April writing workshops and…


It is now springtime 2016 in the Pacific Northwest. The birds are chirping, the trees are blooming…and the militias have gone home.


The level of ignorance we have all become accustomed to putting up with makes me want to hide under a rock.

Connected to neither birds, nor trees, nor ahistorical misinterpretations of states rights, I will be teaching two writing workshops. One will be in Seattle and one will be in Portland and they are both in April. The first one is in Seattle at Hugo House on April 9th and 10th and we will be talking about creating new worlds. Click this link for information: https://hugohouse.org/store/class/new-worlds-vanessa-veselka/


planets being born, very hopeful

The second workshop is April 23rd and 24th in Portland. I am very excited to be co-teaching with my lit sister, Lidia Yuknavitch.

Our workshop is on…Cash and Class and writing America. It will fill quickly so don’t procrastinate if you’re interested. There are scholarships available. Sign up or read more about it here: http://www.corporealwriting.com/in-partnership-with/

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

Yes, there is  too a class system in America….

More in summer, when all things will be different again. Including the layout of this page, my mind, and the world.

An end of the year account—Tlingit and D&D and porn and art and novels and upcoming classes…

And so I spent much of last year on this very long essay…

sapling graphic

Click the picture if you want to know more.

It is about many things—my father’s adoption into the Kiks.ádi Tlingit, Russian circumnavigation and the 1804 Battle of Sitka, who owns a story and the desire to belong. While it doesn’t have bombs or serial killers or porn stars, I hope it finds readers. The Atavist was kind enough to give it a home (https://atavist.com/stories/the-fort-of-young-saplings/) and for $3.99 you can keep them from regretting that decisions. You will also then have your own copy with the artwork, soundscapes, and pop-ups on pronunciation and the Tlingit language. Genres were interfered with; the Chicago Manual of Style’s recommendations on diacritics willfully cast aside. It was dark fun.

Everything looks better in black and white.

Everything looks better in black and white.

However, if you really do prefer more traditionally racy subjects (also with battles), here is a link  to my essay The Best Monster, which appeared in Medium (https://medium.com/matter/the-best-monster-38461c5cbbf1). It’s about the artist Zak Smith aka Zak Sabbath as well as D&D, art, porn, death and…



This is Zak.

This is Zak.

This is Zak's new D&D book (as opposed to his art books and memoir) and it's called A Red and Pleasant Land. Click image to learn more.

This is Zak’s new D&D book (as opposed to his art books and memoir). It’s called A Red and Pleasant Land. The artwork is gorgeous, by which I mean varied, imaginative, and masterful.Click image to learn more.

If you want to read more about how Zak sees the world, his memoir We Did Porn is wonderful. You can get it from Tin House Books.

Click image to go direct to Tin House Books.

Click image to go direct to Tin House Books.

What else? TEACHING. Yes. I will be teaching a five week class on short fiction at the Attic (in Portland) this winter so if you’re in town and want to join, details here: http://atticinstitute.com/node/1939

This will be me January 29th - Feb 26th.

This will be me January 29th – Feb 26th.

Now I’m back to my novel, out to sea, like I like it. If you don’t hear from me I probably ran into trouble.


The Tin House Summer Workshop, readings, writings, detritus…

A long and overdue (if brief) update…

I am pleased to say that I have the privilege of teaching at the 2014 Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop this week. There are so many remarkable poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, readings, panels–if you are in Portland and want to know the details of events, click the image below.

Click image for more info about reading and panels

Click image for more info about reading and panels

I will be reading this Sunday evening with Lacy Johnson, Peter Mountford, and Bianca Stone at the Cerf Amphitheater on the Reed Campus. Starts at 8pm and goes fast–best to be on time for the sunset.800px-Cerf_Amphitheatre-1,_Reed_College

I have been spending recent months in various projects, writing about Tlingits and Russians and Battles of the early 1800s…MMyersBattle…because you can’t just believe everything you read that’s written by dead, old, white men, though they did have a habit of sketching forts with some accuracy…300px-Lisianski_Sapling_Fort_Sketch_1804                                                                     …they don’t always win just because they say they do…Robe

…And I’ve been writing about painters and porn and dungeons & dragons and death, and even got to roll up a thoroughly mediocre character with lousy hit points and play with the world’s best GM in the old school way that I like best…


More to come on all fronts. Happy summer, happy fall.

