and all the ships at sea

I wanted to share an interesting email I received last week from a reader:

I’m a Marine stationed over at Camp Pendleton in California. While I was on deployment, I found The Year Of Fog in the small ship library…I was a part of an expeditionary unit sitting off the coast of Burma last year after their country was ravaged by a natural disaster. I mean this in the greatest sincerity when I say that reading and finishing your story was truly all I looked forward to the 2 months I spent sitting on a ship, counting the days until I could come home. I’m not sure what it was, but I found myself very sympathetic and attached to the main character. I almost wish the story hadn’t ended. Or at least had ended the way I was expecting. Again, thank you for your story.

(more…)

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My Year of Questions

Please visit and bookmark my new blog, My Year of Questions

As the mother of a six-year-old boy, my days, more often than not, begin with questions. Our son has a habit of bounding into our bed around six each morning and awakening us with something like this: “Who would win in a fight–Batman or the Incredible Hulk? Which is beautifuler–a sunset or a rainbow?”

Many of his questions begin with why: “Why haven’t scientists figured out how to turn sand into time? Why do kids sometimes act like your friend and sometimes growl at you? Why do I go to school to learn, because teachers are grown-ups, and the grown-ups already forgot what they knew when they were little?” (more…)

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Which would you choose?

I recently came across an interesting exercise, in which you are asked to read a paragraph about two very different sorts of lives, and choose which one you would prefer to live. Choice one: the world adores you and bows to you, and all is beautiful, comfortable, and glorious…with a catch. In the other, you live the very life you are leading now. Go ahead, read the choices, and answer any or all of the questions below. And please share some of your more surprising or personally illuminating responses in the comments section!

Have I already made this choice? Many times? Have I ever awakened from a wonderful dream and somewhat reluctantly entered the “real world?”

Have I ever had a dream that I would re-enter forever? What is it about “real life” that competes so easily with dream worlds which have their wonderfully intense emotions and activities? What can I do to be more aware of this value I place upon my “real life?”

How is my childhood now like a dream I have had? Would I re-enter and relive my childhood?

What pleasures of life have now passed “forever” and are now something “outgrown?” My childhood toys? My youthful desires? My adult plans? Which of these are now like dreams I have had but do not need to re-run? What parts of my life right now are transitioning into “old news” that no longer is alluring?

How do I spot the future towards which my present life is pointing? What can I do to make the transitions easier?

How does ordinary life normally “process” my “desire sets?” What is it about the passage of time that transmutes and/or extinguishes desires?

After I die will any part of my life escape this “dreamification” process? What will I look back on that I will want to re-enter? Will I be “finished with desires” when I die?

How do I know the “evolutionary” value of “getting rid of a desire?” What do I gain from doing so?

How do I embrace “me now” when I know it will one day be “that old me?”

How am I always like a child?

How is my future wrought from my innocence?

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Would you read a story on your iphone?

I don’t have a Kindle yet, or a Nook, or an ipad. But I do have an iphone, on which I occasionally read short sections of books while waiting in the security line at the airport. Although I’ll never, ever give up ink-and-paper books, I can imagine a kind of reading schizophrenia, wherein I read certain types of content the old-fashioned way, while enjoying some fiction electronically. I think one of the best uses for e-book technology is the short fiction form. New self-publishing platforms are a terrific way to introduce readers to an author’s out-of-print work, or to feature work that is available only in an old issue of a hard-to-find literary magazine. I often receive inquiries from readers who want to know where they can find a story of mine that they read about online–the most frequent request is for “An Exciting New Career in Medicine,” which appeared in Playboy some years ago. I always encourage them to try to hunt down a back issue–but wouldn’t it be nice if the works were easily available?

So I’m conducting my own experiment, and have just published a short story, “The Great Amphibian,” on scribd.com, which has been getting a lot of attention lately as an effective publishing platform for writers who are trying to get their work out into the world for the first time. But websites like scribd.com and smashwords.com also stand to make a big impact on established authors with a hard-to-find backlist of short works. “The Great Amphibian,” which is available for free on Scribd, won the 2006 Mississippi Review fiction prize and appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of that journal. It was also anthologized in Don Noble’s “A State of Laughter.”

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Thank you, Sarah Broadhurst!

Today from The Daily Mail, to mark the British publication of The Year of Fog:

In just two novels (No One you Know was the first), Michelle Richmond has established herself as mistress of the kind of literary mystery which packs the punch of a fine thriller but with added insight and wisdom…Mesmerising and harrowing, this is not just a story about a missing child but about faith, the function of memory and the way life can completely turn around in an instant.

Plus Sarah Broadhurst’s review of The Year of Fog.

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