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Lara Eckener

Diorama of a woman exploding

Author

Lara Eckener

Writer. Fake librarian. Comics lover. Sometimes poet. Disgraceful hipster. Inked lady.

Collage Stories: Collecting My Heart For Display

In 2016 the Boston arm of my company moved office buildings, going from Copley Square down to the Financial District. I am told that the building in Copley wanted a million dollars a month in rent. That seems like an exorbitant sum, but considering what some of my friends pay for small Boston apartments in not!Back Bay, I can believe that some building management company somewhere believes that’s a fair asking price.

Because of this move, departments across the building were cleaning out old research materials that had been sitting for years, sometimes decades, just waiting to be used again as the world changed, moving on to favor digital asset discovery and leaving them behind. The art department started filling tables with old books about places and people and nature and clip art, and I, like the pack rat I am, started slowly ferrying loads of them home on the T, as many as my backpack could carry. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use them for, but I knew they were full of beauty that could be reclaimed and re-contextualized, or simply appreciated. Though, if I’m being honest, my appreciation has always included at least a little destruction.

I do not consider myself a visual artist and honestly, I’m not sure if I should aspire to be one. I have no art training. I have no sense of how color should work. I have the barest understanding of space and form. Even still, I sometimes itch to make visual art. To tell stories with something other than my belabored words. Sometimes the words simply won’t out and I’m left flailing, reaching for anything I can to try to capture the overpowering feeling that has its hold on me. In the summer of 2016, thanks to the office move, I finally had something to reach for.

What you’ll find below the cut is a selection of collages I made in 2016 and 2017 along with short descriptions of what I was reeling from when I made them. They were initially posted elsewhere as they were created, but I wanted to collect them here as well, so they could live next to my other creations. I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to be using this blog, but I figure if nothing else, giving a complete picture of what I create and what I want to create is a good place to start. I hope you enjoy these anxieties, fears, and my futile attempts to puzzle my way to a home that never existed, but that I keep trying to build nonetheless.

Continue reading “Collage Stories: Collecting My Heart For Display”

REDA #2: Look Up

It snowed in Boston this morning. Yesterday it was 60*, today it snowed. What is that people say? Time is an illusion, springtime doubly so?

It was that movie set kind of snow–that light, puffed, swirling in the eddies of the wind and gently falling to the earth where it melts immediately kind of snow. I’ve walked through many different types of snow since moving to New England, but very rarely have I felt like I was walking through an actual snow globe. The city didn’t not feel like it was being shaken up. Perhaps the glass is just on the edge of the horizon.

It was snowing so I looked up. I looked up to inspect the bits of it clinging to my eyelashes and the low ceiling of grey clouds beyond my eyelashes that those bits had come from. I watched as it swirled in dance motes, the white flecks contrasting against the dark brick on some of the buildings around my office. As I watched I thought about all of the times I have been told, while touristing in some city or another, not to look up.

Looking up is conspicuous. Looking up signals that you have an interest in your surroundings and having an interest in your surroundings signals that they are new to you. I find this to be both true and untrue. True because there’s something novel to be found in every ancient patch of sky, and untrue because I am never not interested in my surroundings, even the ones I see every day.

My morning walk from the train station to the office takes me across an open square and up a back street. In that four to five blocks there is a crazy mash of architecture, brutalist structures standing square jawed next to gilded, tiered art deco architecture. One of the buildings butts up against the street with a wide, tan colored wall that I mentally describe as derezzed sandstone, even though it’s probably concrete. It’s just pixelated in parts, there appears to be movement in an otherwise imposing and still structure.

My walk from the office to the train station in the evenings goes around the other side of the block. It is through park squares kept colorful and open with trees and flowers when they’ll grow, and art installations at all times of the year. I’m quite taken with one of the tall buildings that skirts this cluster of squares. It looks like a giant grey vent. It’s interesting and enigmatic and I have made it one of the important settings in a novel I’m working on.

Yet another, darker building serves as a backdrop for the squat glass pyramid of the train station entrance. It towers over it and recently they have started lighting the facade of the building up at night with changing stripes of purple to blue light. I’m not sure what point there is to turning the side of one building in a hundred into dance floor landing strip, but I am not one to turn down opportunities for good bisexual lighting. If only I was tall enough to take selfies in it. About twenty more feet on my height should do me.

