Story accepted by Metazen!

Well, it seems it’s happened again folks. A story has been accepted for publication! This time, the great news was communicated by Christopher Allen, one of the editors of Metazen.

They have accepted Baby Crazy, a story that got a lot of “hmmm, interesting concept” comments by other editorial folk, until it made the permanent love connection with Metazen. (Cue Barry Manilow’s Ready to Take a Chance Again…)

As soon as the story goes up, I’ll do the needful posting of the link, putting it on the Published Stories page, rending of the garments, blood sacrifices, ya know, the usual…

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I am not cool

I’m not cool. I’m not a hipster. I don’t live in Brooklyn. I’m not hipster enough for Brooklyn. I’m not a lesbian. Lesbians are cool and hipster. They get extra points if they have tattoos and multiple piercings. I don’t have any tattoos (or multiple piercings). I’m not sure what kind of tattoos I’d have if I got any, but I probably wouldn’t get cool ones if I did. I’d probably get a tattoo of a butterfly and then my hipster friends from Brooklyn (I don’t really have any) would tell me that’s SO 1980’s. Yeah, that’s probably what would happen.

An editor friend of mine, (in other words, an editor I befriended by sending them lots of emails and they graciously answer,) recommended I read The Chronology of Water. Another editor friend of mine said it’s a fantastic book and she wants to know what I think of it when I’m done reading it. (I just started reading it.)

After two pages of reading it I have an opinion about me, not the book or the author. I thought, yeah, I’ll never be able to write like this. I’m not just un-cool, I’m so far out of the loop on what is cool it’s a freaking miracle any of my writing has seen the light of day. She starts the book by describing how she delivers a stillborn baby. It’s a fucking memoir. Non-fiction. Yeah well, game over, check and check mate. Mad respect to the author, for sure, and I’ll continue on in my un-coolness.

And then, THEN, an author friend of mine sent me an email telling me about that whole Adrien Brody kerfuffle over at MuuMuu House. So I went and read that thing and I was completely horrified and disgusted by it. I guess now when a 21 year old girl (yes, GIRL) decides to be self-destructive and publish her self-destructive sex-capades for all to read like a car wreck happening in slow motion, we’re all supposed to read it and clap and say how cool it is? Well I’m not. It wasn’t cool and I’m not cool about it. And shame on the 40+ year old pervert asshole who took advantage of the situation. That girl needs adult guidance, role models and help, not publishing.

Maybe this blog post is really about how I can’t keep up anymore. I just started reading The Rumpus, and I’m getting hooked on HTML Giant and I regularly read PANK, Word Riot, Wigleaf, Dogzplot, and many other talented writers – and editor-writers too – and I’m running out of time and room in my brain for what’s cool. All these things I’m mentioning are cool, I know they’re cool and THEY know they’re cool.

How does a writer without an MFA and without connections to Brooklyn or Berkeley or any other cool place get known? (Am I worthy of being known…yet? I keep asking people to read my stories, so clearly I’d like to be known.)

And since we’re being honest, I don’t even really know who is cool. I know who I think is cool but even that is my own limited knowledge based on where I’ve been stumbling around on the internet to do my reading. I know what I LIKE and I know what I RESPECT – but is that good enough? I wish I knew the answer to that question, but as I’ve already said, I’m not cool. I don’t know the answer.

I want to hang out with the cool kids, and be in their company, but I think they might think I’m a poser. A wanna be.

I feel like a poser when I look at my stories and their stories. I don’t want to write what they write, I want to write what I write – just better.

I want to be good enough to write the stuff people say…wow, did you read that? That was cool.

PBS NewsHour coverage of the 42nd Republican Debate

 PBS NewsHour coverage of the 42nd Republican Debate

Jim: This is Jim Lehrer and welcome to the 42nd Republican Debate which will be broadcast live tonight from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. PBS will provide coverage of this historic event and my co-presenter for this evening will be Gwen Ifill, along with commentary by our very own Mark Shields and David Brooks.

Jim: As you know Gwen, now that Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, John Huntsman, Rick Perry,  Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have dropped out of the race due to poor polling and lack of majority support in the primaries from their constituents, the GOP has taken some pretty dramatic steps to find new candidates to put up for the 2012 election.

Gwen: That’s true Jim. I never thought I’d see another Presidential run by Ronald Reagan in my lifetime, especially since he’s dead.

