My D.C.-AWP 2017 in Photos!

 

Tethered by Letters Author Q&A

c77vnhlwkaqyaiiCheck out this new interview that features my thoughts on writing, publishing, and MFA programs over at the Tethered by Letters Author Q&A Series!

I’m ecstatic to be featured on the page, as the TbL Q&A Series is a great resource for writers, both beginning and established. It’s well-worth your time to check out the archives, including interviews with Maggie Smith, Dana Gioia,  Sandra Marchetti, Karen Craigo, and Saleh Saterstrom. The Q&As are heavy on the process of becoming an established writer and are great for writing students.

Thanks so much to Tethered by Letters for including my responses, and for Amanda DeNatale for conducting the interview.

Here’s an excerpt:

Probably like most writers, I’ve always had an inescapable urge to tell stories. Some of my earliest memories are of using a George Washington paper-doll my mom made to recreate scenes from a Time-Life series of American history books we had in the house, and I was writing some of these stories down by the time I started elementary school. That’s not a career event, of course, but where things started. For most of my childhood I planned on being either a sports writer for a newspaper or a comic book writer for Marvel when I grew up. What I do now isn’t too far off from that—my day job is as a reporter (but on civil law and politics, not sports) and I write literary fiction instead of super hero comics. Most of my life has been following an impulse to write, which led to different jobs and styles that allow me to keep going in ways that are fulfilling. I don’t think there was ever an epiphany, more just doing what has kept me engaged and happy.

TW a Finalist for Disquiet Literary Prize

v-eqgjozI’m happy to share that my story “Me Too” was named a finalist for the 2017 Disquiet Literary Prize!

Thanks so much to the judges and Guernica magazine for thinking enough of my work to give it final consideration for the prize, which was won by Gwen E. Kirby of Cincinnati. Gwen’s story will be published by Guernica and she receives a full tuition scholarship to this year’s Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal.

This continues a spectacular run of “nice rejection” for this story, including a few personal notes from big magazines that number among my nicest rejections ever. (!!!) That’s a strange sentiment to express, but for those who spend a lot of time submitting work for publication, it’s worth something. I’ll appreciate the tailwind while it lasts, at least.

Some more information about Disquiet, if you’re interested, as they’re still accepting applications for this year’s program:

The DISQUIET International Literary Program is a two-week program that brings writers from North America and from around the world together with Portuguese writers in the heart of Lisbon for intensive workshops in the art and craft of writing.

The program is premised on several beliefs: That the conversations and exchange of ideas that result from meeting writers from around the world pushes one’s own work beyond the boundaries of the self. That all writers need a community to support and sustain them. That stepping out of the routine of one’s daily life and into a vibrant, rich, and new cultural space unsettles the imagination, loosens a writer’s reflexes… To those ends: Come be DISQUIET-ed with us!

 

 

Imaginary Gardens Reading Series in April

Fyi, I’ll reading from Bad Faith at the Imaginary Gardens Reading Series on Tuesday, April 18 at 7pm, with poet Katie Berger. Put on monthly by Michael Skau at Mister Toad’s downtown pub, the series is in its third year. Originally a poetry series, Imaginary Gardens recently opened its doors to prose writers, and I’m certainly excited they did.

This will be my last event to promote Bad Faith before setting my sights on the August 1 release for Kings of Broken Things. Since I’ve already done a few readings in Omaha from the collection, I’ll try something new for this event, I promise.

On a more personal note, the writers group I’m in meets periodically at Mister Toad, so it will be fun to read my work in the space. Their back room is a great space to hang out and read. Usually that’s done quietly, but reading aloud will be fun too!

The event is free and open to the public.

Imaginary Gardens Reading Series
Tue April 18, 7pm
Mister Toad, 1002 Howard St, Omaha

Kings of Broken Things Cover Reveal!!!

I’m so excited to share with you the front cover of my new novel Kings of Broken Things, out from Little A on August 1!wheeler-kings-of-broken-things-final-front-cover

The cover turned out so well, I couldn’t be more pleased and excited to share the book with you all this summer. Thanks are due to Christina Chung, who did the illustration, and Vivian Lee, my editor at Little A, who painstakingly worked through many versions until this was just right. Their hard work paid off big time, in my opinion. What do you all think?

The book is now available for pre-order in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, and audio editions. The audio edition is a new addition, for all you road warriors and commuters out there. If you’re so inclined, put in your order now and have the book arrive on August 1.

 

Monroe Work Lynching Archive

Monroe Work Map.pngCheck out this new page and interactive map at MonroeWorkToday that builds off the archive of lynchings originally compiled by sociologist Monroe Work at the Tuskegee Institute.

