Monday, June 14, 2021

All Stories are Horror Stories

P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
I'm reading a book on writing: The Successful Novelist, by David Morrell, the guy who wrote First Blood and thus created Rambo. In it, he describes asking aspiring novelists "why do you want to be writers?" After getting the usual unobtainable goals out of the way (e.g., money and fame—yeah right!), he gets deeper into why writers write, and part of it is because we have terrifying ideas intruding on our thoughts that we need to get out.
 
"The difference between fiction writers and civilians," writes Morrell, "is that we make it our life’s work to put our daydreams and day-nightmares on paper."
 
He doesn't even mention the horror genre, but he describes how his process, and indeed the process for all writers, involves capturing vivid waking nightmares, each uniquely traumatic to a particular author.
 
No wonder writers don't like being asked where their ideas come from.



It's a thought that leads to an interesting conclusion: every great story is a horror store at its core. In order for a story to have the necessary conflict and personal meaning to make it a unique work from a unique voice, it needs to address a writer's greatest fears. Morrell even describes how the idea for his first short story came about while having a sudden waking vision of being stalked in a forest and feeling certain someone was going to kill him. Even when Morrell is not writing horror, his story ideas start with horror, and at their core are about overcoming fear and other types of trauma.

If every story is really a horror story, then what sets the actual horror genre apart? I suppose it's that, while all stories have some terrifying, hungry thing lurking below the surface, the horror genre lures that thing above the surface and lets it take a few nibbles. In the horror genre, fear is the point, not only a driving force.
 
I need to apply these lessons to my own writing. My writing has been stagnating, partly because of that pandemic thing, but I think also because I've been screwing around with stories that aren't deeply, intentionally personal, and if I'm going to take it to the next, I need something more traumatic. The past year has uncovered a lot of fears in all of us, me included. Fear of isolation, fear of other people, fear of death, fear of losing people, fear of losing time, wasting the limited days we have on Earth pretending the universe is anything other than indifferent to the fleeting lives we spend chasing after little pieces of paper that we can trade for shelter and Starbucks. What a mess. I need to write some of this stuff down, and/or get therapy!
 
All writers in all genres, from action to romance to children's stories, should look for the horror underneath their stories. If there is no fear being addressed, some waking nightmare that the author and the reader can really identify with, then is the story's conflict compelling enough to drive the plot forward?
 
Maybe there are exceptions though. Let me know what you think. 
 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Spotlight on YA Indie Jewish Authors

www.karissalaurel.com



Over the past year, I've dedicated some of my posts to bringing attention to indie authors who belong to marginalized communities. It's something I hope to do more of in the future. Today I'm thrilled to introduce you to three Young Adult indie, Jewish authors and put a spotlight on some of their  wonderful books. 


 LISA AMOWITZ is an award-winning author of three fantasy/thrillers for young adults: UNTIL BETH, VISION, and BREAKING GLASS, and anthology contributor to UNBOUND. She is also a cover designer and Director of Digital Design at Bronx Community College where she has taught for the past twenty-five years. Having successfully raised two creative and independent offspring, she lives with her husband in New York City, making trouble, art, and trying to do yoga every day. You can learn more about Lisa at lisaamowitz.com.

Until Beth by Lisa Amowitz

Talented rock guitarist Beth Collins has been barely holding herself together for months, ever since her boyfriend and bandmate became the latest victim in a string of suspicious disappearances. When her brother is injured an accident and she sees something dark billowing around him as he hovers close to death, she’s convinced her sanity is collapsing for good.

Then she's accepted by a boarding school for the musically gifted. All of her new friends are bursting withtalent, but they're also keeping secrets. Can she trust Vincent, who's so sweet that his very touch makes her fears melt away? Or Xavier, who's trying to tell her something but is hiding even more?

And will anyone be safe when her true Talent comes out?

Purchase Until Beth from Amazon
Purchase Until Beth from Indie Bound

And Coming Soon from Lisa:

Breaking Glass by Lisa Amowitz

On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he's not sure whether they're real or if he's losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.


~~***~~~ ************~~~***~~


EMILY COLIN'S debut novel, THE MEMORY THIEF, was a New York Times bestseller and a Target Emerging Authors Pick. She is also the author of THE DREAM KEEPER’S DAUGHTER (Ballantine Books). Her young adult titles include the anthology WICKED SOUTH: SECRETS AND LIES and the SEVEN SINS series, both from Blue Crow Publishing, as well as the anthology UNBOUND: STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION, LOVE, AND MONSTERS (Five Points Press). Regardless of whether she’s writing for adults or teens, all of her books feature love stories and supernatural twists.

 Emily’s diverse life experience includes organizing a Coney Island tattoo and piercing show, hauling fish at a dolphin research center, roaming New York City as an itinerant teenage violinist, helping launch two small publishing companies, and working to facilitate community engagement in the arts. Currently, she finds joy in teaching classes for the Writers Workshop at Authors Publish and working as a freelance editor. Originally from Brooklyn, Emily lives in coastal North Carolina with her family. She loves chocolate, is addicted to tiramisu, and dislikes anything containing beans. You can find her trying to do yoga, with her nose buried in a book, or getting dragged down the block by her over-enthusiastic dog, Moo.

Sword of the Seven Sins by Emily Colin

Eva Marteinn never wanted to be a killer.

Raised in the Commonwealth, where citizens live and die by the code of the Seven Sins, Eva is sickened by the barbaric punishments the High Priests inflict. She sees the Bellators of Light, the Commonwealth’s executioners, as no more than conscienceless killers.

When she’s Chosen as the first female bellator—and can’t refuse, on threat of exile or disgrace—Eva is devastated. But she turns out to be inordinately gifted at the very role she abhors…no thanks to her mentor, Ari Westergaard, who alternates between ignoring her and challenging her to impossible tests.

Ari’s indifference conceals a dangerous secret: He’s loved Eva since they were children. When Eva falls for Ari too, she knows they should do anything to avoid each other. Love is forbidden. Lust is a death sentence. But as mentor and apprentice, they’re bound by the blood oath they swore the day of Eva’s Choosing.

Balanced on a razor’s edge of desire and betrayal, the two uncover a secret that could overturn the Commonwealth itself. Now Eva must make an impossible choice: Turn her back on Ari, and remain loyal to the only home she’s ever known—or risk everything on the slim hope of freedom, and stake her life on the boy she’s come to love.

