Posts Tagged ‘Glori Simmons’

Debut and Emerging Writers’ Cats

Behind many successful authors is a furry companion who offers creative inspiration (and also probably falls asleep on the keyboard from time to time). Face it, we have all seen plenty of pictures of the likes of Joyce Carol Oates and Ernest Hemingway with their cats. So, we decided to ask some of our favorite recent debut authors and our readers for pictures of their cats so that we could share them with other aspiring novelists and avid animal lovers. Because life is hard enough and cats are adorable. Check out these cute kitties (and a few dogs, too).

“My rescue tabby, Beezus (named, of course, after Beatrice Quimby of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books), invariably spends her mornings with me in my second-floor home office (also known as “her” room, though the dog will usually join us too). Both pets are moderately well trained to not expect much from me while at work, and Beezus is most helpful to my writing when distracted by the view onto our Southwest Detroit street (as pictured) or when passed out on her nearby favorite chair. While the pets’ proximity alone lends a certain moral support, their patience has its limits, and the sudden, willful presence of Beezus in my lap (or the urgent demand to throw a ball) has been known to clear the mind when stuck on some needless hurdle.” -Katie Chase, author of MAN AND WIFE

“Daisy (who’s technically my parents’ dog, but who’s counting?) occasionally rests her head on my keyboard, forcing me to sit back and consider what I’ve written. For this crucial bit of guidance in the revision process, I am forever indebted to her. And when she’s not helping me edit, she’s asleep on my feet, keeping them warm—and keeping me happy.” -Rachel Z. Arndt, author of BEYOND MEASURE




“I knew Mizu was the one when he hissed at me as I reached in to pet him at the shelter. He’s mostly a morning and late night cat, affectionate and talkative, needling away at my lap when I try to relax. But come time to write, he’s reclusive, a lump under the covers, which is exactly what I need.” -Glori Simmons, author of CARRY YOU and SUFFERING FOOLS


“I am pleased to present Mittens and Nermal, a.k.a. my Cat Council. Their main roles: sitting on whatever I am reading, looking forlorn, judging, and knocking over plants.” Frankie Concepcion is a writer from the Philippines and has been living in the U.S. for almost a decade. Her fiction, essays, and poetry have been published internationally in editorials such as Waxwing, Vagabond City, Rappler, and The Toast. In 2018, Frankie will begin the process of applying for Permanent Residence in the United States. Her latest project, Leaving, is her humble attempt at documenting what it is like to try, and still want to be, an immigrant in America.

“Mr. Biscuits (the pup) has been with me since 2009. He may look old and grumpy, but he’s a fantastic listener. I’m constantly bouncing ideas off of him as he sits in my lap eating my Triscuits and cheese. He does leave enough scraps for me, though, usually. I always know when I have a good idea because he will lick my face. (Yawns are no good, though.) As for Ms. Muffins, she’s a newer addition to the household. She doesn’t appear to take much interest in my writing. She seems to think my freshly printed manuscripts are a scratching post purely for her pleasure, and forget about when I’m trying to highlight—she will rip the highlighter right out of my hand” Christine Jenkins


“I spend my time writing personal essays about the experiences I have with elderly folks that I have the privilege of taking care of and being friends with. Many of my day to day experiences with these wonderful people lead to funny as well as inspiring moments. Jasmine can usually be found laying by my side but her favorite place is actually with her face right up in my computer screen as if she is proof reading my notes! She’s a rescue cat that has been part of our family for 11 years now.”Linda Fereira




Debut Author Spotlight: Glori Simmons

In our Debut Author Spotlight series, authors contribute essays about the path to the publication of their first book. In this installment, Glori Simmons talks about writing the stories that would comprise her first two collections. She, at first, thought of them as one book and she began to write them as a distraction from the novel that she was working on during her Stegner Fellowship in 2003. Glori Simmons’ collection Carry You came out from Autumn House Press on March 7.

“Three presidents later, American troops are still in Iraq and what I began as a side project was now two full-length books informed by parenthood, marriage, work and time. Life had happened and through it all, my writing had evolved.”

People may see that I have had two books of short stories published in consecutive years and think I’m a prolific or fast writer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I began the first three linked stories that would become Suffering Fools and Carry You around 2003. I was a Stegner fellow working fulltime in a University art gallery. The U.S. was at war. The short stories were a distraction from the novel I was supposed to be writing, an exercise in form, one story unfolding from another, all set in the present. They were organic, gratifying and fun to write, but I was working on a novel set in another place and time.

