Monday, May 31, 2010

Molotov Cocktail has me in its grip; Book review; Cephalopodian Amour

Find me at The Molotov Cocktail: How Did She Look I Must Know.

Obsession. Love. Find them in a ditch by the side of the road.

JS reassured me that I have far weirder thoughts than those encompassed here. I don't know whether to be grateful or frightened. In either case, Warren Zevon's My S**t's F****d Up applies. Whoever you are, this song may apply to you as well.

Huge thanks to Molotov Cocktail editor, Josh Groller, who was most kind and enthusiastic. I do not know the state of his shit.


I gently, softly whispered that I might, possibly, enjoy some octopus poems. And goodness, didn't a few of you come through with flying colors? I present to you these cephalopodian offerings, which made me bounce in my chair in a most unseemly manner.

First, we set the mood with my current love, Dream State by 0effe0.

Do go over, and click for full size. Amazing. Ethereal. Sensuous.

And now, octopus poems:

Octopus, octopus, down in the deep,
When do you sleep, when do you sleep?

-- Regs


Suckers clutching on
with morphing intelligence.

-- Tonksinger (LJ)


Lithe arms with sucky things
can easily outwit human beings.

-- Beffeysue (LJ)


Hunting in shallows
There is a new day, new prey,
for all tentacles.

-- Alienor (LJ)


Alienor’s Friend, Master of Octopi Haiku, Order of Cephalopod, First Class, Twin Tentacle Badge:

[Lovecraft version]
Slithy slimy things
Prowling under the surface
Beautiful nightmare

[Fight Club version]
Squids drive me crazy.
You really have fucked up friends.
God! Tentacle porn.

Writhing tentacles,
Alien octopus death cults,
Pulp fiction for squids

[Alien version]
Alien Resurrection.
'She's a squid. She'll breed. You'll die.'
Octopi galore.


Fight Club version by Alienor's friend made me jump around, saying it out loud. And Beffey hit the nail on the head: exactly why I love them. Morphing intelligence? Yeeees, my preciouses. Yeeeees.

Still reading? Be prepared. I will have two more assignments for you soon. Yes. Because I am evil and demanding sweet as honey and just as sticky.


If you don't have enough to read above, let me suggest the following: Pumpkin Teeth by Tom Cardamone. A collection of short stories with a seriously mind-warping spec fic bent and an undercurrent of homoeroticism, I was honestly blown away by this man's imagination. You'll see the reviewers over at Amazon felt the same way. Wow.

Not just a psychedelic imagination, but Cardamone can write, as well. I often found myself lingering over a turn of phrase that I found unique and haunting, and his characterizations were deft, with solid voices, and never a moment when I found myself thinking, "They wouldn't do that." Personal favorites include Mishima Death Cult and Lotus Bread, both stories that had me on the edge of my seat until the very end. I believe you can find Mishima Death Cult in the archives over at Velvet Mafia, and it's well worth the sleuthing.

The book really only let me down in one area: editing. I may be a bit OCD about this sort of stuff, but there were countless errors that, frankly, distracted from the experience. And not in a positive way. An additional "and" or a lacking "the," or perhaps an extra line between paragraphs, or maybe an "s" left off the end of a word, or words run together, or something that should be italicized that wasn't, and something else that was italicized ended up flowing into the next sentence, so that I was confused by the continued italicization. Slipping into a different tense... in the same sentence. These errors, unfortunately, seem to occur on most pages.

The cover art and the font are great, the overall quality when you hold it in your hands is great. The storytelling is beyond phenomenal. But for the love of Gutenberg, couldn't somebody go over the MS with a better eye? It really started to bug me. Having said that, several of these stories just won't let go, and I found myself, several nights this week, lying in bed, thinking of them. Cardamone's got another fan, now if he can just get himself a better editor. Hell, I'm volunteering, just so I can read his stuff first!


Have a lovely day, Bill Withers-style. Failing to do that, remember that everything decays.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Story and book recs, ice cream, love

Two exceptional pieces of reading over at sleep.snort.fuck:

Things I Live With by R. Gay. The first paragraph has a slightly different tone than the rest, but all of this is gorgeous, sad, sick. It's a breathless read with a divinely perfect ending -- not a happy ending, note. Just vivid, poetic realism.

Christina Rosetti's Cunt and Trapped In Kathy Acker's Blood and Guts by P.A. Levy. Two poems that take what we all do --imagine others, celebrities, etc, naked -- to bizarre and absolutely fascinating extremes. And yet, they don't seem to read as if the author did it for shock value. Except for some minor quibbles, they're quite good: excellent, imaginative imagery and fairly tightly written. I shouldn't quibble at all, I suppose. I suck at writing poetry.

Since these are over at sleep.snort.fuck, you should assume two things: non-fiction, and NWS. And probably "disturbing," as well. :) I love how writers take "creative non-fiction" to new heights (and sometimes, new lows) over there. You never know what you're going to read on any given day. And note that Things I Live With is the first piece to inspire me to comment in a while.


