Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In the Land of Mad Winters: New Story in Lake Effect Literary Journal

Lake Effect, Volume 22
I have a new story out in Lake Effect (Volume 22). It’s one of my favorite journals, and this story is one of my new favorites from my next collection (once I finish it).

"In the Land of Mad Winters" is the third story I've published with Lake Effect, and hopefully not the last. Lake Effect is housed at Pennsylvania State University and run by the students at the Behrend College in Erie.

Thanks to all those who worked on creating this beautiful volume. Add the journal to your summer reading, support students in the humanities, and discover a host of new writers by purchasing your copy here:

Beginning excerpt of Erin Pringle's story "In the Land of Mad Winters"
in Lake Effect, Volume 22 (Winter/Spring 2018)
My Lake Effect collection grows

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fuse Book Club: June Meeting in Spokane, 2018

In June, the Fuse Book Club will meet to discuss books that we've read in club so far, so choose a book or two (or many) to read or re-read, and plan on a lively discussion of patterns, connections, and questions.

May: Tell Me How it Ends by Valeria Luiselli
April: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
March: So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Feb.: Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Jan.: Any full-length work by MLK

Dec. Reader’s choice, any book by a minoritized author that was published in the past 5 years.
Nov. Between the World and Me Ta-nehisi Coates
Oct. Barefoot Dogs by Alberto Ruiz-Camacho
Sept. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexie
Jul-Aug. Waking Up White – Debby Irving

P.S. You get a discount at Auntie's Bookstore for taking part in our club, so go get the pages to read today! :) :)

We meet June 13th, 6 PM at the Downtown Public Library
Facebook event page:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Newspaper Clippings Sent on a Monday, with a Letter

Usually, my grandmother's letters to my mother arrived every Tuesday, from Evansville, Indiana to Casey, Illinois in terms of address. For me, they appeared from the memories of my grandmother's house to the mailbox across the road--the bumpy road that hurt bare feet and took bearing.  

The first many years of my childhood, our address was RR3 (Rural Route), but then 9-1-1 was invented and made its way onto the television and then to our rural town. When it arrived, it turned all the country roads into numbers. I remember my mother complaining. Or huffing. Because, save lives, sure, but change our mailing address? 

It must have been a subject at coffee. She was not the only mutterer.

And this is how anyone entering Casey now would have no idea where Hickory Lane was, or where Dupont Road is, where my sister lived in a trailer when I was little. Or any other country road that was a rural route for the mail-person but a name for the people who lived on that rural route called it.

My mother must have worried that at least one of her mother's letters would not forward to this strange new address with its many numbers. 230th street, my mother said as though streets were not called such things. Maybe there was a first avenue, or a second, but one does not count into the hundreds for a street. 

I think she didn't find the street number melodious. 
My guess is that she grew up on Linwood Street in Evansville, and that is what street names are supposed to be like. 

Also, my mother has a habit of numerology and coincidence, and I don't think she had any birthdays on the 230th day of the year--that she knew, and probably she didn't know any of her former friends' social security numbers where it might be more likely that a 230 would appear at one point in her life so that she could connect it to her current life.

Numbers as a kind of inscrutable fact that, once harnessed to each other through time, provide my mother with a hint of control about who she was and has become. Fishing line thrown out over a pond, hooking one part of herself and reeling to where she stands, toes in the mud.

Who will know the roads? my mother wanted to know. 
The EMTs are from here, too, my mother pointed out.
This was years before my father lay in bed, after the cancer pushed him down, and my mother stood at the window calling 9-1-1 and the EMTs were, in fact, confused as to how to find our road. And it was snowing. 

What if they don't come? my mother may not have said, but her whole body said it as she stood at the picture window, willing the road to carry the ambulance to her, to him.

