Interview with Midwestern Gothic & Finalist Status for Mark Twain Contest

1.  This interview relates partly to the publication a couple months ago, “What the Storm Brought.”

2.  Another story that Midwestern Gothic published of mine, “Fridge Monitor” was recently a Finalist (top 15) for the Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch humor contest. Wish there were more such contests–that episode btw of HuckleBerry Finn with the Duke & the Dauphin was indeed quite a riot.

“Slender and Gray” short story published by Riding Light Review

To resonate with Halloween and other traditional festivals of the dark time of year, as well as the gloom of this season–single digits and Fall snow have already started to mount up in the upper Midwest, heck, the temperatures dropped below freezing at night even down here in Bryan, TX–people have often told “winter tales.” Here’s  one such winter tale that also engages not only the Upper Peninsula of MI but dallies with the Slender Man meme, which you can easily find information about if you haven’t yet encountered the Slender Sickness.
Print version here of Riding Light Review’s  Halloween Issue:
Website for The Riding Light Review’s Special Halloween Issue:

Mid-American Review Musings

One of the great experiences of my time at Bowling Green State University’s MFA program was the opportunity to get involved with editing Mid-American Review.  My first year I was Assistant Fiction Editor, and my second year I moved on to Fiction Editor, during which time I was fortunate to have two very helpful Assistant Fiction Editors: Laura Maylene Walter (current Fiction Editor) and Sasha Khalifeh. The entire staff–from Editor-in-Chief Abby Cloud to the hardworking interns–was fantastic to work with, and the process of reading through and discussing the multifarious submissions was always interesting.

Discovering new writers was the highpoint of the time at MAR. One of several writers that stood out is Rose Whitmore.  She was in MAR XXXIV.1 for “Avenue of the Giants”–a coming-of-age adventure of a teenage girl living at a struggling Bigfoot theme park set in the redwoods.  Rose’s humor and compassion for her characters made this story rich with both depth and detail. Complex family issues and sharp prose. Rose is a writer to keep an eye on!

Check out Rose Whitmore’s bio so far: Rose Whitmore’s essays and stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, The Sun, Mid-American Review and Fourth Genre. She is the recipient of the 2013 Peden Prize from The Missouri Review, and a work-study scholarship from the Bread Loaf writer’s conference. She lives in San Diego where she is at work on a collection of personal essays and a collection of short stories.

For some reflections on the submission process from the editorial side, check out Laura Maylene Walter’s blog post here:
And to keep up with MAR in general, check out Suzanne Hodsden’s updates for MAR’s blog:

Blog Tour: Writing Process Questions

So, Wisconsin writer Lee Kreckow ( tagged me for this “blog tour” activity where writers need to share their answers to the following questions. Read along and find out what lucky three writers get to keep the ball rolling!

What are you working on?                                                                                                                   Novel about a woman suffering from anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) who becomes determined to found the ideal cult—conflicts arise with revolutionary compounds, secret societies, and other spirited fanatics. Currently also revising short stories I composed while doing the MFA in Fiction at Bowling Green State University. On the scholarly side, improving a paper dealing with “monstrous sacrifices” and getting together an anthology that collects fiction and poetry exemplifying the literary fantastic.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?                                                                         Everyone wants to feel special since we’re unique dastardly beings. Some demons driving my work have their own peculiar flavor, so in a novella there’s a French fellow determined to master the arts of occult puppetry and in a short story there’s a man obsessed with elbows. Bizarre subjects that involve humane ties to authentic experience—or at least the compelling illusion of recognition mixed with disconcertion.

How does your writing process work?                                                                                               How does it work indeed? No foolproof method. It depends. When I’m keeping disciplined, I set time each day; otherwise, I’ll splurge on a weekend or day off. Sometimes I’ll put on a t-shirt, necklace or a ring and play music that I associate with getting in the creative mode. There’s a lot of fun delving into narrative possibilities, but there’s torture too. So many doors that could open—paths in the perpetual maze. The whips of guilt, self-doubt, and the perpetual gap between conception and execution will harry me along those corridors until some exit is found. Then it’s back inside to find a better path. Whatever resonates best with the characters’ personalities and their decisions. Eventually the work gets done.

