Discover more from Salena’s Monthly Writing Update
Writing Update: April & May 2023
Publications, nominations, in-progress work, & recent favorite reads from yours truly, Salena Casha
We’re back, bebes, and we’ve got a reading list for you from yours truly, Salena Casha. It’s a long one so settle in.
What was published in April & May 2023
I had four pieces published in April and May, two under 100 words and two around 1,000.
The first came to us from Retreat West, a great publication and community based out of the UK, who runs a themed one-hundred word story competition at the beginning of every month. Their prompt for April was “collapse”. I managed to make the shortlist and scored publication for my little piece. You can read it here: As Above, So Below
On May 1st, Pain and Prodigy (75 words) came into the world with Paragraph Planet, which challenges authors, similar to Retreat West, to create a story in exactly 75 words. I always love a good challenge and was lucky to have them select my piece in their rolling publication. The archive for May will be available in June, so I’ll send the link out then.
For the rest of May, we moved up in word count. I don’t have favorites but if I did, these two stories that made their online debut are pretty high up there.
On May 12th, Third Wednesday published my piece, It’s terrible, the things we do to each other. The first draft of this piece was born in 2021 and went through multiple versions and 25 rejections, 10 of which were “near misses.” I’m so happy it found a home and that you can read it today. It’ll also be a part of Third Wednesday’s print anthology, coming this summer.
A few days later, Flash Frog (a DREAM publication of mine and a titan in the flash fiction world) published my piece, If you missed it the first time, she confesses again. The artist, Susan Solomon, provided the illustration. This piece started as a conversation with another piece, Confessions, I published back in 2017 with Jellyfish Review. I’m grateful to the editorial staff at Flash Frog for making my dream a reality.
Would love to hear what you think!
My favorite reads of April & May
I’m still in a reading desert, but there were some works of interest I’ve engaged with in the last few months, namely Cormac McCarthy’s two new books, published after a sixteen year hiatus, an essay titled “How To Sleep In Your Car” by Courtney Kersten, and Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer. I’m still making my way through Dederer’s collection and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about The Passenger duology, so will focus this recommendation on Courtney Kersten’s essay instead.
The essay, written in the second person, follows Kersten’s experience with house-lessness and living out of her car after she left her abusive partner. Part instructional how-to as an ‘ironic’ alternative to the slew of van-life videos out there, part commentary on the fallacy of the American dream, Kersten lays the daily grind out flat of what it’s truly like to lose your home. If you commit to stepping into the second person perspective she offers you in the essay, you’ll feel the pinch on losing your sense of safety and understand that to sleep in your car, your back must be perpetually crushed up against the seat. How you can’t sleep for more than two hours at a time and pee in a cup with a lid. That the line that separates you from house-lessness and homelessness is one “tooth abscess.”
All along, Kersten continues her graduate studies at a University in California, once in a while granting herself refuge with a solid night sleep on her office floor. She “feel[s] gratitude for the cable carpeting printed on your face when you wake up”. It’s a blistering dead-pan look at the escalating rent and living situation in California. It invites you to step into her shoes while also bringing the dawning realization upon the reader that its something they are closer to than they think, the lines blurring between housed, houseless and then, ultimately, homeless. The writing itself leaves you having accumulated a sleepless grit behind your eyes and it’s not something that you won'tsoon forget.
What I worked on this past month
I completed my eighth revision of a science fiction short story, one of my longer pieces in a while, titled When the Future Calls and officially signed a contract for it with Metaphorosis Magazine. There will be an interview and audio recording of the work that accompanies the publication and I CANNOT wait to share it with all of you.
Additionally, I finished the final proof of my reimagined fairytale for Bitterleaf Books. The cover of their “Fate” anthology is gorgeous and seeing proofs of my work in advance of publication, especially if it’s print, never gets old.
Currently, I’m working on a collaborative short story with my critique partner, R. Tim Morris for Owl Canyon Press’ competition. It has a September due date and we’re over halfway through the draft so looking forward to where the rest of the piece takes us. This will be my second collaborative piece in the past month and I’ve really enjoyed the form.
Otherwise, I’ve stayed pretty busy submitting micro-fiction to the Bath Flash Fiction 2023 Award, writing three additional flash fictions after participating in Bethany Jarmal’s amazing one-day creative nonfiction flash workshop, and two longer speculative pieces which may or may not go anywhere. All I can say is I’m happy to have them out of my head.
Summer is upon us and I’ve got a pretty exciting lineup taking form for the next few months. A wide sample of my writing will be released into the world including:
A children’s poem with Dirigible Balloon (print & digital)
Three collaborative poems with Spark to Flame Magazine (digital)
A dark speculative micro-fiction with A-Minor Magazine (digital)
A reimagined fairytale with Bitterleaf Books (print & digital)
Additionally, June will bring us the third phase of the NYC Midnight Short Story competition (we’ll see if I advance to the next round) and the much anticipated Wigleaf’s Top 50 stories of 2022. I was lucky enough to make selection back in 2015 when Roxane Gay was the guest judge so excited to see what stories are featured this year.
Otherwise, I’m hoping to get a piece together for Taco Bell Quarterly’s latest submission call and continue to push my speculative writing forward on a few different forms and fronts.
Until next month! If you feel so moved, reach out! I’d love to hear from you. Have a wonderful Sunday!
Thanks for reading Salena’s Monthly Writing Update! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.