Reporting on green energy

Through the years, I’ve been carving out my beat of green energy. It’s what I’m interested in, not only for the implications on the economy, the electric grid, and technology, but also because I’m a science fiction nerd and believe green tech and renewable energy can help us realize better, cleaner futures.

I’ve been blogging mostly about my creative writing, but I also produce freelance articles as a journalist. Years ago, I interned at Electrical Contractor Magazine, and I’ve been freelancing for them ever since.

EC Mag, published by the National Electrical Contractors Association, covers the latest news about the electrical construction industry. It’s a niche publication, and I learned a lot about magazine writing and design as an intern.

Some of my recent articles cover the nearly 30 cities that have committed to renewable power, how to harness solar power during an eclipse, and the benefits of green energy for rural America.

The renewable energy industry in America, and worldwide, is growing. And it’s been great to follow it.

Check out EC Mag for all news about the electrical construction industry, especially features on the evolving role of the electrical contractorsafetycodes and standardsgreen building, and more.


District Lit seeks work for our Disability, Medicine, and Illness issue

District Lit is currently accepting poetry and creative nonfiction for our themed issue on Disability, Medicine, and Illness. We have Jen Stein Hauptmann, Assistant Editor at Rogue Agent, as a guest judge reading for this issue.

While District Lit is always open to work from writers with disabilities, this themed issue will highlight poetry and nonfiction about living with disability, illness, or medical treatments. We want writing and art about chronic illness, disability (visible and invisible), medical histories and procedures, recovery, and the body in all its forms. Send us your rawest poetry, powerful CNF, and embodied art.

The deadline is March 15, 2017.

Please submit your work.

“Ilana and the science experiment” published in Crack the Spine 🔬🔭⚗️


Ilana is just a typical seventh grade girl. She buys $1 lipsticks at the store with her friends and spends most of her day in school. She “was a little scared that she’d splutter and bubble on her way to becoming a woman,” but it doesn’t seem as dramatic as her older cousins have made it seem.

It was routine to bleed through all seven class periods for seven days. Until Paul told Ilana periods smelled.

Ilana has to face Paul’s comment, determine if she’s changing irreparably like tossing salt on a slug, or if she’s really able to stay the same while growing up. Read on in “Ilana and the science experiment” published in Crack the Spine.

2016 reflections

Some 2016 accomplishments I’m proud of:

  • Bottlecap Press published my book On that one-way trip to Mars.
  • More of my disability-themed poetry was published. Thanks The Deaf Poets Society, Noble/Gas Quarterly, The Fem, Wordgathering, Words Dance, and others.
  • I got to talk to so many amazing young scientists and women in STEM for stories with Society for Science & the Public. I’m so glad they’re the future.
  • Tabling with my sister Hannah Chertock at the first-ever @dcartbookfair was so much fun. We sold our art, and met amazing writers/artists.
  • I discussed poetry and diversity in literary magazines on panels at Split This Rock’s poetry festival and the Frostburg Indie Lit Fest.
  • My panel was accepted for AWP 2017. Excited to have conversations about building inclusive communities in publishing and literature.
  • I read poetry in NYC at Berl’s Poetry Shop for a Bottlecap Press featured reading. It’s great to meet poet friends in new places.
  • I got an LGBT short story published by Paper Darts. So happy it found a great home.
  • The first of my Forecast stories, detailing various eco-futures, was published by OMNI Reboot.
  • Moonsick Magazine published my short story on migrants, based on a heartbreaking episode of Story Corps.
  • In 2016, I got 13 poems and 5 stories published. I’m so grateful to each and every one of the online and print magazines that accepted my writing, and that rejected me. My writing has grown from each rejection — and I can’t wait to submit more, hopefully get more acceptances, and probably more rejections, along the way.

Here’s to 2017. To submitting more writing, supporting each other, and speaking up loudly! Happy New Year!

‘Wonder Women’ published in Paper Darts!

Wonder Women characters by Marlena Chertock. Illustrated by Meghan Murphy.

My short story “Wonder Women” was published in Paper Darts! They’ve been a goal publication of mine for years. I’ve been reading Paper Darts since college, when I fell in love with their short, weird fiction and rad art.

The editors worked with me to help shape “Wonder Women” into a stronger story. They suggested cuts, moving paragraphs around, and Meghan Murphy even illustrated it beautifully! I’m so grateful for their feedback, and for publishing me.

“Wonder Women” is a story about two girls who love comic books and comic-conventions, or cons. Nishka and Morgan are geeks, and are proud of it.

One, or both characters, is queer, or just beginning to explore that part of their identities. They argue about their “ships” in Ms. Marvel, try to avoid the crowds on the Metro, and pluck their chin hairs. They dress up as their favorite characters and call out street harassers.

Hope you enjoy!

10+ great podcasts to get you through your commute

I love podcasts. That’s something you hear a lot in the city, especially as a commuter. Podcasts can make your commute more enjoyable, even amidst the declining craziness of the Metro.

I also love radio, but in the underground tunnels with spotty service, it’s hard to get a clear signal. So over the years, my podcast collection has grown to dozens and dozens of shows. Some are about science (I’m a nerd), writing, news, and others are audio dramas or serialized scary stories. It’s weird to me that I can listen to audio horror since I’m such a weenie when it comes to scary movies — those jump cuts and the creeping music get me every time. But something about listening and being able to pause helps.

I wanted to share my favorite shows with you. This is not a complete list, just a few of the great podcasts that I’ve happened upon or took a friend’s advice to start.

1. STEM podcasts

Clearly, I’m a science nerd. Even more so, I’m obsessed with space. So I have a ton of podcasts focusing on science, space, and nature that I cycle between.

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  • Story Collider: Funny and gut-wrenching stories told by scientists. Delve into the inner-lives and behind-the-scenes of scientist’s days. They describe experiments gone wrong in the lab, trying to help their own family members with mental illness, embarrassing moments that anyone could face, and more. It’s become one of my favorite go-to shows for commutes or a break, since they typically fall under 20 minutes. So I can binge a few episodes at a time. The podcast also hosts live shows.
  • Transistor: PRX’s science podcast focuses on a range of science stories, from white and brown noise, poison squads for food, remaking the science fair, to peeing in your pants at 30. They even created a musical for trace elements.
  • Orbital Path: Michelle Thaller hosts this podcast on PRX, which aims to describe the cosmos. She explores a scientist who chases eclipses, the possibility of aliens, and the world without boundaries.
  • Outside/In: Sam Evans-Brown loves breaking down huge, confusing systems so listeners can understand. Things like the electric grid and living fossils, such as ginkgo trees and why they stink. Outside/In is a show about the natural world.
  • Outside Podcast: Explores the way people can’t survive extremes — and the way we attempt to. The resilience of the human spirit to survive intense situations like the Devil’s Highway, a blizzard, and even being struck by lightning.
  • Babes of Science: This is a great podcast by Poncie Rutsch that features historic women of STEM. Because we shouldn’t only remember Marie Curie.
  • Flash Forward: This podcast offers possible future scenarios. I love how much fun Rose Eveleth has with the intros that take place in different times in the future.

2. The Mortified Podcast

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Prepare to laugh out loud and snort in public if you listen to this podcast around others. Mortified never fails to lift my mood and get me smiling. The episodes range from 10-30 minutes, and feature adults reading their childhood diaries, journals, and classroom notes out loud in front of a room of strangers. It is absolutely hilarious. Fun fact: I submitted some terrible teen poetry to them during one of their calls and won the “Stephen Patrick Morrissey Award for Writing Totally Depressing Shit.” The podcast also hosts live shows.

3. Historically Black

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One podcast that has already captured my full attention is a partnership between The Washington Post and APM Reports. This podcast hopes to help celebrate and cover the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opens on Friday, September 23, 2016. Every week, the podcast will explore photos and objects almost lost to history that show the history of blacks in America. The first episode tells the story behind a photo of Miriam Mann, who was hired as one of NASA’s first human computers. The work of these human computers helped get astronauts into space and to the moon. The story of these black women computers will be shown in a film called “Hidden Figures” in January. I’m looking forward to hearing more about these stories and historical objects.

4. Inside Appalachia

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Appalachia is a region I haven’t explored at all — a whole place within my state and surrounding ones that I hadn’t even learned about in school. Inside Appalachia, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, destroys your stereotypes of the people who grew up and live there. Especially their hip hop episode, which is what got me hooked. Jessica Lilly explores the region’s rich history, food, music, and culture.

5. Bad With Money

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This is not your typical financial advice podcast. Gaby Dunn is not a financial expert. She’s freaked out by money and tries to get people to talk about something nobody ever talks about — like how much they make. I’ve just recently started listening to this podcast, and it’s already filled with moments of knowledge, surprise, dread, and more.

6. The Ladycast

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Alex Laughlin did the thing and started a podcast that inspires you to take control of your life and #dothething. The Ladycast offers conversations with women who are doing amazing things with their lives, from starting their own businesses, career transitions, to owning their (side) hustles. Great advice from awesome ladies! A good episode to start with is Alex’s chat with author and blogger Emma Gannon.

7. Song Exploder

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This is such a cool podcast, especially if you love learning how things are made. In Song Exploder, through Radiotopia, musicians take apart their songs and tell the story of how they were created. Hrishikesh Hirway either has an extremely diverse taste in music or is super connected to the music scene — probably both. Artists include Björk, Chet Faker, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sylvan Esso, and more. One of my favorites is the episode where Jeremy Zuckerman explains how he composed music for Avatar and the Legend of Korra.

8. Audio dramas

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Switching gears, these next few podcasts are audio dramas or serialized stories. Some are horror, thriller, or mystery, others are a mix of humor and sci-fi. There’s so many great audio drama podcasts, so I’m going to include a few of my faves.

  • The Bright Sessions: A science fiction audio drama about people in therapy. But these patients aren’t typical — they all have supernatural abilities. Creator Lauren Shippen documents their sessions and delves deeper into the background of their therapist, Dr. Bright.
  • The Black Tapes: Do you believe? The Black Tapes, from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, hosted by Alex Reagan, is one journalist’s search for truth, Dr. Richard Strand’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them through every episode. Warning: some episodes are likely to give you nightmares.
  • Limetown: From Two-Up Productions, Limetown follows journalist Lia Haddock as she investigates the infamous disappearance of a doomed research facility and an entire town full of people.

And there’s so many more. Have any suggestions? Let me know!