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.


“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.


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.


“Connubial Counsel” published

This is one I set out hoping to make all-dialogue, as I did with “Tattoos,” “Customer Service” and “The Whole Truth”. Didn’t quite make it — had to add a few lines of exposition — but close. It’s now published in Moria. Read it in the online magazine here

— or on this website here

PS — I also this week placed another short story, “The Good Seed,” which will be part of an anthology, titled “The Professor”, to published in mid-January by (!!)Temptation Press. You can get a taste of it here



Ah, royaltie$$$$!

  An anthology called We’ve Been Trumped accepted my short story “Buying Votes” last September, promising to share royalties with the authors whose works were included.  (Mine mentioned Trump only in passing; it’s a commentary on the cost of elections.)
  The paperback book was expected to have a rather short half-life, and be of no interest after the election.  We all know how that turned out — and it seems the anthology is still bought now and then ($11.99 at Amazon, $2.99 as a Kindle book).  Very now and then. I know that because I’ve just been told that my quarterly royalty payment is in the mail: $0.25.
   I’ll try not to spend my new authorial wealth in one place. Meantime, if you missed it earlier, you don’t need to buy the book to read my story. Click here.

Belatedly, Birding

All fiction, I suppose, draws in some way from the author’s own experience. My Birding, published earlier this year by Oracle Fine Arts Review, was inspired by the experience of being recognized as a once-TV-personality on arriving at my new retirement home. The rest, I assure readers, is pure fiction. Absolutely. There isn’t even a swamp here.

Read it–>here


Ordinary Madness?

I’ve been reading a book on short-shorts, or flash fiction, that includes prompts to try one’s hand at approaches others have taken. One product of that experimentation is a piece I called Dawn Babel.  It seemed unlikely to find a home, until I read about an unusual litmag:

“Ordinary Madness is an online literary journal that seeks experimental authors and artists. The idea is that we want short bursts of consciousness, rather than a long stream of epic story telling. We want the moments, the scenes, the fingerprints and seconds of time that we all experience.”

Lo and behold, Dawn Babel is on page 10 of the just-out magazine. Read it here: Ordinary Madness:

Or of course read it here, at the top of the list of published short stories.


Gravity: A Force of Nature

Halfway Down the Stairs, a respected online literary magazine whose editors are  spread across the globe, set “Gravity” as the theme for its June 2017 issue. Such themes are common, and the editors seldom spell out exactly what they’re looking for; one suspects they’re hoping writers will show them work they hadn’t anticipated but will like.

I’d recently finished a story about an adolescent boy, bullied at school, who comes home in a 13-year-old snit and is sent for a walk to cool down. In the nearby forest he discovers a tree-hut high in a sturdy oak — high enough that gravity, if he fell, would do him real damage. He summons up his courage and climbs.

That was apparently an interpretation of the theme close enough to satisfy the editors. You can read it by clicking here.


Topical short-story anthologies

    I’m so new at this that I don’t know whether publishing whole books of topical short stories is or isn’t a new phenomenon. In any case, I now have three stories waiting to be published in palpable paper or ephemeral e-books. The latest is one I originally titled “New Neighbors.” When I learned that Zimbell House was inviting entries for a new anthology to be titled “Neighbors”, I changed my title to Wildlife. It won’t be out until April, so I can only offer a taste of it now.
    Another one accepted last week (total now 18!) is The Terrorist. Like the three dialogue-only pieces, I wrote this one for a competition — by Writers Weekly — with a rather demanding bunch of phrases to be used. It didn’t win that competition, but a Massachusetts-based magazine, “Meat for Tea: A Valley Review,” liked it and will publish it in January.