Pleased to say I have a new fiction piece up at the uber-awesome Wyvern Lit. They publish flash fiction, fiction and poetry and have a knack for picking damn good stories that hook you right away. Every piece I’ve read there has had me seriously impressed.

If you have five minutes, please go give “Runs in the Skin” a read. The story was inspired by Morgellons disease a strange condition I once read about and ever since I’ve been fascinated with for a long time, for some odd reason (DON’T JUDGE ME, OK?).

 

She used to think she shit glitter and now she’s home.

There’s something in my skin, Jess says, digging in with a safety pin. She scrapes the outside of her ivory arm; head bowed in earnest contemplation as flesh rips.

No, don’t, I say, taking the instrument away from her. Drop it in the sink, beads of red peeling down the drain.

What she sees has gotta be a mindfuck of epic proportions.

Take your meds, Jess. I shake the bottle.

 

Read the rest of it here and then run to go scrub yourself raw with a Brillo pad.

Special thanks to Founder/Editor-in-Chief Brent Rydin and the rest of the Wyvern Lit team for publishing my strange little story.

Facing a fear is a big deal. Like wearing pleated pants or forcing yourself to re-watch that X-Files episode of “Home” one more time.

NO BITCH SHE IN YO HOUSE

Facing a phobia? Now that’s some pants-shitting terror. As silly or as severe as that phobia may be, that fear’s in your brain, ingrained like a parasite.

Just like mother nature used to make

It takes some people years to get over it, to work through their issues.

Take me for example. I’ve been avoiding getting my blood drawn for probably the last 30 years.

My phobia has always been a fear of needles. Needles in veins, specifically. I can watch all the slasher flicks in the world, watch entrails spill out of stomachs and necks get slit and gunshot wounds explode body parts into mutilated pulp, but show me a needle in a vein and I’m a quivering, queasy mess.

 

Selfie time, guys!

 

There’s no valid reason for it. I’ve never had my blood drawn, so my fear has no basis except mental. No nurse has scrambled my veins or horror stories fed to me about how awful it is. It’s just something that’s always been in my head. Would have me avoiding medical treatment if necessary.

Only now, pregnant, I couldn’t weasel out of a blood test for long.

Though I did try and succeed for a while. I was determined to beat the system with finger pokes brought to me by the amazing new lab testing Theranos (more on that soon). And that worked. Kinda. Until I had to go through with the venous blood draw for the required Syphilis test (Goddammit, Arizona, you’re embarrassing yourself).

I went in twice to my local Walgreens to do it and chickened out both times. My brain frantically trying to come up with soap opera scenarios on how I could get out of it:

 

  • Having my sister impersonate me
  • Making up a religion and claiming blood tests were a violation of my belief
  • Finding some shady doctor to forge the tests
  • Bribing the phlebotomist into doing a million finger pokes to fill the vial

 

But finally, time was up.  I had to do it.

Accompanied by my best friend along and armed with my headphones, I sat in a chair and covered my eyes and blubbered and listened to Shakey Graves sexily croon and—

Hey, it was over. HOLY DICKS WHAT?

It was like the revelation to rock my world. All the horrific (and ridiculous) scenarios I had envisioned – me passing out, blood spurting everywhere as they removed the needle, the phlebotomist accidentally nicking the wrong vein and paralyzing me in the process—never came to pass.

And it didn’t hurt – it felt more like a bee sting. The reassuring phlebotomist, Jamie, was like your high school boyfriend, in and out in less than 20 seconds, and my best friend patiently talked me down from the ledge by being armed with books and tissues.

Because a best friend just knows when to bring books to a traumatic life event.

Thank you to Theranos for making a better, less painful way to draw blood. And thanks to the now-30-year old Elizabeth Holmes who launched Theranos at the age of 19. Hell, Ms. Holmes, you may be richer and smarter than I, but goddamn, you’re gonna change the world. You made my life easier and gave me such an amazing and positive experience that I’ve devoted an entire blog post to the subject.

If this sounds like the Oscar thank-you speech of bloodletting, that’s because it is. I’m proud of myself for conquering my phobia and grateful to those who helped me and this is my shout from the rooftops.

Now about my fear of clowns…

This week a little ditty of mine called “Record Store Sid & Nancy” is at Digging Through the Fat lit mag. It’s an honor to be the first selection of 2015. Thanks to Gessy Alvarez for giving it a very lovely home to live.

 

I tell my best friend I wanna be like Nancy and she yells at me in front of a record store. “DO NOT BE LIKE NANCY. SID KILLED NANCY. I HOPE TO CHRIST YOU DO NOT END UP LIKE HER.”

She has good hands too.

She’s a seamstress.

 

You can read the rest of it here.

Patience is a virtue I’m not incredibly good at. Whether it’s waiting for water to boil or a delicious pizza to bake, I’m hovering, pacing, probably swearing up a goddamn storm for something I have no control over.

