books, fiction, horror, music, old work, poetry, professional life, short stories, Uncategorized, updates, writing

O Sweet Angels

I’ve been listening much more to Spotify lately. What’s most fun for me is making playlists, which reminds me of burning mix CDs when I was in college. Here’s one I made of songs that felt longing or wistful, including a lot of old favorites and others that just came up on shuffle.

I’ve been submitting a lot of stories lately, which slowed down progress on my novel but was a lot of fun. For some reason there’s a big market currently for short stories about evil mermaids, so I’ve written three in the last few months. One of them, “In the Nevergo,” was recently published in Dangerous Waters: Deadly Women of the Sea, an entire anthology of evil mermaid tales I was delighted to take part in. The others were a bit different in subject matter, and I hope to tell you more about them later.

I’ve also been dipping my toe back into poetry in the last year or so, with mixed results. I used to write poems quite a lot in high school, but they were very strange and I never shared them with anyone. Lately I wrote sets of poems for two different calls for submissions. None of them were accepted, but I’ll keep practicing.

Here are some very strange ones I’d forgotten I wrote last year. The project was called “The Unquiet Nursery,” with the idea being that each poem would be structurally based on a famous nursery rhyme but have much darker subject matter. About half of them were terrible, but I kind of liked these. I wonder if you can guess which nursery rhymes they’re based on.

1 I am not going to sleep.
The lines have gone too deep.
There’s whispering sin
Upon my skin
And something is starting to weep.

2 My little love
Is up above,
Pretending she is an angel.
But in her wings,
Unholy things
Are burning like a candle.

3 My little dumpling
Really is something,
Sunning herself to sleep.
She cannot be killed
She cannot be held
She only can rattle and weep.

4 Go to school,
Little fool.
See what they do
Before they come for you.
They’ll take your home and they’ll take your lands,
They’ll crush your heart and they’ll cut off your hands.
The strongest house is the one that stands,
So go to school.

5 Something in the atmosphere
Has made me very cold.
The sun is full of cinders
And the stars have all been sold.
I cannot look away from it.
I cannot break the spell
That echoes in the twilight
Like the tolling of a bell.

6 Into the dark!
Into the night!
Sing with the nightingales!
Drink delight!

Out of the dark.
Back from the night.
Gone are the nightingales.
All is quiet.

7 Mary Artless,
Vain and heartless,
How did you sink so low?
The sons you should have cared about
Are running like wolves in the snow.

8 First comes the matter of the monster,
Next comes the matter of the nun,
Then comes the matter of the long walk
Into the valley of the sun,
And last is the matter of the silver star
And how the world was won.

9 Pretty little Mabel,
Sitting at the table,
Softly tells me,
“Life is like a fable.
But I don’t know the lesson
I was meant to learn
When I left my homeland,
Never to return.”

I guess they’re basically doggerel. But so are the originals they’re based on. Anyway, it was fun writing them.

One more thing to tell you about: I have an upcoming publication in a friend’s anthology! My friend Sonya Lano has been working tirelessly on Slightly Sweetly, Slightly Creepy, an anthology of gothic romance, and the book will be out on April 29. My story, “The Wind Chimes,” is probably more “romantic gothic” than “gothic romance,” but I had a lot of fun writing it. The book is available for preorder here, and I’d love it if you checked it out.

Lots of love to all of you. I hope you’re doing well.


fantasy, fiction, professional life, Uncategorized, updates, writing

Writing updates

Stayed up late last night finishing edits on two stories, which I wanted to submit to two different anthologies both due the same day. Thanks to the feline ballet that started as soon as I got in bed, I got about four hours of sleep, but there was a very nice sense of accomplishment in getting those stories done and submitted. Of course, I received a very flippant rejection note only a few hours after sending one in, but at least it gave me the opportunity to slide the story under the wire for another submission call due today.

