Bad Faith Now on Kindle (Plus a Request)

Bad Faith, my collection of short fiction, is now available in digital form via the Kindle format! And at the bargain price of $4.95. Click here if you’re interested.

The print version is still for sale, of course, at the still reasonable $15.14 for such a collector’s item, also over at Amazon. If you’d like to buy the book in person, check out the book page here for a listing of independent bookstores who have Bad Faith in stock. Many of these stores should have signed copies, fyi. (Or, if you’re tight on cash, you can always request that your local library purchase a copy. Or enter my currently open Goodreads Giveaway contest.)

If you can, please rate and review Bad Faith on Amazon and Goodreads. It may not seem like much, but having the book rated on these forums really does help a lot with the algorithm that suggests books to others and how much attention my novel will get next summer when it comes out. I’d really appreciate the help.

Thanks so much to everyone who has bought a copy of the book, either online or in person, and to those who stopped by at an event this summer. It’s been an exciting first month for Bad Faith. Traveling 17 out of 30 days, to 12 different cities, in 10 different states, for 11 lit events and readings. I had so much fun seeing old friends and meeting new ones, all while learning the ropes of what it’s like to be on book tour. Thanks for sharing the experience!

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Bad Faith Book Party is this Month!

box o booksIf you’re in the area of Omaha, Nebraska on the evening of June 30 your presence is requested at Pageturners Lounge to help celebrate the release of Bad Faith, my debut collection of short fiction!

Here’s the Facebook event page. If you’re planning on coming and can RSVP that would help immensely with planning.

There will be a short reading, donuts, and ample celebration. Have a drink or two, buy a book, and get a personalized inscription. Omaha poet and writing-group-buddy Felicity White will emcee. Copies of Bad Faith will be available for purchase courtesy of The Bookworm, weeks before it is available for purchase in stores, by the way.

I hope to see you there!

Bad Faith Early Release Party
Thu June 30, 7pm
Pageturners Lounge (5004 Dodge St)

Miscellany on a Snowy Day

12633710_423636127833827_391863279269080749_oSince it’s a slow, blizzardy day here in Omaha, and I’ve got a few minutes before the girls wake up from their naps, here’s some miscellany of interest to the blog.

-First off, happy book birthday to Amina Gautier, who’s third collection of short fiction The Loss of All Lost Things was officially released from Exilir Press! Here’s what Christine Schutt had to say about the book: “Loss, loss of home, family, love–the freighted loss of children themselves–these are Amina Gautier’s subjects but prepare for enthrallment and surprise: These unexpectedly comforting stories of loss mend loss with reminders of our heroic inadequacies to love well. The Loss of All Lost Things is a touching collection of limpidly composed, irresistible stories,tempting to read in a sitting.” Make sure you pick up a copy, either from Amazon or SPD.

-Congrats to Julie Iromuanya, whose debut novel Mr. and Mrs. Doctor made the shortlist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize! The Bingham Prize honors “an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $25,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction.” Just announced today, this is quite an honor, and very much deserved. Way to go, Julie!

-Yet more congrats are in order, as a couple weeks ago Jaquira Díaz was awarded one of two 2016-2018 Kenyon Review Fellowships! KR fellows are supported for two years while they complete a significant book project and teach one class a semester at Kenyon College. It’s a pretty cool thing. I met Jaquira at the 2012 Key West Literary Seminar as part of what turned out to be an exceptionally talented class of scholarship winners. She’s definitely a writer to watch.41q8ajkcfal-_sx322_bo1204203200_

-This is a couple weeks of an early happy book birthday, but check out (and pre-order) So Many True Believers by Tyrone Jaeger, a short story collection that’s due out on February 16 from Queen’s Ferry Press. While still in the planning stages, it looks like I’ll be getting out and doing a few readings/signings with Ty this summer. More on that later, of course, but for now… “So Many True Believers gives voice to the wanton, the restless, and those hellbent on self-destruction. The Nat Mota School for at-risk youth is the nexus of Tyrone Jaeger’s spiraling narrative; loosed from it is an array of characters yearning, raging, and chasing down their misguided dreams. There is Jeremy, mourning the loss of his girlfriend to a UFO cult; Harold, the betrayed husband exploring intimacy in unfamiliar waters; and Ginny, the teenage runaway hiding out with a band of video-obsessed squatters. Mystery, magic, and gritty realism are coiled against a backdrop of failed relationships and addictions in this darkly humorous debut collection depicting the frayed edges of the American psyche.”
 
-Finally, be sure to check out this interview with Alexander Chee, “Maybe It Was Worth It,” on The Millions this week. In addition to talking about his second novel, The Queen of the Night, which also releases today, Chee addresses at length the issues that confront novelists working in the age of omnipresent social media presence. Here’s a longish excerpt from the interview, and be sure to check out the whole thing over at The Millions:

TM: Did you feel commercial pressure, or worry about your own livelihood?

