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(no subject)

* I fell on the proverbial sword this week in Idol and feel simultaneously guilty and relieved. I think I have written myself dry. I don't have a competitive nature and was beginning to feel a really ugly unease around the competition that I know isn't a good thing for me. So, I made the hard decision and will wait to see if Idol returns next year. In the meantime, I really really need to do something with ALL OF THESE WORDS I done wrote and take the next step towards something or other.

* Tuesday I'm scheduled to do a Zoom reading of my horror story that was anthologized in Halloween Party 2019 and then chosen for a new anthology titled Exhumed to be released this fall along with writer videos! Fun! I'll keep you all posted.

* What I really really want to do is break my 150 Idol entries down into categories:  Persephone/Hades, pioneer, and assorted. I'm going to move this up the to-do list.

* The world is still strange, isn't it? In late June, Kidling2 and all of his crew were exposed to COVID. Five days later, we all hunkered down for a two-week isolation. Some of us reported weird weird weird symptoms - total exhaustion, stomachaches, headaches, digestive issues, congestion, sore throats. No one had a temperature and no one consulted a doctor. Seven of them took a deep nasal swab with reports ranging from most horrendous thing ever to exceedingly uncomfortable, two took the self-administered front of the nose swab. The nurse who was tested at the hospital received her positive result two days later. The six that took theirs at the fairgrounds got positive and negative results ten days later. The CVS self-test couple got a positive and a negative, wait for it, sixteen days after the test. Testing isn't working. This is ridiculous. All of them were contacted by the County and all of them were reported as "recovered." So, that's my COVID story and I have fewer opinions than ever.

* I have discovered an amazing indigenous voice via folk horror channels. Stephen Graham Jones. If you read anything this year, read The Only Good Indians. Jones is a master character writer ala King. And he's an artist at emotion manipulation. I wept. Twice. Now I'm on a tear to pick up the rest of his work. Mongrels is a werewolf novel??? Hells yeah.

* I read Jones to palatte cleanse my Joyce Carol Oates marathon. I'm so in love with Oates now that I can't form words necessary to talk about her. I want her all to myself and feel like a dragon curled around my hoard of Oates books. I will try to talk about her at some point. I think I needed to reach a certain age to really appreciate her brilliance. I'm at that age now, apparently.

* Watch this arthouse film -

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The Real LJ Idol - Season 11 - Week 26 - Sawubona

Six and a half years ago, when I was still in another decade of my life, I allowed halfshellvenus to talk me into signing up for this crazy game o' writing called therealljidol. Three full seasons and two mini seasons later, I've written hundreds of pieces of fiction. I'm pushing 150 weeks of survival now, what with my own writing and that under various guises. That first season I was a finalist! And have finished in the top five since. Well, maybe not that horrid bloody Season of the Long Knives, but I'm pretty sure it was the top six then.

I'm tired. My goat-footed Muse has long begged off and is now wandering some Elysian Field waiting impatiently for me to join him.

For myraid reasons that are too eye-stabbity self-involved to subject you all to reading about, I've decided to sacrifice myself upon the altar built of words this week. I don't like having to do this, but I can see the writing on the wall in here and I really have no choice out here. I hope my ignoble disembowelment buys one of you Good Writers another week to wade into the fray.

In keeping with this week's wonderful prompt -
Merry Meet
Merry Part
Merry Meet Again
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Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.

He put the opening of the sippy cup lid to his lips and sucked hard, the kiosk coffee was still hellishly hot, but gulping was a hard habit to break. He closed his eyes and, in an unsuccessful effort to cool it down to a manageable temperature, swished the mouthful of molten lava, commonly known as house through his teeth. His incisors ached, and that had him thinking, again, heatedly, of the bikini-clad barista who had served up his steaming morning cup of joe and how delightful her exposed ass cheeks had been, jiggling while she scurried around inside the coffee hut. A newfound morning ablution.