I look up wherever I go, because I am a restless soul who just wants to be in the sky, but also because I find that cities in particular reward looking up. If it’s not the architecture it’s the lighting. If it’s not the lighting it’s NO HATE, NO FEAR signs taped to office windows or sexy leg lamps perched in government buildings. If it’s not the lived in spaces it’s the forgotten spaces, the colonies of grime and swirls of black somethingness living along the ceilings of the train stations, or the whorls in the wood of the scaffolding you have to walk under during construction.

I don’t think everyone should live in the clouds, and I’m not trying to discourage anyone from looking down either. There are lots of excellent things to see if you’re looking down which I might make a whole other post about another time. I just think that, every once in a while, it’s good to stretch your neck out. When you go about your days take your wonder with you. And if that’s naive and silly well, it doesn’t hurt to be a little naive and silly from time to time. We all have a lot to see.

I think tomorrow we’re back to plain old cold rain. I have faith in spring, but you know what they say. April showers freeze over March flowers.

REDA #1: Reflection

At the end of December I had grand plans for getting this blog into swing and now here we are, in April, with one post to show for all my good intentions. If only I could teach my intentions to write good poetry, or even type up the bad poems I’ve already written.  Alas. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say, it’s that whenever I sit down to do it I let my brain bully me out of putting any words down at all. No one cares, my brain will say. Your words are ugly, your ideas are ugly, they demean you and the people who read them.

This probably isn’t true, but knowing that doesn’t make it feel any less overwhelming. No one will ever please every reader, of course, but I do have a small clutch of people who believe in me and the things I want to do. This clutch of people gets annoyed when I do things like tag posts on the internet with ‘no one cares kl’.

We care! they type angrily. Stop being so rude and let us love you!

It’s not you baby, it’s me, is what I want to say in response to everyone all of the time.  

The thing is, sometimes I want to write stories and poems that people might like, but mostly I want to write to purge these thoughts that run on a loop in my brain. Then I want to put both of these types of writing into the world, but somehow cloak the latter type under a lace of invisibility. When my attempts at literature are noticed I’m pleased and nervous. When my True Feelings are noticed I immediately feel like I’ve become a burden to anyone who’s ever talked to me.

Lara, you’re saying, what are you writing stories and poems for if your True Feelings aren’t in them?

And that’s fair. My True Feelings are in those things, but the focus is off. It’s softened, or it’s sharper, but it’s not on me as a human with a body I feel encumbered by and who doesn’t drink nearly enough water. There is a marked difference between things I tag for public consumption and things I tag so that I can sift through them later, and when someone comments on those sifting tags I feel somehow like I’ve also saddled them with all of the things I don’t like about myself.

This isn’t what I wanted for you! I yell at the notifications on my phone.

Too late! The notifications buzz back. I already care about you and can’t stop me!

I tried explaining this to my therapist once, about how pouring my heart out in a place that is both technically public but largely likely to be ignored makes me feel like I can let those thoughts and feelings go. It makes me feel lighter and more manageable. She told me that if I really wanted to get rid of those things I could just write them on a piece of paper and then throw that piece of paper away. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone seeing them, problem solved.

My therapist did not grow up with the internet the way I did and very rarely uses it now. It was hard for me to explain to her that my trash can feels very close to home in mental space and that dumb blue site I can access all the time via a phone that never leaves my person feels very far away from home. It feels far enough away at least that if I post my myriad fears and anxieties there I don’t still feel like I’m living in my own muck. Whereas my trash can is just a collection of muck that sits next to my bed. Technology is not clean, but it can be cleansing.

I watch a lot of Youtube videos. My day job is often tedious and repetitive, so in order to trick my wayward ADD brain into staying focused on my computer I will play videos in the background. April is the month when I always have the hardest time keeping up with my subscription box because of a meme called Vlog Every Day in April, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

VEDA seems to function for vloggers a lot like NaNoWriMo functions for writers, as away of getting people out of their heads and creating. The one crucial difference is that instead of getting to go back at the end of the month and edit your work, you have to leave it be. It already exists in the world and is no longer yours. Move on, make something else, make it better, rinse, repeat.

This is a skill I need to cultivate if I’m ever going to get away from the feeling that my words are a burden on those who read them, if I’m ever going to stop shutting myself down before I even start. To that end, I’m making April the month of REDA here at the blog. Reflect Every Day in April. Have a thought, write it down, fix it up a bit, walk away.

I’m not sure yet what the success of this experiment is meant to look like. Maybe success is that silencing myself will become less of a defensive reflex. Or maybe it’s that I’ll learn not to beat myself up if I miss a day. Or maybe it’s just in the trying. Who knows. Ultimately I want to feel more comfortable coming here and leaving my thoughts or story ideas. I want to feel comfortable simply being myself: unvarnished, without flowers, rough of tongue and pen. It’s where every writer starts. One cannot write if they stop every eight words to beat themselves up over how it’s not perfect from the get go. I know, it’s what I’ve been doing this whole time.

