About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Friday, February 28, 2014

What I'm Currently Reading...

In addition to a number of short story anthologies, including a fabulous one containing all of Raymond Carver's work, I'm reading, in nonfiction, Eric Schlosser's Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safey and Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. In fiction, I'm reading Joyce Carol Oates's First Love.

Regarding Command and Control, I'm fascinated by nuclear weapons, the Manhattan Project, and the Cold War. I love the science and the politics behind these things. I've read many books about these topics, including four books (maybe five?) about J. Robert Oppenheimer. I think that most people have that one period in history that fascinates them... mine is post World War II America--the Cold War, the fear surrounding the bomb, the "nifty fifties" (which weren't really always that nifty), and the change in the world's psyche because of the existence of nuclear weapons.

I've been reading King's On Writing but set it down to read some other books. What's good is that it has two parts, so I set it down right before part two. Now I'm picking it back up again.

Oates's First Love is really a novella, so I'll read it fast and then have to figure out what fiction to read next. Perhaps Shirley Jackson's The Bird's Nest. I have a few Shirley Jackson novels I haven't read yet. Yay!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Slash and Burn

I recently slashed and burned my story "The Adirondack Room" and turned it from a short story into a piece of flash fiction. After letting it sit for quite a while (maybe a year or so?), I read it while it was still a short story and didn't like it. But there were aspects of it I liked very much and wished to keep. So I kept the title as well as the Adirondack Room itself with its anachronistic Cold War atmosphere. I kept the nuclear bombs, the shrimp cocktail, and even the toupee. But I cut it all way, way down. It's a strange piece that seems more interested in description than plot, but I like it.

What I would recommend to anyone who's not happy with a longer work is to attempt to turn it into flash fiction. Because there are so often good things in unsatisfactory longer pieces that you don't want to give up on. Nuggets, pearls, passages... whatever you want to call them... don't ditch them just because you don't like the short story they appear in.

And if you don't like a piece of flash fiction? Well, you can always cut it down to Twitter fiction (a TwitFic) which is what I write on Twitter. TwitFics are tiny stories that fit within the parameters of a tweet. So we're talking maybe three, more likely two, and perhaps one sentence, but if the words work and you like them, give it a try!

Monday, February 17, 2014

When a Writer Feels Like a Moron

Sometimes when I'm revising a piece of work, I find problems with logic or timing that make me feel like a moron.

I'm revising "Under the Bookcase" (again) and I found a spot in which two characters discuss something that one of the characters hasn't yet revealed. Another thing I discovered: one of the three main characters is a college professor, and I realized that I had the story set in July when he might not be teaching, or at least not teaching during a traditional semester. So I'm having him teach a summer course, which I mention quickly and subtly just so that the sharp reader won't think that I think the traditional semester goes into July. I also found a spot in which I have a character sit down at a table twice. He sits down, then a few sentences later, he sits down again--but meanwhile, he hasn't gotten up. So what is he doing, sitting in a chair and then on the floor? Suffice it to say, I fixed this so that he sits down only once.

But all of this is part of writing (writing is rewriting). You've got to carefully read and read and read to make sure you haven't goofed stuff up. Revising isn't just a matter of checking mechanics but of checking for problems in logic and timing and such.

I've attached a picture of a goat to this blog entry, not because I think goats are morons, but because I felt kind of like the look on that goat's face when I was reading my story and finding problems. For the record, I think that goats are anything but morons. I love goats.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blogging for River Ram Press

I have a new project with River Ram Press! I'll be writing a monthly article for their blog about mental illness: living with it, writing with and about it, and overcoming the obstacles it presents. My first article (February 2014) is now on the blog. You can see it by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Goodbye, Philip Seymour Hoffman

He was a year behind me in the class of 1985 at Fairport High School in Fairport, New York. I was in the class of 1984 and our high school was very large, so I only knew him from the plays he was in (yes, he was an actor even in high school). I followed his career--as did so many of us from Fairport, New York--with pride, awe, and deep admiration. He was a super star--the best actor, in my opinion, of my generation. The loss I feel is significant and somewhat personal since he was a classmate--one I didn't really know, but a classmate just the same.

Goodbye, Philip Seymour Hoffman. May you rest in peace. We'll never see you in a new film again, but fortunately we have so many films to look back on.