Fiction

“Fire Illness” is Named Runner-Up

My first short story, “Fire Illness,” has just been published. It was named Runner-Up in the 2016 Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize hosted by Hunger Mountain, the literary Journal of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Matt Bell was the guest judge.

For the record, I first started sending this story out for publication in April 2015. After the first round of rejections, I revised it repeatedly over the ensuing months with help from online critique partners through Inked Voices, and from other writers in Naomi Williams’s Writing Salon here in Davis. Over the course of two years, I sent the story to twenty-five publications before it found recognition at Hunger Mountain.

I love this story and am glad it finally found a life outside my computer, so to speak. It is published on the Hunger Mountain website and you can read it here. If you read it and have any thoughts you want to share, please feel free to let me know.

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in Fiction, Korean-American, 0 comments

The Light in L.A.

The New Yorker recently posted a video online (embedded above) taken from its show, which airs on Amazon. The video is based on one of my favorite pieces in the magazine: an article called “L.A. Glows,” written by Lawrence Weschler, and published in the February 23, 1998 issue of the magazine. (The issue theme was “California,” and it’s the only one of that theme I recall.) The article is here (requires a subscription).

It captures the wonder of light in Southern California (with a capitalized “S” because it is such a distinct region—as Carey McWilliams titled his book, “An Island on the Land”), and is really a wonderful read, both for the subject and the quality of the writing. For instance, it includes passages like this (from Coy Howard, and architect):

. . . when you have the kind of veiled light we get here more regularly you become aware of a sort of multiplicity—not illumination so much as luminosity. Southern California glows, not just all day but at night as well, and the opacity melts away into translucency, and even transparency.”

Ever since I read that passage I have wanted to be able to write like that. In my current work in progress, California Incline, I often talk about the sky. A lot of bloggers who give writing advice warn against overusing weather as a metaphor for a character’s mood. But when a story is set in L.A., the sky is a character. Describing it doesn’t so much reflect on the human characters, as give the reader a description of the ethereal character that hovers over the human actors.

So at different points I include short passages like these:

High clouds had drifted onshore, covering downtown; a veiled sun in a nacre sky softened the edges of the city with pearlescent light.”

Uphill, toward Hope Street, lay a fountain watched over by a bronze nude against an amber-blue sky streaked with Van Gogh clouds, wisps whipped to shreds at the ends.”

Even the sky looked washed out, threadbare blue with bleachmark clouds.”

Not quite the level of poetry found throughout the Weschler article, but I hope enough to give some character to the light.

Of course, for a cross-cultural perspective on L.A. light, you have Miami Ray Bones (Dennis Farina) in Get Shorty:

 They say the fucking smog is the fucking reason you have such beautiful fucking sunsets.”

In  any case, I strongly recommend the Weschler article if you can get a chance to read it.

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in California Incline, Fiction, Novel Writing, 0 comments

Will Kill for Food is a Winner

Black Hill PressBlack Hill Press  just announced the winners of the Summer Writing Project, and Will Kill for Food is one of the three. That means the novella will be published in early December.

I want to thank everyone who reading the story at JukePop. The first two rounds, semi-final (12 finishers) and final (6 finishers), were determined solely by number of readers and the amount of time the readers spent on the page. I don’t know how the editors chose the final three, but I literally could not have won this contest without your support.

The publisher is working on the cover and I’ll post that on my blog when it’s finalized. In the meantime, Black Hill Press has created a holder page for the book. You can see it here.

Now, if any of you know a literary agent for my novel The Rides of March,  please let me know . . .

Thanks again everyone for all your support.

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in Fiction, Will Kill for Food, 0 comments