Sunday, November 26, 2023

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (November 26, 2023)

Next week will bring us into December, and so I guess this is the last of our November poems for the year. 

  • Everybody Lying on their Stomachs, Head Toward the Candle, Reading, Sleeping, Drawing by Gary Snyder (from his book No Nature)
  • Love’s Map by Donald Justice (from his book The Summer Anniversaries)
  • The Other House by W.S. Merwin (from his book Garden Time)


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Sunday, November 19, 2023

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (November 19, 2023)

Please excuse the background hum during the recording; my usual computer is broken and my desktop refuses to record quietly or with any manners whatsoever.

I'll have a special Thanksgiving Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee, so check back for more poems this coming Thursday.



  • November by Maggie Dietz
  • Winter by Marie Ponsot
  • November by Billy Collins


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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Unexpected Weather Events on Fiction Bestsellers with Small Press Distribution (SPD)

Good news. My short story collection Unexpected Weather Events has made the top twenty list of bestselling fiction for September/October 2023 with Small Press Distribution. And as the book only became available in October, I'll take that as a good sign.

View full list here.


Unexpected Weather Events is available online and in brick-and-mortar. Please support these locations, especially the one nearest you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Portland, Olympia, and Spokane + African Violets, Baba Yaga, Sharma Shields, and why Erin Pringle doesn't sell vacuum cleaners

Part I. On the Mindset a Book Tour Requires

During my conversation with Neal on KYRS about Unexpected Weather Events before its release, I mentioned that I seem to write books is so that when one is published, I can meet up with friends at the book-release party and various readings and signings that bring us together. Neal raised his eyebrows at the suggestion. Certainly, I don't write for that reason; however, as the writer of books published by lesser known presses in a publishing industry ocean ruled by corporations well versed in the book-game, marketing strategies, and bestseller list tricks, I find that, for me, the only healthy way to think about one of my books once it's published is to think of the experiences and friendships that I will experience while peddling the book here and there. Were I a vacuum salesman, this would not at all be how to think about the business and my progress within it. Although I think sometimes it's an easy mistake to grade a book's value on a vacuum-cleaner sales scale.

My books will never sell as well as any vacuum cleaner. That is fine. 

I'm not the only one to equate their books with excuses to visit with friends, as the annual Association of Writing Programs (AWP) conference is basically a three-day excuse for creative writing professionals (most typically creative writing professors) to congregate in one city's conference hotel in order to have drinks with old friends from graduate school and while they happen to be there, present on a panel or two.

As I am not a fan of cities, hotels, or crowds, and do not teach at a university or any creative writing, I rarely attend. I suppose, though, that with each of my book's publication, I embark on my own version of AWP in the miniature. I am the doll-house version, perhaps. 

Or, more of a Mister Rogers neighborhood version. 

That's it. That's exactly it.

So far, the book-release brought my neighborhood of friends and a few interested strangers together in the Shadle Library for two hours--my favorite neighborhood band played. Midway through October, I drove to Missoula, stopping at Wallace, one of my favorite small towns; in Missoula, I had a chance to reunite with my dear friend Melissa Stephenson as part of the reading at Fact and Fiction Books--in the midst of that, I caught up with her children and enjoyed the company of her dogs, whose lives I've followed over the years of my own. A week later, I drove to Portland and at Annie Bloom's met back up with Mo Daviau having met her in Austin at a Hezada! reading several years ago. (And, like my mother, if I meet you, chances are you'll receive entry into my address book and annual Christmas card list).

