I'm Back!

We have some more exciting workshops to check out in our Bending Genres monthly weekend workshops, including Nancy Stohlman on August 23- 25; Robert Russell on September 20-22, and Steven Dunn on October 18-20. More information is available here:

https://bendinggenres.com/monthly-workshops/.

And on July 21-27, we will be back at Mabel Dodge Luhan House for our second Bending Genres retreat. There is more information about that here: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com. We’ve added our very first MIDWEST RETREAT for August 16- 22, 2020. More details are forthcoming! Needless to say, we are so excited.

And we will have our July/ August issue of Bending Genres available at the beginning of August. Some terrific writers are submitting, and we are still taking more fiction, poetry and CNF. Send us your best! www.bendinggenres.com

I hope your summer is rocking your world. Wasn’t it so great to see our Women’s Soccer USA team win the World Cup? Terrific for young girls and boys everywhere. For everyone, really.  ]]>

Oh! What a WEEK

ISSUE 8, published on Tuesday, April 9. Filled with amazing, diverse flash fiction, stunning poetry and brave, insightful creative non-fiction, we had more than 1,200 hits the first day we published! A new feat!!! Thanks to our BG editors Meg Tuite, Jessica Mehta, Samuel Fox, David O’Connor, Jonathan Cardew, Davon Loeb, Corey Holzman, Adam Robinson, and KJ. And also thanks to our writers, and those of you who tweeted, added your own or your favorite stories to FB, IG, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and more.

Also, this week, the stories in Best Small Fictions 2019 were announced. And my piece, “Six Glimpses of the Uncouth” was included with many stellar authors like Lydia Davis, Amelia Gray, Michael Martone, Kim Chinquee, Ann Beattie and SO many more. I’m truly honored to be included, my second time (I also had a piece selected in the 2016 BSF). I wanted to mention that the particular piece which was selected truly had some serious legs. Originally it appeared in Bud Smith’s anthology, Uno Kudo. He ran this project (2012-2015) with many friends including Aaron Dietz, Erin Parker, Erin McParland, and Chuck Howe (RIP). Then, it was picked up by Metazen, an online journal which mined GOLD in its heyday. Then it was selected to appear in my third book, Addicts & Basements. And finally, last November, it was published at Hobart Journal, with four of my other short fiction pieces. The theme here is never give up on your work!

And then, Nancy Stohlman, dear friend and terrific writer, interviewed me about my latest book, FUNHOUSE, in her series, So You Wrote A Book. She asked some terrific questions and I so appreciate her verve and support of fellow writers.

We still have some openings at Bending Genres for online workshops May 24- 26 with Kaj Tanaka; and June 14- 16 with Sabrina Orah Mark. 

Also, consider joining us in Taos, New Mexico for our second week long writing retreat at   Mabel Dodge Luhan House! July 21-27. Incredible vistas, inspiring daily writing talks, roundtables to receive and give feedback, gourmet food. Want to change your writing life? Talk about a busy week… and it snowed all day yesterday. What the latest with you?  ]]>

This Writing Life

Hobart Journal last November. Bud Smith was the guest editor and he accepted 5 flash fictions, mostly all from journals that have gone out of publication. You can read them all here: http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/five-stories. I can’t share the “exciting news” part quite yet. Just know I am over-the-moon!!! Today was the beginning of Jonathan Cardew’s Ugly Real Beautiful: Let Your Characters Tell the Story. It’s our third Bending Genres weekend workshop of 2019, and all three (Meg Tuite in January; Alina Stefanescu in February) have been full so far. We only take 20 writers max, and our next opportunity, Sara Lippmann’s Mine What Matters, is more than half full already. So, don’t wait!!! More here: https://bendinggenres.com/monthly-workshops/. Today I also booked flights for Synergia Ranch, our first Bending Genres retreat on May 10-16. I am so excited for this! Also, we still have some openings for our second Bending Genres retreat at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, N.M. on July 21-27. Come write your heart out in the desert, eat gourmet food, laugh and dream with like-minded writers: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com And, I hope to see you in Portland at https://www.awpwriter.org, March 27- 31? I’ll be floating around the book fair needing a haircut, hiding in back booths at late- night readings, toasting friends like Bill Soldan, Karen Stefano, Len Kuntz, Jayne Martin and a plethora of other talents who have new books, or books being birthed soon. Please let me know if you have any signings or engagements. Happy writing! What are you reading lately?]]>