Purchase Sword of the Seven Sins from Amazon

Purchase Sword of the Seven Sins from Indie Bound

Purchase Sword of the Seven Sins from Barnes and Noble

Emily's new release:

Shadows of the Seven Sins: A Story Collection by Emily Colin

What risks would you be willing to take for love?

In the oppressive world of the Commonwealth, citizens live and die by the rules of the Seven Sins: pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth. Affection is punishable by death…but all of the rules in the world can’t stop people from falling in love.

Fighting back against the High Priests who rule the Commonwealth and the vicious Bellatorum warriors who enforce the law is terrifying. But for love, even ordinary people will take daring chances. For love, people will do terrible—and wonderful—things.

In the pages of this spellbinding collection, dive deeper into the stories of your favorite characters from the Seven Sins series and meet new ones; discover dark secrets they've been hiding; and witness the courage of rebels who risk their lives—again and again—for the justice they fight for and the love they hold dear.

Purchase Shadows of the Seven Sins on Amazon

Purchase Shadows of the Seven Sins on Barnes and Noble


~~***~~~************~~~***~~


KIMBERLY G GIARRATANO lives in the Poconos with her husband and three kids. A lot of her books are set in my rural surroundings, therefore one might she I writes Poconoir. She can walk outside her house to describe the specific slope of a decaying tree trunk. Or the notorious fog rolling off the mountains. In the winter, it’s not uncommon to have three feet of snow on her lawn. A person can bury a body under the snow pack and it won’t be discovered until April.

 She’s a television junkie and a podcast fiend. She loves young adult literature and crime fiction, and young adult crime fiction.




Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. Giarratano



 2015 Silver Falchion Award Winner

 Parted by death. Tethered by love.

 Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.

 Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.

 Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.

Purchase Grunge Gods and Graveyards on Amazon (also currently a Kindle Unlimited book)

Also by Kimberly:

School Lies by Kimberly G. Giarratano


“Levi and Troy are poignantly real, and the 90s setting serves as an eerie reminder of how far we’ve come, and yet how much more we have to go. Riveting and suspenseful.” –Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

After finding his headmaster father slumped over his desk from a gunshot wound, Levi Abrams is ready to sever his ties to Hulbert Academy with a sharp blade. Though the authorities have ruled his father’s death an accident, Levi has his doubts. But with graduation only weeks away, Levi wants to get his diploma and move on.

Then Troy Byrne returns to school.

It’s been three years since Troy got expelled from Hulbert on bogus drug charges–but he’s over it. And over his parents’ impending divorce. Maybe even over his feelings for Levi. But when his troubled sister disappears, he must return to the treacherous halls of Hulbert. Photo negatives in her trashed apartment connect her disappearance to the headmaster’s death. To find his sister, he’ll need Levi’s help. Now Troy has no choice but to confront his feelings for a boy he was hoping to forget.

As Troy and Levi follow a scavenger hunt of clues, they unearth a dangerous blackmailing scheme that extends far beyond their claustrophobic prep school. Is Troy’s sister missing or did someone make her disappear? And are the boys next?

Set against the backdrop of the mid-1990s, School Lies explores the depths we go to protect ourselves and those we love even if it means betraying others.

Purchase School Lies from Amazon (also currently a Kindle Unlimited book)

Monday, June 7, 2021

Read Wide (Interview with Sean Seebach, Author of THE BUCK STOPS HERE)

amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, everybody!  It's my turn to do an interview, and I have got a doozy for you today with a real up-and-comer in the horror field.  Let's meet our guest, then dive right in!

About Sean Seebach:

Raised in the Buckeye state in a town of no more than 200 people, Sean Seebach began writing at the age of 33. He's published two novellas, one novel, and a collection of short stories. His work has appeared in the anthology DIG TWO GRAVES VOLUME I from Death's Head Press.

When he isn't writing or working a day job, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to an eclectic variety of music.

He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, son, and their little terror terrier, Bowie.

You can find him on TwitterInstagram, and his website.

Interview

SK:  Tell us about your published work?  What's great?  What's crap?

SS:  It’s great to be here, Stephen. Thank you for having me.

I write to get a better understanding of the world and the human condition. My stories are in the vein of the "Twilight Zone" and "Tales From The Crypt." The early stuff, stories I had submitted to Thought Catalog, have a very “Willy’s Wonderland” feel to them. Some heart, not much, but full of campy and over the top themes. The enthusiasm from readers gave me the confidence (or delusion) to keep working at this writing thing.

TC also published my first book, a novella called OUR MONSTERS ARE REAL: THE PIG MAN. Intended to be a series, PIG MAN is a mash up of dark fantasy and horror. It has a magic harmonica, dual antagonists, and good ol’ midwestern teenagers trying to navigate puberty and bad home life. Out of everything I’ve written, it comes the closest to coming-of-age.

AUTUMN DARK came next. I pitch it as a poor person’s SALEM'S LOT minus the vampire. A big city detective returns to his small town to find his missing sister during the arrival of a peculiar new preacher.

A LOOKING IN VIEW is a collection of short stories, some of which were previously published on Thought Catalog. I wrote new stories to complete the book, and really challenged myself to go deeper into themes of down-on-their-luck characters who get their just deserts.

Fast forward to 2019 and I got my second acceptance after five years of writing. Death’s Head Press was kind enough to purchase “Murdock’s Magnificent Emporium” for their anthology DIG TWO GRAVES VOLUME I. It’s a splatter western set in a dystopian world. I was hot off the heels from reading the DARK TOWER Series and Roland was still fresh in my mind. I wrote about a Roland-esque character who sets out to find the monster that killed his family.

THE BUCK STOPS HERE is my latest, and features a were-deer terrorizing a quiet town. The OCD sheriff is forced to blow the dust off her badge after a local is murdered and find the killer. Think of yourself channel surfing on a rainy Saturday afternoon while eating cold pizza and you come across this ridiculous movie on the Syfy channel. That’s the mood of THE BUCK, and I think out of all my work, people have had the most fun with that one. The book also gave me the chance to tip my hat to Owl Goingback’s seminal novel CROTA.

All proceeds from THE BUCK benefit the World Wildlife Fund. However, for those thinking of purchasing it, the typesetting in the physical copy is small, so you may want to opt for the digital version.

(While we’re on the subject of creature features, check out Stephanie Rabig’s PLAYING POSSUM, James Sabata’s THE CASSOWARY, and THE ROO by Alan Baxter. They’re all in the same vein, and Elderlemon Design was kind enough to create the covers for free.)

