A Sequence on Sequence, Part 3: Amber Sparks

[Wisdom from Amber Sparks.]

Warning: my thoughts on ordering stories will almost certainly be incredibly unhelpful to you in your efforts to do the same. I really feel, after going through the process of writing and ordering a collection, (PLUG: My debut short story collection, May We Shed These Human Bodies, comes out in September from Curbside Splendor Press and is available for pre-order RIGHT NOW)  that there is almost nothing about this that makes any sense and what remains is a whole lot of magical thinking, personal preference, and random guessing. Nonetheless, take what dubious wisdom from this you can; glean whatever kernel of anything useful that you might be able to. I hope at any rate it might be more helpful than the dreaded ‘just make a mix-tape!’ advice that Gabe referred to in his previous post and that I’ve also come across, again and again. Continue reading

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Soda Series #10 this Wednesday at 7pm in Brooklyn

The Soda Series is having our 10th reading Wednesday at the Soda Bar in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn at 7pm. What makes our series unique is that it is a reading and conversation. First short readings and then a 30-40 minute conversation between the writers and the audience. This time we have Roberta Allen, Robin Grearson, John Haskell, and Kirsten Kaschock.  Facebook RSVP

Also, on January 24th  Bradford Morrow, Brian Evenson, and Susan Daitch will be reading. After that the series will be going to four times a year.

Here is a complete list of our past readers: Christine Schutt, Gary Lutz, John Domini, Claire Donato, Mary Caponegro, Tim Horvath, Nick Ripatrazone, Robin Beth Schaer, Brenda Shaughnessy, Anthony Tognazzini, Paula Bomer, Sasha Fletcher, Amy King, Eugene Lim, Matt Bell, John Madera, Jeff Parker, Amber Sparks, Dawn Raffel, David Peak, Ana Božičević, Edward Mullany, Janice Shapiro, Michael Leong, Mike Young, Steve Himmer, Joseph Riippi, Mairéad Byrne, Daniel Groves, Stephanie Barber, Andy Devine, Adam Robinson, Vincent Czyz, Melissa Broder, Stever Himmer, and Josef Horáček.

A very big thank you to all of these past readers and the future ones. You have made and will continue to make the Soda Series a spectacular event!

Kirsten Kaschock makes poems, novels, dances, sometimes people. Her novel Sleight has just been released by Coffee House Press. Her second book of poetry, A Beautiful Name for a Girl, is available from Ahsahta Press. She lives in Philly with three proto-men and their father.
John Haskell is the author of American Purgatorio, I Am Not Jackson Pollock, and Out of My Skin. A contributor to the radio program The Next Big Thing, he lives in Brooklyn.
Robin Grearson is a nonfiction writer who relocated to Brooklyn from Los Angeles last year. When she arrived in New York, she sought to collaborate with visual artists in an effort to expand her writing practice. This interest in art and artists has led to her curating art shows and teaching; she leads a writing workshop for artists at 3rd Ward. Her writing has appeared in print in The New York Times and The Brooklyn Rail, and online in various publications. She is currently working on a memoir.
Roberta Allen is the author of eight books, including Certain People, short shorts, published by Coffee House Press. Her two collections were both praised by The New York Times Book Review. She has been a Tennessee Williams Fellow In Fiction. Her popular writing guide in the 1990s, FAST FICTION, was the first to teach flash fiction. A visual/conceptual artist as well, she has exhibited worldwide and has work in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She taught at The New School for eighteen years and has taught in the writing program at Columbia University. She continues to teach private workshops. Recently, she completed a new story collection called The Princess Of Herself. Her 2000 novel, The Dreaming Girl, has just been republished by Ellipsis Press.

Big Other Contributors’ News, #25

Ryan W. Bradley‘s story, “The Pit Bull’s Tooth,” is up at Wigleaf, and his chapbook, MILE  ZERO will be out in September from Maverick Duck Press.

Elaine Castillo had poems published in Issue 12 of > kill author, and a piece forthcoming from Used Furniture Review, both from her poetry manuscript CANDIDA: A TRANSLATION.  Several of her short films will be screened in Glasgow on April 9, for the Digital Desperados premiere night at the Center for Contemporary Arts.

Greg Gerke wrote about William H. Gass at The Nervous Breakdown–touching on his essay “The Soul Inside the Sentence,” his story “Mrs. Mean,” and meeting the man himself at the Strand Bookstore.

Paul Kincaid has had reviews of The Anatomy of Utopia, by Karoly Pinter, at SF Site; Nexus: Ascension, by Robert Boyczuk, in New York Review of Science Fiction 270, February 2011; and The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi, in Vector 265, Winter 2011. The BSFA also published a chapbook, Into the Woods: Robert Holdstock Remembered, which included “An Answer” as its introduction; “The Memory of Stories,” an interview Kincaid conducted with Holdstock; and “Robert Holdstock: A Roundtable Discussion,” in which Kincaid took part. Finally, Palgrave Macmillan have apparently published Teaching Science Fiction, edited by Andy Sawyer & Peter Wright, which contains Kincaid’s essay “Through Time and Space: A Brief History of Science Fiction,” in which he attempts to compress 500 years and the entire global endeavour of science fiction into just 6,000 words (don’t try this at home, kids).

