I did a writers’ workshop today. It went well enough until a question asked….and I’m paraphrasing here…”How do you justify writing about such dark subject matter in a world that is so filled with darkness as it is? Don’t you feel you are adding onto the burden?”

I’ve been asked this question a dozen times before. And it never ceases to annoy me.

It’s this sophomoric marshmallow type of thinking that if we all just sat around making daisy chains, sipping tea, and dancing in the meadows, the world would suddenly become an idyllic Disneyland wet dream that makes me want to scream out obscenities so foul and hot Tinkerbell’s wings would twist and crumble in the flame.

Let me pull out an old chestnut here by G.K. Chesterton:

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist.

Children already know that dragons exist.

Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

The same goes for people like me who write stories that are tinged with horror, death and bit of fun (i.e monsters) on the side.

I am not inherently dark or creepy. I like sunset walks on the beach and kittens with pink squishy toe beans. I don’t side with the forces of evil because I write these stories. I’m actually a pretty chill chick who loves to sit around the fire pit watching fireflies and counting stars. And the same goes for my friends who also write horrific stories; they’re not necessarily inhumane. As as matter of fact, they are probably some of the most humane people I know.

I scoop wasps out of the patio; as long as they don’t hurt me, I let them be. I let spiders live on my front porch; a few cobwebs in the summer means less mosquitos. If I find a worm cooking on the hot asphalt, I will move them onto the cool ground.

Because I can feel their anguish.

And why? Because I write about pain. I write about loss and fear and terrible things that gnash and grind bones in the dark. I see on both sides of the story. I feel the pain of the victim as well as the monster. I am Janus Sighted and, because of that, I go out of my way to not inflict pain on any living thing.

I do not bring more darkness into this shitshow of a world by writing horror.

I show it to you. I mirror the monster hiding behind you.

And I teach you how to kill it.

You are welcome.

Writing Day!

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a free day so I decided to devote this Saturday to working on my story, Politics of Children.


  • Social Media fix. Gotta check those emails and see what’s trending.
  • Sit on the porch, enjoy the morning. Listen to the crows.
  • Shower. Body maintenance is important.
  • Breakfast – toast with peanut butter, some flax seed and slices of apple.
  • Go to the office.
  • UGH! What is that smell?
  • Clean the litterbox
  • Sweep and swiffer the floor around the litter box
  • Dispose of nasty Pee Pad and put down a fresh one.
  • Oh wait….the cat’s water fountain. I need to clean that.
  • Dump out water because no one in this house understands that you can’t just keep filling the fountain with water, goddammit, it has to be cleaned!
  • Take the fountain apart and use the tiny scrubbing brush that came with the cleaning kit to get all the ICK out of every thing. Seriously. It’s disgusting. Fur, mold and I don’t know what the hell else is growing inside this thing. I’m destroying an ecosystem. I am the destroyer of worlds.
  • Assemble the fountain and return it to its corner of my bedroom.
  • Fill with water while cats eye me suspiciously. I wonder if perhaps they were in league with the filmy mold. Did I just cause an interdimensonal incident?
  • OK! Back to the office. Time to get some work done.
  • Wait….where the fuck is my bottom taskbar on the screen?
  • Google the problem.
  • Find 600+ solutions.
  • Try a few. Makes it worse.
  • Suddenly task bar comes back.
  • WTF
  • Pull up WIP
  • Damn…now I need to pee.
  • Urinate. Wash hands. HYGIENE IS IMPORTANT.
  • Wait…I still need to eat.
  • Eat breakfast
  • Glance over WIP while crunching on apple slices
  • Delete sentences.
  • Wait….need music.
  • Select a playlist.
  • Phone Pings.
  • Check Phone.
  • Ok….get to work….
  • WAIT!
  • Let’s journal about this….get our head on straight.
  • And here we are….

When to quit.

A long time ago, I played around with the idea for a story. The basic plot was that when a writer died every story that was not capped with the blessed words The End formed a link in the chain that kept them trapped in this world. The writer was cursed to become the Muse of another creator and with each new work finished by their charges, a link was undone. Once the chain was completely dismantled, the writer could then ascend to the Great Wherever.

I never finished it.

To be quite frank, it never got any further than a few pages in a notebook. Hell, I think I fleshed the idea out better in that paragraph than I ever did while working on it.

Which brings us to now.

The links in my chain

See those journals? Every one of them contains a story. It’s part of my process. Every story gets a journal to act like it’s pseudo womb. And none of them have ever made it past the journaling process.

And those are just the ones I keep nearby. In the attic, I have boxes….BOXES….of newspaper clippings for source material, research, outlines, first drafts and other abortive ideas for the Travis Dare stories.

The same goes for Crown of Feathers, two different Sherlock Holmes stories, the Ulysses K. Todd and Mrs Dowell series, the Untitled UFO story and another novel idea currently titled, Dark Horses.

My friends, my chain is long.

Which brings me to today’s lesson: When to Quit.

I’ve been working on a story with the working title of Meat Prison. I’ve racked up 1350 words and filled a few dozen pages in its journal trying to figure out the story. It’s a curious concept that came to me during a Pilates class.

Wouldn’t this be an excellent way to teach aliens how to use human bodies?

So, I started up my meat machine and got the Boys in the Back Room* to run wild with ideas.

I came up with the idea that Human Bodies are used as prisons by Cosmic Entities for dangerous convicts. Planets on D-level universes such as ours are used exclusively. Any sentient being is up for grabs. The prisoner is injected into the flesh prison. It is a very painful process and sometimes…very rarely….the corpus rejects the prisoner and explodes in a fiery disaster. This is where the idea of Spontaneous Human Combustion comes from.

Prisoners inhabit the bodies until the end of their natural physical lives. If the Prisoner does anything to damage or hasten the end of the lifespan, they are given demerits. Enough demerits warrants Oblivion.

Nobody wants Oblivion. Death….maybe. Oblivion….not so much.

At the end of the lifespan, the Prisoner goes up for Parole. If they are granted parole, they are released back to their bodies held in stasis. If they are rejected, it’s back to another meat prison.

Our Prisoner is an inter-dimensional creature outside of our ability to even conceive. Like Lovecraft shit on acid. Its name is unpronounceable with our tongue and the name is a curse to write. It is a megalomaniacal, planet erasing, all around Bad Guy. Think Psycho Goreman without the charm.


This is not its first corpus rodeo. It’s name has been laced into nightmares across a dozen galaxies. There is no hope for parole.

And its tired. Oblivion is starting to look pretty good.

Normally, during a reset, the consciousness of original tenant will either pop like soap bubbles or go screaming into the void. In the end, they ALL eventually dissolve until all that remains to puppet the corpus is the Prisoner.

But something has gone wrong with this meat prison.

Her name is Sheila. And she’s pissed.

I’ve decided to make Sheila a middle aged woman, covered in tattoos, scars and a very active schizo-affective disorder. Because of her mental illness, she has innately “sublimated and compartmentalized the trauma”. Terms she has memorized from therapy.

She is a conspiracy nut. Believes that what happened to her is a direct assault by the CIA that activated the nanobots in her bloodstream that were inserted during her root canal surgery. The U.S. Government has been trying to assassinate her ever since she received the divine calling to become Empress of the North American Continent before it breaks off from the other land masses and takes its rightful place as the Midgard of Earth.

And……that’s it.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Two great characters but….no fucking story.

I’ve been beating my head in trying to figure out where to take them. I started with the idea of a cosmic horror story but….is this becoming a buddy movie? I don’t know!. My Muse has abandoned me.

Fuck off….I’m on break.

So what do I do?

Sometimes, you gotta know when to quit. Put the story aside and let the Boys in the Back Room do their business.

Who are the Boys in the Backroom**? I’m glad you asked.

When I’m working on a story and get stuck, I toss it to the Boys in the Back Room. They live in a small windowless room with a naked light bulb, hanging from the ceiling. Under the bulb is a square table with four chairs. One each side is a man, sitting in front of a typewriter. They are all wearing white collared shirts, the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. They all have cigarettes dangling from their lips as their fingers pound on the keys of their old school typewriters. And, of course, fedoras pulled down low.

My subconscious is noir AF!

And now I wait.

Maybe they’ll cough up a storyline and I’ll finish Meat Prison.

Maybe this story will end up as another link in my chain.

But sometimes, you have to know when to quit. And start something new.

