Posts Tagged With: publishing

restoration ecology

A year of big changes, many of them good, has meant stretching in unexpected ways. Experiencing an emptier, quieter household after sending a kid off to college. Becoming busier as an educational consultant. Listening to a body that seemed drawn to injury for the better part of three seasons. Learning about what it means to be a good bee “mama” over winter when we lost both hives (and were left with 60+ pounds of surprising, delicious honey).

There’s more that’s not worth reporting here, and there was enough of it that my fiction life is one I threw under the bus. Often, I write in spite of frustration and anger, but not this year.

Still, I’m always writing in my head, and I’m hoping now that I’ve sat down again to make words, those stories I’ve been percolating about will present themselves. I’m hoping they’ll turn up, ready to show me what they’ve been up to after being kept from the page. Not unlike all those jars of honey we’ve processed which was meant to feed bees through the winter and instead feeds us.

While I dive in to crafting new stories, I’m grateful and delighted about an old story new to world at Sundog Lit.

You can read it here.

Sundog’s editors helped shape this piece and encourage me to see what I couldn’t, and I’m honored, thrilled, and tickled they said yes.

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Categories: fiction, publishing, short story, writing | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

stories in the world

Much gratitude to JuxtaProse for including “Shelter in Place” in a recent issue. They were amazing to work with, and I’m thrilled to be invited to the party of authors they assembled. You can read that piece here.

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If you’re not sick of me after that, you can check the most recent book review of Paolo Bacigalupi‘s The Water Knife here.

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Thanks, always, for checking in to this space. I aim to end the year writing, the same as I began it, and to make a dent in the pile of books I can’t wait to get lost in. Here’s to stories of all kinds and the way they shore us up in hard times, plant the seeds of change, and inspire us to be better humans.

 

 

Categories: book review, books, fiction, short story | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

evel

Last month I took my daughter Riley to a soccer tournament in Twin Falls, the town where Evel Knievel tried to jump the Snake River in 1974. Denied the chance to attempt a leap over the Grand Canyon, Evel had learned a thing or two about bureaucracy. In order to pull off his dream in Idaho, he leased land of either side of the river and built a a ramp on one side, hoping the trajectory of this slope would propel his special steam-powered rocket with enough momentum to shoot the mile-wide gap. He was unsuccessful, poor bugger. His parachute deployed early and down he went, just missing the water, landing on the same side of the river as the jump, and breaking his nose.

Between soccer games, Riley and I hiked to what’s left of the earthen ramp. Still ramp-like in formation, it’s nonetheless a “structure” you might miss without the signs. After all the hype around town about its genesis, it’s a little underwhelming, a monument insufficient in a lot of ways to represent how Evel’s schemes riveted the country then. As a kid, I paid attention to Evel’s antics, his spangled costumes, his thousands of broken bones.

Now, above the Snake River, base jumping’s the thing. Around the bend from Evel’s ramp, jumpers hurl themselves from the Perrine Bridge, many GoPro-ing their falls, each of them hoping no parachute malfunction will deliver certain death, which happens often enough. One guy I talked with, who’d just come back from Malaysia where he’d jumped off the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur (twice the height of the Perrine Bridge), told me the Perrine jump was dangerously short.

Riley and I watched twenty or so jumpers that day. It was terrifying to watch. I can’t imagine the terror of free falling. The week after we left town two jumpers died when their chutes failed to deploy.

Somehow, Evel survived all those stunts he performed and died instead from lung disease in 2007 at the age of 69.

For at least a decade, Evel’s been a household name at our house. It seemed right to make the time to visit one of his jump sites and talk about how what seems crazy to one person means inspiration, passion, and desire to another.

In the way the world is spectacularly weird so much of the time, while we were on this trip Flyway Journal of Writing and Environment said yes to my essay “Evel Kind of Love,” which you can read here.

Deepest gratitude to Flyway for including me in June’s issue.

 

 

Categories: family, publishing, writing | Tags: , | 8 Comments

saltfront

 

saltfront cover - Issue 3

saltfront cover – Issue 3

Deepest gratitude to the editors at saltfront for including me in Issue 3. It’s hot off the presses and gorgeous.

