Buy Hagridden and help fight hate

  In the past month, Americans have seen our darkest underbelly — our racists, our hate groups — crawl out from under their rocks and take to the streets to incite and commit violence and, in some cases, to commit murder and terrorism. Really, this has been bubbling up like some foul odor from ourContinue reading “Buy Hagridden and help fight hate”

Thoughts from a white writer on our responsibilities as writers

I write historical fiction, and my approach is largely realistic. I also grew up in the South and set most of my fiction there, and for the time being, most of what I write about is set during some of the most difficult and painful eras in our nation’s short history: the Civil War andContinue reading “Thoughts from a white writer on our responsibilities as writers”

Bodhisattvas amid the ruin, and the treasure you can give

At my old Buddhist community in Portland, tonight would have been Bodhisattva Night, a social gathering (mostly for the kids, but definitely for the young at heart as well) in which the sangha comes together and talks about what it means, this time of year in the West especially, to give of oneself, wholly andContinue reading “Bodhisattvas amid the ruin, and the treasure you can give”

Here Is My Ruin / Here Is My Treasure

The title of my new chapbook, from Red Bird Chapbooks, is Where There Is Ruin. It’s a title I borrowed from a line by Sufi poet Mevlana*: “Where there is ruin, there is hope of treasure.” When I told my mother the title, she thought it sounded awfully bleak, and indeed the stories in this collectionContinue reading “Here Is My Ruin / Here Is My Treasure”

Holiday shopping, literature, and a thousand lights in the coming night

Usually, around this time of year, I tell you all the books I’ve been reading, or all the books I’ve been buying, or all the books in the past year or so by friends of mine, and I suggest you make your holiday shopping list from it. It’s a way to support literature and my literaryContinue reading “Holiday shopping, literature, and a thousand lights in the coming night”

When “Enough!” is never enough

Whenever tragedy strikes America, mostly in the form of mass shootings, I have taken time out of my curriculum to foster a class discussion of the events. I have done this so regularly now that friends have started coming to me for advice about or to share their experiences with fostering such discussions in theirContinue reading “When “Enough!” is never enough”

Setting aside Chekhov’s gun

I love Anton Chekhov. His sense of story rooted in character and culture has long held me spellbound, and I hold him as an unreachable ideal for what the best of short fiction can look like. He also had some terrific writing advice, probably the most famous of which was in favor of necessity in the details: “RemoveContinue reading “Setting aside Chekhov’s gun”

We are Umpqua Community College

This morning, a young man went to the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, walked into a writing classroom, and opened fire. As I write this, the most common reports are that twenty people are wounded, and thirteen people are dead, including the writing teacher. I teach at Chemeketa Community College; today, IContinue reading “We are Umpqua Community College”