Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Read Twilight and I Loved It!

That's right I love Twilight. Not the Mormon fairy tale of repressed sexuality, which I'm sure is great. True this Twilight does have sex with dead people, but not in the way the tweens would really get into. William Gay's Twilight is a Southern gothic, heavy on the gothic, where a prissy and perverse mortician is blackmailed by a brother and sister and in turn sics Sutter on them, Sutter being the kind deranged monster that perhaps only the South can produce. Anyway, good holiday reading.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon: DAY 4

So it's Day Four, the final day, of the Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon. I have 18 hours...will I make it to 24 hours? See I could write action suspense. That question probably has you on the edge of your seat alone. Anyway, it will be harder today with family obligations and whatnot.

And this is my last plea to you to sponsor me: You can still donate. And it supports a good cause.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon: DAY 3

So it's Day Three of the Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon. I've made it to 12 hours--halfway to my goal of 24 hours during the write-a-thon. Yesterday was easier, most of my time completed in a Starbucks. I know some people cringe at writing in coffee shops what with it being cliche and all. Plus the fear that such a corporate environment could seep into their writing. I just don't see it. I mean, the table over from me had a T-Rex balloon animal in the center and two guys explaining to this teenager how much money you can make as a freelance balloon animal artist and all he had to do was buy the $60 start-up kit from them and take a few hours of unspecified lessons. See there is art everywhere, even in the corporate caffeinated soul of America.

I should probably work on that 6 hour goal for today.

Thank you to those who have sponsored me and if you still want to but haven't:You can still donate. And it supports a good cause.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon: Day 2

So it's Day Two of the Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon. I achieved my goal of writing for six hours yesterday though under duress. As Heather shopped at the Northlake Mall, I wrote in the Borders where I heard great snatches of conversation like:

Girlfriend(?): I'm not buying you another book. I got you one last year, and you didn't even read three pages of it.
Guy: But this one's about war!

Anyway, I should get started. Goal: 6 more hours today.

You can still donate. And it supports a good cause.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon: DAY 1

It's Day One of the Dzanc Books Write-a-Thon. I have my prompt and I have my laptop and I have my goal of writing 24 hours over the next four days, so I'm hoping to get 6 hours today. Problem: the wife is off today and needs me to run errands with her. So this may be piecemeal. So I should probably stop writing this and get to work.

You can still donate. And it supports a good cause.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There’s Still Time

To sponsor me in Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon. Every dollar counts. You’ll be essentially making me write for twenty-four hours straight.* You could win fabulous prizes.** Just think of the crazy things I’ll write that you can read for your low, low donation of anything you want to donate.*** Sponsor me today!****

*Straight here only means chronologically and may be stretched out over four days with breaks in between for eating, bathroom stops, sleep, drinking, video gaming, gardening, cartooning, romance novel reading, and sexual intrigue.
**There are no prizes. But you will get to see what I write during the event, so that’s sort of like a prize.
***The writing my not, in fact, be crazy, but instead only eyebrow raising. Admittedly it will probably be a domestic drama. With a band of rabid possums thrown in. One can never tell.
****Tomorrow will also be fine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How Do I Cite My Comment on LiveJournal?

Did you know there's this thing called Twitter? I know! Right? Anyway, I don't tweet because I can barely semi-monthly blog and my facebook updates have become so obligatory I call my mom more often so I have room for the extra guilt for not facebooking.

Though I'm not a denizen of Tweetville, my friend Jeff pointed me to one that makes me want to join just to follow them: FakeAPStylebook. At Fake AP Stylebook you can find answers to all your unasked style questions and concerns. Here are just a few of my favorite examples:
  • "The word 'totally' is redundant except when describing how rad something is."
  • "Italicize words to give your story that gangsta lean."
  • "'Teh' is a common misspelling of 'the.' Add it to your rival's spell-check dictionary. "
Oh and the answer to that pesky LiveJournal question: "Comments on LiveJournal posts do not need citations."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sponsor Me in Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon

So I'm participating in the 2009 Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon which will take place December 17th through the 20th. I'll be writing for twenty-four hours over the write-a-thon. That's like a day. Though spread over four days, so not so crazy as writing for twenty-four hours straight which would probably result in my writing even worse than normal.

