Sunday, December 31, 2006

Writing Short Stories

Megan and I occasionally get into a discussion about the differences between writing short stories and novels. She doesn't understand why I wouldn't want to take a character from one place to another--go the distance with them.
But right now I am in the head of a a forty-something guy in an auto-shop in the midwest, worrying about a woman who's getting pounded.
Two weeks ago, I was a neighborhood in 1960s Philly, watching a black man have an affair with a white woman.
Two weeks before that I was a fourteen year old girl who was convinced the man who was having her deliver drugs and take her mother's money was the love of her life.
Before that I was a female-vice president of a corporation who had to insure their new product line would be successful.
Now maybe these people do not have the depth of characters in novels but how can you deny that sitting in a 6 by 9 foot room and going to these places is not pure bliss?

Saturday, December 30, 2006


We just spent two days in Cleveland. I was very impressed. Lots of tall buildings, lots of culture, good restaurants. But where the heck are the people? The guy in the tie store outside our hotel said there was no retail left downtown to draw them in. Sounds awfully familiar (Detroit).
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...rocked. I bought two CDs but I think I missed the point. I bought a Doris Day CD from the forties and a Lena Horne from the same era. The reset I can get other places but these were gems. The Barcelona exhibit was fantastic. Even saw the glass pavilllion at the Toledo Museum.
I highly recommend Cleveland if you live near by. I just hope some people come out for you. Those streets were awfully lonely even in broad daylight.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post Christmas

Christmas exchanges were more moderate and more certificate-oriented than ever before. I didn't open one item of clothing-the first time ever for that. Three CDs a Charlie Parker, the new Damien Rice, Regina Specter, and Anita O'Day. Two books-the Donald Antrim memoir, Every Eye by Isobel English, movie passes, a manicure, a scarf, money.
The only one to really make out like a bandit was one month old, Kevin, who has more Baby's First Christmas ornaments than you'd think possible.
Movies-we saw Volver and The History Boys, both good.
Watching the old Family DVDs. The pilot of that was a humdinger.

Hope you had a good one too.

Friday, December 22, 2006

RIP Flashing in the Gutter

This was my favorite place to spend some time over the last year. Gone now, thanks to some uncivil people who exercised their right to make mayhem at our expense. RIP, FITG. And thanks to Tribe for being the "host with the most" for the last year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best of the Year

Best books I read in 2006: *The Song Is You, Dope, The Lonely Doll, Country of Origin, Abide With Me, The Dramatist, *Winter's Bone, Damn Near Dead, Three Bedrooms in Manhattan, Sharp Ojects, A Field of Darkness, Ethan Frome, Arc of Justice.

Best movies: *The Proposition, Cache, Somersault, The Departed, Casino Royale, Little Children, Tristram Shandy, Gabrielle, Half-Nelson, La Moustache, Little Miss Sunshine

What about you?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Muzzle Flash

A new story on Muzzle Flash. Link to the side.

I'm reading Time Bends (Arthur Miller's memoirs)for my book group. I can't complain about the length of this one since I chose it but damn it's long. It's beautifully written but the last time I read it 20 years ago I had more time and still smoked. I think smoking made me a better reader. Also the lack of an Internet and lack of a job. gave me time. I was able to polish off 3-4 books a week. Now it's more like one. On a good week.

After a rewrite, Hardluck Stories took my story Quality Operations for the femme fatale issue.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Stories about older people

Let's face it. It's hard to place them and I love to write them. This week I wrote one for Flashing in the Gutters, and now another one I first wrote two years ago was accepted by Mouth Full of Bullets, a new zine. I have to say the crime fiction world is more amenable to the elderly than the lit journals. At one time, this story had no crime element and it was rejected by about twenty places, many who said they didn't like to publish stories about old people. Especially disliked are stories about mental decline.
Adding the crime element did make it stonger, especially at the end where we can at least hope that these two can go on murdering stray Yankees for many more years.
I have another story about the elderly--she's a docent. Maybe I can have her murder the stray visitor to her house too. Empower the elderly by making murderers out of all of them. Try f****** with Social Security after that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Fair Trade

Check out my new story on Flashing in the Gutters. It's a happy story, I promise.
Don't use the link to the right though. It's defunct till I figure out what changed.

The Wire

Even though I didn't fully understand a lot of the dialogue and even though every time money (even in the form of drug deals) came onto the scene, I tuned out, I loved this season of The Wire. My husband kept complaining about the lack of a larger arc but for me the arc was how we are throwing our children away. And what's bigger than that idea? Also it turned out to be a two-year arc, so there. I will truly miss it for the next year. It digs so much deeper than The Sopranos, for instance although I love that one too.

The best show on TV, hands down.

Five movies I have never seen and should--Lawrence of Arabia, A Clockwork Orange, 2001, On the Waterfront, Dr. Strangelove. How about you?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Book Buying

Standing in line at bookstores the last few days, I have been amazed at how few real books people buy. The standard fare today was: a sudoku book, Christmas cards, a calendar, a travel book, a Peter Mayles book, children's books. Apparently only children get real books. I have bought about 5-10 books as presents so far including The Road, an early Woodrell book, the Cigar girl book, the basis for Poe's Marie Roget, an earlier Cormac McCarthy book, Paris Trout by Pete Dexter. I still have several to buy. and this doesn't include the five baby books I bought. What books have your purchased as Christmas gifts? What would you like to receive?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Flash Fiction

I love to write flash fiction, but truly it isn't good for me unless I can develop the short pieces into longer ones. I have some nice shorts from Flashing in the Gutters that I'd love to work on but many sites frown on stories that have appeared in any form. I guess I could get around it by sending the short pieces to referreed journals too and then they would feel more finished. Or would they?
There is something so democratic about sending them to zines that put them up without the fuss. Also here is an opportunity to experiment, to try something new. I am so ambivalent.
This follows an invitation by D.Z. Allen to submit some flash to his new site. I probably will do it 'cause I love flash. What do you think? Do you regard stories published indiscrimately on zines as valuable as ones that go through a selection process? Do you use the flash as a blueprint for future longer stories?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

How far do you go?

With a potential editor's suggestions for a short story? I feel my stonger short stories are about voice more than anything. If I stifle the voice by playing out each scene (the show don't tell credo), it becomes more about plot than voice. A potential editor wants me to animate scenes rather than having the protagonist describe them in her somewhat (I hope) distinctive voice. How far do you go to get it into print? Does the writer know best in the end? Do some editors want every story to reflect their taste?

P.S. I am in love with my grandson. Such a different feeling than parenthood. Much less about responsbility than pure unadulaterated love.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kevin Louis Abbott

Was born yesterday at four o'clock to my son and daughter-in-law. This world is just not good enough for him but we'll try to make it better. Why don't all parents and grandparents work together toward this goal for 2007? What else do we have to leave behind?