Seth Godin reviewed Mark Frauenfelder's new book, ending with, "Mark's honest retelling of his repeated failures to be brilliant at all times made me smile, and his relentless and joyous embrace of actually making things was an inspiration." This alone makes me want to read this book. Is life not, or should it not be, about trying to be brilliant? Which then leads to failure, often spectacular failure. If you're not trying to be brilliant, you're simply not trying. If you're not expecting to be brilliant at whatever it is you're trying, you've got no sense of humor. ;)

Making things by hand is a dying art in itself -- and by that, I mean, making anything at all. Right now, I am looking at our garage window. Last year, B decided it needed re-painting. It did, indeed. So he carefully took it out, stripped the paint, sanded it down, repainted it a lovely, sunny buttercream yellow, and put it back in. And then put it back in again. And again. Everything had been going so well up until that point...

So now we've got what I call the "Weasley window," a la that terrific family from the Potter books. It's crooked. It's darling. I adore it. I do not want another window put in, nor do I want to hire someone to come out and "fix" it for us. B did it. It's fantastic. And yes, it keeps the rain out.

Made by hand? I suppose not exactly, but this falls into the DIY category that Mark Frauenfelder writes about. There is something more infinitely beautiful about the handmade, even when, or especially when, it is not perfect.


Falling in love again, day after day:

Sawing a two by four on the front steps, he picks up the fallen chunk of wood and holds it up to me.

"Do you like the smell of fresh cut wood?"

Yes, I do. He take the piece and jams it between metal and brick, and now our air conditioner isn't rattling (so much). I leave the sawdust on the steps. I like sitting there and looking at it.


Ice Cream Is Also Love:

You may rcall the Blackberry Brown Sugar Mascarpone Ice Cream I made using Not So Humble Pie's recipe. Last night, I made... are you ready for this? ... Nutella Ice Cream. Yes. And yes, it was wonderful.

Five ingredients, no eggs. Light and not as creamy as an egg/custard-based ice cream, which in this case is a good thing. Nutella is rich and creamy enough. Also, the recipe makes about 2-3 cups, which is plenty for two people. A lot of ice cream recipes call for enough ingredients to make my ice cream maker overflow, and then I've got to package it all up and freeze it, and eat it before the week is out. Not a bad thing, but this was enough for us to have last night and then tonight we'll finish it off.

I'm a berry lovin' girl, so the Blackberry ice cream is still my favorite, but this was soooo good. It's now B's favorite, and he wants to know about adding actual hazelnuts next time. A very good idea, I think. Toasted hazelnuts, mm...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Daily Deviation, Art, Clover

I'm truly honored: The Librarian's Assistant is today's Daily Deviation on Deviant Art.

I woke up to find an enormous amount of messages. I was so confused! I need caffeine before I can begin to process these things. :) But now I'm very, very happy.

I want to thank JS, who not only goes over my work with a keen editorial eye, but is so encouraging as well. In this case, I wrote this piece, sent it to her on a Sunday morning, and got back one of the best replies: that this had made a shitty day so much better. She loved this story, and I still recall her email vividly. It made my day.


Upcoming: look for me next week at The Molotov Cocktail. I shall link when the issue goes up. The week after that, one of my pieces is the weekly story at A Minor Magazine. Linkage also forthcoming. Thanks to the editors at both zines.


News about the chapbook coming soon. Just a little something to give you an idea of what it's about. I know, I'm such a tease. ;)

Thank you to everyone who reads my work. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Last night, I went outside with my dogs to sit for a while and enjoy the evening. It was beautiful, not too hot any longer, and so quiet. I looked down and... there was a four-leaf clover! All my life, I've looked and never found one. In a yard full of clover, I hoped that someday, one would show up. And now one has!

It is lying here on postcards written between 1903 and 1912, from a Mr. Charles Pankhorst to a Miss Ida Sylvester. I will tell more about these postcards at a later date.

And for now, I have stuck the clover between the pages of a very old sheetmusic book to dry:


And last, I've been experimenting with painting. I've done a lot of crafts, and I want to try my hand at this now. My first one, Birches No. 1 (how artsy does that sound?!), is just finished:

Acrylics on canvas, 11 x 14. I took this picture with my camera, so I'm a bit disappointed how it looks here. I love the way it looks in person. Some of the right side is cut off, too... Ah, well. Anyway, this was done after watching a show on tv about how to create your own art for your home. My first attempt was a homemade card for JS, and now I've gone bigger. Next up, the side of the garage. JK!
That's all for now. Come back next week -- I'll have the link to The Molotov Cocktail piece, and to celebrate, I may be doing an art giveaway, in the tradition of many bloggers here. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Artists B. Konig and Mark Reep, And Then Some Bad Prose

Konig's work has that graphic quality I love, along with darker themes and interpretations of fairy tales that incite the imagination. And, also, make me smile. Click on Gallery for more, as I couldn't really decide which one I wanted to showcase here.


Mark Reep posted a beautiful piece, Morning Prayer. I've come to realize it's the serenity I most love about his work.

Years ago, I was a good little Buddhist. For about two years, with a couple of years on either end where I was not so good. During those years, I practiced meditation, usually twice a day. Many times, you are advised to "empty your mind," which is really an extraordinarily difficult feat. A good way to do this is to focus on an image in your mind -- the lotus is often used. Or, if your eyes are open, stare at an indistinct spot on the wall, such as the place where the candle flame reflects in a little spot of gold. Focus on that, and if your mind should wander, bring it back, gently, to the lotus, to the flame. Over and over. Like physical exercise, the more you do it, the better you become.

