Often I’m unsure, a few months after completing a story, where the idea originated. In the case of “His Child,” I remember only that a magazine—which did NOT ultimately accept my story—wanted something “loosely based upon the concept of a pause, of silence as an action, as something empty that adds to what is there, of the emptiness someone leaves in a room. . .”
We had friends whom we visited in their home at Lake George in upstate New York. I’m sure that’s the venue I imagined. The rest is . . . imagination.
You can read it in the new edition of Remington Review. You’ll have to tab in to page 12, the first prose piece in this volume. Go to==>>
OR (easier) read right here==>>
In the spring of 2020, the magazine Halfway Down the Stairs invited pieces on the theme “upside down.” They had already published one of my stories, so I was ready to try writing something to their theme.
I looked out the window, where a house sparrow was trying to solve a bird feeder. Bingo.
In a near-record 24 days they politely declined it; they had in mind ways the pandemic had upset lives. Undaunted, I tweaked and renamed it, and began sending it to others. After a year of more rejections, Open Door Magazine wrote this week that they wanted to publish what was now “The Mighty Sparrow,” not only as the lead piece in the July online Issue 10, but also in their October print anthology.
You can download (free) Issue 10 ==>>here
Or read “The Mighty Sparrow” ==>>here
We were well into the coronavirus shutdown when the idea came to me: Suppose a couple came to a retirement community (like the one where I live) explicitly to enjoy — separately — the huge variety of activities offered. And then suppose the pandemic forced them into close quarters, on each other’s nerves?
Flora Fiction, one of America’s literary magazines that still are printed as well as online, invited submissions for its Summer 2021 issue on the theme of ‘Freedom’. They had already published one of my earlier stories; this one sounded like a good fit. You can read it online ==>>here (but that gets you to a huge PDF for a cumbersome move to page 57, so) it’s probably easier to read ==>>here
When Caustic Frolic, which published my short story “Adoptees” a year ago, announced that their theme for Spring 2021 would be “Retrospect”, I had an entry already in mind. I find daily joy in an electronic picture frame daughter Emily prepared for Brad, and which is now mine. It has a lifetime’s photos in a thin package; I called the resulting piece “In Surreal Time”. You can read it now (command/control-plus will enlarge the type) in the new issue
Or of course read it ==>>right here:
I read you four stories this afternoon. Thinking some might want to re-read them,
I thought I’d make them easy to find right here at my blog:
Find Keepsakes, that Ursula and I read to you, ==>>here
Find For Unpolished Beauty, ranching near the High Sierra, ==>>here
Find Time Passing, emphasizing a place called November Falls, ==>>here
And find Strawberries, baking a pie for a lost husband, ==>>here
For a replay of my reading (helped by Ursula Korzenik, go ==>>here
Enjoy! And thanks for giving me an audience!
Usually, when a half-dozen or so magazines have turned down one of my stories, I go back to see if I can improve it. Usually, the story is accepted on my next round of offerings. Once in a while, I have another go at improvement, but then I may stubbornly think it’s a good story and keep sending it out until some second- or third-tier magazine likes it.
My “Gigolo” set a record, turned down seven dozen times (!) before Goat’s Milk Magazine, a Canadian online litmag, accepted it.
They published it with some typos, including my name (!), but you can read it at their website, here==>>
Or at mine, right here==>>
I suppose that most fiction draws here and there from the author’s own life. Even science fiction usually involves some very terrestrial human emotions.
In any case, you will surely recognize me between the lines of my “Vigil,” published today by The River, the online edition of a magazine called Sandy River. You can read it here==>>
I’ve tried a few times to write for The First Line, which as its name implies offers a prompt that must become the opening words. Last fall they wanted “loud music filled the room.” I concocted a story about a teenager waiting his turn to perform with the state orchestra, and called it Fortissimo. When it was turned down, I offered it elsewhere. An unusual online magazine, The Creativity Webzine, took only four days to snap it up and make it the lead piece in their March issue. You can read it ==>>here. (Alth0ugh frankly, I find their typography — every line centered — difficult; you may find it easier to read right here.)
The short story published as Tchotchkes began life more than five years ago as an unfocused description of the contents of an older friend’s decorative shelves. Not sure what to do with it, I set it aside. A year later, the germ of a short story came to me; I finished a first draft, called it Bric-a-Brac Secrets, and set it aside to ripen. Another year went by; I polished it, renamed it, and began sending it out.
Within three months, it was accepted by a magazine called 1932 Quarterly; I withdrew it from consideration elsewhere and waited to see it in print. And waited; and waited. Finally I poked around, and learned that 1932 Quarterly had gone out of business! Disheartened, I did nothing for a while, but finally began sending Tchotchkes out again.
At last! An online magazine called The Metaworker took it, and it’s finally out. You can read it ==>>here
There must be at least a smidgen of personal experience in most novels and short stories: The setting, often, and some of the characters.
My Maury’s Mustang is fiction only to protect the guilty: Even though it happened long ago, the government must still disapprove of having its horses poached. In this not-really-fiction story, the model for Maury was my best friend in college and on the California ranch near the scene of the crime.
His daughter had told me he had Alzheimer’s; I’d hoped to get it into print in time that he might have memory jogged if she read it to him. I phoned her this week, only to learn that I’m too late; he died earlier this year. I treasure many memories of our years together; his first ride on a half-broken desert mustang among the most vivid — one that surely deserves recording. It’s a “Saddlebag Feature” in the thick Winter 2020 issue of Saddlebag Dispatches. You can read it ==>>here