Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brain Harvest -- mouthfuls of greatness; Tigers wanted

Enter my new favorite online mag (it's love! love I tell you!), Brain Harvest.

Because you're bunch of jaded bitches who have seen it all, I will generously give you two links:

Barrenness by Jackie Jones -- and really, consider that title, but then stop, because you're about to go down the banzai slippery slopes of Fuhrer-induced spec fic that will wreck The Sound of Music for you forever. Or, in my case, make you nod and say AHA! Those curtains are just like the ones my grandmother had in her trailer!

Speaking of slippery: H.P. Lovecraft's Stellar Seafood Chowder by Alexander Lumans. This is exactly what it says. Now, by remarkable coincidence, I am drinking Sam Adams at this exact moment. I know what you're thinking. Obviously, the Old Ones want me to drink more. Listen, I agree completely. I still have a cake to bake. If you have never baked and drunk booze while doing so, then you have missed out on the magic of baking.

The glow was gone from spec fic, or so I had thought. I am filled with renewed adoration for the genre, although honestly, all I have written today is some pony play flash fic.


Your first warning notice: my birthday is in approximately six weeks. After spending the first six months of the year in a cephalopod haze of tentacles and ink, I have moved on to tigers. Not just the little flash fic I recently posted here, but there is more to come. SOME OF IT HAS BEEN ACCEPTED TO ACTUAL PLACES, YO.

But here's the deal. I love tigers. I think it would be cool to get a white tiger airbrushed on the side of my van, or maybe I could get a porcelain tiger prowling down the side of a green hill, snarling. But what I would like from you (and notice that I never shy away from asking things of my outrageously talented readership; it's one of my more positive traits) is tiger fic. Anything to do with tigers. Anything! In fact, you write me tiger stuff, I will post it here or link to wherever it is you've got it posted. Every day. With accompanying tiger art from around the interwebz.

You know you want to write something about tigers. Maybe you could tell me about that Hispanic guy you fucked in your car who had a tiger tat across his shoulders. Or that time you dreamed you were a tiger and then you woke up and your pomeranian was missing. Or a story about a tiger who was a vegetarian. Oh! The possibilities!

So remember: September is Tiger Month. If I have to, I will write them all myself, but don't make me do that because god knows what would happen. Also, pirates acceptable.*


I do love Blogspot's new Stats feature, and I love the new posting. It's cleaner and easier, and the stats, well, they blow LJ's little stats out of the water. Love to see where people are coming from, even when it's obviously by accident, LOL! So to those who are stopping by, Hello! And to Blogspot in general: Kudos, dears. Kudos.

*pirate-tigers FTW, yeah?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


They were tomorrow's children surely, born by error into a lion country of spears and sand.

-- Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey.

This was required reading in the early nineties for a creative writing class I took. I was at first confused; Eiseley is an anthropologist and naturalist, a scientist at heart. What was a book of his essays on the history of man doing on the reading list for a creative writing course?

Over the years, I've picked up and re-read parts of this over and over, more than any other book I own. And each and every time, I've come away with a new perspective or new inspirations or simply a feeling of gratitude and awe. Often times, it's just the writing alone that sends me back to the computer to write again. The man may have been a scientist, but he was an artist as well, a poet, a dreamer. The most romantic aspect of anthropology must, I have always felt, been those moments when one picks up a bone, a basket, a spear head, and one sees with all vividness the person who held it, smells the air of a millenia past, feels the ancient ground beneath one's feet and realizes that this person stood here as well. And Eiseley brings you along on that journey back and then props you up again in today, and it has a sense of renewal about it.

I must warn you that the book was first published in 1946, and their are certain politically incorrect aspects to his writing. If you can forgive him this for being a product of his time, then let the language flow over you and new ideas seep into your brain like primordial ooze. Also, for a book written in 1946, it is remarkably fresh.

I am re-reading this today as I embark on a new project. As I had mentioned before, the first six months of this year were spent doing one thing, and I am dedicating the second six months to doing them another way. It's exhilarating in a different way, and if you know me, you know I don't like stale. Move, move, move. Explore new territory. This often means learning new things about yourself, and that, frankly, is scary. But for the moment, I'll take Mr. Eiseley's hand and drop into the pit, and maybe we'll dig side by side for a while.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today's theme: Zombies! (not as good as tigers, but they're okay)

This post has been majorly zombified. You are warned, if you're here for the story.

I wrote a book review and dated the post for August, but it still posted today. I have now deleted it, and I guess I'll just re-do it on August 1st (I have my reasons, LOL!). If anyone knows how to do that whole post-dating thing, let me know. And no, I'm not talking about being friends with your ex after the break-up. Because after we break up, you are fucking dead to me. But not actually. Like zombie dead. Which means that if I ever see you out again, I will be sorely tempted to put a spike through your brain.

And yay! It's Three Word Wednesday! Remember that you don't need to blog to do it; if you've got a LiveJournal or Deviant Art account, do it there, and go back to 3WW and link. Your words, if you choose to accept them: abuse, cramp, hatred.

Twist of Fate

You can only abuse a body for so long. At some point, it's going to rebel.

Across from me, Janie sips her mocha, legs crossed, one foot jittery. She smiles, lips pulled tight over her teeth. I'm holding my index finger, twisting around and around it.This isn't going well. I knew it. I never should've come, never should've let Rob talk me into this. I mean, it just can't work.

I tried to be presentable. Extra Aramis to cover the smell of putrefaction, a Mariners hat to cover the hole in my skull (I don't care what they say, I am not getting cosmetic surgery -- that hole marks the day I got undead!), and two sneakers even though I've only got one foot. Duct tape is truly wonderful stuff. I saw this article the other day on keeping your ribcage intact using the stuff and...

Janie is horrified when I babble on about the miracle of Duct tape. I can't help it; when I get nervous like this, I tend to go on and on. I change the subject. She doesn't golf. Next. Her favorite movie star is Mel Gibson. What? Doesn't she know -- oh, it's a joke. I laugh. My tongue almost falls out. I stop laughing. It really wasn't that funny, anyway. Bad timing. Like, you can't make Michael Jackson jokes yet.

She asks where I work. Now she's just being catty. She knows how hard it is for us to get work. No one wants to hire someone who might eat their other employees, which, I would like to state, hardly ever happens anymore.

I feel like my poor finger is cramping, but I'm getting worked up, and I can't stop twisting it. Rob's my best friend, and he probably meant well, but he should've known that lifers and undead just don't mix. And this is why. I'm trying to have a conversation, be brilliant, show interest, and what is she doing? Sitting over there, looking at her watch every two minutes.

I ask her if she likes to cook. She says she should get going, she has to be somewhere. I say that my mom used to cook all the time, like, every night. Spaghetti, pork chops -- I'm babbling again. Her eyes fall to the table, and she freezes. I look down. Sure enough, my finger's come unattached. I'm just holding it in my other hand -- which, let's face it, isn't in that great of shape, either -- and she's staring and I try to casually tuck it up my sleeve, but it's too late.

