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Setting Intentions for 2022

25 Jan

January is almost over. Is it too late for a blog post on setting intentions? I would venture not! The pandemic and being a new parent (do I still get to say “new” now that my child is one?) is a constant reminder to be gentle with myself and find the right level of ambitious that I find fulfilling without giving myself a migraine.

Sculpture of a bald man with closed eyes and mottled concrete over one eye and under the other eye, emerging from a brown container ringed with triangles poking toward his collar bone.
What soldiering through a migraine feels like?

So what are my writing and publishing goals for this year? With my second novel releasing from Lanternfish Press in late September, I have to be mindful of the marketing and publicity work just around the corner. I learned with my first novel, Daughters of the Air, that marketing and publicity can be ::e n d l e s s:: I do like it! But I also need to keep space for work-work, creative writing, and life.

I started writing my second novel two days after I began submitting my first novel—with a haiku workshop as a palate cleanser in between. I started writing my third novel, my current work-in-progress, just a year after starting my second novel. It’s a long story as to why that I won’t get into here, but I was heartened to learn that Jess Walter juggles multiple book projects simultaneously, and I’m sure many other writers do as well. Welp! The big hope for this year is I “finish” that third novel. (NB: Here’s my silly essay “How to Finish a Finish a Novel in Only 15 Years“; I love that this essay landed in The Nervous Breakdown.)

My other writing goal is write two more essays for the collection that I began the same year as Novel #3. I’m taking an essay writing class through Atlas Obscura, where I’ve been having a great time teaching fairy tale writing. It’ll be my first time as a student since taking a wonderful Hugo House class in 2016 with Alexander Chee on making fictional characters of historic figures, and I’m really looking forward to it. My plan is to write one piece arising from the class and one essay after finishing reading A Harp in the Stars: An Anthology of Lyric Essays, which I have ordered from one of my favorite Chicago bookstores, Exile in Bookville, which is located in one of my favorite buildings in the city.

That’s it for my writing. I think those are plenty of goals for the year, given what I’ve got on my plate. I stopped aiming for 100 rejections per year a few years ago, though I do think it’s a good goal to have if you’re starting the submissions process and need to develop a callous against rejection. By my calculations, I had a 17% acceptance rate in 2021 so I do need to aim a little higher as my general goal, per advice from Creative Capital, is 10%. But I’m not going to tear my hair out over this one. As I say to my son, “Gentle! Gentle!”

My last goal is to continue to help emerging writers stretch their craft and hone their approach to getting their work out in the world. If you have short stories or a novel you’re working on and if you’d like to work one-on-one with me, you can check out my coaching and consulting page at Hugo House here.

What are your goals for 2022? Any special plans for writing, reading, publishing? Or maybe you want to learn to cook something special this year? My cooking is toddler-centric now, but I’ve been dipping in and out of Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I love her opinions: “Powdered rosemary must be shunned.” Onward & upward & twirling, twirling, twirling!

Out Now: Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest

2 Nov

I am delighted to have a pair of short fairy tales in Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest, out now from Scablands Books! This beautiful foil-stamped anthology, edited by Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller, features an incredible roster of Pacific Northwest authors, such as Gary Copeland Lilley, Rick Barot, Shawn Vestal, Tess Gallagher, Ruth Joffre, Nicola Griffith, Kate Lebo, Elissa Washuta, and Lucia Perillo, to name just a handful, and has some wonderful illustrations as well—you can preview a couple of them, including one from my story “Moss Child,” here. You can pick up a copy directly from Scablands Books, or at Atticus, Auntie’s, From Here, and Wishing Tree Books in Spokane. If you’re based in the Pacific Northwest, your local library might like to know about it! Here is the “Suggest a Title” form for Seattle Public Library; many library systems have similar forms.

Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest

10 Jun

I’m excited to have two fairy tales in Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest, a Scablands Books anthology edited by Spokane-based superheroes Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller. The (foil-stamped!) book releases November 2 (perfect season to cozy up with a book while it’s drippy outside!), but discounted pre-orders are now available. Sharma shared a snippet of one of my tales on Twitter here. It’s an honor to be in the same book with Elissa Washuta, Ruth Joffre, and so many other talented writers.

A bit of comfort: all issues of Fairy Tale Review free for the foreseeable future

26 Mar

Here is a source of comfort in difficult times: all issues of Fairy Tale Review are free for the foreseeable future. Kate Berheimer wrote on Twitter:

This doesn’t put a dent in the painful news today, but maybe it will help some people through the difficult hours. I’ve always found that being in the company of a good fairy tale helps me do a little bit better, be a little bit kinder. It’s why I founded this journal in 2005. xo

@katebernheimer

I wrote “More Like Home Than Home,” the title story of my story collection, as an antidote to the darkness of Daughters of the Air. It was meant to comfort me, and I hope you find comfort in it too. It appeared in the Wizard of Oz-themed Emerald Issue. Now free and online, thanks to Fairy Tale Review , JSTOR, and Wayne State University Press.

The opening of “More Like Home Than Home” — read the rest here.

Going to AWP Without Going to AWP: Virtual Edition

6 Mar
Neither of these are the physical book fair, but they are *both* at the #AWPVirtualbookfair!

Last year around this time, Michael and I traipsed about Portland for AWP, skirting the conference itself, simply enjoying off-site readings and the book fair on Saturday. It was a lovely way to round out our time in the Pacific Northwest.

