All Blog Posts

h+ logo with falling leaves in header 2020


Richard designed, developed, and maintained the original h+ Tucson website as well as the expanded h+ website for multiple chapters and new transhumanist-related content, including a gallery of transhumanist art, links, and other resources.

Painbow Header with rainbow gradient against white background


Richard Leis created Painbow after he witnessed and experienced two incidents of discrimination. His idea was to briefly describe each situation, include the hurtful statement itself, and provide a short response.

RADIO Frontier Channel Header 2020 with silhouette of radio telescope

RADIO Frontier Channel

RADIO Frontier Channel was a podcast from Frontier Channel hosted by Richard Leis in 2005 that included science and technology news and interviews with scientists at the University of Arizona.

Image courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center from The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth - This view of Earth's horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crew member onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible." [Credit from Wikipedia]

Frontier Channel

The Frontier Channel website edited by Richard Leis provided news and commentary about the “Great Frontiers of cyberspace, outer space, the ocean, and destinations in between.”

Flashpocalypse Short List

My flash fiction story “The Canal” was shortlisted for The Molotov Cocktail’s latest quarterly flash contest: Flashpocalypse!

Review: In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland

Book cover of In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland with silhouette of deer in high grass against huge full moon at night and a cabin in the woods

At 94 pages, In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland is a quick read, but be warned that the mounting tension might require an occasional break to catch your breath. You’re going to need the oxygen: the final third of the book, when the breathless pace escalates and characters become even more desperate, becomes unputdownable.

Review: Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler

Book cover of Crickets Hunters by Jeremy Hepler with grandmother protecting her granddaughter in bed with crickets nearby and two stakes stabbed into the bloody ground

Cricket Hunters subverts the usual tropes and nostalgia of coming-of-age horror by reaching for something even darker in this tale of friendship and rivalry

Review: Phreak by JE Solo

Book cover of Phreak by JE Solo with shadow of a person in hoodie against a chainlink fence

Phreak often worked against my narrative expectations with its fragmented, time-jumping, and vignette-style approach, and in the process delivered a singular character whose clear and deeply felt recollections warn us how close we are to delivering a similarly bleak future to the next generation. You’ll want to get your hands on this novel as soon as possible.

Review: Snow by Ronald Malfi

Book cover for Snow by Ronald Malfi featuring a tree with a eerie blue figure peering out at the snowy landscape and a gate

The rapid pace doesn’t get in the way of good details and atmosphere; I felt the cold, eeriness, and rising tension along the way. What they encounter is creepy as hell and led to heart-pounding horror and heartbreaking deaths.

Review: We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

Book cover for We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk with a man in shadows and a straight jacket

It took me several pages to adjust to the direction Kirk takes later in the novel, but I was rewarded with an unexpectedly humane, emotional, and satisfying ending. Despite its challenges, We Are Monsters left me with a lot to enjoy and think about.

A Submission Process

Image of poetry and fairy tale and other books in my bookshelf

In this new post, I will provide tips and resources so that my workshop students and other writers can submit their best work to potential markets.

Sonora Desert hills with cactuses Tucson Arizona

Writing Workshops for Spring and Summer 2020

Out of focus circles of light of different sizes and warm and dark colors

In addition to my usual 8-week Writers Studio Tucson Workshop, I’m bringing back my popular online “Crafting Fantastic and Imaginative Worlds” workshop for poets and writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror!

New Short Story: “The Yogurt Swimmer” in Coppice & Brake

Cover of Coppice & Brake edited by Rachel A. Brune with illustrated frame with crows on top around image of thin trees in snow

“A snout breaks the surface of Greek yogurt in the thirty-two-ounce container I have freshly opened and set on the counter. It sniffs cautiously, then sneezes and sprays yogurt everywhere. I yell. It pokes its entire head out and chirps.”

Learning to Horror

Trees, sky, light on water in Daphne, Alabama

After years of focusing on literary poetry and fiction, including completing my undergraduate education in creative writing and taking writing workshops, I’m finally embracing my original genre aspirations.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2019

Writing Progress Sticker Calendar by NaNoWriMo for November 2019

I really, really, really want to reach 50,000 words in November and I want to do it in 2019 before the new decade starts and we’re in the far future.

