Let's hear it for podcasts!

See what I did there?  See?  See?. . .suit yourself.

THE DRABBLECAST may well be my favorite fiction pocast.  It certainly is the one I've listened to longest, introduced by a friend who thought I would appreciate the show's mission to bring "strange stories, by strange authors, to strange listeners such as yourself", and I am happy to say I've been a fan ever since.  THE DRABBLEAST looks at weird fiction not only as ann expression of other genres, but as a genre of its own.  From ...continue reading HEAR THAT? The Drabblecast

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I'm not a writer, I'm an imposter, not that you can tell because I writer like a writer doing writerly stuff.  Handy that, yes?

Imposter syndrome is a professional hazard writers know well.  We are dreamers, schemers, plotters, purveyors.  Loud, obnoxious personal demons insist we're fakes and phoneys.  Even the likes of the immensely talented Neil Gaiman has fallen prey to imposter syndrome.  As he said in his "Make Good Art" Keynote Address at the University of the Arts in 2012:

"The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don't know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn't consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don't have to make things up any more."

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if other professions had this problem.  Can you picture a surgeon worrying that someone will figure out he doesn't actually cut and only draws marks on his patients in red and black ink?  Or a firefighter convinced someone will suddenly figure out he can't really put out fires?

So, yeah, I'm an imposter.  How do I know this?  Because people actually think I'm a writer!  Can you believe that?  I can't.  Yeah, sure, I put marks on paper or a computer screen, and sometimes people read them, but that doesn't make me a writer.  Any day now I'll hear that knock on the door and open it to find Neil Gaiman's guy with a clipboard standing there, waiting to take my computer and hand me a McDonald's uniform.

But don't fret.  Even this blog post is a clever ploy to bolster my writerly façade.  I've fooled plenty of people.  It's what imposters do.  Writers I greatly admire remark on posts I make on Twitter!  I've exchanged emails and conversed face to face with editors!  People have complimented me on the author spotlights I've done for LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE and NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE. Not once, not twice, but three times, three times mind you, a complete stranger has contacted me out of the blue to compliment me on one of my stories.  I'm an imposter, I tell you!

*sigh*

Yeah, so about that. . .

Some days it's harder than others to convince myself that I am, in fact, a writer.  I am certain that I am one rejection slip away from being found out.  Every writer is.  If I had a nickel for every time I've heard even award-winning, bestselling writers talk about their own imposter syndromes, I'd have plenty of overused metaphors to continue that comparison.  The secret to winning out against the imposter?   Keep writing.  At least that's what I do; not for readers, or editors, or the neighbor's dog, but for myself.  Most days I don't like what I've written; some days I do.  Write hundreds of words, thousands, write until I'm exhausted, write a single line and break down because I'll never be able to write again.

Write.  That's it.  Perhaps someone will read it, even like it enough to seek out more of my work.  Write the imposter to death until the next time she shows up and I writer her down again.  Maybe someday I'll be a writer pretending to be an imposter pretending to be a writer.  Nice work if you can get it.

There are thousands of podcasts floating in the podsphere, but what about the talented people behind them?  I recently had the opportunity to ask Alasdair Stuart of the Escape Artists family of podcasts a few questions about podcasting, EAs future, and herding cats.

 

Alasdair Stuart, Man of WordsAlasdair2

 

Let's start with the standard boilerplate question. How did you become involved with podcasts in general and Escape Artists, Inc., in particular? ...continue reading LISTEN UP: Who Was That Masked Man? (An Interview With Alasdair Stuart)

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(Trigger Warning:  writer expresses thoughts, feelings, and concerns that mark her as human.)

I have only recently become strong enough to open up about my mental illness.  I almost said comfortable, but there are certain aspects of my life that are far from it.  There are places in my head, and voices in those places, that follow their own agendas whether social, sexual, or, in one instance, directly suicidal.  Sounds melodramatic, huh?  Not quite.

I had a rough day on Thursday, not my worst day by far, but dark enough that I spent most of the day hiding in bed and ...continue reading Breaking Bad & Self Care

If you haven't figured it out by now, I like audio fiction.  There are few things I enjoy more than closing my eyes while someone reads me a story.  Thanks to the recent "official" introduction of the Young Adult/New Adult genres there are now even more great stories to keep my ears entertained.

You don't need to be a young adult to enjoy YA fiction.  Good YA touches on many of the same themes and ideas as more mature fiction, yet the voice is geared towards younger readers.  Think less "immature" and more "exploration."  One of my favorite podcasts happens to be CAST OF WONDERS, "a fiction audio magazine for young adults featuring stories of the fantastic".  Started in 2011 as the brainchild of Barry J. Northern, it is now helmed by the splendiferous Marguerite Kenner and is part of the Escape Artists, Inc., family of podcasts.   Where to start listening?  Here are a few of my favorite episodes:

EPISODE 8 & 9:  "Alienation" Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 by Katherine Sparrow, read by Graeme Dunlop.  This story is a perfect example of the beauty of young adult fiction.  It addresses the complexities of social interaction, blooming sexuality, and the pain and joy of learning hard lessons.  Here is a story of alien first contact told with humor and insight from the aliens' points of view.  Katherine's prose is straight forward, and Graeme's narration brings it to life.  Well worth your time.

