Monday, March 28, 2005

The Black Clock's Ticking

Okay, so waiting has definitely been the theme recently. And I know, I have to remember that patience is a virtue.

However, long, long ago, I sent a check to Black Clock for a copy of the magazine. (Kind of pointless since they only take solicited submissions -- meaning you lowly peons can't just send to them unless they ask, so it's not exactly great market research.) Anyway, I'm still waiting. Tick tock!

On a better note, Fiction Warehouse rejected me quite handily, with an extremely form rejection. Rock on! At least I'm not sitting around on tenterhooks about that one.

I sense sometime soon I am gonna come up with a great rant about something that isn't me waiting for stuff. ;) I'm kinda working my way into that kind of mood. Plus this other stuff is getting into broken record territory. I'd better actually start talking about records or something.

Write on,


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Build It and They Will Come

Well, I just spend some time staring at my spreadsheet of submissions, lamenting the fact that some are overdue and some I don't even know when the magazines report, and I haven't heard much lately. It seems like reporting times get longer and longer, and I know I have discussed with some of you that even if you have a guideline of a reporting time, it usually ends up meaning that you need to tack a few months onto that.

I was thinking of how we've already discussed that despite the advent of new markets, there seems to be a bit of a glut out there, and with the online markets, it's pretty sure that the editors have separate jobs, and lives, which of course probably tacks on the response time. It must be hard for them to keep up with everything since it isn't like their primary focus in life or something.

And then there's that idea of short story glut out there... with the subsequent backlogs involved. I remember Jen mentioning that the online markets likely have made people submit stuff that isn't even all the way done yet... Sigh. Adding more for the editors to slog through.

What's my point? Dunno. I was just sitting there thinking about all the short stories floating around out in the world, hoping to find homes, and came up with that old saying, "build it and they will come." Back in the old days, it did take a lot longer to put together a manuscript with the requisite paper copy, tyvek, SASE, and cover letter. (Lord knows I have complained to no end about how I hate to do it, myself.) The advent of online markets, it seems, has opened up the floodgates.

Ah well, this just means I've got to get cracking on my other pieces that are currently in the works instead of obsess about the ones that are already out there. So I can have an even longer list of submissions to watch in that spreadsheet!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, March 25, 2005

The Passing of the Stick

Hey guys, Matt Kirkpatrick passed me the stick! So here we go!

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be? (Assuming this is the question about burning a book...)
Marquis de Sade's collection, I believe it's called Philosophy of the Bedroomand included stories like Justine. Burn, baby burn. I read it in college, and it was the only book I ever read that I wanted to burn. Generally I have a pretty open mind to all kinds of craziness, and I'm pretty sure (ha) that his stuff was really symbolic of other philosophical ideas and a reaction to the times, but damn, I just found it all incredibly unpleasant. Too unpleasant even for my own often misanthropic ways...

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Hmm. I suppose there was probably a time when I had a crush on Anne Rice's Lestat, as sad and obviously former goth THAT is. I can't think of a more recent fiction crush.

The last book you bought is:
Um, Ghosts of New Orleans. On my trip. Technically, that would be the last book! Other than that, there's my recent shipment from Amazon of Scar Tissue,, Gargoyle No. 48, and Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link.

The last book you read:
Either Scar Tissue or Columbia, if you count it as a book and not a magazine.

What are you currently reading?
Gargoyle No. 48. I've got quite a little theme going here!

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

-- McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. I know I have some serious reservations about how McSweeney's treatment of writers but have to admit that anthology rocked.
-- Neuromancer by William Gibson. Love that book.
-- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Twisted.
-- An issue of Gargoyle. A lot there to keep one entertained and sharp. Haha.
-- Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Of course, it would be a bit disturbing to have on a desert island, but...

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?


The reason why is the same for all three -- they're all three writers and readers!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Here Comes The Train

Glimmer Train's shilling for its newest competition, they extended the deadline. I don't know why I always find myself tempted to enter these things, when I don't even like the magazine much, as I've made quite clear here on several occasions. I guess it's the smell of cold, hard cash prizes, as sad as that is.

Don't know if it has an entry fee... could be. However, I think it's one of those new writers open competitions.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ice, Fire

Last night I finished Columbia: The Retrospective. I picked it up several months ago, thinking it would be a regular issue of Columbia and that it might be cool to see what kind of stuff they take. I didn't realize that it was a retrospect of the last 40 years till I got it home.

