While camping, I inadvertently took some photos that perfectly illustrate the idea of “ambiance” in writing. Word choice conveys mood, and two different characters (perhaps one character is in a good place in their life, while the other has been traumatized and sees darkness and danger everywhere) will see and describe the same setting/situation in very different ways. How does this manifest in my photos? Photos of the same meadow at different times of the day.

The photo above is of the meadow at nightfall, after a day of rain, with the fog rolling in. It is dark and spooky and moody. The photo below is the same shot but on a sunny summer day. It’s light and bright and safe.

June 2021 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “The Boulevardier,” by David Stevens (Pseudopod 753)
  • 2: “Man vs. Bomb,” by M. Shaw (Fantasy Magazine Podcast, 3-9-21)
  • 3: “A, S, D, F,” by Said Sayrafiezadeh (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 5-25-21)
  • 4: “The Udon at Tashihara’s,” by Joachim Heijndermans (StarShipSofa 661)
  • 5: “First Person Shooter,” by Charles Yu (Selected Shorts, 5-27-21)
  • 6: “Portable Mrs (Selected Shorts, 5-27-21)
  • 7: “Gertrude (Selected Shorts, 5-27-21)
  • 8: “Langsuir,” by Nadia Mikail (Cast of Wonders 453)
  • 9: “By Our Own Hands,” by Anya Leigh Josephs (Fantasy Magazine Podcast, 5-25-21)
  • 10: “St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid,” by CL Polk (LeVar Burton Reads, 4-19-21)
  • 11: “The Woman the Spiders Loved,” by Couri Johnson (Pseudopod 757)
  • 12: “The Memory of Love,” by Trace Conger (Pseudopod 757)
  • 13: “Three Years Ago this May,” by Peter Adam Saloman (Pseudopod 757)
  • 14: “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death,” by James Tiptree Jr. (Drabblecast 445)
  • 15: “The Women in My Family,” by Charlie Davenport (Tales to Terrify 487)
  • 16: “The Sins of the Fathers,” by Gina Easton (Tales to Terrify 487)
  • 17: “This Won’t Hurt a Bit,” by John Saxton (Nocturnal Transmissions 105)
  • 18: “The Mothman’s Second Escape,” by J. Askew (The Other Stories 65.1)
  • 19: “The Gallian Revolt as Seen From the Sama Sama Laundrobath,” by Brenda Kalt (The Overcast 150)
  • 20: “The Woman Under the Stairs,” by Jordan Krom (The Wicked Library TDiB S1E8)
  • 21: “Alvin,” by Jonas Elka (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 4-13-21)
  • 22: “Naked Ladies,” by Antonya Nelson (The New Yorker Fiction, 3-2-18)
  • 23: “Zest for Life,” by NRM Roshak (StarShipSofa 660)
  • 24: “The South Asian Speakers Series Presents the Archeologist and Adventurer Indiana Jones,” by Tania James (Selected Shorts, 5-20-21)
  • 25: “Today, You’re a Black Revolutionary,” by Jade Jones (Selected Shorts, 5-20-21)
  • 26: “On a Day Tammy Had Not Eaten Enough Yellow,” by Kenneth Calhoun (Selected Shorts, 5-20-21)
  • 27: “This is Not My Adventure,” by Karlo Yeager Rodriguez (Cast of Wonders 450)
  • 28: “The Sweetest Source,” by JL Jones (Fantasy Magazine Podcast, 5-11-21)
  • 29: “Salt,” by Rosemary Melchoir (LeVar Burton Reads, 3-29-21)
  • 30: “Empty Houses,” by Caspian Gray (Nightmare Magazine Podcast, 6-9-21)

On the longer reads front, I finished Pandemic by Sonia Shah.

In addition to reading this month, I watched the lost Romero movie. I was EXTREMELY disappointed since Shudder was promoting it as the “lost Romero movie about the horrors of aging.” Instead, it was a public service announcement by an up-and-coming filmmaker. Looking at it through that lens, it was pretty interesting. It has a frame story, and the narrator tells you in the beginning, “Remember, as you watch the film, one day, you will be old.”

I still have been too busy to begin any new writing projects, but . . . I am considering/exploring a nonfiction project. It is completely outside my wheelhouse, but it intrigues me. I think I can write it and do a good job of it, but I’m worried about whether there is a market for it or not. I hate to spend six months to a year working on a project that’s just going to be greeted with crickets. So, as much as it interests me, I’m not sure it’s worth the investment of my time.