Back to work now on THE VOID AND THE RAVEN, my ongoing fantasy epic that was meant to be a single novel and is now looking at at least six parts. Two volumes are done. I could submit them for publication, but I’d rather get to the end and edit the whole series together for the sake of cohesion. I’ve been working on this story in different incarnations since about 2010, and I’m about three years into this particular try. I’m guessing at least another three to five years until the whole series is completed. (Of course, if someone wants to give me several hundred thousand dollars, I can stop doing other paid work and start writing full-time, which should speed up the process immensely.)

books, daily life, horror, professional life, reading, updates, writing

Updates January 2023

I’m working on a short story for an anthology my friend Sonya is putting together. It involves murder, ghosts and other spirits, romance, wind chimes, and a dark forest. I hope you’ll enjoy it when it comes out.

Anthologies are difficult in general. Some other friends and I were trying to put one together, but more than a year on it’s still in limbo because it was so difficult to allocate responsibility. I’m really proud of two stories of mine that were published in recent anthologies, but I’m not sure how they were received because neither book has gotten very many reviews. It can be a little discouraging. But then I realize that I myself haven’t read that many anthologies recently–I haven’t even finished reading the ones I was published in. So maybe everyone’s just busy.

Anyway, anthologies are an incredible way to discover new authors, and I haven’t been doing enough reading lately. Are there any collections you’d recommend?

On a completely different subject, I realized last night that the publication of “In the Nevergo” qualified me for an “Affiliate Writer” membership in the Horror Writers’ Association. I applied and was accepted today. I have a few more dark fantasy pieces in the works, so I’m hopeful that I might be able to upgrade to an “Active Writer” (i.e. full) membership before too long. I’ll see if there’s a badge or something I can put on my website. There aren’t a lot of concrete benefits to joining writers’ associations at this point in my career, but it’s a nice boost in a field where it’s hard to feel like a working professional.

(***I just checked and saw that under the updated membership requirements I also qualify for an Associate Membership in SFWA. I’m not quite ready to pay two sets of dues, though, so I’ll keep working towards a full membership there for now.)

adhd, books, daily life, movies, updates, writing

Friday Update

It’s Friday, my dudes.

I’ve been very into containers this week. It seems to help a bit with executive dysfunction as regards cleaning up, as a lot of my brain paralysis re: putting things away seems to derive from having nowhere to put them. So I’ve been collecting little baskets, bowls, and boxes for all my little things (hairpins, perfume, erasers, etc.) and joyfully putting them away. I still have a long way to go before I’d call myself “tidy,” but it’s nice to have things displayed where I can enjoy looking at them. What’s annoying me is that the only top drawer in my kitchen is too narrow for a silverware divider, but too shallow for a basket, so I’m still looking for a way to organize the silverware. A serious and concerning problem, obviously.

Rainy and cool in the Czech Republic. Still enjoying the last bit of quiet, since messages are starting to come in from my public-school job and I’m guessing we’ll be in meetings next week. I’ve been working on a lot of different anthology submissions, hoping I can get at least most of them done before they’re due. Still reading A Suitable Boy and rereading The Haunting of Hill House, but have also started reading a collection of Edith Wharton’s ghost stories. Yesterday I rewatched about half of Father of the Bride (skipping over the cringe parts), which I watched again and again when I was a kid because we didn’t have many VHS tapes. I was surprised by how well parts of it held up, as it’s kind of a dumb movie; the emotional scenes are really well. Was also kind of horrified by the protagonist’s behavior, though. It’s hard to imagine someone being so ugly about their daughter’s wedding. I’m not sure how much of that is from the original (made in 1950) and how much was just considered funny in the 90s.

Not much to report on, really. Looking forward to seeing Fran this weekend and going to writers’ group tomorrow. Hope all of you are doing well.


books, daily life, fantasy, fiction, Uncategorized, updates

Friday Update

Hi, kids! Having another quiet night. Tomorrow I’m taking the day off from writers’ group to spend time with Fran and her mom, so I’m hoping to get some work done today. Very quiet with just me and the cats; I’m used to sharing Friday nights with someone else now.

