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Star*Linevol 45, no. 4Fall 2022 Description Three short lines, one ferocious attack. Background When I started reading Star*Line and other publications from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, I was bemused by the shortest poems, those one or two or three line wonders that offer a quick punchline or pithy speculative thought. It wasn’t…
Black Tide by KC Jones
Black Tide by K.C. JonesMy rating: 4 of 5 starsThe Oregon Coast becomes the site for a spectacular and unexpected meteor shower, followed by a grueling struggle to survive by two people already struggling to survive their day-to-day lives. I grew to care about these characters as their story unfolds over an action-packed and harrowing…
Girls From the County by Donna Lynch
Girls From the County by Donna LynchMy rating: 5 of 5 starsHaunting, heartbreaking, and highly accomplished. The razor-sharp poems in Donna Lynch’s latest collection mix the real and all-too-common with folklore as powerful commentary about the dangers women face, most often from men, but occasionally from themselves, too, especially while dealing with the danger and…
Poetry and Pause: The 2022 Tucson Poetry Festival, April 23-24
The latest Tucson Poetry Festival will be held this weekend, April 23-24, 2022, at a variety of fantastic venues in the Tucson area. Our theme this year is “Poetry and Pause.”
“Everything breaks down. During a season of harms, / every disaster looks premeditated. You imagine things.”
Interview: CBS Sunday Morning Primetime Special “Forever Young: Searching for the Fountain of Youth”
I was interviewed for a segment on cryonics that aired in a CBS Sunday Morning primetime special titled “Forever Young: Searching for the Fountain of Youth” in November 2021.
“Pangaea Proxima,” “Panthalassa,” & “Juniper Tree, Boy and Bird”
“My mother is a superocean. She bore us. Bears us. Bears / our accusations in rain and rivulet to river. A wave, she / surrounds us.”
A Guide to Workshops at The Writers Studio
It can be difficult to sort through all the offerings from the Writers Studio to pick which classes are best for you or the writer in your life to which you would like to gift a workshop. Here, then, is a guide to our offerings, depending on your writing goals and interests.
Cradleland of Parasites by Sara Tantlinger
Cradleland of Parasites might be Sara Tantlinger’s best collection yet, a sequence of frightening, gruesome, breathtakingly beautiful poems about the Black Plague and other very real pestilence horrors up through modern times.
House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature, Volume 3
The future is frightening, often radically different, sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, sometimes both in the beautiful poems and short fiction included in the latest volume of House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature.
Tucson Poetry Festival Fundraising Event on Saturday, December 4 at Fini’s Landing
Help raise funds for the Tucson Poetry Festival by dining in or ordering take out or delivery at Fini’s Landing restaurant in Tucson between 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 4, 2021. Mention it’s for “Tucson Poetry Festival (Ocotillo Literary Endeavors)” before ordering your meal. You can RSVP on the fundraising announcement site.
“From Them Prostrate I Flee”
“I don’t have any trouble remembering my dad, though. I have no trouble remembering his rage, my fear, and the way the ground opened up and it was the only way out that April night in 1987.”
Reviewing & Ranking the Scream Franchise
My favorite horror franchise gets a fifth entry, so here is a quick ranking of the previous movies.
Reorganizing My Website, Reorganizing My Life
It’s time for a website reorganization that focuses entirely on writing and teaching while burying my past activities.
Fall 2021 Workshops and Free Writers Studio Class This Thursday
Free Writers Studio Tucson class this Thursday evening, September 23, and information about my upcoming Fall 2021 workshops
“Bird Chooses to Make a Habitat of Heart”
“Give me back / my heart, beautiful bird. Mistake me for an open window.”
“Goodbye to Rock”
“We remind them that road trips and human exploration lead back, without adding ‘if all goes well.’ Ride an explosion, walk on another rocky surface, collect some samples, more vials, return with the samples on top of another explosion. We can be there to cheer them on.”
