Thursday, June 30, 2005

NOÖ Journal

The first issue of NOÖ Journal, a new print lit mag out of northern California is now officially availabel and I'm in it, as is my buddy, the sublime Joseph Young. Wheeeee! I believe copies can be ordered from their website at

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

my skull is badly written

My skull, if I'm to believe the blue pencil that was all over it last night, is badly written. It needs a lot of edits.

For some time, I've known that I snored. And I've also known that I occasionally stop breathing while I sleep. I haven't worried about it too much. But the very beautiful woman whom I love and whose bed I occasionally get to share pointed out to me that sleep apnea can be a very serious issue. So I talked to my doctor about it. And last night, I got to participate in a sleep study at the hospital. Fun!

I shaved my head a little over a week ago. I'd been thinking about doing it for a couple years and finally, it was just so damned muggy that I thought, to hell with it, I'm doing it. The guy who had to attach all the sensors to me was delighted with this. He was showing a trainee how they do everything, so my head apparently made for an ideal show and tell object.

Before attaching all of these wonderful little sensors, they take a blue pencil and draw all over the place. They take measurements and line up their markings like carpenters getting ready to run planks through a circular saw. And because my scalp doesn't have any follicular camouflage, the marks were all abundantly clear. I wanted to borrow the pencil from him and write "stet" in huge letters, lest another hospital worker might be an editorial type ready to delete at each marking.

They also make a few markings on the chest and legs (neither of which were shaved, "were" being the operative word here--I now have a few bare patches where I was previously hirsute, bording on Yeti-like). Once all the markings are made, they use this god-awful paste to attach all the sensors. The wires from all of the sensors on the head are bundled together into something resembling a giant dred. They then run to a box hanging against one's chest that looks much like--well, let's just say it's a good thing I didn't need to go through airport security.

The most entertaining part of the evening? I didn't think they'd go for it, being hospital folks and all, but when everything was completed (except for the box being plugged in), I mentioned that I usually have a cigarette or two before bed. Surprisingly, this isn't a problem. So, in my jammies (which I don't typically wear) and wearing my "Terminal Man" get-up, I ambled down and out of the entrance to the hospital. An elderly lady looked very afraid, but had just enough courage to ask, wide-eyed, "Are you escaping?" If I was truly evil, I'd have told her that I was, in fact, escaping, and what my destination was. But she didn't look like her heart would've handled it well, so I explained that I was just having a cigarette before the beginning of a sleep study. I don't know if she believed me.

I don't yet know the results of the study. Apparently, the people who conduct the studies are not the same people who make the diagnoses. So I have to wait for some other doctors to confirm what I already know--that I have sleep apnea. It seems likely that I'll have to go in to spend another night to be fitted with a proper mask. My kids, I'm sure, will find their father breathing like Darth Vader eminently entertaining. Do I live an exciting life or what?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

But it doesn't pay.

That was the sentence my father sent hurtling toward me during my phone call to him to wish him a happy Father's Day. I was telling him some of the things that have happened with SmokeLong, and some of the things we have in the works. And, if I hadn't been so angry and defensive, I'd have liked to have told him, "That's not the point." Because it's not. After that conversation, I opened up the topic in one of the offices over on Zoetrope. Many, many writers I admire deeply weighed in on just what the point of it all is. Some time soon, I may go into what the point actually is (at least as several writers see it, myself included). But one of the things that was posted really reverberated with me. Myfanwy Collins had clipped a posting by Kathy Fish from some time ago. It's a quote from an article by Duncan Murrell, a former acquisitions editor at Algonquin. (That may seem like a lot of tossing of names around, but there's a reason for it that's integral to what I think the point is (and no, the point isn't name-dropping).)

The quote that Myf posted is from this article at Poets & Writers. Further googling of Mr. Murrell turned up this conversation between him and Maud Newton on her blog.

I strongly recommend reading both of these. Not only do I agree with Mr. Murrell, I also find it encouraging to see such opinions espoused by someone from within the industry. In particular, lemme point to this quote:

If you write something that only you could write, and you write it well, I believe your work will be found. I came out of my experience in publishing believing in that even more than I believed in it when I began. I witnessed or experienced many of the awful, crass aspects of publishing, and yet I also remember those sweet moments when everything came together for someone deserving, one of those people who had worked for an unfathomable amount of time by themselves on a book they would not compromise, that they would rather have destroyed in the burn barrel than turn into a pack of marketable lies.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Firebox Fiction

I don't know why, but I have never ever paid to enter a contest or to submit a piece for consideration. Anywhere. Assuming I can get off my ass and write two quality pieces, however, there's a good chance that's going to change soon. Night Train's annual Firebox Fiction contest will be open for submissions starting July 1. Robert Boswell will be the final judge. Here's the notice, as posted by editor Alicia Gifford:

Night Train will accept entries for its 50/50 Firebox Fiction Awards Competition from July 1st through August 31st. This is a competition for Firebox Fiction, stories 1000 words and under, with all entry fees split 50/50 between the journal and the top 3 winners, as judged by Robert Boswell. All three winners will be published in Night Train VII, Spring 2006.

