The inaugural issue of Laurel Magazine launched today and it is gorgeous! You can download it here. I hope you’ll take the time to check out all of the beautiful things this issue has to offer. My thanks to the awesome team of editors that collected all of these shining gems into one place.
I’m super excited to announce that my flash fiction, “Independence Day,” has been accepted for publication by Allegory Ridge. You can read it here! A big thank you to Alexander Rigby and his crew for publishing my unconventional little story.
The Other Stories is an excellent podcast featuring many emerging writers. Writers read their stories while original music—created to pair with their writing—plays in the background. An interview with successful author Ilana Masad—who founded the podcast and acts as the host—follows.
After the release of F(r)iction #2, I was interviewed by Ilana for The Other Stories podcast. I read and talked about my short story, “When Continents Collide.” I was super nervous and it showed quite often in the interview, but it was still really fun, and Ilana was (and continues to be) exceptionally nice. I also talked about my faith, which was really hard for me to do. Christianity and religion are difficult topics to discuss openly in the literary world.
I hope you’ll listen to my story! Make sure to check out the other work on the podcast too. Even better—subscribe and support Ilana and her crew! As always, thanks for reading (and in this case, listening).
I stumbled across Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber’s review of Vestal Review, Issue 49 (online) and wanted to share it here. Thanks to Anne for taking the time to do this. She’s a writer as well, so make sure to check out her work.
Here’s an excerpt from the review:
The next tale, ‘Trace‘ by L.N. Holmes, provides a nice counterpart to the Edney story, in that Edney’s protagonist is the one who walked away, but in ‘Trace’ it is the abandoned one who provides insight. Holmes uses a realist, first-person voice, its journalistic specificity (at one point remarking of the collarbone, ‘It only takes seven pounds of pressure to break’) brings a sense of urgency. It’s the tale of a laissez-faire relationship between two lovers who have an impasse and drift apart. The protagonist might desire him, but acknowledges ‘my gravitational pull is weak.’
Whoever said the summer months were for vacation probably wasn’t a writer (or an editor). My graduate school classes don’t start up again until late August, but I’m as busy as I’ve ever been. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not complaining. This past month especially has been wonderful! What’s more, I have some new published stories up and some fantastic opportunities to share.
New Flash Fiction Stories:
As some of you already know, I have two new published stories that are now available to read online.
- “Trace” can be found at Vestal Review online (issue 49) and it is forthcoming in print (issue 47). This story deviates greatly from my normal style. I wrote this to see if I could stretch myself as a writer. Though it may not be what you expect, I hope you enjoy it.
- “Spacefall” is the fourth installment of a Dually Noted group writing project. The writers used the phrase “Hold this—it’s supposed to relieve stress” as a prompt. It was really fun to write and I hope you enjoy it. It’s a personal favorite of mine.
Other Available Writings:
- “Articulating Agony: The Writer as Antihero” is up on the Blue River blog. While my attempts at being funny may be somewhat laughable… I hope you enjoy it anyway. I would encourage everyone to read the writings of my fellow staff members as well.
- “Helly Luv: The Pop Star Fighting ISIS“ has surfaced on GERM Magazine. I found this spectacular woman via social media and decided to do a brief feature. She’s a pretty cool artist.
- As a note: My women’s college and women writers series will be continuing according to one of the editors. You can find a complete list of my GERM Magazine contributions here.
- Roger May at Change Seven
- Molly Rose Quinn at Tethered by Letters
- Tyler Barton at Tethered by Letters
- “War Song” in The Stark via Wisehouse/Editorial l’Aleph
- Book Reviews:
- All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders at Tethered by Letters
- UHaul by Emily Ramser on my blog
Opportunities for Readers and Writers:
I’ve had some exciting adventures with Tethered by Letters lately. As a summer intern for this amazing nonprofit, I have seen first hand how wonderful Dani, Leah, and the staff are to their writers, readers, and business partners. If you’re curious check out what they offer:
- Readers, participate in the #LitStory Series giveaway for a chance to win a copy of F(r)iction #2, #3, or #4! Here are the details.
- Free Editing Program: The FEP is a great opportunity for writers. Feedback from an editor is often hard to come by and it can help a writer transform a piece from a fifth draft to a polished work. This program is indeed free once you join the Tethered by Letters community (also free). Here are the details.
- F(r)iction #5: The anticipated release of this beloved journal of fine art and literature is about to happen—and let me tell you, it is gorgeous. Tell your friends. Tell your friends’ friends. Tell the dude crossing paths with you on the sidewalk—you get the idea. The Kickstarter is up!