…..The End…..

*Keep reading. I explain later.

**And there you have it!

A ride with my son

*An excerpt from a ten minute car ride with my son*

“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this,” my son began, “but I never expected to live past 25.”

I gripped my steering wheel a little tighter. Here we go….. “Okay.”

“Ya know, because of my mental illness and stuff. I always figured I would’ve found a way to off myself by now.”

Just let him talk…. “Okay….”

“So, last year when I hit 26, I decided, well, shit, I guess I need to get my life together and get stuff going, ya know? I started to make plans. All kinds of plans. And then, it was like BOOM. Ya know, if my life was storyboarded out like a comic strip, it would go like this. One panel would be me, looking optimistic, my arms over my head, ready to Carpe the Shit out of that Diem, and then the next panel would be a newspaper floating past with headlines like, “PLAGUE SHUTS DOWN WORLD”. Then in the next panel, it would be me, in a hazmat suit, staring blankly out on a decimated world.”


“Yeah, I swear, I know that the world doesn’t revolve around me and Covid has really fucked up a lot of people’s lives but sometimes, it feels like my life has been just been leading up to a massive, cosmic punchline.”

“Damn, dude.”

“Yeah…..I know. So, we’re having pizza for dinner tonight?”

Dude, I thought we had an agreement…

When I was a kid, I went out of my way to step on honeybees.

They were my childhood nemesis. Bees and those nasty sticker bushes that hid in the tall grass that inevitably found my tender, shoeless feet every summer.

Fast forward a few decades and now I know that bees are like super duper important and the whole dang Earth is going to implode because the little striped bastards are disappearing.

So I make amends by going out of my way not to step on the stinger-assed little bastards. I even out sugar water for them.

And I try my best to be as hippy dippy as my Generation X traumatized brain will allow, okay? If I find a snail on the sidewalk, I will pick them up and put them in a safer place. I put out snacks and food for all of my backyard vermin friends. I cut up apples, lay out peanuts, and get the high energy suet cakes for the crackhead chickadees that swarm my feeders.

Once, we bought some traps to catch the carpenter bees that keep burrowing into the porch but I took it down because the idea of these poor bugs slowly dying inside a jar gave me nightmares.

I never kill spiders. They do a lot more good than bad in my book.

I even allow the wasps that camp out in my garden shed some leeway.

Yeah. Wasps. I know that most people think they are corseted winged demons from hell but I thought, “Hey. They deserve to live as much as I do. Right? Right!”

Until today.

I was taking some gardening gear out to the shed when something slammed into my arm. Out of nowhere! I felt this BAM! and then a STAB! and then a WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?

I dropped the watering cans and screamed, “Motherfucker! What the hell?”

I looked down to see where I was assaulted.

What I’m trying to say is…..I thought we had a deal, Wasp Dudes. You stay on your side. I stay on mine. I let you live your little buzzy lives with little to no interaction and you don’t attack me.

But obviously I was mistaken. And you decided to draw First Blood.

And that was your mistake.

I declare the Summer of 2021 to be Waspapocalypse: The Stinger Falls.



April 12, 2011.

I was driving to work, thinking about my sister, Beth. It would have been her 28th birthday.

There was a 17 year gap between us. To say it flatly, we did not have a smooth relationship.

But I remember how fiercely I loved her when she was a child.

Then I married and moved away. I don’t think she ever forgave me for that.

The years went by. Mom died. Dad died. Her health problems, both physical and emotionally, grew worse and worse.

And I was still so far away.

When I moved back home in 2004, it was really too late to try and smooth over our problems. I would try and she would snap back like a feral dog. At the time, I was battling my own mental health problems and didn’t….fuck, let’s be honest….couldn’t handle her fury.

Then in 2005, her cystic fibrosis took a turn for the worse and she was in ICU for months. On life support, thousands and thousands of dollars went to keep her alive. I remember the doctor asking us what we wanted them to do if her condition “decomposed”. That was the word he used. “Decomposed.”

She was in a coma.

Melinda and I would go every night after work to stay by her beside and stay there on the weekends. We didn’t want her to wake up alone.

She finally did wake up. And let me tell you something, it’s not like in the movies. Coma victims are incapacitated afterwards. Her muscles had atrophied. She couldn’t hold up a spoon or walk. The drugs they had her own made her see things. She told us later that we all had Lego Heads.

She had been intubated so speaking for her was difficult. She could barely make a whisper.

I remember the day she tried to use sign language to talk to us. Melinda and I were at a loss. “We don’t know sign language, Beth. Can you write?”

She whispered, “Dumbasses.”

That broke the tension bubble. Melinda and I laughed so hard that we scared the nurses. We told them, “It’s okay. She’s pissed. She’ll be fine.”

I think that time in the hospital taught Beth something. That, through all the fighting, cursing, and throwing shit at each other, the people who were there at her bedside were her sisters. And we weren’t going anywhere.

I remember that November, at Thanksgiving. It was the last one we had and the best one. Everyone was happy. Even Beth seemed to be cheerful. We were talking about philosophy and she asked, “But…what is philosophy?” and I answered, “Exactly!” She rolled her eyes and whispered, “Dumbass.”

She died less than a year later. October 27, 2006.

She had a cold but people with CF don’t get colds. They get pneumonia.

She died at home, on the couch. She went to sleep and didn’t wake up. Even her doctor was astonished but sometimes people with cystic fibrosis die that way. Their bodies just can’t fight the infection anymore and their hearts just stop.

We had been teasing her earlier that week that there was a grand Halloween party we were planning to go to and if she died, we would put her ass on ice. We had bought themed costumes and I had even made a brain Jello mold with grapes for eyeballs. Do not ruin this for us!

She died the Friday before the party. We still think she did it on purpose.

On April 12, 2011, driving into work, these words came to me and I turned them into a poem.


There is a bag I keep in my head.

Memories are stored there

Like pebbles.

There are damn few shiny ones.

Most are obsidian,

Black, sharp things that bite my fingers.

The few shiny pebbles are

The ones I like to pull out and

Fold into a clean

Skin of cloth-

-polishing them-

These few memories

When just being in the same room

As you

Was a natural thing.

Not a détente

I take these few shiny pebbles of time

And I polish them

In my kid cloth until they illuminate the


Until all I can see

-The only thing I can remember-

Is them.

The Root of all my Anxieties

I was never a Disney kid. Something about Mickey creeped me out. I think it was his laugh. That was the laugh of a serial killer. And Goofy…what the hell was that? A talking dog that had a dog as a pet? How messed up was that?

And don’t get me started on the murderous intentions in Peter Pan. Those mermaids straight up wanted to kill Wendy.

I was a Warner Brothers kid. I loved Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and all those crazy dudes.

As much as I loved Warner Brothers cartoons and their dry sense of humour, I have to admit that, looking back, I have to blame them as the root of most of my anxieties.

Do you remember the cartoon where Sylvester the cat wakes up to find that his family has left to go on vacation?

He’s left all alone. Kinda like that psycho rich white kid in that Christmas movie I refuse to watch.

And then the cat has an anxiety attack realizing that there is no food in the kitchen except for canned cat food.


For the next five minutes, Sylvester tries to open the cans. Explosions. Anvils. All the stuff.

And then a mouse comes out of the wall and twirls a can opener.

The chase begins. Cat pursues mouse and after much shenanigans, the cat comes out victorious with the can opener. He is saved from starvation!

BUT as Sylvester goes into the kitchen he sees that the cabinets are padlocked shut.

He hears a taunting whistle from behind him.

He turns to see a mouse, holding a key, and then he disappears into the wall.

Sylvester falls into a puddle, crying, starvation just around the corner.

That shit messed me up.

Measuring up

This will be a quick one. It’s something I want to say but I don’t have any other forum to say it so…here it is.

Today, someone commented that they had not had the success that I have had in regards to writing.

I was a bit thrown by this because….success? I’m successful? When did this happen? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

And then I heard a little voice in my head whisper, “Darling, what do you think success is?”

“I think success is a little bit more than $4 royalties from Amazon, for starters.”

I could almost hear my Muse take a long sip of ambrosia to calm their nerves so as to not slap me out of existence.

“Darling, the fact you have written stories and actually pushed them out of the nest IS a success.”

*long drink*


So, the moral here is that no matter how much of a third tier loser you think you are, someone out there might actually think you’re pretty cool.

