Category Archives: FUNHOUSE

Oh! What a WEEK

Hi Friends,

Our March/ April issue of Bending Genres online journal, ISSUE 8, published on Tuesday, April 9. Filled with amazing, diverse flash fiction, stunning poetry and brave, insightful creative non-fiction, we had more than 1,200 hits the first day we published! A new feat!!! Thanks to our editors Meg Tuite, Jessica Mehta, Samuel Fox, David O’Connor, Jonathan Cardew, Davon Loeb, Corey Holzman, Adam Robinson, and KJ. And also thanks to our writers, and those of you who tweeted, added your own or your favorite stories to FB, IG, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and more.

Also, this week, the stories in Best Small Fictions 2019 were announced. And my piece, “Six Glimpses of the Uncouth” was included with many stellar authors like Lydia Davis, Amelia Gray, Michael Martone, Kim Chinquee, Ann Beattie and SO many more. I’m truly honored to be included, my second time (I also had a piece selected in the 2016 BSF).

I wanted to mention that the particular piece which was selected truly had some serious legs. Originally it appeared in Bud Smith’s anthology, Uno Kudo. He ran this project (2012-2015) with many friends including Aaron Dietz, Erin Parker, Erin McParland, and Chuck Howe (RIP). Then, it was picked up by Metazen, an online journal which mined GOLD in its heyday. Then it was selected to appear in my third book, Addicts & Basements. And finally, last November, it was published at Hobart Journal, with four of my other short fiction pieces. The theme here is never give up on your work!

And then, Nancy Stohlman, dear friend and terrific writer, interviewed me about my latest book, FUNHOUSE, in her series, So You Wrote A Book. She asked some terrific questions and I so appreciate her verve and support of fellow writers.

We still have some openings at Bending Genres for online workshops May 24- 26 with Kaj Tanaka; and June 14- 16 with Sabrina Orah Mark. 

Also, consider joining us in Taos, New Mexico for our second week long writing retreat at   Mabel Dodge Luhan House! July 21-27. Incredible vistas, inspiring daily writing talks, roundtables to receive and give feedback, gourmet food. Want to change your writing life?

Talk about a busy week… and it snowed all day yesterday. What the latest with you?

 

New Publications

Hi Friends,

I’ve had two pieces published in the past week or two. One of them is a triptych, a piece told in three separate, distinct or linked sections. Mine is called “Three Tide Pools,” and is published at New Flash Fiction Review, a terrific literary zine based in England. Thanks editor, Steven John, for this opportunity!

The other piece, “Sirens,” was published at Eunoia Review, and I want to thank editor Ian Chung. He runs a very tight magazine, also online, and is very supportive of writers.

Also I recently attended AWP19 in Portland. It blew my mind!!! My favorite city thus far (and this was my 10th AWP), and as always, a terrific way to experience a location, while catching up with so many of my writing tribe. I also had the opportunity to meet some of my writing idols, like Alina Stefanescu, among so many others.

Bending Genres is now full for our Sara Lippmann “Mine What Matters” weekend workshop. Please consider joining us for Kaj Tanaka’s “Opening Up & Shutting Down- The Art of Beginning and Ending.” And Sabrina Orah Mark’s “Writing & Failure: On Disappointments, Shame, Failure and Getting Lost.”

Also this Tuesday, Our March/ April Bending Genres issue will be live! Stay tuned for some great hybrid content!!! And Meg Tuite and I have some space available for our second summer writing retreat, July 21-27, at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com.

And last, but certainly not least, Milwaukee lost one of our veteran, devoted, and passionate writers, editors and citizens this week. Philip Martin was a friend, a mentor, and a sweet, kind, generous soul. He also designed this website for my last update. I will miss him very much.

I’m reading T. Kira Madden‘s Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, on the heels of finishing a life-altering book, Edinburgh, by Alexander Chee. What are you reading? How was your AWP or how did you experience it online if not in-person?

Writing News

Hi Friends,

Last August, an incredible anthology called New Micros: Exceptionally Short Fiction, was published by W.W. Norton. This was expertly edited by Robert Scotellaro and James Thomas, and I was fortunate to have two of my pieces included, both formerly published in RIFT, my co-authored collection with Kathy Fish.

Writer and Editor Tommy Dean is now conducting interviews about the craft, the construction, and ideas behind the pieces chosen for New Micros. I was so happy when he asked me to participate in his project, and our exchange was published at New Flash Fiction Review.