Ultimately, my progression as a writer is shown chronologically through my publications. So, to me, the early stuff isn’t as good as "Murdock’s" or THE BUCK, but that’s up for readers to eventually decide.

SK:  How did your pandemic year go?

SS:  Despite contracting COVID in late November, pretty well. My family and I learned that we could isolate outside of our jobs and still love each other. It brought us closer together, for sure. I got my sense of taste and smell back a month ago, a small inconvenience considering the tragic outcomes across the world. Political feelings aside, I gained a new perspective on what community means, and feel a greater sense of empathy and compassion toward others. There’s a silver lining in almost everything if we search hard enough.

SK:  What have you always dreamed of writing?  Do you think it will ever happen?

SS:  I’ve always wanted to collaborate with another author on a project. You remember that serial you did called "Silverwood: The Door?" I bet that was a blast. To get that back and forth with another creative(s), get a feel for someone else’s creative process first hand would be a great experience, I think. You oughta know, you’re the king of collabo. That said, would anyone want to write a book or story with me? Maybe, maybe not.

SK:  How did your #pitmad go last week?

SS:  Ha! Two of my scheduled tweets didn’t even send, but I got support from the community, including you, Gabino Iglesias, and The Sisters of Slaughter (huge thank you to all!) from the one that tweet that did go out. I searched the hashtag before I left for work, and it was great seeing all those writers out there trying to get an agent to represent their manuscript. A beautiful thing.

SK:  What else do you want the fans and readers to know that we didn't get to cover in this interview? 

SS:  Read books by diverse authors and read them to your kids. Read what you like. Read wide. I’ve learned just as much if not more from reading books outside the horror genre. I’m not talking exclusively about craft either. There’s much to be gained from learning about other cultures, heritages, and perspectives.

About THE BUCK STOPS HERE:

Abigail Laine is comfortable being the sheriff of Rockbridge, Ohio. She only conducts a few traffic stops a week, has minimal paperwork, and cruises the town's mostly vacant streets. This leaves her plenty of time to read and keep her living space and work area orderly. But when Caleb Welsh gets murdered on his way home late one Friday night, she's forced to blow the dust off her badge and find the killer.

With the help of Rockbridge's finest civilians, Laine must draw a line in the salt lick and assure that THE BUCK STOPS HERE.

All proceeds benefit the World Wildlife Fund.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

10 Signs You're Overextending Yourself


By Cheryl Oreglia

Let’s face it, I’m not good at weathering storms, dealing with attacks on multiple fronts, or saying “no,” especially when it comes to just about anyone. Which means I end up being no good to anyone especially myself. I think it’s time to rethink my exit strategies.

How about you? Can you muster up a hardy “no” if the situation calls for it? If not, read on, because I’ve created a personalized script for you to practice in front of the mirror, and together we’ll slowly learn the art of self-preservation. 

Look at me (You’ll have to use your imagination).

I’m a walking billboard for chronic middle-age syndrome (overextended, massive temporomandibular joint issues, but still smiling) because according to Dionne Warwick, “you can always count on me.” Who knows the full extent of the damage we endured after being force-fed lyrics like these during our impressionable years. Lord have mercy.

Speaking of mercy, I find myself repeatedly telling God, “mysterious signs are so out, use your words” (even though that didn’t work out so well a few thousand years ago).

I’ve had plenty of ambiguous signs: lung issues, runny nose, chronic cough, insomnia, congestion, gas, emotional instability, and a spliced finger. YES, IT’S MY RIGHT HAND. There’s really nothing left on me to mangle. 

It is shockingly obvious I am not fluent in sign language ~ I’d rather you speak slowly and perspicuously. 

I’m afraid to get up in the morning and slip out to the patio for a cup of coffee. I might trip over the dog (again), be attacked by enraged crows (unlikely in Campbell but it is garbage day), or fall to the ground because the fabric decides to give on the patio chair. Times are tumultuous, use extreme caution, God doesn’t play by the rules. She never has.

A person in my situation might stop and ask herself what the hell is going on? 

a. I’m the unluckiest person in the world.

b. Karma’s a bitch.

c. God is bored.

d. It’s time for an overhaul.

e. I need a vacation. 

The answer is…all of the above.

10 Signs you’re Overextended:

1. Chronic Fatigue – Do you find yourself yawning at inappropriate moments? Falling asleep in the middle of a conversation (Larry)? Drinking gallons of coffee before noon? Wearing sunglasses at the office to cover the huge bags under your eyes? Dosing off while waiting for your dog’s flea medication? Check the Box!

2. Sickness – Continual visits to the doctor, resistant infections, lots of snot, sleeping in a lounge chair two or more nights in a row? You find your spouse snoring under a mermaid comforter in the guest room because your seventeenth Ricola is not working. Do you NyQuil and chill more than twice a week? Check the Box!

3. Clumsy – Tripping over curbs, dogs, babies, toys, and footstools? Slicing and dicing your delicate appendages? Attempts at emptying the dishwasher are a catastrophic loss? Does no one want to play darts with you?  Check the Box!

4. Confused – Unclear about why you entered or left a room? Can’t remember the date, the time, what the president is tweeting about? Why you gave up wine? The name of your firstborn? Which of the 5 remotes turns on the television. Check the Box!

5. Emotional – Do Frigidaire commercials make you cry? Did you burst into tears when you burnt the last piece of toast? When someone said, “Happy Mother’s Day,” did you sob uncontrollably in the lobby? Did you have a total melt-down while standing in line at the DMV? It happens. Check the Box!

6. Eye Twitches – Do you have spastic eye twitches that are especially active when trying to maintain eye contact with your boss? Have you considered skin-colored duct tape as a viable solution to resolving the twitch? Would you rather confess to a botched facelift than admit you’re overextended? Check the Box!

7. Temporary Tourette’s – Have you said something out of character lately? Used vocabulary that would make Gordon Ramsey blush? Didn’t realize you were verbalizing your thoughts on salvation in a crowded elevator. Check the Box!

8. Weight Change – If you have fluctuated one ounce, Check the Box!

9. Pimples – This really seals the deal, if one red, flaming, pustule appears anywhere on your face, check the damn box!

10. Googling a Therapist – This is not a red flag, this is the white flag, and yes I’ll take the first available appointment. Check the Box!

Three or more boxes and you might need to reevaluate your current commitments and your wavering ability to say “NO.” I tell my students to practice in front of the mirror before presentations. You can do this with any life situation so you’re prepared to hold up the hand when necessary. Practice. Practice. Practice.

“No, that’s not possible, I have a conflict.” 

