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Yes, the site you will be taken to looks like something from a cheesy 80’s horror show made by a twelve-year old . . . but I am a cheesy 80’s twelve-year-old, so . . .

Oh my gosh. I sure hope this month goes better than last because March can kiss my ass!

March came in like a lion . . .and went out like a lion. That’s not how this is supposed to work. I’ve still got two feet of snow covering my whole yard, but Facebook keeps torturing me with Memories posts with green grass and thunderstorms! And we are supposed to get another winter storm on Tuesday.

To make matters worse, one of the things I look forward to in March is the UND Writers Conference. A lot of events were even in-person this year, so I was really looking forward to it. I made every event on the first day, Thursday, and had a great time! And then woke up in the middle of the night sick as a dog. I’m not sure if it was the norovirus or food poisoning, but it was awful. I was too sick to even zoom into events, so I missed everything except Talty’s reading on Friday. I felt better Saturday, but I wasn’t going to be THAT person and risk getting everyone sick, so I stayed home and zoomed what I could. It was a bummer because I had to miss out on the workshops because they were in-person only.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the very next week (last Wednesday), I had a pretty traumatic accident. I was in a Zoom webinar for work. I had given my dogs a new chew treat we were testing out. Roscoe started to choke on it. I actually wasn’t too concerned; Roscoe chokes on everything. It has something to do with his jowls. So I inattentively leaned over and, without looking, used one hand to swipe it out of his throat. I felt a pinch as he shut his mouth (as part of the swallow reflex after gagging). I looked at my hand and couldn’t comprehend what I was looking at. Why was there a chewed up hot dog in my hand? It took a minute for my brain to process the info; the blood gushing everywhere was a big helping clue. Apparently, I had stuck my fingers near his back, big scissor teeth. when he shut his mouth, it was like sticking your finger near the pivot hinge of a paper cutter. It didn’t take much force to cut the end of my finger right off.

The doc was able to reattach it, but they aren’t sure if it’s going to take. I have an appointment on Tuesday with the specialist to see if they will have to amputate or if I get to keep it. Meanwhile, I’m doing a lot of hunt-and-peck typing and voice typing.

He looks so sad, but it wasn’t his fault. I need to pay more attention to where I’m sticking my fingers!

I’ve taken up the visual arts again. I’m starting with watercolors, and hope to move back in to charcoal and Prismacolor again. I used to be really good. The high school I went to in New York required “majors” of a sort (focus areas), and mine was art. Of course, I was dragged to a small town in North Dakota for my senior year, and there was no art program. Maybe it’s my memory, but I don’t think I have picked up a Prismacolor since (except maybe when we were doing homeschool).

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am and how I define myself (oh, lort! It happens when you get older). I had a discussion with someone about how badly not writing has impacted me. If I was feeling restless or cranky, I knew it was because I hadn’t written. Writing is a critical part of my well-being, and I’m not at my peak health if it’s not a part of my life.

The discussion came about because this other person is on a path to improve their mental health and had been given homework by their therapist: come up with three hobbies that would interest you and help improve your well-being. That got me thinking about what hobbies *I* would pick. Unlike the person I was talking with, I have more hobbies than I can shake a stick at. There’s so much stuff I enjoy doing, and I just don’t have enough time to do them all. And then I began to consider, if it were me, which hobbies would I narrow it down to and focus on if I were on a path to improve my well-being?

Writing would be one, of course. Maybe sewing as the second (I can really lose myself in fabric crafts). But what else? Reading is important to my well-being, but it’s unreliable because it depends on the book. My Udemy classes and such are fun and definitely help my well-being (I have a NEED to always be learning new things so I don’t get bored), they are also too hit and miss to rely on (I’ve taken a few that I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of). A nice walk revitalizes my soul, but three or four months of the year, it’s downright dangerous here. I haven’t gotten good enough on my roller skates . . . I haven’t picked up a crochet hook or knitting needles in years, and arthritis in my left hand might make it painful . . . (I could go on for days . . . I have that many “hobbies”).

Then it occurred to me, crochet hooks aren’t the only thing I haven’t picked up in years; I haven’t touched any art supplies in years. And, at least in the days of the dinosaurs, that was an important part of my well-being and who I was.

So. I decided I’m going to give it another go. I picked up a few art supplies and have started to test the waters. Spoiler alert: so far, I suck, lol. But I didn’t expect to pick them up and immediately create art show quality work, so I have to remember to be patient with myself. I’m also surprised to find that I love watercolors. I don’t think I cared for watercolors much in my art days, but I love them now.

On the writing front, I’ve got two stories in the second draft stage, one story in rough draft, and one story submitted. That’s a 1000% improvement over all of last year!

