I graduated from the University of San Francisco in December of 2011. Over the course of three summer semesters, two fall semesters, and two spring semesters, I had completed a single novel ("Impasto"), half completed another ("Rise") and completed most of a four-part novella (currently called "Green Leaf, Brown Leaf"). I would've wasted my time had I not left the program with tons of material to work with upon graduating.
Ironically, it was none of these projects I returned to immediately after graduation. I had a wealth of seemingly disconnected pieces of flash fiction, the longest measuring *maybe* 4 pages. I knew I had to keep producing new work post-grad school, but realized a full on novel was a lot of work for where my head was at then. Instead, I tried to see if any of these flash fiction pieces were worth expanding and fleshing out, worth completing to find the end of the story.
For months, I remained on my strange sleep schedule; go to bed at 7pm, wake up at 2am, have a smoke outside my building in the black San Francisco night, and type out whatever ideas came to me on my phone. The fruits of that labor are now available in a single collection called "Scaring the Stars into Submission," which is now up for sale on Amazon in hard copy. Digital copies will be made available soon; their formatting is significantly different from that of their hard copy brethren.
From February 6th, 2012 to September 1st, 2014, I spent every writing moment focused almost entirely on completing this collection. "Marina, Patina, Corona" was the last story to be completed while "Firebug for Hire" was the first. There was often no rhyme or reason to which story was completed when, only that sometimes one felt more ready to be written over the others.
What I did not expect was the stories left untold in the pages I had yet written. I flat out love this collection. At the time, I was reading a lot of Blake Butler, Ben Marcus, and Matt Bell, all of whom do fantastic work linguistically in some very strange narrative situations and settings. These authors were my base and had a great influence over me. Their books "Scorch Atlas," "The Flame Alphabet," and "How They Were Found" (respectively) have been read over and over again because they are just that good. They are also just that engaging in subject matter for me.
I did not want to self-publish. I had read entirely too many excerpts of books that were poorly edited, poorly written, or both. This tainted my ideas of the nature of self-publishing through Amazon. Publishing houses and editors alike had no interest in publishing the collection as a whole, so I finally decided this summer (2016) to do it myself.
I cannot explain to you how vital my friend Rob Romine was in the final stages of the process. I've known Rob nearly the entire 16 years that I've been a DJ. He worked at one of the record stores I would often frequent on the weekends and, eventually (with mutual friend RJ Bass), asked me to join them in their Sunday night downtempo/trip hop residency in the Martini Corner part of Kansas City. I've made mixes in his basement, partied with him long into the night, and gotten to make some fun music with him over the years. But having his patience and his technical skills in handling this cover art and making sure the page formats were up to snuff has been invaluable through this entire process. There was scotch a-flowin' once we realized we'd gotten both the manuscript and the cover art perfected and accepted. Especially considering how much we volleyed back and forth with ideas, whether on cover art or simply trying to get the right formatting on the page to fit the templates through the Amazon site. Today alone, I spent no fewer than 8 hours on preparation for this. A lot of good lessons learned, a lot of mistakes that won't get repeated again so the process goes smoother next time.
There is also an incredibly beautiful foreword by my good friend and brother-from-another-mother Surya K Kalsi at the beginning of the collection. We went through literary boot camp together and we could not be more different in our personal aesthetics, but we are both very, very serious when it comes to the craft. He keeps a blog called Headers, Margins, and Footnotes that is always worth reading. He also has a book out, published by Little Feather Books that can be bought HERE or HERE. It is an unbelievably, beautifully written book that's easy to get lost in for several hours at a time.
For now, my book remains "In Review" on the Amazon site. It's also currently only available in paperback since digital copies require a more stringent and particular formatting (which I'll be doing this week). So don't worry, a digital copy is coming soon for those of you that love the e-readers.
Once the link goes live on Amazon for the paperback copy, I'll create another post. Until then, you'll have to wait the same way I do for this link to be available. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I know it's WAY the hell outside of the average reader's wheelhouse; it's far too strange in places for most. But I honestly think the heart is there. I think there is some very solid storytelling happening in several of these stories and I could not be happier with the finished product.
It's looking to be a solid start to 2017.
And speaking of 2017, a little memory popped up on my Facebook news feed today about the number of places I submitted to over the years. The post is worth repeating here:
"2012: submitted stories to 15 places.
2013: submitted stories to 148 places.
2014: submitted stories to 237 places.
2015: submitted stories to 262 places.
2016: submitted stories to 116 places
and released a full short story collection.
Hustle harder. Do more with your time. It gets easier the longer you do it."
And it's true, it *does* get easier the longer you do it. I've already got a second collection of stories ready to go, but which I'll be sitting on for most of 2017 while I work on a third collection and one of my novels-in-progress. I'm not a fan of floating in place; if there's no forward momentum happening in my life, I feel like I'm simply wasting it. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more literary news on my end as it comes.
Quit wasting your talents. Grab the bull by the horns, gather up your supplies, and go create the hell out of something for people to enjoy. You'll be glad you did.