CLOSED! Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the giveaway on Twitter and Instagram. Lauren Voeltz is the winner!
I can’t believe my book has been in the world for one month now! So many friends have posted pictures on social media and shared their favorite stories. Oh, and David Sedaris has a copy of it! I went to his reading last week and gave him a copy at the signing. He asked what it was about and said “I look forward to reading it.” !!!
To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway. You’ll get a signed copy of the book, a super-cool Venus tea trap, and two delicious teas from my favorite companies.
I’m honored to share this blurb for my forthcoming chapbook, Won’t Be By Your Side.
48 Blitz was the first book I was completely on board for in my initial role at Split/Lip Press, which means Brett Biebel was the first author I got to work closely with and really hype up on social media. I kicked off my “Five Questions” interview series with Brett and still remember his engaging answers. He recorded himself reading one of the stories (“Warriors”), which you can hear on his book’s Split/Lip Press page, linked above.
That story exemplifies what you get from his flash fiction collection. Insights into the lives and minds of people you might not think twice about—as the back cover copy says, the book is “inviting readers to immerse themselves within, rather than fly over, the wide-open Midwestern prairie.”
Some of my favorite stories include:
“The Messenger,” which features a politician holding rallies at bowling alleys
“Message to the Grassroots,” which is about a fast food company trying to figure out how to spin the unfortunate death of one of their customers
“Dear Abbey,” an ode to young love and moving on
“Capacities of Self-Abuse: An Ethno- Porno-Graphic Immersion,” which is about, yes, masturbation and the study of
“Kansas City Blues,” which is an evening with a newlywed couple already facing stress
And ALL the stories about Mulberry’s: their unique marketing approach, possibly offensive commercials, and just the subtle mentions in many stories.
I love how Brett’s collection has 48 distinct stories, but you’ll read a name and think, “Wait…” and flip back a few stories to see the character mentioned in passing. It’s an immersive way of storytelling that truly feels like you’re among these people, hearing stories from people who know each other.
I’m so honored that Brett agreed to read and blurb my chapbook because I greatly admire his writing, and I hope you’ll check out 48 Blitz. In the meantime, check out this amazing story he recently published in Atlas and Alice: “Holy War.”
Since then, Keely’s second book, Baby Is a Thing Best Whispered, came out with Alien Buddha Press. Once I stopped staring at the gorgeous cover, I dove in and the stories swept me away. The relationships in this book are realistic, even when that means they’re fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. Keely deftly inspires those emotions in the reader.
A few of my favorite stories include:
“Some Girls are Just Trashy and No Good,” about girls at the fair testing the limits of who they are and what they could become, with descriptions so vivid you can smell the food in the air as the colorful lights flash before your eyes.
“Adult Teeth,” about a family of women that hammer their baby teeth into a tree.
“Love Is Riding the Log Flume at Splash Town in Late Summer,” which is about love and loss and the passage of time, told with heart-wrenching, brutal honesty.
“How to Bake Cookies When Your Child is Dying,” giving you step-by-step instructions on how to make cookies and think of anything other than your child dying, while deftly inserting emotion into each part of the recipe.
I need to stop before I highlight every story, but you get my gist. This flash fiction collection is one you don’t want to miss!
My seventh review for Chapbook Week is An Inventory of Abandoned Things by Kelly Ann Jacobson.
As the title suggests, each story is about an item that pulls you right into the setting. The narrator is navigating a pregnancy and long-distance relationship while trying to get used to the Florida ecosystem, so there are some creatures creeping along in this book. As with Girlmine, I was so impressed with how place is a character in this book. Each story transported me to the exact location and immediately had me feeling everything that was going on, so it’s definitely a book to study as I work to improve that aspect of my own writing.
The sixth title of Chapbook Week is Shiny Insect Sex by Stephanie Lane Sutton.
The vivid stories in this collection are a blend of science and gender, and I loved how each story pulled me into a new world and taught me something about what’s around me. One of my favorite stories is “Survival Town, USA,” but I can never resist “The Shy Male Seahorse Aborts For Me,” with its stunning opening line:
“When our eyes meet, the space between us fills with his brood.”
This tiny book is part of the INCH series from Bull City Press. Get your copy HERE.
The fifth title for Chapbook Week is Abstinence Only by Meghan Phillips.
I first heard Meghan Phillips read early-ish in the pandemic, when all events were on Zoom and you felt exhilarated that you could see authors that were normally too far away. After her first reading, I went to so many more because I was drawn to her writing style in general, and these stories specifically. This collection is one you’ll want to re-read often. The double standards between the females and males in the stories are infuriating but realistic, so it’s refreshing that Phillips brings it into focus and adds some twisted humor to the matter. I can’t pick a favorite, but “V-Card” is high on the list, along with the innovative logic puzzle format of “There’s No Good Reason Not To Wait!”
The fourth book for Chapbook Week is The Quiet Part Loud by Tyler Barton.
This chapbook was one of the first Split/Lip Press books I read when I started working for them in 2020, and I was blown away. The stories cover that time period between the teenage years and adulthood, when you should maybe know better but still do random shit anyway, and it’s fun and exhilarating even if part of you is embarrassed. The characters are all people you’ve known, or people you were. Each story sucks you in but leaves you wanting a little something more—just enough so you randomly think of the characters like they’re old friends and wonder what they’re up to now.
The third entry for Chapbook Week is Girlmine by Erica Soon Olsen.
The “Daphne” stories are among my favorite because of the way the well-known character orients you to an extent, then completely turns what you know upside down. The sense of place in every story is perfection, and I couldn’t help but notice it as it’s something I struggle with in my own writing. “The Iron Ranger” is especially spot-on in terms of location and description.
This tiny book is part of the INCH series from Bull City Press. Get your copy HERE.
My second title of Chapbook Week is Love Letter to Biology 250 by Chella Courington.
The stories in this chapbook blur the line between biology and everyday life, often in a surreal, almost magical way. Each piece gave me a pleasant flashback to college biology courses, which is amazing because I didn’t enjoy the class at the time. I only wish I had Courington’s innovative framework back then so I could search beneath the facts for stories.
Each piece is great, but my two favorites are “Et Cetera” and “Smack.” You can get this flash fiction chapbook from Porkbelly Press.
I’ve been reading a lot of amazing fiction chapbooks lately and want to highlight them. First up is The Swell of Seafoam by Keely O’Shaughnessy.
I met Keely when I worked as a Priority Editor at Flash Fiction Magazine and got to know her writing from there. This micro-chap contains five pieces of flash fiction “from amongst the waves.” The sea almost takes on a character role in these stories, along with parents, siblings, stepsiblings. They touch on how complicated familial relationships can be, paralleled with the mysteries of the ocean.
I love all of these stories, but this line from “Floatation Therapy in the Subjunctive Mood” sticks with me:
“[…] what if, once he was gone, I didn’t have to feel my body expand as I buried my face in the pillows letting out big, heaving sobs […]”