Jim: Yes, we’ll have some Constitutional scholars on the program post-debate to discuss the legal merits of the 2012 Reagan candidacy, but let’s face it Gwen, the pols in Washington have been eating this up. It adds a level of excitement we haven’t seen in politics since, well, since 1980.

Shields: Jim, you’ve got to admit, Reagan looks good tonight. We all heard the rumors about Nancy resurrecting him and no one believed it, but if anyone could bring the former President back to life for another run for the White House, its Mrs. Reagan. That said, it’s going to be a hard road for the Reagans, especially since Ronald Reagan has already served two terms as President.

Jim: – Smirking –

Brooks: Given where the GOP stands today, and the Tea Party’s extreme right-of-center view, I don’t think any of that will matter Mark. Reagan doesn’t stand a chance of convincing a 2012 Republican base that he’s their man, no matter how much of an icon he’s become since he passed away in 2004.

Jim: Mark, the real question on everyone’s mind tonight is who else will be debating Reagan? Who do you think the GOP has up its right sleeve?

Shields: Rumor has it, Jim, that old Tricky Dick himself may be making an appearance on the podium tonight.

Jim: President Nixon?

Shields: Yep. The GOP is arguing since Nixon never got to finish his final term in office that he should be eligible for another second term.

Brooks: I hadn’t heard that, but it wouldn’t surprise me Mark. Nixon still garners tremendous respect from Republicans. After all, wasn’t it Nixon who lead the way in wiretapping without a subpoena? This was a trend later made popular by George W. Bush. Also, Nixon never cheated on his wife, which has always gone over well with the base.

Gwen: – Incredulous look at Brooks –

Jim: Okay, aside from the dead Presidents, who else does the GOP have for the debate tonight? Gwen, what have you heard?

Gwen: A source close to the White House says that Barack Obama may, in fact, be the GOP candidate Jim, but no one is confirming it publicly.

Jim: Pardon?

Gwen: Jim, many are saying Obama is the best choice the GOP has right now. He could easily beat Reagan, as we’ve discussed, and it’s pretty likely he’d kick Nixon’s skinny white butt too.

Jim: Gwen, I…

Shields: I wasn’t going to say anything until it was confirmed Jim, but Gwen’s right. Barack Obama is almost definitely going to be the GOP nominee. He’s got all the right credentials: he’s kept Gitmo open, he’s signed laws allowing the unlimited detention of Americans, and he managed to keep both the Iraq and Afghani wars going long enough to satisfy even the most hawkish neo-cons in the GOP.

Brooks: I have to agree with Mark and Gwen on this one, Jim.

Jim: Well this may be a first in American history folks, a sitting Democratic President will also be the GOP’s nominee. Let’s tune in now as the candidates have filed on the stage and hear what they have to say for themselves….

Blog Rolls, Blog Awards, Blog-headedness, and other Curmudgeonly Offers

Now that I’ve spent a fascinating 10 months in the blog-o-sphere, I’m finally getting around to adding a blog roll. Most of you know what a blog roll is, but for anyone who doesn’t, it’s a list of your peeps, your buds, your pals: your favorite blogs.

Why add a Blog Roll now, Carol?

Well, I’m sooooo glad you asked. 🙂

Some of my readers, dear kindhearted souls that they are, in showing their enjoyment of my blog, they nominate me for any number of blog-o-sphere “I like your blog” award thingies. It’s a nice idea, isn’t it? Awww, so sweet…

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the appreciation. But…I’m a curmudgeonly person by nature (some of the nicer readers didn’t know this about me…until now) and I’m not too keen for jumping up and down three times while chewing gum and singing the national anthem. I’ll watch you do it though. Hey you look like you are having fun, good for you!

But me? I’m not so much for writing about the 14 reasons I like orange juice or the 9 most dastardly things to do with chlorine bleach. I won’t pontificate on how many brussel sprouts I ate last year, or the 6 most secret things I’ve done with a dust buster but never told anyone. I’m not gonna do it and you can’t make me. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

You, however, are all very nice people. You are MUCH nicer than me. But please, for the love of all that is holy, please don’t be offended if I don’t fire off numerous blog posts with an itemized list of the rules of x or y blog award, and the 92 bloggers who won it in the last seven minutes and then come up with a list on my own of 46 more people to nominate.