Aside from the big nonfiction project, I have two flash fiction contests I’m mulling over writing something for and a ridiculous “might as well win the lottery” contest I probably won’t write anything for. In other words, there’s a whole lot of “thinking about writing” going on and very little actual writing happening. And, in case you are interested, the “might as well win the lottery” contest is from LeVar Burton Reads. Yes, one of the best spec fic podcasts is looking for stories. If you have something, I highly encourage you to submit it!

That’s it for this month! Until next month, stay spooky!

Oops!

The end of April was insanely busy, and things haven’t slowed down much, so I’m doubling up on the blog. Oh, wait, that’s right, keep a positive outlook: I’m not behind; I’m gracing you all with a super-sized double-issue! Aren’t you lucky? <wink>.

I will warn you, though, since this post covers the events of two months, it’s going to be all over the place with ADD/Shiny-shiny syndrome. This double-issue will have updates, reading lists, random ponderings, and rants (an issue with issues; NICE!)

First, the biggest news: I passed my Poetry and Prose of World War I class and have just one class left before I graduate. It was an incredible feeling to sign up for the final class required for my degree and see that “Academic Progress” pie chart finally fill up. It’s only been some thirty years in the making, lol!

After I finish this last class in the fall, I’d really like to continue taking classes. This time, though, they will have to be online or after-hours classes. I’m totally over walking across campus in -40 degree weather and starting work at 6: 45 am in order to make up the hours I’m gone to class. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given. I appreciate that the university offers the benefit of classes to employees and that I have a supervisor who is willing to work schedules around classes. It’s awesome! But as Danny Glover’s character says . . .

I’ve done quite a bit of reading lately, especially longer reads.

I finished Winter Counts.

I finished reading A Farewell to Arms for my class.

I finished reading In the Dust of This Planet.

Now I’m working on Pandemic by Sonia Shah. The book was written in 2016, but she predicted SO MANY THINGS about the Covid pandemic. She’s a modern day Nostradamus, only *her* predictions actually came true!

I’m also working on the Audible version of The Lakota Way. I enjoy spirituality/philosophical books, and this is a nice change from the rigors of In the Dust of This Planet. Right off the bat, there’s a great takeaway that I’m trying to incorporate into my life as a personal philosophy: let the window blow through you.

Sadly, I still haven’t made much progress in Lovecraft’s letters. It’s a constant cycle of “read a few pages; wander away for a month and forget where I left off.” Sorry, Lovecraft, your correspondence is kinda boring. I’m still determined to do it, though, because this is my pet project!

Also, I can’t find it anywhere in the blog, but I finished reading Nomadland a bit ago. Now I want to see the movie, especially since it has one of my favorite actresses, Frances McDormand, in it!

In spite of everything, I was able to keep up with my short story reading, too. Here are the lists for April and May!

April 2021 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “New York Girl,” by John Updike (New Yorker: Fiction, 9-3-18)
  • 2: “His Last Bow,” by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 3: “The Takeback Tango,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-8-21)
  • 4: “The Eyes Have It,” by Philip K Dick (Selected Shorts, 2-25-21)
  • 5: “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker (Selected Shorts, 2-25-21)
  • 6: “Bargain,” by Sarah Gailey (Cast of Wonders: CatsCast 341, 4-1-21)
  • 7: “Extermination,” by OD Hegre (Tales to Terrify 472)
  • 8: “The Loathly Opposite,” by John Buchan (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 9: “Early Bird,” by Taylor Allgood (Nocturnal Transmissions 99)
  • 10: “My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me,” by Jesse Eisenberg (Selected Shorts podcast, 3-4-21)
  • 11: “Rattlesnake Song,” by Josh Rountree (Pseudopod 746)
  • 12: “You Have Been Turned into a Zombie by a Friend,” by Jeremiah Tolbert (Fantasy Magazine Podcast, 6027-11)
  • 13: “Tango,” by Kurt Vonnegut [performed by the wonderful Tony Shalhoub] (Selected Shorts podcast, 3-4-21)
  • 14: “A Wrinkle in the Realm,” by Ben Okri (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 2-2-21)
  • 15: “The Fire Eggs,” by Darrell Schweitzer (StarShipSofa 656)
  • 16: “Daddy,” by Damion Wilson (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-15-21)
  • 17: “The Book of the Kraken,” by Carrie Vaughn (Uncanny Magazine Podcast 39B)
  • 18: “The Secret of Theta Pi,” by Stephanie Gray (Drabblecast 442)
  • 19: “The Tale of Descruptikn and the Product Launch Requirements Documentation,” by Effie Seiberg (Cast of Wonders 390)
  • 20: “Louise, Your Shed’s on Fire,” by Matthew Weber (The Wicked Library 728)
  • 21: “My Cat Hates Me,” by Luke Kondor (The Other Stories 61.2)
  • 22: “Captain Carthy’s Bride,” by KG Anderson (The Overcast 147)
  • 23: “Cleaver, Meat, and Block,” by Maria Haskins (Pseudopod 745)
  • 24: “The Crooked House,” Jonathan Lethem (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 3-2-21)
  • 25: “Katania,” by Lara Vapnyar (The New Yorker: Fiction, 4-1-21)
  • 26: “The Female of the Species,” by Tara Campbell (StarShipSofa 657)
  • 27: “Alluvial Deposits,” by Percival Everett (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-22-21)
  • 28: “The Day I Didn’t Get a Pet Nebula,” by Effie Seiberg (Drabblecast 443)
  • 29: “Luchadora,” by Melissa Mead (Cast of Wonders 389)
  • 30: “I Think My Treehouse is Haunted,” by Philip Fracassi (Tales to Terrify 476)

May 2021 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “Play Fetch,” by Dan Howarth (The Other Stories 62.1)
  • 2: “As Well as the Infirm,” by Scott Beggs (Pseudopod 751)
  • 3: “Good-Looking,” by Souvankham Thammavongsa (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 2-23-21)
  • 4: “Stone Mattress,” by Margaret Atwood (The New Yorker Fiction, 6-1-18)
  • 5: “The Prey,” by John Wolf (StarShipSofa 658)
  • 6: “Paradise Retouched,” by Marc Laidlaw (Nightmare Magazine Podcast, 4-21-21)
  • 7: “The Regression Test,” by Wole Talabi (LeVar Burton Reads, 3-1-21)
  • 8: “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change,” by Kij Johnson (Drabblecast 407)
  • 9: “Snowfather,” by Josh Rountree (Tales to Terrify 481)
  • 10: “Cornstalkers,” by Matthew Bradford (Tales to Terrify 481)
  • 11: “Al-Kitab Al-Ghoul: Being the singular Memoir of Ibn al-Warith, the Only Known Son of Abdul al-Hazrad, Called the Mad Arab by Some,” by Aaron Vlek (Nocturnal Transmissions 101-102)
  • 12: “Blood Pressure,” by TD Trask (The Wicked Library 726)
  • 13: “Call Out,” by Mike Edward Evans (The Other Stories 61.4)
  • 14: “The Artist and the Door,” by Dorothy Quick (Pseudopod 750)
  • 15: “The Shape of a Teardrop,” by T. Coraghessan Boyle (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 3-9-21)
  • 16: “Ice in the Dark,” by Joachim Heijndermans (StarShipSofa 620)
  • 17: “Killer of Kings,” by Anjali Sachdeva (LeVar Burton Reads, 3-15-21)
  • 18: “Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine Podcast 40A)
  • 19: “The Hands of Heroes,” by Cat Rambo (Drabblecast 444)
  • 20: “Unnamed,” by Monte Lin (Cast of Wonders 451)
  • 21: “When the Stars are Right,” by Sarah Hans (Tales to Terrify 483)
  • 22: “Exquisite,” by Alan Baxter (Pseudopod 755)
  • 23: “Old Babes in the Wood,” by Margaret Atwood (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 4-20-21)
  • 24: “Gallatin Canyon,” by Thomas McGuane (The New Yorker: Fiction, 5-1-21)
  • 25: “Strangers When We Meet,” by Shannon Phillips and Christian Chadwell (StarShipSofa 659)
  • 26: “Vaccine Season,” by Hannu Rajaniemi (LeVar Burton Reads, 4-12-21)
  • 27: “Rubberdust,” by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Selected Shorts, 5-6-21)
  • 28: “Sir Henry,” by Lydia Millet (Selected Shorts, 5-6-21)
  • 29: “Pen or Perish,” by Connie Millard (Tales to Terrify 484)
  • 30: “Winter,” by Rory Say (Nocturnal Transmissions 103)
  • 31: “The Infernal Itch,” by Bruce Boston (The Overcast 148)

Now on to the rants section!

The whole thing about the Naomi Osaka controversy really got me thinking.

One of the things I’m really enjoying about the last decade or so (maybe a part of getting older and getting to GAF less) is that I’m starting to question everything. All this, “that’s the way it’s always been” sort of stuff. More and more, I find myself going, “WHY? WHY has it always been that way? And finding that it probably shouldn’t be.

An example is Osaka. The public has always talked about “the price of fame.” If you’re going to be famous, then you have to deal with the fans and people always getting up in your personal space. Really? Why? Why does being famous mean that you have to be on 24/7 and allow people in your bubble?

And if you are any kind of public figure (rapper, author, actor, and even athlete), you often have contract obligations to engage and interact with the public. It’s something that’s just accepted as part and parcel of the fame. But Osaka’s balking at it has made me think, WHY?! Why do we have to allow the public access to us? I can’t believe it never occurred to me to question this before. I hate public events. I’m an introvert. I don’t mind being here on the internet blogging and communicating on my terms, but the idea of holding a reading or book signing or press conference TERRIFIES me. But, until recently it’s a part of the job, it’s expected, and even I meet it with, “ugh, it’s awful and I hate it and it’s sheer hell and torture but I guess I have to do it . . .” I just blindly accepted that it is what it is. BUT WHY? Why should it be that I, or a sports player, or an actor, has to agree to give up some of themselves for public consumption in order to be involved in their art/profession?

I know when I had a couple of stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, they encourage (and give lots of resources to help their authors do) book signings. They are great, because they don’t require it and just want to give you the tools to have a great signing should you choose to have one. But some publishers require it. The “book tour” is a well known, expected part of the publishing process. I just don’t think it should be required. Obviously, for some people (like Osaka; like me; like many others), this sort of forced access/availability can be detrimental to our well-being.

So, spoiler alert: I ain’t never doing a book tour. You’ll never see me in a booth at a Comic-Con. You’ll never see me at a book signing. You might see me at a reading, if I decide it’s something *I* want to try. But I won’t be forced into it. You are, however, more than welcome to interact with me on Facebook and Twitter, and by contact on my website. Of course, I’ll never be famous enough to have this kind of a problem, but if I did, I’d hope I get to choose how I handle my fame, and I totally support Osaka’s decision.

More rants . . .

We had our first camping trip of the year over the Memorial Day weekend. While it was a great trip, two events stood out from all the rest.

One was that this little guy ran into the camper window and knocked himself loopy. I happened to look up just as he hit and I saw him go <splat> like a cartoon. However, my eyes must have deceived me based on the very loud thump he made when he hit. I went outside expecting to see a bigger bird. I was terrified when I saw how small and pitiful he was. I was sure a bird his size could never survive a hit like that.

Luckily, he did. He hung out in my hand until he had all his feathers back in order and he could open his eyes again. I’m sure he had quite a headache! He didn’t want to leave my hand, but I gently encouraged him into a little shoebox I put on the table beside the camper (so he could recover without some hawk or something bothering him). I peeked out at him every now and then, and about a half hour later, he was gone, with nothing left behind but a little poo!

That was the good event.

The bad event is that our fridge went out. Yes, you heard right: the fridge went out in my one-year-old, brand new camper. Of course, the fridge is only warrantied for a year. Am I pissed off? Yes. First camping trip of the season, and I ended up throwing away a ton of food that couldn’t be saved and running to Walmart to buy a cooler to save the food that could be saved.

I’m kicking myself a little, too, because I had doubts from the start. When you order this kind of camper, you have the option of either an electric fridge or a gas/electric one like we had in our old camper. I don’t know anything about electric fridges in campers, but our old camper had a gas/electric and it worked great. I like to stick with what I know. But since the pandemic was just starting and no one was sure how the camper supply was going to be (terrible, it turns out, and it still is), they couldn’t guarantee we’d even get a camper unless we took one already in production. This camper was finishing up production with an electric fridge and was certain to get to us before camping season, so we went for it.

Now the camper is over at the dealership, and they are trying to figure out if it can be fixed. If not, then we will have to see if Everchill is willing to make things right.

That’s about all for this month . . . uh, months. Until next month (fingers crossed),

Stay Spooky!

Just finished attending the UND Writer’s Conference at the end of March. I came for Joy Harjo, stayed for Sonia Shah, and fell in love with the work of Ross Gay. It was a great conference.

Joy Harjo is one of my favorite poets, as well as being our first Native American Poet Laureate. Here is her page on the Poetry Foundation: Joy Harjo, and here is one of my favorite poems: The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window, by Joy Harjo. She also recently worked on a project as the editor of a collection of Native poetry: When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.

I didn’t really know much about the other authors this year before the conference, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of them, Sonia Shah, was a journalist who had a book about pathogens and contagion that I had had on my Amazon wish list for some time! Of course, I finally ordered it! Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera To Ebola And Beyond.

But the biggest surprise was Ross Gay. I’ll admit I had never heard of him before, but he was the highlight of the conference for me this year. He was so upbeat, so full of joy; after the horrible year that was 2020, his optimism and celebration of the little things was just what I needed. No surprise, since two of his books are Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series) and The Book of Delights: Essays.

Speaking of delights and optimism, the camping registration window has opened, and I’ve started making our camping reservations for this summer. I’m a little apprehensive about how it will be, though, because our weather has been so strange. The weather has been good enough we could have started camping already. Normally, the weather now is awful. When we tried to pull our old camper for trade last year at this time, there was still snow on the ground in places and we tore up the yard due to the frost just starting to come out (causing the yard to be a wet mud pit). This year, there’s no snow anywhere and we have fire weather warnings in place. It could be a long, hot summer.

As for my writing, I’m juggling multiple writing projects right now. As I write this (in the last few days of March), I’m working on: a mid-term essay for my class; a short response to the Writer’s Conference paper for my class; a short story started last year (“started” equals some scenes written, but not even what I’d call a full rough draft yet) but now finishing up for a sub call deadline it fits perfectly; a long-ish flash piece from scratch, also on a tight deadline; and a bit of an edit on an older piece where I came up with an idea to enhance the story.

In other words, I’m swamped. But at least I’m not currently dealing with the “I don’t know what to write about” problem. In addition to all this work, I have five or six other ideas that are clamoring for attention, but like the rotten little spoiled brats they are, they are going to have to wait their turn. I’ve jotted down a few notes so that I don’t forget them and I’ll get back to them when time permits.

Here’s my short story reading list for March 2021 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “The Wind,” by Lauren Groff (New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 1-26-21)
  • 2: “Hairy Legs and All,” by Stephen Graham Jones (Nightmare Magazine podcast, 2-17-21)
  • 3: “Silver Door Diner,” by Bishop Garrison (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-1-21)
  • 4: “A General in the Library,” by Italo Calvino (Selected Shorts podcast, 2-11-21)
  • 5: “Dogs, Cats, and the End of the World,” by Louis B Rosenberg (Tales to Terrify 468)
  • 6: “Godmouth,” by PL McMillan (Nocturnal Transmissions 96)
  • 7: “Mary Postgate,” by Rudyard Kipling (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 8: “Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself,” by Radclyffe Hall (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 9: “Tongueless,” by Julia August (Tales to Terrify 468)
  • 10: “Writing a War Story,” by Edith Wharton (World War I in American Fiction)
  • 11: “Blind,” by Mary Borden (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 12: “In the Tunnels,” by Pauline Dungate (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Fifteen, edited by Stephen Jones)
  • 13: “Hunger: A Confession,” by Dale Bailey (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Fifteen, edited by Stephen Jones)
  • 14: “The Dunwich Horror,” HP Lovecraft (The HP Lovecraft Archive; hplovecraft.com)
  • 15: “Only a Moment,” by Lex Black (The Other Stories 59.4)
  • 16: “The Uninvited Grave,” by Jeffrey Thomas (Pseudopod 727)
  • 17: “A Challenge You Have Overcome,” by Allegra Goodman (New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 1-19-21)
  • 18: “Flyboys,” by Tobias Wolff (LeVar Burton Reads, 3-8-21)
  • 19: “Prince Amilec,” by Tanith Lee (Selected Shorts, 2-18-21)
  • 20: “The Idea of Marcel,” by Marie-Helene Bertino (Selected Shorts, 2-18-21)
  • 21: “The Sin of America,” by Catherynne M Valente (Uncanny 39A)
  • 22: “The One’s Who Won’t Be,” by Martin Munks (Drabblecast 441)
  • 23: “Cannabilism in the Inhuman Age,” by Jaye Viner (Drabblecast 441)
  • 24: “Storms of the Present,” by Christopher Hawkins (Tales to Terrify 469)
  • 25: “Stew, Britannia!” by Lyman Graves (Nocturnal Transmissions 98)
  • 26: “There’s Something Crawling on Me,” by Jordan Hirsch (Daily Science Fiction, 3-15-21)
  • 27: “Digital Olives,” by B. Renard (Wicked Libraryi WIHM 2021, 2-21-21)
  • 28: “Scare Tactics,” by Gary Wosk (The Other Stories 60.4)
  • 29: “Digital Nomad,” by Koji A Dae (The Overcast 144)
  • 30: “Three Wishes,” by Robert Bagnall (Daily Science Fiction, 3-19-21) 31: “Junie Proctor’s Panties,” by KT Jayne (Wicked Library WIHM 2021, 2-21-21)
  • 31: “Junie Proctor’s Panties,” by KT Jayne (Wicked Library WIHM 2021, 2-21-21)

In addition to reading a short story a day, I read All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. I was inspired to read it because we had to read an excerpt in my WWI class. It was good, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I’m enjoying our current long read for the class, Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. (bleh!)

I’ve also tried to be a little more consistent with my reading (or else I’m never even going to make a dent in this TBR list before I die). I’m trying to systematically go through the list of stuff I want to read. I started with All Quiet, and now I’m moving back into my nonfiction stuff.

I set aside my start-stop Lovecraft and started back with Thacker’s In the Dust of This Planet: Horror of Philosophy (Volume 1). That might have been a mistake, because it is a slog.

A small sample: “Let us call this spectral and speculative world the world-without-us. In a sense, the world-without-us allows us to think the world-in-itself, without getting caught up in a vicious circle of logical paradox. The world-in-itself may co-exist with the world-for-us — indeed the human being is defined by its impressive capacity for not recognizing this distinction. By contrast, the world-without-us cannot co-exist with the human world-for-us; the world-without-us is the subtraction of the human from the world.”

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Of course, that’s to be expected, though. Here’s the intro from his Wiki: Eugene Thacker is a philosopher, poet and author. He is Professor of Media Studies at The New School in New York City. His writing is often associated with the philosophy of nihilism and pessimism. 

There are definitely nuggets of wisdom here, but you have to put in the work to get to them.

This “album” he points to in the text is probably a good example, though I couldn’t put in the work to get to a nugget out of it. Go to YouTube and check it out yourself: Keiji Haino – So, Black is Myself. Or skip it, it’s probably all the same either way (yay, Cosmic pessimism)! I got through about five minutes of the hour-long video. Good luck to you.

After this book, I plan to jump back into the Lovecraft letters. I struggle with these non-fiction works because they require actual attention and contemplation, and I just haven’t had a lot of time for that lately. Now I’m going to try and make the time. My usual mode is I read a chapter, get busy, and then try to pick up where I left off two, three, or even four weeks later. Ask me what I did two days ago, and I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you; so I’m certainly not going to be able to dive back into a book I set down a month ago. Every time I pick a book back up again after a pause, I have to pretty much start over.

That’s it for this month. I’ve got projects calling my name. Until next month, Stay Spooky!

SURPRISE!

As you can see, I’ve been tweaking the website a bit. I know, you’re shocked. I never get around to updating the website.

It all started with bookmarks. Not web browser bookmarks, actual cardstock bookmarks you put in a dead tree book.

My current class uses multiple books at the same time, so I had to dig out a few extra bookmarks to keep my place. When I dragged out the extra bookmarks, I used my bookmarks (my author bookmarks), and I was reminded how I find myself reluctant to handout my bookmarks and business cards because I’m not quite happy with the website, and I’m not crazy about sending people to it. I always find myself giving the disclaimer, “Don’t mind the website, it’s a work-in-progress, ha, ha, ha” (yes, it’s a writer’s pun; I have no shame).

It’s not that the website was bad. It looked good—but not great—on a mobile. On the computer, though, there was something just not quite right about it. And, of course, the “comment on blog post” functionality was broken (in the sense that it was a function I disabled, but couldn’t get rid of the buttons). And, just like the last site design that I had for a decade or so and absolutely loved, the design was retired and no longer supported, so I couldn’t even get tech help with it. Rather than leave it with that not-quite-right feeling and a bit broken, I decided I’d go ahead and change the design again.

I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with this design. It’s far from perfect, but I like it better than the last one. Of course, the perfect design is STILL the one I had for ten years or so (LOL), but this one isn’t bad. Not saying that I still might not try to replicate that perfect design someday on my own, but this new design will do for a while. And it looks good enough that I might not have to add my writer’s pun disclaimer when I hand out my cards and bookmarks! Of course, this probably means this particular template is doomed to be discontinued in the next month or two…!

You’ll also notice that I upgraded my Cthulhu dividers. Rather than doing a color-matched background, I made it transparent. Why, oh WHY, didn’t I do that months ago? Beats me. I actually used to goof around with graphics quite a bit, so, while I’m rusty, I do have some skills. I’m much happier with these little guys now, too.

Speaking of my class, I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. I’m not a history buff, but I have been enjoying the stories and poems of World War I. Also, I have discovered (RE-discovered?) that I love explicating poetry. Yes, I must be nuts. I like it so much that I entertained making a monthly poetry explication part of this blog, but then I thought better of it and decided to spare you . . . for now. I make no promises about the future.

Because I was training in a new person, I didn’t listen to podcasts as much as I usually do. I actually had to use my eyeballs to make sure I made my February reading quota. That’s good, because it was a goal I was working toward anyway, so I’ll pretend reading more (as opposed to listening) was intentional rather than something born of necessity due to the current situation. So without further ado, here’s my February 2021 #500Stories500Nights list:

  • 1: “I Let You Out,” by Desirina Boskovich (Nightmare Magazine Podcast, 1-27-21)
  • 2: “The Best We Can,” by Carrie Vaughn (LeVar Burton Reads, 4-23-19)
  • 3: “Tyrannosaurus Hex,” by Sam Miller (Uncanny 38A)
  • 4: “The Dandelion Man,” by Jack Nicholls (Drabblecast 409)
  • 5: “The Hammer-Royal Model For Making the Superhero A-List,” by Jason Kimble
  • 6: “The Lighthouse,” by Donyae Coles (Tales to Terrify 460)
  • 7: “The Spider,” by Lauren Mills (Tales to Terrify 460)
  • 8: “Irreconcilable Differences,” by “Brooke Warra (The Wicked Library 733)
  • 9: “Sleepyhead,” by Brooke Warra (The Wicked Library 733)
  • 10: “Stalemate,” by Liam Hogan (The Other Stories 54.4)
  • 11: “Bear Day,” by Kathryn LePage (The Overcast 140)
  • 12: “Teeth Long and Sharp as Blades,” by A.C. Wise (Pseudopod 728)
  • 13: “Study, for Solo Piano,” by Genevieve Valentine (Fantasy Magazine podcast, 5-2-11)
  • 14: “How to Identify an Alien Shark,” by Beth Goder (The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2019 Edition, edited by Rich Horton)
  • 15: “Fear the Dead,” by Ramsey Cammpbell (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Fifteen, edited by Stephen Jones)
  • 16: “You Will Never Be Forgotten,” by Mary South (New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 1-21-20)
  • 17: “Mr. Hadj’s Sunset Ride,” by Saladin Ahmed (LeVar Burton Reads, 4-30-19)
  • 18: “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E Harrow (The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2019 Edition, edited by Rich Horton)
  • 19: “The Hanged Man of Oz,” by Steve Nagy (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Fifteen, edited by Stephen Jones)
  • 20: “Rocket Surgery,” by Effie Seiberg (Drabblecast 439)
  • 21: “Intervention,” by Kelly Robson (The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2019 Edition, edited by Rich Horton)
  • 22: “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review,” by Marie Brennan (Cast of Wonders 405)
  • 23: “The Seed from the Sepulchre,” by Clark Ashton Smith (Nocturnal Transmissions 95)
  • 24: “The Donner Party,” by Dale Bailey (The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2019 Edition, edited by Rich Horton)
  • 25: “Mara,” by Michael Chislett (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Fifteen, edited by Stephen Jones)
  • 26: “The Price of a Dragon,” by Charlotte H Lee (The Overcast 87)
  • 27: “The Sea Thing,” by Frank Belknap Long (Pseudopod 742)
  • 28: “Cell Call,” by Marc Laidlaw (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Fifteen, edited by Stephen Jones)

According to one of those date calculations apps, I will achieve my official 500th story on March 15, 2021, but I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to try and keep reading at least one short story per day ad infinitum.

Last month, I wrote one new flash fiction story (my first new story of the year! Yay, me!) and had one short story published. You can read “Nomad’s Land” in Cosmic Horror Monthly #8. It’s a modern take on the epistolary form, and it’s about the search for the Mongolian death worm.

Though I’m thrilled I finally finished a new story, I’m waaaay behind on all my other writerly duties (but, hey! Website, Amirite?). I have at least two or three stories that I started last year that still need to be finished, stories that need to be sent out to find their home, AND I should already be working on my next new story. To top it off, I’m also behind on my Letters of Lovecraft project. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much, and let all the fun be sucked out of being a writer (and, hey! WEBSITE, Amirite?).

That’s about all I have for this month. Until next month, Stay Spooky!

Wow! I don’t know about anybody else, but I feel like January just sailed by!

This first month of the new year, I’ve been busy with the new semester of school (Poetry and Prose of WWI) and work (training a new minion, er, I mean, a new person).

I’ve also been trying to get back on track with my workouts. No, I haven’t turned into a yoga nut. I have pretty practical motivations for wanting to workout. Though I love being in the great outdoors and love hiking, I am NOT a winter person, especially not these extreme winters of North Dakota where -60 with wind chill isn’t unheard of (though this winter has been very mild). Ice fishing sounds like the seventh circle of hell to me. Seven months out of the year, I’m pretty much entirely indoors, getting out of shape. Then, when outdoor season begins, I’m too out of shape to enjoy it as much as I’d like. By the time I start getting my endurance up enough to enjoy a good, long hike, camping season is winding down and the temps are starting to drop below freezing. So my goal has been to workout more and maintain an “enjoying the great outdoors” fitness level.

One of my newest favorite workouts is the Bollywood Dance. You can check out one of the free ones I’ve been doing at: Bollywood workout. They are so much fun. I have a hard time keeping up, and afterwards I’m a puddle of sweaty jello, but I laugh the whole time. It’s so much fun!

On the publishing front, my story, “US Portal Service,” is available as a podcast at Third Flatiron Publishing. You can listen here: US Portal Service, by Brenda Kezar.

Here is my #500Stories500Nights list for this month:

  • 1: “Toward Happy Civilization,” by Samanta Schweblin (LeVar Burton Reads, 5-21-19)
  • 2: “Christmas in New York,” by Jeanette Winterson (Selected Shorts, 12-24-20)
  • 3: “The Things I Miss the Most,” by Nisi Shawl (Uncanny 24B)
  • 4: “From Asteroids to Dust,” by Priya Chand (Cast of Wonders 439)
  • 5: “Toxic,” by Eleftherios Keramidas (Third Flatiron Publishing)
  • 6: “How I Became a Professional Liar,” by Angela Yuriko Smith (The Wicked Library 1018)
  • 7: “Backup,” by Edward Ashton (The Overcast 86)
  • 8: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” by Ted Chiang (LeVar Burton Reads, 6-5-19 & 6-11-19)
  • 9: “Crazy They Call Me,” by Zadie Smith (Selected Shorts, 12-17-20)
  • 10: “Hot Streak,” by Roy Bishop (Tales to Terrify 466)
  • 11: “The Seahorses,” by William Hope Hodgson (Nocturnal Transmissions 39)
  • 12: “Horseplay,” by Rich Larson (Daily Science Fiction 1-12-21)
  • 13: “Coming Soon,” by Steven Millhauser (The New Yorker: Fiction, 1-1-21)
  • 14: “Wolves,” by Edward Ashton (StarShipSofa 650)
  • 15: “Flying Carpets,” by Steven Millhauser (LeVar Burton Reads, 5-28-19)
  • 16: “The Luncheon,” by Jeffrey Archer (Selected Shorts 12-31-20)
  • 17: “Love is Not a Pie,” by Amy Bloom (Selected Shorts 12-31-20)
  • 18: “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 23B)
  • 19: “Krampus Tales,” by Jeff Speziale (Nocturnal Transmissions 93)
  • 20: “Wunjo,” by Daniel Loring Keating (The Other Stories 60.3)
  • 21: “A Thousand Bites. And One,”by Calie Voorhis(Daily Science Fiction 1-1-21)
  • 22: “The Radiant Web,” by Mia Moss (StarShipSofa 651)
  • 23: “It’s Just Not Ragnarok Without the Naglfar,” by L.L. Lamando (Flashpoint Science Fiction 1-15-21)
  • 24: “The Best Scarlet Ceremony Ever!” by Shaenon K Garrity (Drabblecast 415)
  • 25: “Swift Bear & Laxon: Boss Dannon’s Boss,” by Richard Reynolds (The Other Stories 59.2)
  • 26: “Workday,” by Kurt Fawver (Pseudopod 737)
  • 27: “The House of Gears,” by Jonathon L Howard (Fantasy Magazine podcast 4-18-11)
  • 28: “Eulogy for Ulysses Jefferson Lee,” by Bret Parent (Daily Science Fiction 1-28-21)
  • 29: “Kecksies,” by Marjorie Bowen (Pseudopod 740)
  • 30: “The Rivals,” by Andrea Lee (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 12-29-20)
  • 31: “They Tell Me, Now I Know,” by Shay Youngblood (Selected Sports 11-19-20)

To make up for the shorter blog post, here’s a little video of my evil corgi muse, Honey Booboo. This video was taken in my writing room while I was *trying* to get some work done.

That’s it for this month. Too much to do and too little time!

Until next month, Stay Spooky!