The UND Writers Conference also inspired me to go find my two “potential” novels. I call them potential novels because, although I’ve written six or seven novels, only two of them have the potential to be anything but trunk novels. These two might be publishable someday, if I put the effort into them. One is creature horror, the other is dragon-type fantasy.

It was a doozy to find them. They were on a back-up drive from over a decade ago. I’m not sure if I’m ready to work on them, but at least they are on my main computer should I decide to start work again.

On the reading front, I am almost done with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’m about halfway through The People Who Report More Stress by Alejandro Varela (Note: these are affiliate links).

Alejandro Varela’s book journey was part of what inspired me to search for my old novels. He wrote his short story collection first, but no one wanted to buy it unless he wrote a novel. It’s a story that’s way too common in publishing. Not that I’m planning on publishing a short story collection any time soon.

That’s it for this month. Next month I will be back to update you on writing and the fate of my franken-finger. Until then, Stay Spooky!

The big news this month is that writing is still going well. As part of trying to get back into writing on the regular, I’ve been doing exercises and prompts as well as working on my main story. One of the things I tried was a prompt that said to write five interconnected haikus. Of course, mine were horror haikus, but what was really amazing was how easy it came and how fun it was! I think I might eventually revise and submit them somewhere. The last year I was writing (2021, I think?), I had the goal to write some horror poetry. I think it was a goal for 2022, too. So now I might actually be able to strike that goal off my bucket list!

I think I have the plot line for the newest short story all worked out and am continuing to work on it (yeah)! By next month’s update, I hope to have it ready for revision!

On the reading front, I finished two books (affiliate links below):

Stephen Graham Jones is a familiar name to horror readers . . . and listeners. Back when I was listening to fiction podcasts every day, it seemed like I heard one of his stories every week!

Morgan Talty was a new name to me, but he’s coming to the UND Writers Conference this year, and I wanted to get at least one book from a visiting author read before the conference, lol!

I enjoyed them both. Talty’s book was on par with There, There from Tommy Orange, but the unusualness of SGJ’s keeps me thinking (and talking) about it.


The Only Good Indians is divided into three sections. To be honest, the book almost lost me in the first part. There was a serious of unfortunate events that seemed almost too ridiculous to even believe. It was unclear whether the problem/killer was psychological or supernatural. And worst of all, the dog suffered a horrible accident, suffered a while, and then died horribly. That in itself is an almost unforgivable sin! And then the protagonist died.

The second part of the book was like a totally different book! Within the first few pages, I felt like I was reading an Erdrich book. So then I happened to take a peek in the back, and, surprise, surprise, SGJ acknowledges his admiration of Erdrich’s work and cites her Antelope Wife as part of the inspiration for this book!

The second and third parts were more enjoyable to me. The book remained horror, and there is plenty of gore, but it also took on that feeling of fairy tale, or mythology, or indigenous legend. It was more like if Deer Woman from Reservation Dogs was allowed to glory in the gore of revenge.

I recommend it for horror fans and fans of indigenous lit who aren’t put off by gore.

Next up: Ready Player One . . . again. I’m not sure why I abandoned it before (got busy and forgot it?), but I’m going to try again.

All other odds and ends were tabled this past month as I focused on work, writing, and my regular UND communication class.

In other news, a few things converged in that weird way that they sometimes do in the universe and made me examine my values and opinions.

It all starts with: why are so many artists shitty human beings?

The latest was Thomas Monteleone. His novel, Night Things, is one of my absolute favorites.

Author Booted From Horror Writers Association Over Racist, Transphobic Rants

And this guy

Newspapers Drop ‘Dilbert’ After Creator’s Rant About Black ‘Hate Group’

I’ve struggled with how to deal with this for a while. I love HP Lovecraft’s stories. His work and its influence is such a huge part of the horror genre. But Lovecraft was a turd. Do I ignore his work because of it? With him, my rationale for still reading his work is that at least it’s not *him* benefitting from the money I pay for his work. Is that enough to justify purchasing and venerating his work? What about Rowling? There’s no doubt that her Harry Potter books introduce reading to new generations. In that regard, her work has great value. But, every book purchased lines her TERF pockets. I have a hard time buying art from living turds.

Then, we ended up with tickets to Williams & Ree, who I loved when I was a kid . . .

and I spent most of the show cringing. Besides the fact that my values have changed, I had a hard time with the dichotomy of watching a Native dude make racist jokes in a tribal-owned casino while the wait staff (mostly Native) served Busch Lite to white folks (99.9% of the audience). I’m not talking about, “Oh, Indian Time, always late, ha-ha” jokes . . . I’m talking about stereotypes of the “drunken Indian” and things like that. It was definitely cringe-worthy.