I will, for the time being, not talk about my experience, but I will say this: that looking at Mark's work often produces that same quiet, gentle feeling. I've just now recognized this. So if, today, you are feeling chaotic or stressed, take a moment to look through his gallery, and maybe you'll find a minute's peace there as well.


I have not been writing little fic experiments here as, sometimes, I really like what I've written, and I have found that many places don't want reprints. I would assume having it on my blog would make something a reprint, so I'm refraining, and writing just as much as usual, trust me.

In fact... the tally stands this week (so far -- disaster could befall me at any minute!):

0 rejections

2 acceptances

Ha! Two! And they arrived in my in-box within minutes of each other. I was excitedly texting my other half when I got the message about the second piece. So when will you see these? Keep an eye here over the next two weeks.

I am, of course, eyeing the list of submissions still currently out and thinking that I will now receive, oh, ten rejections within a minute of each other.

I do think that I am getting closer to... something. It seems revelations come, from time to time, and I'm learning. Over the last few years, I learned a lot about writing. And now, in the last six months, I am learning new things. And so I cannot complain. If I hadn't left behind that little corner of the world, I would not have learned these things. And now I am in this new fragment of the world, and after this, who knows? I only know the journey is barely beginning, and I'm very excited when I look ahead to many more years of writing.


And I leave you today on a humorous note. I've just finished a book which I will not review -- because it wouldn't be a review, it would be a skewering. One of the worst things I've picked up in years. It's by a very well-known author, and while I knew to expect some purple prose, she exceeded all my expectations. The prose is probably the least of her problems, to be honest, but we'll just talk about that for the moment. Or rather, this:

"Batter the door," she said. "The virgin door. Open it and I am yours forever."

And then, in the next few sentences, he proceeds to batter her door repeatedly -- and is anyone else picturing him dipping her ladyparts in actual batter, in preparation for deep-frying? -- then she, predictably, and without any mention of clitoral stimulation, arches up against him and, "as the tide crested, she thought she would truly die."

I have had some good sex in my time. Also some bad, but let's forget about that for the moment. Good sex. No matter how good, no matter how earth-shattering, I never actually thought I might "truly die." Not to mention, he had just punctured her "seal," and that had me rolling on the floor.

They then proceed to have sex about fourteen times a night from there on out, and her lover, apparently, likes to announce the moment of his orgasm with a growl. Never had a growler, I must be honest, and god knows, I've been around. I don't think I want to hear him growl at that moment. Now, maybe if it was a pirate "Arrrr!" That could be interesting.

"Arrrrr!" he said. "I like the way you touch me peg-leg. Touch it again. Arr! Arrrrr! ARRRRRR!" And then parrot was knocked off his shoulder.

Good day, do some weeding, ride a Vespa in a skirt, kiss a dog, write me an octopus poem.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Here is a list of things I did today:

1. Groomed three dogs. I don't want to talk about it. Okay, but all I'm saying is that I was drenched in sweat. Drenched. The next time you think, "Man, I am drenched with sweat," I want you to stop and ask yourself if you are grooming-in-a-non-air-conditioned-truck-in-85-degree-weather-three-huge-dogs-omg-my-panties-are-stuck-to-my-buttocks sweaty. Are you that sweaty. If you aren't, shut up.

2. Called my sister and told her about Brittany Murphy's dead husband, who I am convinced had something to do with Brittany's death.

3. Did not get into an accident while navigating orange barrels on a narrow street while doing the above listed item.

4. Was passive-aggressive with my other half, thus forcing him to make tacos on his own. I don't feel bad about this. You can't make me.

5. Bitched about my slackass neighbors.

Things I did not do today:

1. Was not an emo little bitch. People need to put on their big girl panties and suck it up.

2. Go to the mall, have three margaritas on the rocks in the Ruby Tuesday's attached to the mall, and then go shopping while tipsy, which is so much fun. It's amazing what you buy when drunk. I should've done this today, though. Beats #1 on the first list.

3. Write a haiku. This is sad. Even though I am terrible at them.

4. Get my ears re-pierced. It's been so many years since I wore earrings, that the original holes have closed up and my beloved refuses to ice my lobes and jab me with a needle, which if he asked, I would gladly do for him. I would pierce anything on him if he asked. This is also sad -- well, both parts, but mostly because I was pierced at 11, after begging desperately for ages. I actually remember it very well, as my sister and cousin went as well, and I didn't cry, but my sister cried a little bit and omg my cousin bawled like the little baby she is. FFS.


Outside the land of lists, I finished a chapter and it makes me happy. I've been writing them in groups of four, because -- because I have my reasons. *looks shifty* But one is done, and then there was another one that I wrote during the week I thought I should never write another word again forever and ever and ever, and I finally looked at it with a fresh eye and although it didn't totally suck, it needed some serious polish. I'm nearly finished with it, and I like it. Then I need to write the ending of the next one, which shouldn't take too much time. The fourth of this group is currently unstarted, but that's okay. It's all working out.

