Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Update: Hodgkin's, Publication, Etc.

I managed surgery quite well.  I only spent two days in the hospital and didn't need rehab at all.  There is a four-inch incision the left side of my chest.  I'm missing part of a rib.

Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with classic Hodgkin lymphoma.  I had two primary cancers at the same time (the chest mass showed up on the same scan my uterine cancer did).  The next step is a tremendous amount of testing, but Hodgkin's is quite treatable.
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Earlier this month, my holiday horror flash fiction piece, "Remote Control" was published.  Just to warn you, it's kind of disturbing.  This was the story I received a horrible rejection over.
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I'm staring down 65 rejections for 2018 as of today.

I've received six acceptances.  My most recent one came on December 7th from Brine Literary.  No matter how many submissions I send in a year, I seem to receive six acceptances... rarely more.
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I hope all of you are thriving, dear readers.

Monday, November 5, 2018

When Writing Isn't a Priority (Surgery)

Nothing resembling a poem has come to me since mid-October.  The stilted lines that did appear were melancholy, perhaps a bit maudlin. When I see dead friends tagged on Facebook, it starts, the echo of their deaths reverberate enough/energy to tickle dust from the empty places/they left in me.

Mortality is becoming my obsession, one I feel I'm too young for.

In a couple weeks, I'll be undergoing a thoracoscopy at the same hospital where I had my internal radiation.  They are going to remove a mass I hope isn't cancer.  I'll have to go to rehab after I'm discharged because I won't be able to lift myself for a while.  Soon, this blog will be tucked in a protective layer of mothballs and slid in a drawer.

My writing is important to me, but it's one of the first things I leave behind during a crisis.  Some people would say I'm not meant to be a writer because my pen probably won't be warming a page if the apocalypse comes.  But, I think it makes me human... and logical.  My brain divides my world into what needs doing.  And writing can wait— blogging can wait.

My recovery will run into December and, therefore, my holiday activities.  So, not only do I have to consider all the pre-op stuff (packing, research, notifying people, appointments, tracking medicines) but the holiday stuff as well.  My husband and I either need to complete shopping entirely before I go, or work out a strict list he can follow in my stead.  I narrowed down my list of card recipients and will sign my name without writing individualized letters.  I'll have to let the speed of my recovery dictate if candy gets made this year and how long Brandon and I will visit my family for Christmas.

When my mind isn't spinning with to-do lists (or freaking out about death), it shies away from reality.  I'm reading books, watching television, listening to music, and playing video games.  Writing isn't there—I can't see even a spark of the fire or feel its heat—it just takes too much of my brain.  It will come back after the chaos, and I'll be ready.

When was the last time life forced you to take a leave of absence from your writing?
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More thoughts on my cancer blog.
My mom was in the hospital last week... again.  She's too young to have all her troubles.  She's okay for now.



Monday, October 29, 2018

Snapshot Stages of Death (A Poem)

Breath is tainted, spilled
sideways, angled from those
who speak from a mouth's corner.
Kaleidoscope eyes roll
out to whites, underdone eggs.
Darkness in a corner craves
her body's heat more than he does.
But its absence tucks beneath her
as purplish lividity.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Halloween Specials (Some Links, Zero Horror)

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I'm watching a tremendous amount of content this month.  Maybe you'd like to watch some, too!

Some might not be the best quality.  Some I don't like... but you might.  The list might cover things I haven't seen yet this year and is far from exhaustive.
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DTV Monster Hits - 80s Halloween Special - Music videos with Disney animation

The Berenstain Bears and the Spookiest Pumpkin

Winnie the Pooh:  Boo to You, too!

Scared Shrekless

Life with Louie - Louie's Harrowing Halloween

The Great Bear Scare

Lumpkin the Pumpkin

Garfield Halloween Adventure

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Buttons and Rusty Halloween Special

Disney's Halloween Treat My favorite as a kid!

The Halloween that Almost Wasn't

Halloween is Grinch Night

The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile (Raggedy Ann and Andy)
Want to add that the "real" doll that inspired the Annabelle horror movies is actually a Raggedy Ann doll. (If you don't like horror, skip the article.)

When Good Ghouls Go Bad (Haven't watched this particular upload yet.)

