Empty Sink Publishing

Good Stories. Period.

Empty Sink Publishing — December 2017 Update

December has been one of my favorite months for the past four years because it’s the month we get to announce our nominations for that year’s Pushcart Prizes. This year, we were able to nominate six of the best stories that Empty Sink has ever published. They are:

Automatically Hip, by John McCaffrey
Rites of Passage, by Victoria Barycz
The Sound of Trees, by Spencer K. M. Brown
Opportunity Knocks, by Rachael Levitt
My First Trip to the Mental Hospital, by Monica Behr
Cannonball, by Matt McDonald

Each of these stories has its own personality. These stories present worlds to inhabit–not just words on the page. Each one was a welcome reminder that in the age where your phone can answer almost any question you ask it, the human condition still contains depths of mysteries that are sometimes best plumbed via the medium of written fiction.

We hope you are able to take some time during the holiday season to relax with a good story or two, and our Pushcart nominees are a great place to start!

–Branden and Adam

Empty Sink Publishing November 2017 Update

At this time, Empty Sink is on an indefinite hiatus from publishing new fiction. But we still plan to provide some periodic updates for you regarding artists and authors we’ve worked with in the past. We’re also going to reflect on some of our favorite pieces and look at how they’ve aged over time.

One of the things we’re most excited about right now is the upcoming release of A Different Kind of Fire, the debut novel from our former fiction editor, Suanne Schafer. I am about seventy pages from the end of the book right now, and I can’t wait for other people to read it. Set around the turn of the 20th century, it follows the life of artist Ruby Louise Schmitt from the plains of Texas to the streets of Philadelphia and back. It’s an incredible story with fantastic writing. Look for a Spring 2018 release–we’ll update you with exact dates when they are available.

Vakseen — Swan Psalm

Meanwhile, inaugural issue contributor and Issue 18 interviewee Otha “Vakseen” Davis III continues to set the art and music worlds on fire, with his Vanity Pop series continuing its meteoric rise in popularity and his K-pop productions going platinum worldwide. His art has been featured in galleries from Miami to Los Angeles this past year, and his most recent album release hit number one on twenty-three charts around the globe just one day after its release. Vakseen is not just one of our favorite artist contributors, but also one of our favorite contemporary artists period.

This month, I want to take a look back at one of my all-time Empty Sink favorites: Call Me Pomeroy, by James Hanna*. Call Me Pomeroy is one of my favorite short stories of all time. The first time I read it, I felt like I was being offered a view into a world I had no idea existed. Hanna, a former probation officer who is intimately familiar with the criminal mindset, captures the narcissistic character of Pomeroy perfectly. Despite his delusions of grandeur, despite his extremely disturbing attitude toward the opposite sex, at the end of the day, Pomeroy becomes a character that we can’t help but admire. Not to mention, the story is funny as hell. Just as politically relevant now as it was when we published it four years ago, Call Me Pomeroy is one of our longer stories, but it’s well worth the time.

We’ll be back in a month or so. In the meantime, happy reading! Don’t forget to tip your authors.

*We’ve published several other stories by Hanna and interviewed him here.

October 2017 — “Cannonball,” by Matt McDonald

Clowns. Much like the platypus, they are a wonder of nature that can simultaneously entertain and horrify. And while clowns feature prominently in “Cannonball,” author Matt McDonald instead relies on the innocent malevolence of children to do the dirty work in his story. An interesting take on the human cycle of acquisition and abandonment, “Cannonball” will make you laugh until you realize just how far things are about to go, and by the time you’ve gotten that far, it’s too late to do anything about it, so you might as well enjoy the ride.

“Cannonball” is the final story in this iteration of Empty Sink Publishing. We are going on indefinite hiatus at this time. Adam and I are both honored to have had the opportunity to publish such incredible authors and artists over the past four years. Our contributors and their work are constant proof that the art of storytelling is not dead; it’s very much alive, has claws, and is terribly hungry.

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep telling the stories people want to hear, and especially the ones they don’t.

–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 10/1/2017

September 2017 — “My First Trip to the Mental Hospital” by Monica Behr

One of the things I love about the written word is that, when well crafted, it is the closest we can come with current technology to actually getting inside someone else’s head and feeling what they’re feeling. Well-crafted stories do that to you—they pull you in and make you swap places with the protagonist. You can smell the smells, hear the sounds, and feel the way they feel.