When the fellowship ended, I focused on the novel. Its publication was the milestone I was seeking. I got an agent. I gave birth to a daughter. The market crashed. I moved from San Francisco to Oakland. Whenever I turned to the short stories, it felt as if I were having an affair—cheating on the novel. They felt fresh and were a way for me to understand the present day events even as I wrote and revised, but never sold, the novel. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq escalated and then officially ended and then we again sent in more forces. All that while, the Shepherd family kept finding their way to the page. The main character, Clark, had gone to war too.

By the time the stories were ready, my agent had quit the business. Another told me the stories worked well, but needed more—more Iraq, more war. I made excuses, stalled, and then spent two years attempting to write stories set in a country in which I’d never stepped foot. I had a new, more demanding job and a kid in public school. I finally sent the new manuscript off to the agent who’d encouraged me to write more. He said, “thanks, but no thanks.” After more rejections, I looked over my stories. They were unruly as a group and lacked balance. Could it be with a few of my non-linked stories (yes, I’d cheated while I was cheating) that I had two manuscripts? I thought so. I sent them off to small press contests and was pleasantly surprised when they were chosen for publication. Of the trilogy that started this journey, only one of the stories contains the original experiment. Another has been shelved. What was once contemporary fiction is now historical fiction.

As I reflect on the years between the first stories and the last, I am reminded of something a friend once said, “Life happens between books.” Focusing on publication of my first project, the novel, as the ultimate form of legitimacy, had often made it seem as if the hours at my desk were amounting to nothing. It felt, correctly, as if I was not in control of the process. In those moments, it was tempting to ignore my new obsessions or see the other parts of my life as superfluous or intrusions, instead of what they were—stories unfolding, challenges shaping my perspectives and experiences that would make me a better writer. Three presidents later, American troops are still in Iraq and what I began as a side project was now two full-length books informed by parenthood, marriage, work and time. Life had happened and through it all, my writing had evolved.

by Glori Simmons author of Carry You (Autumn House Press, March 2018) and Suffering Fools (Willow Springs Books, March 2017)

New Voices: “Night Vision” by Glori Simmons

Today, we are proud to welcome “Night Vision” by Glori Simmons to our New Voices library. In this story, an American soldier stationed in Iraq faces—and crosses—moral lines. This story is deftly written, moving, and precise. It is part of Glori’s collection, Carry You, which is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in March.

“Patrolling that night, Clark had the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. . . . He hated the false security provided by the night vision goggles. They made it too easy to confuse oneself—to forget that while the goggles revealed what was out there, they did not conceal the man wearing them.”

The guy was just standing there, killing time. These were the words Clark used to describe the first guy he shot in the war—to Tibbs and Lyons and the other soldiers, to the lieutenants and the cheek-biting captain with his chest full of brass pins, but never to Ned. To get back on track, he’d take a deep breath, sniff hard, and spit the thick phlegm near his boot. Killing time, that’s how it all had started.

*     *     *

Clark and Lyons stood guard in the wide basement hallway they called the Dungeon, a place where weapons had been stored even in Hussein’s day. In the pitch black, Clark couldn’t see much of anything except for the blue glow of the light Tibbs kept on his key ring, which was dimming as he and Ned disappeared further down the hallway. They’d had a few beers, courtesy of a source that Ned refused to divulge, just as he’d refused to explain what it was he was looking for in the armory. It was a Tuesday, past curfew. This was one of the many stupid things the guys did to unwind and forget the gore of the day, one of the many things they did to kill time.

As Clark’s eyes adjusted he was able to make out the neckless outline of Lyons who was rocking back and forth like a boxer in the ring just before the bell went off. Clark didn’t like Lyons; the feeling was mutual. “You hear that?” Clark asked.


“I think one just ran across my boot.”

“I’ve been trying to stomp on their tails,” Lyons said.

“I can take about two more seconds of this.”

“Copy that.”

They stood in the dark a few more minutes until the armory door slammed shut and they could hear Ned punching in the alarm code. He and Tibbs hurried toward Clark and Lyons with four bulky contraptions in their uplifted hands: night vision goggles.

“Follow me, men,” Ned said, and once again Clark found himself following Ned without asking questions.

To read the rest of “Night Vision” click here.