Tall Ships, Best American Essays, Readings, Isis…

My essay “The Truck Stop Killer,” which originally appeared in GQ, has been included in this year’s Best American Essays (under its original title “Highway of Lost Girls”) and my deepest gratitude goes to editors Cheryl Strayed and Robert Atwan for thinking of me, as well as to my editors at GQ, Donovan Hohn and Michael Benoist.

Available from all your fine independent booksellers

Available from all your fine independent booksellers

When I look back in my dotage I expect being included in BAE will remain forever, a highlight.

I'm thinking about BAE

I’m thinking about Best American Essays

If you wish to hear me read (and live in any of these places), here are my October and November dates:

Monday Oct 14th Brooklyn, New York – Franklin Park Reading Series w/ Susan Steinberg,Laura van den Berg, Vanessa Veselka, Karolina Waclawiak, T Kira Madden. 618 St. Johns Place, between Franklin and Classon Avenues, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11238 https://www.facebook.com/events/706547862708337/

Tuesday Oct 29th Portland, Oregon – w/ Cheryl Strayed, Kevin Sampsell, and Brian Doyle. 7pm @ Cedar Hills Powells   3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.  Beaverton, OR 97005 http://www.powells.com/calendar/

Then I will go to Europe

Then I will go to Europe and read for the first time, the reading there not the going there.


Nov 15  Enschede, Nederlands / Crossing Border Festival http://crossingborder.nl/?lang=en

Nov 16 Den Haag, Nederlands / Crossing Border Festival http://crossingborder.nl/?lang=en

Nov 17 Antwerpen, Belgium/ Crossing Border Festival http://crossingborder.nl/?lang=en

Nov 21 Paris, France @ Charbyde http://www.charybde.fr/pages/events


And now for the super important stuff. Tall ships! In August, I was fortunate enough to spend time training on the Brig Niagara. She is a remarkable ship and it was my great honor to learn from her crew. Someday I hope to become a marginally useful deckhand. I am not one yet. In the meantime, pictures.


This is a shot of the fighting top and cross trees. So many lines, I ran around lost a lot. At the top you can see the “Don’t Give Up the Ship” flag. What I like about this photo is that all you can see is “Don’t,” which seems to me to be a more effective warding.

niagara fighting top

And just because it so beautiful, here’s another with the shrouds clearly to the fore and the cross trees also visible.

niagara mast

Here is an old picture of my pal Dan slaving away like a bro in his 20s. There is a lot of heaving and many ways to ease–better, handsomely, sharply.

niagrara pink sail


dan slaveryFinally, these are photos I took on an incredible night of sailing. This was just after a huge reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie for its bicentennial. We had just let off everyone but crew and the Captain decided to sail through the night without stopping. I’m so glad he did because it was one of the most beautiful nights I’ve ever seen. These pictures are not doctored or filtered. They were taken with my old phone the second I was relieved on helm and, for once, seem to capture the actual beauty of the sky and moment. niagrara pink sail

Niagara bow

I leave you with this random thought: the Egyptians were historically lame sailors but they had other things going for them. Like Isis! Here she is having incarnated into a nervous actress with no experience who landed the part because she was best friend of the producer’s daughter and magically initiated 7-10 year old girls all over the country into the mysteries of flight.