And also I have written a zombie story. Very excited! It's not your typical zombie story; at least, I don't think it is. I hope it isn't. I hope it works. We'll see. I did see a cute picture today of zombies chasing a cupcake.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

School Fair fic, Exhaustion and Muffins

Late Spring Fair

Under the red and white tent, cover bands in three-day succession. Smell of spilled beer and pierogies. Babies sway on the chests of young mothers wearing the eyeliner of their teens. Couples in their forties show off their Arthur Miller dance moves, the men's hair glossy and black; grease is in the air, beneath their shoes. Thin and straight, in ties, gray-haired men forget the dance school moves and box-step their wives gently to Cracker, "Low." Listening to a different era. Listening to thready purple veins in beloved hands. A million miles below their feet, a million miles.


Yesterday, after Horrible Garage Sale day, we went up to St. Sebastian's for the first night of the annual school fair. Sent rubber frogs flying, plunking into water. Or onto asphalt, mostly, in my case. Walked the grounds, watched the little ones come flying down the Big Big Slide. Took note of the way the 80s are back in full swing. I laughed at mohawks and neon green shoelaces and acid-washed jeans. Acid wash! Some of them faked the mohawk, which isn't right. If you aren't going to shave the sides, you aren't punk, you little punk. Just brushing up the middle doesn't count. You're fourteen, and you're going to be a business college student soon if you don't shave that head.

Well, looks aren't everything. I look as normal as anyone. I look middle-class. I look boring. I look like a dog groomer.


Now that this stuff is out of my basement and garage, I feel pretty good. But exhausted. Physically exhausted. The last two nights, I've fallen asleep instantly and slept until at least 5 am, which is a miracle for me. But my back hurts, and I am soooo tired today. Did I mention how tired I am? So I'm going to make some lemon-sour cream muffins now (Not So Humble Pie's blog, god, how I love it) and have my tea and get some dog food later, and maybe rent a movie. If we get enough energy by then, we might see Ironman 2. I'm in for seeing How To Train Your Dragon for a second time, but he'd like something new.

Muffins. Right. I'm on it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

AI, Gardening, Cooking

Last night, Lee DeWyze made slogging through an unimpressive season of AI worth it all. Hallelujah, indeed.

I admit that I was a Casey James girl since the first -- literally. He sang fine, and then he took his shirt off in the audition. Also fine. I was in. But while Casey's very good, and mm, something good to look at it too, Lee is just phenomenal. What a voice.

I dislike Crystal very much. I think she thinks she's above AI. Others will say it's got something to do with being true to oneself, but I get the definite impression that, maybe privately, maybe just in her own head, she thinks AI and everyone associated with it is a bunch of pack mentality, Cocoa Puffs buying, no taste airheads. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But compare her to Lee -- he wears his heart on his sleeve, and it's a beautiful one (er, his heart, not his sleeve, although, I'm sure his clothes these days are expensive and very nice).

Crystal: there's nothing wrong with wanting something material. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best at something and having others tell you, with record sales or accolades. There's definitely nothing wrong with possessing wealth. Sure, you've got your good health, your baby's got his, you've got love, and that's what matters most. True enough. But having those things doesn't mean you have to disdain the rest of it.


Been busy. Writing projects 1 & 2 going strong, I made one submission yesterday and I was asked to include a short bio and I was actually decently interesting for once (why do I, a writer, have trouble writing my bio?), and I wrote a flash fic. In not-so-good news, that flash fic cannot be shown to anyone. It's so dark, so weird, that I'm embarrassed. I think that if anyone were to read it, they'd immediately think, "Does she have these thoughts? Where did this come from?" And I must have these thoughts, because I wrote it, right? I don't know what to do with it. I'll just sit on it until I can open it up again and it will be so long that it will seem like a stranger wrote it. That's a good plan. In other not-so-good news, I was over 8,000 words into a story that was rolling along, and I'd just hit the midway point. Suddenly, a niggling little thought! I went online and checked the place I was writing it for.

They have a 2,000 word limit.

I'm just pretending that I don't know any 8,000 word, half-written story or any place that wants a certain kind of story under 2,000 words. Nope. Don't know any of that.


Also been busy cooking and gardening, both of which are good for the soul, but really, they just take my mind off everything else for a bit.

As you can see, I've expanded my lavender garden. I now have two new plants, one of which is a white lavender, and the other is purple, but it's on graceful, silver stalks. They seem to be doing well. Miss Callie welcomed them to their new home by nibbling on them and rolling around on them. Because, as is well known, cats dislike lavender. :)

This is lemon and parsley from the night I made scampi with bay scallops and linguine. And lots and lots of garlic, of course. I also made a spinach, mushroom, Havarti tart, also with plenty of garlic. And a roast turkey breast with mashed potatoes.

All of this -- the gardening, the dinners -- comes courtesy of a morning spent at Detroit's Eastern Market this past Saturday. About 3 hours were spent swimming through the throngs, and we came out with several tote bags full of goodies, including a sweet potato-custard-caramel-pecan pie. Homemade. And believe it or not, it wasn't overly sweet.

