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!

JUMANJI!!! There. It’s over now, right? Well, maybe not, but at least a new year brings new hope!

I am INSANELY busy trying to get my writing life back on track in the new year. The last few months I have done nearly zero writing, and I have even let my resubs lapse. For you non-writers, re-subs are what happens when a story we send out is rejected by the publication. Afterwards, we have to research and find another market to send it to. I’ve let my resubs go so long that I literally only have one story still out at a magazine, and the only reason IT is still out there is because the magazine is a slow responding publication. It has been “under consideration” at that magazine since last February! So every story I currently have written and available for publication is sitting here on my laptop, waiting to be sent out to find its new home.

Also, all my submission calls have to be updated. Although some publications/podcasts are open all the time, many have specific submission periods, limited times when they accept stories to consider for publication. I keep a file called “upcoming deadlines” so I know which publishers will be accepting stories and when. Of course, just like everything else, I haven’t been keeping that up to date these last few months. So now I’m going through, clearing out the old sub calls, and updating with new deadlines.

It’s a whole lot of work, but I only have myself to blame.

So far, as of this post, I’ve sent out four resubs, pulled two stories that need to be edited before they can be sent as resubs (to some quickly impending deadlines, I might add), and found three themed anthologies I’d like to write stories for (one of which, of course, also has a looming deadline).

PS Classes start again in less than two weeks, so I’m trying to “get my poop in a group” before my level of busy-ness increases!

With that in mind, this blog post is going to be short and sweet!

Here is my reading/listening list for the December 2020 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “Dark Satanic Mills,” by Fraser Sherman (The Overcast 138)
  • 2: “Proof,” by J. Courtney Sullivan (The Chronicles of Now, 7-22-20)
  • 3: “Hansa and Gretyl and Piece of Shit,” by Rebecca Curtis (New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 11-10-20)
  • 4: “Nawabdin Electrician,” by Daniyal Mueenuddin (New Yorker Fiction, 4-1-19)
  • 5: “Top Tier,” by Harold R Thompson (StarShipSofa 624)
  • 6: “Introduction to the Horror Story, Day 1,” by Kurt Fawver (Nightmare Magazine Podcast, 11-18-20)
  • 7: “Cuisine des Mémoires” by N.K. Jemisin (LeVar Burton Reads, 8-26-19)
  • 8: “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny 25A)
  • 9: “Two in One,” by Deborah Davitt (Tales to Terrify 459)
  • 10: “Read This First,” by Bob DeRosa (Saturday Morning Horror from Perpetual Motion Machine, 12-5-20)
  • 11: “The Crystal Ball That Lied,” by GB Burgess (The Overcast 139)
  • 12: “The Genetic Alchemist’s Daughter,” by Elaine Cuyegkeng (Pseudopod 731)
  • 13: “Mother of Invention,” by Nnedi Okorafor (LeVar Burton Reads, 11-16 & 11-23-20)
  • 14: “The Pit and The Pendulum,” Poe (Nocturnal Transmissions 50)
  • 15: “Oh Ghost of Mine,” by Zach Bartlett (The Overcast 91)
  • 16: “The Extinction Show,” by Manuel Gonzales (The Chronicles of Now, 7-8-20)
  • 17: “A for Alone,” by Curtis Sittenfeld (New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 10-27-20)
  • 18: “The Colonizers,” by J. Weintraub (StarShipSofa 648)
  • 19: “Cultural Relativity,” by Charles Johnson (Selected Shorts Rites & Rituals, 12-3-20)
  • 20: “Maternal Instinct,” by Chris Lester (Drabblecast 435)
  • 21: “Rapture,” by Reggie Oliver (Nocturnal Transmissions 91)
  • 22: “The Dogfisherman,” by Edward Ahern (The Other Stories 59.1)
  • 23: “The Twenty-Sixth Second,” by George Fox (Selected Shorts Rites of Passage, 12-10-20)
  • 24: “Just Desserts,” by Mary Soon Lee (Daily Science Fiction, 12-18-20)
  • 25: “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Podcast 25B)
  • 26: “The Shallow One,” by Matthew Sanborn (Drabblecast 437)
  • 27: “How to Influence Friends and Make People,” by Austen McGee (The Overcast 88)
  • 28: “The Ponz,” by Jess Walter (The Chronicles of Now, 5-27-20)
  • 29: “The Pet,” by Nadine Gordimer (The New Yorker: Fiction podcast 2-1-19)
  • 30: “Ghost Collecting,” by Sheila Massie (Flash Fiction Online, October 2020)
  • 31: “It’s a Bird,” by MA Dosser (Daily Science Fiction, 12-16-20)

All I can say is, thank goodness for podcasts! I’d never be able to enjoy as many stories without them!

