I was already so grateful to have my new poem, “Fossils,” forthcoing in Willow Springs, Issue 89. And now I’m ecstatic to see it alongside the great work of some writers I truly admire, including Ada Limon and David Dodd Lee. If you can (and you should), join us for the virtual launch party, March 5, 2022, at 6PM PST: https://ewu.zoom.us/j/99019696726
Bookstore Review: Brier Books in Lexington
You shouldn’t judge a bookstore by its cover. Or should you? Brier Books is located in the heart of the Chevy Chase district in Lexington, Kentucky where boutique shops and delicious eateries abound. Good–albeit, corporate–coffee and kitschy bars stand at the ready as well. The store itself occupies the first floor of a lovely cottage and shares some of the space with an art gallery. The inviting rainbow sign out front is hard to miss, and your GPS won’t have any trouble locating 319 S. Ashland Avenue in case you do happen to get distracted searching for parking. But there’s good news on that account too. Brier has a few spots out front and several more in its tidy parking lot around back.
When you step inside, you’ll find books from the big New York publishers as well as top indie and local presses tastefully arranged on bookcases that make it clear these titles were chosen and not spilled into a bin like the catch of the day. Owners Jay McCoy and Savannah Sipple are poets (each with several, wonderful publications), so asking for a book recommendation is always a great idea. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the shelf, they’re happy to track it down for you and have it delivered to the store.
Author events are also plentiful, so it’s never a bad idea to check their events calendar and time your visit to match a reading you’d want to go to even if you weren’t planning to buy a book: https://www.brierbooks.com/event
From the ambience to the offerings, Brier captures the essence of what an indie bookstore should be. If there were a guide to amazing indie bookstores, you’d dogear the page Brier Books is on and flip to it often.
I’m on Twitter? I’m on Twitter!
You know those people who live on their smartphone? Yeah, that’s not me. I’m not all that tech savvy. A choice, though, not a shortcoming.
That’s why I’ve been reluctant to get on Twitter. My phone is just a phone. I have it in case my son gets a stomach ache at school or my husband forgets the grocery list.
I suppose I take a lot of pictures of my kids on my phone. And all of the music for the fitness classes I teach is on my phone. And I do let my daughter play MineCraft on it and sometimes check in on my son’s YouTube channel from my phone. And I did recently let let my husband sync my FaceBook account to my phone so I could post pictures.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, it’s about time I got a Twitter account. What exactly I’ll do with it, I don’t know. But, you can tweet (that’s a verb, right?) some suggestions at my new handle (kind of excited to say, “handle”): @HensleyWriter.
See you there (from my phone!).
New interview in Appalachian Heritage
I’m so pleased my interview in the Winter 2017 issue of Appalachian Heritage puts me in the same company as former Kentucky poet laureate, George Ella Lyon; my former student, Tasha Cotter; and so many other established and emerging writers. Thanks to editor, Jason Howard, for making me part of this outstanding journal.
“Hensley’s language in painting Appalachian communities is haunting and beautiful, and each story. . .falls into place as a chain in the unforgettable ring that is Landfall: A Ring of Stories.” -Allyson Hoffman
I’m over the moon with Allyson Hoffman’s review of Landfall at NewPages.com. The quote above sums it up nicely, but if you care to read the review in its entirety, you can do so by clicking here. Thank you, Allyson. Thank you, NewPages!
Latest review of Landfall
I recently received some happy news from my M.F.A. Alma mater, Arizona State University. The December 2016 issue of ASU Alumni Magazine includes a review of my collection, Landfall: A Ring of Stories, in its Shelf Improvement section.
To read the full text, click here.
And, of course, Go Sun Devils!
Sneak Previews and Pre-Orders
My novel-in-stories is available ahead of schedule! Friends are already receiving their pre-sale copies of Landfall: A Ring of Stories. This is the book that Michelle Herman selected as the winner of the 2015 Ohio State University Press Non/fiction Prize and Rilla Askew selected as the winner of the 2006 Everett Southwest Literary Award. (Many, many years in the making, it was conceived as my MFA thesis back at Arizona State University.)