Omega Institute: Nick Flynn

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, his new memoir about his mother. Plenty of bewilderment! The workshop was held in the Creekside cottage, which was a tight space for 25 writers! After selecting a word from the white board (I chose “to Lose”) we were given a postcard image. We meditated for seven minutes (a welcome recurring theme before our writing prompts) and then wrote “descriptive writing”- trying to stick with details. We repeated this exercise with slight suggested revisions, so that eventually we had written four or five different prompts. We also read Larry Levis’s lyric poem, “Sensationalism.” My small group was Laura, Kathryn and Carrie. I also partnered with Sean on a couple of exercises. Teacher Nick Flynn, author of several books, including his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which I read during our Omega workshop. (http://www.nickflynn.org) One evening, we saw Aja Monet read from her stellar poetry collection, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter at the Omega Library. She was amazing. In class we also drew maps of a specific location, and a map of our body (placing both trauma and joys on the body). These were used for prompts. We did a movement exercise with Omega staff and writer JoJo that helped us to identify a place in which we might go deeper into a writing piece. Then we wrote a piece toward a direction on our maps. We also visualized our ‘home direction,’ and figured out a gift to give to our “person,” (used from our original postcards) and wrote a fairy tale prompted piece to a younger self in a deep woods. Stanley Kunitz, a mentor of Nick’s said: “You have to become the person that can write the poem.” (of compassion, of anger, of solace, etc.) On Wednesday, Nick’s friend and music collaborator, Guy Barash visited the Omega campus. We did an afternoon workshop with Guy, directing us with non-musical instruments, graphed and designed on paper. We did a silent meditation just listening to local ambient sounds (heater, planes, crickets, etc.) and “recorded” them, then attempted to translate them to the class (from our papers). Then, in groups, we performed our pieces. Then Guy directed the entire class as an aural orchestra. We dubbed ourselves the Unstable Atomic Pigs! Nick was so kind, he invited us to open for Nick and Guy’s performance in the Lake Theater that evening. Also Jared Handelsman, another collaborator, provided video footage. Their show was beyond inspiring! On Thursday our class occupied the Lake Theater at Omega. This was an entire day devoted to our “working project.” We went through our various collected pages, new writing and brought pieces, and various favorites from the group. We marked the “resonant parts,” and Nick coached us to be generous- not one or two words, mark “whole passages.” From there, we literally cut out those parts, and placed them onto 30 blank sheets of white paper. I sort of figured out that I had three or four threads for my project. And I had organized them all in these groupings. Then Nick came over, listened as I described my chaos, and said, “okay, now you can switch them all up- move them around, etc.” I literally felt nauseous! But so did everyone else. Chaos… opposite of organized. The last morning, Nick fielded a quick question and answer. Because I had to leave early on Friday, I was the first in order for the final reading. I read “Tributaries,” and “When He Left it all to Me.” I was only able to stay for the first four or five other readers. I felt so badly when I slipped out, but I had to catch the train, to the cab, to the plane, to the car ride home. My dear friend David Carter (who incidentally was the first friend I workshopped with at Omega in 1994), came and spent an overnight on Thursday, and transported me to the Rhinecliff train station. Bless his heart. What a week. So grateful to Nick Flynn, teacher extra-ordinaire, my co-writers and creators, to Omega for hosting this amazing workshop. To friends, new and old. And always to my honey, who makes life seem more technicolor than ever.]]>

Synergia Ranch 2017

We had 17 writers attend, some stayed the entire week, some commuted. It was a treat, the support flowed, and the powerful, astounding writing that all of the workshop participants conjured up was refreshing. Not to mention the lovely grounds, and sunrise/sunsets, fire pit, organic orchard, GeoDome, Dance Studio, and amazing restaurant/ food.   SAVE THESE DATES: Meg Tuite and I will be returning to Synergia Ranch for Bending Genres on April 27-May 3, 2018. We will have our website up and running very soon! In addition, we will be back in Taos, New Mexico on July 22-28, 2018 for Exploratory Fiction at Mabel Dodge Luhan House. Again, website forthcoming. Come one, come all. Let either Meg or me know if you have any questions, or plan to reserve for either week. WE BOTH HOPE SO!!! Big hugs, and warm wishes for a terrific, inspiring late summer/ autumn. More news forthcoming as we move ahead. Our September issue of (b)OINK published and is full of terrific fiction, poetry, CNF, and the VOICES column, dedicated to scatalogical issues this time around. www.boinkzine.com. What are you reading? I am almost through Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. Comments welcome!]]>

