Writers Studio

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Apparition on the Threshold: New Flash Fiction at Ghost Parachute

Published May 1, 2018 by Philip Ivory

I have a new flash fiction piece online today at online journal Ghost Parachute. It grew from an exercise I did when I was as student in the Writers Studio Intermediate Class in 2014, taught by Janelle Drumwright. The exercise is based on a gorgeous poem “Ignis Fatuus,” by Yusef Komunyakaa.

Since I become a Writers Studio teacher myself, I have assigned the exercise a number of times, and it always yields interesting results.

My piece,  to which I eventually assigned the name “Apparition on the Threshold,” is probably the closest to poetry of all the pieces I’ve written.

Imagistic and enigmatic, it doesn’t pause to explain itself, instead letting images flow from one to another, allowing the piece to unfold according to its own mysterious logic.

This is a testament to the Writers Studio method, as I would never have written this piece without being exposed to the Komunyakaa exercise.

Here is “Apparition on the Threshold.”

(Before finding its home at Ghost Parachute, this piece underwent an arduous journey, which you can  read about here.)

 

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

 

Arizona Mystery Writers

Published April 19, 2018 by Philip Ivory

My thanks to my friends at Arizona Mystery Writers for inviting me on April 14 to deliver a reprise of the “Craft of Dark Fiction” lecture I gave for Writers Studio last December. My friend Bill Adams is a longtime member and accomplished writer who initially approached me about repeating this lecture for his group. My thanks to him and also to the group’s workshop chair Kay Lesh who made the arrangements with me.  Thanks also to another good friend and outstanding writer, Alice Hatcher, for helping with the audiovisual aspect of my lecture.

The lunch was tasty, the meeting was fun and the group was attentive and appreciative. I was speaking about horror fiction, which often intersects with mystery, although the two genres can also seem like two very different worlds.

Just for fun, I created and handed out the flyer below, a personal list but one that name checks examples of short writing in the dark fiction field that have impressed and influenced me. Check it out.

 

The Horror! The Horror! The Craft of Writing Dark Fiction

Published November 29, 2017 by Philip Ivory

Calling all Tucson-area writers and devotees of the scary and macabre! Come out and hear me, Phil Ivory, deliver a special free lecture at 2:30 on December 9, 2017 at the Himmel Park Library here in Tucson. It’s part of the Writers Studio lecture series. It should be fun, inspirational and a little bit scary!

DESCRIPTION:

From William Faulkner to Shirley Jackson to Margaret Atwood, writers have achieved memorable effects by putting characters in extreme situations and evoking sensations of fear, dread, awe and horror. In this Writers Studio lecture, we’ll look at horror not as something confined to the macabre shelf but as an emotion that will add power and resonance to any material regardless of genre. We’ll talk about using description to evoke a dark and lingering mood. Crafting the best narrator to evoke singular emotional effects. Laying groundwork for readers to have a powerful emotional experience while never telling them what to feel.

So take a writing journey to the dark side, and come back stronger than you were before.

 

Hope to see you there on Dec. 9!

And while you’re at it, why not sign up for one of our upcoming Writers Studio Winter classes?  Show the world how scarily creative you really are.

Essay Published … Sgt. Pepper at 50: What Can Writers Learn?

Published September 12, 2017 by Philip Ivory

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of perhaps the single most influential rock and roll album of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a leap forward in the popular conception of what a long-playing record could be and a zenith in the Beatles’ creative output.

I thought it would be illuminating to write an essay exploring some of the writerly techniques used by the Beatles in composing the record’s amazingly eclectic array of songs, focusing on insights that writers might apply to their own work.

The essay has been published at The Bookends Review, an independent creative arts journal. Read it here:

The Bookends Review
Sgt. Pepper at 50: What Can Writers Learn?
by Philip Ivory

Thanks for reading. Please share any comments below. And as the Beatles would say, “Sit back and let the evening go!”

 

 

 

Tucson Writers: Free Lecture to Jumpstart Your Writing Skills

Published June 9, 2017 by Philip Ivory

Check out the latest in a series of special free lectures from Writers Studio. Join us for an inspiring talk by Writers Studio teacher Frances Lynch on the value of using writing exercises to improve your craft.