(Gosh, I’m really mean….I’ll probably go straight to hell for my bad behavior. Don’t try this at home.)

BUT!!

I do enjoy reading other people’s blogs. Woman does not exist in a vacuum, and I am no different. I get out there and read. I even comment from time to time.

I am amused by you, I marvel at your travels, I adore your stories and poems, I laugh at myself when I have no idea what on earth you are talking about (I might be talking about you, you wonderful sports fiend Patrick) and sometimes I even gasp or sit and think on what deep thoughts you have written. You are a very talented bunch, you know.

And so, without further ado, I give you…. drum roll…..the list of blogs I like to read.

There it is…

Over there…

In the lower right corner of my blog…

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Consider it a list of approved blogs for your reading pleasure, an “award” for producing consistently great content.

Unfortunately, Carol couldn’t be here tonight to accept your flexible, liebling, apple pie, double heart, blogging award, but she asked me to accept it on her behalf.

Thank you.

Court Merrigan’s “Failure” – Insight and Inspiration

I first came across a Court Merrigan story in PANK Magazine. The Cloud Factory is one of those stories I read, then re-read and thought WHOAthis guy is seriously talented. And so he is.

But even if Court Merrigan wasn’t as supremely talented and didn’t publish a passle of stories (29 pieces to date), you could go to his blog and learn a lot by reading his “Failure” page.

CLICK to check out The Failure blog page by Court Merrigan: http://courtmerrigan.wordpress.com/failure/

Yes, his stories have been rejected 279 times  between 7/31/10 and 1/14/12. He’s got a 9% acceptance ratio. He makes all of his stats publically available on his blog.

What is even more helpful is his detailed commentary, beginning in April 2011, from each market rejecting his work. His most recent set of rejections (14 grouped together in one post) talks about A-minor and then the editor of the journal put comments on the post in response to what Court wrote. Can you get any better than that?

As a short story submitter, insights into how an editor thinks is the key to the castle. You’re not getting into the journal unless the editor (or editors, or editors and readers…) line up behind your piece. Any opportunity to peek behind the veil is welcome.

I learned about the Rejection Wiki by reading through Court’s “Failure” pile. The Rejection Wiki is a Wikipedia site and a great resource. You can search through by the name of a magazine, and find out how a “standard” rejection slip is worded, or if a rejection is more customized. For those of us submitting regularly, this is important. You want to know if you missed by a mile or if you were just off by a hair’s breadth.

REJECTION WIKI Click Here: http://www.rejectionwiki.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

Carol’s Failure wiki

So, what about Carol’s “Failure” you may be wondering? Yes, I’ve tracked every submission and response since January 2011.

Thusfar I’ve gotten 183 rejection slips, which shocked me. I never counted them until now, and I hadn’t realized I sent my work out that frequently to be reviewed but I guess I have.

My work is currently submitted to 33 markets for consideration on about 12 different stories awaiting placement.

I’ve had to withdraw pieces from submission consideration 17 times when those stories were accepted by other markets for publication.

My non-failure? 13 stories: 10 published, 3 more accepted and forthcoming soon.

Anecdotally I do get commentary from editors fairly regularly, and it so helpful and encouraging. I revise my stories obsessively – whether I get feedback or not – but the feedback helps with the revisions.

I got very nice comments passed on to me from the Smokelong Quarterly staff when Myfanwy Collins guest edited about a week ago. She and I had a lovely exchange on her blog (I left a thank you note based on her comments,) now we’re following each other’s blogs.

Just today I receieved an email from Chris Heavener, editor of Annalemma with individualized feedback which resonated with me. I’d already been in the process of revising that story (6 times since I submitted to Annalemma in November) and Chris’s insights and comments made perfect sense.

So there you have it. Court Merrigan has inspired me to share my failure with you all, and if this is something you obsess about too, you should go to Court’s blog and read through his postings on the subject. Read through the commentary too, you might just find an editor’s name you know. You can visit the Rejection Wiki to see if you got the “standard” treatment, or if you are just one more submission away from getting the almighty acceptance note.

New Piece Up at Short Fast and Deadly!

The new issue of Short Fast and Deadly, “First Words” edition is now up for your viewing pleasure. First Words required us to use the first four words of a famous poem for our prose submissions, and I selected William Carlos Williams The Red Wheelbarrow as my inspiration.

