Our family lived four decades in a house facing the huge Keney Park that divided middle-class Blue Hills from Hartford’s lower-income North End. In our first year, my wife Brad was walking up the long block from the old Weaver High when a kid ran up from behind, snatched her purse and ran into the park. Undaunted and unafraid, she ran after him hollering “Stop, thief!’ until he outran her.
Happy ending: A woman across the park saw him (after he’d taken the little cash) throw the purse into a dumpster; she retrieved it and phoned us to come get it.
It didn’t take much to imagine a not-so-brave woman who didn’t know her neighbors and had a less happy ending. OpenDoor Magazine’s theme for March was “Footsteps,” a perfect fit. You can find my “By the Park” by downloading the March issue and searching (a bit cumbersome), but it’s easier read right here:
I suppose most writers describe best the places they know well. I increasingly find myself placing stories in a retirement community much like the one I’ve lived in now almost six years. But, I tell any neighbors who happen to read one of these stories, this isn’t about anyone here. Some of us may find common ground in some situations I invent, but they’re fiction. “New Beginnings” is a made-up story that I hope many of my friends will find as authentic as the locus. It fits the “l’appel du vide” (call of the void — don’t jump!) in Vol 12 of Nightingale & Sparrow, a literary magazine available both in print at Amazon and online ==>>here
Not that Emily is likely ever to encounter a problem like my protagonist’s. Rather, because that I learned from her example that a math teacher can retire to occasional classroom tutoring . “Math Game” is out now in Panoply; read it here==>>
Inlandia, A Literary Journey, invited narratives celebrating what they call the “Inland Empire” of Southern California.
I had such a narrative almost ready to go: Remembering when my college buddy Bill and I visited Death Valley on New Year’s Eve of 1951. As we clambered around an unusual formation of sand dunes, studying the patterns, the wind began to rise.
We were in for a gritty evening. I called it “A Lesson in Dunes.” It’s out now; read it here ==>>
An astonishing number of literary magazines nowadays say they’re looking for fantasy (or, as some phrase it, apocalyptic, fabulist, magic realist, paranormal, science fiction, supernatural, or weird stories.)
Although I’ve never been much into fantasizing, from time to time I toy with an idea just to see if I can pull it off. When Sisyphus Literary Journal invited stories with a theme of “truth”, I dug up one of those ideas, polished it, and tried a few titles (“Mona Lisa” and “The Miraculous Camera”.)
It’s a takeoff on a very old fable, and I finally chose a title that’s a broad hint to that origin — albeit most readers may not pick up on the hint until the final paragraph.
I sent “The Geppetto Camera” off in mid-June, expecting to hear nothing before their mid-September deadline. But they accepted it before I could even think about offering it elsewhere, and it’s out now. You can read it by clicking ==>>here
I spent the summer of 1951 zigzagging across the United States in my Model A Ford, aiming to have visited every one of the (then) 48 states before fetching up to begin my junior year at Cornell. I worked my way, finding a few days’ work here and there — until I hit a strikebound South. It’s a story I’ve told friends for years. I finally decided to write it out and get it published. Sheepshead Review in Wisconsin liked it, and you can read it on page 65 of their Summer 2021 issue ==>>here
or maybe to avoid skimming through five dozen online pages read on this blog, ==>>here
I had the idea in January, 2013: Two women, both widowed young, have been housemates for two decades. Then the one who owns the house decides to re-marry; the other has to make new plans. I sent her to Montana, trolling. In retrospect, it wasn’t very polished; after trying two magazines, I set it aside. A year ago I resurrected it, and did some re-writing. It’s now one I really like. So do others. I got several we-liked-it-but-aren’t-accepting-it responses (those are frustrating: encouraging but disappointing) before finally WayWords Literary Journal took it for its issue themed “connections”. It’s out today. This is one of the few magazines that doesn’t co-publish online; they want you to buy the paperback or Kindle edition. You can, at Amazon. But you can read it at my blog, ==>>here
Most literary magazines publish stories within a few weeks or perhaps a month of acceptance. Until now, the wild outlier in my experience was Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, which accepted my Rescue within four days of submission — and then took ten months to publish it online. Record broken: The Bookends Review accepted my Doctor’s Orders last September 17, and published it today, 10 1/2 months later! When they sent me a heads-up last week, I had to go back in my files to remember the story. In both cases I knew it would be a long wait, but didn’t anticipate how long it would seem. In the future, I’ll give preference to those with shorter turnarounds. Samuel Beckett’s characters made him famous by waiting for something that never happens, but I’m not that patient.
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==>>