I’m a little old for starting, perhaps, but nevertheless, let’s start here.

Memories, Moths, and Money

I write myself notes. I leave them in my bullet journals and my writing journals and the notes app on my phone. I’ve got nests of blank receipt tape and folded church bulletins and geometrically torn sections of magazine pages squirreled away in the journals of the past. These notes are all pieces of my life. I use them to talk to myself about how I want to live and who I want to be, but most importantly I use them to tell myself to remember this, and this, and this.

These bits of writing are usually not about me, but they are very much of me. They’re stories or poems or plans for projects I want to work on down the line, reminders of the artist and writer I want to grow to be. And also, sometimes, reminders of the type of friend or lover I want to grow to be, whenever I stop being so afraid. I’m afraid of a lot of relationships these days, even the ones I have with my own words.

For instance, this is a note I wrote to myself the last time I was trying to remind me that I might already be the good and loving type of person I think my loved ones and my words deserve.

There’s a line in the sand
that curves like a rib,
arc of a bird
wheeling out from the shore,
sweep of a cliff over blue arteries.

All things with wings
can snatch the want from the wind,
so step off, heart,
cross this,
resist the urge to dig in.

This is the shore that
taught you its rhythm,
but history won’t let you
make it your home,
keep moving,
keep yourself in desire.

At every wingspan’s depression
you’ll think this was a mistake,
think this lonely fall
is all you know, think,
what’s the point of loving
the sky if it won’t hold you

It won’t hold you,
but step off, heart,
follow your purpose;
there is no shame in doing
what you were made to do.

It’s not a lesson I took to heart that time, but I will eventually. I do not always trust my future self, but I believe in her. I believe the memories and fictions and small every day beauties she carries with her will one day grow wings and that she will be able to comfortably move through the world with her head in the clouds and her coat fluttering with the moth-like creations she’s crafted and shared.

As with all nocturnal worries
one begets, one begets
until a black and grey coat
becomes beige and brown and slate
wings beading with rain, light like dew
embodying the magic that
young girls learn to yearn for
when the moon is the brightest
thing about them.

So I’m writing myself more reminders, only this time I’m doing them with focused care and purpose. This time I’m going to take a universe that’s lived inside my head for several years and let it go one small piece at a time until I can collect the sum of it into a chapbook. In the finished collection there will be poems and short fictions. There will be many characters with different concerns and priorities and relationships to the stars. Every one of them will yearn though, because I am still yearning, because the night sky is vast and there is much to yearn for.

I want to invite you to join me in seeing this through. Together we will explore different people and different pieces of my memory and the memory of the world. I’ve put together a Patreon that will house this project and hopefully many others. There’s a post on the page that explains the inspiration for this first work and talks about the stories and reminders it sprung from.

>>LARA ECKENER IS CREATING POETRY AND PROSE <<

There’s a double purpose to using a Patreon campaign over say, just collecting the work here and taking requests for hand bound books from those who might want them. Many of the notes I’ve written to myself over the last several years have been about how deeply I miss my home. I’m working to move back there and honestly can use any monetary help I can get toward that goal. The other part is about how I don’t always trust future me. I want to make sure she sees both this and the move through and the structure of the Patreon will help me better plan both. I’m going to make every part of this as beautiful as I can, because you deserve beauty and I do too.

That’s another reminder. Write it down. In a year we can both come back here and see how we’ve done with our remembering.

There’s no place like here and now.

My loneliest New Years Eve on record was six or so years ago, spent with my then boyfriend in my apartment. Earlier in the day he had asked if we could go out to a club for the night (the first New Years he’d shown any interest in doing so), and I said yes, but when we compared our lists of parties at clubs that we were willing to go to none of them overlapped. I offered to compromise and pick one of his, but he just said to forget it. So we sat alone in my apartment, on the couch and then in bed. I don’t remember what he drank, but I drank a whole bottle of Rosa Regale on my own while wearing a t-shirt, work out shorts, and glittery gold flats because I needed some part of my New Years Eve to be fancy.