Speaking of stories, I have two upcoming stories for your enjoyment. My story, “Nomad’s Land,” will be appearing in Cosmic Horror Monthly next month. My story, “US Portal Service,” which appeared in Third Flatiron Publishing’s Brain Games anthology will be produced as a podcast by Third Flatiron. I’ll provide links for both when more information is available!

Until next month, Stay Spooky!

I may have set a new personal record last month: most days without writing. I’m guessing a big part of it is pandemic fatigue. It’s hard to keep up the creative flow in the dumpster fire that is 2020. Plus, when the world you live in is a real-life dystopia . . . Anyway, my writing is at a total standstill.

However, it’s that time of the year: time to review old goals and set new ones. I did learn one good lesson from this year: sometimes I get so wrapped up in my “to do list” (particularly my writing “to do list”) that I forget to live. While writing is a huge part of my life, focusing on my writing too much is actually BAD, both in general and for my writing.

This was best illustrated in camping season this year. I was really excited about camping since we didn’t get to camp last year. However, I ended up getting caught up in my writing deadlines and submission calls, and I spent a big part of my camping days sitting inside the camper, writing and editing. Toward the end of the season, I finally put away my laptop and got out and actually enjoyed the camping trips. Then I was sad because I’d wasted most of my camping season inside, pounding away at my laptop!

Hemingway said, “The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

This is great advice, especially considering the uncertainty in these crazy times. I mean, if I end up lying in my death bed, what do I want to look back on? The camping trip with my daughter where we got lost in Pembina Gorge, or the night I stayed up until I was exhausted trying to finish off a story before the deadline?

So, as important as writing is (and all the other things that occupy my “to do” list), I need to remember to set them aside more often. I need to remember to live with gusto. So, to circle back to the original topics of goals, I’m going to revise next year’s goals to leave more room for living with gusto.

Keeping my new “live with gusto” philosophy in mind, here’s the breakdown on how I did for 2020 and what my goals are for 2021. Three goals are my “set in stone goals” (the personal goal of exercise, the writing stories goal, and the 500Stories500nights–which I intend to keep long after 500 stories). The rest of the goals are moving to the same priority as “Fix my website.” 😉

Set in Stone: On a personal level, one of my goals is to get back on the workout track. I’ve built a pretty decent home gym over the years, but my use of it has been sporadic. I’m going to do better.

Flexible: Read more scholarly work. This is a goal new to this year. For that, I’m starting by reading the collected essays of Lovecraft.

Flexible: Fix my website. In 2020, I made some progress, but there is a lot more work to do. For 2021, I’m going to continue improving my website.

Set in Stone: (was) Write and submit eight new stories. In 2020, I finished six, and the seventh is nearly done. I’m lowering the quota on this one. For 2021, I plan to write and submit six new stories.

Flexible: Submit three reprints. In 2020, I achieved this goal. For 2021, I plan to keep the same goal.

Set in Stone: Participate in the #500Stories500Nights Challenge. November marked one year of participation in the challenge for me. For 2021, I plan to keep the same goal, and I plan to take it beyond the 500 and just keep it as “I’m going to read/listen to one short story every day for the rest of my life.”

Speaking of #500Stories500Nights, here is my reading list for last month.

