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From the Archives: You, Hot Guy

Fantasy published in 10 Flash Quarterly, January 2010

You, Hot Guy by Gay Degani

from The Portland Chronicle Personals: 

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 1.25.49 PMSPOTTED & SOUGHT / Sunday, January 3

You: man. Hot guy in scruffy beard & flannel shirt, a forty in one hand, a pack of Marlborough’s in the other. W&W: Friday night at the Mobil station. You grinned and said someone with a chassis like mine deserved a better ride. Then you climbed into a 1969 VW bug. But STILL I liked your chassis just fine.

Me: woman. Pumping unleaded into my mama’s rusty Olds Cutlass. Wanna meet? When: Monday at 10 P.M. Where: Mobil station. You: Man. Me: Woman.

 

from The Portland Chronicle Personals:

SPOTTED & SOUGHT / Wednesday, January 6

You: Mister scruffy & flannel, former hot guy at Mobil station on Friday night, were a no-show.

Me: hot girl with a nice chassis in Oldsmobile.

I waited outside the gas station in the Cutlass for an hour. Two forties and a carton of cigs. WTF, BUG-MAN. I was hoping you’d show up and we could put on some Keith Urban and you could rock my world.

But maybe you don’t read the personals or maybe you didn’t read them on Sunday morning. Maybe you had one helluva hangover and couldn’t crawl out of bed. Or maybe you got sidetracked by some other chick with a nice chassis.

Irregardless, I’m willing to give you another chance because you gave me such a promising smile and your eyes have that little sparkle I like. When: Wednesday at 10 P.M. Where: Mobil station. You: Man. Me: Woman.

 

from The Portland Chronicle Personals:

SPOTTED & SOUGHT / Friday, January 8

How the hell was I supposed to know you have a girlfriend?

You: hot guy from the Mobil Station.

Me: girl with 4 slit tires on her mom’s Olds.

You could’ve taken out a personal and told me you were spoken for. You didn’t have to send your Amazon girlfriend after me. She is NOT an attractive woman, hot guy. Built like a fucking bear. And she’s strong.

There I was sitting up in the front seat, flipping through People Magazine, when suddenly I thought there was a giant earthquake going on.

I thought she’d roll my mom’s car right into the ditch. Thank goodness I locked my doors, because she pounded and smacked at the glass and I was so scared I peed my pants, thinking she’d pick up a rock and smash my windows.

Guess she isn’t that bright.

She got tired of watching me panic and took off in your VW. I wanted to get the hell out of there, too, but that’s when I realized she’d slit my tires. I was not happy about spending the night out there, a Mobil station being devoid of magic of any kind, but I’m willing to forgive you.

I know you wouldn’t be with that awful woman if you weren’t scared to death, so here’s the plan. When: Saturday night at 12 A.M. Where: At the crossroads rest stop on I-13. You: Man who needs help. Me: Woman willing to give it.

Don’t let the bitch read this!

 

from  The Portland Chronicle Personals:

SPOTTED & SOUGHT / Sunday, January 10

I gave you plenty of chances, didn’t I?

You: scruffy guy from the Mobil Station. Me: girl with no regrets.

I suppose I should’d been a little more up FRONT with you from the beginning, but sometimes I get a yearning to be like normal girls, who hang out at Curly’s on Saturday night, pick up hot guys, and hook up in the cabs of their trucks.

And that’s where I was going when you showed up on my radar with your scraggly beard and Bud Lights. I thought, there he is, right there, that one.

After the incident at the Mobil station—the one with your gorilla girlfriend—I decided I needed to tap into a little bit of magic I have by way of my mom, she of the Oldsmobile Cutlass. And my father too. Between the two of them, it’s quite a gene pool.

I was hoping none of it would matter. You would read my note and see what a forgiving heart I have and remembering my sweet little chassis, you’d come alone and we could shake things up. But you didn’t.  I stopped dead cent in the crossroads. Both of you were too stupid to run like rabbits.

Instead, you clowns climbed out of that VW, and stood mocking me, grubby hands on hips. Neither of you had a clue and strode toward me like swaggering ass-holes. You were, I could see, not a prisoner of this bitch. You were not the dude to rock my world.

The minute you stepped inside my magic circle, the black asphalt split open and only for a moment did your skank look at me with anything other than scorn. But then, plain, old-fashioned horror distorted your faces, eyes melting, mouths ripping, skin curling, as you slithered into the earth. Sorry about that. You: Man gone to hell with Amazon bride. Me: Woman still looking.

 

from The Chronicle Personals: 

SPOTTED & SOUGHT / Wednesday January 13

You: Man. Cute redhead spotted jogging north in sweats at dusk on Monday in front of Curly’s Bar and Grill. You waved and said, “How you doing?”