You can sponsor me by going here. You'll receive updates as to my progress. And I would be grateful. And thank you.

For those that don't already know, and if not, you really should: Dzanc is a non-profit independent publishing company that supports literary magazines, small presses, and funds writing programs in public schools, as well as the Dzanc Prize, which benefits not only the writer awarded it but pays for a community based project like writing workshops in prisons or cancer centers.

If you would like to get involved in the Write-A-Thon, please email Dan Wickett at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How Many Poisoning Stories Can There Be?

So it's Thanksgiving break and I'm with my wife (formerly known here as Heather) visiting the in-laws. And we also visited one of my favorite places on earth: McKay's Used Media (or some such) where you take in the books your tired of and the cd's that no longer have any relevance whatsoever and they give you credit to get more books that you might one day tire of. I'm wandering the creative writing reference aisle, and I see this catchy title Howdunit: The Book of Poisons. It's part of the Writers Digest Books on how to get your crime facts straight. I actually have the original one about police procedure and criminal acts but a whole book on poison? How many stories can one write where someone gets poisoned? Naturally, I had to have it, but then I got distracted by Norman Mailer's The Spooky Art and forgot to put it in my basket. Though I failed to get me a copy, I thought it would still make Thanksgiving-appropriate reading.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Me on Necessary Fiction

So my story "Herman and the Elephant" is up at Necessary Fiction. It's about a kid named "Herman." And an elephant. Also, Steve Himmer is a killer editor--he brought the best out of the story.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nikitas and The Long Division

Over the weekend, the ball and chain and I went to see the Queens production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a fantastic show. So I'm thinking about Shakespeare. And thinking about as I grow older--now that I'm married I feel older already--I find myself liking Shakespeare. That seems insipid having written it, but before I'd have said, "Of course, I like Shakespeare" because...I mean, you have to like Shakespeare. But what I'm saying now is that I actually like Shakespeare.

Which brings me to my friend Derek Nikitas, whose novel The Long Division has recently been released to rave reviews. Including this one where he's compared to...that's right, Shakespeare!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Me in NewPages

So there's a review of the Spring 2008 issue of roger: an art and literary magazine in NewPages. The reviewer Terri Denton says of my story "The Villain" that "its subtle humor ... brilliantly leaves you feeling just a bit uneasy." I love leaving people uneasy.

More importantly, of the whole issue she writes, "I smiled through every page, and was truly sad when I was done, though I know that I will go back to it again and again, and it will be as old novels, dog-eared pages indicating that it has been loved." I can't agree more. If you haven't already, check out roger.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Readings Not Included in the Wedding

So I got married to the lovely and talented Heather. And people probably thought we'd write our own vows being writerly types--no way, too much pressure, so we went traditional. But we did have ideas about readings. We ultimately decided against them for many reasons. Here are a couple I was advocating for:

From Jack Pendarvis's Awesome, one of the characters says: A few years later I said to Glorious Jones [his wife], Remember when I rubbed pumpkin pie filling all over my face and nobody laughed? And she said yes. I don't know, I think that really sums up marriage.

Also wanted to use the poem "Marriage" by Gregory Corso. You can read the whole thing here. But here's an excerpt:

O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
just wait to get at the drinks and food -
And the priest! he looking at me as if I masturbated
asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
She's all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on -
Then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
All streaming into cozy hotels
All going to do the same thing tonight
The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
The lobby zombies they knowing what
The whistling elevator man he knowing
Everybody knowing! I'd almost be inclined not to do anything!
Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!

Why we didn't end up using them, I'll never know.

