I Know What I Did Last Summer . . .

For those number of you who have inquiring minds and want to know

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This mantis is ready for the creepies and goblins, as it’s already preying on a ghost. (CREDIT: Archive of bad puns.)

(hi, hubby o’ mine!), here’s a round-up of a few things that have been on my mind of late, what I’ve seen, read, or been working on and so forth. Let it henceforth be know as a Smorgasblurb, or daisy-chain of what’s-its, widgets and, quite possibly, the world’s best collection of literary bric-a-brac.

1. Are you nervy, irritable, depressed, tired of life? Don’t keep that up! Here’s a short, down-to-earth post by author Dan Alatorre to help dispel the writer’s imposter syndrome that all some I have been feeling this summer and into the now-autumn.

2. Followed by the not-so-flattering assessment, albeit literary, of the United States’ commander in thief, by the ever-creative Rebecca Solnit (“The Loneliness of Donald Trump”) and available on Literary Hub. My favorite turn of phrase is in the very last graf: “The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego . . . One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall.” And that, folks, is how you bring it on home (whether you agree with the message or not).

3. I’ve had quite a few “close, but no cigar” with my writing this year, so the main thing I’ve got in the pipeline right now is a short story in the Biketopia anthology of feminist speculative fiction. (Yes, that.) But seriously, Publishers Weekly has said it’s “…a deeply moving and powerful anthology. ” Wow! 

P.S. Have you got anything close to publication or recently published? I know for a fact that some of you do. So consider this your pop quiz! Your chance to blast your own horn. Please feel free to comment in the ol’ leave a reply section below. And thanks!

4. A couple weeks ago I was pursuing one of my hobbies by perusing a nearby community’s town-wide yard sales. There was an old truck parked across from a church, and I don’t know why, but I stopped to look at the wares situated among the dust. Nothing there was probably anything anyone would need or want, but the woman tending them kept engaging me, imploring me to take a look at this or that. So, I got to talking with her and, unfortunately, concluded that she most likely has some level of mental illness and lives in her truck (long story) with these two kittens she says she couldn’t bear to leave at home because they got scared. Anyhow, without trying to sound sanctimonious, have you ever looked around you to everyday people and situations? We seem to not see images we are regularly exposed to, with them fading bit-by-by, day-by- day. Perhaps it’s something as simple as misplaced keys or something vastly more important: an invisible person or unjust situation or environmental problem that just keeps persisting in a sad state mostly because of apathy.

In short, have you tried helping anyone or anything in need lately?

Our opportunities to be loving and helpful to our fellow humans abound (and not only during natural disasters): to earthquake victims in Mexico, for Puerto Ricans who might not have potable water or electricity for weeks or months, Rohingya families driven out of Myanmar/Burma, bombed-out Yemeni people starving to death or dying of cholera, or innocent people rotting into the rubble of Syria. It turns out, if we look, I mean really look, we will probably find that there’s a literal neighbor of yours or mine who is silently in need. It can certainly be very depressing and soul-submerging to confront all the violence and hatred in the world; you’re only one person, right?! But . . . Whatever you do, just try. 🙂

5. Now, on to a much more pleasant topic. If you love fantasy, fae, and fairy tales like I do—you’re probably a super-fan, in fact, as I feel like I can never learn enough from all the world’s cultures—you will want to support Enchanted Conversation, a fairy tale magazine. Not only does this publication pay authors, but its editor/creator Kate Wolford helps keep the word percolating about how fairy tales and fabulism resonate and enrich our lives today . . . whenever we see an Emperor with No Clothes or a squirrel digging hundreds of tiny nut-graves all over our yards to prepare for cold weather, a figurative army of furry ants guarding against unprepared grasshoppers. Please chip in to their Fundrazr campaign now (there are rewards beyond just knowing ‘you did good’!) and if you’re a poet or fiction writer, consider submitting to the “Godfather Death” issue now through Sept. 30th or the “Elves and the Shoemaker” taking subs in November.

