Open Calls for Poetry, Fiction, and More!

I'm editing for two publications this autumn and both are still looking for work! Check out these calls and please feel free to spread the word!

Solitude's Spectrum

Cahoodaloodaling is publishing an issue on solitude, all the good and bad about it, all the pain and joy that comes with being alone, the complexities, the simplicities, the self-imposed retreats, and the harrowing exiles. Tell us what solitude means to you in a poem, short story, essay, photo, artwork, song, or anything else you can create! The full call and guidelines are available at the website. Deadline is 9/9/17.

Ghost Stories 'Round the Campfire

Hobo Camp Review is looking for work that uses ghostly imagery, metaphors, characters, or references spirits and hauntings in any which way. Your work might be a true story, or a frightening piece of fiction, or a poem with only a wisp of a reference to ghosts. We're open for essays, artwork, photos, and more. Check out the full call and guidelines at the HCR site! Deadline is 9/24/17.

"Feral Kingdom" now appears in Picaroon Poetry #9

My new poem "Feral Kingdom" now appears in Picaroon Poetry Issue 9 (on page 19, click on the cover toward the bottom of the page to open the PDF of the issue) alongside a veritable pirate crew of dastardly poets, such as Tobi Alfier, Amber Decker, Darren C. Demaree, Robert Okaji, Howie Good, and more. My poem takes a look at a life spent living out of boxes, on the move, dependent on kindness, luck, and every penny one can scrape together. It's not an easy life, it's not always even a good life, and it's the kind of life that flies by a little too fast if you ask me. I hope you enjoy it. The issue is downloadable as a PDF, or you can flip through and read it online. My deepest thanks to the editor, Kate Garrett, for accepting my work! (She also took another poem of mine for an issue due in November.) And thank you out there for reading. I always appreciate it.   

Rusted Ghosts of Sidewalk Town

My poem "Rusted Ghosts of Sidewalk Town" now appears at Windedrunk Sidewalk: Shipwrecked in Trumpland, an assemblage of poems about our modern life during the 45th presidency. This particular poems reflects on the unspoken hopes of the homeless, the steel-hearted indifference of our lovely modern age, the hollow men and women who run the show, and the shattered windows, empty shoes, and racist graffiti that trails in their wake. I hope you'll read with an open mind and an open heart. Thanks, and please consider sending them your own work!

Five Films That Make Me Want to Write

As a writer, films about writing can come across as inspiring and rejuvenating, or as extremely hokey, or, I admit, both (looking at you Finding Forrester…"you the man now, dawg" still makes me cringe). When I’m feeling uninspired, ill, depressed, tired, or suffering through writer’s block (thankfully, this is rare), settling in for a good quiet film alone can help take my mind off things, while at the same time stoking the desire to get back in front of the keyboard. Here are some of my favorite films that make me want to sit down and write.

Additional note: I should say this is not what I’d call a list of the BEST films about writers or writing, but movies that get me feeling better about wanting to writing. They’re a bit of an endorphin shot in the creative arm, a cinematic sugar high to get me started, if you will.

Final note: I’m always open for suggestions about other inspiring films about writers/artists, especially since this list is admittedly narrow in its scope (white male writers of the 20th century). So please fire away with your favorites and I’ll be sure to watch!  

New Poem in Trailer Park Quarterly, Vol. 6

My poem "We the Faithful" now appears in Volume 6 of one of my favorite publications, the always top-notch online journal, Trailer Park Quarterly. The poem appears alongside the fiction and poetry of many fine writers, such as John Dorsey, Puma Perl, Alan Catlin, Michelle Hartman, William Taylor Jr. (winner of this issue's Annie Menebroker Poetry Award), and others. I hope you take a look at the whole issue and consider sending you're own work! And I hope you'll enjoy my piece as well, a little something dedicated to my mother and all the other single parents out there fighting the good fight. Thank you.  

Poetic Focus: From I to Eye

My new essay "Poetic Focus: From I to Eye" now appears in Issue 7 of The Blue Mountain Review, an awesome online magazine produced by the good folks at The Southern Collective Experience. In the essay I talk about how writers can (and often do) evolve and progress by shifting the focus of their work from being about themselves to being about what they see in the world. It often takes time to do this, as I explain from experience, but I feel the transition shows the true growth of an artist. Take a look, and please do explore the rest of the issue. It's loaded with tons of great content. Thanks! 

Guest Blogger at The Poets That You Meet

Shanti Weiland graciously reached out to me to ask that I contribute to her blog series The Poets That You Meet, where poets talk about the inspiration and writing process behind one of their poems. My post is titled "Wading Into the Sea Change", in which I discuss my poem "The Last Appointment of the Day" and how sitting in an endless series of medical waiting rooms over the last few years made me start to take a closer look about what made those rooms so unsettling, so static, so haunting, so sad, and even at times so comforting. I also recorded an audio version of the poem (pardon my voice) which you can find in the post. I hope it's an interesting and maybe even enlightening post. Thanks for reading.     