We did come home, however, and immediately start working on the new bed and replanting things and generally killing ourselves. Cheerfully. Not so cheerful on Sunday, and is it possible to still be sore on Wednesday? Oh, man, I need to start doing yoga again.


And now I've wasted a perfectly good half hour or so blogging when I should be writing. ;) I think it's a non-writing day, but I'm out of books to read as well. I've got two on my wishlist on Amazon, but I need a third to get free shipping. Recs welcome, if you know my preferences.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book reviews: Heart Shaped Box, Thursbitch

Since the utter disappointment that was Metro 2033, I've read two excellent books:

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, described by my friend JS as "a cracking horror page-turner." Absolutely. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. With a protagonist as unlikeable as any you'll come across and what seems, on the surface, to be a simple tale of revenge, ultimately ends in something not quite like redemption, not quite like a fairy tale, and much like the old horror novels I would read, standing up, by the dozen in the used book store in my teens.

Full of creepy moments -- she and I each had our own, separate passages that creeped us out -- great dialogue, and interesting characters that I actually cared about and, even better, could fully see in my mind. No wasted words, just a great story.

After reading Hill's 20th Century Ghosts previously, I can attest to the man's skill as a storyteller. I highly recommend both works, and his new novel, Horns, is on my to-be-read list.


Thursbitch by Alan Garner. I'll excerpt JS' review:

a brilliant book - admittedly, frequently incomprehensible and not an easy read by any standards, but fascinating and powerful and written with an incredible economy. Rarely have I read a book that expresses such great scope in so few words. It's only about 150 well-spaced pages, but it manages to encompass so much. It's all about the power of places, the power of landscape, and how places can link people and events that happen hundreds of years apart, not just psychologically, but also literally. There are two stories, set 250 years apart, that begin to overlap and affect each other in strange ways. As my friend Si described it when he recommended it to me, "It's psychogeography, Stone Tape theory and quantum physics as folk tale".

This book attracted me before I opened it, as those are all elements I love to read/write about. Yes, there are parts -- mainly, the chapters set in the past, with Jack -- that are full of language that can be difficult to understand. But even if you don't understand the word, you will get the sentiment, and I had no problems at all with dialogue in those sections.

As with HSB, there was a protagonist that I found unlikeable at first. I won't say much about Sal, except that the author did a brilliant job of portraying her, and I read the last page in tears.

Here's what I can say best about Thursbitch: Unlike HSB, I could, indeed, put it down. In fact, about every 2-3 chapters, I set it down.

Because the use of language, the imagery, the concepts caught me on fire. I had to keep a notebook next to me, so that I could put the book down and immediately write whatever was in my mind, born of the magic that is Thursbitch.

Not a book for everyone, yes. But for some, it will be a reading experience unlike any other.


No fic today; I'm busy working on something I hope makes it into xTx's Zombie Summer. Nothing better than zombies. Except zombie haikus, of course.

brains brains brains brains brains
infection, meteorite,
it comes down to: brains

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Various and Sundry

In the April Full Of Crow, Richard Hunt, Artist, Ponders Flash Fiction, by Larry Strattner. I was amused, impressed, and read it thrice.


King Triton, a piece I wrote for the Writer's Art contest on DA, received first place! I found the theme of the contest inspiring: Atlantis, "one day of the year, the inhabitants of that place can make contact with us..." A lot of readers found it romantic. In retrospect, I suppose it is, though I didn't originally intend that.


I was just espousing the virtues of Steampunk artist, Myke Amend, when I decided to check out a SteamCon event he's going to this month.

It's in my hometown.

Now I've got to go. Not just to meet him, but to see... everything! Unfortunately, I have no costume, and no time or money to get/make one before the show. I'll see what I can throw together, but if not, B and I will just go for the atmosphere.

When Myke's site comes back up (server issues), please note that he is offering commissions to off-set the cost of the convention.


Today's octopus link: 200 lb. octopus cake


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ron Mueck, Heiko Windisch, Fic by me

Australian artist Ron Mueck produces larger-than-life, lifelike sculptures. I must admit that, at first, I found them a bit freaky. Then I became fascinated. This is on a computer screen -- I cannot imagine what the experience must be like in person. Unnerving? Quite possibly.


Cephalopod Links! Because they make mornings happier.

Octopus and HDTV

Coconut-carrying Octopus

Many thanks to JS, who shares my cephalopodian amour.


I've won a print by Heiko Windisch! I am absolutely thrilled. I adore serpents, and I can't wait for it come in. He's got three new pieces as well. Leviathan really caught my eye.

Is it possible to love both serpents and rodents? Does that not seem odd?


Fic: And So It Goes

The queen of mice and the king of all serpents danced at dusk one summer's night. His tail so thick compared to her delicate one, both graceful as they whipped and lashed. She called out to him, Wind faster; he said to her, Jump higher. And so it goes and so it goes, one night of treaty, one night of peace. Red eyes and green, in the dark. Fur and scales, dance together, hum and hiss and let the owls hoot above. One night each year, out of love of rock and hole and pine needles and cool, sweet water. On the head of each serpent, a mouse, or riding along the long backs, laughing.

When gray morning comes, they all retreat, slowly, looking back. The mouse queen bends a blade of grass, drops the dew onto the serpent king's flickering tongue. Next year, they promise. Next year. And so it goes.

