A sale at Untreed Reads for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! This is the day where you’re supposed to give more of a damn about the planet and the environment, because we’ll miss them when they’re gone. I feel the same way about my knees.

But anyway! Untreed Reads (which has published three of my short stories over the years) is having a 50% off sale for the occasion. They’re a digital-first publisher, so saving trees has been important to them from the get go. How does a story about a homemaker dealing with her transformation into a vampire relate to the theme of environmental awareness? I’ll leave that for brighter minds than my own to figure out. Meanwhile, though, check out my stories, as well as all the other titles, including stories by my friends Jeff Howe, Trey Dowell, Sandy Murphy and others.

Straightening Up

Maternal Instincts

New Normal

The current soundtrack to my novel in progress

As careful readers might have noticed in the past, I like to make playlists for my works in progress even though I am constitutionally incapable of listening to music while I write. I’ve tried, but it turns out I’m one of those people who needs either white noise or near total silence to write. I can work in a crowded public place as long as I can’t single out any one voice or conversation. If I can, then I might as well pack up and go. Or play Candy Crush Saga, because that’s about as productive as I’ll be.

But anyway! I’m working, slowly but surely, on the sequel to The Unwanted, and when I’m not writing, these are the songs that I find myself listening to:

The Flesh Trap Mix, as of 20 April 2015

The Flesh Trap Mix, as of 20 April 2015

Recognize anything? Relatively speaking, nothing in the mix is particularly new (not that I am either, mind you). Some of them are going on thirty years old (I’m looking at you, “Watching You without Me”). Hopefully you won’t judge me—or prejudge the book—too harshly based on what’s here. (I make no apologies for that Katy Perry song, as I had no street cred to begin with. I could have put a Geri Halliwell song in here, but I’m saving that for book three.)

What about you? What do you listen to when you write, anything? Nothing? The cries of your vanquished oppressors?

#Protip: Listen to Your @$&#! Editor

I’m gonna get a little soapbox-y here. So all that froth you see is not me foaming at the mouth. Read on without fear of contacting rabies….

I was reading something on social media (I forget where, but it was probably while I was supposed to be doing something else, like oh, I don’t know, actually writing) and it came around to a topic that I’m sure is of burning interest to all of you out there: whether you put one or two spaces after a period when you’re typing on a computer.

Now, fans of typography know that in the modern era, you only need to put one space after a period. Because fonts on a computer are by and large proportionally spaced. This means that a thin letter like lowercase i takes up much less space than a wider letter like an uppercase W.

Ah, but it used to not be like that, kids. If you’ve ever been on an archeological dig (or gone into, say, an antique store or your parents’ attic), you may have unearthed an artifact known as a typewriter. Typewriters were the equivalent of Microsoft Word in ancient times. You used them to write things like letters (similar to email but they were on paper and you had to put them in an envelope and use these things called postage stamps to send them to someone through a thing called the mail; so in case you ever wondered where the word “email” came from, that’s where), or you wrote your school papers on them. Now, a typewriter used the same amount of space to type an i as it did to type a W, or a period. So, at the end of a sentence, you’d type two spaces to make it clear that hey, sentence over, moving on.

Some people who, like me, are old enough to remember when you used a typewriter (we call people like that “fossils,” and us fossils should be handled with care) persist in putting two spaces at the end of a sentence. Which brings me back to the social media post I was talking about, where writers were weighing in on the one space or two space rule, and basically, the two-spacers were really vehement about it. “Your can’t make me stop typing two spaces! If we all type one space after a period then THE TERRORISTS WIN! Fascists! Blasphemers! BURN THEM WITH FIRE!”

Okay, so I’m totally exaggerating, but only for effect.

I pointed out “you know, if you type two spaces, as an editor I’m just going to have to take them out, so you’re making more work for your editor.” As you might expect, people weren’t having it. I quietly bowed out of the conversation before people started lobbing flaming bags of poo.

(Please note, no poo was flung.)

