Recently, I had the pleasure to chat with Sarah Foil, a friend of mine from Salem College. She interviewed me about Space, Collisions. You can find our discussion on her blog today. And do check out the rest of her blog, if you pop over there. She’s a writer, editor, and media manager and her reviews and interviews are always interesting.
Hi, friends! Author Rob Mclennan asked me to participate in a project he created, which is called, “My (Small Press) Writing Day.” The project is modeled after something similar at The Guardian but specifically focuses on small press writers. You can find my response, as well as many others, at Rob’s blog. Thanks for checking it out, if you do!
Hey, friends! My micro-chapbook, Space, Collisions, is available now! I’m thrilled to have my first ever micro-chapbook released into the world. I hope you’ll check it out. If you’re on Goodreads, remember you can add it to your shelves here. I’m working on a print version too, which will be available soon. For those of you who check it out, thanks for reading!
I’m so grateful for the support I received from the good people at Ghost City Press. Being a small part of the 2018 summer micro-chapbook series is a huge blessing. A massive thank you to everyone who helped me with the stories and their publication. This profession is tough, but your kindnesses have made the burden much lighter.
June turned out to be a busy month for me. July is shaping up to be busy too. I’m having trouble reading books and writing my novel while taking care of so many other things, but I managed to read two books this month anyhow.
The following reviews will cover what worked well in the books. If you wish to discuss what didn’t work in the books or what you enjoyed about the books, then I’d encourage you to comment on this post.
Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews for this month. (Mild spoilers may follow.)
My professors in my undergraduate and graduate courses taught solely secular fiction. What was lacking for me—in a major way—was fiction that aligned with my faith tradition. I couldn’t find any character that accurately represented my faith in secular fiction. In the present, I’m seeking out Christian fiction like water in a desert. As a reader, I’m looking for characters like me—for accurate representation. As a writer, I’m seeking the elements that mix to create a good Christian short story.
Bret Lott takes some liberties with The Best Christian Short Stories collection. He added in some secular fiction that seemed to exemplify Christian values and ideas. Still, the anthology intrigued me. Here was something I was missing. Here was something I desperately needed to read for the sake of my own identity. “Best” stories or not, it was important to me. While I enjoyed the anthology, I’m still struggling to find that accurate representation, even within the pages of this book. Still, it was worth reading.
Synopsis from the Thomas Nelson website:
The first volume in a collection of contemporary fiction that combines the artistry of critically accaimed writers with a clear Christian worldview.
From Homer Hickam, the best-selling author of Rocket Boys–which later became the movie October Sky to editor and contributing best-selling author Bret Lott, this collection spans a talented community writing an eclectic blend of fiction. Each piece stands alone as stellar fiction. And each piece confronts us with who we are and forces us to look deeply at the human condition. From the dirt lanes of North Africa to the suburbs of California, exuding lightheartedness and profundity, hilarity and tragedy, these stories will take you on a fresh and entertaining journey.
What worked well:
- With all stories labeled “Christian fiction,” I’m skeptical about what elements of the story align with my faith. Even though some of these stories were meant to be secular, I would agree with Lott that many of them do align with Christian values and ideas. I think there are exceptions within this anthology. For example, there is a story where a character is being racist. Now, why the author chose to make this character a racist is unclear to me. It adds nothing to the story. Sure, the character is deeply flawed, but there are no repercussions for the character due to his racist actions and thoughts. So that particular character does not align with the Biblical, Christ-like attitude toward humanity, of which Christians are supposed to adhere to. It soured the story for me. However, what is good and what did work were many of the other stories and their characters. There were many Christian and non-Christian characters that did exhibit Christ-like attitudes, values, thoughts, and actions and their flaws made sense within the context of the story. This is what really made this anthology work for me.
- Another thing that worked well was the multifariousness within this anthology. The stories were told from various perspectives of Christianity (Catholic and Protestant) and also from a few secular perspectives. It was a nice mix of different points of view, of different styles, and of different ways to understand Christianity and what it can mean to the people who practice it.
Who should read The Best Christian Short Stories:
- Fans of Christian fiction
- Fans of literary fiction
- Those who love reading short stories
- Readers who’ve enjoyed Bret Lott’s work as a writer and editor
I’m always seeking out flash fiction collections to read. My local librarian, also a flash fiction writer, suggested Nevers by Megan Martin. She was even kind enough to let me borrow her copy of the book. My librarian friend has a fetish for whimsy and snark and Nevers definitely exemplifies such things. I find a great deal of snarky writing to be trite and this book was no exception. Still, I’m glad I tried it and there were things about Martin’s work that I definitely enjoyed.
