Category Archives: Musing

Karelia lives (again) at Grimdark Magazine


Grimdark Magazine Issue #8 is live for e-book purchase.

Short fiction includes…

  • Viva Longevicus by Brandon Daubs
  • Burying the Coin by Setsu Uzume
  • A Proper War by James A. Moore
  • The Price of Honour by Matthew Ward

Non-fiction content is as follows:

  • Is the Alien Trilogy Grimdark? by C.T. Phipps
  • Series Review: Acts of Caine by Matthew Stover (review by Matthew Cropley)
  • An Interview with Dennis L. McKiernan by Tom Smith
  • Review: The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence (review by Matthew Cropley)
  • Review: Wolfenstein by C.T. Phipps
  • An Interview with Jesse Bullington (Alex MarshallI by Adrian Collins

If you’d like to purchase this on Amazon, you can use their AFFILIATE LINK.

For more news on the sub-genre, check out their Facebook page, and their Twitter @AdrianGdMag 


Link! Frida Kahlo: Abjection, Psychic Deadness, and the Creative Impulse

There’s a quote going around, (You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled… etc.) attributed to Frida Kahlo, that doesn’t sound like something she said. It was too tidy… too abstract. It might have been her, I don’t know, I haven’t really studied her.

I looked around for the source of this quote, and couldn’t find one; but I did find her love letters. They affected me. Not in that they were lush, elegantly raw, and moving (which they were), but in the sense that I didn’t feel anything when I read them. I started to cry, because I couldn’t find it in me to feel something. I couldn’t access the part of my spirit that gives and receives passion on that level; but I remembered when I could.

Being cut off from that sucks.

Landing in that emotional oubliette, and not quite knowing how to climb back out, I figured I should keep looking through the library while I’m down here. I found this paper about Kahlo and the relationship between personal desolation and art. I really liked it, so I’m re-posting it here in the hopes to keep it bookmarked.


“Kristeva states that all objects are based on an inaugural loss, that laid the foundations of subjectivity. All abjection is in fact recognition of the want on which any being, meaning, language, or desire is founded.

Abjection summons us to an abyss that haunts and terrifies. It insists on the subject’s necessary relation to death, corporeality, animality, materiality,’ those relations which consciousness and reason find intolerable. The abject attests to the impossibility of clear borders, lines of demarcation or divisions between the proper and the improper, the clean and the unclean, order and disorder…

It exposes us to the unbearable, unnameable, and unwanted dimensions of our mortality, an exposure against which we rebel.”

Read the full paper: Frida Kahlo: Abjection, Psychic Deadness, and the Creative Impulse, by Marlene Goldsmith, Ph.D.

Birthday Wisdom and Tank Drift 2016!

Quick note… I went to the beach to watch the sun go down on the Solstice. Which is also, frequently, also Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday.


Summer Solstice was accompanied by a full moon, which hasn’t happened since the year my dad was born. To make an already memorable day even more fantastic, we saw three whales and a dolphin, spouting, tail-flipping, and more than one breach. The clouds looked like an oil painting, casting a rose-colored glow over everything. I wish I could have recorded it all, to convey the depth and breadth of the open beach — the pine and sea smell, the waves, and birdsong — and yet feeling cradled by mother nature in perfect peace.

Each year, I request wisdom rather than gifts for my birthday. Here are the collected thoughts and musings of 2016.

