Category Archives: Publishing

“The Fireline” is up at Flash Fiction Offensive

“The Fireline” is a story I originally wrote four or five years ago.  I was reading a lot of Freud and Marcuse at the time and the piece ballooned to a linked 10,000 word long story, and went nowhere.  A couple months ago, I take a hack-axe to it and came up with the 1000 or words you’re going to go click to right now (right?)  Convenient clickable linky 

A preview:

“We’re going to do it,” Silas said. “With or without your say-so.”

Pa scrabbled down the roof and leaped off the eave, coming up spry as a jackrabbit. He strode within a pace of them. The boys stepped back.

“Is it true, Lord?” Pa said. “Did I raise up a pack of back-talking hellions?”

Convenient linky, repeated

"The Fireline" is up at Flash Fiction Offensive

“The Fireline” is a story I originally wrote four or five years ago.  I was reading a lot of Freud and Marcuse at the time and the piece ballooned to a linked 10,000 word long story, and went nowhere.  A couple months ago, I take a hack-axe to it and came up with the 1000 or words you’re going to go click to right now (right?)  Convenient clickable linky 

A preview:

“We’re going to do it,” Silas said. “With or without your say-so.”

Pa scrabbled down the roof and leaped off the eave, coming up spry as a jackrabbit. He strode within a pace of them. The boys stepped back.

“Is it true, Lord?” Pa said. “Did I raise up a pack of back-talking hellions?”

Convenient linky, repeated

I’ll show you yours when you show me mine?

Had a story in my reading queue from an editor at a semi-prestigious magazine which has held a story of mine 221 days, as of today.  Meanwhile this editor’s submission had been in our queue for about 12 days.  What I really wanted to do was send this editor a note saying, hey, how’s about I read your story when you read mine?

I didn’t, of course.  That would have been rude, unprofessional, and impolitic.  I read the submission, commented, sent it on.  I do sort of wonder, though, why this process takes 221 days and counting over there.

I have even sent this other magazine a note, asking if my story was still under consideration.  No response.   And so it goes.

 

I'll show you yours when you show me mine?

Had a story in my reading queue from an editor at a semi-prestigious magazine which has held a story of mine 221 days, as of today.  Meanwhile this editor’s submission had been in our queue for about 12 days.  What I really wanted to do was send this editor a note saying, hey, how’s about I read your story when you read mine?

I didn’t, of course.  That would have been rude, unprofessional, and impolitic.  I read the submission, commented, sent it on.  I do sort of wonder, though, why this process takes 221 days and counting over there.

I have even sent this other magazine a note, asking if my story was still under consideration.  No response.   And so it goes.

 

Send it out into the world

My friend Brad Green had a story picked up by the anthology Surreal South ’11.  A real coup, and well-deserved congratulations, Brad.  I’ve read the story privately, and let me tell you, it’s a whopper.  A Biblical zombie story.  Feature that.

I only read the story after I knew it had been picked up, though.  Which got me to thinking. Had Brad sent me the story prior to it being chosen for publication, I have this sneaking suspicion that I’d have been very suspicious. I mean, zombies, for chrissakes, right?

It is most strange how my opinion of a piece changes, mine or someone else’s, once it has been vetted and published.

I draw two observations:

1) Self-publishing, while certainly viable, still lacks the the legitimacy of being published by someone else. If the only vetting a story goes through is by you and / or trusted readers, that’s not much vetting at all.

and, somewhat in contradiction to that:

2) It really doesn’t matter what you or any trusted reader thinks of your story. It only matters what the editor on the other end of the submission queue thinks. If you feel in your gut that a story is good, then it probably is – at least to some editor out there.  So send it out into the world and find out.

The Nebraska Panhandle, 1988 is up at Numero Cinq

My essay about a summer childhood afternoon is up at Numero Cinq.  Douglas Glover has this to say about it:

  Here’s a lovely addition to the growing list of Numéro Cinq “Childhood” essays from Court Merrigan who grew up in Nebraska and lives just across the state line in Wyoming. Court was raised on a farm. He has that authentic Western voice, a voice bred in the  dirt and heat and the smell of oil from the farm machines and the chink of irrigation pipes and sound of distant thunder (farmers watch the sky far more than city folk). I have a fondness for the piece based on personal history—the first story I published was about a hail storm on the farm where I grew up. Court’s father towers over this story, his laugh, his exhortations and his reading. What’s really particular and authentic here is that father, Catholic, Jesuit-trained, literate, and wise. He’s appeared before on NC, just in passing,  in Court’s “What it’s like living here.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Brad Green for reading several early versions of this essay and pronouncing them – thankfully – DOA.  I found this piece as difficult to write as anything I’ve ever done, and I ran a real risk of real embarrassment in those early attempts if Brad hadn’t been there to save the day. 

