Moody devil songs: on revisions and such

I’m not much for writing advice, to be honest. It’s useful up to a point; good to know the ropes, so to speak… But then you write something that you know is right, the same way you know that a rose is a rose, or the way you can tell that you’ve bowled a strike the second the ball leaves your hand.* But your little burst of genius has adverbs, loads of them, or it starts with someone waking up, or the punctuation is nonstandard,  or or… But it’s right. So screw Stephen King** and all those other advice peddlers. STET, motherfuckers.

On the other hand, while general advice usually sucks, sometimes people have good questions or suggestions about a specific story, and they help you make the story better. So it’s good to listen to them and make the necessary changes. So here I sit revising a story, which will be published in November, with the suggestions of the kind and intelligent editors at Shimmer.

Which brings me to my own word of advice! It’s not even advice, so much, just a thing I enjoy that works pretty well for me, so I’m sharing it.

Writing something long and moody? Need to get yourself in the right frame of mind? Well, make yourself a nice playlist, and you will always have a way back into your story-brain-space. And it’s fun!

Here, I’ll share: this is my Devil Moves playlist on Spotify. Will you like it? I don’t know, but I do, and it makes me feel this story, even when I’m revising it a year later. So I can get it right.


Or like you know a chicken-of-the-woods when you see one. I found this behind a friend’s house recently and I’m including both because I was so excited about it and because they say it’s good to include a photo in your blog post, adds interest, so to speak. I could tell you about my life, my diss and my job and stuff like that, but I don’t feel like it today and I’ve got revisions to finish, so until November… may all your mushrooms be correctly identified, and all your sentences land as solid as a ball in a catcher’s mitt, with a satisfying smack.


*I’m not a good bowler, but it’s happened now and then

**I actually think Stephen King’s On Writing is pretty good, as a memoir or personal meditation especially, but even he doesn’t follow his own advice on adverbs so fuck if I’m gonna.

Don’t be frightened if you see a crazy light: RAT KING


I’m happy to say I’ve got a new bit of fiction to share with you all! RAT KING is a short monologue that I wrote about a year ago, pretty much cackling over it like a mad hen with her crazy egg and feeling weird about myself the whole time—how I always feel when writing horror, basically—and when it was done I had that glowy FUCK YEAH feeling that I get when I think I’ve written something good. And I was extra cackly when the piece got accepted at Pseudopod, because a monologue should be performed, right?

Now, listening to Rish Outfield‘s excellent reading, even at 4 o’ clock in the morning when I have risen to let my elderly dog go outside, again I feel pretty FUCK YEAH about this one. I feel pretty all-caps about it. It’s about seven minutes long, from 2:15-9:30, and then David Murphy and Christopher Fowler totally outclass me afterwards in their stories. I recommend listening in the dark, with a strong beverage and some crickets. Except don’t eat the crickets. Or maybe milk and cookies? Or whatever, wherever. Anyway. I’m gonna let the dog in and go back to bed. Here’s Episode 501 of Pseudopod, including my RAT KING. Big thanks to Rish Outfield, host Dagny Paul, and all the Pseudopod editors. FUCK YEAH, you guys.

Status: 39

As of today, I am 39 years old—a dreadfully immature 39, I think, but as the saying goes, in every old man’s body there is a young man wondering what the hell happened. However, all is well:

birthday breakfast

breakfast of 39-year-old birthday-lady champions everywhere

This summer I’m an intern at the excellent and extremely cool Univocal Publishing, which is taking up much of my time. When not copy-editing, hunting down citations, and translating for Univocal, I’m working on my dissertation, gardening, and doing my best to soak up the sunshine while avoiding all the hideous bloodsucking insects. Not writing enough fiction, but “Passe ta thèse d’abord,” as the French say. I think when I finish it’ll be like throwing off a terrible iron yoke and I’ll feel weirdly light and free forever after.

However, there is a little writing news, which is that Apex Magazine has accepted my short story “Mag, the Habitat and We” for publication. No word yet on when “Mag” will appear, but I am extremely happy that I’ll be in Apex again. Also forthcoming is “Skills to Keep the Devil in His Place,” scheduled to appear in Shimmer sometime in November, and “Rat King” offering to creep you the fuck out later in July. ‘Til then: I’ll wish happy birthday to me, and to you, happy summer, with all the coffee and ice cream you can handle.