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News, announcement and events related to Mark’s writing and other stuff you may find interesting.

New fiction: The Real Primo

Cover for the Corvus Review, Fall 2016
Corvus Review just published a new short story that I’ve been noodling with for some time: The Real Primo. (pp. 59-67)

If you’ve ever watched (and enjoyed) Groundhog Day, or read Friedrich Nietzsche’s difficulty concept of the Eternal Return, or have a passing familiarity with the “Eastern” concept of reincarnation, then this story will appeal to you. Here’s the opening lines:

The Real Primo

by Mark A. Rayner

Would you believe me if I told you Buddha had the set up all wrong?

It didn’t dawn on me right away. One moment I was in my rental car, minding my own business, and the next, there are headlights shining in my face. The driver looked up at the very last minute, shock on his face. Thinking about it, he was probably texting, or maybe working on his laptop, but he was definitely not paying attention to the road. He’d slipped across lanes, in the dark, doing about 60 miles an hour. His massive truck intersected with my non-upgraded, economy rental car – a Chevy Spark “or similar” made out of tissue paper and paint. That was the underwhelming end of both the car and what you might think of as my life.

There was a horrible screeching sound of metal and machine disintegrating, a flash of terrifying light and a moment of exquisite, transcendent pain. It was more than just a physical pain. It was a feeling of loss, of absolute tragedy; but also, mixed in with the sadness, a feeling of warmth and love. There wasn’t time to remember anything. There was a blurry light, and the sound of a baby crying.

Read the rest of the story on pages 59-67, here.

The 14 people you need to help you decide if you should publish or not

There are three things that I love about this:

  1. they are tremendous and witty words of wisdom from Mark Twain.
  2. it is narrated by John Lithgow, who’s voice alone makes me laugh.
  3. the sleeping man scares me, and reminds me to be entertaining, as he should.

In Twain’s own words:

“But the man whom I most depend upon is the man who always goes to sleep. If he drops off within 15 minutes, I burn the book. If he keeps awake three quarters of an hour, I publish, and I publish with the greatest confidence, too. For the intent of my books is to entertain and by making this man comfortable on a sofa and timing him, I can tell, within a shade or two, what degrees of success I’m going to achieve.”

–Mark Twain

via Brain Pickings, and the New York Public Library’s Live from NYPL program.

New Fiction: Empty Space Times Two

old-fashioned typewriter hammers

This piece is probably the most straight-up sentimental thing I’ve ever written, but I’m quite chuffed to join the ranks of the writers who have been published by The Saturday Evening Post. (That includes, you guessed it, my literary hero, Kurt Vonnegut.)

In case you’re wondering, it’s NOT autobiographical, though I did take a typing class in grade nine on the advice of my cousin, Beth. All the effort of learning to type has paid off 1000-fold, though I never had a relationship based on it. 🙂

You can find the story in their contemporary fiction section: Empty Space Times Two. 







The Ruins — a new flash fiction at the Caesura Letters

Cottage ruins, County Kerry, Ireland

I have a new flash fiction up this week at the Caesura Letters called The Ruins. It’s a different kind of piece — a meditation on the nature of Stoicism (though to be fair, it has a dash of existentialism in it.)

If you haven’t already checked out the Caesura Letters, you really should. It’s “a magazine for critical thinkers, mindful contemplatives, and life-long learners.” And it’s rich with philosophy. I’m grateful to the editor and founder, James Shelley, for including fiction in the mix now too. The digital subscription is only $4.99 a month — an insanely good deal.

Photo by Keith Ewing via Flickr