Pushcart Nominations from The Milo Review and Ashland Creek Press

I wish to thank Rebeca Morales and Susan Matthews, editors of The Milo Review, for nominating my story “Savages” for a Pushcart Prize. Congratulations to the other five nominees; I am honored to be in your company.

I am grateful as well to John Yunker and Midge Raymond, editors of Ashland Creek Press, for nominating my story “Greyhound,” featured in AMONG ANIMALS, for this prize. I am indebted to John and Midge for their ongoing support and encouragement.

Natural Mimics

While browsing FB recently, I came across a series of delightful photographs: flowers that mimic other things. Some look like tiny naked men, others like swaddled babies. There are monkey-faced orchids and laughing bee orchids and orchids that resemble flying purple ducks; one breathtaking specimen looks just like a white heron, wings outstretched.MailAttachmentImpatiens_bequaertii_8509-614x512flowers-look-like-animals-people-monkeys-orchids-pareidolia-30hookers-lips-81-766x512253911_333485750074449_1457502501_n-358x512hanging-naked-man-orchid-1cool-flowers-3-483x512

Studying these small oddities puts me in mind of a quote by Russell Hoban. This is from his wonderful book, TURTLE DIARY:

“There’s an owl in the Charing Cross tube station. Bubo Tubo. Not really an owl. The sound comes from an escalator but it’s as real as the owl I hear on the common and never see. There’s only one world, and animal voices must cry out from machines sometimes.”

The closer we look at things, the more parallels we notice. Mountains etched in the waves of sandstone. Clouds shaped like animals. Why do deer antlers look like fallen tree branches? Why do cut tomatoes resemble human hearts? Why does a flower from Latin America imitate a shiny pair of red lips? These subtle, fanciful match-ups—are they clues? To what? What is our world trying to tell us?

I think these objects are simply here as reminders. Look, they are saying, look at what you’re missing. We are not likely to crack the code of life, to divine its meaning or mechanisms by studying the tiny gray skulls of a spent snapdragon flower, but isn’t it enough to be hushed with wonder?tumblr_n21l0ggw091r8vrhxo1_1280

Outer Voices Inner Lives

My thanks to Mark McNease and Stephen Dolainski for bringing forth Outer Voices Inner Lives, a collection of stories by LGBT writers over 50.

My story “Manatee Gardens” is included in the anthology, and I am proud to be part of this inspiring venture.

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Writing Outside the Lines

Change is tricky. You don’t see it coming or going. You only know that at some point you put away your bread machine, stopped wearing your purple jacket, started listening to talk radio instead of CDs.

I just finished writing a short story using a method that surprised me. Typically I write in a linear fashion, letting the story roll out like a rug. How can you go wrong if you begin at the beginning and end at the ending? This latest tale spun out differently. I wrote the ending first and pieced the rest together like a quilt, working with the scenes that interested me, setting aside those that didn’t.

Both methods are difficult–all writing is difficult–but this new quilt-making approach roused my interest. It was like finding a secret passage or getting away with a clever crime. Could I really do this? What if the story had no momentum? What if the stitches were visible? Well, several people have read this story and I’m happy to say, so far so good.

I’ve heard that it is not uncommon for novelists to build their stories in this piecemeal fashion. I suppose the breadth of a novel, the long effort it requires, leaves more room for fancy. The brevity of the short form is a discipline, compelling writers of this genre to see the point and get to it. Discovering that I can work and juggle at the same time has put a measure of fun back into the job. I can hardly wait for the next surprise.

Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” What if you could love them both?

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