No One Asked For It…

Writer with dragon
Me, writing, under close supervision from a dragon

…but here is my May writing update. I ought to write about something other than… uh… writing, but I’m hard-pressed to find a topic. Suggest something to me? I’m not very interested in discussing politics here anymore. It’s not that I’m avoiding the news and political discussions, which is a very privileged position; it’s just that I know I’m not going to change the minds of anyone who has already made their minds up on issues and who have strong opinions that are just WRONG.


In April I submitted eight manuscripts, and most of them were rejected. Others are still waiting for a response.  I worked pretty extensively on my revisions for And the Devil Will Drag You Under, which I’m pleased with, and made significant progress on a new short story. I’m pleased with that too.

I’ve also sort of planned out what I’m going to work on next. First is the full-novel-length version of Witness to the Scourge, which was originally a short story that morphed into a novella. People generally liked it, but had questions about the main character’s narrative arc, and several said it has too much worldbuilding for one wee story. So I’m going to expand on it. It will require research into monster folklore from around the world, and that’s always fun.

The project after that will, thanks to comment a friend of mine made to me over brunch yesterday, probably be an actual middle-grade novel featuring cosmic horror and it will be specifically for kids with depression and anxiety. I was such a kid myself, and I was fond of scary stuff, so I this is right up my alley. It will require plenty of research, though, into subjects such as child psychology, depression and anxiety in children, and so on, and, of course, how to write middle grade fiction. One of my writing friends asked me whether the depression in the kids in the novel would be rooted in some sort of trauma, and I don’t think it will. Some kids suffer free-floating depression and anxiety, and I want to acknowledge that.

So there’s that.

My goals for May are:

  • Finish up revisions of And the Devil Will Drag You Under (my self-imposed deadline for this is June 21)
  • Finish up my short story “Little Old People”
  • Start writing my next short story, “Feast of the Forgotten”
  • Submit another nine manuscripts (I submit every Monday and Thursday, so this is very doable)

Even though I did not get into the prestigious Odyssey Writers’ Workshop this year, I’m excited for what the year ahead holds writing-wise. Excelsior!

Writing: A 1st-Quarter o’ 2023 Update

Three-headed dragon at a typewriter
A three-headed dragon tapping away at a typewriter

I know you’re all about my writing, oh ye who come regularly to my blog, so here’s an update:

First, since January, I’ve submitted twenty-six manuscripts to various markets; my goal for 2023, as it has been since 2021, is 100 submissions per year. I’ve gotten plenty of rejections, some personal with actionable feedback, some personal without actionable feedback, and some form rejections. Mostly form rejections. Editors are a busy lot, so they don’t tend to send personal rejections unless they are really impressed by the story, so I’m pleased with the ones I got.

Right now, I have eight outstanding submissions. I haven’t sold any stories to any pro markets, but I have high hopes for the rest of the year.

BUT! My sale to LOLCraft last year was enough to qualify me for membership in both Codex, an online writers’ group, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). Getting into both of these organizations has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and I honestly had gotten to the point where I didn’t think I’d ever get into them. But lo and behold, I did! Yay me!


Work continues apace on revisions to my novel And the Devil Will Drag You Under, which I hope to have done by the end of June. After that I am planning to revise The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster, that bane of my existence since 2005. After that, I have an idea for a novel called Witness to the Scourge, an urban fantasy novel that has grown out of my short story of the same title (earlier titled “The BIM” for reasons which I can no longer recall). That’ll be fun. I’m enjoying all these projects, but the vastness of revising a novel is… well, it’s intimidating, even if I’ve taken a class from Cat Rambo on novel revision and read a couple of articles and a book about the process.

Ah, well. The words continue to spew forth.

In other news, I went to a dermatologist on Wednesday to have a suspicious growth on my leg looked at. Did you know that there are over 3,000 diagnoses that can be associated with dermal conditions? I didn’t. But that’s the kind of small talk you get into when you chat with a dermatologist while he’s injecting anesthetic into your skin, slicing off a growth, and cauterizing the wound. I also hadn’t realized that the skin on the shin is so thin that wounds there can’t be stitched closed, so cauterization is necessary. Interesting.