She pushes her mocha away. "Disgusting," I hear her mutter under her breath as she stands. She won't look at me. I say, please, please stay. But she's getting her purse, her jacket. And that's when it hits me.

The red. We call it that. When you just can't be like them anymore, no matter how hard you try, and something breaks inside you. You look at them and see red, red, red. Pure, focused hatred. You're consumed by it.

Janie doesn't notice the change, because she isn't noticing me anymore. I say her name. She starts to pass by me. I grab her arm, and her head whips around to snap something at me, but then she sees. She notices me, finally. She's actually looking me in the eye for the first time since she sat down at the table. I feel the panic hit her, hard. And I yank.

I pull and claw and rip, and when I'm finished, the whole coffee shop's silent. I stand over her, gnawing on a mouthful of Janie's cheek, when the little bell goes off. We all turn. It's my ex, Sarah. She pauses, looks at what's left of Janie on the floor. Snorts. Then she goes up to the counter and orders a vanilla cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso on the side. Minutes go by. The barrista hands it to her with shaking hands. She comes over and gives me the shot. I do it. Caffeine doesn't do anything, but the liquid sears my tongue and that feels good.

"Idiot," she says. "Come on." We go out into the parking lot and make out in her car. I don't know why I ever broke up with her.


Another reminder! xTx's Zombie Summer is on-going. Today's entry, Bob and Steve Coming Together by David Backer, ripped my brains out and replaced them with a car battery. I feel pretty good about this.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Running, Writing (I do one, not the other)

Bryan Russell, Writing With Sneakers: as I said in my comment, I'm not a runner, but there's a lot to be said for the metaphor. I've often been called "prolific" (probably the best of the things said about me in recent times, LOL!), and when people ask me how I "do it," I've been very long-winded in my answer. The truth, though, is just this and only this: I write. Nearly every day. As much as I can, usually more than I think I can. There's no science to it.

Sure, I think that part of my success (success here being defined as merely producing xx amount of words and finishing xx amount of projects, not quality of those words or type of recognition for having written them) is because I approach this as my job, though it does not now and almost assuredly never will pay the bills. I read novels, anthologies, online zines by the dozen, agent blogs, editor blogs, author blogs, blogs about fuckall, the back of the cereal box, the back end of the construction guy building a new deck for one of my clients and whose ass doesn't have words on it but if it did those words would be Fuck, am I delicious or what? (yes you are, mister)

And then I write, and I think about all those things and then I get angry and toss them out the window and then later realize they may have been right about that thing, you know, that thing they said. But still, I write.

Read Bryan's thinky thoughts and then go directly to the Rejectionist's blog, which he has nicely linked to and which I am too lazy. And then SACK UP.

I can use that phrase because I have been using "balls to the wall" since I was 15. Some days, B comes home and finds me sitting on the couch, drained and ragged. He says, "How was your day, honey?" and I stare at nothing as I sit, hunched over, and say, "Balls to the wall, man. Balls to the wall." And then I shake my head and take another drag on my cigarette which is really green tea with honey. And he tells me how he hates that phrase and wishes I would stop using it.

I won't.

So look, quit yer bitchin', as my dad likes to say. Sack up, write something, send it off. You could even send it to me. In fact, comment here with it. Show me how ballsy you are. Because I am tired of excuses, except the one which gets me out of mowing the lawn. And yes, this worked before: right here. Dude, I do not know who you are, but your comment was glorious. Other comments stare at you and wish they knew what you were talking about, but it's okay, because I do. Maybe.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bees Slain; Tiger fic

This week, thousands of bees were murdered at the Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco.

Incredibly saddening. Yes, bees scare me, but I do, in fact, respect and adore them. I've had a love affair with honey for a good fifteen years, if not more. And we all eat things that bees had a hand in producing. My favorite little pollinators.

It's heartening to see that the folks at Hayes Valley Farm and the SFBC are turning the focus on education, not punishment, and if you don't know exactly what bees do or what a positive element they are in our world, please, read the article and learn more.


On a far less depressing note, I've had this story sitting around for a while and I haven't been able to find a place for it. It just doesn't seem to fit anybody's wants or needs except mine, LOL! It was originally inspired by this gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous art:

Originally, I wrote this using a technique suggested by Joseph Quintela, chief instigator at Short, Fast and Deadly and editor at Deadly Chaps. He said to write the story, keeping it to 400-600 words, and then cut, cut, cut. But when I cut, I still had too many for my upcoming chapbook, and so I've been polishing it and wondering who in the world would publish it. So, up it goes here.

BTW, I would definitely suggest this technique. Self-editing is difficult -- we love each and every word we write. But if you give yourself permission to write the story however you please as step one and then, in step two, think about cutting, say, half the words, you'll suddenly see how much is unneccessary, how much is fat and where the muscle lies. It gives energy and pacing to your story that didn't exist before, and it certainly is a great lesson in self-editing.


"Hold on!"

The boy lurched forward, grabbing the golden pole. Jangling music covered his shrieks as small sneakers banged against the tiger's smooth sides. Up and down, up and down, around the circle. The boy tossed his head back and roared. When the ride finally slowed, he cried, reaching for the black and orange stripes as he was lifted off.

"They're closing, honey. Sorry. Don't cry! We'll get an ice cream on the way out."

Minutes later, the lights shut off all down the boardwalk. The carousel goes dark, a birthday cake, candles blown out in an instant.

The tiger dreams.

Leaping and running, leaping again. Up and down, muscles like oil.

When he catches his prey, the boy shrieks and shrieks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fic rec, Poetry rec, dreams and nightmares

Searching for the Giant Squid by Jimmy McCullough, whose entire gallery is mindblowingly strange and interesting.


The Inky Deep by Bryan Russell.

Hi. I'm RSB. And I'm a recovering cephalopod addict. Meet my new pusher.

Just when I thought I'd got over my love of all things tentacular, along comes the delicate and spooky brine that is Russell's prose. Told in a unique voice and with words and formatting that are different and yet, somehow, don't disturb the flow of the piece at all, this is not something you'll have read before nor will you be likely to read again.

It's funny to read the comments. Whose side were you on? You can bet you know which side I was rooting for.


Sood's poem touched me on several levels. Mostly, this poem is about choices: how we choose to behave everyday, how we can react to others, and most importantly, how we choose to perceive the world around us.

While some might be tempted to call Sood "victim" in this poem, he transcends that description and rises above. There is a beauty in his attitudes and perception that begs to be shared, and if this doesn't alter your frame of mind for a bit, you must've only skimmed through. I applaud Sood for espousing a view that isn't very popular these days, and through his eyes, I see a better place.


