Forthcoming Fiction in Blue Earth Review

There’s no real point to this post other than what the title says: I’m getting published in Blue Earth Review!!!

Yay!!!!

The fiction in question is “Paradise,” a short story I wrote last year inspired by John Prine’s song of the same name. So naturally I’m back in my recurring John Prine mood for a few days. Everyone should listen to his eponymous debut album. Also the new album Ruins by First Aid Kit. (Glowing review coming soon from The Michigan Daily.) Also, according to it seems like everybody, the new Porches album? Although I haven’t listened to that one yet, so I guess I shouldn’t say. But the First Aid Kit one is beautiful—I can’t get enough of “Postcard,” and “It’s a Shame,” what beautiful songs!

Anyway, I’m off-topic now. Writing and music always end up going together for me—like right now, for instance, I’m in my house’s dining room listening to the soundtrack from The Last Five Years coming out of the kitchen. Now I really want to watch that musical.

I’m actually seeing a musical this weekend! The Lion King. I’ll be in New York City for a concert of my dad’s. My goal is to take a bunch of pictures and to bond with my family. A+ goals!

I’ve been in such a good mood the last few days—I don’t even know if it’s the publication thing, I kind of don’t think so. Although that is great! But I think writing a lot just puts me in a good mood. The night before last, I was on my way to bed at 1:00am, but I kind of felt like writing, so I sat down to write a few paragraphs, and I ended up writing around 2500 words. I went to bed at like 2:30. And I’m not the sort of person who normally does that—I really usually just write in the morning or early afternoon, by the time night comes around I’m a lot worse at thinking. But it was really fun, very stream of consciousness. By the end I was writing all about Japanese maples. I’ve been getting really into specificity lately and I just can’t believe how beautiful they are.

And then today I woke up early-ish to work on something for my fiction tutorial, and I wasn’t really expecting to get through the whole thing because it was very last-minute and I only left myself two or three hours to do it. I was expecting to just use the Japanese maple CNF thing. But then I did get through it—I actually felt really good about it—and now it’s like my whole day is better. I love how that’s how it works, writing and feeling good, or sometimes just feeling better. It’s like this whole reciprocal thing.

Anyway, I have real things to go and do (for Midwestern Gothic! I’m officially an intern there now!), so I should sign off. It’s weird how this started out with me patting myself on my back and it sort of ended there, too. But also it started out as kind of an announcement and then it turned into more of a diary entry. I think I must be very big into stream of consciousness these days.

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December Reading List

December was a huge month for me in terms of poetry. I think it’s because I spent a lot of time mindlessly cruising through Twitter, and I follow a lot of people who are also into writing. Or maybe that’s just what happens when the semester ends and I don’t have any books assigned for me to read anymore. At any rate, I ran into a lot of good stuff this month, yay! Here are my recommendations:

Get in Trouble, by Kelly Link
Shewings #66 and #69 by Julian of Norwich
Mirk’s Festial
Prik of Conscience
Ode to the West Wind,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Beowulf
The Most of It,” by Robert Frost
Cat Person,” by Kristen Roupenian (’cause, duh)
Something Better than This,” by Mary Gaitskill
The Husband Stitch,” by Carmen Maria Machado
This blog (my friend and old housemate, Ji Ye, is doing a bunch of world travels and documenting them here with a ton of amazing stories and amazing photography)
the lost women,” by Lucille Clifton
how to say,” by Safia Elhillo
“The Apple Trees,” by Louise Gluck
The Gift,” by Li-Young Lee
“Choi,” by Franny Choi
I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson
All the poems I could find linked on Ocean Vuong‘s website
Intelligent Design,” by Vievee Francis
Say It, Say It Anyway You Can,” by Vievee Francis
Given to Rust,” by Vievee Francis
Beast & Beauty,” by Vievee Francis
Proletarian Portrait,” by William Carlos Williams
“It Is Maybe Time to Admit That Michael Jordan Definitely Pushed Off,” by Hanif Abdurraqib
Song of a Man Who Has Come Through,” by D.H. Lawrence
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
things that shine in the night,” by Rigoberto Gonzalez
“Not Crazy Just Afraid to Ask,” by Shauna Barbosa
Amen,” by James Baldwin
The Conditional,” by Ada Limon
The Captain’s Verses, by Pablo Neruda
Choi Jeong Min,” by Franny Choi