Every Tuesday, my grandmother sent a letter that contained information about her life that my mother found comforting, and I did not. My grandmother reported on what dinners she had made for my grandfather and herself. She talked of the weather. Of the chat she had with so-and-so neighbor. Of church. Of plans for the following week that would be reported on in the next letter. What birds had she seen in her backyard? How many robins? After my grandmother died, we found a stack of index cards, and on every card was the date and the weather. 

Besides my grandmother's small, perfect cursive, I most remember the enclosures in her letters. A swatch of fabric from a blanket or ornament or sweater she was making. Stickers for me. Sometimes a church bulletin. Newspaper clippings with words my mother knew from childhood--people's names, place names, street names. These letters were their own kind of fishing line, connecting Mom to her past, to her childhood, to keep alive--perhaps--the city where she placed her home, her memories, her envisioning of a future, regardless of what that future had become.

Pictures were more rarely enclosed. My mother's parents were not picture-takers. I don't remember either of them ever taking a picture of me, or taking out a camera, or asking me to stand on the porch or in front of the holly tree, or anywhere that pictures would typically be taken. And where the few black-and-white pictures of my mother's childhood are taken. I don't know who took them. 

Photography was a kind of luxury. it was also a way of thinking about self and others. Of moments. Certainly, my grandparents took pictures at one time because there were photoalbums kept in the entryway bookcases by the front door. I don't know where the albums are now because they scattered after my grandfather died, when my grandmother sold the house and had to sort among what was more or less valuable, and then when my grandmother died, and her children arrived to do their own sorting. I'm sure someone has them. It is likely that they'll return to my life later, the way the flowers you have names for bloom up wherever you are, if you don't wander beyond the climate.

I flew back to the Midwest, to Casey, to Rural Route 3 earlier in April and I saw my childhood from this new vantage point of mother, of lesbian, of more time passed between now and past griefs, of daughter of an older mother. I bicycled past the absences I could bear. The cabin where my piano teacher taught me how to play. The place where my sister's trailer once was. The stone quarry and its red trucks moving like violence among the cornfields that continue to reach as far as the sky, which is forever.

Part of the visit, beyond my son meeting his entire family and seeing this place where his mother grew up and hearing her talk like her own mother talked about Evansville, was to read from my newest book at the library where I grew up. It was a wonderful experience. I am grateful to feel so held.

Here is the newspaper clipping my mother would clip and send to my grandmother, if time functioned differently. From The Casey-Westfield Reporter


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Whole World at Once at the Casey Township Library, A Reading

You're invited.

April 7, 2018
1 PM (CST)
Casey Township Library
307 E. Main
Casey, Illinois

Free and open to the public

The Whole World at Once will not be available for purchase at the event, but I will sign your copy if you bring it. You can purchase the book from these online stores (click to be taken to the book's page):

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Building Book Movements, Not Fires: a Follow-up Interview with Michael Noll


If 25 people buy the same book at the same time, it creates a blip on a sales chart.
If 250 people buy the same book at the same time, the blip grows.
If 2,500 people buy the same book at once—or 25,000—an industry starts paying attention.
If 250,000 people buy the same book, the writer becomes a major figure.
If we all buy books twice a month, every month, a movement is built.

Last year, after the presidential election, writer Michael Noll began a project to amplify minoritized voices, to help America see itself in literature (as its mission statement reads), and to diversify reading and publishing as a kind of push-back to a presidency that would negatively affect the people whose voices were/have been, made invisible, historically underrepresented, and/or discredited by louder majoritized voices.

To achieve this, Noll created a website named Books are not a Luxury; every month he featured at least two books along with book-discussion questions, an essay about the featured book, and an interview with the writer. Enough books, certainly, to create a year of book clubs, from selections to questions.  

Last year, I spoke with Michael about this project: Building Book Movements, Not Fires. This year, I wanted to check back in as a kind of year in review. And that is the interview you'll find below.