6. Well, this is rather long, isn’t it? Here’s one more, and just in time for the scary month of October! Stitched Smile Publications is seeking your horror-themed stories for two different paying open calls, one about the Seven Deadly Sins and another about a drive-in pulsing on the warty split-lip of damnation. I’ve not worked with them before, but they’re listed on Duotrope and have a history of in-genre publishing with a stable of many authors. Good luck if ya do construe a boo or two for them, much like the mantis on the ghost above. And, with that, I’m in copywriting mode!

ONE FINAL WORD Hang in there, everyone; help is on its way (with apologies for the crudulous advert at the beginning)!!

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The Arrival—and, Yes, I’m Still Alive

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Election results got you down, Leigh?

Reports of my demise have been exaggerated, I’m afraid. In fact, there I am over at the right, looking pensive, as opposed to looking Pence-ive, which is just gross.

Over the last five weeks or so that I’ve not blogged, I’ve been both working hard and hardly working. A new job—copywriting—is occupying a lot of my time so I haven’t gotten to do much creative writing (or responding to your blogs) of late. In fact, in terms of fiction, I submitted only five pieces for publication in January.

But amid the flus and allergies and product descriptions and torn knee-parts (husband, not me) and holidays, I’ve managed to get my second horror fiction piece published in a free ezine newly rechristened as Shotgun! Strange Stories, a publication of DeadLights Horror Fiction Magazine. I’d call the story, Volume 2, Issue 2 (27 January 2017; cover depicts two skeletons at a door and says “Featuring ISOLATED written by Kyle Lybeck”) a radical departure from my typical protagonist: this character is a right bastard, I think my British friends would say. Possibly with no redeeming qualities, but I hope the story manages to convey . . .  something. I’ll leave that something up to the individual, however!

I received several book-gifts for the holidays (the very best kind of gift), from poetry to short story collections to biography (Phil Collins, I’m looking at you, against all odds).

So-so-sodio (you have to sing it), I just wanted to give a brief update and a swift kick in my own tuchus. I am hereby making a half-way commitment to blogging two times a week. I’m sure you’re all thrilled, yes? 🙂 Two, yes two. These posts could be anything. Fence posts. Post offices. Post cereal.

Moving along . . .  I’ve been trying to save my dollars and pounds to support indie authors like some of you (I wish it were more; I truly do). Hence, the latest arrival.

Let’s all celebrate some good fiction-writing  . . .  c’mon!

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Congratulate, cajole, coax, consult, or converse with Hugh at his blog, Hugh’s Views and News, where you can also get this book (a short story collection chock-full of horror, science fiction, weirdness, and drama galore).

Way to go, Hugh, as to all of you living the creativity dream. I’ll see you around.

~Leigh~

My Very Short Holiday Story and Photos

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I don’t own Star Trek or the rights to this graphic; I just think it’s cool. But you can buy this T-shirt elsewhere online.

Life is unpredictable. (All the more reason to hold onto it and help others do the same.)

We’re currently waylaid by the unexpected: a sick child. Sadly, we will not make it to Grandma and Grandpa’s as soon as we’d originally planned.

However, if I’ve learned anything about parenting, it’s that you must be flexible. (That’s probably been the hardest lesson for this type-A personality.)

On a positive note, I hope you all are enjoying your holidays, if you celebrate. Here’s my early wish to you for a happy 2017 as well.

Now, the story . . . which isn’t here, but it was published:

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The first day of winter.

So, my story ran yesterday (21 Dec. 2016) on 50-Word Stories. My many thanks to Tim, who’s the force behind 50-Word Stories, for taking a chance on odd fiction, which I think my story “Trees” qualifies as. If you enjoy dark/horror flash fiction and appreciate a scary story, give it a like-click over here. And be sure to check out 50-Word Stories; every day they post two bursts of microfiction and are the go-to source for a smorgasbord of shorts (fiction, that is).

In the meantime, enjoy these winter-ish photographs.

Until we meet again. Soon.

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Can you spot all the critter footprints?

Want to read good stuff and enter to win more? Then I’ve got your giveaway right here

. . . to have a larger perception of surrounding facts, and to care for knowledge that was tinged with the unfamiliar.—Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Well, friends and new visitors to The Wordsmithery, the time has come for me to do some self-promoting and I’d like to offer you something in return for reading my latest work (beyond my continual wellspring of gratitude, which you already have access to). If I could offer this small token to each of you, I would.

