Long Overdue Grist For The Mill

So. Hi and hello. It has been… <checks watch> well, it’s been a minute.

The last months have been eventful. To be honest, I don’t know what I’ve even updated on the site in the last while. I’ve been an editor at Screen Rant (working in game features) for a year and change now, which has been a lovely but often stressful experience. My mother passed away suddenly from cancer earlier in the year, and aside from the crushing grief, there’s been her estate to deal with, a thousand receipts and papers and certificates for a thousand things big and small. On top of this, I’ve had an increasingly difficult time with several different medical issues of my own which have led to frequent sleeplessness and side effects from medications.

Now here we are in September, much farther away from things, and I feel like I’ve finally started to get my head on straight. The last month or so has seen a flurry of writing, from extensive work on my current novel (which I hope to a complete draft of by the end of the year) to a number of short stories old and new. It’s been too long with too much of my life in upheaval, and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into a rhythm and focusing on my writing again.

To that end, I’ve tried to do a little house cleaning around my socials and Bookruptcy, I’m lining up a number of submissions to journals and—fingers crossed—some killer anthologies, and I realized that I hadn’t made an update in quite a while, not even to point out a few my of most recent publications.

So: here are two pieces of flash published by Coffin Bell (a fantastic publication you should check out generally). I closed out 2021 in an appearance in Coffin Bell vol. 4 issue 4 with “Adopt Now“, and I opened 2022 in Coffin Bell vol. 5 issue 1 with “Observance“. It was really gratifying to have both pieces selected in a single submission (“Observance” was submitted at the same time and held for the following issue), as I really like both of these stories. I had rather complicated feelings about “Adopt Now” and was worried about what people would think and how they would respond, especially women, and if it would come across as a statement other than what I intended, so I have to thank my wife, Ashley Baer, for reading it and assuring me that I should send it out, and to Tamara Burross Grisanti for believing it worthy of publication.

I think I get particularly sensitive about work that stars people firmly outside my own demographic (I had similar doubts about “Observance”, despite it being loosely based on people I knew and where I grew up) or which deals in themes that, as a white male, I worry I won’t be able to capture the essence of. This could mean writing something inauthentic, or at worst, outright wrong. I’ve always tried to abide by Stephen King’s exhortation for fiction to “tell the truth” in On Writing, and this goes all the more so when dealing with characters whose full lived cultural experience falls outside of my own. It’s something that I’ve become increasingly aware of over time, and it’s only accelerated as I work on my current manuscript, which features two people of color and two women. Making sure that I’m portraying those characters in a way that looks at their wider life experience and keeps it firmly in mind is something I always want to get right, but something I’m always aware (and afraid) I might get wrong.

In any case, it’s wonderful to be writing again and making the time for myself that I have so often neglected to. It’s always an ongoing battle, as it’s so easy to spiral down into overwork or to so focus on the needs of others (and responsibilities and ongoing crises) that you just don’t make the space for yourself to exist.

Hopefully next time, there will be more and bigger news. Until then, enjoy these stories, support literary horror, and make sure you ask your local bookstore to keep it in stock! And hell, here are a few book recommendations from recent reading (for me) while I’m at it:

This Thing Between Us – Gus Moreno
Negative Space – B.R. Yeager
The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones

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