Things & Things!

(photo via Gina Abelkop)


EKAW book tour is over! Went to Letters Fest in ATL in November and loved it loved it. Met a lot of ppl I really dig a lot, sold some books, heard some rad writers read. LOVED IT. I also went to Turner Field b/c I love baseball and I was v. happy there @ the ballpark. The Happiest.

ALSO: I will be writing a beat called LINE DRIVE for a new joint called REAL PANTS, coming Jan 1. STOKED ABT THIS and will talk back abt it. Thank you so much to Adam Robinson and Amy McDaniel for asking me to be a part of this! I wrote abt what I’m eating and reading over @ EAT GENIUS.

EVERY KISS A WAR is #2 on this list of 25 BOOKS TO READ WHEN YOU ARE FALLING IN LOVE over @ Hello Giggles. And here’s a review of EKAW in Neon Magazine. THANK YOU HELLO GIGGLES! THANK YOU NEON!

AND up until Dec. 31, if you buy a paper copy of EKAW directly from Mojave River, I’ll send you a kissy lovenote thanking you b/c, thank youuuuu.

Also my story KITCHEN MUSIC was nominated for a Pushcart by Mojave River Press, which is the coolest.

Will talk soon abt more and other things! Right now I love Sam Hunt, Jax Teller & Sons of Anarchy, working and working and working on my novel edits. Also, Christmas! XX

13. December 2014 by Leesa
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(photo by Jeremy Okai Davis! THANK YOU JEREMY AND SETH AND SCOTT!)

-My story BEARISH is up @ Nano Fiction! 

-I talked to Melanie Page over @ Grab The Lapels about my first stories and writing and stuffs. Thank you for having me, Melanie! 

-I wrote the STORY BEHIND THE STORY over @ Fiction Southeast re: my story FIND HIS BLUE! Thanks to Chris Tusa! 

-Besides that, October baseball and Madison Bumgarner’s country accent. Any and all sports emotions. The new TSwift album and candy y’all. CANDY!

27. October 2014 by Leesa
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BIG WEEK FOR EVERY KISS A WAR!! EKAW made the top of the 15 CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS BY WOMEN YOU SHOULD REALLY READ over @ Bustle. THIS IS SO EXCITING I CAN’T EVEN SPEAK OF IT. And I can’t thank Bustle & Gina Vaynshteyn enough for including me. I have read some of the collections on the list and the rest of them are on my to-read list.

Also Jeremy Okai Davis, the kind super-talented fellow who painted the cover art for EKAW was sweet enough to take a pic of a one Seth Avett reading my book. THIS IS SO EXCITING I CAN’T EVEN SPEAK OF IT. And I can’t thank Jeremy and Seth enough for making a couple of my dreams come true all in one swoop. I LOVE THE AVETT BROTHERS SO MUCH SO MUCH SO MUCH.

Also. My story GET ROWDY is live over @ The Collapsar and thank you so much to James & Nate for letting me be a part of this issue b/c I love it.

AND WhiskeyPaper is getting into the Chapbook Game! YOU CAN HELP! Thanks so much, y’all. Love.

07. September 2014 by Leesa
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In Necessary Fiction:

but Cross-Smith keeps Violet close enough to the edge of infidelity that the door remains open. It is in these actions that Cross-Smith essentially places Violet in the role most male writers have situated male protagonists for decades: filling the part of the dominant creature holding the cards, making the decisions

In Carve Magazine:

In “And It Can Never Be Too Dark Or Too Bright” Cross-Smith shows her mastery of metaphors that sizzle: He kisses with urgency. He kisses like a dying man. He kisses like he worships women. Your mouth is his church.How could any reader not think back to lost loves or to the way we always imagined love would be?

In Chicago Literati:

I recommend that you read it. I recommend that you then buy another copy because you cried all over/twisted up in happiness and sadness/underlined and dog eared your first copy into oblivion. 5/5 stars. Would read again. Would wife.


Also: EVERY KISS A WAR is available in eBook form now! Amazon, B&N, iBooks…if you’ve read it and loved it and are the review-leaving type, please do! I appreciate it muchly. THANK YOU!

25. August 2014 by Leesa
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(the songs that weren’t available on Spotify are linked to their YouTube videos!)

“We Found Love” by Rihanna
The high school girls in the lead-off story “Skee Ball, Indiana” are listening to this on their way to a skee ball tournament. It’s a sparkly, glittery song that lifts the darkening night. And it’s an excellent lead-off song for my entire collection. Finding love in a hopeless place.

“Wild Heart” by Stevie Nicks
My character, Violet, has a wild, wild heart. She just does whatever she wants. I’ve written three stories about her in this collection. She’s also a singer. So when she runs off from her husband and kisses another man, I can see her singing this to herself on the way home. Her hymn.

“Hold On, Hold On” by Neko Case
The second Violet story is called “Hold On, Hold On” because of this song. Neko’s songs hold such mystery. She’s a lovely storyteller. At a very important point in the story, Violet fantasizes about saying the words “hold on, hold on” aloud. And Neko has such beautiful, minor-key songs with endings that just kinda show up unexpectedly and tremble there like ribbons in the wind. That’s what I was trying to do with that story.