“I Can’t Explain Love or Loss if the Only Language I Have is Geology or What I Watch on YouTube”
“The couple quit uploading to YouTube two years ago. / Their videos are something pitiful and earnest now, / something long buried, sand-scratched, rubbed raw. / Thumbs down, I think. None of my business.”
My Statement About Transhumanism, Life Extension, and Related Organizations and Movements
I am no longer involved with most transhumanist, life extension, singularity, and other futurist and emerging technology organizations and movements.
“It Was Another Time”: James Bond and Andrew Cuomo
I love the James Bond films. This weekend, I finished the fourth in the series—Thunderball (1965)—in my latest rewatch. I acknowledge, however, that most of the films in this franchise are filled with offensive and derogatory content, including racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny. There are too many of these scenes. I don’t love these films…
Review: Final Destination (Film Franchise)
I resisted watching the films in the Final Destination franchise for a long time because I was afraid of how extreme the gore might be. I’m getting a little braver and I kept hearing good things about the first one, so I finally watched the first film last night. And then binge-watched the other four…
Free Writers Studio Class and Spring 2021 Workshops
Free Writers Studio Tucson class this Saturday, April 10 and information about my upcoming Spring 2021 workshops.
The 39th Annual Tucson Poetry Festival is Coming Soon
The 39th Annual Tucson Poetry Festival is coming up in two weeks! Registration is available on our website for poetry workshops taught by our featured poets on Saturday, April 17, 2021. They will also be reading that evening and there will be an open mic (would you like to read one of your own poems?!)…
Second Dose of Vaccine & I’m Thankful
A lot of my friends and family were concerned when I reported side effects from my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I appreciate your love and concern and I’m so sorry that I scared you! You make me feel cared for and loved! I want to be clearer about this than I was last…
Life Update: December 2020
The high anxiety I felt in March and again in the summer hasn’t materialized in the same way with the latest, even greater peak of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, which may reflect complacency and exhaustion during this never-ending pandemic. My outrage and despair that much of the Federal government, several state governments, and many…
Nightmare, Issue 93 (June 2020)
I really love every story in this issue. Everything had the right amount of tension, chills, and ambiguity. There’s an image of attendees at a party after the party is over in “Girls Without Their Faces On” by Laird Barron that will haunt me forever. As will the Dorset Ooser from “We, the Folk” by…
Fantasy, Issue 61 (November 2020)
Fantasy Magazine has been on hiatus for several years, but new editors Arley Sorg and Christie Yant have relaunched the magazine starting with Issue 61 and four short or flash prose pieces and two poems, along with interviews. In their opening editorial, Sorg and Yant discuss why they’re bringing the magazine back now; it’s a…
Lightspeed, Issue 126 (November 2020)
There’s a humorous tone to some of the stories in the latest issue of Lightspeed Magazine I don’t think I’m really in the right place emotionally right now to completely appreciate, which might explain why my favorite story in this issue is probably “Burn the Ships” by Alberto Yáñez. It’s dark, but also deeply satisfying…
Review: Friday the 13th (Film Franchise)
Know that this franchise is mostly awful and an embarrassment to horror. I honestly don’t know why this franchise is popular. Terrible. Just terrible.
Flash Monster 2020 Short List
My flash fiction story “A Bird Watcher’s Guide to Malformed and Buzzing Things” earned a spot on the close-but-no-cigar shortlist shout-outs for the annual Flash Monster contest from The Molotov Cocktail!
Autumncrow by Cameron Chaney
I truly love Autumncrow by Cameron Chaney, a perfect-for-October and Autumn book, with fun and wicked, but frequently dark and troubling, stories that whisper to me about my own trauma and personal history, suggesting dark and light new ways for me to look at things. Chaney has a knack for seeing right into the soul.
“In Which I Invent a Man”
“I must / still look for / him. My constant / resentment.”
Stories We Tell After Midnight Edited by Rachel A. Brune
A mix of flash and short fiction, Stories We Tell After Midnight from Crone Girls Press and editor Rachel A. Brune is an uneven mix, with several gems.
