Noley Reid

photo credit: Jason Wheat.

Hi Everyone,

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

If you enjoy the podcast, please let me know, and if you have any writers/stories you’d like to recommend, I’d be happy to hear about them.

Also, be sure to scroll down to the bottom where I am announcing the first “Let’s Deconstruct a Story” workshop with Natalie Serber!



**Warning: This story includes a discussion of suicide.**

First, please read Noley Reid’s excellent story, “Coming Back,” which is available in Split Lip Magazine here.

Or you may download a PDF of the story here: “Coming Back” by Noley Reid

or on Spotify here.

A transcript of our conversation is available upon request.


Noley Reid’s third book is the novel Pretend We Are Lovely from Tin House Books. Her fourth book, a collection of stories called Origami Dogs, is forthcoming from Autumn House Press. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Southern Review, The Rumpus, Arts & Letters, Meridian, Pithead Chapel, The Lily, Bustle, Confrontation, and Los Angeles Review of Books. Follow her on Twitter @NoleyReid and find out more about her writing and upcoming events at

A novel by Noley Reid

“Pretend We are Lovely” is available at Bookshop here and on Audible here.

“So There!” is on as well:

“In the Breeze of Passing Things” is out of print but Noley has copies. If you are interested, feel free to contact me, and I will put you in touch with her.

In other news:

I’m happy to announce the first “Let’s Deconstruct a Story” workshop with Natalie Serber on October 13th at 6pm EST. We will be talking about her story, “Children are Magic” which was first published in “One Story” in 2019. More information is available here.



Hi Everyone,

Hope you are enjoying the last days of summer! I’m happy to have Jeff Vande Zande, a fiction writer from Michigan, on the blog today!

How this work:

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.


Please read Jeff Vande Zande’s story, “Load” or listen to the MP3 recording here.


And then enjoy our discussion here:

or on Spotify here:

Jeff Vande Zande teaches fiction writing, screenwriting, and film production at Delta College in Michigan. His award-winning short films have been accepted over 200 times in national and international film festivals. His books of fiction include the story collections Emergency Stopping (Bottom Dog Press) and Threatened Species (Whistling Shade Press). His novels include Into the Desperate Country (March Street Press), Landscape with Fragmented Figures (Bottom Dog Press), American Poet (Bottom Dog Press) and Detroit Muscle (Whistling Shade Press). In 2012, American Poet won a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan. In 2020, Whistling Shade Press released his new collection, The Neighborhood Division: Stories, and in 2022, Montag Press will release his new dystopian novel, Falling Sky. He maintains a blog at



Short Story Collection by Wendy Rawlings

Hi Everyone,

I’m thrilled to have Wendy Rawlings on “Let’s Deconstruct a Story,” the blog where we read a story and then discuss it with the author.

As Susan Perabo said, “This is a blog for the story nerds!”

Please either read the PDF of the story below or listen to the audio recording below before tuning in to our discussion.


All best,



Coffins for Kids on Sound Cloud

Coffins for Kids PDF


Our discussion of “Coffins for Kids” is available on Anchor here:



Or on Spotify here.



Bio: Wendy Rawlings is the author of a novel, The Agnostics, and two collections of stories, Time for Bed and Come Back Irish. Her work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review, and The Pushcart Prize anthology. She’s a professor in and director of the MFA Program in creative writing program at the University of Alabama.

Wendy Rawlings


Hi Everyone,

I’m thrilled to host the acclaimed short story writer, Susan Perabo, on the blog today. “Why They Run the Way They Do” is one of my all-time favorite short story collections!

As usual, please read the story posted below before listening to our discussion.

Also please send me reading recommendations! I’m always looking for good short stories.

All the best,


Susan’s story available here:

This Is Not That Story in The Sun

This Is Not That Story PDF


Our discussion of “This Is Not That Story”:

On Anchor:

Or on Spotify here!

And here is a rough transcript of our discussion brought to you by the dictation service at Microsoft Word:

Susan Perabo and Kelly Fordon transcript





Susan Perabo


Bio: Susan Perabo’s most recent books are The Fall of Lisa Bellow (2017) and Why They Run the Way They Do (2016), both from Simon & SchusterHer fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Stories, andNew Stories from the South, and her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including One Story, Glimmer TrainStory, The New York TimesThe Sun, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has been featured on the podcasts Modern Love and Selected Shorts. She is a professor creative writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

Why They Run the Way They Do: Stories and The Fall of Lisa Bellow are available at Bookshop and Amazon.

