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.”


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...