  • 1: “Thank You for Your Life,” by C. Bryan Brown (The Wicked Library 1014)
  • 2: “Market Value,” by Gerri Leen (The Overcast 93)
  • 3: “Breeze Point,” by Curtis Sittenfield (The Chronicles of Now, 8-12-20)
  • 4: “An Infinite Number of Idiots,” by Robert Jeschonek (StarShipSofa 626)
  • 5: “Sibyl,” by Carys Davies (Selected Shorts 10-22-20)
  • 6: “Love in the Balance,” by David D. Levine (Drabblecast 417)
  • 7: “Ages of Death,” by SW Pisciotta (Tales to Terrify 456)
  • 8: “Dead Man’s Shoes,” by Ashley Thorpe (Tales From Beyond the Pale 41)
  • 9: “Cordona’s Skull,” by Mary Elizabeth Counselman (Pseudopod 719)
  • 10: “Ghoul,” by George Saunders (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 11-3-20)
  • 11: “Face Value,” by Sean Williams (LeVar Burton Reads, 9-9-19)
  • 12: “A Drama,” by Anton Chekhov (Selected Shorts, 11-5-20)
  • 13: “I Decline,” by Cat Rambo (Daily Science Fiction, 11-6-20)
  • 14: “Vis Delendi,” by Marie Brennan (Uncanny Magazine 27B)
  • 15: “A Shadow Over Innsmouth,” by HP Lovecraft (Drabblecast 434)
  • 16: “The Soup Witch’s Funeral Dinner,” by Nicole LeBoeuf (Cast of Wonders 431)
  • 17: “Status Report,” by John Wray (Chronicles of Now, 7-29-20)
  • 18: “Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts,” by Anthony Veasna (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 2-4-20)
  • 19: “Little Man,” by Michael Cunningham (LeVar Burton reads, 10-26-20)
  • 20: “In Paris,” by Ivan Bunin (Selected Shorts, 10-29-20)
  • 21: “Rats,” by HP Lovecraft (Drabblecast 413)
  • 22: “Eight to the Eighth,” by Liam Hogan (Cast of Wonders 412)
  • 23: “The Lightkeepers,” by Jude Reid (Tales to Terrify 458)
  • 24: “The Horror in the Museum,” by Hazel Heald and HP Lovecraft (Nocturnal Transmissions 41 & 42)
  • 25: “Eyespots,” by Shannon Fay (Daily Science Fiction, 11-23-20)
  • 26: “Indispensable,” by Wendy Nikel (Flash Fiction Online, November 2020)
  • 27: “In Synch,” by Paul A. Freeman (Every Day Fiction, 11-30-20)
  • 28: “The Mystical Art of Codeswitching,” by Sydnee Thompson (, 10-19-20)
  • 29: “The Science and Artistry of Snake Oil Salesmanship,” by Timothy Mudie (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 11-19-20)
  • 30: “The Blue Cube,” by Lee Frazier Davis (Daily Science Fiction, 11-11-20)

I didn’t get much television time in last month, but I watched two episodes of the first season of the new Creepshow series. The first story, “Gray Matter,” was a little bit of a disappointment, but I expected it would be. It happens to be one of my favorite King stories, and television/movie adaptations almost always fall short of their books/short stories. After seeing how bad the television version of “The Raft” was, I was really worried. I did appreciate that Adrienne Barbeau starred, so that was a plus. The second story, “The House of the Head,” was better, though the ending left a little to be desired. Episode two was better because those two stories (especially “Bad Wolf Down”) really seemed to capture the old Creepshow feeling. Of the two stories in episode two, “The Finger” was my favorite. That story gets bonus points, too, since DJ Qualls was the main character and I’m a big fan (#CitizenZForever<3)!

On a sad note, we said goodbye to our beloved Abigail last month. It was sudden and unexpected, but she was an older dog (ten years old). I’m glad we got one last camping season with her. She wasn’t much for camping per se, and she wasn’t super crazy about going for walks in the woods, but she *loved* staring out the windows from her air conditioned, king-sized bed comfort at the squirrels.

A bit of good news for the month is that one of my short stories is available on the Nocturnal Transmissions podcast. While you listen to the fabulous voice talents of Kristin Holland, add a few episodes of Nocturnal Transmissions to your podcast feed. I know you’ll love it!