Two submissions today, and I look towards August with a fretful but excited eye. Pieces submitted months ago are approaching the August deadline for a handful of places, and most say they'll respond within a month after the deadline. I try not to get too wrapped up in the submission process, the waiting, etc, but there are two pieces I'm especially hopeful for.

My dreams have been so vivid in the last week, and incredibly disturbing. I don't put too much stock in dream interpretation (sorry, Teri!), because most of the parts are obviously lifted from my waking life.

For instance, I have a bird feeder. I love feeding the birds, and watching a crowd of 20 or 30 jostle and flutter is very entertaining. Like everywhere else, we've also got squirrels. We bought a Yankee Flipper, which is a battery-operated feeder with a ring that swings around whenever something heavy enough trips it. It flips the squirrels off. Works marvelously well. The squirrels have learned to just sit on the ground and eat whatever falls, thus leaving the ring for the lighter birds to sit on.

But recently, I went outside to find a row of birds sitting on the fence, none on the feeder or the ground beneath. There were birds on the lines. Birds in the lilac. No birds eating.

Puzzled, I went out to see what the problem was. To my dismay, I found a pile of feathers underneath the feeder. Watching it for the rest of the day, I saw a young squirrel who hasn't learned any manners come and sit beneath the feeder, and any birds who got close were threatened. He was quite the thug.

This pissed me off. I moved the feeder, and any time I saw this particular squirrel in the vicinity, I let my German Shepherd, Lucy, out the door. She's quite the squirrel hunter. After two days, he gave up, and I haven't seen him again. The birds have returned in droves.

This same week, I noticed a lot of wasps around. Their nest wasn't on my property, because I scoured it for signs of a wasp nest. I decided it was probably the neighbor's garage, but I wasn't sure. I should tell you that in my early twenties, I got locked out of my apartment when I went to get a pizza and forgot my key (pizza place was literally across the street). I thought it wasn't a problem, as there's a fire escape and the door to that was unlocked. So I went around back and climbed the fire escape stairs, pizza in one hand. Halfway up, I came face to face with an enormous hive of hornets, just beneath one landing. I froze.

White-faced hornets. Nasty creatures. I don't know how many times I was stung, but my hands swelled up like sausages from the bites, and I was in such shock that I had to be stripped by my boyfriend and sister as I stood, motionless, in the living room and they killed the hornets that were just sitting on my skin and stinging me over and over. I'm not sure I was really, truly conscious throughout.

So. Wasps in the backyard now, thug squirrel...

I had a dream in which the feeder was being swarmed by creatures. They had dark grey squirrel bodies, but giant wasp wings, giant wasp eyes, and worst of all, huge stingers. They were attacking the birds, grasping them with their squirrel paws and stinging them repeatedly, to death.

Even now, I'm trembling a bit. I woke up crying.

Worst of the week, no doubt, but there have been some others which left an impression long after I woke up. I'll be glad when I dream of normal things, such as flying above the earth or baking a cake (I dream of baking a lot...).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I can already see how addicting this is.

It's another Three Word Wednesday! Today's chosen ones:

bait, jump, victim



Carol was a victim of chance. Nothing more. It was useless to assign significance to her having been chosen; in fact, she was little more than the faceless mule for the more experienced among us. A faceless, virgin mule.

Here’s how it played out: she stood in line at the tiny Cozumel airport, staring out at the ragged palms and rocky slopes she’d soon be leaving behind. Seven days gone, and she had little more to show for it than zero tan lines and a lingering hangover. She’d been a hit at the bars, with her strawberry-blonde hair and bleach-bright smile. Conch salsa and a parade of the fruitiest drinks the tiny island had to offer, afternoons in a hammock watching iguanas climb around, and the murder mystery she’d brought along still sitting at the bottom of her luggage.

Ah, her luggage. Arms loosely crossed, gaze unfocused on the view outside the windows – but she had one foot against her suitcase in typical tourist fashion. Claiming it. Guarding it, her sandal the first line of defense. Not that any was needed. Everyone had been so friendly. You could really relax down here, not worry about a thing.

He recalled her from Thursday night. On the rooftop bar, shouting down to passers-by at midnight, pulling down her tube top. As if this was Mardi Gras in New Orleans.


“Hey, don’t I remember you? Didn’t you buy me a drink one night?”

She turned, startled. “I… I don’t think…”

“Nah.” He flashed a charming smile. “You don’t buy drinks for men. They buy drinks for you.” The smile ramped up a notch. “Bailey Leveque.”

She took his hand hesitantly, said nothing.

“Wait. Are you going to Boston too? You’re kidding?” He slapped his thigh. “I live in Boston. I work at Donovan and Radecki’s. The law firm?” He said a prayer that she wasn’t a lawyer or someone familiar with the law firms in Boston.

She wasn’t.

“Actually, I live outside of Boston. I don’t know that law firm. Or any, really.” She shrugged, smiling. “Never been sued. Oh, I’m Carol, by the way. Sorry.”

“Well, Carol, that’s a good thing. Because I know a thing or two about suing people, and it’s not pretty. Say, I wonder if they have drinks on the plane…”

This is how easy it is to bait someone. A thing or two in common, a resume that matches the expensive sunglasses and designer shorts and shirt, and maybe an accent. Women love men with accents. Australian, in this case. Carol wouldn’t know the difference, and by the time they’d moved up in line a few spots, he could probably even talk her into a quickie in the airplane bathroom.

Except that he wasn’t getting on the plane.

In his pocket, his cell rang. “Excuse me.” He made a pretense of checking it. “Oh, god. Look, I’ve got to take this. I’m going to step outside. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to hold my place. Listen, I’ll be back in a few minutes, and I’m sure I’ll see you on the plane.” He squeezed her arm. “Carol.” A wink.

He smelled like sun tan lotion and brisk cologne as he went by. She watched him go, bag over his shoulder, straight through the automatic doors.

And she stared right over my head.

As she moved to the counter, I checked my own cell, shook my head in agitation, and stepped out of line.

No one noticed me. No one ever really notices me. They notice Duane – sorry, Bailey. But never me.

She looked over her shoulder one more time before she went through security. Sorry, honey. He’s long gone.

I peered back one last time, just to see if she’d made it through. The light flashed green, and on she went.

And then I called our friend in Dallas, where this flight makes a layover. Unfortunately, Carol’s luggage was about to become very, very lost. If she knew what the alternative was – five to ten in a Mexican prison – she’d be satisfied with just a missing bag.

Me? I’m satisfied with another day’s work here in Paradise. It sure beats checking groceries in a three-lane supermarket in Nowheresville, Alabama.

And Duane, he’s happy that he’s finally getting paid to be charming. Shame he’s been skimming a bit off the top, though. This afternoon, he’s going for a dive on the north side of the island. I hear he’s got a few friends going with him. Duane’s been a bit jumpy lately – well, I’d be looking over my shoulder all the time too, if I was up to what he was. But he can trust his buddies.