Four Novels Down, a Bunch More to Go...

The hustle has been continuous for almost a decade now. In that time I’ve published a handful of poetry chapbooks and two collections of short stories (mostly genre-themed work) but I’ve also finished four unpublished novels (with three others drafted or outlined). While I put the final touches on two new poetry chapbooks and a collection of flash fiction I’m hoping to have available over the next year, these four “finished” novels are making the rounds with agents and small presses. No luck yet, but I’m keeping the faith.  

Reaper City – A noir mystery with undercurrents of dystopia and Lovecraftian horror. A man discovers a connection between his neighbor's disappearance and an occult-obsessed criminal weaving his influence into an already corrupt city using dark, otherwordly powers summoned from dimensions unknown.  

Beacon – An ensemble novel in the vein of Cannery Row and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, exploring the intersecting lives of those living in Beacon, NY, a revitalized mill town turned artist enclave on the banks of the Hudson River.

The Girl in the Mountain – A fictionalized account of a real series of disappearances that took place in a Vermont college town in the Green Mountains during 1945. Sort of like Humphrey Bogart meets Twin Peaks.   

Henrietta Vs. The End of the World – YA/Middle-Reader novel about a young girl who believes she’s a knight in shining armor who is bent on protecting her neighborhood from what she believes to be an “evil dragon", but only ends up in continual trouble with her beleaguered mother.

I’ve been incredibly self-conscious about the title of The Girl in the Mountain because there has been a rash of “The Girl…” novels lately, most notably Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but the title fits quite well with the theme of the mystery, as the the young people involved in this true crime seemed to have just vanished "into the mountain", and for now I'm hoping to keep it, despite the likelihood of the trend becoming tiresome.

Anyway, I’m always interested in feedback or advice, and if you believe you may know of any press, agent, or publisher interested in anything described, please do let me know. Thanks!

Submission Call for Cahoodaloodaling #24 - Solitude's Spectrum

I'm thrilled that the good people over at Cahoodaloodaling have asked me to join them as a guest editor for their next issue. We came up with a really cool theme, one that can go dark or reaffirming, depending on your own experience with the idea of solitude. Check out the call below and visit their site for more info!

Issue #24 – Solitude's Spectrum

 "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." ~ Hemingway

Solitude—whether alone on the road in a car, train, motel room, or a forest trail, or even secluded and tucked away in your home, whether it’s a welcomed moment of peacefulness or a lonely state of despair—times of solitude shape us, recharge us, and break us down to our essence. Sometimes we choose to step away from the world. Sometimes the world breaks us and casts us aside. In those moments alone, if we make the choice to continue and create, true artists are born. We cross a border we cannot uncross and heal through our words, finding ourselves—and sometimes finding new selves in the process. As Hemingway said, sometimes we're strong in those broken places, and sometimes we're not. Sometimes that jagged broken part affects us forever afterward.

This fall issue we are interested in capturing both the positive, reaffirming pieces about solitude along with those that reveal pain, heartbreak, and introspection. We seek to investigate those breaking point moments, those halting discoveries, those empowered decisions that compel us to walk away from the world and to let the silt settle in the pool of water in our soul. Whether you enjoy locking yourself away or you had to in order to save yourself from hell, we want to hear how these moments lead to creative revelations and re-energized focus, or how they still haunt you to this day.

Submissions due 9/9/17. Guest Editor James H. Duncan. Issue live 10/31/17.

The Troy Poetry Mission Reading Series

I'm very proud and honored to announce that I'm the new co-host of the Troy Poetry Mission reading series, a monthly event that takes place in O'Briens Public House, a stellar Irish pub in the heart of downtown Troy, NY. The creator of the series, poet R.M. Engelhardt, hopes that the two of us will be able to expand upon the already great readers that attend each month and bring some new faces to the area. It's my first time hosting a regular series, so I aim to do my best to add as many diverse styles and voices to the lineup as possible. The series takes place on the last Wednesday of each month, and includes an open mic for any and all who wish to read. Stop in to take the stage, mingle with fellow writers, have a beer and maybe dinner, and let's continue to make Troy a thriving hotspot for poetry!

New Flash Fiction Inside Ink In Thirds Magazine

My flash fiction piece "Thompson Hill" now appears in Issue 10 of Ink In Thirds Magazine, on page 17. It's available in print or as a PDF that you can read online for free. The story is one of about thirty flash fiction pieces I'm hoping to include in a collection titled, at the moment, as Nights Without Rain, and I'm holding off on releasing the collection until one of my upcoming poetry books comes out. Both have a TBD release date, but I'm hoping it will be in late 2017. I'll keep you posted. As always, thanks for reading.      

