Monday, February 28, 2005

Check It Out!

Jen's lit mag is up for the spring... and it looks great! It's good to know that spring is here, even though we've had quite the blast of winter today here in the DC area... (although for the most part it was a no show). Check it out if you get a chance!

Do I have any literary stuff going on at the moment? Not hardly. Between being sick for what, almost two weeks and buying my new computer, it's all been fairly rudimentary around here. I did start Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, which of course makes me think that my own childhood of punk rock was just not that punk rock. Ha...

Anyway, having the new computer also implies that I will have to begin transferring all my writing-related files over, etc. Meanwhile, I haven't heard a peep from any of the literary mags that are holding my stories at the moment.

And, on Thursday I'll be leaving for my trip to New Orleans! I can hardly wait, and I hope to take copious notes. :)

Bye for now,


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Buyers Remorse

All right, I haven't been able to get much done lately but I am about to go get my new iBook (knock on wood). I'm already having a bit of buyers remorse and I haven't even bought it yet. It's just so much money to lay down and I don't even have the full amount of cash so I'm going to have to use the credit card and then pay off as much of that portion as possible... but it certainly stands to reason that there are times when you've just got to bite the bullet. I kind of feel like if I don't do it now, it will just never get done. I have already explained ad nauseum that I have known I needed a new computer for years now, so there's no time like the present.

Hopefully I can get it set up with a minimum of trouble. But I know I may be computerless for a time.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Yes, I'm a Loser!

Yeah... what a week. Why am I a loser? I didn't make the Notable Stories in the storySouth Million Writers competition. Just kidding -- I know it was good to be nominated.

Why else am I a loser? I missed my long-awaited reunion dinner with Jen on Tuesday. This cold has lasted more than a week, and I still felt crappy Tuesday (and canceled all extracurricular activities for this week as of Tuesday when I realized I wasn't even going to make it through a full day's work, much less dinner out). I haven't done a full day's work since LAST Tuesday because of the cold. And maybe some of you have noticed that I haven't even been blogging... I've been coughing, blowing my nose constantly, and exhausted.

So, everybody, avoid getting whatever it is that's been going around, it's a killer.


Sunday, February 20, 2005


Well, seeing how I have a few short stories that are late in responses, it brought to mind one of the themes of the last year or so -- where lit mags will say that they are on hiatus or have long response times (recall my post about McSweeney's with my 20-month wait), which means they take much longer to respond than posted.

Are there more fiction writers out there now? Is it that so many now have electronic submission processes? I guess my biggest theory is that during the recession, lots of writers got back to writing as opposed to concentrating on their day jobs. During the recession, I was out of work twice, and then underemployed for a year, which resulted in a steep curve of productivity for me, fiction-wise.

I also think it's arguable that during the recession, lots of people transferred loyalty from the companies they worked for to the things they enjoyed with their free time -- whether that might be families or loved ones, or something they feel close to, like writing fiction.

Anyway, my sense is the competition is steeper than ever, despite the fact that the Internet has spawned a lot of new markets for short fiction.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, February 18, 2005

To Renew, or Not to Renew?

I'm referring to my subscription to Poets & Writers. I guess I will renew, since it does provide updates to markets, but sometimes I get so annoyed...

This month's big feature was "A Room With a View," a look at writers' retreats that they put together every year. I don't know, all I could think of was, who the heck are these writers who can afford to go to these writers' retreats all the time? I've never quite gotten that.

Of course, it reminded me of the hilarious story "Auden's Toothbrush," by Lucinda Ebersole, in one of the issues of Gargoyle I read over recent months.

Anyway, writers' retreats always strike me as something very "old school," where a bunch of people who have money to burn go to be pretentious and name drop and network and get their egos stroked. Or they're all part of the old-school network and so they're kind of preaching to the choir or something. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. Also, I'm betting there's big money in writers' retreats, but again, I don't know who these people are who have all this money, not to mention time, for retreats.