That said, in conjunction with the launch of the Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires #steampunk

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You can buy me NOW!

#horror anthology that I have a story in now, I’m taking part in an author tea party on Sunday, 30 October, from 2 to 6 p.m. CST.

If you have a spare moment, I and the other Continue reading

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble in Words and Pictures

It’s been awhile, but as I love October, the time seems ripely right. So, another catch-all post. I’m considering doing the 6.66 days of horror fiction at the end of the month as well—and maybe even NaNoWriMo—but we shall see.

Think of this as a kind of Monday Markets, although it isn’t. Hope you enjoy what could be the beginning of a more consistent and beautiful blogging and reading relationship . . .

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble

Publications & Awards (you, me, and any every-body*)

  1. MY SHORT STORY “MUZZLING THE MONSTER” IS BEING PUBLISHED at the end of this month, in a steampunk and horror anthology called Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires (by Mocha Memoirs Press), and I’m thrilled and honored to be included. I literally cannot wait to see what the ghost-gears-grimoiresother storytellers have concocted for the book. And, in a first in my writing career, there’s even a creepy, cool trailer for this anthology, designed by the talented Terry Phillips. I’ll let you know as soon as I know acquisition details (sounds like something a Ferengi would be interested in, eh?).
  2. THERE’S ALREADY A TON of books out there, right? But you don’t want to waste your time with poorly edited or conceived works either. Thankfully, that is far from the case here. Although I am biased in the sense of having been a beta reader of this book (and her previous one), I am once again happy to champion Sarah Potter’s speculative fiction offering, this one christened Noah Padgett and the Dog-People. (I also hope to have Sarah over to the blog very soon, as her schedule allows!) Although NPATDP is aimed squarely at middle-grade readers (or accelerated 7-10 year olds), there’s every chance as an adult you will enjoy this romp through the world of Canis sapiens, in a dimension something like ours but curiously tipped. Will the human boy, Noah, make it out of Zyx alive? Do tell! . . .  I’ve done a review over at Amazon, and you lucky folks & blokes in the UK can get a deal on the book right now, with free delivery in the UK on orders with at least ÂŁ10 of books. So, whatever are you waiting for?
  3. HAVE YOU READ? Resident WordPress poet Robert Okaji has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for his poem “Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine”! Even though Bob might profess to be an ordinary person—and they, too, can be nominated for and win a Pushcart!—his diction, structure, and nimble enjambment techniques boggle the brain. Do check out his latest offerings at his blog, “O at the Edges.”
  4. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! WordPress humorist and author Hugh Roberts is releasing a book in early December 2016. If you’re a reader of Hugh’s blog, you know that some speculative fiction and otherwise wacky, wild, and wee-urd jellybabies (I mean, stories) await! More on all that Welsh Winter Wonderfulness at Hugh’s post, and you’ll find a slew of other books to add to your lists (chosen by Hugh).

 

Markets & Other Interesting Things

Depending on your time, desired compensation, experience, genre, word count, and so on, markets are your bread and butter. Your mead and meat. Your nectar and ambrosia. Your cake and icing. Your chutney and naan. Your Dornish wine and saltfish. I really shouldn’t blog while I’m hungry, should I?

