Best Author’s Bio Ever


Recently, I’ve been reading as many of the Best American Short Stories anthologies as I can. With 20 stories by 20 different authors in each addition – edited by a different guest editor each year – they’re all excellent. I’m entertained while also learning from the various styles and techniques of these award winning authors.

I’m not reading the collections in any particular order, just reading whatever anthology I find next at my used bookstore or library. That’s how I came across the 1998 edition, guest-edited by Garrison Keiller. It includes incredible stories by Annie Proulx, Carol Anshaw, Akhil Sharma, and others, but it’s the authors’ bio sections that really caught my eye in this edition, because a short story writer named Poe Ballantine wrote the best author bio I’ve ever read.

Since it’s not available online, I’m going to retype his bio for you right here:

“I am forty-two. College dropout. Live in a motel room. I generally move every year, but I am tired of moving and I like this room so I think I will stay another year. I have had lots of odd jobs, mostly cooking. I worked at the radio antenna factory just across the tracks for a while, then sold a couple of stories, so I quit March 5, and if I live on $400 a month and this wisdom tooth coming in doesn’t knock the rest of my teeth sideways, I will be able to write until August.”



Story Album Released Today – “The Great American Afterlife”

So here it is, my story album with the band Mankind, released today, titled “The Great American Afterlife.” After three couples came to me and cried with me in my kitchen about their impending divorces, I decided that I had to write a story about what was going on.
I read this piece at Tsunami, and a local band approached me about recording the story with them as an album. It ended up being a really cool experience working with dedicated musicians, a gifted producer, and someone who actually knew how to mix sound.
You can listen to a sample track and/or purchase here:

Failing Writer Entry #2.

To be able to fail, one must try.  And to fail repeatedly, one must try repeatedly.  This is where writing submissions come in.

The emerging writer sends out his or her stories, poems, and essays to slushpiles all over the United States.  The editors who govern those slush piles then do one of the following:

1. Throw the submission out unopened.

2. Open the submission, then recycle the parts.

3. Open and read the first line.  Then recycle.

4. Open and read the first paragraph or stanza.  Then recycle.

5. Open and read the entire manuscript.  Then recycle.

6. Open, read the entire manuscript, comment, then recycle.

7. Open, read the entire manuscript, comment, share with a colleague, then recycle.

8. Open, read, fall in love, drink heavily, cry, chip a tooth, smear chocolate, share with a colleague, reread, accept, share with another colleague, call, email, edit, and print.

In hopes of causing number eight, I submit regularly.  This is what my submission journal looks like:

# – Manuscript submitted – house/editor – date – rejected/accepted – date – comments.