Posted in Randoms

A Christmas Carol Inspired Anthology

I’m so happy to share this awesome video put together by DarkBetweenPages on YouTube. In it, all the authors for Link by Link: An Anthology of Haunted Holidays talk a little about the inspo for their stories and will surely help any Scrooge get into the holiday spirit. You can find me around 9:40 where I share a little about my story, “Bound By What.” Enjoy!

Pre-orders are available at most major bookseller sites. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Link by Link is a collection of nine stories of ghosts, spirits, and creatures unnamed, all come to teach lessons we won’t soon forget. From sweet Christmas tales to terrifying holiday hauntings, these stories take a deep dive in the hopes of creating a better–or at least different–future.
Posted in My books, Writer-ish

Anthologies: What’s the Use?

In publishing, an anthology can be defined simply as a collection of written work. It usually consists of smaller pieces–poems or short stories–that tend to come from several different authors. So now that you know what they are, why should you give a fig about reading one? Welp, I’m gonna try to unpack that a bit.

Short Stuff

Don’t get me wrong, I love novels. Everything about a story clicking together in about 80, 000 words is magic to me. But there is something to be said for shorter works as well. It’s exponentially more difficult to write a short story; because while every word in a novel-length work is necessary, every word in a short story is dire. The whole beginning, middle, and end must be seamlessly forced into something an eighth of the size of a novel. That means every element of the short story carries a heavier share of the weight, but it also means, there’s the potential to pack a mightier punch.

Take it or Leave it

I actually remember buying whole albums via cassette tape or CD. There’d always be a lot of songs I loved and maybe one or two that just weren’t for me. Did I throw the whole CD away or abandon it completely? No, I pressed fast-forward. And because an anthology is a compilation of sorts, readers have the option to skip entire portions too. Come across a writer whose style you’re not all that into? Skip it. Is one story a little trigger-y for you? Pass. With a collection of short stories or poems or whatever, readers can still get their money’s worth even if one story isn’t their favorite thing.

More Voices

I will read anything by Rainbow Rowell. If she scribbled a grocery list on the back of a CVS receipt, I’d read it. It’s fun to be a fan, but it’s also really, really fun to explore new things to be excited about. The other day I randomly picked up Shaun David Hutchinson’s memoir, Brave Face, and will now commence reading every other thing he’s ever written. It’s called branching out and anthologies serve up the perfect opportunity to do just that. Purchasing an anthology offers readers the chance to sample different writing styles. Maybe readers will find that new author who writes in a way that connects with their fluttery insides, who knows?

Okay, Sold.

Perfect. Yay! There are lots of options out there for you to choose from. Many small presses publish anthologies throughout the year. Indie authors do too, and so does the “Big 5.” Goodreads maintains a list for “Popular Anthology Books” if you’re on the hunt.

But here’s where I will take a sec to shamelessly plug a new anthology from Midnight Tide Publishing. This time yours truly ventured into writing a short haunted holiday story, alongside an extremely talented group of writers that I’m happy to be sharing space with. I was super excited to have the chance to create a retelling of A Christmas Carol. It’s release is slated for early December. You can check it out and add it to your TBR over on Goodreads.

Posted in Randoms, The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh

Comp Magic

We were the kids that didn’t quite belong; a crew of drama geeks, Star Wars mega-fans, nerds, artists, and punks. Some of us wrote stories, basically our own zine/newsletter/fantasies, in which we were the stars. We had our own drunken parties, never even trying to invite the cool kids, and spent hours laughing and playing Euchre and talking til the birds started chirping. There were times things went too far; some of us blacked out, saying or doing mean things. Mostly, we apologized over greasy brunches. Sometimes, that wasn’t enough. But through it all there was a soundtrack. The music that matched. Songs that were gritty and underground, that felt like us.

Then came comp magic. Before anyone could slide into your DMS, there were comps. A system of communication that falls squarely under a version of Midwestern Nice, if only for it’s ability to mean something and nothing at the same time. The process could be exacting. Selecting just the right songs took hours of listening, an exhaustive knowledge, and a certain level of tenacity. Then, because this was prior to the ability to burn CD’s, one had to cue and record and click off double cassette players at just the right moment to get that first copy. Sometimes there was a theme, especially if a certain crush was in mind. Other times, it was just songs that were beloved and would make a good road trip mix. If you were on the receiving end of one, as you listened, you got to puzzle it together. Did it have meaning? Or was it trivial? Was this about feelings or fun? Who knew?