In Other News:

I am hoping some readers will help support this worthy cause! I love Inside Out Literary Arts in Detroit 🙂 I’m writing in support of them, and I will send anyone who donates $100 an original poem 🙂 You can even send me three words you’d like included in the poem!



Today on the blog, Esperanza Cintrón and I will be talking about her story, “The Beard” from her award-winning Wayne State University Press collection, Shades, Detroit Love Stories, which was chosen as a 2019 Michigan Notable Book.

It’s best to read the story before listening to our discussion so we don’t spoil the ending for you.


Just click on this link for the full story, “The Beard,” here.


I hope you enjoy our discussion of “The Beard” below! Or directly on Spotify here.



Bio: Esperanza Cintrón is the author of Shades, Detroit Love Stories, a collection of interconnected short stories published by Wayne State University Press (2019) and selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book and a finalist in the 2020 Midwest Book Awards.  Her three books of poetry include: Visions of a Post-Apocalyptic Sunrise (Stockport Flats Press, 2014), the 2013 Naomi Long Madgett Award winner What Keeps Me Sane (Lotus Press, 2013) and Chocolate City Latina (Swank Press, 2005). Boulders, Detroit Nature Poems won first honorable mention (2021) and will soon be published by Finishing Line Press. Her work is anthologized in Manteca! An Anthology of Afro-Latin@ PoetsOf Burgers & BarroomsAbandoned AutomobileDouble Stitch: Black Women Write About Mothers & DaughtersErotique Noire/Black Erotica and others. She has been awarded a Michigan Council for the Arts Individual Artist Grant, a Metro Times Poetry Prize, Callaloo Creative Writing Fellowships at Oxford and Brown Universities and a National Endowment for the Humanities scholarship. A native Detroiter, she is co-founder of The Sisters of Color Writers Collective and creator of its literary journal Seeds for which she served as Editor until 2006. Cintrón holds a doctorate in English Literature and teaches writing, film and literature at WCCCD in Downtown Detroit.


Shades, Detroit Love Stories is available for purchase from Wayne State University Press, Bookshop, and Amazon.

In other news:

Check out Robin Luce Martin’s fantastic story, “Through the Hole,” on Pendust Radio.

I am reading at the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle on Wednesday, June 23rd at 7pm and there is an open mic event following my reading, so please think about attending and reading your own work as well!

Here’s the link to sign up.


Ari L. Mokdad


Hi Everyone!

I’m always testing out new venues, so I hope you will follow me over to Spotify this month where I’m talking to Michigan poet Ari L. Mokdad about two of her amazing poems.

Below you will find links to Ari’s two poems, available in journals online.

If Nothing Changed, There Would Never Be Butterflies

After the Israeli Army Burned Our Land, We Remember the Olives



Thanks, Everyone! Please sign-up for the blog, if you’d like to hear more features. Next up, Renee Simms with a story from her collection, Meet Behind Mars!



Ari L. Mokdad is an alumna from Grand Valley State University where she received three Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dance, Writing, and English. She has earned regional and national choreography awards, most notably, for her work “Grounded” which was selected to perform at the American College Dance Association in 2014. Ari had the privilege of working with many artists while at GVSU, such as Julie Blume, Thayer Jonutz, Autumn Eckman, Lauren Edson, Lizze Mackenzie, and Thodos Dance Chicago. Ari received her Master of Arts from Wayne State University in 2017. While in Detroit, she debuted a projection-mapped solo at the historic Detroit Music Hall titled Body Studies. Ari’s embodied lyric essay, titled “Body Studies: Arabets” was published in Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction, which was the recipient of the 2019 Michigan Notable Book Award. Reimagining the Mother of God which was generously supported by the Lynch and Sons Fund Institute of Arts. Ari is currently completing her MFA from Warren Wilson College and her Ph.D. In 2019, Ari performed in Theotokos: for the Arts and debuted Water Studies with the Detroit Dance City Festival at the Detroit from Wayne State University. She is the recipient of the 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellowship and was awarded the 2021 Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Grant for her forthcoming performance When Water Moves.



harris picture

Bill Harris, Art by Nicole Macdonald from her Detroit Portrait Series

Today on the blog, Bill Harris and I will be talking about his story, “That First Year the Business Was Wood,” from his award-winning Wayne State University Press collection, I Got to Keep Moving.

