The one where I FINALLY share good news!

Okay, yeah-here is the good news people-Tales of the Lost Volume 2 (a Bram Stoker Award nominated anthology) is now for sale on Amazon. It’s in an ebook format for only 3.99. That’s like not even a full coffee at Starbucks. And the money all goes to charity.

Also, I dig it. Maybe horror isn’t your thing…maybe you want some Speculative Fiction? Check me out in the new anthology from Midnight and Indigo. Available October 31st!

Support Black Women Writers and COVID for about $20.

How To Live A Life (or Write Your Own Obit)

2020 was a bit of a sickest for all of us. Specifically, towards the end, I felt like 2020 had my arm twisted behind my back and me pressed up against a wall. It kept saying things like, “I’m not done with you yet. I’m not done making you miserable.”

I lost a cousin. She killed herself and planned her own funeral. I lost a great aunt, who-after her sister died-just seemed to let go. She was always a spunky one-even spunky than her sister-the feisty one-but I will miss her anyway. She made a fool out of my ex husband, so she wins all the prizes.

Now, it’s 2021, which is saying to 2020-“Bitch, hold my beer.” I’m in the bed, weighing 20+ more pounds than I ever have in my life. I’m actually bigger than when I had all three of my kids. And I have a wipe off board where I wrote-for inspiration-“Good morning, Tracy! Are you still fat? Are you gonna workout for 10 minutes today?” It’s worked for me because of my family. My sister and I do a check in to make sure each is up and doing something-riding a stationary bike, yoga, walking…anything. My mom has joined us, so now, we have a little good morning group. I look forward to getting a text giving me a briefing on how we are working ourselves out…inching towards either death or smoking crack for some fast weight loss. (I kid. I don’t drink or do drugs. Not much of a party-er. I think I got it all out of my system when I was younger. I know I’m paying for it now.)

But none of this is the point. Let me shuffle on-I’m in the bed, listening to Dustin O’Halloran play “Opus 20” on the piano and my mind wonders. I’ve read some fellow horror writers works and I got to thinking, how would I want to be remembered? I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, actually. When things don’t go my way or I get so many rejection letters, I’m only human-I get a bit sad. Then, thinking about doing even more work becomes overwhelming-so somewhere, I’m a shivering mass of pudding watching something stupid on Netflix-I’m working on the overwhelming with my therapist. It’s a new thing for me.

It got me to thinking, how would I want to be remembered? What if I wrote my own obituary, posted it up and tried to live my life…a bit backwards. Look at all the things I’ve wanted to achieve and work now to get to that point. Octavia Butler did something similar but I’ll just link it. She wrote what she wanted to achieve, then she did it. Have a look at it here.

How would I want my obit to start? Something like this, maybe:

I told you bitches you would miss me when I’m gone. Now, who are you going to call up when you can’t remember that movie or that group that wrote that song that went…dah dah dee…I also told you that it would be a fun ride. Hopefully, it was and I hope to never come back. (A little Frida Kahlo there…)

Then, I can write about my kids-who would not be happy at being mentioned, so I’ll just give some initials and pretend: Tracy is survived by her children-a female head of a major accounting organization, international artist son, known for his strikingly beautiful portraits of people and places and her genetically enhanced daughter that works in a restaurant but should have been a singer.

Let’s add other family, maybe: Sister #2, World Renowned Poet Laureate, winner of so many poetry prizes they actually decided to name one after her instead and her husband, founder and main archivist of the Tribe Called Quest Museum-in his spare time-and serves as President of the Blah Department at the Rich School in DC. Sister #3, Advocate for Education, History and Gay Rights. Highly requested motivational speaker for all things minimalist and education of all races of children. (I’m sure I’ll have one of my two dorky sisters edit this) Her husband, world renowned chef who cooked for me three times in my life and I was impressed each time.

What kind of awesome aunt would I be if I didn’t mention my niece and nephews: the Engineer, the Builder and the Culture Icon? Oh they know which ones they are. I just enabled them by building on what I know and spending as much time with them as I could. Even if that means talking on the phone, FaceTime or Zoom or whatever the proper thing when I die.

