‘Our Lacks, in the Shapes of Fairy Tales’

February 26th, 2015

In honor of Tell a Fairy Tale Day (Feb. 26th) I wrote an essay about my own “lacks,” and how fairy tales have helped fill them, for Alternating Current. Go read! It came out more personal than I intended, but it’s all good.

Thanks to Leah Angstman for giving me the space to write this. Really fun to write a piece of non-fiction.

‘Cardinine, Seafoamyst, Morningite’ live over at West Branch

February 16th, 2015

Read it if you want to read something about a boy turning into various minerals. I hope you love it. It’s probably my favorite story I’ve written so far.

My boy shows me his right eye become cardinine, seemingly impossible perfect cube that glows bright red in the morninglight. I try looking as if I might see another kind of inside-him: where tumble his dreams, tastes other than iron and stone, the memory of his own skin.

He says he still remembers the day his mother named the mineral in honor of her love for him, and his love for that red-winged flutter. How later he held that perfect cube in his mouth and tasted it, his mouth stained red for weeks afterward.

My boy thinks that might be why he is turning mineral now, but I tell him no, there’s no telling for these kinds of things. He cries copper-green. The mucus-gum in his mouth when he speaks looks like stalactites. His mouth is a cave: all I want to do is step inside.

This publication means a lot to me, as West Branch—and its editor, G.C. Waldrep—was one of the first magazines to offer positive, personal feedback on the stories I was submitting to them, even if they all came back as rejections. Those notes of promise meant a lot to me.

In other news, my chapbook/collection was named by Caketrain as a notable in their latest contest, which was an incredibly unexpected thrill. It sent me through a whirlwind of emotions—so close yet so far—but has since settled, leaving me incredibly grateful to Amanda & Joseph for their appreciation of my work. Such an honor.

‘The Harras’ Surveyance’ over at Spork!

October 30th, 2014

In what is most likely my last veterinarian story until I turn the damn world into a novel, you can now read a story about horses and eyeball and blood over at Spork Press.

Many thanks to Joel Smith there for selecting the piece and being kind about my strange and grammatically-questionable title.

‘Prepare to Die’ over at Cartridge Lit

September 16th, 2014

Enormously happy to release Cartridge Lit‘s first chapbook, PREPARE TO DIE, by the wonderfully talented Jess Jenkins. It’s a wonderful collection of poems and I am remarkably grateful for the opportunity to bring it into the world. I hope people enjoy the design of it. I worked hard on that part of things.

One of the best surprises in the whole process was learning that Jess had just graduated in the spring from the very same MFA program that I started this fall. I had no idea when we accepted the chapbook that she ran in many of the same circles I run in now, and that many of my current classmates have read portions of the chapbook when it was in progress. It feels extra special to help bring all that work and collaboration to life.

READ IT. LOVE IT. PREPARE TO DIE.

West Branch & ‘The Great Horned Owls’ Beheadings’

September 5th, 2014

It’s been an exciting few days around here.

First off, a story of mine, “Cardinine, Seafoamyst, Morningite,” has been accepted by West Branch. This is a big deal for me for two reasons. First off, the editors there, including G.C. Waldrep, were among the very first top-tier literary magazines who gave me positive rejections. They were little filaments of hope, that I was working my way toward some kind of literary value. Back in 2012, they wrote:

Thanks for sending “Panthera.” We read it several times, with interest, but ultimately there were sudden shifts of tone that caused us to trip. As one of my associate fiction editors opined, “this one’s one or two solid drafts away from true excellence.”

That kind of rejection is at once heartbreaking as it is wonderful. I held onto that possibility—if only I worked harder, tweaked that piece one more time, dove a little deeper into the resonance of each sentence. I needed to prove to myself that I was capable. That I could be worthy. I submitted two more piece and received two more kind rejections. Five in all, before the sixth came through.

