Mother’s Day. Memorial Day. Let’s not forget the significance of the month of May for the lowly short story!

Yes, May is Short Story Month. You didn’t know? You didn’t send a card? Well, me neither. But I didn’t want this busiest of months to pass without sharing a bit of good news with my loyal Rust Belt Girl followers–that’s you.

My short story, “The Pearl Diver” has been published in the latest issue of CutBank, the literary journal of the University of Montana. You can read the opening excerpt here–or purchase an issue if you’d like to read the whole thing (and more fiction and poetry goodness therein).

My pearl-diving main character has never been to Montana (nor have I), but I sure am glad she and her story struck a chord with the journal editors there. It probably won’t surprise you to know that this story is set in Ohio–at a fictionalized SeaWorld Ohio, in fact. The fact that this SeaWorld no longer exists makes it historical fiction, I guess, though the story takes place in the 90s, which feels like just yesterday to me.

Here are some great pics of SeaWorld Ohio in its heyday.

Where I grew up in Northeast Ohio, we were just a half hour or so from SeaWorld, and the summers we visited for killer whale (remember we used to call orcas “killer whales?”) and dolphin shows; visit the penguins; and admire the human water-skier pyramids were the best summers. Of course, that was a different time, and we look at animals in captivity differently now.

I don’t remember if my parents ever bought me a pearl from the SeaWorld pearl diving exhibit, where divers, ya know, dove for pearls in a pool. But it was fun to think about working as a diver (I can’t dive well, myself) in a pool, kept captive for a summer–much like the animals swimming around in their tanks. What trouble might an almost-sixteen-year-old girl diver get into over such a summer? (Lots, as it turns out.)

I wrote the first drafts of this coming-of-age story in grad school (ages ago) and it landed me on a couple finalist lists for contests. But “The Pearl Diver” never found a home until now. And it’s a beautiful home–check out those illustrations and cover art!

I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and many more stories, as we close out Short Story Month.

Happy reading! ~Rebecca

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19 thoughts on “What are you reading for Short Story Month?

  1. I remember Sea World!! Congratulations on finding a home for your story. This encourages me, to think you’ve been tinkering with it for so long. You didn’t give up, and now…look! It IS a beautiful journal. I love your style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, my friend! My dad lives near Cedar Point, and everybody asks when I’ll take my boys there. That’s not my kind of amusement park. I miss SeaWorld. Pretty flowers, fun shows, and maybe a little Shamu splash–that’s my speed! Yes, I tinkered with that story FOREVER! And, by my count it was rejected more than 40 times over those years. I got great editorial feedback from the CutBank editors–can’t recommend that journal enough. It felt like the big-time (for once!).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you don’t mind travel, try Knobels in PA. It is adorable, free admission (for those who don’t ride), and had some unique rides. There are cottages, campsites, and it’s a water park, too. No seals though. Haha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on another wonderful achievement Rebecca! The opening excerpt is intriguing. Thinking this story could represent Asian Heritage Month, which is also in May. I remember being given a pearl in a Hawaiian gift shop in Maui once as a marketing teaser. You could then choose to have them set it in a piece of jewellry for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Of course, I’m not of Asian heritage, myself, but I was intrigued with the idea of a modern-day teenager who works as a SeaWorld Ohio pearl diver being distantly related to a real pearl diver in Japan. That was maybe a Hawaiian thing, too? I wonder if you still have that pearl!? Pearl is my birthstone, so I have a few; my favorite was a tiny one I found in a mussel I ate in Baltimore.

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  3. It was a great and convincing read 🙂 and yes, I remember “killer whales”!

    Did not know it was short story month, I realized it was Asian American month too late to start an AA book until mid-month. I’m such a bad Asian!!

    Just read short story FOR BETTER AND WORSE by Lynn Darling … recommend. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lani!
      Ha, Bad Asian sounds like a good title for a memoir!
      I’m putting that short story on my TBR. I need to read more short stories as one-offs, rather than reading collections as I would novels, all the way through. I’ve got a writing retreat coming up–just a long weekend away (yay!)–and I’m putting some reading on my to-do list, too. xoxo, hope you’re well!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Rebecca! Sorry I’m late to post — but CONGRATULATIONS on getting a story published in CutBank!!! That’s a wonderful journal! I’ve never been to Sea World (I have been to Cedar Point, although I’m not a “rides” kind of person—I’m actually scared of them LOL), but I love stories with strong settings like that; all the details of the place just seem to magically inform the story. And did I miss Short Story Month? May? June? I love the short story form and am always reading a collection or picking individual stories out. Hope you’re having a relaxing but productive spring-into-summer! Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deb! I appreciate that so much. It was a wonderful editing experience, too. So thoughtful, and it ironed out a few things that probably kept the story from landing earlier. Cedar Point is on my list of places to visit–I’m not a rides person either (I’m a purse-holder)–but my dad lives close to Sandusky and my boys are now at that age where they can ride those terrifying metal monstrosities! Short Story Month was May, but I think it’s always short story month for you! I’m working too much this spring–but then, I do like to eat, so there’s that. I am, however, heading to a writing retreat in the Virginia countryside in just a few days, where I’ll finish my first draft of my WIP and hopefully work on a couple other things! Cannot wait! Happy reading, writing, and all the rest, this spring-summer. Sending good vibes your way…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Damyanti! I appreciate that–especially from such a cool writer like you! It’s actually a much-longer story. They just tease us with the excerpt.

      I love writing from the POV of a teenage girl–can regress a little, ha!

      Like

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