Creative Writing

I enjoy reading short stories and split my time about equally between mainstream lit-fic and SF. I write short stories in those rare months when I'm not stressing out about teaching. Over the years I've published a few.


"Eight Lacunae." Typehouse Literary Magazine 6, no. 1 (2019): 107-113. [ publisher | gratis: all rights reserved ]

There's an art to liner notes. The best ones tend to be so dense with in-group references and proper nouns they can be difficult for anyone outside the band's inner circle to parse, yet a story somehow emerges, the warmer for its insulating layer. It was Chris Butler's notes for Best of the Waitresses and Byron Coley's for a series of Flesh Eaters reissues that convinced me that liner notes are an underexplored medium for narrative fiction.

I had fun compiling an explanatory mixtape for Typehouse's blog. It includes links to eleven songs referenced in the story's densely proper-nouned opening paragraph. Use it to fend off the boredom (b'dum, b'dum).

"The Egg Collection." Reprinted in Midwestern Gothic (Winter 2018): 253-269. [ publisher | amazon ]

When I moved to St. Paul for graduate school, my parents gave me a membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota. Back then, the museum displayed an early-20th-Century collection of birds' eggs, which I loved and visited a few times a year. Along with hundreds of eggshells from all over the country, the curators included in the display a bird-egg price-guide from 1920. It got me thinking about the different kinds of people who might have been attracted to egg collecting, back in the day, and the different ways they might have valued their collections.

Midwestern Gothic posted a short "Contributor Spotlight" interview with me in May 2018.

"The Egg Collection" first appeared in South Dakota Review 51, no. 3&4 (2015): 55-66.

"The Sort of Thing Everyone Knows." Eclectica 21, no. 1 (2017). [ archived online ]

My family moved to Sacramento from a small town in central Ohio when I was eleven. The immediate and unforeseen effect of the move, for me, was the discovery that I like music. That discovery in turn caused changes to my world-view and character, some of which probably qualify as significant. This personal essay/memoir traces some specific consequences of my youthful mania for Erasure. It also functions as an elliptical characterization of my understanding of the limited but real role philosophical reflection can play in moral development.

SF and SF-ish

"Memos Re: The Spectacular Ruination of American Community College" (as D.L.E. Roger). Defenestration: A Literary Magazine Devoted to Humor (May 17, 2023). [ archived online ]

For some time I have watched community colleges across the country absorbed, bloblike, as appendages of their own marketing divisions. In my darker moments I feel that a vital tier of student-focused, culturally responsive higher education—one I have devoted my adult life to—has been mortally wounded by people who understand neither its goals nor its value. I cope with jokes.

"Conflagration" (as D.L.E. Roger). In This Is How You Die, ed. North, Bennardo, and Malki !, New York: Grand Central (2013): 131-150. [ amazon | gratis: cc by-nc-nd ]

T. Rex, star of Ryan North's "Dinosaur Comics," once fantasized about writing a story set in a world in which a simple blood test could determine, with perfect accuracy, the future cause of a person's death. Ryan and some of his colleagues in the web-comic world pursued the idea, editing and publishing an anthology of stories using T. Rex's hook. It was an indie blockbuster, successful enough that they followed up with a second volume, which includes a story by me. Visit the Machine of Death website for more information about the history of the anthology and its penumbra of spin-off projects.

"Neil the Intelligent." In Listen to the Future, ed. Durrant, Smithfield: A Different Drum (2004): 80-87. [ amazon ]

A bit of juvenalia with a backstory. My Siberian hamster, Neil, died my senior year of college, and I wrote this story to commemorate him. When Todd Durrant of A Different Drum Records put out a call for science fiction stories, I took a shot. Todd liked it and passed it along to Finnish synthpoppers Neuroactive, who recorded an epic and charming instrumental inspired by this tale of human/hamster friendship. Thus has it come to pass that people around the world have heard a pop song about Neil, my long-dead pet.