Recently I’ve gotten a decent amount of work done. I finished a short dark piece on a fictional species of invasive fish, and have begun several other new projects.(Yeah, I know…). Actually, I’ve just noticed that there are many more open markets for horror than for fantasy, so I’m trying my hand at a few more short horror stories. Lots of anthologies coming out that I’m excited to submit to.

I’m feeling a bit better about the craft in general now. I got a couple of really nice rejection emails last week–you wouldn’t think a rejection would make you happier, but these were really complimentary. Sometimes all you need is for a professional to tell you you’re not a hack. So I’ve started confidently attempting projects that are rather out of my usual wheelhouse. I also have a couple of stories I wrote before developing the new prose style (technique?) that I use now. I’ll probably put them up here, rather than rework them, because I’ve already got plenty on my to-do list, and reworking an old story is just as hard as writing a new one. You’ll see them soon.

Still working slowly through A Suitable Boy, but I’ll probably take another break and read something different. Also still flipping through The Haunting of Hill House, which I reread every couple of years. It still holds up for me. Sometimes you look back at a story that helped to shape your adolescence (and your creative aesthetic) and realize it has fundamental structural flaws that might actually be influencing the way you put your own work together. I guess in a way that’s nice: if XYZ Book has major flaws, but still won several prizes and lingers in the fond memories of many, there’s probably hope for me. I think I’ll try The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton next; it seems like a good choice for the season.

We’re getting into the early-autumn weeks where witchy, spooky things linger at the fringes of daylight and I am very susceptible to Spook. I want real-life ghost stories and dark harvest aesthetic. I bought ribbon to redecorate my front door wreath, and might get to that tonight. Ooh, I could also bring down the glass Jack-o-lantern I bought last year. I’m getting more and more into this kind of light-vintage, 70s-80s domestic aesthetic of deathless wooden furniture, lace and florals, etc. etc. I want a La-Z-Boy chair and an indomitable couch, a wooden chest for blankets, a basket of scarves in the closet. I want lighting with the warm tinge of the old incandescent bulbs, and the kind of quiet you’d hear on a summer night at my grandparents’ old farm. (But I don’t want to leave the city–haha, oh no–and moving apartments with old-fashioned furniture is a bit of an endeavor.)

I think this kind of feeling is pretty common now, at least judging by the popularity of the whole “cottagecore” trend. I guess we’re still trying to imagine there are still insects buzzing outside, that the natural world is still proceeding in ordered seasons the way it’s supposed to. I think everyone wants to rewind the clock on nature (see rewilding efforts, which I’m a big fan of). I’m not sure how successful it can really be, but there’s something comforting in the idea. Maybe aesthetics like cottagecore are also a harmless way to connect to cultural traditions marred by outdated social mores (not to speak of horrific historical atrocities). I think also that, being 37 and likely to remain childless, I might be thinking nostalgically about the continuity of family. I’ve gotten into perfumes lately, and two scents I’m really fond of are one my mother used to wear and one that reminds me of my grandmother. I do think it’s easier to feel that old-timey vibe here in Central Europe, where the landscape seems to change much more slowly than in the places I’ve lived before. And of course, given everything, I haven’t seen my actual family in more than two years.

Anyway. Take care, everyone, and have a good weekend. Let’s move on one day at a time.

Much love,

books, daily life, fiction, movies, short stories, updates

Friday Update

Another quiet week. More people are coming back from vacation, but I only had to teach a few lessons this week, and really enjoyed the free time. I finished my submission for writers’ group early, which was a nice treat; usually I’m up late Friday night to get it done.

Re: computer: We looked at parts to build one, and it made my brain ache, so for peace of mind I went with a laptop. Hello, new Acer. May you prosper.

