I am crawling out of my hermit crab-shell this weekend, and will be rolling into Hawtlanta to tangentially participate in the World Horror Convention. And by tangentially I mean via pool and/or bar-conning as well as a special group reading with friends: Jesse Bullington, J. T. Glover, Orrin Grey, and Molly Tanzer. While I haven’t quite pinned down what I am reading, I am leaning towards “Descartar,” which is part of Jason V. Brock’s THE DARKE PHANTASTIQUE anthology, nominated for Stoker Superior Achievement in an Anthology, so that seems pretty approps. The location is TBA, at the moment, so if you are at #WHC, or just in the Atlanta area, and want to check us out, follow the Facebook event here.
When I sat down to write this, I had the impression I hadn’t done a whole lot this year. But once I started putting things in bullets, I realized how jam packed and awesome it was.
Things I Did:
–Faced my fears and cut all my hair off.
When I was a child, my father kept my hair short. He was a barber and so only knew how to cut dude hair, and so guess what kind of cut I had? I hated it. People would mistake me for a little boy. One time I was denied access to the little girls room at a school function. Now that is just kind of funny, but at the time it was the beginning of a whole bunch of weird beauty/image issues I’d deal with as a teenager and in college. So, as sort of a fuck you to all that, I got a Pixie and really had fun with it.
–Stayed at the McFarlin House Bed and Breakfast in Quincy, FL
My husband and I wanted to get away for the weekend for our anniversary, and did so at the McFarlin. It’s a gorgeous Victorian mansion with porch swings and a deck side hot tub. Quincy is a weird place, full of old ass southern money, so apparently the B&B is hub to a lot of historians and reporters. While we were there, a reporter from Buzzfeed, Amy Saunders, was working on a story about Jerrie Mock, who was the first woman to fly around the globe, who lived right next door, it seems. It was a really neat breakfast getting to hear about Mrs. Mock, who sadly just passed away in October.
–Drank Bordeaux and learned about the Teen Mom show in a trailer park/camp ground in Lake City, FL.
Clarendalle 2006. Really delicious. But it was the company that was truly the best.
–Saw my first real Burlesque show in Ft. Lauderdale with my great friend Peter.
It was Dita von Teese’s Strip, Strip Hooray! It was absolutely transcendent and I am in love with Burlesque now. While in Miami, I had my first Caipirinha and my first authentic café con leche. Also saw Versace’s mansion with the beautiful gold Medusa head gates, and snuck into the Ritz’s pool. Everyone talks shit about Miami, but I really liked it.
–I liked Ft. Lauderdale so much I went back for the Hukilau to help ATLRetro editor and friend Anya Martin cover the tiki event for her online magazine. Met a lot of cool people and felt right at home.
–Tried to change my diet.
Ha, ha, ha. Yes, I did. I am trying to consume less animal for health and ethical reasons. Some weeks I am better at this than others. More often than not, cheese is the deal breaker.
–Reunited with old childhood friends at one of my favorite bars ever, Alchemy, and shut it down forever–may it rest in peace.
–Hung out with a baby armadillo and skate kids.
My dad had a brood of baby armadillos that were hanging out in his garden during the spring. I followed one around one day just because he seemed so alien but approachable. Did you know they snort like pigs? Cute little sniffy snort. I think they all had a sad end though: hawks.
My husband is a skater, and there were a few awesome tournaments in Tally that I went too. I hate sports, especially spectator sports (except the world cup), but I can get down with sitting on the street and watching board races and making Archer jokes that are appreciated, like “you just skated into the Danger Zone.”
–Almost died of dehydration in New Orleans.
That’s pretty self-explanatory, I think. The revolving bar at the Hotel Monteleone didn’t help, but we survived thanks to the power of falafel, room service, and the World Cup. Apparently, NOLA’s idea of a vegetable is crab. Seriously, the vegetable of the day at a particular old school restaurant we went too was crab.