Part II. When You Walk into Your Grandmother's House, but It's in Portland, OR not Evansville, IN, and the person living there is named Cee and of no relation to you

African Violets I bought for son
for his birthday; picture taken by me and texted to Cee
to ensure correct identification. Cee said yes and sent a link
to detailed instructions on how to care for them.
While in Portland, I made friends with Cee, the owner of the house housing the bedroom where I stayed; I observed a beautiful classroom at the Portland Montessori School; and I ran in the Run Like Hell race in some park, alongside a body of water and hundreds of strangers in Halloween costumes. Cee and I shared coffee over the dining room table and exchanged stories and thoughts on plants. Cee is a plant expert, and as my grandmother had many plants in her house--also of the era of Cee's house, I had to reminisce about my grandmother. Cee allowed it, having no idea that I don't typically reminisce about my grandmother, her house, or her favorite plant: African Violets. Cee has three wonderful pets, all of whom I hope to visit with again: Potato the dog (with her own social media fan-following), and two cats with less interest in fame likely because, like most cats, they already achieved it in a past life--and thus, believe themselves hitherto deserving of much petting and praise.

Almost Part III. A Few Parentheticals in which I Praise Portland

(Note 1: Why don't we all live in Portland? The trees. The TREES. There were trees everywhere and in all of the places that are treeless in Spokane. It's not fair to compare the two, climate and location and all being so different--but WHY DON'T WE ALL LIVE IN PORTLAND? There are trees growing on the high-rises. I'm not kidding. In Portland, the tops of some buildings are covered in purposely planted mosses and grasses--like you read about. That is, if we have to live in a city--why isn't it Portland?) 

(Note 2: The neighborhood I stayed in was the SAME neighborhood where Beverly Clearly grew up. Beverly Clearly of Ramona the Pest. RAMONA QUIMBY!)

Our faces on Last Word Books door
(Note 3: The trip to Portland also allowed me to visit with two family members who rank in the list of favorites. They came to the reading at Annie Bloom's and brought two friends. Take note: If you are a relative to a writer, always go to the readings and always bring two friends. And maybe ask the two friends to bring two of their friends.)  

Part III. Reading with Rachel King, Olympia, and Old Entryway Tiles

In both Portland and Olympia, I read with writer Rachel King, who I met several years ago because she was the copyeditor of The Whole World at Once; I've since kept up with her writing career. As she lives in Portland, it was Unexpected Weather Events that finally brought our excuse to meet in person. She might have eventually regretted it, though, as I caused her to freeze in Olympia on Halloween night when I suggested we read outside--on the sidewalk running past Last Word Books since that's where everybody would be anyway--on their way to this or that restaurant or party. 

Rachel, Robert (owner of Last Word Books), and I carried the chairs outside together and set them on entryway tiles reminiscent of the entryway tiles to the diner my father took me to as a child. Rachel said she was up for reading outside, but she was cold. Friends, she was cold. Or, at least, when she is cold, she takes the practical step to dress for it. 

Rachel King reading at Last Word Books
on Halloween night 2023
We read from our books to Robert, who sat on a stool across from us. A man joined us and sat through the story I read (Chair, $75 OBO), said a few words, and went on his way. Afterward, Rachel and I said goodbye to Robert and had a good dinner near the warmth of a fireplace we shared with another table where a couple seemed in the midst of falling in love. I tried not to feel extreme guilt for the food trays that Robert had purchased for the event that he forgot about and that we did not use.

All of this is to say that the value of a book tour must be, for me, based on friendship reunions and meeting nice people--for to judge it based on seats filled or the number of books sold would be no different than throwing myself down a rocky hill without a single pillow or first-aid kit waiting at the bottom.

Part IV. So, I'll be there. Sharma will be there. An Invitation

This brings us to this Thursday, November 16th. Beginning at 6:30 PM, I'll be sitting in Wishing Tree Books with Sharma Shields for at least thirty minutes, if not a full sixty minutes. The only other time I have enjoyed that amount of time with Shields was during a KYRS interview that Neal and I did with Shields and Maya Zeller upon their completion of the anthology Evergreen. I have admired Sharma from afar and sometimes nearer than that. She used to host an annual Lilac City Fairy Tales event that I read at one year. I sat in another audience when she gave a brilliant introduction for Roxane Gay at a Get Lit! festival. At the book launch for Unexpected Weather Events, she introduced the event and managed the room and preparations, as in another part of her life, she works as the public library's writing professional (see all the cool events and ideas she has done or is working on here). 

