Monday, May 20, 2019

Yes, I googled myself. But look what I found!

I googled myself yesterday. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I have a busy online life and so I like to see what's humming out there and how it might be connected to me.

The result yesterday was by far my favorite.

An artist named Amy Elizabeth (I suspect there might be a last name missing there but can't be sure) she posted one of her paintings at a website called PicoMico. Below is the painting.

Pretty amazing right? You know it. She explains that it's about corruption, in particular regarding the recent idiot politicians and their idiot views and actions about abortion. Right on, I say. She said the painting was also inspired by my short story "The Wolf and Two Rabbits" published a few years ago at Occulum. 

Check out the rest of Amy's work. Here's a link to her page over at PicoMico.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dysphoria Makes the 31 New & Upcoming Indie Book Picks from a Top Goodreads Reviewer

So my good friend and champion of small presses far and wide Lori Hettler posted on Goodreads her book picks for new and upcoming titles on Goodreads yesterday. To my great pleasure, included among these 31 picks was my novel Dysphoria. It's only the second list I've made for one of my books. I like the feeling. Thanks for this, Lori!


Saturday, May 11, 2019

A few new words about my new novel Dysphoria, out now from Cowboy Jamboree Press

I'm woefully behind on making hay about my new novel, Dysphoria, from Cowboy Jamboree Press. I've mentioned it a lot on social media, but not here, at my home.

Please buy Dysphoria: An Appalachian Gothic @ Amazon

If posts and messages are to be trusted (and these are trustworthy people) a lot of people are buying and reading the book. That makes an author happy.

I really don't know how to keep talking about it at this point. I started the first chapter when I was 18 years old, moderating a fiction discussion group via America Online during my senior year of high school. The story that became the chapter that became the book was called "The Son" and it was the first time I had written with my dad in mind. Of course if you've read anything by me since I started having my writing published you'll see that the theme has pervaded for nearly three decades.

Another chance to please buy Dysphoria: An Appalachian Gothic @ Amazon

Dysphoria is the work in which I deal most heavily with my dad, exploring him, his mind, asking questions about what it would actually take to make a person like that a personal like that. That's most I've ever talked about the origins of this book. And the most I probably ever will.

Friday, May 3, 2019

My story published today at mosh lit. Many thanks to editor and writer Patrick Trotti

Below is the link to read the story. Also, please do have a look around as mosh lit is new to the scene. Throw Patrick some support and share his content, help him build an audience.

My story "Donna 💗 Morris 4Ever" at mosh lit

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New story in current issue of Cowboy Jamboree Magazine

My short story "The Burning Torch in Yonder Turret Stands" is the new issue of Cowboy Jamboree Magazine Issue 4.2 "Grotesque to Art".

Visit and give the entire issue a read.  Scroll down to find the option to download the issue as a PDF.

Many thanks as always to Adam Van Winkle, my brother from another mother.

Order DYSPHORIA @ Amazon, please and thank you. And learn more @ Cowboy Jamboree Press.

Here's the link to where you can find out more @ Cowboy Jamboree Press:


Here's the link to where you can order @ Amazon


Saturday, April 20, 2019

SatantangoSatantango by László Krasznahorkai
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the ending of this and I'm tempted to pop it up to four stars but I didn't have that sensation of being drawn back to it for more reading. I kind of wanted to finish it and get to the next book. Three it is. But damn that ending.

View all my reviews

Old Dead Things

I'm spending the day reading about the trilobite. I mean really really reading about it. I'm writing a section of The Orchard Is Full of Sound over the next few days that deals heavily in trilobite history.

The section, one of three labeled Fictive Perspectives, will follow the last trilobite's final journey to its forever resting place. Paralleled will be Breece's first trip in the woods to search for one of the trilobite fossils, focusing on his idea of connections with the past and how "old dead things" provide his ideas of those connections.

It's a risk, which, for me, means it's officially worth trying. I'm tempted to say more about the section but I think I may have already said too much. But then it's just us talking, so I think it'll be okay.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hello you five or six readers. We're going to sort this thing out.

Not a lot of people dropping by to read my posts here. It makes me feel strange to continue writing posts. Not bad or not hurt, etc. Just strange.

I remember when I started Bent Country about a decade ago things were about the same. I often addressed my one follower by name. It felt intimate and interactive. I'm back to that, so maybe it's not really strange as much as it is surreal.