Mark Reep -- New Art; Fic: Minor Stars

Mark Reep has new art in the Moon Milk Review. I went over expecting to find his usual landscapes, which seem to be drawn straight from my dreams, and found instead art that excited both my scientific heart and my wandering, art-loving brain. Music by Joe Satriani beneath to accompany your viewing. Most cool.

I've come to the decision that two of my life goals are to own a piece by Mark Reep, and one by Paul Hunter. Very different artists, but they've enamored me both.


This has been a good news week in regards to writing, and some I will just have to keep to myself for the time being. It's funny, because two weeks ago, I was looking at some bad days. I was low, low, low. And not shorty-on-the-dancefloor low. Just plain ol', crying in your cereal low.

But things this week are looking good, and I'll just have to thank whatever it is inside me that causes me to persevere. Mostly, when I think of "persevering," I think of superheroes in capes, muscular chests thrust out, busting through brick walls. But the truth is that sometimes, persevering is just crawling through the mud, hoping you're headed in the right direction, and maybe you will find an abandoned tire to hold onto for a bit. In the mud.

On that note, let's fic.


Title: Minor Stars

Guin clawed through silty mud until her fingernails scraped bottom. She came up with a handful of diamonds, minor stars, setting in her palm with yellow heat amidst all that mud. Carefully, she licked the mud away, spitting the diamonds out into a tiny leather purse on a string around her neck. When the purse was full, she dropped the rest and got to her feet, knees red and brown, her calico dress soaked.

The rain was going to start up again. Looking up into the sky, she jingled her purse.

"I've got them. Your babies. If you want them, take me up."

And out of the black hole in which all stars are formed and all love is eaten up, there came a roar and a hiss and Guin was sucked up into the sky. And when it was through with her, that black hole spit her out like a diamond, made her into her own constellation, minor stars for her crown, no shoes for her feet. She looks down on that old mud pit, and the rest of them wait to be pulled up too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Scandinavian Chic giveaway, Bats

Scandinavian Chic is giving away lithography by Cecilia Carlstedt, a 20 x 28 called Judith. Go over now to enter/comment. This lithograph is divine, so beautiful. Carlstedt's work is full of fine detail and unexpected pieces. You can find more of her work and more gorgeous pieces at Wonderwall.

Also, I love the blog. I've been following several Scandinavian home blogs, and I'm looking at our house and wondering how to incorporate it. In one blog, I saw concrete floors, which I might not enjoy, but a concrete countertop on sleek, handle-free bamboo cabinets? Yes, so much.


I'm not over my love affair with the octopus yet, but today I bring you something quite different and far too cute for words: Bats.

When I bought my first house, it was in the Rhode Island countryside, across from protected wetlands, and sat on an acre of land. I was surrounded by much larger properties: horse farms, sheep farm, Christmas tree farm, a greenhouse. There was a pond not thirty seconds' walk away, with lots of ducks and a little waterfall at one end.

And, as I discovered on my first night there, bats. Lots of them.

It was summer, and there were gnats in the air, and the sun was going down, and I was having a beer on the steps, thinking about where I might put a garden. And suddenly -- there they were. Barely seen shapes flitting through the dusky light.

I can't say how many evenings I would go out and stand in the middle, in the open area, and trust that they, with their incredible sonar, wouldn't hit me. I could actually hear their wings, and nothing else. It was like satin rustling above and around me. Exhilarating and wonderful.

I never put up bat houses, as I assumed that, with the dense forest all around, they already had plenty of homes. And god knows, there were enough insects. I have no idea what kind of bats they were, but I'm glad I had the experience.


You know I have to do this, right?

Haiku: Bats

Thin leathery wings
Shouldn't be able to fly
Between night and day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Octopi Chandeliers, Recent Submissions

Because the world needs octopi wherever we can find them (and because the world also needs a bit more whimsy):

The work of Adam Wallacavage. And if you're in the Culver City, CA area, he's got a show going on for the next week. See more octopus chandeliers here.


Find me today over at Short, Fast, and Deadly, in issue 22. I've got two pieces, "Untouchable" and "Canon."

Many thanks to JQ, Senior Editor/Instigator, for being incredibly kind about my work and also very welcoming and encouraging.

I've also had a piece accepted at Hazard Cat. Expecting it to post soon.

I'm exceptionally excited about these: my first acceptance, and my first time receiving payment for my work. Yes, I got paid for writing. Er, I won't be cancelling my appointments and selling my work truck; not just yet, anyway. But I'm very happy about the progress I've made so far.

I have slowed my submissions, as I've shifted my focus entirely to my book over the last few weeks. I'm very excited, and I love what I'm doing now more than ever before. It's taken me a long time to reach this point -- years, in fact -- but I finally feel that I'm doing what I'm supposed to, doing what I want above all other things. It's truly an incredible feeling. The only thing that scares me now is giving up, as the worst thing that could happen would be if I couldn't write anymore.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Heiko Windisch

Heiko Windisch has a new blog, and he's giving away three pieces of art to celebrate! Find out more here. The "Serpent" is exceptionally cool and will look incredible framed. He'll also have one for sale on his Etsy.


