Sunday, October 22, 2023

Reading, Ghost Stories, Discussion with Erin Pringle and Rachel King at Last Word Books

Rachel King and I are meeting up this Saturday evening in Olympia, WA at Last Word Books. She'll read from her story collection, Bratwurst Haven, and I'll read from Unexpected Weather Events. We will also tell a ghost story or two. Or three. 

No better way to prepare for your Halloween Weekend

Last Word Books
501 4th Ave. E. 
OCTOBER 28th, 2023
7 PM

Event is free and open to the public.



Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (October 22, 2023)

On Sundays I read good poems by other people. Here are today's.

  • Storm King by Linda L. Beeman (from her book Wallace, Idaho)
  • Excerpts from Chris La Tray's book One Sentence Journal
  • How to Corner the Market on Horse Cadavers by Lindsay Sletten (from Poetry/October 2021)


    🠊 Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

    Tuesday, October 17, 2023

    Erin Pringle on The Write Question with Lauren Korn

    In anticipation of my visit to Missoula's Fact and Fiction Bookstore this Thursday, October 19, I was lucky to talk with Lauren Korn last week about Unexpected Weather Events. We had a thorough discussion that dug at death, memory, identity, and grief and how those weave through the story collection. We also talked craft: using a kind of omniscient perspective, creating narrative through images, and the reality of the ever-present past through the lens of now and imagined future.

    It's definitely a conversation worth eavesdropping in on.


    Monday, October 16, 2023

    Unexpected Weather Events Ready for Your Winter Book Lists

    Thanks to Kzinga Jimenez over at Books of Brilliance for not only listing Unexpected Weather Events on the top eight reads for this winter, but also for setting it among such fine company. About it she writes,

    This is another heavy read, and may not be for those who are more empathetic and sensitive to certain issues surrounding death, among other things. But more than anything else, UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS deals with our sense of control – or rather, our illusion of such a thing. Instead, it shows how to weave through the cracks and do our best to fill them with gold, much like the Japanese art and philosophy of kintsugi.

    Full article here:


    Sunday, October 15, 2023

    Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (October 15, 2023)

     Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (October 15, 2023)


    • The Bird her punctual music brings by Emily Dickinson (from Final Harvest, edited by Thomas H. Johnson)
    • Self in 1958 by Anne Sexton (from The Complete Poems)
    • Witchgrass by Louise Glück
    • Celestial Music by Louise Glück (from The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997, edited by Harold Bloom/series editor David Lehman)


    🠊 Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

    Saturday, October 14, 2023

    Erin Pringle and Neal Talk Unexpected Weather Events on Spokane's KYRS

    View inside the new KYRS station
    at Spokane Public Library

    Neal and I used to cohost a weekly interview show on Spokane's KYRS community radio, and although we stopped the program a few years ago (after more years than that running it), we met up to discuss Unexpected Weather Events. My second collection The Whole World at Once is what had led me to KYRS in the first place, which is where I encountered Neal on the other side of the microphone. Six years later, we're fast friends, and continue to discuss books. I'm lucky that he's an avid reader and had me over to discuss my latest. You can listen to the full interview here: 

    Neal and Erin


    Meet Us in Missoula: Erin Pringle and Melissa Stephenson at Fact and Fiction Bookstore

    This coming Thursday (October 19, 2023), I'll drive to Missoula's Fact and Fiction Bookstore to read from my newest book of stories, Unexpected Weather Events. My good friend Melissa Stephenson will join me, insist on not reading but follow my reading with a thoughtful Q and A. If it's like the last time, anyway. 

    The last time I read at Fact and Fiction Books was for Hezada! I Miss You a few weeks after the book's release and before the Covid crisis. We had unwittingly scheduled the reading at the same time as a popular writing event at the university, which made for an intimate audience. Needless to say, I felt terrible that the bookstore had prepared by buying so many copies of Hezada!, much less gone out of their way to set up all of those empty chairs. I helped clean up the space while exuding guilt, shame, and a palpable humiliation. 