That being said, to the five or six of you who have dropped by for the last several posts, you're in for a ride, my friends. Well not really. I'll probably be posting the same kinds of things about writing and from time to time stuff about space like white dwarf stars and how we don't have a black dwarf star yet because it's takes longer for one to form than the universe has been a thing.

Oh, and expect abrupt stops without warning because I don't always have a witty or informative or literary way to end posts here. I just stop writing so

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Got me some ARC action for my new novel DYSPHORIA. It’ll be dropping on April 30 from Cowboy Jamboree Press.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

FRIDAY BLACK Goodreads rating, review

Friday BlackFriday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This would have been a five-star rating if Saunders as an influence wasn't so obvious. Still, good stories, but you couldn't put Saunders name on the cover and I might not have noticed anything was up. It'll be good to see what he does once he sheds those grad school habits and author-love.

View all my reviews

Cool quote from BLACK FRIDAY by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

There's a lot to love about Black Friday. But I will say that it's really easy to see the influence of George Saunders on Adjei-Brenyah's stories. It'll be interesting to see where he goes once that influence wears off. In the meantime, I really liked this insightful moment from the book:

"I think having had money, and then having lost it, and had it again, and lost it some more, some older people kind of just say, Screw it, I’m going to smile."

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

I've got a new story at the fantastic Anti-Heroin Chic

I'm late to this one, but I had a story published March 1 at the always interesting Anti-Heroin Chic. The story's called "Here Are Your Heroines" and it was a fun one despite the seriousness of the subject matter. As always, I'm incredibly grateful to James Diaz for accepting this piece. Follow the link below to read the story.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

I have a short story published today at The Ginger Collect for their Issue Nine. It's called "Her Eulogy, Etc." and it has a really long and strange story itself. I'll share that here at some point, but today I just want to shine a light on Lauren and the good people at The Ginger Collect for sharing this one with their readers. Below is a link to read the story and you can also follow it to see the entire issue.

Read "Her Eulogy, Etc."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Tried to move to Tumblr again and failed again. I think I'm actually here to stay.

Well, I tried to switch to Tumblr again. The reason is because the theme Atlantic looks so nice there and there's not an option here that even comes close to such coolness. But, once again I've realized Tumblr's limitations: no pages. That makes it hard to post links to my stories and my reading log.

So I'm back. A decade strong. I stripped the theme down here as plain as possible. Still, it's nothing nearly as minimalistically beautiful as that Atlantic theme.

So I'm about to finish a story I've been working on for a long time (at least for my output lately). It's taken about four months, and I've had the title for much longer than that. It's called "Psychic Mountains Ten Thousand Feet High" and I think I can finish it by tomorrow evening. I think. Things seemed to break loose for it after I got home this evening.

I spent the day helping my gal's dad repair his rental property. I've spent the last three weekends doing this and I'm about tapped out. We've stripped wallpaper, did mud work, primed, and painted every wall in the place. Tomorrow will be putting down carpet. And I'm killed. The place got destroyed by the last folks to rent the place, a bunch of pill head pieces of shit. They basically forced us to redo the entire interior. It's hard work, and made even harder when considering why we're having to do it. It's tough also because I help him on the weekends fix damage done by addicts and then start back on Monday mornings helping by counseling addicts at a clinic in a neighboring county. I'm going to let that thought go. Nothing good can come from me thinking about that dichotomy.

I want to buy around 3,000 books at the present moment. And I'm also beginning to panic at least three times a week when I consider the fact that I'm not going to be able to read those 3,000 books, which make up my Amazon wish list. Again, I've pushed myself into an emotional train wreck of a corner.

Okay, good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts. Whatever those are.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Joseph Young’s Always Never Speaking: 50 Flash Fictions

 Joseph Young’s new book, Always Never Speaking: 50 Flash Fictions, with Commentaries by the Author, is now available for preorder.

The book’s 50 very short stories articulates the lives of many characters from numerous shades of life, telling of their pleasures and sorrows, mysteries and loves, in sparing but vivid prose. These stories are collected from among 10+ years of Young’s published and unpublished works. Young also provides very brief commentaries on each of the stories and on the mercurial and beguiling nature of flash fiction itself.

Young is self-publishing his book under the imprint RowHouse Press. Although he is a big fan of traditional publishing houses, Young is compelled with the ideas of DIY art making. Through such projects, artists get to bring their aesthetic ideas not only to the making of their work, but also to the packaging and design of their art and the assembly of novel and creative promotional tools.

