author photo by Christina Butcher

Like most writers out there, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve been publishing fiction since my grad-school days, and now I’m the author of five books: the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them (Blue Cactus Press); fiction chapbooks, Box Cutters (sunnyoutside press) and Where There Is Ruin (Red Bird Chapbooks); and the novel Hagridden (Columbus Press). My most recent book is a standalone nonfiction chapbook, There Are No False Alarms, an essay about sheltering with my college students during an active-shooter lockdown in 2018.

Thanks to my novel, Hagridden, I am a recipient of a 2013 Oregon Literary Fellowship. I also have been shortlisted in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition, twice for short fiction and once for my novella, and I have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2013 storySouth Million Writers Award. In 2015, I also was a contributor to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Because I like to preach what I practice (so to speak), I teach college writing and literature at Pierce College. I also give craft lectures and lead writing workshops. Want to invite me to your campus or your class, in person or via Skype/Zoom? You’re welcome to email me with inquiries.

I also serve as production editor for Jersey Devil Press and have served as the fiction judge for local literary contests in Oregon and Indiana.

I was born in Oklahoma but raised mostly in Texas; I’ve also lived in Oregon and Wisconsin, and I love to travel: in addition to driving much of the US, I’ve visited Mexico, Turkey, Canada, Scotland, Austria, The Netherlands, and Thailand. I also spent a few years living in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Today, home is Tacoma, Washington, where I live with my wife, Jennifer. (RIP to our beloved cats, Ibsen and Brontë. We miss you, kitties.)

You can contact me at here:

25 thoughts on “Bio

  1. Hey, Sam.
    I just wanted to thank you for what you said about the piece I wrote on my blog, “Last Will and Testament.”

    That meant a lot, that was a hard piece to live, and tougher to write….

    I’ve turned a corner, met the love of my life, devoted a blog to her (here on WordPress) and am moving to Texas, Jan. 30th. Through our limited correspondence on FB, you are one of a handful of people who held my head up over the last year, when it would have been easier to hang it.

    Thank you for you
    Thank you for your talent.
    Much luck in all that you do….
    Rob Will (formerly “Holdmylife”, as I am now indeed, ready to use it!)

    1. Dude, Rob! Thanks, man — those are some damn kind words!

      Glad to hear everything is rocking right along now. What’s your new blog? I’d love to check it out.

      Also, where are you headed in Texas? I grew up there, you know, and I’ve lived or visited pretty much everywhere east of the mountains.

      Keep me posted, and great to hear from you!

      1. Headed to Plano…..
        for that’s where she is….
        I have a poetry blog called Stone Cold Flame:
        (the missing dot between www and nicemeh is a happy accident.)
        The one I wrote about the evolution of our relationship is on wordpress: doishine.
        some may considerate is syrupy, but I am and always have been sentimental.

  2. I love “Colony”, Sam. I often wonder if I shared space with Westerberg, Ringenberg, Danzig, Cochran, and Mick Jones/Joe Strummer, if I’d feel like killing myself instead of being in a state of inspiration. Not that I am a musician, but I feel my writing flows more that way than in the way of the great published poets……..
    Thanks for writing that.

    1. Hey, thanks again! I had a blast writing those OBCBYL stories, and I need to revisit that vibe again. I’m working on a batch of others, not for OBCBYL but for various other pubs, but with the school year just now getting under way again, it’s been hard to find a good rhythm. Maybe this weekend I’ll get some good work done.

      Glad to hear you’re headed to Plano, by the way. We have some good mutual friends in that vicinity, so it’s nice to know you’ll be in good company. 🙂

  3. Thanks for following my blog – I love that both you and your wife have such interesting blogs! Looking forward to reading future posts and catching up on old ones….

    1. Your blog looks great! That reading underwater post made my skin crawl (oh no! all those books being ruined!) but the photos are so interesting I had to set aside my squeamishness at the wanton disregard for paper and just loved the whole thing. And, you know, Fitzgerald, who is awesome.

      And you checked out my wife’s stuff, too? That’s great! She does awesome things — she’s WAY more on the ball than I am. Glad you’re liking everything, and I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on each other’s ideas! 🙂

      1. I know, underwater reading is such a horrible waste of books (in my imagination, all the photos were taken in succession and they all used the same book therefore only one book was sacrificed!). 🙂

      2. I do see some clever uses for weeded, out of date books, like book-cover purses (my wife has two), book sculptures, bookshelves made of books. It’s a clever way to give new life to discarded books and to honor reading. So in my head, these are all books headed for the recycling bin anyway. 🙂

  4. Hello Samuel –
    I’m just stopping by to let you know that I truly enjoyed your “Potato” story, the one featured at The Writing Disorder. Gritty stuff. From the tiny tool kit to the cuff button to the trailing cigarette ashes . . . the balance of otherwise simple details with the family “dynamics” worked for me.
    Thanks. And I’m glad to discover your web site – plenty of groovy places to visit and bits to read.
    Keep them coming.

    1. Hey, thanks, Robert! And I enjoyed your story, too — Vienna’s a great city, and your details brought back memories of visiting there. Great website, too. I’m not normally a mystery reader, but boy, your Sailor Doyle books look interesting!

      Thanks for stopping by! Let’s keep tabs on each other. 🙂

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