- Dually Noted: Do you want to be part of a group writing project? Submit your story by Friday for your chance to be part of the current TBL story cycle. Submissions are voted upon by a select group of editors and then the chosen story is posted on the website for readers. Try your luck, writers! Submit your awesome 500 word addition—details here—and tell them I sent you.
As fiction editor for Blue River, I’ve been reading some exciting work from graduate students that have submitted to our journal. The great news is that there is still time to submit for the chance to win the Blue River Editors’ Award of $500 (USD). The editors will be giving feedback for each submission. We’re looking for great stories from graduate writers for the first issue and—if you’re a writer in a graduate writing program—we hope to see your work!
Thanks for tuning in and, as always, thanks for reading!
As many of you know, I attended the Association of Writers and Writers Programs (AWP) conference in Los Angeles, California this year—an experience that was partly funded by the generous Creighton University. It was my first time attending an AWP conference and it was amazing.
My fellow writers Nate Sindelar, Maranda Loughlin, Arnie Hermes, and I embarked upon a cross-country adventure to the land of sunshine and starlight. Despite the madness of driving twenty-two hours and thirty-six minutes straight (roughly thirty hours after some stopping and set-backs), we decided to be brave and to make it a priority to see some of the scenery of the western United States. As expected, it was an exciting and perilous adventure.
We began the first part of our journey through Nebraska in the early morning, the Monday before the conference. It seemed even the birds had gotten the message that now was the time to travel. As I had the privilege to sit in the back of the car for a while, I used that time to catch up on some shut-eye, to read a bit more of Ready Player One, and to—of course—write a bit. It seemed like very little time before we were entering Colorado, one of my favorite states in the U. S.
As we climbed in elevation, I looked forward to seeing the Rocky Mountains again. The first time I saw the Rocky Mountains was at the Rocky Mountain National Park during a first year anniversary retreat with my husband. They were awe-inspiring then and they were still awe-inspiring the second time around. The mountains first appeared on the horizon like low-hanging clouds. As we drove closer, the sheer cliffs and evergreen trees, the snow caps and valleys, all came into clearer view.
We stopped in Denver, Colorado to peek our head into a bookstore (true to our nature) and for some food. However, only one could order the fish and chips. Nate and Arnie decided to participate in the 76th Hunger Games.
Back on the road, we eventually drove far enough to reach Utah. In terms of fun, Utah was the opposite of Colorado. At night, heading down a mountain, it began to snow. Fortunately, we were using Maranda’s four-wheel-drive Jeep. Unfortunately, I was the one who had to drive through it. The roads and visibility became bad enough that I had to pull over. Nate informed us that the snowfall might not end for a couple of days. Nate decided to take over the driving. The rest of us watched for cars and other potential hazards. Traumatized, sleep-deprived, and terrified, we drove onward.
When the snow finally let up, Nate pulled over and allowed me to drive again. I made it only so far before we hit another pocket of the snowstorm and we were back to the dangerous conditions of before. This time there was a snow plow ahead of us. I decided I needed to go slow anyway and followed the plow for a while. I relied on Flogging Molly, Queens Of The Stone Age, Metallica, and Rush to keep me awake and alert—although, in retrospect, this might have been a bad choice because it made me want to drive faster than I was going and also seemed to heighten the drama of the event. Alas, I regret nothing (mainly because I didn’t kill us or wreck the car).
When I feared I would fall asleep if I went on any longer, I finally gave up the wheel to Maranda, who eventually became too tired as well. We parked the car briefly and got a few hours of much needed rest (I may or may not have had my mouth attractively hanging open in my sleep). Then we were off again.
We were about to enter Las Vegas as the sun was peeking over the horizon. I didn’t have my contacts in at this point (I was not driving) and so everything was a bit hazy for me. What I remember is the desert in its darkness and then all of a sudden there was what looked like a massive grid of lights sprawling before us. We were tired, and not so interested in Vegas’s flashy advertisements at the moment, so we drove straight through. I did manage to snap a blurry picture or two.
From there we drove through the desert to California. I remember thinking as we were winding through the mountains that everything was so beautiful. The rock faces, the wildflowers, the array of colors, the sunshine—I felt as if, maybe not so surprisingly, I’d stepped into a movie. I wondered when the Indominus Rex would come storming down one of the mountainsides or when Bumblebee and Megatron would make a crash-landing into the middle of the freeway.
