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Posts from the ‘Writing’ Category

Love and a Podcast and Free (FREE!) Books!

These links, I should have posted ages ago. But I was on tour! And now the presidential elections! And so much stuff to do! But there’s been a lot of nice online love lately for May We Shed These Human Bodies, and I want to share some of that – plus a way you can win a free book!

Flavorwire named the book one of their 10 must reads for October! They say

Sometimes all it takes is a few sentences to knock you off your rocker. Or at least that’s the case in Sparks’s debut collection, which packs 30 short short stories, each its own modern fable, whimsical and wicked in equal measure, into one handsome book.

Right? I’m blushing. Plus I love all these references to the book as “wicked.” That’s all I’ve ever really wanted to be – a little bit wicked. In every sense of the word.

And Brad Listi was kind enough to have me as a guest on his truly awesome podcast, Other People with Brad Listi. It was a fun interview, and I got to talk about craft and books and how yeah, maybe I’ll run for office someday. Just maybe. You can listen here if you want to know how weird my voice sounds outside of my head.

Also kind enough to interview me: Curbside Splendor’s own Joey Pizzolato! Read the interview here. As usual, I ramble and make a fool of myself.

And finally – the very lovely and talented Erin Fitzgerald accidentally bought TWO copies of MWSTHB (how I will henceforth refer to my getting-really annoying-to type book title) and her enthusiasm is your gain! (And mine – thank you, Erin!) She’s giving away a free copy of the book, AND a copy of the chapbook we both have work in, Shut Up/Look Pretty, and all you have to do is comment on this post about what your favorite story of mine is! She’ll do a drawing from the entries on October 6th, so hurry up and put your comment in now if you want free stuff!

Stuff That is the Opposite of Suck

How can you not love this picture? Taken from the Tumblr blog linked here, Awesome People Hanging Out Together.

Jen Michalski has an amazing new story in the latest issue of Bluestem. In fact, lots of people have amazing stories in the latest issue of Bluestem, so you should definitely read through it.

You probably noticed–since there so many great things posted and written there–but Matt Bell, at his blog, spent the entire month of May writing about short stories for Short Story Month. And I mean WRITING. There was so much good stuff, both from him and his guests, that I’ll be taking stuff away for a long time to come.  And now he’s written a beautiful essay about the experience which makes me so proud to be a part of this writing community, and he’s put his writing into an e-book that you should certainly download, and he’s put up links to all the posts as well. Bookmark this! Get the ebook! It’s free, dummies! Why wouldn’t you? Matt retains his title as the Hardest Working Man in the Indie Lit World and ups the ante for anyone else who’s gunning for that title.  Seriously.

The always excellent Roxane Gay has a really, really good story in The Fiddleback. You should read it here .

The Lit Pub has launched into being! What the hell is the Lit Pub? Well, it’s Molly Gaudry, Chris Newgent, Mike Young’s press Magic Helicopter, and a whole bunch of other hardworking indie writer/publisher/editor/publicist types. It’s great literature. It’s support. It’s a community. It’s a conversation. It’s a bunch of really really good books and people who feel passionately about them. No need to say more–I’ll let Lit Pub explain itself, here.

Finally, perfect for Friday, how great is this Tumblr blog? Awesome People Hanging Out Together? I could look at these for hours. I kind of did. Your turn.

Have a great weekend wherever you are and hope the weather is what you want it to be. Inside and outside.

Things To Read While May Lingers

Short Story Month 2011 is almost over, but so many sites have done amazing work promoting short stories and short story writers this month. Two to single out (and sorry for promoting one that I write for, but it’s not due to me that SSM ruled there): Matt Bell at his blog, and Christopher Newgent at Vouched Books. Between the two of them, these guys have provided a wealth of short stories, essays, and info that I’ll be going back to for a long long time to come. Thanks to both of you for all your hard work this month.

I loved this essay. Jessica Kane, thank you. I love (good) historical fiction and I love the blurred lines between history and memoir and interpretation and biography and fiction and I, too, am ” missing the gene others seem to have that makes them worry, when they read a novel, about what is true. ” I also have concerns about the maligning of historical fiction as some sort of sub-genre, as if all history weren’t fiction, as if all history weren’t interpretation, as if anything other than a rote recitation of dates and names and places was could be other than subjective, spun, partly conjecture.

Celebrate Pushkin’s birthday with Melville House! This offer makes me outstandingly happy:

To help you get into the spirit of the thing, Melville House is offering all of our Russian novellas at 50% off the retail price—for one day only. That includes Pushkin’s own Tales of Belkin, Tolstoy‘sThe Death of Ivan Ilych and The Devil, Dostoevsky‘s The Eternal Husband, Gogol’s How the Two Ivans Quarrelled, Turgenev‘s First Love, andMy Life by Anton Chekhov. Clicking on the titles above will take you directly to the book page.

I love this piece by Sarah Rose Etter at Matter Press. Love, love, love.

Have you been reading Everyday Genius this month? No? Shame on you. Go back and read, every single day. Genius abounds, just like the site promises.

