Ninth Letter & Other News

Matt Minicucci over at Ninth Letter recently accepted my story, “Puncture,” for a forthcoming issue. What an honor! Many thanks to Matt and the whole crew over at the journal, based at what I’m told is an Indiana U. rival school, U. of Illinois. In any case, it’s really one of the most beautiful literary magazines I’ve ever seen, so I’m grateful my piece has found a home there.

I’m writing a lot and revising a lot. I just started sending out a few stories that have been in revision since last April. I’m also nearing completion on my collection, I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM, so that’s exciting. Oh, and I’m reading some amazing novels and collections. Kyle Minor’s PRAYING DRUNK is worth shouting-out here, and a shouting-at–as in, if you haven’t yet read the book, I am shouting at you to do so. Like, right now.

Rejection is happening, though not in any great amount or frequency, which is mostly a result of my sending out a lot less and a lot less frequently. And, I suspect, taking care before sending out. I’m only sending out what I love, though, so the rejection comes with some sad sting. So it goes.

How do I cope? I juice. Vegetables, mostly. I juice kale and mint and celery and ginger and beet and cucumber and apple. I juice carrot and parsley. Am I out of control? I’m not. I’ve decided I’m not. I feel a lot better. So that’s good. (Take that, rejection?)

There’s lots of exciting stuff happening over at The Indiana Review. Important to note we close for fiction prize and general submissions on October 31, so send before it’s too late! Check it all out here.

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News on News on News

I learned several days ago I’ll be writing for one of my all-time favorite literary magazines. I’m keeping the details on the DL for the time being, but: excited, honored, and looking forward.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency ran my piece, “Grammar Gossip,” and Urban Outfitters recommended it. Thanks to Chris Monks for giving it a home!

The Indiana Review has a fancy new website, and our fiction prize is open to submissions until October 31. Here’s an interview with our prize judge, the fancy and fantastic Roxane Gay. General submissions are open too, so polish up and send your best!

I finished my second summer interning with/assisting the amazing Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management. She’s truly the best. I read a ton and learned a ton. I’m just so grateful. Thanks for the opportunity, Erin!

I’d also be remiss not to mention I have the pleasure of teaching a fiction workshop full of smart and talented writers this semester. A reminder to be grateful for the opportunity, even as much else in my life gets pretty this song.

Submission season is again upon us, and I again am sending out: two stories, one longer and one shorter, both sad and gay and a little messed up. Fingers crossed they find homes soon!

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Story Things, Bodega, Slice Conference, & Other News!

I was going to start this blog post by writing that my mother once said “The truth will set you free.” But this isn’t true. My mother said this many times, and recently I’ve been considering the adage more closely, and I have realized it is not true. The truth cannot set you free. The truth can keep you free, but when you’ve lied, your only options are: (1) to reveal, and in doing so to explode the awful bomb of the lie, its shrapnel hitting all sorts of unintended targets. Or (2), to live the lie out. You can decide to uneasily fold it into your identity. You can try to make it somehow true. But even that, we all know, can never work.

A lot of my recent stories examine characters who choose the latter: to live out their lies, to even make a point to prove them to be true, sacrificing too much of their own identity in the process. “I Know You Know Who I Am,” the most recent, is about this exactly. An excerpt, as the narrator describes it:

“It wasn’t that I’d never lied before, or even that my lies weren’t frequent: they were. The problem was that I’d made this person, this ghost, who could walk through the walls of my life, disorienting and rearranging, forcing me to recalculate every time Luke asked about him, which was often. And even more of a problem—it was working: Luke believed me. If I wanted him to think I was generous, I could work into conversation that Finn had been in some trouble with his landlord and I’d bailed him out. If I wanted him to think I had self-control, I’d explain that there had been another incident and Finn needed to learn I couldn’t do everything for him. After a few months, I had given Finn his own, terrifying breath.”

The story means a lot to me, not only because this is all stuff I used to struggle with (as I think many of us do), but because I feel like I’m making progress as a writer and a person. Basically, I’m starting to write the stuff that makes me uncomfortable. Writing a first-person narrator who we know from the start is a liar was especially hard, too, for somewhat obvious reasons. And so the charge became trying to tip off the reader via external clues which parts of his story are lies, and which are the bleeding, sorry truths.

Other news! Bodega Magazine recently accepted a brief piece, “Paid Vacation,” for their upcoming issue. Thank you, Emily Pan and Melissa Swantkowski!

I also got word I received a scholarship to attend Slice Magazine‘s conference this fall. So I’m pretty jazzed about that. The drive from Indiana to New York will be long. I will drink a lot of coffee and listen to a lot of 80s Pop Pandora Radio. Which, by the way, I highly recommend.

I’m nearly done with my workshop syllabus for the fall, in which I’ll teach amazing stories by (among others) Carol Anshaw, Kate Walbert, Amy Bloom, Vincent Scarpa, Catherine Carberry, Elise Burke, Roxane Gay, Rebecca Makkai, Karen Dietrich, Jennifer Egan, Jen Michalski, and Megan Mayhew Bergman’s astonishing first collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise. I’m so excited. I’m so grateful. I’m really looking forward.

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The Journal, Day One, SmokeLong Guest-Editing

I’m so, so excited that my story, “I Know You Know Who I Am,” will appear in The Journal! Many thanks to Brett and Preston for their time with the piece, and to the rest of the crew over at The Journal; they put out such beautiful issues filled with smart and big-hearted work. That this is likely the title story in my first collection (which is still in-progress!) only adds to my excitement. What an honor!