  1. DeadLights magazine. This is a new market. They have hatched a nonpaying weekly short fiction market, called “Shotgun Horror Clips,” as well as a paying short-story one for the DL magazine. Citing influences from King and Straub to Barker, Jackson, et al, they clawed their way high up my horror-writing market list. The specifics about submitting paying short fiction, flash, art, and CNF for the magazine can be found here. For the Shotgun Horror Clips, check this link.
  2. More horror: Pseudopod, dubbed “the sound of horror,” is seeking your first-form, A-level, Big League, Premier League speculative fiction in the weird, gory, dark, violent, thrilling/unsettling vein. Got a time-traveling Jack the Ripper? Oh, wait. That’s been done already. But give them your absolute best, with emphasis on the dark and macabre (less comedy, more tragedy), and see if you can hit the really high notes with this HWA and soon-to-be SFWA approved market (professional rates, mind you!). Before you do submit, do get a really good feel for what they like. One of the writers I enjoy and follow, fictionist Aeryn Rudel, recently had a piece called “Night Games” converted to audio and featured on Pseudopod here. Think vampires and the desolation of the pitcher’s mound in baseball and you might harness a scintilla of this story.
  3. Interesting things:
  • Eavesdrop on F/SF writer Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series et al) as he instructs on topics ranging from the business of writing to plotting to world-building and more. It’s as if you’re taking a master class but you can be introverted at the same time!
  • #HoldontotheLight: Did you know that 100+ authors of SF/F are blogging about mental illness and wellness this month? The matters touched on range from PTSD to anxiety to suicide. I can attest that these issues surface time and again in the science fiction and fantasy communities. If you’d like to join the movement, as a reader, commenter, contributor, or otherwise, one fitting place to start is writer Gail Z. Martin’s link round-up.
  • You might not know it, but there’s a campaign to create an exhibit and anthology of women’s science fiction writing, with confirmed participants as illustrious as Jane Yolen, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and a bevy of others thus far. As I write this, the “Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF” project is raising funds and in the process of kicking off a call for submissions by or featuring strong female protagonists, including those from the stellar authors mentioned above. Now here’s a campaign to fund, if ever there was one!

It is time, or far past it, for me to close this post. *If you’d like to plug your own latest publication in the comments, please feel free.* Just don’t try to sell Russian watches, Cialis, or other male enhancement paraphernalia there.

See you in the funny papers . . .

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For those times when you want to look like Freddie Mercury with a sore shoulder. Maybe it’s under pressure?

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Remember these console record-players? You never know what you’ll find at Goodwill.

 

Three Ways I Owe Stephen King My Life—and My Sanity

The King is NOT dead. In fact it is his birthday today (21st September). He’s 69 years old. No joke (crude or otherwise).

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The (night)Stand. Dead center, wedged between anger and the unseen (Anne Carson poetry): King’s On Writing, sans dust jacket.

I’m not talking about Elvis, but the master fiction-writer Stephen King. Otherwise known as He of the eternal bestsellers list. Or maybe Scary Writer Guy.

If Mr. King hasn’t been on “The Simpsons” yet, please, somebody call Matt Groening. A scenario involving Itchy and Scratchy interviewing him, and perhaps literally being slaughtered by his words.

As for me . . . If given a few minutes with Mr. King, although there is much I would like to ask (including about language choices!), I should perhaps first offer him my hearty thanks.

In thinking about King the icon on his birthday, I am drawn to how many ways I owe someone I’ve never met, and am never likely to, my gratitude. Here are just a few. A tiny token. A kind of not-yet reliquary object; the moving finger, mid-writ. A curled, disintegrating pink sheet of paper, my treasure.

Three Ways I owe Stephen King . . .

1. It’s not about me. It’s about the bottle (if not the battle). Sometime last year, I read King’s (perhaps, although I hope not) conclusive novel in the saga of Dan(ny) “Doc” Torrance, Doctor Sleep. It makes so much more sense now. I can finally write it, nonfictionally, too: I am the child of an alcoholic. Curiously, it feels good to be truthful.

2. Have you read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft? Really, there are too many gems in this short, leanly titled book to carry away in armfuls. To write, you have to read. Dogged persistence is key. Hammer at the words until you’ve fashioned something new—accessing a big, green god of ecstasy perhaps. You will survive; he (and his brother) did, after all. (Including the farting babysitter.) This book has saved me missteps I did not even realize were steps.

3. The pink sheet of paper, you ask? Circa, oh, 1989. Rest assured, it’s in storage. Not lost. Never lost. Dragged to a bingo game for the umpteen and first time as a child, I had two choices to make, both appealing: read or write. Thanks to reading King (and not always understanding what was beyond my range to understand), I nevertheless started turning to writing. On pink bingo programs or any scrap I could find. And, lo and behold, I became better at it (at least marginally, no pun intended) the more I did it. It propelled me in ways that being a sort of invisible raggedy-child of a dysfunctional family did not. Death and suicide, I saw through the veil of prose, were a termination. Not a clean and strings-free release. I, too, persisted.

So, world, you have Stephen King to thank (or stone) for my finding my way to the present me.

