Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Is there gas in the car?"

"Yes, there's gas in the car."

Name the artist of the above lyrics along with the location of this photo, and I will send you a random thing I pull from my desk drawer. (I've got good stuff in there.) 

Summer reading

Very much appreciate these kind words from in NUVO about my forthcoming chapbook, The Story I Tell Myself About Myself. It'll be out in August -- details on preorders coming soon. (What company to be in...Michael Martone, Adrian Matejka, Jay Coles, Mitchell L.H. Douglas, Bru Baker, Ma'Desa Kinchlow, Missy Dehn Kubitschek, Justin Lehmiller, & Meri Henriques Vahl.) Thanks, Dan Grossman and Laura McPhee, for getting the word out about new words out in the world.

"The follow-up to her debut novel Trip Through Your Wires (2015), this time Layden gives readers a collection of unforgettable and superb flash fiction. The 15 stories are as short as one page and as long as four or five, but each one is so superbly written and expertly crafted that they feel richer and more complex than most full-length novels. From Mary, who “stands in boots not meant for church,” to the woman who was a house (not as big as a house, but an actual house), each character takes shape immediately in Layden’s prose and then disappears almost as quickly. Slippery, secretive, and sensual, Layden’s short fiction is simply magical."

Friday, January 5, 2018

Forthcoming Chapbook

Very excited to share that my flash fiction chapbook, THE STORY I TELL MYSELF ABOUT MYSELF, was selected as the winner of The Sonder Press 2017 Chapbook Competition:

It will be out in July. Very much looking forward to this. And now that my spring syllabi are DONE and loaded onto the class apparatus, I'm celebrating with some middle-aged fun times: chiropractor visit and a trip to IKEA. And maybe a late-day coffee, because I live on the edge.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wishful Thinking: The U2 Edition

I'm going to see The Joshua Tree tour. Twice. Which I have never done before, for any band, ever. Anybody know anybody at MetLife/Meadowlands for 6/28, or Lucas Oil Stadium for 9/10, who might be able to help arrange the following scenario? Wishful thinking. Yes.

(Originally published June 22, 2015)

Tomorrow is a radio station promotion, U-Tuesday, in which WTTS FM 92.3 will give away tickets to see U2 in Chicago. You have to be the second caller at specified times throughout the day to win two tickets. If I win*, I'll take my husband; the show is the day before our anniversary. Best wife ever!

Maybe you didn't know that my debut novel, TRIP THROUGH YOUR WIRES, takes its title from a U2 song on The Joshua Tree album. Maybe you didn't know that I saw U2 in Chicago in 1992, with the Pixies as opening act, at the Rosemont Horizon. Maybe you didn't know that I'm the Queen of Wishful Thinking.

But what IS certain is an imaginary scenario I've played out in my head. Tomorrow, at one of the specified times, I will call the radio station. I will not be the second caller, not on the first couple tries. Wishful Thinking is best rewarded after obstacles, so let's build the drama and say it takes until the last hour of the day, the last giveaway, for me to reach one of the DJs as the second caller. On the line: Paul Mendenhall or Laura Duncan or Brad Holtz. I have been listening to these three for ages! It's like they know me! Except they don't know me. But this is Wishful Thinking, in which case we'd probably chat for a moment about our impeccable taste in music.

In Chicago, at the United Center, a friend's brother's cousin's co-worker will connect us to the facility manager, who leads us backstage for a casual conversation with the band. I give them a copy of my novel. We chat briefly, because world leaders are also backstage wanting to discuss politics with Bono.

"You've written a book about us?" Bono asks.

"No, no, I've just always loved the song 'Trip Through Your Wires', and your music has meant so much to me over the years," I say, "as you can see from one of my early-90s mix tapes."

Bono tosses the mix to his assistant, who pops it into a cassette Walkman he keeps handy for this purpose. The assistant immediately begins rocking out.

"Once you read the novel, the connections to the title will make sense," I tell him. "It's more metaphoric than literal."

"Right on," he says. "Good thing titles aren't copyrighted, love."

"Ha ha, yes," my husband says. "This work is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by U2. It is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. The last thing we want is U2's legal team on our A-S-S."

The Edge looks over. "We can spell, mate."

We both shrug. "We have small children."

Everyone laughs, sitcom-style, but with awareness/appreciation/mockery of that style.

"Gorgeous cover," the band murmurs as One.

I tell them about the beautiful books my publisher, Engine Books, makes. We're both based in Indianapolis.  

"And you came all this way to see us on a work night?" Larry Mullen Jr. asks. "Boy, you must be tired. Have a sandwich."

Adam Clayton passes a tray of artisanal breads and cheeses. We eat. Bono tucks the book in his bag to read later on the band's private jet. We will take pictures together in which my excitement causes me to look stiffly terrified, and none of the pictures will be usable for Facebook and Twitter posting, unless I want to go viral as Fan Terrified by U2 When She Was Actually Thrilled to Meet Them and Give Her Novel as a Gift.

Wishful Thinking turns complicated quickly, no? 

 My dialing finger is ready. It also helps to chant: Second caller second caller second caller. Not that I'm superstitious, or thinking magically. That would just be silly.

*Update: I didn't win. Still love all involved & caught beautiful vicarious snippets of yesterday's Chicago show through social media.

Vicariously yours,

Friday, January 13, 2017

Six lines in six minutes

1. Sometimes I begin writing by quoting song lyrics, like the ones in my head right now: Disarm you with a smile. I quit/I give up/Nothing's good enough for anybody else/It seems.

2. I'm listening to the audiobook of Lauren Graham's TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN, which advocates her mentor's "kitchen timer" method for writing, which reminds me that my beautiful bright orange French kitchen timer from Anthropologie (Treat.Yo. Self.) was broken not once but twice, now irreparably, by the 3 dudes in my house.*

3. It's way over six minutes, what with the asterisk paragraph below.

4. My children want to go to the store Five Below, which is a dollar store on a mild dose of steroids, and buy everything they see; consequently, we do not go to Five Below.

5. My new gym has a little free library.

6. If I get to half of the writing projects I'm thinking about this year, I will be really, really happy.

*Yeah, I know my phone has a timer, but when I'm writing (and other times, really), I want to throw my phone in the river. And my microwave has a timer. I would never throw it in the river. It's attached to the wall, for one thing. Yeah, I know I can buy another beautiful bright orange timer. But how much treating oneself can one actually manage?  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016