Thanks, to everyone, for believing in my writing, both in the publishing realm, and in these kind editors like Tommy, who endlessly support writers and writing. Also, thanks to NFFR, who have a terrific team and publish innovative writing. Check out their journal and submit your best!

In three short days, I head to Portland and AWP commences. I hope to see so many of you, my writing tribe. I’m both excited and terrified. And I have new Bending Genres postcards, thanks to Adam Robinson and his talents, so be forewarned.

And last, here is a goofy office photo of me in rad shades. Future’s so bright?!!

Happy Spring:

 

This Writing Life

Hi Friends,

I had a good writing week, as far as the usual week goes. I wrote every day, had my Friday Roundtable today (we missed you, Nancy BK! And Carol!) and after 14 years of leading that group, I almost always drive home in amazement of the work, the comments, and support. So grateful; I’m a lucky guy.

I also had two acceptances (back in the Submission game!) and found out some exciting news about one of my pieces that was published at Hobart Journal last November. Bud Smith was the guest editor and he accepted 5 flash fictions, mostly all from journals that have gone out of publication. You can read them all here: http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/five-stories. I can’t share the “exciting news” part quite yet. Just know I am over-the-moon!!!

Today was the beginning of Jonathan Cardew’s Ugly Real Beautiful: Let Your Characters Tell the Story. It’s our third Bending Genres weekend workshop of 2019, and all three (Meg Tuite in January; Alina Stefanescu in February) have been full so far. We only take 20 writers max, and our next opportunity, Sara Lippmann’s Mine What Matters, is more than half full already. So, don’t wait!!! More here: https://bendinggenres.com/monthly-workshops/.

Today I also booked flights for Synergia Ranch, our first Bending Genres retreat on May 10-16. I am so excited for this! Also, we still have some openings for our second Bending Genres retreat at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, N.M. on July 21-27. Come write your heart out in the desert, eat gourmet food, laugh and dream with like-minded writers: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com

And, I hope to see you in Portland at https://www.awpwriter.org, March 27- 31? I’ll be floating around the book fair needing a haircut, hiding in back booths at late- night readings, toasting friends like Bill Soldan, Karen Stefano, Len Kuntz, Jayne Martin and a plethora of other talents who have new books, or books being birthed soon. Please let me know if you have any signings or engagements.

Happy writing! What are you reading lately?

Omega Institute: Nick Flynn

Hi friends!

I recently attended a week long writer’s retreat at Omega Institute called Memoir as Bewilderment. I think what attracted me, aside from stellar writer and teacher Nick Flynn, was the bewilderment factor. I feel as if life presents itself in this manner often, and my writing most certainly contains an element of the unknown, or the mysterious.

I arrived after car, plane, cab, train, and shuttle. I met my first writer taking the same course at the Rhinecliff train station, Anne. We immediately bonded over books, family similarities, New York and there was an immediacy that writers tend to have.

Prior to the workshop we were asked to bring with us: 10-20 pages of our own writing (and to choose one page to make copies for everyone), one page from a published book),  a science article (copies for everyone). All of these were to hopefully contain elements of what we define as bewilderment. I’d just completed Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, his new memoir about his mother. Plenty of bewilderment!

The workshop was held in the Creekside cottage, which was a tight space for 25 writers! After selecting a word from the white board (I chose “to Lose”) we were given a postcard image. We meditated for seven minutes (a welcome recurring theme before our writing prompts) and then wrote “descriptive writing”- trying to stick with details. We repeated this exercise with slight suggested revisions, so that eventually we had written four or five different prompts. We also read Larry Levis’s lyric poem, “Sensationalism.” My small group was Laura, Kathryn and Carrie. I also partnered with Sean on a couple of exercises.

Teacher Nick Flynn, author of several books, including his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which I read during our Omega workshop. (http://www.nickflynn.org)

One evening, we saw Aja Monet read from her stellar poetry collection, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter at the Omega Library. She was amazing.

In class we also drew maps of a specific location, and a map of our body (placing both trauma and joys on the body). These were used for prompts. We did a movement exercise with Omega staff and writer JoJo that helped us to identify a place in which we might go deeper into a writing piece. Then we wrote a piece toward a direction on our maps. We also visualized our ‘home direction,’ and figured out a gift to give to our “person,” (used from our original postcards) and wrote a fairy tale prompted piece to a younger self in a deep woods.

Stanley Kunitz, a mentor of Nick’s said: “You have to become the person that can write the poem.” (of compassion, of anger, of solace, etc.)

