Forced Reset.

Well, today is a very interesting Monday indeed. I usually really look forward to Mondays, because it’s the start of a new week, the start of a new book, and a bunch of other things for me to focus on for the week ahead. This Monday, though, I woke up feeling like utter crap. I really hope I’m not getting sick again, though I really hope it’s just a perfect storm of a stressful weekend at work and staying up too late watching the Oscars. But I couldn’t help myself. They’re so shiny! It also didn’t help that the boyfriend has a random morning shift today, which throws our routine and cuts into my writing time, but I still managed to squeeze in some work before he left, and now I’ve got a few hours to squeeze in a little bit more.

Here’s what I had going on and what I hope to get done for this week.

Reading: I finally finished the first official 2017 book for the year; as I suspected, the honor went to Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, a really great book about vegetarianism. The idea of eating meat again really squicks me out, so I don’t think I’d ever feel the urge to go back to it again, but, even if it weren’t for that, this book offered a lot of fuel for the fire in its exploration of just how gross the food industry is. Even if you remove the cruelty aspects of factory farming, the stuff meat goes though before it hits the shelves is extremely alarming. But that’s a topic for a different post.

The new book for the week is The Pointe Book by Janice Barringer and Sarah Schlesinger, a book given to me way back when, when I was a ballerina and starting to teach pointe, a book I was supposed to read but never got around to it. So it’s been in the pile for a while, and it was on the top, so I thought, why not? Besides, I’d had a conversation with a coworker last night about my dancer past, so perhaps it was a sign of things to come. I’m really looking forward to reading about the history of pointe ballet and feeling those nostalgic longing for dancing again.

Writing: Ask and ye shall receive. I remember last week complaining about the radio silence on the other end of all my submissions, and so, naturally, I get a flood of six rejections from last Monday. That’s almost one a day! And I have to admit, they hit a little harder than usual, perhaps because I have been so down and depressed lately. But I’m trying to turn that focus around to submitting stories, and while I haven’t managed to really get something out every day, I’ve been doing okay with it, meeting a few deadlines as they approached and things like that. And I know I’ve been saying this every week, but I really feel I’ve finally gotten over the roadblock in Fearless and things are starting to build to that final conflict. No new acceptances, though I know a lot of decisions are planned for March, so I’m going to be anxiously awaiting word on a few anthologies that I’m really eager to potentially be a part of.

‘Rithmatic: Weight has been pretty consistent, but I think all the sit-ups have been making an improvement. I feel much better; I feel stronger, which I think is the most exciting part, like I can carry myself better and my back hasn’t even hurt as much. And I had one regular customer tell me it looks like I’ve been losing weight, so maybe it’s been a nice fat-to-muscle conversion going on.

I’ve blown through a few more recipes in my Thug Kitchen cookbook, which included some tasty ass tofu tacos and some lackluster banana pancakes, but now I’m reading an interesting place, because my intention was to go through everything all orderly, but, through unfortunate circumstances, we currently don’t have a working oven. So anything requiring an oven is right out. That does not bode well for my sense of orderliness, but I shall try to overcome. So the goal is to find some good vegan biscuits to buy somewhere because thee’s no way I’m skipping the biscuits and gravy recipe.

Still haven’t bought that couch. I’m being obnoxiously frugal. I am, by all margins, pretty poor, so when I actually do have money, I cling to it pretty hard, having gone through some really tight times before. I don’t ever want to be in those places again. So dropping some cash on something we technically don’t even need right now is a little tough. I’m even thinking that, since we don’t need it, since we don’t plan on even being in this apartment for long, it’s just one less thing to have to move later. I don’t know. It would be nice, though.

I did get one of my five student loads completely paid off, though, so there’s always that. It was the little one, but now that that’s dead, it’s time to take on the next!

I think that’s mostly it for now. I’m off to shoot off a story to Strange Constellations before they close up subs for a period. Then hopefully a shower and some aspirin will help my head feel better, while the fact that it’s Monday might (please, please, please!) mean a slow day at work.

Wish me luck! And happy reading!

Potters Field 6: Tales from Unmarked Graves.

After trying to get to it for several months, I was finally able to read through my copy of Potters Field Six: Tales from Unmarked Graves, a collection from Alban Lake Publishing, that I was proud to be a part of. When I came across the submission call, I was definitely intrigued. They were looking to put together a bunch of stories based around the idea of an unmarked grave: who was buried there? Why? How? Did it make any difference? I quickly took my pen to an idea and came up with “Sleepwalker,” which I still feel is some of my best work. Editor Robert J. Krog must have agreed, because the story made it in, and, if I may toot my own horn a bit, I think it’s one of the stronger stories in the lot, too.