The Busy World of Richard Scarry - The First Halloween Ever

The Busy World of Richard Scarry - Who's too Scared to Masquerade?
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Stuff I can't find links to, but still want added:

Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost
Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King
Daffy Duck's Quackbusters
Halloweentown (1 and 2 only)
Tiny Toons' Night Ghoulery
Hocus Pocus
Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror (various)
Ernest Scared Stupid
Mickey's House of Villains
Tom and Jerry:  Tricks & Treats  (DVD of various cartoons)
Nicktoons:  Halloween Tales of Fright  (DVD of various cartoons)
Monsters Vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space





























Monday, October 15, 2018

Abolish Columbus Day Because We Hate America?

Last week, I came across this video talking about Columbus.  I shouted at the television through the entire thing.  Though I'm far from a historian, the blatant misinformation and conclusions bother me to no end.

So, let's dive in:

"Columbus Day.  The day where progressives indoctrinate your children into believing Columbus to be Satan incarnate, the USA to be his evil spawn, and the Native Americans to be pacifists."

Documents detail that Columbus was not an excellent person.  This great country has done plenty of bad things, and few people say every Native American was angelic.  But, let's keep going with the false absolutes.

Goes through the different possible or past names for Indigenous Peoples Day. He will do this multiple times in five minutes.

Yes, he's acting aggrieved because language and terminology changes.  Think of how childish this is.  He even uses two-spirited, which doesn't mean what he thinks.  But, why research anything?

"This whole charade has become an exercise in hating Western civilization."

Not all of it.  Maybe just the negative parts.  You know, slavery and genocide.  They aren't confined to the West, but we shouldn't celebrate our atrocities.

"...he was the greatest navigator of his age."

Hmmm... are you sure about that?  Because he thought he was finding a shortcut to India (which is why Native Americans were called "Indians").  Sounds like a boo-boo, not a stroke of stellar genius.

"...the first person [Columbus] to cross the Atlantic from the continent of Europe."  

Leif Erikson sends his love.

Asks people to comment below if you know Columbus' ships.  Says professors can't.

He's a sarcastic little beezum.  I'd wager professors are no different in that particular fact than most other people but... ignorant liberals, amirite?

"There was never a government policy for Indian extermination [genocide]."

I can't say for certain if he's wrong.  But, there were plenty of other acts:  Forced removal, forced integration, etc.  These would ultimately get rid of them in one form or another.  So, while there might have been no document somewhere with "KILL THEM ALL" stamped on the cover, the end result would be similar.  Again though, I'm not a historian.

"The Native Americans were mostly wiped out through infectious diseases that the settlers had inadvertently brought with them." 

Some of it was inadvertent, some was intentional.  And, even though there is dispute over whether smallpox blankets were given, there is still enough evidence to suggest certain instances of disease were intentionally spread.  Government-sanctioned illness.

Brings up the death toll at Wounded Knee for Natives and settlers.  Says it's not genocide.

It wasn't a battle.  It was a massacre.  Mass graves.  Full stop.
Funnily enough, the US military was trying to disarm them and the Native Americans didn't want to be disarmed!  You'd think our gun-loving host would have agreed with them.  But, nope.  He now reframes it as a battle.

Says the Natives often gave as good as they got.  When saying this, he then uses the word "massacre".  Says it's not the way genocide is supposed to work.

Native Americans fought because they saw what was happening.  Just because there were battles, doesn't mean the end goal wasn't annihilation. War is often part of extermination.  So, if you fight for your land and your people and actually kill some of the interlopers, it's impossible for said interlopers to plan genocide?  What?

Says Native Americans killed each other.

And?  People do crappy things.  No one has cornered the market on evil.

Native Americans burned down forests.

Sure!  To clear land for building, to promote new growth, etc.  Many of those were controlled burns.  Shame on them!  They definitely hated their environment.

"...and hunted species to extinction."  Shows cartoon of a buffalo hunt.

When I was young, I remember seeing piles of dead buffalo in grainy, black and white photographs along railroad tracks.  Because of commercial hunting.  Because the military was trying to starve out the Plains Tribes.  I thought it was a disgusting waste.  But, since I'm not a historian, perhaps this Smithsonian article will give better insight.  Indigenous people were careful not to deplete their resources.

Mentions a tribe killing seals.

No one is saying Native Americans were vegans.  No one says they didn't kill animals.  Quite disingenuous to add this to "animals Natives almost killed to extinction".  Certain species of seal are extinct because of humans.  True.  The killing of hundreds of seals at a crack came from people like plantation owners in the Caribbean (who weren't Indigenous). Is there a biologist in the house?

