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  • Train Dreams: A Novella
    Train Dreams: A Novella
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    We the Animals: A novel
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Wednesday
Oct032012

WhiskeyPaper/Wigleaf/BETTER: Culture & Lit

This is the third post in a row in which I've had a number of things to mention/announce. I'm thinking that 1) I've had a lot of good luck lately, which is great and 2) in the very near future, I'm going to have nothing at all to post about, because this certainly isn't sustainable.

This week's goodness:

On Sunday, my story "The Most Beautiful Thing About Her" went live at WhiskeyPaper. In case you don't know, this site is run by Loran Smith and Leesa Cross-Smith. Jane and I interact every now and then with Leesa on twitter, and it's gotten to the point that I feel like she's a virtual neighbor of ours. She's also a great writer who was recently a finalist for this year's Flannery O'Connor Award. About this story: It was part of my collection for a couple years, but it eventually got the boot, mostly because I thought it was a little too similar to my book's title story, tone-wise. It's a kind of heartbroke alt-country tune floating up to you from some downstairs room so quiet you can make out only some guitar, a little bit of the lyrics.

*     *     *

On Monday, I had two stories go live:

"Open Mic Night at Fat Fish Pub" is up at one of my favorites, Wigleaf. I wrote the first draft of this story while bellied up to the bar at the Fat Fish Pub in Galesburg, though there wasn't any open mic taking place. I liked a number of things about that draft and kept tinkering with it for a while until things felt like they were coming together. I liked it quite a bit, but places kept rejecting it; I'm glad Scott gave it a home.

My story "Translated from the French" was also published on Monday, at BETTER: Culture & Lit. This is a new mag, and it seems to have a great team in place. I worked with Sophie Rosenblum, whose work I adore. This piece is part of a series of Monmouth-inspired stories, and it's fairly new. I wrote the first draft a while back but spent some good weeks with it this summer trying to whip it into shape. BETTER also has an audio recording of me reading the story, but please, don't listen it. Nobody should be subjected to the sound of my voice.

*     *     *

On Monday, I didn't just celebrate the publication of two stories; I also celebrated the official publication date of my story collection, Tell Everyone I Said Hi. Janey made me a cake! And we picked up some Prosecco. Then we ordered pizza and had Dad over, and it was a little sad, because all of us were wishing Mom were around to hold the book in her hands and drink some wine, but we cried a little and then got on with celebrating. I mentioned on Facebook, but it's worth repeating here: I have so much gratitude for all of the people who've been celebrating the path to publication with me these past few months. I wish I could have shared this cake with all of you.

Sunday
Sep232012

Five Chapters/Prairie Lights/Wordharvest

This past week, David Daley, editor at Five Chapters, serialized my story "The Other Woman." This story was inspired by a news headline several years ago: State Trooper Sentenced for Forcing Couples to Strip. I wrote the story a while ago but never quite got it right in time to include as a part of the collection, but I was very excited to see it published this past week at such a great site. Did you know they published Molly Ringwald a couple months ago? Not to mention all the other great writers whose work I've admired over there. You can read the story in its entirety here, with no pesky waiting for the next part to get published.

*     *     *

Jane and I took the above photo on our trip to Iowa City this afternoon. We drove over there for some Indian food, and to buy a couple books, do a little shopping. I can't even put into words how stoked I was to see my book on that shelf with all the other recently released paperbacks. Jane was pretty stoked, too, which was awesome to see. I have a story or two about Prairie Lights and what that bookstore has meant to me over the years, but I'll save them for another time. For now, I'll just say that there is no other bookstore in the world where I would rather encounter for the first time my first book for sale.

*     *     *

Ninth Letter put together a reading to coincide with the upcoming Pygmalion Music Festival, and Jodee Stanley kindly asked me to join the sweet group of writers listed on the above poster: Roxane Gay, Ted Sanders, Amy Sayre, and Jensen Beach. We'll be reading at Cowboy Monkey in Champaign this Saturday the 29th. I can't wait.

Sunday
Sep162012

Catching Up

I've been a little behind updating this blog, as I tend to announce things on twitter or over on my Facebook page before I think to type out something meaningful or at least longer and post it here.

First: I published a new story not very long ago over at B O D Y. It's called "Status Updates," and if you're so inclined, you can read it here. I'd be grateful, of course. About this story: I was working on a series of stories told from the same narrator's point of view back in December and January. Then, in January, just as I was getting some good news about my story collection, one of my best and oldest friends received some pretty awful news that was very much related in certain ways to this particular story. I considered trashing the story forever but realized that the piece is about that same impulse that made me want to see it gone forever: how we go about making art in the face of a world that very regularly presents to us situations in which art can seem meaningless. So, I kept it around, and eventually started submitting it to a place or two. I'm glad it found a home at B O D Y, which I think looks great and is filled with lots of amazing writing.

Second: I published another essay that's about, among a few other things, my mom, at Carry On, a new site devoted mostly to travel writing. The essay is called "The Lake Cabin," and you can check it out here. It's not travel writing, but I'm glad Josh Lieberman liked it--and that he took such great care editing it. Really, he made this piece better than it was before I sent it to him. There's not a lot of work over at Carry On right now, but what's there is very good. I'm happy to be an early contributor to a site that I'm pretty sure is just going to get better and better.