(pictured me and the missus honeymooning on the beach)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Me on Flash Fiction Online

So my story "Death Babies" is in the October issue of Flash Fiction Online. It's not what you think--no babies die...well, okay, one dies, but that is beside the point. The issue also includes great Halloween appropriate stories from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Damon Shaw. And I'm overjoyed that the issue includes an essay from Poe and a story from Lovecraft.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Imaginary Movie

So I was talking to my friend Derek when naturally The Great Space Coaster came up. But he, like so many others, didn’t remember a short cartoon where a husband (son?) pretends to be inanimate objects until he disappears into the clutter of the house. It freaked my young mind, but maybe I imagined this existential parable.

Which reminded me, I saw this movie when I was young…how young, I can’t say…school-age…I’ve never left school, but younger than I am now.

I saw this movie…or maybe I imagined it. A ship got lost in the Bermuda Triangle…it had to be the Triangle…and wound up on a calm sea covered entirely by these vines so thick you could walk from one trapped ship to another using snow shoes…which they oddly enough had or maybe they just made some out of tennis rackets, which oddly they had. Below the vines, under the water was some kind of sea monster that would occasionally eat someone. I believe the bad guy had a trapdoor to the sea monster on his ship for people that displeased him.

But it’s the image of all these ships caught in vines on a still sea that I love…that still stops me sometimes. An image good enough to be in Moby Dick. Maybe it was a movie adaptation of Moby Dick.

In the age of Google all things should be at hand, but I can’t think of enough to even being a search—other than Bermuda Triangle which I tried and didn’t seem to do the trick.

If I didn’t make up this film, I should probably never see it at any rate. Keep reality from killing the dream.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chillax Badass

What do people think about the term “badass”? Still cool, right? Let’s forgo discussing the relative coolness of using the word “cool.” But badass still has some cache, even with the loss of the sting of taboo connected to “ass,” which barely registers as a curse anymore. Much more cache anyway than the stillborn "chillax." Can anyone really use this word and not sound like an Arnold Friend-esque poseur or a poor deluded child?

(pictured two badasses chillaxing)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trademark This

So I'm writing response letters to some creative nonfiction essays, and I notice one of the students keeps capitalizing laundromat. So my marginalia cries, "Why? What's so proper about this laundromat?" Then I go to type up my comments and every time I type laundromat Word forces the capital Laundromat. Seriously? I do a little reading and it turns out it's just one corporation protecting another.

My love of Word is no secret. Here's another autocratic slip that shows the foulness of the MS soul. Too much? The point is that just on practical terms forcing the capital is a mistake because it makes the reader stop because the registered trademark is for a washing machine, not, as everyone understands, the place one goes to use a washing machine.

But more importantly, when words become part of the language, they belong to the people, not a corporation. Get over it kleenex.


© 2009

S. Craig Renfroe, Jr.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Totally Book Porn

My friend Mel sent me the link to this photo blog Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone, calling it "totally book porn" and it's certainly corrupting the morals of the good non-reading public everywhere--if everywhere is this link right here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mourning the Perfect Word

I've just tried out Google Docs. And I'm wondering if this will one day push out Word. Which makes me think about how I loved WordPerfect so much and how I had to give it up for Word--forced kicking and screaming because of compatibility. Stupid, stupid Word. WordPerfect is still out there, like an unrequited lover.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Death of Summer or How I Draw a Paycheck

School is in. And responsibilities loom over my puttering around. Which often, inexplicably, means I get more puttering done. Not really inexplicable because I have to prioritize my puttering, put my puttering first. These are things I've learned from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which I have never read but bought for a quarter at a garage sale from someone I suspect had not read it either. Point being, I'm teaching again. Shaping young minds. I try not to think about that too much. It's paralyzing if you do. Like the Larkin poem: "They fuck you up, your mum and dad./ They may not mean to, but they do."

