Read my story, “Warren Zevon Attempts Happiness,” in Shadowgraph Quarterly

I wrote “Warren Zevon Attempts Happiness” many years ago, as part of my undergraduate creative writing thesis. It is based around true events, but is a completely fictionalized account of what might have happened to Warren Zevon (my favorite singer/songwriter) while he was living in Spain with his wife, Crystal.

But something was missing from it. It lacked “oomph” and tension, and I had no idea how to fix it, and neither did any of my undergrad thesis advisors. By the time I began my MFA program, I had mostly given up on that story.

But on a whim, I brought it to my historical fiction workshop with Katherine Ayres, who is a wonderfully insightful writer and excellent teacher. After I read the story aloud to the group, she asked me a single question: “What is the conflict here?”

It hit me like lightning. Suddenly, I knew exactly what I needed to do to make the story tense and meaningful. In retrospect, it seemed obvious. And, it worked.

Shadowgraph Quarterly, an online literary magazine that also publishes chapbooks, picked up the story for their Spring 2016 issue.

Their editors, who have hawk eyes as well, also picked out a few places where I was telling after I’d shown, and helped me trim the story down to its essentials.

Click here to read “Warren Zevon Attempts Happiness.”

I hope you enjoy it, and if you’ve never heard of Warren Zevon, here’s one of my favorite songs:

Read my story “She’s a Work of Art” in Animal Literary Magazine

Animal: A Beast of  Literary Magazine published my short story “She’s a Work of Art”—based on Warren Zevon’s song “Excitable Boy”—in this month’s issue.

You can read it directly, or peruse the magazine.

Working with Fiction Editor Sarah Cedeño was one of the most pleasurable experiences of my writing career so far, so I would encourage you to support to this excellent publication by subscribing or submitting your own work.

This was the second story of many I wrote based on a Warren Zevon song, and currently sits at the front of my collection of feminist stories based on his work.

It was easy to write, though harder to revise. Without the guidance of my MFA thesis committee, my thesis workshop class and Ms. Cedeño, it would be a much choppier, wordier piece of fiction.

The character of Nicolette (“Little Susie” in the song—I changed it because there’s another character named Suzie Lightning in my collection, and it was confusing to have two Susies) came to me fully formed. Because I felt I knew her character so well from the beginning, the first draft came rushing out of me.

Originally I thought I would tell this story in a non-chronological format, but as I was writing I felt the timeline pull me forward, so I let it. I went back over it five or more times to cut extra padding, streamline my sentences, and make sure I was using white space effectively.

I’m pleased with the result, and I hope you will be, too.