“Little Me” Published on Narrative Magazine!

yhr2daup_400x400It has been a while since I’ve published an honest-to-God real short story (as opposed to an excerpt from my novel) so it’s feels great to get back in the saddle and share that my story “Little Me” is now up as the Story of the Week on Narrative Magazine!

“Little Me” was a finalist for the Narrative’s 2017 Fall Writing Contest and I’m very pleased that they wanted to publish the story.  After a few near misses as finalist for the Disquiet Literary Prize and the Summer Literary Seminar’s Fiction Contest, it’s great to have the story out in the world.

Read online here. (You will need to create a free account to read the whole story, fyi.) In the meantime, here’s a taste:

YOU SHOULD KNOW that I didn’t own the house on Brentwood. I was only staying there, like a house sitter. So when Teddy rang the bell and stepped inside the foyer, I hesitated, I didn’t tell him to get lost like I wanted to. He was just as much inside the house as I was, if that makes sense—uninvited, without a word of welcome. All existence was tentative those days, the month I lived on Brentwood, so what else could I do but let him in.

Teddy was eleven years old. He was stocky, chubby, his cheeks so fat his eyes closed when he smiled and barely slit open even when he wasn’t smiling. His hair had been buzzed some time before and sprouted in mutinous blond wings off the sides of his head, like he’d slept on it and hadn’t showered. We sized each other up in the foyer. He in jean shorts and a too-tight T-shirt; me cinching the sash of a monogrammed silk robe I’d found upstairs, a robe I wore most all night and day over my own shorts and T-shirt. Teddy must have been a familiar sight to the people who owned the house. The Sinclairs were family friends, and that month they were touring Tuscany. They’d mentioned their travel plans during a party my parents had hosted a few weeks prior. I let myself in through an unlocked patio door when they were gone because I needed a place to stay.

You see how it was. I had no standing to refuse entry to Teddy.

He was probably a neighbor kid anyway, or a nephew dropping by to get the mail, so I should be nice. Then again, maybe neither of us belonged there. We were both a little strange.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Teddy.”

“That’s my name too,” I said. “I’m Ted.”

Teddy nodded, smiled politely, then gazed into the house, inhaling in heavy, rapid breaths through his pug nose, like he’d run up the hill to the door. He went up the stairs to the living room, and I let him. I shrank away so our arms didn’t bump. I didn’t want to be near Teddy, not when he snooped around the living room, the dining room, not when he went to the kitchen, got a Pepsi, and downed the whole can in frantic gulps that were interrupted only when the fridge door swung into his back.

“How about we call you Little Ted and we call me Big Ted? How about that?”

I could tell he was against the idea. He smiled, a grimace-smile. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Then what do you suggest?”

“My name is Teddy,” he said, still not looking at me. He was so quiet I could barely hear him. “We can call you Hans.”

“Hans?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t get it. Why should I be Hans?”

“I made it up.”

“I’m Hans?” I asked him.

He called me that from then on.

 

 

Lost in Iberia

Here are some choice photos from my last couple weeks hanging out in Portugal and Spain! The Disquiet International Literary Program is what brought me to Lisbon–and I had a blast with the other participants with all the events and bar nights–but I was also able to fit in a couple side trips too. It’s been pretty great to recharge spiritually before my first novel comes out in a few weeks. (Have I mentioned Kings of Broken Things yet? Order now!) On the spiritual restoration score, mission accomplished! But my body is a little beat up. So much fun though.

 

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!