I love a long story and that’s what I write most, but I’ll be the first to tell you that they are very, very difficult to place in a publication. When it comes to print journals, that paper is at a premium, so most journals have pretty hard and fast word count limits and most online journals hold to the idea that people reading on their computers or phones can only read so much on a screen. Happily, my favorite online publication, storySouth, doesn’t believe in limits and encourages the submission of longer pieces, which is how my story, “Unnatural Habitats,” finally found a home. This is the third and last story in my bobcat trilogy; parts 1 and 2 (“Animal Lovers” and “Retreat”) were both published by Colorado Review. Of the three, though, this last one is my favorite, in large part because one of my most unlikable characters, Layton Vines, meets his match in his teenage son. With a 14 and 16 year old in my house right now, this makes sense to me.
I’m also happy to announce that after a couple of years of submitting my story collection (also titled “Unnatural Habitats”) to contests and coming up empty, I have finally made a long list. I just found out yesterday and am really grateful that I took the advice of my friend, Michelle Ross, to change up the order of my stories and to knit them together in a more cohesive fashion. Michelle is the author of one of my favorite new story collections, “There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You,” published by Moon City Press. I’m hardheaded and slow to make changes, but this has shown me that even work I think is finished is never really finished.