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Those Who Are Lost

Originally published by Hearth & Coffin

I always hated the mural.

No, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been fascinated by it as much as I’ve hated it, a complicated combination. I have to admit, though, now that I know the truth about its origins, my feelings have changed. The mural is how I learned my best friend Annie had been lost, but it’s also how I found her again. I guess you could say I’ve come around.

But I need to back up.

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On Monsters and Mythology: A Conversation With Alex DiFrancesco

Let me tell you about Alex DiFrancesco: they have strong convictions about right and wrong, and they are a relentless advocate for the people they love. They’re brilliant, ethical, and won’t back down from speaking truth to power. And yet, they are also one of the most tenderhearted, thoughtful people you’ll ever encounter. When I first met Alex, they were living and working in the Catskills, recuperating from a messy divorce. Their days were spent baking pastries for a restaurant and devoting the rest of their time to writing. I remember wondering how they did it. How did they write through all that pain and anger and still create such singular works of beauty? And then, the more I got to know them, everything became clear: writing is not just something Alex does because they enjoy it; it’s something they must do. It’s how they process and explore the world, its people, and their own place within it.

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Video: The Economy

My husband Sean and I made this video short for a contest by online publication Mythic Picnic on Twitter. They are an experimental, creative, and fun group of people, and they put out some great content. Their contests welcome not only writing, but also multimedia submissions: everything from photography to comics to video.  

I’m proud to say our video won the grand prize!

The video concept came from a discussion Sean and I had about the Republicans’ eagerness to reopen the economy in the middle of one of the biggest pandemics the US has faced since 1918. I made a joke that their spiel reminded me of one of those super-enthusiastic, manipulative drug company commercials, and Sean laughed and said “Write it up we’ll make a video!” So I did.

I wrote the 30-second script and asked my friend Gabra to record the VoiceOver. She’s a professional VO artist and I had to admit I heard the words in her voice while I was writing. Sean posted an open call on Twitter and Facebook for actors who might be interested in performing. Sean then edited everything together, created graphics, added music, and all the rest of that magical film stuff he does: and that was that!

This whole project honestly came together like a dream. It was such a good experience. For any writer and creative, I can’t recommend Mythic Picnic highly enough. They’re great to work with, and you should give them a follow on Twitter!

Thanks to everyone who shared their talents: Lauren Shaw, Kitty Ostapowicz-D’Ambrose, Amy Chace, Lisa A. Stockton-Wilson, Carolyn Notline Maher, Stacy Mize, Sarah Cuccio – Schoofs, Kristina Erikson, Brett Vanderbrook, Levi Wilson, M. Elizabeth Lee, Joe Brodsky, Allison Brooks, Raina Fraley, and all the roommates, family, and friends who helped with filming, snacks and love. 


Actors Therapy

Amaryllis stood in the rain, squinting at the little blue dot on her phone that showed her location. The cracked screen was barely readable, and the rain didn’t help. It was the correct address all right, and nicer than where most auditions were held. The lobby was very warm and very posh, with doormen, a security desk, and turnstiles that allowed entry only when security pressed a button. She was shooed out almost immediately, directed to the side of the building to an entry in the loading dock. The doorman gestured with his chin to show where she should go; she didn’t even merit a point.

Read full story here: The Write Launch

Book Review for Life During Wartime by Katie Rogin

(Winston-Salem, NC: Mastodon Publishing, 2018)

Katie Rogin is an award-winning writer with a diverse oeuvre. She has written for both television and film, including ABC’s One Life to Live, and a short film In A Blue Mood, which she also produced and directed. Rogin’s essays, fiction and criticism can be seen in publications including Vice’s TonicThe RumpusSports Illustrated, and The Chattahoochee Review. Now, she has added “novelist” to her résumé. 

Rogin’s debut novel, Life During Wartime, is a complex examination of the results of trauma, both mental and physical. The novel takes place in California in 2008. September 11 is still painfully fresh, U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy is teetering on the edge of financial crisis. The book considers wartime and its ramifications both literally and figuratively, and it shows how those involved in waging a literal war can be affected. Rogin’s characters are tough, and they show how surviving after trauma can be an act of courage or even sacrifice.

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An interview with Alex DiFrancesco on their forthcoming book, All City


Alex DiFrancesco has had a busy year. Their essay collection Psychopomps was released  by Civil Coping Mechanisms in February, and their novel All City is being released by Seven Stories Press on June 18. While both books are excellent, this interview focuses on All City. It is an important book, and very possibly a prophetic one. All City speaks for the people whose stories do not often get told, much less told with nuance and compassion.

All City takes place in a New York City of the near future. The chasm between the haves and have-nots is wider than ever, and climate change has sent superstorms of increasing violence to the shores of the city, tearing it down with wind and water. Those with the means always leave before the storms hit, but those without resources and means, those who have nowhere else to go, must remain and hold on to what they can by sheer force of will.

Continue reading An interview with Alex DiFrancesco on their forthcoming book, All City

Book Review for Sor Juana by Ilan Stavans

Ilan Stavans’s book Sor Juana: Or, The Persistence of Pop is a loving meditation on iconic  seventeenth century Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, in particular her image and its omnipresence in modern Latinx pop culture. As a pop icon, Stavans says, Sor Juana shows up on everything from t-shirts to tattoos; tribute is paid to her in hip hop lyrics and operas, and her image even graces official government documents like stamps and the $200 peso note.  “Along with Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Evita Perón, she is ubiquitous,” Stavans says, and “firmly grounded in the pantheon of Mexican icons.”

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Book Review for Dixie Luck by Andy Plattner

Dixie Luck Andy Plattner

Andy Plattner’s collection, Dixie Luck, is a stirring read right out of the gate, full of finely crafted short stories, as well as the novella Terminal, winner of the Faulkner Society’s 2016 Gold Medal for Best Novella. Plattner – a former horse-racing journalist – also teaches English and creative writing at universities throughout the south, including Emory College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Southern Mississippi. Plattner’s work has won multiple awards. His novel Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey (2014), won the Castleton-Lyons Book Award as well as Dzanc Books’ Mid-Career Novel Award. His first short story collection Winter Money(1996) was awarded the University of Georgia’s Flannery O’Connor Award.

Dixie Luck is full of movement, both literal and figurative. Its characters are nomadic,  yearning for and running from change. They search for understanding in the unreliable, for meaning in an oblique glance, and for hope in that next bet they place. Many of these tales are set in the world of horse-racing that the author knows so well. Plattner pulls heavily from both personal and journalistic experience, introducing us to people one might not otherwise meet had they not been part of the racing world themselves. Dixie Luck brims with tales of flawed, sometimes fragile people, the people who live outside the spotlight: gamblers, grooms, and jockeys.

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Laughter is an important part of being human. We use humor to navigate unfamiliar territory and to make bad news more palatable. We use it as an outlet for stress and to make others and ourselves feel better. And of course, we use it just for fun. Is it any wonder that humor also plays a key role in burlesque?

“Burlesque’s far-back history is that of comedy,” said Paige Rustles, a burlesque performer from the Pacific Northwest, in an interview with Crixeo. “I think that using comedy in current-day burlesque is so important because it allows us to tackle big and important topics in a highly accessible way.”

Early burlesque was more about lampooning or satirizing social and political figures. The acts also involved scantily-dressed ladies to add to the appeal of the show. The striptease, as we know it, came much later. Actors would perform skits featuring thinly-disguised caricatures of famous people. Even existing and well-respected literature and music weren’t safe. The Weird Als of the 17th century made fun of it all — and showed their ankles while doing it.


My Writings: Let Me Show You Them.