I’ve also been attacked by kobolds the past week… and if you haven’t been around here long, kobolds are my chosen representative of depression. Winston Churchill had his Black Dog. I have my kobolds. Nothing major happened. I’ve been sick with a cold, though that’s lessened, and that always exacerbates things.

Kobold Playing a Lute
A Kobold playing a lute. Because why not?

But I’m feeling fine now. A little bit wheezy and short of breath, but the kobolds have moved on and I’m feeling better.

I hope you’re all doing well. Until we meet again.


A Morbid Topic: Life, Death, and Wisdom

The cover image for the "Strange Customs" podcast
Sasha Sagan’s podcast, “Strange Customs”

I was listening to the latest episode of “Strange Customs“, the podcast hosted by Sasha Sagan (yes, daughter of Carl), and the topic of death came up. I try not to be particularly morbid or maudlin, but it’s something to think about. So I started thinking about life and death and wisdom.

I am, as you well know by now, a Christian — specifically, I am an Episcopalian, though I haven’t stepped into an Episcopal church since the Before Times. Thus, I do believe in an afterlife. I differ from many Christians in that I make no belief statements about what that afterlife might be like. Is it spending an eternity in the presence of God, just soaking up their infinite glory (yes, I use they/them pronouns for God, since I believe God transcends gender)? Is it just like life on Earth, except you get to hang out with the likes of Socrates and Einstein? I don’t know. Frankly, I think it’s beyond the comprehension of us living human beings. It’s trite, but I like to think of the process of dying as similar to the process of being born: when we are developing in the womb, we have no idea what life will be like on Earth. Similarly, as we are developing on Earth, we have no idea what the next stage of our existence will be.

If there is a Heaven, then I think everyone will be surprised by who else makes it there. Except I’m not sure there IS a Heaven or a Hell. Again: I don’t know what the afterlife is like. Jesus hinted that there might be a physical resurrection, but I don’t know how to interpret that.

We’re not granted much time here in Earth. We are born, we live for a few decades, possibly a century at best, and then we pass on. Personally, I don’t think that we can gain a whole lot of wisdom in that period of time. We can talk all we like about how older people are wise for their years, but if we all meet a maximum of wisdom over our lifetime, we’d all be more alike. Instead, everyone is wise in their own ways. What kind of wisdom would we gain if we lived to be two hundred years old? Or five hundred? Or a thousand?

Okay, maybe that doesn’t make any sense. Eh, I’ll leave it in.

Of course, you don’t have to be old to be wise. Young children have their own wisdom to share. Adolescents do as well. It simply behooves us to pay attention and listen to what they have to say.  Wisdom is wisdom, no matter where you find it.

The third Jumanji film, Welcome to the Jungle, is a fun film to watch. Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillian, and the rest are a delight, and so is Danny DeVito. In the beginning of the film, Danny DeVito, whose character journey is, I think, the heart of it, states, “Being old is a curse”.  At the end, after all his life-and-death adventures and building up his relationships with his friends and family members, he changes his tune: “Being old is a blessing.”

Me, I’m currently five-five years old. I don’t consider myself “old”, though I suppose by some measures I am. I don’t think of my age as a curse, even as my body self-sabotages itself occasionally and close friends and family members pass on. I like to think that as I do get older and become a wizened old man, I will gain some wisdom, and be more like Danny DeVito at the end of the film. Life is a blessing, Old age is a blessing. Death itself, for whatever reason, might be a blessing.

We’re not given a whole lot of time on this tiny Earth. The time we have we should spend listening to others, being kind to them, caring for them and this precious Earth that we find ourselves on.

Difficult Decisions

Today I decided that I’m going to fire — or, at least, shelve indefinitely — my pirate novel. I had a vision for it, and I wanted it to take place in the real world as a novel of historical fantasy; however, the more I learned about the history and culture of pirates and the world they inhabited, the more I realized my vision just wasn’t going to work out. I may return to it someday, I suppose. I still have all the books I bought on the topic of pirates, and the books that people have given me, so I’ll continue the reading. Pirates are fascinating, and the history of piracy is a really interesting topic, but it just wasn’t gelling.