Two years and a day after receiving the rejection for “Panthera,” things came together. To me (and here is the second reason), it’s proof that no volume of rejections hold one back. It’s all in the work on the page. It’s all about progression, becoming more aware as a writer, aiming for that next seemingly impossible level of quality and care. It’s proof that one should never give up. Keep clawing. Don’t get petrified. Don’t fossilize. Yes, those are references to the story. I love this story so much. I hope people read it someday soon.

* * *

On another note, my piece “The Great Horned Owls’ Beheadings” is now up at Big Lucks. Thanks to Michael Beeman and Mark Cugini for their work in getting it put together. I really like this one, too. There is autobeheading owls and hydromorphone abuse and dust on eyelids.

‘Darkest Spots in the Galaxy’ in The Collapsar

June 3rd, 2014

I have a new (weird) story up at The Collapsar today — “Darkest Spots in the Galaxy.” It’s about a guy on a spaceship that swallows stars, and what he left behind. Maybe some more things, too. Read! It’s a short one.

Cartridge Lit!

March 30th, 2014

It’s been announced today that I’ll be co-editing Cartridge Lit with Justin Daugherty, who is an all-star and amazing writer/editor/human. Or, I presume he’s an amazing person, because I haven’t actually met him on human terms yet.

Be sure to send us your video game-related fiction!

List of wants:

  • Everything FF VI
  • Bo Jackson as 8-bit deity
  • Stories about life in a New Game+
  • Poems about those who lived through the World of Ruin
  • Fragmented essays on time travel
  • Pixels with minds of their own
  • Quests to save the world
  • Counter-Strike terrorists who go good; counter-terrorists who can’t help but TK

And and and and and. Give us everything!

Hello, Arizona.

March 14th, 2014

Very recently, I accepted an offer to attend the University of Arizona’s MFA program starting this fall. My wife and I will be moving from Madison, Wisconsin and to Tucson, Arizona sometime this summer.

This is years in the making. An MFA isn’t something I always felt was necessary to my growth as a writer, but it’s nonetheless something I’ve worked toward during these last few years, as I tried my best to support my wife through veterinary school. And now that she’s graduating in roughly two months, it’s time to move on. It was the sliver of promise that made certain days more bearable. That helped remind me what it is, exactly, that I’m trying to do.

An MFA isn’t an answer, but rather a clue.

I have so many people to thank. My wife, who has always dealt with the obsessive way I sometimes hound the computer, who has always believed there’s value in what I do and aim to do, and has always supported me. My parents, who never questioned my sanity, and read everything of mine they could, even if they didn’t understand it. Joe Pfister, who will probably never read this, Internet-curmudgeon he is (he doesn’t even use Twitter!!!), but who has nonetheless critiqued and improved my writing countless times, and who continues to be my go-to source for all the complaints and joys that accompany writing. There’s the wonderful people who took the time to write recommendation letters for me — Dean Bakopoulos, Judith Claire Mitchell, and Dave Housley — and who can expect more gushing thanks to come. Lisa Mecham, who has become something of a big-writer-sister to me, and is a constant source of encouragement.

I’m going to take the next two years to work harder than I ever have. I’ll work with Kate Bernheimer and Manuel Munoz and Ander Monson and the rest of the incredible faculty and write as much as I possibly can, the best I possibly can, and then it will be over, and then I’ll keep writing on and on and on.

I’m going to leave Wisconsin and live in the desert and I’ll be really happy about everything.

I mean, I already am happy with everything. But still.

Clues are my favorite form of navigation, because they always lead somewhere bigger and more clear.

‘Darkest Spots in the Galaxy’

March 11th, 2014

The good people at The Collapsar accepted a story of mine, “Darkest Spots in the Galaxy.” Really happy to be a part of a relatively new but fantastic magazine. They’ve published some of my favorite writers/humans, like Robert Kloss, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Ray Shea, Georgia Bellas, and Jill Talbot. So awesome to join their ranks someday soon.

More information on a publish date coming sometime soon.