I slogged through it, and I can't say that I enjoyed it all that much. I mean, I have an appreciation for a lot of the stuff but I can't say it lit the world on fire. I guess it's just my tastes: it's that quiet feeling type of lit mag. It made me feel like I had been jettisoned back to college, this sort of feeling of someone telling me, "This is good," when I was just feeling like I was seeing form over function, or function over form, or something.

Among the stories I enjoyed were Children with Hangovers by Jonathan Lethem, The Bath, by Raymond Carver, Captain Thorazine, by Sam Lipsyte, and Broken, by Ha Jin. Tom Perrotta's The Wiener Man was highly readable but for some reason, here lately I have gotten a little sick of some flashback into a boy's childhood and his perspectives. I feel like I've seen several of these types of stories lately and generally it's the same "nostalgia" treatment or something. I don't know.

In the non-fiction category, Never Live Above Your Landlord by Phillip Lopate was pretty awesome -- although I didn't know that it was nonfiction until I looked at the table of contents. There's a poem by Lucille Clifton in there, and I liked that a lot, but I have a major soft spot for Lucille, since she worked at my college when I went there and was just a really super cool person -- and poet.

So anyway, yeah, the magazine was definitely competent and good and literary and all that good stuff, but when push came to shove, it just didn't get my blood pumping.

And despite the fact that I was already burning the midnight oil (naughty naughty, and yes, my little sleep disorder is, unfortunately, coming back, seeing how I didn't get to work till noon today), I picked up Gargoyle No. 48, read just a few pages, and went to bed with my brain on fire, feeling inspired and shook up and in just a few pages -- something Columbia in its entirety failed to do. I just love that. The dichotomy between the two is really pretty amazing.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I finished Anthony Kiedis's Scar Tissue last night. It was a really fascinating book in so many ways. But of course, I think the most interesting theme throughout is the constant, and I mean constant, drugging. He's clean at the end and that's heartening, but this is a guy who had soooo many relapses. It's pretty incredible really. Incredible, too, that he's still alive.

I found it interesting that he didn't quite get around to making the connection between substance abuse and relationships, though. He admitted that generally speaking, the big benders would come around after a relationship would break up. But his obsession with women (there was ALWAYS at least one woman around, it seemed) was another prevalent theme. With the last girlfriend who's mentioned, he also mentioned how he "relapsed" with her several times --- getting back together and then breaking up again -- so he was almost there. But never did he exactly liken the behavior with women to the same compulsion as the drugging.

I just find it interesting. On the one hand, he is a rock star so of course there is going to be a fair amount of womanizing (and relationships) on that alone. But I think that as a person who has quit drinking and drugs, I have found that guys can be yet another addiction just like substances. Sex can be quite a drug. His descriptions of a "dry drunk" -- somebody who no longer drinks but still has the same broken soul to exhibit the same behavior -- was fascinating to me as well.

Anyway, again, I have to give him credit for laying it all on the line. It's a thoroughly enjoyable book, on many levels, and while I did kind of criticize him above, that's not to say that he isn't very self aware, and willing to own up to his past in an incredibly frank way. I'd highly recommend it...


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Nothing New Under the Sun

Hey sorry I've been gone a few days... it was a tough week what with all the decision making (not that I was making the decision but I was definitely sort of involved in thinking it all through and definitely stressing about it) -- my roommate has decided NOT to move to India this year, but to wait till next year. Phew! That gives me another year to figure out my options. However, I have still been facing the aftermath of the stress all week... it hasn't been easy.

Saturday night I went out with coworkers for a birthday... a rare foray into the world of other people's drunkenness since we went down to Georgetown and had dinner and then went dancing. I guess the thing that struck me was the strange guy who commanded the dance floor by himself, drunk as all get out but definitely busting some moves. It was kind of funny b/c he really got the place started up and then never really got any credit for being the guy who went out there and started shaking his stuff and getting everybody out there. Like the ice breaker dancer. Too funny. I'm guessing he has a serious headache and is very sore now.

