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.
Electric Spec asked me to write a paragraph about the writing process. I picked the topic of focus and diversion and the need for both.
Here is the piece:
Seeing as only contributors received print editions of Writ in Water Issue 4, I’ve posted my story, “Blue Winter High,” in its entirety here.
Ms. Fountain parked her Camry before a cavalcade of snow, the glaze pushed by plows into mounds around faculty parking. She pulled her purse string over her shoulder, picked up her lunch bag, and nearly slipped on ice. The air was cold, the bone shiver kind. She strolled quickly over the pavement, only giving the mountains—purple beneath the sunrise—a glimpse in her periphery. She would appreciate their beauty on a warmer day.
Those early hours before school were devoted to Zero Hour, a psychological trick to add a class period. No one wanted periods one through nine. Zero through eight, however, was poetry. Fountain had to sneak soundlessly because classroom doors were open. Students reclined, their heads pointed at the ceiling, fingers playing invisible instruments. Each was engaged in a lesson, their eyes coated in degial plastic. The only movement was their hands. This was the latest trend in differentiated instruction. With pre-recorded lessons, students could pause or rewind with the twitch of a thumb. The teacher walked along the aisles, catching students when they leaned too far.
Ms. Fountain sped up in the English Hall, but it was no use. There was Mr. Tseng, standing by his door, greeting students as they sauntered by.
“Good morning,” Fountain said.
“I am fine. How are you?” Mr. Tseng replied so quickly it could have all been one word.
“Good,” Fountain said. She reached her door, opened it.
“Good, good,” Mr. Tseng repeated. His head was already scanning four boys down the hall. Possibly he was using facial recognition software to confirm their enrollment. Fountain eyed his hands anxiously. She knew he possessed the strength to rip her spine from her back.
65% of the teachers at Blue Winter High were automated. As machines emerged for nearly every task, teachers had hoped their profession was a bastion of human ingenuity. That human mentorship was necessary. Then Nagata Incorporated created an android that could teach more efficiently, if their research was to be trusted, than any person.
My contributor copies for “Blue Winter High” showed up! The stack was tied together with string and flowers made from wood shavings. Honestly, beautiful work.
Electric Spec picked up my short story, “Rona of the Els,” about a peasant witch who takes a noble girl on a tramp through the marsh.
There’s an LGBT undercurrent here, as well as what I hoped was an interesting application of old fantasy tropes. This is meant to be a fun read, but maybe someone who’s looking at their future with a little less-than-hope might read “Rona” and feel inspired.
Electric Spec is a not-for-profit speculative magazine that publishes four times per year. “Rona of the Els” is featured in Volume 15, Issue 2, May 31, 2020, which also features a wonderful interview by Blogcritics Magazine editor Barbara Barnett.
Today in The Denver Post
Here’s a link to its digital counterpart.
The Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre is a comprehensive resource on writing horror. Interviews and essays cover a range of topics from inspiration to productivity, literary elements to marketing, exacerbating your reader’s sense of existential dread to publicizing your book in an oversaturated industry. I especially liked Chat Lutzke’s instructions on hooking the reader through empathetic, universal fears, Kenneth W. Cain’s near-prose essay on maintaining tension, and Kevin J. Kennedy’s frank, personable, and immensely useful observations about the writing profession. I could go on, but then I’d be spoiling this anthology’s secrets. Overall, a treasure trove of good information for the emergent and established alike (including those uninterested in writing specifically for the horror genre).
The book is available for purchase here.