  1. Get off the line of attack, blend with the force directed at you.
  2. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.
  3. Be as kind to yourself inside your head as you are to your friends.
  4. Plan for success as well as you plan for failure.
  5. Live as though the world were the it should be, to show it what it can be
  6. We have as much power to sculpt reality as environment and situation provide, though we can always grasp further.
  7. It’s okay to realize that some responses are instinctive rather than considered, especially once you become aware of that.
  8. You can’t save other people. They can only save themselves. You can only help. You can save yourself. You should ask for help.
  9. Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want.
  10. Show people you love them while they are here.
  11. Being ethical in your business conduct is more important than making money.
  12. Obituary columns are filled with love, while most of our lives are filled with minutiae. Tell people what they mean to you while it still matters. Also, if you really like a bit of wisdom, neck-tattoo that mofo asap!
  13. The Girl Scouts have a saying, that we should leave a campsite in better condition than it was when we arrived. It means, as we bravely forge a new path into the wilderness, not only do we have a responsibility to tread lightly and avoid doing damage but make a place better by our presence.
  14. Force and flow. Sometimes you need to use force to move obstacles in your life, but sometimes you need to just flow around them. Be the river, which is both. 
  15. As you go through life, ask yourself, “What am I doing to positively impact the world?” I have struggled with this one, and it took me years to realize that “the world” doesn’t mean it needs to have a global impact, but really means to think beyond yourself and see the impact you make around you. This can be on any scale: global, national, regional, local, your community (whatever form it may be), friends, and/or family. When I’m having a bad day in one area (at work, for instance) I think about where I may be having a positive impact somewhere in the world (bringing joy to friends on FB, providing housing to local bees, being a loving pet parent).
  16. Focus on what you love, and what you can control. Keep trying. Surround yourself with kindness.
  17. The hardest part of any task is starting. It gets easier after that. Also, the world is full of bastards and backstabbers. Never let them grind you down.
  18. You can have anything you want, you just can’t have *everything* you want.
  19. Things are never as bad, or as good , as they first appear. It is amazing how as we get older, mature wisdom begins to resemble being too damn tired. Don’t sweat small change.
  20. The Dick abides.
  21. Never date a man who owns a white van or knows all the words to Monty Python.
  22. Dear sister! I learned from Terry Pratchett that as soon as you finish writing something immediately, without pause, wrote at least a little of the next piece. That way you don’t get stuck between projects.
  23. Only you can make yourself change. Also, everyone gets Stuck. It takes a lot of work to get Unstuck, but the work can be done in little pieces. The best way to get something done is to begin.
  24. No matter where you go, no matter what you do, no matter what troubles you encounter in life… there are nine hundred million people in India who really don’t give a shit. So you might as well be happy.
  25. No matter how cold and wet you are, just as long as you’re warm and dry…
  26. Kelly Shiflet Treat yo’ self! Especially with high tea, warm scones and cream!
  27. When faced with big decisions think about others and then yourself. Also, syrup is good on pancakes and everything else.
  28. Elders ‘taught’ me (sometimes with a sledgehammer…) that it isn’t about achieving what you want or acquiring things or attaining goals, it is about thinking and doing the right thing in the moment of decision that is Now. Most everything else is an illusion.
  29. This is a simple one, but when I wanted to go backpack around New Zealand and Australia for a year and was getting overwhelmed by everything I needed to do to do that, my mom told me “if it were easy, everyone would do it.” I’ve kept to that motto for the twenty plus years since.
  30. Three pieces of wisdom from the same brilliant source: 1) there isn’t any dream so huge that it can’t be divided up into manageable steps; 2) “Because if you are yourself as loud as you can be, you’ll only find yourself in places where you’re accepted, and then good things will happen….. LIKE WHALES!”; 3) “so feel your feels the way they feel/ and don’t fight them too hard/ all the flowers plants and cacti too/ all have their place in the yard.” Oh and this one, from the same brilliant source as the above. Reduce your tolerance of fuckery yearly, possibly with treaties and a fuckery reduction council. If you are approaching your fuckery tolerance limit, it is sometimes acceptable to share with friends who have not yet reached their fuckery quota, but proceed with caution and the understanding that we all need to gradually eliminate our reliance on fuckery and make the transition to a zero-fuckery-powered society. And while we will probably fail in the short run, in the long run this will be better for everyone. This has been a carefully considered attribution with commentary.
  31. Honestly, Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try.” That’s gotten me to finish more stories than anything else. And while I’ve never seen the marked-up drafts of the Empire script, hidden away in a Lucasfilm vault as they are, I have always deeply suspected that line was one of Leigh Brackett’s.
  32. Remember why you do what you do…and tell the people you love that you love them.
  33. Always consider the alternative point of view. And fail a lot — you learn better that way.
  34. Dance.
  35. It is never too late to have a happy childhood.strawberries
  36. Tell the people in your life you love them. Every chance you get. Also be as positive as you can. You will have bad days but when you share something Positive, it helps others too. You never know whose lives you have touched by being a positive light in the world. Yes it is sappy but true. I know because I have had it hit me when I was told “You inspired me to do X.” That’s the best. And very humbling, too.tank girl
  37. Always create. The time will go by anyway. Create even when you doubt. You never know who you are inspiring.
  38. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself – just a bit better than you would feel about yourself without them.
  39. When you feel like you really get it and your technique is working, you are not learning, just practicing what you’ve learned. When you are struggling and confused, that is when you’re actually learning. One of many useful lessons from my Aikido instructors. It’s helped me to be patient with myself through the learning process (on and off the mat), which is often daunting.

    Transplanting the feathers from a snapped arrow to a limping one.

    Transplanting the feathers from a snapped arrow to a limping one.

