Tuesday, May 24, 2005

feel like writing smut?

Well, one of my pals that I list over there on the right is hosting a leetle contest on his blog. Rather than trying to sum it up, I'll just paste what he has to say:

Announcing 1st Annual 4 Hour Hard On "Nasty Flash" Contest

Erotic fictions of 500 words or less will be considered for the grand prize of 50 U.S. dollars. Six runners-up will be published on 4 Hour Hard On, and will also receive classy literary door prizes, to be announced.


* 500 word limit.
* One entry per writer.
* Entries are free.

No restrictions on theme, style or content. HINT: While "porno", and "graphic", and "musky" are all good, one might do well to think in terms of titillation, rather than moany-groany gratification. Think "steamy" married to "story."

Must be previously unpublished, original work.

Your judge will be the eminent Robin Slick, author of "Three Days In New York City", a fine erotic novel which is climbing up the charts on Amazon Dot Com. I've read this book, and believe me the woman flat-out knows her stuff when it comes to erotica. I couldn't ask for a better judge to run my inaugural competition. She will be reading the enties in a "blind submission" format. Her decisions are final.


Please no attachments.

Paste your entry in the body of an e mail, with your full name in Caps Lock in the subject header. Do not put your name anywhere in the e mail. No need to put in a word count since I will be checking the word count. Send all entries to this address:


Deadline for submissions is midnight July 4th. Winners will be announced on my site the following day. Winners be prepared to send me a snail mail address for delivery of prizes.

Happy trails, and good luck to all! ;)

(The site, btw, is at http://fourhourhardon.blogspot.com/.)

Friday, May 20, 2005


Wow. I'm sitting at my desk, sorta stunned. And incredibly excited. Just received an email from the editor of the Norton sudden fiction and flash fiction anthologies. Remember the Norton anthologies from high school and/or college English classes? Man, I sure do. I devoured those suckers. If I remember correctly, Norton was the first place I became exposed to stories like "The Lottery." Well, I didn't realize it, but Norton also has done Flash Fiction: Very Short Stories and Sudden Fiction. And they're issuing new volumes and have asked for SmokeLong to submit five pieces to be considered for inclusion in these books! I'm seriously about to wet myself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Good news for flashers

insolent rudder is coming back. And I'd assume, based on the location of the announcement, that the founding editor, Tim Ljunggren will be running things again. Very good news indeed! rudder has been greatly missed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Some Kind of Monster

Last week, I rented a couple of documentaries. One was "Lost in La Mancha," which was about Terry Gilliam's disastrous attempt to make a film about Don Quixote. The two surprises in this film for me were that I walked away liking both Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp a little bit less. Nothing major. I just found Johnny shy of the absolute charm that I unfairly expect of him. And Terry has a rat tail. There's just something wrong with that. The other film was "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." I expected to hate Lars Ulrich (and I did) and James Hetfield (and I didn't). I found myself liking Hetfield quite a lot, actually. After having seen the brilliant Flash film Napster Bad, I thoroughly expected him to be an idiot.

There are a number of things about "Some Kind of Monster" that I loved, not least of which was how close to self-parody this band is. There were many, many moments that could have been dropped straight into "This Is Spinal Tap." But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to to talk about rock and roll and literature. Sorta.

When I moved to Seattle fifteen years ago, it was to start a theater company with seven other fellow graduates from Northwestern University. We used to refer to the kind of theater we did as "rock and roll theater." But what the hell did that mean? To me, it meant a few things. It had urgency. It had contemporary relevance. And it was entertaining--it wasn't just arty and weird for the sake of being arty and weird. In other words, it wasn't traditional, but it wasn't difficult to understand, either.

