reposting some news

in case you weren't following me closely on my website

I’ve just revamped my website entirely. It’s all fancy with videos and such. Have a look!

as a consequence, I lost my old blog. I thought I’d post some of the highlights here so that there would at the very least be an archive.

Read on only if you like to time-travel….

AND WHO DOESN’T??

to make it easy for you to find what you like, I’ve divided the posts into categories:

  • posts about short stories

  • posts about being a literary ambassador in Lithuania

  • posts about a work in progress (novel)

  • posts about Pen Parentis


Posts About Writing

I was interviewed by the warm and brilliant Marina Aris and her wonderful partner Diane Fener on the Brooklyn Writers Project podcast, Life Lines the Books. We talk about my writing, my work with Pen Parentis, and why anyone would start a literary project to help other people write (answer: more books in the world is always a good thing!) Have a listen!


SBLitJo wanted to help writers by publishing excerpts of works in progress during the pandemic. Here is my contribution to the cause, an excerpt of my novel-in-progress, Vanity Fair, Tribeca.


2019 - Here's my essay about canned cranberry jelly. Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks to OneLitPlace for publishing it on their blog.-


If I were a publicist, I would write this about the anthology in which my story "CAKE" appears...  IT JUST WON A SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD FOR BEST ANTHOLOGY!

Presenting an all-new horror anthology that shatters the mold…

Bestselling horror, fantasy, and thriller authors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore knew there had to be a better way. Inspired by the efforts of legendary anthology Charles L. Grant, who helped move so many new writers in the horror community’s conversation, Golden and Moore teamed up with Haverhill House’s Twisted Publishing imprint to create…

THE TWISTED BOOK OF SHADOWS

Determined to pay pro rates, the editors crowdfunded the project, and then put the word out as far and wide as possible, loudly and repeatedly encouraging submissions by diverse voices, and recruiting a stellar editorial committee to read along with them, including Linda D AddisonNadia BulkinRachel Autumn DeeringLamar GilesKL Pereira, and Lee Thomas.

Out of seven hundred stories received through a blind submission process—none of the editors had any idea who the authors were—nineteen made the final cut. Within these pages you will find the beautifully weird side-by-side with terrifying nightmares, horrifying folklore, and hellish futures. Nineteen unique and haunting tales that truly earned their place in a book entitled…

THE TWISTED BOOK OF SHADOWS

Discover your new favorite horror stories by:
Melissa Swensen -- M.M. DeVoe -- Andrew Bourelle -- Sara Tantlinger -- Jeffrey B. Burton — Eóin Murphy -- Sarah L. Johnson -- Jason A. Wyckoff -- Amanda Helms -- Trisha J. Wooldridge — Liam Hogan -- KT Wagner -- Rohit Sawant -- PD Cacek -- John Linwood Grant — George Edwards Murray --  Cindy O'Quinn -- David Surface -- Kristi DeMeester

----

But I would also include THIS LINK to order the book on Amazon. 

and you're my friends so I'm also going to tell you a secret:

I want you to know that my included short story "Cake" was written as an homage to my beloved writing group, all of whom are incredible award-winning writers of various genres...they have taught me more about plot and narrative than anyone else in my long history of writing classes. All of the names in the book are various permutations of the actual names of my workshop group members, and our group is itself called "Who Wants Cake" -- so there, you know the backstory of the creation of this little piece of fiction! 

Hope you like the actual story! 


2019 - UPDATE:  I got interviewed as a woman in horror by this cool blog called Thinking Horror: Women in Horror 2019. The irony is that I can’t watch most horror movies at all because of the gore. I can barely watch Arrow because of the self-surgeries and closeups of bullet holes.

I am intrigued by psychological horror, not fear or bloody bits. But oh the delicious mind as it slowly unravels….


2020 - It's kind of staggering that the second anthology that accepted me in horror has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Twisted Book of Shadows, edited by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore is up for Superior Achievement in Anthology (I like that the Stokers don't look for the "best" and that it is not a problem to have a tie in any category!) I'm not entirely surprised the book was nominated, given the extremely intriguing and broad net the editors cast to catch new and underrepresented writers. Still, it is astonishing to me to be in a book nominated for this prestigious award in a genre where I feel myself a relative outsider. On the other hand, perhaps this bodes well for the literary industry in general: when the outsiders start to be noticed for awards, is change ever far behind? 

Don't know what a Stoker award is? Read this article

Want to see who the anthology is up against and all the other finalists? Click here


Posts about Lithuanian Writing from 2019

2019 - The Lithuanian World Community organization together with the Lithuanian Writers’ Union and the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore have invited me to participate in the first-ever World Lithuanian Writers’ Forum as part of the celebration of World Lithuanian Year in Vilnius May 5-7, 2019. 