Here’s the thing though. Sometimes I wear an editor’s hat (usually in my day job, where more often than not I’m an editor and proofreader) and other times I’ve got my writing cap on. (I like hats, what can I say?) when I’m in writing mode, or more precisely, when I’m being edited, I try to pay close attention to what my editor tells me to do as far as formatting and preparing my manuscripts. And I especially do this when I’m submitting to a literary magazine; I follow their guidelines to the letter because I don’t want to be that guy who gets rejected without even being read because I used single line spacing instead of double or used Comic Sans instead of Times New Roman.

Just kidding. I would never use Comic Sans.

But anyway, my point (and I do have one) is this: listen to your editor. They will save your skin more often than you can possibly realize. They will catch inconsistencies that went right by you, they will notice when your point of view has shifted, and they will sure as hell see when you used it’s when you should have used its.

And if they want me to use one space after a period instead of two, even if it seems silly to me, I’m going to bloody well do it.

A Trip to Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans

(Or “I Solemnly Swear That I Am up to No Good”)

Whoa! Time flies when you’re having fun. It it’s it time’s fun when you’re having flies? Either way, time flies regardless, ago you might as well have fun.

Anyway, speaking of fun! Careful readers (all three of you; good morning! Can you tell I haven’t had enough coffee?) will recall that recently I went to New Orleans for the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, an annual queer writing conference that’s a lot of fun and inspiration. More on that later, I hope, if I have–you guessed it–time. What I want to tell you about it’s a field trip I took with some friends on the last day off the conference to Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop.

The dragon in their logo should tell you that this is no ordinary book shop.

The dragon in their logo should tell you that this is no ordinary book shop.

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of independent bookstores. This one is no exception. Owner Candice Detillier Huber has created a magical place here. It shows in the sandwich board outside the shop too:

2015-03-29 16.47.20

Let’s see what’s inside, shall we?

Continue reading

New Orleans Bound

March 9? Has it really been that long since I posted something here? I wish I could say that it was because I’ve been doing something productive, like writing up a storm, but that would be a big old lie. So let’s move on, shall we?

When ninja lesbians attackSpeaking of moving on, I’ll be in New Orleans this coming weekend for the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. Longtime readers (all three of you) will know that this is one of my favorite writing conferences. I’ll be on a panel about YA fiction on Saturday morning, and that afternoon I’ll be giving a reading with a bunch of other people (including Shawn Syms!). Then, later that evening, I’ll be giving yet another reading (I know, by then surely they’ll just want me to shut up!), this time from my story “Snowblind” in The Bears of Winter at a place called the New Orleans Phoenix (where I will not burst into flames only to magically rise from the ashes, I trust).

But the best thing about this conference is catching up with so many people I know and love, like ’Nathan and his husband Dan, Greg and Paul, Carsen Taite, Famous Author Rob Byrnes, Jerry Wheeler, William Holden, and lots of others. (Like ninja lesbians Lindsey and Rhonda, shown at right, who stealthily pounced on us in 2011. That was a good year.)

And of course, there will be lots of beignets and coffee with chicory and—okay, fine—a lot of adult type beverages. We’ll be in the same city with Rob Byrnes. It’s a given.

Thursday can’t come fast enough.

Lambda Literary Award finalists

The Lambda Literary Award finalists were announced last week, and I’m really pleased to see several of my friends’ books on the list. I’m also happy that three anthologies I’ve got work in also made the tally:

FamilyByAnyOtherName_cvr_catA Family by Any Other Name, which includes my essay “Operation: Baby.”

The Bears of WinterThe Bears of Winter, which includes my story “Snowblind,” about love lost and found on a frozen planet at the edge of the galaxy (because you know, where else?). Also, gigantic snow tigers.

foolish_hearts_coverFoolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (queue up Steve Perry!), which includes my story “Tea.”

Kudos to the editors—Bruce Gillespie, Jerry Wheeler, and Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, respectively—for all of the work they put into these titles, and thanks for letting me be a part of it.

“All Write All Write All Write!”

(Hint: Say it like you’re Matthew McConaughey.)

