Each year, around this time, I share my post about how (not) to pick a poem for your valentine. Here it is. Enjoy.
Happy New Year From Famous Writers
Happy new year. Each of the last few years, I’ve written a blog post about resolutions during the first week of January. While I encourage you to read those posts—you can find last year’s here—I feel I said what want to say about the topic. So, I’m going to do something different this year. Here are a series of memes I made which paraphrase quotes from famous writers as messages, wishes, and yes, even resolutions, for the new year. I hope you enjoy them.
Once again, a happy new year.
A Glimpse Into The Past, A Cover Letter I wrote 20 Years Ago
I have been sick with the flu for the last week, and have been stuck in the house. During that time, I found an old writing notebook, probably 20 years old, though I don’t know for sure. Within its pages, I found a draft of anold cover-letter I wrote to accompany an application for an Associate Editor position at Wizard Magazine, a comics trade publication. They eventually did call me in for an interview, but that was over two years after I wrote the letter. By that time, I had left journalism, finished graduate school, and taken my first teaching job at The Bronx High School of Science. I did end up writing one article for Wizard. It was a centerfold spread about the Mach 5 from the, at the time, new Speed Racer movie. If you can deal with my chicken-scratch handwriting, I think you’ll enjoy the brilliance (he writes, sarcastically) of a 25-ish year old struggling writer who is desperate for a new job.
News and Notes: My Story in Ahoy! Comics, Sci-fi Anthology, We Suck at Comics Kickstarter, Into That Darkness Peering
It’s been a busy month, so here are some notes on all the projects I’ve been a part of recently.
My story, “The Big Cheese” was just released this week in Billionaire Island: Cult of the Dog #1 from Ahoy! Comics. It is backing up a mark Russell story, which is pretty cool. Get it at your local comics shop.
There are still two days left to support the We Suck at Comics kickstarter. The anthology from Wayward Raven includes three of my stories, “Freedom,” a 2000AD-style science fiction story (illustrated by Tyler Carpenter), and two episodes of Sir TweetCivil, a Monty Python-esque spoof of Twitter (illustrated by Alexander Sapountzis). The anthology also includes stories by Mark Frankel, Jeff Rider, Johnny C, Sebastian Bonet, Joel Jacob Barker, and cavalcade of indie comics all-stars.
The When All That’s Left is Stories dystopian science fiction anthology is now available for free download on Amazon. My story, “The Bartleby Initiative,” is included in the book, alongside stories by 11 other writers from the Twitter writing community.
My gothic horror collection, Into That Darkness Peering, illustrated by Marika Brousianou, is still available on Amazon. It is a beautiful book, and would make a perfect holiday gift for the goth in your life.
For those of you on the platform, I have joined Mastadon. Follow me there for new
A Nanowrimo Diversion
Here is a classic from the archive for those of you doing Nanowrimo this year:
How (Not) To Pick a Poem for Your Valentine
Mr Rogers, Sir Thomas Malory, and my Lady Elaine Fairchilde Head-canon.
The Knights of the Round Table were considered the paragons of a certain kind of chivalric virtue throughout the Arthurian legends. While martial prowess was a key component in their reputation, and an important qualification to join the august company, the knights were also supposed to follow a moral code and to conduct themselves in a manner befitting their status as members of King Arthur’s court. Failure to abide by the knights code would bring shame, expulsion, or even death. The greatest of the knights, Sir Lancelot, Sir Tristam, etc are praised just as often for their gallantry, for the chivalry, and for their refusal to unfairly take advantage of others even when doing so would benefit themselves, as they are for their victories in battles or tournaments.
Fred Rogers is considered a paragon of modern virtue. Throughout his life, he championed kindness, understanding, and education in a way few other have. He is nearly universally revered among Americans of a certain generation, and even after his death, he is often quoted, memed, or cited by those who promote the values he has come to represent.