The issue was fairly lackluster, the best article being "Imperative: An Argument for Writers Taking Charge," by Johnny Temple. I guess the biggest reason I liked this article about indie publishers is because this guy was local, and started Akashic Books with Mark and Bobby Sullivan, both of whom I am familiar with because when I was a teenager, I used to go see their bands, like Kingface and Soulside, play. If you like punk or emocore, you'd best try to get some Kingface and Soulside, those were great bands and part of the D.C. Dischord scene. But anyway, the article was interesting and like I said, really the only thing I enjoyed about the entire issue.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Black Clock

I checked out Black Clock's site and I have to say, it looks cool, and I'm certainly interested in getting my hands on a copy, though I've never run across it on any shopping excursions. I believe Hebdomeros has posted favorably about it in the past.

However, I was a little disappointed when it said on the Web site that there's no open call for submissions for Black Clock. That just got me a little riled up, as a writer. I know that there are many respected publications that mostly take agented fiction, or fiction from authors they solicit themselves, but for some reason, to so baldly state that they're not interested in perhaps finding some emerging new talent, just really rubbed me the wrong way.

Maybe it's just me...


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Rejected

If anybody remembers the old movie Suburbia, a punk rock anthem in film form, the kids all called themselves "TR" -- The Rejected.

Anyway, the 2005 Novel and Short Story Writers Market had a neat feature about rejection, by Will Allison. He talks about the business of being rejected, and culls from his experiences as an editor at now-defunct Story magazine, as well as a writer in his own right.

He backed up a lot of the stuff I already suspected -- any personalized rejection is good, for example, but also pointed out that a rejection always means the editor doesn't like it enough to publish it. However, he softened that blow by stating that what holds the most weight is when an editor asks to see more of your work.

He also supported my theory of the "tiered" rejections -- form rejections with varying forms of meaning, some better than others, as well as the idea that if it's taking a while to hear back, that likely means it is working its way to other editors at the same publication and might mean that it is seriously being considered.

Most of it is pretty obvious, but it's nice to get some backup. Now, I've got to go and take care of this cold. It's a whopper.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Not a Million...

... but close! Well, not close at all, but statistically speaking...

It turns out that that storySouth Million Writers Award won't announce finalists until Feb. 22. There have been 1,200 nominations, so they're still reading through them, I guess. 1,200 is twice as many as last year, so obviously, this little competition has taken off a bit over the last year. That says good things about the Web, as well as marketing. (It was highlighted in USA Today last year, and also has a piece in the 2005 Novel and Short Story Writers Market.

So, odds are I won't make finalist but it's nice to worry about it for an additional week, hahaha.

In other news, I have no news, other than the feeling that I have caught a sudden cold. Getting run down over the past couple weeks was not good to avoid illness.


Monday, February 14, 2005


All right, so even this is a writing-related blog, it sure doesn't hurt to talk music once in a while. Over the weekend, during my consumer spending frenzy, I picked up "eMOTIVe" by A Perfect Circle. It's an album that consists mostly of covers, with the themes of war, greed, and peace.

I wouldn't say every track blows the doors off, but it's pretty damn good regardless (in my humble opinion, of course). There's an eerie, pondersome version of Lennon's "Imagine," as well as covers of Black Flag's "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie," Depeche Mode's "People are People," and the like. Best of all, a kick-ass rendition of Fear's "Let's Have a War," as well as an awesome song called "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums."

Anyway, I just wanted to share.

Also, I had quite the weekend, writing-wise. Er, didn't actually write, but I can say that just about all my viable stories that aren't still works in progress have been submitted now. It's about 7 or 8 that are out there. So, fingers crossed. For a while there I had gotten terribly behind on the business of submitting, so it's good to feel like I can sit back for a while now.

Thanks for reading,


Happy Valentines Day!

