Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finding a Clearing

Lately. It's been so difficult to clear my head. To make way for new ideas. To find a clearing. And there are so many reasons for this. I've started teaching at a language institute again, which means my mind has to prepare itself for new classes, new people, new situations every single day. There doesn't seem to be any room for anything else, and yet there are so many other things I have to be thinking about.

My mind empties of all these "problems" best when I'm hiking. Walking up a mountain just seems to settle my random, nervous thoughts so that they all sit neatly in rows and do what they're supposed to do. They stop pulling me in different directions. They stop babbling. They hush. I like that.

I wish I were hiking right now. Here are a few pictures from my hike two weeks ago--my first hike of 2014 near Tegernsee just 40 minutes from my house. I'm taking all my random thoughts there right now.





How do you find a clearing?

I must be off,
Christopher

PS! I Must Be Off! is having its second annual travel essay contest. Deadline June 30, 2014. Read more HERE.

______________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Expat Author Interview -- Checking in with Paola Fornari

Author Paola Fornari
I'm honoured to host Paola Fornari this week. What an incredible story she shares with the world.

You certainly remember Paola's other posts at I Must Be Off!; but if they've slipped your mind, links are provided at the bottom. 

These are her answers to the Writing Process Blog Tour Questionnaire: 

_____________________________________

What are you working on? 

Paola Fornari: My first book! 

Entitled Joyriding in Dhaka, it's an often humorous, often serious account of how this particular expat made the most of her three and a half years in the 'world's second-least livable city' (actually, it has risen to that status this year from 'least livable' last year). 

It's a series of about a hundred snapshots of my life here in Bangladesh: my escapades to slums, villages, beauty parlours, student residences, markets, projects, religious and cultural festivals, where I meet fascinating people (for example, a local journalist, a single father handyman struggling with family issues, the daughter of a murdered army general, a man who was separated from his family during the 1971 Liberation War and adopted by a wealthy family in the Netherlands, a Chinese masseuse...). 

Women of Dhaka
Several stories touch on important local issues such as early marriage, low wages, oppression of minorities, child labour, and dowry violence. Others are lighter: a fishing trip, a visit to a sari factory, Rest and Recreation breaks in neighbouring countries. These are set against a backdrop of a country in turmoil (factory fires, the Rana Plaza building collapse, violence, general strikes, a hanging, turbulent elections). 

At the end of the book, the reader should have a real feel for Bangladesh and its recent history. As my story progresses, I get to know my host country as intimately as an expat can in the limited time I have, exploring every corner, and becoming increasingly aware of the quirkiness and potential disasters surrounding me. 

How does your work differ from other work of its genre?

Paola Fornari: Hmm, now what genre does 'Joyriding' fall into? A memoir? A travel book? 

It is different from the Year in Provence-type book in a) I am a far less experienced writer than Peter Mayle, b) it's more far-reaching in its scope, and c) Bangladesh isn't Provence. 

It differs from other books written by 'trailing diplomatic spouses' (Brigid Keenan's Diplomatic Baggage, Cherry Denman's Diplomatic Incidents) in that it doesn't touch on diplomatic life: it's not about my experiences as an ambassador's wife, but about my experiences as a curious individual. 

Slum Kids
Why do you write what you do?

Paola Fornari: I have learnt so much in my time in Bangladesh. Not many travellers have the opportunity to get to know a country in depth. In fact, I believe that few expats get to see and experience as much as I do. 

In my time here I have developed an awareness of the people and issues surrounding me, and I want to share them. 

As far as I know, there isn't another book like this about Bangladesh, and it needs to be written. 

Tea Garden Workers
How does your writing process work?

Paola Fornari: I write my 'Banglablog' as soon as I can after I experience a new 'story', filling it with photos. For example, I am writing the answers to these questions on the return trip from a visit to the tea gardens in the north-east of Bangladesh. I will write the story of the exploitation of tea workers tomorrow. It will be packed with photos. How many people out there are aware of the plight of thousands of tea workers who in practice live the lives of indentured slaves?

The 'Banglablog', which is open only to invitees, is fodder for my book. (By the way, if anyone reading this wants to be invited to view my blog, please let me know!) 

I rarely write after 5 p.m. Writing  makes me a little 'high' and I find it hard to settle my mind afterwards. I wake up very early in the morning, around five a.m., and sort through photos, write up a new story, or if I don't have one, I edit. 