I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed by how few of the stories grabbed me in the collection, though there were definitely some that have really resonated with me. “The Grave Game” by Lyndsay E. Gilbert set up such intriguing characters in a very strange situation that I couldn’t wait to unravel, while C.W. Blackwell‘s “Potter’s Field Blues” has that rich Southern Gothic twang that always gets me going. My favorite, though, came from World Unknown Review III contributor Robert Allen Lupton. Perhaps it’s just my WUR family bias showing, but his story “Bell on the Water” was too unique and fascinating not to love. And it easily has one of the most unconventional antagonists I’ve ever read!

There were many others that I really liked conceptually, that has some really strong points of writing, but my dumb editor brain had a few hang-ups here and there that spoiled some of the experience for me. They’re all solid tales, though the ones mentioned were the ones I easily found to be the highlights (in addition to my own, ha! Seriously, though, I don’t usually like to brag, but “Sleepwalker” is easily one of my best stories, I’m 100% convinced of that). If you get the chance, check it out, enjoy some nice little spooks and creepiness, and maybe think twice about wandering down any darkened streets or trails.

“The Old Barn Door.”

I am very pleased to announce that the special Women in Horror Month edition of The Siren’s Call eZine is currently ready and available for free download. Of course, my excitement stems mostly from the inclusion of my flash fiction, “The Old Barn Door,” but it’s also just a really great publication worth your time if you’re into horror. Most of the stories are short and swift, and there are a ton of them in there, including one from Helen Mihajlovic, a familiar face from World Unknown Review Volume II!

“The Old Barn Door” is a quick little blurb, much like my recent venture with Dark Fuse Magazine, one I’ll admit I wasn’t too confident about. It’s more atmospheric creepy than anything else, about a troublesome barn door that just won’t stay closed, but it definitely might give me pause before walking into any of the barns back home again! Good for when you’d like a nice little chill chased up your spine.

Again, there are so, so many stories in this issue, and it’s a free download, so do yourself a favor and grab a copy and have all these tasty little tidbits to nibble on. I haven’t gotten around to reading through any of them yet, I’ll admit, but I’m really looking forward to exploring what this issue has to offer and discovering some new scary ladies to look into!

Happy reading!

An Interview with Adam L. Bealby [WUR 2016].

February is much, much too short. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost done and over with, which means there’s only about a week left to enjoy the first featured story from 2016’s World Unknown Review, “A Comedy of Edwards.” Then it’s onto the next great story, but, until then, I’d love to present this interview I had with the author, Adam L. Bealby, who also had a story in World Unknown Review Volume II and was interviewed last year, as well. So settle in, probably with some tea if you want to be proper about it, and come get to know Adam L. Bealby a little bit better.

L: Well, I have to start out by asking a very, very important question: Who’s on first??

A: Whoever has the lip-wig.

Good answer. How have you been since our last interview, Adam? Care to tell us a little about yourself for the newer readers?

Since we last spoke, I’ve been not writing enough, eating too much chocolate, drinking too much coffee, trying to keep work contained in its own sphere of existence outside self-imposed creative writing commitments – and not writing enough. My wife would say I’ve been eating too much chocolate and writing too much.

And for any new readers who are interested in the man behind the work and don’t take a Roland Barthes approach to their method of reading, I’m a curmudgeonly Brit who lives with his wonderful wife and children in the county of Worcestershire, which is famous for Worcester Sauce, perennial roadworks, and being the birthplace of the composer Edward Elgar.

I like comics (the four-colour kind), gory horror films, and anything irreverent. I hate following instructions and taking advice, which is why I ended up making sugar-less custard the other day. Yummy wallpaper paste!

Now about ” A Comedy of Edwards.” It clearly focuses a lot on an older style of comedy in the veins of Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Laurel and Hardy, quite a bit vaudevillian…Are you a fan? Did you do a lot of research into the history of this type of performance?

A little, though I’d already written a surreal story about different types of clowns, so I had a good grounding in the history of comedy. And I’m certainly a fan of the edgier side of slapstick and vaudeville. One of my favourite modern comedies is the darkly humorous “The League of Gentlemen,” a British TV show which was originally a stage show.

I loved “The League of Gentlemen.” We were all obsessed with in college. Where else did the inspiration for such a unique situation for these fascinating characters come from?

