Just Write

Some wonderful thoughts about writing in the in-between–no matter what your in-between is.

Behind the Press

I haven’t written on this blog in more than four years. The last post is about joining Storyful, and I haven’t worked there in months.

I was laid off last summer, one of the casualties of what has been a hard few months for the news industry as a whole. It’s been a hard topic to talk about on social media as you fight to find your next adventure, though the in between has been its own adventure too. How do you talk about this thing that has been making you feel horrible because everyone feels horrible when they’re laid off? How do you promote yourself when you’re not feeling good about yourself?

And that brings me to writing on this blog, something I’ve wanted to do for awhile but wasn’t quite sure how to do it, especially with the thing weighing heavy on me. What do I write about?…

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Lines on the loss of Steve Manzino

Manzino Balloons Xmas Cocktail 2002

Manzino in the smoking jacket, A Christmas Cocktail, December 2002.

My dear friend of twenty-three years, Steve Manzino, lost his battle with cancer on December 4, 2018. I am absolutely devastated, and my life will never be the same, but here is how I choose to remember him.

Steve Manzino—I called him Manzino, though, everyone in our group of friends did—and I used to have the strangest and most entertaining conversations, especially when we were prepping in our dressing rooms for whatever show it was we were acting in at the time.

“When I die, I just want people to get up and tell the truth about me.” He shrugged into the tweed jacket he was wearing in his role as Frank in Educating Rita. “Because I hate Read the rest of this entry

It’s finally hit me: I miss record stores!

Recently, a friend and I were going to spend some time in the car driving to an underwater archaeology lecture at a nearby college. We had just seen Bohemian Rhapsody and were dying to listen to Queen.

The only Queen music we both owned was still on cassette, believe it or not.

“So…how are we going to listen to it in the car?” she asked.

I went through a whole thing about streaming on the phone and hooking up the Bluetooth and all of this other complicated stuff. And then it occurred to me, for the first time in probably years, that I could just go to the mall on my lunch break and get a CD!

Then I thought…wait, who still sells CDs around here? FYE is gone, Best Buy’s selection is nil if it even still exists at all, and there are no more specialty stores like Record Town (remember THAT?) or The Wall. I called my housemate Charles, but he really didn’t have too many ideas either—except for Gerosa Records. That was probably worth a shot, but it was too far for me to go on a lunch break.

In the past few years, I haven’t really missed being able to just run out and buy a CD; I’ve gotten incredibly used to Amazon Prime and having them arrive in a day or so or downloading an MP3. I like the new way of doing things: yes, there’s instant gratification, and yes, I can simply purchase only one song and not all of them (there were singles and Cassingles, but most of those were for the popular tunes only. You wanted something that wasn’t released as a single? You had to buy the entire album). But it’s not the same as getting into your car, unwrapping that cellophane and inhaling that plastic and new disc smell, slipping it into your stereo and mmmm.

What did I end up doing? I dashed home after work, downloaded some MP3’s, and burned them to a CD. But I gotta tell ya—nope, just nope. Nothing would have been more magical than to go to a record store at lunch and pick up exactly what I wanted.

Bummer.

“Splendid Chyna” on Black Friday sale for a whole week!

Nothing says Black Friday like a ghost story, right? If you missed the opportunity to read my novella “Splendid Chyna” – perfect if you like Asian Horror (i.e., The Ring, for those of you not familiar) and abandoned theme parks – the Kindle version is on sale for 99 cents through Thursday, November 29!

“Splendid Chyna” appears in the collection Three on a Match with two other novellas, “All’s Well that Ends” by G. Elmer Munson, and “Thicker than Water” by Melissa Crandall. These shorts are just the thing to be reading in between season busy-ness.

You can get it here, and happy holiday shopping!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m grateful fo all of my readers! Thank you so much for supporting me.

From our house to yours … wishing you a happy day spent with loved ones.

~ Krissi, Charles, Nathan and the cats, Poe & Mikey

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

Celebrate with me!

Writer John Palisano recently posted the following on Facebook:

Just got an email from NanoWrimo stating that ‘every’ writer would rather ‘have written’ than ‘write’ and that writing is painful and such.

I disagree. I love being in the zone. I love tapping away at the keyboard, the story flowing out like music. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. It doesn’t hurt. It’s not painful. It’s not a struggle to make happen, most of the time.

I’m not the only one, am I?

No, he’s definitely not the only one. There is nothing like being in that zone. That vanishing into a world in my head and staying there with my characters, living out whatever fantasy I want (no matter how outlandish), the words just flying out of me as easily as drunken conversation. It’s almost like being on a magical vacation; the outside world recedes. I obsess over whatever topic, setting, or interesting object that the story is about. I avoid bills, cleaning, laundry and just about anything else I can get away with for the sake of art, and hey, if I have to function because I can’t get out of something, it’s an excuse to mentally tune-out.

On the flip side, if the fiction is really just a channel for something sad, stressful, and overwhelming I’m trying to process, it can be gut-wrenching. I fail to eat for however long it takes to get it done, I avoid correspondence or contact with anyone as much as I can, I question every single choice I’ve ever made in my life or even why I exist at all. And I usually cry a lot.

