Sunday, June 5, 2016

Talk To Me: Me, My Dad, and Foul-Tasting Medicine

When Justin Halpern's hilarious hit book Shit My Dad Says published, I thought, I wish I thought of that first! My dad has been sharing with me his goofball stories, philosophies, and OCD-like behaviors my whole life. I have written about him, of course in my books and also in this blog about his thoughts on exercise and clothing. Now I get to share an interview I conducted with him.

Two months ago The Huffington Post invited me to be part of its new video series called Talk To Me in which children interview their parents. The Huffington Post is sharing many of these interviews online and I hope they share this interview so even more people can enjoy my dad's quirkiness, but if not then I still enjoyed the interview process.

I hope you enjoy this short interview I conducted with my dad in which we speak about his time managing a division in the federal government during the 1995 shutdown, the value of health, and foul-tasting medicine. I asked my 71-year-old dad what one thing he wishes he knew when he was my age.

You can watch our interview on YouTube or directly below if your web browser allows.

I've now appeared in my first short film, for at least three seconds (around 3:30). The non-profit Teen Cancer America traveled around the country interviewing teenage cancer patients and survivors of teenage cancer from every state. I got to represent Virginia. I'm going to change my LinkedIn profile's job title to author/speaker/horrible actor for three seconds.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Continued Phallic Stage

My first fiction story to publish is about a penile operation.

During my first residency at Stonecoast, everyone talked about "submitting." I knew what that meant—my agent and I had submitted my first book about a hundred times before landing a publisher. I just didn't realize I could submit anything.

I began researching publications. There are so many, for every genre and story length. I created an account on The (Submission) Grinder to track my work. And then I submitted two stories to a total of six publications, and have since received three rejections and one acceptance by the website A Story In 100 Words which publishes stories exactly 100 words long.

Enjoy my first published fiction story titled "Continued Phallic Stage."

Typing a story
As published on A Story In 100 Words

Clifford consulted his companion Coleman before Clifford’s penis-extending surgery.

Clifford: I’ll be courteous to Doctor Coen. A Clip Magazine column confirms kindness cultivates better care.

Coleman: Christ you’re crazy!

Clifford: You conclude I should be cruel? Then Doc Coen might compress it! Conceivably I could court him with chocolates.

Coleman: Chocolates, come again? Keep reading Continued Phallic Stage

Leia Mais…

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Greatest Professional Accomplishment Was a Bureaucratic Miracle

When we achieve our all-time greatest professional accomplishment, we know it right away. Like Dr. Carl June developing a novel way to treat cancer, Mark Sanchez not throwing an interception, and me breaking through bureaucracy in the U.S. federal government to author a column in my organization's 18,000-circulation newsletter.

Last summer, the communications office where I work wanted to create a new feature in our newsletter focusing on a different employee every other week. They asked me to write it. They said, "We want it to be about people's day-to-day lives at work."

I said, "That's boring, how about instead I interview and write about the people who work here, and not write about what they do."

They said, "That would be too long. Not relevant. Nobody would read it."

I wrote one such article anyway, a 1,200-word behemoth. Then I presented it to them and they said the same thing they had said before. I fought harder, asking them to trust me, stating that readers would enjoy it, asking them to give it a chance just one time and see what happens.

I fought and fought for my work until they agreed and it published. And besides messages related to policy, jobs or benefits, it became one of the most read pieces of content ever at my organization.

Now, I write a new article that publishes in our newsletter every other Wednesday. These articles highlight the extraordinary in our seemingly ordinary employees. I've had the privilege to interview and write about an actress, a soldier, a triathlete, a refugee officer, a former refugee, and more.

It's normally inappropriate for me to share these articles on this blog, but during Public Service Recognition Week my organization published four of them publicly. And so I share those four below. Enjoy.

