Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Web Fiction Updated

The next chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available. This web novel is updated twice weekly and follows the misadventures of two anarchist spies fighting cryptozoological threats and weaponized nihilism during the Cold War. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A new chapter for web serial

A new chapter is available for my web serial "Agent Shield and Spaceman." I appreciate your continued reading and support of my work. Enjoy!

In other news, I'm feeling myself relishing a relatively quiet and unhurried Saturday. Fall is typically a very busy time for me, and this year appears no different. 

I think my basic thought right now is: cautious optimism tinged with impatience to get the election over with already. I am well and truly sick of talking about this election. No one is surprised about how this election is shaping up. If anything, this is exactly the race the polls and debates last year predicted. Clinton versus Trump: one campaign showing a dogged, cautious approach to rounding up the votes necessary to become president and the other throwing M-80s in piles of gasoline soaked rags. Clinton up between four and six points overall, more in precisely the states she needs to win. Trump behind and blaming everyone but himself.

Anyway, only 17 days left, don't forget to vote! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What I Read in September

Slightly better situation this month for reading short stories. I still didn't quite to as many as I'd like to but I can recommend a few stories without hesitation. 
  • Scent by Maria Haskins (Flash Fiction Online) Another tale of the horrific perfumes. Here, a daughter administers to a frightful mother, a kind of demon who steals away the fragrances (and presumably souls) of unlucky mortals. There is something memorable about the intertwining of imagery and odor, and also the slow, twisting tension between a mother and a daughter; the mask of pleasant perfumes over something dark and predatory.
  • All the Mermaid Wives by Gwendolyn Kiste. (87 Bedford) a couple of Kiste's favorite motifs intertwine here. Fairy tale creatures updated for a fraught present, sisterhood, and questions of empowerment. This story broadens her work in some respects. While still retaining a directness and unpretentious grace, more and more of her lines stand out, the siren call of the well-crafted phrase.
  • The Little Widow by Maria Dahvana Headley. (Nightmare) One mark of a good story is that it never slips out of the groove it lays down, superior fiction sets a pace and sticks with it. This one starts and finishes weird. A group of survivors of a suicidal cult make their way in the town of miracle by biting the heads off dinosaurs. This felt like one half Ted Chiang and one half gonzo nightmare.
  • War dogs by Michael Barretta (Apex) Barrett offers a nightmarish vision of America swollen with broken veterans, genegineered soldiers and lethal fungus infestations. Everything in the story conspires together perfectly, each detail charging into the next, every stray gesture carrying within it the seed of doom. (reprint from Apex's speculative military fiction anthology: War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.)
  • The Sound that Grief Makes by Kristi DeMeester (The Dark). A mother, partly to provide comfort to her son, and partly to salve her own grief, begins to pretend to be her husband's ghost. There is a suggestion at the end that whether by trick or coincidence, both characters are locked in a cycle of anguish, haunted by an unspoken need.


The next episode of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Ah, October.


This week has not been kind to me in terms of time to catch up with my web fiction. There's the news, my day job, various extracurriculars, and then more news! But I do have chapter 35 available to read today and I hope to make some progress with some upcoming chapters tomorrow. I still think, for the most part, the novel will be updated twice weekly but I have to admit, more weeks like this past one are going to happen between now and the end of November which was my projected completion date.

So, I appreciate your patience and continue to press forward to the final third of the novel. Thank you for reading!

Friday, September 30, 2016

New Chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman"

For your reading enjoyment a new chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available. In this chapter, Spaceman confronts the double agent Melissa LeHaze after stewing in his cell for hours. He begins to sense that the Master is not quite done with him.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz

For the most part I'm comfortable with a choice I've made for this blog. As some commenters have already noted, I'm more of a praiser than a critic. I like what I like and I tend to write posts about things I think are stupendous, amazing, and life-affirming. 

Then I read a novel like Junot Diaz' "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," and I feel like I've run out of credible accolades.

I've been casting about this year for main-stream, contemporary fiction books to read. Partly I felt it was time to branch out a little bit after three (five? 10?) years of hard-core speculative reading habits. Partly I thought it was my responsibility after taking the reins as facilitator for my local library writing workshop. Some of the participants write speculative fiction but most don't. Broadening the references I could use to critique stories seemed wise.

So, I did what I usually do in these situations, google the top 10 best novels of the past decade. Or maybe of the 21st century, I'm not too sure. Whatever the list was, I scoped out a local library's audio book stacks, trying to find one of the modern classics. For the most part none of the books on the list were available. That makes me all the more fortunate.

The book that was there, Junot Diaz's, was perfect. Now, I have read his work before, I wasn't wading into this book completely blind. A few of his stories, particularly ones from "This is How You Lose Her," get raised up as exemplars in creative writing classes. They struck me, in previous encounters, as gritty and genuine but not where I was at the time.

"Oscar Wao" is where I am, have been, and probably always will be. The pitch blurb for the book got me immediately. Oscar Wao is a 300 lb. Dominican American with a complicated family life (to say the least) and a need to become the next J.R.R. Tolkien and find true, enduring love. His story is told, in part, by his frenemy from college, "Junior." Through Junior's eyes, Oscar becomes something more than simply a sad pity case, he becomes the symbol of all that connects two countries, two states of being, two individuals, and two existences. Oscar Wao is symbol of transformation and hope but also the ceaseless misery that comes from not really being part of any one world. The book is profane, heart-felt, merciless, empathic, epic, and almost unbearably raw. It is simply one of the best things that I've ever read.


A new chapter of Agent Shield and Spaceman is now available. For those keeping score, I've now reached the 33rd chapter of the story, which according to my novel outline is past the half way mark. I'd take that with a grain of salt. I've already added a couple of chapters and might do so again if the story demands it. But still, I feel as though I'm reaching a kind of inflection point for the story. Thank you for reading and, as always, feedback is encouraged.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

New Chapter for "Agent Shield and Spaceman"

After a little bit of delay this week, I have updated my serial web fiction "Agent Shield and Spaceman," with a new chapter, the thirtieth. 

Two quick notes on this chapter.

First off, this is one of my favorites. When I was going through the old manuscript, trying to decide if this project was really worth my time and effort, this was the one that sealed the deal for me. Paradoxically, I'm still not sure if the tale of Igor Splendov really belongs in this novel. This comes very soon after the Interlude chapter which was sort of like this one in form and function. But, I think it's impact would be lost later on in the story. That said, there's something about this episode that I find compelling. Perhaps that's the advantage of this web serial style of fiction. If you'd rather not read this back-story about the Delta Omega base, you can skip ahead.

Well, not now, exactly, but when the whole thing is done, I suppose.

Okay, second note. I recommend listening to this chapter with the following musical accompaniment. If you have not heard Nils Frahm's work before, you are in for a treat. Regardless, "Says," strikes more or less precisely the mood I was going for in this piece.