(pictured: goats puttering)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Ideal Fiction List Is Up on Flatmancrooked

So the folks over at the irrepressible Flatmancrooked came up with their ideal fiction anthologies and asked some of the writers they've published for their lists. Mine is up in Part III. Be sure to check out Parts I & II. I notice that many get real defensive about their lists and include disclaimers or get defiant as if expecting their choices to cause bar fights. Me included. I'm not making a point. Just noticing. I like to notice stuff.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cool: The Collagist

Probably you've already checked out the first issue of The Collagist, a new online literary magazine from Dzanc, because I'm usually late to the party. If not, you should. Really. Because as previously stated, it is cool. It includes work by and about Gordon Lish. And even some Easter-egg-style goodies, like the Michael Martone contributor note story.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flatmancrooked & My Last Minute

I'm a last minute person...because I'm essentially lazy. So I thought I'd mention the 2009 Flatmancrooked Prize judged by Aimee Bender. It's deadline is, oh, Aug. 15th, which is what tomorrow? Anyway, for any procrastinators out there...

I should also mention their new innovative program called LAUNCH, where they launch the career of a new writer by asking for readers to buy shares in that career. Read more because I'm too lazy for the details. The writer in question is the cool Emma Straub, who according to the faucet of fact Facebook will write you a love letter if you launch her.

And to continue the unsolicited testimonial, because I like the cut of these people's jib, their blog articles never disappoint.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Have Been Carred

I hated cars well before it was cool. Not for any earth-saving reasons, I mean the supernova-ing sun's going to take care of this place soon enough, right? But just the general resentment--all I wanted was a way from point A to B and I get saddled with a constant source of nuisance. And I'm not a fan of speed. I'm a fan of slow. Of porches. And god knows I'd never buy a new car--a racket if ever there was one, paying for the car-salesman aggravation and instant depreciation.

So naturally, the other day I bought a new car. I blame Heather, who so loves cars she has a pet name for hers which I won't reveal because out of context it sounds dirty...I should probably just not bring it up. Also, I blame the last junk heap that hauled my ungrateful self around which died before it could claim any of that cash for being a clunker.

Anyway, we got an '09 Elantra Touring. Here's my review: it's nice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stuff That's Going On

Here's some stuff that's going on:
  • Dogzplot is having a huge reading weekend bender in Atlantic City (pictured).
  • The Fiction Circus lays out the Booker Prize--isn't there a Man in there somewhere now?
People are busy. Well, I'm not. But people, people are busy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Well Known Book I Haven't Read

So it's summer, and I'm actually reading things other than student work, but it just reminds me of things I haven't read that I feel like I should. Today's book I have not read is Independence Day by Richard Ford. That's right, haven't read that one. But one of my past professors told a story about how he was jerk, so that probably makes it okay.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bram Stoker Had Grey Eyes

Grey, gray, grey, grey, definitely. Reading a Stoker biography and turns out he had grey eyes and loved it! So does one of my brothers, though I'm not sure about his feelings on having said grey eyes. Why do I bring it up? No reason.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009


So my story "Paternity" (that's right, fatherhood comes natural to me--though it hasn't right yet) is in the Summer 2009 issue of the illustrious LITnIMAGE. Not only does it have a great look as you'd expect considering the name (in this issue check out Leslie Ditto's bizarro cool work) but has also published some killer fiction in the past, including Jenny William's “The Fisherman’s Wife”, which won the 2008 Million Writers Award.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Would You Want to Kill the Author...Unless...

So the first issue of > kill author is up with great pieces from Barry Graham, Brad Green, and J. A. Tyler, among others. The editorial staff of > kill author has chosen to remain anonymous, claiming that the reputation of editors is getting in the way of something, what's that thing called that people don't care about having anymore...integrity?

Though the mag is literary in tone and the title comes from a Roland Barthes quote and though they deny being robots, I can only assume that they are, in fact, editors come back from the dead...zombie editors. But not famous ones like Gordon Lish or Max Perkins. No these are middle-management, zombie editors. Though don't get me wrong, they do an excellent job, especially when you consider a zombie's imprecise motor skills.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Me on Flatmancrooked

So my story "Come, Come Away to Sumerville" is featured at Flatmancrooked. And if you haven't already, you should read their great blog with series like

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ever Get That Feeling?

