Normal service is being resumed on Friday Night Drinks this week and I am delighted to be welcoming to the blog, author… Nancy Stohlman.
Nancy, lovely to virtually ‘meet’ you and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Tonight I’m drinking a Maker’s Mark—neat. But later I might switch to a nice white wine.
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I’m a big fan of an outdoor patio with a view. But since it’s still a little chilly in April, one of the places I love to take people is an indoor cocktail lounge, Peaks Lounge, on the top of the Hyatt in downtown Denver. There is an absolutely incredible view of downtown as well as the entire Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. And if we time it right: we can watch the sunset. Cheers!
That place looks amazing, I’d love to join you there for a drink. I’ve always wanted to visit Denver. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Oh gosh—such pressure! Well, we would certainly want our drinking friends to be smart, great conversationalists, as well as unique from each other. I’m thinking we invite Margaret Atwood and Snoop Dogg.
That would make a great mix I think. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
Well, tonight we are celebrating the re-release of my book Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction as an audiobook! (cheers and clinks!) This is the first time I’ve narrated an audiobook, and it was a wonderful experience! We recorded the entire book in ONE day in the studio (crazy! whew!) and I just love the result for multiple reasons: not only am I thrilled that the book is in the world in a new format, but I really appreciate the accessibility that audiobooks offer to new audiences. The print book got such a wonderful response when it was released in 2020 (yes, THAT 2020!) that I’m excited to extend its reach and widen our flash fiction community.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Proudest moment: Every time I release a new book it’s like birthing a new artistic child into the world—so it’s hard to pick favorites. But I was especially proud when Going Short won the Readers View Gold Award—it confirmed that the message was actually reaching its audience. Writers work so much in isolation–we spend so much time in our own heads–that getting a nod of outward recognition was extremely validating.
Oh: and I was really proud of this book trailer (I made it myself!)
Biggest challenge: When you finish a book there is always that no-man’s land between projects where you wonder if you will ever have another good idea again! Seriously, this happens every time. But, after publishing many books, I’ve come to trust it as part of the process, and I even try to psyche myself up for it: just relax and don’t fight it! Going fallow, especially after a big project, is just one of the stages of re-flowering (to use a spring metaphor).
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I think every writer dreams of the day when they can write full time—when their body of work is self-sustaining. I think it takes a long time, but I believe it’s possible, and every year it feels a little bit closer. Thankfully, writers only get better with age—so I’ve got time!
What do you have planned that you are really excited about?
I run a lot of awesome, amazing writing retreats (more on that below) and I’ve dealt with a lot of writers experiencing creative burnout. Creative burnout is different than regular burnout because the work of creativity, which is visionary work, requires a certain type of focus. We can’t “push through” creative work.
In fact, I’ve become so passionate that I’m declaring next week I’m offering a FREE 5-day challenge FREE 5-Day Reversing Creative Burnout Challenge: From Burnout to Breakthrough: 5 Days to Get (or Keep) Your Creativity on Track: April 4-8, 2022
Learn more and register at: https://nancystohlman.com/
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Travel and writing are my two favorite things! As I said earlier, I run writing retreats for emerging or experienced writers in exotic, rustic, gorgeous, inspiring locations. With my co-facilitator, Kathy Fish, I’ve taken writers to Iceland, France, Italy, Costa Rica, and we have two exciting retreats planned for this summer! In June we are heading into the hills of southern Spain, for a week of creative breakthroughs, and in August we will gather in the Rocky Mountains overlooking Grand Lake for some high-altitude inspiration. We have a few spots left in each—you should absolutely join us!
Open Your Heart/Open Your Art:
High Altitude Inspiration in the Mountains of
Colorado and Spain
August 9-14 and August 16-21
To learn more or register: https://mailchi.mp/816443ccf0e8/summerretreats
And at the top of my bucket list right now: Egypt and Cuba. (And yes—I’m trying to figure out how to have retreats there, too!)
I’d love to go to a writing retreat in the Rockies – if only! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I spent three years living in a van and traveling with the Renaissance Festival. I have MANY stories, and I’ve been lucky enough to see just about every corner of this beautiful country. Talk about love of traveling!
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Books are a passion we share, of course! And Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction is a “must read” and here’s why: Going Short is about creativity, not just flash fiction. I’ve had non-writers (musicians, painters) tell me that the book speaks to their processes as well. Creativity is creativity. Yes, it’s a book about writing and flash fiction (so if you don’t know what flash fiction is, this is the book for you!) but its really a book about being a revolutionary creator. And the world needs visionary people to do their thing more than ever, now. Being blocked or burned out is not serving you, and it’s not serving your purpose to the world. We need you to shine-now more than ever.
Flash fiction is changing the way we tell stories. Carving away the excess, eliminating all but the most essential, flash fiction is putting the story through a literary dehydrator, leaving the meat without the fat. And it only looks easy.
Enter Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction. In this, her treatise on the form, veteran writer Nancy Stohlman takes us on a flash fiction journey: from creating, sculpting, revisioning and collecting stories to best practices for writers in any genre. It is both instructive and conversational, witty and practical, and presented in flash fiction chapters that demonstrate the form as they discuss it. If you’re already a flash fiction lover, this book will be a dose of inspiration. If you teach flash fiction, you’ll want it as part of your repertoire. And if you’re new to the form, you might just find yourself ready to begin.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Ha. Well, I know it’s only 9 pm, but it’s my bedtime!
No really, my new favorite healthy drink to avoid hangovers AND dehydration is…drumroll… hot water. Not hot tea, just hot water–all day long. It’s like drinking water but better. And the best part is, unlike coffee or tea, if I forget to drink it and it goes cold, I can just pour it into a plant.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
My favorite gift to myself is to have an artist date where I give myself big chunks of open time for creative play: take myself to a museum, write in a café with a latte and a croissant, go for a long walk while I take artsy pictures, maybe go vintage shop exploring, and of course end my evening watching the sun set with a cocktail.
Nancy, thank you for joining me tonight, I’ve loved chatting to you, it has been fascinating.
Nancy’s non-fiction treatise on flat fiction, Going Short: An invitation to Flash Fiction is out now in paperback, ebook and audiobook formats and is available here.
Nancy Stohlman is an award-winning author, performer, and all-around rabble-rouser. Her book Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (2020), won a 2021 Reader Views Gold Award and was re-released as an audiobook in 2022. Her other books include After the Rapture, (forthcoming 2023), Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities (2018), and The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (2014), among others. Her work has been anthologized widely, appearing in the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and The Best Small Fictions 2019, as well as adapted for both the stage and screen. She teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder and around the world.
Connect with Nancy:
My website: https://nancystohlman.com/
Facebook: Nancy Stohlman