My Other Kindle Vella Story, and a Review

Digital book cover for “The Pussy Hat,” on Kindle Vella. Photo: Harrison Haines, Man with Rifle. 17 June 2016. Pexels. PD.

In my last post, I talked about publishing my fantasy story, The Pool of Good Purpose, on Kindle Vella. I also published the story above, The Pussy Hat, which is a feminist horror story. I wrote about this story here, when it was accepted by What the Writers Wrote podcast. Unfortunately, What the Writers Wrote stopped producing podcasts before they had my story up. This is the third time I have had something accepted and the publisher went defunct before they were able to publish my work. It is annoying. I know life happens, etc., but when I am left hanging, I can’t help but feel these people are akin to those who adopt animals only to return them when they turn out to require attention and money.

Anyway, this is why the story is now available on Kindle Vella. As I said in the previous post, it is about a young man whose girlfriend leaves him and her pussy hat behind. He develops an obsession with the hat, and later with anti-feminism of the type that throws around terms like “alpha” and “cuck” a lot. Soon, these pursuits generate a monstrous comeuppance.

I invite you to read and enjoy. As I mentioned in my last post, the first three episodes are free, so you have nothing to lose. Cheers.

And here’s A Review:

Fantasy Story Up on Kindle Vella, and a Review

Image credit: OpenClipartVectors. Dragon styled in homage to the Chinese tradition. 9 Oct. 2013. Wikimedia Commons. CC0 1.0.

Amazon’s Kindle Vella is available to readers, and I have two stories on it. The first is The Pool of Good Purpose. It is a fantasy story about two lovers separated by war who are reunited, in a way, by the magic of the pool. It is experimental, because I imagine multiple courses the man might pursue to solve his problem, but in the end all of them come together.

The first three episodes of all stories are free, and after that you can decide whether or not you want to pay for tokens to read the rest, so you have nothing to lose. Just click on the name of the story, above, and the link will magically convey you to a world of dragons and enchantment.

But first, A Review:

Nice Twitter Mention, a Brief Rant, and a Review

I was happy to see this tweet from Coffin Bell Journal yesterday. Both the tweet itself and the characterization of my story as “terribly beautiful” were very gratifying. Thanks, editors! I also really like the cover artwork for the issue, which is the picture here (has nothing to do with my story). It is Luis Ricardo Falero, Witches Going to their Sabbath, (1878).

The story is free to read, so if you’re in the mood for something “terribly beautiful,” head on over. As always, let me know what you think.

And now, a review. But first, WHY IS THERE ALWAYS THIS DARK BLOCK HERE WHEN I’M DRAFTING A POST? IS WORDPRESS TRYING TO MAKE ME GO BLIND?

Anyway, here’s our review of the third episode of For All Mankind. We decided not to post our review of Episode 2 outside of YouTube because Episode 3 was very strong and addressed many of the concerns we had expressed after Episode 2. But if you want to see the review of Episode 2, it is on the same YouTube channel as this one.

Enjoy 🙂

Pussy Hat Story Accepted by Podcast–and a Review

Lorie Shaull, Enough Pink Pussy hat, March For Our Lives, Washington DC. 25 March 2018. Flickr Commons. CC BY-SA 2.0

I am excited that Jasmine DJ, at What the Writers Wrote Podcast, has accepted my horror story, “The Pussy Hat,” and will be reading it on May 31st. I really like this story, but it has been hard to place, and I’m not sure why, though politics and feminism are not exactly staples of horror.

I did get some unsolicited feedback from a place that gives that with its rejections, and I found it somewhat flummoxing. The editor alluded to the protagonist as “an ordinary guy,” when I was under the impression that he was quite horrible–that is, if he was “ordinary,” our “ordinary” has gone horribly wrong. Anyway, the editor thought the basis for the monster was flawed. I can understand that because the basis for the monster is its manifestation of the protagonist’s horrific flaws. Obviously, if you see the protagonist as “an ordinary guy,” you will not perceive any basis for the monster and will flail around guessing and blame the story.

Suffice to say, I don’t think it’s any accident that a male editor rejected the piece, and then a female DJ/curator accepted it. But I would be interested to hear what any listeners to the May 31st podcast think about this or other issues connected with the story.

In the meantime, here is the first of our reviews of Lupin, which we liked a lot.

Schlocky Piece Accepted

I am not too proud to acknowledge that I have written what I consider to be a fine piece of schlock, called “Eye of the Beholder,” and therefore I am honored that it has just been accepted by Schlock!, a horror webzine out of the UK, where it will appear in May.

Trigger Warning: The following contains references to eating disorders, dieting, exercise, obsession with one’s looks, and incest. No details, and certainly no promotion of any of the above. But if these are topics you’d prefer to steer clear of, look away now.

The story is about a young woman who embarks on a quest for beauty with the help of her sister. Suffice to say, it does not end well.

I had trouble placing the story, mainly, I think, because it has a surreal, hallucinatory section that was overly fantastic. But I have adjusted it to ground it better in reality over the course of my submissions to various places, and I think it is now improved to the point where I will be proud to see it in public. I also think the story is a good example of why it is important for women to write horror, because anxiety over weight, dieting, exercise, and obsession with physical beauty generally affects women more than men.

Before submitting to Schlock!, I took a look at its publications. Not only do I want to get a notion of whether my piece is the kind of thing the editors are looking for; I also might come upon something I don’t want to be associated with. I have had several bad experiences in this regard, unfortunately all after acceptance, when it was really too late to do anything about it, other than removing the journal from my bios. In the worst case, I encountered a terrible story that basically promoted incest. Luckily, while I did not do a thorough job of researching Schlock!‘s content, what I did see seemed fun and unobjectionable, though not for the squeamish. I look forward to reading more.