Next, Roald Dahl’s estate and publisher decided to edit some of his works to take out problematic passages, words, and concepts.

I have always had problems with books being changed in any way post-publication. It’s a slippery slope to censorship, and it’s dangerous because who gets to decide what the criteria are? Who gets to make the yardstick? Books are usually the first target of fascist regimes, and that makes them sacred. Just because they are being targeted with good intentions doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make the book any less sacred.

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

For issues of problematic book content, I think Disney has the best solution. Disney adds a disclaimer to problematic media. I think that books like Gone With the Wind, Lovecraft’s work, etc., should come with disclaimers that add context. Warning labels, if you will. A lot of people will balk, just like they did at movie ratings and album labels, but I think it’s a better solution than censoring, changing, or banning the books. Not a rating system, mind you, but maybe a label that says: the words and ideas in this book are a reflection of the time it was written, and some of the language and descriptions used are no longer acceptable. Here’s Disney’s disclaimer:

“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”

That seems like a good solution to me.

As for Williams & Ree and things like that, I won’t be going again. I’m against censorship, but I also believe businesses and venues can choose who they give a voice to. So if the casino wants to continue to let W&R perform there, that is their decision. Same with Norsk Hostfest. But it’s not for me.

As for dead artists who were shitty humans, I’m still going to buy their work. They are dead, but there is no reason the art shouldn’t live on (with a warning label, where applicable, lol). Live shitty humans? I still haven’t found an acceptable answer. I haven’t bought anything from Sherman Alexie since I found out he was a predator, and I likely won’t buy any of Monteleone’s stuff anymore, either.  

That’s it for this month! Until next month, Stay Spooky, my friends!

Okay, I know it’s lazy, but the days are also flying by and I wanted to get this update posted before it became the March update! I’m skipping doing this one off-site in HTML and just doing it the old tried-and-true way. It’s faster, and it gives me less opportunity to break something (as I somehow managed to do with my amateur HTML and the January post, lol).

In general, January was . . . well, as January usually is. The winter hasn’t been too bad, overall. It started off pretty rough, snowy and cold, right from the start. But then it mellowed out and we had milder temps and lots of freezing fog. We just finished another cold snap, and now the last few days have been hovering around freezing (which is awesome, for here). The days are already getting longer, thank goodness, which helps with my mood. Spring is still a long way away, though. Six more weeks of winter? Nah, try twelve to fourteen. Camping season reservations open this month, though, so I can cling to that bit of joy to get me through.

Updates on the odds and ends of life:

Speaking of camping season, I pulled my sourdough starter out and it’s still alive. So we’ll be able to make lots of delicious breads during camping trips (about the only time I cook anymore)!

I started on the bedroom project, but that’s being slowed down due to supply chain issues. I have the adjustable base for the split king, but the mattresses are being hand-made by Oompa Loompas, or something. I’m not sure which will arrive first: North Dakota spring or my mattresses. I also bought curtains . . . spur of the moment, in-store, without measuring. They are about eight inches too short, and I would need at least another set to cover the whole window. Lesson learned!

My current sewing project is still half-finished and being worn by my dressmaker’s mannequin. It looks awfully nice on her, but hopefully, someday I’ll finish it and I can see how it looks on me.

My HTML and programming lessons have slowed a bit now that regular class is back in session. I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong with this site when it comes to mobile formatting, but I’ll get there, eventually. Y’all will just have to bear with me in the meantime.

The new job is going great, I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I’m loving working from home. It was scary to make such a big change, but it looks like I made the right choice!

The glitch with the introductory level communication class was resolved, so now I have to decide if I’m going to take a summer class just for kicks, or if I’m going to take the summer off to focus on some of my independent studies or perhaps even (gasp) actually GETTING BACK TO WRITING!

And that’s the fifty-million-dollar question, right? Hey, how’s the writing going?

Well, I don’t want to jinx it, but some progress has been made. I actually moved some of my writing files off my old (retired) laptop and onto my new computer. That’s huge. Until recently, my (two) new computers didn’t even have any of my writing files on them!

But here’s where it gets really exciting. I’ve started a brand new short story. Will it go anywhere? We will see. Writing has been such a touchy subject for me for at least a year-and-a-half. Hubby says he feels like it’s trying to get a deer to eat out of your hand: he doesn’t want to push too much because he’s afraid I will get scared and spring away. The human psyche really is a funny thing, isn’t it? You can plug away for years at something, and then one little bad experience can make you so averse to it that you can’t even stand the sight or thought of it.

So, it’s going to be an uphill battle. But it’s a good little story so far. I’ll let you know how it’s going next month.

(The view from my workplace on a freezing fog day in January)