Author M. Behr.

It’s always exciting to find literature that does this, which is why we are thrilled to present M. Behr‘s “My First Trip to the Mental Hospital” as our story for September 2017. Without pretext or preparation, Behr plunks the reader directly into the middle of the action, and we immediately feel the weight of the situation in which the protagonist finds herself. This story has its own gravity, and we’re quickly pulled into its orbit to breathlessly circle and watch the narrative unfold until we’re ultimately released by the final words.

Behr’s “My First Trip to the Mental Hospital” is a heavy ride into the sideways world of mental health. But Behr doesn’t wallow in that. Instead, Behr uses this situation to explore the emotions related to the situation itself, and in doing so, allows the reader a direct glimpse into the protagonist’s reality and her soul.

Join us next month for one more story before Empty Sink goes on indefinite hiatus. You won’t want to miss this one—think Chuck Palahniuk meets Ringling Bros.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor—9/1/2017

August 2017 — “Opportunity Knocks,” by Rachael Levitt

The first time I read this month’s story, I couldn’t help but smile throughout. Our narrator, Mrs. Patricia Hydell, is on the hunt for a pregnancy test for her daughter, and we watch as she navigates the unfamiliar aisles of a Hispanic farmacia in an attempt to avoid being seen by someone she knows. Patricia’s fish-out-of-water antics juxtapose the serious nature of her mission, and her humorous struggle to maintain composure is one of the most endearing parts of the tale.

But upon a second read, deeper themes and questions emerge. What does it mean to be a mother? A wife? What’s the difference between the love for a daughter and the love for your husband? What kind of world is this where something so precious to one can be such a burden for the other? Author Rachael Levitt uses a light touch to explore these heavy topics, giving them the same consideration that Patricia might give to a pot luck dinner offering.

Opportunity Knocks” exposes a character with deep internal conflicts and sets her loose in a world completely outside of her control. While the results are occasionally light-hearted, the overall considerations will have you speculating the true nature of Patricia’s conflict for days.

Happy reading,

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor—8/1/2017

July 2017 — “The Sound of Trees” by Spencer K. M. Brown

Last month, we took you on a sweltering summer camping trip with “The Weebies.”

This month, we’re cooling things down with some frostier scenery.

In Spencer K. M. Brown‘s “The Sound of Trees,” our narrator, Ellis, toils in the cold of winter to take care of his ailing parents as he deals with his own internal struggles.

Having lost both his child and his wife (albeit in different ways) Ellis faces a somewhat hopeless world, which begs the question: what compels him to continue forward?

Find out in this month’s story, “The Sound of Trees,” by Spencer K. M. Brown.

Oh, and before you read “The Sound of Trees,” ask yourself these questions: if I walked out on the porch this morning and found a dead bird, would I bury it, or throw it in the garbage, and why? The answers may help you more completely understand both yourself and our narrator.

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 7/1/2017

June 2017 — “The Weebies,” by Samuel Cole

Ah, summer. It’s that glorious time of year when the kiddos are out of school and everyone lives in the water. All over the country, campsites are filled with families spending their days splashing in the river and their nights gathered around the campfire. But as we see in this month’s story, “The Weebies” by Samuel Cole, such family reunions sometimes dredge up the past, and confronting that past can be a harrowing experience. So it is for Walker Weebie, who reunites with his siblings and their children for a fourth of July camping trip. Walker journeys through the weekend like a modern-day Odysseus, and the challenges he faces grow more grueling as the trip nears its end.

So put on your sunscreen, pull up a lawn chair, and grab a Miller Lite from the red cooler next to the tent. It’s time to go camping with “The Weebies.”

–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, Empty Sink Publishing

May 2017 — “Rites of Passage,” by Victoria Barycz

Welcome back to Empty Sink Publishing.

This month, we bring you a harrowing piece of creative non-fiction by writer Victoria Barycz, who trains her eye on the heartbreaking topic of abuse and domestic violence. This is a short piece–less than 700 words–but it packs so much into those words that you’ll continue to ponder it for days to come. Raw, gritty, and to the point, we couldn’t be more pleased to publish, “Rites of Passage.”

