Jeffrey Ricker's Blog, page 7
March 4, 2014
This past weekend I attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Seattle. So did about thirteen thousand other writers, publishers, and educators. To say it was overwhelming would be a tiny understatement. Given the plethora of things to do and books to buy, it’s a wonder that I didn’t come back to Vancouver with more books and litmags than I actually did.
There were many highlights of the weekend for me. One was catching up with the fantastic Jess Wells. I also was able to reconnect with Murray Farish, a fiction professor at Webster University whose workshop I took while I was on staff there. He was a fantastic teacher, and now he’s also got a new short story collection out, titled Inappropriate Behavior. I picked up a copy and am looking forward to reading it.
I was pleased to see how broadly AWP considered representation in the mix of panels and readings that were included in the conference program. One in particular that I found enlightening was titled “Queer Double Agents: Writing & Publishing Between Communities.” I wrote a little bit about this that you can find on PRISM international‘s website, along with my colleagues’ comments on the highlights of the weekend for them. Check it out!
February 25, 2014
Take a look at this map.
It’s not pretty, is it? (And I love maps, so that’s saying something.)
Anywhere you see a nation that isn’t green, that’s somewhere that people like me are basically illegal. People like me get killed.
Let’s not be too complacent about the green places, either. I could tell you about the places I’ve been in the United States where I’ve heard the cat calls and threats, directed at me or at other people. Friends of mine, sometimes. Or complete strangers. But mostly, people like me.
Still, I can stay where I am and be, relatively speaking, safe enough. People who live in those orange and red countries, or that big bruise-colored one and the like, may not have the luxury of pulling up stakes and moving.
So, you know, they fake it or die. And faking it, if you ask me (not that you did, but hey, you’re here, so you must be at least a little curious what I think—heaven knows why), is a kind of death in itself.
So you’ll excuse me if I don’t share your enthusiasm about your country’s hockey medal. When people say that things like someone else coming out don’t matter, or that a law in Uganda is none of our business, showing up to or watching a massive quadrennial sporting event (or not) hosted by a country whose leader is throwing queers under the bus to distract from massive corruption and a collapsing economy doesn’t matter, I have to say, yeah.
It does matter.
(And for the person who will inevitably say, “Yes, but a) the United States is guilty of equally heinous atrocities abroad” or b) “there are 17 states in the U.S. where it’s hell being queer so hypocrisy” or c) insert ad hominem “yes but” argument here, let me just cut to the chase and say hooey. Those things are awful, yes, and your bringing them up does nothing to negate the original position. Try harder. Better yet, try telling that to the one who was burned to death by a mob in Nigeria. Or the one who got trampled in Russia, or the transwoman gunned down in D.C.
(You can’t, of course. They’re dead.)
February 17, 2014
“This doesn’t make sense,” Baxter said, but the picture was getting clearer. He turned to Rodrigo. “Where were you before you found yourself here?”
Rodrigo’s brow furrowed. “We were on our ship, The Crimson Flame, being pursued by Sam Pike and his agents.” For a moment, he looked sheepish. “We had an—ah—surreptitious shipment to deliver to the coast of Italy.”
“Smugglers,” Baxter said, not noticing Rodrigo’s look of indignation. They started climbing again. “That makes sense. Is Sam Pike the law?”
Rodrigo smirked. “He’s a despicable rogue who uses the facade of the law for his own diabolical purposes.”
It was Baxter’s turn to smirk. “Whereas you’re a lovable rogue who fortunately can’t read the letter of the law.”
At first it looked like Rodrigo wasn’t sure which comment to take offense at, his roguishness or his illiteracy. Then he smiled. “So you find me lovable, guapo?”
Remember when I said I was taking part in a Round Robin writing project on Goodreads? Well, I finally finished my installment and posted it in the wee hours of yesterday morning. You can check it out here. (I don’t think you need to be a Goodreads member to see it, but if you are a member, go ahead and add me, and check out my next novel—and that ends today’s obligatory blatant self-promotion). I’m the fourth writer in the round, so be sure to start with part one and check out the others as well. It’s pretty fun! Especially considering that the story prompt was the phrase “library pirates.”
February 12, 2014
Remember when I said one of my goals for 2014 was to blog more? Yeah, I’ve clearly been having trouble with that over the past couple weeks. I’ve been trying to line up some promotional things for The Unwanted, and then there’s the whole grad school and thesis business, plus the literary magazine’s contest deadlines may have closed, but that means the reading and the judging has started, which pretty much requires most of my brain’s RAM to keep track of.