A/N: I haven't been to Cozumel in about fifteen years. There used to be one tiny little airport, and you walked through "security" and a light randomly blinked red or green. Red meant you were being pulled aside to have your luggage checked.

I smuggled. A toaster once, and a twin-size bed set. I know, hard core, right? My other half was a dive instructor, and his wealthier students could opt to have their final certification in Cozumel or the Bahamas, so we'd fly down for a dive vacation every few months. Our guide was always Miguel, and he had a wife and children. Mexico's poor, Cozumel's a tiny island -- yeah, they didn't have much. So we'd put things in our luggage as a gift for him and his family.

But Mexico has (or had) some laws about the contents and value of what you could bring down. So we'd parcel everything out in different pieces of luggage. I was always terrified that I'd be stopped, and I'd have to explain why I had a microwave in my suitcase.

Three Words Wednesday -- it rules. Write your own, then go over to 3WW and link. And then -- tell somebody else.

Oh, and like Carol, I never had tan lines either...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

3ww, poetry rec

Three words, once a week. Infuse with wine (my guideline, not theirs).

3ww words of the week:

praise, gentle, vulgar

My take:

Pulp Romance

The fly on the window praised my cooking. I said, I find your thousand eyes vulgar, and your habits offensive.

But when I went to bed that night, I deliberately left the cherry pie uncovered on the table. I fell asleep and dreamed of being gently fed syrupy sweet orbs already masticated, black barbed legs touching my mouth again and again.


I want to especially recommend you read Megan Kennedy's Source, an absolutely divine poem. Best thing I've read today. Just beautiful.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's All Happening on the Gertrude

Happy weekend!

Here's what's going down on Gertrude:

1. Laughing about "going down on Gertrude." (street I live on; my mind is as filthy as yours, I promise)

2. Have had a haircut. Or two. It used to hang to the middle of my back. It's now brushing my shoulders only if I tip my head back a bit. I love love love it. It's light and freeing. And it makes me feel a bit wild.

3. Finished one of two short stories that have been consuming me for a few months now. As soon as I wrote the last words this morning, I immediately got pen and paper and wrote three things that need to be edited. I'll get to that shortly. I am hoping this story works the way I intended it to, and I want it to be the very best version it can be. I feel slightly emotional about it, which is strange since it's essentially a very creepy story.

Why emotional? For a very long time now, I've written according to deadlines and themes and requests and word counts, and so on. For the first time, I've written two stories that are a product of nothing except my imagination + my desire for the story itself. I didn't spend a single moment while writing thinking of where these might find a home, who would want them, what if I was going on too long or not writing in a certain style. I've given myself free rein with these two, and I'm deeply proud of them.

4. Beekman Boys! My obsession grows. If you don't know about The Fabulous Beekman Boys on PlanetGreen, click and find out more. Then catch up on episodes; they air them fairly regularly. New episodes Wed nights at 9, with previous episodes leading up to them.

Josh and Brent are two city boys who bought a farm in upstate New York. Brent gave up his job to work the farm and make it successful; Josh remains in NYC five days a week, their main income while they get the farm off the ground. He comes up on weekends.

The farm is home to (currently) 124 goats and diva llama, Polka Spot. And no word of a lie -- I've never had even the slightest interest in Twitter, and now I'm seriously considering joining just so I can follow Polka Spot's tweets. Oh, sure, Josh and Brent tweet too. And they're on FB. But Polka Spot! As she says, llike Josh, llike Brent, llove llama.

If you want to watch the live Goat Cam, a 24/7 live cam from inside the barn, go here. I'm racking up the hours watching them. Polka rules that barn. I've also caught a glimpse of Farmer John as he cares for the goats. Very exciting stuff. ;)

The goats supply the milk for Beekman cheese and soap. I've been perusing Beekman 1802 making a list for my upcoming birthday. FYI, I've got my eye on their September soap. And B is dying for a taste of their ash-rind cheese, BLAAK.

Yeah, we're a little crazy for Beekmans over here. They do make farming fabulous. I love their blogs, I love the goat cam, and I am wondering how far it is to Sharon Springs...

And in case you were curious: B is definitely Josh, and I am soooo Brent.

5. Whale Wars. Last night's episode finally showed what exactly happened when the Japanese whaling ship rammed (deliberately) the much, much smaller Ady Gil. The Ady Gil weighs 18 tons; the Japanese whaler weighs over a hundred.

I remember when the news first aired the story, but seeing it like this was completely different. Watching Pete Bethune watch the boat he'd built himself and skippered for four years gradually sink and eventually be cut free was really difficult. And the footage is simply damning. I agree with Bethune; the Japanese captain probably meant to clip them and damage them just enough to send them home for repairs. What it did instead was ram them, taking ten feet of bow off, while men sat on the top of the boat and were nearly washed over. Then the Japanese water cannoned them. A mistake, but an abominable one. It was horrific, and they are very lucky to all be alive today. You can see footage and pics at the link above.

B and I are staunchly anti-whaling. Having watched Whale Wars for some time now, we wonder why the entire world isn't up in arms over what is going on in Antarctic. I read an article recently talking about the International Whaling Commission, and the enormous bribes that are made to keep the whaling industry afloat. It's truly sickening. If you have ever had the privilege of seeing these creatures in their natural habitat or in an aquarium, I don't see that you could ever find it possible to harm one of them, much less harpoon one and drag its body onto a ship and flay it open.

Whale Wars has brought the plight of the whales into the spotlight, and I know a lot of people condemn the Sea Shepherd crew for their methods. But as one of the former crew of the Ady Gil said last night, how does throwing rancid butter or tangling the props of the whaling ships compare to deliberate bodily harm? The Sea Shepherds are doing what no one else will step up and do, and I applaud them.

Aaaand... off my soapbox. B is on his way home -- no power from recent storms, so his place of employment is closed today -- and we are going to get some beer and sit outside and watch the birds at the feeder. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fic recs; Book review of Poe's Children

No Time Like The Present by Carol Emschwiller, in the new issue of Lightspeed. Thanks to SuperPunch for rec'ing a short story.

A few commenters said they knew where the story was going early on, that she'd tipped her hand. I don't see a problem with that -- time travel's been done to death, yes, and there are only, what, three trazillion forty bamillion sci-fi stories where the science and world was the centerpiece, and the characters are cardboard cut-outs inhabiting the place. What Emschwiller gives you here, amid quick pacing and sharp language, are characters you care about and, best of all, a narrative voice that is unique and authentic. I fell into this story easily, read it to its breathless end, and I am glad I did.

If you're not a sci-fi buff, no worries. The science here is secondary, at best. This is about a few kids, about being different, about worries we all have.


Two Lies and a Truth by Midge Raymond. Completely different short story from the above. Two friends meet up regularly, and begin their visit by telling each other three things: two are a lie, one is a truth. The other friend must guess which is the truth.

