Writing Update 10

Update: I have a new website: www.keilyblair.com. From now on, you can find my blog posts and updates on publications there. You can also find links to any of my published works that appear online. There’s a place to subscribe at the bottom of each page to continue receiving blog posts. I will also be offering my editing services, and you can find the details for those here.  Other than a new website and the following projects, I’m currently working on my two psychology courses: Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Aging.

Update 2: Just as a reminder, I will be attending a 10-week online horror writing workshop starting in June.

“Dashes to Ashes”: This creative nonfiction essay is now available on my new website! Click here to read it.

“The Life of a Butterfly”: This piece of flash horror fiction has been accepted at Trembling With Fear. It follows the life of a fairy desperately trying to get the attention of humans. I will post a link when it is published on their site.

“Lithium”: This creative nonfiction essay has been accepted by On Loan From the Cosmos. It details the exploration of the self through the eyes of an individual with bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I will post a link when it is available.

“Mother, Where Did I Come From?”: This piece is an incredibly personal flash creative nonfiction piece that came to me after stumbling across a writing prompt asking me to detail how I first learned about sex. What followed was the result of my mother’s teachings through the filter of her own experiences as a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

“Olfactory Memory”: Again, this story has been published in Five on the Fifth! Here is a link: http://www.fiveonthefifth.com/vol-5-issue-7-story-1.

“Untitled Paranormal Romance Novel”: Nothing on this yet besides the fact that it’s set in the Victorian Era and I have to do a ton of research on the time period for the novel to work well.

Personal Readings: The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan (horror, novel), Cold Iron Heart by Melissa Marr (historical fantasy, novel), Lady Bits by Kate Jonez (horror, short story collection), The Lost World by Michael Crichton (audiobook)

Stay tuned on my website for my blog post on writing resources. Keep writing!

Writing Update 9

Publishing Update: “Olfactory Memory”: This short horror story has been published in Five on the Fifth! Click here to read!

College Update: I’ve started my summer semester, which consists of three psychology courses (2 the first month of the summer semester, 1 during the last month or so). I’m trying to knock out my minor.

Writing Update: I will be attending a 10-week online horror writing workshop starting in June. It will require me to write every week, but I’m not sure what that writing will entail. Hopefully, the workshop will help me produce a few more short stories.

A Lovely Verse: Once again, I’ve decided to put this on hiatus. I’m more focused on my shorter fiction and novel writing. A novella just doesn’t seem to be ideal right now.

“Dashes to Ashes”: This creative nonfiction essay was published in the Sequoya Review. Sadly, this is not online, and therefore I can’t share it with you. The essay involved my grief over the loss of my thirteen-year-old dog.

“Of Anxiety”: This creative nonfiction essay has been accepted for publication in Breath & Shadow! I’m really excited, as this is my favorite creative nonfiction piece I’ve written so far. It was after Michel de Montaigne’s “Of Fear.” I will post a link as soon as it is published.

“Untitled Dark Fantasy Novel”: I’d rather not say anything about this yet besides the fact that it uses Mesopotamian mythology.

“Untitled Horror Short Story”: This idea sparked when I realized just how paranoid I was about receiving mail on time (rather, obsessive).

Personal Readings: The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan (horror, novel), Cold Iron Heart by Melissa Marr (historical fantasy, novel), Lady Bits by Kate Jonez (horror, short story collection), The Lost World by Michael Crichton (audiobook)

Finished: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Fourth Genre, Ecotone, Cemetery Dance

Stay tuned for my blog post on writing resources. Keep writing!

This is Odie, the subject of “Dashes to Ashes,” before her death in 2019.

How to Write a Short Story in a Week

A lot has happened in the past weeks: tornadoes, thunderstorms, trees falling in my backyard, roof repairs, the end of the semester. So while I search for a distraction, I remembered that I promised an article on how to write a short story a week, and I’m hoping this helps one or two of you. This article will include my step-by-step process as well as six tips on how. You don’t even have to necessarily finish your process in a week. In fact, it’s really better if you treat the end result as a draft until further notice. I always find myself catching errors or things I want to change weeks, sometimes months, later. This is just to help you get started.

