Five Stories by Eric Sheridan Wyatt

Five Stories by Eric Sheridan Wyatt is a book featuring the first five stories I had accepted for publication.

Five Stories by Eric Sheridan Wyatt is a book featuring the first five stories I had accepted for publication.

From time-to-time, students in my fiction and legacy writing classes ask to read some of my published stories. Often times I would make digital or copy-printed versions of the stories available. But, recently, I decided to print a small book with the first five stories that earned me the coveted words from an editor: “We would like to print your story.”

Simply titled, Five Stories, this thin volume includes the following: Things He Wasn’t Supposed to Do, Cop-Cop Cop, Dudley’s Sacrifice, Solomon’s Ditch, and Most Dead Birds are Never Found.

The book is available for purchase through my printing partner, Lulu, and if you click on this link, you will be taken to the product page.

Some of you, dear readers, have already read all or some of these stories. If you would like, I would be very happy if you would follow that link and leave a review of the stories and rate the book so that it might attract attention of other readers.

As always, thank you all for your support.

Happy Writing!

P.S. Stay tuned for a big announcement next week. I have a new opportunity I am very excited to share with you.

Happy 2014 – And More…

According to WordPress, it’s been 182 days since I last paid attention to this blog. (If you are an agent looking to represent me, and doing your research on my social media skills, please ignore that sentence…)

And, it had been a few more months, before that, when I was last truly active as a regular blogger.

It would be easy to make a new year’s resolution, here, and promise to return to these pages and continue to provide content to this blog which has been in existence since January of 2010. I should feel compelled to keep it up… Over 300 posts and 60,000 views and comments and emails and, and, and…

And, a lot has happened in the four years since I began writing here. And, a lot has happened in the last four months.

I don’t know what 2014 will bring, and the many options are such that I won’t even pretend to promise regular blog posts or anything else. There are enough missed opportunities and broken promises in life, without adding to that with a statement I know will not bear fruit.

I do want to say, though, if you are a subscribed (or otherwise regular) reader of this blog, I have certainly appreciated your comments, input, emails, and contact through other social media. Thanks for sticking around. And please, know you are always welcome to drop me a line, no matter if this blog is active or not.

Issue 30 of Ruminate Magazine is centered around the theme of "The Body" and it features my short story, Dog Years

Issue 30 of Ruminate Magazine is centered around the theme of “The Body” and it features my short story, Dog Years

Also, if you are interested, I have two new fiction pieces out and about in the world.

Dog Years, the short story of Keith Hutcheson, a vet who is compelled to go off into the woods to weep after every pet euthanasia, is featured in the current issue of Ruminate Magazine. I’d be happy if you were able to let the kind folks at Ruminate know you appreciate seeing my story featured there. (There is some great artwork in the issue, and poetry as well.)

And, coming up in late-January or February, my story called, It’s Never Quite What it Seems, will appear in Saw Palm, Volume 8. (The link here is to their homepage, which currently still reflects the content of Volume 7, but hopefully soon that will change!) I thought this story was a perfect fit for Saw Palm, and I was very happy they agreed!

I wish you all a very prosperous new year in which you become a better version of yourself— just a little closer to the person you are meant to become. Happy writing!

New Plains Review Publishes My Story, Perhaps You Should Visit Some Day

I used to be content to just Google my name from time-to-time. Now I search for myself on Amazon...

I used to be content to just Google my name from time-to-time. Now I search for myself on Amazon…

I don’t have my copy of the Spring 2013 issue of New Plains Review in my hands just yet (and their website doesn’t reflect the publication of the new issue, as of this writing). I’ve been going to the mail box daily, hoping that TODAY IS THE DAY, and I’ve convinced myself the mail(wo)man has absconded with the magazine in order to read my words.

So, I haven’t actually SEEN it yet, but, I do know it is available online, at Amazon, for $10.

And, I double-checked the table of contents to be sure my name was really there. (It was.)

So, it is official that my story, Perhaps You Should Visit Some Day, has made its way out into the world. (It starts on page 90.)

Best of luck, old friend! I hope you find friendly hands to hold you, kind eyes to gaze upon you, and warm hearts to tarry in for just a little while after the pages are closed.

A Few Brief Updates

My website, WordsMatterESW.com, includes some examples of my writing, including links to several stories that have been published online.

My website, WordsMatterESW.com, includes some examples of my writing, including links to several stories that have been published online.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may already know, but on Friday of last week, I received word that my story, Perhaps You Should Visit Some Day, is being accepted for the Spring 2013 issue of New Plains Review.

This prompted me to update my “Portfolio” page of my website.

If you want to read a little more of what I’ve been up to lately, that’s a great place to check in.

If you are a new reader of my blog, the Portfolio page is a place where you can read some of the short stories I’ve had published and get to know a little more about my writing. There are also pages on my website about creative writing instruction (classes) and editing or publishing services, if you are interested in those kinds of things.

