Boom! I’m a Judge for the 2021 Firecracker Awards!

Boom! I’m a Judge for the 2021 Firecracker Awards!

I’m proud to announce that I’m a fiction judge for the CLMP’s Firecracker Awards, which “are given annually to celebrate books and magazines that make a significant contribution to our literary culture and the publishers that strive to introduce important voices to readers far and wide.”

You can read more about the awards (and the open submission period, which is Oct 1 to Nov 16, 2020) here.

Papirmass Archive Sale

Papirmass Archive Sale

I’m proud that one of my first publications was in the Canadian art journal Papirmass. When my novel was published, Kirsten helped share the news. Nearly a decade after my stories first appeared in Papirmass, my debut collection got published, and Bec and Kirsten were among the first to congratulate me and help spread the word.

Aside from being run by lovely people, Papirmass was one of the first art journals/subscription services to make art affordable and accessible, and they’ve supported so many up-and-coming artists and writers. Sadly, they’re closing down after 13 years. If you’re interested in buying a print (or packages of postcards, quote cards, or coloring cards), they’re having a limited-time archive sale. You can check it out here.

Impossible Children reviewed in Pittsburgh Quarterly!

Impossible Children reviewed in Pittsburgh Quarterly!

In the creative writing classes I teach, scene often becomes an early point of emphasis, especially when it applies to fiction. Hemingway’s classic “Hills Like White Elephants” stands as an exemplar, as the brief story relies on little more than setting and dialogue. According to Nancy Pagh, author of the thoughtfully written “Write Moves: A Creative Writing Guide and Anthology,” scene “can be as forceful as an explosion at a fireworks factory or as subtle as a lover’s eye contact shifting slightly away… creat(ing) the impression we’re there, experiencing what happens through our senses. This is ‘showing.’” In his latest, the Mary McCarthy Prize winning collection of 18 short-stories, “Impossible Children” (Sarabande Books), novelist Robert Yune clearly gets this, using place and well-rendered, self-aware characters to great effect, making for some of the most compelling reading I’ve done in a while.

Special thanks to Fred Shaw for this lovely review. Really missing my friends and the special literary community in Pittsburgh this evening.

Adoption in the Wake of War

Adoption in the Wake of War

I’m lucky that I only live a couple hours from NYC. Very happy I could make it to this panel. LiLi Johnson did a great job as moderator, and I honestly wanted to hear the panelists talk for another hour or two. The crowd had some great questions and insights as well.

I wasn’t adopted in the direct wake of the Korean War, but as someone who was adopted in the 80s by a US Military family and who grew up on military bases, the discussion hit close to home in so many ways.

Also, I wish I’d talked to Kori about Hines Ward, who’s probably the most famous person who’s half black and Korean.

#NewPublicationAlert

#NewPublicationAlert

I’m thrilled to announce that “One Person in Fair Health,” the first story from my collection-in-progress, has been accepted for publication by MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine.

“One Person” is about law enforcement, technology, guns, and The Oregon Trail.

Authors recently published in MAKE include Kate Zambreno, Randa Jarrar, Cathy Park Hong, Alissa Nutting, and Adam Levin.

Kamilah Foreman is the Director of Publications at Dia Art Foundation and former Senior Editor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (!). She’s also an outstanding fiction editor, and I’m grateful for her thoughtfulness, candor, and editing prowess.

Summer Reading at Hemingway’s

Summer Reading at Hemingway’s

The long-running Hemingway’s Poetry Series is hosting an evening of fiction and nonfiction on Tuesday, May 19.

I’ll be reading with Kristin Kovacic, Julie Spicher Kasdorf and Karen Lillis. I love how inclusive this series is, and Joan is one of the nicest, kindest, and most talented writers I know. I also met most of my MFA peers–and lifelong friends–in the back room of Hem’s, so reading there is always extra special for me.

At any rate, hope to see you there!

Details: Hemingway’s Cafe, 3911 Forbes Avenue,  8 p.m. Ages 21+, free and open to the public.

Image from MabelAmber/Pixabay.

“Year One” published in Pleiades 40.1

“Year One” published in Pleiades 40.1

If you like comic books, geology, grandparents, the University of Pittsburgh, or Pennsylvania’s vast landscapes, you might like my story “Year One,” which is now available in the latest issue of Pleiades magazine.

To my knowledge, this is the first time my work’s appeared in a journal that’s also published Nobel laureates and Pulitzer winners.

Special thanks to Rosebud Ben-Oni and Jennifer Maritza McCauley. As a writer, it’s wonderful having friends and editors who support, challenge, and lift you up. This was a tough story to write, one that took me in surprising directions and taught me new approaches for research.

Book Club Q&A for Eighty Days

Book Club Q&A for Eighty Days

A lovely group of educators emailed me requesting a few discussion questions for Eighty Days of Sunlight, my debut novel. I figured I’d share them here.

1. How does Jason and Tommy’s relationship resemble other brotherly relationships in literature?  In real life?  (In terms of “what really happened,” it might be interesting to note that the author does not have a brother.)

2. It’s almost a cliché to say “the setting is almost a character.” However, in this book, the setting functions like a character because it has its own history and mood—and because it enables and limits the characters in various ways. How would you describe the atmosphere (setting + mood) of Pittsburgh? Of Wilkes-Barre?

3. What are some ways that the setting affects who the characters are and what they can do?  (It might be better to focus on either Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh.)

4. Have you read any other books that dealt with issues related to settling an estate or inheritance?  If so, how does this book compare?

5. Jason insists that he can create an identity where race isn’t a defining characteristic. Is this possible in contemporary America?

6. Who would be the second-best narrator for this novel? (Aside from Jason, who would have been a good narrator for certain significant events?)

7. If you were teaching this book, which significant themes would you point out to your students? 

8. What, if any, lessons does this book have to offer regarding the topic of masculinity or belonging?

9. If this book were set in the contemporary age (let’s say that Jason and Tommy are attending college in 2020), how might the characters and plot be affected?