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THIS WRITING LIFE Episodes 11 & 12: It’s all good and stories in cans

In This Writing Life Episodes 11 and 12, things are fine–until I have a nightmare, which could result in a great short story that would work for a looming deadline (but only if I can pull myself together).

You can watch both episodes below.

 

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Short Story Sunday: The Caves in Oregon, Benjamin Percy

Refresh, Refresh Cover

The Caves in Oregon, Benjamin Percy

I first read this tale of a broken marriage a decade ago, and a recent re-read revealed it’s even better than I remembered. In this atmospheric tale, Percy is the master at connecting the geology of the earth with the geology of our complicated emotions and the intangible foundations that form our relationships.  Find it in Percy’s debut collection: Refresh, Refresh: Stories https://amzn.com/1555974856

THIS WRITING LIFE EP 4: The Importance of Setting released

Ep 4 Blog Art

Episode 4 of my sometimes-web series, This Writing Life, is now posted! It’s about creating authentic settings…but I think this might really just be a lot of food porn? Check it out and judge for yourself…watch it here.

I know, it’s been awhile since you’ve heard about This Writing Life. Even though I have a blast doing it, it’s too big a project to do on a weekly basis, so now it’s once a month (or maybe twice — either way that’s great, since I have nine future episodes in the can already and by the time I use those up I should have more).

If you missed any of the prior episodes you can visit here.

 

 

“Crawl” to appear in CT Halloween collection

Crawl Blog Cover Art JPG

I’d watch out for that baby blanket if I were you.

I can announce this now! I just signed the contract for my short story “Crawl,” which will appear in Books and Boos Press’ Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories from Connecticut Authors this September. As its title suggests, each story Read the rest of this entry

“Our Lips Are Sealed” now in Sediments Literary-Arts’ A HAUNTING

 

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My short story “Our Lips Are Sealed” — about a woman who may be having an unusual experience with her wine glass collection — is now available in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal‘s A Haunting issue. It takes its place next to several wonderful ghost stories (I especially loved Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger’s “Welcome to the Fireworks”) and hauntingly beautiful artwork (a favorite of mine is Amanda Bess Allen’s “Sleepy Hollow”).

On a personal note, what’s even cooler is the editor referenced “Our Lips Are Sealed” in her introductory note!

Best enjoyed with a bottle, you can check out everything in the issue here and read “Our Lips Are Sealed” here.

…back to basics…

This was my second typewriter -- Dad bought it in 1987 to replace the old 1960s model Selectric I had been using. It had data storage capabilities and was really quite the thing in its day.

This was my second typewriter — Dad bought it in 1987 to replace the old 1960s model Selectric I had been using. It had data storage capabilities and was really quite the thing in its day.

…while I know there’s much to catch up on, here, I’ll start with I’m excited to announce I’ve just enrolled for One Story’s Become Your Own Best Editor: Learning from “The Remains” by Laura Spence-Ash online class, which runs from June 12 – 21. As a writer, I believe continuing education is key to learning and growth, and since my recent trip to AnthoCon has pulled me out of my funk, I figured this would be the best place to begin (after all, I have lots of manuscripts around that need work. This might inspire me to get back to them).

If you’re at all interested in One Story‘s online classes or their other programs, such as workshops, master classes, and one day writing classes, please visit https://www.one-story.com/

Do writers have more crap in their basements?

Basement Typewriter Text

An old typed short story of mine I found in a box called “The Basement,” which was written in 1990. The featured image for this post, which is the typewriter that appears in the little box to the left, was my second typewriter — Dad bought it in 1987 to replace the old 1960s model Selectric I had been using. It had data storage capabilities and was really quite the thing in its day. It broke my heart to toss it, but honestly, it was broken beyond repair. I loved it to death.

Yes.

Why? We keep everything. Notes for stories, seventeen drafts as a piece went through its critique process, research, books, photographs and other ephemera which may have inspired works, more books, multiple copies and print-outs of magazines, anthologies, and e-zines in which our work has appeared, letters and cards from admirers, notebooks full of advice from workshops, even more books.

Recently, I decided to go through and start lightening my load, and I discovered it’s Read the rest of this entry

Reviewers open ‘CANOPIC JARS,’ find fresh scares

Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification

Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification—the anthology from Great Old Ones Publishing which includes my newest short story “Jarring Lucas”—is available and has, so far, met with positive Read the rest of this entry

IN PROVIDENCE, RI? DID A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU INSPIRE MY SHORT STORY “PAISLEY SURPRISE”?

A neighborhood near Books on the Square, in Providence, RI, inspired my short story "Paisley Surprise."

I love reading short stories which take place in areas with which I’m familiar; it’s almost like I’m in the story rather than reading it. That’s part of my attraction to the Akashic series of noir collections—among them Bronx Noir, Baltimore Noir, and Miami Noir; all places I’ve been, all places I love.

This winter’s holiday chapbook for friends was “Denigrating David,” and in its introduction, I talked a little bit about how fascinating it is for me to read about where writers get their story ideas—in other words, what specifically inspired a particular piece? I even made an open comment to writer Daniel Pearlman, who’s on my list: ‘But that’s the good stuff. That’s what people really want to know. I’d love to hear the specific roots of Alison Lurie’s “The Pool People” or Daniel Pearlman’s “What Rough Beast.”’

Dan did answer me via e-mail: ‘As to “What Rough Beast,” it was the news report of an attempted interspecies mating (a moose—or was it a New Zealand sea-lion—with a cow?).’[1]

Awesome!