The aim of the project is to contribute to the preservation of the national identity of Lithuanian diaspora writers including roundtables on the maintenance of a living relationship with the homeland and the creation of Lithuanian heritage through the sharing of knowledge, experience and social contacts of diaspora culture professionals. 

45 diaspora writers, poets, translators and literary scientists from 15 countries worldwide have been selected and invited to the first World Lithuanian Writers’ Forum. Yours truly is one of them. I am so honored and grateful, you can't imagine.

Additionally, on May 8th, I will be participating in a meeting with students from Lithuanian secondary schools organized by the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport.

On a completely unrelated note (well, they both mention Vilnius, so maybe not utterly unrelated), my creative nonfiction essay "Reflections On Belonging" - is now available to read in the Vilnius Review! 


2019 - I represented New York City in Vilnius, Lithuania at the inaugural Lithuanian Writers of the World Forum! There were 33 attendees from 15 countries. It was a magical experience, and one that really drove home how important it is for writers to have a community of like-minded peers.

Our group subdivided into those Lithuanians born outside of the country and those who emigrated and had been living in a foreign country for more than ten years. The first group, to which I belong (both of my parents were born in Lithuania and they raised me bilingual in Texas) had troubles getting local Lithuanians to accept us as Lithuanian, no matter our fluency or subject matter. We were considered outsiders. The second group had it even harder. Those who emigrated and never returned were considered traitors.

So the work was cut out for the organizers of the forum. Night after night we discussed these issues and how to address them, what we could do to raise the visibility of all first and second generation writers, what to call them. It was fascinating. 

The Institute that sponsored us also published an anthology of our work, which they had translated into Lithuanian. Here's the cover. it's called EGZODIKA. 

The Institute of Literature and Folklore is a magical building! It is a mansion from the 1920s that had been built by a railroad mogul for his wife and their six kids so that he could work from home!  Visit this link to see photos of that venue. 

And there are several interior shots from the Lithuanian National Writer's Union, which hosted the public readings and the book launch. Exciting to meet Lithuanians from as far away as Mexico, Australia and Mali. 

We also visited the National Library of Lithuania and I was amazed. The building is a full city block and has a full-floor children's section where unaccompanied minors do everything from study in a "quiet room" computer lab, to participate in a free "makers" class in the largest maker-room I have ever seen. There is also a vast section of international literature in both the original language and Lithuanian translation. It's spectacular. (Not to mention, there is free child care for kids 3-5 for up to three hours so that parents can actually USE the library). 

I liked it so much that they interviewed me on their official website (this link is in Lithuanian.)

The Forum was May 5-7, 2019 - and the following day, the Minstry of Sport, Education and Science sponsored a few of us to speak to local high school students. This too was an enlightening day. First of all, every student in each of the four high school classes I visited spoke passable English. Second of all, their questions were wonderful. My two favorites were: "When you have no inspiration, what action do you take to get back on track?" and "Do you write from a place of pain or a place of love?"

Here is a short article I wrote about one of my takeaways from that day. 

It was a wonderful event. Here are the promised photos.

UPDATE! I was just contacted by MOTERIS magazine, a women's magazine published in Lithuania. They may be doing a featurette on me!


Oh what a gorgeous article was just written featuring me and discussing this trip in the Bernardiniai Lithuanian National Library Blog —that’s like their Library of Congress, people!! Read it here.


NEWS about a Work In Progress - 2018

2018 - The fantastic illustrator Edita Suchockyte will be visiting Chicago this spring to perform some songs (she is a singing teacher at a music conservatory as well as a talented artist) at her art opening at Gallery Siela on April 7th. 

She illustrated my novel in progress and designed a gorgeous cover for it.

The novel began as my MFA thesis at Columbia University. It is an immigrant story: set in Soviet Lithuania, the story of an American kid visiting the "homeland" for the first time and discovering that reality is nothing like what he'd been taught.

The novel attempts to explain why gay men in the 1980s felt they had to stay closeted - even to themselves. Among my thesis advisors was Matthew Sharpe, author of Jamestown. He liked it:

In a nutshell: it's a story of how external society and cultural norms influence a young muscian's identity and what it takes to allow him to emerge.

The book was a finalist for the Dana Awards. It won an honorable mention from the Bellwether Prize. It won a substantial grant from the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation for Gay-Positive Literature. 

And then I took my sweet little coming-of-age novel, and I partnered with one of Lithuania's top visual artists, Edita Suchockyte to illustrate it and design the cover--and in a few months, I will have a spectacularly gorgeous manuscript.

It remains to be seen whether I will find a publisher, but this is where that book is right now.

Thought you'd like to know.


