(A SHORT STORY)
Grandma calls it the stuffing arts. She has blue ribbons from the fair and certificates on her wall saying she passed squirrel and hawk class, but she knows how to stuff other things too. The squirrels and skunks she gets from the highway but the birds she gets from the wildlife rescue center. Birds from the road are no good anymore.
“You have to go real careful around the paws,” Grandma says. “See how I do?”
Mostly it’s wild animals in her house—skunk, raccoon, that kind of thing—but she stuffed Reagan too because Reagan was the best cat she ever had. Grandma says she does it because she loves animals and you can admire them better when they’re holding still. MORE
After the End
(A VERY SHORT STORY)
Los Angeles Review
The bakery was the last building standing and so everyone gathered around its two and a half walls, its one miraculous window. They took turns walking up to what was left of the counter, ordering biscuits and scones from the unblinking baker now floured in ash. One line of red you could trace up his apron to a flap of skin hanging from his chin.
The biscuits and scones had been reduced to black pebbles and nobody seemed sure what to do with them, why they wanted them. Some licked. Others, with nothing left to carry, cupped them like eggs, like answers. The children were the most inventive, building palaces around the pebbles, summoning six-horned beasts to guard them. The pebbles were magic, they said. Yes! If you plant them, new buildings will grow! You’ll see, papa, we’ll have a city again! MORE
Deaths I've Imagined
In need of Heimlich, I am only person who knows Heimlich
Murderer disguised as tricker treater dressed up as murderer
Earthquake on bridge
Free round-trip ticket to anyone willing to take the next flight
Running triggers the mountain lions natural instinct to chase
It likes to be scratched under its neck
Don't worry, the jetty keeps them from coming in this close
With this ring, I thee wed
Leaning over stove in angora pancho
Mattress improperly tied to pickup in front of me
The Best Worst Thing
A Middle Grade Novel
Spring 2016 — Little, Brown
The mini mart clerk has been shot, the murderer is loose in the neighborhood, middle school has just started, the man who lives on the other sides of the fence is about to sell his rabbits to a restaurant, on September 23 the mean neighbor boy with the mean dog is getting a gun for his birthday, and Maggie Alder is sure that it is up to her, and only her, to save everyone. The Best Worst Thing is a story about learning what you can control (almost nothing) and the good (sometimes even best) things that can come of finally letting go.
A little of my story
I started out with a pretty deep fear of words. I was a slow reader (missed half of first grade due to an accident) and dreaded the moment when a teacher might call on me to read aloud. So, kind of crazy that I would end up working as a writer, and even crazier that I would one day write a book— that terrible thing I wanted nothing to do with in first grade.
Along the way there were many stops, including a long stop in advertising, and another not-long-enough stop in Richmond, Virginia, where I met Marlene Paul and together we started a nonprofit called ART 180. Thanks to Marlene, ART 180 is still burning bright, bringing art programs to kids living in challenging circumstances,
and bringing their voices to the public through exhibits, performances, books and installations.
I now live in Portland, Oregon where I co-host an art & literary event series called SHARE and, thanks to a generous grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council, teach "Fearless" workshops to sixth-graders dealing with anxiety. If you're interested in Fearless projects to try at home or in your classroom, visit Create More, Fear Less.
Currently I'm working on a collection of short stories, some of which can be found in Los Angeles Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Writer's Digest, Swink Magazine, Nailed Magazine, Monkeybicycle, Poor Claudia, Forest Avenue Press, and elsewhere.
Oregon Book Awards ceremony—April 24 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. (Thanks to this year's judges for selecting The Best Worst Thing as an OBA finalist)
Fearless Writers Reading & Celebration — 7pm June 5 at Velo Cult, Portland
Wordfest reading—June 13, 6-8pm, Cassava Coffee Shop, Longview, Washington
Burnt Tongue Reading Series — 4pm Saturday, August 19 at Crush Bar, Portland
Regional Arts & Culture Council for so generously supporting my Fearless Writers workshops for 6th-graders dealing with anxiety.
My kind GoFundMe contributors and the Regional Arts & Culture Council for funding a Fearless Writers website to launch in June 2018.
Oregon Book Award judges for selecting The Best Worst Thing as a finalist, and Oregon Literary Arts for the honor of receiving this year's Edna L. Homes Fellowship
Powell's Books for including The Best Worst Thing in its Midyear Roundup, Best Books of 2016 So Far and Staff Top Fives Favorite Books of 2016
I heart Ainsworth school's "super readers book club"!