Tag Archives: PANK

Year(s)-in-Review // Year-in-Preview

I’ve been feeling contemplative lately. I’ve been reminiscing about 2011 and 2012, to be specific. Truthfully, they were pretty damn good years (aside from an almost crippling case of writer’s block toward the end of 2012). They were pretty good, but I think I can top both of them in 2013.

In 2011, I became the blog editor at InDigest Magazine; I did a reading at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, MN; and I had a short story accepted in [PANK] Magazine, which was- and is- certainly one of the highlights of my writing career thus far. I also got to do an interview with the magazine, which was truthfully almost as cool/fun as getting a story published.

And as great as 2011 was, 2012 turned out to be even better!

My collectio[novella] Shenanigans! was published by Grey Sparrow Press on the 50th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite books, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; I became the blog editor at The Lit Pub; I got to do an interview with the lovely, talented, and wonderful J.E. Reich at Art Faccia; and I got to play the kickass literary text-based adventure game, EXITS ARE, with Best American Short Stories author, Mike Meginnis!

So how could I possibly top the past two years?

My ultra-top-secret epic collaboration project is finally gaining some traction.

I found a way to push through a prickly plateau in the novel I’d previously shelved in 2010 (Human Services).

But most importantly, I think I have a much firmer grasp on who I am as a writer and on what I’m capable of producing. I’m not making any unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, unless you count “read more” and “write more,” but I just look at those as rededicating myself to my craft.

It’s a prevailing sense of optimism I feel about 2013. The apocalypse happened and no one noticed. It probably just means we need to get our asses back to work.

That’s what I’ll be doing.

You know where to find me.

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There Be Dragons! | 03.14.12

I’ve been busy!

Although AWP ’12 is now done and over with, I have more to do than ever, which is a good thing. “It’s better to be busy than bored,” etc. etc.

Work on my novel has picked back up. I’d taken a small hiatus away from it while prepping materials for AWP and finishing a couple freelance editing gigs. The ultimate success of the latter two items was really hit or miss. It might be March, but a resolution I’m setting for myself is to be more clear with my communications with others. In trying to please everyone with too much flexibility, something invariably gets lost in translation. I wrote that down so I’d remember it.

I’ve been reading some great books lately. Two of the best have been Adam Levin’s Hot Pink (my review of Levin’s book goes live on [PANK] March 20th) and Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan. It would certainly behoove you to read these two books at your nearest convenience. Or cancel other plans to read them. You’ll thank me later.

Tumblr is fun!

If you haven’t checked out Mike Meginnis’s simulated text adventure series EXITS ARE over at Artifice Books, you should do so ASAP! And don’t forget to congratulate Mike for having a story accepted for next year’s Best American Short Stories (BASS) anthology while your at it!!

Speaking of next year’s BASS anthology, I’d also like to congratulate Roxane Gay (who I’ve — not even secretly — got a huge literary crush on) for having a story accepted as well — this is truly BIG news for the small indie presses!!

And speaking of Roxane, it’s no secret she’s really into The Hunger Games (scroll down). “Really into” is perhaps a complete understatement. Because of Roxane’s wholly infectious enthusiasm, I was this < > close to starting the postapocalyptic trilogy myself. I’d even bought all three books and everything. That’s something i do with books, by the way — if it’s a series, I’ll buy all of them at once to A) have them all because I might possibly be a hoarder-in-the-making, and because B) I like to be prepared for the off-chance a stranger approaches me on the street and gives me a drug that turn me into a super-genius (like what happened to Bradley Cooper in Limitless), in which case I could read all of them back-to-back in a sitting or two.

But something happened…

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Good Timing Is Not My Forte: A 34 Day Recap

Punctuality and good timing are not the same thing. I’m fantastic at the former. But the latter? … Not so much.

For example: This is my first actual blog post in a month–a month in which my first book was published (Shenanigans!, Grey Sparrow Press, 2012) and another edition of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference came and went in Chicago. The word from Category Thirteen? Nothing.

Radio Silence.

To call my timing “bad” is perhaps an understatement.