This might be just because it’s the most recent thing I’ve been reading, but I’m absolutely in love with The Captain’s Verses. It’s a bilingual version, too, with the Spanish on the left and the English on the right, so I’m getting to practice a little Spanish while I read. It’s really interesting to see which phrases I like more in Spanish or in English, and which poems hardly needed any changes when they were being translated. My favorite poem so far is definitely “The Stolen Branch,” or “La Rama Robada“.

I’m definitely going to try getting my hands on some more of Neruda’s work soon! I’m not kidding, he might be shaping up to be my actual favorite poet (or I might just be going through a phase). The Captain’s Verses includes mostly love poems, so maybe if I read some other stuff by him that isn’t all love-related, I’ll know for sure.

Original song with my friend Clarissa

I just wrote a new post the other day, but I’m back!

I’m in Portland right now, but I just got to spend a week at home in Bloomington. I love love love Bloomington and it always makes me happy to go home, and one of the best times for going home is over the holidays because old friends of mine are usually home then, too!

My friend Clarissa and I used our together-time last week to write a song together, a new experience for me which was really fun and which I hope to someday do again. Our song is called “Home Alone” but it also goes by “Theory #78,” “Laura and Clarissa’s Emo Song,” “Clarissa and Laura’s Emo Song,” or maybe just “Winter Song” (?), because we couldn’t pick.

Anyway, I just posted it on YouTube. We also videotaped ourselves shopping at Krogucci (the good Kroger) and making peppermint bark, which maybe I will get around to editing into a music video sometime soon because I’d like to try developing some video skills (LOL) (we’ll see).

But in the meantime, here is the video of us playing “Home Alone” et al.! Enjoy!

Publications of (Christmas?) Past, Present, and Future

Hey everyone!!!

I know it’s the middle of the night, but even as I write that, I know I’m not really justifying it to anyone except for me. And I don’t care anyway.

Never mind! It’s morning time now. But I’m not going to delete those first few sentences and write new ones because I just don’t feel like it!

I have a new short story published!!!!

It’s called “Homecoming,” and you can read it here in Solstice Literary Magazine. I wrote it last fall (2016 fall) for my creative writing class, so getting around to seeing it published has been kind of a long process. Very early this year, I did get to see it win a Hopwood Award in fiction from my school (alongside another story of mine, “Paradise,” which is still home-searching), which was really exciting. Now, at the tail end of 2017, I’m very, very happy to have found a home for it in Solstice.

I think one of the coolest parts of having a story published is that (ironically, since now it’s out there for all to see) you can kind of tuck it away. I spent a lot of 2017 trying to find a place to put “Homecoming,” and now I can be satisfied that I’ve found the perfect spot for it. Now I have room to focus on sending more of my stories out there to be read, because I’ve written a ton recently. Winter semester last year was admittedly dry for me, but I spent my four-month-long summer (thanks, U of M) writing a literal crap ton of random novel stuff every single day. Actually: if a crap ton is a real measurement, which it is, then that’s how much I wrote. Then I took two separate creative writing classes this semester, and I wrote a crap ton of stuff for each of them, too.

I have so much stuff that I hope will be up for other people to read soon. Knowing myself and the current quality of those drafts, it may be a while. I still need to do some revisions on some of them, and then even after I submit them all over the place, there’s still the matter of waiting to hear back from various lit mags. But I’ve got a lot of work right now that I have faith in: I have a romantic arcade story, a supernatural war story, a surreal road trip story, a ghost story about a cop, and even a couple of essays about my own life.

