In my pandemic distraction, I completely neglected to mention that InkQuills printed one of my flashes, “The Devil’s Ivy,” in an anthology of horror entitled Cryptid Encounters. The anthology was compiled by the wonderful Enakshi J., a poet, author, and blogger in India. Here’s her blog.
Cryptid Encounters is a collection of 13 speculative short stories “intended to scare, surprise, disgust, and startle.” Each piece has a similar conceit: a bizarre encounter and its aftermath. My included work, “The Devil’s Ivy,” draws inspiration from The Twilight Zone; the conceptual parallel of people encountering extraordinary beings with unkind motives will be obvious to fans of episodes like “To Serve Man” or “It’s a Good Life.”
Dynamic Synapse Protocol is on Amazon.
That’s how long it took to write my first novel.
And as they say, the first novel is the worst. (They should add so is the latest.) In three years, my manuscript went through multiple rewrites, a few cycles of beta readers, and now slinks in my hard drive, waiting to be deleted on accident. Or on purpose. Probably purpose.
In case you’re curious, Roco is a contemporary forest fantasy about a squirrel who goes on an adventure with a teenaged rune mage. The villains are a backwoods clan of snakes in the guise of people; their leader, called Mother, wants to slither inside the mage to take over her body and command her powers. Think Yeerks meet ancient serpent gods.
Most of the story centers on the rune mage’s escape through a swathe of forest and her burgeoning friendship with a helpful Western Gray (a relationship initiated by magic). The book culminates in a final showdown between the deuteragonists and the snakefolk, with the denouement setting up a sequel.
Mari and Roco by Mowkiii
What I earned after an endless three years was first-hand knowledge of how demoralizing writing a book can be.
Stuart J. Warren, of his-own-blog fame, wrote a book about a robot who activates in the wilderness and stumbles on an automated society. Humanity, apparently, has been wiped out completely, and this robot tries to adjust to a brave, new world of logic, code, ailing technology, and fervent racism against long-gone Creators.
My small contribution was as one of Stuart’s beta readers. Here’s the cover:
Dynamic Synapse Protocol is on Amazon.
2020 was a tough year in terms of self-motivation and sitting down to actually write (or read, or do anything beyond doomscrolling and video games). The Coronaverse was overwhelming—the unknowns, the paranoia, the deaths, the blur of weeks spent indoors.
Only now, in January 2021, am I actively seeking restoration (even though the pandemic continues to rage).
Blue sky from corporate to the car. Texting his wife, Mr. Kedder didn’t notice the mosfugito alight on his back — purple, corpulent, cellophane wings, with a proboscis that pushed discretely into Kedder’s time. Then the world heaved. Kedder spun ahead to his house, to bed, to morning with its toothpaste and groans. Years, suckled in seconds, flung children into college, into careers. Wrinkles wriggled across Kedder’s face. “Please…” A gray hair, a wife’s funeral, pills in a white cup. “Please… stop…” And as if in answer, the mosfugito tore from Kedder’s back, engorged on a gray husk bound to wheelchair.
Excited to join the ranks of brilliant mentors and leaders who’ve received their first Diamond. It’s a milestone as a Speech & Debate Coach but no resting place.
My friend Sebastian Rusic created new mascot art for Rune Bear. The original design by Phil Kiner was fantastic, but we’ve been searching for a new look, something with a crisp elegance and just a tad more magic.
The Confederate flag is a symbol of racist traitor losers who killed U.S. citizens to preserve the institution of slavery and the hierarchy of the white race over the black race.
Unfortunately, many people still attempt to preserve the cultural memory of the Confederacy— its secession, racism, and slavery—under the guise of heritage and regional pride.
This pride persists in a state flag.
Mississippi’s red, white, and blue:
On June 10th, 2020, NASCAR finally banned the Confederate flag from its events. But this led to an interesting question.
What will NASCAR do when races are held in Mississippi?
I thought it only appropriate to not put the onus on NASCAR, but the state of Mississippi, to cut ties with the Confederacy altogether.
After a quick google search, I found many, many redesigns:
I also found this not-so-great replacement:
I decided to take the problem on myself. For all my politically conscious years, I have sought to eradicate eulogies to evil. I also care about our nation’s cultural health.
While brainstorming a new flag, I realized I needed to find something else for southerners, in this case Mississippi, to be proud about. A substitution. Pride for pride.
I found an article on Mississippi’s many contributions, including Pine Sol, soft toilet seats, and Stetson cowboy hats.
(Also, Barq’s Root Beer, the world’s largest shrimp, and selling shoes in a box by pair.)
Satisfied these were contributions to be proud of, I sketched something and commissioned an artist friend to realize the concept.
My artist asked to remain anonymous. I don’t see why. This was the result:
You’re welcome, Mississippi. I hope to see this on belt buckles, tee shirts, and race cars soon.