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Monday, March 19, 2018

Making the Memorial

Morning Again Readers, 

I wrote this to survive the onslaught of grief, sympathy, and well intentioned yet misguided touching that occurs at a memorial. The idea was borrowed from a friend, and the facts check out. I found it to be so helpful for the people that were at the memorial I either didn't recognize or remember, or even the ones I flat out didn't know. 

If you ever find yourself in that situation, I encourage something like this. 


1. Please DO NOT ask BrainyHeroine how she is doing or if she is okay. You will not get a positive response, and she will retreat to a safer conversation. Speaking of retreating, did you that Wombats poop cubes so that they can build walls around their burrow, forcing potential predators to retreat? 

2. BrainyHeroine may not want to hug or shake hands. Today is overwhelming and she asks that you respect the rules of bodily autonomy. Just be glad she isn't a male octopus; if she was you would be running a 1 in 8 chance of shaking hands with a penis. 

3. If you'd like to do something for BrainyHeroine and ChemiSecure food is always a good option. They really appreciated when people brought dinner or sent pizza. Additionally, grocery store gift cards are nice as well. They shop at Smith's and Family Dollar. Please coordinate with them privately. Because while BrainyHeroine is a Leo, and in the wild female lions do 90% of the hunting, she's exhausted. 

4. If you'd like to make donations to honor her mother's memory, please make them to a local theatre, or pay if forward at Starbucks. Also, when a hippo sweats, the sweat is pink! 

5. Please make tonight as happy as you can. Share funny stories, random memories, motivational Skeletor memes, anything you have that's happy. Please do not say you're sorry, BrainyHeroine is fully aware of how sorry everyone is and can't fully appreciate or process it in public. Like a chameleon, she will blend into the background to avoid uncomfortable situations or repeated expressions of sympathy. 

All kidding aside, BrainyHeroine and ChemiSecure are appreciatetive to those who have reached out, done something, and just want everyone to have fun tonight in remembrance of both her parents. It truly is what they want. 

New Emotions & New Goals

Morning Readers,

A while back I posted about moving Lit Goals away from just reviews and more towards actual literacy; keeping with that I'd like to let you in on my newest project. Emotional Literacy During Grief.

Emotional Literacy is a term that is used to describe one's ability to understand and express feelings. It involves a self-awareness and recognition of how you feel, and how you're able to manage those feelings.

On March 6, 2017 my father died. I've written about that and about the books I read during that time to try and understand what I was feeling, how I should have been feeling, but mainly about how I wanted to escape those feelings. 345 days later, February 14, 2018 my mother died. While her death was less unexpected than my father's, it fucking hurt. Her last 12 days were hard and I'm not over it. Time moves on, and a month and 5 days later I'm in a better place to talk about it. Her memorial was last week, my father has been dead for a year. These are facts and dates on a calendar, but they're also carved into me. My calendars still say it's February, because somehow not changing them is giving me a foothold to cling to.

Which brings us to the newest goal, Emotional Literacy During Grief. ELDG. When my father died I read a handful of books, and then mainly started reading fairy tale re-tellings because escapism was a real thing and I had a dying mother to care for. This time around I can't escape from anything because escape for me implies a certain level of "hey, this thing happened and continues to happen." This time around I went a little crazy buying books, and they're geared towards helping me process what I'm feeling.

The list from before includes:
- Thanks, Dad
- The Once and Future King
- H is for Hawk
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
- Every Last Word
- The Last Lecture

And my list now includes:
- It's Okay That You're Not Okay
- Grief Works
- Modern Loss
- Dead People Suck
- My Father's Wake
- From Here to Eternity
- The Dead Moms Club
- It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Okay Too)
- How to Survive the Loss of a Parent
- The Orphaned Adult

I'm currently reading The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer. She was 27 when she lost her mother to cancer, I'll be 27 this August, I lost my mother to cancer, and on page 11 she brought up this stupid blue book "Gone From My Sight" that you get when hospice care starts, and I kid you not I finally felt like someone got it. I got that stupid blue book three times and set one of them on fire.

I'll be spending the next while reading and sorting through emotions. And then reading to find some happiness.

Until next time,


Side note, I wrote something amazing to make it through my mother's memorial. I'll post that next.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Writer, Seeker, Killer... Talk About a Thriller!

Hey Readers,


Today we're talking WSK, that's Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak!

WSK was published in November of 2017, and though it is a collection of novellas, don't start reading thinking you are going to be underwhelmed. If anything each part of this story is a sucker punch to the gut, while simultaneously making you want to sleep with the lights on. Stay tuned to the end, where I have a brief interview with the author to lighten the mood!

"New Orleans; our lady of perpetual sirens." Hinanya Ven has but one interest in this life, and that is death. This great question has enveloped her into a deranged obsession, a need for transcendence in proximity to grand suffering. The search takes her back to her childhood home of New Orleans, where she returns after a six year absence following her family's permanent retreat from the city in the unanticipated catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. On her own there for the first time, Hinanya inquires into whether or not there is a metaphysical substructure to the universe we all perceive. In the course of her journey, she, through inexplicable and violent circumstances, appropriates the pistol identical to the make, model, and serial number her friend had used to commit suicide several months prior to her arrival in New Orleans. The weight of the mystery augments her desire to part from her body... to have an out-of-body experience. The suicidal girl's path takes her from becoming a writer, a graffiti artist in the glittering menace of the New Orleans nightscape to search for a secretive substance which may settle her ceaseless curiosity. From there, she uncovers a jarring conspiracy which inextricable undermines her being into that brutal principle of the natural world: kill or be killed."

