Disturbing Disorders: Sirenomelia (Mermaid Syndrome)

•September 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Disturbing Disorders: Sirenomelia (Mermaid Syndrome).

From one of the most fascinating blogs around, The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice   One of the first stories I can ever remember reading, found in a collection of tales at my grandmother’s farm, was Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

Human Remains Displayed in Strange Places

•August 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Here’s what I think about: What if Sylvia, by some crazy turn of events, is actually Amelia Earhart? And the partially embalmed Sylvester might be the body of Kansas Sheriff Thomas Gannon who mysteriously disappeared in 1868, or James William Boyd, the Confederate officer said to have been killed in place of John Wilkes Booth, who was supposed to rendezvous with others in Mexico but never showed up. Wouldn’t it be crazy if these bodies displayed to the public for centuries were actually famous missing people, and under our noses the whole time? (Seriously, that is what I think about. Maybe I should write a book about it. :)

Thanks to Strange Remains for all the fascinating posts!

Occasionally, I need some strangeness

•August 7, 2014 • 1 Comment

Stylistically speaking that is…Doing things the same way everyday is prep for a non-surgical lobotomy, so occasionally I experiment. Some readers get it. Others do not and are not shy in expressing this, which I totally get. You spent that hard-earned dollar expecting a story written in third person, past tense and you hate anyone messing with your literary equivalent of mac and cheese. I humbly ask you, however, to consider this obscure author’s need to blink during the creative process, if only to challenge myself as a writer and attempt a form of story that I do not feel as comfortable telling, thus allowing new inspiration to emerge as it unfolds.

Crafting a tale in present tense is not as easy as you think it’s going to be when you begin, and some readers feel uncomfortable with it right away and will read only as far as they need to determine ‘this is different, I don’t like it.’ Others trash everything about it because it wasn’t what they were expecting from the writer who gave them this story or that story, and why said author would bother putting something this terrible in print is beyond them. (Yes, reviewers can be this scathing, leaving me feeling like below ↓  Insert elongated sigh and a Why oh why do I bother? plus some cold rain, a lost and miserable dog, and now you’ve got the picture.)


That’s okay. Like I said, I get it.  But it’s fun for me to write because it is different.

I’ve written before about my experiment with Betsy Klausmeyer’s Cellar, how I wondered if I could write an entire story, a scary one, without giving any of the characters a name.  I decided to use other descriptors instead, and to make it as seamless as possible, so the reader might get through a good part of the story before realizing none of the characters had names, and the reason they didn’t realize is because they were caught up in what was happening. It is different, yes. Many of you seem to like it, and enough badgered about the non-ending that I wrote the second part, so yes, reader’s get that one and I’m grateful for the encouragement. (A shout out to those Nook readers, god love ’em.) It’s good to know that all my forays into strangeness are not destined for the one star review treatment by a reader pushed out of his or her comfort zone.

I’m hoping an upcoming tale (untitled as yet, but I can tell you it includes a large reptile) will be given a fair shot by those who are new to my particular brand of strangeness, because sharing story is what it’s all about for me.

Sharing story is everything.

In Praise of Ray McKinnon

•June 30, 2014 • 2 Comments

The first time I saw writer, director, actor Ray McKinnonhe played luckless Charlie Campion, the infected escapee who set the flu ball rolling in The Stand, the 1994 television adaption of Stephen King’s novel. Even more memorable was his role as Vernon T. Waldrip, the bonafide suitor,  in the Coen Brothers O Brother Where Art Thou?  His pronunciation of ‘mah fee-awn-say’ is priceless. Next he won an Oscar for his short film The Accountant, which he wrote, directed, starred in along with Walton Goggins (of the FX series Justified) co-owner of his production company Ginny Mules Pictures. If you haven’t watched the short, look for it. My favorite Ray McKinnon role is that of the Reverend H.W. Smith in season one of David Milch’s HBO series Deadwood (2004).  I’m a huge fan of the series, of the poetry in the (usually coarse) language and of the nuanced and layered performances given by all, but especially by McKinnon in his portrayal of the kindly ministerial man tortured into doubt by an ailment of the brain.  I re-watched the series recently and was struck anew by how subtly he handled the dialogue and how skillful was his conveyance of expression. He’s one of those actors you watch without realizing just how incredibly good he is at his job.