Each entry fee of $10 entitles the entrant to send two stories for consideration. For further details, see Firebox Fiction or email

I'm pretty sure I've said it here before, but Night Train is my favorite print lit mag. Great staff, even better (and how that's possible, I don't quite know) content. I highly recommend this contest.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Marty Ison

I know I've gushed here previously about Marty's art and how magnificent he makes everything look at SmokeLong, but he's also a damned fine writer. Check out the very tasty The Zen of Swash over at Mad Hatters' Review.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Happy birthday to us!

SmokeLong is two years old! Can you believe it? Man, what a ride it's been so far, and it seems in many ways like we're just getting started. Go check out the latest issue, guest edited by the amazing Steven Gullion:

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Just pasting this from Pamelyn Casto's excellent resource, the Flash Fiction Flash Newsletter. For folks who write flash, especially those early in their careers, this is an invaluable resource. It's a GREAT place to find markets, whether through the listings that Pamelyn posts herself or through the listings of places subscribers have been published recently (my favorite portion of the newsletter). Anyway... here's Pamelyn's message:

Please tell your writer friends about the free newsletter and they can subscribe, too. More subscribers wanted. Always. They can subscribe by sending a blank email message to

And my personal recommendation: subscribe. It's a great resource.

Monday, June 13, 2005

nifty interview

Rusty Barnes, an all-around good guy and editor of Night Train Magazine, conducted a pretty terrific interview with Steve Almond over at Del Sol. Check it out.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

about critiquing

Randall Brown talked with Myfanwy Collins, the top-rated Flash reviewer on Zoetrope recently about how to give an author what she needs when critiquing. The results are featured in Ten Essentials of Reading for Writers—a talk with Myfanwy Collins. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

and more exciting news

We've already lined up our Guest Editors for the December and March issues. And they're just as amazing as Joe Young. Susan Henderson, formerly of Night Train, will be joining us for our December issue. And Myfanwy Collins, who will be finishing up her work with the beloved and lamented InkPot, will be joining us for our March issue. For those who have read the work of our next four Guest Editors (I'm including Steven Gullion in this, who has been our GE for the issue coming out a week from today), are y'all as intrigued by the differences in style that these issues promise from one another? I think it's going to be absolutely fascinating. To recap:

June 15, 2005: Steven Gullion
September 15, 2005: Joseph Young
December 15, 2005: Susan Henderson
March 15, 2006: Myfanwy Collins

I'm already seeing a distinct and fascinating difference between the June and September issues. I can't wait to see the evolution from quarter to quarter. Gonna be exciting!

Riley Dogged!

Cool! I got Riley Dogged! I love Riley Dog! He always finds the most interesting stories and poems. So I'm kinda blown away that he's pointing to a piece of mine today. Woo! He's pointing to my story Already Dead that appeared in FRiGG Magazine recently. So, yay! And if you don't already have Riley Dog in your bookmarks, you should add it. There's something great to read every day.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Joe Young

Woo! Joseph Young is going to be our Guest Editor for Issue 10 of SmokeLong. We've published Joe a couple of times and his blog was one of my favorites until he decided to stop doing it. He's already brought to our attention a couple of writers we hadn't known before. This promises to be a very, very interesting issue. Wheeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Norton 5

Well, this was brutal. It was fun, but brutal. I think we discussed... well, I don't want to get into the exact number of stories we discussed, but damn, it was a LOT. Narrowing it down to just five to send to Norton was not easy at all. But we did it. I just sent off the email with the five precious attachments. Wish the writers luck. Here are the stories we nominated for inclusion in the next Norton anthologies:

On the Inside of a Horse's Skull by Daphne Buter
Carnivale by Pia Z. Ehrhardt
Drop by Roy Kesey
Thirty-nine Years of Carrie Wallace by Jeff Landon
Metallic by Ellen Parker

And there are so very many more we'd have liked to have sent. This has been a great experience, not only in terms of the recognition, but even more because it forced us to go back and read a lot of stories and fall in love with them all over again.

It's out of our hands now. Best wishes to the writers! I hope to see all of you on a bookshelf soon.