Strawberry Moon

Happy first day of summer! Happy full moon!

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All of the things. ‘Gutted: Beautiful Horror‘ hit #1 in Hot New Releases and #2 in Horror Anthologies on its first day of pre-sale.  Tomorrow night I guest on a Noir on the Air episode of ‘Dames in the Dark‘ at 9pm. We’ve got the stories selected for the Summer edition of  Menacing Hedge, and go boldly into reading for Fall.  Pantheon Magazine’s ‘Hestia’ issue My son has one more week of baseball. My nephew is nearly here. There’s only one more episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’

‘Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will?’ at the Portsmouth Little Theatre wrapped up in a sea of love, tears and Fireball. My husband got a motorcycle. We just got back from vacation, where I met Chewbacca – who is just as sweet in person as he is in the movies! Also, not to jinx her because the day is not done (and on this, the longest day of the year, I may be tempting fate), my favorite little red hen Lauren (Bacall) has successfully navigated back and forth to the neighbors’ hen house without an automobile collision.

Howl at the moon, my lovelies. Throw away your shoes. Jump in deep, dark water. Summer is upon us!

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2016 Scares the Shit Out of Me

 

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Seriously.

It’s only the 2nd day of the year, nice easy Saturday night full of peppermint candy, Lana Del Rey and sleeping dogs.

Last night was Sherlock’s ‘The Abominable Bride’ (which was better than all of S3 put together, and I loved S3), and this afternoon was ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with my almost-8-yr-old son in his Darth Vader sweatshirt and my cool-as-hell hubby (and it was GREAT! I was afraid to hope, after the prequels). So. I’m high on Moriarty and Chewbacca.

The year ahead lies sprawled in an almost impossible glowing light. These Lite Brite blips of things to come, and they seem too good to be true:

  • the first edition of Menacing Hedge I’ve worked on as full-fledged co-fiction editor with my incestuous sibling Craig Wallwork, out pretty much anytime – and conspiring with the beautiful crew there
  • more and more unbelievable announcements about the Gutted:Beautiful Horror anthology – just a lil ole book coming out this year with me in it….AND Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, Richard Thomas…that’s not even all!! It’s just too hard to type out all the names, and they’re not even DONE with the ToC!
  • AWP LA, which I guess is some sort of “conference” or something, but whatever – I’ll be spending April Fool’s Day in California with the crew that welcomed me into the bosom of ‘Warmed and Bound’ nearly five years ago, only that crew times ten…ocean and bowling and books with some of the best people I’ve ever met or am about to
  • Tentative plans for a vast and ambitious family vacation that, worst case scenario, would take place next summer instead of this one
  • Tentative plans to finish a semi-vast and very-ambitious linked short story collection surrounding the concept of Frankenstein’s Monster and the freedom from the burden of chronological memory…that, worst case scenario, will be completed next summer instead of this one (it would take some massive laziness to drag out an entire extra year)
  • Jewelry – Jewelry!! Work!! They call it work, I call it a kitchen and laboratory full of adoptive family, gems, and magic lasers and elf-sized tools. They let me hang out there, and talk about movies and gold and life, and pay me for it…
  • my son and I have started the Harry Potter series, a mere two hours ago, and he’s into it
  • Richard Thomas has extracted a promise for a story from me for Gamut, which seems like something I should have to fight to get into
  • Craig Clevenger wants to podcast with me for a couple guest episodes of Booked.
  • My sister is going to give me another niece or nephew – another minion for my son!

Can I just stop there, and take a breath?

My fear is justified, yes?

Because this is my life, and I want to deserve it. I want to deserve the people and the love and the pictures in my brain and the roof over my head and the happiness,

and I don’t want to take a breath, or cough, for fear I’ll wake….

So, before I do, in this world now I want to say: I love you all. I appreciate you all. You’re heavy and light and wispy and warm in your love and support and confidence and laughter and conspiratorial smiles. My family, my friends, my work family, my writing , my reading compadres, my Sherlock-fiends, my fellow mothers of beautiful strong babes, my ladies in the shadows that whisper to me that I’m good enough.

Thank you. By the Stars and the Moonlight and the magic of breathing, I wish you all as beautiful a 2016 as you’ve made possible for me, just by being a part of my life.

-Amanda

 

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(Magical Shiny Shoes to dance through the year)

Goodbye, 2015!!

Practicing the Dark Arts (or dominoes, whatever):

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Wishes for us all, of Hope and Mermaids:

…and Inspiration:

Don’t forget to share your hats. With Death Stars.

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Happy New Year to you all!! I love you.

 

When the Saints Go Marching In…

(Alex is an AWESOME teacher!)