WHAT: Free Lecture: Writing Exercises — The Path To Your Best Writing

WHERE: Woods Memorial Library at 3455 N. First Avenue

WHEN: Thursday June 22 at 6:30 to 7:30 PM

Hope to see you there!

Also, new classes start at the Writers Studio here in Tucson in only a few weeks. Sign up for a workshop class and put exercises to work to enhance your writing skills and try your hand at new voices and techniques:

Register here.

Flash Sale: $30 off any summer writing class. Discount must be taken at time of registration, cannot be combined with any other offer. Valid while supplies last. Expires 6/12/17. Use coupon code: Facebook17

New Flash Fiction: The Daytime People

Published May 26, 2017 by Philip Ivory

Today I had a flash fiction piece published in a new online journal, Edify Fiction. It’s called “The Daytime People” and was directly inspired by an afternoon I spent observing people in a fast food restaurant here in Tucson.  You can Read It Here.

The Daytime People

The piece  was created for a Writers Studio reading event last fall. My thanks to Renee Bibby and all my friends and colleagues at Writers Studio for providing the inspiration for this piece and the impetus to write it.

Hope you enjoy the piece, and feel free to leave a comment by clicking on the orange dialogue box to the right of the story title.

If you have fiction, poetry or digital art of a uniquely positive nature, consider submitting it to Edify Fiction.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Writers Studio 30th Anniversary Anthology

Published April 20, 2017 by Philip Ivory

The Writers Studio is the renowned creative writing program founded in 1987 in New York by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schulz. With its branches in NYC, San Francisco, Tucson, Hudson Valley as well as its online and “Kids Write” components, Writers Studio has been helping poets and fiction writers reach their potential for 30 years.

Through my work with Writers Studio as a student and now as a teacher, I’ve become more confident at developing strong narrative voices that take command of my creative material. Using effective narrators that help guide the reader through a satisfactory literary experience has helped me  publish multiple short pieces and make progress on a novel, a first draft of which I hope to complete later this year.

WS+Anthology+Cover

To celebrate its three decades of helping writers develop their craft, Writers Studio is releasing a 500-page 30th anniversary anthology, featuring nearly 100 hundred authors. The publisher is Epiphany Editions.

The Writers Studio at 30 features work by Writers Studio advisory board members Jennifer Egan, Robert Pinsky, Edward Hirsch, Grace Schulman, Matthew Klam, Carl Dennis, and Jill Bialosky, as well as 30 years of students and teachers from its creative writing classes.

I’m proud to be one of the authors featured, with a short fiction piece titled “Probably Last Meeting of the Bluebell Ridge II Homeowners Association.” It was previously published in The Airgonaut.

A celebratory reading will be held in New York on May 6 at the Strand Bookstore to mark the occasion. Wish I could be there, but traveling to NY is not in my budget right now.

The Writers Studio at 30 Anthology should be a great resource for anyone interested in enjoying a smorgasbord of strong narrative voices used in service to poems and stories containing wildly divergent subject matter. 

Until May 6, you can pre-order the anthology at a discounted price of $20.

Click here for Discount Pre-Order.

 

WYS

Freeing the Stories Inside You: Writers Studio Tucson

Published September 22, 2016 by Philip Ivory

Tucson writer friends!

Do you have stories inside you, bursting to get out? Do you have the longing to write fiction or poetry, but perhaps lack the confidence to know how to judge and develop your own material? Feel stalled, stunted or blocked?

Take a class at the Writers Studio. Different days and times are available to suit your schedule. Writers Studio exercises will jumpstart your creativity and help you unleash new expressive voices from within. Our teachers are highly skilled and adept at nurturing and encouraging your creative expression.

Sign up today! Classes begin the first week in October.

ws-fall-2016

Tucson Poetry Event: The Offering with Eleanor Kedney

Published September 8, 2016 by Philip Ivory

Join Writers Studio Tucson for a special event on Sept. 9.  For details, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1684550965200130/

 

Eleanor Kedney’s poems constantly surprise the reader with flashes of sheer intelligence and attention to language. While her spirited work no doubt engages the intellect, these are also poems of the body and the voice; this book never disappoints. The sensuality of The Offering is unavoidable and ultimately joyous. There is a music here that sings and rings and lingers in the mind.

—Juliet Patterson, winner of the Nightboat Books Prize