“Oh no darling, this does not work for Cheryl (fill in appropriate name).” 

“Oh my goodness, I’ll be out of town for the next (insert: When did you need me?) yes, that.” 

“Let’s return to this particular issue at our next meeting, in the fall, adjourned!” 

“I’d love to but I’ll be on tour promoting the benefits of prunes all summer.” 

“It just so happens I’m allergic to dust and mortified I won’t be able to help with the clean-up.”

“This is not compatible with my religious views but I will pray for you.”

“I can not possibly take on… but this is what I can do.”

“Not today and tomorrow doesn’t look good either.”

“I believe there is someone more qualified for this job.”

“No, I’m staying home to work on my soap sculpture.”

“I would love to but I can’t be separated from my therapy alligator and she’s not well trained.” 

Take the word should out of your vocabulary. Easy peasy. Anna Taylor reminds us, “love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious.  You get to choose how you use it.  You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” When we claim more than we can handle, we limit the opportunities for another person in our community notes Jeff Shinabarger.  Suzette Hinton comes right to the point, “if the person you’re talking with continues to press you for more or can’t seem to accept your answer, then you are being harassed, I know that sounds hard for people-pleasers to accept, but it’s true. No means no.”

When I’m not writing for Across the Board, I’m Living in the Gap, learning to say “no.”

How good are you at saying “no” especially when your well-being is in jeopardy? 







Monday, May 31, 2021

Totally Judging Books by their Covers

Shameless self-promotion ahead. Grab a beer and gird your loins.

July 5, 2022, my first horror novel, They Drown Our Daughters, will be released from Poisoned Pen Press. That’s 402 days (I’m totally not counting at all, nope) in which to agonize over how many of you will buy it, and how many of you are not my friends.

But until then, I have fun little milestones to look forward to. The most exciting, of course, is the cover reveal.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but what are rules for if not to be broken? A great cover can be the difference between a passing glance and grabby hands. Every author dreams of a grabby-hand cover.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t seen any concept art and, no, I wouldn’t tell you if I had. All we can do is dream and hope and worry.

To distract us, I’ve compiled a group of my favorite book covers of all time. If these don’t make you want to read the books immediately, I can’t help you.


There's just something about damp fabric, you know?


If you wouldn't open that door, we can't be friends.


Part Gatsby, part circus - this one just looks like a good bit of trouble.


Did someone say green thumb--er--veins?


It's the stylized roots that do it for me.


A gothic masterpiece.


I love this Nordic woodcut feel.


This cover screams romance, pirates, and regency intrigue.


That GOLD though.


I'm a sucker for cameo-style art, and that red background is like a sunrise made of fire.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Writing in Public vs. At Home

 


A long time ago, when Borders was still in existence, I used to spend a lot of time there writing. I wasn't one of those people that needed to be seen writing in order to feel like a writer, but I enjoyed the atmosphere. Something about a book store café just inspired me to get more work done. It let me focus on what I was doing rather than distract myself at home with chores. I also had access to resources in case I needed to do some research. Plus, I had an endless supply of baked good and coffee at the café. When it was taken over by BAM, I went back a few times, but gradually phased out of it. The atmosphere had gone from cozy, quiet study area, to a platform for loud obnoxious political conversation nearly every time I went. I just couldn't focus anymore, so I went back to writing at home. 

One thing that always struck me odd about my time at Borders, was how often people would come up to me and ask what I was writing about, or otherwise wanted to strike up a conversation. I didn't mind it so much at first, but it would break my concentration and then I'd usually end up leaving after a few minutes. I had to think to myself, what is it about seeing someone working on a laptop that makes people want to talk to you?

I once had a gentleman come up to me while I was deeply ingrained in what I was writing and say "Excuse me, I don't mean to bother you, but I just had to say you have the most INTENSE look on your face! You must be really focused on what you're writing! What are you writing about?"

I didn't want to be rude, but he completely derailed my train of thought and I just sort of murmured "a book", before he mercifully let me go. I couldn't get back into it after that interaction, so I left. This was the downside to writing somewhere public. 

Now, with Covid restrictions in effect, I've found myself working from home more often. Yes, I've procrastinated by creating tasks to do around the house instead, but when I have a day to myself, and all is quiet, I've gradually gotten my spark back. I've been able to get work done without the need for an outside space to get the juices flowing. Plus, there is the added perk of not having anyone interrupt me...unless you count my parrot squawking, which can be just like listening to loud political talk sometimes.

In the beginning of my writing career, a lot of my books were written in a public place. The entire 'Book of Siavon' series was conceived and delivered at Borders. 'Exotic Birds' was written at home late at night, and sometimes at BAM. 'Solve for X' was almost entirely written from home. Gradually, I've become more comfortable and less distracted when I work from home, but still miss the atmosphere of the public writing space...and the coffee.

Do you like to write somewhere public? Or do you prefer the cozy familiarity of your own home?

Tell me about it, and stay weird.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Short Stories: A Writer's Sandbox

I don't really consider myself a "short story writer," which is kind of funny considering I've published over a dozen so far. Don't get me wrong - I love writing shorts - but I know they're not my main medium. I much prefer writing novels, and oftentimes I feel like I'm writing mini, compact novels instead of true short stories.

But short stories have one distinct advantage over novels, and that's that they're, well, short. I think it's been blogged on here before about how they provide a great sandbox for writers to experiment in. You don't have to commit to 50+ thousand words to try out a new writing style or genre.

I recall the first time I wrote something in first person present tense, it was a short story. But that wasn't the only experimental thing about it. This was not long after I'd finished my debut novel, Artificial Absolutes, which is an action-driven sci-fi adventure starring a strong-willed heroine with a sassy attitude. The short story I wrote was also my first foray into composing something quieter - an introspective piece about a shy, soft-spoken woman coping with a family tragedy. I don't remember much of what happened in that short (the indie anthology I wrote it for fell through due to a toxic combination of mismanagement and misogyny... a story for another time), but I do recall that I wrote the first draft of Starswept, written in first person present in the voice of a shy, soft-spoken young woman, not long thereafter. And I remember feeling comfortable with this different style of writing because I'd experimented with it previously.

A little while back, one of the indie author collectives I write with, Snowy Wings Publishing, announced that their next member anthology's theme would be Greek myths. I volunteered to do a retelling of the Arachne myth because it's been one of my favorites since high school (in fact, I vaguely recall once plotting to write an opera about Arachne...). Why Arachne? Not because I like spiders, but because I found it interesting how it's about a mortal who challenges a goddess... and is struck down not because she didn't rise to the occasion, but because she DID, and the goddess, Athena/Minerva became jealous. But at the time I volunteered, all I knew was that I was going to do something with the tale. What? I had no idea.