However, all is not lost! The book is 100% available and in-stock, and can be purchased from Amazon for $9.99 by clicking here. Initial reviews and word of mouth feedback are good, so we’ll see how that trend holds up… ( :: drums fingers nervously :: )

My AWP 2012 experience can probably best be summed up as “minimalist.” By that I mean, I spent something approximating 90% of my time laid up in my hotel room with 7th-Level-of-Hell back pain. Which, i should mention, stemmed from tripping–and subsequently rolling my ankle–over a curb while walking to my hotel, before I even ventured to pick up my customary AWP registration swag(!!). The clumsy trip/stumble/ankle-roll maneuver was enough to *tweak* my back in such a way that carrying a heavy backpack over the next couple days would exacerbate the pain to the point of incapacitation.

In other words, instead of doing fun conference-y stuff, I spent almost 24 hours just laying in my hotel bed the day before I flew back to Omaha.

The upside is that, in the small amount of time I got to spend at AWP actually conferencing, I “met” a shitload of rad people! I put ‘met’ in quotes because they were people I’d spent a great deal of time chatting with on Twitter and Facebook, but had never met in real life (a phrase quickly losing its concrete meaning).

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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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Latest Cat13 Rumblings

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Specter Literary Magazine yet, you should! Oh, I should also mention that I’ve landed myself a gig there as a columnist– two posts so far! Click right here.

It feels weird being done with my MFA program. Now I’m attempting to find some sort of job in the real world which is… fun… I guess.

Oh, and definitely keep tabs on the InDigest blog. Lots of fun stuff going on there! I’ve been the blog editor there for a little over a month and really love it!

Also, I’ve had a couple book reviews for The Iguana Complex and Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate published on PANK‘s blog.

The last bit of news is that my promotion to Associate Editor at Grey Sparrow Press is going well. The new issue is fantastic and we’ve got a killer new site design in the works.

Stay tuned!

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Latest Cat13 News!

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, hop on over to The Rumpus and read my essay: “Where I Write #12: A Stable in the Floodplain” (don’t forget to click the link in the last paragraph to see how bad the floodwaters are in Nebraska and Iowa).

For the upcoming issue of Grey Sparrow Journal, I have been promoted to associate editor– exciting!!

Over at InDigest Magazine, I will soon be taking over as Blog Editor while I continue reviewing films. Very killer! (My latest review for the film One Lucky Elephant should appear soon.)

I’ve also picked up a couple sweet new gigs at PANK Magazine as well: I’m reviewing books and serving as a first reader for submissions!! (My review for Johannes Göransson’s new Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate will be posted on the PANK blog on July 8. Reviews for Adam Novy’s The Avian Gospels, Christian TeBordo’s The Awful Possibilities and Darby Larson’s The Iguana Complex will be forthcoming soon after.)

All in all, I’d say this summer is off to a really good start!!

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Just so you know, I am, in fact, not dead.

So far 2011 gets mixed reviews from me. There has been a lot of turmoil in my personal life (thus my not so conspicuous absence from the blogosphere), but I’ve also had some pretty kickass literary experiences as well.

First, of course, was getting published in PANK Magazine (you can read/ listen to the story here: http://www.pankmagazine.com/contemptibly-a-hair/), and then getting interviewed for PANK (interview = here: http://www.pankmagazine.com/pankblog/interviews/ask-the-author-joseph-michael-owens/). But that was just the tip of the proverbial iceburg…

I also jumped on the opportunity to review films for InDigest Magazine which is really kickass and should not be slept on if you are the kind of person to sleep on totally awesome stuff if you haven’t heard of it before. My first review of an independent documentary called BLANK CITY is here: http://indigestmag.com/blog/?p=7722

And most recently, I found out that my short story “We Always Trust Each Other, Except For When We Don’t” is in the running for storySouth‘s Million Writers Award (link here: http://www.storysouth.com/millionwriters/millionwritersnotable_2010.html — Scroll down to the “Gs” for Grey Sparrow Press.) where a winner is chosen from the top 100 short stories published online during a given year (i.e. for me, 2010). This same story was also nominated for Dzanc Books2011 Best of the Web Anthology. All in all, not a bad year for that story!

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List Thursdays: My Top 10 Literary Websites

1 ) The Rumpus – I  might have a slight bias here but the quality of literary (and all other) content here is top notch, truly. Not to mention the fact that The Rumpus has one of the best Book Clubs around, a fantastic advice column and the reader-written Last Book I Loved series.

2 ) The MillionsIf The Rumpus is (hypothetically speaking), let’s say, Tin House, then The Millions is definitely n+1.  The essays and reviews found on The Millions are top notch and guest contributions from established writers definitely lends the site its due where credibility is concerned. The Millions is legit.