RBG Memorial Challenge
To participate in the fight against fascism and bigotry and for social justice, as well as to manage despair, I’m going to need assigned tasks between now and the election. It looks like the RGB Memorial Challenge will provide some of that guidance and discipline.
I See and It’s Not Nearly Enough
“I see how police officers and forces and governments react when they are challenged for their violent policies and racist behaviors. I see how they empower and embrace white supremacy groups and vigilantes while targeting Black people, people of color, peaceful and agitated demonstrators. I see how so many Americans have opinions about rioting and…
True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik
True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik is a difficult book to read, for sure, but what’s so remarkable about it and why I continued reading is how the author navigates this brutal material.
Coppice & Brake Edited by Rachel A. Brune
One of the most exciting and enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had this year. I’m enthusiastic because in a year of great anthologies, Coppice & Brake from Crone Girls Press and Editor Rachel A. Brune is an absolute favorite. I love every single story, which I cannot say about most anthologies.
“In a Mirror, Dimming”
“Beyond the scarred surface, I saw the bones of the Moon, / the geology of a crime. He would not speak of it.”
Submission Opportunity: K-12 Poetry Contest
The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Arizona Public Media, and the Pima County Public Library have launched a poetry contest for K-12 students in Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise County in Arizona, with submissions accepted between June 16 and July 16, 2020.
“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass
Professor Geta LeSeur at the University of Arizona introduced me to Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech, a speech I now read or watch being read every year on this day.
New Literary Magazine and Submission Opportunity: Harpy Hybrid Review
Editor-in-Chief Janel Spencer and Editor Lynn Finger have launched Harpy Hybrid Review, a new online literary magazine based in Tucson, Arizona.
Free Writers Studio Tucson Class Online This Thursday
Tucson teachers Lela Scott MacNeil and I will be online for a free writing class this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to provide a writing exercise, explain The Writers Studio method, and discuss how our program can support your personal writing goals.
2020 Rhysling Anthology edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
What bliss to read the latest Rhysling Anthology from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel, but what torture to select the best three short and long poems nominated for the 2020 Rhysling Award.
Summer 2020 Writing and Teaching
This summer 2020, I’m teaching both a Tucson Workshop and “Crafting Fantastic & Imaginative Worlds”, reading a lot of speculative poetry, and writing.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo is a great place for White people to start, learn a little humility, and start building stamina for grappling with race and racism. I learned a lot while experienced many head-smack moments and moments of shame while reading this…
Condemning J.K. Rowling and Her Transphobic Views
I condemn J.K. Rowling and her continuing transphobic views, including her recent social media posts and response to the backlash.
Submission Opportunity: 2020 SFPA Poetry Contest
The 2020 SFPA Poetry Contest runs from June 1 through August 31, 2020 and is open to both non-members and members.
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.
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
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.
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!
Lightspeed Issue 120 (May 2020)
Lightspeed’s May 2020 issue includes stories by some of my favorite authors, and some new favorites.
In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland
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,…
Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler
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
Midnight in the Graveyard Edited by Kenneth W. Cain
I have definitely been in the mood for ghost stories, and Midnight in the Graveyard, the first anthology from Silver Shamrock Publishing, delivers the ghostly goods!
Phreak by JE Solo
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…
How We Broke by Bracken MacLeod and Paul Michael Anderson
This little novella full of big revelations and emotions really got to me.
Snow by Ronald Malfi
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.
We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk
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.
On a Successful 2020 Tucson Poetry Festival
Thank you to members of the board, featured poets, and attendees for a successful and sustaining 2020 Tucson Poetry Festival.
Tucson Poetry Festival Featured Poets Reading and Open Mic, April 18-19, 2020
The 2020 Tucson Poetry Festival will include workshops, a reading by the featured poets, and an open mic.
“Little girls in white dresses skipping rope / & chanting singsong in slow motion we stole / from an 80’s horror film.”
