New Flash Fiction: A FAIR FIGHT


This one is awesome in a disgusting way that involves the worst kind of rodent. If you just … can’t …, then please don’t.

Alle wins semi-finalist!


You guys! I just learned the Boulevard Magazine named my essay “Goddess of Mercy” a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category.

Boulevard [is one of the eight magazines] young writers and poets pay attention to…since that’s where they hope to publish their work.” —Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books.

kuan-yin“Goddess of Mercy” remains unpublished. Perhaps the loving kindness shown it here will change its feng shui.

A little pissy to report that my first publication of 2020 …

is only available to read if you purchase the issue for $8. Seems like a lot of money to make you read 800 words, even if the print edition is is GORGEOUS. I will probably publish the piece here on About Childhood after a month or so, once the magazine has had a chance to sell their copies. In the meanwhile ….

Hong Kong My Twenties: By the Numbers

Circa 1993, this flash non-fiction started life as two paragraphs from the first draft of my still-unpublished novel (grumble). During one of the many hundreds of revisions of the book, small sections leapt out to me as possibilities for short stories or flash pieces. This was one such piece.

Toward the end of 2018, I had a 800 words ready, fiction and a non-fiction versions. I sent them about and about, never really getting anywhere.

Toward the middle of 2019, I came across Under the Gum Tree. What a beautifully produced journal! Seeing that they had a travel section and published flash, I knew which piece I was going to send.

At the end of 2019, editor, Robin Martin, contacted me. UTGT was interested but needed a little more …. something … from the piece. Robin let me try again. I stumbled across a way to tie an afternoon spent observing Hong Kong with the feeling of always being out-of-step; ie: disassociation.

Yep, we’re back to the theme of sexual trauma.

I saw how my desire to no longer write about sexual trauma was getting in the way of a piece that was all about not understanding sexual trauma. I was just gonna have to go there.

I sent a draft to Robin. She returned it with the note, “You went there.”

I was still a number of drafts from the final version. (That’s why they pay us literary writers the big buck, folks.) Thank you to Robin and also to Clare Frank for letting me work on “Hong Kong, My Twenties” until it was fully baked.

Submissions/Rejections: End of 2019

tally marksSubmissions:        161

Acceptances:             3
Rejections:              161

Good Rejections:    42

Publications               2

Gorgeous original art by David Humphrey.

My second literary publication of 2019 came in just under the wire, on Dec. 23rd: a short story with gorgeous original art by David Humphrey. To have the lead-off piece in Dale Peck’s Evergreen Review is coup for me. I can only hope an agent or two loves the piece as much as Dale and John over at Evergreen say they did. Again, the art is out-of-this-world. I never would have thought to use the colors and images David employs, but how perfectly he captures Carlie’s journey!

“The Great Ultimate”: a question from a reader.

I don’t know whether to post this, but I am such a vain, silly pig that I will: On Facebook, a reader asked how I went about structuring my sentences. She wrote, “You write in a way that I haven’t read before. The way your narrator reflects. The way you add these to your story. Short and precise but not abrupt.” 

I thought I should pontificate.

Part of it is just the way I think. Another part is conscious. An agent once told me to cut my 400-page tome to 200 pages or fewer. I started by pulling out every “I” possible. Next, I realized that sentences (and paragraphs) of all the same length turned the page into literary Sominex. This realization led me to play with sentence and paragraph length.

“The Great Ultimate” is not the only piece of fiction in which I play with this technique. Check out perhaps the most experimental of these undertakings: Let Me Feel for You – the episode that, in Carlie’s chronology, directly precedes “The Great Ultimate.”

By the Numbers: “The Great Ultimate”


Original art for “The Great Ultimate” by David Humphrey.

“The Great Ultimate” was the most recent of the four short stories adapted from chapters of my as-of-yet-unpublished (grumble) novel, and in October of 2018, I was eager to start sending it out.

I submitted “The Great Ultimate” to fourteen magazines before Evergreen said yes. For me, fourteen is an extraordinarily small number of submissions prior to acceptance.

Getting into Evergreen took some gumshoe. Finding no formal submission process on their website, I first sent a different story, I Wanted Ten, to the “info” address—just an attachment to an email. Heard nothing. For months. When “I Wanted Ten” was accepted by Blue Lake Review, I did what The Big They say you are supposed to do in such a situation: I contacted Evergreen—again, by simple email—describing the situation and offering instead “The Great Ultimate.” I’ll let Dale take the story, from here.  (Link: dale-peck-announces-alles-short-story-the-great-ultimate.)