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.

Don’t Forget…

My website, Words Matter Creative Writing Instruction, has information about my publications and creative writing teaching and coaching services.

My website, Words Matter Creative Writing Instruction, has information about my publications and creative writing teaching and coaching services.

Hey, I know it’s not cool to over-promote one’s self on his or her own blog, but I do, from time to time, like to remind people that I have a website which features not only links and information about some of my publications, but is also packed with info about my creative writing teaching and coaching services.

I always enjoy meeting new writing students and clients. Working with other writers, and helping them along the path to their own creative vision, is always a learning experience for me. Whether it is Legacy (personal history, non-fiction) writers or fiction writers, there is always something new I learn about the world, and my place in it.

So, I hope you’ll forgive this little moment of shameless self-promotion. And maybe, if you haven’t stopped by my website in a while, you’ll want to take a minute to do so, or to pass my information along to a friend.

Have a great week, folks.

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.

Letters to Me: Available Now

As I mentioned last week, today is the official launch day of a new book, Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self. About half-way through the book, you’ll stumble across my name, and my letter to a younger Eric in which I try to give him a little advice about the long transition into adulthood. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t listen.)

I’m very happy to have been asked by the book’s editor, Dan Schmidt, to be a part of this project. The other contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but in each of their stories I find some head-nodding moment, some brief recognition of, “Yes, I wish I’d known that back then.” Even more intriguing, are those moments of clarity that are not just things I wish my younger self had known, but inspire and motivate me, today. Yes. Even the OLDER me can find value in this book.

The target audience for this book is those who are making the transition from teenager or college student into the adult world and for those love and care for young adults. But, knowing my own life–my own path of nearly constant change and adaptation–I’ve found there are nuggets of wisdom for anyone who is facing an uncertain future, seeking their place in the world, and struggling to understand their role in the Big Picture of life.

The new book, Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self, is available today in both print and ebook editions. I’m very happy to have been asked to be a contributor to this book.

The e-book (Kindle) edition of Letters to Me is selling for $4.99 and the paperback (print) edition is $12.99.

From the back cover:

A broken heart, a new job, an unexpected pregnancy, a confrontation, a win, a setback—not uncommon experiences when you’re between 18 and 30. But what if you could talk to yourself just when that was happening, in the light of everything since: what would you say? With LETTERS TO ME, you can listen in as artists, teachers, poets, consultants, bloggers, pastors, and activists from a wide range of backgrounds recall a significant event—and then speak to a younger version of themselves with compassion and wisdom about what it means, and how it mattered.

What folks are saying:

I’ve often wished I could go back and have a strong talking to with my younger, more idiotic self. These stories are funny, heartfelt, and important. Reading them will make you think and imagine a better life — maybe even give you the courage to live one.—Jeff Goins, author, Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life

The talent of these storytellers is revealed in how universal their personal stories are. In their stories you will experience agony and joy, pain and healing, fall and redemption. -Adam S. McHugh, author Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

One of the most unnerving, unsettling things one can do in life is stare at themselves in the mirror – eye to eye. Letters To Me is the sacred chance to witness person after person pause their present as they stand naked in the mirror, facing everything they’ve been and everything they’ve done. To listen to what they hear in their souls, to see their past as they truly do. Oh, how I wish I’d been given this collection of stories earlier in my life. The entrance into adulthood would have been painted with so much more grace. -Lauren Lankford Dubinsky, founder of Good Women Project

The MFA Process, In Chronological Order

Belinda Nicoll (center) is a Queen's University of Charlotte, MFA graduate. She is writing a serialized account of her MFA experience and sharing it on her blog. Here, Belinda is pictured with our friend and fellow writer, Jon Nappa (right). That other guy is me.

I’ve written a bit about my own MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) experience–which you can read by looking for the MFA tag on old posts–but it has been mostly anecdotal; I’ve never attempted to “go back to the beginning” and write a chronological account of the MFA years.

My friend and fellow Queens University MFA grad, Belinda Nicoll, has. On her blog, My Rite of Passage, Belinda is writing a serialized, chronological recap of her MFA experience.

Since I get a number of visitors to this blog every week who are looking specifically for information on the MFA life, I thought I’d make sure you all knew about Belinda’s blog.

Be sure to subscribe to Belinda’s blog updates so you can keep up with her ongoing recounting of her MFA experience.

And, if you don’t already subscribe to MY blog–you know, this one–feel free to do so by clicking the little “Sign me up!” button on the right hand side. —–>

Don’t worry. You aren’t signing up to receive unsolicited AMWAY materials. You’ll just get an email when I publish a new blog post (which hasn’t been as steady or predictable the last few weeks).

One Small Glimpse – One Piece of a Puzzle

The week started well. My story, Most Dead Birds Are Never Found, was featured in Eunoia Review. (A link to the story, along with several others, is below.)

The publication of that story marks a sort of milestone. Most Dead Birds… is an excerpt of my novel-in-progress, tentatively titled, I Should Love You Less. Other than my wife, my Queens University classmates and advisors, and a few other special readers, this is the first public appearance of any part of the book.