August Recap

FUNHOUSE had a mention in The New York Review of Books- The August 17th edition. Pinch me now!!! This is a pretty major accomplishment. They’d read my FUNHOUSE Kirkus Review and contacted me. FUNHOUSE is happy, and my family/ friends are happy. I am over the moon! Also, I recently read at Boswell Books with local writers, novelist Lee Kreckwell (The Expanse Between), poet Caitlin Scarano (Do Not Bring Him Water), and Chicago author Ben Tanzer (Be Cool– Essays/ Memoir). The evening was referred to as a mix of Micro, Poetry, Fiction and Memoir (a blend of genres): There was a nice write-up in our local Sheperd Express about the reading: http://shepherdexpress.com/article-30227-midwest-writers-gather-at-boswell-for-micro-memoir-poetry-prose.html And a couple of great things happened at (b)OINK, where I am the Managing Editor. First of all, we announced our nominees for Best of the Net. This was quite difficult because we were limited in terms of how many pieces, and so many terrific ones to select from. Please head over to (b)OINK and read these phenomenal nominations (www.boinkzine.com): And then, we announced the TOP 20 finalists in our very first Flash Fiction Contest. We had over 150 entries!!! And our vetters did a fantastic job: Len Kuntz, Dianca London, and Nicholas Cook. Then our guest judge, Kathy Fish, selected the top three winners- they will be announced on September 1st. Here are the top 20 stories, without the authors’ names: http://boinkzine.com/2017/08/25/boinks-flash-fiction-contest-top-20-finalists/ And finally, the Hurricane Harvey scared us so much, with precious family who live in the Corpus Christi area. Everyone is safe, and fortunately the rain damage is not over yet. Please think positive thoughts for all those in Hurricane Harvey’s plight. I leave on Tuesday for Bending Genres, a workshop at Synergia Ranch, outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m hosting with the kickass, and brilliant Meg Tuite. We have 17 writers aligned to arrive on Friday, September 1. I’m beyond thrilled and ready to have a stimulating and eye-opening week-long experience.    ]]>

Summer is Here!

FUNHOUSE had a very lovely KIRKUS review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/robert-vaughan/funhousex/ I want to thank the editors at KIRKUS, and also all of your lovely compliments after reading the review. Also, at the international online magazine, Levure Litteraire, my dear friend Helene Cardona published three of my FUNHOUSE pieces: http://levurelitteraire.com/robert-vaughan/ Then, at the LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS, there was a fine essay called Protean Miniatures: The Adaptability and Sustainability of Flash Fiction by Sean Hooks, in which he mentions RIFT, my last book with Kathy Fish (about halfway through the article). This was a shock, and a very pleasant one! https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/protean-miniatures-adaptability-sustainability-flash-fiction/ And many of you already know I am the Managing Editor at (b)OINK. Well, many things are happening with our magazine, including our Inaugural Flash Fiction Contest with guest judge Kathy Fish: https://boinkzine.submittable.com/submit/87025/boink-flash-fiction-contest-with-guest-judge-kathy-fish And we have a new (b)OINK poetry editor, Jamal, and an intern, Corey, as well as a new office in Walker’s Point, a diverse and fun neighborhood in Milwaukee. More new things forthcoming! Our first (b)OINK presents reading will be on Thursday, June 29th, at Sugar Maple in Bay View, WI. 7-9 p.m. Emceed by Dora Diamond. Surprises and gifts abound! I had the great fortune of attending Marjorie Pagel’s book launch (The Romance of Anna Smith and other stories) at Anodyne yesterday. I was so thrilled she had standing-room-only crowd and her book is available at Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Romance-Anna-Smith-Other-Stories/dp/1545412413/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498235510&sr=8-1&keywords=Marjorie+Pagel. Enjoy summer. Read as much as possible. Looking for a workshop? Check this out: http://bendinggenres.com.  ]]>

Red Oak Reading

Please come and help us spread Judith’s passion, her zest for life. I hope to see you tonight! I will also have copies of FUNHOUSE, my latest book for sale. And Unknown Press, my publisher, has launched a new website. Check it out here: https://unknownpress.org Finally, it’s never too late to tell those you love (right now) that you LOVE THEM!!!  ]]>