For This Political Refugee, U.S. Was Land of the Free, Home of the Berries
"I don't have a lot of memories from before I was 7 years old. I don’t remember a playground or riding bikes. I don’t remember much about playing except for one event at a refugee camp in the Philippines. Every Friday night someone would set up a play and refugees would watch. I remember that very explicitly being entertaining, maybe just because they made funny noises and made us laugh. I don’t even quite understand what they were talking about." Keep reading For This Political Refugee, U.S. Was Land of the Free, Home of the Berries

Texas Officer: How a Small Gesture Translated Into a New Career
"Growing up, I never knew that life existed outside of the 48-mile radius of Eldorado, Texas," says Maribel (Mary) Gonzalez, an immigration services officer at the Texas Service Center in Dallas. Keep reading Texas Officer: How a Small Gesture Translated Into a New Career

A Refugee Officer's Story: 'Countless Narratives of Suffering and Loss'
For six years, USCIS Refugee Officer Slava Madorsky traveled the world interviewing applicants to determine if they were eligible for refugee status, because of persecution or fear of persecution. For three of those years, until she was able to use a laptop during interviews, she handwrote up to 40 pages of notes each day to record their stories. Once, as she interviewed a man in Baghdad, her pen flew from her hand in a bad case of writer’s cramp. The man – who had been describing torture and being shuttled from prison to prison – laughed. Madorsky apologized. “‘It’s just my hand. I’m not actually throwing a pen at you.’ He was the nicest man in the world. He actually felt bad for me, and I was thinking, ‘Why is this person feeling bad for my stupid hand?’” Keep reading A Refugee Officer's Story: 'Countless Narratives of Suffering and Loss'

How ‘I Will Be Right Behind You’ Means Reuniting 12 Years Later for This Budget Analyst
When Sanh M. was 8 years old, she loosened her fixed grip on her father's hand as he sent her towards a boat that would take her from Vietnam to a refugee camp in Thailand. She says her father told her, "Go…go with your sisters. Your mother, brothers and I will be right behind you." Keep reading How ‘I Will Be Right Behind You’ Means Reuniting 12 Years Later for This Budget Analyst

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On April 23, I modeled in a fashion show supporting the 2016 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Two years ago I was a candidate in this fundraiser and my team raised over $50,000. I am proud to continue volunteering for LLS as part of the campaign's "leadership team" which is composed of former candidates. You can contribute to the 2016 Man & Woman of the Year campaign which concludes June 4.
modeling in a cancer survivor fashion show supporting Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Leia Mais…

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Fiction-Writing Guide Worthy of Dave Eggers and God

I am afraid to write fiction.

Two months ago I wrote a jokey blog about being in over my head in my writing program despite having authored two memoirs and an essay that got anthologized. But there is truth in comedy. Compared to the personal stories I've been publishing on this blog the last nine years, writing fiction takes me longer, leads to anxiety, and usually lags in quality.

It doesn't make sense. A story is a story, and the same elements that make a story entertaining cross all genres. But telling myself that didn't help, so I imagined myself as the protagonist, which I usually am in my blog stories. That, too, didn't eliminate my fear.

My next step was to write a guide on writing, developed using notes from the craft books I've heavily studied. For the past two weeks that is all I have done. I spent so much time writing this guide that I lost track of days and felt like a hermit. My hope was that the guide would eliminate my fear of writing fiction; lead me to write better and faster; and make writing fiction as fun as I have writing jokey blogs about myself.

the best and curated guide on writing fiction stories

I don't know if the guide will achieve those goals, but I know I completed The Fiction-Writing Guide Worthy of Dave Eggers and God (for now). It is a living document—as I study more craft books I will add to this guide. Ultimately I want a notecard-size list of rules to follow to write a great piece of fiction. Rules, because following rules did well for me against cancer, and following other rules helped me live a more complete life in my twenties.

It seems I will forever thrive on prescriptions, and if this guide achieves its goals then I'll write more guides like this: maybe one on being a more effective person, and definitely one on how to be attractive to women (hint: I think they're one and the same).

But first, I have about 40 pages of fiction to write before May 2. Guide, please guide me.

If you wish to see The Fiction-Writing Guide Worthy of Dave Eggers and God then contact me and I'll share the link to it on Google Docs.

Leia Mais…