Unbraiding the strands of self from the writer is difficult to impossible at this point. At least, in that, I am thinking King and I are on common ground.

Long live Stephen King, my writing hero!

 

Tuesday Taproots and Some Haiku

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I missed last week’s photo challenge from Hugh, depicting ‘glorious,’ so I’ll leave this great horned owl photo here. Enjoy!*

Hi, everyone. Now that May (short story month) has concluded, I’m retiring.

I kid, I kid. To your chagrin! But to be nonfacetious, I’ve been fairly creative—wedging in writing time and, perhaps even more valuable, reading time—in the interim. Amid camps and classes and appointments (oh my), I’ve found a way to make it work. Somehow. I hope you all are doing the same in your creative and life endeavors, however they may mesh.

I’ve got a story debuting (details to come) online, on approximately June 18. That is exciting, and I’ll let you know more when the publisher okays it. It might not be to your taste or, contrarily, it might be just the panacea Dr. Dystopian ordered.

Anyway, in the meanwhile, some haiku I’ve worked on. A few do contain mature language, Continue reading

Day 6.66 of Thrilling Fiction: The Deranged Boy-Next-Door

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Wow! These guys use vomiting as a defense mechanism! Turkey vulture, orig on flickr by user 20100130_9554 Dori. From Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Okay, so I skipped a day; my apologies. So busy with Hallowe’en! Yesterday’s animal encounters included, I think, about 8-10 turkey vultures, which I thought, appropriately enough, were turkeys from a distance, enjoying the unfortunately bountiful roadside fruits of autumn. When I drove back by, I was going to attempt a quick photograph, but they had departed.

Anyway, onto literary things. It might sound ungrateful, but I sometimes lament that I live where I live (country and city), have the experiences I’ve had. I’d love to be able to write with authenticity about living in Bangladesh or Alaska or Mumbai or Hong Kong or Nigeria or, tilting that, in Middle Earth or Xanth or on board Babylon 5, or perhaps even a future real Earth.

However, today I’m going to embrace what I know (the wellspring of my limitations), just a little, if only to give me a counterpoint from which to swing around, slingshotting myself all over the place.

That’s the hope, anyway. As they say, keeping one’s eyes on the stars, even from the gutter.

An American Murder Story

*Some details changed to ensure anonymity.

——-

I began at the beginning, like most.

Earliest micro-memories include sitting on an unknown knee of the man with thinning, gray hair, and in glasses. My paternal grandfather, I later found out, who died when I was about 2. Being hoisted to be carried above a green, tiled floor–at the mom’n’pop corner store my grandparents ran. Scooting around, dragging one foot for whatever reason, on that same floor in a circular contraption that I sat in and couldn’t get away from. Always on the move, even then.

Earliest macro-memories encompass mostly violence that I probably didn’t fully perceive as such. A volcano exploded. Some musical guy in glasses had been shot and killed. Then, later, the President was shot and almost died.

Meanwhile, Grandma’s partly outdoor cat brought us gifts sometimes. I saw a charred pile one day. It was sitting up on the second of two steps leading to the driveway. Investigating closer, I determined it was the insides of some small critter, the organs in a darksome heap. Another day, I had to laugh. The same kitty was being dive-bombed by a penduluming bird, most likely a robin or mockingbird, whose nest was threatened. Still again, the other cat (daughter cat and a domestic longhair) once brought home a snake.

I didn’t let the momma cat eat the hummingbird caught in the spider’s web on the porch screen, though. The underdog, or underbird as it were, always appealed to me.

In any case, I was hooked on being a watcher of nature, and I made my footprint marks all around the neighborhood, in trees, on top of massive rocks, down hillsides, up small ridges, and so on.

Near my grandparents’ place stood the perched-on-a-hill house of our neighbors, the Harts*. It had ‘stilts’ holding up a deck that was many feet from the ground. The lower yard could have been made into a small pond if they’d wanted. The property was flanked by a wooded area, and a line of small pines and brush ringed the front of the house facing one part of the road. To another side, lining the road shared with my grandparents’ and other houses, were the semi-strong trees that I climbed, one where I was “arrested” one night by a police officer with a very bright light.

