Archive by Author

Mr. May Unveiled

11 May

Our web exclusive for May (aka Mr. May) is now up–Scott Garson’s “Premises for an Action Plan.” Here’s the inside story from Garson on the story’s genesis: “Believe it or not, some of the stuff in ‘Premises’ actually happened in Des Moines, Iowa, a long time ago. I may have remembered too many of the particulars the first time I tried to write the story, in grad school. Forgetting the particulars helped.”

Click here to view Mr. May.

Make Your Submissions Shine

30 Apr

Through Saturday, May 2, Vince Gotera—poet, writer and editor of the North American Review, the longest-lived literary magazine (established 1815)—will give pointers on how to make your literary submissions shine. The event, hosted by Help Support Independent Publishers!, will be held at Bertram’s Blog. For more info, check out the Facebook invite here.

As an intro to Gotera’s guest appearance, ASF has culled some tips from one of his own notes that might be helpful to our submitters. (Check out his full comments at Bertram’s Blog.) Readers should feel free to replace the word “poem” or “poems” in the following excerpt with “fiction” or “piece” . . .

Today, I want to address professionalism in submitting to literary magazines. What I will say below . . . are part of what many people—both writers and editors—refer to as “unwritten rules.”

(1) The Cover Letter. . . .Our grandmothers told us we should send nice notes, and that’s what the cover letter should be. Sorry if I seem fussy here; I just think the transaction between the writer and the editor should be civil and friendly. A cover letter certainly can dispose me favorably (a little) toward the submission. Especially if a cover letter is fun or entertaining.

. . .

Definitely do not explain the poem in your cover letter. As an editor, I’m trying to gauge how readers will understand the poem.

(2) Résumés and Vitas.

Whatever you do, never send a résumé or a vita; that really smacks of inexperience. Of not knowing the “unwritten rules.” There may be fields or disciplines in which one sends a vita with a submission, but not in the literary magazine world.

(3) Copyright. The experienced writer should be aware of how copyright law works: that as soon as you write something, you own its copyright; in other words, you only have to show that you wrote something and when to defend your copyright. Inexperienced writers, on the other hand, will sometimes fear that their poems are leaving their hands and could be stolen by someone at a magazine. So they will include a copyright notice on the poem itself.

(4) Fonts. Something that we see quite often is a poem that has been printed out in 9- or 10-point font. Sometimes even smaller. I’m not really sure why people do this. Perhaps they’re trying to save postage.

I would dissuade you from using a typewriter font like Courier. Those are harder to read than Times or Palatino or Georgia or some other standard non-typewriter font. Remember that the editor must read quickly. . . . Ditto with fancy curlicue or script fonts. Hard to read. Bad. Also sans serif fonts like Helvetica. A little easier to read but not as easy to read as Times. You may think Times is boring, but it could help you get published.

OK, that’s it for now. I hope you will see the sense of these “unwritten rules.” Basically, for me, it’s about friendliness and civility, again. Editors are your friends. They want to publish your work. Good luck with your writing and with your submissions.

See the entire cheeky and informative 2007 article from Gotera on the subject here.

Short Fiction Event in Austin

14 Apr

American Short Fiction encourages our local readers to attend the book launch of Amanda Eyre Ward’s short story collection Love Stories in This Townlovestories at BookPeople on Wednesday, April 15, at 7 pm.

BookPeople offers its synopsis of the collection: “From stories of love to stories of loss, Ward has once again shown her strength in making her characters fully realized, three-dimensional beings.  The six-story arc featuring a decade in the life of Lola is particularly memorable, providing snapshots of a person growing older, but never really growing up.”

Both the LA Times and the Austin Chronicle have praise for this thoughtful, moving book.

We hope to see you there!

Easter Basket of Books

9 Apr

The Cat and the DevilReader Stacy Muszynski offers these children’s book finds.

Add to your basket of green eggs this Easter a children’s book by Dr. Seuss–or James Joyce, Carl Hiaasen, or Dutch Leonard.

It’s no secret that while cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel published more than sixty children’s books in his life, it’s likely fewer people have heard it whispered that Dublin’s James Joyce, Florida Keys’ Carl Hiaasen, and Detroit’s Elmore “Dutch” Leonard have also written stories for the likes of tykes.

Joyce’s The Cat and the Devil, brought to life for his grandson, is based on an “old French story,” according to Book, Booker, Bookest. The story recounts the origins of the bridge over the Loire River in Beaugency, France, built in one night by the Devil after striking a deal
with the Lord Mayor. The Devil built the bridge on the condition that he could keep the first soul to cross it . . .

Crime writer Carl Hiaasen put out two mystery novels fit for kids, Hoot and Flush. According to Hiaasen’s website, the former “plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows.” The latter gives us Noah and his dad who are out to sink the crooked and corrupt Coral Queen Casino boat that’s flushing sewage into their harbor.

Dutch Leonard goes a little deeper into the woods for his characters–or is that the house? A Coyote’s in the House, dedicated to Leonard’s dozen grandchildren and great-grandson, tells the story of Buddy, an aging movie star; Antwan, a rough-and-tumble loner; and Miss Betty, Buddy’s cohabitate, a showgirl princess. But they’re all dogs . . . at heart. Sound familiar? Actually, Antwan’s a coyote who lives wild in the Hollywood Hills with his gang, the Diabolos. That is, until he and Buddy, a pampered former film-star dog, trade places. Adventure, and
great dialogue, ensues.

Big Honors for ASF Authors

24 Mar

Congratulations to our authors!