Bill Harris is a Wayne State University emeritus professor of English. He is a playwright, poet, and arts critic. His plays have been produced nationwide and he has published books of plays, poetry, and reappraisals of American history. He received the 2011 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist award.

It’s best to read the story before listening to our discussion so we don’t spoil the ending for you. Just click on this link below:

That First Year the Business Was Wood from I GOT TO KEEP MOVING







“I Got to Keep Moving” is available from Pages Bookshop here or Wayne State University Press here or Bookshop here or Amazon here.


I plan to continue discussing stories through the fall. Please let me know if you have a new book of short stories out so we can talk about it!



I Have the Answer has been out since April 11th. It was hard to market or even think about a new book this past spring, and if you are so inclined, I would love your help.

There are two main ways:

  1. Write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews at these places make a big difference and help drive sales. My hope is that people read the reviews and then purchase the book from their local indie bookstore like Pages Bookshop in Detroit!
  2. If you have already read and enjoyed the book, please let your friends know on social media with either a picture or just a suggestion that they might want to buy the book. Here’s a link to WSUPress for more information: Please use the hashtag with #IHAVETHEANSWER and please tag @WSUPress and @kfor24. 


I recorded a podcast last week for Without Books and if you haven’t heard of them, I highly recommend the short messages they record by authors reminding us all about the importance of books.

Stay safe and well.





Des headshot

Let’s deconstruct a story! Today Desiree Cooper and I will be discussing the story “Night Coming” from her 2016 award-winning short story collection, Know the Mother. 

In order to get the most out of our discussion, you might want to read the story first and then listen to our conversation afterward on Spotify.


Here’s a PDF of the story. (At the bottom of the page, you will find a link to purchase the book.)


Night Coming from KNOW THE MOTHER


Please enjoy our discussion here:

or directly on Spotify here.



know the mother cover

Bio: Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother, is a 2017 Michigan Notable Book that has won numerous awards, including 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cooper’s fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, CallalooMichigan Quarterly Review, The RumpusRiver Teeth, and Best African American Fiction 2010, among other publications. Her essay, “We Have Lost Too Many Wigs,” was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2019.  In 2018, she wrote, produced and co-directed “The Choice,” a short film about reproductive rights and recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Berlin Flash Film Festival, and Award of Merit from the Best Short Film Festival in Los Angeles. Cooper collaborated with the Dance Department at The College William & Mary to create a dance “Aloft” inspired by her feminist fiction which debuted in October, 2018. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for black poets, and has received residencies at Kimbilio and Ragdale.


WSUP here

Bookshop here

Amazon here.


In Other News:


Zilka Joseph is offering manuscript consultations and private classes right now! Joseph is an Ann Arbor poet whose work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in POETRY, Poetry Daily, Mantis, Kenyon Review Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, among other places and whose first full-length collection of poems Sharp Blue Search of Flame was published by Wayne State University Press (2016) and was a finalist for the Foreword INDIE Book Awards,  You can find out more information about her editing services here.

My new book I Have the Answer was named a Top Summer Indie Read by Kirkus Review!

Kirkus Review July 1 2020

If you have read the book and enjoyed it, I would truly appreciate a star rating on either Goodreads here or Amazon here. It only takes a minute and makes a big difference to authors like me.

If you are on Goodreads, please friend me so we can share our reading lists. I’m always looking for suggestions, but even more so during these isolating times…

See you in two weeks!

Dan Wickett of Dzanc Books





Dan Wickett pic

In honor of my new book, I Have the Answer, I’m going to spend the next year or so asking writers, readers, and random folks some silly questions. Here’s my first interview with the mysterious co-founder of Dzanc Books, Dan Wickett:


Hi Dan, I’m just wondering if you have the answer?

I don’t believe I have the answer to nearly any questions I ever consider. I might search for them–yet they do a fine job of staying just out of (or sometimes quite far out of) reach.

That is very disappointing. 


OK, um, Dan, given that you are clearly not going to lead us out of the abyss, what do you say to people who believe they have the answer?

To be succinct–I’m amazed by their confidence, or faith–whichever is the case.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of the world right now?


