Winter highway in Texas County

IMG_2576

The county bladed the road once, but it’s 17 degrees, and now the snow and salt and mineral used to treat the blacktop has packed down. Treacherous. You drive this lonely highway in Texas County with your eyes open, your ears open, your right foot playing the gas pedal like a heart string. You’re going to end up in the ditch. You drive at 45 and marvel at how ugly the old houses are, beaten down under the broody sky, but you’ll never admit to this mean observation because a puff of smoke above the poorest place is a sign of life, and life is precious. Winter in Texas County will teach you this if nothing else. You already appreciate the denizens of that shack ahead, put up in front of an old crumbling foundation of the grander home that came before, and still sheltering in the arms of bare oak trees that once embraced the old homestead.

IMG_2601You imagine that the descendants of that place might find you when the black ice takes you for a spin. You know that if anyone could save your sorry hide it would be these dwellers in desolated houses so adept at coping with winter with nothing but tar paper and shingles hung on warped wood frames that they would smell your stupid accident before the snow settled into the skid marks. You admire their fortitude until you remember that their storestrength has been carved by fate not foresight. Only their children ask why the road can’t be cleared like the interstate that passes by miles off to the west. The idea of it itches like a dream or the memory of a Hallmark movie they saw once, but the elders don’t have words for such frivolous chirping. They would frown and say the government isn’t going to take more of their money–those goddamn paid thieves, never a one worked a day in their lives, socialists and libtards. And they will not have it.

blowsnowIf they find you a curious fool, be glad, for that means they cannot hate you like they hate the road crew who are agents of the government, who are good-for-nothing idiots taking this country down and who they do not need because they know how to endure anything. They would dare you to deny it when they save your miserable life, but that would require words on their part and having to listen to you prattle on about how dangerous the roads are, and they will not have it. You’d like to ask them, not how they endure winter because winter is still a season that passes, but you would like to ask them how they endure nothing. Nothing at all. You’re not sure you have the words for this, and besides it would be impolite so you decide to say nothing but thank you when the time comes. All this you know when it is 17 degrees, and you are driving a snow-covered highway in Texas County.

Advertisements

Yes, this blog is still functioning and I’m still alive

IMG_2375

This is me in front of the house I’m building in Missouri. The plan is to have a summer place where I can visit my family, tend the garden and my bees, and WRITE! It’s coming along quite nicely.

Hello, Dear Readers. Have you missed me? My apologies for not posting regularly. I’ve been editing instead. The WIP is going fairly well. I now have eight chapters I have actually shared with kind readers. Every day I become just a scintilla more convinced that it is worth reading, it is a real story, and it will one day be a real book.

Most of the writing is done. I have left the magical forest full of ideas and thoughts that appear like vines and brooks and hidden castles and witches huts, and now I am in that hard, high plain called editing. Every word needs to be sharp and right. Every sentence needs to connect to the sentences before and after. Paragraphs shall be purposeful, else I lose my way. And I don’t want to lose my way now. It feels like a perilously narrow path, and a tricky one, too.

Truth be told, I think I might be caught in an editing loop. There’s nothing like the fear of a reader looking at your writing the first time, to make one madly edit and re-edit chapters you had begun to take for granted.

I’m also looking for new reading material. I was very disappointed with the last three novels I picked up this fall. All of them well-rated in various venues, but they felt lifeless and/or poorly written. Send me suggestions. I love to have a good pile of reading set up before Christmas to take me into the quiet depths of winter.

A writing dilemma: focus on what lies ahead or what is coming from behind?

When I finally decided to stop trying to write literature and embraced the trifecta genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, I realized something very important about myself. I’m a bit of an alarmist. It’s not something I’m proud of and I have spent inordinate amounts of energy trying to cover this up in polite company, but there it is. I’m nervous, high strung, a worrier. Not in a loud way, but in a quiet, constant yellow-alert sort of way.

Maybe others who have felt this way in the past have had more justification for saying this than I, but I think we are living in times that make this condition worse. It feels as though we have just gotten down from the trees, and run half-way across the savannah while more-or-less successfully avoiding lions. Now, on the horizon, a huge mother-ship of biological and environmental threats, political disintegration, and technological threats is hovering. Is it just me?  Continue reading

Recap on the World Fantasy Award finalists for best short fiction

World_Fantasy_Award_tree

The new and vastly nicer World Fantasy Award statuette, created by sculptor and artist Vincent Villafranca.

Puuhhh. That’s me blowing the dust off the blog. Rather than wallow in self incriminations, or even your incriminations, Dear Reader, let’s get to the point. The World Fantasy Awards are just around the corner. Lots of great fiction has been nominated, and we have looked closely at the finalists for best short fiction.

“Das Steingeschöpf”, G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16). Reviewed here.

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16). Reviewed here.

“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood). Reviewed here.

“Little Widow”, Maria Dahvana Headley (Nightmare 9/16). Reviewed here.

“The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me”, Rachael K. Jones (Clockwork Phoenix 5). Reviewed here.