Me: Woman. Climbing out of my mom’s Olds Cutlass, four brand new tires.

 

copyright January 2010 by Gay Degani

“Mono Lake”- The Airgonaut

My story, Mono Lake, is now up at Sheldon Compton’s “The Airgonaut.” Find it here.

Mono_Lake_(12581873963)“They waded in the lake’s warm salty water, chasing away black clouds of alkali flies. They felt as if they’d landed on long lost planet and he’d missed it.”

 

 

 

Photo of Mono Lake was taken by Ashley Webb from Los Angeles, USA and found at Creative Commons.

 

From the Archives: When you think you’re done, are you?

When we are new at something, sometimes all we can think about is that first goal.  Learning to skate doesn’t look that hard.  If  we can stay upright, feet on the sidewalk (or ice), body vertical, we’ll soon be doing figure eights and sailing backwards. The same goes for writing.  When we sit down at the keyboard to write a story, we figure if  we can get enough words on the screen, we’ll have a tale worth telling.

In some ways, we need this attitude to get started.  If we knew we’d fall on our asses for the first twelve times we skated over a twig, a crack, our sister’s Barbie doll, we probably wouldn’t try.  We need that initial belief in ourselves to put the skates on in the first place.  The same is true for writing.  We picture ourselves  clacking away at the computer keys with lines of type building and building.  It is the only way to deal with our initial fear.
However, how we handle the results of those first attempts can dictate success or failure.  For many, a bruised butt and bloodied knees spell defeat.  “I don’t want to do this!  This is too hard” and they head inside to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Others wear their scabs like badges of honor and take a moment to reassess their goals.  They realize they can’t jump from standing upright on skates to skimming down Devil Hill, carving eights in the liqour store parking lot, floating backward to the awe of the younger kids without blood and guts.
The same is true with writing.  Although there are those who have a natural talent for the written word can sit down and write it without too much angst.  But these are rare cases.  Most of us may write a story that has many strong elements, but as a whole it doesn’t work.  Not yet.  And we need to reassess and learn the craft.
This is the make-or-break moment for most writers, the moment of looking at a piece of writing as it might be read by others, readers who do not live in the head of that writer.  The ability to look at one’s own work with a critical eye does not come easily.  It is a skill that is learned with practice, patience, and awareness of what works and what doesn’t.  An expertise that evolves over time.
Just as a young roller skater learns the sidewalk is smoother than asphalt, a writer learns clarity is more important that an obscure turn of phrase, but to do this, both must be willing to see beyond their first goals.  They must accept the reality that becoming good at something requires the understanding that learning is a process, that the large goal must be broken down into smaller goals because everything is more complex than we first perceive.
There is a difference in skating and writing.  We teach different muscles to work harmoniously together.  In skating we train our bodies and our brain too, but most it’s about legs and balance and reaction.  In writing we train our brains–and our hearts.
How do we train our brains to write?  We set up mini-goals, lots of them, beyond our first goal.  Here are a few I believe in, though sometimes I find it hard to actually do them all!
Mini-Goals for Each Story
  • Create content by taking notes, brain-storming, writing a “shit” draft
  • Write a draft
  • Do research to understand the world you’ve created or the personalities
  • Think about story structure
  • Make certain everything in a story serves a purpose (especially in flash)
  • Be willing to delete that which doesn’t fit into the structure
  • Go through the story to improve the language
  • Make certain everything that needs to be clear is clear
  • Make certain that verbs are active, that nouns are specific
  • Proof-read carefully
  • Set it aside (this is one of the hardest mini-goals because usually at this stage we are sooooooo excited about what we’ve created, we can’t wait to send it out)
  • Reread and make changes after it’s been set aside
  • Ask a trusted reader to read it (trusted: gentle, supportive, yet honest, honest, honest)
  • Decide what notes you agree with and what you don’t and make edits
  • Set aside again, at least an hour or two so that when you proof-read for the final time, you have enough distance to find now what your eye skipped over before
  • Send out and cross fingers
Mini-Goals for Personal Growth
  • Read widely and deeply
  • Talk to others about writing
  • Be open-minded
  • Try new genres
  • Be a mentor
 None of this is necessary if a writer is writing only for himself.   Just as skating up and down the block might make one child happy, putting together a story for fun can work for the “Sunday author.”  But if your goal is roller-derby, you’d better to be willing to work.  And if you want to be published?  Guess what…
Republished here from an article by Gay Degani at Flash Fiction Chronicles, published Nov 22, 2009 

2019 Pushcart Nominees from Blink-Ink

photo of Mojave Train by Rennett Stowe 

Here’s the announcement from Blink Ink 

Awards Season is upon us and here we go first up with the Pushcarts. Congratulation to one and all.