My piece, White Meat, can be viewed by CLICKING HERE: http://issuu.com/deadlychaps/docs/2012.1january.issuu/16

Joseph Quintela, SF&D’s editor, is using an ISSUU format for this issue, which is a little funky. You’ll need to look at the ISSUU document that’s been uploaded to the site to read my piece (but it’s worth it!)

Here is the main SF&D homepage also: http://www.shortfastanddeadly.com/

A permanent link for this piece will now appear on my Published Stories page – as usual.

Enjoy!

Why I love Warren Miller

Warren Miller is the godfather of extreme skiers everywhere, and his groundbreaking ski films – which he’s been making EVERY YEAR since the 1950’s – are amazing. Since I don’t ski or snowboard, it took me a lot longer to come across a Warren Miller film than ski-folk in the know, but after seeing a few of his films, I was hooked.

If you’ve never heard of Warren Miller or seen one of his films, you are missing out on some of the most dynamic, action packed extreme skiing and snowboarding on the entire planet. Literally, not figuratively.

The film crew criss-crosses the globe, tagging along with the most advanced extreme skiiers in the world. You know, the ones that jump out of helicopters to get to the top of mountains that have no humans on them. Then they ski down the mountain with an avalanche of snow behind them, or they jump of a cliff mid-ski run and parachute to the bottom of the mountain, or they run up snow ramps and get 60 feet of air while doing a triple flip or whatever other tricks are the coolest that year. Yeah, easy peasy.

Actual skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only focal points for Warren Miller films, they also celebrate the ski-bum lifestyle. A perpetual-youth culture, with kids in the forefront of the shots, doing what they do best: being young, athletic and energetic.

Part of the enthusiasm in the films is fueled by phenomenal, up to the second soundtracks. I recently perused the Warren Miller Entertainment site (NO LONGER affiliated with Warren Miller, more on that in a moment) and found a listing of the tracks to a handful of the most recent Warren Miller Entertainment films. Think of these soundtracks as a mix of electronica mixed with reggae mixed with rap and hip hop mixed with alternative rock and DJ club music and you get the idea. (I really wish I could find a sountrack list for the older films from the 1980’s and 1990’s…!)

I wouldn’t pretend that I’ve ever heard of Slang or The Crystal Method but both of them appear on the soundtrack lists and I enjoyed tracks like Slang’s ‘When the Blood Burns’ or Crystal Method’s rhythmic electronica ‘Keep Hope Alive’ enough to buy them on iTunes.

Unfortunately though, if you’ve never heard of Warren Miller before, I have some news. Mr. Miller (now in his 80’s) is no longer involved with Warren Miller Entertainment, which he first sold to his son (in 1989 I think,) and some years later it was sold, then sold again. So any of the Warren Miller Entertainment (WME) films since the 2000’s and certainly since 2005 have had no involvement from Mr. Miller. (In fact, there have even been some legal kerfuffles between Mr. Miller and WME.)

As a result, I’d recommend if you want to see and hear Warren Miller at his funniest and most charming in his role as narrator for his films, I’d stick to the movies prior to 2004.

But whatever Warren Miller film you see, you can’t help but be entertained, amused and blown away by the athletic talent on display. You might find yourself tapping your foot along to the soundtrack while you’re at it.

And Many Miles Before I Sleep

I enjoy travel, a lot. In 2011, I made three major trips:

  • The Pacific Northwest, Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and Portland
  • Puebla and Oaxaca Mexico, and
  • New Orleans, LA

Now it’s 2012, and I have to figure out where the winds might carry me.

St Charles Streetcar heading back from Uptown towards the French Quarter

My trip to Mexico last year was special to me because–other than numerous trips to Canada (most recently Victoria, British Columbia and Montreal)–Mexico was my first trip to a “foreign” country since before Sept. 11 2001. It wasn’t my intention to stop traveling internationally after 9/11, it just sort of happened.

Part of me felt there was so much to explore in the United States and there were so many amazing National Parks to see, I wanted to spend my vacations focused on those places. The years got away from me, and I wound up spending 10 years of gorgeous days and nights in the National Parks (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Shenandoah, Great Smokies, Acadia, and more) but I haven’t spent much time in foreign lands.

Mexico was a wonderful experience and I realized even with my bad Spanglish I could get along quite well. (Por Favor and Gracias go a long way when you add a smile!) The people I met were so helpful, and although it took me a day or two to get over my own apprehension about being in Mexico (gasp!) I realized I was 100% safe and then I relaxed and had a phenomenal time.