Now, the good part-the books: Tracy has written some pretty fucking awesome books. Her first novel (and subsequent award winner) was about hoodoo and her family. She followed that up with two sequels-including a book of short stories inspired by hoodoo traditions. She also wrote the foreword for a book by a close friend-a fascinating science fiction series that is currently being made into a movie. Her other books include a short forray into four collected works and anthologies of a fusion of horror, science fiction and cyberpunk novels. Several of which have been adapted into comic books (by her dear friend A.F. and his company) and movies. She won some awards but she’d rather focus on things she did for other people. She helped found the “Nonprofit for Creative Writers Accountability”-which is run by a friend of hers-one of the original members of her Writers Accountability clique. She was a huge advocate and supporter of LGBTIQ+ rights, various Down syndrome World Organizations, Black Girls Against Bullies, Grants for Single Parent Artists of Color and several mental health organizations for teens who are unsure of their station in life, Homesteading for the Hood, Gardens in the City and Executive on the Board of Champions for Eczema. She attended all meetings and was an active participant until she passed in her bed, at home, in Washington, DC surrounded by her family and friends. And her two dogs-Boobs II and Tiki the 2nd. (Cute Jack Russell Terriers) Her children care for her gardens she planted around the city and behind her home.

In lieu of flowers, she wants you to donate to those charities or simply hug someone and tell them, “It’s going to be okay.” Her ashes were shared among her children and made into necklaces. She did request some of her ashes be combined and sprinkled with her parents-some place warm with fruit she was not allergic to.

Her tombstone reads-See y’all on the other side.

And that’s it. Now to print this out and get to working backwards on the shit that I should have done.

this picture says "at my funeral take the bouquet off my coffin and throw it into the crowd to see who is next".
just do it. please. or I’ll haunt u.

Let’s Talk About Music

I consider myself a bit of a music connoisseur. I was raised on The Temptations, David Bowie (the Diamond Dog and Station to Station years), Led Zeppelin and Kool and the Gang. I knew a Deep Purple flute in any song. I was able to tell you which were the best drum breaks to snatch from Led Zeppelin to make a decent sample.

And I loved (and still do love) Prince. I can talk about Prince forever…master of shade and all that…all his girlfriends and how we went apeshit when he dated Nona Gaye (we really thought we had a chance to get in there).

Yeah, baby, I’m talking about you.

Back to talking about music. If you find me on Spotify, I have a million playlists. I had to write a story that took place in the 80’s, so I made a playlist for 1983. All the memories, then I realized there were so many songs I heard over and over that I started to hate that stupid playlist. But, the story came out pretty good and got good reviews.

Since we are in the apocalypse, I’ve been falling back on old habits. One of my old habits was listening to these long mixes while I do stuff-clean the house, fold clothes or whatever-to get hip. My super duper weakness is world fusion. I love a good Middle Eastern jam fused with some hip hop or something like that. (Please pardon me showing my ignorance…I know there are so many different types, but I still have a problem identifying what the fuck the difference is between crunk and trap.)

Latest on my “stalking” roster is a deejay named Nooriyah. She’s on the ‘Gram and she’s on Soundcloud. I ran across her playing the original samples for “Big Pimpin'” and “Indian Flute” (which is actually a Spanish song…durrrr-even I knew that.) She has one picture on the ‘Gram of her getting the “Stank face” when she’s mixing. If you don’t know stank face, you best ask somebody.

She’s getting the stank face in this video. She’s so cute. I don’t know how old she is but she refers to a lot of the classics as music she grew up with and her pictures have that 80’s gloss on them.

Here she is on soundcloud-kicking out the illest shit I’ve heard in awhile:

As I write this, I’m listening to another mix of hers that’s pretty sweet. And being that I am a music lover, you may want to jump on this before she gets too big and decides she doesn’t have time to respond to your personal posts. I love this chick.

Now, make yourself a music list or find me on Spotify-um my name is in the blog. I’m sure you’re smart enough.

And just keep dancing….disco forever.

(Also Happy Birthday Toni!)

Appreciation

I appreciate all aspects of my life. I guess as I get older, I understand and realize how valuable the little things are, like education and time. I’m ending my class in my major of Creative Writing and I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received. I also appreciate my Professor and my peers. My Professors feedback pushed me in a better direction with my writing. My peers gave me clarification and a better understanding of my writing. Both of them told me that I needed to slow my ass down.