Sharing part of a work in progress–or, conversely, talking too much about a work in progress–is a tricky thing. This part of the story may change. It may evolve. It may not, if I take the advice of a certain Pulitzer short-lister, appear in the actual book at all. One of the obvious characteristics about a work in progress is, it is not yet stable or set. The changes that may come in the book are likely to be a surprise and take unexpected turns, as this story has done, from the beginning.

The evolution of I Should Love You Less is a complicated one. There are a few readers who are interested in this sort of thing, so let me tell you, briefly, about how this novel came together.

I wrote a story, about a pastor’s wife, picking strawberries in one of those “pick your own” fields you’ll find in Indiana and the mid-west. I called that story, Of Strawberries and Salvation, and I started with a more Southern Gothic, Flannery O’Connor vibe, though the story lost most of that in revision. Not long after, I wrote a story about a woman who follows a homeless man from the soup kitchen where she volunteers to the abandoned building where he lives. Shortly after, I had the start of a story about a woman, praying in a Catholic church, who unintentionally stops a teenage from stealing the Blessed Sacrament and is mistaken for the Virgin Mary.

During revision, I figured out those three stories were about the same woman, despite the small, inconvenient fact that she had a different names and looked different in each story. Margaret Meyer’s story was presenting itself to me, and once I realized it, once I started to look for it, the larger world of her life came in wave after wave of writing.

This story came later, based on an answer to a reading comprehension question in a book we used at the Oxford Learning Center in Carmel, Indiana, where I was working. Again, I wrote a story, not intending it to be part of Margaret’s world, but, soon, I realized it was.

You can read Most Dead Birds Are Never Found at Eunoia Review.

If you missed any of the other stories I have had published (online and in print) you can always find links and copies at the “My Portfolio” page on my website. You can find my stories Dudley’s Sacrifice, Solomon’s Ditch, Cop-Cop Cop, and Things He Wasn’t Supposed to Do.

February Recap: Post-MFA Reading List

Another month behind us, and here is the February list of books finally rescued from the “To Read” shelf:

  • A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan: Thirteen chapters of interlocking stories, varied in voice & point of view, shifts in time and place, including a shift into the future. In format, this book is more like a collection of related stories, though it is presented as a novel. Bookmarks magazine put it this way: ” In the hands of a less-gifted writer, Egans’s time-hopping narrative, unorthodox format, and motley cast of characters might have failed spectacularly. But it works here, primarily because each person shines within his or her individual chapter that offers a distinct voice and a fascinating backstory.”
  • Knockemstiff – Donald Ray Pollock: This collection of stories is full of the sort of character I try to avoid, in real life and in fiction. The stories are gritty and raw, but there is a realness that makes even the most despicable of these characters human. This is a tough read, for me, because none of the characters are likable, there are no non-depraved characters, and there is little in the way of redemption or change. These stories are well-written, even if I didn’t find much to identify with in this text.
  • Cold Spring Harbor – Richard Yates: Another New England-y domestic drama by the author of Revolutionary Road. I found Cold Spring Harbor thin when it comes to meaning which resonates beyond the reading of the story and the plot is more unsatisfactory than Revolutionary Road, for me. At the end, I didn’t feel that much of consequence had happened. I wanted more depth, I think. Of course, an average book from Yates is still a good book, in my opinion.
  • The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey: I won a copy of this book on Twitter, from publisher Little Brown and signed by the author. The book is described like this: “Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.” I found this book to be captivating. I kept returning to it until I was done. The story was intriguing and different, and the writing was smooth and well-executed, especially for a first novel. The quality of the work overcame a few places where the story seemed to drag, just a bit. My only complaint (and it is a minor one) is I wanted a more sensory experience of daily life in frontier Alaska. There are many of these details, but I wanted to be immersed just a little more into that world. Overall, I really enjoyed this read.
  • The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 1 – Classic collection of interviews, including (among nine others) in this volume: Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Gottlieb, & Joan Didion.
  • Alaska Quarterly Review (Fall & Winter 2011) – Poetry, essays, short stories. Two issues in one printing.
  • On the Street Where We Live – Kelly Fordon: Poetry collection in chapbook format from a fellow Queens MFA writer. Kelly’s poems focus on a fictional street where the lives of the women and families mix and mingle. Kelly is a great writer, and I really enjoyed this collection.
  • The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail – Gregory Sherl: A poetry collection combining images ripped from the classic children’s computer simulation, The Oregon Trail, mixed into a modern family scenario as a form of metaphor. Interesting in concept, nicely constructed language, but ultimately sort of flat, to me. There is nothing technically wrong with the collection, and I am–by no means–a poetry critic, but this collection didn’t resonate on a deeper level.

Only two stand-alone short stories this month (in addition to the stories in the Alaska Quarterly and the story collection, Knockemstiff) and both of them are from One Story:

So, there it is. You can also get a look at January’s reading list, if you missed it.

It’s a new month! Make the most of it!

Happy writing.