Fiction

It’s amazing how fiction can upend you with its truths.

Mama Dog, my Horror Story, Published in Tiny Town Times!

IMG_9538.JPG
I’m thrilled to announce that my horror story, “Mama Dog,” has been published in the Tiny Town Times, a great little paper produced by Tanline Printing out of Tucson, Arizona, featuring interviews, poetry, art, jokes, and all kinds of other goodies. Check it out here – my story is on pages 20 – 22.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the skeletons, pumpkins, and warty gourds as much as we are.

Not feeling the spirit just yet? Give a listen to Jonathan Toubin’s Haunted Hop Halloween Mix; it’s a blast and will get those spooky vibes flowin’.

Trusting the Process

bone girl pages
I wanted so badly to be done with my novel, to send my manuscript off to agents then try to forget about it until one day, that magical email from someone just dying to represent me popped up in my inbox.

Yet I stalled on emailing any agents. I blamed my delay on nerves and fear, told myself to push through it, finally sent out three queries. But then I stalled again, despite the spreadsheet of 20 other agents’ contact info sitting in my Google docs.

I kept telling myself to stop making excuses. It’s been five years already! Send it out, let it go.

Finally, I meditated on it and listened to my gut: “Don’t rush, Becky. This is your one chance to find an agent. Ask another reader for comments. Give this book all the time it wants.”

It turns out that my new reader not only caught a handful of errors (look at those post-it notes!) but also made a comment that led to an enormous breakthrough on a section I’ve never felt 100% about. I am now back to work, and it feels great.

Another breakthrough: The agents will be there when this book is ready, whenever that may be. And even then, no one may want it! But I believe in Bone Girl, I believe in the process, and I will see my book through to whatever end is in store for her.

To all my artist friends out there: enjoy your acts of creation, no matter how long they may take.

P.S. That glimpse of gorgeous artwork is brought to you by Letisia Cruz!

What Doesn’t Kill You – New Publication and Launch Party with The BPRS (My Band)!

The past few weeks in politics have been SUPER intense and have proven to me how much we absolutely need music and literature. I am so thrilled to announce that a short story of mine, excerpted from my novel Bone Girl, was recently published in YA anthology What Doesn’t Kill You alongside 23 other authors, including two-time National Book Award Finalist Eliot Schrefer. I’m extremely excited about this book (which you can buy here, if ya want) and decided a celebration was in order, so on Saturday, October 20th at Freddy’s Bar and Backroom, my duo, The Brooklyn Players Reading Society, is hosting What Doesn’t Kill You the launch party. If you’ve ever felt like the world’s out to get you, then this book and this night are for you.


The party begins on Oct 20th at 7:30 pm with readings by WDKY contributors Tiffany Berryman, Matthue Roth, Abby Maguire, and Eliot Schrefer. Americana singer/songwriter Eli Bridges kicks off the musical portion of the night, followed by experimental pop/rock duo The Brooklyn Players Reading Society (that’s me!).

Copies of the anthology, released on Indomita Press, will be available for purchase at $16.99 a piece (cash only). No cover, 21+, 7:30-10:30 pm.

More info:
Why wait? Buy your copy of What Doesn’t Kill You on Indomita Press by visiting indomitapress.com/our-books.

Eli Bridges is an Americana folk singer/songwriter hailing from Northfield, MA and now based in Brooklyn. Learn more about him at www.elibridges.com and listen to his tunes on Bandcamp.

The Brooklyn Players Reading Society explores the intersection between literature and rock-n-roll, channeling poet songwriters like Lou Reed, Tom Waits, and Laurie Anderson. I sing and play keys, my husband drums. We’re honest and weird but throw in some pop ditties, too. Give a listen on Bandcamp.

Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support and love. I hope to see you all on the 20th. And no matter what happens, remember – keep making your art!

Bookworm on the Beach


Summer is officially here! Time to bust out the books, bikinis, and sunblock, set up on the beach then refuse to leave until you’ve finished your entire reading list three months later. That’s my plan, at least.

I know I already shared my summer book recs with y’all, but I’m too busy READING ON THE BEACH right now to write a brand new post, and the internet has ruined our ability to remember things from last month, anyway. And to make myself clear, I’m so super serious about #1. Elena Ferrante forever.

5. The Girls by Emma Cline – C+
This book has all the summer trash – sex, murder, drugs, rock-n-roll – but there are some real trigger warnings surrounding rape, so beware. I picked this one up because of its hype: a debut novel by a female writer in her 20’s that quickly became a New York Times best seller but was also heralded as a beautifully written novel. And yes, there are many gorgeous sentences here. But for me, the language actually got in the way of the story. Definitely an interesting choice to pair gorgeous, flowing descriptions with an honest, ugly look at teenage girls getting sucked into a cult (loosely based on the Mansons), but I was overall glad I read it – the story especially shines when we get inside the main character’s painfully realistic, confused little head. James Wood gives a much more thorough review here in The New Yorker.

4. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein – B-
This book is brutally hilarious, often self-deprecating in a way that leaves you feeling like Klein is now a strong, confident woman with that rare ability to make fun of herself without getting down about it. As a celebrated female in the male-dominated comedy industry, she offers readers an intriguing, behind-the-scenes look complete with running commentary that doesn’t back down ever; this openness is welcome and brave and definitely drives the novel. Mixed in with the laughs are some deep reflections on our patriarchal society, revelations that most women will appreciate but then will also appreciate the comic relief that follows. However, while Klein’s voice is strong, consistent and easy to access, it’s clear that she writes sketch comedies, not books; the individual sentences are lacking, the flow is choppy, and the overall structure feels forced. There’s even one anecdote repeated in the last few chapters. Still, a fun and thought-provoking ride.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – B+
I reread this novella for a Capote semester I taught last fall and fell in love with it all over again. For those of you who’ve seen the movie, don’t be put off by the Hollywood ending; there are a handful of major differences between the two, and the book is definitely more rooted in reality. Absolutely gorgeous writing (as always from Capote), a smart and breezy plot filled with New York fun and a touch of darkness, plus one of the most delightful, complicated characters in American literature. Also, only 100 pages.

If you haven’t read In Cold Blood yet, it’s not a traditional summer read but is absolutely stunning, and also the progenitor of the true crime genre – a must-read (or reread!) at some point, though perhaps a better fit for the winter.

2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – A-
Everything Ann Patchett writes is gold. Just beautiful, easy to read yet highly intelligent, carefully constructed sentences throughout all of her novels. Commonwealth tells the story of a nontraditional family as they grow from rascals in California to adults spread out all over the world. There’s some darkness here, but it never gets too heavy. While not as impressive as Bel Canto or as deep at The Magician’s Assistant, Commonwealth masterfully treats a large family unit as the main character, jumping through time and switching points of view to give us a thoughtful and enjoyable reflection on love, loss and growth.

5. My Brilliant Friend, the first of the four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante – A
These books are amazing. I’m on the third right now and CANNOT GET ENOUGH. The characters are so real and distinct and easy-to-love despite their many faults. The depth and complexity of female friendship is at the root of these novels, but Ferrante weaves so many other characters (including the towns and cities which, through her vivid descriptions, feel like characters themselves) in and out with such ease that the overall plot never feels stuck on the two leading ladies. In fact, everything always feels like it’s moving somewhere, even when the characters are sitting still, which brings me to the most dazzling aspect of these novels: Ferrante’s musical writing style. I literally get the rhythm of her sentences stuck in my head like a pop song.

Flash Fiction with Babies

IMG_4348

My College Years in Sunglasses

Our first kiss was in Chinatown, red and yellow and boring. At the age of 41, he was ashamed about loss. It was an easy joke: a possible husband. We had a few summers, a cute story. Door signs to another future. As I rode the express train that took me away, I didn’t even pretend to feel sad.

***

One of the most amazing things about my life as a new mom is the Mamas Writers Group I belong to. These two women and their adorable boys have kept me motivated and inspired during the past few months, which in turn has made me a more fulfilled person and a better mother. Our biweekly meet-ups include hang out/play time with tea and chocolate and milk and rice puffs, commiserations about the difficulties of being a creative mom, some type of writing exercise that we take turns leading, and a round of goal-setting for the upcoming two weeks. The boys chase the cat, grab our pens, rip our papers, and generally have a blast. Somehow, we actually manage to get shit done. I look so forward to these Monday afternoons.

At a recent meet-up, I led an activity inspired by a workshop with Thomas E. Kennedy in which each person tears up other peoples’ writings then makes a list of words that pop out at them from these torn pieces of paper (we used the leftover copies from my latest ESL class, which included fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, and grammar IMG_4344worksheets). The writers then use this list to write something (anything) in a set amount of time (our time limit was flexible as we were also trying to keep our babies alive). From my understanding of the original workshop, the idea is to push yourself outside of your typical boundaries as a writer, to engage with English in a new way, and to use a process you would normally never consider. It can be quite inspiring and also revealing; I think this type of exercise shows us parts of ourselves we may not encounter through our regular writing. As a novelist, it also felt really good to sit down for 20 minutes and come out with a product. I’m the first to confess that I don’t understand flash fiction, but I felt okay enough with the way mine turned out that thought I’d share (plus, I needed a good excuse to post these adorable photos).

Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net Awards

sundress pubI am incredibly excited to announce that my short story, The Roof (appearing in Serving House Journal’s Fall 2013 issue), has been nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net Awards!  Winners will be announced in October, but no matter the results, I’m incredibly excited and honored.  Many thanks to Clare McQueen of Serving House Journal for nominating me.  Click here to browse last year’s Best of the Net anthology, and stay tuned for this year’s winners!

Sundress Publications’ logo pictured above.

“The Roof” to Appear in Serving House Journal

servinghousejournalI am very excited to announce that my short story, The Roof, will appear in Serving House Journal’s fall issue.  This is a very exciting step for me, as my previous publications have been either creative nonfiction or journalism.  I’m very eager to hear your thoughts!