In Memoriam: Zach Doss

I’m devastated and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of writer Zach Doss. Although we never got to meet in person, I got to know Zach online through his tweets and his writing. We corresponded through email throughout the years, sharing works-in-progress with each other and offering feedback and support. I loved his fabulist fiction with a queer bent and quickly found him to be a comrade-in-quills. I vicariously lived through his MFA experience and was looking forward to reading his story collection someday. When he graduated and was looking for work, I suggested he apply to my workplace. We had an open position in my department at the time. He had a phone interview with my boss and she said he was an absolute delight. She was almost ready to offer him the job but he ultimately decided Florida was not for him and went to pursue a PhD in writing in California. I have to admit, in hindsight, my recommendation for him to move here was mostly selfish – I imagined us hanging out at bookstores, becoming better friends, yelling at people to read each other’s books. We had planned on meeting eventually at the AWP conference, but I was unfortunately unable to attend this year.

Zach was an original talent and absolutely unapologetic in his love for the literary community. His passing is a huge loss. My thoughts are with his family during this time. Although he is gone now, he will continue to live on through the hearts of his loved ones and friends, and of course, through his stellar writing.

Here are some of my favorite stories he had published:

The 2017 Memory Jar Project


  • Ticket stubs for Garbage & Blondie concert
  • Ticket stubs for the Birch Aquarium
  • Ticket stub for Wonder Woman movie
  • Receipts and tickets to see Roxane Gay at Books & Books
  • Anonymous suggestion from my workplace for improving productivity: “Fire [redacted]”
  • Ticket bracelet for Supercon
  • Play die and game card from GameRoom
  • Cross with rainbow pin
  • Animal Crossing “Pelly” keychain
  • Wrapper from Pokemon trading cards booster pack
  • Bottle cap item from Pokemon event
  • Ticket stub and photo for special screening of Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Our wedding invitation
  • “J&D” wedding centerpiece item
  • Map for Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego
  • “Happy 1st Anniversary!” taped on my cubicle from my workplace
  • Cork keychain wedding favor from friend’s wedding
  • Flyer for South Florida Poetry Journal reading

2017: The Retrospective

It seems as if this was a year most people would like to erase or do over, much like last year. There was more political turmoil, disappointment and horror caused by the U.S. government, the public outing of sexual harassers (and worse), racist/fascist awfulness, devastating hurricanes, and the crushing feeling of powerlessness. I can see why people are sharing images of literal garbage fires with text of “2017” edited over them.

Despite the ugliness of the outside world, I personally had a wonderful year. I got married to my better half and we had a beautiful celebration. The planning was stressful, but our special day was well worth it. I will do a post about it in the future that will include photos. There’s probably a lot to say.

We went to San Diego, California for our honeymoon. The weather was 70 degrees the whole time and the skies were completely blue. We walked Balboa Park, went to the Birch Aquarium, visited the San Diego Museum of Art, and dined at Hillcrest. We took naps in the middle of the afternoon. It was wonderful.

My husband formed an 80s rock band this year and they’re quite good. They recorded a demo and had their first gig. The living room has been transformed into a music studio. I love how we both have our creative outlets–his music and my writing. It allows us to have space when we need it.

We’ve continued going to concerts together. This year we saw Garbage, Blondie, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and others. We don’t have the same tastes in music, but it’s always nice being introduced to new artists and sharing the experience of a live musical performance.

Speaking of rock stars, I also met Roxane Gay this year. She was on tour for her book Hunger. The room was completely packed and hot, but filled with positive energy and a diverse group of readers. And of course, Roxane herself was a delight. I’m excited to read more of her work in the future.

This was the first year I kept track of my submissions to literary journals with a spreadsheet. I was afraid to do so previously because of how discouraging I thought it would be. Instead, it has managed to keep me organized and pressures me into sending more things out into the world. I sent out around 75 submissions this year, which were mostly rejections, but included a lot of encouraging remarks from editors. I hope to reach over 100 rejections next year, which was inspired by this essay at Lit Hub. The rejections still sting, but it’s become more like quickly ripping off a band-aid. You enter it in, make note of the comments (if any), and move on.

I had a few pieces published, including a poem at South Florida Poetry Journal, whose editors invited me to give my first ever poetry reading. I read essays about prose poetry to dispel my misconceptions of the form and published a prose poem of my own in Unbroken Journal. Most surprisingly, I was named a finalist for the Lascaux Prize for Poetry. My poem will be published in their 2018 anthology.

Aside from the anthology, I already know I am starting off 2018 with a few of my pieces forthcoming from Gone Lawn and The Fanzine. Stay tuned.