"Nights Don't Die" Now Appears in Five:2:One

My latest poem "Nights Don't Die" now appears in Five:2:One, Issue 15. The magazine is "dedicated to the transgressive, experimental, and the progressive of the literary world," as their website declares, and each issue is full of art, poetry, fiction, drama, and book reviews. It's available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace. I got to read through this issue a week ago and I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of work and effort the editors put into the magazine. It really looks great, and they have my deepest thanks for including me.    

"The Young May Love Without Fear" at Winedrunk Sidewalk

My poem "The Young May Love Without Fear" now appears at Winedrunk Sidewalk, a blog that posts a poem every day of Donald Trump's presidency. The poem itself is from a line from the Humphrey Bogart anti-fascist film Passage to Marseille, in which he plays a French anti-fascist newspaper publisher who is imprisoned by the Vichy government, and later escapes from prison to fight for a free France. It's a fantastic film, and I only hope my poem humbly but accurately represents the film's driving emotion. And make sure to submit your own work to Winedrunk Sidewalk when you can! Thanks.    

New Flash Fiction in Full of Crow, Winter 2017

My flash fiction piece "Desperate Ain't Lonely" now appears in the Winter 2017 issue of Full of Crow. It's a brief story about a couple driving through the West Virginia mountains at night pondering what love and loneliness really mean. I'm planning to include the story in a collection of flash fiction perhaps later this year, tentatively titled Nights Without Rain. I'll post more about that as publication nears. And as always, thanks for reading!

Ranked: Every Ryan Adams Album

I have friends who will kill me over these rankings, but I gave this a shot with Tom Petty’s albums so why not for another of my all-time favorites, Mr. Feelings himself, Ryan Adams. I’m loving his new album Prisoner, so I decided to test myself and see where it ranked on my own list of his albums. I should note this list does NOT include any of his compilations or live albums, none of his Whiskeytown stuff, or any of his many singles, bootlegs, unreleased tracks and albums, or side projects. Just Ryan Adams studio albums and his longer EPs.

I’d also like to say there’s only one album listed that I don’t like to some degree, so yeah, I’m pretty biased and this was ridiculously hard. Ok, let’s get in there.

My Essay "The Closed Circuit of Poetry" Now Appears in The Blue Mountain Review

I keep hearing fellow writers say we need art and poetry now more than ever in this era of rising nationalism and fear, but unless we make the effort to reach outside our artistic echo chamber, poetry may fail to provide comfort for our allies and weapons to use against our enemies in these trying times. I explain how I think we can all help make poetry the most embraced art form of our time in my new essay "The Closed Circuit of Poetry" in the new issue of The Blue Mountain Review. The issue appears online in PDF format and my essay is found on page 27, but there's a lot of great art, interviews, poetry, and prose throughout the issue, so take a look. Many thanks to the editors for allowing me to speak my mind in this essay, and thanks to you all for support.     

Poems, Reviews, and Upcoming Fiction

It's been a busy winter so far, and it's only getting busier. Here's a rundown of what's out now and what's coming soon!

  • My review of Nice Feelings by Iris Appelquist now appears at Up The Staircase Quarterly, which is a stellar publication you should be reading.
  • My poem "Going Ghost" now appears at Boned, a journal of skeletal writings. I omitted this poem from my collection Berlin (Maverick Duck Press) so I'm happy it finally found a home.
  • My poem "Nights Don't Die" should appear in the upcoming issue of Five:2:One this month.
  • I have two flash fiction stories coming up in late winter: "Desperate Ain't Lonely" will appear in Full Of Crow, and "Thompson Hill" will appear in Ink In Thirds. I'll post links when they both hit!
  • And finally, for now, I recently had a poem called "The Carson Effect" in Winedrunk Sidewalk: Shipwrecked in Trumpland, and I'll soon have another titled "The Young May Love Without Fear". They publish a new poem every day of Trump's presidency, and if you're not the biggest fan of the current admin, you'll want to take a look.

Thanks for reading and all of your support!

A Postmortem Ode to 2016

While we’ve all rolled around in the muck that became 2016 and mourned the loss of one personal hero or another, or fumed at the political atmosphere that continues to become more toxic with each passing month, I’ve experienced a number of personal ups and downs that made the year something more complex than “the worst year ever”.

My Top 10 Books of 2016

While I read fewer books than usual in 2016, this annual edition of my Top 10 lists covers a fairly broad range of styles—a rock & roll bio, some YA classics, poetry, apocalypse lit, historical nonfiction, crime, noir, and more. Despite being a pretty miserable year, the good books kept me going. As usual for these lists, I only include books I’ve read for the first time in 2016, but the books can be from any year, brand new or decades old, so long as they’re new to me. I’d love to know what your favorites were this year as well, so feel free to add those in the comments section! Most of all, I hope you enjoy these if you haven’t yet tried them for yourself.