EPISODE 15:  "Same Day Delivery" by Desmond Warzel, read by Graeme Dunlop.  A wizard is hired to bring cargo into the city.  It's taken him a lifetime to master the art of teleportation, but when things go sour his customer learns the wizard has more than a few tricks left up his sleeve.  This is my favorite CoW episode.  Graeme's narration cinches everything together and presents the story in a tight, vivid, read.  Highly recommended.

EPISODE 43: "The Great Game, Part 1 - Khyber" by James Vachowski, read by Barry J. Northern.  This is the first of a series of seven stories told as "honest, there I was" tall tales.  I didn't know what to think of them at first, but it didn't take long for them to engage me with their pacing and high adventure.  Barry's narration is spot on, and Graeme's appearance for one episode in the series isn't bad at all.  Take the time to hunt these stories down.  You won't be disappointed.

EPISODE 71: "Now Cydonia" by Rick Kennett, read by Marguerite Kenner.  Tight, vivid, science fiction tale of exploration and loss on Mars.  This won the 2013 Parsec Award in the Small Cast, Short Form category.  Well worth your time if you like darker science fiction.

EPISODE 94: "The Drove of Maris-Charlottes" by David Turnbull, read by Stephanie Morris.  Herding wild potatoes!  Fending off a bunch of wild celery!  I giggled all the way through this.

EPISODE 170: "Princesses Do Not Breathe Fire" by Sarina Dorie, read by Jeff Hite and his children.  Here is another fine example of reaching out to all ages.  A princess wants to be good, honest!, but she keeps breathing fire and, well. . .

There you go!  CAST OF WONDERS offers a selection of stories that are great for all ages.  Take a listen, and if you like what you hear consider making a donation to keep the stories coming.

Have a favorite podcast?  Let me know in the comments.  And until next time, gentle listeners, keep your ears open!

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Feeling very brittle  at the moment.  Today's much anticipated surgery fell through.  I can't think of anything new to say, but here is a flash piece I wrote a few years back when I had my first run in with MRSA and medically necessary plastic surgery gone bad.

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MRSA

Did the plastic surgeon know how she felt when he touched her face? How she fought not to squirm in the exam chair. Until. The. Last. Moment? The doctor expressed a stream of pus from her right eyelid, and the orgasm rolled over her like a freight train. She bit through her bottom lip to keep quiet.

The doctor finished draining the abscess then stepped away from the examination chair, frowning at his handiwork. He stripped off the purple nitrile gloves. “I’m really sorry that hurt. Infections like this aren’t common after surgery, but we’ll take care of you. I’ll have Tanya do the IV and we’ll start you on antibiotics. You’re in good hands.” One of those good hands squeezed her shoulder before he headed out of the room, calling for the nurse.

She floated in a pool of warm, luxuriant pus. Two solid infections, though only one abscess. Too bad. With a sigh, she got up and grabbed her purse. She pulled a gauze compress out of her wallet, tore off the paper, and rubbed the small square over the counters and sink, inside the lip of the orange biohazard container. Dabbed it over the dirty compresses and tools still on the examination tray. She tucked the damp compress back into her purse, and made herself comfortable in the chair to wait.

She was scheduled for carpal tunnel surgery on her left hand at the end of next month. She couldn’t wait.

 

As I write this, it is 2:38AM, Tuesday, and I should have been asleep five hours ago.  Instead, I'm flirting with insomnia, rather, it's flirting with me and I wish it would go the hell away and let me sleep.

What do I do when I can't sleep?  Drink cocoa (don't have any), read comics (did that), maybe play a hand or two of solitaire (won both).  Beyond that. . .I think.  I can't help it, I'm a writer.  Ze Frank should do a "True Facts About Writers" video because thinking is how writers do.  Tell him I said so.

Where was I?  Right.  When I can't sleep, I think, and late night thoughts are perhaps the oddest.  Take those bits and bobs we don't often share with others, not out of any need for secrecy, but because we simply don't think about sharing.  Such as:

  •  I like peanut butter on hotdogs.  And hamburgers.  Not with any other condiment.  That would be weird.
  •  After a shower, I use a Q-Tip to dry the inside of I my belly button.
  • I am often held hostage by the sound of rain on a windshield.  One of the best sounds for napping.
  • I once made chocolate/roasted garlic fudge.  Didn't have much of a garlic taste the first day, but after that. . .*swoon*.  No one else liked it.  More for me.
  • I enjoy watching items decay, wear away, crumble.  A candle lit and left burning until the wick dies is a thing of beauty.
  • I am not afraid of heights.  I am afraid of falling.
  • I killed my mother.
  • I like hearing movie spoilers.
  • Sometimes when swimming in the ocean, I forget I can't breathe water.
  • Yes, I really do like chocolate that much.

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I have a complicated relationship with cancer.  Then again, who doesn't?  It's not like you can take cancer out of an evening, drinks, dinner, maybe a movie, and then head home for one of those intense discussions that leaves you alone, tearful, and brooding for the rest of the night.  Not that kind of complicated.

Cancer is one of the few diseases to have wormed its way into common English parlance.  A person or situation is malignant.  Someone's behavior is ...continue reading Another Word For Fear