Says there were two tribes on the islands where Columbus first stopped.  One was peaceful and lived in fear of the other.  The other tribe practiced cannibalism.

It's almost as if there are/were good and bad Native Americans!  This... blew... my... mind.  I didn't know that a specific race can be good and bad!

Some tribes sided with settlers to rid themselves of threats.  Mentions Cortez.

First, didn't some of the Natives think Cortez was an actual, living God?  If someone came up to you and presented like Jesus or Mohammed or your God/prophet of choice wouldn't you follow?  I mean, if everything about them was spot-on and life hadn't jaded you, the strong possibility is there.

As far as certain tribes banding together with settlers to defeat an opposing tribe, it happened.  Because you believe yourself to be an ally with the winning team, you also think being treated as an equal and sharing in the spoils is part of that.  After WWII, we didn't shove people from England onto Wales and build our cabins in London.

"This whole Indigenous Peoples Day charade is about teaching your children to despise Western civilization."

Or to, you know, grant people an opportunity to shed some light on dark things.  To honor people nearly wiped out by war and not-inadvertent genocide.  To tell our kids:  We're a great nation built on some very shitty decisions.  To show our kids what greed does, what not seeing other people as human because of our differences can do.

Saying negative things about America doesn't mean you don't love it.  Pointing out its flaws doesn't mean you don't think its great.  But, we must always strive to be better.  Part of that is remembering what we once were.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Horror Story (Fiction or...)

In the early 80s, a young family who'd fallen on hard times took temporary refuge on a relative's farm in a trailer across from the "big house".  The mother, father, and two little girls were grateful for the shelter at first.  It was cramped, but it wasn't the tight fit that jangled nerves.

Knocking, coming from inside the walls, kept them awake at night.  It was often freezing inside the trailer, though the furnace was inspected and found to be in perfect shape.  Shadows flitted in their peripheral vision.  The parents became so frightened, they decided something needed to be done.

The father's mother came in one sunny afternoon and blessed the place with holy water.  She went through each room, water and crucifix in hand, casting out negative influences.  After she finished, the furnace kicked on and the trailer finally became warm.

While ghosts/strange happenings weren't uncommon on the farm and its buildings, nothing sinister or scary occurred for years onwards.  Then, around the turn of the millennium, knocking again started in the walls.
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By 2001, the father's sister and her three children had lived in the trailer for about a decade.  They all heard the knocks, but they attempted to ignore them.  

"Just tell them to go away.  Don't invite them in," the mother said.  And the children (who were two young adults and a teen) agreed.

One night, the mother's six-year-old nephew was there when the knocks came.  One... two... three.  A pause.  And again, one... two... three.  A slow repeat.  The mother and her children told the nephew at various points to ignore the knocking.  He looked at his teenage cousin (a girl) with glee and shouted, "Come in! Come in!"

The knocking stopped abruptly.

If you want, I'll continue the story next week.  I don't want to keep going if no one finds this interesting.  I know it's written as a regular post and not a short story.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Winning Contests Based on the Popularity Vote

In the age of the Internet, a new type of writing contest emerged:  The contest of popularity. Besides the traditional contests with a final judge or panel, contests based on popularity become a free-for-all voting system where the public rules.  It sounds almost democratic... everyone gets a say.  But, is it fair?

Contests where the public votes for their favorite poem or story post every entry they receive for viewing.  So, if two hundred people enter and only three win, the remaining writers have lost "first rights" to their pieces just to be considered.  Most literary magazines and contests require submissions be previously unpublished, and the saleability decreases merely because a writer wanted a shot.
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The biggest problem though, is what part of the greater public actually votes.  Sure, some voters will be patrons of whatever website hosts the contest, but most of the people voting will be brought in from the networks of the writers themselves.  It goes from the "best" piece winning to whoever can convince the largest number of people to get involved.  For fledgling writers who don't have a strong platform, it nearly guarantees defeat.

Some people will argue that not everyone who is told about the contest by one writer will definitely choose that writer's work.  Maybe not.  But, how likely is it a fan, friend, or family member will make a decision based soley on which pieces they believe the best?  Anonymity won't solve the issue because a writer can still inform others which poem or story is theirs.

If a contest insists on using the public vote, it should be a separate category or only count as a percentage of a larger whole.  Let writers create their masterpieces instead of campaign for them.