I am thrilled to be able to share with you one of the illustrations for my novel, THE BOY WHO LOVED TREES. The illustrator is Edita Suchockyte whose talent made me gasp when I first saw some samples of her work. I am so privileged to be working with her, and staggered that my words inspired such incredible art. 

There will be six of these plates in the novel, and she also designed the gorgeous cover.

Edita will be visiting Chicago this spring to perform some songs (she is a singing teacher at a music conservatory as well as a talented artist) at her art opening at Gallery Siela on April 7th. 

The novel began as my MFA thesis at Columbia University. It is an immigrant story: set in Soviet Lithuania, the story of an American kid visiting the "homeland" for the first time and discovering that reality is nothing like what he'd been taught. Neither is love. Neither is anything, really. The novel attempts to explain why gay men in the 1980s felt they had to stay closeted - even to themselves.

In a nutshell: it's a story of how external society and cultural norms influence a young musician's identity and what it takes to allow him to emerge.

The book was a finalist for the Dana Awards. It won an honorable mention from the Bellwether Prize. It won a substantial grant from the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation for Gay-Positive Literature. 

And then I took my sweet little coming-of-age novel, and I partnered with one of Lithuania's top visual artists, Edita Suchockyte to illustrate it and design the cover--and in a few months, I will have a spectacularly gorgeous manuscript.

It remains to be seen whether I will find a publisher, but this is where that book is right now.

Thought you'd like to know.


While she was doing art openings across the country last week, I had the chance to meet my illustrator, Edita Suchockytė, in person. What an artist! I love her work so much--you can see more of it on her studio's Facebook page. Her gallery is in Vilnius on the main street of the famous artsy Užupio area. 

My novel features six plates she has created as section breaks - alongside the Lithuanian Folk Tales (that I translated & rewrote) that inspired her. I am currently sending these out and hopefully will find a lovely art/literature magazine who will want to publish one or two!


News about Pen Parentis

2019 - You probably know I founded Pen Parentis in 2014 to help writers find the resources to stay on creative track after they start a family -- well, an article just came out in LitHub called "Creating Literary Community for Writers Raising Children" that I am so pleased to share with you, I'm actually putting it on the blog instead of burying it on the "press" page with all the other articles. 

My deepest gratitude goes to Matt Grant, whose thoughtful reporting included a few conversations, an hourlong interview with me, and even attendance at a Salon, to see it for himself. The result is a beautiful profile of the organization that makes me feel that someone finally understood everything I was trying to do.

Read the article here


2018 - Oh my friends, what a celebration of Literature and Light there was at Baltimore's Inner Harbor last weekend!  As you know, I run a nonprofit called Pen Parentis. Our curator Christina Chiu (whose award-winning novel, Beauty, comes out in May this year) set up a fantastic panel for the Brilliant Baltimore Festival on the CityLit Stage on November 2nd. (Carla Du Pree runs CityLit Project which is a fantastic resource for Baltimore writers!). The panel was a lot of fun and featured six writers who also are parents (including Christina and yours truly) from the DC/Baltimore area discussing perseverence. We are experts!

The panel was called: "Beat the Blues with Pen Parentis: Writers, who are parents too, share ways to reframe challenges in the Writing Life"


2018 - I'm not just sitting around! I've been keeping busy. Pen Parentis' 15th season closed in May and we had a great time because all of the Salons this season were themed. Time Out NY even chose our last Salon as one of "Twenty Awesome things to Do in NYC This Week" and "The Five Best Free Things to do in NYC this Week." We have one more Salon, an encore presentation of Aspects of Love (writers addressing writing about love in very different ways) - called Summer Love it brings together internationally bestselling romance novelist Jennifer Probst, the literary genius of Marcy Dermansky and a Columbia MFA classmate whose most recent novel was a finalist for the Chicago Tribune's annual book award, Gint Aras. (for those of you who are Lithuanian, yep, that's a pen name). I'm really looking forward to this salon. It's on June 13th at 7pm at Andaz Wall Street. Join us.

What's keeping me most occupied however is that I've agreed to host a House of Lit Party on Governor's Island from 11am to 5pm on July 8th as part of the Empire State of the Book Festival. Meg Lemke of MUTHA Magazine is coordinating a full day of events in the house, while Pen Parentis is setting up outside literary-based family-conscious entertainment. We're very excited to do something this big and far-reaching. There are already signs up all over the island (and anyone who knows me personally knows that I adore Governor's Island - it's one of my favorite places in the City). Do stop by on July 8th! It's going to be amazing.


2018 - I was invited as a guest on Little Water Radio's THE DOWNTOWNER show. That happens May 25th from 10am to 11am. While it is a live show (you can listen in here) there is a good chance there will be a recording made. Tune in!