I’m over the moon to announce that I’ve signed the contract for Books and Boos Press to publish my collection of short stories, The Shadows Behind. The original announcement is on the Books and Boos Press website here.
Release date is set right now for April 30, 2019, and there will be some signings, along with a special one up at Howe Caverns in Howe’s Cave, New York, next summer!
Although the Table of Contents is still being finalized, this collection will contain a few long out-of-print favorites, among them “Deconstructing Fireflies,” (co-written with Nathan Schoonover), “Candle Garden,” and “How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Love the Bunny,” which was originally published in Citizen Culture back in 2005.
It will also include some pieces which are only available in single anthologies, and several brand new stories as well as a preview for an upcoming novella.
I’ll keep you posted!
The first time I came to Provincetown, I fell in love with it—not just for the usual reasons: that at that time in my life it represented freedom, recognition, new discoveries, peace and time to write—but because there was something so very familiar about it. As though I’d spent my entire life in a tiny, charming, New England seaside community.
It wasn’t until my second week here back in 2010 that I put my finger on why I felt so comfortable and at home—call it genetic or familial memory, but I suddenly made the connection: my father’s family is from the North Frisian Islands, specifically from one of the four large ones called Föhr. This group of islands, under German rule, is largely economically dependent on tourism, but, being surrounded by the sea, has that fishing-village feel; my father had visited there in 2001 and brought back photos, and when I recalled them, I wasn’t surprised to realize that the small streets, the houses decorated with flowers, the landscape in general and the atmosphere didn’t seem that much different from Provincetown’s.
That said, when I’ve stayed at the colony in winters past, I was given an apartment—usually off Bradford Street—which wasn’t near the sea. This time, I’m in Norman’s house, and the sea literally comes up to the base of the stairs on Norman’s back porch at high tide. I can see the ocean through almost all of the windows: I watch it as I work in Norman’s dining room, I watch it when I drink at his bar, I watch it when I’m having coffee in the morning; I hear the pounding surf from every room in the house, especially at night.
For the first time in my life, I’m surrounded by the ocean 24/7.
While this may not seem an extraordinary thing to most people, it is for me, as I’ve spent my life land-locked. I know full well the sea is quixotic and wears many masks from photos, films, and the brief, infrequent times I’ve spent in and around it. But to see it constantly live has been incredible, a reminder for me that we, just like the sea, have the power to change our perceptions in an instant—if only we are open to the forces that shape us.
Here’s a montage of what I’ve seen since I’ve been here. All of it was shot on Norman’s back porch.
The more things change, the more they stay the same: below shot of me leaving for Provincetown in 2011; below that, a shot of me leaving in 2012.
This is my third winter at the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony inProvincetown. While I know what to expect, I also don’t, which strikes a little trepidation in me: every time I get into the car to come here, I wonder what new discoveries and revelations await me, and even though they are almost always positive, I cannot say that the journey to them is always pleasant.
One of my favorite things to do while I’m here is get out for a drive every day—not necessarily to go anywhere; with the town being three miles long and its roads basically one large loop, it’s really easy to just put on some tunes and admire the beautiful landscape and take a break from work. One of the things I’ve noticed about Ptown’s winters (even last year, which was snowier than usual), is that when they are not gray (which honestly, at least when I’ve been here, really isn’t that often), they are sunny and bright—a cure for me, who suffers from lack of light, and I know for a fact that where I live is much, much grayer much more often during the winter months.
For fun, I thought I’d share my drives from 2010 and 2012 (for some reason, I cannot find the 2011 film, although I remember doing it). What’s most interesting to me is that, just as my 2010 experience was so vastly different from my 2012 experience, the type of sunny winter is also vastly different: 2010 was, just as it appears on the video, much colder, and you can see that in the way the sun and the landscape looks compared to 2012—which looks a little bit more like spring sun and there’s good reason for that, since it hasn’t really dropped below forty-five degrees since I’ve been here. It feels like March, not February, and again, the sun and landscape reflect that difference. It’s this type of thing that reminds me—and should remind us all—that sometimes it’s okay to go home again; everything changes, even if in only the smallest ways, and most of the time, it’s for the best.
Enjoy (excuse the Peter Cetera; that’s the only CD I listen to when I’m here, and really don’t know why except that it seems to mellow me out).
I’m officially on my way to the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony inProvincetown,Mass.(if you’re reading this between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., then yes, I am really in my car). I’ll be there today through February 15.
Provincetownhas something about it that’s conducive to creation, especially (at least for me) in the depths of winter. While up there I plan to spend most of my time producing new short work and revising old short work (I’ve really fallen behind). Normally, I’m there the last two weeks in January; this year, it was moved to February, which means I’ll get to spend my birthday up there as well.
Wish me luck…I’m looking forward to a productive, yet stress-free, couple of weeks! If anyone needs to reach me, I’ll be available on my cell phone and through e-mail (though I’m really going to abstain from that as much as I can).
Talk to you soon!
Many years ago, I wrote poetry. One of my favorites, “Today,” has just been accepted for Vagabondage Press’ Love Notes, an anthology of “passionate and romantic poetry…suitable for gift giving” for Valentine’s Day 2012.
As of now, Love Notes is due out January 31. I’ll keep you posted. For more information about Vagabondage Press and to explore their current titles, visit http://vagabondagebookscom.ipage.com/bookstore/
In other news, I’ve been awarded a Winter Residency up at the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony inProvincetown,Mass., and this time will be staying in the late writer’s home from February 1 – 15, 2012. I’m once again looking forward to a healthy and very productive two weeks in a beautiful environment. Although Ptown is gorgeous in the summer, I prefer it in winter: its atmosphere and light is perfect for writing ghost stories—and wow do I have so many in my head I can’t wait to get down on paper!
