Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Monday, May 9th


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Wigleaf mag announced the Top 50 [very] Short Fiction awards over the weekend and Amber Sparks made the cut with her piece, The Dictator is Drinking Alone, which we published online. Way to be, Amber! We also had some alumni on the long list for their stories: Erin Fitzgerald’s This Morning Will be Different, Brad Green’s Missing the Next Inch, and Ben Loory’s Sea Monster. Well done everyone and big thanks to Wigleaf’s associate series editor Ravi Mangla, selecting editor Lily Hoang and Wigleaf head-honcho, Scott Garson. This is a great list of some damn good writing that’s happening all over the web and I’m not just saying that because Anna is well represented here. There’s some incredibly strong writing on this list and if someone wanted to know where they could get their hands on some of the best short stories on the web I’d send them a link to this list.

Thursday, May 5th

Short Story Month.


Hey, it’s been Short Story Month for five days and I’m late to the party. It seems events and celebrations have been moving along at a good clip over at SSM headquarters, Emerging Writers Network, and at Matt Bell’s Blog so I thought I’d join in the fun.

Everyday Genius has always been an interesting zone, at the very least for the curatorial process involved. For the month of May, Publishing Genius head-honcho, Adam Robinson, recruited Justin Sirois, of Narrow House Publishing and The Understanding Campaign fame, to wrangle in some refreshingly bizarre writing inspired by a selection of animated gifs. Kind of strange task to undertake seeing the gifs themselves are the visual equivalent of a non sequitur. Anyway, most notable so far are Brian Allen Carr and Amelia Gray‘s  short pieces. From Amelia’s:

You have been surrounded all your life by people concerned for your safety. Construction workers build scaffolding to protect your stupid skull. Drivers stop to allow you to cross in the crosswalk. Every problem in the world can be traced to attention or its lack.

The man arrives at your door wearing some serious denim. You carry a folding chair and follow him down to the alley. He has assembled a crowd. He produces an awl and taps it thk-thk around the circumference of your neck. Checking out, he says. I’ve had my days and yours aren’t my business.

Keep it tuned to EG for the month of May and don’t forget to participate in the festivities. Post some links to your favorite short stories.

Thursday, February 24th



I got sent two excellent collections of writing in the mail last week.

The above is Fragmentation + Other Stories, put together by my Orlando homies Jana Waring and Ryan Rivas under their new imprint Burrow Press. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, just blasted through a few that caught my eye, most notably the flash piece at the book takes its name from by Peg Alford Pursell. She knows the key to a good flash piece is to illustrate those emotions we have that spark up real quick and fade just as fast. Tom Debauchamp’s story about a kid that compulsively says the word “skullfucker” before everything had me thinking it was going to be shocking for the sake of being shocking, but then turned out to pull off a real heart warmer. Full disclosure: I have a piece in here. While I would be psyched if you read it (it’s pretty good), that’s not why I’m pumping this collection up. Jana and Ryan are taking the initiative to start a small press for Orlando and the surrounding area, the place where I’m from and a place that doesn’t have that sort of thing. They’re taking a step towards creating an outlet for writers in that area, something that I didn’t have when I was there, and all that makes me feel good. Buy this one, it’s good writing from good people.


Issue Five contributor William Walsh was good enough to send me a copy of this collection he put together with Ampersand Books called RE: Telling – An Anthology of Borrowed Premises, Stolen Settings, Purloined Plots and Appropriated Characters. Issue Six contributor Matt Bell lends his magic to the immortal Mario Bros. in  Mario’s Three Lives. Another contributor from the same issue, Jim Ruland, takes the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme to the seedy underbelly of Amsterdam and the morally ambiguous terrain of adulthood. This collection is all about fun, a chance to watch some of your favorite writers (Blake Butler, Roxane Gay, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Shya Scanlon, Molly Gaudry, Michael Kimball, Lily Hoang and more) take some pop culture figures and tropes and have a good time flipping them on their head or pushing them to limits you’d never imagined they could approach. Pick this one up if you enjoy reading.