So, if you’ve never stopped by my website, or if it’s been a while, now would be a swell time to come in, grab a virtual seat, and say hello.

Hope you are having a great day. Happy writing!!

Signs of Life: Writing New Fiction

CRAZY!

That’s a great way to describe my writing life the last few months.

Here’s what I’ve been working on:

  • Trying to finish a draft of one long-standing writing project that isn’t my own (I’m writing based on a story created by someone else)
  • Reading a ton
  • Critiquing manuscripts (lots of them!!) for friends, clients, and students
  • Dipping my foot into the world of poetry (ack!!!)
  • Editing, revising, and submitting several “old” short stories
  • Teaching two writing classes (Fiction Writing Basics and Legacy Writing) at the local adult/continuing ed center

Of course, labeling it “crazy” is better than calling my creative life “dead” so I’m not going to complain.

As the old saying (or the Geico commercial) goes, I’ve was happier than a witch in a broom factory when I broke through the log-jam and wrote a new story this week.

One thing you’ll notice has been missing: Writing NEW fiction of my own. It won’t come as a surprise to know that this lack of new fiction comes with a whole host of emotions: disappointment, angst, and fear. There is always, lurking in the back of the writer’s mind, that fear of being “out of ideas” and “washed up before I ever really got going.”

But, I’m happy to report I broke free of that, at least a little, this week. I read a story about a man in Brazil who surprised his family by showing up at his own funeral, and there were too many story possibilities there to pass up. I’ve also been reading a collection of short stories by the Brazilian writer, Nelson Rodrigues, which was recommended to me by a dear literary friend, and something about that mixture “clicked.” Despite my long lay-off from generating new fiction, I couldn’t let that story go, so as I was substitute teaching (the kids were taking a Math test, so things were nice and quiet) I began to write a scenario that might just fit such an odd circumstance.

I was, as the Geico commercial says, “Happier than a witch in a broom factory.”

Is the story any good? It’s too early to tell, but there are some interesting bits that surfaced in the first draft. And, it feels good to shake off the rust and dive back into a fictional world full of characters I don’t know.

These moments, where the story bubbles forth and we can be a part of something new…these are the moments writers live for!

I hope you’ve found something new to spark your creativity. Have a wonderful weekend, dear reader. And, Happy Writing!!

Photo Credit:Vectorportal via photopin cc

Works In Progress

If you already follow Jen Luitwieler’s blog, you may have noticed I was tagged in a recent post to provide details of my current works in progress. (If you don’t follow Jen’s blog, you probably should.)

The challenge Jen issued, then, is to answer the following ten questions about a work in progress. My challenge was to pick which work in progress to discuss. They are all in various stages. Here was the list of projects I could choose from:

  • A literary fiction novel.
  • A literary fiction short story collection.
  • A book-length work featuring a combination of eleven short stories and eleven essays on writing.
  • A pilot story/book for a possible children’s story.
  • A non-fiction book about the post-MFA writing life and maintaining creativity.

One portion of the files and printed editing copies of the novel-in-progress, I Should Love You Less.

There’s also an essay I’m writing for an anthology, but since I’m just one writer of a dozen on that project, I didn’t list it. I decided, just to be me, to pick two: the longest-running project and the one I hope to have finished quickly. Buckle up. Here we go…

1. What is the title of your book/work in progress (WIP)?

Literary Novel: The original title of the book was “Of Strawberries and Salvation” which will be obvious based on the answer to another question, below. That title seemed inappropriate as the story grew from one short story into the wandering, sprawling, beautiful mess it currently is. The current working title, which appeals to me some days and irks me others, is “I Should Love You Less”.

Story/Essay Combined Collection: I’ve had the title for this work for a long time. It is called, “Cave Paintings and Other Prehistories.”

2. Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

I Should Love You Less – The first time the main character, Margaret Meyer, made herself known to me was in a little story I wrote in the two years leading up to my decision to attend an MFA program. That story, titled “Of Strawberries and Salvation,” was the story of a small town Midwestern woman whose husband, the former pastor of a local church, has left her, and she’s confronted while she’s picking strawberries in a pick-you-own patch about the state of her own soul. Later, when I wrote two other stories (featuring female main characters with different names) I realized these three stories (including my story, Most Dead Birds are Never Found) were telling me bits of the story of a much larger world. As I began to ponder how these very different stories fit together, Margaret’s story revealed itself to me in wave after wave of detail and significance. The real struggle with this book is not knowing the story, it is in finding the right way to tell it.

Cave Paintings – I first had the idea for this book two years ago, and it was the exact wrong time to even consider it. I realize that now. Part of why it was the wrong time was that there weren’t enough stories to include in the collection. The better reason is this: I didn’t really understand what the book was supposed to be. A few weeks ago, I figured it out. I have these “early” short stories that don’t exactly go together the way you would like a traditional story collection to work, with common themes and threads of meaning, and so forth. What made the project “click” for me was the dual-purpose nature of the final structure I settled on: Both a collection of my earliest stories AND essays on the craft of writing, the things I’ve learned about the writing life, and some analysis of the things that work, and those that don’t, in the stories presented.