AC: This is a constant under capitalism though, right? But nothing in the book is there to make it more commercial or I would have used quotation marks around the dialogue. Other people may be able to write cynically, but when I do I want to die. Which was never the point of writing.0618663029-01-lzzzzzzz

The biggest pressure was when I had run out of the money. I was paid for this book, everything else was essentially unpaid work during which time I also had to work to pay bills. And the longer the novel wasn’t published, the more it seemed to endanger everything in my life — my ability to get teaching work, to successfully apply for grants, my relationship, future projects. Each small delay, each mistake, each wrong turn in the writing became enormous as a result and it was unendurable in the last two years.

The novel also ruined every family holiday vacation for a decade, too — typically the down time between semesters when you can get writing done.

Right near the end, I had a student write a story about the workshop, in which she was unkind to everyone in the class except herself, who she portrayed as a talented writer and a great beauty. This is something that happens at least once in every writing teacher’s life — the student who thinks it is brilliant to write about the class and make everyone talk about what she thinks of them. Me? She portrayed me as a failed writer who couldn’t sell his new book.

All I can say is, I look forward to when this happens to her.

 

January Pub Updates

ptl back doorSince it’s been a while since I offered a general state of the blog type post, here’s the latest in the world of the uninitiated.

-A pub date has been set for Bad Faith! My short story collection will drop on July 12, 2016. And while you’re hurriedly marking your calendars, I’ve also set up a pre-release party at Pageturners Lounge for Thursday, June 30, which will the first opportunity to purchase the book, have it signed, and toast with the author.

Between working through final edits on the book, the first blurbs coming in, and setting up events for later this year, it’s been an exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking experience. There will even be a cover before long. It’s happening!

-A few of my short stories will be coming out in the next couple months. “Violate the Leaves” in the spring issue of Boulevard, in March; “The Hyphenates of Jackson County” in Artful Dodge, by the end of February; and “On a Train from the Place Called Valentine” in New Stories form the Midwest.

-You may have noticed a few updates around the site. The last year I’ve slowly been transitioning this space from its blog roots to more of a proper web site befitting a published author with multiple books to his name. Or something. The process should be finished shortly, with a static front page and all that. I’ll still be blogging here every once in a while, maybe even a little more frequently. The whole “travel” part of the blog kind of took a backseat the last couple years, as I wasn’t traveling much, saving up money for potential book tours and bigger trips. Posting the same photos of me at Royals games over and over didn’t quite have the same panache as the posts from my summer touring Europe.

-One last thing, I want to include a note about the success we’ve seen with the literary pub quiz I’ve been putting on at Pageturners with buddies Ryan Borchers and Drew Justice. The turnout has been great, and it seems like the enthusiasm grows each month. The next edition is in a week, on February 3 with guest host Wendy Townley of the 1877 Society. We’re getting some great guest stars lined up for the spring/summer season, and I can’t wait to share the lineup. But I will wait, and hope to have that posted here soon. The series has been a lot of fun and I’m psyched to keep this going through the rest of the year. If you’re around Omaha the first Wednesday of the month, stop on in and talk some literature with a copacetic group of bookish folks.

Wheeler Schedules Book Signing at AWP Conference in Minneapolis

The proof edition of On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown.

As the headline tells, I’ll be signing copies of my chapbook On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown on Saturday, April 11 at the 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Minneapolis from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. You can find me hanging out with Boulevard in the bookfair at table 1924.

If you’re using the schedule builder on the AWP website, be sure to add it to your itinerary with just a click at this page.

I’ll have copies available for purchase for $3. Boulevard will also be bringing a few copies of their four back issues that feature my work, which is pretty cool. If you’re looking to build up your Wheeler archive–who isn’t, these days?–this would be a good place to start.

Thanks so much to Jessica Rogen and Boulevard for sharing their exhibition space with me!

AWP Book Signing / AWP Conference & Bookfair / Minneapolis Convention Center

Saturday, April 11 / 1030a-1130a / Boulevard Table (1924) 

Happy Book Birthday: Denton Loving’s Crimes Against Birds

This is probably coming a little late, but I wanted to help celebrate the release of Denton Loving’s debut collection of poems, Crimes Against Birds.

Denton was one of the housemates at the William Skelton House during the 2012 Key West Literary Seminars. In addition to his poetry, he also co-edits the literary journal Drafthorseedited the anthology Seeking Its Own Level: an anthology of writings about water, and co-directs the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. All that, and he lives on a farm near the Cumberland Gap. Busy guy!

Here’s what literary superstar Ron Rash has to say about Crimes Against Birds:

“Do the wonders around me exist if mine are the only eyes to see, Denton Loving asks in one of this collection’s early poems. The answer is a resounding, Yes, because Loving has the talent to convey what he has seen that we too might see, and feel, and know more deeply. Crimes Against Birds is an impressive debut by a very gifted poet.”

Congrats, Denton!