It’s not quantity. It’s quality. My work seemed like a B but the help and guidance I received pushed me closer to my A. Even when your peers post the snarkiest of comments, you can learn something. Sure, I think about trying to find where you live and think about nuking your house, but I calm down and say, “Let’s see why they said this and does it make sense.” See, I even can put a cap on my pettiness and my petty is like level 800. It seems I have the power to make people invisible, but I digress.

Even now, in this apocalypse, I have learned to appreciate the smaller things like time and hugs. I cannot emphasize time enough. I know that I always am thinking that I’ll have more time then I lose three people to COVID and it’s like, “Why didn’t I use that time I had to talk to them?” Now, I think how can I honor those that I have lost to show my appreciation and to also share the information I haves so that it doesn’t remain lost forever?

If I am allowed to digress-my brain been taking me through some shit. What else am I supposed to do? Watch tv all day and try to figure out all the palindromes in “Tenet”?

I guess the point of all this is to say thank you. Tell someone how you really feel about them because you never know if it’s your time. Maybe you log onto that Zoom session one day and there’s an empty square and you think, “If only I had the time to tell them I thought their ideas sucked…” Guess what? Not happening. Text and email your friends. Send pictures.

I mean just because we are in an apocalypse doesn’t mean we have to live like it.

What’s Up With That?

I had two different people look at my writing. I got two entirely different opinions. One said I needed to leave historical references in the story. The other said to take them out because they were understood to be in the story. What to do…what to do….

Yeah, sounds about right

This has been happening a lot to me lately. I had someone tell me I needed to write shorter sentences. No, write longer sentences. Give me all the details. Let the reader fill in the details. Write the book you want to read. Write the book that will sell the most.

Thus, this is being a writer. It’s almost a democracy. You don’t want to ask for critiques then piss people off when you use nothing of what they said. What to do….

I like to sit back, think, watch some cartoons then get serious. Do I actually have enough from A or B? Is there enough background that people can get the history or do I need more background. I try to find somewhere in between. You gotta take all readers into consideration. The one that wants everything explained and the one that gets it from the jump.

Be neutral. Be like Sweden.

Guess What?

No surprise, like most writer humans I’m probably trying to think of a way to invent a house elf that can input my edits, clean, cook and do schoolwork with my kid. I am having minimal success.

However, here’s a huge tease of what I’m working on…the artist is Steve Townsend. He also does some magical work that appeals to my fan girl/graphic novel reading self. He doesn’t have a website, yet. But I’m sure he will soon.

Shoot him an email at: Herman.townsendjr@gmail.com

Hoodoo…

Don’t Be That Guy

Recently, in this glorious New Year, I had to make some cuts in my life. About 180 pounds of cuts. See, I was kinda in a thing with this guy and it didn’t dawn on me that it just wasn’t working. For about 18 years. It became tiresome and just boring from my end. The more you give, the more they take.

I really, really wanted to be sad. For real. But I’m moving towards that area where the sun shines again. Then, I thought about all the people in abusive relationships right now. I realized they have nowhere to go, which sucks. At least I have my own little place, where I can retreat from everyone. But, imagine being locked in an apartment, with your abuser and the daily suffering they have to endure.

A lot of places where the abused can go are closed or not able to take anyone because of this COVID problem. They are trapped and lots of bad things happen. Maybe they survive today only to walk on eggshells tomorrow and get sucker punched in the face. I don’t know. I’m just spitballing.

As we move deeper into madness and the apocalypse, I can only hope these places open soon. Abuse of any kind is not okay and it’s long lasting. I’m in a position where I can call my therapist, but some of these folks are so alienated that they have no one to talk to,or they are accused of talking to someone else and have the shit half beaten out of them.

What is the point of all this? Wear a mask. Stop acting like this doesn’t exist. The more you decide it doesn’t, the more some person being abused gets hit or slapped or kicked or punched again. The longer they have to stay inside with “that person” and pray for a reprieve. Be that one person that thinks of others and not yourself. I could say some dumb shit like, “Real heroes wear masks!”, but I won’t. Well, I just did but you know…Happy 2021-the year where you think of someone else each time you put a mask on.

Shocktober!