Here are my obligatory lists that helped define this year:


Our Dead Behind Us by Audre Lorde
Scald by Denise Duhamel
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Rookery by Traci Brimhall
The New Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings by Tess Ayers
The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
Hunger by Roxane Gay
The Field Guide to Prose Poetry, edited by Gary McDowell
The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May
Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno
Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise by Gene Luen Yang
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The First White President by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Dept. by Speculation by Jenny Offill
Help by Simon Amstell
Cruddy by Lynda Barry
It Devours! by Joseph Fink
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Literary journals:

The Adroit Journal

Waxwing Magazine
Gulf Coast
Electric Literature

The Shallow Ends
Paper Darts
Blueshift Journal
South Florida Poetry Journal
Unbroken Journal


Hidden Figures
Kill Your Darlings
Boy Meets Girl
Closet Monster

Get Out
Wonder Woman
Thelma & Louise

TV series:

West Wing
Bob’s Burgers
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Stranger Things
Neo Yokio

When We Rise
The Handmaid’s Tale
Grace and Frankie
Take My Wife
Avatar: The Last Airbender (rewatch)
Legend of Korra

Video games:

Persona 5
Pokemon Trading Card Game Online
LittleBigPlanet 3
Injustice 2
Ever Oasis
Children of Zodiarcs
The Arcana
Earthlock: Festival of Magic
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Music albums:

Future Politics by Austra
I See You by The xx
Ibeyi by Ibeyi
Pleasure by Feist
Silver Eye by Goldfrapp
Season High by Little Dragon
Bleed Like Me by Garbage
Debut by Bjork
Something to Tell You by HAIM
It’s Immaterial by Black Marble
Melodrama by Lorde
Master of My Make-Believe by Santigold

Take Me Away

I’ve been escaping into alternate worlds. This was my favorite pastime as a child and I’ve missed doing this. Falling down the rabbit hole. I read about these fantasies, dreamt of them, explored their vast landscapes in videogames. I’d watch movies like Return to Oz and become obsessed. I grew up alongside Harry Potter. I wanted to inhabit these worlds always, so immersed myself completely and eventually wrote my own. Many of us lose this wonder as we become jaded adults ground down to a nub by the tedium and obligations of everyday life. I like to think I haven’t just yet. Or, I’m trying my hardest not to become that.

I’ve been exploring the world of Umbra in the videogame Earthlock: Festival of Magic. It’s colorful and lush, even while traversing the Burning Desert and trying to desperately avoid death from the heat. There is a central hub that you use as a homebase, called Plumpet Island. Here, you can rest and recover your health in a library. You can bargain with and go on quests for Frogboy. You have a garden and use what you grow there as ingredients for healing potions and even ammunition in battle. I always love gardens in videogames and this mechanic is my favorite. I have a soft spot for apothecaries too. Gardens are always showing up in my fiction.

Magic shows up too sometimes. I’m reading/playing a game on my phone called The Arcana. It’s a very queer-friendly visual novel where you explore an intriguing world full of magic and mystery, while also trying to romance one of the characters of your choice. There are talking snakes, magical trinkets, and ghosts. You are given dialogue options that allows you to alter the course of the story. The art is gorgeous.

Unfortunately, I’ve also had a rather lackluster revisit to a universe that used to seem much more colorful years ago. I’ve been making my way through the first part of The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. I loved the His Dark Materials series when I was younger but, despite the glowing reviews online, I’m finding this prequel to Lyra Belacqua’s adventures incredibly dull. I don’t really care so much about descriptions of carpentry, Biblical floods, and changing the Chosen One’s diapers (yes, this is a plot point).

A return to the town of Night Vale, however, is always welcome. I’ve been listening to the audiobook of It Devours! at work. The narration is what you’d expect, since it’s the same narrator we all know and love. The fantastic escape + well-earned laughs were a highlight of my week. It makes for a nice break in between all the literary podcasts.

I will someday write towards a collection of more fantastical stories. I know I have them in me, just like I have a queer coming of age novel in me and endless stories with idyllic gardens.

Fall Fragments

  1. The cool, dry air pays a visit like an old friend. My skin is glowing but my eyes are tearing.
  2. I have a short prose poem in the fall issue of Unbroken Journal. It is ominous, as most writing is these days.
  3. Someone asks me, “What do you write?” I freeze. You’d think I’d be able to answer this by now.
  4. I finished writing a story told in fragments. It features potions and a garden. My stories always seem to feature a garden.
  5. I finished reading Cruddy by Lynda Barry. Brutal and beautiful. I wrote a micro review about it. Easily one of my favorite reads this year.
  6. I’ve updated my list of literary journals for LGBTQ writers, women, and writers of color. People still seem to use it as a resource and I’m glad it’s been so helpful. Unfortunately, I’ve had to remove quite a few journals that have gone defunct or no longer appear online.
  7. I’m getting married soon. Since there’s no bride, we’ve had to write a ceremony ourselves. There are no real traditions to inherit yet, no set rules. We are setting them down. I should write about this eventually.
  8. The cool spell will be gone tomorrow, I’m sure.