Tag Archives: Bartleby Snopes

My Writing Process Blog Tour: Bro, Do You Even Write?!

Hungary Toxic WasteBig thanks for Nate Tower for tagging me to join this literary blog tour about the writing process. Basically/ostensibly, I answer four questions and then pass those same four questions to a few more writers. We do this until every writer in the known cosmos and at least four contiguous parallel universes has had a turn (past four and the rules of spacetime get a little dicey*).

Nate Tower is the managing and founding editor of Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine and Press. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print publications. In 2014, Martian Lit released his first short story collection, Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands. He is a former high school English teacher and the former world record holder for the fastest mile running backwards while juggling. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter. Visit him at nathanieltower.wordpress.com.

As for me, well, here we go:

1. What are you working on?

Like Nate who went before me, I currently have three main projects I’m working on right now.

The first thing is a novel called Human Services. It’s a sort of spin-off of Benji Palko’s character in my story collection, Shenanigans! where it focuses on the people who work at The Agency and all of the insanity that occurs in a professional office setting. I would say it’s pretty much solidly in the literary fiction camp. I’m still in the earlier stages of this project, sitting at around 16,000 words (as of typing this). Other pieces of Human Services have appeared online though, like this chapter over at InDigest called “Mr. Twitchy.”

The second project is more genre-flavored, and it’s sort of . . . massive. I’ve been kicking it around in my mind for a few years now, which is a sort of literary epic sci-fi/fantasy novel tentatively called Deorum et Viri: “Of Gods and Men.” I grew up reading lots of sci-fi and fantasy—especially the latter—and always kind of wanted to do something in the genre that originally inspired me to be a writer. It wasn’t until recently, with the popularity of the A Song and Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) that I sort of realized that this was a viable option for me, like, right now. That is to say, I’d really been wanting to use the skills I’d picked up writing literary fiction the past seven or eight years and apply it to something more genre-related. Perhaps the work most responsible for this epiphany, even more so than Game of Thrones, is M. John Harrison’s unbelievably impressive Viriconium omnibus. The prose is awe-inspiring and the way he includes elements of surrealism tinged with bits of magical realism is something I can’t begin to do justice here. You’d simply have to read it yourself.

The final project is a new short story collection called Irrational Attachments to Inanimate Objects. You can actually read the first story from this collection called “Now You See Me” over at Bartleby Snopes! There isn’t a whole lot to say about this collection yet other than the title will be a running theme throughout the book; I think the first story sort of gives that impression, or at least I hope it does!

2. How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

Genre is so hard to talk about when you really don’t want to be constrained by it. Just ask one of my all time favorite writers, Ursula K. Le Guin. I just want to write books that at least a few people really like. It’s an incredibly humbling thing when someone tells you that your work really resonated with him/her. It makes you want to write a special book just for that person because he or she took the time to read your work that they could’ve spent doing any number of other things. Perhaps that’s what’s different about my work, how personal I want it to be for a select few. Or maybe it’s just that I want to write the stories that are in my head without thinking about what genre they are or should be. I’m probably not the best person to ask since I’m honestly not sure; it seems like a discerning reader could give a better answer here!

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My 2013 is Going Out With a Bang!

awesome

Well, this has certainly been a pretty kickass year overall for Cat13, despite not writing too many new things — especially when factoring in the second half of the year! Is it a coincidence w/r/t the number 13 and its sheer awesomeness? The moon’s gravitational pull on the tides? Swamp gas? You’ll have to decide. . . .

I found out around June that my “collectio[novel]la” Shenanigans! was a Finalist for a Next Generation Indie Book Award.

My newest short story, “Now You See Me” was published over at Bartleby Snopes, which then managed to snag “Story of the Month” honors for October!

InDigest Magazine had a killer relaunch recently and “Mr. Twitchy,” a chapter excerpt from my forthcoming novel Human Services is featured in the latest issue (and live online).

There rumblings on the music front too. Without too much build up, here we go guys/gals: some remixes I did a long time ago (1999*) before it was easy to do using Traktor or Serato [yes, I know I’m old]: A Gravitaas Playlist: “SDK Sampler Ninety-Nine,” in all its (pseudo-)glory!

More news on the music front, the extraordinarily- and multi-talented Peter Tieryas Liu used a few of my tracks in some new video reviews, which is both awesome and humbling! I’ve listed two below:

HTML Giant featured Peter’s review of The Natural Dissolution of Fleeting Improvised Men by Gabriel Blackwell.

— And inspired by his review for The Lit Pub, Peter created a video for Janice Lee’s Damnation.

I’m working on a collaboration essay for The Good Men Project. More details to follow!

There is also some big news/a possible killer opportunity brewing for something on the horizon — but even I have to wait ’til Monday for more news.

Stay tuned (and bring on 2014!)!!

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Rededicating myself to something or another again

I’ve said this here a million times: I need to blog more. Three+ months is a LONG hiatus!

It’s not that I don’t like it: I do. It just gets shoved down the priority list more often than not.

Professionally, I’m still happily working at Metropolitan Community College’s Writing Center, but I’m also teaching English Comp. 1 and 2 at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. I’ve got some really smart kids, too!

On the writing front, I’ve got a brand new short story going live over at Bartleby-Snopes next month, which is awesome! Ever since I started trying to share my words with peeps, B. Snopes has been on my list of places I wanted to see my work published. I’ll probably make a huge deal about it when it’s actually available to read!