He played Linc Potter in Sons of Anarchy (2011) featured in Mud (2012) but most recently he is behind the artfully written, acted and directed series Rectify, now in its second season on Sundance TV and starring Aden Young. From episode one, the writing spoke to me and I had to know who was responsible. I came away with a smile, knowing I was in for a treat. One of the keywords listed for the series is “southern gothic” and it is that, but is also much more. McKinnon brings every emotion to the table and lays it out in all its human (choose your noun here) ugliness,  wickedness, frailty, beauty. And just like his acting, you’ll never realize how deeply you’ve been affected until it’s over.  If you haven’t watched it, treat yourself and give Rectify a try. PS: You’re going to love Kerwin.

A Nightmare at Murder Farm: The story of one of America’s most prolific serial killers.

•June 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The crimes are so similar, Belle Gunness sounds like she could have been one of the Bloody Benders.

When Graphic Fiction Happens to Good People

•January 27, 2014 • 2 Comments

A small percentage of the people (roughly 4%) who downloaded Green Lake  have reacted with extreme bitterness to some of the content, specifically the depiction of the child killer.  Crimes against children are horrible to think about, let alone write, and while most of us turn away in fear and disgust at reports of child trafficking, molestation and murder, we cannot deny they exist. The world contains people who do indescribably despicable things when no one is looking. These people are never easy to recognize. Often, they are like the character in the book, charming, friendly, with a job and a family.  They seem normal to us. Trustworthy.  It is their thoughts that are not normal, and in depicting the thoughts and inner dialogue of this person I borrowed heavily from years of reading accounts and confessions of criminals convicted of the very same crimes. This is what they think when they are alone.  This is how they behave when they aren’t afraid of being seen.

We love to share videos of people doing good deeds.  We post them on Facebook and YouTube and tweet and retweet them. We treat them like the exception rather than the rule and maybe we watch and rewatch them because it’s nice to see actual proof that people really are basically decent.  I don’t know.  I’m as ignorant as the next person when it comes to what makes us tick…or twitch. What I do know is I’m grateful for the other ninety-something percent of readers who felt the human goodness in the story outweighed the evil.  Thanks for hanging in there.

The internet mystery that has the world baffled

•December 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The internet mystery that has the world baffled.

Or could just be some deviant personality having a laugh at everyone else’s expense.


•December 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Creative_imagination (1)

While it’s tiring, and foolish, to attempt examination of the indefinable, my recipe seems to be losing my mind at least once a month and howling at the universe, either in bitterness at its injustices or in awe at the beauty found in the tiniest moments (or baby animal photos on Tumblr. )  When I drink too much I sing Disney tunes.  I dance like an idiot all by myself, until I’m exhausted and start channeling the voices inside who feed me their stories. Sometimes, when I’m laughing hysterically at a joke I wouldn’t normally find funny, or sobbing my heart out over something that any other moment would qualify as trivial, I wonder who is this with the crude sense of humor, or with all this horrible raw emotion?  Sometimes I will them away. Then I realize I need them after all. For their stories. If this is what creativity is for all of us, then we’re a brave bunch, allowing all those other voices to live inside us and sometimes getting lost in them.  If this isn’t what creativity is for all of us, then oh well, shit, I’m in trouble, huh?

(Cue “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid…)

The Would-Be Assassin and the Camera

•November 17, 2013 • 2 Comments

After watching ‘The Conspirator’ I learned more about Powell than ever before, but now we get to see his face. Chilling.

The Ugly

•November 15, 2013 • 3 Comments

It is what snags our gaze, keeps us looking, clicking, reading, even though our jaws clench and our innards quail.  The dog that drags a human leg home to his master (who hastily buries it) the troll that kidnaps and holds three women hostage for decades, babies eaten by rats, left in dumpsters or toilets.  We can’t look away. Weekly we gather  to watch the gore of us dead coming after us the living (The Walking Dead, True Blood, Game of Thrones.)  We watch how the survivors survive and take notes, but not without judging. When a body is discovered under a bridge we look to see the name, a photo, and once we see, we unconsciously provide ourselves with dozens of reasons why this will never be us.

But it is us. We are the body, the baby, the leg severed four inches below the buttock. We are the troll going to work every day with his horrible secrets, stopping for fast food on the way home and checking the locks twice when he gets inside. We are the elderly dog owner, afraid of being accused of murder. We turn away and gag when it is sewage, but take second and third looks when it is carnage. The gallons of blood sprayed on the highway by the dead deer, the deceptively soft and furry looking possum trailing intestines across the road.  When the carrion eaters arrive we view them with disdain but are secretly happy to have the carnage removed from our sight, however slow the process. Ugly is ugly, after all, and things sucking blood from arteries or picking at the flesh and bones of the mottled dead is something we can tolerate only when we believe it is fictional.

Hurry Sunday.

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