Another cool thing that happened recently: I got to do a reading at Webster Groves High School as part of their inaugural All Write Festival, a week of programming where they invited writers of all stripes to give readings and discussions and hold Q&As with the students. I shared the stage with Nicole Evelina, writer of historical fiction and romantic comedy (because “never limit yourself to one genre if you don’t want to” are words I live by), and we had a great time sharing excerpts from our work, talking about process and craft, and the importance of research.

Pictures:

I hope they do it again next year. Thanks, Webster!

Looking for Bigfoot? Find Him Wednesday.

Happy Monday, y’all! I know it’s been a little quiet on the blog lately, but that’s partly because I’ve been writing stories, among other things—but you don’t come here to read about my workout routine or what I’m making for dinner (spoiler alert: usually pizza; or reservations).

However! I can tell you that my story “Looking for Bigfoot” will be available for download on Wednesday from Little Fiction. If you haven’t heard of it, Little Fiction is a great one-story-at-a-time e-publisher. They’ve put out some fantastic stories by Leah Mol, Trevor Corkum, Shawn Syms, Eliza Robertson, and lots more. And this Wednesday, I’ll have somehow managed to sneak in.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the cover:

Looking for Bigfoot cover

And—and!—they even put together a video trailer for it:

All this for one story. Pretty cool, huh?

Catching Up with Swoon

blue-moon-chocolateIn case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to lately (and admit it, how could you not, right?), the lovely (and award-winning!) writer Ruth Daniell just posted a Q&A with me over at the Swoon Reading Series website. You may recall that I was lucky enough to be her cohost in 2014 for that series, a role now filled quite capably by the fantastic (and also award-winning!) writer Sierra Skye Gemma. We talk about books, writing poetry vs. fiction, chocolate, and Valentine’s Day, among other things. Check it out!

And if you live in Vancouver, you owe it to yourself to check out the truffle that I mention in that post, the Blue Moon, at Koko Monk in Kitsilano. It’s a fantastic concoction at a really great shop with lots of tempting chocolate creations.

The literary feast

Recently, my friend Andy (one half of the podcasting duo behind Four Courses—where they really do care what you had for lunch) asked me to name my favorite food/dining/cooking scenes from literature. It’s a topic that comes up in one of their future episodes—I’ll post a link when it goes live—and he was having a tough time thinking of things.

I thought, well, that shouldn’t be too hard, but when I tried to actually think of anything, I couldn’t think of a thing. Eventually, I mentioned the dining hall scenes at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series—I still want to know what butterbeer tastes like—and just about every page of Like Water for Chocolate. With the latter, though, I couldn’t remember if I’d actually read the book or was just remembering the scenes from the spectacular movie that was made of the novel. To be honest, the same question could be asked of my Harry Potter memories.

I won’t exactly say that it’s a shame, how many of my food-based literary recollections are colored by their translation to film. I think it just points out how much of a leg up the movies have in that respect. Have you ever seen The Big Night, for example? One of these days, I’m going to attempt to make a timpano because of the scene in the film with that dish.

Children’s literature seems to do a better job of representing food, though. There’s Oliver Twist, of course, and Alice in Wonderland and the Winnie-the-Pooh series, and (though this may not be strictly children’s literature, it’s something I read as a kid) all of the hobbitsy obsessions with meals in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Again, there’s an instance where the movies kicked that up a notch.)

It disappoints me how few I can remember, especially when I considered that one of the stories I’ve written that I’m still fond of today—and I view my back list of stories the way I suspect a lot of writers regard their past work, with deep suspicion that it was written by someone else—is a story that revolves around a restaurant, love, and bread pudding. It was called “The Key Ingredient” and appeared in the anthology The Dirty Diner. I read an excerpt from it at Swoon in 2013. I set out to make that story an homage to Like Water for Chocolate, in fact, though with a very gay twist. Whether it succeeded is for other people to say, but it does capture my deep and abiding appreciation of bread pudding.

So! What’s your favorite food or dining or cooking scene from literature? What makes it stand out for you? Tell us all about it in the comments field—and include recipes if appropriate.