Wednesday, February 2nd

Geared Up.


We’re all ready for NerdFest 2011.


You know you’re a nerd when you’re very excited about a book stand you made. Thinking about making more/selling them. Not sure if there’s a big demand for these though. Want one? Hit me up in the comments.


Very excited to be sharing a table with the fine folks at Avery. Come hang out with us! We will be at the following places on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively:



Thursday, January 27th



{image: Ted Hollins}

Hey Orlando: The Zora! Fest kicked off last night and is churning up to full speed this week. Two events you should not miss…




You should go to both of these. What else do you have to do this weekend? Go do something that you’ve never done before. Go meet people you might not have otherwise met. Go experience something outside of your little Winter Park, Downtown, Thornton Park bubble. Do it. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer on this one. You will enjoy yourself, I promise. Take pics. Send them to me. I will post them on this blog. Experience something outside of your day-to-day existence. Build a damn bridge for once in your life. Forge a friendship. Talk to strangers. Eat some good food. It’s nice outside.

Tuesday, January 25th

Eff Yeah, Bookstores!: Desert Island Comics.


You surface from the Lorimer L stop onto Lorimer and Metropolitan. You walk west towards the droning BQE. Nestled between the hardware stores, cuban restaurants and noodle joints, embedded in the wood siding facades of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is a weathered white and yellow storefront sign announcing SPARACINO’S BAKERY: ITALIAN FRENCH SICILIAN BREAD. Underneath the subtitle is a less-weathered yellow sign with red lettering reading AND COMIC BOOKLETS. In the storefront window is an art installation lifted from a Roald Dahl fever dream: bright colors and angular shapes, fantastical creatures made of paper, three dimensional sci-fi landscapes and the strange and beautiful creatures that inhabit them. Welcome to Desert Island Comics, an independent bookstore specializing in comics and prints, owned and operated by indie comic guru and Mad Magazine enthusiast, Gabe Fowler. Gabe was kind enough to speak via email concerning the lonliness of the internet and how it’s good to have impossible standards.

1. What’s the Desert Island’s origin story?

I grew up loving Mad Magazine, punk rock, and skateboarding, eventually studied fine art, and spent years working at art galleries. I decided it was time to put all of these interests together in a visual book store. I’ve always loved comics, graphic art, and artists’ books, and thought they would be served well by coexisting in the same environment. I’ve also always loved book stores. After years of obsessing over particular shops, it was fun to design my own and try to address the positives and negatives of other places. I started with little money and looked for a full year for a decent affordable place to rent. And I ended up with the third place I saw!


2. What’s the curatorial process when choosing books to stock?

In keeping with the “desert island” concept, ideally every item in the store should hold interest for a lifetime. Obviously this is impossible, but I think about it when I’m selecting books. If you had to live the rest of your life with this book, would it still pull it’s weight? It’s good to have impossible standards.

3. What helps a book sell? What are some of the more successful books at DI?

If I knew the answer to this one I’d one step ahead of everybody else. There’s a million intangible factors in the hard reality of selling something, especially a poetic product like an illustrated book. Why does anybody buy anything? Long-awaited work from particular artists always sell well. So does nicely handmade work, like sewn binding or screen printed covers. I also do well with limited edition items from known artists, including prints or signed books.


4. Williamsburg has a storied history in the last decade of being both the epicenter of the art/creative world as well as a neighborhood that’s become synonymous with drastic gentrification. What’s it like running a comic book shop there?

Yeah, it still hurts when rich people ruin a creative community by pricing out the artists. It has happened a million times in this town, and it will probably happen to me. Anyway, it’s great to have a comic store in Williamsburg as long creative people still live nearby. Every scene on Earth has originators, participants and spectators, and it’s always the spectators that kill it.

5. How does a brick-and-mortar shop maintain relevance in the age of online commerce? How do you compete with Amazon?

The internet is lonely. My shop is a social place full of surprising stuff, a lot of which you can’t find on Amazon. I host tons of artist signings and provide a place for people to sell their self-published books and prints. There’s tons of reasons why a physical store is not just relevant but crucial.