Upcoming Appearance: UNREAL at Antigone Books

Announcement for UNREAL reading at Antigone Books, featuring blue text over blue background and an orange painted blue but sliced to reveal the color orange inside

I’m joining the other Writers Studio Tucson teachers at Antigone Books for a public reading from our latest works that focus on “the unusual, the dark, and the unreal.”

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launch on August 12 2005

Move It to the Top

I have learned a valuable lesson about writing this year as a result of teaching writing workshops. This led to a breakthrough in writing poetry that has transformed my poems in the past few months. Here is what I have learned.

Partial solar eclipse through the shadows of leaves on pavement at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona on August 21, 2017

Shadow Award 2019 Short List

In the 2019 Shadow Award from The Molotov Cocktail, one of my entries landed me on the short list.

Sonora Desert hills with cactuses Tucson Arizona

Fall 2019 Writing and Teaching

Sonora Desert hills with cactuses Tucson Arizona

I’m preparing lesson plans and writing new exercises for two fall workshops at the Writers Studio.

Review: Kids by The Midnight

Album cover for Kids by The Midnight

One musical act in particular is responsible for my current retrowave obsession: The Midnight.

Recommendation: “Forever Baby” by Dana Diehl in Cartridge Lit

Dana Diehl’s latest flash fiction piece titled “Forever Baby” and inspired by the game Stardew Valley is available on Cartridge Lit in the new “The Double Click Temple Issue.” Her story is awesome, sad, allegorical for so much, and you don’t need to know anything about Stardew Valley to appreciate it.

Movie Review: Assimilate (2019)

Assimilate isn’t the cheap and nauseating found-footage film the trailer led me to believe it would be, but instead an effective low-budget thriller that relies too much on jump scares but tempers these with earned emotions and suspense.

Review: The Low Passions by Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee’s poems in The Low Passions feel like they have exactly the right words; the perfect, accessible, blunt, beautiful, challenging, and surprising words.

The Limits of Success

I was not prepared for how much worse imposter syndrome would get once I started writing regularly, getting published, participating in public readings, teaching…

Sonora Desert hills with cactuses Tucson Arizona

New Writing Instructor at the Writers Studio Tucson

Sonora Desert scene with cactuses on hills

I’m now a writing instructor at the Writers Studio in Tucson, Arizona and I’ll be teaching an 8-week introductory workshop in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction beginning Saturday, April 20th!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

13 January 2019🎥 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic movie! I love the energy, art style(s), story, and characters. If this is the future of the Spider-Verse (and Venom 2 turns out to be a major improvement on the first one), then I’m eager for the franchise to expand.

Alice Hatcher Craft Class

📚 I participated in a fantastic craft class today with Alice Hatcher, author of The Wonder That Was Ours. She was interviewed by Reneé Bibby, Director of the Writers Studio Tucson, and local students in the Master and Advanced workshops.

Frontier Channel Mars Header 2020 with website text next to image of Mars

Space as Solace During a Government Shutdown

The recent space activities I’m writing and posting about provide solace during this government shutdown that has furloughed most NASA and related departments employees and contractors.

“Meet Ultima Thule”

And Ultima and Thule, according to New Horizons’ principal investigator Alan Stern at today’s NASA press briefing, the informal names the team have given the two lobes of the red object out in the Kuiper Belt New Horizons spent New Year’s encountering. The contact binary connected by a neck of material indicates two objects that came together and stuck sometime in the distant past when these kinds of interactions were leading elsewhere in the solar system to accretions that would eventually form the planets and their moons.

New Year, New Day, New Image of Ultima Thule

01 January 2019 image of Ultima Thule by New Horizons spacecraft and sketch of object and rotation courtesy James Tuttle Keane

During a morning press briefing aired on NASA TV on New Year’s Day 2019, New Horizons mission team leaders revealed the latest best image of Ultima Thule. Still a blur, the Kuiper Belt body’s shape is more apparent in this latest image. Still unclear: are the two lobes connected or are they in fact two separate objects orbiting each other? The pole of the object was pointed toward the spacecraft, meaning Ultima Thule rotates from that perspective like a propellor. Artist and planetary scientist James Tuttle Keane has helped visualize this geometry in his illustration included next to the image.