–Was blissfully unemployed during the World Cup.
Caught almost every game at the pub. It ruled.
–Celebrated my birthday in the Gulf with some of the best girls in the world, and had one of the best bottles of champagne in my life.
–Then I got a job. Wonk, wonk.
–Went to NYC and did a lot of shit, as previously posted.
–Went to…[counts on fingers]…5 weddings.
All beautiful, unique, and full of friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Everyone is growing into such cool adults. Best of luck to them all!
–Found like the one thing in Florida that feels like Brooklyn or Paris, the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL.
Had a great breakfast with my Lucie and met her awesome beau.
Publications and other things I wrote
So this year has seen the most fiction from me yet. Some of these stories were written years ago and are just now appearing for various reasons; others I wrote this year. This is a direction I am very proud of and hope to continue in.
“Of Parallel and Parcel.” A Dunsham Manor Press limited edition micro-chapbook. Copies still available here.
“Dive In Me” with Jesse Bullington in The New Gothic, edited by Beth Lewis, Stone Skin Press.
“The Şehrazatın Diyoraması Tour” in Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans, Alliteration Ink
“Descartar” in Darke Phantastique, edited by Jason V. Brock, Cycatrix Press
“Remnants of Lost Empire,” Starry Wisdom Library, edited by Nate Pedersen, PS Publishing. Now available for Pre-order!
Vintage Scenes for Mungbeing magazine.:
“The Venus of Great Neck,” exclusively and only available in Spanish translation in Acronos II, edited by Josué Ramos, Tyrannosaurus Books.
“Wandering Spirits: Traveling Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” in Non-Binary Review #2: Frankenstein. Available for free download with free app here.
Capsule Review for Alan M. Clark’s The Door That Faced West, The Big Click.
“The Revolution Will Be Served: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry Mixes at the Hukilau and Takes Us Through the Past, Present, and Future of Tiki,” for ATLRetro and in honor of the 13th annual Hukilau in Ft. Lauderdale.
Introduction to Vapourpunk II, the Portuguese Steampunk anthology series edited by Fábio Fernandes and Romeu Martins, Editora Draco.
“On the Writing Impulse,” a guest post for Sarah Hans’ great blog. Perhaps the most personal thing I’ve written, and the only thing about writing advice, I think.
“Stone Skin on the Rocks 7: Down and Dirty in the Deep South,” my guest blog post about Malt Liquor for Stone Skin Press.
Things I Read
I did not reach my goal of 50 books this year, and I also failed at upping my lady writers quota. However, I read some really great stuff, and my top 5 favorites were:
Whitman Illuminated by Allen Crawford
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers
Careless People by Sarah Churchwell
Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
Well, now that I look at it, it’s been a pretty ok year. Next year is proving to be as equally jam-packed with more words, friends, and adventures that I can’t quite discuss yet. But until then, I wish you all a great holiday and Happy New Year. Thanks for hanging out with me here and on the other social media places, and for your support and friendship. It really means a lot.
October flew by faster than a mini-pumpkin in a cannon. My husband and I visited New York City to be with dear friends Nicole Caputo and Jonathan Campo, and we had a blast. Trying to account for all the places we dined and drank and reveled in is folly, but folly has never stopped me before. My friends live in Park Slope, and we are all die hard Jonathan Ames fans. So, natch, our sauntering would turn into inadvertent Bored to Death tours. We crossed the Gowanus river and took in a show at the Slipper Room, which we realized later was the scene where Jonathan is dumped by his hippie girlfriend. There was always the possibility of running into the man himself at one of the beer gardens, but alas our paths did not cross. Which is good, because I tend to melt in front of these gents.