Now it’s time for me to begin gearing up for what’s on the travel agenda this year. There are a few places on my wish list. Those include:

Newfoundland, Canada including St. John’s of course, but I’d prefer to traverse the island by car and go to the western shore and Gros Morne (Canadian) National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site. One of the reasons I haven’t gone on this trip is I’m concerned about going alone. I travel all over the place by myself, but Newfie is very wild, there are moose, black bears, and on the western shore they have lynx. I don’t want to “get-et” by the local fauna. I love watching Man Vs. Wild, Dual Survival, and other survival shows; I’m just not ready to put all that to the test by myself. I saw 127 hours too ya know. This trip will only be possible during the summer, so I’m sure I’ll need mosquito/black fly protection, but on the up side, I’ll get to sample the 17+ varieties of berries that grow on Newfie.

…….can you tell I’ve done a bit of research on this……?

The other reason I haven’t gone on this trip is airfare to Newfoundland is really expensive – like $1200 dollars round trip from New York. Considering the flight is about 2.5 hours, that’s fairly outrageous. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I need a more economical way to get there.

Dublin, Ireland. Maybe this is self-explanatory because Dublin is supposed to be such a great city, but as a writer going to the country that birthed WB Yeats and James Joyce (among so many others) feels like trying to touch back to my roots as a writer.

Somewhere in Central America – not too specific I realize, but this requires research and decision making to begin narrowing my locations. On the hit parade in my mind right now are: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and who knows what else I haven’t found yet.

So, what’s a prospective traveler to do? One good thing to do is find a few travel blogs you like and follow them for information.

I have two excellent travel blogs I read regularly: Trans-americas.com and EverywhereOnce.com.

The Trans-Americas blog recommended La Purificadora, an amazing hotel in Puebla, Mexico. I’m SO happy I stayed there. It was 1000x better than the crappy and overpriced hotel my travel agent found for me in Oaxaca, Mexico. In fact, if I hadn’t told my travel agent about La Purificadora, she wouldn’t have known it existed. This is because, unlike the United States, many hotels in Mexico are one-offs. There’s no convenient way to find them online. You can find Mexican hotels online, but you’ll never know if they are any good, speak English, are over-priced for what you get, etc.

As I continue to figure out what in Central America is possible, Trans-Americas is going to be an important and trusted part of my research. This couple sold everything they had when they lived in New York City, and they’ve got more than 200,000 miles under their traveling belts roaming all over Canada, the U.S., Central and South America. They know a thing or two about a thing or two, including the good and the bad with a balanced viewpoint.

The second blog, Everywhere Once is a married couple, Brian and Shannon, who also sold their worldly possessions, bought an RV and began a multi-year roadtrip. For many months now they’ve been roaming primarily in the United States and seeing some fantastic and under-visited National Parks. I like the Everywhere Once blog because travel as a lifestyle is the core tenet. They aren’t on vacation, as Brian likes to say, they’re living their lives and fitting all they can into the time they have on the road. That takes moxie, and they’ve got it. Most recently, Brian posted they’d be heading off to Central America so I look forward to their updates from new lands.

Where does all this leave me? I’m not sure, honestly. 2012 is going to be a time of change for me, I’ve got stuff going on in my personal life and I’ll have to see how the proverbial dust settles. In the meantime, I will dream of palm trees and plantains; or pubs and bookstores; or a bowl of cloudberries, gooseberries and chokecherries.

Truthful and Honest…Fiction

I promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth…except when writing fiction?

Elena Kagan (L) is sworn in as the Supreme Court's newest member as Chief Justice John Roberts (R) administers the judicial oath, as Jeffrey Minear (C) counselor to the chief justice, holds the Bible at the Supreme Court Building August 7, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Elena Kagan swears in for her duties on the Supreme Court

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while, and it’s been challenging for me to find the right angle of approach. This posting is intended to be an interactive discussion with you, my readers, because I’ve always found it helpful to understand how you are approaching things in your writing too.

How much truth is needed to write good fiction?

When I began writing short stories seriously, after taking a refresher class at Gotham Writer’s Workshop in Manhattan in 2009, I started out by writing stories at a distance. What I mean to say is I looked writing stories as the craft of creating fictional people in situations that had no resemblence to me personally or my life.