A few months ago, the anthology's editor asked us all to let her know what genres our stories would be in. I hadn't even thought about what my story would be about. Meanwhile, I'd been seeing all up and down Twitter that Dark Academia was becoming the next YA trend. "What the dickens is Dark Academia?" I wondered to myself while shaking my cane at a cloud. So naturally, I told the editor that my Arachne retelling would be Dark Academia.

Writing the story gave me the opportunity to experiment in a genre I otherwise wouldn't have (I'm certainly not brave enough to write a whole book in a genre I don't know!). It turns that Dark Academia is, roughly, the genre equivalent of a popular aesthetic featuring old academies, elite students, New England-esque settings, sharp blazers and pleated skirts, old books and gothic architecture, dark pasts and buried secrets... so... basically Princeton University. Which I went to and mention now not as a brag, but so I can laugh at the fact that I was ever intimidated by Dark Academia when I literally lived it.

Anyway, there's a certain sense of triumph that comes with completing something new. I'm rather proud of how my Dark Academia reimagining of Arachne, "With Dark Truths Draw Me," turned out, and I can't wait for it to be released as part of the Sing, Goddess! anthology of Greek myth retellings edited by Jane Watson (*plug plug nudge nudge*). Athena/Minerva is now Min Wong (shown here in the character art I commissioned as a self reward), a popular prep school junior who desperately wants to get into a top school and sees her painting skills as one way to stand out in her applications. Arachne is now Ara Zhi, an alternagirl-type whose death by suicide haunts Min. If I hadn't (somewhat randomly) picked Arachne and Dark Academia to write about, this story would never have existed.

There are a lot of genres I want to try someday, and lucky for me I know enough indie anthology editors that I think I'll always have a place to try them out. But even without a guarantee of publication or a deadline breathing down my neck, I think I'd still dip into short stories in between novels just to try out new things.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Newsletters: What the hell do I put in this thing? A listicle.

Hello, gorgeous people. It has been absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful in the Poconos these past few days, so I hope the sun is shining down on you too. Today, I am going to share my ideas on what to put in author newsletters. Because let's face it, content is hard.

For indie authors who publish frequently, their newsletter content is fairly easy to come by: a cover reveal, an excerpt, a sale, a new release--all of that will make up the bulk of their newsletter. But what about the traditional author with a once-a-year-release? Or the author who hasn't released anything in a while? Who doesn't have book news or cover art to share? What should they put in their newsletter to keep their readership engaged while they are waiting to sell a book or announce a deal?

Here are some ideas. Use them in good health.

 

  1. Other authors' books. Did you read a great crime thriller? Tell your list. Did your talented friend publish a new book last week? Tell your list. Did your agency sister get a book deal? Tell your list. Is a book you championed on sale this week? Tell your list.
  2. Photos of your personal stuff--your desk, office, garden, antique cuckoo clock--share the things that relax and inspire you. 
  3. Mood boards. Are you working on a secret project? Maybe you don't want to share the deets, but you could share a mood board. 
  4. Also create a fantasy cast list of characters for that secret project and share it. 
  5. Your book research. Did you dig up an interesting tidbit about 1750s France for a novel? Or a weird way to poison someone? Share it.
  6. Tell a funny story. You're a writer, you can make an awkward encounter at the mailbox interesting. 
  7. Recipes--do you mention interesting dishes in your books? Did you cook something delicious? Did you make your 80th sourdough? Did you invent a new cocktail. Share it.
  8. A lot of authors subscribe to newsletters so consider sharing your writing process. I personally like seeing photos of a computer screen with a half-sentence and the cheek of a forlorn author pressed to the keyboard--it makes me feel seen. Also people really want to know how the sausage is made.
  9. Also consider sharing the odds and ends that help your process. Fancy notebooks, pens, and stickers and where you buy them. An antique typewriter. Pink highlighters. Whatever works.
  10. Writing advice: if you suddenly learned the secret to efficiency, share it! If you figured a better way to plot, share it. If you started using new software, share it.
  11. Your local indie bookstore. Take pics and share them. 
  12. With that said--the library. Snap photos of your books in the library. You're in the library! It's cool.
  13. Movie, streaming, and podcast recommendations. I do this all the time. Did you listen to a cool true crime podcast? Tell your readers. Did you binge watch a new science fiction show? Tell your readers. Did you rewatch a little-known indie film from the 90s that still holds up? Tell your readers.
  14. Make-up/clothing recommendations. My favorite author shared a lipstick recommendation and I was all about it. She also shared these dope hats she wears. The woman has style, and I know her fans want to hear about it.
  15. A Q&A: do you get any interesting reader questions? Compile them into a Q&A for exclusive content.
  16. Flash fiction between two beloved characters.
  17. Reader reviews. Did your book get an awesome new review on Amazon or Goodreads? Share it. 
  18. News related to your genre. If you write romance, link to a new celebrity couple (Bennifer!). If you write science fiction, link to news articles about space (60 Minutes just aired a piece about UFOs-swear to God). I personally enjoy telling my readers about cold cases that have recently been solved. But you do you.
  19. Memes and jokes--people like them. 
  20. Inspirational quotes. Make it pretty and shareable using Canva.
  21. Imitation is flattery and all that. Copy your favorite authors. What do your favorite authors include in their newsletters that you enjoy reading? Do the same.

If you have suggestions for newsletter content, don't hog it all to yourself. Share it! And, please, subscribe to my list. If you love true crime, you'll love my newsletter.


Monday, May 17, 2021

How Being a Writer Ruins Everything




P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
It was Friday, I'd just finished work, and I had a whole weekend ahead with no plans. I laid down on the couch, and attempted to clear my mind. Finally, I could be free of the week's worries and just be, in the moment, no thought necessary.
 
Then I thought: is it "laid down on the couch," or should it have been "lay down on the couch"?
 
I subsequently thought: man, being a write ruins everything. I can't do anything without translating it into these stupid words. That would make a good blog post! That's when the phone came out and my notes app was open and I was no longer in a blissful state of care-free laying or lying or whatever.