The spark was the idea of a down-on-his luck jobbing comedian pretending to be a widower’s famous TV star comedian husband, ostensibly to steal her fortune. The story morphed a little in the writing. Having a captive and very much adoring audience became Edward’s key motivation.

Comedic writing, to me, is particularly impressive because there’s such a wide range of things that people find funny. Did you find it difficult to come up with things to bring the humor into your story, or would you say it came pretty naturally?

Naturally I hope! A few of the comedic set-pieces needed finessing on the second edit, mind. My favourite bit is the musical mash-ups. Especially my attempt at dah-lah-lah-ing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor!

How has comedy shaped your own life?

I laugh in the face of danger. Combined with my not-following-instructions/directions hang-up and my care-free wandering (see below) it makes for an interesting life, especially around electric fences, guard dogs, and sheer drops.

What’s one of your favorite jokes?

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow wh—
MOOOOOO!!!

Classic. If you were in charge of film version of your story, who would you cast in the main roles?

Maggie Smith as Penelope. Edward and Ed would be unknown actors, as befitting their station.

Maggie Smith is always a good choice. Read any good books lately?

I’ve just read Don DeLillo’s Underworld. It’s a weighty tome with a non-linear narrative spanning 50 years, a huge cast, and a multitude of intertwining themes. I’d been putting off reading it, to be honest. Sometimes it seems to me that the mainstream literati, for all their skill at characterisation and thematic structure, can’t actually write a good story.

I stand corrected on this one though. Underworld is a brilliant, multi-faceted novel, and I’ll be hunting down more of DeLillo’s work.

Do you have a method for your writing? If so, what’s it like?

A spark of an idea, which could come at any time. I then ponder it a bit and walk it over. By which I mean I walk and think. I spend many a lunch break nurturing that little flame or working out what happens in the next chapter as I wander around the forestry or housing estates near where I work. I can zone out so completely I’ve been known to get lost because I have no recollection of the route I’ve just taken!

Then I start writing it out, either in the evening after work or mornings at the weekend. I won’t have all the plot details worked out, I do that as I go along, sometimes having to backtrack and re-write to match my new revised world view.

What’s next for Adam L. Bealby?

Trying to peddle my YA urban fantasy novel. Also starting to write a new horror novel about people who encourage others to take their own lives. There are little stand-alone stories interspersed throughout the novel which link into the main narrative either directly or abstrusely as the plot thickens, so I’ve been having fun writing those and piecing them together. I’ve killed five people so far! Or they’ve killed themselves. Cheery stuff!

Where can we find more of your work?

Numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon A Scream (HorrorAddicts.net), Sirens (World Weaver Press), rEvolution (MiFiWriters), and Murky Depths magazine.

Many of them are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Adam-L. -Bealby/e/B01EE49YWW.

You can also catch up with my sporadic ravings at @adamskilad.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Nope, passing the lip-wig back to you now. You have the stage.

____________________________________________________

And I will gladly take that lip-wig and take a bow, though I’m almost certain Adam would wear it better than I could. I’d like to thank him for his time in sharing his thoughts on his story, his writing, and a few others things. Please check out his work when you get the chance, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more from Adam in the future.

Happy reading!

Back on the Reset Track.

This last week has been a rough one, but I’m determined to fudge my way back into some semblance of consistency and routine again, even if the going has been a little rough. My work situation is definitely cutting into my writing time, which is really problematic, because, as much as I like this job, I told myself that anything that compromises my writing has Got To Go. It’s supposed to be temporary, which is why I don’t mind riding it out, but it’s been well over a month, and now we might lose out supervisor soon, too, which will only serve to make this even more chaotic than they already are. Fifteen hours more than I want to be working each week might not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference, and I miss writing as much as I used to. I haven’t been able to send stuff out as much, either. And it’s driving me crazy.

I think I can still manage to ride out February. When March gets here, then we’ll have to start really looking at whether it’s worth it, whether or not things can go back to the way I need them to be, or if it’s time to look for a new job that will be as accommodating as this one used to be.

Ugh. It really didn’t help that I was sick last week, too, probably due to all the stress at work, because when it rains, it pours, and one of my precious days off that I was hoping to use for writing was instead used to rest and recover. And I’ve been sleeping in a lot, too, to help with the recovery, which is fine for my health, but that eats into a lot of writing time.

But, anyway, it’s Monday, so let’s look back on the week, light as it was, and into the week ahead, too.