Which brings me to another something that pairs awkwardly with patience. The wait after you submit your novel and query letter to an agent and/or publishers. LORD AWMIGHTY THE WAIT. A torturous stagnation, your book’s fate in limbo, while you check your inbox more times a day than you’d like to admit.

Your mouse has never been so fingerbanged.

Your mouse has never been so fingerbanged.

But luckily, there are ways to cope.  Ways I’ve passed the time and (am currently) managing my patience while my book or query letter is subjected to scrutiny. Ways to occupy your mind while you wait on others to dash your hopes and dreams and pummel your budding little author’s heart.

Fortunately, only a few require wearing pants.

 

1. Travel (pants required)

The best way to get away from your inbox? Take a vacation. Roadtrip it. Tiny weekend trips, day getaways, anything to get out of town and get your mind off of that precious manuscript burning holes in agents’ inboxes.

 

"Novel? What novel?"

“Novel? What novel?”

 2. Write MORE (pants not required)

And write something different. Something new. Find a story that’s been shelved or pick up one in-progress. Fall in love with new characters, say goodbye to the old ones (for now) and you’ll forget about the query. Well, maybe just for a little bit but a new story is satisfying enough that you won’t check your email every day.

 

3. See your long lost friends (pants perhaps required? consult with friend)

Hey, you know those people you ignored while you were toiling away at your desk, muttering and cursing at word docs? Call them up and make some dates. Apologize for your hermit-ness, lament your query waiting, and then have a goddamn cocktail and catch up.

 

 4. Tackle a project around the house (pants not required)

Maybe you live in the Money Pit or the Last House on the Left, either way I’m guessing there’s some big, bad project around the house waiting for you to get on it, son. That stack of magazines the neighbor’s now buried under? Yeah, clean that shit up. Or bury the body.

 

5. Be a Vegetable (pants not required)

And I don’t mean the Terri Schiavo kind either. I mean plant yourself on the couch and veg the fuck out in front of your favorite TV. TV was a rarity for me after I got sucked into writing my book, so enjoy a little time to just beach yourself and have an X-Files marathon for a few days…or weeks.

 

Pretty much sums up the  x-files.

Pretty much sums up the x-files.

 

I don’t expect these solutions to miraculously solve all your (or my) patience problems or get quicker submission responses. Obviously, I’m not a wizard.  I mean, shit, until you get a “yes, no, maybe so” nothing will satiate you. It’s the bane of being a needy writer, and the potential excitement that maybe, just maybe, your hard work will have paid off and your little darling baby of a book will be shoved into the world.

It’s a good impatience worth having. So sit tight and buckle in.

 

Book Breakdown of 2014

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

And so, as 2014 shows itself the door, it’s time again to recap the number of reads I’ve conquered this year.

Last year’s grand total: 16

This year’s grand total: 17

Shit, I barely scraped by.  I ain’t proud, kids, but I can at least comfort myself that I have a hefty amount of unread books waiting for me to crack in 2015. Alas, the book breakdown abounds…

PicMonkey Collage

  1. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – Handy creative how-to book. Quick and easy read.

 

  1. The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison – Similar to, but almost better than, a Gillian Flynn book.

 

  1. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson – Only HST can make politics uber-interesting.

 

  1. The Gunslinger – The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King – Enjoyed but not enough to continue the series.

 

  1. I Lived to Tell It All by George Jones – Jones lived a crazy-ass life. Good fodder for my then-in-progress novel.

 

  1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Better than Gone Girl. Get on this book, Hollywood.

 

  1. Hank Williams the Biography by Colin Escott – Sad, sad tale but a great delve into his short life.

 

  1. Still in Love with You by Lycrecia Williams – Written by his daughter, this was a quick read to get Hank Williams’ wife’s take on the relationship.

 

  1. The Mapmaker’s War by Ronlyn Domingue – This book pained my heart. Such a beautiful, strange tale. READ IT.

 

  1. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi – One of the best true crime books I’ve ever read.

 

  1. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck – OK, I read my 2nd Steinbeck book after the much-hated “Grapes of Wrath”…and let me say I didn’t hate it! Success. Really enjoyed, actually. Great humor and story.

 

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I definitely appreciated it, but didn’t like the main character and overall, it wasn’t as good as I expected.

 

  1. People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry – Creepy true crime story involving a 2000 Tokyo murder case.

 

  1. The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide by Schuler Benson – Quirky southern tales.

 

  1. The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn – Tamer version of “John Dies at the End.” Great action scenes.

 

  1. Doll Palace by Sara Lippmann – Beautiful and haunting book.

 

  1. The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport – Inside look and informative bio about the lives of the Romanov Sisters.

 

My vote for the best book I’ve read this year?

I gotta say, demented as it is, and despite the number of gems I’ve read this year, that the winning book of 2014 has been Helter Skelter. Despite it being a massive 700 pages, I ate this book up. It’s true crime at its best (worst?) and bloodiest.