As such, Young designed and made the cover art for his book, filmed a book trailer, and created a playlist of sound collage and voice recordings of four stories from Always Never Speaking.

Always Never Speaking is Young’s third full-length book. His award winning book of microfiction, Easter Rabbit, was released by Publishing Genius in 2010, and he self-published his vampire novel, NAME, in 2012. His flash fiction has appeared in many literary journals.

This book is Young’s first major project since his MicroFiction RowHouse in 2017. For MicroFiction RowHouse, Young installed numerous tiny stories on the walls, ceilings, bedsheets, tablecloths, and many other surfaces of his Baltimore rowhome to tell the story of a fictional family who might have once lived in the home.

In the near future, Young will hold a book release party for Always Never Speaking at MicroFiction RowHouse, which has been the site of literary readings, music shows, workshops, and other get-togethers over the past few years.

Always Never Speaking is 220 pages in length, and sells for $15 on Young’s website. During the preorder period for the book, Young will waive the shipping costs.

For media inquiries and requests for review copies, please see the information below.


What: Release of Always Never Speaking: 50 Flash Fictions, with Commentaries by the Author
When: Book now available for preorder for $15 on his website (free shipping during preorder), 220 pages
Contact: Joseph Young,, 443-858-9855

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Eating and Watching Baseball and Such

My gmail account won't work properly. Couple this with the fact that my subscription or whatever it is of Microsoft Word lapsed (ended, terminated, skipped out?) Now, consider that I write exclusively on my Google Drive now and you get kind of a calamity: I can't work on my ongoing projects, of which I have a'plenty.

I could write here at Bent Country and then safe it and paste it over whenever things straighten out. But that's not how it works for me. I have to be inside the document. So this sucks.

The truth is that I have to write everyday, not because I'm a writer, but because I just have to and that's it.


Ghost Adventures is on. I love that show. It's entertaining and sometimes cool. Investigators who don't like the show don't like it because them boys act crazy and get worked up and claim it's entirely the work of spirits. They also don't like that they say "dude" a lot. Big deal. There are some people who will never be happy as long as they live, and that's the way they way they want it. Don't waste your time on people like that.


The Braves are 11-12 in spring training play. It's not looking so good. Acuna will have a good year and Freeman probably one or two more decent years. Albies will have more good games than bad, but there will be bad games. The pitching is the problem. Folty is hurt; Terehan needs to be let go or moved to a closer or something, but they'll just keep starting him. Unless something changes with our pitching, this year is going to be a long one. I think I'll focus on Acuna and enjoy watching him. I'd say within a year or two he'll be playing for some other team; I better watch him while I can be happy when he succeeds.


My final pass draft of Dysphoria is in Adam's hands now and it's time to work on getting some blurbs for the launch, etc. I asked some people, but I swear to you that I have no idea who still likes me or not. I've lost all sense of that kind of thing. Liked or not liked starts becoming way less important as you get older and I, for one, am thankful for such progress.

I'm having a final look at my draft for an upcoming collection called Absolute Invention for Mike Lafontaine over at Secret History Books. I've not announced anything about this on the social medias but I'm saying it here, for all the millions of my fans and friends who stop by hourly to see what's up with SLC. Well there you go: I'll have a third story collection out this spring in addition to the novel from Cowboy Jamboree. I'm as excited as I've ever been as a writer. And, to the best of my knowledge, I should have The Orchard Is Full of Sound out from WVU Press some time in 2020.


I'm hooked on pecan pie lately. It's always been one of my favorite foods, but lately I've been eating it like they'll never make pies again. Wal-Mart is where I'm buying it. These boxes of pies lined up like I don't know, like boxes of heaven, like boxes of pure contentment. I don't know. The catch is having to go to Wal-Mart to get them. I didn't used to have a problem with going there. People never bothered me in large numbers. Now people bother me in any numbers.

It got so bad at one point (I was getting a couple other items for Heather while I was out) that I had to go to the furniture section and rest for a minute in one of those aisles where nobody ever goes. When I had my breath again I headed back out into the dark waters of the Wal-Martian waters.


Cross your fingers that I get to start on my writing projects again soon, or there's going to be a lot more of these posts about eating and watching baseball and such.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Read this story by a writer named K.B. Carle!

Just popping in to share this a story I came across on Twitter today by a writer named K.B. Carle. The story is called "Vagabond Mannequin" and it's really fun and original. It appeared today at Christopher James's Jellyfish Review.