Sleep? I vaguely remember sleep.
But! I do have one thing to mention, and it’s not about The Unwanted. As I mentioned earlier this year, Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction came out. It’s the follow-up to Fool For Love, which contained my first fiction publication, “At the End of the Leash.” Foolish Hearts contains my story “Tea,” and I’m giving away a copy on Goodreads! Check it out:
Goodreads Book Giveaway
by Timothy J. Lambert
Giveaway ends March 11, 2014.
See the giveaway details
You like free, right? Of course you do. Normally I like to describe myself as cheap and easy, but this time I’m FREE and easy. What’s not to like?
February 5, 2014
This went live last night but for anyone who missed it, there’s an interview with me by Juliann Rich now up over at her blog Rainbow Tree. Check it out!
Juliann has a YA novel coming out in June called Caught in the Crossfire. I’m really looking forward to reading it:
Two boys at Bible camp; one forbidden love.
That is the dilemma sixteen-year-old Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, an oasis for teen believers situated along Minnesota’s rugged north shore. He is expecting a summer of mosquito bites, bonfires with S’mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor, who always helps Jonathan see his life in perfect focus.
What he isn’t expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings. Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.
Keep an eye on her author page at Bold Strokes Books for preorder information. I’ll be doing a Q&A with her closer to the release date for her novel. She’s both a PFLAG mom and the daughter of evangelical Christians, so I’m really looking forward to a conversation with her on sexuality, identity, and faith.
And her two chronically disobedient dachshunds, as I have a little experience with those myself!
February 4, 2014
The Unwanted doesn’t officially come out until next month, but advance review copies have gone out and I’ve gotten my first review, which is by my fellow writer ’Nathan Burgoine. To say that he liked it would seem to be an understatement. On his blog Sunday he also highlighted one of my short stories, “Tea” in the new anthology Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction.
As I’ve mentioned before, the three main characters in The Unwanted—Jamie, Billy, and Sarah—first appeared in “The Trouble with Billy,” a short story in the anthology Speaking Out, published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books. That book was recently included on the list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults by the ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association. It’s a great anthology with a lot of wonderful stories in it.
I’m thinking of ways I might try to offer “The Trouble with Billy” as a bit of a free taster for the characters in The Unwanted. It’s a much more realistic story than the fantasy of the novel, and I’ve changed a few things about them between the story and the book (Sarah’s dad is a single parent in the story, but not in the novel, for example), but I think it would be great to give people a chance to meet the characters that way too. I’ve been reading a lot about e-publishing on your own and have wanted to give it a shot anyway.
And hey, who doesn’t like free? Personally, I love free.
January 28, 2014
Every year, the GLBTRT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table) of the American Library Association publishes a list of the books that “exhibit commendable literary quality and significant authentic GLBT content and are recommended for adults over age 18.” And whaddaya know, but one of the books I have an essay in made the list! That would be The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly about Sex, Love, Infidelity, and Moving On, edited by Paul Alan Fahey. My essay “What If?” appears in the anthology, and apparently that wasn’t enough to keep the book off the list, so that’s a good thing.
Check out the whole list here. (You’ll also find Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family by the delightful Joel Derfner.) Congratulations to Paul and all the other authors who contributed to the anthology! And if you don’t have a copy yet, click the picture or this link and get yourself one.
January 23, 2014
OK, not really. However, I think increased coffee consumption will be one of the necessary byproducts of my schedule for the next couple months. Let’s add it up, shall we?
Contests, contests. This is actually an improvement, as before it was contests, contests, contests, but now the the literary magazine’s non-fiction contest is concluded, I’ve only got fiction and poetry to worry about. The deadline is today, so if you know anyone who has a story or a poem (or three poems, even) that are looking for homes, tell them to give us a try. They get a year’s subscription to the magazine to boot. (I’ve already mentioned how my American and international friends should consider wading into the Canadian literary competition pool.)
Workshops, workshops, and more workshops. I may have mentioned earlier that I’m taking a year-long fiction workshop. This term I’ve also picked up a radio drama workshop; my first submission is due tomorrow. I’m also enrolled in a course to help prepare for my post-graduation career. Assuming I’ll have one, of course. (More on that below.)
The thesis. Although I’m listing this third, it’s looming large in my mind. I’ve got my advisor’s feedback which was very positive and also very constructive, and now I need to begin the process of revision to make it ready for my second reader.