The musical taste was not my style but the company was good. However, I'm sure that my companions are feeling pretty rough at the moment. I'm feeling pretty rough and I didn't even drink! Just to say I had a rare foray into the outside world and now I'm feeling it. Ha. Not to mention, I seemed to spend all Saturday not doing much but somehow gearing myself up for the night -- and getting ready. I guess I do need to get out more when it becomes that much of a production to push myself out the door.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Some holidays are difficult when you're a former drunk. I work in Old Town Alexandria, which has a few Irish bars/pubs and tends to go all out for the holiday. At 2pm there were folks carousing very near my building, and at 4 they were apparently lined up around the block to get into the other big Irish bar experience. So there it was, broad daylight, and I was catapulted back to memories of college, how nice it would be to be slamming beers in the middle of the day. I could almost taste it. Almost hear the din of friends all jazzed to get drunker.

But anyway, it's actually about 15 years later of course, and times are different. I finished my work feeling like I'd been run over by a steamroller and came home to load CDs on my computer and onto my iPod Shuffle. I still haven't even gotten halfway through my CDs. Many of those are pretty old school too.

Well, I hope everybody's having the luck o' the Irish... don't drink the funny beer, but the green beer is okay. And whatever you do, don't kiss the blarney stone!

Write on,


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

One More Time....

So, I already blogged about Paumanok Review but I read a couple stories -- Nathan Leslie's "Cobblestones" and Stephen Gillis's "Aftercare" and enjoyed each one very much. Haven't gotten a chance to go through the whole issue, but wanted to point that there's some quality fiction there at the moment.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Favorite Bookstores?

I was just browsing Paumanok Review's Web site and saw on the news page that the editor is looking for pieces on favorite bookstores. I know some of you have favorite bookstores so I thought it might interest you guys.

I also have to recommend submitting there to anyone who's interested. Just because editor Katherine Arline always does such an amazing job with it, and she's a joy to work with. (I have had a piece published there, though it was last year.) I think she does a lot for new writers and I can't recommend the site highly enough.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 14, 2005


Got a nice email recently from the woman in charge of The Happy Booker. For us literary folk, she's a good pit stop, also obsessing about books, reading, and the literary life, so check it out if you get a chance.

Other than that I have had a great case of the Mondays. Just one of those days. More work up to my ears. And, my roomie is thinking of moving to India so I am just a wee bit preoccupied... considering the fact that one bedroom apartments are going for what we pay for our spacious 2 bedroom, 2 giant bath, fireplace, assigned parking, washer/dryer IN UNIT apartment. We lucked out that we locked into this place six years ago and by signing long leases somehow managed to be paying way below market value. Sucks, this whole adult life thing.

Thanks for reading, hopefully I'll be back to more literary commentary at some point soon,


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Who, Me? Write?

All right, this weekend has been some kind of escapist, consumer-spending-frenzy weekend. Sheesh. I was utterly tired -- I guess still coming down from last week's trip. I spent tons of money yesterday, then watched "Napoleon Dynamite" last night (catching up with my Netflix queue). Then today, I went to the movies and saw Wes Craven's newest, "Cursed." (Liked it! Perfectly predictable but it's like, you get what you ask for, in terms of a werewolf movie. Nothing less, even if it's nothing that you might not expect.) Also saw a trailer for a new Tim Burton piece, much like "Nightmare Before Christmas," called "Corpse Bride," with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Like, the goth dream team.

I have work I have to do for work that I've put off the entire time. It's not looking too promising that I might get any done tonight but I've got to at least start research... sigh.

I hope everybody had a great weekend and maybe got more constructive stuff done!

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, March 12, 2005

House of Tears and Trauma

Jen was right. A while back she posted about how sad House of Sand and Fog was. I watched it anyway. Damn, I was traumatized and I still am. I blubbered like a heartbroken child, tears soaking my face. And I like to think of myself as someone who just doesn't cry over movies. (Although here lately, it has been happening a bit more commonly, and recently, over a movie that wasn't even the least bit sad, I guess it's some weird effect of age. But that was just a small tear, I have to add. Not this kind of torrent of salty emotion.)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Jen issued the same warning... do not watch this movie unless you want to be haunted with sadness and have a giant cry! It was intense. Really intense.


Friday, March 11, 2005

The Joys of Email

All right, I don't bitch about my day job much. This isn't really bitching about it either, actually. It's more... bitching about people's ability to bitch other people out over the Internet.

