There are a bunch of new stories going up at HOUSEFIRE at the moment to promote NOUNS OF ASSEMBLAGE and also just to have some damn good fun with words.
The whole process behind this and most of HOUSEFIRE’S projects are to challenge writers with prompts and see what the hell comes out of that dark mess of word and image association.
The title I was given for the book was A GANG OF ELK. I don’t want to give too much away – but I came up with something to do with migraines, sexual frustration, heartbreak and masturbation. Any of you reading this familiar with me aren’t surprised in the least, I know, but that’s the best thing about this party. You kind of get strapped down and ordered to write. The masochist in me likes that a lot. So does the control freak actually.
Anyway, some of the incredible writers featured in NOUNS OF ASSEMBLAGE were given the opportunity to take another collective noun – one that’s already been written and published in the book – and come up with a teaser of sorts for the website.
So far they’ve had gems from the likes of Riley Michael Parker, Tyler Gobble, David Tomaloff, Robert Duncan Gray, Len Kuntz, J. Bradley, Stephen Tully Dierks and Drew Swenhaugen.
Babes, the lot of them.
Oh and me. If you would like to jump right to my SNEAK OF WEASEL here you go – have a nibble, then a bite, and if you like the taste go and gorge yourself on the pretty shiny book, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Image sourced from teannagrace
New Wave Vomit is amazing. The words themselves that go up there are impressive enough but the art that helmswoman ana c. puts into each background is just the kind of thing I love. Strong, bold, distracting and too damn cool for school. She’s been kind enough to publish my short story ‘Shauna was a Punk‘ on her site today. And I feel pretty fucking chuffed to be the 57th.
Also check out 56th while you’re there. My writer/editor buddy Shannon Peil has his awesome words up there too.
You probably know how much I love the literary journal Bananafish and I’m tickled twice as pink to have my short story ‘The Last Bird’ published with them. This piece was previously published with the awesome Melbourne literary journal fourW and I feel pretty lucky to have the story in a book with a spine and online for your eyes. Also, how good is their awesome new logo designed by my buddy, Michael Alesich.
This is my third time the dirty birds at Sleep. Snort. Fuck. have published me and the pleasure is all mine. I told the editor as racey as the piece is, I think it’s the most honest thing I’ve ever written about love.
As you’ve probably realised by now, I do like writing very short stories.
‘Frostbite‘ is one that the Literary Journal amphibi.us posted on their site last week. Have a look around once you’re there, there’s some pretty amazing prose and poetry there.
When I found Sleep. Snort. Fuck. my eyes thanked me and my legs crossed and I punched the air for that little bit of extra filth in the world.
My piece ‘he’d be nine now‘ is up today and it makes me want to vomit a little with nerves because it’s a non-fiction. None of that usual hiding behind characters or plots.
I’m feeling the love from the US at the moment and I hope they’re feeling it back in big oozy waves. The Murky Fringe is one of those journals I immediately put on my menu bar when I found it. I didn’t want to have to waste time pressing more than one key to see them. They are completely strange and hilarious and they are featuring my piece ‘omnivore‘ on their site today. It will be on the home page for a week so make sure you go and say hello and have a look around.
If you visit today make sure you move your eyes to the right and check out the very funny piece ‘Submission Guidelines (Revised)’ by Daniel McDermott. If it’s not today then you’ll just have to look harder.
One of my favourite stories (I think it might be completely dick to admit that) ‘Big Girl‘ has found a new home in Issue Six at a place called Jersey Devil Press. Like Bananafish mag, I found and fell in love with the amazing short fiction they publish. The story “The Golden Streams of Babylon’ by Andrew Frankel has to be one of the best things I’ve read in forever so make sure you go and visit the piece in Issue Five - after you’ve read Big Girl of course. Then you can spread the word and tell everyone ‘I told you so’ when their eyes are all popped out from happiness.
The internet is making me zombie dance with all the good words it’s offering my brain lately.
“You, sir, are an ignorant man. How the fuck do you know it won’t sell if you don’t try to sell it? And do you think I can just shit out another one on five minutes’ notice? I worked on this cocksucker for two years. You got any idea what that takes out of a man? You like to play God with all of us out here, is that it? You kept my manuscript for three months and didn’t even send it around. Here I was thinking the whole time that maybe someone was thinking about buying it. I wish I had you down here. I’d whip your ass. I’d stomp a mud hole in your ass and walk it dry. You turd head. I hope you lose your job. You’re not worth a fuck at it anyway. I hope your wife gives you the clap. I wish I had your job and you had mine. How’d you like to paint a few houses while it’s a hundred degrees? I can tell you it’s not any fun. I hope you get run over by a taxicab on your way home. And then die after about a month of agonizing pain.”
Larry Brown, 92 Days from the collection Big Bad Love.
I guarantee that Larry Brown had a ball writing that letter for his character. As whiny and self-pitying it is, it’s not too far away from thoughts every writer’s had when they get the ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply from an editor. See, you know not to take it personally, because, hell, they don’t even know you. No, it’s far worse than that – they’re judging your baby personally. And I don’t know about you, but the only time I ever get my knuckles lined up is if someone threatens one of mine.
I sent a hefty amount of submissions out last year and had a miserable result. The Nos just kept rolling in and they had no constructive criticism or personality in them at all. Just a bland, polite standard response.
I went through a stage where I would write on my excel sheet of submissions reject or accept with the response of a piece. After a while I started writing pass instead as my battered ego couldn’t take seeing that word over and over again.
Because it’s not a rejection, really, it’s a pass, and that’s the way you’ve gotta look at it if you want to keep going, if you want your skin to thicken up to rhino proportions, if you want your writing to get better.
But they still suck – this year I’ve had a pretty amazing ratio of 50/50 replies and I’d be lying if I didn’t say the bad 50 doesn’t irk me. Of course they do. But they sure as hell don’t make me doubt my writing the way they used to.
When I don’t feel so hot about that electronic cold shoulder I have two sure-as-hell-fire ways to get up after feeling down about ‘passes’.
Colette was told in a letter of rejection: “I wouldn’t be able to sell 10 copies.”
When Irving Stone sent his manuscript, “Lust for Life,” this is what came back in the mail: “A long, dull novel about an artist.”
Crash by J G Ballard
‘The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.’
Carrie by Stephen King
‘We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.’
Catch – 22 by Joseph Heller
‘I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.’
Animal Farm by George Orwell
‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
‘… overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.’
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
‘an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.’
Who can’t watch this a million times?