Beyond their status as role models, however, there seems little that connects Sir Lancelot with Mr Rogers beyond the quasi-medieval setting of the Neighborhood of Make-Beleive…or so I thought.
Recently, I’ve been re-reading Le Morte de Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory, which is considered by many to be the authoritative text about the Arthurian legends. Currently, I’m in the middle of the 11th book, which tells the tale of Sir Lancelot. The first 3 chapters of that book tell of how, through deceit and and magic, Dame Brisen fools Lancelot into sleeping with Lady Elaine, King Pelles’ daughter, in order to fulfill the prophecy that the child Lancelot would beget of Elaine would be Sir Galahad, the knight destined to find the Sangreal.
I was not thinking of Mr. Rogers when I read this, even when the phrase “Lady Elaine” appeared, until I came across this passage from chapter 3:
The close mention of “lady Elaine” and the phrase “fair child” recalled the character Lady Elaine Fairchilde, the proprietor of the Museum Go Round, and general thorn in the side of King Friday the 13th from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
Did Mr. Rogers have this passage in mind when he named the character? Apparently not. According to the official Mr. Rogers website, Lady Elaine was named after Rogers’ adopted sister, Laney. Still, from now on, in my mind then two will always be connected.
In my own head canon, Lady Elaine, dubbed Fairchilde on account of her famous role in the Arthur Story moves to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to try and start a new life. Her ill-treatment at the hands of her father, King Pelles, has caused he to mistrust all kings, and her role as a pawn of a patriarchal prophecy has caused her to rebel and actively develop her strong, independent, contrarian personality. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of how my weird mind works. For more silliness of this nature, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Wayback Wednesday: “Darkness My Old Friend” Published 3 Years ago Today
My story “Darkness My Old Friend” was published 3 years ago today on Hawk and Young’s blog. It went on to be reprinted in Kyanite Press, and is still one of my favorite stories I’ve written.
Deleted All My Dating Apps
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by hiring a woman as a governess for my ward, being a brooding jerk toward her, and not telling her that I’m actually already married and that I keep my crazy wife hidden in the attic.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by sneaking into a ball thrown by my family’s arch enemies, falling in love at first sight, and then sneaking into her garden under her balcony, like a peeping tom.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by acting like a scruffy-looking nerf-herder until she realizes the guy she’s kissing is actually her brother.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by hoping she develops stockholm syndrome before the last petal of my enchanted rose falls.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by buying her a gift at the Araby bazaar.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by buying her ancestral home, marrying her husband’s sister, acting like an abusive, deranged, jerk, and brooding around the moors.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by coming unstuck in time, being kidnapped by aliens who don’t see time linearly, being kept in a zoo on their planet, and sharing my cage with a pornographic film star.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by removing the stone from the top of a well, working seven years for her hand, having her father dupe me into marrying her less-attractive sister, and then working seven more years for her hand.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by changing my name, becoming a bootlegger, throwing lavish parties to impress her–but not inviting her–and then staring longingly across the water at a green light fraught with symbolism.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by using a gorgon’s head to rescue her from a sea monster.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by sneaking into her room while she’s sleeping and biting her neck to make her undead.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by finding a sleeping princess and awakening her with a kiss.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by selling my soul to the devil in exchange for his help in seducing her.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by being poisoned by a nefarious knight, changing my name, and seeking out the only woman in the world with the knowledge to heal me.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by buying turtle food from my local pet store worker, and maintaining a relationship with her while training for a fight with the heavyweight champion of the world. Also, saying “yo” before her name a lot.
Deleted all of my dating apps so I could find someone the old-fashioned way—by answering the sphinx’s riddle, freeing the town from its tyranny, and marrying the widowed queen without asking any questions–eh, maybe not.