Basically, two months ago I wrote an article that really seemed to resonate with people. I got about 100 reader emails about the article, and of those, about 98% were positive. Of the other 2%, this one guy just really railed me -- I did answer his email (I answer most of my email, even negative/argumentative ones) and then we kept going back and forth, obvious that neither of us was going to agree on this topic. (I guess I should also share that my writing for my day job is of such a nature that people WILL occasionally just flame you -- opinion stuff, you know, you can step on some toes that way.)

Anyhoo, this week, I wrote another piece on the same topic and the dude goes at it again. He wrote once and very angrily and this time I was like, no way, I'm not answering it, I already know where this is going. If somebody's belligerent enough I'll usually give myself a pass, though it's usually not until somebody drops the F-bomb in an email, or says something ignorant like "your article is a good example of why women are bad journalists" -- yes, that's a real quote and I should add, my writing I do for my day job isn't actually journalism. Anyway, I didn't answer and today he proceeded to email me another three times. Like every couple hours. Blam, blam, blam!

I did finally answer him; I guess my reason for writing about this here is I just wanted to vent seeing how that sort of made it a particularly annoying day while I was trying to get other stuff done. And I guess the real theme here is that people feel damn comfortable bitching somebody out in the comfort of email. It's weird. I have had people write me hateful mail, and when I respond, they respond, "Oh. I didn't think anybody really read the mail. I was in a bad mood."

So if anyone out there thinks they can spew hate and that nobody's reading their mail, just know that there probably is somebody reading your mail. And promptly deleting it if you're hateful enough. Ha. (And I know that none of my regulars here are the types to just spew hate in an email! You all are good peeps!)

Anyway, I know I'm supposed to have a tough skin and all that jazz... but at times, it just gets OLD. Sigh... I'll be over it in a few days. ;) Unless this dude sends me a letter bomb... sheesh.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Cult of Personality

My literary reading has taken a bit of a hiatus, as I'm currently reading Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis. Hebdomeros beat me to the punch in reading it and gave it a good review, and so far I wholeheartedly agree.

I have to give Kiedis credit for putting it all out there, no matter how painful it might have been to relive some of those memories, some not too flattering. It takes a big person to do that as opposed to airbrush over unpleasantries because one's a "personality" or a "star." I daresay his frank talk about drug abuse should (hopefully) help serve as a warning, or inspire those who need help to seek it.

I have a feeling most people wouldn't have the courage to delve that deeply into their past and lay it all out there, for any reader to see. Good for him.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Is Silence Really Golden?

So here's a writerly question. For those of you who have gotten published, do you ever feel like some of your friends actually don't want to read what you've written?

Don't get me wrong, I have several friends who are VERY supportive and good about reading my fiction on the very rare occasion that it's published, or notice my day job writing and comment on it and maybe congratulate me, but lots seem to shy away from the stuff that I write for my day job, which is pretty easily accessible. And some seem to shy away from all of it, altogether.

Has anyone encountered anything like this? It just seems weird to me. I don't know, I guess being a writer doesn't mean everybody you know should read what you write. I suppose I don't go watch my friends who, say, participate in bike races, race all the time or whatever. But sometimes I just get weirded out, and sort of feel like if I tell people about something I wrote, I'm being arrogant... or they're afraid I've written something about them... or something. Maybe it's too personal.

I kind of feel it's a dumb question (not to mention maybe egocentric, since it's not like many people demand that I participate in the things they do, like I said before), but a question nonetheless.

Thanks for reading,


Say What?

Check out this story from The New York Times. The upshot is, literary novelists "finally" address 9/11.

I find that weird because I swear I read about a glut of 9/11 short fiction. Meanwhile, I've definitely seen a whole bunch of 9/11 story drafts from aspiring writers.

Maybe it took novelists longer to crank out the novels, or publishing houses longer to actually decide on some or publish them, but I just found it interesting. Indeed, that was a day that will live on in infamy for this generation, so it definitely seems odd that the trend is supposedly starting now.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Literary Update

Two rejections came in while I was away. A slightly late, impersonal rejection from Tin House and a personalized rejection from Night Train. The latter gave me some nice suggestions for the story in question and invited me to submit another piece in their next reading period, so that was nice. I have had good luck with them inviting me to submit again in the past. So that was nice. (Writer, edit thyself. And why would I put "so that was nice" twice? Sheesh.)

