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Q and A

Jun 09, 2010; Dale Asks:

Long-time reader, first-time writer. I am a big fan of your fiction. Do you have any suggestions for young writers concerning where to publish quirky short stories that don't necessarily fit into a specific genre? Also, have you read "Tunneling to the Center of the Earth" by Kevin Wilson? His style reminded me of you.

Stacey answers:

Hi Dale. I think the best thing to do as far as publishing stories is to just go to the library and read a lot of literary journals. Find the ones you like and send your work to them. Sometimes the editors are graduate students, so the mood of the journal might change a little from year to year. Pay attention to that. Another strategy is to get the Pushcart anthologies from the last few years and see what stories you like, then go back to the journals and read them to see if it's a good fit. But you must read the journals! This is in accordance with the rules of karma and morality. Because how can you ask them to read your work if you don't even read their journals? That would be bad. You don't want to be bad.

I'll check out Kevin Wilson. Thanks!

Jun 07, 2010; Name Witheld By Request Asks:

I just got through working with someone who is very famous. He and I seemed to be on the same "bathroom schedule" and I would see him in the bathroom very often. However, one of us would not wash our hands after using the bathroom (it wasn't me). I feel like sending this person a letter suggesting that they change their hygienic habits, so how would I do that? But who do I think I am, anyway?

Stacey answers:

Sorry I never answered this--I didn't see it until now, two months late. My answer: I say leave him alone. I understand your discomfort, but in the end, bathrooms are not the dirtiest places we encounter in our lives, they're just the places with sinks in them. Theoretically we should all be washing our hands after touching escalator handrails, the city of Manhattan, and the inside of our noses. I know that toilet seats seem dirty--that's why they make people with OCD touch toilet seats on Obsessed, my favorite TV show. But they're not as dirty as the buttons on vending machines.

Jun 04, 2010; Liam, who really isn't boy-toy material Asks:

Hey, Stacey. When was the last time you were so happy and/or excited about something that you exclaimed, "CALLOOH CALLAY?!" -Exclaimed it with your arms thrusting into the air, and your face beaming at the heavens? Provide details.

If you've never done this, please explain why.

Yours in Xenu's love,
Liam

Stacey answers:

Liam, Liam. I last exclaimed callooh callay exactly three weeks ago, when I recited the poem "Jabberwocky" to a group of friends. I don't know if I was happy and/or excited, though I'm sure I'd been drinking.

It was for a book club. We were discussing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's the only poem I know by heart--I had to perform it in drama class in high school. Now my humiliation is complete. Are you happy?

Jun 04, 2010; Kate Asks:

Do you know how I can achieve the perfect shade of pink in my hair without going to a beauty salon? Thank you.

Stacey answers:

Hi Kate. Good question. It depends on what color your hair is now. If it's naturally blond, I recommend you go to the beauty supply store and buy some Manic Panic or Punky Color--you will probably have to buy fuschia and let it fade to pink (the dye is temporary and fades with each shampoo). But if your hair is dark, and for best results in general, the best thing to do is to bleach your hair first. Bleach it until it's pale yellow (you can do streaks or your whole head--follow the directions on your drugstore box), but don't overbleach, because then your hair will fall out or look like lichen. After that, all you have to do is mix some unsweetened Kool Aid with conditioner and apply it to the bleached sections. Soarin'Strawberry Lemonaid makes a nice shade of Barbie pink, and Solar Strawberry Starfruit is nice too--just slightly more coral in tone. Leave the Kool Aid paste on as long as possible, even overnight. This will fade with each wash too.

May 31, 2010; Simone Asks:

I read "Drop City" per your recommendation. It was great. That was a while ago....so have you read anything excellent since then? I have a recommendation for you--"Return from the Stars" by Stanislaw Lem. World War II-era Polish science fiction. I think you'd dig it. Any chance of an ETA on your next publication?

Stacey answers:

Simone! I'm glad you liked Drop City. I've read a lot of excellent books lately but the one I'm going to recommend next is Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison because I think you'll like it--it's idiosyncratic and funny and a big favorite of mine, even though I didn't understand that the main character had ADHD the first time I read it. I'll definitely read the Lem--the cover alone gives me a weird Soviet feeling. Thank you.

No ETA on my next publication yet. I hope less than two years, but WTFK's. Who the fuck knows.

May 26, 2010; Wag Asks:

You originally stated that my smart phone made me appear to be smarter yet now you say it doesn't. What gives?

Stacey answers:

At first I thought your phone wrote the question and I thought to myself, "What a smart little phone!" But then I looked at it again and realized you were the man behind the phone and changed my mind. Sorry. I often change answers. Did you ever read my changed answer to your question about the Scientology dentist? At first I said it was okay to go to a Scientology dentist, but then I realized it was very, very wrong.