I have almost finished the second draft of 'Joyriding'...I hope I have aroused your interest enough for you to buy it when it is published! 

IMBO: You've captivated me, Paola! I'll be right there when it comes out, and I Must Be Off! will as well.

I Must Be Off!
Christopher

Links to other IMBO posts with Paola Fornari:

Expat Author Interview with Paola Fornari
Inside Bangladesh with Paola Fornari

________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Sara Lippmann's Doll Palace due out in September!
I'm it! I've been tagged by writer Sara Lippmann, whose collection of short stories Doll Palace is coming out in September this year! Sara is also a co-host of The Sunday Salon in NYC, founded by Nita Noveno. Sara Lippmann rocks.

Here are my answers to the Writing Process Blog Tour questionnaire--which I'll be passing along to three writers--Frank Hinton, Bud Smith and Paola Fornari Hanna. 

What am I working on? 

I'm working on a few things right now--short stories mainly, but I'm also working on a novel, which--shhhh--I can't talk too much about. I'm protective of it, afraid to reveal too much of the plot. I can say, though, that it's a story about culpability, about the American family and the American family of God.

I'm also working on lots of short stories. The one I'm working on right now is called "Box of Nazi" and promises to be exceptionally weird.

As a short story writer, I'm always arranging and re-arranging stories for potential collections. I'm also starting to think about how to create a collection of humorous travel stories called--surprise surprise--I Must Be Off! based of course on this blog, which I update regularly.

I write book reviews, so I'm working on those. I'm starting to get a tummy, so I'm working on getting rid of that. My review of Dan Powell's Looking Out of Broken Windows is at The Lit Pub now.


How does my work differ from other work of its genre? 

Maybe the difference is that my work isn't as good? I don't know. It's a difficult question. There are so many people writing these days. I hope my work is unique in some ways--in terms of humor and form maybe--but this might be an ill-informed hope. Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), which I published in 2012, definitely plays with form, and some people have told me they laughed. Some wet their pants; some spit their coffee on their rowmate on a plane. Some snickered politely. Some got angry with me. Some bought it and never read it--but they bought it and that's the important thing.

In terms of genre, I'm all over the board. I play the field. I'm promiscuous. I'm a multiple personality. So it's really difficult to talk about my work in one genre.


Why do I write what I do? 

I recently answered this question for Mike Young at Literary Orphans, so I guess I need to say the same thing.

Is it weird to say characters attack me? Not like ideas that come and go, not like ideas you have in the morning and forget by the evening. These characters and their stories set up shop in my head; I guess that's why I write what I do. I think this is quite normal for writers, so not weird, right? In the immortal words of Sheldon Cooper, "I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested."

How does my writing process work?

Intermittently. As I say above, stories need to live--to persist--for a while inside me before I write them down. Some of my characters need a long, long time to figure their stories out. I might think about a story for months before I start writing. All sorts of digestive metaphors come to mind, but I think gestation is more like it.

I write best early in the morning, but lately I haven't had the energy to get up early. Life changes have affected my rhythm. I need to get back to my routine of writing at 4:00 a.m. And now it's after 9:00 in the evening now, so my bed is calling.

I must be off,
Christopher

Continue the Writing Process Blog Tour with Bud Smith, Paola Fornari or Frank Hinton.

____________________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Announcing The Second Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest

Last year we had a lot of great entries. Some stories were stirring accounts of trips abroad; others were informative, anecdotal or humorous--or all the above. Regardless of how you interpret the idea "travel essay," your entry should give your reader a strong sense of place. I Must Be Off! welcomes entries in English from all over the world. See full guidelines below.

Travel Writer Robin Graham
This year's judge is travel writer and photographer Robin Graham. In addition to writing his blog a lot of wind..., Graham has also published dozens of travel stories and articles, mostly about Spain.