O’ Zephyr Winds That Blow on High, Lift Me Now So I May Fly

Here’s where I’ll be at AWP

A utilitarian post at best but…I will be at AWP for about 36 hours if you want to track me down:   Friday eve at AWP Heat: The Fire Inside (assuming my plane lands on time)

This is meant to be figurative

This is meant to be figurative (click on pic for event details)

And….Saturday I will participate in a panel at the Hynes Convention Center (think stellar ambiance) on putting out your first book– an author/publisher perspective. It will be held from 10:30-11:45 in room #210 and should be lively.

This is how you end up in a universe across the galaxy

This is how you end up in a universe across the galaxy

And…                                                                                                                                                        Sat eve I will be reading in Cambridge at the Literary Firsts Series

I am told Boston is close to Cambridge (click on pic for more details of event)

I am told Boston is close to Cambridge (click on pic for more details of event)


That is all.

Yes, the rumors are true. Good news, yes! No, I’m not pregnant. Too old, but…

I am proud to announce that my next novel (when complete) will go to Riverhead Books where I will get to work with the fabulous editor, Megan Lynch.

I am humbled by their amazing authorshttp://www.riverheadbooks.com/

Where else can you find the work of George Saunders, the Dalai Lama, Nami Mun, Jon Ronson, Junot Diaz, and more?

I have been spoiled by good editors and publishers, an embarrassment of riches, and I want to thank Richard Nash and Red Lemonade from the bottom of my heart for giving me a career.

more amazing writers and a great home to come from

more amazing writers and also a great home


So when someone asks, “What’s your new novel about?” I say nothing. I don’t like to talk about work not yet complete. BUT I can tell you this. I have been fortunate enough to work with talented editors and am thrilled to get to work with Megan Lynch. It will be some time before I am done but I love where I’m at in the new novel.  Riverhead has shown stunning confidence in me and I hope to return the favor.  All will be well; all will be good.

I love you, man!(click pic for great Forbes interview on his work with Small Demons)

I love you, man!
(click pic for great Forbes interview on his work with Small Demons)

Readings, podcasts, and the onset of relative Internet silence…

This has been a remarkable year for me, one of the best. I have gotten to travel and read and hold forth on a variety of subjects. I have done chapbooks with Lidia Yuknavitch, met many wonderful writers and editors, gotten check from Condé Nast, and won a PEN award. I honestly doubt I’ll see another year like this one. Thank you all.

I'm the satisfied Moravian in the middle.

I’m the satisfied Moravian in the middle.


…..And now it is time for me to turn the Internet way down and write more…..


My new home (psychically speaking)

My new home (psychically speaking)

Starting on February 1st I will be hiding out, taking a break from blogs and interviews and trying to ignore Facebook the best I can. If you write me and I’m slow to respond, this is why.  It’s not personal. I will still post upcoming events, but perhaps more perfunctorily. This is not out of a lack of gratitude, but rather from a need for internal quiet while I write this next novel. Over time, news will come up and I will put it up here. In fact, some is coming soon.

But for now, here are my readings, podcasts, and events through April.

Tuesday, January 22nd at 7pm EST/ 4pm PST  I will be doing a live podcast for The Author’s guild with Pauls Toutonghi. Pauls will interview me about Zazen and then two weeks later on Monday, Feb 4th I will interview him about Evel Knievel Days. You can click on the link below and sign up if you want to join the conversation.

click for magic link to Booktalk Nation

click for magic link to Booktalk Nation


Saturday, February 23rd   I will read in Portland @ Burnt Tongue 3  — Showtime 5-8pm (door at 4:30) @CRUSH BAR
1400 SE Morrison Street Portland OR   — $5 Suggested gift donation

March 8-10th I will be at AWP in Boston, Massachusetts.

Saturday, March 9th …I am on a panel at AWP called: “The Business of Publishing Your First Novel: Author and Publisher Perspectives.”
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Location: Room 210, Hynes Convention Center

ALSO Saturday, March 9th I read at Literary Firsts in Cambridge, MA  –show runs from 5:30-8pm and will be at Middlesex Lounge near Central Square.  That’s it!

I aim for this in my own way

I aim for this in my own way