So, in other words, same story, different day. :)

Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 07, 2005

Back From the Big Easy

I have to admit, I fell in love with New Orleans from the first. Despite the fact that it takes a bit of adjustment to get used to the pace of the place. It's intense... just in terms of so much to see, so much sensory stimulation. But I loved it... Granted, I wouldn't want to live there all year round, but man, oh to be rich and famous and have money for a second residence, I'd love to have a place there for the winter (and to avoid Mardi Gras -- or perhaps have private Mardi Gras balcony to overlook the scene but still be separate from the masses!).

It seems the perfect place for writers or artists (although, in the words of one particularly entertaining cabbie, there are a lot of "underachievers"). The mystique and magic of the place was palpable. Along with the feeling -- surely exacerbated by the go-cups and the fact that we saw a placard for drink specials "from 9pm until 9am") -- that anything could happen there. Music would just break out spontaneously. Fortune tellers sat at carefully set up tables in Jackson Square. We heard quite a ruckus outside our hotel room at 9 in the morning -- a whole mass of apparently drunken men were putting together the St. Patrick's Day parade, playing zydeco and getting ready to parade through the streets. They threw green beads around our necks as we walked by, hollering "woo hooo!" and "hello pretty ladies!"

My cousin and I did a lot of touristy things... including getting our fortunes told at the Bottom of the Cup Tearoom. I was told that I can have my writing career and have love. Let's hope so. We hoofed it throughout the French Quarter, stopping at the (haunted) Hotel Monteleone for drinks at the Carousel Bar (the bar really slowly spins!) and grabbed muffaletta at a divey place on Bourbon Street. One lunch we got a sampler of jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, and shrimp creole, in the French Market. Yummny dinners included a great meal at Muriel's (highly recommended) and at Bourbon House (also nice). We stopped in a shop called Sideshow and Harry Anderson (of Night Court fame, remember him?) did tricks for us, and another shopping adventure was the infamous Marie Laveau's. Touristy fare: cab to Garden District to do the tour (which included the Lafayette Cemetery) and a ghost tour through the French Quarter.

I can't recommend this city enough, especially for artistic types. I could go on and on... but I'll stop now. ;)

thanks for reading,


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Big Easy

Well, I left work today with quite a feeling of well-being, seeing how I got all my work done so that I could safely go on vacation to New Orleans tomorrow (Thursday). I'm not much of a traveler, and I don't think I realized that there would be a palpable sense of relief that I will be truly "away from it all," off the hook, etc... it was a good feeling, actually. I guess I have to actually GO somewhere more often. It's been quite some time. Most of my vacations are spent at home resting and doing whatever the hell I want to do... but I think I'm realizing that I also still think a lot about work when I have a few days at home yawning ahead of me.

So yeah, basking in that glow of well-being I did some errands and came home. Honestly I've done less preparation than I should have, having decided maybe I should load a bunch of my CDs onto my new computer so to choose favorite songs to put on my iPod Shuffle. (I guess that kind of is packing for the trip -- packing music that is.) Have I mentioned that now that I have this Shuffle I want a full-grown iPod now? For God's sake, would someone pay me for one of my short stories, about $400 would be nice. ;)

Anyway, since it's a fairly whirlwind trip, I don't think there's that much preparation really left other than throwing a few more items into bags, remembering a journal and my digital camera. I'll catch you guys on the flip side!

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

No Sour Grapes Here

All right, I found the voting site for the StorySouth Million Writers Award -- here's where you read the stories and vote. (In case you forgot, one of my stories was nominated, but didn't make Notable Stories, nor the Top 10, obviously.)

Sooo... among the Top Ten stories are a piece by Dave Housley, of Barrelhouse fame, and a story by Alicia Gifford, one of my favorite writers whose work I ever ran across on Zoetrope's online writing community. I loved her stuff and had a funny feeling even then, years ago, that she was gonna go places.

Anyway, there it is. Seriously, from those that I do recognize (before having read all the stories yet), maybe I'm glad I didn't make the grade. That's some tough competition!

Thanks for reading,