Independence Day Revisited

Even though tomorrow is Labor Day here in the States, today is all about Independence Day.

My fiction piece “Independence Day Party,” which was published early this year in Glove #1 (now sold out), has now been reprinted in the awesome Fall 2017 issue of After the Pause. I’m very excited to be included in this zine, which has published some amazing fiction, poetry, and art over the last few years.


The Twelve Opossums

My creative nonfiction piece “The Twelve Opossums,” which I discussed earlier this month, is now up at Ellipsis Zine. Thanks to editor Steve Campbell for publishing it.

Ellipsis Zine has only been around for a short time, but they’ve been killing it, so it’s quite an honor to have a piece published at this site. So if you’re looking for something to read, there’s plenty of great stuff there.

Stranger Than Fiction

Last month, I was excited to receive two acceptances. The first was from Hi Vis Press for a poem titled “Yahoo, I’ve Been Hacked.” It will be appearing in the inaugural issue of Hi Vis Press’ new magazine, Low Light, in September. Hi Vis Press is run by the same good folks who used to edit Hand Job Zine, which published a couple of my poems last summer.

The second was from a new online journal, Ellipsis Zine, for a short creative nonfiction (or CNF) piece titled “The Twelve Opossums.”

I’ll talk about the poem and the somewhat unusual inspiration for it in a future post, but today I’d like to talk about writing “The Twelve Opossums.”

If you glance at the tabs on my website, you’ll notice “About,” “Fiction and Poetry” and “Book Reviews.” There’s nothing about nonfiction or CNF. (By the way, I guess once “The Twelve Opossums” is published, I’m going to have to change the name of that second tab.) Not to say that I have never written nonfiction at all—I had a brief career as a journalist back in the nineties, and I’ve chronicled my writing (mis)adventures in this blog—but this is the first time I’ve written a nonfiction piece specifically written for a literary magazine audience.

Also, for the first time, the main character of a work is, well, me. Sure, I’ve written about myself in the blog posts (probably more than I should), but this time, I’ve become a character (although some people already think I’m quite a character). Of course, this character is obviously one I know very well, but still, it feels strange to be looking at yourself from the point of view of a creator.

As other writers do, I mine my experiences for my fiction and poetry, but I’ve never written anything I would consider autobiographical (“Against the Waves” was close, but the main story was a synthesis of different events that had taken place over years, and some of the characters were also conglomerates). The reason I hadn’t tackled CNF in the past is quite simply because I didn’t think any of my life experiences were that interesting. If Haruki Murakami thinks his life story could only fit on one page, I think mine would fit on a quarter of a page.

In fact, the event that inspired the piece was not earth-shattering; to be honest, it’s really nothing more a humorous anecdote. But I wanted to at least try turning that anecdote into something else. Doing that required me to not only relive that moment but dig deeper into it. Why do I want to tell this story? What can readers get out of it besides a few laughs? Also, while I’ve recounted this anecdote to many people over the years, I’ve never really considered the details, which is what I had to do for this piece. (Considering that the event took place thirty-four years ago, I’m surprised how much of it I remembered.)

At first, I was going to make it a straight memoir piece, but then I decided to really the put the C in CNF by borrowing techniques from experimental fiction. Doing this helped me to look at the event from a different angle, and I think it adds a different layer to the story. Using these techniques may not work for all CNF pieces I write going forward, but I think they worked for this particular story. I hope you will feel the same way when the piece is published later this month.

In the meantime, have you written/published any CNF pieces? If so, please feel free to talk about them and provide links in the comments.

Nonsensically Challenged

So I’m quite excited to announce that my tiny prose piece “Anthony Burned a Hole in the Rain” is in a new anthology, Nonsensically Challenged Vol. 1.

The anthology, which includes 100 stories by as many authors, is being published on Amazon by writer/musician Christopher Fielden and is available in either print or Kindle format. Profits from sales of the book go to the Daisy Garland. The book is pretty cheap (£2.49 in the UK and $3.21 in the US for the Kindle edition, and £6.99 and $8.49 for the print), so not only is it a good deal for 100 stories, but you’ll be helping children with epilepsy.

