Just Plain Cynful

By Cyn Vargas


When my book is finally published where will bookstores decide to display it? The ‘Women Writers’ section? The ‘Latino Writers’ section? The ‘Chicago Writers’ section? The ‘35 and Over, Carb-Loving, Sailor Mouth Writers Under 5’4”’ section?

There are twelve stories in my short story collection, which is my thesis, and at least eight of them have Spanish words scattered throughout. Four are based in Guatemala or El Salvador and one is about someone who is from Venezuela. Tortillas make more than a handful appearances in my stories. So, yes, I am writing ‘Latin-American Fiction’.

Almost all of my stories are written in a female voice, told in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, and my narrators are kids, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. My stories just aren’t told from a male point of view very often. So, yes, I am a ‘Woman Writer’ writing stories about women.

But why can’t I just be shelved as a writer? Why do I have to be pegged as one thing? (Mind you, this is all hypothetical for now since no one has pegged me as anything, so I’m just thinking out loud here.)

The vehicle for all of these stories is me: a Latin-American woman trying to be a writer. For me that means taking all of my experiences and feelings, all of that stuff that makes me me, and putting them on the page as honestly as I can. How we view certain situations or characters, how we view the world, are the things that make one writer different from another. We all tell the same stories but in our own distinctive ways.

So why shouldn’t I feel comfortable with the labels ‘Latin-American Fiction’ or ‘Woman Writer’? They are part of who I am, aren’t they? At the same time, I can’t control what stereotypes people think about when they hear those labels, but I’m old enough to know I don’t care especially if someone is basing their book choices on the color or gender of the author and not on the quality of the work. Those things are all beyond my control.

First and foremost, I just want for my stories to be read. I want to get published and find my audience. I want to not just be a good writer, but a great one. That’s my focus. So if I do end up being labeled a ‘Latin-American-Chicago-Woman’ writer, well those things are true.


By Chris Prunckle

chris prunckle


Wannabe is a blog series by Chicago area artist Chris Prunckle, author of our serial graphic story Asylum Doors, documenting his trials and tribulations as a wannabe artist.  Check back next week for a new posting.

See the previous installment of Asylum Doors here.  Stay tuned for the next installment coming soon, but now on a monthly basis with fuller stories.


Chris Prunckle is a graphic designer, illustrator and comic book artist banished to the suburbs of Chicago. Though an advertising industry minion by day, he slaves his nights away creating a mad little world.  He’s previously worked on the comics Fisted, Bonesetter, and The Scarab.  Follow him at @midjipress.

It's a Pop Up Book Fair!

By Jacob S. Knabb


Curbside Splendor Publishing and The Chicago Writer's House are pleased to announce the 2nd installment in our seasonal series of POP UP BOOK FAIRS! Spend the afternoon of April 14th buying books. listening to live music, & networking with Chicago's Literati!

april 14th pop up book fair


40 of the finest independent publishers, presses, & booksellers from Chicago and elsewhere will be on hand from 1:30 pm until 6:30 pm at Chicago's finevenue for underground music The Empty Bottle hocking their goods. Quimby's Bookstore will also stock a table with a selection of books-n-zines penned by Chicagoans.

Just Plain Cynful

By Cyn Vargas


I have this fantasy that one day I’ll be on the train and across from me will be a person reading a book and the book will be my book. The person will seem to love it, will be all into it: smiling or crying or getting angry (whatever appropriate reaction that section of my book calls for). I will get up and we will briefly make eye contact. I'll smile and as I get off of the train, the person's head will snap back to the book and scan the back of it only to see my author photo. The doors will close as the person's mouth gapes, knowing that I am the author of the book they are falling in love with and then I will be gone in a blur.

What? I can have dreams, can’t I?

For me being a writer means I work alone. I write the first draft alone, revision 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all done alone. I don’t want to be looked at which is why I put my voice on the page, but then there’s that part of me that whispers, hey, check me out, yes?

Regardless of whether I ever get a book published, I will write. That’s a given, but there’s also part of me that wants to share my writing. Not because I think it’s the best thing ever written, but because I want to share my stories with others.

Putting myself on the page is my way of being raw and naked for all to see. No one likes to be judged and I know there are people that don’t like my work and I’m okay with that because judgment comes with the territory of being a writer. The flip side of course is that there will be people who love what I do.

I may be thirty-five, but that doesn’t mean I’m over wanting to be accepted by others. Mind you, it’s not the please-I’ll-change-who-I-am-I’ll-kiss-your-ass kind of acceptance. It’s the hey-I’m-a-writer-read-my-stories-hope-you-like-them-and-if-you-don’t-that’s-cool-too kind of acceptance.

I want my book to be published and for people to buy it, to read it, to enjoy it, and to recommend it. Rinse and repeat. Isn’t that why we writers work so hard? Revision after revision, submission after submission, rejection after rejection, we keep working because we want someone to like our stories enough to publish them and then share them with others.

So, yeah, I can admit it, I have literary fantasies of my book in many hands, of many eyes scanning my pages, hands and eyes that can’t get enough of my book, whether they are reading it on the train, or on the bus, or in their bed.

Asylum Doors - 21

By Chris Prunckle

chris prunckle 

asylum doors sould fly 


What happens when a psychic who can’t control her powers gets institutionalized?

Bryce Dekker is a young woman that has suddenly been given extraordinary power, a psychic link to her surroundings. In her desire to help others, she becomes entangled in a murder case where her knowledge of specifics has made her the #1 suspect.

Now mandated to undergo observation at Werthem Glen Sanitarium, Bryce is at the mercy of her fellow patients. Surrounded by madness and unable to control her power, she is having a hard time separating her thoughts from the insanity around her.

Bryce has found only one way to keep track of reality, and that’s by keeping a record of the visions and voices in her head. She has become the vessel for those around her, telling the stories of their illness. She is the biographer of their insanity. Their stories have become hers, and Bryce’s only hope is that by embracing the madness, she finds her sanity.

Asylum Doors is a serial comic we'll run every Wednesday.  See the previous installment here.  Stay tuned for next week's installment.


Chris Prunckle is a graphic designer, illustrator and comic book artist banished to the suburbs of Chicago. Though an advertising industry minion by day, he slaves his nights away creating a mad little world.  He’s previously worked on the comics Fisted, Bonesetter, and The Scarab.  Follow him at @midjipress.


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