    But here's my problem. I simply love Missoula. I love Bernice's Bakery. I love the downtown, the ability to walk so many places, the river, and Fact and Fiction Bookstore. Ever since I met it the first time, I fell hard for it. (And wrote about it here.)

    Me and my Melissa, 2023
    So, when Unexpected Weather Events was due to be published, I asked the good people at Fact and Fiction whether I could return; they agreed. When I told Melissa, she did not share her reservations at my book-reading delusions--because she's a good friend, understands new-book desperation, and knows that we will enjoy our time together in and out of the bookstore. 

    Cross your fingers, then. 

    And if you're in or near Missoula, I'd love to meet you on Higgins Avenue this Thursday at 7 PM. I'll even fold your chair after you've wandered back into the evening.

    Fact and Fiction Bookstore
    220 N. Higgins Ave.
    October 19, 2023
    7 PM

    “Deep, rich, and beautiful— Erin Pringle has a knack for capturing the details of daily life as those lives are forever altered: the smell of snow, the surprise cancer diagnosis, the joy of valentines. the lost father, new boyfriend, meanness and kindness, With these stories, she brings clarity to chaos, light into darkness.”
    — Melissa Stephenson, author of DRIVEN


    Tuesday, October 10, 2023

    LK James Covers Books: An Interview with the Artist about Words, Signs, and Self-Reflection

    LK James Covers Books: 

    An Interview with the Artist and the Admirer

    Erin Pringle here. When my novel Hezada! I Miss You (AWST 2020) was in process to publication, I was introduced to the person who would create the cover art. I have as much trepidation about my books' covers as most writers, but luckily, LK James was LK James, which I learned to mean that she is fantastic.  Not only had LK had read the book, but she also wanted to know what sorts of images I thought of in relation to the cover. We brainstormed, shared, and soon after, she sent me an early draft of what became the cover. I love the cover. Daresay, I love everything about the cover. From the way it fits the novel itself--to the border pattern--to the Queen Anne's Lace in the elephant's trunk. The elephant itself. The lettering. The colors. 




    After AWST decided to publish my next book, Unexpected Weather Events, I immediately requested that LK design the cover. Even though she no longer did the press's covers, they reached out with my request, and thankfully she said she would. Later I realized that she not only did the cover but also formatted the book for the Advanced Reader Copies. Discerning Readers might notice that the inside chapter headings are the same typeface and style as those in Hezada! (I find this to be a lovely perfect secret in plain sight.)

    Soon after she agreed, she read the stories, and said she had a good idea for the cover. 

    I do believe that the moment following my opening the image on my phone had me running around the house showing every human being, dog, and cat. Look! Look! Look! I shouted the next day to my co-workers, holding up my phone and peering into their faces so excitedly that who knows if they loved the cover, they had to love it because clearly that was the right answer. It's so noir and Alfred Hitchock-ian and perfect. Why, pray tell, did she suggest that she would continue to work on it when it was so very clearly exactly right?

    I do not know, but she knew, and so she did.
    And then she risked the possibility of my having a heart attack by sending me her finished version:

    Somehow, she had channeled the color scheme and author name font reminiscent of many a rural diner I'd sat in as a child. 

    She read the stories. She pinpointed the story that readers would likely be most haunted by (this is my guess), and then she'd featured not only the chair but also created a kind of curtain in its back that simultaneously resembles a monster's mouth.

    Holy, holy, holy. It's beautifully right.

    Not long after, I decided that LK and I needed to talk about art--her art. Thankfully, she agreed, and what follows is an email exchange of my questions and her answers.


    Erin: Do you spend more time sketching in a journal or on the computer? What's the relationship between the two for you?

    LK: I keep two sketchbooks: one is a warm-up/catch-all kind of place where I work out ideas and generate imagery, the other is more like a diary focused on daily observations of my life which I started right before I had a baby. Some of these sketches migrate to the computer (or tablet) where I will edit, refine, or add color. I draw on a tablet most often when I'm traveling or away from home. I love the versatility and efficiency of digital drawing when testing out ideas for printmaking, you can experiment with different color overlays with great effect. Often I move back and forth between analogue and digital, depending on the project, but usually things start on paper on my table, move through a digital process, then are spit back out through some kind of printmaking process.