And so, it was a rainy, foggy Valentines Day night, much like this one, about 7 years ago, when I struggled on a 2 hour rush-hour commute (should have been forty minutes, but ended up being that long because of the traffic and the inclement weather), when I arrived at my boyfriend's group house, only to find that the romantic evening wasn't going to be as romantic as I thought. He announced that he had dropped acid with his friend (male friend) which gave me the distinct impression that that guy was actually his real (albeit non-romantic) Valentine, and not me.

Granted, I guess he felt bad about that little debacle when he took me out to dinner the following year, and gave me a big bouquet of flowers, sans mind-altering drugs.

And we wonder why Valentines Day kind of makes me mad? I can't say I've had too many nice ones.

Anyway, I hope that everyone's having a nice Valentines Day! And that your lovers are living up to expectations. :) And if you currently don't have lovers, that you're happy with the wonderful person that you are, and know you know for sure you're not putting up with any BS next time around! ;)


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tea & Barrelhousing

I have to say I passed a lovely afternoon sitting down to read Barrelhouse and drinking some creamy Earl Grey tea.

I highly recommend Barrelhouse's debut issue. I thought it was solid and entertaining just about all the way through (with the possible exception of poetry but I guess you guys already know I'm just not the poetry type). I especially liked Metal Church by Matthew Kirkpatrick (which I believe is also on the site). That piece was just utterly amazing -- and hilarious. I think it speaks of Gen X quite nicely... how we fit in, how we sold out, how we rediscover who we want to be and come to terms with it, the things we'll do for love. All against the juxtaposition of the church of Heavy Metal. Highly, highly recommended.

Also of note, in my opinion, was Cool by David Barringer, Hope I Die, by David Starkey, and Partners by Paul Graham. The latter story required a great deal of suspension of disbelief on my part -- it's basically a story of the tension in a sexless marriage, which the male protagonist didn't actually know was going to be the case going in. I also had a hard time with infrequent POV shifts, so if I had been an editor I likely wouldn't have chosen it... but for the fact that it ends up being a pretty impactful story where suspension of disbelief was worth it.

Reality x Reality by Stacey Starkey, the only female contributor of short fiction in the tome, gave me a case of mixed feelings. It's really good -- I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, other than utter pop culture horror (although it kind of reminded me of a movie I saw, where a "reality webcast" was real) and quirkiness but I will say that it made me uncomfortable all the way through. Which certainly is not to say it's bad, but it gave me that sort of inward shudder. I also can't exactly say I liked the narrator, but it's definitely worth a read.

Also particularly enjoyable was the essay Burn Hollywood by Steve Almond.

Now, I will say, putting this head-to-head with Gargoyle and I'd still pick Gargoyle hands down. Metal Church was the closest thing to a piece that just blew me away. However, Barrelhouse is far superior (in my view, and I suppose mine might be a sort of Gen X view) to something like Glimmer Train. I'd also say I'd choose it over something like Tin House where in my experience, many of the pieces try too hard to be "intellectual" or "clever" or what have you, to the point of getting tedious at times.

In the long run, though, I think this mag could end up being very important, especially to those of us in DC. Nine bucks (eleven, with postage) might seem a little steep but again, it's nice to support a new publication.

Thanks for reading,


Jumping the Train

For any of you who wanted to try your hand at submitting to Night Train, the magazine's off hiatus and is now accepting submissions again as of this month, according to its Web site.

I also recently ordered the print edition of Barrelhouse, and it arrived via U.S. snail mail yesterday.

I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but the issue looks good from browsing through the pages. Ah, the wonders of desktop publishing. They've got a nice artistic look going on -- what they did with the layout of the pages kind of reminds me a bit of Tin House, in the effect that it doesn't look like a conservative literary quarterly. They got a little sassy with it.

I'll let you guys know how the issue is once I read it. I've still got a submission sitting over there with them, so we'll see how that goes as well. But it felt good to support a fledgling publication, at any rate.