Out of Salt Lake, ecological storytelling is this journal’s jam. I’m thrilled they said yes to my story “The Leaving Half.” About a Japanese-American girl working at a gas station mini-mart across the street from a pulp mill, the story’s also about loss and love, destruction and preservation.

Sorry online readers, to read Issue 3 means buying these pages and treating yourself to some really lovely poetry, art, and fiction. I promise supporting this small band of literary soldiers will be worth it.

Here’s a teaser:

More than this, there was his art sprung from the skins of what he purchased at the Timber Mart.  The plastic triangular casings from pre-made refrigerated sandwiches. Little Debbies or gum or hamburger wrappers.  Unsettling at first, the found objects that boomeranged back to her, origamied as fish or birds, others cut and collaged into tiny landscapes.  Most she carried to her apartment and staged on the bookshelf opposite her futon couch, where she could sit and examine his puzzling presence.  On tender days when she felt most alone, she’d rearrange the tableau of his art.  Tug gently on the folded wings of the birds, willing them to fledge and soar above her, their flight a glorious transformation, weightless.

 

 

 

Categories: fiction, publishing, short story, writing | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

humdinger

ShenandoahWashington and Lee University’s literary magazine whose contributing authors often appear among winners of prizes like the Pushcart and O. Henry, has done two things right this year:  publishing Heather E. Goodman’s story “Humdinger” in the spring, and then selecting her as the co-winner of their annual Shenandoah Fiction Prize.

A story of two friends, Beth and “Henry,” the sort of women I want to be when I’m much older – gritty, outdoorsy, fierce – “Humdinger” is also about love and loss, the complicated tangle of the human heart’s desires, human restraint and recklessness.  And ice fishing, which is fantastic.

Here’s hoping this story will go on to reach a wider audience and win other prizes.

Meanwhile, read Goodman’s story here.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: fiction, publishing, short story, writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

loft

www.loft.org

 

Many thanks to the Loft Literary Center for the invitation to write about creativity and how I try to keep that motor running.

You can check out my post here at the Loft’s Writers’ Block site, where lots of folks smarter than me are noodling about all sorts of topics related to writing.

Also check out Heather’s post from a few weeks ago.  I’m tickled we’re in the same virtual space together.

 

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resurrection

As she often does, in her latest story “The Resurrections” published at Terrain, Heather E. Goodman writes about complicated relationships that are real, gritty, honest.  Her characters muck around in each other’s hearts and on the land, aiming for grace, yearning to be understood, seeking forgiveness and sometimes getting it.  There’s palpable tenderness rising up out of this hardscrabble life etched by a series of deaths.

The narrator grieves the death of his wife Elna, of his father, of the business he and his father built together, of his youth and the loss of a young man’s full life.  “The Resurrections” isn’t a long story, but it’s stitching is both intricate and simple, giving the impression that Goodman knows exactly what it’s like to be a grieving widower, an older man on a threshold between a past he can’t do anything about and the awakening knowledge that he’s got enough life left in him to hope for the future.

Goodman’s prose is spare, always, and prismed here with the flinty winter landscape and a friendship that resolves to thaw itself nonetheless.  Even the animals have agency and longing, evident in the hound dog Beagle who can’t seem to help digging up his dead friend Smokey, a cat.

Delicious fiction.  Read it.  It’s the sort of story you’ll carry with you.

 

 

Categories: book review, fiction, nature, publishing, short story, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

lemon queen

This spring has been full of firsts.  Spotting meadowlarks and mountain bluebirds.  Watching a pair of screech owls raise their clutch. Rescuing a kitten from the engine of my car (a story on its way in another post) that rode around smashed on top of the manifold for at least 75 miles and lived to tell about it.

Of course, the explosion of life in the natural world is largely about work done behind the scenes beforehand, which is the case with so many other things, and also with fiction.

Blue Earth Review has been kind enough to say yes to publishing “The Lemon Queen” in their latest Spring Issue, Volume 12.  As always, I’m deeply grateful and tickled that another creation is out in the world.

BER Volume 12

 

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depth perception

Deep and sincere thanks to Matthew Limpede and the staff at Carve Magazine, who said yes to including the story “Depth Perception” in their Spring 2014 Premium Edition.  I’m in great company in these pages and ever grateful for the chance to be there.