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, EmptySinkPublishing.com

Welcome to the new Empty Sink Publishing!

For those of you who have followed us in the past, thank you for sticking around through our hiatus. We hope you enjoy our new focus on short fiction and creative non-fiction.

For those of you who are joining for the first time, let me catch you up. Empty Sink Publishing began life as an online literary and arts magazine in November 2013. Over three years, we published eighteen issues of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual art, and we loved every minute of it.

Things change, as they tend to do, and for a multitude of reasons, around the three year mark, we were forced to make some decisions. After much research and discussion, we decided to narrow our focus and publish one piece of short fiction or creative non-fiction a month. This would give us more time to work with authors on their pieces and promote those pieces on social media.

For our first story, we chose “Automatically Hip” by author John McCaffrey. In “Automatically Hip,” McCaffrey reflects on the life of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk–specifically, the time when he was arrested for possession of drugs that were not his, and the subsequent impact of his incarceration on those around him. The story is told as a series of monologues, and the language and punctuation mimic a jazz solo. This story has a rhythm, and once you fall in, you’re in ’til the last note, baby.

So, please enjoy “Automatically Hip,” and when you get done reading the piece, hop over to our new Author Q & A section to learn more about the writer and the cartoon that inspired this story.

And if you want to get a sneak peek at our upcoming releases, sign up for the Empty Sink newsletter. I promise: we only write when we have something worth saying or updates worth paying attention to.

Take care, keep reading, and thank you for joining us for the relaunch of Empty Sink Publishing!
–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 04/01/2017

Welcome to Issue 18

Welcome to the final issue of Empty Sink Publishing.

Adam, Suanne and I are proud of everything we’ve done here at Empty Sink. We’ve published scores of excellent work from poets, authors, and artists from around the world. Putting out this magazine has been a labor of love for all of us, and it is with bittersweet sentiment that we bid it farewell.

On the other hand, none of us can imagine a life without Empty Sink, and we all feel like there’s still more for us to do. We knew that we needed to refocus our efforts. We also knew that we were done with the magazine format.

What we kept coming back to was the idea of publishing short stories. Both Suanne and I are passionate about the form and enjoy working with authors to edit their pieces. And with the advent of a wireless world and people using cell phones as reading devices, we know that short fiction is accessible in a way it never has been before.

We toyed with several different ideas, but in the end, we decided to abandon the magazine format in favor of publishing one quality piece of short fiction per month. This will allow us to focus our efforts on working exclusively with one author at a time to edit and publish their fiction.

We’re very excited about what the future holds and look forward to sinking our teeth into this new endeavor. More to come soon as we prepare to accept submissions again. Our goal is to have our first story out in April, so stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates about everything Empty Sink. Even better, sign up for our newsletter and get updates before anyone else!

In the meantime, and without further ado, we bring you the final issue of Empty Sink Publishing, the magazine. As a farewell surprise, we’ve welcomed back many of our favorite authors, poets and artists for this issue. And finally, a thank you to all our readers. We hope you’ve enjoyed this magazine as much as we’ve enjoyed publishing it, and look forward to seeing you with more stories in 2017!

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, December 18, 2016



Kim Farleigh — Freedom

Paul Lewellan — Ms. Primrose’s Perfect Feet

Franco Strong — Sussurros de Recurrencia

Jesse Lynn Rucilez — Epicenter

James Hanna — Sam the Poontang Man

Lewis Carter — The Constant Crypt Guard: A Retrospective Epiphany in Three Parts

Darryl Graff — The Apartment


William C. Crawford — The 18 Minute Rule Throws Jimmy Pro For A Loop In Gotham City

Suanne Schafer — Interview with author Orna Glick

Adam Dubbin — Interview with artist Vakseen


Kurt Newton — Three Poems

James B. Nicola — Four Poems

Charlie O’Hay — Two Poems

William Doreski — Four Poems

John Grey — Three Poems


W. Jack Savage — Five Images

Clint Van Inman — The Other Clint

Michelle Dalton — Five Images

Vakseen — Six Images

Jim Pollock — Seven Images

James Devlin — Alternate Take Number Five

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