6. Please describe the store mascot.

Do I have a mascot? Maybe you’re referring to the pirate drawing by Matti Hagelberg which has been on my website for a few years. I don’t think I have a mascot, but I’ve been lucky to work with tons of amazing artists over the years on prints and other projects. Hagelberg is from Finland, and I approached him blindly to design a poster for the store when I first opened. With no further instructions, he created a killer geometric scratchboard piece of a pirate holding a hockey stick with a parrot on his nose. This image has been closely associated with the shop ever since.

Desert Island is a now stocking Annalemma Issue Seven: Endurance.


Thursday, January 20th


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(image: Ted Hollins)

Hey Orlando: Next week the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities (or ZORA! for short) begins with the Opening Reception at Club KOHA in Eatonville on Wednesday, 1/26, 6:00 – 7:15 PM. If you’re the type to wait until a party gets into full swing, ZORA fest starts to get ramped up on Friday, January 28th at 12 noon on the World Beat Stage as spoken word artists Nas, Kyla Lacy, Shawn Welcome, Curtis Meyer, Devery and others.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll run into Ted Hollins, author of Issue Seven‘s photo essay highlighting 21 years of the ZORA festival. Go there! Take pictures!

Tuesday, November 23rd

Eatonville Release Party Wrap-up.


The FL release party for Annalemma Issue Seven: Endurance was held in Eatonville, FL. Why?


Because of this man: Ted Hollins.


I first heard about Ted at a photo show curated by our very own print designer, Jen O’Malley. Jen consulted N.Y. Nathiri (director of the The Hurson Museum and founding board member of The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, pictured left) to determine who was the best photographer in Eatonville. She didn’t hesitate to name Ted. When Jen and I started talking about featured artists for the Endurance issue, Ted’s name kept coming up. He’s been documenting the ZORA! festival for the last 21 years. To us, nothing said endurance like the life and work of Zora.


So we put together Ted’s photo essay, we got N.Y. to write a really beautiful foreward for it and we decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from the issue to the Hurston Museum.


To get a sense of closure to the project, it only seemed right to throw the release party in Eatonville at the Hurston Museum. So that’s what we did.


And a lot of people came out and had a damn good time, as was our intention. Alberta, Moms, Karina and Alberto.


I stood up and said basically everything you just read. People looked at me funny while I spoke.


My heart was warmed with the old and new friends that came out to support. Metha and Kris.


The Black Bean Deli catering crew unleashed an avalanche of empanadas that Eatonville was not prepared for. They were not wearing sock garters so their socks got blown clean off. Andy, Janelle, Gabi and Jessi.


Magazines were perused and enjoyed. It was, far and away, the best Anna party ever thrown.


Thanks to Ted, Jen, N.Y. Nathiri, The Hurston Musuem, and, most of all, the Eatonville community for welcoming a bunch of strangely dressed outsiders with open arms. Don’t miss ZORA! fest happening at the end of January!

Monday, November 22nd

Issue Seven Preview: Simmons on Kneeland.

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It may not always be the greatest timing to make a drastic life change while trying to promote a new issue of a magazine, but sometimes that’s just the way things work out. Good to see you again, reader of blogs.

In the interim, Issue Seven contributor Matthew Simmons recorded this video of himself reading an excerpt of the story “The Difference Between” by Andrea Kneeland from (you guessed it) Annalemma Issue Seven: Endurance.

Were you aware that it’s on sale now?

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Wednesday, October 27th

Party in FL!


I know who you are. You are a person who lives in Central Florida and loves empanadas. You are a person who loves delicious wine. You are a person who loves to read. You have a deep and ferocious love for the small, yet potent, arts and culture scene in your town. Most of all, you like free things. Guess what, friend. We’re hooking you up.

We’re celebrating the release of Annalemma Issue Seven: Endurance next month in Eatonville. We will see you there.