Thanks for reading,


Business As Usual

Okay, after my egocentric couple of days I'm getting back to normal. I'm sure once Feb. 15 comes around and I don't get into the finalists for that award, it will all be business as usual, hee hee. It was nice to be nominated though.

So today I went on a consumer frenzy (ugh) and did break down and buy this year's Novel and Short Story Writer's Market. I have been kind of mean about it recently because I found myself so irritated with some of the things that were wrong in last year's version, but I think I'm already finding that they've done a better job updating it this time around.

For one, I flipped it open and there was a listing for Gargoyle. That magazine has been around for what, more than 20 years and I've never seen it listed before, so it's a step in the right direction. So I'm feeling a bit more hopeful -- I haven't had a chance to peruse it yet, though, because after the consumer frenzy I had to go to a party.

It's a birthday party I go to every year, but the kind of party where you inevitably only know a mere handful of people, so it can be a bit painful. I did get to talk to an astronomer which was cool, but other than that just stuck with the people I already knew. However, I had a panic attack at the end, because this guy showed up who I gave my email address to last year when he asked, and I never emailed him back. I know, that's like the meanest thing somebody could do, and I feel like a terrible person -- there's some better way to handle that sort of thing, like just tell the person straight up that you're not interested, but I wimped out. So then I made myself even meaner by avoiding him tonight. Not really one of my finer moments, then or now.

I don't know why I'm sharing that information. Boy, my life is fun. ;)

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Bad Habit, Good News

I have a bad habit -- occasionally I Google myself. It sounds so self-centered, but since I have fairly high exposure writing for my day job, I sometimes get a little worried that I'm being savaged on the Internet for some of my commentary. It still feels a bit self-centered though, like I'm some kind of closet egomaniac, but oh well, I do it and it's one of those dirty little secrets.

So, last night I indulged in the bad habit, and found out that one of my short stories apparently has been nominated for storySouth's Million Writers Award for 2004. Finalists are chosen on Feb. 15, I think, and I can't say I know all that much about the contest other than what I read here.

I suspect that the editor for the magazine that the story appeared in nominated the story, but it's funny that she didn't inform me (of course, there's always the possibility that it accidentally got swept up in spam deletions, I get a ton of spam in my inbox here at home). It's awfully nice of her though.

Anyway, the award itself is interesting on a big-picture level, when you take into account one of the issues facing modern literature, i.e., print vs. online -- it's definitely a bit of an "eff you" to all the "best of" anthologies. It was started with the premise that the most well-known "best of" anthologies largely ignore quality fiction that's published on the Web; that print is still considered the vanguard or whatever. Beyond that kind of controversy, it's a very nice idea to try to give some exposure to authors who have mostly been published on the Web.

Write on,


Friday, February 11, 2005


Okay, I feel like I've been run over with a steamroller this week, but last night I did get what seemed like a heartening rejection from StoryQuarterly. See excerpt below:

This fine, very strong story, [BLANK], received serious consideration here at StoryQuarterly. Finally we felt it wouldn’t work for us this time, always a subjective opinion, of course. Do know that we recognize our unavoidable biases and also feel that another editor will most likely snap up this fine fiction. Composing a large anthology becomes an artform itself and its pieces fit like a jigsaw puzzle. We look for subjects, styles and insights that balance, offset or enliven an overall book of many stories. Sometimes either subject matter, style or some prose experiments simply won’t fit with what we already have or with what we feel we need to complete our own annual opus. All this is to say we can only express gratitude to you for insuring that we receive such good work to consider. Our passion remains good fiction and its success depends on receiving wonderful choices, so we appreciate your interest and support of StoryQuarterly in this way. Best of luck on your own fine fiction, which we hope you’ll continue to share with us.

I guess in particular, I liked the first line. The rest kind of sounds like a form rejection though -- albeit, a nice one. What do you guys think? Anybody have any experience with sending fiction to these folks?