This house on the hill was where my sometimes-friends, Casey and Kevin*, lived. They were grandchildren of the Harts and visited from out-of-state on an irregular basis.

Kevin, a year or two younger than I, had hair so shockingly blond, it appeared white. It was in the spikey, almost-mullet style of that era and place. His skin was in counterpoint, tanned but covered with fine white-blond hairs all year long. His sister, Casey, had long brown-blonde hair and the same skin, though tanned a lighter brown. I mention their skin colors, I think because it’s something I remember about them, as I try to cling to the factual details largely devoid of emotion. Kevin enjoyed motorcycles; Casey, a very pretty girl I’m sure would later have lots of boyfriends if she wanted to, didn’t mind tagging along with us on our traipses through the fields and creeks. I, quintessential nerd, with Coke-bottle-thick glasses acquired in kindergarten or first grade, and thin as a rail, with ‘war wounds’ all over my legs and arms of running through said fields and briar patches.

My desperately entrepreneurial parents received lots of catalogs in the mail in those days, and one day while Kevin and Casey were in town–it might have been summertime–we snuck to the unused car in the backyard, a model from my dad’s old business. We heaved open the door with a creak and got into its palatial black backseat.

Of what I remember, much hilarity ensued. There were all kinds of treasures in this particular sheaf of pages. It was only a mail-order catalog, but we delighted in laughing at the whoopie cushions, hand-buzzer contraptions, “naughty nurse” costumes, “dirty joke” books, fake dog poo, pretend severed arms, sneezing powders, and bubble gum in a packet that would snap your fingers when you reached inside. Perhaps it was pyrite for adults, but diamonds for babes.

It was Kevin who convinced me to practice kissing, at which I was  inexpert, in his dark and crowded basement that I dared not venture too far into. His grandma’s junk room, however, was a different story. Assorted delights lay there, including a tossed-aside book looking like a tent, by someone called Sidney Sheldon, with words foreign and unfathomable, though I sensed somehow risque.

Kevin and Casey visited our neighborhood (where the Harts lived) with their father, Jack. Some of Jack’s siblings still lived at home with Mr. and Mrs. Hart: a son, Larry, and a daughter, Susan. Two other brothers came and went, living somewhere outside the family home.

I barely knew either Larry or Susan, though she did once take the kids and I hiking nearby our house. On that excursion, I saw my first animal skeleton, probably a racoon or opposum, because it had a long snout, devoid of all flesh and fur, accidentally stumbling on it at the edge of a creek with a high wall next to it. Before I knew it, my toe had nudged the bleached bones tumbling into the rushing waters below that led soon to a small waterfall drop of about 15-feet or so. I don’t know if it’s real or manufactured, but I can still see the bones toppling in my mind’s eye. And from my mind’s toe, too.

Have you ever felt like something dark or foreboding was following you around, all your life? I never had the words for it, once upon those times, but now I do. I think of it as the death magnetic.

Fortunately and unfortunately, now I have words and concepts for lots of things I didn’t then.

For instance, kidnapped, raped, murdered, or serial killer.

About ten years ago, in talking with my parents and searching the Internet for information, I discovered that my former neighbor–Larry Hart–had been arrested with at least one other male accomplice. He had been tagged as a serial killer of women.

This man, whom I still have photographs of, smiling and posing with both of my grandparents on a verdant spring day, his red hair neatly combed and straight, he’s gripping my grandmother’s (a tall woman, 5’11 probably, and taller than him) shoulder tightly on the side as if he never wanted to let go. With my grandfather, he still smiled but the hug was a lot looser, the smile more forced.

“I’m glad his momma was dead by the time he went to prison,” my mother remarked of Larry.

I get a bit choked up thinking of his momma, Mrs. Hart. Although I’d never wish death on most people, especially not her, I guess I’m glad she didn’t have to experience seeing her son branded–and proven in multiple court appearances–as a serial killer either. As far as I know, and parts of me really want to un-know it, he still sits on death row today.

It is only in the writing of this realistic (but creative) nonfiction story that I’ve wondered and realized something: Did Larry watch his niece and nephew? Did he watch his sister, Susan? Did he see Kevin and I  (what we thought was secretly) kissing? Was he grooming his nephew or niece or was he himself being groomed by some unseen force or person? And, if so, whom?