May 12, 2010; wag Asks:

This is the first time I'm visiting your site with my smart phone. Do I appear smarter?

Stacey answers:

No.

May 06, 2010; Angelaaah Asks:

There's this thing I call The Big Girl. She's a paper mache' bust of a giantess. I've been working on her for a long time. I'm too embarrassed to say how long. Anyway, lately I think I'm really on a roll with her. No more spending unbelievable amounts of time on her nose, then seeing it's terrible and cutting it off. It's virtually steady progress every time I work on her. Finally. Maybe she could be entirely done within a month. Best case scenario, she's fabulous and I can sell her for a little loot. Worse case, she's not so fabulous and teaches me a lesson about my limits. She then sits in a corner of the apt. and gets covered with dirty laundry. Not fabulous and not a hamper would be fine, too. I'm really enjoying this work. I've also got three puppet heads that are much closer to being finished. If I put the big girl away, I could finish all three puppets at least in that month that I think the big girl needs. Of course, the muse could abandon me and I won't do anything at all. Or I could decide that it's a good time to redecorate. Is it any surprise that I rarely finish any projects? Since that seems to be a real issue, should I stop what I'm doing and finish one puppet, aka the easiest thing? Or should I stick with The Big Girl because she has the most potential? Or on some level do I know that she's just too big to deal with, therefore impossible, therefore a sure way to stop myself from finishing anything? Thank you for any guidance you can offer, Stacey Richter.

Stacey answers:

Angelaaah, you have to finish something as soon as possible. Right now, go go go! It's okay if it sucks, because sucking is something that can happen when things are finished, but it's not okay to never finish something, because then you will feel empty and weird inside. When the wind blows, it will blow through your chest, around the heart area, and this is very bad. Making something that sucks is embarrassing. Never finishing anything is tragic. Work on the puppet heads. Turn the Big Girl to the wall. The Big Girl is staring at you--sure, maybe you haven't finished her eyes yet but I still think she's staring at you. Actually, she being sort of an asshole. If you finish the puppet heads first, she'll start to stare at you with respect.

May 01, 2010; Liam, an Evangelist of his own tastes... Asks:

What was up with the 80's? Were the 70's that fucked-up that it led to the uber-fucked-up-ness of the 80's? Did Reagan bring out our crazy? Was it "The Shining?" Were those years truly as weird and as lame as they look to me? Did you flourish in those, your formative, years? Should I imply in this question that you were born in 1981, or is that too transparent and condescending? Do you ever miss the 80's? Why?

Thanks for any input.

Your loyal, wall-eyed, frothing-at-the-mouth adulator,
Liam G.

Stacey answers:

Liam! The 80's were sort of weird, yes, but they weren't nearly as bad as the 70's. The 70's was the decade of divorce, the decade in which everyone who hadn't tried drugs in the 60's tried them, and a special time for grown-ups to explore their own headspace without worrying too much about the kids. I know so many people who've admitted to being their own babysitters in the 70's that it must have been a cultural norm, and when little kids are left alone, all sorts of bad things can happen. Plus there was the Vietnam war, a recession, an oil shortage, and, as the cherry on top, Richard M. Nixon.

The 80's lacked the dramatic social changes of the previous two decades so in comparison they do seem kind of boring. Reagan was weird, yes. He was an actor, and that's just wrong. I sometimes think of 80's as the last gasp of white-person pop culture: MTV, monster trucks, panty hose, power ballads, Tammy Faye Baker--all were made for and by white people, a notoriously boring group. And the lack of social upheaval revealed something else that I, at least, had forgotten about during the 70's: the Cold War was still going on! Ouch. You know the way people talk now, about how they're going to raise chickens and live on lichen after the weird global warming shit hits the fan? It was like that then, but with nuclear bombs instead.

But there was good stuff in the 80's too: Prince, the Cars, ponytails on the tops of girls' heads, big boobs (mysteriously out of style for the previous 20 years), snail mail, 321 Contact, and other stuff. I'm sure there's a lot more. I just can't think of it right now.

Apr 25, 2010; Steve B. Asks:

I really like your Question and Answer format, but of course it's been done. What would you think of a Question and Answer AND Question My Answer format (QnAnQMA), wherein you answer a question and then, a few hours (or years) later, you come back and say, essentially, "What the hell was I thinking?"? This would give us insight into your process, reveal you as human, and generally make the rest of us feel better about ourselves. Unless I'm wrong about that.

Stacey answers:

Hi Steve. That's a great idea! The only problem is that this forum doesn't exist to make you feel better about yourself, it exists to make me feel better about you feeling better about yourself, whether you do or not. Also, I'm not exactly human, in the technical sense.

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