Speaking of Etsy, really getting addicted to ThemeFragrance's Sarong. I love Amuse as well, but Sarong is wonderfully warm and exotic. I do get a lot of comments, especially from the Mr., who will interrupt me when I'm talking first thing in the morning when he gets up to say, "What are you wearing?" as he sniffs my neck. It might just be an excuse for hugging. That man's a hugging fool.


Writing progresses, but it's uninspired today. Could be the weather. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think I've just about had enough of thunderstorms. And I have previously, all my life, adored them. But right about now, it's enough.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art by Contraomnes, Fic (by me)

Contra's gallery is amazing. Colors, style -- but it's the concepts. Contra takes fantastical to new heights, and each new work seems the stuff of our dreams.

But this piece in particular stole my heart. Just when I think those days, the little girl I once was, have all disappeared, Contra brings it back in an instant. As I asked a friend, when did we stop being the boy in the bathtub, and instead become dull and plodding? And I think that most of my work is an attempt to recapture the magnificent beauty that was childhood imagination. Those days when all was possible; you only had to think of it. No restraints, no restrictions, no fear.

As it happens, a glass or two of wine occasionally makes that entirely possible. ;)


Still working on the book, so submissions/fresh fic are down. But I find myself increasingly drawn to the story, as it's become an escape, a real escape. Not that my life is awful or anything -- just the opposite. It's an enjoyable life, and I'm grateful for what I've got. I know we're supposed to be tortured artists and all that, but the only one doing the torturing around here is me, to myself. I spent several days convinced I was the worst writer ever. This happens so often, and I just have to wait it out.

So before I throw myself back into the book, it's time for a little exercise, a bit of fic.

Fic: Loom

Castor's wife's loom had broken. She showed him the loom, it's ancient wood cracked. It was my mother's loom, she said.

I will build you a new one, he said.

It won't be the same, she said as he left their lodge. She sat down and began to gnaw the pieces of the old loom between her paws, tears sliding fast over the oily fur on her cheeks.

Castor searched the woods surrounding their pond for an entire week before he found The Tree. It smelled soft and wise, and so he asked the birds in its branches if they'd mind moving -- it was a present for his wife. The birds respected Castor, and they respected his wife, who was fair and pleasant and who kept the young ones from gnawing trees that didn't rightfully belong to them. Out of this respect, they moved their nests, and Castor began to work.

The tree fell on loamy earth before the moon had fully risen. When the north star had swirled the world around, like a cape it wore, the tree was in many pieces. These pieces were brought back to the lodge, one by one, as Castor swam across the pond.

By dawn, in the middle of the lodge, there stood a new loom. His wife emerged from her nest, warm and yawning. Castor waited, tension causing him to thump his tail lightly on the floor of the lodge, over and over. She saw the loom.

Do you like it?

Yes, I like it.

It's not like your old one.

No, it's not like my old one. She carefully circled the loom, testing it, sniffing it. Then she brought out a basket of shed moose hair, thick and loose, and she began to weave it onto the loom.

Castor left her there, weaving, and anxiously spent the rest of the day felling trees all around the pond. When he returned, exhausted, that evening, his wife greeted him at the entrance. She showed him the blanket she had woven on her new loom.

So it works, he said.

It works perfectly, she said. Perfectly. And she patted her belly, brown and sleek, and told him, And this blanket and this loom will go to our daughter someday.

They kissed, and in a corner of the lodge, in a neat pile, was her mother's loom, all gnawed into shapes of little beavers, and jays, and copperheads, and all manner of forest creatures, and during the night, Castor and his wife set them out to float on the pond.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Metro 2033, Fic

I'd heard a lot about Metro 2033 by Dmitry Gluvhosky. Looking back, it wasn't critical reviews, but a lot of talk on the internet and in gaming magazines. At any rate, I haven't read any sci-fi in years that's really grabbed me and excited my imagination, and this sounded like the book to do it -- after all, it's been hailed as a "sci-fi classic," but it only first came out in 2007.

I began reading sci-fi at a young age, at about 11 or 12, and for a long time, I loved it, but I always felt it was missing something. Later on, I was able to look more critically at the genre, and I saw male writers writing a male perspective, hardcore science, a lack of females (sexy robots and aliens notwithstanding), and a real dearth of any emotional connections. Most sci-fi reads to me as very one-dimensional. It's difficult for me, the reader, to engage with the characters.

Metro 2033, unfortunately, is all of the above. The (male) protagonist follows a very linear journey from beginning to end, not making any real connections as he goes along. Females are rarely mentioned; there is Artyom's dead mother, a hazy -- at best -- figure from his memories, a young girl who is the sister of a friend and who spends enough time on the page to be told to get lost and go play next door, and, most notably, a woman who offers to sell her very young son to Artyom for an hour's worth of sex. The rest of the characters are bland on the page, and I could not care less if they died, and the death toll is significant. Artyom himself must be the blandest protagonist to ever come along; he moves through the book like lifeless flotsam, floating along with events. He is saved from certain death a number of times by outrageous circumstances, and honestly, if he had died at any point, I wouldn't have cared. No personality whatsoever.

