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“Crashing” on the podcast, Micro. Read by yours truly.

Amazed and honored that my flash “Crashing” is one of three microfictions – “Crashing,” “The Wild Boy” (Alice Kaltman) and “Cowboys And” (Rumaan Alam) on today’s episode of the podcast, MICRO.

Thirteen minutes to listen to all three. What a discount!

Thanks to Drew Hawkins for the opportunity.

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Alle interviewed on “Edit Your Darlings.”

The 12th episode of the podcast Edit Your Darlings features me! Ariel Anderson must have grown to know who she was interviewing because she titled the piece, Tough Skin:

This week, I’m talking with literary writer and editor Alle C. Hall. We discuss how to spot a bad critique, the six elements sentences must convey in your writing, what to expect from a literary magazine editing your work, privilege in publishing, editing sensitive material, and more!

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By the Numbers: “Evvy Spied on Surfers.”

The flash fiction Evvy Spied on Surfers went through three complete overhauls inspired by 58 rejections before finding a home in Necessary Fiction on February 3rd of this year. It was as far back as 2016 when I began submitting the piece—at that point, fewer than 300 words and called, “NorCal’s Gnarliest.” (Nothing like baffling an editor with the title before the story even starts.)

Renamed “NorCal’s Gnarliest Waves”—not much of an improvement!—the flash continued to be rejected with some positive notes from editors. They liked the mood, the Mama rocks’ armpits, and Evvy—dubbed in May of 2019 “the experienced surfer with the hints of tragedy” in a rejection from Jellyfish Review.

Check it: hints of tragedy. Three years into submitting “NorCal’s Gnarliest,” and I hadn’t written in the rape scene. I’d known that difficult element of the story since 2017. Even so, it never occurred to me to go into it until a long, fantastic rejection note encouraged me unveil more of Evvy’s past.

What rang clear was that the editor wanted to know.

I added the rape scene to the opening and exploring it in greater detail that it appears in the published draft. This version received more good responses—I came close with New Flash Fiction Review; still one of my dream pubs—yet I doubted the story. It was not until January of this year that I understood why the rape scene was the wrong opening. The story was not about rape. The story was about one possible effect of untreated sexual assault.

The story had always hinted at Evvy’s ephebophilia, but I wasn’t brave enough to write it clearly into the piece. After I finally did, I continued to submit; this time as “Winter Upsurge.” I received more feedback; NUNUM suggested that I cut out most of the interaction with the wanna-be surfers in their neon splendor, to let them walk to the beach and leave the reader with Evvy. Out came, “She could undo a zipped one’s wetsuit to his navel and tie its arms below his ass.”

I realized the implied location of Evvy’s face, were she to be unzipping a boy’s wetsuit and tying its arm below his ass. Nausea ripped through me. (It still does. Every time I read it.) And yet … it worked! It was the key to the story.

In the first of the year, I began to submit Evvy Spied on Surfers. I received a “yes” from Necessary Fiction—unfortunately, for a draft of Winter Upsurge. I was worried that I would have to do that arty thing where you refuse the publication. Thank goodness, the editor, Lacey N. Dunham, allowed me to blend the new stuff into the draft she had accepted. Thank you, Lacey!

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Lena, I Wish I Knew How To Quit You.

Once more, I updated my 2021 Visionboard. See if you can spot the differences. The new one is on your left.

The primary difference comes in the upper-left corner: Lena!

I can’t quit her. I tried to write Li’l Sammy and her soccer-playing gang of ghouls. However, I write at night. Trying to work, I returned to an emotional state from three years ago, when I binged The Walking Dead, four or five episodes a night. I’d exit the basement by leaving the light on, running to the stairs, turning on that light, returning to the basement switch, clicking it off, and then really running to the stairs. From there, I’d rinse/repeat my way through light switches on the main floor and up the stairs to the room I share with my husband. I’d convince myself that he’d become a zombie.

As one does.

Re-traumatized, I squeezed out a single Sammy chapter and a few additional scenes. Seemed fakest writing I’d ever done.

Moreover, scenes for Crazy Medicine kept popping; ways to make Lena more likable (I took away her trust fund, poor dear. Now, she is forced to deal drugs, which is more understandable that wanting to deal). Also ways to make the story less racist. (White lady writes book about white lady in Asia, with no significant Asian characters that aren’t drug dealers. Tone-deaf. Perhaps a Buddhist nun?)

I did keep Sammy on vision board (bottom right-hand corner). I want Let Me Die for You on the back burner, hopefully to have scenes and plot subconsciously outlining themselves as I continue to work with Lena, that difficult bitch. I love her.

Final note: in the most updated version of the vision board, Sammy’s newly located photo replaces the image of the waves and cliffs of Big Sur, Ca., the setting for the flash fiction that published on February 3ed in Necessary Fiction: “Evvy Spied on Surfers.” Below Sammy, a photo of the surfer represents my hope that Necessary Fiction will nominate “Evvy” for the “Best” anthologies that come out each year, such as Best Small Fictions, Best Microfiction, Best of the Net. Perhaps the magazine Wigleaf will choose “Evvy” for their annual Top 50, surely the most prestigious anthology in the flash world.

Never dream small.

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YTD Submissions, Acceptances, and Rejections: January through 1/2-February, 2021

Submissions:        63

Acceptances:         4

Rejections:            34

Good Rejections:   17

Publications              2

Ladies, and Gents, there have been a slew of rejections around here. At least two a day for a week running. I received only one on Thursday, and none on Friday. The reprieve was my cue to post my late-late-late YTD Submissions, Acceptances, and Rejections for January.

I suppose that when one has close to 60 pieces in circulation, many of them submitted early in the submission periods, swift and continuous rejections should be expected. Out of my 34 rejections, 17 were “Please submit more.” “Half!” she celebrates, jigging up the wall the way she saw Fred Astaire do, in an old movie.

These encouragements soften the blow. A number were from really big magazines, such as One Story, Two Hawks, Narrative, and for flash: NUNUM, perhappened, The New Flash Fiction Review, and Milk Candy. Some of the flash venues may have slightly goofy names, but all had pieces selected for this year’s Wigleaf annual Top 50—undoubtedly the Gold Standard list for flash fiction. (Wigleaf: another goofy name for a fantastic magazine.)

I feel as if in the past year, I have moved up a notch. While I’m not getting into many big magazines, my numbers show that if I keep submitting, this year or next might be My Time.