    Erin: I grew up choosing books by their covers and the first few sentences. I was forever disappointed by the dissonance between the cover and the book content, and I had a grave suspicion that the cover artists never read the book. But then, when you designed the cover for Hezada! you'd read it, and that surprised me in the most pleasing way. And again with Unexpected Weather Events. It feels like a sturdy, vintage process. I have no real question here, but if you could respond to this.

    LK: Yes. I think that is mostly true, that the cover artist doesn't read the book. It takes time to read a book and lots of projects don't have that kind of leisure, especially in mass-market publishing.

    I got into book design because I love to read books, and also because the book is interesting to me as an object. Every little detail of a book's design is telling the reader some information, contextualizing the story/text in some way—the weight of the paper, the size of the type, where the colophon is, where the publisher's mark is placed, and, sort of the loudest element of all that, the cover—intentionally or not. Reading a manuscript then considering how to best express it in the physical form through all these details is a pleasurable experience for me. 

    Hi Mom by LK James
    View more:

    Erin: What's your take on the recent trend of people decorating their homes with signs? The horizontal welcome signs by their front doors, the distressed barnwood signs that say things like Peace or Focus. One of your recent art installations seems to work with this but in a way that creates a conversation between the word and its environment--like the "HI MOM" standing on the road with the graffitied stop sign in the background; or the word itself becomes a questioning of the environment such as the curving wood-grain filled "TOMORROW" that feels reminiscent of 1950s National Park tourism. 

    LK: We have a new neighbor who lives alone and is never home. The day she moved in she put up a "signs" right next to her front door that says howdy in the most cheugy way you can imagine. A few weeks later she added another that says y'all come back now! (We live in Northern California.) With the fall season coming, she's now put up an autumn leaf wreath on her door, at the center of which hangs a basswood laser-cut hello in brush script. To me this trend is our deep urge to communicate surfacing, but also our unwillingness to put in the effort of self-examination to figure out what exactly it is that we need to say, or do—the result is a bunch of meaningless placeholders that risk nothing. Nobody wants a blank wall, but meaningful artwork does require opening up a Pandora's box of time and thought and self-examination. 

    The words series that you're talking about demonstrates my particular interest in type design, hand-lettering, poetry, sign painting, and using text with different physical materials to try and communicate an idea or feeling in physical space. Rendering text in this way, again, requires time, and taking that time with any of these chosen words adds to their meaning. The words I use in this series are sometimes surrounded with a lot of anxiety, "TODAY", "TOMORROW", "THE NEXT DAY", "AND THE NEXT DAY." Pretty basic on the surface, but when you multiply the time spent thinking about the word TOMORROW by the time spent making that piece, that's a lot of time thinking about tomorrow, which becomes anxious the minute the meaning starts to abstract. But there is playfulness there, too. Especially when you look at it within the context of Hobby Lobby and Live Laugh Love decor. 

    Tomorrow by LK James
    Visit it at her website:

    Erin: What draws you to exploring the relationships among words, typography, and visual art? 

    LK: I'm sure the general pain of being misunderstood as a kid has something to do with it. I remember being really hung up on the idea that the color blue that I see might not match what someone else understands as blue—then, much later, getting hung up on the linguistic equivalent. In my art practice, when I explore the relationship between word and image, medium and message, I'm able to find some peace in noticing the impossible, mercurial nature of communication. Even joy.

    Erin: I want to sit with you on a comfy couch in a bright room and watch Sarah & Duck. Your work has a cheerful comfort to it that feels like you're giving me quiet high fives when I look at it, like your murals on book depositories, or the YES resting as music on a piano. What sorts of spaces energize you and bring you focus?

    LK: Domestic spaces are interesting to me, the objects we surround ourselves with inform our identities so subtly, but to such an enormous degree. Energize might not be the right descriptor, in fact, sometimes it is exhausting, all the stuff. But it fills my brain with thoughts.