But that delectation was sadly being replaced with a rather disgusting wake-up call that life is not all thong-wearing coffee-slinging softness but instead short, sharp, wicked-toothed hardness.

He was standing at the edges of a scene of a brutal, bloody mess of a crime. Obviously a murder, what with body parts strewn and the ribcage petaled open like a nightmarish blooming flower and the viscera most probably devoured considering the chaos of half-chewed intestines on the floor and sofa and wingbacked chair. A feast reminiscent of an uncensored episode of Wild Kingdom, but with human animals instead of lions, and tigers and bears. Oh my.

A familiar voice at the front door alerted him that his partner had arrived. She appeared with a Venti in each hand, iced coffee brewed at a bistro in less of a state of dishabille.

He held up his own cup when she spied him amongst the human detritus and announced loudly, “Already fueled, baby. Bottoms Up.” His partner shook her head and handed off one of the drinks to a coroner’s assistant.

“You shouldn’t patronize that place,” she told him for the near-zillionth time as she navigated her way to his side, stepping through the bustle of hazmatted people.

He hummed noncommittally. “What do you think about this carnage? Gotta do some detective-ing, but didn’t we have something similar last month?”

“A body ripped to shreds, possibly cannibalized, and during a full moon? A few streets over? Yes, I do seem to recall.”

He smiled and nodded. “Our work here is done, then?”

“Funny.” She tapped her lip with a neatly manicured fingernail, and he longed to wave his magic wand, cast the spell that would entice her to step out on her husband, even for just an afternoon. “It’s crazy how we’ve gotten all of nowhere on that. Less than nowhere and now this. All our suppositions in the circular file.”

He winced and shook his left hand. His entire arm throbbed uncomfortably, pulsating beneath the hypertrophic scars crisscrossing his bicep. Remnants from the animal mauling he had suffered recently. The bite seemed to not be healing properly. The diagnosis, nerve damage. He could feel it in his bone marrow, he told the white coats, but none seemed to grasp his meaning.

“Does it smell like,” she paused, wrinkling her nose, “dog in here? Is that something we should make note of?”

“Strange observation.” He mimed taking a note, “Odor of canine.”

“Well, what do we know so far then, Sherlock?”

“Sherlock?” He pulled a face, then leered, “I’ll play Frank Hardy to your Nancy Drew.”

“Have you always been such a—”

The coroner interrupted them.

“Sup, doc?” he asked her. “That lipstick is really—”

The two women looked at him, beneath mirrored angry brows.

“Deliciously red.”

“What?!” his partner hissed.

“Maybe it’s just all this,” he waved his hand at the blood-spattered room, “vein fluid. Making me dizzy.”

“All of this vein fluid belonged to a woman.” The coroner consulted her digital pad. “Mrs. Paladine,” she read. “Diane Paladine, 52 years of age. This is her home. Her husband is in Hong Kong. On business.”

“Did he depart sometime in the early hours of this morning?” he asked, gulping more of his coffee.

“He’s been there for the past two weeks. Due to return this Friday. And that’s the extent of me doing your job. We’re taking the vic downtown.” She looked pointedly at his partner. “You can call me later today or first thing in the morning.” She looked back at him. “And you—”

He waggled his eyebrows.

“Lose my number.”

He rolled his eyes and stepped away as the two women bent their heads together, conferring. He walked closer to the faux mantel and studied the artfully arranged framed family photographs. Diane had been a stone-cold fox. He finished the coffee, less scalding but still it burned. He set the empty cup beside a professional portrait of Mr. & Mrs. Paladine, encased in a gilded frame.

“Hey, you feel like working today?” his partner asked, beside his elbow now.

“Absofuckenlutely, boss. Let’s hunt up some clues.” His stomach growled.

“You going rookie on me? You need a sick bag?”

“Naw. Something I ate.”

“Or didn’t eat. You’re looking awful lean these days. Honestly, you don’t seem like yourself. When’s your annual?”