READ "Vagabond Mannequin by K.B. Carle @ Jellyfish Review

Saturday, March 9, 2019

I have the flu and I'm trying to write anyways.

Hey kind readers. Hope all is well with you all. I have the flu and like a dummy I didn't start taking some medicine until yesterday. This is making writing harder than usual, which is to say nigh impossible.

But I'm trucking right along. Today is Proof Day, or day one of Proof Day. I'm giving a final pass to an edited draft of Dysphoria. Adam Van Winkle of Cowboy Jamboree Press has worked hard to get this edited draft into my hands and I'm trying to do right by him in return. It's all for the better of the novel. It's all about getting another story out there in t he world. Man, what a noble goal, right? Yes indeed.

I've stopped first draft work on The Orchard Is Full of Sound for the time being. But I'm close there, too. I've only got three more sections to finish and that book will be initially ready for the Sept. 1 deadline. Of course I'll tinker with it and add and delete and rewrite daily until that date. It's just how I write books. Always tinkering and twisting and refitting until the very end.

What do I plan on doing once these two contracted books are finished or near-finished? Well then I've bought myself time to write short stories. My break from writing is writing, no lie. I really think that after writing everyday for the past 30 years that I just write everyday now; it's just something I do. It might not always be good sentences, but I'm in there swinging.

Ten years ago this October I started writing here at Bent Country. The lit community was a different scene back then, but much the same, too. Writers supporting each other, etc. Some of my frequent readers are still friends, but the energy has went a little, or something. I'm not sure. I'm still in very infrequent contact with many of these folks - xTx, Mel Bosworth, Roxane Gay, and Marcus Speh, for instance. But there are others who only existed in that magical two or three year period such as Dave Erlwine, Cami Park (rest her soul), and Chris Okum, to name a few. What am I trying to say? I don't know, really. Things are different; it seems like all of us either wrote our books and had them published and then sort of went quiet or we are still in there sending out stories and writing books and just babbling all hours of the day. I'm of the latter group, and I'm not sure if it's the best group to be in. I just no I'm always going to write, so why not share it with people if I can.

So I'm off to proof some more and probably jot a little on a story or two today. I'm got one story in the oven right now I'm really excited about, but I can't remember what I've titled it. Strange. Maybe ten years doesn't just take a toll on creative energy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A post about things and then, of a sudden, a small story about a worm.

So I want to write but I'm wrote out on all my ongoing books or stories. I mean I have written hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of words day after day after day for many weeks. The Orchard Is Full of Sound, short story 1 Dyphoria, short story 2, short story 3, Absolute Invention, short story 4. Back and forth. And back and forth until I don't know if I'm coming or going.

But I must write.

So here I am.

I have a lot of news that's come my way in the past week or so, but I'm not sure how much of it I can really share right now. I know there's one thing I can't share yet. That's fine. The other I probably can but I'm going to keep it under my hat until I see some buzz out there I didn't generate. Wow, with vagueness like this I should be posting on Facebook.

But let's just say there's been good news and I'll share it as soon as I can. I will say that I'm closing in on a completed first draft of The Orchard Is Full of Sound. I've no doubt the good folks at WVU Press will have many good ideas to share with me on the book and that it will come away from that a much better book. I'm actually looking forward to that.

I read something about there not being any worms around anymore. I think they're around as they ever have been, we just stopped turning over logs and rocks and so forth.

It made me want to imagine something about a worm...

Once there was a worm. He was the last worm on earth, but didn't know this. He didn't know enough to be lonely, but he was lonely all the same. During the day he stayed beneath a flat, gray stone. No one knows what he did under the stone. Each daybreak he came out into the sun. But not for long, because he would dry out and die. What he longed for more than anything was to find a companion. Even in his short life loneliness grew heavier by the seconds. There were no others, though, and he became sad, beyond sad. So one daybreak he came from beneath the flat, gray stone and never returned.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Five brief examples in support of evidence that William T. Vollmann is a better writer than you and me and that is okay.

So I'm still working through Vollmann's The Atlas and here are some examples of amazing moments when this guy is on magic writing dust he may have stolen from the tomb of William Shakespeare.

Example 1:

"In this town, we answer a question only by I don’t know and probably."

Example 2:

"...behind which occasional lights burned weakly like failures."

Example 3:

"...but the hair of the one he danced with was as flowery ricefields under hot purple clouds."