“The Peripatetic Coffin” by Ethan Rutherford and “NowTrends” by Karl Taro Greenfeld, both published in our Spring 2008 issue, have been selected to appear in Best American Short Stories 2009. “The Peripatetic Coffin” is also our current Featured Story on our website. You can read it here.

yoon_once_the_shoreIn other happy news, Paul Yoon’s debut story collection Once the Shore hits shelves on April 1. Two of the included stories first appeared on the pages of ASF. Check out the Paul Yoon review/interview combo at The Rumpus!

Patrick Somerville’s The Cradle

9 Mar

We’re in the midst of putting together our Summer issue, due out in May. One of the excellent stories we have in store for you is Patrick Somerville’s “The Universe in Miniature in Miniature.” Here’s just a taste:

We are in this van, on this court, doing surveillance on this house, because of Lucy. This is her project. There on her monitor? It’s a boy. His name is Ryan Conrad, he’s twenty-seven, he’s in a bed, and he has brain damage. Lucy’s project is large and many-tiered. She says she is breaking down the walls that went up after Milgram was deemed offensive. She says it’s up to the artists now, if we want to understand people. Her project is to observe the wholesale collapse of a family following major trauma. Her chosen family is the Conrad family; three years ago Ryan Conrad went from a good-looking and somewhat free-spirited law student with an IQ of 132 to an invalid incapable of dressing himself with an IQ of 50. He slipped on the ice and hit his head on the concrete. He was in a coma for a week, then woke up, not the same. I will tell you about his mother and father later. I will also later explain the further love complexities. Lucy and I are both in love with Ryan Conrad, too, but neither of us has admitted that yet.

But you do not have to wait until May to read hot-off-the-press Somerville fiction! His novel The Cradle releases today, from Little, Brown. Head to your nearest independent bookstore and pick up a copy. Here’s what Booklist said about The Cradle:

“With highly charged lyricism and dramatic concision, Somerville gracefully illuminates what children need, all that war demands, and how amends are made and sorrows are woven into the intricate tapestry of life.”

Also, the New York Times calls it a “magical” debut novel, and calls Somerville someone to watch.  Obviously, we think so too.

Three Small Presses, One Big Read

3 Mar

In honor of Small Press Month, a nationwide celebration highlighting the innovative and exciting work produced by independent publishers, American Short Fiction, Dalton Publishing, and Bat City Review are coming together to host a reading of some of the city’s most exhilarating independent press stars and musical talents on Friday, March 6, at Café Caffeine.

The evening will feature six local writers reading original work. The program includes captivating fiction from ASF contributors Smith Henderson and Amelia Gray, as well as Dalton’s Ric Williams; an excerpt from Gary Kent’s hilarious and heartbreaking memoir; and the contemplative poetry of Josh Morison and Elyse Fenton.

Owen Egerton will emcee the event, and music from Southpaw Jones and Jenny and the Corn Ponies will keep the festivities lively. Celebrate the arts and literary expression with a night of words and music, 7 pm on Friday, March 6.  Live Oak Brewing Company will be providing refreshments.

Where: 909 W. Mary (Café Caffeine)

When: 7 pm, Friday, March 6

Greatest Age of Fiction Ever

19 Feb

Is it not true that today — with the global publishing platform that is pretty much free to use now in our possession (yeah, the Web) — it’s a writer’s paradise?

my_new_laptop_by_flip_reaper_zouo-d4ac2bg.jpg 

Are we in a great age of public writing, and an amazing time for writers to share their work and gain mass support, independent of publishers?

In effect, every writer today runs a one-person magazine (one’s website) as well as having the capacity to use print-on-demand services to be one’s own publisher.

If that is not where we are right now, then it’s coming. So, the question is, if we’re in a great age for language and writing, with the ultimate global sharing system at our disposal, then what is preventing history’s most profound period of literary activity and consumption from happening right now?
 

Simple Math

 

Maybe the problem is that over a short time, television and now mobile computing have both eroded reading skills. Start with the fact that people’s attention spans have shrunk in response to the activity of using the Web — this affects all Web users, not just young people.

The art of reading has been in decline (in a classical sense, where a person sits down with a book and has an undistracted, continuous experience reading it for some time).

Therefore, at one and the same moment in history — right now — we have nearly unlimited powers to share our writing, but our cognitive capacity has been altered and maybe damaged by that very way we’re sharing. It’s too ironic.

 

 

 

New Word Order

 

Books may not even be ecologically feasible in this century, as our progeny deal with mountains of trash, water shortages and forest degradation.

Or, it could be that we’ve entered previously unknown genres of reading and writing, with a clear leaning toward short or micro formats — a literature, also, that exists in a real-time online environment rather than on isolated pieces of paper.

For example immersive games that contain texts throughout could be considered a new form of fiction — can you imagine a Booker Prize-winning text that one reads during an online game session? At the same times, addictive things like pay pal casino games are part of the reason people may not be such great readers anymore.

 

 

 

Hooray for The Rumpus

3 Feb

I have found a new internet addiction: The Rumpus.

Edited by author Stephen Elliot, The Rumpus defines itself as “an online magazine focused on culture with some politics (the subtitle is Books, Music, Art, Media, Film,  Politics, Sex, Other– which kind of says it all).”

The daily Morning Coffee links have replaced my gawker.com/morning coffee habit, and my psyche is feeling much cleaner for it. And best of all is their focus on books. You can read Books Editor Andrew Altschul’s philosophy for the site here.

Check out the interview with former ASF contributor Jack Pendarvis and the article by ASF Editorial Advisory Member Dan Chaon on his late wife, author Shelia Schwartz.

ASF Contributor J. M. Tyree on KQED

8 Jan

J. M. Tyree contributed his biblically inspired satirical short “The First Book of the Chronicles of the Cola Wars” to our Spring 2007 issue. Here he reads from “My Other Family,” a story of child abandonment and revenge that takes place in a Wal-Mart, on KQED’s The Writer’s Block.