WordTango Cross-Genre Deep Dive

Cross-Genre Deep Dive, hosted by WordTango, the online writing community. I had the terrific pleasure of meeting Liz Pettie and Jen Kircher- Carr at the AWP Conference in Washington D.C. recently. We didn’t go swimming, or even diving. But life can take you into deep waters, or leaping, plummeting from various heights, for innumerable other reasons: debt, accidents, secretive meetings. The list is endless! If you are unfamiliar with my writing, I’ve just published my 5th book, FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press). It’s a good example of cross-genre work in one book: flash fiction, prose poetry, and longer short stories. (See the tab “My Books” for more information.) I hope you will consider taking the WORDTANGO course. More information is here: http://us11.campaign-archive1.com/?u=fc8698610dd752def107a548c&id=72030255b0 Please let us know if you have any questions. And thanks, Kathy Fish, for the solid recommendation. Happy Writing!]]>

I Got The Boot

SO NICE TO FINALLY MEET YOU– so many new faces at the AWP Conference this year. Among them, Windy Lynn Harris, Jennifer Kircher Carr, Liz Pettie, Maureen Langloss, Levis Keltner, Diem White, Jan Elman Stout, Grant Faulkner, Christine Texeira, Jensen Beach, Sherrie Flick, David Galef, and too many others to count. OH, IT’S YOU AGAIN? Reunions are always the best, and most of mine in D.C. began with “WHAT HAPPENED?” Still, always terrific to see Kyle Semmel, Angela Woodward, Bill Yarrow, Roxane Gay, Lori Brody, Gay Degani, April Bradley, Dorianne Laux, Christopher Allen, Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Jeff Landon, James Thomas, T.L. Sherwood, Matt Bell, Mary Akers, Joe Millar, Nita Noveno, Matt Lewis, Michael Seidlinger, Janice Lee, Rae Bryant, Ben Tanzer, Joseph Lawrence Dougherty, Anna March, Robert Russell, Lee Krecklow, Jeffrey Phaller, David Atkinson, John Wentworth Chapin, Wendy Ortiz, Brandon Hobson, Gloria Mindock, Annie Pluto, Pamela Painter, and numerous others. FROM A DISTANCE… I saw you, but there was no way I could run to you… or I might have…   Sara Lippmann (pictured above), Lidia Yuknavitch, D. Foy, Kim Suhr, Stephen Gowin, Joani Reese, Chiwan Choi, Joanna Valente, Alex Kalamaroff, Chelsea Hodson, Joshua Mohr, Alice Anderson, Alexander Chee, Jeff Jackson, John Madera, Garth Greenwell, J. Bradley, Michele Filgate, Amber Sparks, Chelsea Bondolillo, Sarah Rose Etter, Mark Doten, Julia Fiero, Henry Hoke, Amelia Gray, Michael Kimball, and too many others. It’s always such a delicate balancing act, that AWP. WHERE WERE YOU? It felt like you were there the entire time. Dream or otherwise. Meg Tuite, Bud Smith, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Meredith Alling, Gabino Iglesias, Josh Denslow, Brandi Wells, Michael Taekens, xTx, Ben Loory, Jules Archer, Seth Berg, Katherine Seluja, Sheila Hanrahan, Cyrus Cassells, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, Aaron Apps, etc. WHAT I LEARNED: Don’t use the bathroom in the middle of the first night, ever. If you trip, you just might break your ankle. (Could have been my neck). Hairline fracture, right fibula. Never ever would have imagined this. I have to thank my gracious Physician’s Assistant, Clarence M. Chan, at the George Washington University Hospital for his tender, consistent care and my splint. GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM: Len Kuntz, Karen Stefano, Robert P. Kaye- you saviors, I love you all! And Meg, your constant online support and love was (is) stellar, and Andrea & David, you always make me laugh- love you both. And Satchi, who offered to air lift me home- my heart, my soul, always. I I RECAP: My favorite panel was From Flash Fiction to Micro Fiction and included luminaries Pamela Painter, Grant Faulkner, Nancy Stohlman, Sherrie Flick and James Thomas. I sincerely apologize to Joani and my Hot Pillow compadres- I was there in spirit! Also to host John Madera whose reading I had to cancel. And to WordTango: Jennifer and Elizabeth, for sponsoring my Saturday FUNHOUSE signing, you guys ROCK!  Thanks, everyone, or anyone who said a version of “SPEEDY RECOVERY!!!” I am obeying your wishes. See you all in Tampa for AWP18. NO wheelchairs.]]>