About Me

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My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

If you haven't read this book yet, you're missing out on a treat. Ellen Meister's debut novel is great fun and the writing is witty, sexy and smart. Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA follows three women as they work together to get a movie producer to help their school obtain a stadium and bring George Clooney to town. Each woman has problems of her own though, and readers will cheer her on as she overcomes them. This is a laugh-out-loud funny book--but don't be fooled. It's also a book about serious issues and Meister handles them with compassion.

I'll be looking for more work from this author.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Reviews of Lit Journals

If you're wondering which journals to buy, the latest reviews are up at New Pages.

Also Cliff has another LitMag Wave going (scroll down) and Dan has some comments on lit journals over at EWN.

Laila Lalami

has an excellent essay in the Boston Review.

A related side note: Laila taught a special class at Bread Loaf 2006 on working in native speech in a piece of English prose. It was very informative.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland

In M. J. Hyland's latest novel a boy whose large size already casts him as being different, strives to set himself apart officially, by making it into his favorite book, the Guiness Book of World Records. John Egan believes he can do this by being the world's only human lie-detector. In the background, his family struggles with his father's choice to pursue his dream rather than keep a steady job and John suffers humiliation from his peers after he wets himself in class. Hyland's writing is clear and lovely; her characters, unforgettable and charming.

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Winter's Bone" by Daniel Woodrell

One of the most important things I can tell you about this book is it's a must-read. An absolute must-read.

Ree Dolly is a young woman whose life is harsh beyond imagining. She lives in the Ozark mountains, in an area populated by Dollys, a clan of law-breaking, crank-cooking, tough-spirited people living in poverty. Her house is shared by her mentally-broken mother, Ree's two younger brothers and her father--except her father's disappeared and left her alone to fend for the family. Ree must find her father and bring him back by a set date or they will lose their home, their land, everything.

Woodrell's language is clear, poetic, take-your-breath-away gorgeous. Ree Dolly is a heroine of the kind not often seen in modern-day fiction.

From the opening paragraph you'll be swept right into Ree Dolly's world and not want to come out:

"Ree Dolly stood at the break of day on her cold front steps and smelled coming flurries and saw meat. Meat hung from trees across the creek. The carcasses hung pale of flesh with a fatty gleam from low limbs of saplings in the side yards. Three halt haggard houses formed a kneeling rank on the far creekside and each had two or more skinned torsos dangling by rope from sagged limbs, venison left to the weather for two nights and three days so the early blossoming of decay might round the flavor, sweeten the meat to the bone."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Three Recent Reads:

All of which I'd recommend:

Torch by Cheryl Strayed. Beautiful story of a family's grief. Classy, elegant writing; full range of emotions and characters.

Halfway House by Katherine Noel. Sharp, poignant rendering of a young girl's mental illness and its affect on her family. The writing is fresh and evenhanded.

and lastly The Professor's Daughter by Emily Raboteau, an accomplished, artful novel-in-stories. One of the characters is a brilliant young boy sent to private school on a scholarship and brutally harrassed by his white classmates; one of the characters is another brilliant boy who sees color in sounds and who suffers a senseless accident; and one of the characters is a young woman caught in between:

"My father is black and my mother is white and my brother is a vegetable."

Side note: all three talented authors were fellows at Bread Loaf this year.

Friday, September 15, 2006

SmokeLong Quarterly

Issue 14 is now live!

This is a special issue designed to complement "Flash Fiction Forward" an anthology edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas.

Enjoy! There is, as always, amazing work within.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Exciting New Press:

(Ann Arbor, MI) - Steve Gillis, author and founder of 826michigan, and Dan Wickett, founder of the Emerging Writers Network are pleased to announce the launch of Dzanc Books, a not-for-profit literary venture.

Dzanc Books is a 501(c)3 organization set up to operate exclusively for charitable, literary, and educational purposes. Our mission at Dzanc is 3-pronged: To assist literary journals in reaching the largest reader base possible; to develop educational programs within the schools in the areas of reading and writing; and, beginning in 2007, to publish two excellent works of literary fiction per year.

As Publishers, Dzanc's mission is to provide a home for some of the amazing, talented authors out there. Both Steve and Dan are intimately aware of the current state of publishing, which finds well-intended presses unable to offer their authors the necessary editorial or marketing support, particularly when a manuscript doesn't fit neatly into a clear market. We at Dzanc have no such fears. If the manuscript is excellent, we will provide editing guidance and do whatever it takes to find the audience a work deserves. We aren't concerned about a Dzanc book falling into some special niche to market towards as our strategy is far more expansive. Everyone at Dzanc is well connected and aligned with editors, distributors and public relations folks who have years of experience working with literary fiction on a national scale. While Dzanc operates as a non-profit, our authors will receive full payment just as any for profit house. More about submitting can be found at www.dzancbooks.org/excerptsubmissions.html.