The other difficult decision I actually made several months ago, when it was time to enroll in spring courses for the MLIS program: I decided to drop out. This decision was made for a number of reasons:

  1. Stress. Last spring, I was very stressed out about the classes I was taking. While it didn’t really have any deleterious physical effects on me, I was getting depressed and anxious. And definitely not looking forward to the following Fall semester of courses.
  2. Academic ability. This is probably the wrong term for it, because it implies that I’m not very smart. I know I’m an intelligent guy, and that I can accomplish a lot when I put my mind to it. I’ve done it before. However, writing academic papers on obscure topics just isn’t my thing. I did write one, on the information-seeking behaviors of cryptozoologists, but it received a poor grade, and even though the professor gave extensive feedback, I still have no idea how to improve it. I have books on how to write academic research papers, but I haven’t read them.
  3. Career prospects. I did quite a bit of research into career prospects for entry-level librarians. They don’t look good. I would need to be a high-level librarian to make the kind of money I would need and earn a salary equivalent to what I earn now. This was extremely unlikely. In the field, you rarely are able to find a job that (a) pays what you need, and (b) is located near you.
  4. Future satisfaction. There’s also the fact that a lot of librarians simply didn’t like their jobs, and the more I learned about what their job entails, the less I liked the idea of being a librarian. Public librarians must act as liaisons to the community in addition to serving regular patrons, and these community members are often insane (think of the growing number of book bans happening throughout the country). Academic librarians — specifically, science librarians, which is where I wanted my own career to go — must deal with academia (very often a toxic environment), and, to progress in the field, often must possess an advanced academic degree IN ADDITION TO the MLIS degree. No thanks.

“But Richard,” I hear you say, “isn’t this the second time you’ve dropped out of library school?” Aye, it is. This time, though, I feel good about my decision, whereas the first time I was ambivalent and never really felt good about it.

The only guilt I feel about these decisions is financial. I spent a lot of money on pirate books and one-shot lectures about pirate history. I spent even more money on tuition and class supplies and various professional memberships. But without the semi-annual tuition cost, our finances might be better off.

The sunk-cost fallacy is hard at work here. I mean, you put a lot of resources into a thing, you may as well see that thing through to the end, right? Well, not if the end result is no good. In the long run, my creativity will be freed up to work on other projects, and my brain will enjoy not having to study all the time.

On the other hand, my brain has decided to punish me with an idea for a new trilogy of novels, which frustrates me since I haven’t finished And the Devil Will Drag You Under yet. But that’s a topic for a different blog entry.

Thinking about bucket lists

glow-in-the-dark ghost bucket
Oh no! A ghost bucket!

I’ve been thinking about the term “Bucket List” for quite some time. I first heard it in reference to a 2007 film called The Bucket List, but I don’t think I’d heard of people using the term for their own lists of things they wanted to do before they die until about ten years ago. I’m not sure, though. Who knows.

At any rate, I figured that since I don’t really have a bucket list, I ought to put one together. Here’s some items to get me started:

  1. See Dropkick Murphys/Flogging Molly in person. I almost had a chance to do this three or four years ago, and missed it. I wanted to see David Bowie at some point before he died, but then he died in 2016 and the world went to Hell.
  2. Travel some more. There are plenty of countries I’d like to viist. New Zealand. Egypt. Plenty of places in Europe. Japan. Etc.
  3. Write more novels. Natch.
  4. Heck, just see more concerts in general. I’d love to see The Hu or Bloodywood in concert as well, but I fear I might feel… old in their audiences. I’ll check with some folks I know are the same age as me who have been to those concerts, though.
  5. Finish my novels.

That’s it. Whew. Not much, I suppose. Maybe I ought to get into some specifics. But not now.  Right now I’m just feeling lazy.

What about you? Any suggestions for my list? Do you have a list to share?


What We Do for New Year’s Eve…

Squid vs. Sperm Whale animated gif
Embiggen this picture by clicking on it to see some hot squid on whale action!

…Or, at least, what I do for New Year’s Eve, which also happen to be my birthday, is refocus. Or try to.