    Erin: What's a song or musician that you're listening to right now in life? 

    LK: I'm coming off a big music summer, listening to a bunch of new stuff for fun and for work. My tiny town of Colusa was granted three years of funding for a summer-long music series, bringing professional musicians from all over the country to perform free concerts in the park. I work for the arts nonprofit that organizes the series, so a lot of my spring and summer was devoted to putting on these events. The top three albums in rotation in my studio lately have been Diana Gameros's album Arrullo, Pale Jay's Bewilderment, and Jeremie Albino's Tears You Hide.




    LK James, Thanks so much for taking the time. I so enjoyed the opportunity to think about words with you, and that we did it all through typed words and the time-lapse of email. 



    LK James at work

    LK James in a short bio: She is an artist and illustrator living in California. In addition to designing books in collaboration with clients in the publishing industry, she continues to develop works in printmaking, drawing, painting, and publications. Her children's book, The Full House and The Empty House, is published by Chicago Review Press. She was recently awarded a California Creative Corps grant from the California Arts Council to teach a series of free Risograph printmaking workshops in her rural county of Colusa in Spring 2024.

    Sunday, October 8, 2023

    Thanks to Auntie's Bookstore for a busy afternoon

    The Auntie's announcement board
    with my event written so artfully.

    I spent the hours of 11-2 today greeting customers from where I sat near the front doors of Auntie's Bookstore. In 2020, I'd sat beneath the giant metal fish, but perhaps out of an abundance of caution of an author being eaten by a sculpture, the staff set up the book-signing table across from the main cash registers, which made for a good place because I could say good morning when people swept in and goodbye when people left, and it made sense for all of us--and so the only awkward moments are the ones I created for myself, and will not go into here (there were two, and very small in the scheme of things). As an unexpected bonus, one of the booksellers was super awesome and we swapped funny stories between the lulls.  

    This morning the annual Spokane marathon was held, with its starting point near Auntie's, and so perhaps in part due to that, the bookstore was hopping. There might have been something at Gonzaga, too, as there were more than a few families coming in with their college-aged children. The day itself was beautiful, too. The best of what Autumn can do when the leaves are changing and the sunlight lights through them. Light sweaters optional.

    More than one person treated themselves to a tote-bag of books, and several more walked out with full stacks balanced against their chests--like old bellhops carrying too many packages to see over. 

    It was nice having more than a moment to admire the old wooden doors, the radiator in the breezeway--now protected by a metal grate--the wooden floors and long counters. All of it created a good vibe. Children carrying a book with one arm while holding hands with a mother or grandfather. Couples browsing separately then coming together at the cash register with their discoveries. The purposeful walkers, the meandering browsers, the two women on their way to lunch at an adjoining restaurant but with plans to return to browse, as they seemingly must often do. And when they returned, and I asked, they raved about their eggs on toast, their French toast covered in fresh berries, and the bread made by the woman downstairs. I'm not sure what is downstairs, the woman said, but that's where the woman bakes the bread. It's such good bread.

    After today, I now know that if I owned a store and then retired from working there, I'd still return weekly to say hello and chat with the customers of the day. 

    Thanks to everyone who came by--to friends who took the time and to the shoppers who approached the table. By the end of my time there, far fewer books were left than had begun. 

    Just before I left, a woman rushed into the store, husband following, and asked if I knew whether this had always been a bookstore, and did I know its history? I'm not sure, I said, but it has been a bookstore for as long as I remember. 

    And isn't that the sort of place you want to be in? 

    I certainly do.

    (P.S. Even if we missed each other, there are a few copies of Unexpected Weather Events left to buy.)  


    Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (October 8, 2023)


    Poems by Jack Gilbert, from his Collected Poems

    • A Stubborn Ode
    • Scheming in the Snow


    🠊 Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

    Friday, October 6, 2023

    Unexpected Weather Events at Auntie's this Sunday, October 8th

    As we draw closer to Sunday, when I'll be signing copies of Unexpected Weather Events at Auntie's bookstore, I will inevitably begin to have deep worries like these. And I have already begun thinking of the giant fish that looms above the book-signing table, threatening to swoop down and eat me. 