Day 1 – Brainstorming

I would, of course, recommend writing prompts. Typically I use my husband’s creative brain for writing prompts. He will come up with a few for me every now and then, and I’ll log them all in Scrivener. I typically time myself for 15 to 30 minutes and just free-write. I only allow myself a few minutes before that to think of the prompt I plan on writing on. You don’t want to overthink it or get stuck. You just want to write. I have maybe a hundred or so results of freewriting saved up, so after writing my prompt, I’ll go and select one of the prompts I’ve already written. That will be the basis for a story, no matter how basic of an idea. I’ll spend an hour or two brainstorming the plot, characters, etc. Don’t forget to take breaks!

Day 2 & 3 – Writing

I typically finish my writing on Day 2, but sometimes we all need more time than that. So that’s two days of writing a short story with the end result being less than 5,000 words (which is my typical maximum for short stories). If you don’t write as fast, perhaps writing a short story every week isn’t a realistic goal, so write at your own pace! Anyways, these two days are solely about writing. Don’t edit. Don’t you dare look back over what you’ve written until you’ve neatly typed “The End” at the bottom of the document. It will be discouraging. No first draft is perfect.

Day 4 – Rest. Seriously. Rest.

Your work won’t run off and jump on the nearest bus to get away from you. It’ll sit there, quietly, on your computer. Let it rest. You seriously need a break yourself. You want to return to the story with fresh eyes, hoping to make it as unfamiliar as possible. In this cramped schedule, the most you can sacrifice is one day. So enjoy it. If you want, look up journals to submit your work to once you’re actually done. But that’s all the work you’re allowed to do. Rest.

Day 5 – Readers

I’m a firm believer in asking the opinions of readers, but make sure you find readers you can actually trust. As in, readers who won’t just shower you with empty praise. You want blunt critiques. What’s working? What’s not working? Is the dog the little girl finds a metaphor for something, or is it just sentimental crap? Well, you won’t know until you get readers. Either join a group to help you workshop or find a blunt friend who doesn’t mind taking a stab at your work. Remember, you’re a writer. You need tough skin.

Day 6 – Revision, Revision, Revision.

Today is the day you buckle down and revise. When you’re done, there should be at least one aspect of the work that is entirely different from the rough draft. And no, I don’t mean capitalizing that “t” you forgot to capitalize. Something about the plot or characters or setting should change. Something fairly big. This is revision. You’re going to correct flaws you found in the original and turn it into a real story. If you want, have your readers reread it and revise it again. There’s no limit to this step unless you really want to finish your work in a week.

Day 7 – Proofread

You made it. Today is the day you simply go over your errors with the step noticed in yesterday’s resource or today’s resource. You can also read your work backward, sentence by sentence, to see more errors. It’s grueling, but it’s the final step! You did it! Yay! Once you’re done, and you feel confident, go ahead and submit your work!

Best of luck to everyone. If you can’t find the will to be productive, remember to go easy on yourself. You’re not the only one with that problem, and it’s not a bad thing at all. Just keep writing once you feel better.

Writing Update 8

Pandemic Update: Well, depression finally hit, but it didn’t really slow me down. I have plans to finish a novella over the summer while I’m only taking three classes, and I’m still working on prompts, essays, and short stories daily. Productivity is my best coping mechanism, so I am not in any way saying that anyone else needs to be productive right now. I throw myself into work because the pandemic weighs on me, and I need an escape. Find your own healthy or productive manner of escape if you need one, even if it’s just a nice bubble bath or fifteen minutes of meditation. Find some way to block out the noise and relax.

College Update: Finished another semester. If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted in a bit, you can blame finals. That’s what I’m blaming, at least.

Good news: I won the Creative Nonfiction Award at my university. I’m actually starting to feel like a real writer with the acceptances and award.

A Lovely Verse: So I’ve decided to shorten this into a novella and change a bunch of things in it. I’m on chapter 5 of a planned 25, so it should be done by the end of May (especially since I’m writing at least 2,000 words a day).

“Lithium”: I’ve submitted this creative nonfiction essay to a journal.

“No Such Thing”: This short horror story is a rewrite of a horror story I wrote when I was in middle school. I found the file, liked the concept, hated the writing, and redid the entire thing in my current style. I’m actually pleased with how it turned out, but I think it’ll be the last rewrite I do for a while. Reading stuff I wrote before the age of twenty is just painful.

“Order, Chaos, and Diaries”: I’ve submitted this creative nonfiction essay to a journal.

