Publication news: I accidentally wrote nonfiction

Yeshhh I wrote creative nonfiction and I liked it. Right up until I realized that it was going to be seen by actual people.

Like, people who know the people I wrote about. People who are the people I wrote about.

And that is what I get for working late at night when I should, in fact, be sleeping.

But hey, I found out a few weeks ago that by some act of God, I’m getting published again! And neither of these pieces are works of fiction, so I am both excited and nervous to be able to share them. Here goes nothing? Right. Good.

My Grandmother’s Garden


For those of you who don’t know me personally (hi), my family has been going through a rough patch. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer right before the 2014 holiday season began, and since then has had two operations, both of which have gone well (in case you were wondering, this doesn’t really make it less scary).

This is my grandmother spraying whipped cream into my cousin's mouth. We're just that classy.

This is my grandmother spraying whipped cream into my cousin’s mouth. We’re just that classy.

I didn’t really know how to process the news, when I first heard. Nobody ever tells you that when you get news like this, that somebody who has been there all of your life could suddenly maybe not be anymore… reacting is hard.

So I sort of buried it.

Then about a month ago, I was upstate with my grandma in Santa Rosa, California. It was spring there, and my grandma has just about the greenest thumb on planet earth, so her garden was in full bloom. I used to play on the pathways between her rosebushes when I was little, and I suddenly remembered that, right before we left to drive back to LA.

So while the rest of my family was packing the car, my grandma and I ducked outside for just a few minutes. “My Grandmother’s Garden” is the prose poem that came out of those moments together.

You can read “My Grandmother’s Garden” now in Germ Magazine.

How I WRote a Novel Online

Fine Lines

Funny story, I actually got approached to write this back in March. The awesome team at Pubslush (a crowdfunding platform solely for authors and publishers) sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in being featured. I work hard at keeping my sh*t together, so naturally I was like, “OMG UM YES IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION OF COURSE.”

I pitched a few ideas, and we settled on one we liked the best – which turned out to be a condensed summary of what this blog was about for the first 2 years of its life. How to write serial novels on the Internet (*snorts* like I know).

You really don't, though.

…you really don’t, though.

The post went live today on Pubslush’s blog Fine Lines, and in it are many references, including but not limited to Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, The Princess Bride, Neil Gaiman, and my first Figment novel Privateer.

(I’d now like to publicly thank E.R. Warren, Kimberly Karalius, Savannah Finger, and pizza for their oodles of help when I was writing this post.)

You can read “How I Wrote a Novel Online” now on Fine Lines.

–Samantha Chaffin

8 thoughts on “Publication news: I accidentally wrote nonfiction

  1. macfordd says:

    So good! Read both pieces and was blown away. 🙂 Congratulations on being published!! You deserve it!

    • samchaffin says:

      Thank you so much, Mac! 🙂 You are the best.

      P.S. Girl, you should totally send me a life update once in a while. Are you still Figmenting? Are you still writing (please say yes, or I might die)?

  2. Alyssa says:

    Aah, they’re both so beautiful! It has somehow never occurred to me that I might write nonfiction, because the only nonfiction I’ve read are boring history assigned texts, and Nothing to Envy. But I think you might have changed my mind. So, like, WRITE MORE NONFICTION. WRITE MORE EVERYTHING.

    • samchaffin says:

      😀 Ohh I’m so glad! You should definitely try your hand at it. I started getting into creative nonfiction in my last year of college, but I’m still too chicken to put any of my personal essay-type work out there. Maybe someday. Or I’ll just stick to writing weird poetry about my favorite ladies.

      Thank you for reading!

  3. Linda D says:

    Congratulations Samatha! So well-deserving. I engoyed both pieces. My Grandmother’s garden is beautiful in imagery and filled with what isn’t said (but implied) You are queen at that type of writing, leaving your reader’s imagination open to soar into the gaps. Brilliant. I knew there was a reason I enjoyed your writng. And your piece about writing Privateer brought back fond memories and agonizing ones too as I stood on cliffhanger after cliff hanger. I know I was one of those annoying reviewer who you had to ignore so you could get it finished. I am still longing for the day I can own that published book.

    • samchaffin says:

      Thank you so much, Linda! 🙂 Your encouragement has always been such a motivation to me. Thanks for continuing to read. Hope you’re doing well, and still writing up a storm!

  4. thejaneite says:

    Sam, you hero of everything ever! I love both of them (commented – boom). you’re inspiring and hilarious and really quite gifted. the poem brought the beginnings of tears to my eyes and the writing post made me want to run back to Figment and get back into that community that I miss thanks to adulting and the like. thanks or sharing yourself with the world. it needs you.

    p.s. Tina Fey gifs for every situation.

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