That really bothers me, as it has lots of people and philosophers throughout human history. How to deal with this problem of evil, a term I hate, or hatred in the human species. And, insofar as meanness or lack of empathy exist, they lead to what seems to me as deaths-out-of-time. Stemming from intended or unintended consequences.

It all sounds rather fatalistic/deterministic as I write it, but, again, the idea of the death magnetic. My fresh epiphany, in writing and living, has been this: It’s not time’s winged chariot hurrying near at our backs. Fiat Lux-2aWe can think we have hold of the reins, driving the chariot, but, really, death or fate or time (whatever you want to call that force) is in control. It pulls us toward it, wholly at its will. Death is the chariot, the driver, the wheels, the horses, and the reins. We are immutable cargo.

In any case, my challenge, now, might be to not chafe or fight so strongly, but instead to learn to accept that, with utter calmness, clarity, and patience. Presuming I’m still blogging, I’ll let you know when–or if–that ever happens.

Day 6 of Thrilling Fiction: The Mutant in Microfiction

DragonEye Supermoon

Once upon a time one cloudy night . . .

Day 6 (Oct. 24 for me, though strangely not according to WordPress) has dawned and almost passed by. Here’s to crepuscular creative writing!

I had the good luck to rescue a huge turtle from the middle of the road today (safely, yay for us both!), as well as accomplish some Samhain shopping with ninja kid #1.

If only I could have invited those of you who enjoy breakfast for dinner to our dinner of homemade banana pancakes, crescent rolls stuffed with either spinach, cheese, tomato, and pepperoni or some variation on that theme, and pomegranate arils. Too bad the bread’s hidey-hole didn’t fool ninja #2 into eating his vegetables.

As to writing, I knew I wanted to do a story featuring neither the “real world” nor science fiction, but rather either something inanimate or something Other, probably in the “monster” realm. So, here you have it: very short and not so creepy today. Oh well. This microfiction story was based on a prompt I did a year or two ago, I think with me needing to use the words flammable, heroic, and caring.

Enjoy the respite from a longer story!

Her Mutant Mate

Caring. Heroic. The words circled three times and flopped down in Zia’s mind.

It was nothing of the sort. Instinctual, yes. Stoic, probably. Possibly even as cold as she imagined the moon’s surface to be.

Nevertheless, it was just what she did. Her chosen lot, for her love and her light: Nils.

He whimpered from his wheelchair. The slobber slid down the stubble-bordered crevices around his mouth, and she moved to blot them, knowing he’d probably twist his neck away—and yet, never be able to articulate exactly why.

She noticed that he wasn’t nearly as alert today. Each day leached more energy from him while also lashing her closer to his side.

Life is both flammable and fickle, she thought as she stroked him to sleep.

Especially when you’re mated—and as good as married—to an aging werewolf.

####THE END####

Is Paradise Regained? Find out in Jack Flacco’s New Zombie Novel

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise
What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.
–John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1 (1674 publication)

It’s been a long time since I’ve read my Milton, but I’ll say up-front that I recall no zombies in this English poet’s masterwork of blank verse, “Paradise Lost.”

Which is precisely where Jack Flacco’s latest zombification can come in handy. Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise is the concluding book in Jack’s trilogy. It is also one that I hope those of you interested in speculative fiction writ large, or horror in micro terms, will consider buying. When you do, you can be pretty assured you’ll be supporting a self-publishing small-business owner, father, husband, and cool guy who likes to wax philosophical on his blog about everything from fierce female protagonists to hellacious heroes, vile villains, and freedom f(r)ighters of just about every stripe.

Paradise-hunter Ranger Martin and his motley crew of teens and other dogged dispatchers of the undead are now available through Amazon in ebook form for your Kindle or in paperback.

From what I understand, the novel begins in media res, at gut-level as it were, and will continue to gnash and gnaw its way through you as you travel amid the fast-paced narrative. But don’t take my word for it; Jack has amassed an expert team of reviewers who’ve given their critiques, connectable through the link here.

I can’t wait to read it, and what better time than October? Consider this book happily at the top of my beloved to-be-read pile. Better read than (un)dead, right?