The Slipper Room may have been my favorite happening of this trip because the performances were beyond any Burlesque stuff I’ve seen (not that I have seen much). Thursday nights are Glitter Gutter, and every act was really whimsical, funny, and kind of geeky. The M.C. was Walt Whitman (James Habacker) in a hobo-version of Oscar Wlide’s sunflower suit, and pretty much had me in stitches the whole time. The performers were great and added a lot of humor to their acts. One performer, Tiger Bay, did a Mallory Archer performance set to Danzig’s “Mother,” and it was….just…only the words “danger zone” come to me right now. EDIT: I just found out this is a phenomenon going on for a long while, under the hashtag “nerdlesque.”
I also had a really lovely cocktail called London After Dark at Analogue, while trying to get out of the rain on the west side.
There were also the quiet times that were the best. Like going on cheese runs at Fleisher’s, dining on Nicole’s heavenly meals, and having coffee with her in the morning–a tradition that spanned the four years of our college lives together–visiting Green-Wood cemetery, where apparently I missed visiting Rufus Griswold, and catching up with Diana over dosas, and talking about James Tiptree over burgers with Aleks and Pete. One major quiet highlight was getting to sit in on a recording for Jonathan’s sketch animations with Gravy Boat Regatta. I’ve always been fascinated by voice acting, so getting to see how weird it looks in person vs. what the final outcome of it becomes was really cool.
Oh, crap, right–and we saw J. Mascis at The Bowery!
After NYC, we drove to Concord, where we spent the next morning wandering Walden, then the afternoon and evening stomping around Salem. Salem ended up being a little bit of a professional excursion, as I am working on my She Walks In Shadows submission [which, hey, will be open to general submission Nov. 15th!], which deals with Eunice Babson from “The Thing On The Doorstep.” Arkham is based on Salem, and the Crowinsheild house is supposedly modeled on the same mansion found on Essex Street. Supposedly, Asanath and Derby did their expiraments on the third floor, but that floor does not look very conducive to alchemy….
The only way I’ve been able to describe Salem, during Halloween at least, is like New Orleans and St. Augustine had a baby that looked like Elizabeth Montgomery. It was beautiful and corny and borderline “in approps.” The weirdest thing was hearing a group of high school girls hunt down specific victims of the witch trials in the graveyard and get really giddy when they found them. Martha Corey fan clubs abound, evidently.
The night, and the whole trip, was topped off by burgers in the old Salem jail with friend and Poe scholar extraordinare, Rob Vellela, who told us all about the recent unveiling of the new Poe memorial in Boston. Alas, I did not get to see it. We were too citied out by the time we arrived in Massachusetts. Next time.
When we came back home, it was non-stop Halloween times. I attended a neat Fright Film Fest in Railroad Square, but on by the Cultural Alliance at Railroad Square, a new non-profit gallery and organization that has been putting on killer, free festivals and activities for the community. And because it was Halloween, some spooky love was given to “Dive In Me,” Jesse Bullington and my haunting story in The New Gothic. It was included in this awesome, best haunted houses list that ran over at Quirk Books. Many thanks to Carrie Jo Tucker for finding Suicide Sinks so creepy. I know I wouldn’t want to be caught diving around there.
So, it is summer again and I’ve let the heat, humidity, and well…frankly, Hannibal keep me from blogging. And, I was doing so well, too!So here, in list form, is what’s been up on the writer side of things. Travel side of things will come later. Eventually. After I consume Season Two, more likely:
Online you will find a few things:
“Vintage Scenes #3: Morellino di Scansano, 2011 Vendemmia” is now available in the latest issue of Mungbeing magazine. This round’s theme is reflections, and although the wine is Tuscan, I couldn’t help but play in Frida Kahlo’s world of scryes a bit. And there’s some local flair in there too, for those who are around.
“The Revolution Will Be Served: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry Mixes at the Hukilau and Takes us Through the Past, Present, and Future of Tiki” ran a few weeks ago on ATLRetro.com. I interviewed the Beachbum and talked about the rise and fall and rise again of Tiki, as well as his awesome new book POTIONS OF THE CARIBBEAN, which I highly recommend, even if you aren’t a cocktailian.