New Horizons at Ultima Thule

Image of Ultima Thule taken by the LORRI onboard the New Horizons spacecraft in the Kuiper Belt

6.5 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away from where some Earthlings are celebrating New Year’s Eve, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is beginning its close flyby of a tiny world in the Kuiper Belt known as Ultima Thule (2014 MU69.)

Frontier Channel Mars Header 2020 with website text next to image of Mars

InSight Lander on Mars

As we do, the HiRISE team took a high resolution image of the InSight lander safe on the surface of Mars.

Book cover of Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder, with a cat on the cover hanging from a frayed rope

Review: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Book cover of Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder, with a cat on the cover hanging from a frayed rope

The tone and humor might be a little dated, even insensitive and problematic at points, but there’s no question that Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is a book packed with useful, easily digestible, but comprehensive information.

Weekly calendar on two pages in NaNoWriMo Bullet Journal written in pencil

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2018

Weekly calendar on two pages in NaNoWriMo Bullet Journal written in pencil

I’ve written an entire novel before, a few of them in fact, but I’ve never completed 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month in November.

Book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is beautiful, emotional, full of love, humor, and hope, and also horror and tragedy. It’s devastating.

Magazine cover for Nightmare Magazine, Issue 10 with art by Adam S Doyle

Review: Nightmare Magazine, Issue 10

Magazine cover for Nightmare Magazine, Issue 10 with art by Adam S Doyle

The highlight of this issue is most definitely the interview with Joe Hill. I haven’t read any of his work yet, but I’m really interested now that I’ve read this interview.

Book cover of The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher with cockroaches

Review: The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher

The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher is a deeply moving novel that makes smart use of its narrator—the collective “we” of cockroaches—to explore the legacy of colonization. Hatcher’s collective cockroach narrator is funny and astute, and finds the disturbing and heartbreaking parallels between our species, while pointing out the ways humans might be far worse.

Book cover of TV Girls by Dana Diehl

Review: TV Girls by Dana Diehl

With TV Girls—six incredible flash fiction stories in one fantastic chapbook—Dana Diehl’s compassion for reality TV stars flattened by the medium recovers their individuality and complexity by exploring in gorgeously-crafted prose how they are vulnerable, exploited, and managing the relentless attention.

New Poem: “Foolishly Into the Ocean”


“Divert the river from the ocean! / Divert the stream from river, / from lake. Divert the rain / from ground, / from rooftop, / from cloud.”

Recommended: “The Mushroom Hunters” by Neil Gaiman

Book cover of The 2018 Rhysling Anthology edited by Linda D. Addison with a mermaid leaping from water

“The Mushroom Hunters” by Neil Gaiman is one of the best poems I’ve read this year. It was my top pick when voting for the 2018 Rhysling Awards, and must have been for many others because it recently won in the long poem category!

Review: The 2018 Rhysling Anthology

Neil Gaiman’s “The Mushroom Hunters” was my personal favorite in the collection, along with Mary Soon Lee’s “Advice to a Six-Year-Old” and all her other poems, Linda D. Addison’s “Sycorax’s Daughters Unveiled”, Cislyn Smith’s “Hot”, and Shannon Connor Winward’s “The Raven’s Hallowe’en.”

“Getting some air, Atlas?”

Boston Dynamics occasionally uploads these short videos demonstrating their latest robotics technology and capabilities. I’m always amazed by the leap forward in movement smoothness and efficiency. 🤖

Cold Creek Review crop with lake and trees in winter scene

New Short Story: “The Center of Dirty” in Cold Creek Review #5

Screen shot of Cold Creek Review website with title of publication and an wintery creek and forest scene on 28 March 2018

“Rachel hung up on her mother while she was telling Rachel about her niece’s birthday party. The abrupt silence was packed with glass. Rachel stared at the dark screen of her phone until the greasy prints bothered her. She wiped the phone across her jeans and set it face down on the table. It rang. She brushed at crumbs.”

Sunday Task

How to group poems into manuscripts that will go out to several potential markets?

I have no idea.

