Posts in "Publication News" Category

Happy book birthday to Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons

Once upon a time I thought of a title for a story: “The Etiquette of Adultery.” I liked that title so much that I wrote it down on a piece of paper and carried it around in my wallet with me for about a year. One day I decided to write the story, wondering what an etiquette guide for adultery would really look like. I sent it off to Necessary Fiction, and editor Steve Himmer wrote a nice note back saying he loved the concept but thought I should expand the story a bit more.

That note made sense to me and sparked something inside me that became the catalyst for this book. An editor’s job is mostly thankless–I know, having edited SmokeLong for almost seven years now–but I also don’t think that editors often realize how much impact a kind, encouraging, honest rejection letter can have on a writer. Sometimes a sentence or two or a quick suggestion can help solidify an idea or start someone off on another path with a story. In this case, Steve’s note didn’t just help make “Adultery” a better story, but it also started me on the trail of a series of etiquette stories, which eventually created a book.

The thing is, the stories were so very fun to write. Most of them teeter on the edge of flash-fiction-length–the longest story tips just over 2,000 words, I believe–and the form allowed me to play around with all sorts of fun experiments, creating an unofficial guide to our darker selves.

The first edition of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons was published by Matter Press in 2012. It sold out of its print run and was only available as an ebook for the last few years, but now–now!–my friends, it’s back. And cuter than ever.

The newly revised Modern Manners, published by Santa Fe Writers Project, includes two new etiquette stories (“The Etiquette of Voyeurism” and “The Etiquette of Gossip”) and comes in paperback in an adorable, stuff-it-in-your-pocket size.

Here are some kind things folks have said about it:

“Sly, clever, original take on the sad, bewildering, dead-on truths of being human.”

— Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life and Together We Can Bury It

 

“The anxiety-ridden instructees of Laskowski’s stories tap dance their way through various awkward situations ranging from adultery to dementia. It’s fun to laugh at them, but by the end of each story, you can’t quite remember why you thought they were so dumb in the first place; these characters have problems and deal with their problems with dignity. Each of these stories start out in a sarcastic vein, yet the problems they address are heartbreaking, and each and every one of them realizes a protagonist, fully formed, with a past, a present, and a future.”

— L.W. Compton The Collagist

I’ll also be celebrating Modern Manners‘ birthday at the AWP conference Feb. 9-11 in Washington, D.C. Check out my events page for more information about readings and panels and things. Hope to see you and your inner demons soon!

The Rumpus Saturday Interview and a great reading at Politics and Prose

This weekend was a writer’s dream! My chat with the wonderful Tyrese Coleman was published in The Rumpus on Saturday. Q&As seem pretty easy to conduct, and we see a lot of them around. But conducting a really good interview is an art. It’s one thing to send some generic basic questions to an author and let them ramble on. It’s another to do research, read their works, and craft really interesting questions that would be of interest to someone who has read the book as equally as someone who hasn’t read the book. And I thought Ty did an excellent job with it. I so appreciate her efforts here, and I hope you’ll also go check out her writing as well. She’s a force.

Speaking of a force, Politics and Prose is one of the best independent bookstores in the country. I had an event there on Saturday afternoon with novelist Michael Landweber, and it was fantastic. Kudos to the professional and kind event staff at P&P who make you feel very welcome and who know how to draw in a crowd. It was a pleasure to hear Mike read from his new novel Thursday, 1:17 PM, about what happens to a teenage boy when time suddenly stops and everything is frozen except him. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to hear us read. It was truly a pleasure.

Author Elizabeth Hazen and publisher Andrew Gifford at the Grubb Road Book Festival.
Author Elizabeth Hazen and publisher Andrew Gifford at the Grubb Road Book Festival.

On Sunday, Santa Fe Writers Project hosted the first annual Grubb Road Book Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. Local book publishers including Paycock Press and Possibilities Publishing were on hand to chat with readers and sell some books. It was a beautiful summer afternoon.

So…a whirlwind book weekend! I continue to feel fortunate in so many ways.

How to Write Killer Flash Fiction

Crime flash fiction is hard to write! But when it’s good, it’s oh so good. I talk about this in a blog post “How to Write Killer Flash Fiction” over at Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Here’s a sample:

“Stay away from surprise or punch-line endings. Your story’s only purpose should not be a surprise reveal at the end. That leaves the reader feeling cheated.”

Check it out in its entirety here–and thanks much to editor Janet Hutchings for asking me to participate. Also remember to check out the May 2016 All Nations issue of EQMM for my story “States of Matter.”

