Something Published: “How to Keep a House”

My short story “How to Keep a House” was published by Rathalla Review in their fall issue. To read the story click here and download the PDF. My story is on page 26.

I want to thank Felicia Schneiderhan, a wonderful and kind teacher, and Lake Superior Writers. In January 2021, I wrote the rough draft for “How to Keep a House” in a class called “Rules of Engagement” with Felicia, which was sponsored by Lake Superior Writers. We had to decide on five rules for our story before we started writing it. After we started writing, we could bend or change our rules if something wasn’t working. At first, having a set of rules before I had a real story idea was frustrating. Then it morphed into a creative process that I embraced. I began to like my characters and their story, so I kept revising. For an interesting take on this process read “The Power of Constraints to Unlock Creativity” by Amy Goldmacher on Brevity Blog.

I also want to thank Kim Suhr and Red Oak Writing. The final revisions I made on “How to Keep a House” were after attending a Red Oak Writing Round Table. Kim Suhr, the director of Red Oak, led the Round Table writing group. After receiving some excellent feedback from her and the other writers in the group, I revised my story once more. It was at this point that I felt my story was truly finished. I submitted it to Rathalla Review, and they accepted it a few months later. For information on Red Oak Writing Round Tables click here. To learn more about Kim Suhr, who is an amazing writer and a supportive mentor, click here.

Finally, I want to thank the editors at Rathalla Review for publishing my story and for their enthusiastic words about it.

Just so you know, I submitted “How to Clean a House” twenty-one times over the course of a year and a half before it was accepted. It’s hard being rejected so many times. But I think about when I was in gym class, and always the last one chosen to be on a team. It smarted, but I learned that eventually someone had to pick me, and then I’d get to play! I loved gym, even if I wasn’t the best athlete.

8 thoughts on “Something Published: “How to Keep a House”

    • Yes, and you had your story from Felicia’s class published too, didn’t you? I remember that story about the character getting locked in a mine. Gave me the creeps, as I’m a bit claustrophobic and won’t go down in a mine. But your story was great.

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      • Yes, my story was the mine one. I also finished a second story using the same “rules” as the first. It’s part of a collection of short stories I just submitted to a publisher. Keep fingers crossed! I think getting feedback on stories is so helpful and important. Don’t know what I would do without my speculative fiction writing group. Do you think you’ll use the Red Oak Writing round table again?

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      • I will keep my fingers crossed for your short stories! Yes, I was thinking about using the Red Oak Round table group again. But probably not until the next round of round tables.

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  1. Loved your Housekeeping Story. Great characters. Would love to know your “rules” for the story. Whatever they are, they worked. Thank you for the link to Amy Goldmacher’s blog about constraints. We use them – called prompts – in our writers’ group and they are magic. Congratulations on your persistence to get published. It’s a process but feels so good when it comes around.

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    • Thanks, Diana! Here are the five Rules of Engagement that our teacher gave us: (1) Pick a point of view. (2) Decide what motivates the main character. (3) Length of story–flash? A couple of thousand words? Something longer? (4) Time period. (5) Something random. In my case the something random was the blue hair clip.

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