…and the Geek Shall Inherit

With all the COVID-19 information flooding the internet many companies are rethinking the traditional employment arrangement and considering alternatives. Where working from home used to seem like an introverts’ dream, this is fast becoming a new reality.

Working remotely solves a few problems for both employer and employee. Paycheck dollars go further when travel and professional wardrobe expenses can be dropped. Employers can reduce office space, utilities, and furnishings. While the pandemic is the catalyst, many employers are expressing that this new arrangement may be permanent—even when the virus is gone.

Who knows how this may play out in the future? While COVID-19 is not a positive event, perhaps we can move to a less workcentric life where parents can stay at home with their children and still make a paycheck, traffic jams become memory and we can work in our bathrobes. Those that can navigate technology competently will be in demand.

The good news is that technology is cheap now, if not free. The Google Suite is free, available everywhere and offers a tool for almost every task… except having your Docs read out loud (C’mon, Google!). If you don’t know how to use the apps and tools available online ask your local librarian, take a community college class or grab a teen.

In my mind, there are no good excuses to remain a Luddite. Think of life where suits are optional, no more rushed commute and coffee break time is when you need it. In the midst of a nightmare, this is the dream. Until then, wash your hands.

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CDC Removes Data, WHO Continues to Report

Screenshot from CDC site today

I usually just post things about writing and creativity here, but in light of the CDC’s recent absence of information regarding coronavirus (and a lengthy conversation on Facebook) I feel compelled to share where you can find updated facts.

I was told today that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was ordered by our government to stop sharing statistics on the spread of the coronavirus.

Screenshot from BBC

I haven’t verified this myself yet, but when I went to the CDC site there is information missing on numbers of people tested, but more important to me is there numbers haven’t changed today. This isn’t because no one new has gotten sick—the CDC just isn’t updating their numbers despite the claim that the page was updated at 4 p.m. today.

You can still find information (not hyped up news, just facts) on the World Health Organization site. This is non partisan, unbiased factual information. Everyday they post a report on the new numbers. You can find the link to their daily reports here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/

As of this post, in the US there are:

  • 108 total confirmed cases,
  • 44 new confirmed cases,
  • 6 deaths and
  • 4 new deaths

We have local transmission, meaning it is spreading from person to person in our country. These statistics are from Situation report – 44 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)  04 March 2020.

At the moment, the CDC is reporting

  • Total cases: 80
  • Total deaths: 9
  • States reporting cases: 13

The coronavirus is something to be very aware of and prepared for, but it is just a virus. Wash hands, avoid touching your face and avoid people that are coughing/sneezing. Because so many countries are being quarantined, many find themselves unable to work. The bills don’t go away because there’s a quarantine, so now would be a good time to set aside a little extra for expenses in case the paychecks stop temporarily.

Here are some additional, relevant links:

Democratic lawmaker calls out CDC for removing data on number of Americans tested for coronavirus

CDC drops coronavirus testing numbers from their website

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Tropes, Genre and Remixing

I’ve recently had a few questions on genre and creativity and it reminded me of this video on YouTube. No matter how original we think we are, we are probably just rehashing a remix of something else… but that’s okay. That’s why we have genre. We must like tropes or they wouldn’t be tropes. It’s a bit long, but worth the time.

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Beware: Red Dennis by Eric Shapiro

Here’s my warning: be careful if you decide to read Red Dennis by Eric Shapiro when it comes out this month. This book is not for the timid reader just looking for some pretty words to while away a few hours.

This is powerful stuff designed to punch your perceptions in the gut and shake things up. I was assaulted by conflicted emotion from one page to the next with never a relaxing moment. I was either appalled by Dennis or appalled by how Dennis was treated—but I was never bored.

Dennis Fordham is a man in crisis, but it’s a crisis we all face. That’s what drives up the intensity factor. He’s a man at the high point of his game, at the pinnacle of achievement until it all begins to slip away.

The tides turn against him as the undercurrents of age and idealism try to pull him under. Instead of going with it and trying to age gracefully, Dennis fights back and brings the world back into his realm.

Male or female, I think we can all see a little of ourselves in Dennis. We’ve all been misunderstood, wronged and mocked. We’ve all seen our vision blur in a red haze of rage. We’ve all been the fool. We’ve all wanted to dish it back.

This is my favorite kind of book—the kind that leaves an imprint on the reader. I had the pleasure of copy editing Red Dennis by Eric Shapiro this past month and let me assure you, this guy can write. He balances reader sentiment on a blade and then slices it up with the dexterity of a surgeon to feed it back to us. The ending is a master stroke. No spoilers, but you will not see where this is going.

Pre-order Red Dennis now at Independent Legions.

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Finally, HWA Active Status!

I’m proud to announce that today I achieved Horror Writer Association’s Active status with my poem “Haiku for Horrible Women” on PoetryNook.com.

If you are a poet not entering PoetryNook’s weekly contest, you really should get in there. It’s free to enter, populated by excellent poets and you could win prize money.

