Today we are happy to announce the news of past contributor
BJ Hollars! BJ’s collection of nonfiction stories titled Harbingers was just published early this month by Bull City Press. The
tryptic of essays explores the possible harbingers present in the lives of atomic
bomb scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, civil rights activist Medgar Evers and
the author himself. Hollars notices that while a harbinger is defined as a sign
of something to come, it is often best interpreted in the aftermath.
More information about the collection can be found here, his fiction piece for S[r]’s Issue 6 can be found here, along with his nonfiction piece for Issue 10.
Today we are happy to announce the news of past contributor Jacob M. Appel! Jacob’s newest selection of short stories, Amazing Things are Happening Here is to be published by Black Lawrence Press this April, 2019. In total of eight stories, Jacob continues to explore themes of truth, specifically how humans tend to bend it. As a physician, attorney, teacher and bioethicist, Jacob brings a unique perspective to fiction laced with humor and obvious knowledge of what it means to live a human life.
More information about the collection can be found here, Jacob’s fiction piece for S[r] Issue 11 can be found here.
We are happy to announce the news of past contributor Sherrie Flick! Her latest collection, Thank Your Lucky Stars,was published last September in 2018. Sherrie will be attending the AWP conference from March 27-30 to appear on panels and offer readings and signings. Thank your Lucky Stars is a collection of fifty stories ranging across all subjects and emotions. Each story attacks the human experience and details love and loss in poetic images and quick wit.
More information about the collection and Sherrie’s upcoming events can be found here, and her nonfiction piece for Issue 10 can be found here.
Date: 03/13/2019 Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Location: Library Meeting Room A, Tempe Public Library, 3500 S. Rural Rd., Tempe, Arizona 85282 Cost: Free
A well-rounded character is critical for believability. All fiction requires some a level of suspension of disbelief, but “real” characters make the plot, and ultimately the story, more believable. This workshop will explore a variety of methods for creating multi-faceted, compelling characters who won’t fall flat.
One of the most important realizations of my life was that people are not one way, that they often do and say conflicting things not out of malice or to deceit, but because it a necessary part of the ever-changing human condition. There is a sort of dialectic behavioral therapy that must take place within all of our minds when we consider that good people can do very bad things and bad people can do very good things. This is the dynamic nature of humanity. It is unavoidable. It might be the only unchanging and shared characteristic of humanity.
And it is for this reason that I am drawn to literary fiction. There often isn’t a clear line between good and bad. The characters in literary fiction make terrible choices and deal with the repercussions. As a reader and editor, I want to read stories that sink deep into these chasms between right and wrong, stories that teach us something about what it means to be fallible and imperfect. I want to read stories that challenge me, that make me so angry I hold my breath until the final sentence, so sad that I think of the characters long after I finish the stories. I want to see myself and my flaws laid out before me. I want to read narratives that do not pass judgement but present a situation and ask me to consider a point of view I may never have arrived at myself.
Literary fiction is a conversation between all of the writers in the world, constantly arriving at theses only to have them blown up and reordered by the next. Show me a side of humanity only you can construct, the things that make your perception unique.
But above everything, I want to feel something. I want to finish a story, let take root in my brain and change my long-held beliefs. Whether it is characters, setting, plot, language, form, it doesn’t matter. The stories that stick with me are the ones that make me think about life in a way I couldn’t or wouldn’t. This is the goal of fiction, and this is the fiction I want to see adding to the literary conversation.
Spencer Litman is the fiction editor for Issue 23. He is a fiction writer and essayist living in Phoenix with his wife, Kristine, and his two children, Jayden and Aubrey. He is finishing his undergraduate degree in English with a creative writing concentration and hopes to attend an MFA program somewhere cold, with pine needles and snow.
There are two qualities that every good nonfiction story – every story that stands out to me, every story that I can’t stop thinking about, that I enjoy rereading again and again – shares, and those qualities are intentionality and subjectivity.