“Olfactory Memory”: This has been accepted for publication at Five on the Fifth! It’ll be published in their next issue (May 5th), and I’ll post a link then.

“The Tiers of Dreaming”: This is my previously untitled short story about Hazel and dreams. I’ve received one rejection on it already, but the rejection was personal, so I’m hopeful. It’s been submitted to another journal.

“Untitled Short Horror Story”: This was sparked by a prompt in my speculative fiction class. My professor wanted us to take a subject we were familiar with and write brief facts/statements about the subject, followed by a story scene. I chose parasites. Yeah…

Personal Readings: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (horror, dystopian, novel), Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due (short story collection, horror), The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (horror, Welcome to Night Vale, audiobook), Fourth Genre (nonfiction journal), Cemetery Dance (horror journal), The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan (horror, novel)

Finished: Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson, Night to Dawn issue 37, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (horror, Welcome to Night Vale, audiobook)

I have written the blog post on how to write a short story in a week, and I will be posting it soon, as well as an entry on writing resources.

Weekly Writing Update 7

Pandemic Update: Being ultra-productive while staying home. My class actually had a visit from the author of That Which Grows Wild, Eric J. Guignard, a while back. It was very informative, and I was especially excited because I absolutely loved his dark fiction collection. For the most part, I’m trying to stay in touch with family and friends and create and edit short stories. I try to write a short story a week, though I spend plenty of time on edits. I’ll be writing an article on how to write a short story (at least one that is 5,000 words or less, most likely) each week soon.

“Communion”: This has been accepted for publication in Night to Dawn Magazine. I’m so excited! This is the first time I will be receiving payment for a story. It will be featured in the April 2021 issue.

“Lithium”: I submitted this to AGNI, and it didn’t make it. I did, however, receive a personalized rejection instead of a form rejection that called it “lively” and “interesting” and said they enjoyed reading it. They asked for me to submit more in the future and made a point to say this wasn’t a typical rejection. It’s the first personalized rejection I’ve received, so I wasn’t upset about it. I’ve submitted this elsewhere.

“Order, Chaos, and Diaries”: I’ve submitted this to a magazine.

“Olfactory Memory”: This one was submitted to the workshop instead. With “Communion” having been accepted to a magazine, it no longer makes sense for me to workshop it at the moment. So “Olfactory Memory” is my next project. Peer reviews really helped, though!

“Untitled Place Essay”: On the backburner until I complete this semester.

“Untitled Short Horror Story 1”: This is a short horror story I wrote the other morning after being unable to sleep. A mysterious shadow follows a young girl named Hazel in her dreams. Luckily, she’s an expert at lucid dreaming and always manages to get away. But then she digs too deep into her dreams.

“Untitled Short Horror Story 2”: This was sparked by a prompt in my speculative fiction class. My professor wanted us to take a subject we were familiar with and write brief facts/statements about the subject, followed by a story scene. I chose parasites. Yeah…

Readings for Class: Just workshops for the rest of the semester. This section will not be in the next update and will return in August.

Personal Readings: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (horror, dystopian), Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy), Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (audiobook, science fiction), It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (horror, Welcome to Night Vale), Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson (dark psychological fiction), Night to Dawn issue 37

Finished: Several short stories by Shirley Jackson, “Orange World” by Karen Russell, “Patient Zero” by Tananarive Due, “A Redress for Andromeda” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

As stated before, stay tuned on an article detailing how to write a short story in a week!

It’s a bit wordy, but The Passage trilogy is fantastic. The descriptions and characterization are spot-on. It remains to be one of my favorites. It’s definitely a refreshing approach to vampires.

6 Horror Reads if Quarantine is Driving You Insane

Quarantine’s psychological effects getting to you? I feel the same, but I’ve kept busy by reading and writing. Horror, mostly. Why am I reading horror during a nervous, panicky time? Because horror actually soothes me. Horror is one of my favorite genres (the other being fantasy), and the terror I feel over what I read actually disconnects me from the panic I feel being inside all day. If you’re like me in that regard, or you just feel like a good horror read, here’s a list for you.