Landfall chronicles three generations of several families in Conrad’s Fork, a fictional Appalachian town. I’m lining up lots of readings and book club visits starting this summer, including some via Skype. Email me if you’re interested.
You can order Landfall: A Ring of Stories as a paperback or e-book through Ohio State University Press or through dozens of other online bookstores such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
An excerpt of an excerpt + other strange happenings
I’m so excited to announce that “Strange Museum,” an excerpt from my novel manuscript, The Recklessness of Water, is featured in the Winter 2016 issue of The Journal. You can read an excerpt of the excerpt (how strange is that?) on their website: http://thejournalmag.org/archives/11174
I’m also excited to announce some upcoming fiction and poetry readings:
April 16 at the Berea Book Festival
April 21 at the Berea College Appalacian Center with Tina Parker
April 23 at the SOKY Book Festival in Bowling Green, KY
April 24 at the Kentucky Writers Day Celebration in Gravel Switch, KY
Seeing red. Being read.
Thirteen years ago, I had just finished up my MFA at Arizona State University. It was a summer evening in the low desert, the kind where the heat rising off the asphalt can breed a kind of angst. I was driving with Bob Johnson (not yet my husband and not yet R. Dean Johnson, the author of Delicate Men and Californium) and Jenn Spiegel (not yet Jennifer Bell, the author of The Freak Chronicles and Love Slave). We were talking about what it felt like to finish up graduate school. Specifically, we were whining about the fact that we hadn’t really published anything yet. We’d started sending our work out, had in fact been submitting our stories for several months, but we had been getting nothing but rejections in the mail—that’s how they came back then, in envelopes with your own handwriting on the front, suspiciously thin. You didn’t even have to hold the envelope up to the light, the sheer lack of weight gave the bad news away: No contract.
I had spent a week’s worth of Euro Café tips on The Writers Market. I had dutifully researched journals. I had even purchased some of them at Changing Hands Bookstore. I had sent out a pile of submissions. Back then, I would have to spread out all the pieces and load the big envelopes assembly-style. (It took up every surface in our apartment. It was a kind of clutter only rivaled when I now decide to have a “clothes folding party” in front of the TV, sifting through three weeks of laundered clothing.) I had earned two graduate degrees in creative writing, spent five years studying craft—oh, dear, God, that was long enough I could have been a lawyer or an engineer or some other lucrative, respectable thing, but here I was a writer, and no one would publish me. No one would ever publish me! Suddenly, as I whined all this to Bob and Jennifer, I felt my throat close up and my chest get heavy. I literally saw red spots. For a second, I thought I was dying. I think we had to pull over and a man in a gas station had to ask me to breathe into a paper bag. A rejection-induced panic attack.
Fortunately, Indiana Review contacted me two days later asking to publish my first story, “Seeing Red.” That small success (and a whole lot of yoga) helped me work through the anxiety and keep trudging into this beautiful writing life.
I’m so pleased that Indiana Review is featuring that first, published story on their website as part of a special feature remembering their favorite stories over the last twenty years, and I’m proud that “Seeing Red” will be part of my first book-length fiction when Landfall: A Ring of Stories is released by Ohio State University Press in May. Thanks again, Indiana Review!
(Here’s the link to the story:
The proofs for my poetry collection, Viable, arrived yesterday evening. Five Oaks Editor Lynn Houston has put together a beautiful book! This collection might be the most deeply personal thing I ever write, so I’m both nervous and excited to share it with readers. It includes poems about my own girlhood, marriage, pregnancies, miscarriages and motherhood, as well as poems which chanel the keening voices of grief-stricken historic and literary mothers.
Viable would make a great gift, especially for a mother or daughter. Lynn has worked hard to get the book out in time for the holidays. It is now available for pre-order, both as a paperback and an e-book. You can order through Amazon, but since more of the money goes to the actual press if you order through Market Square, I encourage you to support the wonderful small press that is championing my creative work. Here’s the link: