Contest Submission In

I submitted and entry to the Arcadia Magazine chapbook contest. It’s called Derecho and here’s a sneak peek:

Derecho: from the Spanish dietro, to destroy; a land-based windstorm producing hurricane-caliber winds; a warm-weather phenomenon spawned by instability.

The compilation is four stories, 47 pages long. It works chronologically from Friday night until Sunday mid-day. My beta readers, Preston Taylor Stone and Jodie Cain Smith, helped me decide what order to present the stories.

They also helped me answer some important questions like:

What’s at stake? What would happen if the story ended here … or here …

I tend to be a very subtle writer and am not always sure that my stories have hit their mark. The work we did on these four this summer feels like we came close.

First Time – Winkie has come to the hilltop with Tommy to lose their virginity to one another. The windstorm interferes.

Winkie opened her arms. The wind surrounded her bare flesh. She felt herself drying. She closed her eyes and dropped her head back.

Come Home – Cara and her son, Cal, play Candyland during a power outage. They’re holed up in Eli the Sheriff’s Deputy’s house and Cara is trying to decide if they ought to stay there.

“I’m going to have another one,” she whispered.

She imagined he said, “Have it.”

She corked the bottle and opened the fridge again; put the bottle back on the shelf.

Not like Eli. Eli would tell her one was enough, two was more than enough, and three was drunk. Eli Everything in Moderation.

“I want to be drunk,” she said.

“Get drunk,” she imagined Eric would say. He would call her Mrs. Sargent Eric Robert Banks.

Wedding March – Valerie is the resort manager and responsible for organizing a wedding despite the power outage. She’s made a life of being a witness for others’ milestones.

On a trip to Italy once, Valerie had seen the Sistine Chapel but it couldn’t compete with the great hall at Wintergreen. Wintergreen possessed the scenery while the Sistine Chapel seemed to have Heaven merely on loan.

Sunday School – Anne Marie is an independent woman and despite the ridiculous effort to maintain normalcy on this most unusual morning, she feels her defiance is laid bare on the lawn of the fellowship hall.

What did Anne Marie know of Daniel? Of a lion’s den? Of anything, really, except how doggone hot it was. Ninety eight degrees in the shade. We ought to be prayin don’t none of us have a stroke. Mr. Mahoney and his “we don’t have a choice.” Shoot, they did so. They could have gone home and suffered this heat alone. With dignity. In their underwear.

The biggest lesson learned in July (revision month) is that revision is H A R D.

I am the first to commit to specific details and not want to cut them. And then to wonder if some piece is too obvious and therefore too pedestrian. I want to write compelling work, but I also want complex work. Stuff that bears interpretation. That holds up to scrutiny.

So I guess we’ll see if this collection is evidence of that.

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