I'm not really sure what to write here. I could say that it's written with a deft hand, great dialogue, and that it's witty and sharp. I could tell you that, even now, just thinking about it makes my eyes water and my chest hurt. That might be more important.

I found this very unsettling, and saddening. I'm glad I read it, even though, in some ways, it hurt.

I admit that, like Emschwiller's story, I sort of knew where it was going to go. She tipped her hand as well. However, it is again deliberate, and this isn't a story where surprise is the important element. The narrator knows as well as we do what's going on. This is a story about what we do when we've got that knowledge. What would you do?

Read it. And ask yourself that question.


Book review: Poe's Children, edited by Peter Straub.

Reviews on this book are mixed, so looking at them on Amazon may be no help. I'll give my overall impression and talk about a few of the stories, and if you've known me for a while, then you can base a decision on that, I'd think.

Overall impression: Poe's children? Seriously? Yeah... no. But there are a few gems. If you can pick this up cheap, do so. Otherwise, you won't be missing anything if you pass.

Here's my issue: Poe was fucking scary. And the word horror: er, shouldn't I be horrified? I was left yawning and bored by the majority of these. Not horrified. Not scared. Except in one particular case...

My pick for best story, and it's a close one: The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. Very short. Very hard-hitting. A young girl whose father is gone (mother never discussed) is left with his colleague's family in the American Southwest. They take a daytrip after he's had a breakthrough. You'll realize very quickly that they are going to see the place where the first nuclear bomb was detonated, and everyone, including her absent father, is a scientist, working on this project.

This is horror for today. This is the horror we live with. This is a glimpse, through a child's eye, into the very start of what may, eventually, bring about our very own apocalypse. And yet it's quiet and understated. And tense. So much unsaid. I read this feeling unbearably upset.

Contender for first: The Kiss by Tia V. Travis. One of the best short stories I've ever read, and I can't shake it, days later. Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. A young girl whose showgirl mother died on the day her father did as well, her father who was married to the woman living next door... set against a 1950s tropical small town atmosphere, with its desire to tango all night long while simultaneously spitting at those who do. Lana Lake is one helluva character -- I defy you to read this and not want to be her. Her daughter, Capri: wouldn't we all have wanted to grow up in this house? Yes, yes. Being sent to Catholic school, her mother painting her toenails "Mary Magdalene" red. All night parties, Chinese screens and bongos, painted angels, and everyone hip. Everyone drinking drinks we don't even know about today. Everyone in love with Sinatra.

I can't give it first place, only because the ending just didn't do it for me. Understood it, but... I wanted more. Or something else. Still, I'm wondering about Capri now. What she's doing. But mostly, I'm still in that bungalow, close and dark and filled with plants and silk, and wanting another drink.

As for the rest: Well, of course Neil Gaiman spins a good yard, as ever, with October in the Chair. And everyone seems passionate for S. King's The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet. So am I. Joe Hill is there with Twentieth Century Ghosts, not my favorite of his, but a good one for this collection.

This collection purports to be "literary" horror. I'd say a lot of falls into the category of spec fic, and some of it is just an interesting story. My problem is that I went into it expecting, you know, really scary stuff by the best, the brightest new authors around. And some of these just felt stale and old. The Voice of the Beach by Ramsey Campbell? Are you fucking kidding me? Been done. And he took fucking ages to tell a story that would've had ten times the punch in a quarter of the words. Does he not have an editor? Sheesh. I felt like I've read Dan Chaon's The Bees a million times before. Same with a majority of these.

And some, like Elizabeth Hand's Cleopatra Brimstone, start out promising and gripping and very, very cool and then degenerate into same old, same old.

It's hard, when you've been reading horror voraciously for going on twenty-five or more years, to be impressed. And horror short story anthologies are my favorite, always have been. So the Great God Pan (heh) knows how many I've read, but some do stick out. Unfortunately, the majority in this collection do not.

Speaking of Pan, John Crowley's Missolonghi 1824 is a fairly good one as well. Bit twisty there at the end, and I'll give it to him. Made me grin. Interesting read, very creative thinking there. Well outside the box.

Did it scare me?

Hell no.

So if you're looking for some interesting reads, some spec fic, and again, you aren't going to pay much, then get this book. But if you're looking to have the bejeesus frightened out of you, sorry. But my mother-in-law is always available...

Monday, July 12, 2010


One Hundred Fiction Prompts by aranoki. One hundred words. I like it, I faved it.


Last Christmas, we bought ourselves a Keurig. I was initially skeptical, but it took about two days to convince me this was the greatest thing ever (I've got a new greatest thing ever about once a week, which I think is a lucky trait to have). Since that fateful Christmas morning when we unwrapped it (er, yes, we bought it for ourselves and then wrapped it...), we haven't bought a coffee elsewhere. No more Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Tim Horton's, or even the dreaded emergency stop at 7-11. I'd say that Keurig has paid for itself, considering how much it's saved us.

We do love it, but trying new coffee can be a pain. We found our very favorite ever, Sumatra Gold, and they discontinued it (to be replaced by Timothy's Sumatran Reserve, which is not nearly as good). And there have been a few other hits and misses.

The springtime-only flavor, Island Coconut: fucking delicious. Laugh all you like, but I'm at Disney's Carribean Beach Resort every time I brew it. Could have that forever. I love every cup. But now it's summer, and they've replaced it with blueberry and peach. Blueberry and peach coffees! No! We did find a close-out on Island Coconut, and we bought four boxes. But we're running out. *sigh*

Donut House Vanilla Iced coffee: Easily as good if not better than any iced coffee you can buy anywhere. I'm waiting for a mocha version. But in the meantime, this is delicious. Use a large cup, pack it with ice, and brew it on small. Fabulous.

Got a sampler pack of the new Wolfgang Puck line. So far, three samples, three big misses. I'm having the Creme Caramel right now. Not big on flavored coffees anyway, but this is lacking in flavor and strength... Bleh. No cream, no caramel, no repeat buy. The Breakfast in Bed: only if I woke up in a really bad cheap diner and had it served to me by a sour-faced waitress named Louanne after it'd been sitting for an hour. The Sorrento was the best so far. Brewing, it smelled exactly as if I'd walked into a Starbucks. On tasting, however, it lacked smoothness and was too strong for what it was supposed to be.


I'm just catching up on the Art of Darkness blog. I enjoyed every post, but then... This.

Last year, my dad asked what I wanted for my birthday, which is in September. I asked for anything from Yankee Candle's Boney Bunch collection (see link above). It comes out in August for the Halloween holiday, and last year was its second year. My dad tried and tried, but couldn't find any anywhere. The shop employees told him that it's already a cult item, and it sells out fast. He then tried eBay, where pieces were going for at least double, if not triple their original selling price.

But it appears that the collection will launch again this August, complete with a big party. Expect it to sell out fast -- Yankee Candle does. They also say (sniff!) this will be the last year the collection will be made. Not because they don't have more ideas, but because they're chuffed it's become such a collector's item, and they'd like to end here. Sending the Boney Bunch into collector heaven (or hell, since prices will inevitably explode even further now).