“Ride” by Lana Del Rey
There’s a third Violet story and my novel-in-progress is about her, too. This Lana Del Rey song is one of Violet’s heartsongs.

“Flower” by Liz Phair
Phair’s album Exile in Guyville is basically a life instruction manual for the girl in my story “Back When Exile in Guyville Was The Only Album I Listened To.” She bases her decisions on WWLPD (What Would Liz Phair Do?) This song is bawdy and crazy and beautiful and strange.

“Chained and Bound” by Otis Redding
This is the song the characters from my story “Whiskey & Ribbons” dance to in the kitchen. My character Dalton is chained and bound to his best friend’s widow, Evangeline. He’s never said these words aloud to her but this song is playing and the snow is falling and falling outside and Otis is singing the words in Dalton’s heart.

“Touch the Hem of His Garment” by Basia Bulat
I chose the Basia Bulat version of this because in my story “Hem”…it’s the female character, Merit, who mentions the Bible story from the gospels to the other character. She’s trying to lift his spirits, reminding him that sometimes a tiny thing can be a not-so-tiny thing. I love Jesus and I love hymns.

“Ladies Love Outlaws” by Waylon Jennings
There is a story in my collection called “Ladies Love Outlaws.” I’ve always loved that. And it’s true. And so is this: outlaws touch the ladies somewhere deep down in their soul.

“Heart to the Husk” by Jeffrey Foucault:
When he sings please tell me something I wanna know…where does love go? It sounds like everything I’ve ever written/everything I will ever write. Every story, forever.

“You Remind Me of Something (The Glory Goes)” by Bonnie Prince Billy
In my story “Kitchen Music”… as they’re in the process of breaking up, my character is thinking about the happy times she’s had with her boyfriend. When they would crank the radio up and open the kitchen windows on Sunday afternoons. In this song he sings and dancing goes on in the kitchen until dawn to my favorite song that has no end.

“Scarlet Begonias” by Grateful Dead
There is a story called “Kentucky Sugar” and in it, my character is sleeping with the woman who owns the landscaping company he works for. She’s a hippie; her front porch smells like Nag Champa. In the original version of the story…which has now been whittled down…they drove around in the early morning…going out for coffee and muffins and she would always be listening to Grateful Dead. This song reminds me of spring and romantic things. Everything I wanted the story to be until it turns into a rough-and-tumble fistfight sorta thing. For the rest of his life, anytime my character hears this song, he thinks about this girl.

“Un Jour Comme Un Autre” by Bridgette Bardot
I’ve written a story about an American man named Sam who’s fallen in love with a French woman. They have a daughter. One morning they are having figs and coffee and hot chocolate in their small Parisian kitchen and the warm wind is blowing the yellow curtains up and out. This French woman, his wife, Margot…she plays this song for him because she knows he will love the trumpet and she’s right. This is the morning before he confronts her about the affair he knows she’s having. That trumpet is so sexy and sad.

“Sinnerman” by Nina Simone
This is the second Sam story in my collection. Years later. He’s kinda spilling out at the edges, not making the best decisions. He listens to a lot of Nina Simone. In this song, sometimes Nina doesn’t even sing, she just makes these gorgeous, soul-deep begging sounds. These are the sounds the Holy Spirit makes for Sam when Sam doesn’t know what prayer to pray. The story is written from another person’s point of view, but it’s Sam’s story. He’s the sinnerman. We all are.

“Ode to Sad Clown” by Joe Purdy
Joe sings it’s not that I’m not sorry, Lord. It’s just that I’m not strong. Cuz when that woman looks at me I can’t remember right from wrong. This is the song for the last story in my collection called “Wayfaring.” The man is leaving town but a couple of nights before he leaves, he reconnects with a woman from his past. The guy in my story is called West although I never mention his name…he’s a character from another story in my collection. He’s a jerk. He wants to do better. Later. He’s removing himself from Kentucky, heading towards New Mexico, like maybe that’ll help. And maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t, either. Joe is singing to himself in this song and in “Wayfaring”…I’ve written it in second person because West is basically talking to himself. He’s sad. This song is sad. He’s working on it. He’s not giving up.

Bonus Tracks:

“Chain” by Ingrid Michaelson
Because it is Evangeline’s song from “Whiskey & Ribbons.” And if you come around again, then I will take the chain from off the door. So pretty it almost hurts to listen.

“XO” by Beyonce
Because this song sounds like the bright sticky-sweetness of all of the best parts of a relationship. I love you like ex oh. You love me like ex oh. You kill me boy, ex oh.

“Beautiful War” by Kings of Leon
Love don’t mean nothing unless there’s something worth fighting for. It’s a beautiful war.
Some lyrics/a song for the collection in its entirety.

“Heart of Gold” by Neil Young
I mention Neil Young a couple of times in this collection because I love Neil Young. His songs remind me of how I want my stories to feel. And on the same level as the first song in this soundtrack…Neil singing “I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold” kinda lifts everything. He’s trying. We’re all trying. Every Kiss a War. Sure every kiss is a war, but we’re still kissing…we’re warring, we’re loving, we’re screwing everything up, we’re fixing things. We’re trying. There are cracks, there is light. We get our knees dirty, we scavenge.

06. August 2014 by Leesa
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