Thanks also to Douglas Glover for asking for the piece, and then publishing it once he had it.

Please head on over to Numero Cinq and have a look.  Thanks.

decomP aims for a print issue

decomP, which published my story “The Haymaker’s,” is aiming to create a print issue, decomP onE.

There’s a great video featuring audio recordings of some of the contributors. Unfortunately WordPress won’t let me embed the video but do go see the Kickstarter page, and contribute, and read it when it comes out.

Pay with a post for a new short story collection

As experiments with publishing goes, this is an interesting one: you can download Australian writer Conor O’Brien’s new collection, Quiet City, for the price of a tweet and / or Facebook post.  Just go here and follow the clickys.  Alternatively, you can get the paper book for $12.

I’d never heard of Connor O’Brien until about 7 minutes ago.  Now I’ve got his book and am subscribed to his blog.  I guess that’s the point.

 

Pindeldyboz folds

Pindeldyboz published my very first published short story, “In Hiding”, back in January of 2004.  (Man, that seems like a long time ago.)  I’m still rather fond of this story, for sentimental reasons, if not aesthetic reasons.  Now comes the news that Pindeldyboz is folding.  Says Whitney Pastorek, founding editor:

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Pindeldyboz, we’ve made the decision to shut it down. At some point in the next month or so, therefore, the site will be going dark.

It wasn’t an easy decision in many ways, and in many ways it was. Over the last 10 years, we’ve published a whole lot of stuff by a whole lot of people. It’s been a blast, and we like to think we’ve been an important part of the internet online fiction community — or at least given some great voices a forum in which to shine. In return, Pboz has given us endless creative inspiration. It was something to do that existed outside the mundane tasks of our ordinary lives. It was never a full-time job, we never got paid, we never got famous. But that wasn’t ever really the point.

I’ve not included a link because, like she says, the site will soon be dark.  I have saved in my story in hmtl, though that will soon cease to matter.  I’ll be posting “In Hiding” here tomorrow, so it will have a second internet home.  Thank you, Pindeldyboz and Whitney Pastorak, for giving it a first one.

I have postulated that what you write on the internet is forever.  Supposedly everything on the internet is being permanent archived by the Wayback Machine and others.  So as long as there are digital devices, “In Hiding” will still be out there.  This infinitely accessible version is, the theory goes, a good deal better than if it had been published in some obscure literary magazine in the form of a few hundred copies moldering in dusty cardboard boxes, waiting to be pulped.  (A couple of my paper-published short stories are currently languishing in this limbo.)  I still tend to think that is true, but, you do have to ask, how many people are ever going to query the Wayback Machine for my short story?  Besides me and my mom, I mean?

It is worth noting the sea change that has taken place in these short six and a half years.  At the time, publishing on the internet was still looked down upon, was thought of as “not real”.  Now The New Yorker publishes every short story online, for free, and a new novel is considered DOA if it doesn’t have a Kindle version.  For those of us who continue to labor in obscurity, this is mostly a good thing.  It’s access, even if of a promiscuous sort.

Finally, I note that it has been something like 4 years since I had a short story published.  I was going pretty well there for a while, churning them out and placing them in various places.  Then I turned to novels.  One manuscript took me two years and, as I can now see, was a resounding failure.  I adjudge it to be so, anyway, when I can bring myself to run my eyes over its pages of portentous pretentiousness.

The second manuscript also took me two years, and the jury is out on that one.  I’m up to twenty-some rejections by literary agents but I don’t plan on giving up on this one until the rejections run into triple digits.  Maybe not even right away then.  I feel that if this is adjudged a failure, it will be by agents and their interns, not me.  And at that point, I’ll put it out there myself, probably following Marc Horne’s DIY publishing guide.  Which is progress, I hope.  In 2004 it was still pretty unthinkable, at least to me.

Point being, I haven’t published anything in a long while.  Right now, a couple things I’m working on could either be short stories, or the embryos of more novels.  I’m sort of torn.  Commit another couple years to another manuscript which may never see the light beyond the inboxes of some trusted readers and self-publishing, or aim for a short story which more than likely, will appear on a website which will soon go dark, like Pindeldyboz?

Birdfeeders and other things you can't make out of e-books

book birdfeeder“Look at those beautiful examples of what can be done from a paper book. It’s just amazing… but on the other hand it’s good, that e-books are intangible. You can’t do things like that to them. As a writer I would love my book to be part of a heritage, not a birdhouse.” – Piotr Kowalczyk, author of Password Incorrect.

I’d not thought of e-books this way, but the man is right on.