today! And check out this page to see what more you can do, if donating just isn’t in the cards for you.

Long live the short fiction zine!

Time to pre-order your copy of *Things We Are Not*!

It’s official! The book looks gorgeous, and if you pre-order the print copy you get a sweet deal — it’s only $16.95 including shipping, and you also get a one year (12 issue) subscription to M-Brane SF (a $12 value)… starting with issue #9, which is the issue with my story “Wildlife” in it! You can also pre-order a PDF of the book for $6.99 if you prefer an electronic copy.

Check out all the details here. This is going to be a fabulous book… I can’t wait to get my copy so I can read the shit out of these stories!

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