So what does that have to do with literature and Metallica? I found myself surprisingly impressed with Hetfield's lyrics. Here's one I love: "I'm madly in anger with you." That's a surprisingly literary yet accessible sentence, in my not so humble opinion. And I started thinking about how rock and roll, particularly good rock and roll, has a visceral effect on people in much the way that really good flash has. While rock and roll may not always have the same musical complexity as a symphony, similarly, a flash will likely not have the same literary complexity as a novel. Occasionally, however, the layers and subtext are so strong that it does aspire to that same level of... I hesitate to say artistry, because flash has its own artistry... perhaps craftsmanship? Try the metaphor of woodworking--flash generally doesn't require the same bevel-work, the same carvings that a novel requires. There simply isn't the space for much adornment, except that which is not immediately visible. So it is with rock versus a symphony. There are the freaks like Zappa, of course, who have so many different things going on in a five-minute song, but they're the exception rather than the norm. And, in so doing, they quite often alienate a sizable chunk of their potential audience (think arty and weird for its own sake).

In a roundabout way, what I'm trying to say is that when I view my very best flashes, what I see are pieces of "rock and roll literature." They demand attention. They're energetic. Sometimes, they're exuberant. Sometimes, they're angry. But they're always easy to read. One doesn't need a degree to understand them. When my flashes work, in short, they rock. They may even make the reader madly in anger with me. And that's pretty damned exciting.

Oh, and Metallica's new bassist kicks some serious ass.


I knew I was nerdy, but I didn't think I was this nerdy.

I am nerdier than 82% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Joy of Athena

An older story of mine, Joy of Athena, is now live at Cherry Bleeds. I've always liked this story, although even now, I still feel like it needs a little work. Conceptually, I'm crazy about it. Execution-wise, it has a few issues, but I'm very pleased to have it out there.

interview with Grant Bailie

Grant Bailie, a terrific writer whom we've had the honor of publishing in SmokeLong is beginning an intensive process, in which he'll be secluded in a cubicle to do virtually nothing but writer for a month. Did I say secluded? Not entirely. The public will be able to watch this whole process. Tom Jackson (another SLQ writer) has a great interview with Grant up on Night Train's site right now. Go read it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bob Arter

There's a writer whom I think everyone should read, because, quite frankly, he's brilliant. That he hasn't been snatched up by a publishing house yet is a joke. The folks who are the most regular visitors here have probably read Bob at some point, but maybe they'd like to read more. And for those who are only occasional visitors or have just surfed in, well... go read. You won't regret it. Here's a list of some stories of Bob's that I was able to find online:

That Gladrag Razzmatazz
Remembering Elizabeth
Back Home
Riley's Shoes
Psyche Asea
Sinker in the Hole
How I Came to Love the Godless Eskimo
The Gown
Pictures of You
The Big Texan
Jenny Craig Confronts Lady Higgs-Boson
I Went to Barnes, I Went to Noble
The Trouble With Fishing
My Mama's Prom
The Spaceman

I'm sure there's more out there, but that should give folks a nice little start. Bless you, Bob.

blog interview

This seems to be going around from blog to blog these days. It's kinda fun. So... here are the questions that ImmuneGirl had for me. You can find her blog here.

1.What story about yourself do you most want to narrate to your future grandchildren?
Man, that's a tough question! Well... one story isn't entirely about me but includes their dad, their uncle, and their grandparents. Weird to think of my kids being a dad and an uncle...

Anyway... when the younger of the two was born, we thought we were going to have plenty of time to get to the hospital. The oldest child was a 37-hour labor, so we thought this was reasonable. Nope. At the time, I was sleeping downstairs with my dog (man, I miss that dog) and wife was upstairs in master bedroom and first son was in bedroom across the hall from her. I had about a two-hour commute every day, so I got up really early. Wife didn't. Which was part of the reason for the seperate rooms. But I digress.

About four in the morning, I heard screaming from upstairs. I ran up there. Wife was in labor. She'd already called her mom, who was on her way to sit with first son while we went to hospital. It was about an hour drive for MIL. I helped wife to bathroom, which intensified labor. She was yelling something fierce. I thought it was back labor (which is very painful, but wildly ineffective) since that was what she'd experienced for much of her first labor, and the time between contractions seemed similar. Nope. It was real labor.

Wife asked me to call 911. I did. Now, I'd always thought that you were supposed to stay on the phone with them until help arrived. But this operator seemed very insistent that I hang up. Little did I know that her "don't's" were in perfect synch with wife's screams. So what I heard was, "AUUUUUUUGH! Hang up the phone. AUUUUUUUUUGH! Hang up the phone. AUUUUUUUGH! Hang up the phone." So I hung up the phone. She was very insistent. (Later, I found two messages on our voice mail from said operator asking me to pick up the phone. Wouldn't you think a 911 operator would know the difference in beeps between voice mail and answering machines?)