This is Just a List But Things are Still Breaking

  1. This book is on its way to me. I am so pumped. I love China Mieville and I can’t to wait a sci-fi-y book by him.
  2. HOARD YOUR INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS! I am. My husband and I are buying them all up. Why? Not for some crazy right-wing reason, but because, jesus, haven’t you noticed how ugly and depressing everything looks under florescent light? I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, for god’s sake. Energy efficient lighting depresses me. So does my face in the mirror under that awful flat dead glare.  The thought of a world without soft white lighting to read under makes me want to jump off a cliff. That is all.
  3. I’ve always thought most unpaid internships were a load of crap. As a middle-class kid working two jobs to pay the rent and tuition, I could never afford one in college and neither could most of my friends. Only the rich kids did internships, or the lucky ones who could find paid internships. Later, after college, I did an unpaid internship at a political firm which was pretty great, but still–you should get paid for work you do. Unpaid internships perpetuate an unfair class system where it’s harder and harder to climb up in the world if you don’t have certain opportunities available to you.  And the exploitation is getting worse today , when more and more “internships” are popping up where paid work existed before.  I’m proud that my union has only paid internships–and pretty well-paid, too.  If you’re not investing in people, then why should they invest their time in what you’ve asked them to do? You want quality–pay people for it. Anything else is exploitation. Period. So read the book, I guess.
  4. Who wants John Ashbery’s new translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations? You’d better all have your hands up or you’re not my friends anymore.
  5. Just kidding to the second part of number 4. But seriously, I can’t wait for this book.
  6. Has anybody else put off reading Blake Butler’s There is No Year? If this book is like Scorch Atlas, I am afraid of not being able to write for much time afterward. I need to be writing now. Also, will I be as afraid of houses as I become reading SA? Alos will I become a little bit broken? Will there be pieces missing? I may not read this book by myself. I am so excited but it’s a scary thing to open those pages. Soon.
  7. Because we can all admit that there are some things we break our rules over (and mine are pianos clothes books and cars) we shall all now pause and salivate over this ’64 Alfa Romeo. Life is only bodies and things, after all, and one should be surrounded by beautiful things.
  8. Speaking of beautiful things, I have a reading room now. We made a reading room. It is lovely. I will post pictures the moment it’s made lovely enough for you all.
  9. My novel is progressing, slowly, slowly. I am really excited about it.  I think you all will be, too.
  10. Because we were so close to ten. Because of symmetry.


That’s right, kittens. Gotta tell you about a whole new thing over at Emprise Review. Yes, we know our site has been in maintenance mode for a while. Yes, we know it’s been a while since the last issue. But we think it’s been worth it. Truly. I mean, have you seen how great the site looks? That’s all thank to our Editor-in-Chief, Patrick. He’s done a fabulous job making this site awfully specutacular.

And now…drumroll please…THERE’S A BRAND NEW ISSUE! Yes, brand-spanking new and full of amazing amazingness by some of your favorite writers and some new ones who we think will become some of your favorite writers. Check it out, read the pieces, give the writers some love, won’t you? All of our issues have been amazing but I really do think this might be the tippy top of the heap so far.  Everything in it is nothing short of greatness.


Every Day
Cezarija Abartis

Periplaneta Americana
Michael Beeman

Now With 50% More Domestic Problems
J. Bradley

Tres Crow


Jen Gann

This Fog of Ash
Robert Kloss

The Lobbers Share Thanksgiving as an Asteroid Hurtles Toward Earth
Salvatore Pane

Bezalel Stern

Kill Yourself (viii)
J.A. Tyler


Sandy Longhorn


What’s Left Behind: Memories From A High School Yearbook
Sam Bell


Ars Poetica
Neil Carpathios

Sky Poem
Nate Pritts

On Reading and Loving Bleak House

“You have to embrace Bleak House for what it is – a rambling, confusing, verbose, over-populated, vastly improbable story which substitutes caricatures for people and is full of puns. In other words, an 800-page Dickens novel.”

Janet Potter at The Millions on one of my favorite books of all time, and why nobody writes books like this anymore. Because they’re serials, not books, of course. And delicious if read that way.

Do you ever feel sometimes like writing is too much like a business where you don’t make any money but you run it like a business anyway, like a really poorly-run business?

How come there’s such pressure to publish a book? And you’re not a really serious writer unless you do? Would I be a serious writer if I never published a thing?  What if I took my writing very seriously? How much time counts as taking writing seriously? Or is it about the subject matter? What if I only write once a week? What if I write in my head but not on paper? What if I wrote for free? What if I never wrote for free? (I’d never get published, that’s for sure.) Should you want people to see your stuff? Does that make you more or less of an artist? Is it about the process or the product? Are gifted writers artists or artisans? Or both? Who’s an amateur and who’s a professional in a professional/hobby/thing where you don’t make any money anyway?

Just thoughts I’ve been thinking since I started writing again, two years ago now. Just thoughts I’ve been thinking.