When we finally got to LA, I met our host and Nate’s friend Nathan (yes, I know many people with Nate/Nathan names). He was a stellar guy, let me tell you, and even more so for letting us crash for free in his living room for nearly a week. We found out his roommate, Tevin, who happened to be an accomplished slam poet and in the know about the local writing scene, was also wicked cool.
Nathan took us to some great places in downtown LA. We got some amazing coffee, excellent food, and—of course—visited a bookstore. The Last Bookstore was probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. Set up like a sort of maze (the upstairs is called the labyrinth), there were all kinds of books in nearly every genre. The horror vault and the bench made out of an old, Chevy pickup truck tailgate sealed my love for this place—but there were all kinds of cool displays that made the store feel downright magical. There were even readings going on when we visited, which were entertaining and often comical. I think I would be happy living my last days at The Last Bookstore during the end of the world.
The next day we went to Donut Friend in Highland Park and then onward to Venice Beach and Hollywood. It was an amazing day, filled with great food and wonderful company.
We also set up the booth for the AWP book fair. We were representing the Creighton University MFA program, Blue River, and Brighthorse Books. We even had the chance to pass out information about Theodore Wheeler, an accomplished Creighton MFA alumnus.
Thursday was when the real madness began and it continued through Friday and Saturday. AWP is a huge conference with more than 12,000 attendees and it only gets bigger as the years go on. The Los Angeles Convention center was huge, but they also had panels in the Marriott across the street. You almost had to take a whole day to check out all of the book fair booths. It was pure bliss to see so many people that cared about the written word and the power of poetry and prose. I met some really fantastic people, from the very accomplished to the new professional. There were so many on-site and off-site events that one could only attend a small fraction of them.
I really enjoyed the speculative, young adult, and publishing industry panels I attended. There was a great deal to learn about the politics of writing and publishing. I’ll never forget seeing three of my favorite authors—Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki—on stage during the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau panel.
I also had the privilege Thursday night, thanks to the amazing editors of F(r)iction, to be part of an AWP off-site event called Literary Friction. Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum was our host and a representative of all three organizations that put on the event—F(r)iction, Floodgate Poetry Series, and poemoftheweek.org. I was in the company of some serious talent—Anders Carlson-Wee and Kai Carlson-Wee, F. Douglas Brown, Geffrey Davis, Nicky Beer, Scott O’Connor, Paisley Rekdal, Campbell McGrath, Simone Muench, and Lynn Emanuel. Their work was at times breathtaking, at times heart-wrenching, and at times rather hilarious. It was so wonderful I had to keep telling myself it wasn’t a dream and that I was really at These Days Gallery, reading an excerpt of “When Continents Collide” alongside these amazing writers.
Friday evening, I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of the professors who taught many of my creative writing courses at Salem College, Aimee Mepham (read “The Blacklisting of Sweet Kiss” and “Raving Ones“). Catching up with her over dinner was such a blessing. Her endless hard work and dedication to her craft really inspire me.
When Sunday rolled around, it was time to head back to Nebraska. We bid farewell to Nathan and Tevin and began the journey home. We decided to take a southern route to avoid any more snowy mountain passes. On the way, we couldn’t resist making a stop on the edge of the Mojave National Preserve.
Then we traveled through Arizona—stopping for dinner in Flagstaff to check out the scene and another bookstore—, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I felt very blessed to see parts of this beautiful country that I had never seen before.
My first experience with the AWP conference was wonderful. I understand there are those who do not enjoy it and I empathize. But I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life to go to this conference. I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people and I hope by now they know I’m grateful. I will take the things I’ve learned and use them to help others and myself as we all continue our literary journeys.
Friends, I wanted to let you know of some upcoming readings I will be participating in. They’re going to be really fun. Please come out and join us if you are close to the area. I’d love to chat with you.
- Soundz of Freedom presents: Freedom Expressions ~ As seen through the Eyes of a Veteran
- Thursday, December 10
- 6-10 p.m.
- Ralston Arena, 7300 Q Street, Ralston, Nebraska
- Admission: $12 in advance/$15 day of event
- I will be playing a very small part in this large event. Around 8:45 p.m. I will be reading a pre-selected work of literature that coincides with the theme for the night: “Seeing the stories of our Veterans through their eyes”
- Fair Use Reading Series Continued
- Thursday, December 17
- 6:45 p.m.
- Abbott Lecture Hall in the Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska
- Admission: free
- I will be reading my speculative fiction story “When Continents Collide”, published in F(r)iction #2