Fielden is a pretty prolific author, but he also dedicates a lot of time to his website, which is a great resource for writers. He also offers challenges (such as the one I participated in, Lesley’s Nifty Nib-Nibbling Nonsensical Narrative Writing Challenge) and publishes most of the entries. In fact, right now, Fielden is looking for pieces for Vol. 2 of Nonsensically Challenged, so if you’re interested, you should check it out. There are some other challenges as well, so if nonsense isn’t your thing, there might be something else to interest you, so definitely take a look. Who knows? You may end up in a future anthology.

One more thing: If you do buy the anthology, two things: First of all, thank you. Second of all, if you like it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. As I mentioned, not only would you be supporting the efforts of Christopher Fielden and the writers involved, but you will be helping a good cause as well.

Life, the Universe, and Poetry

In last month’s post, I mentioned I was going to participate in this year’s National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). My goal was to write 30 poems in 30 days.

Well, I exceeded that goal: I wrote 41 poems in 23 days! This was quite a surprise, considering that last year, I only wrote about 16 poems during the month of April.

I was going to stop at 41, but then my friend Corrie Haldane suggested that I write one more, which would bring me up to 42. She also suggested doing a “meaning of life” poem. (For those who’ve never read Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books and don’t know the connection between the number 42 and “life, the universe, and everything,” watch the video below.)

I loved the idea, but what kind of “meaning of life” poem should I write? A sonnet? A haiku? An elevenie?

Then while I was spending too much time on Facebook, playing too many “I’ve seen 10 artists but one of them is a lie” games, I decided to have a little fun. I composed a found poem using text from various memes that showed up in my Facebook news feed over a few days.

So without further adieu, here is my poem about life, the universe, and everything. It’s not exactly a prize-winner, but it’s always fun to put something like this together.



a personal idyll,

a special place

free from the

surplus of evil

we have already.


A place where one day

the sadness will end

and you don’t wake up

fighting a battle

you know nothing about.


When happiness

is just a thought away,

you bring a smile

to your face and say,

This is my life now.


Source: Various memes found on Facebook, April 25-28, 2017.


National Poetry Writing Month

As some of you may know, April is National Poetry Writing Month (or NaPoWriMo). For the next thirty days, writers (including myself) will try to write one poem a day (or at least, they will try to write a total of thirty for the month).

Last year, I only managed to write sixteen poems. In the middle of the month, my family and I went to Walt Disney World. (Even though Disney World is the happiest place on Earth, it’s not the best place to write poetry.)

Also, April tends to be a busy time of year at my day job, and this year is no exception. Oh yes, and my son’s birthday is also during that month.

Still, some of the poems I wrote during NaPoWriMo ended up getting published, including “First Love,” “Tomatoes and Radio Wires,” and one of my personal favorites, “The Price Tower.” And heavily revised version of my Prince tribute, “TPOTCB,” ended up in a print anthology.

So even though I’m gearing up for another busy April, I’m going to really try to write thirty poems this year. My family and I did this year’s Disney trip in February, so that won’t get in the way of my goal.

Although I’m hoping to write thirty poems this year, I don’t expect many of them to be ready to submit for publication. (If I’m lucky and have a few good days, maybe I’ll be able to submit two or three. Maybe.) But I am hoping that about five or six of them have enough potential to workshop them on Scribophile.

I don’t really have a strategy this year. I was originally going to use a series of architectural photos as prompts, but I decided to nix that idea. (Even though “The Price Tower” and “Iconic” were both inspired by architectural photos, I realized that using them for a whole month might get boring.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of places to find ideas. There’s the official NaPoWriMo website, which offers prompts each month. Using the #napowrimo on social media will also help poets find prompts. (Speaking of social media, lately I’ve been inspired by the Brooklyn-based Yes, Poetry’s prompts on Twitter. You can follow them at @yespoetry.)

Are you participating in NaPoWriMo? What are you using for prompts? Tell me about them in the comments.