I had a nice surprise when I came home… a bundle of Cicada magazines with my story “Swingtown” in them. The story is about a 14-year-old harmonica prodigy who inexplicably finds herself dragged to Milwaukee for a Battle of the Steve Miller Band Cover Bands contest. The story started as a joke between me and my blogging friend Amy, but the story’s climax is, I think, one of the nicest thing I’ve written. It expresses in words what I was never quite able to do in music (despite playing guitar and harmonica for 20-odd years) — that is, my deep appreciation for the twelve-bar blues.

Cicada was my first professional credit, and their acceptance letter for my first published story, “Strophes of Lake Michigan” (which appeared two years ago), is framed and hanging above the desk where I, ah, never really write anymore now that I have a laptop, but the point is that they are not only the only national magazine that publishes mainstream fiction and poetry for teens, but that they have a special place in my heart. If you happen across it at a newsstand, please check it out. Teen authors and artists should note that they love to get submissions from young people, so if you’re looking for a first credit, there’s a good market.

Here’s Bertie, the noble tabby, checking out the story.

On an unrelated note, if anyone can help me ID this bird that recently visited our backdoor bird feeder, please do so! (Thx to wife for pix.)

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