Review of All I Want to Do is Live by BookLife

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot: Ramsey captivates with this sensitive, soul-searching account of his life’s journey. The memoir’s thoughtful structure is marred only by some repeated stories that work to take readers out of the narrative.

Prose: In language that shifts from reflective to meditative to achingly tender, Ramsey aptly conveys a profound gratitude for life even in the midst of depression or emotional suffering. He has a particular talent for connecting the natural world with his inner life, offering descriptive prose that holds both dreamlike wonder and a dread of mortality.

Originality: Ramsey’s highly original approach to memoir, and his willingness to take narrative risks and discard a linear approach to time, draws in readers and leaves a haunting impression.

Character Development: Ramsey lays bare his vulnerabilities and chronicles his compelling quest for wisdom and meaning. Deftly shifting from his childhood to adult years and back again, and interspersing the narrative with art and poetry, Ramsey creates a delicate and beautiful web of emotion connections.

Blurb: Meditative and haunting, Ramsey’s memoir navigates hard emotional terrain with wonder and hard-won wisdom.

Click here for the full write up.

Review of All I Want to Do is Live by Rich Baiocco

A new review of my new book All I Want to Do is Live

“Something I always liked about Trace Ramsey’s zines (Quitter and Lasterday are the ones I’ve read) is how satisfying they are as objects. Whether it’s the transparency cover of Q9 illustrating a broken arm beside one on the mend wrapping the pages of a story in part about breaking & healing, or the literal unfolding of a 4-part mini-enveloped story in Lasterday, they have a certain thoughtful Pop quality about them that might get lost in translation from medium to medium. Like, the writing would transfer whether it was in a homemade photocopied pamphlet or online or in a bound anthology because Trace is a very good writer, but something else might get lost or left behind. I don’t know what that ‘something else’ is exactly (an expression of personality? a part of love? residue from the toil of making things on your own?), and it’s different for everyone, but I like finding it in various strangers’ zines. You don’t know that person, necessarily (you might FEEL like you know them though, right?), but you get a sense of that person. And I love that. It’s almost a texture. It’s why I hold on and add to a box of relatively cheaply made zines from over the years even though I’ve moved so many times it’d be easier to ditch ((and I’ve not found a good way to display them – they don’t have spines; clipped to wires gets cumbersome if they’re heavy; my tiny apartment cant really hold a good front facing shelf, and even if it could most of the cover gets obscured. It’s like they’re these little secrets, half hidden, deeply impactful non serious/life verifying trinkets I keep in a box for now). Definitely it’s the biggest reason why I like zines as an art form.

ALL I WANT TO DO IS LIVE is a bound book, no doubt, from a Press (Pioneers Press), but it isn’t a memoir, even though it consists of recollected stories from the author’s childhood and adulthood. It isn’t a bible. It isn’t a zine, or a collection of zine greatest hits, though it is in part put together from some of Trace’s zines. There are interviews, photographs, poems, flashes, comix, essays in various & repeating versions of draft (which was kind of cool to see how a story’s impact changes if it’s told differently). By the end I felt connected to the author’s experiences, through this sort of collage of expressions***, maybe in a way that was better than simply a collection of essays. Is that what creative nonfiction is? I’m okay with being thought of as dumb, I have no idea to be honest, but I like how this book pushes the boundaries out on what autobiography, memoir and perzine can accomplish. I hope to see more of this kind of re-imagining of accepted forms. New kinds of fictions too, new communications. And I look forward to reading more from Trace, in any form.

***How the poem Baby #2 enhances rather than dilutes the excellent essay Farthing Street; How the insight in some of the interview answers allow a perspective that a narrator cannot formally reveal; etc.”

Rejection – Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarship in Nonfiction

I applied for the Katherine Bakeless Nason Scholarship in Nonfiction for this year’s Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. From the Bread Loaf website –

New for 2017 – Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarships

Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarships support the conference’s goal of fostering a writing community that gives voice to writers of all backgrounds, ages, and experience. While literary merit is the main consideration for these scholarships, writers who meet one or more of the following criteria are encouraged to apply: a member of a historically underrepresented group; an individual who is in particular need of financial and creative support; a first-time Bread Loaf participant; or an applicant with a nontraditional literary or educational background.

I received my rejection over the weekend:

Dear Trace Ramsey:

I am sorry to let you know that we are unable to offer you a Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarship in Nonfiction for the 2017 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Each year we receive applications from many more writers than we can invite. To give you an idea of the competitiveness of this year’s applicant pool, we were able to offer an award to 4 percent of those who applied for financial aid, and we were able to invite 29 percent of those who applied as general contributors.

We greatly appreciate your interest in the conference and truly wish we could host all of the deserving writers who apply.

I wish you luck with your work and hope to see you another time.

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

Rejection from Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction

Another form letter rejection for my piece Black Vultures.

Dear Trace Ramsey,

Thank you for sending us your brief essay “Black Vultures”.

Although we do not have a place for your work in the issues for which we are currently reading, we wanted you to know that our readers read your essay closely.

We have been blessed with a large number of excellent submissions lately, and we hope that you understand that we can only publish a small fraction of the material we receive.

We wish you the best of luck with your writing,


The Editors

Check out the latest issue of Brevity.

Rejection for Passages North Literary Journal

On Sunday I received a form rejection from the literary journal Passages North published annually by Northern Michigan University.

Dear Trace Ramsey,

Thank you for sending us “Black Vultures.” We appreciate your interest in Passages North. The editors have carefully read your submission, but we regret that it does not meet our current needs.

Thanks again.

Passages North

Click here to read the latest issue of Passages North.

Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition rejection

Thank you for submitting your work to the 2017 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition. While we are sorry to tell you that your entry did not win, we appreciate your sharing your work with us. We wish you and your writing the best of luck, and hope that you will enter next year’s Rose Post contest.


The Staff of the NC Writers’ Network

You can see the winners here.

New review of Good Luck Not Dying

A new review by Abbie Foxton at Zine Nation:

Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying
by Trace Ramsey

I wondered what a small book was doing in my zine pile, it seemed to break the rules a little until I researched the lineage. Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying is the compiled work of zine author Trace Ramsey. Trace wrote and compiled Quitter. A zine from way back in 2005, squeezing them altogether into this bound gem in 2008 and again in 2014. It is very much worth many editions until every lit fiend on the planet gets their peeps on a copy. This is raw thoughts from someone who sees through the smokes and mirrors. Each chapter is a short essay on what is happening in his world. Moments from his youth, lost moments, working for the man and the toll it zaps from your body and psyche. It runs in and out of socio-economic scenarios and the perceptions on the working class, his and what others see. It deals with those moments of poverty, desperation and why striving to be something that there are far too many of, is a waste of time. Trace is into quitting big time, but in so doing becomes a winner. There is a beautiful, witty level headiness that starts your motor with emphatic nods of knowing “Yes, we are made for more than this…” the future isn’t looking the brightest. This zine is available through Pioneers Press. (Reviewed by Abbie Foxton)