Now what about you?  How’d you do this year? Do tell, so I have a reason to buy more — what’s been your favorite book of 2014?

 

Life Lessons from London

Posted: December 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Thanksgiving had me catching the traveling bug and jaunting off to London for a quickie 3-day trip. While there was no time to bring back any souvenirs, I did bring back some observations from across the pond.

Oh, London, where the squirrels are trained to attack tourists and Jack the Ripper is alive and well.

 

Buckingham Palace Ain’t that Impressive

More resembling a museum than a regal residence, the London residence of the queen is “meh.” No disrespect. It’s just…a square palace with some gold gates and some strapping dudes staring stealthily. I expected more. I guess take the five minutes to see it to say you saw it and then go drinkin’ at some pubs.

*YAWN*

*YAWN*

 

You Will get Harassed on Brick Lane but the End Result is Worth it

The harassment isn’t all that bad. Actually, it’s harassment to come and eat delicious, delicious Indian food so who can get mad about that? Ok, I’ll admit it did get a little tedious turning down every person who hopped out of the shadows to try and convince you to come eat their palak paneer (and that is not a euphemism) but we survived and eventually found an amazing place called Sheba where the naan flowed like water and the curries curled your toes.

sheba

Don’t attempt to shop on Sloane Street

Unless you’re prepared to give your left nut, firstborn or a healthy dose of cash for a $3000 suit or evening gown, don’t even set foot on Sloane Street.

gobgob

Near Harrod’s, this fancy schmancy row of shops shames us paupers. From Jimmy Choo to Chanel to Valentino it’s a shopping destination for rich folks from across the globe. Me and my Target shoes wouldn’t be appreciated. But I have no problem with that.

 

 The Underground Doubles as a Confession Booth

The Underground is London’s transportation system, and while at first a tad confusing to navigate, it makes getting around a breeze. However, with tons of people spending tons of time getting from place to place it becomes very intimate, very fast. People brazenly eat smelly foods, silently cropdust and have awkward conversations that should be held in the privacy of their own home while sitting thigh to thigh next to you.

sunny5

How I look on public transport

 

 When public transportation doubles as a confession booth it may be a good idea to bring in a priest.

 

Complimentary Hotel Breakfast Buffets are on Steroids

When you imagine a complimentary hotel breakfast buffet in the states, maybe you picture a sectioned off piece of lobby with mini cereals, yogurts and cold pastries. One where you hurry down in footie pajamas amid businessmen in suits to snatch what you can before dashing back up to the room to gorge yourself.

Eat up, peasants

Eat up, peasants

However, in London breakfast buffets are a majestic and delicious experience. White table cloths and china. Servers and hostesses. Hot foods and NUTELLA.

kk+

Hear the angels sing

Hear the angels sing

WTF, America? You’ve been doing this all wrong.

 

London Bridge Has Deceived You

Yeah, that iconic sight you picture when you sing “London Bridge is falling down” is NOT London Bridge. It’s Tower Bridge.

IMG_20141127_121506

THIS dull thing is London Bridge.

Wait, what?

Wait, what?

I know I just rocked your world but the news couldn’t be helped.

Shakey Graves – And the War Came

It’s a girl that smells like books but can’t read. It’s me dream gal. — Shakey Graves/Reddit

Um, yeah. That quote? I’d kinda like to tattoo that on my arm. Press pause on my heart while I fall onto my fainting couch.

This is what you get from Shakey Graves. Lyrical gems that raise eyebrows and flutter lashes. I just recently discovered this one-man-band singer/songwriter and with his recent release And the War Came all I can say is it’s a CD that is best listened to when you need a little bit of blues and rock and roll to brood to.

Plus, he looks so deliciously dirty. I just want to roll around all over his face.

 

shakey

Yeah, I’ll admit it.

Anyway, check out one of my fave Shakey vids.

 

New album info here.

Get it. Get it.

 

*

 

Sara Lippmann – Doll Palace

doll_palace_book1

If there’s anyone who deserves some sweet pimpin’ it’s Sara Lippmann. Back when I was a young’un, I’d read her short stories online and be in awe of her writing gloriousness. And now her new collection of short stories – Doll Palace – is a sucker punch read. Wonderfully constructed characters, choice dialogue and brilliant writing abound. Though the stories are short, a lot of emotion is invested in the read. The book kinda makes your heart ache just a little bit, which is okay because it’s worth it. You’ll just never get the stories out of your head.

Buy or peruse here.

*

 

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Apples – Food52

We got music and reading covered, now onto the most delicious part: FOOD.

A recent recipe posted on one of my favorite websites Food52 is a delicious Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Apples. If that’s not a mouthful, I don’t know what is. I made it a few weeks ago and it lives up to its amazingness. It’s kinda like the perfect boyfriend. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, is just sweet enough, and it doesn’t criticize you if you eat two slices in the bathtub.

It also never compares you to your mother.

It also never compares you to your mother.

I’m just sayin.

Recipe is here.