Reading: I finally got through Potters Field Six, an anthology about unmarked graves in which my story “Sleepwalker” appears, and I plan to do a break-down of the different stories later this week. And it fits nicely that I started reading Phantaxis Issue 2 today, since that’s another publication that printed one of my stories (this one “Damsel in Distress”). And I’m 95% sure I’ll be able to finish Eating Animals very, very soon, which will be the first book completely started and finished in 2017. Finally. I need more time to read!!

Writing: I got a few stories out, and even submitted a novel idea to a competition this week, but it’s been a rough one. Even the boards have been pretty quiet, with only one rejection coming in all week. Honestly, I think the silence is so much harder to bear at this point than the rejections themselves. I have just over forty stories out there in the ether right now, waiting on responses. Over forty. So when you go so long without hearing anything about any of them, it’s likely to drive you crazy. It’s easy to lose perspective. Forty stories is a lot of stories, but when you don’t hear anything, it still feels like you’re not doing anything, or that you’re failing to produce. But this business requires a hell of a lot of patience and faith, and, knowing the way of the world, I’ll probably have another week of radio silence and then just a big old deluge of rejections…which can also be a little hard on the ego, but I’d rather have that than nothing at all.

This week, I’m hoping to finish up a cute story I started about a young elephant who escapes from a warlord’s menagerie and makes fiends with a young woman who has no intention of giving him back once the warlord comes looking. I’m also steadily beating out Fearless, though I’m in a really annoying part that’s being difficult before we get into the final climax of the series.

‘Rithmatic: I almost has a straight week of the same weight, at least, which is really bizarre because I was sick. I would have expected it to go up and down a lot, but, nope, pretty solid. I hope that’s a good sign that the exercise is going well. I’m still hemming and hawing about possibly getting a new couch for the apartment, and I’ve got some supplies hanging around where I’m going to try to make an Adventurer’s Cap for our C2E2 cosplay, if I only had the time, ugh! But we’ll hopefully get there soon. April is, unfortunately, going to be here before we know it.

Honestly, the fact that I sat down and made time for this post is a big win for me, I think. And that’s what I need to be better at: making the time for the things I want to do, making the best out of a crappy situation. I need to remember that I’ll be grateful for the extra money I’m earning, that if I just stick my nose to the grindstone a little bit longer, it will all pass eventually, and this ship can right itself again. Until then, time to just weather the storm and do my best.

Not Quite a Romantic Reset.

Here everyone’s probably going to talk about Valentine’s Day today, and I’m just doing a day-late, dollar-short Monday Morning Reset Post. It’s been a while since I’ve done one. Because the Crazy Work Schedule was messing me up big time, I thought, “Maybe they’re unnecessary, maybe I don’t need to do them.” And, in a way, that’s probably true. I can’t imagine they’re the most interesting posts, but after a few weeks without them, I’m realizing that they really do ground me and help me to maintain my focus. I’ve been feeling really untethered lately, so hopefully this gets me back on track.

But, since it’s Valentine’s Day, I will mention that both me and my valentine are working tonight, so we haven’t got anything planned for today other than making some sweet, sweet money. But he has tomorrow off, so the plan is that he’ll pick up some Chinese take-out to have waiting for me when I get home that night. This time last year, we’d just moved into a new apartment that drained our resources, and we didn’t even have a working fridge, so we just got Chinese and pigged out, and I would be 100% okay with this becoming our tradition. In a few weeks is our anniversary, and a few weeks after that is my birthday, so we’ve got oodles of stuff going on, and I’d rather just do dorky little things rather than big blow-out things anyway.

Enough of that schmoopiness. I’ve got a lot of reset to mention.

Reading: I still haven’t finished any new books for 2017, and this is a big problem that I’m hoping to fix soon. Eating Animals is almost there. Something Wicked This Way Comes is not too far behind. In the meantime, I’ve started up four other books. Three of them, Dune, Carpe Jugulum, and Catopolis I’ve read before, while the third book, Missing People, is a new one and kind of special. Brandon Graham is actually a customer at my coffee shop! He’s usually a morning customer, so I don’t personally see him often, but my supervisor was chatting him up and it came up that he was an author, and she was all, “No way, so is one of my baristas!” And so he came in one night to introduce himself, and now we’re signing each other’s books, and it’s just really neat. Meeting other writers in the wild is just bizarre and beautiful.

(His book is super nice and professional, and his small publishing house just got bought out by Simon & Schuster, so I’m trying not to flail at how amateur all my stuff looks compared to his, holy crap, existential crisis alert!)