In the case of Red Tide, (a piece I’ve already written about on the Blog in a posting called Where Writers Find Inspiration for Stories,) I took two news items and crafted a story using elements of both as ingredients. It was the first story I got accepted for publication by the Aroostook Review. It felt easier for me to write from a distance because I didn’t have to ante up my own deepest fears, pain, rejection, love, joy, or happiness – even though the story I wrote was emotional and dealt with sickness and death.

It’s taken me over a year to begin breaking down the wall between my personal feelings/experiences and my writing. For me, this has been the most difficult aspect of producing meaningful work. (Reading the works of humorists Fran Lebowitz and David Sedaris have helped me find the courage to embed more of myself into my work.)

Let me give another example. I had been submitting 200 word shorts to Barry Graham over at Dogzplot for months. Each item I submitted was rejected. Since the rejection notes tended to say things like: “It didn’t work for me” or “I’ll pass,” I was left to my own devices to figure out how I was going to create a meaningful short that would be clear the bar of Barry’s editorial sniff test.

I was in bed one night (while in New Orleans) thinking about this and I bolted upright, went to my computer, and wrote Mice in one sitting. Mice exposes my paranoid self, the part of me that cycles through thoughts while trying to sleep and winds up with insomnia instead. I sent the piece to Barry that night because I felt in my gut it was good enough. He sent his acceptance the next day along with his fantastic edits. (By removing 7 words and adding punctuation he tightened the piece immensely.) I am convinced that Barry’s editorial nose is attuned to this kind of honesty, and I understood in order to jump the hurdle I was going to have dig deeper than I did with previous submissions.

To be clear, I’m not saying short stories should be an accounting of an author’s personal life to be good. But I’m (probably) saying in order to have emotional authenticity, it’s important to have an underlying base of real emotion and real experience that comes from a true place inside the writer to inform the work.

I’m continuing to strive for emotional honesty in my stories, and I hope my upcoming pieces in 2012 will showcase that evolution.

How much of your own emotion and personal experience do you use when creating your stories, poems or novels? Do you sense internal resistance to using these feelings, and if you do, how did you (or are you) overcoming that?

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments and interactions on the blog.

Say What?

Is it just me, or have you noticed the distinct lack of quotation marks in flash fiction and short stories appearing across the web. I think it’s a trend.

What’s up with that?

In a non-scientific survey conducted by me randomly surfing small press literary sites, here’s what I found in a few minutes, three examples:

I decided you were infinite by Grace Hobbs at the Corium website. There are two nameless characters and nearly the entire story is dialogue, but no quotation marks in sight. (I like the story by the way.)

One Way to Rio by Kevin O’Cuinn at the Dogzplot site (fantastic example of well written flash, and certainly worth a read) is a conversation between a woman auditioning to be a lead singer and members of the band. No quotation marks of any kind.

Euchre by Kate Petersen over at elimae replaces quotation marks with dashes at the beginning of the sentence. Well, that’s just downright confusing.

So, do you use quotation marks in your stories, or some other method of conveying dialogue or spoken words? If you don’t use quotation marks, what’s the reasoning behind your choice?

2011 Roundup – Highlights of My Inaugural Blogging Year

On March 26, 2011 I began this blog with the auspicious post: “Is This Thing On” with a two word revelation: Hello World!

Yeah, I had no freaking clue what blogging was about, or what I signed myself up for. Even though blogging is a ridiculous amount of work, I’m happy with my inaugural year results.

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THE NUMBERS:

  • 134 postings created during 2011, and over 600 tags used. Some months, like June 2011 had only 1 posting, while others, like December 2011 had 23. (To look at the postings of a full month go to the calendar in the far right column of my blog towards the bottom and you can hover over any date to see what was posted, or move between months with ease.)
  • Pages were viewed more than 3000 times in 2011! I’m proud of that stat! I couldn’t have done it without YOU the reader, coming to see what the heck I had to say. Which leads me to….
  • There are 432 comments on my blog. Because I reply to nearly every comment, about half of them are mine. Of the rest, my top commenters are: Wren Andre http://wrenandre.wordpress.com, Patrick of Sporting Sense, Scribbla http://scribbla.wordpress.com and Louise Jacques of My Other Book is a Tolstoy. You four have been my strongest participants in this blog and have enhanced it tremendously with your inputs. THANK YOU! And thanks to everyone else who commented too!
  • Speaking of participants, 47 people have followed my blog since inception. I had no idea 2 people would want to read what I had to say, nevermind 47. It’s exciting to see this number increasing over time.