    Giant Auntie's fish, as pictured from
    the last time I sat beneath it.

    But! Here are some really great things that we should think about when we think about book signings:

    1. I will have awesome vinyl decals of the book cover for your water bottle, car, guitar case, old peanut butter jars, or whatever it is that you sticker-ize. 
    2. You're shopping local the minute you stand at the Auntie's counter and take your receipt.
    3. You'll be in a bookstore, which is one of the best places to be. You'll see books you wouldn't notice anywhere else. 
    4. The giant fish won't eat either of us.
    5. If we find each other some moment while we're both there, we will be pleasantly surprised and have a lovely discussion.
    6. My publisher will be happy that you and I did what she hoped we would do with the book now that it's in its corporeal form.
    7. Books. Us and books. All those words. There can't be anything bad when we're surrounded like that.
    See you there. Wear bells.
    Or not.
    People say that around here.

    Book Signing
    Sunday, October 8th
    11-2 PM
    Auntie's Bookstore
    402 W. Main, Spokane, WA


    Can't attend? Let's find another time. Event calendar here:

    “Reading UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS is like looking into a snow so mesmerizing and crystalline you are unable to turn away, at once illuminated and profoundly lost. They are stories of winter madness—troubling, tender, and hallucinatory—stories of connection and misconnection, of love and grief and isolation in the increasingly dangerous and tenuous reality of our contemporary condition.” — Polly Buckingham, author of THE EXPENSE OF A VIEW and THE RIVER PEOPLE

    Thursday, October 5, 2023

    Unexpected Weather Events at Giant Nerd Books, Spokane

    After the weekend release of Unexpected Weather Events, I stopped by Giant Nerd Books to drop a few copies off with Nate. 

    It had been a hot minute since our last visit, so we swapped updates. The store itself is more full of books than I've ever seen it, and it's hard to imagine the very small space that the bookstore began in years ago. In addition to any sort of book you'd want, for your visual delight and curious heart, the store has a sarcophagus bookshelf, a few giraffe bones, local art, and so very much more. How the Garland District survived without Giant Nerd until a few years ago, I'll never know. It is clearly an essential part of the good vibe.

    While I was there, Nate pointed out the winner of the recently held Giant Nerd Books logo art contest. The winner is a block-printed design and displayed atop a book shelf nearest the front door. T-shirts will be made! The main rules were to include the name of the bookstore and the store's mascot, Nate and his girlfriend's dog Elvira (who was so quietly curled on the chair beside the counter I didn't see her until she was pointed out).

    Outside, on the large display window you can view all of the logo art entries. This one caught my eye in particular, thanks to my great appreciation for The Little Prince. Do you see the reference? 

    Now is one of the best times to visit Giant Nerd, what with the weather inviting cozy evening reading. And there is simply no other place in Spokane where you can browse books with an eclectic energy mixed from drive-in culture, B-movie affection, spiritualism, and the strange and curious. Take yourself and a friend with even one interest, and you'll be sure to find what you're searching for, from vintage comic books to classic children's novels to long-lost paperbacks. Giant Nerd bookstore is a living collection like no other, and we here in the Garland District are damn lucky that we're allowed to wander through it, much less take a part of it home with us--whether that's signed first-editions, glass eyes, thick art books, local nostalgia, or the unexpected.

    Tell Nate I said hi when you go, and give Elvira the dog a sweet gaze.

    Giant Nerd Books

    607 W. Garland

    Spokane, WA 99201




    Wednesday, October 4, 2023

    John Kenny on Unexpected Weather Events: "at the centre is the warmth of love and family"

    Unexpected Weather Events
    cover by L.K. James
    book published by AWST
    Good news! Over in Dublin, Ireland, writer and editor John Kenny has been reading my newest book, Unexpected Weather Events, and sometime in my night and and his day, he published his thoughts on the book. 