So…my mother’s crystal glassware and the Nazis

Last Thursday, I received an email from my cousin, Shannon, asking me if I wanted my mother’s china.

How my cousin that I only see at funerals and sometimes we cross paths in Krogers came to have my long deceased china is a mystery but shit like that happens in the South.

I told her that I would take it off her hands and to leave it in a box on her porch. I would come by and pick it up. We’re still in a pandemic, people.

I bring home a small box that reeks of cigarette smoke. There are cloth and paper towels that are saturated with the lingering stink of my Mother’s cancer sticks. Inside, was not china plates as I was expecting but very fragile crystal glassware.

I decide to do some research and see exactly what it was I had inherited.

From the maker’s mark, the pattern, and the year I guessed my mother first received this wedding gift (1963-64), I was able to pray to the Great God Google and found out a few things:

  1. The glassware was made by a company called Rosenthal Porzellan.
  2. The pattern was called Shadow Rose.
  3. The company was founded in 1879 in Bavaria.
  4. Everything was rosy for the companyuntil the Nazis came into power and even though Rosenthal was Catholic, he was still Jewish enough to be a problem. He was forced out of his own company.
  5. In 1941, when the Decree on Companies of Deprived Commercial Enterprises was adopted, the “Aryan” management intervened with the help of JOSEPH GOEBBELS to continue the use of the Rosenthal brand name.

Come the 1950’s, Rosenthal’s son took over. It was during this time that the company was based in Nuremberg (yeah….that Nuremberg) and by 1997 the company was 90% owned by Water Wedgewood. Currently, the company is owned by Arcturus Group and based in Selb.

So, anyway, that’s the story of how I inherited my Mother’s Nazi stained glassware.

The End.

Sources cited:



Dish Washing Thoughts

  • Does the lone dirty spoon you find in the sink after you’ve already started the dishwasher feel left out? Like it didn’t get to have a spa day with heat rinse like the rest of its silverware brethren? Does it feel unclean and “not daisy fresh”?
  • I never really understood the premise of the tv show Bewitched. So….let me get this straight. First of all, how long did Darren and Samantha know each other before they got married? I mean….how do you keep the fact that you have supernatural powers that flip the bird at all the natural laws of physics under wraps? He basically married a freaking GOD. How did he not know? And, after finding out his wife can pretty much wriggle her nostrils and do all the things, why did he not use this? Quit his job and live a life of luxury? On the flipside, what the fuck Samantha? You have miraculous powers and are descended from a line of magical beings and you’d give all that up for the life of a charwoman? The only explanation for this insanity: Stockholm Syndrome. Because you could never convince me that Darren’s D was all that.
  • And speaking of Stockholm Syndrome, Marge Simpson. It’s the only thing that explains why she stays with that fat slob. OR unless they are bound by a suicide pact because they accidentally murdered Hans Moleman and have to stay together to make sure neither of them squeal.
  • And, yes, the irony of having these thoughts while doing the drudgery of housework is not lost on me.

WIP Crown of Feathers

Proof of Life (ignore the sigils)

After weeks of rolling about in the pits of despair, I finally pull my head out of my butt and started writing my latest story, Crown of Feathers.

Full disclosure: I wrote a really quick 2000 word version of this about 2 years ago. I’ve always meant to go back to it.

The premise is simple: A woman is dying and three local hedgewitches known as The Sisters, are brought in as a last ditch effort to save her. Alas, they tell the family that her death was inevitable and that the crown of feathers beneath her pillow was proof positive that she was destined to die. The grandmother is told to make arrangements and so she leaves her grandson, Eli, to take care of his mother.

In an attempt to save his mother from the clutches of Death, Eli steals the ‘crown of feathers’ that has appeared beneath her sickbed pillow.

The next morning, Mother is out of bed, in the backyard, chasing chickens and ripping off their heads with her teeth.

Eli Kohl has twenty four hours to make things right before his Grandmother comes back with an entire buffet of family in tow.

Go here to hear Steve Shell of Old Gods of Appalachia fame read a bit of the WIP. https://www.facebook.com/nikcubed/posts/10223734696376306

Well, that’s a thing.

Man, the Universe can really kick you in the ass, can’t It?

Many moons ago, when I was a much younger Nik, I was having a very bad day.

My life was not going in any direction.

I had just graduated high school, gotten a job which paid $4.20 an hour, lived with my parents (which I did until I got married), had no social life outside the fantasy worlds inside my head, and was absolutely miserable.

I remember it was a Saturday*. I didn’t have any plans other than sitting around in my favorite chair and thinking about how I’d had already lost the race before I’d even gotten my sneakers laced up.

To be honest, I was contemplating suicide. Not my first time. Actually, back then, it was more of a past time.

There was a knock at my door.

It was a friend from high school. Nancy Phillips. She was a red headed firecracker. She was going to college and getting her life rolling. I hadn’t seen her in months.

“Hey, so I had the weirdest thing just happen. So, I was at this bookstore and this wooden plaque fell at my feet,” she said, handing me a bag. “I knew it was meant for you. I gotta go. Bye!”

And she was gone. I went back to my chair and opened the bag. It was a wooden plaque with a sailboat on the ocean at sunset. It had a quote from my favorite book at the time, Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach.


The little gift really perked me up.

Now, Fast-Forward to NOW.

I’ve been having a lot of Big Thinks lately. I’m on the verge of my 55th year on this planet and, frankly, I think I’m due for some Big Thinks.

I’ve been reconsidering a lot of things. Trimming away some dead branches and finding new tribes.

But the biggest thing that’s been haunting me is whether or not to continue with this crazy dream of being a Writer.

You have to stop and think about whether or not this is really worth it? Why am I doing this? Why am I spending so much time and energy on fluffs of wordy farts?

I’ve got maybe 20 more years in this meatsack.

Do I want to spend it making up shit?

Do I want to leave behind boxes and boxes of manuscripts, notes, newspaper clippings, books, books and MORE books for whatever poor bastard is left to clean out whatever hovel I finally crawl into to die?

Maybe I should let go, leave behind childish things and do something more adult. More responsible. More useful. Because, face it, if I were to roll up to a car accident, the only thing I’d know to do is tap the poor bugger on the shoulder and say, “So, wanna hear this cool idea I have for a screenplay?”

So, should I give in? Give up. Just realize that I don’t have what it takes to make it as a writer. Maybe I did, a long time ago, but I’m old now. I don’t have the strength, the stamina or the goddamn connections,*** to make any of those dreams that Young Nik had so long ago.

It’s a question that has been haunting me because, goddammit, I don’t know what else to do other than make up shit! It’s what I am. It’s encoded in my DNA.

Anyway, much like that Long Ago Nik, I’ve been sitting around, brooding. Maybe not quite so dramatically to include suicide but, I haven’t exactly been a lot of fun to be around.

And then I got a *DING* on my phone.

It’s a message from Nancy.

Like I said at the beginning of this.

The Universe can really kick you in the ass, can’t it?

*Nancy, if you ever read this, I hope I’m not misremembering this story. And if I am, well, so be it. This is my life, my blog, and I prefer to remember it as such.

**I wish, dear readers, I could show you a picture of this plaque. I still have it. It used to hang next to my desk but, since the move, I have no idea where it is. I spent 30 minutes in the hot box that is my attic, going through boxes, and found nothing. Well, not nothing. I found some cool stuff that I forgot I had and plan on hanging because, ain’t that just the way?

***And, Fortuna Help Me, I don’t have it in me to kiss anyone’s ass enough to make connections.

Are you still in the same place?

This morning an alarm went off on my phone.

I was surprised since it’s a Sunday and I had specifically cleared this day to spend with my family since it’s Father’s Day.

I checked my phone and on my calendar it read:

That took me a second to digest and then I remembered why I left that memo to myself.

Six months ago, my horoscope said that this year would be full of changes and that I should check back in on this date and ask myself, “Are you still in the same place?”

January Nik was feeling a bit down in the dumps and decided to put the Astrological Guides to the test and marked it down on her calendar to ask herself that very question.

“Are you still in the same place?”

Whoa, doggie. Let me count the ways.

Since January, we have skirted WWIII, a global pandemic has shut down most everything, Australia caught on fire, Trump is still Trump, protests and riots over systemic racism and brutality inherent in the system, and we’re still waiting for the Murder Hornets to invade.

