Category: Reading and Writing

What I’m reading and what I’m writing.

What I’ve Been Up To With Bullet Points

Ever since I got back from the States in early September, it seems like I’ve refashioned myself into a kind of plate spinner, albeit a somewhat neurotic plate spinner. So as a reminder to myself and a heads up to anyone interested in what’s going on in my life, here is a bullet point list of the larger saucers currently twirling precariously above my head.

*My Podcast

Uncanny Japan is my very own — and still very green — podcast. It’s short at 10-15 minutes and comes out on the 15th-ish of every month. You can find it on the website (Uncanny Japan) and on iTunes. I’ve even heard it’s up in other places for Android. I don’t know how all that works, if they picked it up or what. Seriously. I told you I’m green. But the content is fun and weird and dare I say, uncanny. I’m enjoying it so much I figure I’m bound to get better. And, hey, if you listen now, you can later say, “I knew her when…”.

Here’s the elevator pitch:

“Uncanny Japan explores all that is weird from old Japan. Strange superstitions, and old wives tales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures I dig up while doing research for my writing.”

It’s 100% free. Give it a listen and tell your friends. Also, if you have any thoughts, opinions, or ideas for the podcast, let me know. This is very much a wok in progress.

*My Patreon page 

Next, I have spent the past year mustering up the gumption to start up my own Patreon page (For those who aren’t familiar, Patreon is a place where you can support artists and get a little bit back, too).  After months of epic wishy washy-ness, I finally pulled the trigger and launched my page.

The monthly support I get from Patreon will go toward both my podcasts and my writing. I think I have some neat rewards available, especially for anyone interested in Japan and its culture.

One example is that for only $5.00/month and up I will send you a recording of a Bedtime Story. This is me retelling and very often reimagining an old Japanese folktale. I’m searching out the more obscure ones, so it will more than likely be a story you’ve never heard before. There are also some other neat rewards at the higher levels, too. So if you’re curious about that sort of thing, give that a gander right here.

And my last (but certainly not least) spinning plate, is my new book!

*My Collection of Short Stories: The Carp-Face Boy and Other Tales. 

This is a bundle of ten dark (some say horror) stories, published just recently by Independent Legions Publishing. There is both a print and ebook edition. The last time I checked the Kindle version was going for less than four bucks. 

Here you will find stories about a carp-faced boy, a dancing monkey with magical powers, and a creepy theremin player with a secret, just to name a few.

I’m going to write a post very soon as a kind of companion to the book. A little insider information, if you will. I’m also going to podcast about some of the stranger things I discovered while researching the stories. So if you’re interested in my freaky, Japanese-themed tales, please look here. 

Wew! So there you have it. Those are my biggies. While there are quite a few other plates in various stages of rotation, I’ll keep this post short and limit it three. I’ll get to those other saucers later.

Everyone take care. Stay sane. Do something nice for yourself today.

The Worst Part of Being a Writer

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

I’ve had stories published, and I’ve had people from all over the world read them. I’ve had people love them, hate them, and be absolutely indifferent to them. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, I even have people take valuable time out of their days to look up my address, sit down, and send me an email just to let me know how much a certain story meant to them.

See that last sentence? That’s the opposite of the title of this blog post. That’s the best part of being a writer. Having someone (not your mom) write you to tell you how a story moved them? That’s like Heisenberg-brand Sky Blue right there. (All the benefits of crystal meth, but you get to keep your teeth.)

Everything in my life is filtered through the lens of me, Terrie, the writer.

Not that I go into situations mining them for story. I don’t. Not usually.

Okay, I sometimes do. I admit to taking more than my fair share of stupid risks just to know how something was done or what it felt like to do it.

But most of the time, no, I’m not living with my eye on writing a story about whatever experience I might be having. Instead, I try to live as close to the heart and gut as possible. I want to live honestly. Some experiences are pure joy while others are utter hell. And of course, there is everything in between.

The stories that seem to resonate with the most people are the ones where I’ve really dug deep and dredged up some emotional shit, tried to make sense of it even.

Okay, here’s where I get to the worst part of being a writer.

When I’m writing – especially when I’m writing full-on (up to eight hours a day, recently) – I can’t turn off the tap, so to speak. When I’m cutting as deep as I can go to get to feelings and emotions that I want to express as authentically as I can, I’m there, and I just can’t stand up, stretch my back and walk away from the page and be “okay”, and in some even-keeled mindset again.