  40. Get a kitten.
  41. I don’t do wisdom, but always remember you’re awesome and ther
    e are people who get you…not everyone, but then some use different definitions of the term.
  42. I’ve always lived by this “koan” from British humorist Spike Milligan’s science fiction play, The Bedsitting Room: “Happiness is egg-shaped.”
  43. All things in moderation. Especially Moderation.
  44. If you try to be anybody but yourself, you’re going to fail. Be you. Be the best you possible.
  45. You can’t “should” people into doing what you want them to.
  46. You can’t bully someone into loving you.
  47. Think carefully on the negative archetypes within your own personality. What positive aspects do they have? For example, an addict’s determination and perseverance.
  48. If someone were to ask you why you work hard in those areas, and if you were to answer “to give to others”, how would you respond if then challenged with the question, “Then what are others here for?” This year on your birthday, think long and hard about what things you accept as virtues, and why it is you see them as such. Who in your life reinforces the perception of those things as virtues? Do those virtues truly serve you or do they serve the people who perceive them as virtues? …In short, look for the most subtle ways in which others might be exploiting you, and put an end to it for a while, just to see how it feels.
  49. Much satisfaction can be found in the intersection of the serenity prayer and the oracle’s command to Socrates.shuriken
  50. (In response to, “my sail has become a tablecloth/my shuriken have become coasters.”  They –and you — exist in both states. Shuriken were hidden as belt decorations and deadly weapons. We are, none of us, just one thing at any one time.
  51. Perhaps they (and you) are not so much domesticated as lying in wait for the next opportunity.
  52. What I should have had was a plan. What I should have done was examine why I felt so small that I had to prove anything at all… There’s a god in you. Be like him. He’s the coolest motherfucker you will ever meet. The more you act like him. The more you become him.

Finally… these are the two bits I figured out on my own and want to remember this year.

First, the only difference between the heroes of good and evil is that evil has resigned itself to what must be done. Good mourns.

Also… There are people that will make me feel not only unloved, but unlovable. That is not a reason to change. That is a reason to get as far away from that person as possible.

tank drift

Happy birthday. Happy Solstice. Happy 2016. Despite its brutality, despite the losses we’ve suffered, hold close the truth that the planets do align… and there are whales.


Baycon 2016 : All About Space


BayCon 2016 is all about that Space from May 27-30. I’m delighted to say that I’ll be there with bells on. With one of my most favorite humans from out of town as my guest.

Here are my panels:

Evil to the Core: Villains in Sci fi and Fantasy
Saturday 11:30 – 13:00, Synergy 5
Sure, the hero gets the gal (or guy) and all the glory, but it’s the villain that does all the hard work. Where would Batman be without the Joker? Nowhere! A good villain can drive a story, but it’s exhausting and thankless work. Come pay homage to your favorite villains and join in as authors discuss treasured villains in their own work and others to reveal what makes those villains engage or repulse us…or what fails to. Find out if your antagonist is as villainous as he or she should be.
Jennifer L. Carson (M), Alan E. Marling, Deborah J. Ross, Setsu Uzume, Christophe Pettus

Gearing Up For War
Saturday 13:00 – 14:30, Synergy 5
What do soldiers carry with them? We’ll discuss how soldiers prepare mentally and physically for the fight ahead.
Griffin Barber, Steve Mix, Setsu Uzume

How We End
Monday (Memorial Day) 13:00 – 14:30, Engage
Death – social and personal experiences, in life and literature.
Gregg Castro (M), Lawrence SchoenColin Fisk, Setsu Uzume, Fred Wiehe, Randy Smith


Adversaries, war, death. Like a story in itself.

I have an app called Galaxy Tarot, which is a handy for quick reference. Every now and then I tap “Card of the Day” and get a reading. Here’s what came up the day I received my panel assignment.


“The Tower is a card of shock and chaos.”
It went on to describe some other meanings for this card. The ones that jumped out at me the most were that the structures and systems I’ve built up in my life are being shook up. It asked me to take a look at my deeply held assumptions — do they still serve?
“Get outside of your normal mode of thinking by taking a trip, getting rid of old belongings, trying something new, or exploring a new philosophy. Drastic changes are required in your life.”

Did I mention I call the new apartment my tower?

Whether or not you believe Tarot has an affect (influential or revelatory) on the world, it gives the reader something to think about and chew on. A possible shift in perspective that will help one see around a problem. Much like meditation does. Much likes story does. The Tower seems embodied by these themes: adversaries, conflict, death. Drastic change.

Can’t wait to see what rises next.

My Schedule: Creative Ink Fest, May 6-8 2016

I have been summoned to Canada for the Creative Ink Festival!