Speaking of which! I have a couple of Michigan Daily pieces from this semester that I’m actually really happy with, and I’ve decided that I’m going to start including some random journalism, nonfiction, and reviews of mine in the “My Writing” section of this blog, because just because it’s not fiction or poetry doesn’t mean it’s not writing that I’m proud of. Off the top of my head I can think of two emotional and kind of personal pieces that have to do with The Beatles, and one article about Anna Akhmatova that might not be my best writing, but should still be read because I think people ought to know more about Anna Akhmatova. I also might put up a link to a book review I wrote last year, because I really trashed the book that I read and I saw yesterday that someone had posted a mean comment about my review. This makes me feel kind of cool because I don’t think I had ever gotten a hate comment before.

My family is trying to leave for breakfast, so I’m going to wrap this up. But check out “Homecoming,” fresh off the digital presses, and I should have those articles linked here later today!

November Reading List

Hello! Here (a few days late) is the list of all the awesome stuff I read in November:

  • House Carpenter,” also known as “The Daemon Lover”—an old Scottish ballad. I have three different versions of it on my November Spotify playlist (Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Nickel Creek), and I was straight-up obsessed with it for like four days. Creepiest/best lyrics I’ve heard in a long time
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” by William Wordsworth
  • Frost at Midnight,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • These poems by June Jordan
  • Some random stuff by John Clare
  • The Monk Dilemma,” by Cameron Stewart
  • Parsley,” by Rita Dove
  • These poems by Anna Akhmatova, plus just the Wikipedia page about her life in general (“Snow” is my favorite poem of hers)
  • Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
  • Babi Yar,” by Yevgeni Yevtushenko
  • Lies,” by Yevgeni Yevtushenko

Happy reading, and happy December!! I’m weirdly hoping it gets colder here soon, just so that being in a wintery mood can feel more natural. I haven’t really been listening to any Christmas music because it still feels so unseasonable. It snowed once in early November and it’s been fairly warm since then. I don’t ordinarily hope for snow, so the season is off to a weird start for me.

New story up on Bad Pony!

Hey everyone! Last year I wrote a piece of horror/fantasy-ish flash fiction for The Michigan Daily’s Story Slam. I hadn’t done much with this type of writing in the past (either fantasy or flash fiction, come to think of it), but I’m very happy to report that as of today, that piece has been published by Bad Pony Magazine! It’s called “The August Yield,” it’s about a zombie-ish-type boy and a farm, and you can read it here.

Even cooler than that is the fact that this issue features so many other awesome people, too. One of them is actually an old classmate of mine from high school, Dean Symmonds, who does some really amazing work with poetry. I was so excited to see zir name when I was checking out the poetry section of the issue, and both of zir poems are obviously just plain great.

So anyway, I’m pumped to see my work in Bad Pony, alongside the work of Dean and so many other talented people. (The magazine is also based out of my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, which adds a whole new layer of coolness for me.) The homepage of the website can be found here, so feel free to click around at will.

Arbwriters Fall Retreat

This is going to be a short post because it’s late at night and I have to wake up at like 6 am  tomorrow(/today) to do revisions.

(Brief aside: I honestly suck when it comes to deadlines. Like my attitude is literally “if it’s due on Thursday afternoon, why would I do it anytime before Thursday morning?” Which I know is maybe bad. I’m trying to change. (Except not really. I’m trying to do a lot of other things. I can focus on changing my bad habits later.))

ANYWAY: the Arbwriters had a fall writing weekend in Detroit!!

IMG_20171028_192053.jpgThat’s us, getting ready to eat an amazing dinner. Photo credits to Vahid, and dinner credits to Will Toms. Brooke and I had to do a lot of weird furniture maneuvering to make all of this table space possible, which I for one was very proud of.

This was personally my second time getting together with everyone for an in-person retreat thingy (I’m pretty sure I wrote about the first one here, too — it was the one back at the end of the summer, the one where I learned about ceiling tables). It was honestly so much fun. There were writing and revising times, and there were friend times. That’s about as articulate as I’m capable of being right now, I’m sorry. But it’s important that there were both — both types of times, that is.

I don’t really have a point, but I’ll try to make one up here anyway: If you’re a writer, find yourself some writer friends. It will make things so much better. If you’re lucky, they won’t just be your writer friends, they’ll be your friends friends as well. I’ve always invested a lot of time into writing in terms of class scheduling and extracurriculars and that sort of thing, so it’s often worked out for me like that anyway. And if you don’t know where to start, just hit me up! I will be your writer friend. See, now you have truly no excuse.