I watched a horror film a day in October. I’m thinking I’ve got some issues with cats but I’m not a sociopath. Yeah, I actually started a few days before October, but hey, let’s go:

This is the list-if you want more detail-look further down:

The Entity (1982)

October 1-Spiral-Shudder (2020)

October 2-Welcome to Mercy on Hulu

October 3-Metamorphosis on Shudder (2019), Monsterland Ep 2 and 3

October 4-Antebellum on Pay on demand (2020)

October 5-Devil’s Gate on Netflix (2017)

October 6-Annabelle Comes Home on HBO Max (2019)

October 7-Slenderman on FX, Monsterland, Ep 4 and 5*

October 8-Final Destination 2 on IFC

October 9-Happy Death Day on FX (2017) and Truth or Dare (2018)

October 10-The Lie (2018) and anther two episodes of Monsterland…

October 11-Fear dot Com (2002) Amazon Prime

October 12-The Cleansing Hour (2020) on Shudder

October 13-17 The Haunting of Bly Manor

October 18-The Mortuary Collection

October 19-The Wretched

October 20-Gretel and Hansel

October 21-Nocturne

October 22-28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later

October 23-Insidious 3

October 24-The Exorcist: The Beginning

October 25-Two Minute Horror Stories (Hulu)

October 26-The Crazies

October 27-The Conjuring

October 28-Annabelle

October 29-Insidious 1 and 2

October 30-Halloween 1,2,3 and Sinister

October 31-Sinister 2, Goosebumps, Goosebumps 2

I will add a page with my reviews October 19-31 later

-I watched “The Entity” (1982). It was based on a true story about a woman being sexually assaulted by a spirit. I heard about this on a podcast and you know…down the rabbit hole I go. The movie was okay. The protagonist was annoying with her up and down emotions-I’ll accept this shit now. No, I won’t. Yes, I will. Ron Silver is in it, playing the type of guy that he does best-snarky asshole. I’d give it a thumbs up.

October 1-Today’s film-Spiral which is on Shudder. First, thanks Shudder for including a gay couple in the movie. It makes me nervous because there’s usually, almost never, ever any type of interpretation of gay relationships that doesn’t make me roll my eyes and stamp STEREOTYPE all over the film. This movie was strange because things were not what they seemed and time seemed very strange. Some unanswered questions, but it’s one of those movies that ends, then begins again. Thumbs up.

October 2-Welcome to Mercy (2018). Let’s see, this met the holy trinity plus of horror films for me: demonic possession (check), white haired Irish priest (check), nuns in old time costumes (check), everyone whispers (check). I forgot-stigmata (super check), dark atmosphere and scenery (mega check). And yet, I can’t tell you what the hell happened for an hour and a half. At first, I thought it was a mother trying to keep a demon from possessing her daughter. Then, they did the whole-maybe this is a dream or this is a memory. But I did call the devil and the island. It’s not my cuppa tea-this one. Meh.

Later that night-I watched Monsterland on Hulu. Season 1, Ep 1-Port Fourchon, La. (2020) Did you ever watch a movie (The Descent) that should have ended sooner (The Descent) but didn’t (High Tension) and left you feeling incomplete? That’s Monsterland. The first episode involved a waitress trying to get away from her child and life but she has no choice and she can’t. There’s a butcher killer and a lot of freaky stuff. I was describing it to my dad and it was good good good then sucked. I didn’t like the ending at all. It moved along nicely, then, it ended. This gets a Meh. I was hoping I could watch a few more and it gets better. Sadly, it does not.

October 3-Metamorphosis (2019) Shudder. Holy crap! What a great movie! It was all about possession and it did not fit into the American parameters of Catholicism. The best part is when they had priests from all over the world-including India! talking about exorcisms! They even spoke Latin (which made me think I understood an exorcism because I speak Spanish and French. Duh.). It was a great Korean movie where a priest fails at an exorcism and goes off into self imposed exile. The demon tells him that it is going to wreck havoc on his entire family and kill them all. Next thing, the demon invades the priests family. What? It’s a body jumping demon and crazy shit happens. This movie keeps you guessing because when you sit back on the couch like, “You know what, I’m gonna let this shit wash over me, it feels like everything is okay…” THEN IT’S NOT!! This is what I’m talking about! I want demons and priests with unshakable faith, hell there was even some slaughtered goats and chickens. Looked like a bad voodoo ritual or something, but I was super fascinated and I give it two thumbs up.