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The Guidelines:
  • Maximum 1200 words
  • Edited to the best of your ability for spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Up to three photos may be submitted with your entry (photos NOT necessary to win, but pretty)
  • Previously unpublished work only! Blog posts are considered published.
  • No entry fee. Yes, that's right. But may we suggest that you join the site and encourage your 5000 Facebook friends to do the same? (Also NOT necessary to win, but very pretty!)
  • Open to anyone worldwide, but you need a PayPal account
  • Entries must be in English
  • One entry per person
  • Deadline for submissions: June 30, 2014  [CLOSED]
  • Send entries with a 50-word bio to christopher.imustbeoff@googlemail.com with the heading TRAVEL ESSAY CONTEST. All entries will be read blind by this year's judge, travel writer Robin Graham. It is not necessary to delete identifying information. If your name is on your entry, it will be removed.
  • Word doc, docx and rtf files only please. 
  •  Finalists and Winners announced July 31, 2014

The Prizes: 
  • The Top essays will be published at I Must Be Off!
  • Second place prize: $50
  • First place prize: $75
  • In addition to the above prizes, we've decided to add a Third place prize ($20) and a Readers' Choice Award ($50) based on unique hits and comments tallied on August 10. 

If you have any questions, please send an email to the address above. Happy writing to you all. I look forward to reading your work.

I must be off,
Christopher

___________________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, PANK, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Homeless in Seattle

Pike Place Market at dawn.
Maybe the first thing you notice about Seattle when you're walking the streets of downtown is that everyone is drinking coffee; the second thing you'll notice is that Seattle, while exciting and hip, also has a problem with homelessness. According to the research immediately available on the internet, it looks as if Seattle and King County have around 8000 homeless people, living in their cars, beneath underpasses, in the controversial "tent cities" that move every couple of months, in doorways and other places around the city.

The problem is so overwhelming that it even has a Facebook Page, with--oddly enough--over 8000 likes. It's an uplifting page devoted to encouraging people with seemingly insurmountable problems. And here's the thing: it could happen to any of us.

For the moment, I live in an affluent area, have the money to pay for my health insurance (which is incredibly expensive in Germany) and the occasional dinner out. I travel, as you know. My life is peaches and butterflies. There are birds tweeting pretty melodies outside my window because I can afford tons of birdseed. But don't think for a second I don't realize how this safe, warm life could change.

It was chilly on my early morning walks in Seattle. I couldn't sleep. I think I told you that. So I put on a few layers and went for walks at 5:00. I walked until the sun was up and the (exorbitantly expensive) grocery stores were open. Who can afford to buy food in the US anymore? Has food become a luxury item? After a two-hour walk, I was hungry. Really hungry. Was it Ralph's that was finally open? Whole Foods didn't open until 7:30. At Ralph's I browsed, looking for something gluten-free and filling for breakfast. There was an oatmeal cookie for $2.99. A cookie for three bucks! An apple for $1.50 would have been the cheapest snack, and I would have been hungrier after five minutes if I'd eaten it. There were salads for around $7, but they looked like yesterday's leftovers. I finally found rice cakes--I don't like them but they were the only gluten-free snack I saw on the shelves that might have been more nutritious than tortilla chips--but I put them back when I saw the price: $4.99. For rice cakes! OK, they were apple cinnamon--tasty, tasty--but still. I left the supermarket demonstratively hungry. A protest. A luxury. My hunger was a luxury, yet I'm so aware how quickly this could change.
Another picture of Pike Place Market--because I don't take pictures of people.

Before my trip to Seattle I decided I wouldn't splurge. I'd eat very little and drink almost nothing. My expanding middle would thank me when I got back to Munich. My life was relatively carefree when I booked the trip; but by the time I flew to Seattle, life had become tighter, less secure. In hindsight, it was a foolish--yet of course wonderful--thing to do with my money. I'm really thankful to the people who bought me lunch (you know who you are), and shared your cider (you know who you are too). You are sweet people.

When I arrived at the airport in Seattle, I was thrilled to discover the light rail costs only $2.75 for a single trip to downtown, and that my hotel was a short walk from the downtown station. On the day I left to fly back to Munich, I trotted down to the station at 5:00 a.m. because the receptionist at the hotel told me the first train ran at 5:15 a.m. When I got to the station, it was closed. There were several homeless men literally clinging to the metal mesh barrier for warmth. It was really chilly that morning. Shivering, one of the elderly men let me know--in an educated, articulate and fatherly voice--the first train on Sunday ran at 6:30. And just like that, my trip to the airport cost me $50 instead of $2.75.

That's how life can change. From one moment to the next. You think you have control, that you can squeak by, saving money here and there. But then something happens. You lose your job. Your health deteriorates and you have no insurance. You go--and I mean no disrespect--crazy. You lose control. You start shouting in the streets because you're fairly sure no one will notice you if you don't. You find yourself encircled by police. They're telling you you've broken some law. And you're shouting What the hell isn't broken? Everything's broken, and you weren't prepared for how fast it could happen. (I saw so many of these people, but you won't see pictures of them here. I don't take pictures of people in desperate situations.) 

