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.

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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 week with Dorothy Parker: Subtlety of Structure

Writer and friend, Heather Magruder.

Writer and friend, Heather Marshall Magruder.

If you’re like me, when you think, Dorothy Parker, and, short fiction, (or nearly anything else Dorothy Parker wrote or said), you think wit, satire, economy of words. You think about tight tales with sharp edges. If you’re like me, you don’t necessarily think, round, yet a deeper look at You Were Perfectly Fine reveals a fine, round structure.

Originally published in February 23, 1929 issue of The New Yorker, You Were Perfectly Fine, is a perfectly fine example of Parker’s notorious wit and economy of language. The story details an exchange between a hungover young man and his clear-headed girlfriend. In typical Parker form, there are no extraneous details during the conversation. Parker simply introduces the pair as, the “pale young man,” and the “clear-eyed girl.” They sit on a sofa. They converse.

During their conversation, the night before unfolds: the young man drank too much and irritated his companions, all except the clear-eyed girl, who has held on to the young man’s profession of love in a taxi at the end of the night. With not so much as one physical detail about how each responds to the other’s dialogue throughout the story, Parker spears them and those like them as she reveals their foibles. The only physical details are at the start and finish, and here’s where the lovely roundness, a circle if you will, is to be found.

Parker begins with, “The pale young man eased himself carefully into the low chair, and rolled his head to the side, so that the cool chintz comforted his cheek and temple.”

“Oh dear,” he said. “Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. Oh.”

“The clear-eyed girl, sitting light and erect on the couch, smiled brightly at him.”

She offers him a drink, which he declines. This allows the entry into the conversation about the previous night, during which the girl assures him that, though drunk, he was perfectly fine.

The girl reveals his antics, telling him he was fine though he clearly behaved poorly, then reminding him of their taxi ride, “round and round and round the park,” where he said, “such lovely, lovely things.”

This round and round is part of their ritual and  key to the structure of the story: at the end of the round and round of the taxi in the park, the story returns to the sofa, to a request on the young man’s part for alcohol, and to a little physical detail. The girl jumps up from the couch to get him a drink, leaving him with, “damp and trembling hands.”

In this way, Parker uses the subtlety of structure to augment her overt wit as she reveals the circular nature of the relationship and of the man’s relationship with alcohol. Who knows how long they have been on this path, walking in circles. Can either of them really sort out a beginning or end to it all?

In the words of the pale young man, repeated here at the end: “Oh,dear,” he said. “Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear.”

***

Originally from Kilmarnock, Scotland, Heather Marshall Magruder is now based in the foothills of South Carolina, where she lives with two of her three children, a pair of Labrador-mix dogs, a set of bagpipes and a Royal Enfield motorcycle. Her fiction is published in a variety of periodicals — mostly recently in Northwords Now, Prime Number and Six Minute Magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte. Heather likes to explore the connection — or disconnection — between characters and the natural environment in her writing. When she isn’t at work, you can find her tromping or riding over the hills near her home, and, when she can get away with it, on the other side of the Atlantic.

Heather’s blog can be found at: heathermagruder.wordpress.com

She also contributed to the November discussion of Flannery O’Connor’s story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, right here on my blog. (In case you missed it.)

Just a Reminder: Most Dead Birds Are Never Found

A while back, the good folks over at Find Stuff 2 Read (including faithful reader, Shannon H.) asked if they could post one of my short stories on their site. I was happy to share my short story (and novel excerpt) Most Dead Birds Are Never Found, a story that originally appeared at the Eunoia Review.

If you haven’t read Most Dead Birds yet, head on over to Find Stuff 2 Read and give it a look. While you’re there, check out their website. They are looking for new ways to connect readers with books and short stories they will enjoy. I’m sure they’d be happy to have you stop in and add to the discussion.

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!!

Mr. Dudley Was Like An Ancient Native’s Angry God…

Thanks to Epiphmag.com for publishing my story, Dudley’s Sacrifice, in their current online issue. If you follow this link, you can read the story.

I originally wrote, Dudley’s Sacrifice, as my first attempt to get published in The First Line literary journal. The first line that had to be used for stories in that issue was, “Working for God is never easy.”

You’ll notice that first line did not survive several revision passes, but the idea that it triggered (the boss, Mr. Dudley, angry like a native’s god, demanding a blood sacrifice) did.

In that way, Dudley’s Sacrifice became a “typical” story for me. The first beginning is rarely the real beginning. Whether it’s the first line, the first paragraphs, or the first several pages, the final revision of a story rarely begins where I thought it did the first time through.

In other ways, Dudley’s Sacrifice isn’t a typical story. It is full of little bits and pieces of work-place reality, both from my life and from the lives of some of my friends. This story seems, on the surface, full of odd details, and usually these odd details are the stuff of fiction: grounded in reality, but tweaked to deliver a deeper impact. Some of the details in Dudley’s Sacrifice that seem most odd are, in fact, accurate representations of real circumstances and events. Here are a few:

  1. “Give me a name” – That is NOT an exaggeration. When you have to cut X number of people, and you have identified (X – 1) “expendable employees” the boss is very likely to say, “Give me a name!”
  2. If you’ve worked in corporate, non-profit, government, or educational offices, you’ll recognize the computer guru, Mitchell, and his “half-empty hulks of old workstations” and a network that is set up to fail if he were to leave, be fired, die.
  3. If you’ve ever known a Mitchell, you’ve likely known the “freelance contractor” who comes in, takes one look at the system in-place, and walks back out the door.
  4. Cut, cut, cut, but don’t expect any decline in productivity. That’s no joke.
  5. Shutting down bathrooms on alternating floors? Yes. Letting burned-out lights go unchanged? Yes. B-Y-O toilet paper? Yes. The rogue Twix bar? I believe so.
  6. Someone like Tony, who’s moved on, trying to do his best to work in the new job, getting a threatening letter and having to mention that his replacement had tossed piles of files in the trash? Yes. For sure, 100% yes.

🙂