Here’s how I know it’s not 2022: in 2022, we didn’t have Chinese “weather balloons” wandering over North America, causing political havoc in the Beltway and whipping up a comfortable panic with the public at large. Our local police department went so far as to post on social media that they would prefer it if local residents didn’t try to shoot the balloon down on their own. I’d have liked to see someone try. Do I really have neighbors who own a guided missile capable of resisting gravity for 60,000 vertical feet, then hitting a target with a negligible heat signature?
It all sounds like near-future sci-fi to me, which is ironic, since that’s a good part of what has consumed my writing life for this past year. I’ve turned my short story, “Taming Dash Nine,” into a short, punchy novel. It’s the first time I’ve ever expanded a piece that started as short fiction (although I’ve done it once with a play). In general, I tend to find that once an idea announces itself, it comes ready-made with a fixed length. That is to say, some ideas demand some hundreds of pages to flesh them out, while others are necessarily quick. “Taming Dash Nine” just kept on expanding. And now, having typed “The End” and done a few rounds of edits, it’s off in search of agency and publication.
2023: the year I earn an agent? If not, if won’t be for lack of sincere effort on this humble scribe’s part!
Truth to tell, it’s mostly good news on the writing front. Let’s begin with fiction, where my latest story, “True Songs of the Pennyrile,” leads off Issue #46 of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, edited by Gavin J. Grant and Pulitzer-nominee Kelly Link. Did Kelly read my story? I hope so. I’ve taught one of her stories in class––”Stone Animals,” I believe it was. The world, sometimes, is so very small.
Anyway, Lady Churchill’s is one of the best-kept secrets in publishing. I’m very humbled and pleased to be included (for the second time, no less––the first time was over a decade ago), and with luck I’ll be able to place more with Grant & Link in the future. Writers must have goals!
If you’d care to preview a copy or pick one up, click HERE.
At about the same time, Wyldblood placed the original version of “Taming Dash Nine” into their first “Best Of…” anthology, so that feels like a feather in ye olde cap. They also published “The Blessing of Lady Charlotte,” a tale of mirrors and British History, in Issue Number Ten. It’s been a pleasure working and corresponding with editor Mark Bilsborough. Will he take the next story I’ve sent his way? Time will tell!
If you want to explore Wyldblood further, click HERE.
In theatre, Yartsy on Division premiered at the Next Act! Festival (Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany, NY), but thanks to a certain annoying pandemic, this was a necessarily COVID-friendly experience, which in this case meant…Zoom. I am deeply grateful that my friends at Cap Rep enjoyed Yartsy enough to select it, and their notes afterward were incisive and caring, but Zoom and the theatre were simply not meant to go together. In any event, Yartsy has changed its name (and some of its stripes) and is now Gloria on Division, and if nothing else, it’s the first play I’ve written in a while that scares me. If anyone wants to read it, send me an email: email@example.com
Techies won the Theatre Network of Texas playwriting competition, a.k.a. TNT! Pops Competition, and that earned the play its second (COVID-delayed) production, this time at the Bastrop Opera House (Bastrop, TX). Many thanks to everyone there for hosting me, and for putting up a fine production. I was overjoyed to hear the audience, many of whom had been laughing along for the first 2/3 of the performance, suddenly go silent as I drew the narrative noose tight and they realized where they were headed. Techies keeps on being funny (on and off) right to the end, but this piece has teeth, and claws. Should high schools and high-school-age actors be working through material that explores #Metoo and the special ostracization that comes with social media? I believe the answer is yes. Now to find a publisher!
Last November saw the debut of another full-length play, The Wizard Delivers (and Pinky Stays the Course), with many thanks to Whiteland Community High School and drama director Tara Sorg for taking a chance on this brand-new venture. How dare a recent high school grad play career counselor to her peers––and do well at it? Until, of course, she doesn’t. All set in the alley out back of a strip mall pizza joint, where, as everyone knows, all sorts of career decisions get made.
Meanwhile, “Porch Revival” has been revived, this time by the North River Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts. This marks the 12th Playscripts-licensed production, to my surprise––and I suppose the reason for my befuddlement is that I’ve never yet seen the play performed. In print for over a decade now, but no one’s ever done it anywhere near where I happen to be. Such is the life of a playwright. I did get to hear an audio recording, made by special request, of an early run many years ago out on Cape Cod, and the audience was in hysterics. I wish I could have seen that.
Oh, and “The Last Chatauqua,” produced in Michigan just prior to the pandemic, has popped up in an anthology centered on war and gun violence, courtesy of Qutub Minar Literary Magazine. For a link, click HERE.
I’m certain that I’m forgetting some credits worth the mention, but my mind is a blank.
I will take a quick moment to recommend the best TV I saw in the past year: Fleabag. Exceptional. Horrifying. Scandalous. Hilarious.
All of this is to say that I keep on pecking away at my keyboard. Next up: a short story melding the endlessly stubborn trouble spot of homelessness with space opera. I keep telling my mind to stop with the social justice topics, but hey, the mind (and the heart) go where they will.
I must leave off. Time to check in with my friends in Turkey, to make sure they’ve pulled through this truly catastrophic earthquake (possibly the worst anywhere in the world in my lifetime).
Watch out for weather balloons.