“Charlotte’s Mother,” A Story in the Saturday Evening Post

More years ago than I care to count, I dated a boy who lived in a small town south of St. Louis, in Iron County. He was sweet but ultimately we were too far apart, geographically and otherwise. Most of the time, we spent our dates in St. Louis, but one weekend, I drove down to his small town. I’m so glad I did.

I don’t remember the name of that town exactly (it was a long time ago, as I mentioned), but it was Iron-something, located in an enigmatic-sounding place called the Arcadia Valley. The roads were all back roads, the towns were all small, and the pace was much slower. The town itself where he lived had, literally, no stoplights. There were a few stop signs but that was it. The streets were laid out in a small grid next to a set of railroad tracks that looked like they hadn’t been used in a long time. On the other side of the tracks was a hotel in the middle stages of collapsing in on itself.

photo of a partially collapsed old hotel building near railroad tracks

This place stuck with me for some reason a long time after I visited. I grew up in small places, but never this small, and never this isolated. Even thought it was only about ninety minutes south of St. Louis, it felt a world away. Granted, this was in the early 2000s, so it wasn’t as if we didn’t have the internet and cell phones already, but constant contact didn’t feel so relentless yet. It took less effort to get away from it all, and the Arcadia Valley definitely felt that way to me.

I should have known it would make its way into my writing eventually. Ten years later, I started writing a story about a woman who is searching for her mother, AWOL from an assisted living facility, and heads for the only place she can think of that she might have gone: home.

Five years and more revisions than I can count, “Charlotte’s Mother” is up at the Saturday Evening Post. It’s the runner-up in their Great American Fiction Contest and also appears in an anthology, which is available for order here.

I’m glad I persisted with this story, and I’m glad that I wasn’t ever able to get that town out of my head.

“Transport,” at Midwestern Gothic

Midwestern Gothic has a three-round flash fiction contest ever summer, and this summer, against all odds, I won round 2.

image of a fallout shelter in the woods
Fallout Shelter, by Caroline Gerardo

Entries for each round are based on a given photo prompt, and you can see round 2’s prompt over there on the right. The resulting story, “Transport,” came together pretty quickly, which surprised me.

I’ve been writing more flash fiction while I continue to revise my novel. Maybe it’s because flash takes less time, but it’s also because flash is damn hard for me. It’s kind of like the watercolor equivalent of prose writing. Have you ever painted watercolors? Because of the medium and how fast it dries, you paint them very quickly. At least, that was the way Betty Gearhart, my high school art teacher, taught me to do them. She said you didn’t start to get good at it until you’d done about a hundred watercolors. But, because of the nature of them, you could do them pretty quickly.

I got kind of good at them, but that was a long time ago.

Anyway. I hope you enjoy “Transport.” Be sure to read the other pieces in the contest. They’ve been really good so far.

Want to get published more? Embrace rejection — an update

I got the nicest rejection letter recently.

No, I’m totally serious. I wanted to write them back and say thank you; thank you for rejecting my work!

Are they going to publish it? No. Did I win any sort of consolation prize (like, you know, money)? No. Is my name going to be on some list of notoriety as a result? Well, my name is probably on a list somewhere already, and not in the good way, but let’s not dwell on that.

So, you ask, what makes you so happy that they rejected your work? Well, this:

Continue reading “Want to get published more? Embrace rejection — an update”

Upcoming story in Foglifter

foglifterIf you follow me on the Twitter or the Facebook or the Instagram, you might have heard about this already, but I figured it was worth mentioning again here. I’ve got a story coming out in Issue Two of Foglifter Journal. It’s a relatively new litmag published in San Francisco and dedicated to writing by queer writers. My story, “Shepherd,” is a little queer and a little strange, and features (surprise, surprise!) a dog. I’ll share a snippet of it a little closer to publication date, but in the meantime, go check out the magazine.

And hey, check out the list of contributors for Issue Two. Look who I’m just below: Jewelle Gomez! I read that and thought, “OMG, I’m going to be in the same magazine as Jewelle Gomez? Am I worthy?” Not only that, but five (FIVE) writers I met when I was a Lambda fellow. It’s gonna be like old home week in print!

A new story at The Citron Review

There’s a story of mine, “You Ride the Bus,” up and live now at The Citron Review for their spring issue, which features queer-themed writing:

After a while you start to take note of the drivers you encounter. There’s the one who drives very carefully when the bus is packed, and the one who drives like he’s Sandra Bullock in Speed. One always looks tired; another always looks in the mirror as if he suspects the passengers are up to something. This one’s chatty. That one plays the “please move to the rear of the bus” recording way too often.

There’s one who smiles at you whenever you get on board. He has a tattoo sleeve on his right arm; it peeks out from underneath his shirt and you wonder how far up his arm it goes, and if he has any in other places.

To read the rest, go over to The Citron Review and check it out. And be sure to take a look at all the other amazing selections (if I do say so) in this issue. Special thanks to guest editor Seth Fischer, who selected my story for publication and for the incredibly generous things he said about it in his editor’s note.

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.

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?