Q1. Books are Not a Luxury has celebrated its one-year anniversary. What have you found most rewarding or successful about the series?
MN. A teacher in Austin bought a copy of Mychal Denzel Smith's Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, and almost immediately one of his students, a young African-American woman, saw the book and grabbed it. Then, she wrote a short response to the book—on her own, not for an assignment, but because she was so excited by what she had read.

Q 2. Can readers expect any changes in the coming year?
MN. I'm taking a pause from the project for the moment. I had some family issues that I had to attend to. When the project returns, it will probably take a revised form. I started Books Are Not a Luxury after the election, when it seemed so clear that half of voters had completely disregarded Trump's racism and misogyny. I didn't have any illusions that promoting books by the groups targeted by Trump's rhetoric would change anyone's mind, but it did seem like there were a lot of people acutely interested in listening to people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. At the same time, writers from those groups often face significant obstacles in getting their books published and in front of readers. So it seemed like an opportunity to do essential work on two fronts. It's still important work, but if I think about Books Are Not a Luxury in the context of all that has happened in the past year (calling reps, marching, getting emotionally overwhelmed, getting a second and third wind), I want to find a way to support marginalized writers in they're doing right now. That means writing and publishing, of course, but it's also become clear to me that, at least in terms of the literary community, it has been writers from these groups taking the lead in political resistance. This has meant time away from their work. So I think it's possible that supporting writers may also mean supporting the political work that they're doing.

Q 3. Are there any Books are Not a Luxury book clubs? Could a person start one? 
MN. I don't know of any formal groups, but I know that several groups have read some of the books and individuals have informally suggested books from the project to their clubs. People can absolutely start one. And, if groups have read a book that really spoke to them, they can contact me to let me know. Or, and this might be even better, they should reach out to the writer. It seems small, but fan letters can mean a tremendous amount to a writer.

Q 4. Has the mission of the series deepened, or developed in this past year? 
MN. You know, reading books by non-white, non-cis writers shouldn't be a special project. It ought to be just par for the course. For many readers (and publishers and agents and publicists) it isn't. I do think it's important to make a concerted effort to correct the gaps in one's reading, but it's also important to turn it into a lifelong habit and not a special project. One of the things you see, politically speaking, is people who were part of a political counterculture decades ago now suddenly finding themselves unaware of current issues and ways of talking and thinking about race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and ableism. These are not static issues. You have to keep learning and engaging with them. You saw this with Hillary Clinton at a rally where a young Black Lives Matter protester confronted her about her "super predators" remark back in the 90s. Clinton got pretty condescending in her response. I think a lot of politicians have been surprised at the ways that these issues have changed around them. So, I'm trying to find ways to listen to people from different backgrounds in all possible ways: through books, radio, TV, film, social media, in-person, in politics, however I can.

Q 5. How has reading these books affected your space in the world? 
MN. It was humbling. I think it's pretty easy to start thinking, "Oh, I'm woke (whatever that means). I'm an evolved moral, ethical person." Then your certainty about your own righteousness runs into someone else's experience.

Q 6. This is an excellent series, and clearly takes a vast amount of work. Are you doing this all by yourself? Are others involved? 

MN. I had a lot of help. Bookstores, especially BookWoman in Austin, have always been on the forefront of promoting diverse authors and books, and they continued to do so with this project. I also wrote none of the text associated with the project. Instead, I found great writers who could speak to the experiences or content or background of a book and asked them to write an essay in response or interview the author. My role was mostly project management. 
Q 7. Could someone donate to the series, or become a member? Surely, there are costs. Or, maybe I should ask, how can someone support this series directly? Maybe the need isn't financial, but a need for additional energy?
MN. The best thing that people could do is start their own version of Books Are Not a Luxury--online or in person. The project was never intended to be any kind of permanent structure. It was part of a larger response by millions of people to the presidential election in particular and the generations of bigotry and injustice that led up to it. There are a lot of ways to learn about great books by writers from marginalized groups. Here's one place to look: VONA offers writing workshops for people of color. Their faculty are amazing, and people ought to read their books. Another is the annual Tournament of Books, which is a good place to find great books. 
In general, though, I've found that I find out about most books through word of mouth—and by word of mouth, I mean social media. I'm either friends with or follow a lot of writers on Facebook, and I pay attention when they talk up a book. Obviously, most readers aren't going to friend writers on Facebook, but I do think it's a great idea to follow their public profiles on any platform and pay attention to what they're reading. Writers talk about books and tend to know about them before the general population does. 
Then, read those books and discuss them with others. That's the magic of books. They lead to conversations, and we need better conversations about these issues.