Michael Leong‘s writing has recently appeared online at So and So Magazine; Action, Yes; Marsh Hawk Review; and Blackbox Manifold and in print in Hotel Amerika.  His manuscript The Philosophy of Decomposition / Re-composition as Explanation: A Poe and Stein Mash-up was a semi-finalist for the 2011 Sentence Book Award and will be published in the near future as a chapbook by Delete Press.  He will be reading from that work at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) as well as giving a paper on generic hybridity in C.D. Wright’s long poem One Big Self.

John Madera was accepted to attend Brown University’s MFA in Literary Arts program, Fall 2011. “The Museum of Oddities & Eccentricities,” a collaboration with Lily Hoang, appears in Unfinished, Stories Finished by Lily Hoang (Jaded Ibis Press). He also reviewed Ted Pelton’s Bartleby, the Sportscaster (Rain Taxi: Review of Books, Spring 2011 Print Edition) and Renee Gladman’s Event Factory (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 2011). Madera, along with John Reed, John Deming, and Tim Brown, took part in the National Book Critics Circle’s Celebrates Small Press Month panel, with Barbara Hoffert
moderating.

Amber Sparks‘s story, “A Brief, Bright Fire to Sweep the World Clean,” appeared in the March issue of PANK. The story was shortlisted for PANK’s 1001 Awesome Words Contest. Two of her previously published stories (“Tours of the Cities We Have Lost” from Unsaid 5, and “You Will Be the Living Equation” from Annalemma 7) were published in the latest issue of Zine Scene’s Reprint.

J. A. Tyler‘s second book, A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed, is now available from Fugue State Press. Please eat this book up.

John Dermot Woods and Lincoln Michel have begun posting their weekly comic strip, Animals in Midlife Crises, at The Rumpus. New jokes every Sunday!

Big Other Contributors’ News, #23

It’s been a while since I’ve posted news of all our various goings on and whatnot. But everyone at Big Other has been up to all kinds of great things.

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Where Do Our Desires Come From? (Want as Tradition)

Owl City: I steal, therefore...

I’ve been thinking about comments that darby and Mike Meginnis made on Amber’s recent post “I Don’t Like Crap Games.” In response, darby wrote:

[…] im saying dont think/worry about what editors want. dont worry about “what they like.” read what you like and write what you like. dont study a journal just to try to get published by them. first, you should love what you write. then you should love what you read. then think about maybe this fits here maybe.

Mike then added:

Yeah, I pretty much agree with Darby’s thinking on this. When editors ask me to figure out what they like I don’t think very much of them. That’s their job. My job is to make what I like. Sure, it’s possible to take that attitude too far, but editors who want fewer submissions can limit their window for slush or etc. I want everyone to submit to Uncanny Valley who wants to so I can choose the best possible, coolest work. I don’t want them worrying in particular about what I want. And I never worry too much about what they want.

I agree with Darby and Mike (and I admire Mike’s editorial stance); I’ve said things like this myself: writers should write whatever they want to write, and damn everyone else’s eyes.

But today I want to try thinking past that thought. Why do I want to write what I want to write? And is it really entirely my decision?

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Soda Series #2 this Sunday in Brooklyn

A conversation with:  Matt Bell, John Madera, Jeff Parker and Amber Sparks at Soda Bar in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. 629 Vanderbilt Ave.

Soda Series website Facebook RSVP. Upcoming readers include: Sasha Fletcher, Eugene Lim and Leni Zumas

Matt Bell is the author of How They Were Found, forthcoming from Keyhole Press in October 2010. His fiction appears in literary magazines such as Conjunctions, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Willow Springs, Unsaid, and American Short Fiction, and has been selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2010 and Best American Fantasy 2. He is also the editor of The Collagist. For more information, click here.

John Madera’s work is forthcoming in Conjunctions, The Believer, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and Corduroy Mountain. His fiction has appeared in Opium Magazine, Featherproof Press, elimae, Everyday Genius, ArtVoice, Underground Voices, and Little White Poetry Journal #7. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, his reviews have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Bookslut, The Collagist, DIAGRAM, Fiction Writers Review, Flatmancrooked, The Millions, The Prairie Journal: A Magazine of Canadian Literature, The Quarterly Conversation, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, New Pages, Open Letters Monthly, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, Word Riot, and in 3:AM Magazine. He is editing a collection of essays on the craft of writing (Publishing Genius Press). He edits the forum Big Other and journal The Chapbook Review. Former fiction editor at Identity Theory, he is senior flash fiction editor at jmww. His monthly column, “A Reader’s Log(orrhea),” may be found at The Nervous Breakdown.

Jeff Parker is the author of the story collection The Taste of Penny (Dzanc) and the novel Ovenman (Tin House). His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Walrus, and others. He co-edited Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia (Tin House) and teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto.

Amber Sparks’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a bunch of places, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, PANK, Wigleaf, The Collagist, Artvoice, and Everyday Genius. She also is the fiction editor at Emprise Review. She has a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University, and a cool job doing new media stuff for an international labor union. She lives in Washington, DC and can be found on the intertubes at www.ambernoellesparks.com.