Death Rattle Cat Rant

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Death Rattle, Nampa, Idaho Oct 4-6, 2019

October. Halloween. We’re approaching my favorite holiday. My pumpkins were eaten alive by bugs. It’s cold here.

And I will be mingling with other humans this weekend. Dread is my main emotion, frankly. I have pretty much turned into cat lady practically sealed inside a dwelling with her stacks of TV Guides from the 80’s. Remember those???

You could read, ahead, what was gonna be on TV! Do the crossword puzzle. I don’t know, it’s been a while. Remember magazines? Ah! The only reason I actually go to a doctor is to sit and read Sunset or Reader’s Digest. What are they wearing in Aspen for the 2002 Fall season? Laughter really is the best medicine. So why am I here when I can cure whatever’s wrong with my heart rate by just laughing at it?? I’d save myself getting weighed, then having to wait for whatever pills big Pharma…Anyhoo!

Oh, cat lady attempted joke. Then distracted by TV Guide nostalgia. Then dad jokes about magazines in general. I am so woke. 

Dread in dealing with others.

I will have to do small talk, maybe. If I talk to anyone. I might not. But I am manning a booth. [Womanning?] I’m selling, I’m a salesperson for a few hours this Caturday.

I don’t have a cat, I should not make cat jokes.

I haven’t even seen any cats about, we used to have them all over. There used to be cats that lived with us. I remember a cat of ours that got trapped by the hammock. That was one mad cat once we got it cut out of the strings.

Another cat from way back adopted my mother at a sale barn where she was buying pigs. It brought my mother her kittens. People were glaring at her cause this calico kitty was VERY LOUD AND INSISTENT that my mother was its goddess and reason for being. Alice lived with us for many a year, the best mouser ever. She lived outside. I don’t remember if she got spayed, she probably did. Our animals did not go about having loads of babies when I was little or when I got older.

Spay and neuter. I worked in animal shelters. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR GODDAMN PETS. PSA over.

Well, as this post will get maybe just me ticking it as a ‘like’, thank you for reading.

I think I am actually ready for this coming event hawking my wares to the truly indifferent public. I looked up how to get there—it’s just a street over from where I was last year, so that’s good and nice and good. Same exit and everything. Score! My anxiety level will creep high and higher yet as the week winds down. But it will be over by next Monday and then the anticipation and dread of the Mountain Home reading.

I will be in Nampa, Idaho this weekend!!! Road trip! 

I will be shilling my books and some art, and then reading a flash fiction piece on Sunday about a naughty computer program called the Fish Whisperer. Naughty in the PG sense, not X. Sorry.

The Death Rattle Writer’s Festival starts this Friday, runs through Sunday. Okay. Bye!

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from Flickr. Downtown Nampa, Idaho. This is where I will be. Looks like a movie set, almost. Almost. 

 

 

Death Rattle Writer’s Festival

I will be attending the Death Rattle Writer’s Festival in Nampa, Idaho, this first weekend in October. I will be reading a flash fiction piece and manning a booth. I am attempting to SELL STUFF and this time, plan to offer some painted objects as well as my books. I plan to get the bank app on my phone as no one carries cash anymore. Except, um, me. And some business cards! I tell ya, I’m almost a competent adult this time around. 

So plan on my writing about that experience and how it goes.

If you happen to be in Western Idaho and wish to attend:

https://www.deathrattlewritersfest.org/

Nampa is next door to Boise, by the way. Idaho is right next to Oregon. [Some might not automatically know where Idaho is. I get fuzzy on the what states are what back east and geography in general. I am so very American.] 

Some pics of my wares and of course, my two novels are available for e-readers and your real life bookshelves. Cheers, all! And thanks for reading, as always. 

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Salt clay ornaments.
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Close up of salt clay star ornament. 
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It was windy when I was trying to take ‘artistic’ shots of a few of these. 
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I tried to keep them simple, elegant and sparkly. 
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Some painted rocks. 

