Misty’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in international and national journals both in print and online, and in several anthologies. Her debut collection A LESSON IN MANNERS won the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award and was published by Snake Nation Press.

A Lesson in Manners

The ten stories in this haunting and hilarious collection offer a how-to manual for dealing with love, lies, and loneliness. Sam Wesson, an up-and-coming country-western singer, plots to get pregnant without her boyfriend’s consent, while Dacey, already pregnant, confronts her cheating husband over her secret checking account. Andrea rescues a stray dog to avoid facing her complicated human relationships. Sarah, an exotic dancer, longs for employment at a religious theme park, and Amelia dreams of creating impossible bonsai. Whether facing life-threatening illness or life-threatening loss, these characters scheme in humble, funny, sympathetic, and outrageous ways to find an etiquette that will deliver them from disappointment and shield them from crushing grief.

“Urban takes readers on an amazing journey in this exceptional collection of short stories. The author has an uncanny ability to explore relationships, love, and loss in a fresh and original way. These are powerful stories told by a strong voice and written with vivid precision, leaving readers wondering what happens to the characters after their stories end.” —Publisher’s Weekly starred review

“An extraordinary collection that distills the lives of ordinary people—refreshing, compelling, and moving.”  —Jacob M. Appel, Judge

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“A Lesson in Manners”



“Green Space”

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Short Fiction

“Ficus,” in District Lit

“It’s true,” the woman said. “I think I’m ready.”

She crossed her legs at the ankle. She touched the handles of her heavy shoulder bag and then patted her knee, like she was putting something into place.


“Happiness,” in The Cerurove 1

At twilight, two heavenly messengers appeared on my doorstep.

“We’ve come to bring you happiness,” they said.

I thought about it. “I’m already happy.”

“Pandemic,” winner in the River Cities’ Reader Short Fiction Contest 2017

The stainless steel door to my laboratory whispered open. The Director had her heavies with her, the tall Punjabi I’d named Muff and Scruff. The midnight-black car far below had rolled away, armored SUVS before and behind. So you see I was expecting this interruption; it did not take me by surprise.

“River Bottom,” in Fiction Attic

She sat on the deep wooden porch in the chair her grandfather had made, and she rocked.

“The Fitting,” in DOMESTIC (Willow Press, 2017)

My Aunt Nat’s bridal shop stood tucked between a fish fry place and a tourist mini-mart selling T-shirts, surfboards, and rack after rack of bathing suits and sunglasses. I tried prepping Parker to meet my aunt, but apparently chatting on the phone over bust measurements and train lengths had already turned them into old friends.

“Care of the Soul” in Karawane: Or, the Temporary Death of the Bruitist

So you know how sometimes you get this announcement from the universe on who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing, and it’s so loud and clear and “this is what I mean” that you really can’t afford to ignore it? Okay, so maybe not everyone.

“Tandem” was a finalist in the Bettendorf Public Library‘s 2016 NaNoWriMo short fiction contest

The jumpmaster hitched the strap around my waist and buckled it. I felt his hand brush my hip. “Tighter,” I said.

“That’s tight,” he said. Brandon said, “Mom.”

“The Last Word” appeared in Talking River 40

“She left me,” Tom says, looking straight ahead. “She walked out. Janie’s gone.”

I reach for a stool and sit down next to him, hard. “What?” I should try to sound more surprised. “When?”

“Welcome to LulutheLesbian.com!” was a finalist for the 2015 Novella Contest held by Minerva Rising Press

April 24. So, girls. Have you noticed all the new fashions this spring are in pink? What is this, the 1950s? It frightens me, ladies—it frightens me much—to see what the hetero world is doing to its women. This is third wave feminism, my friends and followers: we are now free to express our inner pinkdom?

“Planet Joy” was a semifinalist for the Cincinnati Review fiction contest (2014)

After Lou died, Caro developed motion sickness. She couldn’t fly. She couldn’t drive. She couldn’t ride the bus. She dropped the sailing team and left school and then withdrew from every part of the life she had built, sold her car, hung her bike at the back of the family garage, left her boat under canvas in its slip at the marina like a large parakeet indefinitely asleep.

“Sudden Gone” appeared in Moonsick Magazine Issue 2

A girl is walking crooked down a sidewalk, indigo sky, skin itching like a hunger. Think you know this story?

“A Lesson in Manners” collected in Sisters: An Anthology. Eds. Jan Freeman, Emily Wojcik, and Deborah Bull (Paris Press, 2009)

One day she notices it: about the size of a fortune cookie, a hard lump in her side underneath the skin. Best not to think about it, all those squishy organs in there with their unaccountable functions. Let it drift around her innards, float away.

Sisters: An AnthologyHysterically funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, this collection of original and rediscovered short stories, letters, essays, poems, and novel excerpts includes work by an eclectic chorus of famous and emerging writers. Sisters: An Anthology is as complicated and exhilarating as the relationships it reveals. The sisters in Sisters are guardians of memories and secrets; they are sources of love, protection, and comfort as well as rage, jealousy, and searing pain. At last an anthology that captures the pivotal relationship in the lives of so many girls and women throughout history and around the world!

“This fusion of fiction, poetry and memoir bubbles with childhood laughter but also sounds notes of pain and loss.”  — Ms. Online

“The Keeping of the Counts” appeared in Talking River 29

In school, Helen always did well in math—math, the universal language. She harbors a secret and feral love for the order of numbers, their logical translations, their illusion of control.

“Welcome to the Holy Land” in Roanoke Review XXXIII. Honorable mention in the 2007 fiction contest.

I’m in love with Jesus. He works at the Second Kingdom theme park in Tampa, Florida, just past the outlet mall off interstates 4 and 75.

“Trying to Find a Corndog in Tompkins County” in New Letters 73.2. First place, Alexander Cappon Award for Fiction. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

An ivory-billed woodpecker had been sighted in the Big Woods, where part of the Mississippi Delta still stretched its bottomland hardwood into Alabama. A bird thought extinct, invisible for sixty years. It was enough to haunt the dreams.
And, Dacey still hadn’t told Steve about the money.

“Monsoon” in Front Range Review

Every Sunday night she comes into the supermarket. She wears a black baseball cap championing Brazil in the 2006 World Cup. She has to come through my line because I’m the only checker there on Sundays, every Sunday, sure as dinner at grandma’s house. I look at the hat so I can look at her face without staring; I don’t want to be the creepy guy who stares.

“Someone in the House” in Dos Passos Review 3.1

Something is different: something is not as you left it. The house holds a suggestion, a vibration only, a signal of danger pulsing like waves of cold air. The cold comes from the basement. The waves come from the window, leaning open like a drunk.

“Still Life With Dog,” in Blackbird 5.1

The dog leapt out at her that afternoon so quickly that it took Andrea by surprise. Andrea had been the one to insist on going to see the new exhibit at the Walker. They wandered through the broad white rooms together, Dylan’s hand pressed into her shoulder, his fingers holding her like a warning. He was remarking on the composition of a Van Gogh, which was code, as were all his statements these days, for “Why won’t you say you love me?”

“Flight” in Grasslimb 4.1

I admit it’s been a long-awful day for both of us. What did it I guess was the crayons, though the dinosaurs were close to breaking me.

“The Memoirs of Sam Wesson” in Indiana Review 27. Winner of the 2005 Indiana Review fiction prize

I’m Sam Wesson. You may have heard of me; I’m known in Torrentown and some parts around. In fact, I was featured on KTRY’s folk hour a couple of Saturdays ago.

“A Lesson in Manners” in Quarterly West 59. Winner of the 2004 Writers @ Work Award for fiction.

“Table for Four” in CAIRN 3

It felt to her sometimes, in the middle of an evening rush like this, that she alone held the secret that animated this little restaurant; she alone had the hawk’s-eye view of its organization, its beating heart, and if she forgot the secret, if the knowledge went from her, everything around her would disappear.

“The Necessaries” in Oklahoma Review 5.2

Ben told me that the top floor of the Sears Tower moves anywhere from seven to thirteen inches in a good ripping wind.

“Saving Grace” in Asphodel 3

Grace has discovered that she is shrinking. She doesn’t know exactly when it began but she can see the effects now when she studies herself in the mirror, which she was never in the habit of doing, even when she was fuller and there was more to her to look at.

“Small Burials” in The Madison Review 25.2

Gary at least is up front about everything. My mother tries to trick me. She says she wants to see where I work. She tells me the group is for her, something about women with digestive disorders, and she wants me to come with her for moral support.


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