As always, I have some areas that I want to refocus in. I wrote about these in my personal journal (which I’m keeping on my spiffy reMarkable 2 notepad computer! I bought this as an early birthday gift for myself). These areas are:

  • Friends and Family
  • Learning
  • Faith and Spirituality
  • Writing
  • Daikaijuzine
  • Community
  • Health and Fitness
  • Work

That last one was added reluctantly, of course, but it’s a necessity. While I’m not angling for a position as supervisor or (God forbid!) manager in my job, my boss does want me to take more of a leadership position in the project I’m part of, and to become a Subject Matter Expert in it. Considering I’m probably the least experienced programmer on the team (by no means incompetent, but I still have a lot to learn), this may be difficult to achieve.

I won’t go into details in all of the above, because it’s probably boring to you. I will say that I intend to go to church more, reach out to my friends and family more, take my writing even more seriously, set and achieve some new goals with Daikaijuzine, volunteer more, and take better care of myself. These aren’t necessarily resolutions. I just want to spend my time more mindfully.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s my next series of blog posts: each of these areas of focus in turn. Maybe boring. Maybe not. Who knows? We’ll see.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and things are mellow in my house and will continue to be so. I’m writing this blog post, and Jennifer is working on one of the jigsaw puzzles she got for Christmas. The cats are minding their own business. Even Guffaw, who is the rowdy crazy boy in the house right now, is leaving Jennifer’s puzzle alone, which is very good for him. Lunch will be soon. Soon I will go run some errands, including buying diapers for our foster kitty who has manx syndrome and is therefore utterly incontinent. I may do some writing too.

It’s raining, which cancels our plan to walk to Corti Brothers nearby and look to see what sort of food selection they have.

And so it goes. Which reminds me that I received a few books on writing and craft from my family. My very spiffy niece gave me Pity the Reader, by Kurt Vonnegut; my nephew and his girlfriend gave me It’s All Just a Draft by Tobias Buckell; my sister-in-law gave me Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. LeGuin; and my mother-in-law gave me Bill Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors. Consider that all the authors listed here are among my favorites, this should be a good writing and reading year.

I also decided to reactivate my GoodReads account, which I am really kind of loath to do, since GoodReads is owned by a certain major corporation that is slowly gobbling up all internet commerce. But I want to track my reading this year, and LibraryThing does not give me the functionality I need. Maybe I’ll spin up a tool of my own in PHP. That would be a good project, I suppose, especially if I integrate it into WordPress.


Happy New Year to you, and may your 2023 be a good one.

It’s a thoughtful day for Holidailies.

Publication Alert! Woo hoo!

I had two short story acceptances in 2022 (out of 100 submissions). The first acceptance, “Blank”, is available from the Dark Recesses website (see my Writing page for a link). The second, “How the Old Ones Saved Christmas”, is available now in the anthology LOLCraft: A Compendium of Eldritch Horror!

You can get to the Amazon page for this fine collection by clicking the picture above.

I’m quite pleased with this story, which features the Old Ones Hastur and Nodens trying to save Christmas after Santa goes insane, for reasons which are revealed in the story. I don’t remember the true origins of the story, but it does feature some of the same characters found in “Night of the Frozen Elf“, even though it’s not a direct sequel or prequel. More of a “sidequel”, if you will. Whatever. The characters are the same. The story is different.

If you go out of your way to purchase the collection, either in paperback or electronic, I really hope you enjoy my story. The other stories are enjoyable, I’m sure (I haven’t read them because I haven’t received my author’s copy yet), but rest assured, my story is quite fun.

‘Tis an eldritch season for Holidailies

The Next Adventure

Now that Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish have finished their journey and retrieved their wings and we have seen the glory that is a village of flying penguins, what should I do next for holidailies?

I have no idea.

I was going to write about a dream I had — I dreamed that there was a school with a haunted basement and it was quite scary until I got to the end, when it was revealed that Stephen King had written it all — but I long ago realized that my dreams are only interesting to me and not to anyone else. Unless they’re dream analysts, I guess.

Then I was going to write about Christmas, but I’m too tired to do that right now. I got books, I got games, I got an honorary adopted emperor penguin, and that was a good haul. My birthday’s in a few days, too, so there are gifts yet to come.