Despite last year’s rough winter, the birds were singing outside my Ptown apartment.
 Taken from Vagabondage Press’ original call for submissions for the Love Notes anthology.
So what did I do on Cinco de Mayo? I had a great time talking everything from ghosts and Disney Parks to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony and the real reasons behind being a writer with Dawn Short on Uber Radio Network’s P.M. Lites.
The show not only covers the paranormal, but a wide range of other topics. No matter what Dawn’s talking about, P.M. Lites is pure magic! It airs every Thursday from 9 to 10 p.m., and I encourage every listener with eclectic tastes to check it out. For information on the show, click here: http://www.uberradionetwork.com/shows/pmLites.html To listen live, visit http://www.uberradionetwork.com.
The program aired live and Nathan was nice enough to record it, so you can listen right from this blog by clicking the link below:
I recently received an e-mail from the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, Mass, informing me that I’ve been accepted for a workshop this summer!
I’ll be taking “When is a Writer’s Work Done” with Veronica Windholz, a manuscript editor of fiction and nonfiction for more than thirty years who has worked with Norman Mailer, E.L. Doctorow, and Salman Rushdie, among others. She’s on the staff at Viking Penguin, has taught in the publishing program at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and has held positions at Random House and the Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency.
I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to get the chance to work with her, and this course will focus on revision. A description, from the Norman Mailer website: You’ve finished writing. You’re sure that you’ve said everything you needed to say. In this workshop, we’ll walk through the next stage of manuscript preparation: revision. Using the hands-on editing techniques of the professional close reader, we’ll focus on: avoiding clutter, sharpening organization, maintaining internal logic, and building forward momentum. Whatever genre you write in, you’ll learn how to use fewer words and better words, and how to make them count.
7 attendees were selected based on merit.
Last year, I had the privilege of working with Marita Golden in a workshop on narrative (called Fiction: The Protagonists), and what it’s done for my work has been amazing. I also met some very talented writers and all-around cool people. I’m looking forward to a repeat performance this year! I’ll be at the colony July 31 – August 7.
“I don’t understand what happens up there. Every time you go up there windows break, animals die, walls fall into the sea.”
~ Nathan, on me in Ptown, 01/25/11
Every time I come to the Mailer Center in Provincetown there is some new discovery I make, usually accidentally inspired by something in nature. The landscape, the way things work here has a certain magic, a magic that for me makes the veil between the natural world and the inner life incredibly thin.
One day I was working on a project at the Mailer house. I took a cigarette break, and for as many times as I’ve stood on the back porch I saw something I’d never noticed: several urns overflowed with oyster, clam, scallop, and mussel shells.
The NMWC admin came outside to say hello.
“These bowls are cool,” I said. “I’ve never seen them before. Are they new?”
“We pick them up from the deck,” he said. “Look.”
Sure enough, the porch was littered with bivalve shells.
“That’s the seagulls that do that,” he said.
All of my years working in two different aquariums, at one in the fishes and inverts department (of which bivalves are part), I’d never heard of this, much less seen it. “What do you mean?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Seagulls are smart. They drop the clams or whatever on the porch so they split open, and then they fly down and eat the meat and leave the shells. We just pick ’em up and chuck ’em in the bowls because we don’t know what to do with ’em all.”
I know seagulls are strong, but I was still amazed. Some of these shells indicated that their owners had been pretty large animals (a live oyster or clam can actually weigh quite a bit, you’d be surprised), and Norman’s porch being, obviously, a popular spot might mean the birds would have to carry some of these creatures several miles.
This struck me. As usual, I had come to Provincetown not just with piles of work to do and high hopes of getting it all done, but also with things to think about, understand, process, sort. In some cases, I realized, some of these issues went back as far as a couple of decades. Each of these things was a heavy bivalve I’d been carrying but had never been ready to let go, smash open, process, and finally, resolve.
I left the Mailer house that day with a new sense of what lie ahead of me beyond writing. I’ve spent the past week and half smashing open and digesting a lot of things—some not so tasty, some going down not the way I’d expected, others nourishing me in better ways than I’d have imagined.
Now the only thing I have to do is figure out what I’m going to do with the shells.
Every time I come to Ptown the landscape inspires a revelation. This time, when I first saw the snow-covered dunes along Route 6—one giant one in particular that reminded me of a great bear—and all of the beautiful bare trees and gardens that surround the apartment in which I’ll be staying for two weeks, I thought about the nature of winter.
I’ve always tended to think of winter as a dead time, but it isn’t, really. Everything is just asleep—the trees, the gardens, the seasonal inns. And everywhere there are small signs of awakening: birds chirping, fences and brickwork being repaired, porches being swept.
Here are pix of this January’s Ptown writing spot. Enjoy!
The Norman Mailer Writers Colony recently let me know I’ve been accepted for another residency this winter! I’ll be up in Provincetown writing from January 16-31, 2011.
Based on how much I got done last year, I’m looking forward to getting a good jump on projects—one in particular, which absolutely has to be finished—due in 2011.
There is an application process and residencies are based on merit. There’s still time to apply for the coming season. Deadlines are as follows: October 1 for residencies in November and December, 2010; December 1 for residencies in January and February 2011; February 1 for residencies in March through May 2011.
If you’d like more information on the Fall/Winter/Spring Retreat Program or you’d like to apply, visit here for information: http://www.nmwcolony.org/contents/fellowship_winter/2/30 and here for the application: http://www.nmwcolony.org/files/2010-08-24-031100Fellows_2010-2011-Winter_Application__with_fee_8-18-10.pdf