Evergreen anthology cover
She's busy. 


But thankfully, I published a book, so that is my valid excuse to invite myself to sit beside Sharma Shields at a bookstore and talk to her about stories. Luckily, she agreed to it, so this isn't just me showing up and stealing the chair of a different writer she's in conversation with.

Here's my plan: Sit with Sharma. She'll read a bit of her writing. I'll read a bit of my writing. And then I'll ask her about favorite folk tales and fairy tales because she is exactly the person who will dive with me into the well of such ideas and images and words. She is the only person who has referenced Baba Yaga in a way that made me scream, BABA YAGA!

Because she knows the old woman, too.

V. The Situation: Chairs + Interesting Thoughts

Now, here's the situation. There will be chairs set out for people to sit in. They will be empty until someone sits. One of those chairs is exclusively yours. I would like you to come. I would love it. If you brought two friends or no friends, that's fine. It's going to be a very good event and the discussion will be interesting; you'll leave with thoughts you wouldn't have otherwise. No matter what, I'll be there. Sharma will be there. Maybe you won't buy one book, my book, or Sharma's books. Maybe you'll just come and sit in the warmth of a bookstore on night in early winter. It will be a good, beautiful experience, and I'd love to share it with you. 

November 16, 2023

6:30 PM

Wishing Tree Books

1410 E. 11th Avenue

Spokane, WA

Wishing Tree Books
photo from this article in the Inlander


This is a collection of miniature polaroid pictures
of the dogs that frequent a Portland coffee shop. 

This is the body of water I ran alongside
at the Run Like Hell race. Two points to you
if you can identify it.

View from guest bedroom in Portland,
Potato the dog in the lefthand corner.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Unexpected Weather Events in Missoula: The Trip in Review. And Kindness

Now that October is over, so too are my book travels until April when I'll be in Illinois visiting family, serving as an officiant for my brother's wedding, and squeezing in a few readings from Unexpected Weather Events while I'm at it.

On October 19th, I found myself driving to Missoula, which if there is ever a time to drive to Missoula, autumn is it. Even the drudgery of interstate travel could not take away from the beautiful changing colors of the trees. 

I stopped in Wallace, Idaho both ways because Blackboard Marketplace is a required stop for my family, or evidently when it's just me. One one end of the downtown building is the cafe that serves the best food I've ever eaten; in the middle is the coffee shop that sells good drip (and fancy espresso drinks if you do that) and in the seating area, floor to ceiling shelves of recent and classic books. At the other end of the building is a clothing store of familiar Northwest hiking fashion. 

Outside Blackboard Market in Wallace, Idaho (photo by me, Erin Pringle)

A moment of writing inside Blackboard Market/Todd's Bookstore and Coffee
Wallace, Idaho (photo by me, Erin Pringle)

Because I'd been driving for a while and then sat more as I wrote over coffee, before returning to the car, I roamed about and found EurekaSally Art Gallery. It was a swell place, and I was especially intrigued by the glass work of Sally J Utley. Thankfully, the artist had small pieces for sale and I took it upon myself to purchase several--as well as a pair of upcycled paper collage earrings by an artist whose name I don't remember. There's an online exhibit of several of the artists that you can view:

Artificial tree persisting in a rusty pipe behind a building
Wallace, ID (photo by me, Erin Pringle)

After this, I returned to the road in order to reach Missoula and my friend Melissa Stephenson. And I did reach her and had the chance to reunite with her dogs and lay on my back in the middle of her living room, talking to them and giving good pets. Before the reading, we went to Montgomery Distillery where I remembered watching Melissa give a talk with a few other writers several years back at a Montana Book Festival. 