3. What genre would your WIP fall under?

I Should Love You Less – Definitely literary fiction, though typically when I describe the book to other writers, they question how deeply it will dip into the more mainstream “Women’s Lit” sort of genre. It’s a valid question. I am aiming for a literary fiction book that crosses over into the women’s lit genre. The more, the merrier.

Cave Paintings – This is a cross-genre book. One part short story collection, one part book about the craft and process of writing.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I Should Love You Less – Wow. A movie rendition would be tough. But, someone like a Cheryl Hines, would work. Not movie star glamorous (Margaret is not, and that’s part of her story) but capable of pulling off the part. There are others, I’m sure. Let’s cross that bridge later, shall we?

Cave Paintings – There’s a role for Philip Seymor Hoffman in the story, Things He Wasn’t Supposed To Do, and I could see a more stocky, Sling Blade-sized version of Billy Bob Thornton as Solomon in the story, Solomon’s Ditch.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

I Should Love You Less – When Midwestern Pastor’s wife, Margaret, is abandoned in favor of her best friend, she must figure out how to move forward by coming to terms with the disintegration of her marriage, the death of her beloved sister, and her turbulent childhood under her mother’s overbearing, narcissistic hand.

Cave Paintings –  Eleven short stories and eleven essays about the craft and process of writing fiction.

6. Is your WIP published or represented?

I Should Love You Less – Not yet. I will begin seeking representation when I have a presentable draft.

Cave Paintings – I’m actually going to self-publish this book this fall and take on the role of Independent Author.

7. How long did it take you to write?

I Should Love You Less – This is a tough question to answer. The easy answer (which will allow you to skip to the next question if you want) is, “I’m not done yet.” The first couple of stories that would eventually become part of the novel were written in 2007 or so. I began to understand this as a novel (and wrote large chunks of the story as they came to me) in late 2008. I workshopped the first 1/3 of the novel in my first semester at the Queens MFA program in the first months of 2010. I then, basically, started over. Twice. I recently drafted 100 pages in two weeks, but typically things flow much slower, with fits and starts. Don’t get me wrong: the book is much better now than it was in 2008. But, it’s still not finished.

Cave Paintings – The first story featured in this collection was written in 1995, when I was an undergrad at Ball State University. The final story featured in the collection was written in 2010 and published this past winter. The essays are all new, hopefully brimming with the wisdom about writing I learned from the fabulous Queens faculty and students.

8. What other WIPs within your genre would you compare it to?

I really have no idea what other works are in progress…I can barely keep up with my own!

9. Which authors inspired you to write this WIP?

Authors who inspire me to write, period: Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, Madeleine L’Engle, Chaim Potok, Iris Murdoch, C.S. Lewis, Tolkein.

Authors who inspired all or part of I Should Love You Less: Janet Fitch, Stewart O’Nan, Ashley Warlick.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in this project.

I Should Love You Less – The thing that interests me most about telling this story is finding a way to balance the NOW of Margaret’s dissolving marriage and spiraling life with those factors that have contributed to her current “stuck” position–those same factors of childhood, adolescence, and young-married life that linger into her mid-life years which she has to finally either figure out or perish. (At least, figuratively.) There is a subtle, psychological layer to telling this story that only becomes apparent in the full telling of the entire story. (At least, that’s the hope.) There are multiple layers of conflict here, both internal and external. Ideally, the reader walks away from this book thinking about big issues of mother-daughter relationships, sibling responsibility, and the transformation of marital love.

Cave Paintings – I think two groups of people may be interested in this book. First, people who want to find several of my published stories (five of the eleven stories have been published in print or online) in print, in one location. But, I also, I hope other writers will find some value in the essays that accompany each story. Ideally, the essays discussing issues of craft and process, as they are revealed in the individual stories, will provide even more value than the actual stories which are, as the title suggests, the rudimentary cave paintings of my writing history.

Tag, You’re It:

As a final step of this Work In Progress blog post, I’m supposed to tag other writers who are then “it” to make a blog post of their own.

Here’s my list:

You guys are on the clock!!

Sleepy Saturday Reads

I realize I’ve had several new followers/readers of this blog, lately. Not only do I appreciate you stopping by, reading, and liking my posts, I am thankful that every month more and more of you come along for the ride.

It’s a sleepy Saturday here. We have this thing in the Sunshine State, called the Rainy Season. It’s nothing compared to, you know, mid-west winters or anything, but when you’ve become semi-addicted to almost-constant sunshine, these gray, drizzly ones tip you into something like seasonal affective disorder.

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but I thought–with so many new folks looking in–I would share some of my short fiction with you. Maybe you need something to read while you nod off on the couch, or maybe the sun is shining over your beach this afternoon. Either way, here are a few of the stories I’ve written that are available to read online.

(Ordered, most recent to older…)

You can also find links to these stories on my website.

Thanks for reading!!