Journal of Writing & Environment

Pre-Summer Web Rove

Some links with a bit of heft to keep you through the summer.  by Tony Quick

The Outer Reaches of Love” by JP Kemmick (from Barrelhouse)

Long distance relationships are difficult but what can you do when your wife is an astronaut on a joint American-German research mission and your husband is a superhero? Will they remain faithful? Kemmick’s daringly original short story is a mash-up of the mundane marriage and the fantastic phenomenon of space and super-heroism.

“She’s thinking back to how he tried to tell her what it was like up here, the peace of the infinite, that feeling you get watching the sun rise and set, rise and set; how you worry that the Earth is aging incredibly fast without you and the ridiculous sci-fi fear that you might return to a different era, that everyone will have aged innumerable years without you.”

A definite must read from a writer who is clearly just getting started.

The Ghost of Berries” by Joe Fassler (from Boston Review)

Lately, my own attempt to write the Great American Famine novel has got me thinking about the luxuries we take for granted. Year-round strawberries, food delivered straight to your doorstep. Fassler’s clearly in the same mode of thought. In his melancholy piece “The Ghost of Berries” a young man goes on a mission to find fruit for his dying mother in a world where there’s little food—let alone produce.

“‘Go out there,’ she croaked. ‘Find me something. Real fruit. An orange. But I’d take an apple. I’d take a single grape. Oh,’ she said, and gave a long, unholy groan, ‘I want to taste real fruit again before I die. I don’t care what you have to do—just get it.

He dabbed the wet rag at her forehead and whispered hushing sounds. But when he finally left the house to pace the open air by the sulfur pits, sucking the pebble he used to stem his cravings, a stuck sob widened in his throat.”

This sparse piece tugs at that muscle in your ribcage and the end packs a guilt-laced punch.

Ben Percy’s Favorite Wolf Stories (From Flavorwire)

Anyone that’s met me knows I’m not above name dropping. Former Iowa State University professor Benjamin Percy has written a werewolf novel Red Moon, a novel that crosses literary fiction and genre. In celebration of a new addition to this talented author’s oeuvre, check out Flavorwire’s profile of Percy’s five favorite wolf novels.

On Craft: Fiona McCrae on First Pages (From Graywolf Press)

Speaking of wolves—of a different sort—the Graywolf Press website features a craft lesson from its director and publisher Fiona McCrae on making sure the first few pages of your novel keep the publishers reading.

“Great opening pages, however, are all unlike, and my favorite ones nearly always contain a surprise. The surprise often does not come from language that is forced and straining to impress, but can spring from quite simple phrasing, which nonetheless signals something quite dramatic. Think of Orwell’s clocks striking thirteen at the beginning of 1984, for example.”

The advice is solid and practical. If you’re an aspiring writer, I’d definitely recommend giving it a read.

The Smart Approach to Contest Submissions (From Poets & Writers)

Many literary magazines are tied to MFA programs, so many—including Flyway—don’t take submissions during the summer. I always take this opportunity to re-evaluate my strategies and cleaning up bad habits. Poets & Writers magazine has a great seven-point list to help aspiring writers get their manuscripts ready for their date with the editor. My favorite is number 3: Judge your judge.

“Read that famous poet’s work as well as the work of winners that judge has chosen in the past. Read interviews with that well-known novelist, reviews of her latest book, articles and essays she has published in magazines. Try to figure out not only how she writes but also how she thinks, how she reads. Never heard of the judge? Double your efforts and proceed with caution.”

Have fun reading, revising, and since you’re already here, peruse the Flyway website. We’ll be posting content during the summer. Happy reading!

One response to “Pre-Summer Web Rove”

  1. JP Kemmick says:

    Hey, I wrote the superhero/astronaut love story. Thanks for the kind words. Very much appreciated.