 

Here are a few other things ruined by being a writer:

 

  • Thinking simple thoughts. It's never just "this sandwich tastes good." Instead, it's "how would I describe the taste of this sandwich, if I were to put it in a book, or tweet about it? Should I include details about how it smells? The feeling of incisors cleaving fresh bread? Ah shit, the sandwich is gone now." Do normal people even put their thoughts in words? Or do they just, like, taste things?

  • Watching TV. A plot twist is never just a plot twist for a writer. It's an opportunity to analyze what exactly led to the twist, what it says about the characters, how it fits into the overall structure of the story. Sometimes it's like I can't even let the intended emotions hit me, because they're wrapped up in analysis and logic, which ruins any good feels. I think I even miss literally seeing things. Sometimes my girlfriend will be like "haha that guy's hat is hilarious" and I didn't even know he had a hat because I was thinking about how that trope from three scenes ago is totally overused but I could totally do something different with it.

  • Engaging in normal relationships with humans. For a few different reasons. Being good at writing does not mean being good at talking, for one, so good luck getting a coherent string of words out of a writer's mouth unless they wrote it down beforehand. It's a beautiful thing when the writer's shell of introversion does manage to get cracked, though, because then they can mine the relationship for material. Some writers may keep a straight face, but deep down, a friend's heartfelt confessionary breakdown is being classified as "compelling dialogue."

tfw you finally have time for a relaxing vacation with the family.

  • Traveling. Oh cool, a new experience in an unfamiliar place? The writer must cram his head full of every detail and try to memorize what it feels like, because "write what you know" is awfully narrow when 99% of what you know is the beige walls of an apartment. Study up on that additional knowledge. It's not supposed to be fun.

  • Having biological functions. Writers don’t sleep, they just lie down and think about things that don't exist, then write those things down in a notebook beside the bed, repeat, and eventually pass out from the exhausting cycle. Writers don't poop, they just take breaks from their day jobs to do research and take notes in a private enclosed space. Even basic personal hygiene is a time for dreaming up ideas. Why do you think so many novels start with the main character looking in a mirror and end with them crying in a shower? 

 

There you have it, some slightly exaggerated reasons why writing ruins everything and you should never touch a keyboard. Am I even normal for a writer, or has something gone horribly wrong inside of me? Please let me know your perfectly-formed written thoughts. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Romancing the Villain and Hotness Absolution

www.karissalaurel.com
Warning: This post may contain some spoilers for the Netflix and book series, Shadow and Bone. Proceed at your own risk.

I'm a fan of the Shadow and Bone ("Grishaverse") novels by Leigh Bardugo, so naturally when the Netflix series came out, I gobbled it right up. I had watched the casting announcements, and while most of the actors picked for the main roles were unfamiliar to me, one crucial one was not. 

When the producers named Ben Barnes as the Darkling, aka General Kirigan, aka Aleksander, I fan-girl flipped out. The Darkling is the main antagonist of the series, though he doesn't necessarily start out that way. At one point in the books, and on the show, the Darkling is also a potential romantic interest for the main character, Alina Starkov. Any actor that played him had to be handsome, suave, erudite, a little distant and cold, and above all, sexy. 


Have you seen Ben Barnes as Billy Russo in The Punisher? How about as Logan in West World? Okay, as Logan he might have been more "spoiled asshole" than "sexy villain" but still... there really wasn't anyone more suited for the Darkling than him, in my opinion. He absolutely lived up to my expectations.

Oh, those expectations... Barnes's performance, physical appearance, sex appeal, etc. has caused quite the stir on social media ever since the show's release. It has also spawned a ton of blog posts and commentary, so I kind of feel like I'm beating a dead horse by talking about this subject again. But I here I go anyway...

There are three main camps I'm seeing when it comes to Romancing the Villain:

  1. Romanticizing villains is bad and you should never ever do it. Nothing about abuse, violence, murder, corruption, etc., is romantic. Ever.
  2. Romanticizing villains is okay as long as you acknowledge what makes them problematic and don't condone such behavior in the real world. Your fantasies are a safe space to work out complex feelings.
  3. Romanticizing villains is okay and don't apologize for your lust. Embrace the evil! Ride or Die, Bitches!
I can't say I have a firm opinion on the matter. Rather, I think all of them are right and wrong in their own ways. However, I think I tend to fall in camp #2. I definitely found Ben Barnes portrayal of the Darkling to be, um, erm, *shifts uncomfortably in seat* compelling. I'm currently re-watching the second season of The Punisher and Jon Bernthal's performance as Frank Castle lights me up, despite knowing just how troublesome such a character would be in the real world. I've also watched Bernthal as Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead a second time and found him way more sympathetic and complex than I did the first time I watched that show. Is that because I have a better comprehension of the character the second time around, or because I think Jon Bernthal is hawt?

 
Let's not even get started on my Adam Driver vs Kylo Ren conflict. As a character, Kylo Ren is reprehensible. I did *not* root for him and Rey to become a romantic couple, not even once. It still pisses me off when I think about it. But can I happily re-watch, over and over, that scene where he first takes his helmet off on The Force Awakens? Why, yes. Yes I can.


Basically, it does all come down to aesthetic appeal though. If excuses are to be made for loving the bad guy, those excuses are most often made for the beautiful bad boys and never for, say, the Jabba the Hutts of the world.

You never want a big wet kiss from Jabba, do you?

I talked about this issue with fellow ATB contributor, Mary Fan, who is often my go-to when I'm wrestling with issues like this, either in the media I'm consuming or in my own writing. She calls this phenomenon the "Hotness Absolution". It's her contention, and I agree, that if Jabba had been a hot human (or humanoid), people would have been a lot more into the Leia-as-his-slave thing. Would people have shipped Reylo so hard if Kylo never took of his mask? I think our recent text conversation sums up this contradiction perfectly:

Mary: No one shipped anyone with Palpatine...

Me: Right!

Mary: Hmm does anyone romanticize Evil Anakin? I haven’t hung out in fan forums much but I feel like they don’t really romanticize him at all... 

Me: I know way back in the day people were writing some very smutty stuff involving Darth Maul. I read a few stories that were 😮😮😮😮

Mary: LOLLLLLL

Me: I mean, other than the creepy teeth and eyes, Ray Park is/was very, um, "fit". So, I guess if people can have a furry kink, why not an evil Sith kink?

Mary: I guess?? I mean yeah Ray Park was young, twenty-something martial artist with a British accent so I get that. Ha ha. People gonna people...