Does that make sense?

I’m emotional and drained and weepy and maybe, if it’s a happy tale, I’m elated and weepy in a better way. Basically, I’m wrecked. I haven’t moved in eight hours and I’m exhausted.

The worst part of being a writer is not the horribly aching back, stiff shoulders, blurry eyes, oatmeal brain, no money, and no social life. The worst part of being a writer is the part when I unintentionally hurt my friends.

I hurt them because I can’t pull out of the story or the emotions that I’m exploring while writing it. I do step away from the computer to email, Skype, and chat with them, but I’m afraid I’m an emotional mess.

Sometimes I need the solace of a good friend to comfort me. Sometimes I’m so beaten up inside my head and my heart that all I want to do (in lieu of a hug) is curl up in a fetal position at a friend’s feet and ask them to please pet me on the head, to please kneel down and whisper in my ear, “It’ll be okay. I’m here. It’ll be okay.”

But right here in the grind of it, I can’t help feeling that this “asking” is asking too much. Over and over again, that I am draining those closest to me, and that is horribly unfair to them. That right there, that last sentence, that is something I just can’t bear.

But the thing is, when I’m done, when I’m in a stronger place, I hope that I’m also a stronger person for having made that little emotional journey, having created a story that never existed before, that only exists because of me. And I hope that because of that, I can give something back to those friends who were there for me. Because I want to give back. I want to give back more than they gave me even.

At the moment it doesn’t seem fair. And I’m finding it very hard not to beat myself up about it.

Paraphrasing Epictetus:

The inferior man blames others.

The regular man blames himself.

The superior man knows there is no one to blame. He looks at life with clearer, more objective eyes.

Until very recently I blamed myself for everything that went wrong around me, whether it was my fault or not. Hell, whether it involved me or not. Recently, though, I’m trying to look with clearer eyes, more objective eyes.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

I don’t want to apologize for that. I don’t want to change that. It’s important to me that I do this. Flaying yourself and examining your emotions is a part of being human, no? Don’t we all do it? Or is it just my warped understanding of life? I think it’s okay to hurt, to despair, to be jealous, to seethe, to desire, to know these emotions, but figure out a way not to be ruled by them.

In the end, it’s even more important to love, be kind, help others, and nurture. This is what I want to do. It’s the goal. I love my friends and my family with every fiber of my being.

The worst part of being a writer is when the balance is off. When I hurt my friends, the people I love. It’s when I need too much from them, expect too much from them, and hurt them because I’m reeling from emotions I’ve been wrestling with all day. All those times when it feels like I have nothing to bring to the table.

But this is who I am.

I can’t say enough how thankful and grateful I am for the friends who understand and accept this ‘me’, as difficult and draining as I know I am at times. When I’m this much of a mess, it’s you who gets me through the day, you who are there, leaning over and patting me on the head and scratching behind my ears and whispering down: “It’ll be okay. I’m here. It’ll be okay.”

What I really want them all to know is that I will give back again, I will love, and be kind, and support, and nurture again. But for now, while I’m in the heat of it and can’t step away from this emotional tempest,  I just want to say this: I appreciate you. I respect you. I admire you. I’d take a freaking bullet for you. Please know if it wasn’t for you I couldn’t bear any of this. I love you.

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The Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship

I am tickled pink to announce that I have won this year’s Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship.  I would like to give a world of thanks to The Horror Writers Association for providing female horror writers with such a wonderful opportunity to invest in and hone their craft.  And thanks and appreciation also to the HWA Scholarship Committee: Ellen Datlow, Vince Liaguno, and Marge Simon.

I plan to study hard and make them proud!

“The Spider Sweeper”

Several years ago I wrote a short story I was incredibly smitten with but  knew in my heart might never find a home.  It’s called “The Spider Sweeper” and it just felt very odd. It’s a horror story. It’s a love story. It’s set in Japan during the late 1800s.

I sent it out and collected a few rejections, then decided to sit on it for awhile. A year passed. Longer.  A couple of months ago I stumbled upon it again and re-read it. Lo and behold, I still loved it. So I thought what-the-hell and decided to send it out again.

Now I’m here today to say I’m tickled pink to announce “The Spider Sweeper” was picked up by a gorgeous magazine I hugely admire, Black Static.

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