But, let’s focus on me.

Let’s check in physically. I am currently 10 lbs lighter and an inch or so tighter thanks to Pilates. The blood work from my last physical was the best it’s been in years. My IBS has been pretty stable since working AWS (more on that later). Menopause is still doing its thing but that’s inevitable. I’ve been trying new recipes and eating healthier so that is also a big bonus plus.

Psychologically. Ugh. Well, that’s a bit of a roller coaster. Some days I am feeling pretty good, full of hope for the future because I am basically a romantic optimist. And then other days I go online, check the news and social media, and wish the Four Horsemen would just ride through and finish this farce once and for all.

On the Creative Front, I go from a manic burst of writing and dreaming up New Exciting Projects!!! to a sluggish, what is the point?, editing and reformatting old projects. But I don’t stop because….Reasons.

OH! and I’ve also been accepted into a Bachelor’s degree program at University of Virginia. (First I have to do this stupid Bio101 online course because my math classes didn’t transfer but that’s a cinch.) I’m excited! I’m having my first advisor meeting on Zoom this Monday. I’m aiming for a Bachelor’s degree with a focus on Writing and Psychology. What I’d like to do is be able to take this training and use the power of Story to help people with mental illness or social problems. It’s a lofty, romantic and probably impossible goal but, what the fuck, I’m just killing time otherwise.

Regarding the Day Job, oh hell! I could never have imagined in a million years I would be where I am right now. It is SO SWEET. I wake up, roll out of bed, slap on some day old jeans and a t shirt, grab a cup of coffee, go downstairs to my home office, log onto my work PC and COMMUTE IS DONE! And, best of all , I have found that I am a viable and needed part of the office team. I never felt that back in the Before Covid Times. I used to worry that everything at work would go to AWS (alternate work space) and I’d be booted because, I felt, that I couldn’t do my job online. My days consisted of processing paper contracts and going upstairs 2-3x a day to “check the box” and see if there anything there for my department.

It was like a tragic Russian farce. My job was to ‘check the box. It is always empty but still, it is my duty to….check the box.’

And the Covid 19 Pandemic hit and we were forced to change with the times. Departments scanned and emailed their contracts to me and I would route them to the appropriate signers. Weirdly, this caused my department to become more communicative with each other. Before this, my bosses really didn’t know what I did because, if I were doing my job correctly, they never saw the problems because I checked and fixed them before it ever landed on their desks.

So, this is a Freaking A Plus for me.

And I love staying home. I can do my day job, keep my housework under control AND even work in my stories. AND NEVER WEAR A BRA!!

On the family front, we’re doing fine. Frankly, the quarantine hasn’t really affected us socially. It’s one of the upsides of being hermits. We’ve got our online worlds, books, movies and Netflix. Fuck, this is paradise!

So, I’m feeling pretty good.

And then I remember what is happening outside my gilded, secured walls.

And I feel a mixture of fear, anxiety and, quite frankly, embarrassment that I’m in a better place now than 6 months ago.

But maybe even all of that chaos and change is for the best.

Birth is a messy thing, painful and not very polite.

I hope we can say that, in six months, we are in a better place.

Until the Murder Hornets get here…

A weird time for magical thinking

I have a horoscope app on my phone.

I use to consult it every morning after catching the bus to work to get an idea of what sort of day was ahead for me so I could get ready for it. It was a strange way of arming myself to do battle with the day.

I haven’t looked at it since the Covid 19 lockdown.

In February, before all the shit went down, I was feeling very low and I started consulting my tarot cards. Again, it’s a harmless psychological crutch. I don’t think my cards have any sort of magical divining powers; I use my cards in a purely Jungian vein. Taps into subconscious archetypes, helps me to see outside of my head. And, back then, I was in a whirlwind of despair, lost and lonely.

I haven’t even thought about flipping a card in months.

Isn’t that weird?

You would think that now, of all times, NOW is when I’d be consulting oracles and looking for some sort of supernatural signs.

But, I don’t feel any compulsion to do look for comfort in any kind of magical thinking tricks.

Where I do find comfort is turning off the TV, logging off from internet and going outside for a walk. The sky is blue, the trees are blooming, grass is thick and green. Birds are singing and squirrels are effortlessly leaping from tree to tree like trapeze artists. The air smells like honeysuckle. There is a cool edge to the wind to remind me that winter is not exactly done and to enjoy the warmth, sweetie and remember: weather can change on a dime in April.

When I stop doom scrolling and look outside, I am reminded that Life is all around us.

And, as long as there is Life there is Hope.

Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the need to throw the bones to scry what might be happening down the road.

Now, I feel still. I listen to the wind. And I am content to wait.

Birthday in Quarantine

50 years ago today, my Mother brought home a baby.

I was nearly five years old and anxious to meet the sister my Mother had promised me was going to be my new friend. “You’ll play together and have so much fun!”

When I saw the tightly bound burrito my parents had brought home, I was instantly wary. This was going to be my new BFF?

She laid the bundle in the center of my Grandmother’s bed.

I sat down on the bed and it jiggled.

The baby let out an ear bleeding shriek and my parents, grandmother, aunt, and every other adult in the room yelled at me.

I remember rushing off to the bathroom, locking the door behind me, and having a quick think on the potty. I remember thinking these words very vividly:

Well, I guess I have to run away now.

It was a shaky start.

Although later in life, I did try to push her into the creek, told her Ex-Lax was chocolate candy and tricked her into eating dog treats, I’m glad to say that things got a lot better.

Since this year was going to be her 50th birthday, we decided to do something nice.

First, we made an appointment to spend a day at a spa. It was going to be a luxurious day getting scrubbed down, washed off, and doing all the things girly girls do.

Two days later, a tornado smashed the building down to the ground.

Well, shit.

So, we figured we’d do something else. Maybe she’d come over to my house, we’d have some dinner and do a Facebook Live thing. A special Nik and Brian Drinks A Thing with Melinda as a special guest.

That’s simple, right?

And then the whole world shut down.

And that’s where we are now. Quarantine Town.

But we didn’t let that stop us! NOPE! Melinda wanted a spa day and, BY GOD/GODDESS, SHE WAS GOING TO GET ONE!

I put together a spa day box. Complete with all the necessities that Covid has made so precious.

I asked her what kind of cake she’d like and she said she’d prefer a pie. A blueberry pie.

I’d never made one before but that is what Google is for, right?

I dropped the whole thing off at her house this afternoon.

That’s right. Screw you, Covid 19! We Nelson Girls GET SHIT DONE!

Go home, 2020. You’re drunk.

My son works at a Big Grocery Store chain. Today he told me this story.

“Have you ever heard of a Brazilian Wandering Spider?” he said.


“They are deadly as hell and, worst of all, they sometimes hitchhike in shipments of bananas.”

“Holy shit.”

“Big Grocery Store has a policy on what to do when we find one. They have to close the store for three days to fumigate. And guess what? When I was on vacation last week, they found one in my store.”*

“Holy shit!”

“But it was dead so they didn’t close the store. I guess they figured it didn’t have friends.”

“Jesus. That’s crazy.”

“But you know what I kept thinking? Because everything is so crazy now, can you imagine suiting up, putting on a mask, gloves and everything, to go to the store only to be told, “Sorry. The store is closed.” So you ask, ‘Why? The Covid Virus? Has someone gotten sick?’ And somebody in a hazmat suit says, ‘No, sir. Spiders.’

Because, frankly, Spiders make everything worse. Even in 2020.

*before you tell me this is an Urban Legend, he said they had pictures of the dead spider.

I thought February was bad…

I just looked over last month’s post and, man, OH MAN.

Simpler days, amirite?

I’m currently on “encouraged” isolation. Meaning, the Powers that Be have asked us to work from home if we have the ability to do so. I have my work laptop so I can do some things but a big chunk of my Day Job is still very much addicted to the Paper Teat. Documents need to be printed and signed. Old School. It’s frustrating. So, 20th century. I am working out what days I will go break quarantine to go into the office and push contracts through the bureaucratic colon.

And speaking of colons. People suddenly, insanely, obsessed with their buttholes. Fighting over toilet paper. Who knew that would be the straw that broke our collective backs? The lack of a buttwipes.


That’s not important. And that’s not why I’m here, typing out words on this worn out keyboard. I want to talk about something very dear to me. Something that maybe holds a key to help a lot of people endure these next few weeks of isolation.

