I’ve had a busy summer non-writing wise, so apologies for not updating as much as I should. Here’s what I got going on.
- I’m hosting my first show in almost four months over at Lil Indies in Orlando. Loose Lips has transitioned over to Burrow Press and rather than have one dedicated host, they’ll have guest hosts each month. More details are over here.
- Neil and Other Stories has received some really killer reviews. Here’s where you can find them. You should buy a copy if you haven’t already:
- I’ve had a bunch of stuff come out lately. Here’s all the links to them if you wanna check them out:
I am thrilled that my story “Civil Engineering” made Wigleaf’s Top 50. I made this list two years ago and was long listed last year. Making the list the first time made me feel like I made it as a flash fiction writer. Doing it again is a real treat. I strongly recommend you check out the whole anthology over here.
I’m always looking for new ways to promote my book, Neil and Other Stories and instead of a video game, I came up with an e-learning based on one of the job aids in the book. It’ll take you about 10-15 minutes to complete. Check it out here: How to Burn a Bridge Job Aid.
Here are some recent pieces of flash fiction that came out:
I’ll be in Jacksonville on June 30 for a reading with some Orlando and Jacksonville writers. For more details, click here.
I taught my first intro level flash fiction workshop this past Saturday at the Orlando Public Library. The format of my workshop was as follows:
- Intro / what each person wanted to get out of the workshop
- Read a flash piece and discuss. The flash piece in question was Janey Skinner’s “Carnivores“, a favorite of mine.
- Based on the discussion of “Carnivores”, I created a checklist from the participants observations of how good flash fiction should behave. Here’s a picture of it. Good flash fiction should:
- Be 1,000 words or fewer
- Make what is unsaid as important as what’s said
- Make every word count
- Constantly move
- Contain a narrative arc (though small)
- Straddle the line between poetry and fiction
- Keep characters to a minimum (2-3)
- I pointed out the participants that other than the word count, these rules are meant to be broken. “Carnivores” has a lot of moving pieces in such a small space but it works beautifully.
- I then had the participants read Jeffery McDaniels “The Quiet World”. I’ve used this poem before to talk about what poetry can teach us about flash fiction. Based on the checklist, most of the participants agreed with how I saw “The Quiet World“; it functions as a piece of flash fiction.
- The second half of the workshop, I had them do Kathy Fish’s “Fifty Sentences” exercise to generate their own writing prompts and then they all ended up writing the beginnings of a first draft of flash fiction from one of those sentences.
I’m probably going to switch up the first story the next time I do an intro level flash fiction workshop but I felt like it went well.
I got another really nice review for Neil & Other Stories from the Independent Book Review. They were nice enough to make one of my quotes into a Instagram post. You can read the review over here.
Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit published an excerpt of my novella-in-flash 99 Stories of God With a Chainsaw. They combine lit with art. You can check out what they did with it below.
I also had a piece of flash fiction published in hence, tirade, Robocup Press’s monthly online magazine. To read all of it, subscribe to their Patreon over here.
I’ll be appearing at the Local Author Festival on Sunday, May 20 over at the Orlando Public Library from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. You can check out more details over here.
I’ve got a really busy Saturday ahead of me this week.
At 2:00 PM, I’m teaching an Intro to Flash Fiction Workshop over at the Orlando Public Library and it’s free. More details about it are over here.
I celebrate my book launch later at 7:00 PM over at The Nook on Robinson. I’m going to have two virtual readers, Jane-Rebecca Cannarella and Brian Alan Ellis. More details to be announced on the Facebook invite, which is here.
Hope to see you at one of these this Saturday.
And if you can’t make either of these, get your copy of Neil & Other Stories over here or here.
My first full length flash fiction collection, Neil & Other Stories, will be coming out on May 1. Check out the cover below.
I’m really excited to finally have this book out in the world and I can’t wait for y’all to read it. You can preorder your copy here. If you’re not sure whether you should pre-order it, check out this review from Heavy Feather Review.
To promote the book, I also made a Bitsy game based on one of the stories, “Kyle”. You can play it here.
I wrote something for Ghost Parachute about making Bitsy games and Twine games, which you can read here.
I’ve got some new flash fiction over in the Cabinet of Heed in their special flash fiction issue, which you can read over here.
My new job has kept me really busy. I haven’t gone out as much or produced as many shows I have in the past, and I think that’s because my professional life has been challenging in a good way. It’s been a long time that I’ve been this challenged and I needed it.
I’m still writing though. I’m currently working on a new novel titled A Farewell to Arms With a Chainsaw, which you can see the drafts in progress on my Instagram feed. Eventually, I’ll produce my next Saturday Night Special. I just need to regain focus to those aspects of my life I’ve let lapse.
I’ve had a lot of stuff come out over the last few months, so I’m going to only focus on one in particular.
White Knuckle Chapbooks put out an e-chapbook of 10 of my ribcage poems. I remixed these in a prose format. Click here to read it.
I’ll be in Tampa next week for AWP and I’ll be part of a panel for the first time. The information is below if you happen to be doing that kind of a thing.
Earlier this year, I wrote my second novel (See: July Update for more details) and I am pleased to announce that it’s been named a semi-finalist for YesYes Books first open fiction reading period. I’ll have until November 1 to clean it up and submit it but this was a really nice surprise. Below is a list of all the semi-finalists.
I am currently working on three additional projects, because that’s what I do to channel my energy and keep myself distracted from the ever growing dire political situation. They are as follows:
- I’ve been working on a wrestling novel now for about 34 days. I’ve taken a similar approach to the second novel where I’ve been posting first drafts twice a day, every day. I haven’t been as strict as doing this every day because I’m having a harder time figuring out where this one is going, where I figured out pretty quick where Teenage Wasteland but I think it’s getting there. If you aren’t following along on my Instagram feed, you can do that here.
