My deep thanks to the editors of The Compassion Anthology for including my story “Greyhound” in the new edition. And special thanks to Midge Raymond of Ashland Creek Press for submitting my work. This stunning issue, comprised of fiction, poetry, essays and art, reflects the editors’ commitment to bringing forth environmental offerings encompassing mindfulness, reverence and awe.
I wish to thank Rebecca LeBoeuf of The Penmen Review for hosting this interview. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation about the craft of writing and the challenges involved in being a writer.
The Penmen Review is Southern New Hampshire University’s online journal for creative writers, featuring resource articles and spotlight interviews, as well as prose and poetry chosen by the editorial board from submitted work.
“Paradise” is included in my collection SURVIVAL SKILLS. Here’s a quick look at Max, the star of the story.
Anyone who’s ever owned a parrot will know why I cherish my newfound peace and quiet. Parrots scream at dawn and dusk (ancestral behavior they can’t help), and at intervals throughout the day just for the hell of it. I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve been yanked out of, how much coffee or wine I’ve spilled on the carpet, all because of Max. And what really irked me was Kelly’s insistence that we never, NEVER startle him. Undue stress, she claimed, killed more pet birds than any other factor, and so we had to give a certain soft whistle—one high note, one low―every time we approached his room lest our sudden appearance disturb his reverie.
No captive bird has it better than Max. Back in Shelburne, in the farmhouse he shares with Kelly, Max has his own room, with jungle scenes painted on the walls and two large windows that give him a view of the dogwoods and the pond and the distant green mountains. He has a variety of free-standing perches to suit his rapidly shifting moods and a wire-mesh enclosure that takes up nearly a third of the room. Inside this cage are his stylish water and food bowls, several large branches from local trees and usually four or five toys Kelly finds at yard sales. These he bites or claws beyond recognition; if he is given something he can’t destroy he shoves it into a corner. Of course she must be careful about lead paints and glues. Captive birds are never far from peril. I learned that the first week I was there, when I heated up a pan to make an omelet and Kelly yanked it off the stove and doused it with water. Didn’t I know, she scolded, that the fumes from an over-hot Teflon pan could kill a parrot in minutes?
It was exhausting living with that bird, meeting his needs, second-guessing his wants. Kelly said I didn’t have the right attitude toward Max, which may have been true. I never did tell her what I really thought: that birds make lousy pets. Dogs and cats are pets. Everything else belongs in the sky or the water or the desert it came from. So right away I felt a little sorry for Max, even when I learned he was captive bred and able to fly, even when I told myself he was probably healthier and possibly happier living in his painted jungle, for what would he face in Guatemala but poachers and pythons and shrinking habitat? Even acknowledging their success―14 years of cohabitation―I couldn’t help seeing Max as a bird beguiled.
Maybe he sensed my pity and resented it. Or maybe he didn’t like the texture of my hair or the way I smelled. Maybe my voiced irked him. Maybe I reminded him of someone else. Whatever his reason, Max didn’t like me, no matter how hard I tried to please him. You’re probably thinking he was jealous, that he wanted Kelly all to himself; I thought that too, at first. Then I noticed how he welcomed the arrival of our friends and how charmed he was by Suzanne, Kelly’s former live-in girlfriend. I tried not to take it personally, but that bird was so shrewd he had me worried.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pokerbrit/9010421285/”>Steve Wilson – over 8 million views Thanks !!</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>
I am honored and delighted to have won second place in this contest for my story “Savages.”
On The Premises is an online fiction magazine founded in 2006 by Tarl Kudrick and Bethany Granger.
Stories published in On The Premises are winning entries in short story contests launched each December and June. Each contest challenges writers to produce a great story based on a broad premise supplied by the editors. Winning stories are published in each April and October.
I am grateful to editors Tarl and Bethany for this opportunity and distinction.
My gratitude to editor Jessica Bell for sharing my essay, “Writing, Secretive Dogs and LGBT Literature” in the current issue of The Artist Unleashed, a provocative and inspiring blog for writers and readers. Jessica invites authors to share their creative ideas, and each Wednesday she posts them, providing the featured authors more visibility, while fostering encouragement and motivation. This is a great site on which to contribute your writing, questions and comments.
A big thank you to the editors of Every Writer’s Resource for sharing my story “Chasing Zero.” This story takes a look at the flavor and fragrance industry and concerns a woman with a mysterious illness who loses her grip on the callous man she adores.
An invaluable tool for any author, Every Writer’s Resource is a site of literary markets, book publishers, literary magazines, poetry, short stories, articles and resources on writing.
I wish to thank Ian Chung, editor of Eunoia Review, for reprinting my story “Odds and Ends.” This story is set in the Midwest and concerns a woman running errands, unaware of what’s headed her way. If you enjoy surprises, I think you’ll like this piece.
Each day Ian brings us two pieces of writing in a pleasant user-friendly format. The tagline for Eunioa Review is “Beautiful Thinking,” a description reflected in the journal’s content. I admire this editor for his inexhaustible energy and his commitment to publishing stories and poems that matter.