“Angry Kings”

I’ve got a novelette up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies today.

This one is called “Angry Kings” and was inspired by all the fairy tale stories of kings and their daughters and how terribly those daughters are often treated. I wanted to explore the psyches of such kings without offering forgiveness for their terrible behavior; the gap between understanding and forgiveness has been something I’ve been interested in for a good while. Analyzing someone’s motives and empathizing with someone’s troubles doesn’t necessarily mean that we are condoning or accepting their behavior. And I’ve always felt a pull between these two states.

In “Angry Kings,” Magritte escapes her evil king father. When she discovers that her father’s ghost has long been separated from his body, she returns to the kingdom to try to bring back the kind father she barely remembers from her childhood.

Read the full story here.

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Exploring Grief in Fairy Tales

A few years ago, after the death of my beloved uncle, my family and I traveled to be with my aunt and her daughter. Since my uncle’s death, my aunt and her daughter had taken to spending every day and night together. Their renewed connection through shared grief struck me as one of the most poignant connections I’d ever witnessed. I went home and, in my own grief for my uncle, wrote a story exploring grief of many kinds.

Not much later, my aunt died. And I went back to this story and found in it even more balm for the pain of losing someone I loved so much. Literature allows us to explore our emotions as metaphor. For someone like me, who for so many years kept a distance from her emotions, this ability to immerse myself in painful emotion slowly but honestly has been integral to healing and to breaking through that distance.

The story in question has now been published on the website of one of my favorite journals, Fairy Tale Review. And I can’t think of a better home for it.

Read “Sleeping Beauty’s Daughter” here: https://fairytalereview.com/2018/03/14/sleeping-beautys-daughter/

I’ve got a new story in Hobart: “Liars”

Today’s P’s and my wedding anniversary, which makes it kind of weird that my story about a woman grieving the death of her artist husband appears on Hobart’s website today. I am so very lucky to have my partner. I am so very sad for my character Evie. But she works through it, with the (not-so-great) help of Hades, a new lover’s overeagerness, and the clearing of a room that allows her to get back to herself.

Read “Liars” (say the name out loud; you might hit upon the double meaning) for free at Hobart.

“The Orangery”–Beneath Ceaseless Skies (plus some photos of trees)

Today my very first novelette publication released online for free reading! “The Orangery” is available at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

This one comes from my fascination and repulsion with women-turning-into-trees narratives. I say fascination because I have always loved trees. For years I have taken photos of beautiful trees when I travel. In college I used to find patterns in bare branches: women’s faces, mostly, and when I felt a darkness creeping in each winter, I looked to these patterns for comfort. (When I told my mom about the women I saw in trees, she said, “You see them too?” I have inherited her strange world.)

The women in mythology who turn into trees often do so to escape unwanted sexual advance or assault. That is where the repulsion comes from. Although I have always loved trees, I never felt like these mythological women were being gifted this new form. Instead, I felt like they were being punished. As if they were being told, you can either accept every advance that comes your way or opt out of a human life altogether.

In “The Orangery,” I made a place for these women-turned-trees, the Orangery of the novelette’s title, a walled-in grove watched over by a Guardian who tend to the trees’ wishes and lives out her life within the woods. But when Apollo breaks through the wall to find and reclaim Daphne, the Guardian must fight him–and make sacrifices in the process.

Read it here.

Some Photos of Trees

to both prove my point and because maybe you love trees too, I don’t know

ceskykrumlov (11).jpgI took a trip to the Czech Republic and mostly came home with photos of trees; this one is in the village Český Krumlov

Zoo (3).JPGIt may look like I was photographing this tiger, but I was probably most excited by the juxtaposition of tiger and tree

100_1565Tree with arm-like branches in Oklahoma

100_0209Crumbled tree on Wood Island on Lake Texoma

Self-Care for Witches

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I’m part of a pretty badass local creative community called Spiderweb Salon (started by the talented Courtney Marie and Conor Wallace). Every year they put on various creative showcases for local writers, performance artists, musicians, visual artists, etc. They also host zine-making workshops and various other meet-ups. I’ve loved being part of something that aims to create a community where people can come together without judgement and share what’s near and dear to them. That community has been particularly important to me in times of darkness.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been struggling with depression. There’s been a lot of change going on–some good, some not-so-good–and, like many, I don’t handle change well. I was feeling pent-up and frustrated when Spiderweb’s last zine-making party came along. I went because I needed to write something, needed to finish something, needed to be part of something that wasn’t me in my room fighting my cats for use of the computer.

Spiderweb’s zine-making parties take place in a living room strewn with typewriters and pieces of pre-cut paper. You go in, type up your poem or story or draw your artwork, then leave it alone. I like going in and working with a total of two drafts: one hand-written on paper to make sure it’ll fit onto the page, the other typed. There’s something therapeutic about not revising for days, not workshopping.

The theme of the last Spiderweb zine was The Spell Book. Here’s the piece I came up with: first the scan from the printed zine, then the cleaned-up version below.

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how to be happy: a spell for the sorrow-ridden witch

i. eat a tbsp. of cayenne every morning. mix with triple-filtered water (to ensure the ghosts are gone).

ii. repeat your mantra in the shower. the water knows when you are telling the truth, when you believe your straining voice. if you lie, you will feel a surge of burn. let that burn remove the first layer of your lying skin. rinse the dermis. repeat.

iii. eat one eye of roach. pop as you would one of those pills your dr. gave you, the ones you never took. bonus: your apartment will be one roach cleaner.

iv. sneak into your old lovers’ bedrooms. place both your hands on their cheeks and suck any last affection they have for you from their chapped lips. this is how you will love yourself again. get it all, every last whisper.

v. keep your fear and anger inside until your arms are hot to the touch. empty that fever into a cast-iron soup pot. cook the mixture until it is thick as glue. feed it to the barista who sold you shitty coffee in Arkansas.

vi. leave your apartment. walk down sidewalks and step on every crack. when you reach the woods, venture off the path. walk until your thighs burn. but not the burn of water and not the burn of anger. you need to get out more. you need to be a better person. when was the last time you went to the dr.? too long ago or too recently. get lost in these thought, until they make you shake. these thoughts will call the troll to you. offer him your hands, to smell but not to eat. you know him. you recognize his lips. you recognize his gait. you recognize your favorite shoes and favorite dress, the one you wore the last time you were happy. you recognize your chewed-off fingernails. face him head-on. call him every name you have ever called him, every name you have ever called yourself. let him swallow you whole. he will keep you bottled until his troll hands and arms grow hot. then he will let you go.

 

 

 

(witchy disclaimer: these are all terrible ideas. do not engage in troll-summoning w/o the expertise of a professional. do not eat that much cayenne without the expertise of a culinary sorcerer. make sure roaches are free from pesticide. get old lovers’ consent before sneaking in: they may be happy to be rid of old feelings. get help when you need it.)