So, here it goes.

A friend of mine recently posted on social media that he was trying to find a reason to keep writing. The pandemic had really forced the issue, in his mind, on the uselessness of fiction. And I was like….HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE.

The uselessness of Fiction? What the everloving gobstopper are you talking about?

No, don’t. Just shut up. Let me talk. If there is one thing I know to be absolutely TRUE with the big ol’ Capital T is that STORY is important. Especially in times like these were people are scared and feeling hopeless. Our entire species is built on story. That makes Storytellers like me and mine crucial, sweetie.

Here’s a slice of truth: Humans working from a place of fear are dangerous animals, my friends. Open up a history book. Just flip it open and you will find hundreds of examples of how badly Humans react to fear. No matter how educated or civilized a person is during times of plenty, the Angry Monkey is just waiting to leap, howling, scratching, tearing, its teeth rending others into shreds to get to that last roll of TOILET PAPER!

Seriously. What the hell people?

And that time is now. People are dying. Lungs are rotting away. People are scared and they need something to shine some light into the darkness.

And here is where I want to climb on my rock and shout out to my people. To my tribe. To the Story Tellers out there.



So, get out there. Write those stories. Show the future that we are good, kind, compassionate, clever, fantastic, and most of all, HUMAN.

Get to work.

TL;dr February, amirite?

Well, this month has been particularly fucktacular.

Let me recount the ways this month has kicked my ass. And in some ways quite literally.

Pay attention.

  • I hurt my ACL. I take full responsibility for this. Inside my head I still think I’m a vibrant 30 something and not a rickety 50 something. I pushed myself too hard at Pilates one Saturday and took two very strenuous classes back to back. And then took another class on Sunday. By Tuesday, I had a weird, soft, hurtful lump behind my left knee. I showed it to my trainer, Kayce, and her eyes went wide. “That’s your ACL, honey. Let me look at that.” She tested my leg in a few ways and sighed, “Well, it’s not torn. What did you do?” I told her how I took Cardio Sculpt and a Suspend class back to back. “Are you a special kind of stupid? I’m a champion gymnast and I wouldn’t take those classes back to back!” So, yeah. I had to take a week off from Pilates.
  • On Sunday, I fell down some stairs. One second I was standing there at the top of the stairs that lead down to the garage, holding an armful of recycling, and then next thing I’m BOOOM BOOOM BOOOM BOOM BOOOOM, my feet up in the air and my ass banging down the stairs until I landed on the concrete garage floor. The door slammed shut behind me so no one in my family heard me. I sat there, stunned, angry and scared. If I had hit my head and died, my last words would have been unprintable. I slowly crawled up the stairs and found my husband. “Hey, I fell down the stairs. Look at my back, would you?” He, of course, asked me all sorts of questions as to how/why/what happened.
Why does that fucking matter?
  • I got a UTI. A fucking urinary tract infection. I haven’t been feeling quite 100% lately, I’ll admit. I was putting it down to just winter doldrums and sinus issues. And then I woke up and my morning piss was frothy. Well, that can’t be good. And then the burning started. Like, my vagina felt inflamed and every step was like rubbing the tinder together. At first, I figured, hey, maybe it’s just my soap or my new fabric softener. And then I got a fever. Shit. So, I ordered a UTI test off of Amazon (YEP! AMAZON!). I got it the next day and took it as soon as I got off work. SHIT. When it tested positive, I scooted over to the Little clinic at Krogers (because my doctor couldn’t see me for a week and I SURE AS FUCK was not letting my crotch goobers wait late long). I got there 45 minutes before closing, paid my copay, pissed into a plastic cup and waited. Yep. A UTI. “Wow. I’ve never had one befrore. This is my first one,” I told the Nurse Practitioner. She sighed and said, “Really? Welcome to be a woman. Take these pills for seven days, drink lots of water and ignore that crap about cranberry juice. It’s bull.”
Wow. Bedside manner is extra, I guess.
  • To add to the torment, a few days later, I got a hemorrhoid. ONE. HEMORRHOID. Just one. This little, painful, eruption on the right side of my asshole.
Seriously? SERIOUSLY?
  • Then, Tales to Terrify rejected my submission. It’s a good story, too. It would make GOOD RADIO.
Well, fuck.
  • To wind up these first 10 days of February, I’m fully drowning in a midlife depression. I’m questioning every life path I’ve ever walked down and want to burn the whole damn place down. I’ve gained five pounds and fully undone all the progress from Pilates. All of it. I’m back to being the fat fuck I was before I started in July.


Everyone I know is succeeding and prospering. Getting new jobs, new relationships, new opportunities to go higher and higher. I’m happy for them but, goddamn, when is it my turn? Maybe it will never be. Will I be okay with that?

Will I?

So I give myself a little pep talk. “I can can wallow in this bile OR take a higher road. So what if none of my stories ever make any money and I never find ‘success’. So what? That shouldn’t matter. Not in the end, anyway.” I have to focus on that. The Higher Perspective of creating what I want, enjoy the passion that comes from that and stop poisoning it with any sort of external validation.

Once I get over this need for recognition, I’ll be good.

Soon, I’ll get back to Pilates, lose this extra weight and get back on track.

And I’ll be even better once my gooch boogers clear up.


The one about the kid and the cannibal trolls

First off, let’s get one thing straight.

I don’t write books for kids. It’s not like I have anything against kids. Frankly, I think they’d like my books although I suspect parents and other adults in a supervisory position might disapprove.

And I tried once to write a children’s story. It’s about a boy who tries to save his mother from Death by stealing the Crown of Feathers* from under her pillow. Unfortunately, it turns her into an undead thing and he has to consult three witches to help sort it all out.

While writing it, I consulting with my daughter who is far more mature than me.

“So….do you think it would be okay if I let the Zombie Mom eat the boy’s dog?”


“Okay. How about if she eats the Grandmother?”


So, even when I try to write something for kids**, it all turns out weird.

Which gets me to the point of today’s post.

I was at the annual Dickens of a Christmas festival in Franklin, TN selling books with the Middle Tennessee Author’s Circle*** when this little girl, maybe 9 or 10 years old, comes into the tent and says she likes spooky stories.

Fingers point towards me.

She gravitates instantly to my book, The Problem at Gruff Springs, a Weird Western story.

Her mother tries to push her towards another book. It has a unicorn on the cover. “Look, honey, fairy tales!”

The girl rolls her eyes and picks up my book so I go into my Spiel.

“That story is about Alan Pinkerton who is sent to look for stolen Confederate gold and finds that there are some horrible things in the mountains. Mainly cannibalistic trolls.”

The girl’s eyes widen. “Cannibal trolls! This is the one for me!”

The girl’s mother looked at me with even wider eyes.

“There is no sex or cursing however there is violence and, well, cannibal trolls.”

“This one. I want this one!”

And the mom paid and the kid went home with my book.****


*It’s an Appalachian folk tale. Look it up.

**Even though I think kids like weird and morbid stuff.

*** Truth be told, I was TRYING to sell books. Mainly what I did was stand there, feeling like a freak on display. “Oh, look. So, that’s a Writer, in the wild? How odd.”

****And I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to remember if there were any curse words. I did remember there is a scene with the troll queens pendulous breasts swaying about. Jesus. I’m going to hell.

The one about 6th grade and Afternoon Delight

I don’t particularly like listening to DJ led radio stations. They tend to be snarky 20-30 year olds trying desperately to seem relevant. On this morning, it was cold, so I stayed in my heated car while waiting for the bus. On the radio were some ZooCrewHeyWeAreHavingTheFunNow bunch of bozos talking about dirty songs that never actually say anything dirty. They focused mainly on songs from the 70’s; for some reason, the songs of that decade were a bit more subtle than today’s “I lick balls” lyrics*”.

I tuned out most of what they were saying until the song, “Afternoon Delight” was mentioned.

And the memory floodgates opened.

The year was 1977. I was 11 years old, enjoying my last year of being a kid before puberty jumped on my back and rode me like its bitch**.

My teacher that year was Mrs. Tarkington. I loved that woman. She seemed to innately understand hyperactive, wildly imaginative, fantasy prone Little Nik and channeled those energies into creative venues that kept me out of detention***.