Then I was going to write about 2022, the year that was, but then I decided I’d do that on December 31 (which also happens to be my birthday). My post about goals and areas of focus for 2023 will wait until January 1.

So for now… It’s the third day of Christmas for those of you with a liturgical bent, so celebrate accordingly.

Day Twenty-Five: Wings for Everybody!

Wings! Wings! Everyone gets wings!

Penguin with golden wings
Uncle Nav with wings!

Here’s crazy ol’ Uncle Nav with his wings. They’re the golden wings that Pancake and Pep found in the magic chest. Uncle Nav is a big penguin — I don’t know what species of penguin Pancake et al are supposed to be, but if Uncle Nav is this large, then perhaps they are emperor penguins.

Another penguin with golden wings
Pancake with wings!

Here’s Pancake the Penguin with her golden wings! And still carrying that bowl of pancake batter.

And, of course, that’s the end of the adventure. They all get wings, according to the narrative, and then all the penguins in Waddleberg fly around, and it’s all stunning and magical and narrated by Morgan Freeman.

Cutaway box with a view of golden-winged penguins flying around
Behold! A scene of flying penguins!

If you embiggen the picture above, you’ll see a world of flying penguins, all with their golden wings. What joy.

And, finally, just to make sure everything’s fair and equal, here’s Pep the Lungfish with her golden wings as well:

Papercraft fish with golden wings
Pep gets wings too!

But flying lungfish aren’t as interesting as flying penguins, so let’s move on.

According to the narrative text that is printed on each of the little envelopes that these little papercraft critters come in, if you leave Pancake the Penguin with her wings on your Christmas tree, then on Christmas morning she might just take flight!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that you enjoyed following Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish through their adventures in the Ice Cream Forest, past the Mountains of Madness, and so on, as well as their defeat of the Ice Cream Fairy and Snow Monster Narlee. Have a happy new year, and all that jazz.

Day Twenty-Four: The Town Square

(This was written on Monday the 26th, days after the 24th.)

A papercraft snow penguin
They call this a snowguin! Complete with top hat!

It’s a day of jubilation in Waddleberg as Pancake the Penguin and her sister Pep the Lungfish arrive in the town square. No one believed it was possible. They all figured Old Penguin Nav was just bonkers, had gone mad from the sights he’d seen in his earlier quests, and that his stories of a Golden Key, of a magic chest, and wings were all delusions. But no! Pancake and Pep came zooming into town on the chest and spread wings to everyone who witnessed their grand arrival!

And then there’s a celebration in the center of town square, where the villager penguins all build a giant snow penguin (a “snowguin”, they all it). The honor of putting the top hat on top of the tree falls to Pancake and Pep because of their status as heroic adventurers.

This town has it going on!

But perhaps some lone, uninitiated traveler came across the penguin village of Waddleberg late at night when it was deserted, and saw the snowguin, and went quite mad. Remember the story of the albino giant penguin in the cave that Lovecraft wrote about? Perhaps the giant snowguin is the source of the legend.


It’s a time for Holidailies in Waddleberg!

The entry for the twenty-fourth of the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Rest) reads, “The conventional wisdom is that new parents should rest when the baby is resting. Make sure you take some time out to
rest with Baby Jesus — and marvel in the wonder of a fresh, new, clean, shiny, tiny, precious start. Take a nap and thank God for the gift of Jesus and for peace at Christmas.”

Christmas Eve is traditionally rather busy in my family, as Jennifer and I go down to visit my folks and the house is full of people. I got to spend some time with my sisters, with my mom and dad, and with my four-year-old nephew, playing some sort of game with balls and cars, with rules that I didn’t understand but he did, and that’s all that matters. I rested very little. We had a lot of presents to wrap before leaving, and even though I actually read the entry in the morning (the church cross-posts the entries to Facebook), I didn’t take the time.

This calendar ends on the 24th, so this will be the last minor reflection on it. I suppose, though, that some secular holiday calendars — like the adventures of Pancake and Pep — and on the 25th. Tomorrow is Christmas, it’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, and a new adventure awaits.