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

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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.

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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

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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.

A prosey for September

Because I don’t know how to write poetry, let’s call this a prosey.

Infection

It came on us as a chill
A sad bad shiver
In the crest of years between day and night
Most forgot the methods of prevention and called it providence

Feed a fever, starve a cold

But we do remember the heat
Weighing on our eyelids
So the way ahead began to blur and fracture
Hearts shriveled, brains brittled while we pretended it was nothing

Starve a fever, feed a cold?

Pretty shiny anger, blade-sharp hate
We were perfect moths
Our jaws and fingers ached with partisan passions
Mad acts, desperate defenses triggering entire communities

Feed a fever and never grow old

Rattling coughs, blindness and bursting hearts
Foolishly distracted us
All real manifestations, but far from the truth
Every bar lowered, the horror of us remained breaking news

Starve a fever til your teeth grow mold

The infection hid in our hollowed bones
Quiet as a cat
A thousand boring inquiries began
While we burned the world down to prove we lived

Fuck a fever, fuck a cold

If you survived the long-rolling heat
The rot started up
And still the contagion eluded all efforts
To name and contain and promise we would again be sane

Starve everything

Social distancing felt like social media
Only more authentic
No more sharing, no more caring
We husks learned to keep our thoughts to ourselves

Feed nothing

Huddling in the basements of our being
Survival promised nothing
But the quiet gave space to appreciate what we had become
Carriers of the latest mutation, reborn, resilient and waiting