Example 4:

"...whose trees spread lushly pubic shadows..."

Example 5: 

"Since Heaven and forever are both beyond time, whoever is meant to be in Heaven must already be in Heaven now."

Titles and details of my books-in-progress.

I'm working to finish the initial draft of my first nonfiction book, The Orchard Is Full of Sound, for West Virginia University Press. I've got a September 1 deadline and I think I'll be able to come in under that date at the rate I'm writing. Also, having a set, working title is great right now. The full title will be The Orchard Is Full of Sound: On Breece D'J Pancake and Appalachia.

Also on the worktable these days is a short story I'm reworking to send to Ben Drevlow at BULL: Men's Fiction. The short story is called "To the Cherokee Strip." Ben offered several amazing points in a generous response to the story some months back and I'm just now able to get to applying his suggestions. It will be my second western story and one of many I'm planning to collect together as a western collection. I also already have a title for that book: Seven Drums: The Western Stories. Yep, I've been that way since I was a 12-year-old writer wannabe, coming up with titles and then writing toward a goal of having them make sense. Go figure, but I love doing that.

More already-titled books I'm now working on or have finished:

* DYSPHORIA: AN APPALACHIAN GOTHIC — Finished novel that will be published this spring by Cowboy Jamboree Press. It's probably the darkest novel I've written (published or unpublished) and deals in large part with trauma and generational trauma.

SWAY — A new collection of Appalachian short stories set in eastern Kentucky. It is in final draft and ready for publication.

THE ORCHARD IS FULL OF SOUND: ON BREECE D'J PANCAKE AND APPALACHIA —  My first nonfiction book that is in part about the West Virginia writer Breece Pancake. It will my first book published at a university press, thanks to Derek Krissoff and WVU Press.

* RECENT STORIES — A collection of Appalachian short stories. This book will be set in the same places of eastern Kentucky as Sway and my first collection The Same Terrible Storm but the form has changed considerably since that time. I'm incredibly excited to see how this one will turn out because it blends experimentation with form and structure and the area I know so well. I have high hopes. Several of these stories can also be found in the "Selected Writing" section here at Bent Country.

* ABSOLUTE INVENTION — An in-progress collection of strange stories dealing mostly with magic realism but also horror, fantasy, and surrealism. Many of these stories will have appeared before in various journals such as Lost Balloon, Occulum, gobbet, The Cabal, Change Seven Magazine, and others. Links to many of these stories can be found in the "Selected Writing" section here at Bent Country.

SEVEN DRUMS: THE WESTERN STORIES — The aforementioned western collection. I've been gathering together stories of mine set in the Old West since finishing my first one, a story called "Seven Drums" that can be read at BULL: Men's Fiction, thanks again to Ben Drevlow.

* EVERGREEN — This novel-in-progress was going to be the second book of a novel I published last year called Alice and the Wendigo. But I ultimately cut it from that final draft and starting writing anew on a separate story. It's straight fantasy/horror and about four immortal siblings who were the first beings created on the planet, originally as four stones, but eventually able to take human and many other forms. It's about family and how family can almost kill you but also be your only form of true stability.

* THE OBLIVION ANGELS — Straight up Kentucky novel about a family made up of an absent/on and off again mother, a loan shark father, and three daughters, all of whom are destructive and dangerous in their own ways. To get a taste of this one, read my short story "More Sideways Than Up," published at Rusty Barnes's website Fried Chicken and Coffee. The story is essentially the first chapter of the book and revolves around one of the three sisters living in Ashland, Kentucky, too far from home, as it turns out.

* THE OMEGA PROBLEM — A detective novel featuring my Kentucky private eye Bishop Ford. Ford's first case involves a female serial killer who believes she is a werewolf. It's my attempt at the hard boiled, noir-type genre novel set in my home state and involving some pseudo-supernatural elements. I'm going to have a lot of fun with this one. I already am.

PODUNK LORE — A portion of this was published last year by Beasley Barrenton at Dog On A Chain Press as part of a collaborative chapbook of poetry. My only book of poetry, this one is not finished but it's close. Some other writers say that I'm a shit-terrible poet and should never write it. One guy even wrote in a hilarious hate piece about me, "Please, though, no more occasional tries at modernist stanzas, you gumpy trinity of names, or Jean Toomer’s coffin will bench press you." Yeah, you guessed it: I'm going to write a poetry collection anyway. (NOTE: Remember to write a separate post including all the amazing put-downs this guy laid on you in that venomous piece.)