Apparently Seattle and King County spend $46 million a year on solving the homelessness problem. I found this hard to believe, so I started reading about the projects in the area. Most of this money, if I'm not mistaken (research is not my forte), is put into the construction of housing. The issues are complicated and unfortunately political. There's squabbling about which organizations can do what. The city of Seattle closed down Operation Sack Lunch in 2012 because it was outdoors, the city claiming it would be better to have an indoor homeless feeding program. It's now 2014, and the city hasn't used any of its $46 million to create an indoor alternative (according to the information I've read, but let's hope it's inaccurate). Operation Sack Lunch, though, is still going strong! Here's a look at what they did in 2013:


Another organization doing a lot for the homeless in Seattle is the Downtown Emergency Service Center. Here's their mission statement:

"The Downtown Emergency Service Center works to end the homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental or addictive illnesses. Through partnerships and an integrated array of comprehensive services, treatment and housing, we give people the opportunity to reach their highest potential. At DESC, uncommon efforts produce uncommon results that eliminate homelessness, one person at a time." For more information about DESC, go HERE.

If you're from Seattle and know of other organizations working in this area, let me and my readers know in the comments. 

I must be off,
Christopher

PS: I Must Be Off! is hosting its second annual Travel Essay Contest! Go HERE to learn more. Deadline for entries June 30, 2014!

_______________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sleepless in the Saddle

The Space Needle on my walk at dawn...thanks to insomnia.
Yeah, just because it sounded good (read cornball), that title. Today I'm continuing my reflection on AWP (Association of Writers and Writers' Programs) conference in Seattle, where a reported 15,000 writers, publishers, editors and teachers of writing gathered to drink massive amounts of alcohol.

(Un)Fortunately, I didn't have the chance to drink that much until Friday night. I was kept sober by the fate of reading last at the Festival of Language on Wednesday evening. My liver thanks fate and the three people who decided to read 20 minutes when our limit was 5--especially the person--I'm going to call her Itsallaboutme--who took at least 5 minutes setting up her "background" music, which ended up being louder than she was as she droned on and on and on off stage for what seemed like a writer's damnation. And to you, dear Itsallaboutme, I wish you'd stuck around until the end of the reading, at which time I did indeed read a story about birds (not so private joke alert). OK, venting over.

So Seattle. Wow. What a cool town. What a nice town. Take the bus drivers. Well, take the bus driver who took us home from the "A Bang and a Smoke" reading/improv event on Thursday night (more tomorrow). A more entertaining ride I can't imagine. He sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

I have a seventh sense. Yes, a seventh: the sense that someone around you needs to sing. In this case it was the bus driver. So even though it wasn't exactly my birthday, I volunteered to be the birthday boy. Singing is so important. In Germany, there are big signs warning people "Nicht mit dem Fahrer reden während der Fahrt!!!" (no talking to the driver while he's driving). Here in Seattle, I think it's required. And fun. Actually, you're not only supposed to talk to the bus driver; you're also supposed to sing with him. Sweet man. All bus drivers should be like this person. Wait. No. All people should be like him.

Sara Lippmann's cool book cover at the AWP bookfair in Seattle!
With the exception of the inconsiderate Itsallaboutme, whom I didn't really meet anyway, I met so many sweet people in Seattle at AWP. I hugged Janey Smith. Well, he hugged me, and then I got lost in that hug. I think I might have disappeared for a few seconds into a world deep within Janey. All that to say: great hugger.

Sara Lippmann and I shared a drink and fries at a sports bar. That's right. We actually found a quiet table and had the best talk. And Sara has a book--Doll Palace--coming out in September, which I'll be talking about later this year. A lot.

I spent a lot of quality time with buddy Gay Degani. Great times, great sandwiches at the Honey Hole. Gay's book What Came Before is serialized at Every Day Novels, and it has just begun. If you like page-turning murder mysteries, go over here and start reading it. It will also be available soon in paper. I couldn't put this book down!

And then I met so many people whom I probably shouldn't mention by name on my blog for the sake of discretion and privacy: An incredible writer whose novellas I've reviewed, another person whose energy was so clear and positive that I just gave her a book (and then found out the next day that we both love Jincy Willett's writing), a writer from London whose book I can't wait to dig into, lots of indie/small press publishers, So many beautiful people. It goes without saying that writers are sexy.

