Humor and Absurdity

All posts in the Humor and Absurdity category

The Little Story That (Almost) Could(n’t)

Published April 22, 2018 by Philip Ivory

This is a storyIMG_1614 about a story that was accepted three times but almost but not quite ended up nowhere.

My flash fiction piece, “Apparition on the Threshold,” was born out of an exercise in my Writers Studio Intermediate Class in 2014. (My thanks to Writers Studio teacher Janelle Drumwright for providing encouragement and guidance that helped me develop the exercise into a publishable piece.) It’s an imagistic piece born out of some memories and/or imaginings from my childhood.

I started submitting “Apparition on the Threshold” for publication in late 2015. On February 18, 2016, I was notified that my piece had been accepted by an online journal called Mystic Illuminations. (Strangely enough, it was the same day I learned that my day job of over 20 years was going away, perhaps an omen of rockier times ahead on all fronts.) Here’s what the nice people at Mystic Illuminations had to say:

 We truly enjoyed your work and found that it fits beautifully within the scope of our journal. We would like to include “Apparition on the Threshold” in our next issue of Mystic Illuminations.

I acknowledged this with a thank you and sent polite notices to five other places to whom I had submitted the piece, informing them that I needed to withdraw it from consideration.

The folks at Mystic Illuminations were friendly and helpful, and set up an interview with me at The Writers Lens which was a lot of fun to do.

I waited patiently for word on when the next issue would appear. Mystic Illuminations was a beautifully designed, graphics heavy site. I imagined that was what accounted for the delay, which stretched from weeks into many months.

In June of 2016, I was informed that the next issue was definitely in the works, and I was invited to update the bio I had sent in months earlier.

In October, I was surprised to find that a new issue of Mystic Illuminations had gone online … but with my piece missing in action.  I sent a “What’s the deal?” query and was told somewhat apologetically that Mystic Illuminations had published an all-poetry issue, and they had forgotten to tell me my fiction piece would be held for the next issue.

Another year ticked by. Other stories of mine were submitted to other places, many rejected, some accepted.  In December 2017, I received an email from Mystic Illuminations, regretfully informing me that no other issues were liable to be published. I was encouraged to try my story elsewhere.

So my piece had been in limbo for nearly two years. I was determined not to let it die in obscurity. I send it out to some other places.

It didn’t take long. The Zodiac Review informed me of their acceptance of the piece on December 28, 2017. It was one of the kindest acceptance letters I’ve received:

It’s a superior, polished piece worthy of a loftier venue than ours.  We know that because two of us, owners of some 100 years of experience in writing, speaking and communications, can’t find anything “wrong” with it.  Or any opportunity to suggest an improvement or make a correction.  We’d like to publish it in our next issue, out in April-May. 

Naturally, I was delighted. My piece had found a wonderful new home. What could go wrong? I notified a half dozen or so other journals that I had to withdraw the piece for consideration. Surely this would be the last time I would need to do that.

Here’s the point where this little chronicle might seem to defy belief. On January 31, 2018, I received this notice from my friends at The Zodiac Review:

Sorry to report that we have decided to discontinue publishing The Zodiac Review. Thanks for submitting.  Best of luck to you in all things.

Reeling a bit and wondering if my piece was cursed, I … and really, what other option does one have? … rolled up my sleeves and tried again. I sent the piece out again into the world, tactfully approaching some of the journals I had previously withdrawn from, explaining my situation and hoping they might be charmed by my saga of the little piece with the big Voodoo whammy on it.

On March 23, two days after I had resubmitted it to them, I received word from esteemed journal Ghost Parachute (which I know of because it published work by a writer friend, Lilian Vercauteren) that “Apparition on the Threshold” had been accepted, for the third and let us hope final time.

It’s slated to go online on or around May 1st, with artwork created especially for my piece.