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Crush

Nope, this isn't about me stalking out some poor hapless guy who is the object of my affections. Rather, "the crush" refers to the feeling like my head's been in a vice all week.

Ha... it's been a tough, overly busy week at work. Not to complain too much about that of course, since I do love my job and it's just a fact of life. Last night I did my taxes (which would explain my lack of blogging) and tonight I treated myself to a haircut and a manicure. I'm usually not so girlie to get manicures, it happens maybe once a year, but I felt like I needed a treat. Of course I ruined one thumb within 5 minutes of leaving the salon...

So I had dinner with a friend after and we met up in Books-A-Million. I didn't see anything of note, really (rather shocking considering I was in a bookstore, for goodness' sake). They had their Valentines display up, which was a whole pile of books about relationships and then, of course, a huge display of wedding books. Ick. I have never seen so many wedding books in my life. Just too many. I guess it makes sense... maybe lots of people get engaged on Valentines Day and they wanted them ready for all those new brides-to-be on Feb. 15, but I was a little bummed out to find so little of note on the front tables (of course, it's also Books-A-Million which is generally not so rewarding in the first place). I just didn't realize there was going to be such a run on weddings this year....

I'm ashamed to admit that if they'd had the new Novel and Short Story Writers Market I probably would have broken down, if only out of sheer frustration, even though I've bitched about the last version right here on this blog. Alas, they had nothing.

Hope you're all having a good week, obviously my fiction pastime has taken a lull at the moment...


Monday, February 07, 2005

Migration... To What?

Okay, here's the next ridiculous step in my procrastination last night. After the Super Bowl, I heard that commercial for Nike Pro Apparel blaring on my TV -- I had heard it a week or so ago, and it freaked me out. Because I realized that this song they used was something in my music collection. Something that I would never, ever guess would be used in an ad. For sports gear????

This has been bugging me on and off. When I first heard it, I did a Google search. All I could find were articles and posts about the ad -- how it was "creepy" (use of masks) and had a "horror movie soundtrack."

Okay, so I had a lot of caffeine and a few cups of decaf green tea while I'd been working. And sat down and really thought about it. And thought. And thought.

I suspected perhaps NIN's "The Fragile." I skipped through that disc. No dice.

Second guess, after more concentration (me inwardly yelling at myself to think really freakin' hard) -- I got it. Cop Shoot Cop's album "Ask Questions Later." It's a song called "Migration." (Awesome album, by the way.)

I was shocked when I heard an Amon Tobin song being used to advertise a car recently. It was easier to deal with "Lust for Life" or "How Soon is Now" being used to advertise stuff.

Anyway, it's weird to hear something as obscure (at least, I thought it would be obscure) as "Migration" used in an ad. Weirder still to think that when HFS was still on the air, touting itself as "alternative," it wouldn't have played that song (it would have 10 years ago, when HFS was still good, of course) -- but a commercial will play it now? Odd, that.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Part Where I Procrastinate

Yep, I said earlier that I need to be doing writing -- for work. Yes, for work. So far, I've managed to do all kinds of shit that has nothing to do with the part of my work that is really looming.

Okay, I do have to give myself credit for working on the Valentines' Day feature piece, which is due tomorrow COB. That's progress. I should be able to clean that up the rest of the way at work tomorrow and turn it in, no problem.

However, of course, before I pat myself on the back too terribly much, there's also this really big-deal writeup I have to do -- complete with research -- and I haven't even started that. All I have done so far is print up the email with some of the important bullet points about the assignment. Print it up, stare at the computer screen, visit a blog. Stare at the sheet of paper, decide it's time to check my horoscope. Look at the paper, decide to write a blog post about procrastinating.

I really want to watch a movie or something. Or tend to my gouged thumb. Or sleep on the couch with the windows open with the springtime-like air blowing in.