I know you visit the zoo frequently. Which is your favorite animal and why?

A seeming ever-changing answer to that one–right now, the pronghorns. They arrived a couple of months ago, seem quite young and so still interested in people. When they get moving they’re amazing–they’re basically created to not be able to be caught–able to jump sideways at near full speed and keep going. And their coloring of a light brown and white helps.


Picture of a Pronghorn by Dan Wickett, Detroit Zoo.

I’m assuming you bring books with you to the zoo and read aloud to the animals. If so, which ones have they enjoyed the most lately?

Ha! It IS indeed rare that I go out without some reading material. Not a ton of reading aloud to the animals, but the last book I took around with me and sat and read in view of more than one of the animals was Christina Kallery’s collection, Adult Night at Skate World.


Were the animals scandalized?

I think they survived it pretty well.

Thanks so much, Dan Wickett. You are the first person who has failed to provide the answer, but I predict you will not be the last. 


If you want to see Dan Wickett in the real world you might try the Detroit Zoo or you might try Brain Candy events on the third Mondays of the month at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn where he hosts a poet, a prose writer, an artist, and a musician.

Dan Wickett founded the Emerging Writers Network in 2000, Co-Founded Dzanc Books in 2006, and Brain Candy in 2018.


Perhaps the pronghorns have the answer?

Lewis and Clark made several other observations on the behavior of the pronghorn… They described the animal, which they referred to as the “Antelope” or the “Goat”, as follows: 

“Of all the animals we have seen the Antelope seems to possess the most wonderful fleetness. Shy and timorous they generally repose only on the ridges, which command a view of all the approaches of an enemy … When they first see the hunters they run with great velocity …”




kid i have the answer

I am happy to announce that my new collection of short stories, I Have the Answer, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press in one month and seven days! Woot!!

BUT I have a few copies now for the prelease low price of $15. If you are interested, see below:

I Have the Answer

Kelly’s new short story collection signed by the author. ($15.00 + $1 for shipping)


The first official book launch is tentatively scheduled at the Grosse Pointe Public Library on May 5th at the Central branch (10 Kercheval) of the Grosse Pointe Libary at 7pm.





Valerie Nieman headshot

Valerie Nieman



At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?


The Leopard Lady Speaks

This leopard-skin come onto me

when I lost love,

(this is not for the marks to know)

when my man’s absence 

set a hot kindle of distrust

that blowed back on me

as lack of faith 

in what is more worthy 

than some handful of spit and dust.

No wonder I lost

my natural color, trying to be

all things to him, and him not wanting

what I ever was or become or any between—

turning away like a spoiled child,

turning away like the sun eat up

by the moon, and not my doing

or undoing.

I scourged my soul,

turning myself inside out

to make him a better tent

against the weather of the world,

stretching myself across his failings

like a worn-through quilt 

on a wide cold bed.

They weren’t enough left of me

to fill a thimble, then,

but I gathered myself back up

and stood, feet reasonable

to the earth, liver’n lights settling back 

like I’d been dropped

from a high place,

and I was about satisfied,

but the letting-go of that man—

him of me then me of him—

left me streaked, specked, and spotted

like the flocks of Jacob,

and I opened my mouth to say 

the true things that underprop the world.





I chose this poem because it first chose me.  I was sitting with pen in hand, wait for lightning to strike, and it did — this voice arrived and kept visiting with me for many years until the entire story of Dinah (the Leopard Lady), the Professor, and their lives on the road with a mid-century carnival sideshow came into being. I didn’t so much write as excavate, make a space for her being.


Valerie Nieman’s third poetry collection, Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, includes work that first appeared in The Missouri Review, Chautauqua, and The Southern Poetry Review. “Steeped in sideshow tradition, and addressing issues of race, gender, self-concept, and creative expression, your book is beautifully written,” writes Lisa Schaefer, curator of The Coney Island Museum. Her fourth novel, To the Bones, a mystery/horror tale that takes on the coal industry and its effects on Appalachia, was published in 2019. Her poetry has appeared widely, from The Georgia Review to Crannog, and has been published in numerous anthologies, including Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. She has held state and NEA creative writing fellowships. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte and a former journalist, she teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University. 


Valerie Nieman book

Available for purchase at Press 53 here or Indiebound here or Amazon here.