Have you seen this Breaking Bad thing? I guess it’s a pretty big deal. (OK, just kidding; I’ve been addicted to it for a while now and this season is insane!) I am, however, late to the Sons of Anarchy party. The show’s pretty great! I’m finally getting around to watching season 5!

I made a reading goal to myself this year. In addition to reading 60 books total — a paltry number compared to some — I decided I’d read both the entirety of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series (10 books) and Iain M. Banks’s Culture series (also 10 books). I think I’m on track.

Since writing a primer for the first 3 Malazan books over at HTML Giant, I’ve finished two more and have a decent start on the sixth book, The Bone Hunters. Here’s my one [long] sentence review of the series so far: It’s the best fantasy series I’ve ever read, including- but not limited to- both George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (even if you include The Hobbit).

Since I always like my fantasy fix with a side of sci-fi, I’m also currently reading my 7th book in the Culture series. Since these books aren’t exactly chronologically written, the order in which you read them isn’t quite as important as it is with the Malazan books. If I remember, I’ve read them so far in the following order — books: 1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 7, 6, i.e. I’m currently reading book 6, Inversions. My good friend Peter Tieryas Liu has reviewed the first two books in the series, Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games, both of which are excellent, but aren’t even as good as the series gets!

Oh, and speaking of, I’d like to put out an APB for George R.R. Martin: More specifically, book 6 in The Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter. WTF, George?! Write faster!

Things are also simmering nicely on the “Pangaea project” front. More on that to come, so stay tuned for that too!

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A New Year & “The Next Big Thing” Blog Hop

dawn breakingSo, holy shit! It’s a new year already and the world didn’t end in 2012, much to the chagrin of a few Doomsday preppers. It’s a new year and my only resolution is to write more — to write well, often and, of course, like a motherfucker!

Also, there’s this thing going around the Internets, “The Next Big Thing” actually. It’s a blog hop where writers talk about what they’re currently working on and tag other writers to participate. I’m both incredibly humbled and excited to be tagged by Nate Tower, the man with the plan behind Bartleby Snopes (easily one of the best indie lit. mags on the web). Here’s Nate’s own post. Once you check it out, hop back over here (if you want, of course) and see what I’m working on!

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

I’m actually working on two totally different projects right now. One is a novel called Human Services populated with eccentric characters that work for a kooky social work agency.

The other is (ostensibly) an epic sci-fi/fantasy collaboration I dreamed up, of which my novel will be but one in a series tentatively titled Deorum et Viri (Of Gods and Men, working title). The project — at least as it’s sketched out on paper — is so big, I’d never be able to finish it on my own!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The driving idea behind Human Services more or less comes from my family’s eponymous business. The field of human services/social work can be pretty insane, and since the business started, I’ve seen countless — truly countless — situations play out that were almost too preposterous to believe, let alone describe . . . almost.

Deorum et Viri’s life was probably honestly (for better or worse) most inspired by Game of Thrones. I only just got into George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series this year (after watching season one of the HBO series), but suffice it to say, I’m all caught up through book five. The books were infectious, incapacitating. I felt like I couldn’t possibly function unless I knew what happened next. The series rekindled my long dormant love for the fantasy genre, as well as sci-fi by-proxy.

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I Hate When I Realize I’ve Been A Lit Snob

I felt a sense of relief when I opened up to the T.O.C. of the latest issue of The New Yorker and saw—under Fiction—Roberto Bolaño’s name. The previous two issues featured Saïd Sayrafiezadeh and John Lanchester (and before them, upon taking a second look at my back issues: Etgar Keret, Margaret Atwood, Nathan Englander, César Aira and Alice Munro).

I’d never heard of Sayrafiezadeh or Lanchester. (I’m probably late to the party here; it’d be par for the course, etc.) As a consequence, I had a strong, capricious kneejerk feeling that The New Yorker was tending toward the, well, underwhelming. How about another story from George Saunders? (Even though he just had one published recently.) How about Sam Lipsyte? (See George Saunders comment.)

And then it hit me and I became sad.

Not because the writers I seem to like reading most weren’t in the two most recent issues—for that, I simply began to feel childish and, honestly, a little dumb. I felt sad because I realized I’d just been guilty of being both a literary snob and a hypocrite. I felt sad also because I’d quickly dismissed two writers I’d (honestly and apologetically) never heard of. I felt like a hypocrite because I’m usually among the first critics of The New Yorker for never printing fresh new voices [like Joseph Michael Owens(?)].

Truth be told, there are very few things I wouldn’t do to be published in The New Yorker. I say “very few” only because there might be things I’m not willing to do, but I simply can’t think of any right now. And who would any of us be kidding, really? Few people outside of Amy Hempel would pass on a chance to see their name in that famous typeface.

Because here’s the (oh so very obvious) thing I realized: the stories I dismissed out of hand must be pretty darn good to even have made it into the magazine in the first place. The other thing I realized is that I can be kind of an asshole reader some times.

Perhaps I give myself too much credit for checking out as many indie lit. magazines as I do. I mean, there are plenty of fresh voices in in those, right!? But, similarly, I’m guilty of many times doing the same thing with the indie lit. mags as I am with the more prominent publications. I tend toward automatically seeking out the writers I know and, oftentimes, skip over writers I’ve never read before. And that bothers me.

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