Juked: “First Life” (Multiple Choice)

Drinker says, Negative outcomes. (How did Big ever make it to Academy? Slow as slow)

Sunlight and glass, prisms and mirrors. My mind is floating out there, beyond the windows. Out there, where swish swish swish goes something, maybe the wind.

Drinker says, That’s the problem, right there. Hello? Dragon? Hey, Dragon?

Am so happy to have “First Life” in Juked this month (also self’s birthday month, Woot Hoot!).

Went live while self was in Ireland, hey good one.

Also love the tag: “multiple choice.”

It’s very amusing to go through all the pieces on the Juked website and try to figure out why they’re tagged the way they are. There’s a slyness involved in tagging. The best ones are brilliant.

Self got her novel-in-progress to a good 140 pages. She cut about 20 pages in the last week, so what’s left is pretty solid.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + Waccamaw + 1-800-U-R-Saved =

from “Bridging”, in Waccamaw No. 12:

Introduction: A Filipino widow decides to combat loneliness by volunteering on a Mental Health Hotline called 1-800-U-R-Saved.

“I’ve bought myself a plane ticket,” the man said.

“Where are you going?” Leticia asked.

“San Francisco,” the man said. “To throw myself off the Golden Gate Bridge.”

“Don’t do that,” Leticia said, then stopped. San Francisco! Leticia had never been to San Francisco, though she longed to.

She then broke Rule # 3:  She gave the caller her real name.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + THE WRITING DISORDER + Dust =

To think, self didn’t even try sending out this story, not for years. Until she began trying to put together a new collection. And even then, she only added this one at the last minute, as an afterthought.

It’s about a death.

It was sunny, a glorious day. April was sometimes cold, but Jocelyn thought she could sense summer coming, just around the corner.

The girl who clipped them, that afternoon in April, was just 18. Driving her red Ford Mustang at a speed that was just short of criminal, she’d gotten her driver’s license only that month.

The Ford Explorer rolled over and over and over — for almost two years she saw the image flash into her mind, often just before she lay her head down to sleep. Then she had to get up and pace the bedroom, or take two Ambien if there was something important she needed to do the next day.

She finally sent it to The Writing Disorder. You can read the story here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + LOCAL NOMAD + Flash =

The theme of Local Nomad’s Spring 2015 issue is KILLING GROUND.

As the editor puts it:

  • KILLING GROUND — a place to be within, where we go to be other, to be against. Fraught moments, places of fear and striking out: territories, borders, streets, bodies. The barbed line we cross to do harm (or to seek compassion). What we call war, protection, or defense, what we call hatred or expediency.

Here are the stories included in the issue:

  • David G. Tilley’s “Jisei” (“Driving eastward on the way home from the dermatologist, I hear myself singing carcinoma to the tune of My Sharona.”)
  • Self’s revisionist Biblical story “The Ark” (“There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time.”)
  • M. Leland Oroquieta’s “Postcard for Hong Kong” (“The fake blonde who doesn’t love me is in my Jag again, searching for peace and composure in the Prada bag I had bought her recently.”)
  • Leny Mendoza Strobel’s one-paragraph story “Erosion” (“The erosion of desire flows toward the ocean of Nothing.”)

Yeah, quite an array of styles there. One thing the pieces have in common is: they are all dark.

Here’s an excerpt from William Doreski’s poem “The Big Departure”:

The local hospital has collapsed
in a heap of yellow brick, crushing
the nurses with long painted nails

and the doctors who bought Porsches
to overcome midlife crises.
So I’ve come to the city where screams

linger in the jagged night air

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Live on Juked.com: Self’s “First Life”

The classroom of the future, according to self:

The first corollary: what is average is perfect.

Today I’m thick or something because thoughts are dark as dark.

I can hear Big arguing. He sits on Her’s other side. He’s telling Drinker, the formlessness. That’s what I mean.

Story’s live now on Juked.com.

Self does love these formless, voice-driven, futuristic imaginings that come more and more often since Ireland.

Maybe not such a surprise, for someone who adores Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.

Stay tuned.

Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” Issue: Sometimes a Great Notion

It’s Saturday evening in Ireland and somewhere in Dublin a priest who’s known self since she was a little girl is dying.

The priest’s house is big and cold and the church right beside is empty.

But this story isn’t over yet. It’s still waiting for an ending. Strange to think it was only a few short weeks ago when she and the priest were drinking beer over Chinese food because he was so happy to see self; he told her last year he’d be dead before she got back to Ireland. Well, she proved him wrong.

One day, she’ll have to write a story about the time he and a fellow priest drove her all the way to Annaghmakerrig and how she learned what the Gaelic words lir and kill and dun mean. The priests spent the drive teasing her about possibly running into a banshee, the crying ghost woman.

Here’s one story that is finished and that self doesn’t mind sharing with you: Mirri Glasson-Darling’s “True North,” which is one of the nine stories in Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” issue. The story is about the cold and about polar ice caps. Self doesn’t know why she, child of the tropics, born and raised in the Philippines, is so fascinated with cold climes. Sometimes she thinks the real reason she applied to Banff Writing Studio was that she began writing, last year, a story about polar bears.