I’ve always been what some people call “obsessive”; I prefer to call it “hyperfocused”. When I have an interest in something, it’s dive bomb into the deep end, baby! Back then, I think my interests were UFOS, Bigfoot, and the TV show, Man from Atlantis, where Patrick Duffy spent 95% of his time wet and in swimming trunks*.

Mrs. Tarkington let me run with my specialized learning programs. I created a club called The Monster Hunters and we submitted a cryptozoology exhibit to the science fair and she allowed me to put on a play called Hunting Bigfoot. Trent Ridley wore a parka and we hunted him by tracking him down thru his footprints cut out of construction paper. The play ended with me and two other kids dissecting Trent/Bigfoot and throwing construction paper organs over a bedsheet.

The woman, to put it bluntly, was a freaking saint.

How does this all relate to some softcore pop porn?


So, it is late in the school year and Mrs. Tarkington let us have a party. We all brought snacks and our own personal 45s* to play on the record player*.  It was the usual fare. Bay City Rollers screaming about Saturday Night. Barry Manilow droning on about Mandy.

And then there was “Afternoon Delight”. ****

After a few verses into the song, she had the weirdest look on her face.

She pulled the needle off the vinyl and said, “What do you all think this song is about?”

I had no idea. For me, the appeal of the song was its fun, swinging, easy to dance to rhythm.

I raised my hand and said, “Maybe something you like to do in the afternoon?”

A very tight grin crossed her face. I recognize that look now;she was holding in a laugh with every muscle of her face. “Oh. You think so?”

“You know,” I continued with all innocence. “Like eating ice cream?”

That’s all she could stand. She was laughing so hard, she could barely put the needle back on the record.

I remained completely unphased and completely convinced that the song was about eating a contraband bowl of ice cream before dinner.

Hand to God. This is all true.

*Google it.

**That was the year they made the boys go outside and stand by a fence while the school nurse told us what to do if we started our periods. We were to raise our hands, go to the office and ask for a “pad”. I swear, I thought the “pad” was to write on. Which made me even more anxious because I didn’t know what they wanted me to write! Was I going to be punished?  No fricking clue.

*** And off medication. I would’ve never made it out of childhood now.

**** For those of you unfamiliar with this 70’s classic, here are the lyrics.

Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight

Gonna grab some afternoon delight

My motto’s always been “when it’s right, it’s right”

Why wait until the middle of a cold, dark night?

When everything’s a little clearer in the light of day

And we know the night is always gonna be here any way


Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up my appetite

Looking forward to a little afternoon delight

Rubbin’ sticks and stones together, make the sparks ignite

And the thought of lovin’ you is getting so exciting


Sky rockets in flight

Afternoon delight

Afternoon delight

Afternoon delight

[Verse 2]

Started out this morning feeling so polite

I always thought a fish could not be caught who didn’t bite

But you’ve got some bait a waitin’ and I think I might

Like having a little afternoon delight


Sky rockets in flight

Afternoon delight

Afternoon delight

Afternoon delight


Please be waiting for me baby when I come around

We could make a lot of lovin’ ‘fore the sun goin’ down


Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up a’ appetite

Lookin’ forward to a little afternoon delight

Rubbin’ sticks and stones together make the sparks ignite

And the thought of lovin’ you is getting so exciting


Sky rockets in flight

Afternoon delight

Afternoon delight

Afternoon delight

The one where Grammar saved the day.

November 24, 2019

Yesterday, I spent my Saturday doing all the Responsible Adult things. Laundry. Housework (a bit more deep cleaning than usual with Thanksgiving looming next week). Groceries. Paying Bills. ALL THE THINGS!

By the end of the day, I told myself that I would spend Sunday doing Creative Things. My mind flew in all sort of directions about all the THINGS I would get done. I went to bed feeling hopeful and excited.

And then the day came.


I stared blankly at my List Of Things To Do and felt my guts tighten.

I started it with some baking. Blueberry bread. Hey, it’s still creating.

I fiddled with my printer which for some reason no longer wants to do its ONE DAMN JOB.

After giving up, I pushed the traitorous printer aside and sat down at my desk.

After taking a deep breath, I decided to do something easy. Let’s get those wheels turning by doing some journaling. It’s spreading ink on the page. That counts, right?

I love journaling. It’s a way to talk out problems and finding answers. Sometimes, it is like your subconscious can find a way to talk back to you. There is something magical about it.

I started writing about my latest battle with Imposter Syndrome. How I haven’t written anything since October 1.  And the panic I’m feeling because in a week, I’m supposed to talk to a writers’ group about my adventures of being a writer. HA! Who am I to tell anyone about BEING a writer?

And that’s when my subconscious chimed up, “Ah, there’s the problem, isn’t it, Love? That adverb. BEING. That’s a passive a To Be verb. And WRITER? That’s a noun. Nouns are active so snip that down to WRITE. Not Writer; nouns aren’t active. They just sit there. You need to clip that and just use the active verb. WRITE. Just write something. Anything. Don’t worry about it being good or if anyone will like it. Just grab that Silver Flame and mold it into something NEW. ACTIVE. Get moving.

And that’s what I did.

Here it is.

I don’t know if any of this is good or is just another post about me whining, but I did it. At least it is a start.

The one where I start rambling and finally pull my head out of my ass.

My last story was finished on October 1, 2019. It’s called Brother Marvel’s Old Time Revival.

*Shameless plug*

And, until today, when I sat down at this cold keyboard, I haven’t written anything since.

It’s not because I don’t have ideas. I have a whiteboard looming over me with a list of projects. Looking up at it, I can hear it whispering, “For chrissakes, just write one sentence, a paragraph, anything! Get those wheels rolling!”

Here’s the rub: There is a part of me that desperately wants to stop. To never write another word, sink into mediocrity and just stay still.

Perhaps it is because I am too content.

I have a job that pays my bills with a very small spillover that allows me to buy books and pay for my Pilates addiction. Thank the Muses I don’t have to live on my royalty checks. The last I received from Kindle wouldn’t pay me a cup of coffee.

I made the rounds at a few book fairs this year and was grateful to make my table money back. However, if you really wanted to be anal about it, if you consider the overhead involved in putting on those shows, I am drowning in the red.

At this moment, my writing career is a classic case of diminished returns.

If there is no monetary incentives, why keep at it? Or, considering the lack of writing I’ve done lately, why do I even worry about jumping back on that horse?

Why am I even wasting my time bitching about it?

Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how much money you made or how many times you were published. In the end, IT DOES NOT MATTER.

What does matter is answering this question truthfully:


If you answered, no then STOP. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just STOP, get off the horse, dust yourself off and find something else.

Now I don’t have some rose colored perception about the writing life. I don’t expect it to be a mile a minute, raucous adventure zone cavalcade of fun fun times. It’s hard. Soul sucking, frustrating and depressingly hard work with sometimes little to no rewards (see the royalty statement paragraph above). Your work will more than likely never be read, be forgotten or, God forbid, your work will stay unfinished and molder in gut like a tumor.

So, if you’re not having fun. If even on your best days when the story is flowing like lava from your fingertips and the Word Genie is throwing a rave inside your head and you aren’t having fun, then stop.

Stop and find something else. Because, dammit, there’s no reason to clamp your knees around this bucking horse if you can do anything else.

And that’s it, isn’t it? Can you do anything else?

If I were to quit right now, go to school, and become something professional, profitable and respectable, the entire time I would be thinking “How could I turn this into a story?”

It’s how my brain works. I think in metaphor. I search for stories. I look for connections in unlikely things. I think sideways. Like Janus, I see both sides of the door.

I guess, maybe, I’m a little nuts. Perhaps, too organized a thinker to be diagnosed as schizophrenic but, in a way, I think all creatives are a little cuckoo for coco puffs.

Maybe that’s why I’ll keep on writing.

Not for money. Not for some kind of fickle fame. I’ll do it because it’s what I am, what I do and how I keep sane.

So, with that in mind, let me give my apologies. In a few years when my corpse is laid out on the cooling board in the morgue, I apologize to the poor soul who somehow ends up with my boxes of unfinished manuscripts, unpublished dreams, indecipherable journals and files named ‘future story fodder’.

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. It’s just how I was made.

But, until that, hopefully, far away day, you’ll need to excuse me. I’ve got some new stories to tell.

Y’all I think I figured it out.

I was eating lunch when a news article I read suddenly popped into my head.


And, I started thinking about it and, ya know…it would but how do we as a culture de-stigmatize the idea of eating people for food?