Awful Big Talk for Such a Little Thing…

From an email to a friend, and honestly how I feel about This Thing We Do…

“But what if no one ever recognizes your efforts? That’s a distinct possibility. It doesn’t make the things you do of less value, or the work you’ve done in vain. Fame and appreciation are just matters of timing and luck with sometimes-talent added, based on whatever the pop culture climate is into at the moment. Picasso was appreciated in his lifetime and Van Gogh was not. But that doesn’t make Van Gogh’s work less amazing. And there are thousands of Picassos and Van Goghs that we’ve never heard of, and just because their paintings only hang in someone’s house or the canvases are stacked in a closet somewhere, that doesn’t mean the work wasn’t worth making, or breaking themselves into pieces for. Because it’s still worth it, because we can’t help it. That’s all there is to us, making things. You’ll itch under your skin if you don’t write stories, and you’ll just take up cooking or buy a bedazzler and put sequins on things. And in a few years you’ll catch yourself with a notebook of half-scribbled stories. Because it’s just what you are. You make things. You have to shrug and accept it. Even if you give up the marketing side, and submitting side, and just do it because it’s what you do. That second part – the whore part – is really unimportant in the actual scheme of making things.

So there’s your lesson for the day. You don’t ever have to submit shit if you don’t want to, ever again. Buy a fireproof trunk and seal all your work, finished and printed and also on various types of hard drives, in the trunk. Let someone else sort it out later. Focus on making it. Or take a break and make things when you damned well feel like it. Compulsion can also be euphoria.”

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International Women’s Day 2015: Holly Madison

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And good day to you, too!

I haven’t really been rolling with these posts in the New Year, but the sun is bright and the snow is melting and I REALLY wanted to do a post on International Women’s Day – and I thought, post ABOUT someone. Someone important, someone who changed things, someone representative of progress.

Holly Madison was literally the first person to pop into my head. Yes, Holly Madison, ex-girlfriend of Hugh Hefner (while he had many other girlfriends), former resident of the Playboy Mansion and star of the “reality” series The Girls Next Door. She currently resides in Las Vegas, married and with a little girl named Rainbow (named after a little girl who was her neighbor when she was a child in Alaska, and Holly thought it was the coolest name ever), more and more behind the scenes in burlesque as she seems to be embracing her 30s and motherhood and I hear, writing a book. Yes, I know all these things because I care about Holly Madison, and I keep up with what’s going on in her life. She’s one of maybe three celebrities whose lives I actually follow, and whose happiness is something I think about.

Now, of course, when Holly popped into my head I immediately tried to backpedal out of it. There are SO many other women I could post about, on today of all days:  teachers I’ve had, my mother and grandmothers, writers, activists, even actresses… But that would be disingenuous, wouldn’t it? To tailor my Women’s Day feelings to better fit with what I THINK I should feel?

Because Holly Madison is important TO ME. She represents a change in me, a very important shift in views towards my fellow women and my acceptance of other women for who they are and want to be, the shedding of disdain and feelings of aloofness or better-ness, judgmental ways I didnt realize I had until I began to shed them.

The Girls Next Door first aired in 2005, and I think it was probably intended to be Barbie TV, to pull more male viewers to the E! Network. Holly, Bridget, Kendra and sometimes Hef shuffling around in the background, pools full of playmates, lingerie parties, etc. It was eye candy, the Walking Dolls Show – and I’ll admit, that’s how I went into it, how I approached the viewing. Let’s make fun of the silicone girls. Watch the bimbos try to do stuff in pretty dresses. Playmates are going to cook and talk!

But surprise! For me, and everyone else. The viewership and fanbase was largely female, the show’s stars were compassionate, layered, lovable and flawed women. There was no conflict, no cattiness, no competition. They struggled, they failed, they tried again, they voiced their problems, supported each other. Holly in particular struck a chord with me. I worried for her as she turned thirty (just a few months after I did), I ached with her as she tried to be taken seriously and be heard and still be a blonde with implants in low cut dresses. She was smart and funny and moody and could never seem to work out exactly what she wanted, and I identified with her. She wanted acceptance and validation, but also to do her own thing and do things on her own and be taken seriously. Surprise, again: like most females, she wanted it all. To not have to choose to be beautiful OR capable.

Holly Madison humanized an entire population of women for me. The girls and women of the Playboy mansion, on the pages of magazines, the ‘sexy’ women who had plastic surgery and obsessed over their bodies became, for me, real women. I had derided and disrespected them for all the reasons one should never judge others: I didn’t understand them and they were nothing like me. But it didn’t and doesn’t make them less human or less worthy of common decency and respect. And Holly was my window into my own skewed view of women – and helped lead me out of it and to a more respectful, accepting place.

Happy International Women’s Day, Holly Madison.

And to all of you!

– Amanda

What We Need Is More Phooootoooos….

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