Album cover for Kids by The Midnight

I only became aware of the music genre known as retrowave or synthwave a few years ago, though I had been listening to examples of it for longer. In 2018 my appreciation for the genre deepened into love. This is music I jog to. This is music I write to. This is music that makes me nostalgic for the 1980s, but it also makes me question and critique that era. One musical act in particular is responsible for my current retrowave obsession: The Midnight.

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.

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. “What’s Done Can’t Be Undone” by Tucson writer ReneĂ© Bibby in the January 2019 issue of Five on the Fifth weaves ugly revelations with witches […]

Horror 101: The Way Forward edited by Joe Mynhardt explores a tremendous territory of information, advice, and experience with essays written by many different creatives who work in the genre. These essays are organized into four main sections about the horror genre itself, the artistic opportunities in horror, writing horror, and building and maintaining a career in horror. There are some very useful commonalities to be found between various essays, but there are many differences, too, and even contradictory information. I love that. I found this mix especially inspiring because it underscores just how much room there is for you and me to explore the genre as singular readers, writers, artists, and enthusiasts. Even when I told myself I would absolutely *NOT* emulate what a particular essayist has done in their career, I loved learning about their experiences and how this only proves how wide open horror is.

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. Ostensibly written for screenwriters, I think novelists and short stories writers will find this book equally as beneficial. It might even have a thing or two to teach poets.

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.

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.

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.”