My story, “The Winter Garden,” is up at Queen Mob’s Teahouse here: http://queenmobs.com/2017/02/the-winter-garden/ – this is a story that I first wrote in the spring of 2000, at 24, that is only now being published in 2017, when I am 41. I mention that only because the story contains the perspective of three women of different ages, so it’s interesting and a little strange to have passed from being only a little older than the youngest character to about the age of one of the two older women. It’s also a story, that although still challenging, was probably a little “harsher” when I first wrote it, in the tone of the ending of Irene’s section and her eagerness to get away. I think I felt at the time that the tougher it was the realer it was, but time has pushed me towards being more tender, which says nothing to what is real or not real, only to what felt right within the confines of this particular story and the reality it creates. It would have been possible to go the other direction, from tenderness to increased harshness, and that would have been just as valid. If this story had been published earlier, I don’t think it would have been a worse story, but it would be a different story. For some readers, it might even be a better story; it is hard to say. Publication is in a strange way like a kind of death for a piece of fiction, the moment when it is arrested in time, when it is fixed into a form that will never change. The writer may always be haunted by the echoes of cut sentences or even characters or changed settings or plot points or altered tone but to the reader, none of that ever existed – they are ghosts that appear only to one person, while everyone else in the room doesn’t hear or see anything at all.