What does the library mean to you?
That was the question posed by King County Library System (KCLS) Reel Fest in January. I had 2 minutes to answer on film. I got my family to help.
Together, we made “aisles of ideas.”
We shared my experiences reading inspiring words, writing, submitting, and seeing it go quite far (no spoilers).
Our film is a Reel Fest finalist.
We’d love for you to watch it. Join us for its free online premiere on Monday, September 28 at 7pm Pacific.
How do you say goodbye to a brief universe inside you? Find out in my latest flash fiction, “Glimmering Sidewalks,” published in the first zine from The Racket: Quarantine Journal.
What amount of effort went into getting “Glimmering Sidewalks” published?
These numbers are on par with my other flash fiction publications.
I share blog posts like these because every story has a different journey to readers. So if you’re in the doldrums between drafts or facing another rejection, may this encourage you. This process has taught me that publication is always more than one step away. Read on about this story’s journey and you may find what will get you over the next hump.Read the rest of this entry »
About a year ago, I attended the 2018 Maryland Writers’ Association Annual Conference, this led to my first short story publication in a genre I don’t typically write, and a reprint in the prestigious The Best American Mystery Stories 2019 anthology edited by Otto Penzler and Jonathan Lethem. The anthology is available nationwide today, on October 1, 2019.
Writing conferences and events can pay off in unexpected ways. So next time you’re on the fence about breaking out of your shell and attending another open mic, book festival, or conference, keep my story in mind.
I’m teaching a free workshop on “How to Submit Your Writing for Publication” at the 2019 Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 5pm in Gaithersburg, MD. This is a lovely daytime book festival in the Washington, DC area that I’ve attended for a few years.
I’m thrilled to share my experience and help others submit more:
How do you know when your writing is ready for publication or where to submit? Perhaps you’ve written a few stories, poems, or essays and want to know where to send them. How do you choose from among the deluge of submission opportunities? How do you make sense of submission guidelines? Learn what tools and resources exist to help you on your journey to publication in this informative workshop for writers who want to begin their paths to publication.
Please come by in person or leave a comment if you’re interested in an online class about submitting.
The following are ways I’m staying engaged with my local literary community this Spring. Events range from casual and free to more professional and paid. But you never know where inspiration will strike. I’m happy to meet local creative folks at any of the following events:
I’ve attended and hosted Shut Up & Write(!) meetups in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2013. Shut Up & Write(!) is a powerful concept. Whereas most casual writing events are focused on socializing, we get together and write. Our meetups are free and open to everyone. There’s no obligation to share or network; just do the work.
I’ve missed the writing community I left in San Francisco. But the Maryland suburbs by D.C. have their own creative charms. I’m reaching out to a local arts center, attending nearby writing meetups, and exploring what The Writer’s Center in Bethesda has to offer.
But there’s no Shut Up & Write(!) here. So I’m starting one.
I reached back out to my Bay Area friends, Cat and Rennie, the masterminds behind the concept. They were happy to help set up a new meetup group. As of this post, there are already 39 members. We have the first location happy to host us—the lovely Barking Mad Cafe in Gaithersburg (right next to a Little Free Library, no less). I’m eager to grow our writing community here.
I’m proud to share my first online publication, the 500-word flash fiction “Rivet Here” in Necessary Fiction. This story is about a new kind of relationship that blossoms in a small town when all the men leave for World War II.
What amount of effort went into getting “Rivet Here” published?
Keep reading for the details and some reading recommendations.Read the rest of this entry »
What do you focus on when you make New Year’s resolutions or broader goals? I tend to fixate on what I’ll gain. It’s less motivating to acknowledge what you’ll have to give up to make those gains, but it’s just as crucial. Consider all your goals. If they are to become accomplishments, they have to happen in some order. Order implies priority. Priority implies a few things first. What won’t make it over the finish line?
From my personal journal, February 1, 2014:
Seeing Maidan in person left me in a state of mild awe. How can so many souls come from near and far, gather, organize, donate, protest, fight, break, bleed, die, and wake up to do it again and again for months? There must be something here, something about these folks with a sacrificial focus. I would not believe the sheer mass and force of this effort unless I took in every street with my own eyes, smelled the barrel fires on the winter wind, tasted the smoke of recent battles, heard the whispers of the hurt, or touched the weapons used against those who stood here, in the face of faceless oppression. Danger be damned, I regret not coming here earlier. All the parts of me that sat in that airport on the other side of the Atlantic and hesitated to board my flight melted away. I wish I went at the start of this trip instead of the very last day.
I felt things today I’ve never felt before.
I’m proud of these people. All of them. I’ve never felt sympathy or anything particularly positive about nationalism, patriotism, living in any of the dozens of places I’ve lived, or even being on any kind of team. Today, I got my first taste of what gets others so fired up about a shared idea. I felt what holds them together. Today, I stood in the middle of something vastly bigger and more important than myself, a witness to a change more important than any I’ve experienced and that will affect many more people than I can ever know. And this wasn’t an abstract political idea, or something frivolous and fleeting like a sports game, or imagined like a film or a painting or a book or a startup spreadsheet or university research project. These weren’t curated images on the news. The effects were immediate and real. I could see it in the faces of the grandmas handing out free meals, the men younger than me in half-winter, half-battle gear patrolling every barricade and the entrances of every conquered building, in the spray painted fervor on the signs and the shields and the banners and the doors masking the downtown materialism, in the crass caricatures and beautiful pieces of art being painted in front of me, steps away from where protesters died, in freezing winter temperatures, in the hands of the inspired, who refuse to leave in spirit and in body.
All of this stirred faith in the power of a commoner exercising a fundamentally defiant right to say: Enough. It’s time for change. I left Ukraine at eight-and-a-half years old and grew up with a healthy skepticism of all things Soviet and post-Soviet. I believed that the Slavic people of my birthplace were an inexcusably tough and unpleasantly cold, uncaring people. I am proud to be so gloriously wrong. I am proud to glimpse at a place I feared, that almost made me cancel this trip, and open my heart to it’s wonder and woe. I am proud to have faith that change is not only possible but inevitable, because that is the will of the wronged. Now, I am proud to share a heritage, a history, a spark, no matter how tiny or distant or morphed by Americana with these people, my people. Today, for the first time in my nomadic life, I’m proud to say: I am a Ukrainian. However brief, I stood with my people and I belonged.
This is not my fight. I realize that all this passion may be the sentimental first impressions of a naive boy lucky enough to grow up sheltered in middle class America. But whatever it may be, I had to share this day. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the family friend who gave me a two hour walking tour of every major place of protest. She was there every step of the way since November 22, 2013 when this started and wouldn’t let me explore alone. At the end of our time, I put every dollar in my pocket in her purse and said, “for Maidan.” What was supposed to be a thoughtless wedding gift to my sister before I learned she was marrying into wealth became the first donation of my life. It felt subpar to what I considered donating: a missed return flight and an indefinite stay in this dangerously inspiring place. Wherever this takes me, however idealistic this may all seem, I never want to forget how my heart beat differently on the Maidan as I read signs like: “The will of Ukraine or death” and “better a coward on the Maidan than a coward behind the TV.”
Some things you have to experience in person. So find the courage to take a risk. You may be stunned at how moved you are by a solemn civilian soldier with a bleeding cheek, snowflakes on his steady breath, the smell of burnt tires rising from his feet, defending his idea of tomorrow.