Impossible Archetype Issue 3 logo

New Poem: “Nervous Bambi” in Impossible Archetype Issue 3

Cover of Issue 3 of Impossible Archetype, a Journal of LGBTQ+ Poetry, edited by Mark Ward

”I’m dazzled by headlights / while flaming forest fire sits / smug on my couch under my roof / smoking up his coming out to me / like its air itself. He told me over the phone. / He’s here now. I pull from the breast / pocket of my work shirt a folded list / of questions I wrote.”

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Book cover of Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli with stylized cutout of teenage boy in dark clothes with no head and a dialogue box including title against a red background

Simon and the other characters are the highlight of Simon vs the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, about a high school student on the verge of coming out as gay dealing with doubt, first love, and blackmail.

Review: The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard

Book cover of The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard with the title text displaying an image of the blue sky and clouds against a black background

Every single story in this collection of historical fiction and contemporary fiction pieces is breathtaking, full of incredible and often all-too-real details, and features characters (whether based on real people or not) that leap off the page.

Review: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

An incredible if interminable reading experience made nauseating by deplorable racist interjections (sometimes an excruciating chapter long) and gory slaughter.

Review: Shekhinah by Eleanor Wilner

I find Wilner’s style to be very straightforward and clear (as is her reading style) and her poems full of beautiful sensory detail and movement, featuring persona narrators who are typically distant and generally focus almost all their attention on the subject and themes of the poem.

Adelaide Literary Magazine magazine cover, Year III, Number 10, November 2017

Recommended: “Leave” By Katie Predick

Adelaide Literary Magazine magazine cover, Year III, Number 10, November 2017

I’ve been fortunate to have been in several workshops with Katie Predick, a poet I highly regard. Her poetry is rich with images and surprises as she explores myth and nature and themes of womanhood and parenthood, relationships, science, and human impact on the environment (she’s also an accomplished scientist.)

Image of white doors opening into white room with wood floor and all-cap text of the word "room" in red at the top of the doorway

Appearance Wrap-Up: “Room: A Literary Reading” at Antigone Books

Last Friday, two other writers and I from the Writers Studio Tucson had the singular opportunity to read our fiction and poetry that we wrote in response to a spooky prompt by guest judge Ted McLoof for the third annual “Write-to-Read” contest: “Three people wake up in a room. They have no idea how they … Continue reading Appearance Wrap-Up: “Room: A Literary Reading” at Antigone Books

Book cover from Goodreads of Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Book Review: Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Book cover from Goodreads of Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

I know when poems are working for me when the images suddenly erupt in vivid virtual reality in my mind and I gasp; several poems in this collection had those effects on me.

Screen Shot Everything is Free

Movie Review: Everything is Free

Screen Shot Everything is Free

When I say that Brian Jordan Alvarez’s queer film Everything is Free is not afraid of penises, I mean that as high praise … and this is your opportunity to bail out of this review if this isn’t subject matter you’re comfortable with.

Partial solar eclipse through the shadows of leaves on pavement at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona on August 21, 2017

New Poem: “Looking Ahead”

Partial solar eclipse through the shadows of leaves on pavement at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona on August 21, 2017

“I’ve seen the eclipse already. / I’ve seen how it begins: / the radiant sun, the vanished / moon. See how they are going / to collide, the many decisions / the moon made, the sun in its / place and bright and not waiting, / but willing.”

New Poem: “Condemn”


“Condemn / Condemn / when necessary / Condemn / Condemn white supremacists kkk nazis / whatever name gone by Condemn / always”

Making the Poet

Oregon last at sunset with pink and yellow and dark sky over beach at dusk

I don’t believe in natural talent. I use “believe” on purpose because I might be wrong; nevertheless, there’s more to talent than whatever innate capabilities a person might be born with that makes them prodigy and genius.

Shard Atlas by Wren Awry book cover from Goodreads

Book Review: Shard Atlas by Wren Awry

Shard Atlas by Wren Awry book cover from Goodreads

A micro-chapbook of impactful poems concerned with what needs to be preserved, what needs to be acknowledged, and what needs to be torn down. Beautiful and timely.

Counseling the Writer

Counseling, when you find the right counselor and when you engage with them honestly and with a willingness to do what they suggest, can work wonders and reshape your entire life.

A cozy corner of Story Land

A Writing Process

A cozy corner of Story Land

My writing process is just one example of a writing process that will hopefully inspire you to build your own.


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