This year, because of our move, I never had any intentions of going to the conference in San Antonio, but because of the coronavirus, lots of folks, including my publisher Lanternfish Press have cancelled their trips. Because small presses depend on AWP each year for sales, a virtual book fair has been set up as a Google Doc by Trevor Ketner, publisher of Skull + Wind Press, inspired by poets G. Calvocoressi, Dana Levin, and Greg Pardlo. Now folks can browse from afar, and check out the many beautiful books and journals on sale here at #AWPVirtualBookfair. In random scrolling through the virtual book fair, I came across this intriguing book of poetry, Goodbye Wolf, by Nik De Dominic. Most discount codes are good through Sunday. Lanternfish Press is offering 30% off all of their books (including Daughters of the Air); use the code AWP2020.

Another press I love that has cancelled its trip to San Antonio is Fairy Tale Review. Their newest issue, back issues, subscriptions, and the complete set of issues are 20% off. Use code AWP20. The title story of my in-progress story collection, “More Like Home Than Home,” is in their Wizard of Oz-themed Emerald Issue. It’s set in Brooklyn in the 1980s and is a potpourri of the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Twelve Dancing Princesses.

But what is a book fair without getting to pick up a book and open it at random? Below is random page from Daughters of the Air (you can read the opening over at Tin House). Beneath that, a taste of what all is in FTR’s Emerald Issue.

Stay healthy out there! Enjoy yer book browsing & book reading!

“a delightful little amuse-bouche of a book”

12 Dec

Paul Constant of The Seattle Review of Books had some lovely things to say about my new chapbook Sugar: “It’s a delightful little amuse-bouche of a book, with an ending that will charm Seattleites and tourists alike.” You can read more here.

This Saturday at 3 pm at the Chin Music Press shop in Pike Place Market, I will be reading from Sugar, as well as some foodie excerpts from Daughters of the Air. The fabulous poets Montreux Rotholz and Alex Gallo-Brown will join me, and there will be treats. Constant says it’s the literary event of the week! Here is the event on Facebook. Hope to see you there.

Sugar at the Chin Music Press shop and online

19 Nov

On Friday, I stopped by the Chin Music Press shop in Pike Place Market to sign copies of Sugar, my new chapbook, and Daughters of the Air. You can pop in to pick up copies while they last! (Also, get yourself a treat. I enjoyed a sesame red bean ball: crispy, glutinous, gooey, delightful.) Not in Seattle? You can order Sugar from Chin Music Press online right over here.

Set scene by poet & nonfiction author Michael Schmeltzer. Thank you, Michael!

Sugar, a chapbook from Chin Music Press

2 Nov

IMG_1169.JPGOh, my! It’s been a little while since I’ve updated this blog. Fun news: Chin Music Press is launching my short story Sugar as a lovely little chapbook tomorrow at the Short Run festival. The story first appeared in Gastronomica in 2013; it’s a modern, fabulist fairy tale set in Pike Place Market—and Chin Music’s sun-drenched showroom is located there too.  At least, it always seems sun-drenched when I am there. They make beautiful books! Check out Leanne Dunic’s dreamy prose poem novel To Love the Coming End and Zack Davisson’s Kaiybō: The Supernatural Cats of Japan and Kate Lebo’s A Commonplace Book of Pieall books I have thoroughly enjoyed.

If you’re in Seattle you can be among the first to get a copy at Short Run. Then, Chin Music will be at the Portland Book Festival next Saturday, November 10. You can also get a copy from me at one of my upcoming events or at the Chin Music showroom in the market.

Link for online purchases to come! In the meantime, here it is on Goodreads. And, while you’re on Goodreads, if you’re so inclined, would you vote for Daughters of the Air as your favorite debut of the past year? That is, if that is how you feel! Log into your account (or create one!), scroll down to the bottom of this page and type in the title. Write-in voting ends November 4. Thanks, always, for the love.

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Notes from #AWP18, Part C: “The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got,” plus book fair porn (e.g. the requisite book haul on a hotel bed shot)

17 Mar

bookhaulIn my last post I promised blood. Well, I’ll just say I slid my boot off Friday night and it was like I was one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. I’m still limping. On to day 3!

What is a better breakfast than a leftover Cuban sandwich? Leftover fried oysters. Just kidding! The Cuban sandwich was much better. Day 3 was the best because Michael got a one-day pass and we got to roam the book fair together.

“The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got” is an irresistible title, so of course we wrenched ourselves away from the book fair for it. Here, without narrative, a fun grab-bag of quotes:

  • “Creative writing aphorisms are as useful as Dr. Phil.” –Chris Abani
  • “Your book won’t save you. It’s just something you’re going to do because you’re nuts.” –Min Jin Lee
  • “How do I handle writer’s block? I don’t write.” –Ada Limón

I appreciated Limón’s story of navigating two groups of people: those who roll their eyes at “abuelita poems” and those who say, “where’s your abuelita poem?” And Melissa Stein‘s remark that dread may be a sign that advice you’ve been given may not be for you, anxiety might mean it’s worth exploring the challenge, and excitement is obviously a good sign. Abani noted that “Craft advice is only important if you’re asking questions. What are you trying to do?”

We stuck around for a reading and conversation between Min Jin Lee and Sigrid Nunez. Nunez on writing about sex: “The vocabulary is not there. It’s either coy, clinical, or filthy, none of which do justice to human sexuality.” At the book signing, Lee called Michael and me adorable. So that happened.

My attention span went out the door by mid-afternoon, so it was off to the hotel bar for wine and fried calamari! Naturally, someone in panda suit wandered in. panda

Next year in Portland! Maybe Seattleites can get some party buses organized…

DAUGHTERS OF THE AIR Playlist on Largehearted Boy

5 Feb

Published by Lanternfish PressIt was super fun creating a playlist of music related to Daughters of the Air for David Gutowski’s literature and music blog, Largehearted Boy. I’ve included music from the time of the book, the late ’70s and early ’80s, as well as music that fits the atmosphere (dark, weird). Grace Jones and Klaus Nomi and Arcade Fire and Antony and the Johnsons and more! Have a listen right here.

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