 

 

Activities with Rocks

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Early attempts at painting rocks

I wrote a scathing diatribe on the political hellscape that is ‘murica lately. Instead, to welcome yet another interminable month in this interminable slog of a life, I’ll write about rocks.  I’ll mention two novels that will hit sometime that could be any time, really. And something of mine that got included in a literary journal.

Rocks? Wha?

Military parade with a bloated price tag. Tanks. Money to pay for this culled from the national parks and veteran’s programs. With ticket prices, VIP seats! Sumbitch! Kids in cages. But hey, Nike pulled the Betsy Ross flag design and PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS CAUSE FREEDOM AND RIGHTS AND HONORING THE TROOPS OR…or…or…mm. Is that blood leaking from my ears? 

Yeah, I’m painting rocks. Badly. But it’s been a long time since I’ve painted anything. It seems a lot of people I know have turned to artsy crafty stuff to deal with…the drumbeats that celebrate the end of my country. With those supporting this screaming that we should get over it. With a ‘snowflake’ thrown in there.

I have friends also painting mandalas on rocks, leaving them places. Or writing some inspirational on a pebble, leaving it where others can find it and hopefully get inspired.

I do have a reason for why I’m slapping cheap paint on free rocks.

Last year, I went to the Death Rattle writer’s conference in Nampa, Idaho. I tried to sell some books. I was ill prepared. I didn’t have the fancy bank transaction app on my knock off Chinese-made phone. Where you can take people’s credit cards, run a transaction. Cause I didn’t even know that existed…I’m woefully behind the tech times. I’m also not up with how to sell your shit in these ultra-modern times. So. Learning experience.

I did get out of the house and mingle with others. Plus right there!

So I will attempt another attempt at a booth. You don’t have to pay a fee. Just apply for a spot. It’s held in a small alley by a bar. You sit there and try to smile and look inviting and friendly. Everyone seems to know everyone else. They’re all old friends or at least nodding acquaintances. But this time, for my wares, I intend to offer some art.

This takes place in October so I have the long hot summer to create. Or try to create something I can display without cringing.

I’ll also make some salt clay somethings. I was thinking pendants. One of a kind, small, tasteful, pretty. As I would love something like that and would scrape pennies out of the cup holders in the car to get one. I could also do some Christmas ornaments or even Halloween ornaments. I do write a lot of horror fiction. And it is my fave holiday.

If I focus on this rather pleasant problem, I do not focus on the crud coating my brain or the GODDAMN FUCKERY THAT IS CHEETOLINI and all that. At least, not entirely.

Also, I find other friends painting rocks or quilting. I noticed that Seth Andrews, who does the Thinking Atheist podcast, among other endeavors, got hooked on the Great British Baking Show. He’s been baking. I know tons of folks who love that show and then try to bake. Like, oh, me. Me, I’m one of those. 

 I am also hooked on baking competition shows.  I find baking so oddly fulfilling. I take raw ingredients, produce something roughly like what I saw. I’ve even managed to produce loaves of bread. I’ve moved from just schlupping the dough into a heated up giant cast iron pot into cutting the lump of dough in half, then placing that into bread pans.

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I made this!

I’ve graduated to seeing what I can shape the dough into. Can I braid it or…turn it into something actually pretty or French Bakery-esque?

Yeah, no, not yet. But I haven’t been baking bread for that long and it takes a lot of flour. And yeast. It seems like a lot of people need comfort and an outlet to deal with reality lately. That everyone seems to have picked up some sort of art hobby or baking or throwing away all their stuff in some sort of supercleanse or life enema. I wonder why.  I don’t. That was sarcasm. I don’t wonder why at all.

Rocks.

I feel like I’ve got an actual plan here, planning for a booth space I might not even get. But it’s a long-range plan. Longer than “make it through day.”

Ah, a flash fiction piece of mine, By Starlight By Starlight My Dear, is included in the latest edition of A Door is a Jar literary magazine. I had entered an earlier version of this same one that got soundly rejected, with actual criticism sent my way. I rewrote it. It got better. A Door is a Jar accepted it and there ya go.