And there’s a bonus! My HWA mentee Heinrich von Wolfcastle won an Honorable Mention in the same contest. That’s also a cash prize that will count toward his own Active status. The win that put me over the bar is shared with my mentee, something that means a lot to me. You can read both poems and the rest of the 275th Weekly PoetryContest entries here.

Last year I realized that only self publishing was creating a stagnant bubble for me so I started submitting stories and poetry elsewhere. I got serious about achieving Active status last year as well. That’s been a rewarding experience, not only financially, but socially. I’ve made some good friends last year from sharing a ToC with them.

Now that this goal is put to bed, what’s next? After wrapping up the next issue of Space and Time I’ll be taking some time for myself for my own writing, publishing a few books I’ve been hanging on to, continuing to submit work outside of my bubble and (provided we all aren’t under quarantine) attending NeCon in July. Anyone else going to NeCon in Salem? Let’s get together!

“Haiku for Horrible Women” was part of my daily horror haiku challenge to celebrate Women in Horror Month 11. Every day through February I’ve been sharing a new haiku with a dark feminine theme on my social media. It didn’t seem like a lot until I put it all into one graphic today. Here are all my #WiHM11 haiku together:

The entire graphic is too large to share here full size.


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#TBT: Vintage Space and Time!

I got a wonderful package in the mail from Our Revered Father of Space and Time Gordon Linzner… vintage magazines including the first issue of the magazine.

Published in 1966, Space and Time #1 will be scanned and available to all. The box is a cardboard treasure trove of memorabilia from S&T history, much of which will be joining the displays up at North Independence and Woodneath Mid-Continent Public Libraries.

We’ve been in the process of scanning the back issues we have to make a complete digital archive available, but issue #1 has become priority #1. Thanks to His Timeliness Gordon for preserving this important piece of speculative fiction history!

I like to think of that young Gordon Linzner as a high school student, running off this issue on a mimeograph machine.

Just goes to show, perseverance pays off.

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Fiction Predicts Future… Again?

Once again, fiction seems to predict the future… I’m especially interested to find out how this one ends. Wash your hands and don’t panic.

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Indie Alternative to Amazon

Andy Hunter, founder of Bookshop.org. Photo courtesy of Idris Solomon

There is a lot of talk right now about fighting Amazon, but setting aside the corporate hivemind, Amazon has been good to indie authors. Before Amazon came along with Createspace, there were few self publishing options… and the few options available were vanity press.

I’m not out to bite the hand that feeds me, but I will put my support behind the little guy over the big guy whenever I can. Amazon is the big guy. Indie bookstores are the little guy. Now there’s another way to toss some of your book budget their way—Bookshop.org.

Bookshop.org is an alternative to Amazon. They only carry books from independent bookstores, and they only sell books. Remember when Amazon only sold books? Profit from Bookshop sales are split three ways with 10% of the sale price divided among participating bookstores, 10% going to the site that initiated the sale, and 10% going to Bookshop.org. Bookshop’s commission for affiliates is is nearly double Amazon’s 4.5% affiliate commission.

Next time you decide to purchase a book, consider shopping independent and put some money back to actual bookstores. It’s like shopping locally, but someone else’s local. With all the stores co-oped together, the selection is very good. I even found four of my own books listed on their site.

I’ll be doing my own book purchases there from now on if I can’t borrow from my library. It adds up—so far Bookstore.org has raised $10,637.39 for indie booksellers. It means a lot to the recipients, and somehow I don’t think Amazon will miss it. 

Read more about Bookstore.org here:
Local Bookstores Have a New Weapon in the Fight With Amazon|Joan Verdon

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Horror Haiku for #WiHM11

Still maintaining a horror haiku a night for Women in Horror Month 11… but I’m getting tired. A lot of things piled up all at once this past week and I’m feeling the crunch. But… still standing.

My favorite this last week was Day #16 which features a romantic moment with Jason and it received the fewest likes and comments. My least favorite was Day 17 with the zombie girl which received the most likes and comments. It just goes to show we are usually the worst judges of what everyone else likes.

What was your favorite?

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2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is pleased to release the Final Ballot for the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards®. The HWA (see http://www.horror.org/) is the premier writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with over 1,600 members. We have presented the Bram Stoker Awards® in various categories since 1987 (see http://www.thebramstokerawards.com/).

The HWA Board of Trustees and the Bram Stoker Awards® Committee congratulate all those appearing on the Final Ballot. Notes about the voting process will appear after the ballot listing.