I have a very clear memory of perching on the edge of my bed, staring down at my sparkling shoes, and wondering if this would be our last New Years together. At the time I thought that would have been tragic, because we had had so much fun together over the long course of our relationship, that for it to fizzle to smoke that way would somehow render all of our previous romance somehow less true. It felt like it had been meant to spark and then flash out all along. At the time I believed in love that saw its way through everything and was desperately hoping that ours would. I still do believe in love like that, I just no longer believe that that was the kind of love we had. Not there at the end.

Anyway, I don’t actually remember if that was our last New Years together, or if there was one more after it, because I’m about as good at remembering timelines of events as I am at sleeping. That sadness has stayed with me though, that feeling of being all alone and untouchable–unworthy of touch–even though I was sitting next to the one person who was supposed to love me the most in the world. Was that a symptom of our deteriorating relationship or the cause? Did putting my fears into the universe make them real? Is it possible for me to project my way into misery?

My therapist has been trying to coax me into a mindfulness practice for more than a year. She wants me to meditate, but my brain keeps proving to be too riddled with ADD and anxiety to allow itself ten quiet minutes of reflection, so she’s moved on to suggesting other ways I could work mindfulness into my days. I always nod at her suggestions while scoffing internally, and because I believe her to be an intelligent and intuitive individual I believe that she knows that’s what it means when I nod like that.

It just seems so preposterous to have to work at mindfulness. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a careless person, especially with the emotions of myself and others, but I also know that I am incredibly reflective. Sometimes I’m pre-reflective. I have a lot of very vivid memories from my life just like the one of me kicking my golden shoes on NYE to watch them sparkle, because while I was doing the things in those memories I was also thinking: What will this memory feel like in ten years? How old will I be when I last remember this?

There’s me in first grade, crying in front of a boy for the first time while watching Bambi. There’s me in fourth grade, visiting my second grade teacher while my mother worked and helping her clean her desks with shaving cream. There’s me in seventh grade, hiding from bullies. There’s me in eleventh grade, arguing with an abusive high boyfriend. There’s me in my twenties, street racing and feeling so, so alive.

All of these things are with me all of the time, because when they were happening I wondered if they would always be with me. My memory is a disaster. It’s made of earthquakes because those are the things that have settled me into who I am. And when my therapist says she wants me to be mindful I slide back into these things I’ve kept and wonder how that’s ever supposed to help when every single one of these memories feels like it’s part of the problem.

It has taken me the better part of this year to truly understand what mindfulness is and how it can help me moving forward. It has taken me several months since coming to that conclusion to admit that my therapist might actually be onto something. It has taken me the last month or so work out what that will look like for me going forward, at least to start.

I don’t like to make New Years resolutions because I have never once kept one. Honestly, since that lonely New Years I’ve sort of been lukewarm on the concept of the day as a whole. But I do like fresh beginnings. I like having an excuse to look at where I’ve been and try to map out where I’m going, even though I’m into my thirties and still don’t really have an idea of what I want from my life. Mostly I’m finding that for the first time in a very long time I just want to live. So going into 2018 I’m going to try to be mindful with my life. I’m going to mind what I put into my body and my brain. I’m going to mind how I exercise my body and my brain. And I’m going to mind the time that I have so that I can work on some concrete goals that I’ve already spoken into the world.

I want this blog to be a part of that. I want to write at least 52 posts this year. I started trying to come up with types of posts so that I could make into a fancy list that would turn into tags that would let anyone who happened upon this new beginning know what might be coming, but since I don’t know what’s coming anything I put down would turn into a lie. I don’t know who I’ll be in six months. I don’t know who I’ll be tomorrow. I don’t know if what interests me now will interest those other mes.

I do expect to still be interested in reading and writing poetry and science fiction and essays about the things that make people who they are. I do expect to fall in love with albums and movies and books. I do expect to spend a lot of time at local art museums and also maybe just as much time creating visual art of my own. I do hope that I can cling to this newfound desire to assert myself, to really think about who I am and then be that person without shame. I do hope that all of the mes to come will have this mindfulness in common and use it to write out the things she’s thinking and feeling instead of just internalizing those feelings and letting them fester. (Too many feelings are like too many bottles of cider, they lead to stomachaches and anxiety spirals.)

I haven’t had a single lonely New Years since that boy and I broke up. I haven’t worn those glitter flats either, even though I still own them. I live in a real city now, in a place where it gets cold, and they’re not very warm or comfortable to wear on long-ish walks to the bus or train. I spend a lot of my winter in boots. I spend most of my time with people who love me and who make that very clear in all the ways that we relate and compromise.