Fran’s mom is visiting. Met her for the first time yesterday and it was lovely. We don’t really have a common language (even if I spoke more Italian, I wouldn’t understand Sicilian), but I’m picking up bits as fast as I can and making Fran translate the rest. Got to taste proper Italian sausage yesterday (of course her mom brought a lot of food in her luggage ^_^). Did you know they sometimes put vegetables into the sausage casing? I did not, but I support it.

Went to a giant craft store the other day. Bought way too many craft supplies and had a great time.

Cold Comfort Farm was funny but had a lot of flaws: the parody was clunky, and I don’t think the author quite managed what she was going for. But I started watching the movie just now, and it seems to do the job much better. Quite funny; will see if it holds up.

Besides the new section of VOID, I started two new projects: a short story for submission, and another one for Halloween. “But Katherine,” you say, sounding rather exasperated, “every week you tell us about a new project you’ve started. Very rarely do you mention a project that’s finished.” Well, I’ll tell you that that’s an entirely valid point. Wish me luck.

Love all. Miss most of you.


adhd, daily life, Uncategorized, updates

Friday Update and Armchair Psychiatry

Writing from a Chromebook now. My laptop decided after working for a day that it wasn’t actually fine after its little shower, and now it won’t turn on. Since it was a ten-year-old MacBook Air, and I don’t have a lot of MacBook money, I’m probably going to follow Fran’s advice and build a desktop (make her help me build a desktop) to replace it. I also bought a wireless keyboard to go with my tablet in case I need a portable workstation. At least it’s lighter than a laptop.

This situation has made the week a bit stressful, so I haven’t done much heavy reading despite not having much work to do (clients are still on vacation). I did start rereading The Blue Sword (Robin McKinley), a comfort book from childhood, and am plugging through Cold Comfort Farm. I’ve also gotten a good bit done on VOID, and a little on a short story that might even turn out to be short. I swear I will learn to write short stories someday.

It’s almost August, which I personally consider the beginning of fall. The days are hot, but the light is changing. The nights are getting cool. If I open the windows (and lock the cats up so they won’t climb out on the roof), it feels like great weather for a night walk. Unfortunately, my neighborhood, though fine in daylight, isn’t really an “evening stroll” kind of locale. Instead, we started watching Jungle Cruise, which is reasonably entertaining.

On a different note: I have what I’m pretty sure is ADHD. I’ve never been screened for it, but I have most symptoms on every list I’ve ever seen. I saw this in a Facebook group the other day, and it really knocked me over.

Content credit Reddit user soozdreamz

So I’ve been a compulsive eater all my life, particularly of sweets. I could never stay away from them. If there were no sweets, I’d binge-eat whatever I could get. Most of my most shameful childhood memories revolve around stealing food. At parties, I always haunted the refreshment table. The food was always in the back of my mind: what looked like it tasted best, how soon I could eat it, how much I could take without looking greedy. I could never understand how other people could not eat when good things were on the table. It didn’t matter how full I was, or how ashamed of my appetite and belly; if something good was there to be eaten, I would eat it until I couldn’t eat anymore.

I never understood why I couldn’t control myself the way other people could. It was much worse when I was tired or stressed. On a bad day, I’d go to the shop and systematically collect everything that looked tasty, and then I’d sit down and eat through the entire pile. It was like a job I had to do. It didn’t even taste very good after the first minute, but I kept doing it.

So… this post really explained a lot for me. I’ve had people tell me I was eating because I was bored, eating because I was nervous, eating because I was tired. But I’ve never heard anyone tell me, “You’re eating because you’re low on dopamine. Every time you eat something tasty, that little burst of pleasure gives you a little chemical boost that builds up your initiative until you’re able to handle tasks again.” Again, I’ve never been screened for this, but I’ve been observing my eating habits over the past two days, and it really does seem to work that way. Maybe even my procrastination–the long stretches when I sit watching YouTube or reading fanfic or playing mobile games instead of starting on my projects–is a way of banking dopamine, gearing up for the quick bursts of hyperfocused work time when I’m actually able to get things done.

I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist. But it seems like a decent theory. I’ll play with it and let you know.