- One is a wrestling novel and the other is a collection of flash fiction called 99 Stories of God With a Chainsaw, which is a response to Joy Williams’s 99 Stories of God. I’m a huge advocate of flash fiction so I read whatever I can, especially when it comes to writers who are regarded as flash fiction writers of the first tier. I did not like 99 Stories of God at all. It wasn’t quite like Diane Williams’s flash fiction (which her idea of flash fiction seems to be micro-episodes of Ren & Stimpy but with 95% more white people) but there was a lack of an emotional connection for me in reading these stories. They were more interested in being clever than telling an actual story. This one I’m also doing daily but not sharing them unless they are published somewhere. You can read two of them below:
- I’ve started a separate Twitter and Instagram for my Extinction Porn micro-stories. I stumbled onto this idea after The Atlantic responded to the New York Magazine article about how doomed we are from a climate change perspective and The Atlantic called the New York Magazine “extinction porn”. I’ve never heard the phrase before and decided to play with it. Here’s one of them below.
You can follow the Twitter feed here.
Here’s some stuff that’s come out over the last month or two:
If you followed my Instagram feed from mid-February from late May, you may have noticed that I was posting about 500 or so words of content every day for 98 days. I’ve been depressed about the current presidential administration and I needed do something to cope with this depression and with this coping mechanism, I ended up writing a second novel, which I didn’t plan or expect to do this year, let alone any year, but as if all of my projects, the ideas are stumbled upon.
When I set out to start this project, I remember something Ben Tanzer told me or said on a podcast about how he wrote anywhere (typically during his commutes to and from work) and I took that method to heart when I started down the path of writing this novel, using Google Docs to write on my iPad, even my iPhone. Instagram kept me accountable about making sure I got my 500+ words in daily. Writing in this way was out of my comfort zone but it was worth doing, and I think that’s important for any creative person is to do things that makes them uncomfortable.
Here are some excerpts of the novel (I’m calling it Teenage Wasteland: An American Love Story until an editor suggests otherwise.)
I also have some other flash fiction over in Flash Flood, which you can read here.
Also FIVE:2:ONE published some of my ribcage poems, which you can read here.
Today’s a day of remembrance here in Orlando over the Pulse mass shootings. There are several articles and tributes that are more articulate than anything I can say about it, like these ones below:
What I’m going to provide instead are some suggestions of how you can also remember the Orlando 49:
- Vote for political candidates who believe in common sense gun control across local, state, and national elections (who also have a chance of winning).
- Donate time and/or money to a local LGBTQIA organization. I donate somewhat regularly to the Zebra Coalition. This is an organization that provides support and resources to LGBTQIA youth (13-24). These are young people who are often at the most risk of being made homeless or subjected to violence by family members who disagree with who their children love.
- Keep fighting for what you believe in.
At the beginning of There Will Be Words (May 2011), there wasn’t anything like it. There were prose readings happening either on local college campuses that weren’t well advertised or occurring amongst insular writing groups but prose didn’t really have a public perception in Orlando. Prior to this, I ran a poetry slam from January 2001 to April 2011. In 2001, there was an open mic or two that was dedicated to poetry/spoken word, or events that happened on local college campuses, but most of the open mics were dedicated to music of the singer/songwriter variety. Over the ten years of running a slam, spoken word/poetry emerged and there was a spoken word/poetry show almost every night of the week in Orlando. Towards the end of the poetry slam, less people became interested in it, and I felt there were two factors behind it:
- Frequency: the slam was weekly and that’s a high demand from your audience to keep coming week in and week out. Some slams are able to do this based on their location and fanbase. There were some weeks that we had a very lean turnout and other weeks that we had a good turnout. I was stubborn and thought that the show needed to happen every week, too, not knowing any better.
- Saturation: the slam started out being something special early on, something new, and it attracted attention. We hit our initial peak when we sent our first team to the National Poetry Slam and then people lost interest because the team didn’t do well. We worked our way back up to getting a dedicated base that stuck around for awhile. As the years went on, more spoken word/poetry shows emerged, and they provided an alternative venue for performers who didn’t want to compete in slam, who felt more comfortable in the safety of an open mic, and they didn’t need the slam. We also hit our second peak from 2009-2010 when the 2009 team went to the semifinals for the first time at the National Poetry Slam. When the 2010 team didn’t match the previous team’s progress, people lost interest again. I tried switching the show from weekly to monthly and it struggled with attendance. I should have known when hardly anyone came to the tenth anniversary show that the slam was officially dead. Two months later, when no one came to the monthly slam (partially because it took place on St. Patrick’s Day), I decided it was time to end it and move on.
I embraced these lessons learned when I started There Will Be Words, doing a monthly show, curating the readings, making it something special. But even with the monthly frequency, saturation came back. More reading series and pop-up literary events have happened over the last six years and There Will Be Words has been struggling with attendance for awhile. It’s a great problem that Orlando has evolved from a literary perspective where we have a wide array of literary events that are actually known by the general public.
I’ve been revitalized as of late running the occasional poetry slam, partially because of the audience-as-judges element, partially because I’m not sending teams or individuals to national competitions. I’ve made it fun by introducing a title belt component and taking a three-ring circus approach. I’m moving There Will Be Words towards a direction that integrates the poetry and the prose into it, and where I do it three or four times a year, rather than doing this show monthly. I need to make this event special again so I can get people to come out, to support it.
Here’s what I’ve had come out as of late