Well, what I've realized is that I have a lot of books going at once. Of course, I don't get to give all of them the same amount of attention, obviously. Right now, the focus is on final-final draft of Dysphoria and getting that final first draft of The Orchard Is Full of Sound.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

In which I gush some more about William T. Vollmann.

This is one of those posts I sometimes write because I start getting the feeling that Bent Country has converted back to its original form—a mostly unfurnished room where the sound of my own voice becomes more interesting than usual.

I'm reading William T. Vollmann again, which is always dangerous. He writes so fluidly and so well, like a water hose of perfectly combined words that is stuck and sort of spraying all over the yard of literature. Not to mention if you look up the prolific in the dictionary there's an awesome picture of William T. Vollmann with an amazing bowl haircut.

The book of his I'm reading is called The Atlas. I saw somewhere about a month back that someone cited it as their favorite book. A writer, which, let's be honest, carries far more weight than, well, more average readers, for lack of a better term.

It is for sure all it's cracked up to be, though. Vollmann can stop a reader in their tracks about as good as anybody working. Browse THE ATLAS at Goodreads.

The People in the Trees is my favorite book so far this year. It'll take a lot to knock it down.

Just finished reading The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara and so far it's my favorite read of this year. I'm only eight books deep at this point, but I feel like this one's going to be hard to beat.

Last year my favorite was The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson and I read 42 more books after that one with none topping DJ's magnificent farewell collection.

I've seen reviews saying The People in the Trees is difficult to read because of the depictions of child sexual abuse, but don't buy into that. There are certainly difficult scenes but everything feeds the narrative. In other words, there's nothing that's disturbing for the sake of being disturbing. Besides, the central theme of the book - immortality and the discovery of immortality - will keep most readers pretty focused.

Monday, February 18, 2019

"Her Eulogy, Etc." is a beautiful homeless story of mine that found a beautiful home @ Vending Machine Press

Mike Lafontaine published a story of mine called "Her Eulogy, Etc." at Vending Machine Press this weekend. Mike has always supported my writing at VMP, and I'm so grateful he liked this story. So many other places turned it down...dozens and dozens, acutally.

Here's how the story starts:

    She saw the ghost of the old slave when she was sixteen. Ephemeral, a mustard-colored fog in his form. She figured him a ghost. There was no way knowing for sure that wasn’t wicked, like Tracy’s magic or taking up a ouija. She never considered the bourbon she drank or how she’d never see daylight again.”
    - from an Appalachian folktale, as told by Sister Hall

    I hope you go read this story. It's one I'm proud of and Mike liked enough to publish. In the indie lit, it's the most generous thing one can do for another.

    Again, here's a link to the story — HER EULOGY, ETC.

    Friday, February 15, 2019

    So I'm Reading The Overstory by Richard Powers

    Two nice quotes from the book and why they resonate with me:

    "A woman in the coda of life, raising her eyes and lifting her hands in that moment just before fear turns into knowledge."

    This one made me think of my heart attack. When they told me I was having a heart attack, I so distinctly remember the original and entirely unique fear that ran over me. A fear I had never experienced before, and I've had my share. I flatlined but was shocked back to life or I would have reached that point when the fear would have been turned into knowledge, entry into the largest mystery of all time. What's on the other side.

    "We don’t want to kill the golden goose, but it’s the only way around here to get to the eggs."

    This one drops me directly into my homeplace of Eastern Kentucky. I could be peeling potatoes in Belgium, read this, and be at once back at home. Home, a place where me and mine have no choice but to do what has to be done to survive. If that process, for instance, lands us with a credit score in the 400s, then that's the price that has to be paid for day-to-day existence. We don't have the luxury of working on something as abstract as a credit score. We have to get the eggs.

    Monday, February 4, 2019

    New World Writing publishes my short story "Almost Alone in Dark Valleys"

    I'm thankful to have new work published yesterday at New World Writing. This is the fourth story of mine they have put out into the world, for which I owe editor Kim Chinquee and founding editor Rick Barthelme a huge, huge thanks.

    The story is called "Almost Alone in Dark Valleys" and it's one I'm particularly proud of, which is something I don't always have the courage to say about my work. I hope you'll read it and let me know what you think.