Our 2019 Nominees are:

Claire Polders – Tabula Rose
Liam Pezzano – Dusty Angels
Gay Degani – Mojave
Steven Dunn – Shade
Nancy Stohlman – The Harpist
Francine Witte – Two years Later

 

Thank you Sally Reno and Doug Mathewson for this honor!

 

 

Tim Degani on Travel, Creativity, and Getting Out of Your Wheelhouse*

by Nancy Stohlman
Nancy Stohlman: I know you have done ton a lot of traveling-what have been some of your favorite destinations? Have you been to Costa Rica before?

Tim Degani: Yes, since I retired a few years ago Gay and I try to take at least one international trip a year.  One of my favorite places to visit was Peru, the food was fabulous and the vistas were unlike anything we have ever seen.  Machu Picchu is a place of stunning beauty and awe inspiring grandeur.  We were fortunate enough to stay at the Sanctuary Lodge which is the only hotel that borders the park, a place I would highly recommend.  There is a tremendous sense of tranquility and the orchids are just what one would expect in a tropical forest.  The altitude can be a challenge so take the oxygen and coca infused tea when offered upon arriving in Cusco.  The Inca craftsmanship and artistry cannot be ignored in their exquisite architecture and blanket weaving which can be found throughout the Sacred Valley.

We have not been to Costa Rica so I am looking forward to an amazing trip.
Nancy: Wow–I’m jealous! That sounds amazing. Creativity comes to people in different ways. How are you creative?
Tim: I spent my career in the aerospace industry working in various finance positions, so I am not considered a creative person and certainly not one as defined by the arts.  I am an engineer by education and my creativity, if it can be called that, is in solving problems and finding ways to accomplish projects that are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.  I do enjoy all of the arts and am currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach California.
Nancy: I DO think solving problems is creative–I would also put the sciences into the creativity basket as well. Now you are coming to Costa Rica with your wife, Gay Degani, who is a writer. What’s it like being married to a writer?  
Tim: As long as I give her plenty of room to do her own thing, we get along great after 44 years of marriage.
Nancy: Ha! Exactly. What are you most looking forward to about your time in Playa Negra?  
Tim: I look forward to several days of relaxing in a tropical environment and partaking of some of the many outdoor activities offered.  I am thinking maybe horseback riding, snorkeling, riverboat cruise, or visiting a rain forest.
Nancy: Sounds perfect. You know that Playa Negra has some of the best surfing as well, right? Now react to this quote by the (now) late Anthony Bourdin: “Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”
Tim: I couldn’t agree more; in order to stay mentally agile you need to experience life and all it has to offer.  I don’t think I could or would go to the extremes he went to (like traveling to Iran), nor eat the more exotic foods he devoured.  I do enjoy going to and trying out new experiences that are outside of your wheel house.  It helps to put your life into perspective.
Nancy: I agree. Tell us something we don’t know about you?
Tim: Well just about everything I suppose.  I am a native of Los Angeles, Ca, attended Hollywood high school and tried out unsuccessfully for the Dodgers.
Nancy: Wow! Anything else you want to add?
Tim: By now, you probably have heard enough from me.
Nancy: Thank you for your time, Tim! I’m looking forward to meeting you soon!

Want to join in the fun and inspiration in Costa Rica? Kathy and Nancy have 1 little cabina available: Find out more!

*Tim is coming with me to Costa Rica and while I “retreat” with Kathy and Nancy and a terrific group of writers, he’s going to take in the glories of beach and rainforest.

Need a Pep Talk? Grant Faulkner Has 52 of Them

Find at Amazon

I recently drove from LA to San Francisco with a friend, and we listened to 52 Pep Talk for Writers by Grant Faulkner from Audible. I am very glad we did. Many books have helped me stay the course in terms of writing, most of them in paperback and some in audio. These include all of Natalie Goldberg’s work, Anne LaMott, Julia Cameron, Jerome Stern, Stephen King, William Zinnser, Gardner, Strunk and White, Ueland, Welty, as well books on movies such as Robert McKee, Syd Field, and Chris Vogler.

I found myself thinking as I listened “Oh, yes, that’s true,” and “Wish I’d heard this years ago,” and “I should post one of these chapters on my computer for each week!” Grant Faulkner’s “Pep Talks” should be added to the above list of books for writers.