On Wednesday, Nick’s friend and music collaborator, Guy Barash visited the Omega campus. We did an afternoon workshop with Guy, directing us with non-musical instruments, graphed and designed on paper. We did a silent meditation just listening to local ambient sounds (heater, planes, crickets, etc.) and “recorded” them, then attempted to translate them to the class (from our papers). Then, in groups, we performed our pieces. Then Guy directed the entire class as an aural orchestra. We dubbed ourselves the Unstable Atomic Pigs! Nick was so kind, he invited us to open for Nick and Guy’s performance in the Lake Theater that evening. Also Jared Handelsman, another collaborator, provided video footage. Their show was beyond inspiring!

On Thursday our class occupied the Lake Theater at Omega. This was an entire day devoted to our “working project.” We went through our various collected pages, new writing and brought pieces, and various favorites from the group. We marked the “resonant parts,” and Nick coached us to be generous- not one or two words, mark “whole passages.” From there, we literally cut out those parts, and placed them onto 30 blank sheets of white paper. I sort of figured out that I had three or four threads for my project. And I had organized them all in these groupings. Then Nick came over, listened as I described my chaos, and said, “okay, now you can switch them all up- move them around, etc.” I literally felt nauseous! But so did everyone else. Chaos… opposite of organized.

The last morning, Nick fielded a quick question and answer. Because I had to leave early on Friday, I was the first in order for the final reading. I read “Tributaries,” and “When He Left it all to Me.” I was only able to stay for the first four or five other readers. I felt so badly when I slipped out, but I had to catch the train, to the cab, to the plane, to the car ride home. My dear friend David Carter (who incidentally was the first friend I workshopped with at Omega in 1994), came and spent an overnight on Thursday, and transported me to the Rhinecliff train station. Bless his heart.

What a week. So grateful to Nick Flynn, teacher extra-ordinaire, my co-writers and creators, to Omega for hosting this amazing workshop. To friends, new and old. And always to my honey, who makes life seem more technicolor than ever.

August Recap

Hi Friends!

It’s been a busy month. My biggest news is that FUNHOUSE had a mention in The New York Review of Books- The August 17th edition. Pinch me now!!! This is a pretty major accomplishment. They’d read my FUNHOUSE Kirkus Review and contacted me. FUNHOUSE is happy, and my family/ friends are happy. I am over the moon!

Also, I recently read at Boswell Books with local writers, novelist Lee Kreckwell (The Expanse Between), poet Caitlin Scarano (Do Not Bring Him Water), and Chicago author Ben Tanzer (Be Cool– Essays/ Memoir). The evening was referred to as a mix of Micro, Poetry, Fiction and Memoir (a blend of genres):

There was a nice write-up in our local Sheperd Express about the reading:

http://shepherdexpress.com/article-30227-midwest-writers-gather-at-boswell-for-micro-memoir-poetry-prose.html

And a couple of great things happened at (b)OINK, where I am the Managing Editor. First of all, we announced our nominees for Best of the Net. This was quite difficult because we were limited in terms of how many pieces, and so many terrific ones to select from. Please head over to (b)OINK and read these phenomenal nominations (www.boinkzine.com):

And then, we announced the TOP 20 finalists in our very first Flash Fiction Contest. We had over 150 entries!!! And our vetters did a fantastic job: Len Kuntz, Dianca London, and Nicholas Cook. Then our guest judge, Kathy Fish, selected the top three winners- they will be announced on September 1st. Here are the top 20 stories, without the authors’ names:

(b)OINK’s Flash Fiction Contest: The Top 20 Finalists

And finally, the Hurricane Harvey scared us so much, with precious family who live in the Corpus Christi area. Everyone is safe, and fortunately the rain damage is not over yet. Please think positive thoughts for all those in Hurricane Harvey’s plight.

I leave on Tuesday for Bending Genres, a workshop at Synergia Ranch, outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m hosting with the kickass, and brilliant Meg Tuite. We have 17 writers aligned to arrive on Friday, September 1. I’m beyond thrilled and ready to have a stimulating and eye-opening week-long experience.

 

 

Summer is Here!

Happy Summer!

As it’s been a while since my last blog, I have some things to mention.

First of all, FUNHOUSE had a very lovely KIRKUS review:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/robert-vaughan/funhousex/

I want to thank the editors at KIRKUS, and also all of your lovely compliments after reading the review.

Also, at the international online magazine, Levure Litteraire, my dear friend Helene Cardona published three of my FUNHOUSE pieces:

Robert Vaughan

Then, at the LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS, there was a fine essay called Protean Miniatures: The Adaptability and Sustainability of Flash Fiction by Sean Hooks, in which he mentions RIFT, my last book with Kathy Fish (about halfway through the article). This was a shock, and a very pleasant one!

