April is only half-over and it’s already been an exciting month.
I have a new piece up at Lit Hub about my “touch the bear” rule in writing.
I gave a talk at Grubstreet’s Muse and Marketplace conference on the power of scenes, and how to build more scenes into your stories.
I’m busily writing new essays about my inspiration for The Devoted, from Boston to Buddhism and all the lovely ways they intersect. Look out for those soon.
I have a new piece of flash fiction in the latest issue of the lovely Paper Darts magazine, about autopsies and the strange things I imagined that we inhale over the course of a lifetime.
In my April newsletter, I release some new advance praise for The Devoted, and talk about Easter and its inspiration for The Devoted. You can subscribe here, or read an excerpt below:
Happy Easter and Passover, readers! This month I’m thinking about the holiday that formed such a strong part of my childhood memories, and how I decided to frame The Devoted as a story that stretched from Christmas to Easter, as a story about birth and re-birth. For the non-practicing quasi-Christians out there, maybe you went to church only on those two days out of the year — but that was enough to mean something, to shape your identity in some small way. The Devoted is about those small rituals that give us a sense of identity and bind us to our community; and it’s also about what we choose to take and what we choose to leave behind when we set out on our own paths.
New advance praise for the book:
I’m so grateful to the early readers of The Devoted, and happy to release new blurbs from them:
“The Devoted is a beautifully written story of the seductions of faith, its many desperations both light and dark. A most absorbing and psychologically astute novel that announces Blair Hurley as a brave new talent.”
– Chang-rae Lee, author of The Surrendered
Very exciting news: my story published in West Branch last year, “The Home for Buddhist Widows”, has won a Pushcart Prize! It will appear in the Pushcart Prize Anthology next year. Thank you, West Branch, for taking a chance on this story! I’ll keep readers posted on when the anthology becomes available.
I’m so pleased to report that my story “The Replacement Wife” has won The Pinch’s fiction contest for 2017! This is a strange story about a woman who plays the role of the missing wife in the lives of widowers, but I’m really proud of it and so glad to receive this news from a supercool journal. You can read the official announcement here:
The Pinch literary awards
I’m so excited to report that my novel, THE DEVOTED, has been acquired by WW Norton. It will be a book! I’ve worked on this story for quite a while and there’s still more work to do in the months ahead. I’ll keep you posted on when to look for it.
I’m so happy to see a rather morbid little piece of flash fiction I wrote is now available at Cosmonauts Avenue. I’d love to have you read:
Hello, readers. It’s official: I’ve moved to Canada for a writing teaching position, and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the culture and literary scene here. The timing is downright odd, I know, and I’ll be writing about my experiences here as well as my thoughts on what it means to be leaving the States at this particular time. You can see some of my first posts on my Medium blog here:
My Medium stories
And here’s an excerpt of my first post:
Hello, Canada! I’m new to you! The timing might seem suspect, an American arriving in Canada just now, after a crazy 2016 and a maddening election season. It’s so suspect, in fact, that I’ve gotten used to shrugging and smiling when people joke about my fleeing the country. But I’m here because my fiancé and I got teaching jobs at a university. This was in the works for nearly a year. So while I watched the election results with the same obsessiveness as all my friends, and bit my nails and watched too much MSNBC, there was always this knowledge in the back of my mind…that I’d be leaving soon. Either I’d be looking proudly on from afar as our first female president set up shop, or, well…I’d be high-tailing it out of there.
I knew I wanted to observe everything that was new to me in Canada as soon as I got here. My job as a newcomer, I think, is to look with big eyes and listen with big ears. To notice the differences and the similarities. And as a writer, my job is to observe and form theories about the national character. To see the contradictions and learn the jokes. To put my foot in it a few times and learn how to step gracefully out again. So this post will be the first of many scattered thoughts and observations about what might become my new home.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on the writing life from North of the Border, and also come back for some exciting new progress on the novel. More soon.
I’m pleased to report that I’ve had several successes this month with new short stories.
“A Night Odyssey” was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open.
“These Things Happen Here” was a finalist in AWP’s scholarship competition, and judge Lori Ostlund had these kind words for the piece:
Because the world of “These Things Happen Here”—an urban community college classroom—is so familiar to me, I was prepared not to be surprised by the story. How wrong I was. In fact, what was most impressive to me about this story is the way that the author constantly takes risks, writing with great honesty about a main character who is vulnerable and wants what is best for his students but is in way over his head. The unspoken secret of the classroom is that sometimes teachers dislike their students, and this author goes there also, as well as into the complicated relationship between art and revenge. The ending is complex and spot on. Like all great stories, this one stayed with me after the first reading and the second, but the meaning kept shifting, changing and evolving.
“The Deconstruction” was shortlisted for The Masters Review Anthology.
I’ve also been selected as a resident at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and as a scholar at Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
Readers, I’m excited to announce that a short story of mine, “Grimalkins”, is now available for download in Amazon’s online literary magazine, Day One. The story can be read on any Kindle or any Kindle app for iPhone or Android.
I worked hard on this story, which is loosely inspired by my stay at an artists’ colony and the very interesting characters one meets there. Somehow the story ended up being about motherhood and the gulf that exists between young and older artists as well.
Please support this writer by buying an issue or subscribing — there are some really excellent poems and stories to be read in the issues. Here’s the link:
Amazon: Day One
I’m so pleased to say a couple of new short fiction pieces by me have appeared online. The flash fiction piece “Bats” is available to read at Lumina, and another short piece, “Decide”, is up at a literature blog I love, The Toast. Have you checked these guys out yet? I’d love to have more readers, and I’m proud to be among some wonderful pieces of fiction there.