Happy Book Birthday: Now We Will Be Happy by Amina Gautier

I’m happy to share that today is release day for Amina Gautier’s newest collection of short fiction, Now We Will Be Happy, which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction and is being published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Amina and I met this January at the Key West Literary Seminar, where we were in the same workshop. She’s a fantastic writer, a fellow Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts alum, and I’m excited that we get another of her books. Her first collection, At Risk, won the Flannery O’Connor Book Prize and came out in 2012. At Risk was one of the first books that was reviewed on Briefly Noted when I co-edited the feature with Claire Harlan-Orsi for Prairie Schooner‘s blog.

Here’s the jacket copy of her latest:

Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautier’s characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.

The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasn’t seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles. 

Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.

Way to go, Amina! Congrats!

Ma Vie à Stuttgart: Solitude Nacht, Landstuhl, Stuttgart

solitude 8
Reading on the steps of the castle during Solitude Night. (Photo by Kai Linke.)

A few highlights from the past couple weeks:

-A big one being that I read as part of Solitude Night here at the Akademie on July 5. The experience was a pretty cool one, not the least because my literature compatriots–Irish poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin and German playwright Anne Habermehl–shared their outstanding work. Also, the stage was built on the steps of die Schloss, with the reader facing the castle and the audience seated on the steps, facing the valley. I read from two pieces, some of “On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown” and the opening of the new novel I’ve been working on here. It was kind of nerve-wracking to present work that was written only a few weeks ago, but I feel like it went over okay. A number of people have told me they enjoyed the reading–and since they’re passing on good news, I have no reason to doubt them.

Thanks so much to Claudia Gehre for setting up the reading so beautifully and introducing us readers. And thanks to Akademie Director Jean-Baptiste Joly for selecting me to read on the big night.

-Also, if you haven’t seen, Akademie Schloss Solitude is now accepting applications for its next cycle of fellows, with residencies from 2015 to 2017. Residencies are typically pretty long, 6-8 months or so, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Stipends, lodging, and studio space are provided, along with some travel and project expenses. Writers, artists, dancers, musicians, mathematicians, chess players, art administrators, philosophers–it’s a pretty big tent out here. I’ll vouch that Akademie Schloss Solitude is certainly an amazing place to write and create, and hike, and is pretty centrally located if you’d want to do some sideline travel while in Europe. The deadline is Oct 31, 2014. Here’s a list of conditions and benefits for the fellowship. Check it out.

-After Jordan I didn’t do much traveling the past two weeks. Explored more of Stuttgart on foot, found new areas of the forest to hike, managed to turn a two hour leisurely walk to the bank into a five hour power-hike after I took a wrong turn in Wildpark. Oops.

-Today I did venture out of Stuttgart again with a trip up to Landstuhl. There really isn’t too much there, except the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, with Ramstein Air Base also in the area, so it has certain significance to recent US military history–and more to the point, a character in my new novel (Jim Allen from my story “Welcome Home” is a big character in the book) is sent to the medical center for a brief time. So it was kind of research for the novel, kind of just being curious to see what a US military town in Germany is like. I wasn’t sure if I should still go up there. There are a million other places to visit here that offer more in the way of culture and sights. The trip itself was longish, about three hours each way by train, although a lot of that was through the scenic Rhineland area, so not much to complain about there. So I went.

landstuhl
Landstuhl, stadtmitte.

This morning I was surprisingly emotional about going to Landstuhl. The medical center served as the primary hospital to treat injuries suffered in both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s seen a lot of traffic in the last decade. I read last night that the hospital was for several years among the world’s most active hubs for organ donations. A sort of benign fact on its face, but devastating in its implication. This really stuck with me this morning.

I didn’t do much while there. Walked up to the medical center and around its gates. Everything is secured so there really wasn’t much to see besides dozens of signs promising that bad things will happen if you take any pictures of the facility. (Note: I really admire those who live by the edict that when someone tells you to stop filming, that’s the most important time to be filming. Further note: I’m not one of those people.) So nothing profound, but I’m glad I went. Like a lot of things, the process of getting somewhere is most of the trip. And I did get a few details that will make it into the first draft of the novel.

-Arriving back into Stuttgart was pretty interesting this evening. There was a big Palestinian demonstration going on all along Königstraße, a pedestrian drag through the main tourist and cultural part of the city. A little different from what I expected walking out of Hauptbahnhof train station. Lots of flag waving, some chanting, many head scarfs, a few burqas. Polizei in full-on paramilitary gear, berets, rifles, some with riot gear handy, just in case. (I’m assuming a lot of the police presence was just in case a group of fascist, anti-immigrant thugs showed up for a confrontation–something becoming more common in some places–but I’m not really sure.) Meanwhile, the Schlossplatz (castle square) is hosting its annual week of free jazz performances. So, while the the protest wraps up, there’s a jazz quintet on a bandstand playing “Everybody wants to be a Cat” from Disney’s The Aristocats (you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried) with a bunch of hipster swing kids strutting their stuff. Kind of a strange dynamic. And a nice little microcosm for how this whole trip has gone.