Category Archives: The Writing Life

Introducing 34 ORCHARD, a new dark literary journal!

34 Orchard LOGO

Recently, I posted a quote that read “Decide what kind of life you actually want. Then say no to everything that isn’t that.”

Two weeks ago, I had an existential crisis—well, I suppose it’s safe to say, another existential crisis, because honestly, if you’re doing this writing life right, it happens more often then you might think. There’s a reason for the “tortured artist” stereotype. Questioning what you’re doing with your life, why you’re doing what you’re doing, is actually quite normal.

I’ve dabbled in many different things, but I’ve decided what kind of life I want: I want to write, I want to read, I want to surround myself with everything that’s connected to that. It’s what I’ve always wanted. They say you shouldn’t date anyone that isn’t ‘fuck yeah, you’re it!’ about you. Conversely, you really shouldn’t be doing anything in your life that doesn’t make you want to rocket from bed in the morning and go, ‘fuck yeah, let’s get started!’

I’ve been reading a lot of fantastic short work in literary magazines lately—in my opinion, there’s a lot of undiscovered genius out there—and I want to publish the stuff I enjoy reading most. So I decided to found a new dark literary journal that will pay its writers. It’s called 34 Orchard, and the first issue will launch in April of 2020.

I’ve edited a couple of journals, and I know how stressful and rigorous this path can be—where most small journals can fail, honestly, is in the area of balancing all of the work: eventually, it’s so much arduous work, so much struggle and pain to keep up with it or deal with the grief of daily business (which sometimes isn’t pleasant), that the passion just burns out (kind of like a toxic or one-sided relationship). I had to come up with a detailed plan for something that would be sustainable in the long term, and I did.

Yes, it will be a major time investment. But unlike a toxic or one-sided relationship, I’ve figured out how to manage things so that I can just enjoy it. It will be drama free, full of joy, and make me want to rocket out of bed every morning and go, ‘fuck yeah!’ 34 Orchard is going to be the love of my life.

Our website is LIVE, and our Duotrope listing was approved and posted fewer than 24 hours after we were ‘internet official.’ The journal will be free to read for the time being, but donations are accepted. You can also sign up for announcements to come right to your email (it won’t be a blog. There will be only a few scattered announcements when there is news to share) so you’ll know when our first issue is up!

I hope you will join me in celebrating, and I hope you’ll support the journal in any way you can—share it, read it, send us comments, send us your work, donate, tell a friend. Thank you!

Main Page: https://34orchard.com/

Publishing information: https://34orchard.com/issues/

Writer’s Guidlelines: https://34orchard.com/guidelines/

Duotrope Listing: https://duotrope.com/listing/27544/34-orchard

Where have I been?

Yeah, I know. Y’all were getting used to having some content from me every Sunday, and then I disappeared. What happened?

Amontillado at Cemetery 10-19

A glass of amontillado toasts the opening of Poe Season at our favorite October cocktailing spot.

I’ve been writing short fiction—a lot, and honestly, I’m not the type of writer who can do both. While most of the year was spent on my novel Tidings, my muse let me down on that one for little bit, but inspired three new pieces. “Omniscience” and “Threading the Needle” are out for submission; a third, “Temporary Inconveniences,” is being workshopped, and after that, I’ll be finishing one I started last year post-“Wrecking Malcolm” called “Feast or Famine.” Ideas for new pieces are coming out of nowhere, and I mostly have to give them all of my attention except for necessary adult things like bill paying, cleaning the house and getting the windshield repaired on the car: a novel I can work on and balance life. Short fiction? Not so much. It’s pretty much bye-bye Krissi.

Providence’s Waterfire.

Providence’s Waterfire.

Of course, around all of these projects, Read the rest of this entry

Special extended TWL episode: Howe was the book signing?

 

I had a blast last week up at Howe Caverns for a signing of my new collection, The Shadows Behind. Rather than put up a bunch of pictures, I decided to do a special extended episode of my This Writing Life series. Enjoy!

 

Apparently…

…I didn’t like being interrupted while I was writing back then, either. This was taken in the early 1970s. I wrote my first “short story” when I was about five (which I might still have someplace–it was about a tree who killed itself and consisted of a couple of drawings and three sentences), so this photo makes sense for that time frame.

1973KristiWritingHeyWhat'stheBigIdea

 

What I learned as an obit writer

Mass cards

My first job out of college was as an obituary writer for the Putnam Reporter Dispatch in Carmel, NY.

