Some observations from the past several days:
- I just finished a story. When I started it, half of me wanted it to be a piece of flash fiction, and the other half wanted it to be a novella. The first draft wound up being 5,200 words. I met myself in the middle.
- Having this blog, and interacting with other writers, has led me to meet a lot of really cool people. But today I got an email from a total stranger who wants me to review a poetry book. And I got the book (it’s digital). That doesn’t happen very often — it’s not like I’m a lit magazine or a professional reviewer or something. But hey, it’s pretty cool! I haven’t read the book yet, but if I can get around to it sometime soon, I’ll let you all know how it is. (And everyone, please feel free to send me stuff! I love you all and I would love to share your work! But I ain’t promising to like it, or even to have time to read it. I’m just saying.)
- Speaking of liking or not liking work: today I got a rejection. Which I don’t take personally — it’s not an easy story to place. But I waited 208 days for a thin form rejection of a 570-word story. I know people are busy, and I’m just as guilty as the next guy about taking too long to get back to people, but man, it’s flash fiction people. It’s not that hard. So after 208 days, I might at least have expected the easy toss-on line of “Sorry for the long delay….” Manners: some people have them, other people don’t.
- And speaking of manners: I recently met Katharine Hargreaves, one of the editors of Whole Beast Rag. Check them out, because they’re doing something few people are doing right now: they’re a literary magazine that wants criticism. Seriously: it’s a rare creature, this Whole Beast, because for the most part writers and critics are fairly suspicious of each other and don’t often hang out in the same circles (writers who ARE critics tend be just a little bit crazy), but to be perfectly honest, that division is fostered and nurtured in many a grad school program and is must less nerve-wracking out here in the Real World. So here comes Whole Beast Rag, saying screw you to the status quo and putting Lit and Crit side by side. And, unlike many academic critical mags, they’re not all snobby about their work. They want good, sound, well-written criticism, so you’re not going to get away with sloppy work and bald amateurism, but don’t think you need a PhD to read or write for this fine publication. Give them a whirl. They’re pretty rad.
In other news:
I have been really fortunate to meet a lot of really cool writers since I moved to Portland. Not all of them live in Portland, but many of them have connections to other writers in Portland or have read here. Here is what some of them have been up to:
- Meg Tuite has a new story in Tampa Review
- Chloe Caldwell and gang will be touring Texas this week, with other ports South to follow, on the Southern Comfort literary reading tour
- Dena Rash Guzman has an essay in an anthology about David Bowie; she also has a new poem over at Ink Node
- Monica Drake has been getting a lot of love lately for her haunting essay in Oregon Humanities (seriously, go read that)
- Ellen Marie Wiseman’s first novel, The Plum Tree, is available for pre-order on Amazon now. I’ve been excited about this book since I first met Ellen online (“A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring love, The Plum Tree follows a young German woman through the chaos of World War II and its aftermath.” — how could you not be interested in that?), and along with the pre-order announcement, her publisher has released an image of the book’s gorgeous cover. Go check it out.
- Kevin Sampsell and the gang at Future Tense Publishing has announced that, in addition to Gregory Sherl’s upcoming prose-poem-memoir Monogamy Songs, they’ll be publishing a new book of essays by Jamie Iredell next year. Busy busy over at Future Tense!
- And, in the vein of awesome literary magazines that are also WordPress sites (easy to subscribe, people!): Michelle Augello-Page recently announced the launch and first issue of Siren, a magazine of “edgy and experimental” art and literature. Hit that. You won’t regret it.
This month, Unshod Quills is celebrating its first anniversary, and Dena Rash Guzman invited a bunch of past contributors and other local litsters out to UQ Headquarters for a big shindig to celebrate. Here are some photos of writers being crazy:
(I took all these photos. Except the two I’m in, of course. Later, there was a campfire, and the following morning coffee by sunrise, but I don’t have pics of those. Also, I’m not labeling these — it would just be too complicated — but if you’re curious, writers/editors/etc. in these pics include Chad Reynolds, Dena Rash Guzman, Hobie Anthony, Kerry Cohen, Kevin Sampsell, James Bernard Frost, Katharine Hargreaves, Laurel Hermanson, Monica Storss, and my wife, Jennifer Snoek-Brown. And a bunch of other people — I lost track after a while.)