Oh, so I think I have two books in editing right now. Alice in Oregonlandia, the not at all anticipated sequel to my dead on arrival House on Clark Boulevard. I kid, I kid! You’re supposed to Always Be Closing. That line from the Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross.

It takes up about ten years after the end of House. Alice gets a turn. The fall out of Nancy’s time in that house. Alice discovering a few truths about herself. How Art steps up as dad and caregiver.

Aftermath, which is my take on…wait for it…zombies. I know. I know. But!! It follows Hannah as she finds herself in a world run by zombies, after killing herself because she was trapped in a dead end space by zombies. Hannah tries to navigate her way through a vastly changed world, where zombies run everything and have all the political, economic and actual power. Set in Boise, Idaho, because, frankly, it’s an hour down the road from me. I had great fun writing this. Isn’t that the point of all this?

Thank you to everyone who bothers to read these. I appreciate it. I can be a tedious bore with my depression and endless string of failures. My tiny advances that give me a tiny bit of hope that maybe I should keep writing. That maybe today I can find whatever courage or gumption it takes to just keep plugging on.

Plug on, you dull bit of coal. My shout out to Pink Floyd…

 

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Available in A Door is a Jar, latest issue.
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Miz Bridge and Molly the Chocolate Lab.

 

 

Vineheart

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from Limelight Magazine

Happy Halloween!! Here’s the flash fiction piece I read aloud for Death Rattle. 

 

VINEHEART AND THE STOLEN DAUGHTERS

 
I stand at the window, look down. Far below me, is the old forest. The sky stretches in every direction like a gorgeous blue cloth, and I long to touch it, I long to grow wings. I reach out my hand. The sky ignores me. How long have I been in this citadel of stone and malice? My entire life. I write my small story on the pale gray stones, I use my finger and ink made of nightmares, so she cannot read it. I use my tears to wipe away the words that I fear remain etched deep, no matter how hard I scrub at them with my shabby homespun skirts. She brings me clothes once a year, plain and serviceable. Food appears in little brittle baskets. I empty myself into a bucket, there is water for washing my face, a cloth. At mystical times of the year, I have to take a full bath, under her eyes, to be cleansed and fresh-smelling for her rituals and rites. She brings me fresh flowers, not realizing how it cuts me to trace each petal, rub each leaf against my skin. Smell the odors of earth and life itself coming from that slowly dying thing.

     Her name is Vineheart. A sorceress, a goddess, a demon, I am not sure what she actually is. She wanted a child. And here I am, almost grown. Vineheart will throw me away soon. The ghosts in this remaining bit of an ancient keep taught me to read, to make letters and words, and then swore me to silence…the ghosts of her other stolen daughters. Soon, I, too, will come visit the new daughter, stolen from some village cradle. Wearing whatever last I wore when still alive. One sits near the crumbling bit of wall, combing out her long transparent hair, over and over, with a transparent jeweled brush. Her throat sports another mouth, bloodless now. Vineheart simply butchered her with a stone knife. This ghost never speaks, just combs her long, long hair.

     No. I will not wait here for that fate. My hair is long as well, Vineheart likes to play with it and tell me tales of dragons and ancient queens. She has just been here, and she was cold, distant, her pale eyes darting toward that village beyond the forest, where new babies wait for her long fingers to pluck them away in the cold expanses of the night. I watched her change into a raven and fly away, away. She used to lurk nearby, to see if I would try to escape. But lately, she seems indifferent to keeping me safe and locked away from all others. Oh can’t you just die, she sighed out, under her breath, her hair pale gold and dull. My hair is black as midnight and no matter what she does to it, it turns back into midnight and night itself. She quite hates my hair and curses it on occasion, but somehow, it refuses to bow to her wishes.