Later that day-I went back to Monsterland. Ep 2 and Ep 3. Let’s talk, Ep 2 Eugene, Oregon-The protagonist looked like he was born with a scowl on his face. Even when he smiled, it looked evil. Mom had a stroke and he’s lying to her because he has to get a job to pay for her medication. It’s not that he resents his mother, he resents his father for leaving and taking all the opportunity with him. Trust me. No big loss in plot. He is a gamer without friends and his mother is pretty much his life now. One night while he’s playing a game a shadow appears in a corner of his room and has a mind of its own. He takes pictures and posts it and meets a group of these shadow hunters that tell him about the secret army of shadows that’s causing lives to be shit. Which is really insane and feels like the shadow was supposed to represent insanity or something.

Now, this goes on for so long that it feels like a movie. Several other plot points are introduced and then it ends. Plot points unresolved. We never find out if this guy is crazy or not. I guess it’s supposed to be some kind of artsy ending, but it’s frustrating because you think, “Oh, well, we’ll see what happ—what the fuck?” Thumbs down.

I felt the need to torture myself even further and watched Episode 3-New Orleans, Louisiana. Here’s the description-A New Orleans socialite wrestles with her past. Here’s what happened-not that. It felt like someone went to New Orleans and put in what they thought New Orleans was about but not really. (I recall going to the movies with my sister once and we were talking after it was over. I said, “What’d you think?” Knowing we both were confused and didn’t like the movie as much as we thought. She smacks her lips twice and says, “If this movie were cheese, it would be Velveeta.” That sums up how I felt about this episode.) Once again, plot points and characters are introduced but we only see things through the protagonist. We don’t get to hear the other side of phone calls. Her husband admits to doing something that’s so wrong, I was actually shocked when he said, “I did it. I need help.” A woman-maybe publicist?-takes him away and he never comes back. The son tries to explain stuff to Mom and how she ignored the problem. He even tells her that HE told mom the dad had a problem and Mom is too busy asking about a demon. “What’s the demon look like?” Then, it all goes to shit and she ends up following someone down a street and is surrounded by the devil’s band. Yeah. At this point, I feel like I’m being tested. Meh but leaning towards thumbs down.

October 4-Antibellum (2020) Pay on demand. I thought this movies was going to be a cheap rehash of “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. Oh noooo….it was worse. It was so much worse because this shit could really happen now. Felt like Jordan Peele lite. I’m happy that there were a lot of black faces and a lot of folks that were like, “Fuck this, I’m going to do x.” Sadly, white people ruin everything again and y happens. And “y” is not pretty. It’s downright wrong. (Note to Jena Malone-please stop taking roles that make me hate you. I really like you. I want to like you. But, once again, I hated you and your ending was moderately appropriate.) If there had been more deaths committed by X towards Y, then this would get a thumbs up. Right now, it gets a meh.

October 5-Devil’s Gate (2017) Netflix. This is one of those movies where you have seen everyone in something else. Let me save you the time: Shawn Ashmore-Iceman/The Boys, Milo Ventimiglia-Heroes and whatever else, Amanda Schull-12 Monkeys/Suits, Bridget Regan-she just looks like someone else, Jonathan Frakes-Star Trek Picard/Roswell. I think that covers it. What we have here is a movie with a religious zealot whose wife and child are missing, he lives on land that nothing grows on and if you get anywhere near it, all electricity is sucked out. Dude seems real crazy with his killing inventions and his religious yellings until you see what’s in the basement. Then, the whole movie changes. All I’m going to say is that this was pretty good and the little boy at the end looks more like an adult than child. Thumbs up.

October 6-Annabelle Comes Home (2019) HBO-Max. Okay, I had a discussion with my kid today. You’ll see. I said, “If I tell you that the door over there is locked and you should never go inside, would you go inside?” She said no. I said, “Okay, if I’m not here and your cousins are here and one of them wants to go inside, would you say no or what?” She said she would say that her mom said no.