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/protean-miniatures-adaptability-sustainability-flash-fiction/

And many of you already know I am the Managing Editor at (b)OINK. Well, many things are happening with our magazine, including our Inaugural Flash Fiction Contest with guest judge Kathy Fish:

https://boinkzine.submittable.com/submit/87025/boink-flash-fiction-contest-with-guest-judge-kathy-fish

And we have a new (b)OINK poetry editor, Jamal, and an intern, Corey, as well as a new office in Walker’s Point, a diverse and fun neighborhood in Milwaukee. More new things forthcoming!

Our first (b)OINK presents reading will be on Thursday, June 29th, at Sugar Maple in Bay View, WI. 7-9 p.m. Emceed by Dora Diamond. Surprises and gifts abound!

I had the great fortune of attending Marjorie Pagel’s book launch (The Romance of Anna Smith and other stories) at Anodyne yesterday. I was so thrilled she had standing-room-only crowd and her book is available at Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/Romance-Anna-Smith-Other-Stories/dp/1545412413/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498235510&sr=8-1&keywords=Marjorie+Pagel.

Enjoy summer. Read as much as possible. Looking for a workshop? Check this out:

http://bendinggenres.com.

 

Interview at Midwestern Gothic

Thanks for editor Audrey Meyers for her salient and insightful questions, my interview was published today at Midwestern Gothic magazine:

http://midwestgothic.com/2017/03/interview-robert-vaughan/

I also want to thank editors-in-chief and founders Jeff Phaller and Robert James Russell. I had the honor of my work appearing at MG in two of their early print journals, and also Kathy Fish and I were interviewed for our book, RIFT, at the MG website in 2016. Midwestern Gothic has expanded into the book business (MG Press) and offer “The Lake Prize” for Midwestern authors to enter. Be sure to check them out, especially if you live in the VAST MIDWEST!!!

I’m reading Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women. Love it so far!

What are you reading? Any words about it?

Also, an image from last night’s Red Oak reading at Comedy Sports (which was fantastic). Me wearing my all-new Ron L. Kibble wearable art hoodie (Ron painted the amazing cover of FUNHOUSE). Thanks RON, and thanks Jonnie for the shot:

Red Oak Reading

Tonight I’ll be reading in the Red Oak Showcase at Comedy Sports along with other writers, including:

Mel Miskimen, Judy Bates, Rachel Gerlach, Maryclaire Torinus, Jonnie Guernsey, Nancy Bauer- King, Myles Hopper, Kim Suhr, Carol Wobig and Joel Habush.

I’m thrilled to be among so many diverse writers and talent. Please come, early if you want a bite, or a drink, the reading will start promptly at 7 p.m. Also, we are dedicating tonight’s reading to Judith Zukerman, who was a member of the Friday roundtable group for a span of over 10 years. What a life Judith lived: a terrific partner and mother, an advocate for women’s rights, sharing her Jewish faith and beliefs, and such a talented writer, poet and dancer! I was honored to know Judith for this decade, and she made my life much deeper, richer and expansive as a result.

Please come and help us spread Judith’s passion, her zest for life. I hope to see you tonight! I will also have copies of FUNHOUSE, my latest book for sale. And Unknown Press, my publisher, has launched a new website. Check it out here: https://unknownpress.org

Finally, it’s never too late to tell those you love (right now) that you LOVE THEM!!!

 

WordTango Cross-Genre Deep Dive

I’m teaching a weekend online workshop April 28-20, called Cross-Genre Deep Dive, hosted by WordTango, the online writing community. I had the terrific pleasure of meeting Liz Pettie and Jen Kircher- Carr at the AWP Conference in Washington D.C. recently.

We didn’t go swimming, or even diving. But life can take you into deep waters, or leaping, plummeting from various heights, for innumerable other reasons: debt, accidents, secretive meetings. The list is endless!

If you are unfamiliar with my writing, I’ve just published my 5th book, FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press). It’s a good example of cross-genre work in one book: flash fiction, prose poetry, and longer short stories. (See the tab “My Books” for more information.)

I hope you will consider taking the WORDTANGO course. More information is here: http://us11.campaign-archive1.com/?u=fc8698610dd752def107a548c&id=72030255b0

Please let us know if you have any questions. And thanks, Kathy Fish, for the solid recommendation.

Happy Writing!