Obituary writer! You’re thinking, “like someone who writes those long things in The New York Times!” Well, you’re right, but not really. I was more of a compiler than anything else. Nowadays, it’s more common that the families write up a tribute, give it to the funeral home, and then get charged to run it in the newspaper.

Back in the early 1990s, nearly all obituaries were put together Read the rest of this entry

Well, THIS was hilarious!

If you know me personally, you probably know that I don’t do well with math; thanks to my dad realizing I’d never be a rocket scientist, he put me in classes that focused on what I’d need to balance my checkbook, pay my bills, and function in life.

Although I’m glad he did—and I have a solid handle on basic skills—sometimes I still have issues, particularly spatially. If something is described Read the rest of this entry

Spend five minutes with me at GINGER NUTS OF HORROR

 

I’ve rarely gotten to spend more than five or ten minutes with anyone lately because I’ve been so busy … but now I might have the opportunity to spend time with you vicariously!

Ginger Nuts of Horror Logo

Ginger Nuts of Horror has featured me in an interview in its “Five Minutes With” series. I have to admit, some of these questions were tough and not of the usual variety, which was a refreshing, fun challenge! I dish on the term horror’s sometimes negative connotations, how the socio/political climate is affecting the genre, which of the characters I’ve created is my favorite, which cliché/trope I’d eliminate if I could, and much, much more. You can read the full interview here: https://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/five-minutes-with-kristi-petersen-schoonover

Ginger Nuts of Horror Five Minutes With Custom Logo

Off to the Cape to write…

The beach near our rented house.

The beach near our rented house. It’s my understanding that portions of this beach are reserved for the piping plover, a shore bird whose populations have suffered because of human activity on the beaches, and I did get to see some, which, as a novice birdwatcher, was a real thrill!

I’ll be up in Cape Cod this week for some much needed quiet time.

The writing life can be crazy, because no matter what anyone Read the rest of this entry

An ode to something old…

Old Journal 1

This old memo book reeks of mildew, but that’s part of what makes it magical for me–it smells like my dad’s old den.

It’s spring, and for many of us, that means the deep clean: dusting the baseboards, washing the curtains, Q-tipping between the floor tiles. For me it means cleaning out junk, too, especially in my basement, which seems like a never-ending project.

What’s cool, though, is when I find something I’d forgotten I had that I can still use. Back in the late 1990s, I was buying Read the rest of this entry

Celebrate with me!

Writer John Palisano recently posted the following on Facebook:

Just got an email from NanoWrimo stating that ‘every’ writer would rather ‘have written’ than ‘write’ and that writing is painful and such.

I disagree. I love being in the zone. I love tapping away at the keyboard, the story flowing out like music. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. It doesn’t hurt. It’s not painful. It’s not a struggle to make happen, most of the time.

I’m not the only one, am I?

No, he’s definitely not the only one. There is nothing like being in that zone. That vanishing into a world in my head and staying there with my characters, living out whatever fantasy I want (no matter how outlandish), the words just flying out of me as easily as drunken conversation. It’s almost like being on a magical vacation; the outside world recedes. I obsess over whatever topic, setting, or interesting object that the story is about. I avoid bills, cleaning, laundry and just about anything else I can get away with for the sake of art, and hey, if I have to function because I can’t get out of something, it’s an excuse to mentally tune-out.

On the flip side, if the fiction is really just a channel for something sad, stressful, and overwhelming I’m trying to process, it can be gut-wrenching. I fail to eat for however long it takes to get it done, I avoid correspondence or contact with anyone as much as I can, I question every single choice I’ve ever made in my life or even why I exist at all. And I usually cry a lot.

This isn’t the case with every piece I write, but it was the case with a piece I finished this morning. It’s been the greatest week of my life in a long, long time, but it’s also been balls-on anxiety and other not-so-pleasant emotions since Tuesday.

A few of you out there are aware of this. It’s official–the first draft is done, and I have set myself free! I’ve not only written a very solid story (yes, it still has to go through revision and critique, but I don’t invest in that on a spiritual level), I’ve emotionally worked through what I was processing. I feel completely unburdened and can have some fun now—I can focus on cleaning my house, doing the shopping for Thanksgiving, and wrapping some Christmas gifts (I shop all year, so it’s never really too early to start).

I’m having a glass of wine in a nice hot bath to celebrate. I encourage you all to celebrate with me in whatever way you see fit! If you’re waiting to hear from me, you will soon. And oh my God, where are the cheese and crackers because I’m starving.

Have a great week!

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