Told in three parts, Writer, Seeker, Killer, follows Hinanya Ven, a completely death obsessed woman who is working through a few things. She's a few screws loose and the way her mind works is expansive enough that each of these novellas could have become their own stand alone novels. Hinanya's obsession with death leads to the asking of the big questions, and we start asking them slowly, with her return to New Orleans after a 6 year hiatus due to Hurricane Katrina. While contemplating so many big questions, Hinanya comes across the pistol her friend used to commit suicide. Now I mentioned before that she is death obsessed, so reading about her becoming suicidal was a complicated experience as a reader. From here the novellas dig deeper into some dark and dangerous truths about life.

After reading WSK I had to step away from it for a few days. Starbloak has mastered in 256 pages what many authors master in a thousand; that paranoid, frightened, thrilling feeling of reading a book that will fuck you up. There is nothing soft or gentle about this book, though there is love in it. Very little hope can be found inside but I have never felt a character's emotions so completely and so immediately than with Hinanya's. I would love to see each story fleshed out into it's own novel, I'd love to one day find this on the shelves as a trilogy, but I am terrified of what may come of the story if that happens. Hinanya's story ends when the book does, but the characters she interacts with, the implied history she discovers, there's so much more here. Additionally, I've never been a fan of authors who have multiple characters commit suicide, but I will give Starbloak credit here for not having it feel like a rush job, or as a plot device. Hinanya's spiral will consume you like a tornado; it'll pick you up and drop you off somewhere new completely disoriented.

To purchase the book for yourself or a friend CLICK HERE!! 
To keep up with Ryan check out his site

And now for Five Questions! The fun thing where I ask the author 5 questions and cross my fingers for some great answers! 

Author Ryan Starbloak
1. What are your top five books right now? 

"The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu, amazingly mind-blowing first contact read. The science fiction concepts found in this trilogy are so fresh and vibrant... & here I was thinking another Transformers movie would tarnish the genre for good! But for every disgraceful science fiction franchise there is an author like Liu pushing things forward in unexpected ways.
"The Long Walk" by Richard Bachman (Stephen King), always & forever my most beloved King read. The journey is utterly humane yet the premise of the story is not. It's an evocative contradiction.
"Yesterday's Gone" by Sean Platt & David Wright, a sprawling serialized work that becomes rather addictive. These guys do so good at cliffhangers!
"Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier, thought it'd be a delightful English romance. That's the first impression. And with du Maurier's prose, I was sold already. But this novel became more like a suspense piece that had me tense and in awe at the same time.
"A Scanner Darkly" by Phillip K. Dick, a look at the consequences of trying to slay a monster by impersonating one. I find this one really somber... use & abuse of drugs definitely does not lead to a happy ending here. I found myself really inspired by the work, & there's definitely some elements to be seen of it in "Writer, Seeker, Killer."

2. They say inspiration comes from everywhere, where is the weirdest place you've found a story's 

Hm, challenging question, but after a lot of thought, one thing keeps coming back to me. Those ghost hunter programs on TV really got to me this one time. I'm a skeptic and philosophy has some issues with the existence of ghosts. Hell, I'd love to see one though. No matter how scary it might be in the moment, that's confirmation of an afterlife. Good deal, in my mind. Anyway, I got to thinking in the way a skeptic like me might roll their eyes at these ghost hunter people, some of whom believe in ghosts, what would make THEM roll their eyes at someone? That's how I got the idea for my short story "Ghost Eggs."

3. Chocolate or Vanilla? 

(Dark) Chocolate. Mhm. I have some stockpiled in my freezer as I'm typing (excuse me, it's calling to me).

4. Does WSK have a book 2 coming out? 

 Ah, good question! Well, I certainly felt good with the scope of the world I created there. That seedy New Orleans underbelly truly yields some brutal and decadent tales. There are absolutely more stories to tell there, but would you believe it? I don't know what they are as of yet. I sure did love writing in the thriller genre though!

5. What's your next project about?

I've been working on a science fiction serial for some time. It's going to be at least four books. What's taking so long is I'm trying to write out all four books before launching the first. For the cohesion and integrity of the story. Yay J.K. Rowling for doing that. Boo for "Lost" for failing to do that. Eh, on second thought the "Lost" people were probably on a ridiculously tight schedule.
Anyway, it is about the first contingent of human beings to emigrate from Earth and live on a spaceship for keeps. I explore the consciousness change the first generation experiences as a result of leaving Earth behind. Space is sad! And there are many hazards both psychologically and externally. I also address the development of their offspring, who have never known Earth.  I'd drop the tentative title, but my friends snickering at it (because apparently, the title sounds like it's a book about butts) advise I keep that in the vault. Okay, okay, if you really want to know there's a loophole. Pretty sure I have it listed somewhere on my website ( Oooops! Will you go there in time or will I have already purged it?

That's all for now readers, until next time...