This isn’t the case with every piece I write, but it was the case with a piece I finished this morning. It’s been the greatest week of my life in a long, long time, but it’s also been balls-on anxiety and other not-so-pleasant emotions since Tuesday.

A few of you out there are aware of this. It’s official–the first draft is done, and I have set myself free! I’ve not only written a very solid story (yes, it still has to go through revision and critique, but I don’t invest in that on a spiritual level), I’ve emotionally worked through what I was processing. I feel completely unburdened and can have some fun now—I can focus on cleaning my house, doing the shopping for Thanksgiving, and wrapping some Christmas gifts (I shop all year, so it’s never really too early to start).

I’m having a glass of wine in a nice hot bath to celebrate. I encourage you all to celebrate with me in whatever way you see fit! If you’re waiting to hear from me, you will soon. And oh my God, where are the cheese and crackers because I’m starving.

Have a great week!

Jinkies! It’s a haunted toaster oven!

Haunted Toaster Oven

The toaster oven in question. I have no idea how old it is, but it’s…OLD.

Whether or not you believe in the supernatural, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve probably had at least one thing happen to you that defies explanation.

Do I believe in the supernatural? Yes, I do. I have since I had something I had no explanation for happen to me in college back in 1989 (which is too terrifying for me to write about. I think there’s maybe one interview someplace in which I bring it up, but that’s it); and in 2007, on a dark road late at night, a person in a white runner’s outfit ran in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes, and, heart racing, I leapt from the driver’s seat to find out if the person was okay.

There was no person in white runner’s shorts, and there was no sound of the crunching of leaves in the nearby woods.

I called “hello?” without response.

There was no one on that road but me.

No head-scratching experiences since then—until last week.

I was with my sister and brother and their families at my aunt’s house for what you might call an early Thanksgiving. In its glory days, the three-family house was the social center of a large Italian family. There were Sunday dinners, all-nighter New Year’s Eves, endless pinochle games, summer picnics in the screen house, fresh vegetables from the garden and jugs of plain awful homemade wine. The generations that were responsible for all of that are pretty much gone, but the house, built very early in the 20th century, still stands.

So does a bunch of stuff in the basement.

My brother and his family were rummaging around down there, finding things like original Burger King Star Wars glassware in mint condition, century-old cookbooks, and Disney board games no one’s seen since the 1950s.

I was standing in the kitchen. Just as I saw them emerge from the basement, I heard the bell on the ancient toaster oven go off.

My first thought was that my aunt—who is now suffering from a form of dementia—had perhaps gotten up and come into the kitchen and turned on the toaster oven. I knew, though, that this wasn’t possible—I’d just spent the past hour with her, and she hadn’t moved from her chair.

I said something to Maryanne. She said, “Sometimes that bell just goes off.” And it is possible someone could have jostled it earlier in the day, when we were all cooking in the kitchen.

Then I touched it, and it was hot.

Which would’ve been fine—except that it was unplugged.

I called my husband Nathan, who’s a retired paranormal investigator. He gave me a list of things to check, so we all discussed the possibilities: was it sitting in direct sunlight? No. It’s over the spot in the basement where the furnace is, so are the cabinets underneath hot from heat that could be coming up through the floor? No. Did Uncle Lou, who came over to the area a few minutes prior to get a glass of water, use the toaster oven? We asked; the answer was no. Had either of my brother’s sons played with it? We asked; no, and anyway, they were down in the basement the whole time. A toaster oven might retain heat. Has it been used in the past twelve hours? No; its last use was two days prior, and no toaster oven retains heat for over 48 hours. Could it have a short? Well, sure, yes, but how does a toaster oven, which doesn’t have any battery back-up, have a short and get hot when there’s no power source?

So there you have it. Absolutely no explanation. If anybody has any ideas, I’m all ears. Otherwise? I’m chalking this one up to the supernatural.

Short Story Sunday: Thirteen Wedding Dresses, Douglas Bruton

And Nothing Remains Cover

It’s unusual that a short story is so moving that I finish it and immediately give it a second read. Douglas Bruton’s “Thirteen Wedding Dresses” is, happily, one of those rare finds.

This compact tale of loss details the impact of a missing suitcase on several lives. Where this piece excels is in its universal appeal: there is not one of us who hasn’t felt one of the carefully illustrated emotions here. Its hauntingly-rendered prose will make it difficult for the reader to forget that sometimes something lost can lead to something found.

“Thirteen Wedding Dresses” is one of a dozen in The Fiction Desk’s 12th anthology And Nothing Remains. You can get a copy here: https://www.thefictiondesk.com/anthologies/and-nothing-remains.php

THIS WRITING LIFE EPISODE 15: THE JOY OF REVISION

 

EP 15 BLOG ART 1

In this episode, things get super-hairy just minutes before deadline, and friends are called in. This may be the one time revision is just no fun…unless wine’s involved. You can read the short story “Mujina” in Dark Passages II: Tales from the Black Highway. Get it at http://bit.ly/DP2Mujina.

DARK DISCUSSIONS gets UNFRIENDED

Dark Web Onesheet

Unfriended: Dark Web is now available on VOD and disc, and Dark Discussions goes deep into it as well as its predecessor, Unfriended, in episode 347. You can listen in on Stitcher, Itunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_347.html

The Unfriended franchise is unique in that, while considered found footage, the story Read the rest of this entry

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