“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.
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
It’s taken so long to get this story into print — just published by Vignette Review — that I had to go back and re-read it. I’d forgotten how much it relies on dialogue, and how much it leaves for the reader to deduce. Try it yourself; click ==> here
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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
I’ve been working my way through that how-to-flash-fiction book, with some luck. One prompt was to think about an article of clothing found. I can’t let you read the whole thing until Ocotillo Review prints it in January, but you can have a taste. Click ==> HERE.
The other one just accepted, to be published in December, was prompted by a neighbor whose foot slipped from the brake to the accelerator as he was parking. Frankly, I hope he doesn’t find and read this one, because I’ve taken a wholly innocent slip and turned it into real damage and a family argument. Again just a taste ==> HERE.