Empty Nest

Sometimes I marvel at the way elaborate inventions suggest themselves when I jot down and develop a fragment of memory or description of place. Empty Nest, just published in the Bowling Green online magazine, draws from a very real memory of taking our daughter to college. The rest, I assure you, is pure fiction.

The magazine — a PDF the size of a thick book, with the work of a dozen other short story writers and a flock of poets — is available free here.  But you can access my short story much more easily by clicking ==>HERE.


Cambodian memories

My first few days in Phnom Penh in 1966 were stunningly memorable, not least for my Lowestoft Chronicle [postage stamp] Issue 33 March 2018middle-of-the-night initial encounter with Norodom Sihanouk, the monarch/president. It was also my first trip with the cyclopousse (pedicab) driver who would somehow always be available when I wanted to go somewhere — and who would ultimately confess that he reported on my travels to the police once a week.

I departed from my usual fiction routine to write a memoir slice that’s published today in the online literary magazine Lowestoft Chronicle.  Read it by clicking ==>here.


“Iniquities” published by Montana Mouthful

“Montana Mouthful,” the press release said, “is an independent, digital literary magazine devoted to publishing short fiction and nonfiction, poetry, artwork, and photography. The debut issue, themed “Firsts” is now available.”

As it happened, I’d been working on a short story that fit the “firsts” bill. One of those efforts that began with simply trying to paint a physical scene, a mid-summer hayfield, and waiting to see what my protagonist wanted to happen. The title and theme came not from any schoolteacher, but from one of my first newspaper editors. It all came together, and the editors of Montana Mouthful liked it. You’ll have to flip through to page 13, but you can read it –>here.



It began, at a Fairfield University MFA week, as an exercise in making sounds come alive — but then it grew into a short-short that has finally seen the light of day in riverbabble, a  California-based online magazine. You can read it there by clicking ==>here.



Three more accepted, one more in print

Ocotillo Review v. 11 January 2018

What a great week! On Sunday, one of my favorite short stories, “Exoneration,” was accepted. It was part of my MFA thesis and has ever since been looking for a home. Finally! Then on Tuesday, two more were taken: “Tchotchkes” and “Sirens.”  None of them like one another. As usual, I can only post a tease here now, a few paragraphs to whet the appetite; it will be February or later before you can read the entire stories. A minor frustration.

Then, today, a copy of The Ocotillo Review arrived in the mail, with my “Chip Off the Old Block” and 260 very readable pages from other authors. The book is available ==>here — or you can read my story right now: click ==>here



The Good Seed

I had to stretch my short story “The Good Seed”: Zimbell House wanted four stories, each at least 3,000 words, for its forthcoming anthology The Professor, “a collection of erotic tales.”  I had the professor in the story already, and was more erotic than I usually try. I added a few words, and it was a perfect fit. It’s now available from Amazon and other booksellers, but you can read it ==>here.


A dark story: “Trails”

Rosette Maleficarum calls itself a new literary journal that “shows the beautiful, yet depraved nature that lies within reality, both in humanity and the environment surrounding us. From dark, Gothic fairy tales, to dream-laced poems, the Maleficarum dances between the boundaries of life and death itself.”  Maleficarum is perhaps best translated as “witchcraft”.

I hadn’t written “Trails” with witchcraft or depravity in mind, although it has its dark side. A bit embarrassing: As often happens, I’ve taken a tiny fraction of a new friend and developed a tale entirely unlike her.  Anyway, the magazine’s editor (would you believe? Robin Goodfellow, editor of a journal inviting witchcraft!) thought my story fit her criteria. Read it here:


Transgenders in the military still an issue

I wrote my flash-fiction story “Tiresias” back in August, soon after President Trump tweeted that transgendered people would be barred from serving in the military. I sent it to a few literary magazines that thrive on political controversy — and that turned it down.

A small magazine, Ponder Review, accepted it, but has taken three months to get it into print. I thought by now it would no longer seem timely. But Trump (having been told by the courts he can’t do that) is back tweeting about the issue.  You can read the again-relevant “Tiresias” at the magazine’s website (where you’ll have to scroll down to page 37) or — probably easier — read it right –> here.

A funny PS: An editor wrote me asking me to add a footnote on who Tiresias was and what his/her relevance is to T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”.  I sent back this:

In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. Sometimes, like the oracles, he would receive visions; other times he would listen for the songs of birds. . . . Tiresias was a useful figure to a wide variety of authors, including T.S. Eliot, who identified him as playing a key role in The Waste Land. In having been both man and woman, he served as a kind of bridge between the classical world and modernity.

The footnote doesn’t appear.  I suspect that the editors, at least some of whom must have studied English literature, were embarrassed at needing their memories refreshed.


Finding the right editor

Vignette Review has just accepted my short-short “At the Swing Tree”  — which tells a story I’ve thought about occasionally: Getting a story published is often a matter of hitting an editor with something just up his or her alley at the moment.

“At the Swing Tree” is an unusual story, and has been out and about the circuit of literary magazines for a year, bringing a dozen polite no-thank you notes. Vignette took just under two weeks to say yes, we’d like the publish it in January.  Found the right editor.

As usual, I can’t show you the whole story until it’s published, but if you’re of a mind to whet your appetite, go here