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from Pinterest

I know she has gone to look for a new baby to raise to fifteen years or so, before discarding that one and finding another…her endless cycle. She will return to this old ruin, long since fallen to armies no longer remembered, with a screaming babe in her stringy arms. And I will die by poison or her stone knife. My bones will be used to talk to her gods, as she used the bones of the other daughters she forcibly adopted. They told me. They watched her as she flayed their skin, removed their muscles and organs, scraped their bones clean. And how she sobbed, as if grieving. But still stripping the coverings of skin and flesh from their skeletons.

     I fasten the end of my hair to the hook. The hook I always fasten it to pull Vineheart up. This will hurt me. It hurts when she yanks herself up my locks, though she is as small and delicate as the bones of a fish. I look down, the earth below me promising to break my body. And I ease myself over the ledge, my legs dangling, my hands gripping the stone edge, my hair coiled and roped and waiting for me to fall. My fingers let go. The fall shocks me. Freedom shocks me. I look up just as my hair yanks me about, and I scream at the pain, I scream. I lay there, on the earth. I think my ankle is broken, the bones poke at my skin. My scalp will never recover from that fall from grace. I am surrounded by the ghosts of my fellow stolen daughters for a moment, then they become clouds above my head. I need a new name. Rapunzel’s the name of every ghost here.

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from Birds in Hats, month of October. 

Death Rattle- Nampa, Idaho

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As I mentioned, I went to a writer’s festival in Nampa, Idaho. It took place downtown, as they say. Outside of the Prefunk Beer Bar on 1st Street, South. You get off on Exit 35, take Northside Avenue.

Saturday, I went to try and sell some books. I roughly had the mood equivalent of a dead turtle, so…won’t go into that because I don’t want to. It rained a bit. I bought some raspberry lemonade fudge from the farmer’s market. Pigeons.

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Setting up on Saturday.

Sunday!!

I drove over, somehow got there in about twenty minutes. As it’s nearly fifty miles to Nampa from my den of utter aloneness, I bent the laws of time and space! Also, the day proved to be a nice one. No rain, no wind, perfect fall weather, though a bit chilly as the day drew onward into the star-smeared night.

A workshop, where everyone there began the initial creation of a comic strip. Led by a lovely woman comics artist from Seattle, I believe. Thu Tran.

How to break up the dialogue. How to create the character or characters that will speak the words.

Write some lines. Try to draw the ones speaking those lines. Practice getting a creation you can draw over and over, until it’s almost automatic.

I did okay. People around were smart, drawing animals or bottles of spaghetti sauce. I drew people. I eventually just got to circle and triangle, with faces on each, for my characters. With differing expressions. I also drew them in profile. This actually helps me, as a playwright and prose spewer, to cut unnecessary dialogue.

What absolutely needs to be said? What can be cut? What is essential? Also, sitting for nearly two hours, drawing, helps calm the anxiety I have being AROUND OTHERS.

I also want to mention another writer I met. Javier Luna. Super-nice, friendly and talented. Thanks for talking to me. I’m an awkward social outcast right now, so thanks. 

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At one of the Lloyd buildings for the poetry readings.

The next big group thing: poetry readings. It took place in one of the buildings over where the farmer’s market had been. I just trailed after people like a stray dog, as I had no idea what building. Was. The building.

I’m also one of those people that when told something will start at X time, I actually expect it to start at X time, not whenever people stop farting around…Okay! But! If you have to set up microphones and move equipment, yep. I get it, I do. Been there myself. I’m always early to stuff, I’m also one of those pests.

I did enjoy this. Some poets more than others, as you do. I rather like the idea that there are so many poets within a hundred mile radius. It’s rather heartening. I liked the humor that crept out or blasted from the get-go in some of those readings. I got to thrill to odd phrases that caught my attention.

I noted that I was not wearing the writer garb nearly everyone else wore– dull colors, sweats, knitted caps, black the primary color…dang it. I wore a bright yellow top with a silver sparkly sweater, and BLACK PANTS. I got part of the Writer Uniform right.

If you’ve ever been to a poetry reading, then you pretty much know how this one went. If not, you should go. Hearing people read their own work should be a life goal if you’ve not done so already. Often times, these readings are free and open to the public, and you get to support a local poet or group of poets. In these times, yeah.