I'm there on August 7th. Even if I can only afford one piece. I'M THERE.

You should be too. If you get a piece, post a pic and tell me.


Also on the AoD blog, this quote:

Twilight’s like soccer. They run around for 2 hours, nobody scores, and its billion fans insist you just don’t understand.



And lastly, The Boy Who Swam Faster Than Sharks! Because I can! Thanks, JS.

There was a boy who swam faster than sharks. By the age of four, he could outswim a box turtle in the pond in back of the Jorgensens'. By nine, he was regularly seen in the Dipsololly Creek -- called " the crick" by everybody around -- pacing silver trout. At sixteen, he kissed his momma on the cheek goodbye, and he set off for Australia, her tears a crick of their own behind him.

They talked funny in Australia, but he liked it, and he liked watching the girls and boys on the surfboards at the beach. But as cute as those girls were in their bathin' suits, he really only thought of one thing: sharks.

There were signs all over those Australian beaches, warning for jellyfish, warning for rip currents, and the signs he loved the best: sharks. Day and night, he practiced in the water, making himself a minor celebrity. Boys tried to surf faster than him, but the boy always bobbed up ahead of them on the waves, cruising the tunnels as if he'd been born there. Girls ran along the shore, tan legs long and glowing with the sand they kicked up, but he made it to the end and was waiting in the shallows when they showed up, panting and laughing.

Now, the sharks had heard of this boy. It could've been disaster for them, but they had a big think out in the open water, and they decided that it was only one boy, and they were millions of sharks. Just this once, they could live and let live. It was shark history. And then they all roared approval and tore up a hapless passing diver who'd strayed too far from his dive boat.

Meanwhile, the boy was having his own big think, in a bungalow beachside with a six-pack of Australian for beer and one of the girls who never raced him.

"Bets, what do you think we go for a midnight swim?"

Bets lifted the arm off the record, which had been sending Frank Sinatra crooning around the small bungalow and out the open windows into the warm night. She rolled on her side and frowned at him.

"Do you ever think about anything that isn't swimming?"

He thought about this. "Yep. I think about what I'm going to have for breakfast, and how a jellyfish could kill a man out of pain alone, and I think a lot about you in that yellow two-piece with the white ruffles on the top and the bottom."

Bets thought that the last part might've been just for her benefit, but then, she'd known the boy for two months, and she knew he never lied.

"Well, I'd rather not, if it's all the same."

He nodded. "It's not all the same, but that's okay." He stood up. "I'll be back in a bit." And he kissed her on the cheek, like he had his momma, and he went out the door in nothing but his smallest swimming trunks. Bets watched him walk on the beach, straight to the water, and dive in. She put Frank back on and thought about what they were going to have for breakfast and how she might love the boy more than anything else in the whole world.

The boy cut through the water like it was air, like he was a kite flying high, string snapped. He dipped and swirled and cut this way and that. When he came up to breathe, the moon was watching, and it sent down a hello. The boy felt like he was its own son, and he lay on his back and stared up at that moon, which could've been his father, seeing as he had never met the man.

And a shark, still hungry since it hadn't had more than a toe of the hapless diver, came swimming along and noticed the silhouette of the boy up above. And it thought about eating him then, wrapping its jaws right around the middle of the boy and shaking its big pyramid head until it was two boys. And then he'd eat both.

But as the boy turned again and swam, the shark realized just which exactly boy this was: it was the boy who swam faster than sharks. He'd sworn an oath, but that didn't mean he couldn't try to outswim the boy. Grinning three grins, the shark took off, hot on the boy's heels.

They swam around the whole bay and out into the ocean and back. The boy went deep; the shark went deep too. The boy razored across the surface; the shark's dorsal fin cut diamonds just behind him. Around and around, for a long time, boy and shark. And that shark never could catch up.

The boy climbed up on a rock at the edge of the bay. He could see the shark's fin making lazy circles, waiting for the boy to start again. He laughed. That shark could never outswim him. He had come to Australia to do one thing, and he had done it. He'd proved it to himself. And now, there was no reason to swim so fast anymore. He could go back to shore and call down Bets from the bungalow, and he'd maybe tell her that he loved her, there on the beach, and maybe she'd bring down a towel with her and wrap them both in it and he could tell her over and over how much he loved her. Maybe they'd move back to his home, and they'd build a little house by Dipsololly Creek, and he'd fish just by sitting on the banks and putting a line in the water, like everybody else.

Lost in his non-swimming dream, he didn't see the girl in the yellow two-piece walking across the sand. Bets, deciding to join him for his midnight swim. Frank was on hold, and the night was perfumed with flowers and salt, and she thought she might even challenge him to a race. She dropped a towel on the sand and waded in.

The shark knew right away that something had changed. Something new was in the water. It yanked around and headed for the vibration, snaking lower and lower, until its dorsal fin disappeared. And there, yes, there just ahead: plump legs, pushing through the water, leaving the sandy bottom, step by naked step.

The moon flashed bright in his eyes. The boy, startled, looked up and then around. Bets waved to him, far off. He started to wave back and then remembered: shark!

He stood and shouted for her to stop, to go back, but she misread his signals and just waved again before diving in, breasting the cool water like an arctic seal.

The shark loved seals. Vaguely, it was aware of something behind him, but it didn't matter. It was what was in front of it, delicious and slow, that mattered. It struck.

In the end, it was all the same. The boy who could swim faster than sharks was still that very same boy, and a shark will always be a shark, and that very same moon hangs in the same sky night after night. But when the boy walked out of the ocean that night, it was the very last time his feet touched water. He went home to his momma and sits in her living room, listening to old records, and she thinks he smells like salt and salt and salt, but she never says a word.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Daughter of the air

I submitted the following piece to Enchanted Conversation's Mermaid contest. I did not win, and I won't be submitting it elsewhere, so here ya go:

Thunder and Bells

It was the little bells, she realized. The little bells the children had tied to the dog’s collar, making him jingle as he bounced around the small garden, chasing them, yapping at them. Only bells. Not waves rushing forward and back over crushed oyster shells and smooth stones.

She had once been a mermaid who loved to loll in the shallows, listening to that sound. Or had one of her sisters told her that? It was getting harder and harder to remember which were true memories, and which were the fragile daydreams of a daughter of the air nearing her three hundredth year.

So many things she had forgotten, but she knew with absolute certainty that she had always loved this: children running, feet bare, shrieking and laughing. Even now, gliding through the branches of an elm, its ridged leaves shimmering as she passed, she forgot about the shore and the ocean, and listened with delight to the children below her.

Focused on the scene – the little black dog would not be caught; his tongue streamed from a shaggy muzzle as he leapt and tore around the garden – she hardly noticed that someone had joined her.

Until he touched her.

A pulse, a beat of thunder, then the crackle of a heated knife.