    I met John over a decade ago at a writer's convention in Dublin. Since then, John has been a steady supporter of my work. Early on, he read and reviewed The Floating Order, and later included my story "Lightning Tree" in the anthology he edited entitled Box of Delights; that story would later be collected in my book The Whole World at Once. More recently, John helped my story/novella "Water Under a Different Sky" find a home in Albedo One, the science-fiction/fantasy magazine based in Dublin. That story now stands as the final work in Unexpected Weather Events 

    And now that I've published my next book, John has written about it. After he shares a masterfully concise and accurate description of each story, he concludes:

    For all that this collection examines the heartache of loss and the destructiveness of the world around us (‘Room Under the Stairs’), it’s important to highlight, though, that at the centre of all these stories is the warmth of love and family, which is made palpable through the keen eye of Pringle’s beautifully crafted prose. 

    Please, read the full review here: John Kenny reviews Unexpected Weather Events


    Past writing John Kenny has shared on this website:

    Erin Pringle Book Signing at Auntie's this Sunday, October 8th (2023)

    On Sunday, I'll be at Auntie's downtown signing copies of Unexpected Weather Events. You can find me there from 11-2. Please do stop by. We can converse about the weather, books, and whatever we'd like. And if you'd like my John Hancock, then I'm happy to do that, too. I think books are always the best stocking stuffers. Wink.

    Sunday, October 8th
    11-2 PM
    Auntie's Bookstore
    402 W. Main, Spokane, WA

    Can't attend? Let's find another time. Event calendar here:

    “Reading UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS is like looking into a snow so mesmerizing and crystalline you are unable to turn away, at once illuminated and profoundly lost. They are stories of winter madness—troubling, tender, and hallucinatory—stories of connection and misconnection, of love and grief and isolation in the increasingly dangerous and tenuous reality of our contemporary condition.” — Polly Buckingham, author of THE EXPENSE OF A VIEW and THE RIVER PEOPLE

    Tuesday, October 3, 2023

    Guess what Tim Martin gave me for my birthday.

    Soon after I met my best friend Alexa in college, she told me that I needed to meet her dad. You two will get a kick out of each other, she said--or something akin to it. She would talk like that. Get a kick out of. Or she'd call me a toad when I was being punchy. 

    In the twenty years since she predicted how he and I would react to each other, I have come to learn more fully what she meant--far more than she or I ever could have imagined. My dad would have died only a few years before I met her or her father. (Her mother is extremely dear to me, too, but the focus of this essay will primarily feature Tim Martin.)

    Early on, I learned that Alexa's father read all of the time. For his birthday or Father's Day, she and I went to a bookstore and she found him a tree identification book. Tim Martin will like this, she said. He likes to know what he's looking at. 

    She always referred to him by his full name in conversation, and sometimes in the presence of him--though, if she used his full name, it meant to warn him about his toes being awfully close to the line--typically due to a joke he'd told to rile her up (something poking at her feminism or liberal ways . . . which were, from his point of view, new developments but, from my point of view, simply part of who she was).

    Later, I would learn that this was a habit she'd picked up from her mother. Both affectionally calling people toads if they were behaving in a silly way bordering on rude or calling a person by their full name (with simultaneous eyebrow raising and wide eyes) to warn someone of their nearness to a personally-created catastrophe.

    Alexa told me how he often visited the library, and that she used to go with him often. She told me of their debates. That I'd have to watch myself. That he'd be liable to get going if I started getting going (in our political talk and our embedded points of view--he on his end, me on mine on a teeter totter that would seemingly put one of us always in the air, and the other firmly on the ground and glaring up at the other).

    Of course, because I loved her I would love her family. I didn't know that then. But it happened quickly and I've never let go. 

    A few years later, she learned she had pulmonary hypertension--a fatal disease that can be mediated by treatment but not cured. She told me via a Valentine's Day card that came to my apartment 1,000 miles away; by then, I was in Texas at grad school, and she was married and in grad school at our alma mater. She told me not to worry and not to look the disease up on the internet. She said there wasn't a cure but that thirteen years more of living was a good bet. She didn't say bet. I don't know if she said thirteen years, but I read that number somewhere because it's engraved in my memory. First in my hopes. My dreams. My whatever-it-is you have when you need to find a cure for a disease before that number happens--even though you aren't a doctor or scientist and it will take that amount of time to become a doctor or scientist, and even longer, to become the sort of scientist who discovers a way to stop a specific death in its tracks--freeze it until it thaws at the same rate as everyone else's. 