“I’m fine. But I’ll let you take me to lunch when we finish up here.”

“I heard there’s a topless gyro truck parked over by Big Lots now.”

He guffawed and got to work.

An hour later, he lifted the yellow police tape cordoning off the driveway so she could step beneath it. Then he followed close on her heels, her hips swinging delectably. He began to whistle a jaunty tune.

He knew the team would find no incriminating fingerprints. Claw prints, paw prints, maybe. And at least now he knew where he had been last night.
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(no subject)

I've been so quiet and so absent here. Trying to stay on top of Idol which is quite a bit of work in and of itself, but it has rewards. Not that all activities should be rewarded, but in the current state of things, rewards go a long way toward motivating non-essential activities.

So much happening here in the Real Life, but it's too exhausting to live it AND write about it. I hope all of you are well and healthy and staying as sane as possible.

Still reading Evenson and Oates. Knitting. Rewatching House and watching What We Do In the Shadows.

I'm still editing for free, but I think the money will be back for next month's invoice. I really don't mind, but I'm not sure it sets a good precedent for the magazine. In so many ways. The new normal for the mag is not great. From monthly printed slabs to a three times a year print run, the rest online as a flip book. Advertisers have disappeared because most of the ads are bought for events and activities, schools and camps, doulas and such. All those things are currently not happening or not happening in any way that is familiar and advertisable. I feel badly for the publisher.

My mother's 80th birthday is this week! We had BIG PLANS and now we have very small plans. She's sad about it, but realizes there is nothing that can be done to make it how it was. We are planning a family party in August because one of the sisters is planning on being out here with some of her's not for sure because nothing is these days. They are helping one of their sons move off the Air Force Base in Idaho and can make Cali a stop on their way back to the East Coast. Fingers crossed for this. I think it HAS to happen. I think that so hard that I won't even consider for a moment that it won't or can't or doesn't. I need to think positive thoughts about this because my mother really really needs this.

My sister and I are going to spend the day with her this week and end up back at my sister's house for cake. Low key but at least its something. Birthdays have been hard during Covid, haven't they?

Lots happening on my short horror story front. I'll let you all know about the next phase which should be the new book and a video reading! Need to cut my fringe short and arty.

How's everyone? 
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meet the new boss; same as the old boss

Lol. I know it doesn't need to be said, because it is so over-stating the obvious. Lord of the Flies? Animal Farm? It's easy and quite thrilling to question authority, rage against the machine, not trust anyone over 30, yada yada. But imagine, if you will, one of those dastardly small cartoons in which a mob tears down the machine and sits around dazed on the wreckage and then slowly begins building another machine (or subsititute church, school, White House, nuns, your parents) EXACTLY LIKE THE FIRST MACHINE. Ad nauseum. Put it on a loop. If you want to make change, run for office, volunteer, change yourself, improve your family, work together with your friends.

I've been wondering, what with all this shouting about socialism, if perhaps those of us with Literature backgrounds might be better informed than those with say other types of education. I mean, here's some of the courses I had to take at uni - Russian Lit, European History, the Bible, the Existential Hero in Modern Lit, Poets of the Great War, World Myth, African Lit, Civil War Novels of South America, Early American Lit, the Post Modern Short Story, Speculative Science Fiction. And on and on and on. Is the fictional narrative less educational than nonfiction? I'm beginning to think it's more instructive. Were all of us smoking cloves and drinking lunch over in the Humanities department learning more about history than the other departments? It's intriguing. Of course, I also minored in Philosophy and those course titles are even more revealing of an in-depth study of the human condition throughout our time here.

Back to reading because I'm done with TV for a bit. Joyce Carol Oates, who I oftten struggle with, is good in her short form - The Corn Maiden. Devouring Brian Evenson, the philosophical horror writer. And Theodora Goss, the deep-thinking penner of fairytales. Good stuffs.