She nearly shot into the sky.

It had been inadvertent, of course. The boy didn’t even realize she was there, much less that he had touched her. He, too, was focused on the scene below. Gripping his branch, bare feet dangling, he watched his cousins play.

She kept her distance, motionless above him.

It didn’t happen often, these encounters with mortals, but when it did, it was always like this: a storm passing through one, disturbing and electrifying. On these rare occasions, she wondered if, perhaps, this was what it was like to have a soul. Filled with heat, a low fire and its glass cauldron, both. Like being stung by jellyfish when you’ve accidentally brushed against them in the water. Like swallowing the jellyfish.

She wished desperately that her time to receive an immortal soul was near.

Down in the garden, a girl slipped on the wet grass, falling on her side. Pushing herself up, green staining her dress and arms, she looked up into the sky and began to wail.

The boy was gone. In a flash, moving nearly as fast as she could, he had clambered down the tree. Racing over to her, he said, “There, there, Caroline. It’s all right. See?” And he brushed her off and helped her to stand, an arm around her waist. She sniffled against his narrow chest. The dog stopped its maniacal bouncing and cocked its head. After half a minute, the girl started smiling, sheepish, and he smiled too and said they should all go in for ice cream.

And in the heart of the daughter of the air, a scale trembled, settled, and she drifted from the old elm, knowing the day she most longed for was closer yet.

The End


So, this was submitted to -- and lost -- Enchanted Conversation's Mermaid contest. Specifically, we were to familiarize ourselves with the "real" ending to Hans Christian Anderson's tale, The Little Mermaid, and write a piece focusing on what it might be like to be a daughter of the air.

First, my original version was 2300 words, and is now being transfigured into a more traditional ghost story. And thanks very much to Annie, who read through and pointed out the basic flaws in the original. Really, Annie! Thank you!

Second, where I went wrong. Because I did. Very much so.

I dutifully went and read the original fairy tale. Through nearly all of it, I was reading and nodding my head, remembering it. Then, we reached the part at the end where the daughters of the air make their appearance. And I realized that I knew the Disney version of events here.

I was almost horrified. In fact, I found the ending insulting. The author of "Mary Poppins," an Anderson contemporary, called it "blackmail." I agree. At the very least, it seems tacked on and not part of the story that comes before. At the most, it is, indeed, emotional blackmail.

And so, I went from someone who was enthralled by the very term, "daughter of the air," to someone who despised it. And yet, I attempted to write a story. In the longer version, I make it clear my view of the situation these poor creatures are in. And then, when I decided to cut and write a sort-of new story, I still couldn't shake the fact that I was very much upset by HCA's ending.

When we write, we must love our characters. No matter if they're downright evil, or ugly, or just a cardboard stand-in in an egotistical author's little morality tale. And I never could wrap my head around it. I wrote bitterly, and yet, I tried to write a story that was a fairy tale, and beautiful, and ephemeral.

Longest A/N ever. My point is: I learned a valuable lesson here. Just because there's a deadline, if you don't feel it, if you don't love it, don't fucking do it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Flash Fic recs, Metal Art rec, New guideline for living a life

I haven't had much time to read lately. Thank the lit gods for flash fiction.

And thank whatever clever devil resides in David Barber's skull, rattling words and stories around for our enjoyment. The Millenium Princess took second in a fic contest. I don't know who won first, and I don't care. This piece is one of the extremely rare ones with a twisty ending that doesn't make you groan or roll your eyes. I laughed, charmed and thrilled, and can say that Barber got there honestly. 250 words. You can do it. Especially you Brits.


Circus Cunt by Misti Rainwater-Lites.

You have already clicked, haven't you? I add kill author in case you didn't.

Did I write this? No. I could never write this. And it's hopeless wishing I could write it. It's already been written. By Ms. Rainwater-Lites. If I was a serial killer, I would think seriously about serially busting her brains out of her skull and checking out what makes her tick. Maybe it isn't her brains. Maybe it's her duodenum. I don't know. All I know is, my duodenum is sick with lust and jealousy. And why does it smell like greasepaint in here...


Ghost by snegoratchka

Wearable metalwork based on the skull of a sparrow. If I had seven grand to drop, yes, I'd have it.

I, myself, have not been very crafty lately. Or, I've tried to be, but the results have been less than desirable. I thought it would be cute to make the Prince and his Katamari, but his head fell off and he won't stand and he's slightly burned anyway. B thinks he's solved the basic problems, so we'll try again. The Katamari is actually all right, but then, it's just a fucking ball with little blobs on it.

I'm midway through a horror anthology that claims to feature the newest, freshest voices in horror -- the next generation, supposedly turning things upside down and re-writing the rules of the genre. I'm not impressed. There's far more great writing, and stuff that is truly visionary, on the internet. But -- more on that later. With a handful of stories to go, maybe I'll find something to change my mind.

At any rate, I have read a few stories that have an element or two that's stuck with me. One, Little Red by Peter Straub, has presented me with a bizarre list of guidelines for your life. The past two days have seen me rethinking a few things I normally do, often on a day to day basis. I am always concerned with being a better person, as I am an awful individual, a blight on our race. If I could only incorporate one of these guidelines, it would be: speak no ill of anyone, but especially of those you dislike.

Especially those you dislike!? But... but... I dislike a tremendous number of people! And I derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction by telling a friend all about it in private conversation!

In fact, I've spent a fair amount of time recently cataloguing those who have behaved badly in regards to me, and poring over the evidence that I have so anally kept. With great satisfaction. I fantasize about numbering them, and posting the correspondence for the whole word to see. Another fact: I had forgotten about two of them until yesterday. Forgotten! Finding the old evidence gripped my heart with both morbid satisfaction -- yes, that word again -- but it also felt...


Diseased. Letting go of those incidents, now that would be the healthier route. I know this. And yet, I want to say these things. Perhaps to show a good number of people that I acted with good grace under often unbelievable circumstances, time and time again.

Ah, there it is. The heart of the matter. We want to be validated. We want to be -- yes, let's admit it -- superior. The better person.

And isn't that what I've done for the last six or seven months? Been the better person? It's exhausting, let me tell you.

It's also not very rewarding. And don't give me any of that spiritual mumbo-jumbo.

But if I'm being honest -- and here, for once, in my true voice, I am -- I did feel better about not reacting negatively. And the only thing I might regret is some of the nastiness I've then spewed in private conversation with a third party.

There's an entire internet full of people telling you how healthy it is to "vent." People encourage one another to do so. I'm not here to tell you that keeping it in is healthy, not at all. But perhaps there's more to "don't speak ill of others" than meets the eye. In conversation this week with a friend, I attempted to explain why I will not be confronting someone, laying it all out on the table, as she said. And my reasoning had to do with understanding that particular someone's mindset, how she operates, mentally. How she ticks, yes? Yes. And so I understand why she did what she did, and I also understand that presenting new evidence in this case would still result in the same outcome. But it's not so much a matter of knowing the battle is lost before you begin, but that I cannot change anyone. Everyone is doing the best they can today, even if I do not think it is the best for me. And I accept that.