The Unwanted. You know, it just occurred to me that if you read the cover of my next book without stopping, it says “The Unwanted Jeffrey Ricker.” But I’m trying to be more of a glass-half-full (of coffee?) kind of guy, so let’s point out instead that the novel is currently available for review via NetGalley. If you’re a book blogger or know someone who is and would like to review it, you can request an advance copy there (and thus earn my undying gratitude).
Post-graduation. As if I don’t have enough to occupy my mind before I fall of this bridge, there are a couple fellowships/residencies that I’m planning to apply for. Not to mention that whole looking-for-a-job thing….
Stories, stories stories! I’m still revising stories I wrote over the past couple years and sending them out. I’m thinking that my next book (after the thesis) I would like to be a collection of short fiction. As of now I’ve got 19 published or on their way to being published, and a similar number either in process, in revision, or done and under consideration.
I’m thinking of giving up sleep for Lent.
January 14, 2014
So, recently I entered a story in The Missouri Review‘s fiction contest. (I’ll spare you the suspense: I didn’t win.) Contests are the way I typically renew my subscriptions to literary magazines; most of the ones I enter offer each person a year’s subscription to their journal in exchange for their entry fee. I love writing and reading short stories, so it only makes sense for me to support the sorts of magazines that help keep this form plugging along.
It’s no secret to anyone who’s been paying attention that I’m managing the writing contests this year for PRISM international, which is a Canadian litmag based in Vancouver. The deadlines for the fiction and poetry contest are coming up on January 23, and apart from the fact that entering gets you a year of a pretty damn good magazine, the prize money isn’t too shabby either.
Here’s something a lot of people outside Canada (or even inside) might not know about Canadian literary magazines. Many of them get funding from a place called the Canada Council for the Arts. Think NEA but, well, Canadian. (As an aside, read about the hijinks that ensued when Gary Shteyngart put his foot in his mouth about CanLit and funding and was forced to eat crow. Or in this case, poutine. Which he did, hilariously.) The Canada Council is, quite rightly, responsible for promoting Canadian arts and thus expects much of the content in magazines funded by the Council to be, well, Canadian.
With contests, though? That pretty much gets thrown out the window. Whether you’re from B.C. or Nova Scotia or Burbank or Upper Volta, every entry is judged blind.
Here’s another thing you might want to consider: that Missouri Review contest I entered had more than 2,500 entries in their fiction contest. PRISM‘s fiction contest last year? Around 300 entries.
If I were eligible, I’d be entering.
January 13, 2014
As I’ve mentioned before (and will probably mention a good few times more), while I’m at graduate school I’m living at a residential college for graduate and Ph.D students and post-docs. The best way I have to describe it is “dorm life for grown-ups.” It’s rather bucolic looking (I think that’s the right word, “bucolic”) and situated near the woods overlooking the coast, and the dining room is a large, long space with rows of long tables and a vaulted wood-beamed roof, so I also describe the place as Hogwarts, only with fewer floating candles.
No floating candles, actually. I wish somebody would work on that.
Where was I? Oh, right. Anyway, part of the complex is a communal kitchen, where residents can fix lunches during the week and meals on the weekends, when the dining room’s closed. It’s often… interesting watching people cook. Some folks are practiced hands and make elaborate meals, while others reheat leftovers and go. (I am often in the latter camp.) There are also the folks in the middle, who sometimes give the impression that maybe they’ve never cooked before in their lives.
Sometimes it gets a little scary.
A couple weeks ago, my friend S. was getting ready to fry a steak and put a skillet on the stove. I was standing at the sink washing a pan, my back to the stove. I heard a whoosh, felt a sudden flare-up of heat, and saw flames reflecting in the door to the microwave oven. No, S. wasn’t making the steak flambé-style. He put cold oil in a hot, hot, hot frying pan (word to the wise, kids: heat the oil and the pan at the same time, and use something with a high smoke point—peanut oil is one) with the obvious reaction: fireball.
So there we are, four or five Ph.D.’s—and me—standing in a kitchen with a flaming pan and all of them making a lot of noise. What do we do? Where’s the fire extinguisher? It’s gonna set off the sprinklers! Get some water!
Thankfully, no one threw water on the grease fire (sigh) before I finished drying the pan I had in my hand. So I flipped it over the flaming skillet, which put out the fire. Sadly, it also meant I had to wash it again.
Recounting this story later, my friend A. said something creative writers don’t often hear: “You were so calm. It’s like you’re the most logical person here!”
“And that’s a sad thing,” I replied.