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(no subject)

* I quite enjoyed penning this week's Idol entry. It's dark and it's dualistic and symbollic and twisty. Not sure where it bubbled up from. I am reading a ton of what's termed philosophical horror. Stephen King's Cell and Pet Semetery would be classified as such. Usually it's short form and making statements about the current ways and means in which we interpret existence and all of its fetters. Brian Evenson, Thomas Ligotti and, I would wager, Cormac McCarthy.

Anyway, poll is up here -  We are down to 15. Click through, read, comment and vote!

* Speaking of horror stories. I got an incredibly exciting invitation from Devil's Party Press regarding the short story of mine they published in last year's Halloween Party 2019 anthology. They want to include that story in a new imprint! AND they want me to Zoom read it! I love reading aloud. Many of you don't know I used to do public storytelling, empowering womyn myth at gatherings, goddess circles, spiral dances, etc. I really enjoy the dramatic aspect of reading out loud! Now to practice!

* It's unbearably hot in the valley, which is making it hard to sleep up here. No A/C, of course, so a few nights every summer we stifle and suffer. I would love to put a French sleeping porch on our project list for 2021.

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we exist in the twilight of a dream

I've been reading non-stop for several weeks now. Two authors and a handful of compelling short stories by a variety of writers. I have consumed everything written by Andrew Michael Hurley.

Hurley's got a mad talent for ENDINGS. Just utter poetry. Jungian symbollic poetic passages. I wish there was more of him to devour.

Brian Evenson is the dark twisted answer to so many of my literary questions. I'm consuming consuming consuming every word he's ever written. He is a master of the short form and for those of you who like craft, horror or science fiction, find this man's work and relish in it!

Apparantly Marianne Faithful has recovered from COVID!

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The Real LJ Idol - Season 11 - Week 22 - Hiraeth

She was made of longing.
Pure and simple.
Polluted and complex.
A nostalgic yearning for night and day, sun and moon, sea and mountaintop.
The seasons were spun around her,
The strands that bound her, held her, made her prey to their ravenous need of her.

She was daughter and maiden,
Lover and queen.
But never mother, never crone.

The longing was not hers,
It was the desires of others that created the shape of her.
His passion,
Her mother’s possession.
She could feel the centrifuge that was her existence,
The spinning that pulled her essence away from the center of her being.
Stripped her soul to its bare, naked,
Quivering self.
The core.
She was the core.

Her body the world
Above and Below.
With closed eyes
Breathing deeply of the earth
The stalks
and the roots.
Memories moving through her mind
Wind through the wheat
Ghosts in the stream.

In the late winter time,
She would feel her body moving skyward,
Lifting off the bed,
Her ribcage pressed against the ceilings of his cavernous den.
Her heart frantic within,
Her fingers scrabbling at the distance between.
She wanted the sunlight on her face, the grass beneath her.
And he would reach up from the black linens
Wrap his long-fingered hands around the cradle of her body,
The jutting hipbones the perfect grip,
And he would pull her back down.
Weeping, sobbing against her breast,
Please just a while longer,
Just a while longer.
Stay with me.
His tears as bitter
As the arils he fed her out of his upturned palms.

In the late summer time,
She would fall prone to the earth,
Her pelvis fast against the dirt,
Thigh bones writhing
Pressing downward
Her mother would find her thusly in the garden
And wrap her arms around her neck
Holding fast, cradling her against her body
Stay, stay with me.
I need you.
I cannot breathe without you
Near me.
Her grasp so tight that she felt she would
Grind her back to the elemental.

She dreamt of long blades of onyx with bone handles
Sunlight glinting off wicked edges
Tips so sharp that death could be rendered
For long moments before reality set in.
She wanted to stand still
Under the dark moon
Flay the skin in sheets off her skeleton
Spill the viscera into the furrows
Use the bones of her fingers to dig beneath the ribs
Find the core, the soul, the heart
Hold it
The beating life of it.
The fragile death of it.