Tonight I’m going to sit at my friends’ kitchen table and drink and eat and laugh and talk about our years as I’ve done every New Years Eve since I moved here. At midnight we’ll sing ‘This Year’ by The Mountain Goats as loud as we think the neighbors can stand and I’ll pass out on their sofa bed while trying to project the warmth I feel into the future. How old will I be when I remember tonight for the last time? What will I have accomplished? Will I have projected my way into love? Will I have been mindful of my desire to stop here and write about it along the way?

We’ll see.

Playing The Tears on repeat.

The holidays has been extra hard this year for a lot of reasons, but the chief among them are grief and depression and just feeling like I’ve failed everyone I’ve ever met by not being a better version of myself. Every time I think about sitting down to write about it, even a private version of it, I feel preemptively embarrassed by all of those things and then the fact that I have all of these other feelings about them. So I painted them instead. Is this less embarrassing? Probably not. Oh well.

These are the rough progression of what it’s felt like to go from a world where a certain love existed, to a world without it. I’ve felt engulfed by sadness as of late and I’m not quite sure how to shake it. Maybe I never will.

These are presented with apologies to all the real artists that I love and could never hope to emulate.

Natasha, Pierre, and the vest I wish I was brave enough to wear everywhere.

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is a musical based on a 70 page section of War & Peace that was written by mad genius and man-who-is-definitely-a-bear-magicked-to-look-like-a-man Dave Malloy. It’s a wondrous, eclectic, maddening, and beautiful work of art that I would never have seen if my friends hadn’t become obsessed with it and invited me along to New York with them over one weekend in the summer to see it. I am, as I often am when these things happen, so glad that I said yes.

I’d heard the music for the show from proximity with the people who loved it, and I thought it was fine. Interesting. Exposition-y. There are lyrics that appear to be stage directions, and after seeing it I learned that there are also stage directions that appear to be lyrics. The action is set in 19th century Russia (we write letters, we write letters), but it maintains a 21st century storytelling sensibility and draws from the full history of music and spectacle. I don’t want to spoil everything, lest you might some day be able to see it for yourself, but I do need to tell you that there’s an 80s techno party breakdown in the middle that I was not expecting and it TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. What can I say? I’m into the shiny, blinky shit.

Whatever you think this show is, it’s probably that and eight other things Malloy found in his pockets. And I love it. I mean, JUST LISTEN TO THIS.

Many of my friends love it, and we were all distraught when we heard that the broadway run was closing, leaving a pirogi and decadence shaped hole in our lives. So we did what any normal theater nerds would do when the fire was raining down, we threw a party! It was a costume party. We made souvenirs and listened to the show and sang along.

One of my favorite things about seeing the show live was the costumes. I’m a huge fan of both anachronism and context, so when the company members came into the cheap seats wearing 80s punk vests created by the costume designer I was taken with them immediately. Of course, when we decided to have a costume party I had to take the excuse to make a ridiculous 80s punk vest for myself.

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I put this together by cutting the sleeves from a button up shirt and dissecting several t-shirts I no longer wear, but had been saving for a special occasion, most prominently an old Amanda Palmer shirt a say Say Anything 19th century style shirt that I’ve had for ages. I imagine the character who wears this vest is running from the ghosts of the abusive men she murdered. But hey, aren’t we all?

 

In which there is helplessness and hope.

This post is ostensibly about a short story anthology I have the honor of having work accepted into, but it’s also about how important I think this anthology is and what it means to me to have been accepted.

UNDERCITIES: A Short Story Anthology – An anthology that focuses on queer narratives in an urban fantasy setting, featuring queer and POC characters.

I have this recurring thought about my own stories. I worry a lot of the time that they’re not relevant enough, that nothing I have to say is important in the scheme of things. Why should my words be important when I am mostly a frivolity of a person—a scared little girl who grew into an anxious woman who mostly feels helpless in the face of the oncoming future? Why should I even write these things? I ask myself. Why do I furiously jot down poetry that no one will ever read or build convoluted histories for main characters in novels that I may or may not write? Why, when the words won’t come, do I collage instead?

Why do I find such comfort in manifesting my small, awkward beauties when so often they’re only for me? If I was the last person on the planet, would I continue to leave my words splattered all over every surface? Would I feel the need to prove that I was here if there was never anyone else to see it? I think I would. Writing has always been a mechanism of hope for me and I learned long ago that even if I’m not Writing I’m writing. The words will out whether I want them to or not.

Lately, I am made of helplessness. I wake up every morning singing a little song I made up about it in my head, because singing my frustrations to myself is a thing I started doing a while ago so I didn’t shout them at others. This is not the romantic young Elizabeth Schuyler in Hamilton helplessness. This is not beautiful or desirous or even in tune. This is the overwhelming sensation of fear that is not creeping, but that is already here.