What Faulkner brings to the bookshelf is a fresh way to inspire writers as well as offering good advice and encouragement, fifty-two flashes of wisdom. He covers each topic in concise, yet

10 Pep Talk Topics

thorough detail: How important it is to take yourself seriously, how to get out of the habit of feeling like an imposter, how to use obstacles such as “not having enough time” to your advantage, how to stay on task using goals and deadlines. As a holder of an M.A. in creative writing, an oft-published writer, a veteran of Nanowrimo (he’s now the executive director), and co-founder of the journal 100 Word Story, Faulkner brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience to this handbook for writers.


 I am thrilled to have a piece in the anthology, NEW MICRO: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton, August 28, 2018) edited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro and equally thrilled by the shout out in a review at Heavy Feather Reviewwritten by Bryan Jansing.

“Punch for punch, these micro fists hit at you hard and with life’s betrayals and losses. Gay Degani gives a knockout blow in “Abbreviated Glossary” when the termination of a pregnancy is also the loss of dignity at the hands of an unsympathetic, career-focused husband.”

I’ll be reading Thursday night in San Francisco, September 6, at 7:30 at The Bindery Bookstore along with Stace Budzko, Kirstin Chen, Jane CiabattariJames ClaffeyGrant FaulknerThaisa FrankMolly Giles, Cadence LowMelissa G. McCrackenLynn Mundell, Pamela Painter, and Nancy Stohlman!

Here’s the press release:

NEW MICRO

Exceptionally Short Fiction
Edited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro

“Reading these wonderful tiny fictions is like stealing food from the refrigerator before, or after, dinner. A sublime luxury.”
                                                                               —Frederick Barthelme, New World Writing

“These micro fictions violate the laws of geophysics by compressing whole lives / whole worlds / whole heartbreaks into something like diamonds: bright, riven, reflective, edged, wonderful, and hard enough to cut through glass.”
                                                            —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

 New Micro’s quick, bright stories are, like our lives, as brief as lightning in the blinding dark.They offer us essential truth without the inessential facts.”
                                               —John Dufresne, author of Flash! Writing the Very Short Story 
Each story in NEW MICRO: Exceptionally Short Fiction [W. W. Norton & Company; August 28, 2018; $15.95 paperback original] comes in at fewer than 300 words. And each, according to the foreword by Robert Shapard, editor of Flash Fiction Forward, “hangs in the air of the mind like an image made of smoke.” Quick, surprising, demanding, unsettling—these shorts represent a new trend in contemporary fiction. With them, our finest writers achieve the power and range of much longer works in ever-more-brief and compressed spaces. Elusive, mysterious, deep and sudden as a sinkhole, they are sure to delight fans of flash fiction and novels alike.
Editors James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro spent years assembling the best examples of the form, drawing extraordinary stories from contemporary books, journals and smaller anthologies. The result is a collection of work by distinguished writers like Amy Hempel, John Edgar Wideman, Kim Addonizio, Richard Brautigan, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Stuart Dybek, Joyce Carol Oates, and James Tate. Works by less familiar names are equally thrilling and demonstrate the authors’ gifts and their abilities to test the limits of the form.
The stories in this anthology are as varied as they are indelible: a girl finds a job playing lookout for an adulterous neighbor; an old woman is robbed on a train; a child dies in a shooting; a family holds a barbecue. They deal with familiar fictional subjects—love and marriage, death, strangers coming to town—and yet make these canonical topics feel fresh.
There are subjects less familiar, and stranger, too. In a seventy-five-word story by Lou Beach, a character is shot in the arm by a thieving monkey. In “Furnace” by Kevin Griffith, a furnace repairman becomes stuck in a family’s ducts: “On certain nights, the children gather around the vent and listen to him tell fanciful stories about wolves, elves, and armless people.”
And others get yet more surreal. An unremarkable man finds a statue of himself in a park. A woman marries a breakfast cereal, then a cigarette, then a stone. An entire society of people decides to become hermits. An orgasm decides to take a selfie. Each story expands upon reading, hinting at worlds beyond the words. The stories “resonate in the silences,” write the editors, “like the last notes of a cello.’
With 89 authors and 135 stories, the anthology invites exploration. Travel time is minimal, but the destinations are far-flung. These stories instruct, enlighten, entertain, and, like the very best fiction, formulate new questions that resonate beyond their scope and length.
ABOUT THE EDITORS:
James Thomas has received a Stegner Fellowship, a Michener Fellowship, and two NEA grants. He lives in Xenia, Ohio.
Robert Scotellaro is the author of Bad Motel and Measuring the Distance. He lives in San Francisco.
TITLE:NEW MICRO
SUBTITLE: Exceptionally Short Fiction
EDITORS:James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro
PUBLICATION DATE: August 28, 2018
ISBN:978-0-393-35470-6
PRICE:$15.95 paperback original
PAGE COUNT:288
Contact: Caroline Saine
Publicity Assistant
212-790-4267