You know the one. Where you've come to the end of a book and you were so engrossed in that fictional world that you can't pry your consciousness out of it. So you wander the real world fuzzy headed with a sense of anticipation that is never satisfied but only dissipates. Is this what old age will feel like?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Give the Show a Disembodied Hand

Went to see Evil Dead: The Musical last night, and it has restored my faith in musicals. In my humble opinion, zombies and lots of fake blood would improve any musical. Take The Sound of Music, for instance.

Monday, June 8, 2009


That's right, My braggadocio continues. Two in a row. This is old news, but I recently found out that my piece "Sermon on an Anthill" is included in the upcoming DOGZPLOT FLASH FICTION ANTHOLOGY 2009. Here is a list of all the authors including the other, better ones:

CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE (alphabetically):


Pre-order now!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Me on The Fiction Circus

So I'm back from Ireland just in time for the good times. One of the good times has to do with the job The Fiction Circus has done on the reprint of my story "Biopsy Doppelganger." And they did the works. It has this accompanying illustration by Pyotr Janecek, Madman. That would be more than anyone deserves, but there's more: an audio track of the story read by Goodman Carter and Cordula Nonchalant with a music track by the same Goodman Carter. But wait! There's more! The story will also be in the print version of fiction circus: jonathan franzen edition. And if that weren't enough, because it's more than should be expected, Stephen Future's post about the story is embarrassingly positive and erudite...well the erudite bit is not embarrassing, it's really more impressive. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that The Fiction Circus is good people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Favorite Place in the Whole Wide World

Okay, maybe not THE favorite, but certainly ONE of the places I could just spend eternity. The other day, we visited Trinity College Library where the main attraction is the Book of Kells, but I feel like the Long Room always trumps it. And this time they had an excellent exhibit on the origins of the detective story called "The Body in the Library." Book heaven.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Conversation in Dingle

So here is a conversation between one of my colleagues (C) and an older drunken Irish person (DIP) while we were buying chocolate at the Centra grocery store in Dingle. My colleague's dialogue has been omitted because it hardly matters:

DIP: From America you are, aren't you. What part?
C: .....
DIP: I've been to North Carolina. Horrible, horrible place North Carolina. They have a swamp there.
C: .....
DIP: I've been to New York nine times. Nine times. And Chicago. And Pittsburgh.
C: .....
DIP: Have you been to San Francisco?
C: .....
DIP: I want to go to San Francisco before I die. St. Patrick's cathedral. Market St.
C: .....
DIP: (with increasing volume) Go to San Francisco and die. Go to San Francisco and die. Go to San Francisco and die.
C: .....

(Pictured: a statue of Fungi the dolphin who plays in the harbor at Dingle. Not pictured: drunken Irish person, death, or San Francisco)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Aran Islands Were Beautiful But...

There was a guy with a giant, stuffed red giraffe in the pub. Sad how that is the detail that comes to mind when I'm writing this brief post, while this girl loudly tries to pick up the hostel desk guy because she gave up her job, flew to Ireland for an Irishman, and he, the Irishman, today, the day she arrived, told her that he's decided to get back with his ex-girlfriend. Lessons from travel: 1. Bring an stuffed animal to a pub and you'll be the life of the party. 2. Don't leave your job for an Irishman.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shall We Sligo?

So, I'm in Sligo. Land of Yeats. His epitaph: Cast a cold Eye/ On Life, on Death/ Horseman, pass by. Horseman, you should probably also pass by our hotel about which you should know:

  1. Has no hot water.
  2. Which makes sense since most of the rooms don't have heat.
  3. Each room key opens all rooms.
  4. The owners operate an illegal all-hours pub downstairs, where they have hen parties or at least a gaggle of girls singing Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" at 4:15 in the morning.
  5. They serve a nice breakfast while still cleaning up the broken glass from the bar fight from previous night.
  6. Traditional Irish music sessions include the "Johnny Cash" song "Hurt."
  7. When we tell locals where we stay, they just laugh in an odd way.
My dear, horseman, pass by.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Celtic Cuisine

So I am done with the semester and now preparing for the Ireland trek, much like Star Trek, but in Ireland, not the stars, and with no aliens or pointy ears, except for the faeries. Though some of the students going on the study tour are weird.

