The work of Scott Listfield

One of my favorite artists I’ve discovered this year is Scott Listfield, whose paintings feature, per his website, “a lone exploratory astronaut lost in a landscape cluttered with pop culture icons, corporate logos, and tongue-in-cheek science fiction references.”

Given my love of forests, and exploration of landscapes in general, this, easily, is my favorite piece:


Check out more of Scott’s work on his website here.

White Oak Felled, Remembered

A massive, ancient tree being felled by lightning isn’t news in of itself. But I’m drawn to this story for a few reasons: First, Michigan State University is my alma mater. Second, I remember this tree when I went to school there. Finally, this tree existed for nearly 200 years before the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan (MSU’s predecessor) was even formed.

It’s a nice a change of pace from headlines that read “Massive white oak removed by school to make room for blahblah”—we see enough of these headlines. For me, this fascination with physical place as a starting point for memory, as something that can affect us emotionally, is hugely important to my work, my thought process. I look at old growth forests, for example, and wonder what the world was like when they were yet saplings. I wade through forests and undergrowth and am in awe of all those that came before and stood, perhaps, exactly where I stand. In this instance, I calculate how big this tree must have been already when American itself was born. I find this exercise humbling, and, for my writing, it ignites deep within me: who are we, our problems, in relation to this magnificent natural world? I tend to start with place when I write anything, I start their and branch out, so this thinking helps me put myself in relation to the world.

Per the Lansing State Journal:

A small portion of the centuries-old tree remains between the MSU Museum and Linton Hall in the West Circle area of campus. It previously shaded a stone water fountain dedicated by the class of 1900, which served both humans and the horses they rode to campus. Before that, the land around what is now West Circle was occupied by local Native American tribes, Telewski said.

You can read the whole article here. Here’s hoping they do something appropriate with the remains (on display, somewhere, perhaps?).

2016 Pushcart Prize nomination

Well, fantastic! I’m thrilled to have my story “Wolf Hunt, 1946” represent Cowboy Jamboree Magazine‘s 2016 Pushcart Prize nominations.

My story, about a girl in 1946 who goes hunting for a wolf in the wilds of a mountainous forest, can be read online.

Really grateful to Adam and Constance at Cowboy Jamboree Magazine—means a heck of a lot. The others they nominated…I’m in some stellar company. Really honored.


I have a particular fascination with forests. I try, often, to figure out: Where did this come from? And then, I think, it’s always been because of its life—when you stand in the woods you can sense life around you: birds and bugs and the earth and, of course, the trees themselves. Thus, this TED talk gets to me, deeply:

“A forest is much more than what you see,” says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery—trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.

We know so little about forests, about what’s beneath our feet—how it all works together. Figuring this out, or starting to figure this out, is endlessly fascinating—and vital. For too long we have treated trees, and plant life itself, as non-intelligent. We’re just now starting to see how wrong we were. It is imperative we understand what it is we are razing, paving, and otherwise dismantling, and how this will, inevitably, harm us beyond the obvious ways. Seeing that there is a communication at work here like we had otherwise not envisioned is illuminating.

Comic: The Terrible Speed of Mercy

Here’s something fun: uber-writer and uber-human Jeremy Bronaugh and I put together a cute little Ghost Rider comic called The Terrible Speed of Mercy. The idea was simple: How horrible would it be for Ghost Rider to go grocery shopping? Everything he touches becomes imbued with the fires of hell…what would that look like?

So, I wrote the story (wordless, which, IMO, was needed here) and Jeremy drew and colored this gorgeous piece of art. Seriously: Jeremy rocks, and I’m honored to have worked with him on this. the-terrible-speed-of-mercy-color

New story “Wolf Hunt, 1946” in Cowboy Jamboree Magazine

I wrote a little story about a girl in 1946 who goes hunting (by herself) for a wolf in the wilds of a mountainous forest (titled, aptly: “Wolf Hunt, 1946”) in the new issue of Cowboy Jamboree Magazine:

She had been tracking the beast alone for much of the morning, fearless as she wandered beneath great clusters of tamarack that surrounded the wetlands to the east, the great swatches of red maple and black ash that blanketed the north. She had brought with her only a rucksack filled with dried fruit and bits of moose jerky and had, slung over her shoulder, the Remington 550-1 which had belonged to her grandmother, acquired years earlier in order to protect herself and their land. It wasn’t a wolf-hunting gun—it wasn’t the caliber for such an undertaking—but she had no other choice.

I’m honored to be sharing space with these other tremendous. This new issue is subtitled “With Alacrity!”—and boy, howdy, is it.

You can also download/view the issue directly as a PDF.

Visiting Writer, University of Findlay, October 20, 2016

I am beyond honored and excited to be visiting the University of Findlay on October 20 to talk shop with some creative writing classes, and to read from my new book (due out next year by Dock Street Press), New Plains.

The main event, my reading, will be held in Winebrenner Theological Seminary, Room 254, at 8 PM, and it’s open to the public.

If you live in the Findlay/Ohio-ish area, stop on by!

More information here.

New flash piece “Where Sawgrass Meets Sky” at Saw Palm

I’m excited to have a little flash fiction piece—called “Where Sawgrass Meets Sky”—at Saw Palm‘s Florida narrative map project:

Hugging the road is a guard rail, like any other, and past that is an expanse of … grass? Is this swamp? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen swamp. I look closer, narrow my eyes: Rows of long grasses bordered by humps, mounds of dirt and earth. Is this a farm? I’m thinking about what I know of Florida, what they grow here besides oranges. These don’t look like orange trees.

My piece takes place in Ft. Lauderdale, eating Sub Zero-brand ice cream. I absolutely adore Saw Palm, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this project.