  1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This psychological horror classic follows the protagonist, Eleanor, and two others summoned to Hill House to observe supernatural phenomenon. Under the guidance of Dr. Montague, an occult scholar, the three navigate the dangerous Hill House. Ultimately, the prose is beautiful and the journey to the thrilling end is laced with danger and mistrust. At some points, I had a very difficult time figuring out what was real and what wasn’t. If you prefer a shorter read, try Shirley Jackson’s “The Summer People.” It has a similar sort of psychological twist and turn to it without dedicating yourself to another novel. Note: The Haunting of Hill House is nothing like the Netflix show. The book is so, so much better.

2. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

First of all, if you haven’t listened to the podcast, take a moment to listen before you read the novels. You can find it on Spotify, or go to their website for a list of other places you can listen.

Better? Better. So the novel has all of the quirky, funny musings of the regular Welcome to Night Vale podcast, though it is laden with sinister undertones (also like the podcast). I think it can best be summed up with this line from the novel and podcast, “Welcome to Night Vale…a friendly desert community somewhere in the American Southwest, where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while its citizens pretend to sleep.” “Ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are commonplace parts of everyday life.” Do I have your attention? Perfect. This particular novel follows the characters Jackie and Diane as their lives weave together in a mystery that pervaded Night Vale for quite a few episodes. If you’re looking for horror laced with absurdist humor, you’ve come to the right place.

3. The Passage by Justin Cronin

Feeling like a trilogy? I get that feeling. The Passage–also nothing like the show, in a good way–is a science fiction/horror crossbreed that follows humanity’s desperate attempts to survive the outbreak of a horrible virus that morphs humans into monstrous Virals. It’s a little on the nose, but I recognize some of us need that right now. Follow a whole cast of characters as they search for the way to put an end to the threat of Virals. I won’t say too much on this one for fear of spoilers, but Cronin’s prose is fantastic. While a bit wearisome at times due to what feels like unnecessary description, Cronin has a mastery of characterization that allows you to really get to know and love a large amount of characters in a short time. The book is followed by The Twelve and The City of Mirrors.

4. That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard

How about a short story collection? Guignard’s sixteen stories are unusual, weird, and horrifying. They are absolutely refreshing! Some stories follow post-apocalyptic worlds, others are based so deeply in realistic settings that it’s hard to separate reality from the world Guignard has masterfully created. If that didn’t convince you, maybe the fact that Guignard won the Bram Stoker Award will. I will admit that none of the stories struck me as “scary,” but they were all very dark and weird. If weird is your thing, go for it. Guignard’s prose is enjoyable and descriptive, but just enough so that you get a clear picture of the worlds contained in the stories. I didn’t feel the need to put down the collection to take a break at all.

5. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

This is a mix of fantasy and thriller that I believe is best listened to on Audible (the performance is incredible!), but will also make a nice read. Follow Carolyn, a woman who was once American a long time ago, but has spent years under the study of the mysterious and cruel “Father.” When Father disappears, his powerful Library stands unguarded, and Carolyn must move quickly before her Father’s enemies or her “siblings” can take its power. The prose is brutal and somewhat vulgar in nature, but the story itself is well-crafted and the world-building is phenomenal. You’ll grow to love some characters, and love to hate the others. Carolyn appears to have forgotten what being human is all about, and her development blossoms on the page because of this loss.

6. Night to Dawn edited by Barbara Custer

This magazine of horror and science fiction is the perfect companion to quarantine. I started reading it for a class, and now I’m hooked. The stories often contain tropes like vampires, werewolves, and mummies, but with refreshing and absolutely beautiful twists (think vampires who need dentists, vampire therapists who help other vampires conquer their fears of religious objects, a zombie apocalypse on Valentine’s Day, etc.). The magazine also contains horrific artwork and poetry, as well as book reviews. The issues I’ve read so far also contain about twenty stories each (that includes a handful of flash fiction). If you’re looking for a fun, well-priced print horror magazine, this is your magazine. You can find it on Amazon (well, that’s just issue 37, but still).

Weekly Writing Update 6

Pandemic Update: My husband’s work was deemed essential, so I’m in quarantine alone most days. It wears on me a little, especially with all the rain around here lately, but I’m trying to stay productive. The stress has made me a little sickly, but nothing I haven’t been able to manage (though it did make this a week late). I say all of this because I don’t want anyone to feel alone. Quarantine is hard on all of us. Hang in there. If this update seems lacking, please forgive me.