2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Goingback, Owl – Coyote Rage (Independent Legions Publishing)

Malerman, Josh – Inspection (Del Rey)

Miskowski, S.P. – The Worst is Yet to Come (Trepidatio Publishing)

Murray, Lee – Into the Ashes (Severed Press)

Wendig, Chuck – Wanderers (Del Rey)


Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Amor, Gemma – Dear Laura (Independently Published)

Guignard, Eric J. – Doorways to the Deadeye (JournalStone)

Lane, Michelle Renee – Invisible Chains (Haverhill House Publishing)

Read, Sarah – The Bone Weaver’s Orchard (Trepidatio Publishing)

Starling, Caitlin – The Luminous Dead (Harper Voyager)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Bérubé, Amelinda – Here There Are Monsters (Sourcebooks Fire)

Dávila Cardinal, Ann – Five Midnights (Tor Teen)

Gardner, Liana – Speak No Evil (Vesuvian Books)

Marshall, Kate Alice – Rules for Vanishing (Viking Books for Young Readers)

Nzondi – Oware Mosaic (Omnium Gatherum)

Salomon, Peter Adam – Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds (PseudoPsalms Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Bunn, Cullen – Bone Parish Vol. 2 (BOOM! Studios)

Gaiman, Neil – Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples (Dark Horse Books)

Liu, Marjorie – Monstress Volume 4: The Chosen (Image Comics)

Manzetti, Alessandro – Calcutta Horror (Independent Legions Publishing)

Tanabe, Gou – H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness Volume 1 (Dark Horse Manga)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

LaValle, Victor – Up from Slavery (Weird Tales Magazine #363) (Weird Tales Inc.)

Manzetti, Alessandro – The Keeper of Chernobyl (Omnium Gatherum)

Taborska, Anna – The Cat Sitter (Shadowcats) (Black Shuck Books)

Tantlinger, Sara – To Be Devoured (Unnerving)

Warren, Kaaron – Into Bones Like Oil (Meerkat Shorts)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Chapman, Greg – “The Book of Last Words” (This Sublime Darkness and Other Dark Stories) (Things in the Well Publishing)

Kiste, Gwendolyn – “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” (Nightmare Magazine Nov. 2019, Issue 86) 

Landry, Jess – “Bury Me in Tar and Twine” (Tales of the Lost Volume 1: We All Lose Something!) (Things in the Well Publishing)

O’Quinn, Cindy – “Lydia” (The Twisted Book of Shadows) (Twisted Publishing)

Waggoner, Tim – “A Touch of Madness” (The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias) (LVP Publications)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Chiang, Ted – Exhalation: Stories (Knopf)

Jonez, Kate – Lady Bits (Trepidatio Publishing)

Langan, John – Sefira and Other Betrayals (Hippocampus Press)

Read, Sarah – Out of Water (Trepidatio Publishing)

Tremblay, Paul – Growing Things and Other Stories (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Aster, Ari – Midsommar (B-Reel Films, Square Peg)

Duffer Brothers, The – Stranger Things (Season 3, Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt) (Netflix)

Eggers, Robert and Eggers, Max – The Lighthouse (A24, New Regency Pictures, RT Features)

Flanagan, Mike – Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros., Intrepid Pictures/Vertigo Entertainment)

Peele, Jordan – Us (Monkeypaw Productions, Perfect World Pictures, Dentsu, Fuji Television Network, Universal Pictures)  

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Brozek, Jennifer – A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods (Pulse Publishing)

Datlow, Ellen – Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories (Gallery/Saga Press)

Golden, Christopher and Moore, James A. – The Twisted Book of Shadows (Twisted Publishing)

Guignard, Eric J. – Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror (Dark Moon Books)

Wilson, Robert S. – Nox Pareidolia (Nightscape Press)


Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Beal, Eleanor and Greenaway, Jonathan – Horror and Religion: New Literary Approaches to Theology, Race, and Sexuality (University of Wales Press)

Earle, Harriet E.H. – Gender, Sexuality, and Queerness in American Horror Story: Critical Essays (McFarland)

Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra – Masks in Horror Cinema: Eyes Without Faces (University of Wales Press)

Kachuba, John B. – Shapeshifters: A History (Reaktion Books)

Kröger, Lisa and Anderson, Melanie R. – Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction (Quirk Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction

Kiste, Gwendolyn – “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” (Vastarien: A Literary Journal Vol. 2, Issue 1)

Liaguno, Vince A. – “Slasher Films Made Me Gay: The Queer Appeal and Subtext of the Genre” (LGBTQ+ Horror Month: 9/1/2019, Ginger Nuts of Horror)

Renner, Karen J. – “The Evil Aging Women of American Horror Story” (Elder Horror: Essays on Film’s Frightening Images of Aging) (McFarland) 

Robinson, Kelly – “Film’s First Lycanthrope: 1913’s The Werewolf” (Scary Monsters Magazine #114)

Weich, Valerie E. – “Lord Byron’s Whipping Boy: Dr. John William Polidori and the 200th Anniversary of The Vampyre” (Famous Monsters of Filmland, Issue #291)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Addison, Linda D. and Manzetti, Alessandro – The Place of Broken Things (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Cade, Octavia – Mary Shelley Makes a Monster (Aqueduct Press)

Lynch, Donna – Choking Back the Devil (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Scalise, Michelle – Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning (LVP Publications)

Simon, Marge and Dietrich, Bryan D. – The Demeter Diaries (Independent Legions Publishing)

Wytovich, Stephanie M. – The Apocalyptic Mannequin (Raw Dog Screaming Press) 

Works appearing on this Ballot are Bram Stoker Award® Nominees for Superior Achievement in their Category, e.g., Novel, and everyone may refer to them as such immediately after the announcement.

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