Third: I'm grateful to Erika Dreifus for including a little write-up about Tell Everyone I Said Hi in the First Looks series over at Fiction Writers Review. It's strange/excellent seeing my book there, right next to BASS.

Lastly: My old pal/Excellent writer in his own right Justin Hamm posted something just this morning about my book. Here's a chunk of what he had to say:

"I have to tell you, it was just as great as I thought it would be.

There was the very same subtle, down-to-earth, heartbreakingly authentic voice I first read and loved in a fiction workshop ten years ago this fall and have continued to love ever since. If you want to know how real people live in this part of the country, what they feel and think and do and maybe sometimes wish they hadn't done, he's the writer to turn to. If beautiful language is your thing, if you live for those perfect lines that cut you to the bone, then he's the writer to turn to. As I finished reading, it began to dawn on me that soon a lot more people are going to recognize his talents, that soon a lot more people are going to be buzzing about his perfect sense of gesture and detail, his impossibly perceptive characterization, his fascination with everyday mystery, his big fat Midwestern heart."

I found his post in my Google reader while I was just waking up, and it was a great way to start the day. I'm incredibly grateful to him--not only for reading the book but also for writing such a thoughtful post. You can find the rest of what he had to say here.

Saturday
Aug252012

The Week In Review 

I have to say: It's been a good week.

Jane took the above photo when we were visiting friends last month in Door County, Wisoncsin. She took it on our last night up there, the same day I received news that The Rumpus was going to publish my essay, "An Epilogue to the Unread," which went live earlier this week. This was a difficult essay to write, in more ways than one, and I was incredibly grateful Roxane Gay accepted it in such a great publication. That night, when the sun was setting in Gills Rock and Jane snapped the above photo, I was thinking of Mom and The Rumpus and that essay I'd spent so much time trying to get right.

Speaking of Mom...I was doing a little searching and found, on my very own website, this email, transcribed by Jane a little over five years ago, not long after I returned from waiting tables at Bread Loaf. The books she's talking about at first, in case you aren't sure, is the Twilight series. Then she moves on to Christopher Paolini's Inheritace Cycle:

 

Hi, Jane--

How have you been getting along without Chad? Have you heard from him? I don't have his e-mail address, so I can't e-mail him.

I just finished the 2 books you gave me for my birthday. I just got on Amazon and ordered the 3rd one of the series. There was a video with the author that I listened to. She is going to have a 4th and final book in the series. I can't wait to get the third one. Hard telling when the 4th will come out. I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed them. They are kind of a teen-age vampire-werewolf menage a trois. Pretty COOL!!!

Then I got online to find out when the 3rd book of the Inheritance Trilogy was coming out. You guys gave me those too; Elder and Eldest, the dragon books? I just loved those. Christopher Paolini is the young author. He still doesn't have a release date yet for the 3rd book. I have been waiting forever for it! Someone needs to tell him to grow up and finish the trilogy!! He isn't one of the authors at Chad's seminar, is he?

Anyway, just wanted to thank you again for my birthday books. I LOVED THEM!

Your, obviously very immature, mother-in-law,
[redacted]

 

It was pretty heartbreaking to come across that email, I have to admit, but it was also pretty sweet; it's very Mom. I mean, she somehow didn't have my email address. And that bit about the "teen-age vampire-werewolf menage a trois?" Hilarious.

The reaction to the essay I wrote about Mom was pretty amazing. I mean, Cheryl Strayed wrote things about it. And longreads picked it up. But besides all of that, I also received several emails from strangers, and Facebook messages, and numerous mentions on twitter, and really, it was so great. I don't think I've ever had that kind of reaction to something I've written.

And then yesterday, the first advance copy of Tell Everyone I Said Hi showed up on my doorstep.

Look at it! It's my book! Right there on my doorstep.

All of this has happened so fast, I kind of can't believe it. And the book: It really looks amazing. I'm not kidding. I've been turning the thing over in my hands for about the past 36 hours. I can't get over it.

We're leaving soon for vacation, and the plan is to photograph the book in various locales along the way. A blog post is most definitely forthcoming.

Monday
Aug132012

Tell Everyone I Said Hi: The Book Trailer

Janey put together a book trailer for my story collection, and I think she did an amazing job. Here are the blurbs--which I'm incredibly grateful for--she excerpts from, in full:

“Chad Simpson writes with a piercing tenderness and sadness about loss and helplessness and the impossible decisions that we face every day, and the complexity of the compromises we offer the world, and ourselves, in response."—Jim Shepard

"Chad Simpson’s Tell Everyone I Said Hi is my kind of book. James Wright once beautifully asked, Where is the sea that once solved the whole/loneliness of the Midwest? The line kept bubbling up in my mind as I read these unpretentious and deeply moving stories. We’re in the Midwest—Chad Simpson’s Midwest—a place of broken hearts and missed opportunities, flooded basements and faulty wiring. The real stuff, it’s all here."—Peter Orner, author of Love and Shame and Love

"Chad Simpson is clever, compassionate, and refreshingly nuanced in his perceptions of the world, and his stories enchant with both style and substance. Tell Everyone I Said Hi returns again and again to fractured families, to orphans and widows, the strange and the estranged, and each story offers new insight into loneliness and love. Each story is a delight."—Justin Torres, author, We the Animals