Intentionality is about construction. I want to read stories that are expressed with clarity and ease, stories in which each scene serves a purpose in the narrative and each word perfectly captures the scene the author wants to convey. Intentional writing is simple and unforced. An intentional story has everything it needs to feel complete, nothing excessive, unresolved or unnecessary.
I come from a background in journalism, and the newsroom is where I’ve gotten some of the best writing advice for news articles and for creative nonfiction alike. An editor recently told me: I don’t want obvious details, I want poignant details. Tell me what moved you, what caught your attention: those are the details I want to read. Another editor’s advice: don’t be afraid to declutter a story. Cut scenes or details that don’t serve a purpose or that don’t ‘spark joy’, in the parlance of Marie Kondo.
The second quality, subjectivity, is about content. I don’t just want to know what happened, but how it affected the author. No two people see the same event or person or place the same way, and I want to feel a writer’s unique perspective. I want to know: how was she affected by the events in the story? What relationship does she have with the people and places in the story? Where do they fit in her personal narrative?
Our relationships make us human. We change and define ourselves in relation to them, and we seek connection with and acceptance from them. Our subjectivity makes us human, too. We can never experience what it’s like to be anyone other than ourselves, but stories allow us to imagine and to empathize. That’s what I want out of a good story: not just to know that something happened, but to feel how it affected the person who experienced it.
Ellen O’Brien is the nonfiction editor for Issue 23. She’s a senior at Arizona State University pursuing a double major in journalism and philosophy with a minor in Arabic. She’s passionate about photography, literature, foreign policy and epistemology. After graduation, she plans to pursue a job in photojournalism or news editing and to attend law school.
Today we are happy to share news about past contributor Terese Svoboda. Terese’s new short story collection Great American Desert is to be published by Mad Creek books. The collection has found its home in the new genre of ‘cli-fi’, or climate fiction, as it explores the relationship between man and earth from the past to distant future.
The collection launches at the Corner Bookstore on March 26th at 6 pm in New York City. Terese will be in Phoenix to teach a workshop at Pipers Writing Studio on April 20th.
S[r]’s author interview with Terese can be found here, and her short story “Madonna in the Terminal” can be found here.
Today we are thrilled to share news of past contributor Jenn Givhan. Jenn’s debut novel, Trinity Sight, is available for preorder from Blackstone Publishing, and will be published October 1, 2019. The novel, inspired by indigenous oral-history traditions, takes a new spin on dystopian fiction. Jenn’s characters are confronted with dueling concepts of science, faith, modern identity and ancestral tradition as they attempt to understand how the world fell apart.
Date: February 7, 2019 Time: 8:00 p.m., come early to grab a drink or snack and mingle! Location: The Social Hall (715 S McClintock Dr) Tempe, AZ
Calling all lovers of poetry and prose! Join English’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program for the first semester of a special 8-part reading series featuring brand new work from ASU graduate students. Each reading will highlight two to three students at The Social Hall, a new destination bar and restaurant in Tempe. Do yourself a favor and support the arts by taking a night off to enjoy some of the best work our community is producing.
Featured Readers for this Date:
Kalani Pickhart, fiction
Elliot Winter, poetry
Tucker Leighty-Philips, fiction
Today we are happy to share news about past contributor Matt Bell. Matt’s short story, “Fur, Bark, Feather, Leaf, Faun,” is upcoming in Conjunctions: 71, A Cabinet of Curiosity. About the issue, the description reads: “Curiosity in all its guises is the wellspring of revelation. It is a prime mover behind our deeds, good or evil, simple or complicated. While the thirty-one writers gathered here individually explore many of the ways in which curiosity drives and defines us, together they propose that the realms of curiosity are, finally, inexhaustible.”
Conjunctions: 71, A Cabinet of Curiosity is available for preorder through the Bard College here. Shipping will begin by the end of November, 2018.
Our interview with Matt can be read in Issue 18 of Superstition Review.