For that initial drafting, I try not to self-censor and just find a place of energetic mischief and let the chaotic torrent pour out and then take out the scalpel, machete, scimitar, what-you-will, to hack off digressions and such (that’s what blogs are for, right?).

And then it’s time for revision. Aside from the cutting, I’ll reflect on a range of readers and what they might need for clarity—sometimes imagining what questions might get raised by writers who’ve advised me in workshops and past peer review. And there’s the waiting game: stewing in the tar pits of the mind, the drawer, the bugged computer file. Fresh eyes on old stories find new work to be done. We dwell with Sisyphus. Time to turn off the phone ringers, logoff the internet, and write before the pendulum strikes and the pen must be set down forever.

Why do you write what you do?                                                                                                                  If my pet rock is silent, that decision depends upon which voices in the head are most insistent, what characters demand doing. The unease grows unless the writing flows. I follow characters down paths of compulsion: how they’re haunted by their own predilections, the terrible logic of dominating impulses. More than rationality and free will, humans seem defined by raging, euphoric, and sorrowful feelings. Or rather, in the tension between rationalization and impulse, diabolism brews and personality emerges. I remember one guy talking about trouble with some relationship misunderstanding, and he said, “I’m going to make it worse”–and laughed bitterly. Self-destructiveness and unintended disaster resulting from ambition, revenge, love, pursuit of knowledge—these are some of the journeys that I find compelling. Sometimes it’s a matter of pursuing the narrative consequences of a humorous situation or conflict, and you just have to go with that premise and see what might develop. Satire often intrigues me as well.

On a few occasions, I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate, such as with some folklore projects and scripts (see works with Birke Duncan below on this webpage). I’ve done some screenplay projects too, but Spielberg has yet to call.

Next up, in about a week, check out responses on their blogs or Facebook pages to the same 4 questions from these 3 writers (by the way, all of  them did their MFAs at Bowling Green State University):

Justin Carter is co-editor of Banango Street & a PhD student at the University of North Texas. His poems appear/will appear in The Collagist, Hobart, The Journal, Ninth Letter, & Sonora Review. He can be found online at

Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three collections of stories, Elephants in Our Bedroom (Dzanc Books, 2009), Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions (Curbside Splendor, 2012) and the forthcoming I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015), as well as the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 2010. He is an assistant professor at Missouri State University and Editor of Moon City Review. For twenty-five years, he has also worked as a vendor at Wrigley Field.          

Suzanne Hodsden is an Ohio native but spent most of her twenties living in Eastern Europe. She has her MFA from BGSU and is current tech editor of Mid-American Review. Her work appears in Crab Orchard Review. Sometimes she blogs at


8-3-14 Story Published & Texas-Bound

Heading down to Bryan, TX to work at TAMU in College Station.  Meanwhile, Toledo, Ohio is dealing with Aquapocalypse.  Luckily, Bowling Green was not affected and no one is known to actually have become sick from the algae plague of Lake Erie–partly a problem from fertilizer run-off that contains phosphorous.
Anyhow, here’ s a story, “To Crawl Through Stars,” recently published that developed from a draft I wrote as a First-Year MFA student at BGSU in 2012–Cheap Pop publishes new work every Tuesday and Thursday.

Good Time to All

This is the webpage of Jason Marc Harris: howdy!  I have recently resigned my  position as Associate Professor at the Florida Institute of Technology and am now a graduate student at Bowling Green State University in the MFA program for Creative   Writing–fiction in particular. I am active in a variety  of writing projects, from critical  books to novels, short stories, screenplays (including time-travel, the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 (well, change the date, and as good as new), folklore of the British Isles, remote-viewing etc.), video game design, and comic books. See loglines below. I’m always interested in new creative projects–including collaborations–so get in touch!

Please browse the wares and consider buying something, using the links to, or Don’t forget to say hello when  you stop by!

News as of 4-16-13: Interview posted at Midwestern Gothic: Click here for interview. My story “Fridge Monitor” is part of Issue 9 (Spring issue 2013).

Parsec Awards 2013 Finalist!
Birke Duncan’s Short Story “A Janitor’s Territory” is available as a radio play! It is also a Finalist for the Parsec Award! Available for listening right here. Click below!

Another Parsec Finalist! Birke Duncan’s radio play, “My Script is MUD”! Available right here! Click to play!