This interview is in conjunction of Hukilau coverage I did for ATLRetro, where I joined editor Anya Martin to check out the vibe. It was a great vibe. Hadn’t had fun like that in a while, if even ever…. Definitely something to put on repeat.
“The Venus of Great Neck,” is my Jazz-baby Steampunk story written exclusively for ACRONOS II edited by Josué Ramos (Tyrannosauras Books), and is currently only available in Spanish. Although, an English edition is being discussed, and I’ll be sure to throw deets down when they are available.
My series “Wandering Spirits: Traveling Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN” will be published as a whole in the second issue of NonBinary Review, where Mary Shelley’s seminal novel is the theme. If you haven’t heard of NonBinary Review yet, definitely put this on the radar because…well, their website says it best, so I’m just going to quote from them:
“NonBinary Review uses Lithomobilus, a new type of e-reader that allows for multi-threaded, interactive literature. It allows novelists to tell a story from every point of view. Essayists can comment on other works. Short story writers can add alternate points of view to an existing narrative. Any author can add notes, photos, or other artifacts of the creative process.”
Thanks to editors Allie Marini Batts and Lise Quintana for having me aboard! I am very excited to be a part of this, and to have my letters aside one of my favorite novels of all time. And, if that wasn’t enough, the cover is going to be done by the awesomeness that is Mandem!
You can download the reader here, and check out the first issue–all for free.
Updates on Forthcoming Publications
STEAMPUNK WORLD, edited by Sarah Hans for Alliteration Ink is still steaming along. I am unsure of the final release date, but I do know that James Ng has finished his interior sketches, and I am allowed to share my story “The Şehrazatın Diyoraması Tour.” Also, Alliteration Ink has partnered with BitLit to bundle digital copies with all hardcopy sales, so those who will be receiving print copies as part of their Kickstarter pledge will get a digital copy also, I believe.
A DARKE PHANTASTIQUE edited by Jason V. Brock for Cycatrix Press, containing my short story “Descartar,” should be out by the end of the summer, and is available for pre-order here.
STARRY WISDOM LIBRARY, edited by Nate Pedersen for PS Publishing, containing my short story “Remnants of Lost Empires,” is slated for September 2014. According to Nate’s website, PS Publishing will be launching the tome at FantasyCon. Update can be found at the above link.
After ten years of keeping the fringe and avant-garde alive and well, Mungbeing magazine has launched its final year with Issue 54: New Directions. Editor Mark Givens has launched Pelekinesis, a small press that is specializing on promoting independent artists and writers across the myriad publishing platforms, and will be hanging the Mungbeing hat up to focus more on that. But, Mungebeing has had an incredible history tackling many topical themes, and helping to bring to light underground and unclassifiable work under one roof.
I actually discovered Mungbeing through Stuckism, when the magazine ran a Stuckist and Outsider Art Issue. Throughout college, I was obsessed with movements like Stuckism and Kitsch, and even tried to start a Florida Stuckist group with a one-time issue online zine. Alas, it didn’t stick. However, I believe my interest in Stuckism and Remodernism shaped much of my sensibilities that have allowed me to appreciate, enjoy, and participate in retro movements like Steampunk.
Stuckism is now 15 years old, and this issue has an impressive amount of material covering the movement including exclusive art, interviews, and footage from people who have championed and observed the movement.
This issue also happens to have the first of my new series Vintage Scenes that involve pairings of a specific bottle of wine with a happening. Some of the stories are fictional memoir, others not so much, but one thing you can count on, the centerpiece of these stories have been or will be enjoyed by yours truly. This story focuses on the changing wine industry, and the best damn wine I’ve ever had, a 2002 Bandol which I actually drunk with my husband in a Genevan hotel after visiting Mont Blanc. God, memories in a bottle! You can read them here.
Last fall, my husband and I went to the Northwest for a month. That sounds like a long time, but when you spontaneously decide to turn it into a road trip, it is, in fact, a short trip of awesome.