MIL arrived finally, followed within about 30 seconds by EMT's. One of the crew was actually just on a ride-along. I've never seen anyone look that green. It was like wife's vagina was a giant bloody train crash and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't NOT look at it. I thought he was going to vomit. Profusely. Poor guy.

The delivery actually went very well. Second son came out VERY fast. Well, there was one scary moment. Lead EMT said, "We have a grey baby." Now, I didn't know EXACTLY what that meant, but it didn't sound good. Basically, he just had a little something that needed to be cleared from his mouth and nostrils to let him breathe better.

Second son came out so fast that he never had that baby conehead. To this day, he has one of the roundest noggins I've ever seen. First son did not wake up until wife was being taken out to the ambulance on a stretcher. Was he concerned? No. His comment? "Firetruck! Firetruck! Firetruck!"

So that's probably the story I'd tell my grandkids (when they were old enough to appreciate it anyway).

2.What is your favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor?
Oh, this one is much easier. Cherry Garcia.

3.Out of all of the books that you have ever read, which one do you most wish that you had written?
There are a few. One that expresses my spirituality very, very well is David James Duncan's "The River Why." It could be argued that it's a Christian book, but it could also be argued that it's a Buddhist book. I think it's just an amazingly spiritual work. Haruki Murakami's "Norwegian Wood" is one of the most brilliant novels I've ever read, and I envy his ability to weave magic realism into a very modern and capitalistic world. I've yet to come across an American author who handles this as well as he.

4.What is the one thing you know the most about?
I think I know a little about a lot of things, enough to be dangerous. I'm conversant enough in many subjects to make people who aren't believe that I know a lot, but not enough to persuade people who are experts. Realistically, and I hate this, I probably know more about coding web pages than just about anything else, but even in that, I'm not nearly as adept as the true wonks. I'd much rather be brilliant in some area of the arts.

5.If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
It'd be pretty great to have a Seminary education under my belt. Religion is fascinating, and I'd love to know more than I do now, largely because I think so many of the loudest Christian voices today have misinterpreted so much, whether out of ignorance or malice. I'm a fairly recent convert to Christianity myself, and it's not something I proclaim very loudly, primarily because the image that is reinforced of Christians by folks like Dr. Dobson, Pat Robertson, et al is so utterly horrifying to me.

Thanks, Iggy! Good questions!

Rules for those of you interested in further interviews...
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions of my choosing.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. If you don't have a blog, you can post your responses in my comments section.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post, folowing the same rules.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

stuff from the last few days of the writing life

Haven't posted here in a while. So... lessee... both Cafe Irreal and Eyeshot rejected "Missing." Irreal seemed to like it okay and want more stuff, Eyeshot, not so much. C'est la vie. Y'all have read the piece. Any other suggestions?

Got the proofs of "Thicket" (which is the title some kind Zoe folks finally came up with for that piece about the deer) from NOÖ. Looks good! Yay! Ah, it's good to be in print.

Oh, and I had "Joy of Athena" out to Cherry Bleeds for quite a while, so I followed up with a query. Good thing I did, because he liked it and is gonna run it in the May issue. Yippee!

Other than that, I have a cold and I'm tired of it. I know I should be drinking more water and smoking less. It'd go away purty quick if I did, I 'spect. And, one final piece of news... got an email from a recruiter! First time that's happened in a long time. During the Dot Boom days, I literally used to average about one of these a day. Everyone at my company (at the time, I was working for the now dead Seasonticket.com) did. We were highly visible (we did, among other things, Major League Baseball's All-Star Game voting site) and did good work. Ah, those were the days. So I called the guy and I'm gonna talk to him to see what's what on Monday. My current job is okay, but I know I'm getting paid below market value.

Anyway... that's my news since last I posted. Been feelin' kinda down because I haven't gotten to see m'love as much as I'd like and the weather's been icky, but it's sunshiney again today and Sunday isn't too far off.