In the prep class, we teach them about the Celts. In Dora Jane Hamblin's "Once Maligned, Celts Are Now Touted as the First Europeans," we learn that they were "Wild and woolly...from their notable head and body hair." As you will no doubt remember from my bloging about it over a year ago, my family lore is that we are that genetic stew Scotch-Irish. But clearly from Hamblin's definition I must be some part Celt and if that weren't enough: "They [the woolly Celts] never went in for what the Romans called 'city eating,' that is, elaborate sauces and spices." We all know how I feel about condiments! I have found my people. And they are dead.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Heffalump on Parade

Heather and I discovered the other day that someone at Disney was obsessed with frightening psychedelic elephants. After she reminded me of the Winnie the Pooh dream sequence with the Heffalumps and Woozles, I instantly remembered the tramua of seeing the pink elephants on parade bit in Dumbo. This connection isn't frighteningly impressive, since apparently it was a practice to cannibalize earlier animation at Disney, but the pleasant discovery was that the Dumbo "trip" was created before the recreational release of perhaps the creators had...what is that...what is that called? Oh, an imagination. A kid-terrifying imagination...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

XX Eccentric: Discount Running Out

XX Eccentric
Stories About the Eccentricities of Women

A 2009 MSR Short Fiction Anthology

Edited by S. Craig Renfroe, Jr.

ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-187-6, cover price $16.95

* * * The anticipated release date is May 18. The Advance Discount Price of $9 (+ $1 S&H) will be available until April 27. These dates are subject to change. Please note that ordering in advance entitles the buyer to a discount, but does not mean the book will be received before the release date. * * *

The book can be ordered from the Coming Soon page of the MSR Online Bookstore. Here is a link that will take you directly there:

Please note: For those who would rather not order online, may also be ordered by check or credit card directly from the publisher; however, the discount is not as much if ordered this way ($12/book--postage included). Send to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001. Credit card orders, call 704-573-2516 (M-F 9am-5pm EST).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I Should Be Twittering Right Now

Old News

This is probably old news, but I'm reading Nick Hornby's collection of his columns in The Believer called The Polysyllabic Spree, which I got from the sale. Hornby quotes Gabriel Zaid's So Many Books: "the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more." Hornby goes on to add: "That's me! And you, probably! That's us! 'Thousands of unread books'! 'Truly cultured'!"

God bless them both!

Monday, April 6, 2009

NatPoMo v. NaPoWriMo

Not since sitting about the large conference table in grad school and unselfconciously spouting the term PoMo (postmodernism, natch) have I had such fun as April. I get all aflutter just thinking about bugging Heather with the term NatPoMo. And then I heard about National Poetry Writing Month...NaPoWriMo. Haha.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Fools

So a student for an April Fool's prank slipped in a fake assignment: A Notated Bible-o-Graphy. Sadly true to the reality of research among most students, the sources were from old reliables like Wikipedia and "google." Though, this research "detailed" the JFK assassination conspiracy involving Beowulf armed with a Hans Solo blaster. An A if ever I saw one.

Pictured the flying spaghetti monster because "It talks about the religion and it is origin."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009


So I'm rereading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, for the third time, which is impressive for me because I so rarely reread a book. To be fair, I'm rereading this one because I'm teaching it in a class on the Western. So many books, so little time. Blah, blah. Add in the fact that I'm a slow, so very slow. And I can see just how finite my lifetime reading list really is. Which could lead some people to ask: why do you keep buying all those books then? To which I reply: stay out of my private business that I just happen to be airing in this public forum, you nosey jerks. Point being, Blood Meridian is an amazing novel, which you probably already knew because you happen to read at a faster rate than I do and have consumed David Copperfield while I was reading over this for typos. Point being, it's good to be trailing the kid and the judge again, at whatever pace.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I have been sick. But not badly sick. Sick in the way where mucus leaks from your orifices...okay just the nostril orifices because otherwise that is sicker than I am at present. I am also annoyingly fatigued. So all that stuff I have to do, all that stuff that my mind keeps enumerating and ranting about, pacing around its brain pan, yelling to itself because the body just can't seem to get it together. Sick used to be fun. Sick used to be abandon-all-responsibilities fun. But now it's just all the same responsibilities plus the mucus.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Me on storySouth