And perhaps acceptance is the best we can hope for before we move on in our own lives.

And there's one other facet to this guideline: I am a firm believer that like attracts like. Negativity will only beget negativity. Surround yourself with what you want, and make your life the way you want it to be. If I bitch about someone, that's negative energy, and more will come of it.

Well, that last bit's rather New Age-y. But as I said, firm believer. So, to sum up: going to give this guideline some solid effort. I know this means that fairly quickly, perhaps two days at the most, someone will piss me off mightily. I'll try to hold my tongue and accept that they're idiots.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Various and Sundry, Fireworks at the end

Glimmer Glass 1 -- #33 by courier_iii over at the DoorsWindowsWalls photography community on LJ, one of my favorites.

Happy Fourth of July, America.


L.R. Bonehill has a new flash fic over at Cast Macabre: Lock and Key. If you're not familiar with CM, it's horror read aloud. Some longer stories, some short. Bonehill's runs 5:46. I quite enjoyed it.


Darren "Jaz" Vincent runs a bookstore in Charlotte, NC -- but didn't read a book for pleasure until he was nearly 30. His story is inspiring (ah, the cliche!), yes, but it's also a testament to following the signs in your life. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about signs and "coincidences," and if our talk yesterday didn't convince her that she should be writing a certain story (I'm looking at you, Shell!), then maybe this will add more motivation.

Thanks to Michael J. Solender over at the NOT for linking.


Book review: Please, Ma'am, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.

Please, Ma'am is a short story collection of erotica featuring male submissives.

I read that and said, "Sign me up! Now! How fast can it get here?" Luckily, it arrived quickly, and even better, it turned out to be full of high-quality writing. While I came across the occasional oblique cliche (there was, indeed, a weeping cock), it was a joy to read. Every scenario was different, presenting facets of the submissive male I previously hadn't considered. In fact, that may be the book's only downfall: I have a specific idea of my perfect male sub, and some of the set-ups did not appeal to me. The stories were still engaging, however, and I enjoyed all of them.

But when it comes to the hotness factor, two stories did it for me. The opening story, "I Live To Serve," by Teresa Noelle Roberts is probably closest to my fantasy relationship with a male sub -- and what a sub Roberts gives us. Leo and Milady have an obviously close, loving relationship, which only added extra dimension to their play. Also, unbearably hot. :) The last story, "I'll do it. For her." by Graydancer is a powerhouse, a look into the submissive male's mind that is at once open, honest, raw, and sublimely (heh) gorgeous.

But just because those two stories stand out for me does not mean that you won't find a variation between them that does it for you. Powerful men, lost men, fetishes -- all centered by some very powerful women.

Definitely recommended.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Molotov Cocktail new issue (read it!); review of "The Terror" by Dan Simmons

Work has been slammin', and I've got a few other projects (writing and non-writing) going on, and my dad is coming into town any minute, so I've been exhausted and busy and it appears I shall remain so for the next ten days. Just sayin', in case you wonder where I am.

But in the meantime... Recs and book review!


Issue 8 of The Molotov Cocktail: this doesn't happen often, but all four stories are stellar. Major kudos to Josh, the editor at TMC, who also has the fourth story of the lot. I had a strange moment when I finished his; it felt eerily like something I would write. I mean... I wouldn't change a word, and it's exactly where I would go with it, but not where you would expect most people to have written the story. It felt natural -- to me. I got kind of weirded out.

My favorite story was the first, Hawk Vidal's Notes on the Back of My Funeral Program. I've slaughtered the title, my apologies to Mr. Vidal. At any rate, this is one that grabs you from the word GO! and doesn't let up. It's fucking hilarious, and you can't stop, even though you think you know just where this is going. And then... it doesn't quite go where you expect, there at the very end, and I stopped my sniggering long enough to go, "Whoa..." I may not want just what the narrator wants, but I want what he wants, if that makes sense.

To each our own heaven. Or hell.


Book review: "The Terror" by Dan Simmons.

Trying to find the fabled Northwest Passage, Captain Crozier heads his ship, the Terror, through the ice, under the glow of the Aurora Borealis and in temperatures regularly reaching 60 below. He gets stuck fast, for several winters, and something is hunting and killing his men.

So, after reading two Dan Simmons novels, I can safely say that he is not the author for me. I can understand that he has legions of fans and has won a bunch of awards for a reason. However, the two novels I read by him (the sci-fi epic, "Ilium," and this historical fiction) have many qualities in common, and they mostly tend to irk me.

Not everybody needs a POV. Write a book from one POV, Mr. Simmons. I wasn't confused, I just found it tedious.

Both books have a heavy amount of build-up. I'm talking, maybe 80% of the book is building a platform to jump off of. While I can appreciate that a certain amount of build-up is necessary, again, it's tedious. I will say this: in both cases, when you reach that final 20%, things slam together in a very exciting way. But if I'm going to read hundreds of pages of build-up, I'd like the writing to flow a bit better. Which brings me to...

The writing. While he has the occasional bright moment, mostly towards the end, the writing is fairly plodding. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, it's just boring. It lacks rhythm and a definite style, it lacks poetry and beauty. The writing is... competent. It's not bad. It's just competent.

And last, Simmons' characters fail to leap off the page, except for one notable exception, Mahnmut, who is a fucking robot. A robot steals the show in Ilium. Human characters in both books? I couldn't have cared less if they got killed and eaten (some do).

So what has Simmons got that makes him so popular? Well, they're original stories, fascinating settings, and he does detailed world-building. And as I said, when you reach the very end, it's a huge conflagration, and you can't take your eyes from it. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the spiritual element to this story. Looking back, I can see how all of this was Crozier's spiritual journey, and like any man, he fights it every step of the way.

Still, it was mostly boring as fuck.

ETA: just read the reviews on Amazon. Some readers feel the ending was "tacked on" and a "wacky tangent," etc. I would disagree. Yes, the tone of the last section is much different than the preceding 6-700 pages. Agreed. But as I said above, if you look closely, all of this was a spiritual journey. Even the "thing" hunting and killing his men is part of that journey. However, I see where they're coming from. 700 pages of gritty realism, and suddenly, you're thrust into a dream-like world where nearly-supernatural things occur. But I do believe that Simmons brought us there in honesty and truth.


I do love spiritual fiction. Kate Horsley's slender books are highly recommended, especially "The Pagan Nun." She can do deeply spiritual fiction and make you fall into her words, drown in them.


All right, time to Get Stuff Done. Writing will probably be on hold from here until next week some time, which depresses me. I did write some veeeeery intriguing 420s last night... This batch is taking a decided turn for the darker. And insects... Why all the insects? Aiiieee!