Now that we’ve got this cleared up. If you hear a rumor about the freaky girl with the freaky parents at school, why would you root through their house, find a key and release all the demons of hell. Then, pretend you had nothing to do with it and try to leave. BUT!! You discover that not only can you see the demons, but the babysitter’s boyfriend can see them too! I smell a sequel or something…a new team up. Anyway, this was good for some scares, but I do think that Ed & Lorraine Warren deserve a full chapter book on all the shit in their homeseum or something. The objects were more interesting than the movie!!

So, if your cousins come over-or a friend of a friend-and wants to Scooby Doo search some shit, just say no. You may open the door to hell and even after you put it back and seal off the beasts, you forgot to tell your mom that the priest needs to come rebless the entire FUCKING ROOM AND ALL THE UNHOLY OBJECTS. It may seem catty, but thumbs up. I liked it.

October 7-Slenderman-which will get no love from me. The entire fucking movie was so dark AND I kept falling asleep on it. Double thumbs down.

October 7-Monsterland Episode 4-New York, New York-Finally a really great fucking episode. I swear, it had the trifecta-possession, demons and a cynic. Oh, if this shit could happen in real life, we would be looking at climate change a lot different.

Episode 5-Plainfield, Illinois-another good but strange episode. You ever think something is supposed to represent something else? Yeah. Two chicks start out debating each other and end up falling in love. Only one of them is mentally ill. She has bipolar schizophrenia with manic episodes…and tries to break up with her girl. But home girl was not having it. I never really found out if she had a job at one point or the chick was making enough for them both, but, eh, it’s a winner! Thumbs up!

October 8-Final Destination 2-I have to say, I love these cheesy movies. Whenever one is on, I have to stop, drop and watch. I don’t understand why they named the girl Clear…but this is one of the good ones. And every time they say “Kalargian”, drink up. It gets pretty fun near the end.

October 9-Happy Death Day and Truth or Dare-Don’t hate me. My brain needed a break. These are my go to movies that I can watch with my kid around (on tv and sans sex). She doesn’t pay attention, but I think they are fun. Also, if you really look at it, the plots are kinda intricate and need research, not like a complete no brainer. I can appreciate that.

October 10-The Lie is part of the Blumhouse series on Amazon. I thought it was horror, but it was more of a hate watch. I don’t know why I despise Joey King, but jeez…she is just the worst kind of annoying. No matter where I see her or what I see her in, she is insufferable. Now, it could be that she picks these kinds of roles but I am going to say this-those kids pulled a trick that had a lot of fucking fallout. And if that was my kid, oh, they would be super dead. Monsterland has gotten better now that I know I’m supposed to figure out who is the monster in each episode. The Palacios, Texas episode had a mermaid. The Iron River, Michigan episode put me to sleep four times. Four.

October 12-Shudder has not let me down! I promise to devote more time to you if you keep putting out such quality stuff, like-The Cleansing Hour. Two friends host fake exorcisms on the internet until one day shit gets out of hand. That’s the gist. The ending is mwah! Chef’s kiss! A little like Brightburn, but I liked it. Double thumbs up.

October 13-The Haunting of Bly Manor-I know that I legit watched more horror but I’m not sure it’s classified as horror. I decided to give this the old try and make it a miniseries. The good news-some jump scares, stories that flow and everyone from Season One is in here. The bad news-Hardly any ghosts! As compared to the first one, there are less ghosts. Now they could make for the ghosts with the level of afterlife anger, but hey. More bad news-oh these damn accents were everywhere. I get it’s England but you have character A who sounds like they are doing all the British accents together, there’s a Scot in there and it was very off. It’s like if Groundskeeper Willie was less Scottish and more leprechaun, the kids are annoying, but many the accents. Then, when you find out who character A is, you’re thinking, “They could not have let these people get together and practice? You’ve got real Brits, then you have Americans destroying the accent. I apologize Great Britain.

October 18-The Mortuary Collection on Shudder. It bears repeating but they win the Halloween movie contest hands down. This was a collection of stories and after the first one, I thought, “Oh this is some Nickelodeon shit.” Then, the second story starts with a guy giving out condoms. The third story is about marriage. The fourth (and best) story is about a babysitter that will do anything to keep the kid safe. The fifth story ends the timeline and the sixth story brings us back to the now. They really like to scream in this movie. You have been warned.