Photo credit: History of Horror, Veintitres. 19 July, 2014. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

“Elf Houses” Nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

Unattended pushcart advertising “frankfurts” with sauerkraut or onions, ice-cold soft drinks, and pies for 5 cents on a rain-soaked wharf.

Faithful readers will recall that not long ago I was disappointed when Doubleback Review was unable to nominate my story, Elf Houses, for Best of the Net. I was therefore all the more delighted when Krista Cox, Managing Editor of Doubleback, informed me that the editors have nominated “Elf Houses” for a Pushcart Prize! My thanks to the editors.

Now go read the story already!

Photo credit: Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch. New York Office. News and Features Bureau. Picture Division. Exhibit Section. (1942 – 1945). Unattended pushcart advertising “frankfurts” with sauerkraut or onions, ice-cold soft drinks, and pies for 5 cents on a rain-soaked wharf. Ca. 1939. P. D. Wikimedia Commons.

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Hat Trick Post

Three good things happened in my creative letters department today, and here they are.

FALLUJAH, Iraq – An assault team from B Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, conducts a raid on a possible suicide vehicle bomb workshop in Fallujah.

First, my story, “The Jet Black Knight,” is out in 34 Orchard. Issues are free to download (though a $1.99 donation is requested), so please check it out and support the arts as you are able. The editor, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, in addition to being gracious and kind enough to publish my story and send a thank-you pamphlet of her own work to contributors (we were also paid!), significantly improved the story through her suggestions for revision, for which I am grateful.

I wrote about the story here and here. It’s satisfying to have it out there in such good company.

Photo credit: United States Marine Corp, Marines raid Fallujah garage.jpg. 28 May 2006. Wikimedia Commons. PD.

Government buildings along the Spree. Taken by me, summer, 2018.

Second, my poem, “Government Buildings in Berlin, 2018,” has been accepted again, this time by Editor Jordan Blum at The Bookends Review. Editor Blum was kind enough to accept the piece as a reprint, since it will be up at After the Pause first, in December. The poem brings back good memories and reminds people of the importance of beauty and imagination in everything we build as a free society working to be more free, so I am happy it will be doing that work in two different places.

Finally, I am glad to report that my son and I have launched a new series of reviews, this time on the 2005 and following years of Doctor Who and in video. You can find our review of the first 2005 episode, “Rose,” here. We liked it.

Photo credit: Andrew Wong, A picture of the TARDIS as taken at BBC Wales reception. 2005. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 2.5.

Glass Half Empty Update

On top of a spate of rejections, daily toil on my interminable sci-fi novel draft, near insanity from the upcoming election, and general ennui from lockdown and musical performance limbo, today I was informed that my story, Elf Houses, which the editors of the Doubleback Review wanted to nominate for the Best of the Net anthology, is not eligible for nomination because pieces for the anthology must have first appeared during the calendar year in which they are nominated.

Phooey.

I remain grateful to the editors for their appreciation of the story, but in my current context, this definitely feels like a glass-half-empty moment.

Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: Sealle, Glass half full or half empty. 3 Aug. 2017. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

A Monster . . . Arrives

Photo credit: A Monster Told Me Bedtime Stories. Taken by me.

I’m excited to receive my copies of A Monster Told Me Bedtime Stories! I wrote about “The Perfect Doll,” my story in this collection, here. I reread it today, and I really like the way it combines humor, horror, and my sense of the magic of ancient Northern European paganism. I look forward to discovering the monsters in the other stories editors Gabriel Grobler and R. C. Bowman have selected, and I encourage you to pick up a copy.

Unfortunately, the monsters of the volume are not the only monsters I am dealing with. I am not a fan of Gutenberg. What this new WordPress editor thinks of as “clutter” and eliminates is what I think of as useful information. It’s like having someone clean up your house, and afterwards you can’t find anything. Or that’s how I imagine it, anyway. I never let anyone clean up my house.

An additional annoyance, though a less monstrous one, emerged from my bootless attempt to purge the Gutenberg. If you have commented and I didn’t get back to you, I am sorry. I only discovered today that I had all kinds of comments awaiting approval about which I had never been informed. I will be checking there more often and also responding to the comments belatedly.

This post has already cost me much more time than it should have, thanks to the uninvited Gutenberg, so I will take my leave because I have a lot of reading to catch up on in the various publications that have been kind enough to accept my writing. As we continue our lab experiment of sending children to school here in the USA, I hope all of you are healthy, careful, and busy reading. If you read my story, please leave a comment and tell me how you liked it. I promise to look for it, no matter what obstacles WordPress and Gutenberg put in my way.

“Elf Houses” Nominated for Best of the Net by Doubleback Review! (Updated)

But see update post, here.

Net

Photo credit: Construction netting and shadow.  Taken by me.

Samantha Edmonds, Fiction Editor of  the Doubleback Review, has just emailed me the welcome news that the review has nominated my story, “Elf Houses,” for Best of the Net 2020. Because both Doubleback and the Best of the Net anthologies are affiliated with Sundress Publications, my story cannot win (to prevent perceived conflict of interest), but it could be a finalist. 

I wrote about “Elf Houses” here and here. Because my mother died Sunday, I want to say that although the story is based on the darker side of my childhood, my mother was a kindhearted person and a survivor of child abuse who battled PTSD and other mental health issues and tried to be a loving wife and mother, though she did not always succeed. No one was ever prouder than she of any success I might have, and I miss not sharing this one with her.