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.
Anyway, you can read it now online ==>>here
Or right ==>>at this blog
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==>>
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!
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
Ordinarily, part of an author’s task is to describe the place, the setting where a story takes place.
Some years ago I encountered a different approach, especially appropriate for the increasingly popular short-short “flash” fiction: nothing but dialogue—not even a he-said/she-said—and let the reader fill in the rest.
Intimations of Mortality isn’t my first in this format; elsewhere here at my blog you’ll find The Whole Truth, Tattoos, Keepsakes, Surveillance and Customer Service. This latest kicked around for a year and a half . . . and then New Feathers editor Wade Fox snapped it up in less than a month. The third print volume of his anthologies is promised in late January, but meantime you can read my Intimations (and others) ==>>here
My short story “Strawberries” is a personal favorite that draws on a flood of memories, but it’s had a hard time seeing the light of day. It was accepted four years ago by The Violet Hour, a literary magazine that went defunct a few months later. When I finally figured that out, I sent the story off to another magazine called Aftermath. It, too, went out of business, although it took me long months to discover that my story was still homeless.
Discouraged, I sat on it for more than a year before trying Halfway Down the Stairs, an online-only magazine that had meanwhile taken another of my stories. They accepted it in three weeks; you can read it now ==>>here
Elizabeth Ann Atkins, one of the Two Sisters who awarded The Daddy Tree a prize, invited me to her weekly YouTube writing conversation. I of course accepted: Something new to try, decades after I was the one doing the interviewing on WFSB’s Face the State
I thought it went fairly well; you can see it ==>> here
I’ve never tried my hand at science fiction or anything like it, but when Two Sisters Writing and Publishing opened a contest for ‘magical realism’, I thought of the deep woods where my lifelong pal Steve and I played a bow-and-arrow game in our junior-high years. Two Sisters had published my “Limerence” as a winner in their 2018 contest anthology; maybe I could try giving that forest a voice.
They liked it: “The Daddy Tree” will be in the anthology they publish next year, and meantime is online ==>>at their website
So It Goes, the annual publication of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, invited stories on the theme of “civic engagement”— and welcomed pieces earlier published elsewhere.
Calliope, then the magazine of the Mensa Society, published in 2016 my riff on the political campaign of Tippecanoe and Tyler too, built around the role of an imagined consultant. I offered it; the Vonnegut editor liked it — perhaps for a relevance to this year’s events. It’s out today, available in print here – or read it ==>>here