Also, don’t forget to pick up Brain Games ( from Third Flatiron Publishing), which includes my short story, “US Portal Service.” I love, love, LOVE these anthologies from Third Flatiron. The anthologies are all organized around a theme (like inventions, or alternate histories, or longevity), and it’s fun to see how different authors interpret the themes and the great stories they come up with (aliens and Jimi Hendrix? Yes, please!).

That’s all for now. Until next month, stay spooky!

Halloween full moon through the trees in my yard

The title for this month’s post should be, “Random Thoughts” because you’re going to get a little bit of everything!

We’ve been staying home a lot lately because it is very scary around here. We’ve got the highest cases per capita in the US, and our health department is telling people to do their own contact tracing because they can’t keep up. So here, we are supposed to rely on other people to tell us if they have exposed us to Coronavirus. Gee, I’m sure that’s going to work out swell! So we are going to work, shopping once a week, and staying home the rest of the time.

The extra at home time means I actually watched a few movies for a change. I watched Tremors: Shrieker Island, Blood Quantum, one episode of The Haunting of Bly Manor, two episodes of the old series Night Gallery, and rewatched The Girl with All the Gifts. For me, that’s a heck of a lot of tv time!

First, The Girl with All the Gifts. After rewatching the movie, I realized why I didn’t remember much about it and why I had the feeling I hadn’t liked it: I didn’t have a damn clue what was going on the first time I watched it.

I read the book not too long ago and it was soooo much better (but aren’t they always?), so I decided I’d have to watch the movie again and see what I had missed. The movie, it turns out, is much better *after* you’ve read the book. If you see the movie without reading the book, you don’t always understand the importance of some of the things that happen in the movie.

For instance, when Melanie looks out over the English countryside in the movie and the camera spends several minutes on that, you don’t understand that she has spent her whole “life” inside that building and has never seen the outdoors.

The movie barely touches on the whole scent-blocker issue, so you miss out on a lot of the tension of, “I can smell you” that is present in the book.

The movie just tries to touch on the high points to move the action along in the limited time they have, and so it’s like getting scenes/plot points without context, especially the emotional context. So if you watched the movie and didn’t care for it, I suggest reading the book and then watching the movie again. It really does help.

What can I say about Tremors? Not much, without spoiling the movie if you haven’t seen it. I will say that it was SO much better than five and six. Not great, mind you, but better. I am a hardcore Tremors fan, but I had already sworn that if this movie was as bad as five and six, I was done. No more Tremors for me. Thankfully, this movie was better. Michael Gross says he’s open to another Tremors, but . . .

Which reminds me, I also watched The Legend of Burt Gummer. It’s a cute, short little documentary on YouTube.

Blood Quantum was a hell of a movie. The premise is that the zombie outbreak occurs and Indigenous people are immune. The movie is at times a social commentary and a raging gore-fest at others. And dark. Holy crow, there is no happy ending here. You’d think it would be so easy to stay safe, if you were Native. But no, the fates of the whites and the Natives have been inextricably intertwined. I enjoyed the movie, but I know it’s not going to be everyone’s taste. It’s the kind of movie I like to call “Alle-gory.”

The only writing I accomplished last month was for my class. I did “The Other MILF: Monsters I’d Like to F***” about the trend of presenting women as monsters (interesting side note, Donald Trump referred to Kamala Harris as a monster) and how many of them are STILL sexualized (like Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother in the Beowulf movie).

My other paper is still in rough draft stage, with a working title of “Nasty Boys.” The topic of that one is the exploration of “high-brow” works that are really bawdy, like “Miller’s Tale” from Canterbury Tales. Non-English majors tend to think of the old writers (who are primarily male) as being high-brow and well-educated, when a lot of their work is really the literary equivalent of penis graffiti. Though that sounds bad, the point isn’t that those works don’t have value or should be dismissed, of course, but more that people shouldn’t have this mindset that the work is too lofty or sacred for the common man.

On the publishing front, another of my stories has been published recently. I’ve been so swamped with everything else that I haven’t had a chance to promote it!

I love, love, LOVE the anthologies from Third Flatiron, and I’m so proud this one includes my story, “US Portal Service.”