“Communion”: Still awaiting the workshop. My first Zoom-aided classes occurred in the past week, and they were incredibly weird and awkward. Still, it was actually nice to see my classmates again, and it is my favorite class this semester. So it added a bit of light to each day we had class.

“Order, Chaos, and Diaries”: Currently in the process of looking for magazines to submit this one to.

“Safe Spaces in Wicked Places”: The due date was moved back for this one, so it’ll be a while before I can report on it. I’m fairly happy with the first draft, but I know it needs work.

“Olfactory Memory”: This is the previously untitled psychological/supernatural horror story I’ve been working on. It follows a woman waking up in a hospital in someone else’s body with no idea of how she got there. The rest of the summary may give away the story, so I’ll save it for now. Currently, I’m in the process of getting it peer reviewed before I take any more steps.

“Untitled Place Essay”: This one was fueled by a prompt that my professor gave the class. I’m currently tying in my personal experiences as a person on the autism spectrum and my love of zoos together into the essay. Rather, my love of my local zoo.

Readings for class: “The Brotherhood of Mutilation” by Brian Evenson, “A Redress for Andromeda” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Personal Readings (I know this list hardly changes, but personal reading is difficult thanks to class readings): The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (horror, dystopian), Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy), Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (audiobook, science fiction), It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (horror, Welcome to Night Vale), Night to Dawn issue #37 (horror), Dark Faith edited by Maurice Broaddus & Jerry Gordon (anthology, horror)

Finished: Night to Dawn issue #36 (horror), That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard (horror), “Family” by Joyce Carol Oates, “Snow Pavilion” by Angela Carter, “The Dark” by Karen Joy Fowler, The Rose That Blooms in the Night by Allie Michelle (poetry), The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (horror)

Stay tuned for some excellent news either this week or the next!

In the wake of all of this insanity, don’t forget to keep writing!

If you’re not a big fan of books, Welcome to Night Vale is actually a podcast. It’s science fiction/horror/dark humor, and it’s my absolute favorite podcast.

Announcement

I’ll admit I haven’t been following my own advice the past week. I let the stress of this pandemic get to me. So in the wake of everything that has happened so far, I’m writing this as a reminder that it is human to occasionally be unable to write, to fail to keep deadlines. It is human to feel crushed under the weight of the world, or to feel that very weight in the palm of your hand when you hold the pen, unable to write. This is an extraordinary circumstance.

However, it’s also good to mention that even if this circumstance did not exist, you could still feel that weight. You could still feel stressed and underappreciated and depressed and manic and scared.

But I do not invite you to wallow in it with me. I have crawled out of the pit of my own depression, and I still have more advice for how you can join me. My depression is still nagging me, telling me I’m worthless and I can’t do anything right. It’s telling me to shut down this blog because no one reads it anyways, despite how much it aids me personally to write the blog posts.

So my advice for you: Call up a friend or relative. Get out in the sunshine, if only for fifteen minutes. Take vitamin D supplements if there’s no sunshine to be found. Snuggle up with your favorite person or pet and feel the effects of dopamine and serotonin.

And for now, enjoy this lovely picture of my dog, Snicket, as she runs in joyous abandon.

Named for Lemony Snicket and the series of unfortunate events that brought her to us.

You can look for my next update tomorrow. Keep writing.

Coronavirus & Writer’s Block

So this was not what I planned to write this week, but I feel the more resources we have for writing in this time, the better.

If you’re like me, you may find yourself stunted when you’re forced to stay inside all day. If you’re living in a rainy area like me, that stunted feeling might be coupled with a real bout of depression. That depression can worsen when you realize that there’s no one you can see in person right now and nowhere fun you can go to with so many businesses closing for the time being. However, things don’t have to be this way.

If you find yourself stunted, you can try one of the six methods listed below:

  1. Try brainstorming. This can be accompanied by a writing prompt like the ones listed at the bottom of this post, or it can just be timing yourself for ten to thirty minutes and not lifting your pen or pencil from the paper until your timer goes off (or keep typing the entire time if you prefer a computer like I do). This forces you to write. It’ll be bad writing, but it’s better than no writing at all. Also, you may get something out of it for later use in a story or essay.
  2. Exercise. This doesn’t have to be at a gym or popular hiking trail. Go for a walk in your neighborhood if you can limit your contact with others. Or exercise in your home with exercise videos on YouTube or that treadmill that’s collecting dust in your guinea pig room (note to self). Exercise is proven to help with depression and overall mood, and it can be pretty great for creativity as well. Try listening to some music or an audiobook while you exercise to really add to that creative bonus.
  3. Practice a hobby unrelated to writing. I actually had to do this in the last day or so. The idea of isolation and the spread of the coronavirus kicked my anxiety into gear, and I was stuck. I just constantly worked on schoolwork that isn’t due for another week or more. So my husband (being the wonderful person he is) suggested I take a break from schoolwork. Instead of schoolwork, I put together a 3D giraffe puzzle that I’d been saving for a free moment. Puzzles are just my thing, though. You can practice plenty of crafts, logic puzzles, or other productive hobbies from the safety of your home, and often with items you already have lying around. Try looking up some fun DIY projects to give yourself a break from stressing out, then return to writing at another time.

Writing prompts:

  1. The last meal I ever ate.
  2. That always was my favorite color.
  3. That was such a realistic dream.
  4. What are you doing here?
  5. What do you do for a living?
  6. Have you met the neighbors? (This one sparked an entire novel idea for me. Prompts work!)
  7. Well, I was asking for a sign.
  8. Blue sky. That doesn’t make this easier.
  9. King? King of what?
  10. The wall finally fell. It had started.

And if you like one-word prompts like I do:

  1. Oil
  2. Melancholy
  3. Piano
  4. Sloth
  5. Emerald
  6. Mountain
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Microbial
  9. Rainbow
  10. Willows

Remember, you can still write. You’re not a failure if you miss a day or twenty, or even a hundred. You’re a writer, and you will come out of this stronger than ever.

Keep writing.

My lovely giraffe and calf puzzle. I plan on working on a cat and kitten 3D puzzle next time I panic.

Weekly Writing Update 5 + A Note on the Pandemic

A Lovely Verse: Currently on brief hiatus. I will return to this project this summer, most likely.

“Communion”: So this short story follows the demonic possession of a woman’s girlfriend after they come in possession of an antique mirror. I’ve just finished the third draft on it, and it’s looking better and better. I will be submitting it to my class workshop, but that won’t be for another few weeks while my college’s courses move to online courses due to the pandemic.

Note: Just a brief reminder: On the topic of the pandemic, please try to stay calm and limit contact with other people. I know quite a few people who would be in trouble if they caught the coronavirus, and I’m worried for them, but panicking will get us nowhere. Be courteous and kind to those around you. When all of this is over, they will remember unkind actions and words. And you’ll likely feel the sting of your own selfish behavior or words if you choose to act insane. Try to be understanding of others in their desire to self-quarantine as well.

“Order, Chaos, and Diaries”: So the feedback I got on this essay was spectacular. My professor really feels I’m going somewhere with my revisions. I will be reading over it a few more times to look for other possible revisions, then it’s off to magazines!

Place/Travel Essay: I’ve finished the first draft of my essay, and I’ve titled it “Safe Spaces in Wicked Places.” My essay explores the idea of the “safe space,” and how sometimes the places we deem safest (mental health institutions, for example) are sometimes more unsafe than anything else. In my essay, I encourage you to develop your own safe space. I will be submitting this for workshop in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed!

Untitled Horror Short Story: Still in the early phases on this one. Haven’t even completed a full draft of it.

Readings for class: Night to Dawn issue #36 (horror), That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard (horror), “In the Hills, the Cities” by Clive Barker (horror)

Personal Readings (I know this list hardly changes, but personal reading is difficult thanks to class readings): The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (horror), The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (horror, dystopian), Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy), The Rose That Blooms in the Night by Allie Michelle (poetry), Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (audiobook, science fiction), An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (mental health, memoir)

Finished: “It Only Comes Out at Night” by Dennis Etchison (horror, read it), “The Function of Dream Sleep” by Harlan Ellison (horror)

Stay tuned for blog entries on topics like From the Mouths of Dogs by B. J. Hollars, Michael McDowell’s Southern Gothic novels, what it’s like to be accused of being possessed by demons.

And here’s a writing prompt for fun: Amethyst

In the wake of all of this insanity, don’t forget to keep writing!

The Weird is one of my textbooks for my Speculative Fiction: Horror class. It contains some really creepy and scary tales. If you see me mention a short horror story I’m reading, it’s from this anthology.