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FLASH FICTION:

There are 10 flash fiction stories posted directly to the blog. Some of my favorites are: Fallen,  and Graduation Day.

Click on the tag “Flash Fiction” in my Tag-a-licious Cloud in the left column of my blog and flash fiction tagged posts will come up in a list.

AUDIO! On at least two of my posts, Flash Fiction: Traveler’s Journey and Flash Fiction: Consider the Pomegranate you can listen to me reading my work. I’ll be posting more of these audio clips in 2012.

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SHORT STORIES:

13 stories or flash pieces have been published by small press journals, or are forthcoming in Q1 2012. All of these are listed on my Published Stories page. Yay!

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PHOTOS:

I’m surprised by this number – I’ve got 175 photos posted to the blog. That seems like a lot to me, I hope you enjoyed them.

If you want to see a more composed view of my photographs, please visit my Shutterfly site: http://cdeminskiphotos.shutterfly.com

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HUMOR:

There are 15 pieces on the blog tagged as Humor. (Click on the Tag-A-Licious cloud under Humor.) These pieces are the hardest for me to write, and I’m never sure if they’re all that funny unless you tell me you enjoyed them (which you do, thanks…)

One of my most clicked posts is Funniest Tweets Ever. I’m not sure if this post still holds up, you can be the judge of that.

Here are the humor posts I like best:

  • Girl’s Guide to Living With a Sports Fan
  • What Upper West Siders Did During the Hurricane
  • Reasons Why Fran Lebowitz Has Writer’s Block
  • Reasons Why Your Short Story Was Rejected
  • A Fairytale – NYC Style (a re-write of Snow White)

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I look forward to entertaining you all for another year. 2012 – here we come.

Vacation Reading List

One of the things I didn’t necessarily expect to do while I was in New Orleans was to buy books.  But after seeing a few of the bookstores in the French Quarter I couldn’t help myself. Every bookstore I found was a small, independently operated shop.

The FAB bookstore on Frenchman street has a wealth of books on or about New Orleans. I found Rob Walker’s Letters from New Orleans here, which I enjoyed a lot. The letters were not originally intended to be a book, they were personal observations Rob sent to his friends and family about his time in the city. All of the letters were written before Hurricane Katrina and some of his observations about the city are chilling, including one line about flooding I still remember: “New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen.”

I also bought both of my David Sedaris books at FAB. I got When You are Engulfed in Flames which I thought was very funny, and I’m about halfway through Naked, which I don’t like as well as the first book I read. Engulfed in Flames is more recent than Naked, incidentally.

Another bookstore I enjoyed was Faulkner House Books, which is in Pirate’s Alley which runs between Decatur and Royal Streets directly beside St. Louis Cathedral (right off of Jackson Square.) If you’re not looking for this bookstore you’d miss it because not a lot of people seem to walk down Pirate Alley. Also, the bookstore entrance is so small you could walk right by it and never notice.

The woman who runs this bookstore takes great pride in her collection, which she carefully curates. I was pleased to find she had an entire group of Louisiana and New Orleans short story collections. I bought the work of one writer, Tim Gautreaux and started with his collection Same Place, Same Things. The stories are about poor people, and/or Cajuns living in Bayou country. Many of the stories were published in well known journals like GQ, or Harpers, or The New Yorker and I enjoyed almost all of the stories tremendously, they are incredibly well written.

After reading Same Place, Same Things, I went on a hunt in the Quarter for his other collection which is out of print. It’s called Welding With Children, and I was able to find it and I’ve read everything but the last story. My favorite story in this collection is called Easy Pickins which is about a dumb, down on his luck thief who wants to rob an old Cajun woman in her home. Let’s just say, things don’t go as the thief planned and what ensues is entertaining as hell.

Finally, I haven’t started reading Barb Johnson’s More of This World or Maybe Another which I picked up at Faulkner House, but Ms. Johnson’s personal history is so interesting I wanted to support her efforts. She spent 20 years as a carpenter living in New Orleans, and then went back to school to get her MFA. During that time, she won a $50,000 dollar grant, and with the money she chose to produce this set of short stories.