Q 8. What's the feedback like that you've been receiving from readers or writers, or both?
MN. It's been overwhelmingly positive. in particular, I'm always struck by how much it means to writers for someone to reach out and say, "Your book was great. I'd love to talk to you about it." I wish everyone would write the authors whose books they love.

Q 9. Do you have the books planned out for this year, or how does the vetting work?
MN. Not yet. I'm also doing a lot of the same work over at Read to Write Stories, the blog where I post writing exercises based on published work. As a writer and teacher, I've been frustrated by the ways that books by writers of color, in particular, are often discussed differently than booksby white writers. David Treuer talked about this in his great book Native American Fiction: A User's Manual. He visited an art gallery with an exhibit of Native American art, and there was a sign posted telling people to view the art with their hearts, not their heads. He took offense to the sign as it suggests that Native art can't be held to the same standards as non-Native art. I think the same thing is true for books. When craft gets discussed in writing classes, the models are often by white writers. Non-white writers work is discussed as important, which it is, but it's also well-written and a model for other writers.

Q 10. What do you like about reading itself? You're a writer, an avid reader, a director of a large community/state-wide writing program. What is it about books, words, the act of reading that you've made it your life? (These may be two questions.)
MN. Most of it's natural, not really something I've chosen. I can make intellectual arguments about why reading is superior to watching movies or TV, but the truth is, I can pretty much take or leave any TV show or movie, but I love reading. There's something about being utterly immersed in good writing, in a story or argument, to the extent that you cease to be aware of your surroundings. At its best, those stories are engaging and entertaining and immerse you in complex worlds that make you aware of nuances that hadn't known about before. It's like when I first started wearing glasses as a kid and looked off of my parents porch toward a far-off pasture and said, "Hey, those are cows over there." Without the right lenses, I hadn't seen what there was to see. Books function the same way, I think. 


Michael Noll is the author of The Writer's Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction (2018, A Strange Object Press). He's also the editor of Read to Write Stories and Program Director at the Writers’ League of Texas. His short stories have been published in American Short Fiction, Chattahoochee Review, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Indiana Review, and The New Territory, and been nominated for New Stories from the Midwest. His story, “The Tank Yard” was included in the 2016 Best American Mystery Stories anthology. He lives in Austin, TX, with his family. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Reading and Conversation with Ann Tweedy and Erin Pringle in Olympia, Washington

Did you know that there's a highly expected chance of rain showers in Olympia, Washington this Friday?

It's true.

So, I think, What better way to spend a rainy evening than at Last Word Books listening to Ann Tweedy read poetry and then discuss, with me, language, the body, grief, memory, and identity? I'll be reading, too.

I think rain and a bookstore will be lovely. And I look forward to the sounds meeting.

111 Cherry St. NE
Olympia, WA
Friday, March 23, 2018
7-8:30 PM
Free and open to the public

Erin Pringle

Ann Tweedy
Last Word Books, 111 Cherry St. NE, Olympia,WA

Fuse Spokane Diverse Voices Book Discussions: April 2018-November 2018 Reading List

Fuse Spokane Diverse Voices Book Club

(Meetings held at the Spokane Public Library, Downtown)


(Book titles below are hyperlinked to their pages on Auntie's Bookstore for easy shopping and holds.)