Poets and Workshops at the Tucson Poetry Festival, April 18-19, 2020
When Director Melanie Madden suggested the theme for this year’s annual Tucson Poetry Festival—”Poetry to Sustain Us”—none of us on the Board could have predicted how even more necessary this sustenance would become in 2020.
“I drove Pacific Northwest November numb / through trees like tall green drifts to the ocean / seething with chaos.”
A Submission Process
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.
Writing Workshops for Spring and Summer 2020
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!
“The Yogurt Swimmer”
“A snout breaks the surface of Greek yogurt in the 32-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. Mel is at daycare, Bill at his office. I’m between jobs and spend my days…
Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors Edited by Doug Murano and Michael Bailey
So this is what today’s pro-level horror looks like.
“You ended up back here at the train station after you burned your mom’s house to the ground. You sit down on a bench under the eaves, and the dark clouds that followed you back drop a curtain of rain between the platform and the tracks. The vanishing point of the rails isn’t far off…
Ghosters 3: Secrets of the Bloody Tower by Diane Corbitt
What I like the most about Ghosters 3 are the characters and their personality quirks and other details that make them individual and interesting.
Learning to Horror
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.
“Elysium to Lethe Through Athabasca Valles”
“Lava, perfectly happy to flow like water smoothly / around obstructions”
Preparing for NaNoWriMo 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.
Appearance Wrap-Up: “UNREAL: Readings from Writers Studio Tucson Teachers” at Antigone Books
Five of the writing instructors from The Writers Studio Tucson read unreal, dark, and surreal passages from a novel-in-progress, short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.
“[Aliens are here]”
“Aliens are here”
Upcoming Appearance: UNREAL at Antigone Books
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.”
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.
Philip Ivory’s “31 Days of Classic Horror”
Tucson writer and instructor Philip Ivory dives into “31 Days of Classic Horror” films on his “Write Yourself Sane” website, starting with 1931’s Dracula.
Shadow Award 2019 Short List
In the 2019 Shadow Award from The Molotov Cocktail, one of my entries landed me on the short list.
Fall 2019 Writing and Teaching
I’m preparing lesson plans and writing new exercises for two fall workshops at the Writers Studio.
Kids by The Midnight
One musical act in particular is responsible for my current retrowave obsession: The Midnight.
“November in Portland”
“High school like autumn: / rain, mud, dark, / snow seems a day away.”
Summer 2019 Writing and Teaching
I’m currently preparing lesson plans and writing lessons for two summer 2019 workshops.
2019 Rhysling Anthology edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Lots of good poems this year, but when I read the poems I later selected while voting for the Rhysling Awards, they really leapt out at me and I love them fiercely.
“Crafting Fantastic & Imaginative Worlds” at The Writers Studio!
I’m teaching a new 6-week workshop titled “Crafting Fantastic & Imaginative Worlds” and it uses The Writers Studio method of persona writing and critiquing. It begins Saturday, July 27, 2019.
“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.
Summer Writing Workshops at the Writers Studio!
Two options for the beginning level writing workshop: Saturday morning with me and Wednesday evenings with Lela Scott MacNeil.
Supporting Professional Payment Rates in Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Fiction Markets
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America sets the minimum payment rates for professional short fiction markets. In September, this rate rises from 6 cents per word to 8 cents per word.
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.
“I watch light flicker under the bathroom door. / I watch the clock. / I watch one foot with a sock on jealous of the other.”
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…
New Writing Instructor at the Writers Studio Tucson
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!
Supreme Court Reinstates Transgender Military Personnel Ban
I condemn reinstatement of this bigoted ban by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
🎥 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.
“What’s Done Can’t Be Undone” by Reneé Bibby and “CARBORUNDORUM > /DEV/NULL” by Annalee Flower Horne
How does the writer of genre fiction approach difficult subject matter like sexual assault? Two excellent and potentially triggering recent short stories by two fearless writers suggest two effective approaches.
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…
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