My poem "Dinner with Family" is up on the superb storySouth, Issue 27, an issue packed with wonders, like stories from George Singleton and Daniel Wallace. And yeah, my piece is a poem...what of it? I can write poetry. I'm very poetic. With the poetry. My only regret is that it didn't come out in April, so I could say it was in celebration of NatPoMo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Am a Bad Person

So I was reading the essay The Unfinished: David Foster Wallace’s struggle to surpass “Infinite Jest.” that's in The New Yorker, and I couldn't get enough. The portrait of Wallace, the writing. The sadness. And in the back of my mind, I was wondering about when Pynchon and Salinger go, will there be essays like this. Surely, I thought, and when there are, I want to read them. That, I suppose, doesn't say much to my being "a fucking human being." Or maybe it says it all too well.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Being Gary Coleman: the Ben Tanzer Repetition Patterns Guest Essay

If you remember, I get to throw off my blogging least this one part of This Tour Will Change Your Life, Ben Tanzer's virtual book tour for his new short story collection, Repetition Patterns, published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Tanzer, of course, is the writer of the novels Lucky Man and Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine and is now publicizing the story collection. So appropriately enough, his topic for today's stop is marketing yourself as a writer, which naturally he entitled:

Being Gary Coleman
by Ben Tanzer

People will not find your work. Okay, they might, and they do, but mostly they won't, because there is a lot of clutter out there, waves of good to great writers, making noise and publishing, and you need to somehow rise above that clutter, if only for a moment.

So, try the following: self-absorption, saturation, compulsion, repeat.

You must love yourself and your work. Your work is a product. Like Tide, but more interesting. Your work is also an extension of you, the best you, not necessarily the most attractive you, bed head is fine, even the occasional lapses in the brushing of your otherwise pristine teeth, but your writing must rock, you must hone it, get feedback, tweak and re-tweak, and keep writing, writing, writing until you have a voice, any voice, as long as it yours.

And then you must celebrate it, like your very own Technicolor dream coat. Now, am I implying that you should think of yourself as Jesus, well Joseph? Yes of course, and Spiderman, Iman, Yoda, President Obama, Elizabeth Crane, The Ramones, Viggo Mortenson, Tom Brady, Gandolf, and even Gary Coleman if it helps. You are your brand and you must love your work. Love it so much that you want it out there because you know without question that people, some people anyway, will love it as much as you do. How do I know this? Because I do, this is how it works, even when it doesn't, see JT Leroy or James Frey.

Now saturate. And no, that is not the same as exfoliate. Well, it's kind of like that. Still, now you must blog, twitter, blog about twittering, update your Facebook status, more blogging, more twittering, get out, share links, blog about your links, make friends, shoot a video for YouTube, link to other blogs, leave comments on people's blogs, make more friends, be funny, swap books, be engaged, and available, and blog, schedule a reading, shoot another video for YouTube, twitter, Facebook, do interviews, ask people to do interviews, twitter about interviews, do more readings, blog more, be interesting, support your friends, join Goodreads, go on a virtual book tour, blog about that, and then twitter some more.

Do this compulsively.

And then repeat.

Any questions?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Me on Dogzplot

So my flash fiction piece "Sermon on the Anthill" is up on the daring Dogzplot. It's exactly what you think. If what you think is that it's a message of peace and love and ants. Lots of ants.

Monday, February 16, 2009

AWP Book Happiness

So back from the wilds of Chicago and the wonders and terrors of AWP with that warm weight of books wisely foraged.