“Well,” I answered myself. “What if we had a very select people and isolated them, kept them well fed, healthy and completely ignorant that they are not so much a country but a herd. And when they are ready to be culled, we just take a few.

“Think about it. We could push diets on certain selections of the population in order to make them taste a certain way. Some meats could be leaner, some fatter. Some more seasoned and some less so. We could even have some conform to an idea that they won’t take certain medications so that they could be our “free range” or “organic” crop.”

And then it hit me. Oh, shit. What if it is already being done? And it’s AMERICA that is the cannibal food herd?

Think about it. All the diet crazes. We have some parts of society who are absolutely fitness crazy and others who are slobs to the point of being stupid. Some who are healthy, vaccinated and full of preservatives and a bunch of those who are unvaccinated.

“But how would they know when we are ready to be culled?”

That’s where Fit Bits come into play. And what about those “biometric” exams we have to take to keep our insurance. Our phones taking count of each footstep and calorie you’ve burned. All of it just another way to keep track of the herd

It all makes sense.

Excuse me but I’m going to unplug before the Farmers find out I’ve figured it out.

So, I joined the pack…

I joined up with Patreon. I’ve got some pretty cool tiers and my first goal is to get enough revenue to make Dinosaur Cubicle Fun Time into a book. Just in time for Christmas Office Parties!

Oh, how I keep myself sane at the dayjob.

If you’d like to help me out, I’d appreciate it it.


I’ve some cool tiers with fun prizes. Check it out.

I was 11, when I saw my first UFO

I just finished watching the documentary, Curse of the Man Who Sees UFOS and all I can say is, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

I was around 11 when I first started seeing UFOS.

We had just moved into a shitty shoebox of a house, 800 square feet, no air conditioning, wall heaters that were likely to burn the house down than keep us warm. That winter, we slept in our clothes, wrapped inside sleeping bag, under bedcovers. We kept a plastic cup on by the tub to scoop up cockroaches as they floated up from beneath the bathmat when we took baths. I remember killing a rat the size of a small cat in the kitchen. Our neighbors were a religious family. The oldest brother and sister used to sneak inside the tent my sister and I had in the backyard and make out in it. Further down the road, there were addicts and sex workers. Fights and gunshots were common.

And that was just the chaos outside.

Inside, my family was starting down a very dark road. Mom and Dad started using pot and drinking heavily. They were bankrupt, I later learned. Working 40 hours a week but making barely enough to cover costs of living. There were lots of Hamburger Helper dinners and mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch. Poverty is like cancer, make no doubts about that. It’ll destroy everything.

And then there was me, on the brink of puberty. In the midst of a biological chaos of my own. I started my period, got breasts, all while my parents were smoking pot and fucking in the front room and I tried my best to keep my little sister from watching it.

I was a very lonely kid. Anxious, nervous, constant stomachaches.

And that’s when I started seeing the lights in the skies.

I stole money (that’s another story for another time) and used the stash of quarters to buy UFO magazines from Tradewinds, a convenience store/fish and bait shop down the road. I loved those pulpy pieces of trash. I didn’t just read them. I devoured them. They were my Bible. Back then, I still had a child’s belief that books were sacred. If it were printed, that made it true.

And, God, did I need it to be true.

The Space Brothers. That’s what I called them. They were just lights in the skies. Just lights. I never saw metallic ships or anything like that. Just lights. I remember watching them zig zag across the night sky like Junebugs on a string. I remember once, telling everyone to start acting crazy to see what it would do. The light actually stopped, as if confused to our antics and when I pointed and shouted, “LOOK!” it zoomed away.

Oh, yeah. It wasn’t just me. My sister and my cousin who stayed with us sometimes also saw them. Or at least, they said they did. I don’t know if they remember it the same way. More than likely, they saw them because I saw them.

Then, they bled over to other parts of my life. I started seeing the lights other places.

The school district I was zoned for sucked so we lied and used a family member’s address so I could keep attending school where I had been going before the move. That also meant I had to have a babysitter and catch a bus to go to school.

Every morning, as I would climb onto the bus, I’d look over my left shoulder and look up into the sky. There was a light. It made me feel important, protected, not alone.

As time went on, I would still see the Space Brothers. Usually when I was somewhere and felt out of my element, like on a date that wasn’t going well or out with people that I didn’t really connect with, I could look up and there they’d be. A light in the sky. My own cosmic posse.

I don’t remember when I stopped seeing them. Perhaps, when I stopped needing them. Or, more likely, these invisible compadres took on other forms, other obsessions that tried to fill the lonely hole inside of me.

I don’t know.

But, what I do know is that, for the grace of God, I am not a middle aged, beer bellied, cackling, white haired man, on a documentary, screaming at the sky, looking for friends.

Writer Slut Shaming

I was at dinner with some friends last weekend in Alabama. We were all decompressing from our first day of busting our butts selling books at the Huntsville Comic con.

Bobby Nash told a story about how he was approached by a woman who went on and on about a book she had just read. She wanted to know what his influences were, what did he mean by certain passages. He had to confess to the woman that he didn’t remember the story. “I’d written that ten years ago!”

James Neathery, a leather worker and cosplayer, was aghast. “What do you mean? You don’t remember your stories?”

So, I thought I’d do this public service announcement.

*Deep breath*

Hello. My name is Nikki and when I’m done with a story, I am DONE WITH IT. After it is finally out there, published, cemented to paper, bound between covers, I rarely think another thing about it.

I go on to the next story.

I’m kind of a slut like that.

And I’m not ashamed.

2018 Obligatory recap

2018….2018….where did the time go? What did I do this year?

Chrissakes, I can barely remember what I did yesterday.

I really did get a planner. It’s a really fancy one. Leather cover and all kinds of really, really intimidating pages.

passion plannerintimidating

And I was really, really good at keeping at it until February when I got depressed and then got a dog.

OH YEAH! I got a dog. Freya, my support dog. She’s my black dog to fight the Black Dog.


I released a lot of stories this year.


Pretty proud of them I learned that my brand is Cheap, Quick and Weird.

hsirt pic
Shirts are coming soon!

I had a booth at the Southern Festival of Books which is something I can now check off my Bucket List.


A film I wrote, ANGEL BAR, won Best of Genre at the 48 Hour Film Project awards.

angel bar
Look at these beautiful people!

Brian and I got matching tattoos.

We’re THAT couple.

I got a haircut.

new hair cut
And I’m letting it gray naturally. #cronepower

The only real stain on 2018 was that I lost my friend, Richard Emerson. He was always in my corner and believed in my writing aspirations. I miss you, Richard. I hope you’re whole, happy and in peace wherever you are.

You dapper old boy!

And now onto 2019. I have so many things I want to work on. So many stories I want to tell and, hopefully, if the stars align, there will be a VERY MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT before the new year ends.

Happy New Year, y’all. Be kind and be brave.

How to kill trolls.

So, let’s get down to the heart of the matter.

I’ve been blocked lately. I need to get back to work. I want to get back to work.

When I crack open a new journal, click my pen and declare, “Okay! Let’s write a story!”, I  feel deep inside me a great exhalation, as if this inner, bored muse is saying, “Yes! Finally!”and is so grateful that I’m finally getting back on track.

And that’s good, right?

But then there is another, thicker voice that lazily counters, “Ugh….. but why? Which story is worth the effort? Sure, you’ve got ideas. Kudos but, face it, you know it’s not going to go anywhere. Have you checked your Amazon numbers lately? When was the last time you received a royalty check? All that time invested in something and for what? What’s the term? Diminished returns. That’s it. Think about it. All the time and energy you put into it and what do you get back? Isn’t it more fun to pour a drink, kick back and watch Netflix? Hey, there are lots of shows you need to catch up on. OH! and your DVR. All that stuff you’ve been socking away to watch later. And podcasts. Have you checked your podcasts lately? Anything new? Or all those library books you still have checked out. Maybe you should read them. You really should do more reading. And researching it. Have you done enough research lately? You need to see what is hot on the market. What is selling. You should write that. But, first you need to do research. Not that it really matters. Face it. . Past your prime. You don’t connect to the people anymore. What do you know? What can you actually say? You had potential but wasted it chasing invisible ink dreams. You’re too old. Seriously, have you looked at yourself lately? You should go to the gym. That’s a good idea. Go to the gym. Doesn’t exercise revive brain stuff? Or is that alcohol. Yeah. Have a drink. All writers drink. It’ll loosen you up so you can do more research or read or something. But, first a snack. And a drink.”