Here’s a great article for my writer/artist friends: Everyone Gets Bad Reviews and No One Should Read Them. My general policy is to avoid everything about my work once it’s published, lol, except for providing links to it. For example, in the anthology above, I will read every story except mine. I won’t listen to my stories if they pop up in my podcast feed. Once my work is out there in the world, I want nothing to do with it! And I never, EVER, read reviews on any of my work.

Speaking of reading (see, I warned you this was going to be a long post), I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy. It’s been on my to-read list a long time, but I was spurred to finally get around to reading it because it was brought up (briefly) during the recent Writers Conference.

My plan of action was to read the book, then delve into the controversy surrounding it. Thing is, I finished the book, and it’s not apparent what the controversy is, at least not to me. Granted, the author gets on his high-horse quite a bit, but that’s nothing ununusal.

So now I’ve got to get online and do a little research into it, and then I’ll read Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy.

Last, but not least, here is my October #500Stories500Nights list:

  • 1: “Across the Styx of Norway,” by Jacob M. Lambert (Podcasts from 3F-Third Flatiron, 11-17-15)
  • 2: “A Precious Quarry,” by Kev Harrison (Tales to Terrify 449)
  • 3: “Billy Bagbones: a folktale,” by Dan Fields (Nocturnal Transmissions 83)
  • 4: “The Lights Beneath the Sea,” by Aaron Vlek (Wicked Library 1012)
  • 5: “Temporal Fracture,” by Matthew C. Butcher (The Other Stories 55.3)
  • 6: “Dune Song,” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (LeVar Burton Reads, 9-21-20)
  • 7: “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye,” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 29A)
  • 8: “Mirror, Mirror,” by RT Raynaud (Nocturnal Transmissions 48)
  • 9: “And Cast it From You,” by Scarlett R Algee (The Wicked Library 1013)
  • 10: “Who Will Greet You At Home,” by Lesley Nneka Arimah (The New Yorker: Fiction podcast, 10-1-20)
  • 11: “The Midwives,” by Jude Reid (Starship Sofa 628)
  • 12: “The Last Love Letter,” by Gretchen Tessmer (Cast of Wonders 433)
  • 13: “From Beyond,” HP Lovecraft (Nocturnal Transmissions 46)
  • 14: “Reopening,” by Tommy Orange (Chronicles of Now podcast, 9-2-20)***
  • 15: “Burnover,” by K.D. Julicher (StarShipSofa 627)
  • 16: “Watkyn, Comma,” by Joan Aiken (Selected Shorts, 10-1-20)
  • 17: “The Pop-up Artisan of Drink Me Café,” by Marie Croke (Cast of Wonders 434)
  • 18: “Exhibit Label,” by John Waite (Tales to Terrify 453)
  • 19: “The Moctezuman,” by E.C Stever (The Overcast 94)
  • 20: “What You Make It,” by Dantiel W. Moniz (The Chronicles of Now podcast, 8-26-20)
  • 21: “Battle Borne Dreams Never Die,” by Paul Alex Gray (StarShipSofa 644)
  • 22: “A Good Friday,” by Barbara Jenkins (LeVar Burton Reads, 10-12-20)
  • 23: “Spanish Winter,” by Jennifer Egan (Selected Shorts, 10-8-20)
  • 24: “In the Space of Twelve Minutes,” by James Yu (Uncanny 36B)
  • 25: “Someplaces It’s Turnips,” by Jonathon Duckworth (Tales to Terrify 455)
  • 26: “Teratology,” by Reggie Forester (Nocturnal Transmissions 87)
  • 27: “Tunda,” by Michael Landry (The Wicked Library 806)
  • 28: “A.I. Family Values,” by Ben Spillers (StarShipSofa 645)
  • 29: “Low Energy Economy,” by Adrian Tchaikovsky (LeVar Burton Reads, 10-5-20)
  • 30: “Wedding of the Century,” by Shawn W Foley (Tales to Terrify 454)
  • 31: “There’s Always Time for Christmas,” by Felix Blackwell (Nocturnal Transmissions 44)

***Tommy Orange is a hell of a storyteller. The part of this story that really got me is when the kid is getting ready to go to the newly reopened school, and he thinks, as he’s going, “taking him to . . . what?/ his death? / his mild illness?” Powerful!

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

Moon in the trees in my yard