In lieu of a synopsis, here are some quotes of praise about Nevers from Caketrain’s website:
‘Megan Martin’s Nevers is my favorite kind of book. Its stories are familiar and distant, one never existing without the other. It’s that feeling you get when you are suddenly inside yourself, looking around, going, Hey, that’s my coffee mug. That’s my pen. I am me. It’s like standing in your childhood home as the walls are replaced with snapshots of the same walls. This is a book, only it has a mouth.’ —Lindsay Hunter, author of Don’t Kiss Me
‘In Megan Martin’s fantastic Nevers, we encounter the situation of a book that is conscious of itself. This seems right, because the life in its pages is conscious of itself, too—all at once, from a dozen slip-sliding angles, the whole a shimmering phantasm held aloft by an act of voice so clean and real it can squash your heart. Here’s me as I was reading: big stupid openmouthed grin and the thought, You’re reading this awesomeness right now, before others get to.’ —Scott Garson, author of Is That You, John Wayne?
What worked well:
- Martin’s fictional narrator tends to have beef with poets. There are quite a few funny sections in these fictions where the narrator pokes fun of the poet characters in her life. Sometimes the poke is a fairly gentle jab: “An old professor and his new mistress sit in a circle of even older white guy poets talking about how amazing it is that because of the internet there are no ideas anymore, and what a relief it is that they’ll never have to come up with an idea again” (69). Other times the poke is more like a stab: “But what would make anyone want to see a poet’s body? Or the sort of swimsuit a poet would wear?” (89). The humor is off-color and no-holds-barred but usually works in the way a comedian delivers self-deprecating punchlines.
- If you’re teaching a class on outrageous hyperbole, this is your book. The flash story “Cinders” takes the cake (pun intended) for me, but “Forever Bloodcloud” and “Warning Label” are also good examples. Most of the hyperbole is so outrageous that you can’t help but laugh.
Who should read Nevers:
- Fans of snarky and off-color humor
- Readers who enjoy irreverent narrators
- Those who appreciate an abundance of hyperbole
- Readers of flash fiction
I read micro-chapbooks #5 through #21 in the Ghost City Press Summer Micro-Chapbook Series. You can find all of the available ones here. There will be more as the summer continues, including my own micro-chapbook, Space, Collisions (available July 19)!
The annual Ghost City Press Summer Micro-Chapbook Series kicked off today with Sara Adams’s Casserole. There will be new works of poetry, prose, and art released each day from May 28 to September 7. My collection of stories, Space, Collisions, will release July 19. I hope you’ll check it out!
And because I’m writing about my micro-chapbook, it should be noted that the collection now has a cover! The artist is Jennifer Potter, a talented illustrator and the creator of Echo’s Rift. She really went above and beyond to make the cover fit with the writing. To fully appreciate the intricate details added to the cover art, you can watch Potter’s speedpaint video on YouTube.
I’m hoping for some reviews for Space, Collisions, and have submitted an advance reading copy (ARC) of the micro-chapbook to a couple of places for consideration. My hometown newspaper was kind enough to publish an announcement on their website. One of the current editors of Blue River also expressed interest in reviewing the collection for the Blue River blog.
If you know of any places that accept review requests for micro-chapbooks—or if you’re an independent reviewer interested in receiving an ARC—please reach out to me at leeann [dot] n [dot] holmes [at] gmail [dot] com. You can also review Space, Collisions on Goodreads after its release.
It’s going to be an exciting summer. I hope you all will check out the micro-chapbook series. And as always, if you do, thanks for reading.
It’s been a busy year so far and I have more wonderful news. Ghost City Press has accepted my fiction micro-chapbook, Space, Collisions, for the 2018 Summer Micro-Chapbook Series! I’m grateful to Kevin Bertolero and Jack Bachmann for choosing to include my collection. Many wonderful poets and writers will be part of the series. I hope, dear readers, that you’ll check out all of the wonderful collections when they release. If you do—as always—thanks for reading.
Hello cherished readers, beloved blog followers, and inquisitive newcomers. I’m excited to announce that Likely Red Press released the first installment in The Fancy Arm Hole Series today. You can find my story, “The Squatter’s Inn,” in anthology number one. I hope you’ll check out my work and the other lovely creations in this series. And if you do, as always, thanks for reading.