Pale Hearts reviewed in Compulsive Reader

I am thrilled to share Compulsive Reader’s review of PALE HEARTS.  Reviewer Ruth Latta had many kind things to say about the book.  She also took the time to write in detail about some individual stories. The stories she focused on were somewhat different than the ones that occupied the greatest part of my attention, and it was refreshing to see the book through someone else’s eyes.

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I particularly appreciated the assessment that “the fifteen thought-provoking stories in Pale Hearts are both literature and entertainment.”  I’m starting to realize that I sit right in the middle of the great supposed “literary” and “genre” divide.  I love Melville, Flaubert, and Faulkner.  I also love Stephen King and Michael Crichton.  I find a lot of so-called literary fiction pretentious and boring, while many great genre fiction books are overlooked by the literary world.  Some of my favorite contemporary authors, like Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, and Donna Tartt, are people who don’t fit neatly into genre/literary distinctions.  I hope I can achieve that balance in my own work.

Upcoming writing workshop

Calling all central Minnesota writers and readers! Join me this Thursday for a writing workshop and reading at New York Mills Regional Cultural Center in New York Mills, MN.  Here’s the workshop description from the Cultural Center’s website:

Join author and visiting artist Emily Eckart for an interactive writing workshop. After discussing basic elements of fiction common to all stories and novels, participants will get to try their hand at creating characters and story settings. After the workshop, Emily will read an excerpt from her new book, Pale Hearts, to kick off the Center’s monthly Open Mic night (7-9pm). Both the workshop and Open Mic are free to attend and open to all!

The workshop runs from 6-7, and afterwards there’s an open mic from 7-9.  All ages and levels of experience are welcome to attend!

Out and About With Pale Hearts

It’s been a fun first month for Pale HeartsMy first reading was at Trident Booksellers in Boston.  The atmosphere in this bookstore is especially nice because they have a cafe, so reading attendees can relax with a glass of wine or a snack.  Although I had a cold, I forged through and had a great time.  I’m so grateful to all the enthusiastic people who came!

Next up was a book signing at Richards Memorial Library in North Attleboro.  I was there as part of their Local Authors Fair.  It was wonderful to meet other authors from the area and see their books.

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In other news, Pale Hearts is now available at Norton Public Library.  Richards Memorial Library will also be adding a copy to their collection.  I was so excited to see my book right in the middle of Norton’s new books shelf.

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It’s great to see Pale Hearts listed in the library catalogs.  (Also, how fitting that Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” comes up as a related result!)  If your library is part of the SAILS network in Massachusetts, you can request Pale Hearts.  But you’ll have to wait–the book is currently checked out!

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Dispatch from book launch

Pale Hearts is out in the world! The books are printed, orders have shipped, and my first book signing went wonderfully yesterday.

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I’m so grateful to the readers who stopped by!  I was impressed to hear that someone already read the entire book on Kindle.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to say hello, and thanks especially for buying the book.  I am truly appreciative.

My next event is on November 7, when I’ll be reading at Trident Booksellers in Boston (7 pm).  I’m looking forward to it!

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In other great news, Pale Hearts made it to the shelves of Harvard Library!  I’m very thankful for and excited about this development.

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Putting a few copies on my personal shelf realized a lifelong dream.

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Advertising, Nature, Escapism

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Source: By TerjeN, Creative Commons License (CC By 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Lovers of northern landscapes may have seen pictures of the Trolltunga in Norway. It’s a literal “tongue” of rock that overlooks stark cliffs and shining water. Many pictures of the Trolltunga feature an individual hiker solemnly gazing upon the scenery.

As a hiker and nature-lover, I have dreamed of visiting Norway.  I want to see the fjords and experience endless summer nights.  After learning about Trolltunga, I thought it might be the perfect hiking destination.

Then I did some more research.  A quick search online reveals dozens of the cutesy photo-op people have invented for Trolltunga.  There are yoga poses, group jumps, newspaper readers.  A rock band staged a rehearsal there.

I started to wonder how many people actually visit this place.  It turns out that only a few honest photographers show what the scene really looks like.  The landmark is too famous for only one hiker to be present at a time.  In reality, a large crowd waits at the base of the tongue while each individual gets their chance at an epic photo.

I experienced a similar phenomenon while traveling to Western Brook Pond in Newfoundland.  It’s an inland fjord that is featured in all the Newfoundland tourism photographs.  The scenery is stunning–or at least it should be.

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Source: By Tango7174, Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In reality, it’s the most crowded place in all of Gros Morne National Park–probably because of all very same tourism photos.  Not only is it crowded, there is a cafe built right at the end of the fjord, as well as a noisy tour boat that blasts its commentary on loudspeakers as it motors through the water.

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The cafe–deserted only because the boat tour just left. A crowd was here moments before.