Bill Yarrow was wonderful to record a lot of readings as always. Here's mine from the Festival of Language. Thank you, Jane Carman for organizing this event!




I must be off,
Christopher

PS: Thank you, IMBO readers, for slinging this blog over 520, 000 hits over the last few weeks! 

PPS: I Must Be Off! is hosting its second annual Travel Essay Contest! Go HERE to learn more. Deadline for entries June 30, 2014!
_______________________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sleepless in Seattle

An artist's rendering of Mount Rainier
Yes, a total cliché: like a picture of Mount Rainier when you come out of the elevator in the Roosevelt Hotel. But true. I've just returned from Seattle and now think I know why no one can sleep there. Coffee. Everyone has a cup of coffee in their hand. In Seattle you're either on your way to have coffee with someone, just been to coffee with someone, irritated because you haven't had your coffee yet, smiling because you've just had your coffee, talking about how this coffeeshop is much better than that coffeeshop, standing in a four-mile-long queue for your favorite coffee. Coffee.

The coffee in my hotel room was provided by Starbucks, which might have been wonderful if the creamer hadn't been provided by Coffeemate. Powder. Um: fail. Still, the guy at reception told me I could have as much as I wanted. He said wanted more like needed because this was, after all, Seattle.

In the five days I was in Seattle I probably slept four to six hours the entire time. I no longer need sleep. It's like fasting, I think. If you can get past the first few days, you're home. On Friday night, I stayed up talking to a writer friend, Bud Smith, until 4:00 a.m. in the lobby of the Westin hotel. I said to myself--because when you haven't slept in so long you do start talking to yourself-- "Christopher, you have to turn this can't sleep situation around. Can't sleep is weak; won't sleep is empowered." And so I decided I wouldn't sleep and felt empowered. Have you ever stayed up all night talking to Bud Smith? What did you talk about? Serious question. I'm still trying to remember what we talked about. We've both told people our talk was amazing, but I'd bet money neither of us knows what the hell we said. All those hours. I'd do it again in a heartbeat (but I'd record it: lesson learned). If Bud Smith tells you he has a backpack full of beer and cider and he's on his way, stay put. You won't regret it.

That was Friday night/Saturday morning, but I'd had three sleepless (in Seattle) nights before that. Facebook friends sent me messages promising to send me something boring to read; I promised to write something of my own that would be sufficiently, and numbingly, boring. Instead, I wrote several stories I found brilliant in the moment. I can't wait to dig into those journals to see what crap they are. We'll see.

I tried to sleep. I lay in bed, eyes closed, for what felt like hours. I rolled over and over and trained my poor aging eyes on the clock. Four whole minutes had passed, and I was miserable. I turned on the light, did a bit of yoga--because I remembered my first yoga class and the instructor waking me up and telling me she didn't allow snoring in her class. Yoga is so morbidly boring. But it didn't help in Seattle.

I read the free books I'd got at the book fair that day. I surfed. I FBed. Oddly, I didn't tweet. Sorry, Twitter. I talked to other writers who were also sleepless and also in Seattle (a coincidence?). I seriously suggested we meet up at 3:45 a.m., which they took as a joke. I turned off my light, lay in bed, turned on my light, got up, stared at myself in the bathroom mirror (but not in that way, you creepy people). I was deliriously tired but was also sleepless--and it goes without saying . . . in Seattle. Damn the coffee.

It's in the air. The air itself is caffeinated in Seattle. That's why people can't sleep, except for Bill Yarrow, who apparently always sleeps well. He's a poet, which is the best explanation for this phenomenon I can think of. If he'd been reading in the middle of the night somewhere, I would have gone to see him. His readings are always killer.

But because Bill doesn't normally read at 6:00 a.m., I couldn't go to one of his many readings at sunrise. I did, however, enjoy Seattle at dawn in other ways-- and here they are...




Tomorrow, I'm going to go on and on and on about AWP in Seattle. I'm going to talk about the city and how great it is. I'm going to rave.

I must be off,
Christopher

PS: Thank you to the readers of IMBO for slinging this blog over 500,000 hits while I was in Seattle. Sleepless.

PPS: I Must Be Off! is hosting its second annual Travel Essay Contest! Go HERE to learn more. Deadline for entries June 30, 2014!
_________________________________________________

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.