The year before that, the chapbook was “Paisley Surprise.” Which many people really enjoyed—and although several asked me where the story idea came from (and obviously Carl Stephenson’s “Leiningen vs. the Ants” was an inspiration), there was more to it than that: surprisingly, it was not a place where hordes of flesh-eating ants even exist: a small neighborhood near Books on the Square in Providence, Rhode Island—five houses on a tiny cul-de-sac off Angell Street between the Taylor and Wayland Street intersections.

I was on my way to the book store with members of the Newport Round Table for a group reading and signing of our anthology Walls & Bridges in April, 2009. If you live inProvidence, then you know that, just like many cities, parking isn’t always the easiest thing to find. My friend Heather and I parked a few blocks away, and on the walk to the book store, we passed this quaint grouping of five houses or so that I just couldn’t resist photographing, thinking it would make a great setting for a short story.

What’s funny is, the second I was done photographing the place, the entire piece “Paisley Surprise,” from start to finish, with characters and back story and everything, popped into my head.

Because where my stories came from seemed to be of interest to so many people, I thought, just for the heck of it, I’d take you on a tour of the neighborhood and tell you how it figured into the story.

If you’d like to read “Paisley Surprise” first, it’s available in two places: in my website’s store, where you can get a limited-edition copy of the chapbook: https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/store/ …or in Static Movement’s Inner Fears Anthology, available on Amazon here: http://amzn.com/1617060259.

Enjoy!

First off, none of these houses are of the architectural styles I describe in the story. I was trying to capture the flavor and feel of this cool little neighborhood, not necessarily its exact look.

This brown house was in my head when envisioning the home of Ruth’s neighbors, Nick and Jess. The covered front porch also served as the inspiration for Ruth’s porch.

Another shot of the chocolate-brown house (in the very first draft, I described the color of each house as well as the style in the opening paragraphs; the colors were cut because I felt it made the prose too heavy and really didn’t advance the story). This, in my mind, was the view that Ruth might see from her bathroom window when she is in the tub.

A shot of the house next to the chocolate one; in my mind, this was the position of Ruth’s house.

The front of that same house. I know, it looked bluish-gray in the last picture, but on closer view, it was tan. I had a very old digital camera at the time and it often confused colors, especially in sunlight.

This one house was so unique—so totally different from anything else on the street. In my mind, this was the color and style of Ruth’s house, only with a porch on the front. It was easy for me to envision this house, out of all the ones in the neighborhood, being the most shabby-looking—the exterior wasn’t done in siding or wood, it was more like an adobe you’d see in the southwest. Kind of weird for New England, and maybe that is what made me think that this color and material, in the harsh northern winters and fluctuating temperatures the rest of the year, would take a beating.

From the story: “—the only people she knew in Providence were those who lived on her block, which had only five houses and ended in a cul-de-sac around a pachysandra-choked fountain.” Two comments: I loved this tiny island, especially with what looked like a dead tree in the middle. I wanted something more in the center, though, than just a flagpole—I wanted something creepy that could be taken as slightly neglected, and also a type of plant that would not only imply that same neglect but also convey a sense of claustrophobia. I figured a fountain would echo the pool in Ruth’s back yard. And pachysandra? I hate that stuff. My father had it all over the property and not only did it take over everything, you couldn’t control it. Anywhere pachysandra was looked like it hadn’t been weeded in fifty years. The house on the right is what I had in mind for her sister, Laurie, who is noted as living in “The Colonial” (close enough, right?)Mostly it was the color that made me envision this as Laurie’s house—she’s described in the story as “the type that tossed leftovers after twenty-four hours and still believed in Winter White after Labor Day,” so of course she’d have some trendy kind of sea-foam green paint (it always makes me think of Martha Stewart). The house to the left is what I envisioned The Cruellers living in, even though I housed them in a Victorian.

From the story: “That left the man who had just moved in to the shabby ranch partially obscured by overgrown forsythia.” Yes, I know this isn’t a ranch at all, but this house, because of its simplicity and plain appearance, looked like it didn’t belong with the rest of the houses on the block. So I figured George would live in this house.

This is actually behind George’s house and fronts Angell Street. For the story, I moved this structure, in my mind, directly to the right of George’s house—and made that the mental location of Laurie’s house.

The parking lot on Angell Street between the house behind George’s and another house almost exactly like it. Actually, I think both these “houses” are businesses.

In my mind, Laurie’s house, even though I noted it as a “Colonial.” George’s house is described as “obscured by overgrown forsythia.” Well…guess where I got that from?


[1] Daniel Pearlman, in e-mail to author, 2 February 2011.

HAUNTING SHORT FICTION ON RSF: FINDING A BOOK UNDER THE BUREAU YOU LEAVE YOUR KEYS ON

If you’re looking for a short little haunting something to read for Halloween, then don’t miss Michael J. Rosenbaum’s “Finding a Book Under the Bureau You Leave Your Keys On” up now at Read Short Fiction.

I’ve known many people who frown on the use of second person POV. I happen to love it—because when it’s used correctly, as in Carlos Fuentes’ classic horror tale Aura, it has a truly haunting quality which supports the tale. It seems so integral to the piece, in fact, that to even imagine it written in any other POV ruins it. Rosenbaum has absolutely achieved this difficult feat: the second POV here creates a ghostly tone and a voice out of oneself or from the other side of the veil that compliments the existential theme beautifully.

Read this haunting piece here: http://www.readshortfiction.com/2011/09/finding-a-book-under-the-bureau-you-keep-your-keys-on-by-michael-j-rosenbaum/

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