( June 13: Connecting Ideas among the books we’ve read ( July 11: Queer and Trans Artists of Color, interviews by Nia King
( August 8: Diverse Children’s Books and YA Books
Readers will bring in a diverse book to share and then donate to a local children/youth organization, library, or school.
( September 12: Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism
October 10: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
November 14: Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
( December 12: TBA


Who can join? You can! Also, join our book group on Facebook for announcements, discussion, and reminders:
What does it cost? It's free, friend. All discussions are free and open to the public. Everyone is invited and should come having read the selected book. Discussions focus on the book's contents: style, topics, patterns, intentions, questions, and connections to our community and lives.

Why is it called the Fuse-Spokane book club? What's Fuse? Fuse is the largest progressive, non-profit organization in Washington State. For more information about Fuse, please visit their website:

Where can I find this month's book?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rapid Review: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

"If a person of color is willing to talk to you about race, even if they aren't very friendly while they're doing it, it's a generosity." ~Ojeoma Oluo, Google Talk presentation
So You Want to Talk About Race (Seal Press/Hatchette, 2018) is a book that functions as a bridge between the lived experiences of people of color and white people to help, primarily, white people align themselves to people of color and Racism. She starts off early in the book by explaining carefully why you (white person) need to read this book. In sum, no matter how "woke" you are on the spectrum of "woke," you're not there yet. 
This is not Racism 101. This is not for people who haven't yet noticed inequality or racism. In fact, Oluo would argue that empathy has little to do with ending racism. Being nice will not stop Racism. Reading diverse books will not stop children of color being disciplined at much higher rates and with more severe punishments than their white peers. Holding the door open for a person of color will not halt the Industrial Prison Complex. This book will, however, explain why these small acts do little to counteract Racism and, thus, how to do much more.

Or maybe So You Want to Talk about Race is Racism 101 for the Twenty-first century and understanding Racism's disease and symptoms and how to identify those now. It's definitely the handbook for all people who have been living and working under an inadequate definition of Racism. Racism is not an individual problem but as a systemic one that infects all who live within the culture of White Supremacy. It is a system created by a culture that normalizes and romanticizes whiteness, typically through the oppression, disempowerment, and portrayals of people of color as violent/inhuman/alien/less-than/absurd/ignorant/stupid/lazy/objects/etc.

And from that definition of Racism comes not only the real possibility of taking part in dismantling that system, but also Oluo's purpose in writing the book: to contextualize this definition, help white readers witness the reality of this definition in action through various anecdotes, statistics, comparisons, connections to institutions and their relationships to each other, and then to provide white readers with suggestions of how to position their imaginations, actions, and understanding of themselves and others in relation to, for example, cultural appropriation or to the school-to-prison pipeline or to communication with people of color in the workplace. Intersectionality, microaggressions, the model minority myth, affirmative action, protest, equity versus equality, the trials of intercultural friendships--and so, so much more.

While reading the book, readers learn about Oluo's own life, from the experience of being a queer woman of color, to being raised by her white mother who didn't understand systemic racism, to the ways in which her body and voice have been censored by white people and institutions in ways that have deeply affected her life and perspective--experiences that are usually hidden but that Oluo shares so that white readers will understand.

For a better idea of all that Oluo's tackling, visit the publisher's page and read all the rave reviews. This is, without doubt, the most helpful book on the relationship between white people's imaginations and Racism and how to reposition that imagination in a way that will lead to effective action. The book also helps contextualize other systems of oppression, from patriarchy/misogny, abelism, homophobia, etc. The world makes much more sense to me now after reading Oluo's book and how to interpret what I'm witnessing, and past experiences.