Be sure to check out the links page to read some of my published writing, and to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Clickspell’s 11 True Confessions of Wizarding School Dropouts: #6 Will Blow Your Mind
Interest in magical schools have skyrocket thanks to the tales of the early life of the Chosen One after his defeat of the latest Dark Lord recently serialized and published. But what of his classmates—not the ones with whom he was friends in his youth, and whose exploits were recounted in the great tale, but the ones who didn’t go on to fame and fortune—where are they now? Clickspell—your source for all things wizarding related—has uncovered 12 confessions of students of magic who didn’t quite make the cut:
- There are all manner of jobs you can get in the magical world that don’t require an advanced degree. You just need to master a few basic, specialized spells. Me? I’m a sanitation sorcerer. Even wizards need someone to take out the trash—Garbage_Mage
- I shot a fireball at one of my professors. He was a total jerk. They expelled me. I still say he deserved it #sorrynotsorry—Hotheaded9
- You sit in all these classes with these famous wizards, but how did they become famous? By going on quests and fighting in great wars, not by sitting in a classroom reading from textbooks. I kept skipping class to research every lost magical artifact in the world, trying to find one that was worthy of a quest. My grades suffered, and eventually I dropped out after months on academic probation. Didn’t matter to me, I was going to make my name in the real world. It’s 10 years later, and I haven’t been able to find one damn relic. Now, I live in the subway and perform street magic for coins. I guess my teachers were right, but at least I took my shot—impossible_dreamer
- I was pretty good at potions, so I became a bartender at the pub in the university town. Some of my old professors come in for drinks from time to time. I laugh a little, inside, because I make more money than they do—darklordofdrinks7
- I remember one class where we had to hypnotize an elephant. Tell me when the hell I’m ever going to need to do that in real life?—Reallifeskillz14
- It was the night of the winter prom. My date and I found a secluded place in the gardens. We had just learned engorgement spells. Suffice it to say that neither of us can ever show our faces there again—Bootleg_Cassanova
- If you think drugs are a problem in a regular high school, you should check out what goes on in a magical one. You have all those potions and poisons lying around, you can only imagine what the dealers come up with. It took me years of rehab to get clean, and by that time, I was way too old to go back to school—emogrl12
- When you really think about it, magic is ancient and inefficient—all those incantations and spells in ancient languages no one understands. After I dropped out, I enrolled in a regular university, majored in engineering. I build things that work, using modern science. It’s far easier than magic, twice as reliable, and you don’t need any special skill to use it. I would challenge any of my former classmates to contest—my machines against their spells. I know whom I would bet on if I was you—Science_Sorceress
- Is it really any wonder I dropped out? I had some talent, sure, but I was the first person in my family’s history with magical talent. There, I was competing against students who come from long lineages of wizarding families. They can get help from their parents, practice magic all summer, and all sorts of other advantages. I had to hide my abilities, figure out everything for myself, and then deal with bullying and persecution from these children of wizarding royalty. Statistics show that first-generation sorcerers drop out at a higher rate. That’s what happened to me. I fell behind, believed I wasn’t as good as my peers. It was only a matter of time until I gave up and left the school—Doomed2Fail
- I was against the blatant, unrepentant, cruelty to animals. Every witch’s brew uses ingredients like frog’s legs and lizard skin. Who cares about the poor frogs? The helpless lizards? I did, and because of it, I failed Cauldron Potions. I tried explaining it to the administration, but no one would listen. It got to the point where I had to leave on principle—S8credLife
- I got pregnant during my sophomore year. It happens to us magical folk too—MagicMom16
- After I dropped out, I didn’t have a job, so I used my meager skills to sell myself as a magician who entertains children at birthday parties in the non-magical world. Every family that hires me says I’m the best magician they’ve ever seen. Little do they know how bad I am compared to all the kids I went to school with. It’s all relative, I guess—ChaztheMagnificient
This story first appeared on Rejected Manuscripts. It received the second-most votes in the 2018 competition, and was published in their Winners Anthology.
Be sure to check out the links page to read some of my published writing, and to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.