We need our artists. We need them. We need them when things are not whack-a-mole off the charts batshit insane, too.

Slight break, then the flash fiction portion of the evening would begin. Here, the entire kit and kaboodle got moved back to the alley outside the bar. Running a bit late. It’s Sunday night.

Did I mention I’d had two drinks and no food? That I’m trying not to just go home, forget the whole thing? That I kept wondering why I’d worn such bright clothes?? Why hadn’t I slipped a dull hat over my grandma-ish-fixed-and-sprayed hair?? Why??? I had slapped makeup on! Dang it! I have knitted dull hats! Somewhere. 

I had a dragonfruit cider, and then a giant huckleberry one. Prefunk is a microbrewery kinda hipster place. Not really, but sorta, yeah. I thought the dragonfruit cider tasted like a wine cooler. But the huckleberry one tasted swell. Like huckleberries.

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We’re now back outside Prefunk, with the flash fiction portion of the evening about to start.

The flash fiction reading had a theme. High fantasy, fantasy, sword and sorcery, etc! I happened to actually read the submission blurt, and sent in a quick take I had of Rapunzel called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters.

Originally, this one started off as Prisoner. What a dull, pedestrian title! I wrote the first draft of this for some themed contest, about prisoners or being locked up or blah. I know it had a theme to do with being locked up, breaking free of that. Something like that.

Did my piece win over those who read it? Nope! So I kept reworking my Rapunzel take, renamed it, renamed it again. Have super-long versions, then did a shorty version. Which ended up as a piece to be read at the Death Rattle Flash Fiction portion.

I went third. The night had turned cold enough for coats. October. Sunday evening.

Now, I thought my voice sounded like one of the squeaky mice from Cinderella. Ugh! I did manage to get through it, people listened. It was eight hundred words or so. I didn’t embarrass myself. That’s pretty much all I’ve got to go on these days. That I didn’t embarrass myself in public too badly.

People did stop by to say they enjoyed it. 

The other pieces had a mostly light-hearted, funny bent to them. Very enjoyable to sit there and listen to them. Lots of fun word play, alchemists and witches and dragons. Even an appearance by Persephone. For a tiny bit, the real world couldn’t intrude here. For a tiny bit, one believed everything would turn out okay.

Then, you drive home, after discovering a Burger King on the corner where you need to turn to get back to the freeway. Nothing since a dubious lunch. Burger King it is! Money? Sure, I got some of that scattered in small coins across the bottom of my purse…

To sum up– I attended a local writer’s festival. I enjoyed it. I read a flash fiction piece. I drove home. The end!

Not quite the end yet– I also want to say a big thanks to Sarah, Reed, the tall guy in the baseball cap who did bad high fantasy punning, and the other organizers of this event. Thanks for being welcoming, and inclusive. 

 

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The alley where things took place!

Death Rattle Arts and Crafts

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Well, it’s almost here. Book fair in Nampa, Idaho, for the Death Rattle writer’s festival. I airily asked for booth space to sell my stack of unsold books. Then, I decided I needed posters to advertise I’m a REAL WRITER. So I’ve been obsessing over that. Redoing them. Discovering I had some green body glitter from way back that, yes, can be used accordingly. I’ve been using spray paint. 

I’ll also be reading a short piece called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters, which is a quickie take on Rapunzel. 

My mood is low, and I almost want to bow out of this whole thing. Just hide in my room. I had a job interview, I botched it, I did something very wrong. I didn’t get a job I could do in my sleep half-dead with typhoid. With two degrees in that subject. I seem to have “loser” tattooed on my forehead…I know, you’re supposed to be positive all the damn time. Sorry. I’ll buck up. Write some zany review of a television show that’s been off the air for years. Yeah. It’s been raining. We needed it. 

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First draft efforts!!
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Placement of this and that.
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My Aftermath masterpiece! Nail polish, cheap supermarket watercolors and old magazine pictures, oh my.