In addition to giving a pretty succinct history of lynching in the United States, including biographies of heroes like Ida B. Wells, Walter White, James Weldon Johnson, and others, the site includes an impressive interactive map that allows you to click on any of the dots and pull up information on each lynching incident, including the name of the victim, the location where it occurred, and references to source material. It’s good stuff.

monroe-work-mapOf particular interest is that the archive includes information on Mexican- and Italian-Americans who were murdered in racially-motivated mob killings. After researching lynchings in Omaha for more than a few years now, I can attest that this information is harder to come by. As a case in point (pictured above) I came across reference to the 1915 lynching of Juan Gonzalez in Omaha by a posse of 200 people after he was accused of murdering a police officer. This was only four years before the famous courthouse lynching of Will Brown–which is dramatized in my forthcoming novel. In eight years of reading about the 1919 lynching, I don’t remember seeing mention of the 1915 lynching. Strange. And something else to read up on.

When you get a chance, check out MonroeWorkToday. Very informative and a powerful new research tool for students, historians, and citizens alike.

In the century after the Civil War, as many as 5000 people of color were executed by mobs believing the cause of white supremacy.

On average, mobs killed 9 people per month during the 1890s. The average was 7 people per month over the next 20 years. It was not until 1918 that one member of Congress, a Republican, attempted any action. Yet there were heroes who did not wait for that. How did this happen? What are the details?

 

New Stories from the Midwest 2016 is Now Available!

51cxgh58lol-_sx326_bo1204203200_Have an Amazon gift card leftover from Christmas laying around? Looking for a fiction anthology to assign to your students for the spring semester? Lately been wondering what the best fiction to come out of the Midwest looks like?

Well, wonder no more, get your copy of New Stories from the Midwest 2016 now!

In addition to my story “On a Train from the Place Called Valentine” (which originally appeared in Boulevard magazine) the anthology features stories from acclaimed authors such as Charles Baxter, Stuart Dybek, Joyce Carol Oates, Laura Van Den Berg, and Christine Sneed. It’s an impressive lineup.

Thanks so much to series editors Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham, and guest editor Lee Martin, for putting together such an amazing anthology, and New American Press for seeing it to print. You’ve all done the region proud!

New Stories from the Midwest is an anthology series that presents the best literary writing published in the Midwest during the most recent two-year period. The editors select from a large pool of stories gathered from distinguished journals and magazines like Cincinnati Review, Glimmer Train, Hobart, Mid-American Review, Narrative Magazine, Ploughshares, Tin House, and dozens more. Writers featured in the 2016 volume include such luminaries as Charles Baxter, Peter Ho Davies, and Joyce Carol Oates, as well as new voices and rising stars such as Laura Van Den Berg and Rebecca Makkai. Be sure to watch for New Poetry from the Midwest as well!

Bad Faith Reassessed for The Story Prize Blog

wheeler-badCheck out my guest blog piece posted today on the blog of The Story Prize: “On Writing Stories from Inside Trump’s America (Before It Was).”

The Story Prize is the biggest book award for short story collections in the US, awarding a $20,000 bounty to an author each spring. In addition, they also open up their blog for authors of new short story collections to write a post about their books or an aspect of their practice, which is where I come into the picture.

Thanks so much to Larry Dark, Director of the prize, for inviting me to write something and for putting up my short essay. Here’s a sample:

Going off my friend’s suggestion, I began to think about who fit into what electoral bucket. Certainly the crotchety Harry Kleinhardt of my opening story, a man who’s forced to face his disappointment of a son while dying from cancer, who spends his afternoons sunning himself in the mudroom listening to Limbaugh and reminisces about how bright life once was, at least before it all went to shit. There’s one vanguard of Trump’s America. Then there’s Anna from “Impertinent, Triumphant,” who met her politician husband while both were congressional interns for Kit Bond, the former Republican Senator from Missouri. It’s easy to see how Anna would coalesce behind the Trump campaign. While not a “build that wall” kind of gal, she wouldn’t be opposed to chanting “lock her up” if others were doing so, say, on the floor of the Republican National Convention, exchanging a loftier political ideal or two in order to take a pantsuit-wearing liberal down a peg.

But there’s some noise in the populous of Bad Faith—as with anywhere, the distance between perception and reality isn’t so clear. Sam and Jacq, also from “Impertinent,” a former travel entrepreneur and an experimental landscape artist, leave Manhattan to settle on a ranch near the Sandhills. And what about the biracial man from Omaha who has to face his fear of being an outsider in a small town (and being exposed to small town police) to attend the funeral of his estranged white mother?

The Uninitiated’s Very Early 2017 Holiday Shopping Guide

Getting an early start on your 2017 holiday shopping list? Lucky for you, my novel Kings of Broken Things is now available for pre-order on Amazon at 25-40% off! The book really will make the perfect gift for family, friends, spouses, speed-daters, and any other folks you might become close with over the next thirteen months. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah or X-Mas, or even Labor Day or Veterans Day or National Model Railroad Month–Kings of Broken Things will make the perfect gift for that special someone (or hobby enthusiast) in your life.

And if for some reason your didn’t finish shopping for the 2016 season yet, there are still copies of Bad Faith for sale too! BUY NOW!!!