Montgomery Distillery
Missoula, MT (picture by me, Erin Pringle)

I took a picture of the view, mainly because the moose's severed head was adorned with flowers, which seemed like a strange compromise or gesture on someone's part, and the Mike Meyers severed heads in the plants below seemed an interesting pre-Halloween celebratory choice. But juxtaposition, here we are. 

I then took my head to Fact and Fiction Books where I encountered the empty chairs I'd anticipated but had a good time reading beside Melissa Stephenson--despite (thanks perimenopause) breaking into tears at an especially moving part of my story "Valentine's Day." Thanks to the reader who came to see me and who has been following my career for many years now. I did not think that was possible. There is joy in the quiet of a bookstore of an evening.

Another salve for my sensitive and anxious heart was the interesting and kind bookseller Michael. A writer, reader, and also from Illinois but the upper parts. We figured out the distance from his hometown to mine. Far. Before the reading, he brought me water in a mug that said Woody in the script of Toy Story. I apologized for the turnout, and after the reading, I apologized for the crying. I helped fold the folding chairs and move the book displays back to their positions. Perhaps the ease of wheeling heavy displays of books led to my recent purchase of home bookcases on wheels. I perused the books by the register near where mine was on display, and realized that animal flipbooks are exactly the sort of book my preschoolers would love to look at. Mental note, check. Before I left, Michael asked if he could buy me a book. No one has ever offered such a gift. I accepted and watched him take it from the shelf, ring it up, and hand it to me. People are kind. That's good. 

With my friend Melissa Stephenson standing a few
feet from the exact location where we first met
Fact and Fiction Bookstore/Missoula, MT

Unexpected Weather Events on the counter at Fact and Fiction Books
Missoula, MT (picture by me, Erin Pringle)

The next day, I did some writing at Bernice's Bakery, which is my favorite coffee shop in Missoula and where I've set a series of very short stories that I tell my preschoolers. Their love for the stories has elevated Bernice's Bakery and Missoula in their minds as two VERY IMPORTANT AND FANTASTIC PLACES TO GO, and when I returned to home and school, they were excited to hear about my going. I was excited to return. 

Coffee, muffin, and writing inside Bernice's Bakery
Missoula, MT (picture by me, Erin Pringle)

A cool initiative called United Plant Savers that I saw in a side plot 
beside the building next to Berniece's, so I recorded it
Outside Bernice's Bakery (photo by me, Erin Pringle)

Driving home on I-90

Driving home on I-90


Unexpected Weather Events is available online and in brick-and-mortar. Please support these locations, especially the one nearest you.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Largehearted Boy shares mixtape for Unexpected Weather Events story collection

Over at Largehearted Boy, David Gutowski has a Book Notes series in which writers curate songs for their books. I did one to accompany my novel Hezada! I Miss You a few years ago, and luckily, David welcomed a list for my new story collection, Unexpected Weather Events

For this playlist, I chose a song for each story and then explain that relationship in the "liner notes" that accompany each pair. 

Perhaps because I come from the past of making mixtapes, I have twice enjoyed curating these lists, and I hope you enjoy listening to the songs. It pleases me to think about music. The songs I've chosen are especially good for days of coming rain or incoming fog. Just like my stories. 

Find the playlist here:


Unexpected Weather Events is available online and in brick-and-mortar. Please support these locations, especially the one nearest you.

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (11/5/23)

Hi Friends! It has been a hot minute, it feels like, since we gathered for poetry. Here is the most recent reading. Please note that my usual computer is sick, so I'm using my desktop to record; it has a hum that would drive a sloth berserk, eventually (I imagine sloths as very peaceful, high-tolerance creatures). So, I apologize for that sound. I hope you're all well. There will be poetry this Sunday. 

Poems, both by Anne Carson and from her book Plainwater:

  • On The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Deyman 
  • On Orchids

Note: The first poem is a response to this Rembrandt painting that bears the title within the poem.


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