In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP. At the Book Fair, she met Crab Orchard Review editor Allison Joseph. Here she is, Fierce and Fabulous:

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review (which included self's story in the West Coast & Beyond Issue), Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis.

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review, Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis

And here’s an excerpt from Mirri Glasson-Darling’s story, “True North”:

I am a twenty-seven-year-old Midwestern, Caucasian male, floating on an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

It must be understood that this is not just a suicide.

The eventual results will be the same, but I find my death more of an unfortunate side-effect; you don’t come to the end of the world in order to better understand yourself — you come to step off the edge. All across history you have explorers heading out blindly in one direction or another, driven by riches, isolation, or general madness. A search for direction and something which cannot be satisfied, even if you circled the world twice over.

Throwing in a picture of Lake Louise in snowy Alberta:

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Glasson-Darling’s story is as fierce and unflinching as the landscape. Self has no words.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s “The House on the Coast” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: THE WEST COAST & BEYOND)

Crab Orchard Review: In its 20th year of publication, an Icon of Literary Publishing

Crab Orchard Review: In its 20th year of publication, an Icon of Literary Publishing

Self is starting with the first short story, by Lucy Jane Bledsoe, “The House on the Coast.”

SPOILER ALERT!

Backstory: Narrator breaks into a nice house on the coast, decides to raid the wine supply. While she’s resting, a visitor comes by, who turns out to be the estranged daughter of the house’s owners. The daughter, whose name is Henrietta, tells the narrator about the recent death of her three-year-old.

“I’m a perfect candidate for a crystal meth habit. I’ll do anything to interrupt the — ”

“Pain,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said.

She did that hand-waving gesture of hers. “What do you think is the next step? Call my parents?”

I didn’t have a clue how to answer.

“They never met her,” she said. “They did ask. I just never thought they asked genuinely enough. I have to live with that, that I kept her from them. I’m sorry.” She looked up at me, her eyes flashing and her thin-lipped mouth open with grief. “The two most stupid words in the language.”

The next short story in this issue of the Crab Orchard Review is Alex Colin-Shotwell’s “Strike-Slip.” It begins:

You’re up on the roof of a house in the Hollywood Hills and you’re surrounded by a darkness so palpable you can almost wear it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 4: Swans! At the Lake in Annaghmakerrig!

Today, after a hard day of writing, self walked down to the lake:

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

And saw her first swans! (Actually, that’s not quite right. She was down at the lake yesterday evening, and saw swans then, too)

Self will share with dear blog readers that it was because of the swans she saw in Ireland that she wrote a story called “The Ark.” And, earlier this year, it was published by Local Nomad. Which, self just wants to say, is a really beautiful on-line journal. And it is all done by one woman: Jean Vengua.

Her story begins thus:

There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time. The hull began to groan with the weight, intensifying his anxiety.

Two Swans!

Two Swans!

And here are swans, diving for food:

DSCN0430

And now, back to the writing desk!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Wrote a Story About Climate Change: “The Freeze”

Apocalyptic, Dystopian, blah blah blah

The world is slowly dying, and — there’s no way to explain why an old woman is the only one in her family who survives, and why she ends up riding piggy-back on a teen-age boy (Hunger Games Catching Fire was an influence. Definitely:  Finnick and Mags) and they decide to follow Highway 1 as far south as they can. No electricity, no cars, no telephones. Just — the very edge of despair. Funny, she writes science fiction but her stories are pretty low on the science. Maybe she should start referring to them as allegories.

It was probably the Russians. Putin called Obama’s bluff, or maybe it was the other way around. The outcome — we were the outcome.

How still he was in the last broadcast. His suit looked too big for him. His hair had gone entirely gray. Funny, Obama had been young just six years ago.

— published by Bluestem, Spring 2015 Issue

Poetry Monday: “There for six months”

A student wrote this years ago, shortly after the first Gulf War (You know, the “shock and awe” war). The class was Composition & Rhetoric. The assignment was for students to write an autobiographical essay. But self didn’t have the heart to grade the student down for thinking outside the box, especially after he told her it was the first poem he ever wrote.

She really liked the piece. Dear blog readers, the fact that this piece got written at all is something of a miracle.

She was reminded of it by a poem in J Journal’s current issue.

After The Hurt Locker, after Zero Dark Thirty, after American Sniper, self finds the perspective of the poem very refreshing:

There For Six Months

Underneath Pink Floyd’s alluring rhapsody
the phone was ringing,
Hey you, out there on your own,
sitting naked by the phone, would you touch me
and my older brother is telling me that
come January, he’ll be in Iraq,
serving his time of duty for six months
in the war
see also: abuse of power, see also: corpses

Meanwhile, people all around are nestled away in their cozy,
unobtrusive shells: human anti-socialism,
one thousand and one bloody bodies, our own an afterthought.
Warming cups of soup, chicken-noodle flavor,
and stacks of crackers on a folded napkin, for dipping.

Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light,
don’t give in without a fight
And my brother is telling me that if he makes it back
there’s a good chance he’ll be based in the west coast,
see also: home, see also: happiness
There’s shake and shiver undertones in his voice
when he keeps saying, Don’t worry,
they trained me how to live, but all I can wonder is
if they trained him how to die.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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