A few signs near the cafe helpfully inform you that the rare, fragile ecosystem of the inland fjord is now threatened due to boat traffic.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t expect crowds.  I have no more right to enjoy a place in solitude than anyone else who scheduled their vacation on the same day.  Everyone wants to see beautiful places.  As the population of the world increases, it’s a simple fact that there will be more people everywhere, even in scenic, isolated spots.

And yet it still feels like there’s a disconnect between our photographs and our reality, one more insidious than a few prettified tourist brochures.

Halloween Stories

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With Halloween a few weeks away, it’s the perfect time to read some creepy short stories. Here are some of my favorites:

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs – A haunted monkey’s paw gives this family whatever they wish for…with a twist.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates – A creepy guy shows up at her house. What should Connie do?

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor – A family road trip goes horribly wrong.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe – A murderer is haunted by guilt.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – A seemingly normal small town turns out to have a dark secret.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – A confined woman descends into madness.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle – A woman’s twin sister dies under sudden and suspicious circumstances.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – A mysterious beast causes some suspicious deaths. This one’s actually a novel, but I had to include it because it’s so terrifying.

My new story collection, PALE HEARTS (now out in Kindle and paperback), has a few stories that are Halloween-worthy.  In “The Grechtzoar,” Jimmy has to hunt the dangerous monster that  killed his best friend.  In “Unhanding,” John’s hand is stolen by an imposter.  Mysterious disappearances, vacant houses, and a possible kidney haunting round out the generally creepy atmosphere.  Check out my new events page to attend an upcoming reading!

Independent publishers that accept fiction submissions

Looking for a publisher?  Here are some independent publishers that accept submissions of fiction.  Note that for most of these publishers, you first submit a query, synopsis, and sample chapters.  If they are interested, they will ask for the full manuscript.  Some small publishers have started hosting contests with substantial reading fees.  The winner of the contest gets their book published.  I do not recommend this strategy, as odds of publication are low and the fees add up quickly (usually they are at least $25).  The publishers listed below do not have submission fees.

For further research, Poets and Writers has a list of small publishersWriter’s Market (published yearly) is also a helpful resource.

Black Lawrence Press — free open reading period is June 1-June 30

Black Rose Writing

Bronze Man Books

Coffee House Press — watch for their open reading period

Dock Street Press

Dorothy

Educe Press

Hopewell Publications

Insomnia Publishing

Jellyfish Highway (UPDATE 5/4/18: Defunct)

Leapfrog Press (UPDATE 5/1/17: A commenter notes that Leapfrog now charges $33 for fiction submissions, which they’re only accepting through a contest. This is an unfortunate development.  Once again, I don’t think writers should pay to submit to contests, as chances of publication are slim.)

Louisiana State University Press (Yellow Shoe Fiction Series)

Outpost 19

Persea Books

Rescue Press

Tailwinds Press

Twisted Road Publications

Two Dollar Radio ($2.00 fee–I included this since the fee is small)

Vandalia Press (imprint of West Virginia University Press) — reopening for submissions in 2017

Zumaya Publications

Pale Hearts is available October 4th!

My long-anticipated short story collection will be available for sale on Amazon exactly one week from today!  The collection includes 15 stories: some that appeared only in print, a few online favorites, and 5 all-new, never-before-published stories.  In this book, I explore the idea of crime, from the newsworthy (arson, kidnapping) to the everyday (lies, betrayal).  You’ll read about a young girl who poisons her best friend, a college student who steals a classmate’s ring, and a journalist who contacts the girl she once bullied.  What causes these ordinary people to make such bad decisions?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

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Recommended Reading

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Photo source: Morguefile.com

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert–This is a pleasingly ambitious historical novel about the life of a nineteenth-century female botanist.  It seems cliche to use the word “sweeping,” but that really does describe the experience of reading this novel.  It deals with science, love, family, and perhaps most strikingly, female sexuality, all within the context of one woman’s intellectual quest to describe the natural world.

Euphoria by Lily King–This is the story of a love triangle between anthropologists, based loosely on events in Margaret Mead’s life.  King’s writing is gorgeous and the characters are well-realized.  The subject is fascinating, the setting vivid, the plot suspenseful.  All of this ties in for a perfect read!

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark–This lovely short novel somehow captures perfectly a beloved teacher’s influence, positive and negative, on young students.  It’s very difficult for writers to describe such a fleeting, ephemeral thing, yet somehow Spark does it in a way that’s timeless and touching.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton–This classic is really worth reading.  Wharton is a master of describing the nuances of forbidden love, within the context of wealthy late nineteenth-century New York.  It’s entertaining and heartbreaking and suspenseful all at once.  If you love reading about love, this subtle, beautiful novel is for you!

What did you read this summer?  Post your recommendations in the comments!