My story, “River Is to Ocean As ____ Is to Heart,” will be out in Amazon’s Day One in early/mid-June. Carmen Johnson, a fiercely talented editor, is to thank for this. Thank you, Carmen! Look for and read it on your Kindle app. if you want (and if you have one). It’s a real privilege to have work appear in this journal. I love the stories and poems it’s featured (Ann Rushton, Michael Conforti, among others). Looking to treat yourself? Subscribe.

Carmen helped tumble the rock that was this piece, which means a particular lot for what this story means to me. A lot of the story is in me in some way, though I’ll make a point to mention I’ve never cheated on an exam (as Ty did)! Also: that’s not a lie (as Ty is also a frequent liar).

Other news: I guest-edited SmokeLong Quarterly a while back and chose–to my surprise–a piece by my close friend, Vincent Scarpa. I’ve been a fan of his writing for, I can now say it, years. The judging was blind, and there were truly so many great contenders. I’m psyched to have you read his story. You should read it now. Find it, oh, here.

I’m working hard on a longer story that likes to fall apart on me. But it’s getting there, I think. It’s on its way.

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Pieces Online at Tin House & McSweeney’s!

So. Yesterday was my birthday. I didn’t eat cake, but I did read some of my favorite stories and do some writing. I worked on my humor book. Progress is being made. I aim to have a full draft by the end of the summer.

My short story template is up at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. And my brief story, “The Vanishing,” is up as a part of Tin House‘s flash series. What an honor. Many thanks to Chris, Masie, and Thomas for their time with my work.

Other exciting news: I’ll be associate editor of Indiana Review next year (and editor the following year!).

So grateful for this news. For now, I’m back to reading and revising, readjusting to warmth and sun in Bloomington.

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“Master’s Thesis” in Columbia Journal

I’m honored to have my story, “Master’s Thesis,” appear in Columbia: a Journal of Literature and Art. Thanks to EB Bartels and the Columbia crew. One of the characters, Luke, keeps showing up in my stories. He’s an enthusiastic, failed photographer. I’m not sure the reason for the reappearances. I barely know anything about photography.

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Good News!

The past few weeks have brought some great news. A ten-dollar bill on the ground. A few kind, encouraging personal rejections from my favorite journals. Congratulations from one of my all-time favorite writers. Flourless chocolate cake. You get the point.

Another great thing: Tin House recently accepted my brief piece, “The Vanishing,” which is set to appear online in April. I credit my father with giving me the idea for the story. He’s a surgeon, and once, he heard from a colleague about a sword-swallower who actually had a sword lodged in his throat. It had happened during a performance. I was interested in how that violent act might resonate with the narrator’s inability to move forward in his life, the things and disappearances that are similarly paralyzing him, rendering him a mute player in his own life. What an honor to have this piece appear in such a fine journal! Many thanks to Masie and Thomas, editors extraordinaire.

I wrote a post about AWP Seattle for Indiana Review. I’m excited for you to read the new issue. Be sure to check out Annie Harnett’s story, “Cheek Teeth,” in its pages. It’s, in a word, astonishing.

See you in Seattle? See you in Seattle.

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South Dakota Review, Pushcart Nominations, and Story Submission

I received my contributor’s copies of South Dakota Review‘s fiftieth anniversary issue! It’s stunning. Thanks to Lee Ann Roripaugh, R.B. Moreno, Sara Henning, and the rest of the great SDR crew for including my short story, “Slow Exposure,” in its pages. And let’s freak out about this cover for a second, OK?

Yeah. It’s gorgeous.

I’m honored to have two stories nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Thanks to the good folks at NANO Fiction and Wichita State’s Mikrokosmos Literary Journal for their time with my words. How cool!

I’ve been revising a few stories and just started sending them out into the world, by which I mean submitting them to my favorite literary magazines. Fingers crossed for more good news soon!

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Story Acceptance, SmokeLong Guest Editing

I’m honored to have had my story, “Aim for the Heart,” accepted for publication with the brilliant Slice Magazine. The piece is about a pathological liar who lies about being an avid hunter, is coaxed into hunting with his boyfriend, gets a clear shot at a buck and kills it. This news means a lot: I love Slice; this is a longer story; my grandfather loved deer and I’ve been trying to write an impelling story with deer in it for a long time; I feel inexplicably attached to its characters, Bo and Neil. Thrilled! Many thanks to editors Celia and Maria, who are just the best.

I’m now an editorial assistant with Electric Literature‘s Recommended Reading. If you’re not already reading the fantastic work published there weekly, here, let me fix that.

I guest-edited for SmokeLong Quarterly a few months ago and selected Karen Dietrich‘s astonishing “Pierce to Vent.” It’s stunning. Check it out!

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New McSweeney’s Piece, New City, and Just a Lot of New Things

My field guide to uncommon punctuation, an addendum to my piece, “A Field Guide to Common Punctuation,” is up at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Thanks to McSweeney’s for the honor and to The New York Daily News for featuring the piece and to The Paris Review for recommending it. I’m basically an authority on punctuation, guys. And I’m writing humor regularly now, too, which is, like, fun.

In other news, I’ve moved to Bloomington, IN, which–I’m pretty sure–has a gay population that exceeds its deer population. Which is new for me. And which I love. I’ve been hanging out with the talented Doug Paul Case, whose work you should go read. Keep a finger on the pulse of this program. These folks are hugely talented; I’m lucky to be around them!

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