First-place win in KYSO Flash

So pleased to learn that my flash “Ladies Night” won first place in the KYSO Flash Triple-F Writing Challenge. The challenge was to write a 500-word or less story or poem that uses the words flicker, fierce, and fool. I usually get paralyzed by word writing prompts, but somehow this one worked. Thanks to Clare MacQueen and the editors at KYSO Flash for all their kind words about the piece. You can find my story and the other winners, honorable mentions, and finalists here. 

 

*Photo courtesy of unsplash (Sergio Alves Santos)

 

Flash Fiction Story Accepted by Ellery Queen

Exciting news: My short story “States of Matter” will be appearing in the May 2016 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. What is particularly exciting about this is that it is the All Nations issue, with crime fiction stories from writers all over the globe. My piece will be the American representative in that issue, which is pretty stinking cool.

The story, about a gravedigger and a woman who needs revenge, comes in at just over 450 words, so it’s a tiny little sucker. Look for it on newsstands in a month or two! And thanks much to Janet Hutchings, editor of EQMM, for believing in it.

*Post image used courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

“Lonesome Tonight” published in Revolution John

I’ve got a little story over at Revolution John today called “Lonesome Tonight.” It’s about pretending. And an Elvis impersonator. I wrote this piece many years ago because of a prompt in one of the writing groups on Zoetrope and I’m happy that’s it’s emerged from the depths of my hard drive to find a (perfect) home at RJ. Sheldon Lee Compton does a fantastic job over there if you’ve got some time to browse. Check out the book reviews–(I particularly love this one and cannot wait to read Andrea Kneeland’s book now!). They’re pretty cool. I like the mix and the style, and of course I always appreciate the tireless, thankless work of journal editors.

Announcing Bystanders, a Collection of Short Fiction

I am thrilled to announce that my second collection of stories, and debut full-length collection, Bystanders, will be published by Santa Fe Writers Project in Spring 2016. I’m very excited to work with Andrew Gifford and his excellent team at SFWP on this book. SFWP and I go way back–in 2010, I won their grand literary prize and have seen how well they treat their writers and how much they care about the books they produce. It is really wonderful to get to be a part of that family.

Bystanders features 13 stories that explore the ripple effects of tragedy. The characters in Bystanders are on the edge of the darkness, but not immune to it. A woman becomes obsessed with the murderer of her coworker. An investigative reporter who loves to uncover scandal finds his own life unraveling. Eerie sights in a video baby monitor begin to haunt a new mother. The characters in these stories are not innocent bystanders, but in unexpected occurrences they find new meaning in the world around them.

From the vicious newspaper strike that rocks a small Pennsylvania community to an unpredictable road trip in the open desert of the West, Bystanders explores the ways in which terror and uncertainty can both consume and invigorate us, and uncover our strengths, hopes, and passions.

I’m looking forward to seeing this stories go out into the world! Thank you for your support. More information to come in the upcoming months.

 

 

“The Monitor” Appears in April 2014 Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

I’m very excited that my story, “The Monitor” appears in the April 2014 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. It is the very first story in the issue, and has an amazing illustration by Robin Hyzy to accompany it.

You can buy it now at newsstands and bookstores, so definitely check it out!

The story is kind of a break away from the stuff I usually write about. Although there is still a mildly depressed lonely woman questioning her relationship and her existence in general, there is also a supernatural element! Ghosts! A ghostly little boy appearing in a baby monitor, to be exact. It was a fun story to write, and I hope you enjoy reading it as well.

You can also check out a blog post I wrote about the story that is featured on Trace Evidence, the AHMM blog.

Enrico Accenti also did a mini review of my story and the stories from the rest of the issue on his Eerie Worlds blog.

Spooky times, spooky times.

Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons is now available for preorder!

You can order a copy of my book Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons at Matter Press right now. Be sure to check out their other titles as well from Kathy Fish, Jeff Landon, Carol Guess and Karen Dietrich.

OR, you can snag a copy of the book at my book launch at One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., on October 27 at 5 p.m. (happy hour time, people). The first 50 people to buy a book at the book launch will receive a limited edition “The Etiquette of the Happy Hour” story, which I have yet to write! But I will! I promise! And even if not, there will be cake and alcohol. And a reading!

In other news, here’s a random list of really great stuff I’ve read/seen recently (linked where possible):

Like An Original Response” by Randall Brown, in American Short Fiction

The Stand by Stephen King

Headless” by Casey Hannan, in matchbook

The Eye” by Mike Meginnis, in The Nashville Review

The Forty-Four Stories about Our Forty-Four Presidents series edited by Amber Sparks, of which I have the John Tyler contribution. Especially check out Ben Loory’s story on James K. Polk.

And last but not least, Eddie Money’s Geico commercial.