Me: Exactly

Mary: I wonder if any of those people romanticized his portrayal of the Toad in X-Men

Me: *Dies laughing*

So, I realize that the end of this post should draw some sort of conclusion about all of this. Maybe I should make a definitive stance on whether or not romancing the villain when he's hot, but not when he's not, is okay. A villain who gets to embrace his sexual appeal versus one whose appeal is hidden behind a less palatable exterior is always going to get more romantic leeway from fans. I can't criticize anyone for that though. It's a complex issue full of myriad nuances, and I'm not willing to judge people's thirst traps out of context. Context is everything. Besides, making a judgment would turn me into a hypocrite because I've got to stop writing this blog so I can go watch that video of Adam Driver/Kylo Ren taking off his helmet a couple dozen more times. Bye-eeeee!

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Terrible Title for a Blogpost

amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!


Hey, kids!

I was originally going to call this "The Writer's Dilemma" and then I realized that was a terrible title for a blogpost, and one that I wouldn't click on in a million years.  So I decided to change it to that, which I might, actually.  Still, it's the dilemma thingy that's the subject, so if you just clicked here for the clever title, you're about to get kind of screwed, I guess.  

The truth is I'm feeling at a crossroads and I don't know what to do.  We've talked before on this blog about how the modern world keeps you spoiled for choices, which makes them all seem terrible.  I remember a time when popping in "Rushmore" on a Saturday night seemed like the best choice from my collection of ten or fifteen DVDs.  Now I can't even decide which app to choose my near infinite list of movies and TV shows from.

"Yeah, but what's that got to do with writing, you dumb bastard?" I hear you shouting.  First of all, that's a bit harsh.  I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your mouth.  But to answer your unnecessarily angry query, I have a (somewhat?) unique problem in that I have a number of manuscripts in my trunk and a number of things to do with any given one of them.  

"What's a trunk?" you say.  Well, first of all, thank you for toning down the language a bit.  Second, a trunk is a metaphor, a bit like when they say "that film is in the can" in Hollywood, which is a thing I assume they say there.  "Trunk" can have negative connotations, because back in the day a working writer would put a completed manuscript they thought was unsaleable in the (sometimes literal) trunk at the foot of their bed.  But it can also be used to refer to just a completed manuscript waiting to find a home, which is the sense that I mean it here.

Let's see.  In my trunk I currently have:

- THE HYENA, a pretty straightforward sci-fi novel,

- BROKEN-DOWN HEROES OF THE WESTERN NIGHT, a literary war novel 

- NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD, a pretty straightforward horror sequel to THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO that still requires a hard edit

- THE CORPSE-WRIGHT'S APPRENTICE, a YA horror novella and less straightforward GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO sequel

- THE THING UNDER YOUR BED, a horror novella

- CLICKERS NEVER DIE, a horror collaboration

- A SECRET POLICEMAN'S CONSCIENCE, a dystopian thriller

So.  Shit, that's a lot when I lay it out like that.  So what's my dilemma?  Well, FOMO, mostly, I guess.  At this point BROKEN-DOWN HEROES was actually agented and seen by several people in New York and Hollywood, so I think the only thing I can really do with that at this point is self-publish.  But the problem with that is, and always has been, that it's a massive departure for me and would probably be best served by a pseudonym.

THE HYENA has a similar problem.  It's been queried widely to agents, and never been picked up, which means I either seek a sci-fi small press (a world I know nothing about) or self-publish.  It's not a huge departure for me, since I've done BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS and EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED, which, although dark, are more comfortably sci-fi than horror.  But, still, do I want a sci-fi novel to be my first self-publication?

NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD probably doesn't belong on this list since it's not been edited yet, but as a zombie horror novel it's the closest thing to completely in my wheelhouse that I have in my trunk.  I haven't queried it yet, but who would pick up a sequel to a small press horror novel from nearly a decade ago?  Should I treat it as unrelated and query anyway?  Are agents really interested in horror?  Yeah, I guess I will.  I'll at least give it that shot.  But then, if I do that, what about the press that published TGA in the first place?  Don't I owe them a look at the sequel?

CORPSE-WRIGHT and THE THING UNDER YOUR BED both suffer from the same problem: no one really publishes novellas.  Supposedly people all love novellas, but nobody wants to publish them.  So I guess they're all coming out self-published anyway.  And then I keep thinking I really ought to put out a work for perma-free on Amazon, and one of these novellas might fit the bill.  But should I put it up for pay at first and see if anyone's interested, then make it perma-free?  In which case, would that piss off the people who paid for it?

The goal of making something perma-free would be to get a bunch of people to read something of yours, and maybe a few come back to buy other stuff.  And then, back to THE HYENA, I've also thought about making a small illustrated guide to the aliens in THE HYENA universe my perma-free item, to hopefully direct people to pick up the novel.  But, then if I do that, I have to shell some mad samoleons out of pocket to hire an illustrator, for what could be absolutely zero return.  And shouldn't I include the bestiary in the actual manuscript for people who buy the paperback?  So would there be no point in releasing a novel featuring the bestiary and the bestiary itself under a separate cover?

A SECRET POLICEMAN'S CONSCIENCE is just barely, I think, on its last legs of the query circuit.  So I'll at least give that another ninety days to six months before I give up and do something with it.  Which doesn't help me get anything out this year.

And, finally, CLICKERS NEVER DIE is being shopped around and will be picked up by a high-quality venue, but probably for 2022.  Which is what precipitated this whole damn crisis in the first place.

So, there you have it, everyone.  All the boring ins and outs of what I could possibly do in the next few months.  Which leaves you just one thing to do in the comments: decide for me?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Who Do We Write For?


By Cheryl Oreglia


I’ve wrestled with this question so many times as a writer, I usually end up penning (intentional) someone, or something before the towel's thrown in.

Is it for my friends, an enemy, some ex-lover whom I pen my words? A family member, a neighbor, or some unimagined person that stumbled on my work and became enamored with the words? Maybe I write for myself? Or my deceased parents? But this much I know to be true, when I have too many agendas to shuffle nothing of value lands on the page.

Regardless of who I’m writing for, if I want to invite readers onto my page then I think Glennon Doyle Melton makes a good point, “fancy language tends to make "in" people feel more in and "out" people feel more out, and I don't think that's how words are best used. Words are best used to describe specific feelings, ideas, and hearts as clearly as possible - to make the speaker and the listener, or the writer and the reader, feel less alone and more hopeful.”

When I encounter an author whose voice speaks to my own, I keep their cadence in my head, along with the seeds I want to sow, the itch I need to scratch, the wound in need of healing. These voices become so congested at times it’s as if I’m stuck in traffic, I make no progress, and that obnoxious red light flashes before me. A siren if you will as if you need to take cover because a catastrophe is brewing.