3 ) HTMLGIANTSticking with the literary journal comparisons, HTMLGIANT is the literary website equivalent to McSweeney’s, if for nothing else than its edge and personality. The editors and contributing writers are smart, probably too smart, but always provide thought provoking insight in their essays. It’s worth checking out to acquaint yourself with Jimmy Chen, Blake Butler, Roxane Gay (also of [PANK] renown) and Kyle Minor alone.

4 ) MontevidayoIf there’s one site (luckily there’s more than one) that gives HTMLGIANT a run for smart content, it’s Montevidayo. The biggest difference is that the crew at Montevidayo are interested in a sort of community conversation. Multiple authors chime in on a few topics which really gives the reader a feel for what’s being discussed.

5 ) Bookslut Want reviews? Book Slut’s got ’em! (Michael Schaub, specifically.) As well as tons of features, a fantastic blog section and truly great interviews. Read Bookslut.

6 ) Maud NewtonI have to thank Isaac from The Rumpus for reminding me how much I love this site. I feel as though I’ve been neglectful and that’s a hurtful thing to be. I’m sorry Maud, I’ll be a better man, I promise! Maud Newton is the blog Category Thirteen strives to be!

7 ) Galley CatAll the happenings, comings and goings of the Publishing World (the empire that it is deserves CAPS.) A subsection of the truly excellent Media Bistro, Galley Cat is— as its title suggests– the first word on the book publishing industry.

8 ) Book ForumCome for the Daily Review and Omnivore, stay for the Paper Trail and Outposts.  Book Forum has a print copy you can pick up in stores too should your little Luddite heart so desire [I kid! (about the Luddite thing, I mean; Book Forum really does have a print mag.)]

9 ) Action, YesBrought to you by the editors of Montevidayo, Johannes Göransson, Joyelle McSweeney and John Dermot Woods, Action Yes is actually a quarterly I love but forgot to mention in last week’s list. Action Yes is also online only so it seems that it might be more appropriately recognized this week anyway.

10 ) Big Other I dig Big Other for a lot of reasons, but none perhaps more than their interviews and their Experimental Threads.  Check out their recent interview with HUSH author, Dave Kress and their article, “A New Technology for the Culture Industry” about Fignment.com, good stuff!

Honorable Mention —The Regulars: Salon.com/books, Huffington Post Books, Daily Book Beast, as well as The Nervous Breakdown, Sensitive Skin, ARTFACCIATK ReviewsLarge Hearted Boy, the full Media Bistro site and Agent Query.


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List Thursday: My Top 10 Literary Journals/ Magazines

1)     Tin House – I do my lists in reverse order. If there was only one journal I’d follow, it be Tin House. Its mix of eclectic writing and contemporary writers pushes it ahead of a competitive field.

2)     McSweeney’s – I’m counting both the online and quarterly, both sides of which have, surprisingly, a different feel to them. Online features short, conceptual pop-culture-oriented humor pieces where the more serious, yet eclectic stories are published in good old fashioned black and white on paper.

3)     Glimmer Train – The best writing contests, hands down, call Glimmer Train home. Alternating between topical and general short stories, there is almost always a place to submit your story for the chance to win some money, regardless of subject matter.

4)     n+1 – Fantastic essays are the reason I pick up n+1. Just recently, they featured an article concerning the future of writing in the context of “MFA vs. NYC,” which made the cost of a subscription worth it on its own.

5)     The Lifted Brow – The most stylistically original journal I’ve seen, published out of Australia. TLB was the first to have a previously unpublished piece from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King which was later picked up by Harper’s.

6)     Alaska Quarterly Review – Guest editors like Amy Hempel and award winning storyists such as Lily Tuck and Patricia Lear make AQR a must read.

7)     PANK – It’s edgy, it’s hip and it’s one of the (e-)journals your future agent is reading right now. Shouldn’t you be too?

8)    Zoetrope: All Story – This one, like number 9, is pretty self-explanatory. Fantastic stories and nothing else. Gotta love me some Zoetrope.

9)     Granta – I was this close to not including GRANTA for the same reasons I did not include The Paris Review and The New Yorker. But because it’s published across the pond, it often gets overlooked. Some people I’ve talked to have actually (gasp!) never even heard of Granta. It’d behoove greatly you to check them out if this is you.

10)   Electric Literature – Who says you need a print copy to be stellar? Much like PANK, this is a publication your future agent and editor are reading. Plus Rick Moody and Aimee Bender appear in the same issue (No.3).

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