“A Picture of a Man in a Top Hat” a Fiction Finalist for Best of the Net 2014


The Curatorillustration by mike meginnis

So I learned early this week that my story, “A Picture of a Man in a Top Hat” from The Collagist was listed as a finalist for Sundress Publications Best of the Net 2014 Anthology.  I’m delighted of course, and I want to thank judge Lily Hoang and the whole team of readers for shining new light on my work.

The story ends with the word “shitless.”


A list for Mom: Some funny books


funny book CollageMy mother’s birthday was March 19, and she asked for only one thing: a list of funny books she could get on her Kindle. Mom’s a voracious reader, and she’s a big fan of Janet Evanovich, so I took to Facebook to see if my friends had any suggestions. Boy, did they ever. Here’s the curated list, alphabetical (limiting one title per author, omitting what I knew she’d already read, etc . . .)

*Starred items are currently priced under $10

Dave Barry, Insane City

*Sarah Caudwell, Thus Was Adonis Murdered

Fannie Flagg, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl

*Jim Gaffigan, Dad is Fat

*Liliana Hart, Whiskey Rebellion (Free today?!?!)

*Joan Hess, Malice in Maggody

*Merrill Markoe, Walking in Circles Before Lying down

Christopher Moore, The Serpent of Venice

*Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

*Mark Schweizer, The Alto Wore Tweed (99 cents!)

Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli

*Betty Webb, The Anteater of Death (99 cents!–getting this one for myself)

And now my amazon recommender-bot is all haywire . . .

Conversations & Connections DC Writers Conference: Scene-by scene



doodle by Goodloe Byron (buy his stuff or commission a painting)

April 18 (Saturday!!) is the date for Conversations and Connections, a day long conference focusing on practical advice and networking for writers. I’ll be presenting a session called Scene-by-Scene: Writing the Irresistible Story. Here’s the gist:

Learning to write and connect strong scenes, whether your approach is linear or modular, is the key to writing irresistible fiction. In this session, we’ll talk scene anatomy, rhythms of action, and scene-to-scene interdependence, as well as the effect of writing tools (like Scrivener) on the ways we think of scenes and their arrangement in long forms. We’ll also discuss strategies for getting your characters into enough trouble to make a story worth reading. ​

It’s going to be a value-packed day. Register now.

From the organizers, our dear buddies at Barrelhouse:

Cool Thing #1: It’s affordable.

$70 gets you the whole day, which includes a keynote speech, three sessions of panels focused on business and craft, and whole host of cool stuff (see below). Keynote speakers have included Steve Almond, Mary Gaitskill, Sam Lipsyte, Matthea Harvey and many others.

Cool Thing #2: You get to meet editors.

Our “speed dating with the editors” (one session is included in the registration fee, additional sessions available for $5) is a ten-minute meeting with an editor who will review the first two pages of a story, a novel synopsis, or a few poems, providing feedback on how you might improve your work or where you might consider sending it.

Cool Thing #3: Free Book by a Featured Writer

We feature four writers at every conference. And you get to leave with one of their books as part of your admission fee.

Cool Thing #4: Subscription to a Literary Journal

Before you leave our conference, charged and ready to finish your novel, you will get to select a one-year subscription from one of several participating literary journals. Past choices have included Barrelhouse, Potomac Review, Gettysburg Review, The Common, The Believer, StoryQuarterly, Publishing Genius, Gigantic Sequins, Cobalt, and many others.

Cool Thing #5: You’ll Be Supporting Local Independent Literature

All the profits from Conversations and Connections go directly back to Barrelhouse and the rest of the participating literary magazines and small presses.

Cool Thing #6: Boxed Wine Happy Hour

Boxed wine happy hour! The name kind of speaks for itself.

#Pitmad was yesterday: Quick takes from a pinch hitter


So, suddenly #pitmad has become a feature in my life–not only did I score a book contract from  my first #pitmad event, I’ve written about #pitmad, and yesterday I subbed as a picker for my publisher, who was too busy to participate the ways she had in the past. Here’s me:

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.21.41 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.13.35 AM

It was an exciting day made more exciting by the fact that our modem is half-fried. I saw and faved a lot of cool stuff. But let me get to my point–there were some things I learned being on the other side:

1) The more precise the pitch, the better. If the pitch included details about place, character, etc, I was more inclined to fave.

2) Profiles. Being a newbie I wanted to be careful, so I checked out the profiles of anyone whose pitch interested me, and I was frustrated by those that didn’t feature good information or links to personal websites.

3) Multiple pitches, part one–pitching several times  throughout the day is a good idea, but there are two danger areas: a) the power pitcher who clogs the feed, and b) the multi pitch that is so repetitive that it actually reveals how thin the story is. Which leads to . . .

4) Multi-pitch, part two–yes, you only have 140 characters to get the idea across, but maybe not? I found that if I was interested in a pitch I looked at all the other versions too, and I liked it when the other pitches added new information. If that is the way others are reading pitches, then it might be time to start thinking about tweets as individuals and sets, not either or.




#Pitmad is tomorrow: My post at Alternating Current


Alternating Current Blog The SparkThanks to Alternating Current Press for letting me have fun on their blog today, talking about my virgin #pitmad experience the ended with my book under contract. Tomorrow is the next #pitmad, and if you have a book ready to go, I recommend you give it a shot.

If you don’t know what #pitmad is, it’s a quick way to get attention for your manuscript, and right now we’re in a moment when the participants on both sides–authors and publishers/agents–are have wonderful, immediate conversations. It reminds me very much of what it was like 10-12 years ago when online journals were just heating up. You could submit a story in the morning, chat about it with the editor in the afternoon, and see it posted by evening.

If you are new to #pitmad, these are the best resources: Sub It Club’s “How to Pitmad,”and Brenda Drake’s “#PitMad

After a quick chat with my publisher yesterday, I’ve learned that she may sit this one out. She’s got quite a full roster of authors now, many of whom she recruited via #pitmad

Good Luck!