Hmm... I hate this. Whenever something looms over my head, I'll find ninety other things I feel compelled to do before digging into it. I sit here thinking I should clean my room... No, No, NO! Of course I do need to clean my room, but not when I have a major assignment to work on. I need to get it at least halfway done before I can safely say to myself that I'll just finish it tomorrow at work...

I just wanted to share, and, of course, procrastinate by doing so.

I salute those of you who are doing something fun, like perhaps drinking some beer, eating some chips and ribs, and watching the Superbowl.


The Lost Weekend

Ever have a weekend where everything seems to go wrong? I guess it all started going wrong on Friday night, when I certainly didn't get much sleep. I woke up at 3am, and then at 5am there was a fire alarm in my apartment building and I got mauled by the cat (she freaked out at the prospect of the cat carrier). That scratch has been bleeding all weekend.

Anyway, so Saturday ended up being constantly running late and feeling out of sorts. I did have Japanese food with a friend, caught "Hide and Seek," stopped by another friend's juried art show where she had a piece in it, and then my roommate took me to dinner at a great restaurant in Old Town. It was a nice day but one of those days that just doesn't stop.

So, I have gotten nothing related to fiction accomplished. Over the last couple days, I did send a submission to Five Points and requested a free sample copy of WordWrights! And, was rejected by Missouri Review, pretty handily in fact. (It did take a few days longer than their requisite 15 business days, but not by much.)

Today I have to do some writing for work. Last week I just didn't get everything done, unfortunately. So I'll have my nose to the metaphorical grindstone for the Superbowl -- usually I have plans but for some reason, this year it was just not to be.

Hope everybody's having a great weekend,


Thursday, February 03, 2005

St. Vitus Dance

Okay, so I had a mini nervous breakdown at work today, when I found out the bands that are playing the Coachella Festival. Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Gang of Four...

All right, so it's a lot of bands from my generation, but I just about lost it. Bauhaus was a little bit before my time in terms of show-going years so I'd kill to see them perform their songs live. I've never managed to see NIN live, even though I'm a big fan. I always loved Cocteau Twins... okay, need I say more? I guess I'm the exact demographic they're looking for for the festival. Someone who was growing up in the '80s... ha.

Anyway, yeah, I flipped for about 15 minutes, telling my boss I was probably going to need time off, but then reality hit later. As in, how the hell am I going to afford something like this? It requires flying out to California, first off. And I could be wrong but I think maybe Coachella is in some part of California that isn't really near anything else in California. So... dunno. But it would be so cool!

In other news, I finally ordered a sample copy of the print version of Barrelhouse and requested a copy of WordWrights. So hopefully I will have some good new research going on soon.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Amen Sister

I got a catalog in the mail from Daedalus Books, and they have major discount books -- everything seemed to be priced between $4 and $7 in the catalog. Not everything is great in the catalog, but there were a few things that were worth the price. So I picked up a wall calendar, a copy of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (I borrowed it from the library and always meant to purchase it) and a book called The Quotable Book Lover -- basically quotes from authors. I thought it would be fun for times like this, when I haven't had time to read too much.

So today's installment is:

As for writing, at thirty I was still writing, reading; tearing up industriously. I had not published a word (save reviews). I despaired. Perhaps at that age one is really most a writer. Then one cannot write, not for lack of skill, but because the object is too near, too vast. I think perhaps it mst recede before one can take a pen to it.

-- Virginia Woolf

I took some degree of comfort in that quote. Just the whole idea that maybe it's okay to be 34 and still in the beginning stages of the fiction writing career. Every once in a while you'll hear of some promising youngster getting some novel published and not even appreciating the huge amounts of effort it takes some people to get to that point, but I think there are even more people who struggle longer to make that breakthrough. And to never give up is an important rule of thumb.

Of course, I think her whole point is that when you're younger, you might not have the seasoned view -- the detachment from living life -- that you may gain when you're older. And true, my tone and style has changed a whole lot. But I took some degree of solace in the quote.

Write on,