    READ "Almost Alone in Dark Valleys"

    Monday, January 21, 2019

    My story "Go Get Your Honor" republished at Defuncted: A Collection of Abandoned Things

    It's a good day, you all. A story of mine, "Go Get Your Honor", originally published at the long gone Emprise Review, was republished yesterday at new journal called Defuncted.

    Defuncted was started by Roo Black and Brenda Birenbaum and gives good homes to stories once available online from journals that have since shuttered. It's a beautiful idea.

    "Go Get Your Honor" is one of the stories I'm most proud of, certainly the story I'm most happy with that appeared in my first short story collection The Same Terrible Storm. It was also the first story of mine to be nominated for a Pushcart Prize, thanks to then editor Roxane Gay.

    So please do head over to Defuncted and read "Go Get Your Honor". There'll be a lot of other reincarnated stories to have a look at too. Enjoy.

    Friday, January 18, 2019

    So much good happening: Updates on the Pancake book, Dysphoria, short stories with X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine and New World Writing, and an upcoming reading at Taylor Books

    For the past month or so I've been riding this nice wave of book-related good news. The Pancake book coming out with West Virginia University Press and my Appalachian gothic novel Dysphoria due out this coming spring. An excerpt from that novel was published yesterday at Cowboy Jamboree Magazine. I do hope you link to it and give it a read. I'll also be reading some of my work and then discussing the Pancake book at Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia tonight at 7 p.m. thanks to my amazing friend Jay Hill. Jay also worked us up a website for featuring news related to the upcoming Pancake book and other news related to my writing. He's a jewel, you all. Here's a link to that website, which, by the way, and awesomely, can be found at the url

    But, in addition to this, I want to share some good short story news.

    On January 15 my short story "A Shadow the Length of a Lifetime" appeared at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, a publication that has quickly became one of my absolute favorites. This will be the second short story of mine they've published. The first was a story called "Victory Party" that appeared this past July. Editors Jennifer Greidus and Chris Dankland have built a stunning collection of fiction, nonfiction, interviews, and reviews. I really would love if you visited and spent some time reading the work there.

    Not long after finalizing things for the upcoming publication of "A Shadow the Length of a Lifetime" I heard back from one of my other top three favorite journals, New World Writing. The fantastic writer Kim Chinquee, who is the senior editor at NWW, accepted my short story "Almost Alone in Dark Valleys" last week, making it the fourth short story of mine to appear there, dating back to its days as Mississippi Review Online and, after that, BLIP, before becoming New World Writing. Regardless the journals name, you should never overlook NWW when searching out the best short fiction available today.

    I'm telling you all this kind of post always just feels like bragging to me, but I'll be rather damned before I don't share these kinds of wonderful news.

    Thursday, January 3, 2019

    Adam Johnson on the second person point of view

    "The second person is out there at the end of the periodic table of point of view. It is mercurial, a complicated thing. Maddening when not used well. It is difficult because the second person personal is singular and plural, hence the need for 'ya’ll.' We also use it to form the imperative. A properly used second person can seem like you are being commanded to do something as a reader; people love that. What I think is the most interesting about the second person is that it is the pronoun with which most persons refer to themselves inside their own mind. It is something you would never let out. So while as the first person is an externalized, orchestrated voice with an inherent sense of audience to it, the second person is very personal, private, an unsentimental voice with which we speak only to ourselves."

    - Adam Johnson in an interview with The Rumpus, 2015

    Wednesday, January 2, 2019

    Half & Half

    During the Spanish Flu Epidemic in Eureka, Utah a woman lost five of her six children and her husband. She would no sooner return home from the cemetery only to find that another child had died. This happened to her and no one remembers her name.

    There is still no explanation as to how cattle are being found drained of all blood and with organs removed with surgical precision but with no signs of hemorrhage and no trace of blood on the ground around them or anywhere on their bodies. The first written account of this kind of event was in 1606.

    For the past four or five months I've felt like I have one foot in this world and one foot in the next. I somehow survived a massive heart attack five years ago and still can't quit smoking and am only gaining weight due to lack of exercise and terrible eating habits. These facts add up to another fact: At forty-two the chances of seeing my fifties are not at all good. I've been trying to live with this knowledge while being unable to change my life to avoid it. It is what it is.

    The late, great Thom Jones said: “You know, they call it earth, but actually it’s hell. Even a good day is so full of horrors it’s almost unbearable. When I open my eyes, there’s a chasm of despair waiting for me.”


    Yes, I googled myself. But look what I found!

    I googled myself yesterday. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I have a busy online life and so I like to see what...