    It wasn't thirteen years, though. 

    Wrong number.

    Maybe that number was not from the time of diagnosis.

    Maybe she'd already lived twice as long as anyone would if anyone had suspected long before anyone did--but no one did.

    She had twin daughters. They were babies at my wedding. They were three years old at her visitation, pretending to be cats on the playground where I took them for a while, in view of the church and the parking lot of mourners but at least outside with the blue sky--how goddamned blue that sky was. A bright, sunny day. I remember the heat on the black sweater dress I'd bought. Short sleeved, but the thickness of the yarn held the heat.

    I stayed at her parents' house during that early grieving time. She'd moved back in with them due to the disease--how erratic, unreasonable, unpredictable. And her with a husband and twin toddlers. I was in the house while phone calls were made, relatives gathered at the table, the rituals were laid and the stream of food and visits began. All of it was familiar, having witnessed my own version of it when my father died. The plant deliveries. The unexpected faces of those you otherwise would not have seen for months, perhaps it had already been years.

    I imagined that her other friends--friends who'd known her far longer than I had--thought I was a jerk to stay at her parents' house, where she herself had been alive only days before. Couldn't I have stayed at my mom's house and driven the two hours, or booked a hotel? I was intruding on a family's grief. Voyeur. 

    Of course, no one ever said so. No one hinted at it. This was my fear, my insecurity, my worry. The authenticity of a friendship seems to waver when one of the friends is no longer present to verify it.

    In the years since Alexa's death, her father Tim Martin and I have talked regularly over the phone. When my sister died, I flew back and Tim Martin picked me up from the airport and drove me to my mother. Seven years later, my second story collection was published and I flew home for the first time since my sister's death, Tim Martin picked me up from the airport. Later, we would sit in the backyard at night, talking to a fire like he and Alexa used to, like he and Alexa and I once did.  

    We are not like a father and daughter, but our friendship is welded by the daughter-shaped hole and father-shaped hole broken so deeply through the layers of us--and our friendship does a little to let those holes be visible. While I run at night or drive home from work, I talk through my headphones to him. He asks if I'm wearing my reflective vest. I ask how the heart-doctor appointment went. We argue about politics. We ask each other why we think what we do. We talk about Alexa's twins. How they are now. In college now, with faces like hers, walking the same campus where she and I met. He asks about my mom. I ask about his. He tells me he listened to this week's episode of Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee. He says I looked well. He says if I don't. He asks why. Sometimes we talk about Alexa or my dad. More often we don't. We save that for the anniversaries, like anybody else. It's too much otherwise. You know what I mean, if you do. 

    When Alexa's brother died, which is its own terrible story, Tim took over the machine shop that Alexa's brother had started. This was a few years ago. Alexa was always worried about her father working too much, being gone too much (travel often took him away for weeks, months--when 9/11 happened, he was in that region . . . the relief when he'd called home, alive). He still works too much, but he's in one place, and it's his son's place, and he loves what he does. He welds, he creates, he fixes problems, he talks to old friends and longtime customers (interchangeable as they are). He learns new machines, teaches himself how to make a tool as part of a solution to something else. He teaches the young men in his employ--advises, mentors. But mostly he's alone, in his head, in his shop. Thinking, working, and in the zone where taxes, time, and death do not exist. That zen space. 

    We've now come to what I've wanted to share with you. 

    I received my birthday present from Tim Martin. I never used to get one, but in recent years, he has begun sending me a present related to whatever he's working on at the shop at the time of my birthday. The package arrived today. At first, I walked right past it--after work, after returning from a jaunt from one bookstore to another, after dropping the child off for dinner with his own dad, after making dinner for my partner and me. And then I finally stopped. And approached it. My son had asked what it was I'd ordered. I don't know, I'd said, waving away the time it would take to think about it. But now I read the shipping label. More than once, a package arrives that belongs next door. But no. This was to me. Erin Pringle. And it was from Tim Martin.