 

2014_1 spring.png

Categories: fiction, gardening, outdoors, publishing, short story, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

it’ll keep you up at night, and it’s worth it

At our house, buying a hardback book is a big event.  We splurge when authors we adore publish something new and we can’t possibly wait our turn at the library or for the paperback.  We’ll also get our wallets out for the promise of a read we can’t resist.  Not being able to resist was the impulse behind acquiring Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things.

Signature of all Things

In full disclosure, I never read Eat, Pray, Love.  Then and now, I rankle at the gimmick of it, at the way Gilbert pitched to her publisher a trip for healing from divorce; in three countries she’d search for love and spirituality and then write a book about it.  What really chapped my hide, in truth, was the notion that a pre-planned and pre-paid guide to healing was a self-helpish story to tell rather than a private journey.  I’m pretty sure enlightenment isn’t something you can decide to acquire, nor a thing you can pay for.  Probably I’m jealous and kind of a bitch and resistant to popular things. Divorce is shitty, to be sure, and Gilbert likely wanted to crawl in a hole and hide but resisted, but it’s been my experience that both love and spirituality are quests you can’t engage in with a head and heart full of lists and expectations.  Love and enlightenment come winging at you when you’re NOT questing, when you’re vulnerable and off-guard and open to the great mystery of being alive.

That almost every woman I knew was in a hot lather over how amazing and life-changing the book was, one they felt made them more thoughtful and stronger as a woman (a comment I heard repeatedly), only made me want to read it less.  And then even less during Gilbert’s 187 week stint on the New York Times Bestseller List.  And then even less when her story of love and spirituality became a movie (also pre-paid, I’d imagine).

Still, I was intrigued by the mission of Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, by its ambitious romp through more than a century and across the globe, and also worried that she had “gotten” to the idea of my own novel, at least a little, before I’m finished with it.  She didn’t, I’m safe there, not that we’d be allowed in the same literary room anyway, honestly, unless I’m asking for her autograph.  But this much I believe to be true:  Elizabeth Gilbert’s book will, or should be, on the list to win the Pulitzer this year.

Gilbert’s Henry Whittaker is a plant thief in 18th century England, grifting the plants and clients of his father’s employer at Kew Gardens, making his mark in the world one small exotic cutting at a time, and then transplanting himself to Philadephia to build his own botanical pharmaceutical dynasty.  Henry’s daughter Alma inherits this vast network of wealth and her father’s love of plants. A polyglot, a seeker of wild places, a solitary child, Alma gets her mother’s sharp intelligence and curiosity, and also a reserve that renders her emotionally daft in the world.  And then there’s Alma’s figure, big and strong as a man’s, and her face, tragically plain, anything but feminine, next to the stunning beauty of her adopted sister Prudence.  Such is the stage upon which Gilbert sets her tale.

And what a stage it is.  What rises to the surface, above every disappointment heaped upon heartbreak for every character, not just for Alma, is the utter loneliness braiding these characters together, and the way they soldier on in the name of survival.  For, of course, their fates are as connected as those of any Dickensian tale.  Also, pinging around the edges of the narrative are Darwin’s theories, after all.  Alma attempts to understand the human condition inside science, seeking to crack the code of what makes mosses, a microcosm of the natural world, work in order to understand people and the way they love.  There’s scientific genius in her, which a reader believes because Gilbert’s clearly done her homework, but Alma’s quest is also driven by her own aching heart.

It’s not a flawless tale, especially toward the end when we see where Gilbert’s headed with Alma, but the choices the writer makes for her are true to the story, or more to the point, true to the Alma with whom we’ve spent so many years.

For a few days now, I’ve been unable to pick up another book.  I’m still steeping in the delicious sting of Gilbert’s story, which I took my time to read because I knew I’d be sad when it was over.  I am.

Buy it in hardback.  Read it, but not too fast.  Alma’s yearning interior and lush exterior worlds will keep you up at night.

A few reviews are here if you still don’t believe me.

Barbara Kingsolver in The New York Times

Elizabeth Day in The Guardian

Categories: book review, books, fiction, publishing, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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