I’m trying to stop the metaphors but they just keep coming.

Seth Godin says we should write for the smallest viable audience and Kurt Vonnegut says he writes for an audience of one. “Many writers write because they’ve been there, seen that, did it and burnt their fingers,” says Bangambiki Habyarimana.

The audience you choose, whether it be yourself, or your dead sister like Kurt, maybe it’s a specific community you’ve conjured up in your mind, as Amanda Gorman says it’s about the bridge, not the blade. When you read what I write there is a single connection, this page might reach out to many as if a telephone wire, but if the conversation is to have any meaning it must be one to one.

For me, the world does not make sense until I have some version of it tackled on the page. Oddly enough, as Betsy Lerner says, the act of writing is strangely more lifelike than life.

It’s is a sacred act because both reading and writing are done in solitude to be fully efficacious. I can read and write with the television on but it’s distracting and disrupts the experience, the same with sex, prayer, and morning absolutions.

It becomes an intimate relationship between the reader and the writer, third parties are not welcome, and if the writing is good the love affair will endure.

Do you check out the back cover of a book to see what the author looks like? Do you read the bio and try to imagine the person you are now connected to through their writing? What is she like? Do you inspect her life as if a detective looking for clues to solve a mystery? Or do you treat this new relationship as if a lover you’re stalking on Facebook? I’ve done it all.

Marie Howe remembers a very lonely man, coming up to her at the end of a reading and looking into her face and saying, “I feel as if I have looked down a corridor and seen into your soul.” And she looked at him and said, “You haven't. Here's the good news and the bad news: you haven't! I made something, and you and I could look at it together, but it's not me; you don’t live with me; you're not intimate with me. You're not the man I live with or my friend. You will never know me in that way. I'm making something, like Joseph Cornell makes his boxes and everyone looks into them, but it's the box you look into; it's not the man or the woman. It's alchemy of language and memory and imagination and time and music and sounds that gets made, and that's different.”

Maybe that happens when we reach a place of absolute truth, no bullshit, no glossy adages, just pure authentic words nailed one by one onto the page as if a crucifixion. A part of the author must bleed, maybe die, in order for the reader to discover new life.

On occasion, I write for my Dad who harbored such hope for my life, I want him to know I haven’t forgotten him, that I’m surviving, maybe even thriving. Oh, how I wanted him to be proud of me and I know how that wiggles its way into my writing. When I write for my Mom it’s more about finding a place for my anger, for the destructiveness of cancer, for a life taken too soon. I want her to forgive me for the ways in which I think I failed her, that I didn’t give enough, even though she praised my every effort unto her death. I’ve written for my enemies, but that always ends up being a self-serving tyrant, and I tend to gloss over the truth for the version I have recreated in my head because If I were honest I am as much to blame as my nemesis. I write for my friends when I want them to understand their value, how they draw me away from the computer and into life.

Stephen King says, “one of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, working for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed, and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

As a writer, I think we have to refuse to be domesticated, and in doing so we bring the untamed parts of ourselves to the landscape, the savage, feral, unbroken, human pieces, keeping our fire contained by a thin layer of parchment and the reader is seared by proximity.

In a recent post on my blog, Living in the Gap, I wrote for my children and grandchildren. I wrote about legacy and what we hope to leave the next generation. I hope they find me enmeshed in the words I laid to rest on the page but also in the experience of brushing up against me, and in the brushing their life is forever better. I suppose that’s what I want for all my readers.

Who do you write for?






When I’m not writing for Across the Board, I’m Living in the Gap, drop in anytime.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Why Isn't...

 


Hey all you cool cats and kittens. Katrina here to answer all the Google queries you didn’t know you had.

 

Why isn’t Kelly on the voice?

Don’t ask me why, but I thought this question was in regard to the Pickler variety of Kelly when in fact, the world is more worried about Kelly Clarkson who is MIA on The Voice’s “Battle Rounds.” Is she being a diva? Did she binge one too many episodes of Hoarders and is now in her own battle against that corner of clutter in her basement, lest one of her relatives send TLC into her home alongside a therapist with questionable credentials?

Sadly, no. Kelly revealed she is merely “under the weather.” She didn’t test positive for COVID, but, you know, better safe than sorry. (Wear your masks and get vaccinated, folks).

 

Why isn’t Pluto a planet?

I, personally, would argue that Pluto is IN FACT a planet, only because I’m still a little bit salty about that replica of the solar system I spent a month putting together in fifth grade, only to have it lose points because of Pluto’s questionable planetary status.

According to the Library of Congress, though, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded the status of Pluto to that of a dwarf planet because it did not meet the three criteria the IAU uses to define a full-sized planet. Essentially Pluto meets all the criteria except one—it “has not cleared its neighboring region of other objects.”

I have no clue what that means. As it is not on our list, we’ll pretend it doesn’t matter. MOVING ON.

 

Why isn’t my phone charging?

Is it an iphone?

Well, there’s your answer, eh?

 

Why isn’t my dog eating?

What’s that? A MEDICAL QUESTION? To WebMD (pet version) we go!

First possible cause: Doggo is sicko. If he’s got some pukage or there’s poop-chute fuckery afoot, time to visit the vet.

Second possible cause: Dental disease. Given dog’s mouths are meant to be cleaner than ours, I’m not going to continue to read this part of the article. If you think Doggo’s mouth hurts, feel free to Google on your own.

Third: Recent vaccination. If this is the cause, no worries! Doggo will be back to eating your shoes in no time.

 

Why isn’t Puerto Rico a state?

Look, you can read a million different articles that debate the pros and cons of statehood, the viewpoints of the 5% of Puerto Rican citizens who would die on a hill if it meant independence from the United States forever, but the answer is simple: Racism.

Next.

 

Why isn’t CC McGraw playing?

The only McGraw I know is Tim and, look, if he’s found some new path in life that requires a name change to CC, I am HERE FOR—

Oh.

So, NOT Tim?

Something something college volleyball. Digs. Aces. Assists. Etc.

I played volleyball in middle school. I grew up in Florida so there was sand a-plenty, yet SOMEHOW we still ended up playing on grass or—worse—the hard gym floor. My knee hasn’t been right since.

Wherever CC McGraw is, let’s hope it’s not the knee. Please, please, not the knee.

 

Now that I have imparted you with knowledge, go forth and pay it forward. Huzzah!




 
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