I’ve never been much of a humor writer. But when Cosmic Daffodil Journal, an online literary magazine, invited under-500-word essays hinged on one or more of the “seven deadly sins”, my funny bone was tickled: Why not write about them all from the perspective of old age?
The editors liked it. You can read it at their website, but you’ll have to pick the little Seven Deadly Sins box and then scroll down to page 122. To start, go => here:
I don’t think I’ve written a story that I really liked that proved so hard to get published.
I offered “Rattlesnakes” to a dozen magazines that focus on nature or the cowboy West, all of which have published some of my work. Most declined with their usual tactful language, but one was more candid — and appalled. “Well told,” the editor wrote, “but contrary to everything we espouse.”
Finally The Museum of Americana accepted it. You’ll understand why it was a hard sell when you read it ==>>there:
I don’t often write to a magazine’s prompt, but when Flora Fiction Literary (which had already published several of my pieces) announced a theme of “festivals,” maximum 1,000 words, I was fairly confident they’d like my recollection of picnicking at Tanglewood.
They did; it’s out now. You can buy the whole paperback (!!) ==>>here or at Amazon
Occasionally memory goes back to 1966-67, when the Alicia Patterson Foundation sent me with the family to study the governance of two great rivers that traversed both Communist and non-Communist nations — the Danube and the Mekong. Although my reports dealt with government action, there was time to marvel at how people lived — and in Cambodia, one unique way they fished.
Wanderlust Journal liked the account; you can read it ==>there
I’ve tried writing for magazines that only consider 50-word or 100-word pieces, and have even had a few published, but it’s not a genre I’m fond of. Even 500 words usually seems too constrained, but occasionally I find a topic that doesn’t need more than that — and then Panoply is the one I try first. When I sent them a piece on taking my bird feeders down, they accepted it in a short three weeks, telling me (what a writer loves to hear) “The writing quality itself is the winner in this piece.”
You can read it in Panoply, ==>>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 ==>>
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
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.
“An American university fellow in 1970s Cambodia begins to welcome the special treatment he receives as government agents scrutinize his every move.” That’s how Lowestoft Chronicle introduces its Volume 43, which includes my memory piece, “Being Watched”. I was visiting the legendary ruins of Angkor War in Cambodia when the man assigned to keep me under surveillance apologized for being late, and asked me to tell him how I’d spent my day.
Lowestoft published another bit of Cambodian memories a few years ago, too. You can read the latest ==>>here at my blog, or at their website, ==>>here
I spent one summer of my college years making radiator hose at the B.F. Goodrich factory in Akron, Ohio. I came close to spending that summer unemployed, but I was blessed with a mother who stiffened my spine when I was nearly crushed by my own stupidity.
It’s a story of learning to speak up for myself, and — not just incidentally — learning union rules. For the second year in a row, the American Writers Review annual book includes my writing. I call this one Work Rules. You can read it ===>here