I’m especially looking forward to Sunday, when I’ll be on a panel with a stuntwoman, a former MMA fighter, a bodybuilder, and a mounted combat expert. Check out Kristene Perron’s write-up on these women.

Elsewise, come find me. Descriptions below.

5pm: Beta Readers
9am: Build An Empire
Noon-2pm: Co-author table
Saturday 12-2
7pm: Why Do We Write Dark Fiction?
9am: Blue Pencil Session
1pm: Real Life Superwomen
3pm: Romancing The Monster



5pm: Beta Readers: How to Find Them, How to Be a Good One
Setsu Uzume (M), Katrina Archer, Kristi Charish, Danika Dinsmore, Jeff Norburn
Where and how do you find beta readers? How do you know if they’ll be a good beta reader or not? How do you be a good beta reader to someone else? Meet & greet to follow.


9am: Build an Empire On the Fly
Brenda Carre (M), Kevin Harkness, Krista Wallace, Setsu Uzume
Our panelists will create an empire from the ground up. They’ll design everything they can think of: geography, races, culture, laws, history, etc, while our moderator will toss problems (like insurgent dissidents and earthquakes) their way. An artist will be on hand to sketch scenarios and to contribute to the discussion.

7pm: Why Do We Write Dark Fiction?
Setsu Uzume (M), Colleen Anderson, Mary Choo,Rhea Rose, Trevor Melanson
Authors discuss why they go to deep dark places to produce works of dark fiction. How do they go to those dark places and reproduce it on the page?


9am: Blue Pencil Session
This is your opportunity to sit down with an industry professional for fifteen minutes, to share you work and receive immediate feedback. Bring three pages of your best work (double-spaced for authors, artwork for artists ). The pro will read (or view) your work and give their input. You may also want to bring your questions about troubles you’re having with the piece.

1pm: Real Life Superwomen
Kristene Perron (M) Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels, Setsu Uzume
What do you get when you put an MMA fighter, a pro fitness competitor, a mounted combat expert, a warrior poet and a stuntwoman together on one panel? A rousing discussion about the realities of being a “strong woman” and how that compares with their portrayal in fiction. Join authors Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels, Setsu Uzume and Kristene Perron as they KAPOW the stereotypes and share the truth about the lives of superwomen.

3pm: Romancing the Monster
Andrea Westaway (M), Katrina Archer, Brenda Carre, Setsu Uzume, Lisa Voisin
In dark fantasy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy, often the love interest isn’t human. What is so appealing about these characters? Why do writers write them? Why do readers love them, or hate them? Are there limits to the type of monster that can be romantic? Can we get tired of these characters and are there still ways to make them unique?

Nightmare log, #?

I had a dream that I was giving birth. I was in horrible pain. I wasn’t just having contractions, I was having seizures. I arched my back and shook, my arms splayed out to either side, fingers twitching and clenching. Boils bubbled up on my skin, leaking blood and pus into the already sweat-damp sheets. Froth dribbled over my cheeks, into my hair and into my ears.

My belly wasn’t terribly large, and I didn’t feel the baby emerge. Hands, grown hands, reached up over my thighs and grasped at my torso, pulling arms and a body up over me.

Covered in chunks of white vermix and shredded pink placenta, a slender woman clawed her way out of me. Her long blondish hair hung in wet ropes over her back. Her body tapered to a sharp point, as though the rest of her body were narrow as a snake and inflating to human-size once she was out of me. Her eyes were full of hate. Whether they were black or blue, I can’t remember.

She loomed over me, still emerging from between my legs. Long, wiry arms pawed up my stomach and over my chest. Her fingers slid over my neck, and with both hands, she gripped my throat and squeezed.

At some point, I can’t recall when, it was as though our torsos merged at the waist, like Siamese twins with two spines. Two women growing from the same trunk.

Her teeth clenched, and her lips drew back in a snarl. Her fingers squeezed harder and harder. I tried to reach for her hands, to pull her fingers off me, but my arms were too heavy to lift. They hung off the bed, limp as a tablecloth. Her fingers didn’t hurt, the sense of pressure was vague and distant, but her hatred pressed down on me like a boulder that was only held in place by one pebble. She wanted me to die. She wanted me to feel nothing but hate and rage and resentment so that I would want her to kill me. So I would let her kill me. I was weak from seizures; I’d lost so much blood and water.

Just die already, her eyes seemed to say. It’s so much work to get better.  Just die.  This is easier. You made me. You made me to fulfill this purpose and you’d better believe I’m going to do what I came here to do.