So has “Apparition on the Threshold” found its forever home? Stay tuned for May 1st, and we shall see. Whether the piece is actually worthy of such drama is another question, one I’ll leave to my readers to decide.

One final note. A website called Duotrope.com has proven to be invaluable for me. Duotrope provides a search function to help you find the most appropriate journals to send your fiction or poetry to. It also has a tracking feature to help you remember where and when you submitted your material … something that was essential in helping me navigate the journey of “Apparition on the Threshold.” The site requires a reasonable annual fee but is worth it.

 

Light to Dark: Using Mood to Create an Effective Narrator

Published March 15, 2017 by Philip Ivory

The Writers Studio Tucson Lecture Series presents

Light to Dark:
Using Mood to Create an Effective Narrator

Join us for an evening of craft and conversation featuring local Tucson writers Donna Aversa, Phil Ivory, and Lilian Vercauteren

When: Thursday, March 23, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Woods Memorial Library (3455 N. 1st Ave)

This event is free and open to everyone.

The moderated panel discussion will feature these Tucson Literary Luminaries:

  • Donna Aversa is a fiction writer who has studied and trained to teach at The Writers Studio Tucson, and is passionate about The Writers Studio method. With degrees from the University of Arizona, she is an attorney in private practice. Donna is currently working on a collection of short stories.
  • Phil Ivory studied literature at Columbia University. His fiction has been published in The Airgonaut, Literally Stories, Devolution Z, Bewildering Stories and elsewhere. Nominated in 2017 for the Pushcart Prize, he was previously a winner of the 2015 Writers Studio “Write-to-Read” contest and Bewildering Stories’ 2016 Mariner Awards. Phil teaches at The Writers Studio Tucson and maintains a blog at writeyourselfsane.com
  • In her early twenties, Lilian Vercauteren came to the US to see what the fuss was all about. More than a decade later, she has only barely scratched the surface of discovering the American spirit. She has written and published several short stories and is currently querying a novel length manuscript with literary agents. She is an alumni of The Writers Studio Tucson Master Class.

Questions? Contact Reneé Bibby at renee@writerstudio.com or 520-591-8795.

 

Probably Last Meeting of Bluebell Ridge II Homeowners Association

Published March 1, 2017 by Philip Ivory

Please check out my new piece of flash fiction at The Airgonaut, a monthly online literary journal specializing in absurdist, fabulist, magical realism, and surreal work.

I set a challenge to myself to see if I could write a piece in the format of notes from a homeowners association meeting. The resulting story can be read here:

Probably Last Meeting of Bluebell Ridge II Homeowners Association.”

Thanks for reading!

Embed from Getty Images

 

Fiction Publication: Most Of Us Are From Someplace Else

Published July 5, 2016 by Philip Ivory

Most of Us Image4

I’m pleased that today the online literary journal, “Literally Stories,”  published my short story, “Most Of Us Are From Someplace Else.” It’s about a group of eccentric characters who have created an unusual community in an abandoned railway station in a town in Pennsylvania. Read it here.

“Literally Stories” was launched in 2014, created “by writers for writers.”  It showcases a wide spectrum of short story fiction from new and emerging writers to more seasoned authors.

This story wouldn’t exist except for the “Write-to-Read” challenge issued last September by Writers Studio Tucson. The contest was open to past and present students of the Writers Studio and featured a writing challenged crafted by award-winning Tucson author Adrienne Celt. The writing prompt centered on the idea of “nested narratives,” inspired by the image of the matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, containing smaller dolls.

I was honored that my entry was chosen as one of three winners of the contest, and I enjoyed the privilege of reading my story aloud at a Writers Studio event last November. (Read more about the event here.)

In accordance with Adrienne’s writing challenge, the story has a larger narrative in which are contained smaller back-stories about the residents of this oddball community, each of whom has suffered some disillusioning experience before finding a place to call home.

I hope you’ll read “Most Of Us Are From Someplace Else” and let me know what you think.

Thanks!