October Reading List

For the sake of just generally writing more here, I’ve decided I’m going to start posting lists at the end of each month of everything I’ve spent that month reading. I figure even if this will be of use to absolutely nobody else, it’ll at least be a good way for me to keep track of everything I’ve been reading lately. And who knows, maybe it’ll even motivate me to start reading more — although, what with all of my classes and everything, I don’t really know if I have room for that type of motivation in my life.

Anyway, here is everything I read in October! (And for your reading pleasure, I’m cutting out anything too boring and/or irrelevant.)

  • The Haunting of Hill House (by Shirley Jackson), which I actually wrote an article about here for The Michigan Daily
  • We Were Eight Years in Power (by Ta-Nehisi Coates), which I reviewed for the Daily here
  • The Ballad of the Sad Café (by Carson McCullers), and the short stories included with it (my favorites were “A Domestic Dilemma” and “Wunderkind,” which McCullers wrote and published when she was still a teenager!)
  • Dracula (by Bram Stoker)
  • H.R. 40, which I learned about while reading one of the essays in We Were Eight Years in Power, “The Case for Reparations”— it’s a very important government document that I didn’t even know existed before
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Daddy’s World,” by Walter Jon Williams
  • “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • “This Lime-tree Bower My Prison,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • These scary poems

That’s about all I can think of for now! Have fun checking out any and/or all and/or none of those. And Happy November!

HALLOWEEN SONGS!

It’s been sort of a while since I’ve posted something, so I’ve got TWO SCARY SONGS here, and this is sooo writing-unrelated because I didn’t even write either of these songs myself, but anyway, they’re both scary and creepy, so here they are.

This is a cover of “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. (Amanda Seyfried did a semi-popular cover of it and that was the first version I ever heard, so that ‘s why it’s labeled with her name.) I performed it at my house’s open mic a couple of weeks ago, and my friend and housemate Qianru was awesome enough to record it!

This one is a cover of “Shankill Butchers” by The Decemberists. The way I originally heard this song had some of the words changed, and it was sort of difficult for me to try to sing them here, the way they were originally written, without reverting back to that.

I have written a couple of scary songs on my own, but I’m not going to post either of them here or anywhere, at least not anytime soon. (One is about the Salem witch trials, and it’s okay but it’s definitely not finished yet; the other is a rewriting of “Pirate Jenny” from The Threepenny Opera, and like the original, it’s pretty extreme.)

So those are my Halloween songs! Two days late, but all the same, happy Halloween!!!!!

LHSP Release Party

This post will be short because I’m trying to get to bed before midnight, which is 8 minutes away so I’m really racing the clock. But tonight was the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program’s literary magazine release party, which I thought was worth mentioning!! (Shout out to the title of the magazine, which is literally “Things Worth Mentioning”.) My Caldwell-winning poems, “How Was Your Trip?” and “Winter in Oz,” were published in this year’s anthology, alongside a ton of awesome work from other current and former LHSP students. I took a picture so you can see what the cover looks like (along with a random corner of my bedroom):

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I flipped through the anthology as much as I could before people started reading, and there’s some really awesome work in it, some of it written by people I know and have studied with! I also got to read “Winter in Oz” tonight, and to hear some of the other published work read aloud. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned LHSP here a lot before, but at any rate I’ll say again that I’m so glad to be a part of such a creative and supportive community.

In unrelated news, I got three things today: two of them were rejections (holla @ my haterz) and one of them was my copy of New American Stories edited by Ben Marcus!!!!

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(A moment of appreciation for the line “You have to stare down a story until it wobbles, yields, then catapults into your face.”)

I took that photo with my bed as the background, so you can tell I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I guess I’m just so proud of myself for knowing how to embed images in a post that I want to show off that skill as much as possible. Anyway, this collection looks great, I’ve already read two of the stories for my fiction class and I can’t wait to check out more.

Okay and it’s midnight, so that’s all my content for tonight! Peace out!!