In between his floating from point to point, we are treated to upwards of a dozen, if not more, pointless dream sequences that often go on for a page or more and are, essentially, a mixed-up rehashing of the last chapter. At one point, it reached the heights of ridiculousness when Artyom is with a group of travelers and they are told to sit for five minutes. I paraphrase, but it went something like this, "Artyom sat. Instantly, he was asleep. Blah blah for a page and a half about what just happened in the previous ten pages."

Poor characterization, little to no real plot, no emotional connection whatsoever -- what has the book got to offer?

Probably the best, most intense and unique world-building I have seen in a long time. If you're reading, you're in the tunnels of the metro, beneath Moscow. Incredibly well detailed, it's obvious the author thought a lot about what life might be like if humans were forced to live in a subway. I was, indeed, very impressed.

All this world-building is sandwiched between a genuinely creepy, hair-raising opening and a very poignant end. The first two pages and the last two pages really got me. However, you probably saw the ending coming -- I know I did. I was, to be honest, thrown off the scent by those 400+ pointless pages, but when it finally got there, yes, I thought, yes. I knew this was the case. It had to be.

The concept could've used a much better editor, and I almost wish someone would re-write the book. Because it could be amazing. But I'm afraid we're stuck with what we've got: a book that will make a very good video game.


Fic: The Collar

What you must understand, above all, is that there is no life before you’ve been buckled on. There’s a jingle, movement and heat, and I’m lying against flat brown fur. His joy is mine – when he jumps and dances, I am there. We both know what this means, what I mean. Within seven days, his scent is my scent, and we both understand that Rocco is us. I carry a gold tag, bone-shaped, that says so.

When he fills out, ribs disappearing as fast as the memories of the shelter, they must unfasten me another notch. When they open the door to the garden, we are one with the wind and sun and rain and, most especially and most epically, the mud. We are only separated to be bathed. I ask the other things I cavort with in the big metal barrel what their life is like, but they are not like me. They do not buckle, they do not live. They haven’t got a tag that says who they are, who they belong to.

I grow weary over time, fraying, fading. But even so, I do not mind. Rocco fades as well. We fade together. The lure of mud is second to the lure of the sofa, where a special blanket awaits us. I rest and dream drowsily of the wind, and of the day we’ll run with it again. That day comes soon, says the heartbeat underneath me. Soon.


The above flash fic was written for The Word Cloud's March contest. It did not win, but I love it for sentimental reasons.

I can tell you exactly who wore each of those collars. Ahh, I am sentimental today...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Blackberry Brown Sugar Ice Cream

Years ago, I was obsessed. Cakes, pies, sorbets, cookies, trifles, you name it. And then life changed, and although my sweet tooth remained intact, my love of making desserts waned.

I began following Not So Humble Pie's blog a week ago, and she's renewed my infatuation with making sweet things. Among the many things that caught my eye -- her blog is gorgeous -- was a recipe for Blackberry Brown Sugar Mascarpone ice cream. I received a new Cuisinart ice cream maker for my birthday, and I've only used it once (pistachio -- wonderful). This morning, I got straight to work.

Mascarpone. Mm. So smooth and creamy, and now I've got loads more left. What to do with the rest?

The ice cream being made. Within twenty minutes, it overflowed. This wasn't a real problem, and anyway, making ice cream (or any dessert, really) is always a messy but delicious process.

The end result, being put in my little Corningware dishes before going in the freezer.

So how does it taste? Divine. The mascarpone is a very definite taste element without being overpowering, and the entire thing is so fresh and perfect for spring/summer. Tonight, after dinner, we devour it.



Blackberries from bush
to freezer to ice cream dish.
The birds are bereft.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

APOD, Fic: Colony

Astronomy Picture of the Day is Mars in a Manger. Be sure to read the description; I found it more beautiful once I had. Lovely perspective.


WoD: metamorphasis: transformation, translation, mutation, permutation, vicissitude, transfiguration, displacement, redecoration

Fic: Colony

Spaceman in a spacesuit. Hailed by the welcoming party, no respirators, smiling and glowing under the alien sun. Atmosphere safe, better than earth's, we promise: no man-made pollutants. Eden, this is Eden. So he'd heard, this spaceman.

Helmet removed, long walk across springing, vividly green grass, bouncing him forward. Over there, in the forest. That's where our home is. Did we say home? Eighteen months we've been here, it's home now. One can't miss earth, not when Eden is all around. Here, let's get you out of that suit. Cumbersome, heavy.

The spaceman's instruments say safe, say ready, say everything's fine. All his life, he's relied on instruments: blink, blink. Fine. Safe. He takes off his suit, peels it off, it's taken away along with his instruments. No need for those right now. Tell us about your trip. Was it long? Did you sleep? Do you feel the dawn? Do you feel the beginning?

The spaceman inspects them for space intoxication; they've been gone too long. Or is there madness in the air? His instruments are gone, and he must make a report.

He goes to sleep and doesn't wake for thirty days on this planet, forty-seven earth days, one cycle to his hosts. He doesn't want to wake. It's dark and warm in his dreams, but one morning, he pushes off the covers.

As they gently caress his damp, new wings, drying them for flight, they ask when the next spaceman will arrive.