We started in Vancouver, and stayed with our good friends Lesli and Bill, who took a week out of their busy school and work schedules to show us the sights–and I mean THE SIGHTS. They moved to BC from Florida about three or four years ago, and have done an inspiring job of exploring everything Vancouver has to offer–best restaurants, best bookstores, and most importantly, the best nature. They really have become experts of their locale, and Lesli has a beautiful blog called New North Country Girl that explores the environmental differences and similarities experienced as a tropical-born expatriate.
The way I describe Vancouver to people is that it is maybe one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been too. I don’t know whether it is just feats of urban designing, Asian and First Nation influence, or a fluke of geography, but Vancouver’s beauty seems to directly respond to its terrible weather. The darker, colder, and more wet the city grew, the more intense the color in the trees became, and their contrast to the neutral, light-colored architecture punctuated by random views of the surrounding mountains and blue sky glimpses made the city a delightful distraction to damp chills and overcast skies. It was a metropolis integrated and surrounded by nature, rather than trying to ignore it or designate it for certain spaces like say New York City.
They had beautiful beers, too, which may be a fact related or unrelated to weather coping mechanisms. Parallel 49 seems to make nothing but home-run brews, their Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter and Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest were especially memorable. All the beers in the Vancouver Island Brewery’s Pod Pack, especially the Storm Watcher, were all lip-smackers.
The Storm Watcher is the most delicious beer I’ve ever tasted. It tastes like someone put freshly pulled Carmel in your mouth and somehow flambéed it on your tongue. However, it wasn’t too sweet. It just implied sweet. Also, when a 12-pack has a pod of frolicking orcas on it, you know you are buying the right thing.
Speaking of frolicking orcas, thar be whales! Bill and Lesli took us out to Victoria Island for the weekend, and we went on a whale tour where we saw a shy humpback, harbour porpoises, and a pod of Orcas including a baby. I’ve only seen whales either post-mortem at natural museums or as faded monsters in antiquated lithographs, so finally getting up close to them was just—.
There needs to be a word that specifically describes the unique form of sublimity you experience when whales rush up too close to your boat and suddenly there they are, and there you are, and the fragile space in-between and all the emotions and thoughts that flash towards your cortex would be the word.
Yeah, that word.
I consulted Dan Beachy-Quick’s The Whaler’s Dictionary to see if he had a word for the experience, and the closest I can find is “Aelph.”
“Aleph carries breath, inspires–a livingness that comes to life without the consonant obstructing breath’s freedom. Aleph’s power can come to no use in the world, for it remains too close to the infinity that inspires it.” (Pg.11)
He expands upon the definition later on in his “Reading (Water)” entry:
“Whalers who sight a whale lower boats and row after it. The whale sounds down when it senses their approach. A whale breathes as men breathe–with lungs. A whale rises to the surface to gather breath. The whaler’s look over the boat’s edge for a sign. The ocean does not bear words as text open upon it; water dissolves ink; water mocks legibility. The whalers do not look for a word, but for breath rising faster than the whale who exhaled it. Breath bears vowels. The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet–aleph–is silent; it takes the sound of whatever letter it is next to. A breath is silent but all words are borne on breath. A whaler watches for the breath that pronounces the whale. It appears as a bubble that bursts as it meets its own element. On the page it would appear as lightning–not a word but the light by which a word is seen.” (Pg. 232).
His focus on breath is very interesting, as I distinctly remember when the whales were spotted how suddenly they disappeared. Our guide cut the engine, because by law we are supposed to keep something like 100 yards away from the whales, and everyone held their breath while looking over the distance to catch a glimpse of them again. For some reason, I decided to look over the left side, where I was sitting, and suddenly the entire pod breached right by us. “Thar she blows” came out more as “Holy shit!” and everyone erupted into exhales and gasps and murmurs.
Seeing the Aleph. It was like seeing the Aleph writ in water.
Thanks to Bill and Lesli for helping us read the water.