From one of my favorite readings, I got four Dzanc books: Kyle Minor's In the Devil's Territory, Roy Kesey's All Over, Michael Czyzniejewski's Elephants in Our Bedroom, and Allison's Amend's Things that Pass for Love (technically an OV Book).

Also got my first issue of Keyhole. Plus, copies of Barry Graham's The National Virginity Pledge and Jason Jordan's Powering the Devil's Circus--two ultra-cool guys and gripping readers.

And, of course, Hobart had the best swag...what with the Jack that came in the shot glass.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Me on This Podcast Will Change Your Life

So...I've been in Chicago at the AWP conference--more about that later...unless I forget--where I met the indomitable Ben Tanzer. And then he graciously asked me to do an episode of his This Podcast Will Change Your Life, which he called No Screendoors after some silly things I said. Let me invite you to listen to me make no sense. Seriously, what is wrong with me? That said listen for my awkward shout-out to Heather.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Rhymes with Orange?

Ever have people give you books just because you're a writer and a professor? Books no one wants. Not that anyone wants books anymore anyway. Books like Poets Guide to Publishing three years old, or How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published, or The Writer's Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats from 1987 (that stuff don't change, right?).

But I have been given a Rhyming Dictionary, which is pretty cool and makes me think I should become a singer/songwriter. It's syringe, infringe, and scavenge, by the way.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Coming Soon: This Tour Will Change Your Life (virtually)

You know what the worst thing about blogging is? Blogging. That's why I'm glad to have someone else do it for me. But not just anyone: Ben Tanzer, who asks only that you experience things that will change your life. He will be doing an essay on marketing writing. The guest spot will be Feb. 27th, but it's a part of his virtual book tour for his story cycle Repetition Patterns brought to you by CCLaP. Here is the full schedule:


Monday, February 16th
Peter Anderson
Format: Guest essay

Tuesday, February 17th
Elizabeth Crane
Format: Interview

Wednesday, February 18th
Jason Jordan
Format: Guest essay on the inspirations behind each story

Thursday, February 19th
What To Wear During An Orange Alert
Format: "Author-to-author" interview featuring guest editor Pete Anderson (PeteLit)

Friday, February 20th
Tim Hall
Format: Exclusive new MP3 of a story being read

Saturday, February 21st
Michael FitzGerald
Format: Interview

Sunday, February 22nd
Day off

Monday, February 23rd
Amy Guth
Format: Interview

Tuesday, February 24th
Chicago Literary Examiner
Format: Interview

Wednesday, February 25th
Jason Riley
Format: Interview regarding the craft of writing

Thursday, February 26th
Nick Ostdick
Format: Audio interview plus guest essay

Friday, February 27th
S. Craig Renfroe, Jr.
Format: Guest essay on artistic self-marketing

Saturday, February 28th
J.A. Tyler
Format: Interview regarding the book's unusual publishing and pricing

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Me on Thuglit

You have always suspected that I'm tough. A bit of a bad-ass. I mean just look at my pic with me on the mean streets. And there was that time John Irving wanted to get into it with me. But now I have definitive proof because I'm on the ultra-cool Thuglit. My story "We Are All Bullets" is in the current issue (#29). It has it all, like paintball, Russian roulette, and a high school English teacher. That's pretty much all there is, right?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Me at the Special Orange Alert AWP Reading

So what are you doing Wednesday, February 11th, say around 7:30 p.m.? Want to hear brilliant people read brilliant writing in an engaging and entertaining way that will make you cry and laugh and rend your clothes? Would you like to see one of the readers humiliate himself? Well then, be at the THE BOOK CELLAR (4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625) for the Special Orange Alert AWP Reading, brought to you by the hard work of Jason Behrends. Here's a list of the killer readers (and me):

Blake Butler
Barry Graham
S. Craig Renfroe
Stephanie Kuehnert
Jason Jordan
John Domini
Allison Eir Jenks
Peter Schwartz
Ben Tanzer
Molly Gaudry