Beyond publishing, Dzanc Books will assist literary journals with the promotion of their publications. Dzanc Books believes literary journals constitute an invaluable venue for authors to gain exposure for their work. With this in mind, Dzanc plans to provide financial and networking aid in order to assist literary journals in their subscriptions, distribution, fundraising, and overall exposure to the reading community. Dzanc has no interest in influencing any of the editorial decisions of these literary journals. We only want to help journals succeed in achieving their missions, and hopefully relieve some of the stresses that go with doing so. All of our services to literary journals are 100% free, provided as part of our ongoing commitment to bring greater exposure of fantastic writing to the public.

Third, it is the mindset of Dzanc Books that bringing literary fiction into the schools is extremely important. We plan on developing workshops and Writer-in-Residency programs in middle and high schools - having an author spend weekly class time with students throughout an entire school year, teaching and developing their creative writing talents, with the end result being a self-contained anthology. Dzanc Books also plans on furthering current relationships with college professors in order to get literary journals taught at that level, as well as continuing to develop partnerships with some of the wonderful programs currently operating in the schools. While located in Michigan , it is Dzanc's ambition to extend its educational outreach to other schools who wish to participate. As with our other programs, author workshops and Writer-in-Residency programs are 100% free.

Dzanc Books is a culmination of a dream Dan and Steve have had for some time. It is the vision of Dzanc to do all it can to assist writers, journals, and students to continue to experience literature on the highest scale. We are a well-organized, fully-funded and well-oiled machine and we look forward to working with all of you in the future.

For more information:

Dan Wickett – dan@dzancbooks.org Steve Gillis – steve@dzancbooks.org

Monday, September 11, 2006

You Must Check Out

the new online Small Spiral Notebook!!

It's full of great things!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Half of a Yellow Sun

Thanks to Dan at EWN, I learned Chimamanda has a beautiful new website to promote her latest novel Half of a Yellow Sun.

I'm looking forward to reading this new one--she's an amazing talent!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Sycamore Review

on cover letters.

An excerpt:

"I'll say this right off the bat, though: a weak cover letter (or lack thereof) will not keep a strong submission out of the magazine, and a strong cover letter will not get a weak submission in, no matter how many top-notch publications the author lists or who they name check. So stop freaking out."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Baltimore Interview

has its latest installment with artist Jason Hughes.

A Dog Named Steve

Susan Henderson has a delightful story about her dog named Steve, among other things.

He's a handsome guy, that Steve.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jim Tomlinson

on MJ Rose's Backstory.

Here's an excerpt:

"...The stories of Things Kept, Things Left Behind are set in and around the fictional town of Spivey, Kentucky. The details of the place – the Appalachian foothills, the coal history of the place, the particulars of attitude, idiom and dialect – may be peculiar to this place. But the stories told are stories of yearning, stories of the human heart, and in this they are universal."

Now this sounds like my kind of book. And I'm looking forward to my copy arriving any day now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Per Contra

The Fall 2006 issue is now live.

The Good Works of Ayela Linde by Charlotte Forbes

I've just finished this delightful, lyrical novel. What makes it so special is its structure. It's a wise choice. Forbes allows several characters their chance to tell what they know of the novel's central character, Ayela Linde. It's through this fractured, many angled lens readers can best see the whole picture, can hold the most truthful version of Ayela in their minds. It's a novel driven by character through time, and time through character. A wonderful read.

Friday, September 01, 2006

SmokeLong Quarterly

is open for fall submissions.

Spiraling Down

Kyle Minor in his interview with Chad Simpson spoke eloquently of how hard writing honestly and deeply was on him and his family:

"There's something rather selfish about allowing oneself to spiral down into that kind of darkness for the sake of a piece of writing when other people are depending upon you. I know that during the time I was working on "You Shall Go Out with Joy," I was significantly less available to my wife and my son, and not just in terms of time, but also in terms of emotional availability. Somehow, to write as honestly as I wanted to write, I had to become twelve years old again, and strip away perfectly good defense mechanisms so I could revisit pain that I'd buried long ago."

This particular part of the interview spoke to me as I know exactly what he's refering to. There are pieces of my novel that wring me dry everytime I work on them, make me moody and difficult to deal with. Anyone who knows me knows this is out of my character and yet it happens. I wonder how we can go through these periods of spiraling down into truth without alienating those we love or without losing the tether to the ordinary joys we've set in place in our lives.

I find I need some decompression time. Maybe just a few minutes between the time I stop writing and the time I emerge from my office to see my family. Ideally, a walk would be even better, but not always possible. What do you do? How do you as writers dive down and come back up unscathed?
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