Writing: I’m still plugging away at Fearless which keeps meandering horribly, so I’m in for quite a momentous editing phase, I feel. My story, “Late Night Snack,” was released by Dark Fuse Magazine last week, but, unfortunately, you need to be a subscriber to enjoy it. But they produce a fantastic amount of horror fiction, making a subscription really worth it if you dig that kind of thing. Since I’m a contributor, I got hooked up with a free account, so that’s pretty sweet.

I haven’t had any new acceptances for a while, so that’s been a little rough on the ego, but, hey, at least I’ve reached the quarter-mark point on my goal to 100 rejections, so that’s encouraging in a way. I’ve got a lot of things that should be decided on in March, so it’s just more of the good old waiting game.

‘Rithmatic: I’ve started working out a little bit more here and there to hopefully help with my weight loss. No weight dropped, but I definitely feel better. What’s driving me nuts, though, is that I have to change up my routine, because I guess I was doing too many sit-ups and not giving my muscles enough time to recover. I like order; I like repetition. I’m worried that if I do give a day or two off to let the muscles heal, then I’ll get lazy and not get back into it. So I’m doing push-ups on those days. I have not done push-ups in a long time. I never realized how much I’m lifting things at work until I started doing push-ups. OHGOD. It hurts so good.

Not a whole lot more exciting thing have been happening. I’m going to start really focusing on getting cosplay stuff ready for this year’s C2E2 soon, as well as planning a trip back home to Michigan in the summer. I’m getting a couch soon for the apartment, too, which is a big deal, believe me, and we still have our Christmas tree up, ha! So, yeah, that’s about it.

Happy writing, everyone!

Thug Kitchen 002: Salsa Verde.

It feels like I made this recipe ages ago. It feels like months, years, decades have passed since I’ve last been able to sit down and make a blog post. This, of course, is a gross exaggeration, since it’s been all of maybe a week, but what a doozy this week has been. Today is my first day off after seven days in a row of 8 hours closing shift hell which included Super Bowl weekend, an unofficial holiday in the grocery supermarket world. I feel that last week dragged me out into an alley behind a seedy bar, beat the living tar out of me, and then took all my spare change and one of my shoes. Just one. Because that means it didn’t actually need my shoe, it just wanted to be a jerk.

But things are looking up. I not only have one, but two day off to recover, and when I get back to the grind, it’s for a nice manageable five days in a row. But I do wish our missing coworker would hurry up and heal her fucked up shoulder faster because I don’t know if I can take much more. It is far, far too long between paychecks.

Another bright side is that I’ve got a few experiences with my Thug Kitchen cookbook lined up to share with you. My intention is to make every recipe in the book, including the ones with gross eggplant, even though my boyfriend things I’m being weird about making every. single. one. We’ve been together almost four years now, he should understand by now that I’m weird about stuff like that. And my intention was to do them in order of appearance, but Thug Kitchen itself threw me through a loop with that plan, because the second recipe in the book has an ingredient for which they have a recipe for later in the book. My orderly tendencies started to twitch, and, as much as I wanted to go in order, I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase that which I would eventually be making anyway.

Look at me, getting fancy as hell with my presentation.

So I went ahead and made their salsa verde. Another interesting thing about me making salsa is that it’s super superfluous. My boyfriend is a first generation Mexican-American, which means his parents are super Mexican. There is never, ever, ever a lack of really amazing, super spicy, absolutely delicious homemade salsa in our apartment, provided lovingly by this mother who I’m pretty sure just makes salsa all day. It may sound like a stereotype, but I swear to God, it’s true. So me making salsa felt a little weird, but I felt bolstered by the fact that this could totally be White Girl Salsa, in that I can eat more than half a teaspoon without setting my mouth on fire. Besides, she usually makes red salsa, and I am very obsessed with green salsa. So bring it on.

Due to my white girl tendencies, when the recipe mentioned including the seeds for spicier salsa, I got nervous and tried to pick most of them out. I wish I had taken into consideration the conditioning that I’ve been going through, though, because what I ended up with tasted really, really fucking good, but it needed to be much spicier. There wasn’t anything really surprising about this recipe, pretty basic salsa stuff, but I really, really enjoyed it, and I might have to keep my own supply of the green stuff on hand when I get the chance to tear up the kitchen. It was tempting to eat most of it when I made it, but I had to control myself so there’s be some left for the next recipe. Which you’re going to hear about soon.

Top notch salsa. Will make again, despite the fact that our salsa cup always runneth over.