    So I opened it. 

    Guess what Tim Martin gave me for my birthday. 

    I am absolutely delighted.

    I'd like to show you this perfect present that he made while learning a new machine.

    Can you guess?

    He welded a sign for me--my own special plaque, and it says Wake to Words . . . and Brew Some Coffee.

    Alexa was right. Her best friend and her father would get a kick out of each other. Aren't they both toads prone to overworking, standing on soapboxes, and happiest when alone with their own thoughts and creations? 

    Yes, we are. 

    We are also very, very sad. 

    But take the blue skies and joy when they're there. And this present feels like both. 

    I think Tim Martin would agree with me, even if I'm a gay Marxist Feminist and he's a Moderate Republican. 😉

    Me and Tim Martin


    Unexpected Weather Events on Your Autumn Must-Reads List

    Good news! Electric Lit recently published a list of "The Must-Read Small Press Books of Fall," and my new story collection Unexpected Weather Events made the cut! Wendy J. Fox writes of the book, 

    In these nuanced stories, often told from a child’s perspective, death is right around the corner and is just as predictable as wintertime snow. Six years after their father’s suicide, a trio of brothers go get milk while their mother is on a date and find a valentine for the oldest boy in the grocery store; a wife and husband reunite after his terminal cancer diagnosis; the ghost of a long gone sister appears to purchase a chair from her living sister; war breaks out over the Illinois cornfields. What Unexpected Weather Events speaks to as a collection is the fragile hold we all have on the scaffolding that props up our lives. Despite the often bleak premises, moments of hope and even joy manage to shine through. Though Pringle’s characters do not always find transcendence, her storytelling does.

    Read the full article here: 

    Order Unexpected Weather Events from Awst Press:


    Monday, October 2, 2023

    Unexpected Weather Events on Spokane's KPBX, Arts (P)review

    I recently sat down with Karin Emry in the old Spokane fire station that now houses Spokane's KPBX. We talked about my new book, Unexpected Weather Events, and it was actually the first time I'd held a copy (her copy), so that was really lovely. I read from the book, talked about grief and the stories, as well as how I'm finding writing time these days. I didn't think to take a picture, but luckily, she remembered to record the discussion. She edited it down to a segment for this week's Arts (P)review. The recording will be available for a few weeks, so if you missed it, you can listen again:


    Sunday, October 1, 2023

    How did that book release party go, Erin Pringle? Very well, thank you!

    It's true! Unexpected Weather Events has been released into the world. The Shadle Library room was exactly right and beautiful; over sixty people attended, I read two stories with only one coughing fit (I'm recovering from a bad cold), and then my friend Neil Elwell and his friend Ken Danielson played wonderful music while people mingled, bought books, and I signed them. 

    Thank you to everyone who came, and to everyone who considered it. And thank you to the Spokane Public Library and Sharma Shields for making the event an official library event and helping to publicize it.

    This is a pretty nice place to live, I think. You people are swell.

    (All photos and film below are by Sharma Shields.)

    Music by Neil Elwell (guitar) and Ken Danielson (percussion)


    Couldn't attend? Let's find another time. Event calendar here:

    “Reading Unexpected Weather Events is like looking into a snow so mesmerizing and crystalline you are unable to turn away, at once illuminated and profoundly lost. They are stories of winter madness—troubling, tender, and hallucinatory—stories of connection and misconnection, of love and grief and isolation in the increasingly dangerous and tenuous reality of our contemporary condition.” — Polly Buckingham, author of The Expense of a View and The River People

    Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (October 1, 2023)



    • Night Letter by Diane Thiel (from her book Resistance Fantasies)
    • Under Stars by Tess Gallagher (from her book Under Stars)
    • Ghosts by Jack Gilbert (from his book The Great Fires)


    🠊 Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: