Welcome to the last month of 2021. There’s finally light at the end of the tunnel . . . but, with the shit show the last two years have been, let’s hope the light isn’t a flaming tree!

I’m not going to do my usual “how did I do on my goals” year-end post, because we all KNOW how that went! Instead, I’m just going to skip to my goals for 2022.

My writing goals for this year are going to be small and manageable. I want to put the enjoyment back into writing and also leave time for adventuring. With that in mind, I’m setting a goal of writing six new short stories/flash pieces and doing three reprint submissions (half the number of new short stories). That’s it, the entirety of my writing goals for 2022. I can do more if time and desire permit, but that’s my minimum.

My reading goals are going to be expanded this year. In addition to keeping #500Stories500Nights, I’m setting a goal of reading at least three long nonfiction works. These can be my long put-off Lovecraft letters/essays, books on the craft, any of the pop culture and philosophy/psychology books I love so much, etc. Below is a pic of my most current TBR shelves.

I am setting a goal of reading six novel-length works. This one should be easy since I listen to audiobooks at work. I know I read at least six novels this year (heck, I think I read six CORDYCEPS novels this year, lol).

Odds and ends “author goals” include an image a day over on my Instagram. While it’s part of my “author platform,” it’s also for my mental health, because it makes sure I’m mindful during the long winter (a stop and smell the roses moment initiated by the necessity of finding a photo to take).

Another odds and ends “author goal” is to add a monthly get to know me question on this blog. It’s to make it a little more personal.

Speaking of personal, I have some personal goals, old and new, this year.

I’m going to try and jump back on the journaling bandwagon. I’ve never been very good at it, and though I’ve been doing it sporadically since this summer’s insanity, I’m still not doing very good at it. BUT! When I do, I enjoy it. So I’m going to try and make it a daily habit, even if it’s only a sentence or two per day.

I’m going to get back into my exercise program. It’s been hit and miss (more miss) since we moved into this house three years ago. Hubby is on a diet due to medical issues, so I’m jumping on that bandwagon too. My A1C isn’t that great, so I could use some mindful eating (Hey! I think that’s going to be my word for 2022: MINDFUL). I’ve built a pretty impressive home gym, plus have several apps/memberships, so there should be no excuses about not having the right equipment or tools to exercise!

So that’s my plan for MINDFUL 2022.

Now. What did I accomplish last month?

Nothing as far as writing. Actually, I take that back. I’m currently in the middle of working on the final for my last English class before my graduation. Our take-home final is a “short” essay assignment. Three questions. Each questions is supposed to be answered in two pages. Single-spaced. So . . . in essence, my final assignment of this class is to pull off a twelve-page paper in two weeks. Did I mention I’m continuing school after I graduate? Yeah. That’s another reason for the smaller writing goals next year. I’m entering a new program, and I don’t know what it’s going to be like. Maybe in that program, the assignments are going to be fifteen-page papers. I’m hedging my bets.

I did accomplish some reading. I finished Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, and I loved it. The audiobook I’ve started now is Melville’s Moby Dick. It’s a 25-ish hour audio book, so I’m going to be at it a while.

I’m still working on The Walking Dead and Philosphy: Zombie Apocalypse Now by Wayne Yuen. There’s a part in it where they talk about hooking a bunch of zombies up to make a rudimentary computer. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, since computing is just a state of zeros or ones. The best part is, when building a computer out of zombies, how many zombies make a megabyte? (waka waka)!

And, without further ado, after a four-month absence, here is my #500Stories500Nights list for November!

  • 1: “Ghost Birds,” by Karen Russell (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 10-5-21)
  • 2: “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey,” by Haruki Murakami (The New Yorker: Fiction, 9-1-21)
  • 3: “Half Past the Dragon,” by Grant Carrington (StarShipSofa 671)
  • 4: “Loose Change,” by Andrea Levy (Selected Shorts 10-21-21)
  • 5: “Anyone Can Do It,” by Manuel Munoz (Selected Shorts 10-21-21)
  • 6: “Matches,” by Sydney Paige (Cast of Wonders 470)
  • 7: “Glimpses in Amber,” by Adam-Troy Castro (Nightmare Magazine podcast, 11-3-21)
  • 8: “The Years of My Birth,” by Louise Erdrich (LeVar Burton Reads, 8-9-21)
  • 9: “Heirlooms,” by Zebib KA (Fantasy Magazine Podcast, 10-12-21)
  • 10: “The Wishing Pool,” by Tananarive Due (Uncanny Magazine Podcast 41A)
  • 11: “The Flickering Dusk of the Video God,” by Luciano Marano (Pseudopod 780)
  • 12: “How to Get Back to the Forest,” by Sofia Samatar (Drabblecast 451)
  • 13: “The Black Cat,” by Poe (Nocturnal Transmissions 115)
  • 14: “Teeth,” by Michael Teasdale (The Other Stories 69.4)
  • 15: “The Great Angel Deluge and How It (Nearly) Ruined My Special Day,” by Patrick Barb (Tales to Terrify 508)
  • 16: “Marry the Rat,” by LM Zaerr (The Overcast 159)
  • 17: “My Last Skinwalker,” by Carolyn A Drake (The Wicked Library TDiB S1E13, 9-19-21)
  • 18: “Game Night,” by Glenn McQuaid (Tales From Beyond the Pale 48)
  • 19: “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” by Jamil Jan Kochai (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 11-1-21)
  • 20: “The Balloon,” by Donald Barthelme (The New Yorker: Fiction, 10-1-21)
  • 21: “Forty-Flesh Barrier,” by Raluca Balasa (StarShipSofa 670)
  • 22: “Yours Truly,” by AM Homes (Selected Shorts, 10-28-21)
  • 23: “Omakase,” by Weike Wang (Selected Shorts, 10-28-21)
  • 24: “What If We Remembered?” by Amadin Ogbewe (Cast of Wonders 469)
  • 25: “An Arrangement of Moss and Dirt,” by KP Kulski (Fantasy Magazine Podcast 9-28-21)
  • 26: “On the Lonely Shore,” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (LeVar Burton Reads, 9-6-21)
  • 27: “Caw,” by WC Dunlap (Nightmare Magazine Podcast, 10-6-21)
  • 28: “Presque vue,” by Tochi Onyebuchi (Uncanny Magazine Podcast 41B)
  • 29: “Sleep Hygiene,” by Gemma Files (Pseudopod 783)
  • 30: “Watch Anya Blume,” by Michael Piel (Drabblecast 452)

Okay! It’s late and I have a paper to write, so here’s a picture of my cool light that reminds me of The Crystalline Entity from Star Trek TNG. Happy Holidays, and I can’t wait to see you in the New Year!

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, which every writer except me seems to be doing this month!

For those unfamiliar with the term, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. During November, writers all over the world participate in a challenge to write 50K words during the month. Yeah, technically not the standard length for a novel, but a good start for the word count standards of most genres.

As a short story writer, I haven’t done NaNo in years. I had considered doing a modified NaNo this year to get back into the swing of writing…maybe just 50K across multiple short stories. Of course, my average short story length is 3-5K, so that means I’d have to write ten to sixteen short stories and, well, as you can see from the lateness of this post (cough, cough), I’ve been busy and behind on everything, so 50K just isn’t going to happen this month.

I’ll be happy if I just get ONE short story written this month. The bar is low, baby, and I still ain’t making it, lol!

That’s okay. There’s always next year!

As for reading, I finished The Last Survivors and settled on Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese as my next read. I liked it, but I had no idea just how much hockey figured into this book. I don’t understand why this book isn’t required reading in every high school here where I live. I kinda wish I had bought it in book form rather than the audiobook. Book-form would have made it easier to skip the in-depth hockey parts.

After that, I was perusing for another audiobook to listen to, and I settled on The Phoenix Descent, by Chuck Grossart. Guess what it’s about? Yep. You got it. Cordyceps fungus. This time, the story involves time travel. People on the mission to Mars get sent ahead in time 200 years and return to earth after cordyceps fungus has caused an apocalypse.

I had alway thought the cordyceps fungus was fascinating, and I always thought I might write a story about it. Now I’m disinclined to, lol.

For a nonfiction read, I’m working on The Walking Dead and Philosophy: Zombie Apocalypse Now. I’ll save my notes on it and share them when I finish it (so that’s either something you have to look forward to, or it’s an advance warning, lol).

I didn’t manage to get any short story podcasts listened to in October, but I have downloaded several and hope to get back on #500Stories500Nights *this* month (yeah, I probably said that last month, too, right?).

On the TV/movies front, I Finished watching Reservation Dogs. The season finale was the best episode yet, and I can’t wait for the next season.

I’m watching the third season of Creepshow, but I haven’t finished it yet. It’s a great series. It has big shoes to fill because the original was so campy and fun, but the writers they’ve chosen have done a great job of living up to it!

On the “I’m a big nerd” front, I ordered this shirt from ShirtPunch and am anxiously awaiting its arrival!

And, on the “what kind of internet rabbit holes can I fall into in order to avoid writing?”, I saw this interesting thing called The Science of the Cards. It’s essentially astrology with playing cards. My birthday makes me an Ace of Diamonds, and diamonds represent fall.

https://cafeastrology.com/playingcardsbirthdaychart.html

What they say about Aces: Aces are leaders. Ambitious, energetic, motivated, and dynamic. They are independent people who easily initiate new projects. If expressed negatively, they can be over-bearing, impatient, and self-centered.

Why, that doesn’t sound like me at all!

Whether you believe in astrology and these sorts of things or not, it’s still fun to check out.

That’s it for this month! Next month is usually the goals assessment post, but I’m going to skip that this year because we both know I fell way short of my mark this year. That’s okay; it happens. So next month I’ll be posting my goals for 2022 instead.

Until then, Stay Spooky, my friends!

It’s that melancholy time of the year: camping season has ended (boo, hiss) but spooky season has started (yay)!

The last few months have flown by. July was chaos; August was a rollercoaster of uncertainty; September was for decompressing and healing…

October is time to get back on track.

My intent for this month is to get back to my writing and back to reading for #500Stories. I know it’s not going to be easy, especially since school is back in session, but it’s time to get writing again.

Speaking of school, I’m currently taking the last class I need for my BA in English. I will “graduate” in December.

But the story doesn’t stop there.

I’ve decided I’m going to keep going. Up next? Social Science “degree” (technically an addendum to my other degree) with Communication minor. The communication minor is the closest thing my university offers to a journalism degree. The social science degree means taking an interesting mix of courses in anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, criminal justice, economics, geography, and history. Of course, I’ll probably sneak a few English classes in there, too. I’m pretty excited about getting started.

Although I haven’t made any progress on writing or #500Stories, I did still finish a few audiobooks and movies.

We had several movie nights while camping. I watched Near Dark and Monsters, and frankly, I hated them both. I did finish them, at least, which is more than I can say for the Nomadland movie (loved the book, hated the movie). I also watched Tomorrow War, which was supposed to be awful, but I enjoyed it. We also finished most of the series Reservation Dogs while camping, and hubby and I both loved it.

I’ve finished three audiobooks:

The Good Hand is an autobiography of an oil rig worker’s experiences working here in North Dakota. Extinction Code is scifi, and Cold Storage is scifi horror. Interestingly, quite by accident, I’m continuing on with a theme. Cold Storage is horror involving the cordyceps fungus (the fungus from The Girl With All the Gifts). Completely by accident, my current read is also a story about a cordyceps fungus! I’m currently reading The Last Survivors, a series where the cordyceps fungus has basically caused an apocalypse that has thrown the remains of humanity back to the middle ages. They know “of” the technology used by the “ancients” (us), but they call it “tech magic.”

Also, I started an Instagram. Or, more accurately, I started another Instagram because I forgot I had one in the first place. Anyway, here’s how my social media works, so you know where to follow me.

Twitter: I keep forgetting about it. I don’t post a lot on there, but I remember to hop on every now and then and retweet stuff. You’ll see a lot of retweeted horror/scifi-related news on there, but I don’t do a lot of original content on there unless I have a story coming out. Brenda’s Twitter.

Facebook: I have a personal page and an author page. The author page is sporadic, but it’s all horror-scifi related (even the shitposts). The personal page is fairly public, but I don’t do friend requests. So you can follow the author page or creep on my personal page. Brenda’s Facebook.

Instagram: a more personal glimpse of things. I guess it’s sort of the cozy publicity account, LOL. This is where you are most likely to see pictures of my writer’s deck or pictures from road trip I’m on. This is also the account where you will most likely catch a glimpse of the elusive husband (aka, hubby, or hubs). If you are following the brendakezarmedia account, that’s the dead one. Be sure to follow BrendaKezarAuthor on Instagram.

http://www.instagram.com/brendakezarauthor

That’s all for this month! Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!

Hello, Fall!

You might have noticed there was no blog post last month. This was due to two things:

  1. Mental Health Crisis. A bad one. And it was my hubby. Thankfully, he was receptive to seeking help and is on the road to recovery. That whole “the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem” thing is tough with mental health issues because it’s hard for someone to hear, “You know, my love, I think there might be a problem. You are acting a little crazy.” Thankfully, all is well now. He’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is getting treatment. But life really slid off the rails there for a while, and it could have ended badly. Very badly. I’m glad it didn’t, and we are working together to continue on this adventure together, building a healthier, happier hubby.
  2. No writing to report on. Not a lot of reading, either. The crisis, and its repercussions and manifestations, were the sole focus of life for a while. Again, healthier, happier hubby means life is getting back to normal and writing will be taking place again very soon.

Of course, not TOO soon on the writing. Although life otherwise has settled down, school did start, so I am back in class again and swamped with homework. So writing will happen, it just will happen very slowly, lol.

Until next month, take it day by day. And go easy on yourself. You are enough, and I appreciate you.

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!