In The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh the idea of someone making a comp comes up twice. Two characters put music together in this way, Stu and his co-worker Shannon-from-the-record-store. The reader doesn’t get to experience Shannon all that much, so I thought it might be cool to provide the comp she made for Stu. It might provide more insight into their relationship, or not.


Posted in Randoms

Sticker Nirvana

This project brought out some of the worst parts of my personality.

Someone gifted me this book a while ago. I opened it over the weekend and started assembling this portrait. As I painstakingly placed the tiniest of stickers into their assigned slots while desperately ignoring all my mistakes, I thought about the artist.

Kurt Cobain’s death marked my own first loss of an icon. I loved him because I knew I was supposed to love him. Deep down, I wondered if his lyrics were a joke he was playing on all of us. (Don’t @ me, I was a kid.) Nevertheless, he wrote stuff that made us feel like somebody understood something.

As a sophomore in high school, I’d been kinda hands on with death after losing my mom and half my grandparents in a short span of time. I had my own shit happening, having already glimpsed some big hurts. I knew losses were coming; that they would never stop coming. For my friends that didn’t know that yet, Cobain’s death felt devastating and hugely personal.

It’s been my experience that death either brings people together or tears them apart. So, in The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh it felt instinctual to write the beginning of Jeremy and Kasey after great loss. In retrospect, having them mourn together gave them a shared history and created the slack that they needed to give each other to grow up and remain friends.

Ignore the man-bun

Originally, the scene of them in middle school pouring one out for Cobain in her basement was a pages long flashback. In the finished version, it got chopped up and sprinkled around. Readers know of it but don’t participate in it. That was just for me.

I can see my mistakes but what-the-fuck-ever.

I won’t sit her and pretend to understand anything real about Kurt Cobain or glorify him toward sainthood. He was just another person. Like all of us, he had the capability to affect those around us in profound ways. He brought people together; he tore them apart. It’s what we all do every day.

Posted in Randoms

Guessing About a Ghost

Monterey, CA has a vibe that speaks to me. I can’t totally put my finger on all the ways it touches a certain part of who I am, but it’s there. Undeniably. The coast. The wildlife. The water. Steinbeck. And a scientist named, Ed Ricketts.

As you walk along Cannery Row today, past the trinket stores and restaurants but not beyond the aquarium, there’s a historical shed of a building with a simple sign that reads Pacific Biological Laboratories. Being from the Midwest, I’d never heard of this place. Why would I? Monterey, CA seemed as distant as a moon when you grow up in a town known for pig farms and nuclear power.

Pacific Biological Laboratories has the untouched look of something that holds significance. It doesn’t fit anymore, existing as a place where one gets that whiff of past lives. A place where if you look close enough you can see ghosts still moving behind the windows.

There’s a little space between the lab and the building next to it. It’s an alley, and if you weren’t the curious-type, you’d bypass it completely. Back there, you come to Ed Ricketts’s backyard, a courtyard filled with a cement grid that held his collections from the tide pools just beyond.

Backyard View of Pacific Biological Laboratories

Overlooking the ocean, a couple of historical markers line the walk toward the back deck. They say the tide pools recall “Ricketts belief in the interconnectedness of all species.” And as the ocean courses all around, bringing the smells and sounds that oceans do, you think, of course. Sea gulls caw. Waves splash and crash along the rocks. Salty mists hang in the air. The sense of greater mysteries, a life beyond what we can see, lingers nearby. Your close to some real magic.

ย There’s a line, from Steinbeck, about his friend; it describes Ricketts as a man whose “mind had no horizons, he has an interest in everything.” A quick internet search brings up more–Ricketts was a philosopher and an early ecologist, who wrote a really important scientific text. He was an observer. He didn’t finish his college degree and spent some months on walkabout, writing for a travel magazine. People, famous and not, gathered around him and his lab. He becomes the stuff of legend, his life having a profound influence in the arts and science. So much so, that seventy years after his car was struck by a train, I’m left on a deck overlooking the bay wondering what kind of life a person leads to be remembered for so long in such a way.

It had to be his world-view. The interconnectedness he saw in the tide pools, melded into his daily life. When people were around him, they must have felt it–that way in which we’re all attached.

But then, as I stand at one end of the country in Ricketts’s backyard, I realize I’m just kinda making that up. I’m only guessing about a ghost.