I wake up feeling helpless and I check my phone to see what new fresh horrors were perpetrated while I slept: what gag order has been signed, which environmental agency has been targeted, which group of people have been beaten or incarcerated for displaying the rebellious unrest that was to be lauded when it shook up status quo two hundred years ago, but demonized when it tries to shake up the status quo now. I don’t have to tell any of you that the current status quo is dangerous for the majority of people living not only in the US, but in the world. It needs to be shaken. I should do more shaking.

So I wake up feeling helpless. Helpless for myself and my friends and for strangers who are stronger and braver than I am and who are being vilified for it. My friends, who are from different places and made up of different ethnicities, who are mostly female or non-binary or transgendered and mostly queer, who are mostly millennials, who are mostly no stranger to being told that everything about them needs to be cleaned up and trimmed down and beaten into submission. My friends who are entirely, bravely, proudly non-compliant in the face of all of it.

I should stop singing quietly and go back to shouting loudly. I should do it for myself and for everyone I love and everyone I admire. There’s power to be had in making yourself seen and the words you use to do it. There always has been and always will be power in stories. That sounds trite, but honestly, when the day is being ruled by “alternative facts” that are little more than falsehoods spun into pyrite, what else can you do but counter with fictions that show actual truths more deftly and completely than their news sound bites ever could?

Fiction has always been a vehicle for truths and a way for those who have a hard time shouting—or who have already shouted until their throats gave out-to be heard. It’s a tradition I’ve always wanted to be a part of and it’s for that reason that I find telling stories to be a mechanism of hope. In fiction I can sing for myself and for others. In fiction I can see myself reflected and subsumed and reborn. In fiction I can find the tools I’ll need to move past this helplessness and into strength.

The main character in the short story I submitted to Undercities exists in my head because she was someone who didn’t exist outside of my head when I would have needed her most. She is made of my fears and doubts about being a bisexual woman and also being a woman with no real connection to her family’s history. At this point you can just imagine me as Molly Grue and my main character as the unicorn in The Last Unicorn. Where were you when I was new? I shout. I’m here now, she says.

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No person should live in a vacuum. No person should be told by their family that they don’t exist or that they need to hide themselves. No person should have to accept a false narrative that overwrites their own lived existence, and yet, so many of us do. Anthologies like this are one small step toward reclaiming our voices and our visibility. Being encouraged to share my stories and allowed to write things that reflect my hopes and fears is one small step toward working past the helplessness.

I am very proud to have a story included in the Undercities anthology, and proud of the hard work the editors and other authors have done in promoting the voices of people who aren’t often allowed the breath they need to sing. We need each other and we need each other’s stories. Please support them when you can.

As of this posting there are 21 days left for funding in the Undercities Kickstarter. You can check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dirtybirdspress/undercities-a-short-story-anthology

We’ll turn ourselves into paper and kindling, devotion and truth.

It’s been a busy second half to the year over here in my neck of the woods. I’ve been working away on several things that will come into print as we come into the new year. I’ve also been trying real hard not to talk about them too much lest I jinx something and all the editors decide to take it back. That’s not going to happen today though, because today I’m super pleased to report that the first of those projects has been released in print!

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Paper & Kindling: A 3-4-1 Collection is available from Amazon in print and kindle editions! This anthology includes short stories from authors Kaitlyn SudolNicole DeGennaro, and Christine Ricketts, as well as poems by myself and art by Katie Grosskopf, Alex Griggs, and Cleopatria Peterson. (Cleopatria’s art is the best, but I’m biased, because she illustrated my poems.)

I’ve long been attracted to the idea of artist’s telephone and this anthology was created along those lines, except instead of working in a long vine-like chain what we have is four seeds with tendrils and flowers growing from each. Christine, Nicole, Kaitlyn, and I each wrote a beginning story or poem and then we all switched and wrote things based on each other’s stories. The illustrations were created in the same way. Through inspiring each other we all got to dip our toes in different worlds and stretch our voices and the result is chock full of horror, science fiction, romance, and fantasy. But most importantly, it’s full of possibility and new beginnings. As it says in the description copy: the end of one story is just the start of another.

One of my sincerest life wishes is to write beautiful things to share with the world, and I thank every one of my fellow contributors here for helping to make that possible. So if any of this sounds like something you’d be interested in reading, please pick up a copy and let us know what you think!

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