Put this on the TOP of your book club's reading list, and definitely order it for your local library if it doesn't yet shelve a copy or two. And if you live in a neighborhood that has a Free Little Library, buy a copy for that, too. This is an excellent and NECESSARY read. Today. BUY IT TODAY!
"What we're doing when we're talking about race, usually, is we have people who are trying to come to their own personal goals, and usually people of color who come to talk about race are trying to get other people to understand what is harming them. And, very often, white people come to talk about race to try to make sure the person they're talking to knows that they are not the person who is harming them. Those are two completely different conversations that will never meet. Because you have one person whose lived experience says, 'You are harming me, and I need you to understand,' and you have another person whose lived experience says, 'I am not part of the problem, I am a good person, and I need you to understand.'
"Because we don't state what we're talking about when we talk about race, you can dissolve an entire friendship in a discussion, and if you were to ask why, of each person in that discussion, the reasons would be completely different. So we know it is tough. We know there's a lot at risk. And if you are a white person in this room, and most of you are, and you're thinking, 'What if I get called racist? The last time I tried a couple times, it ended really bad.' Trust me. No conversation about race has ever ended nearly as bad for you as ends for people of color. So, before we launch into why we have to do it anyways.
"If a person of color is willing to talk to you about race, even if they aren't very friendly while they're doing it, it's a generosity." ~Ojeoma Oluo, Google Talk presentation 
Ojeoma Oluo, author picture


Thursday, March 15, 2018

April 7: The Whole World at Once at the Casey, Illinois Library

If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you know how important the library is to who I am. The Summer Library Series is based on my love for the annual summer reading programs that my hometown library hosted. My interest in visual art started in the local library by sitting on the floor with my father looking through the heavy art books they had, which were mostly Renaissance art and Renoir.

In fourth grade, my first speech in 4-H was on Van Gogh, and all the books I used and spread out before me on the counter of a church basement were books I'd borrowed from my library and interlibrary loans. How did I read every book in the Trixie Belden series? They were in my library. AVI, Maurice Sendak, Janet Lunn, Arnold Loebel, Lucy Maud Montgomery? Writers I met at my hometown library. Choose Your Own Adventure books? Yep. Anne of Green Gables series? Yep. Sweet Dreams Romance series? Yep. Truncated versions of Edgar Allen Poe stories? Yep! The turning wire racks of my library. Where did I watch my mother become interested in genealogy and crouch over wooden tables tracing her family from here to there? Same library.

Could I go on? Yes. From mythology to mysteries to Stephen King and back. Records, computers, videos. Cassette tapes with picture books in plastic bags. Magazines. Books for sale in the entrance (paperbacks 10 cents/hardbacks 20 cents).

Where did I learn about Contestoga wagons and daring girls who dressed as boys to seek their adventures? Where did I learn to read? To find items in Richard Scarry books? To shelve books and file library cards? Those summers I volunteered in fifth and sixth grades at the library.

Why am a writer?
The library.

(I'm starting to feel a bit like the Cowardly Lion's song regarding Courage. Where did I find what courage I did have? THE LIBRARY.)

So you now might more wholly imagine how very pleased I am to announce that amidst visiting home for the first time in nearly a decade, I'll be spending the afternoon at the very library where I grew up. I'll be reading from my newest collection of stories The Whole World at Once, followed by a discussion.

The event is free and open to the public, and of course, you're invited.

April 7th, 2018
1 PM
Casey Township Library

Facebook event details here:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Erin Pringle on L.A. Talk Radio's The Writer's Block

Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with Bobbi Jean Bell, Richard Paolinelli, and Jim Christina, on The Writer's Block. We talked about the contrasts among darkness, silence, and beauty; if I ever experience writer's block; expression; why most all my characters move through the stories without names; and more.

It's a great discussion, with serious moments marked with the laughter that allows real human conversation to happen.

Thanks to everyone at The Writer's Block for having me, delving into The Whole World at Once, and the good thoughts shared on, and sparked from, this episode.

You can listen to the episode here:

The Writer's Block is a weekly discussion about books with writers, and airs every Wednesday at 7 PM (PST). You can tune in on your radios in L.A. or stream live via this link:

If you caught the episode live last night, let me know. :)
And if you stream it now, let me know, too.