All the drinks

You get the picture.

So, how to fight the shadow troll inside my head that echoes every vile doubt that I’ve ever heard from others or, worst of all, conjured up myself?

Remember that first voice? The one that sighed, happily, FINALLY!

I focus on her.

And I remember the flush of excitement when the words are rushing through me.

When the story takes on its own life and I feel like a passenger, a scribe, clacking on my keyboard, just a witness to it all.

And then that finishing stroke. When the story is done and I know it’s done. That ending crescendo that leaves a lingering note of music on the page.

I remember the times someone had told me that my story brightened up their day, gave them a life or just took them on an adventure.

Because when I take my ego out of the equation (and it is my ego that is focused on the bottom line rather than the finishing one), magick can flow through when I left myself open and be a conduit for story.

That’s when I know I’m ok. I’m not a waste. I’m doing EXACTLY what I’m supposed to be doing and if the story sinks to the bottom, never makes a goddamn dime, and is only read by a handful of people, that’s is ok.

Perhaps they were the only ones meant to read it in the first place.


Hope is a bitch

There’s been a lot of changes in my life recently.

Not so much changes in my life but in the lives around me. Coworkers I’ve been sharing the misery  at the day job  for the past 15 years retiring, friends moving away, and all the usual stuff that makes one start thinking about where they are and if they want to still be in that place during the next solar cycle.

So I decided to do something and look around for a new gig. I wanted something more in tune with me and what I wanted for my future.

And I thought I had found it. It was small publishing house in Nashville. NOT RELIGIOUS, which is a miracle (no pun intended) and they had posted a job that I would be perfect for so I joined up on this online job site, filled out a freaking resume and sent it off into the cyber ether.

I’m not going to lie. It felt a buzz of excitement I hadn’t felt in ages. I started fantasizing about getting the job and how great it would feel to be doing something I love and making new, interesting friends and how my world would just blossom and everything would just start coming up Nik.

Calm down, Mary. It’s just a hat.

The next day, I waited for an email. It was the caffeine that kept my hopes up. I kept replaying the fantasy, over and over again. Getting a new cool job. Quitting this shitshow. Oh, man, I was gonna love quitting.


But the email never came. What I did get was a fuckton of spam phonecalls.


And the job?

Yeah. Suddenly, that job wasn’t on the website.

But the spam? That shit kept on coming.


So, I got got. Just another victim of Hope laid out by the Internet.

Meh. C’est la guerre.

My day job is soul sucking, lonely and has absolutely no future but, what the fuck. It pays the bills.

There’s always the Great American Novel dream, right?




Magical Life versus Real Life

Damien Echols came to town to push his new book, High Magick.


For anyone not familiar with Damien Echols, here is the backstory in a quick pinch: in 1994, he was sentenced to death for the satanic ritual murder of three 8 year old boys. The evidence used to convict him was his reading habits (Stephen King), the weird obsession of Jerry Driver, the local juvenile officer who was convinced that Echols was the kingpin of a Satanic cult, and the confession (multiple ones since he kept changing his story) of a teenage gas huffer who had the IQ of a child.

He and two other young men who were also convicted but given life sentences were finally allowed to leave prison in 2011 if they all agreed to an Alford plea which said that although they still professed innocence, the State had evidence that could convict so…..yay? Basically, it was a way the state of Arkansas could say, “My bad.” without really shouldering any blame.

All in all, it was a travesty and the more I read about it, I end up gnashing my teeth and wanting to renounce humanity to the dumpster.

Seriously. How fucking stupid?

Worst of all, the murderer(s) of those little boys went scott free. Even if the motherfucker popped up today and said, “Hey! I did it! Yep, it was me!”, Arkansas couldn’t touch him or her because of the Alford plea deal.

It just ….oooooh….my head spins.

Anyway, back to what I wanted to talk about.

So, Damien Echols came to town to push his book, High Magick, A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Saved My Life on Death Row. He is a professed ritualistic magician and, I can tell you after listening to him speak, he is utterly void of bullshit. Whether or not you believe in Magick, he does. Wholeheartedly. And, most importantly, he truly believes it can help you as much as it helped him.

I’m not a newcomer to the idea of Magick. I’ve done a few Sabbats and spellworkings. I don’t think I’m bragging when  say that I can throw a mean Tarot spread.

But I have to admit, my head spun when Echols claimed that he spends 7-8 hours a day meditating and doing Magick.

7-8 HOURS. A day?


Riddle me this, Batman: Who cleans your toilets? Who buys your groceries, sweeps the floor, walks the dog, work a day shift and come home to make dinner?

I don’t want to sound like Martha giving Jesus a hard time about not helping out with the housework but, damn!

Seriously, J.C., a little help here???

How do you take care of the nuts and bolts of earthly existence when you spent 1/3 of it converting with the Machine Elves that run the Universe?

Do magicians have a staff?

Because, I can tell you all this right now, THIS witch does her own damn shit.

Or maybe I should get those freaking elves to lend a hand.

Am I afraid?

Today, I was asked a very odd question.

“Are you ever afraid about writing horror stories since you live in the Bible Belt? Are you afraid of what people might think about you?”

I answered, “Hmmm, no. Although I have been called out as a witch many, many times, I’m not afraid. What I am amazed by is how many of these very same people will come to me privately and ask me to hex people. They never want me to heal or bless. I think that says more about them than me.”



Bad Butterfly

At my last physical, my doctor called me his most boring patient because, other than hypertension and cholesterol, I was healthy for a 53 year old.

A week later, I get a chirpy little message from someone in the doctor’s office, “Hey, your blood tests say you have hypothyroidism. You need to come in and see about treatment. Okay, bye!”

Well, hell.

So, a little backstory: 8 years ago, I was really, really sick. My heart was beating like a hummingbird. I couldn’t sleep. My bones felt like they were vibrating inside my skin. I just felt crazy. After a week or two of testing, turns out I had hashitoxicosis. In a nutshell, my body was attacking my thyroid and it was fighting back. In doing so, it was shooting out T-3 and T-4 hormones like a Gatling gun and causing me to become hyperthyroid.

I was put on beta blockers and a few months and blood tests later, I was deemed Thyroid Healthy.

But I wasn’t. Not really. The damage had been done.

The trauma from that past sickness had taken its toll and now it wasn’t playing the game anymore. Give it props; it had chugged along on three cylinders for 8 years before throwing up the white flag.

And looking back, it makes a lot of sense. The depression, crushing fatigue and weight gain that I’d been blaming on menopause or faulty brain wiring was really caused by a fucked up thyroid.

Artist rendition of Bad Butterfly bogarting all the good stuff. Bitch.

What does that mean for me?

A lifetime of synthetic hormones to replace the ones my Bad Butterfly refuses to give up.

So, I’m going to use this space not only as a soapbox to shill out my books but also as a place to plot my journey dealing with this new turn in my life.

Maybe I can shed some light into someone else’s life.

To be continued.



Big post coming but until then, here’s this one.

The last few days have been exhausting. Traveling, shooting a film, heat, bug bites, fear, stress….all the fun stuff.

I’ll write it all up soon. Trust me.

Until then, here’s how today went:

  1. Got roughly 4 hours of sleep
  2. Woke up coughing and not feeling so good
  3. Go to dayjob.
  4. Come home from dayjob because I think I’m coming down with the Mongolian Death Flu.
  5. Take a shit, stand up, wipe, toss paper in toilet and see a small frog with huge battle weary eyes looking up at me.
  6. “What the fuck, my dude?” I imagine Toilet Frog to croak out.
  7. Not wanting to flush, I reach into the toiler (eww) and the frog hyperspeed leaps out, Jet Li bounces all over the place and then disappears.


TL;DR summary

Somewhere in my house there is a frog with PTSD looking for revenge.

I was a weird kid

Recently a friend on Facebook posted a challenge: Name something dumb you believed as a kid.

Oh, gurl. Let’s start with Kindergarten.

  • I was asked to play an Indian in the Thanksgiving Day play. I freaked out because I thought that feathers grew out of Indian’s heads and, ergo, I would have to grow feathers out of my head. I became so hysterical about the idea of growing feathers out of my head that  my mother had to take me out of Kindergarten. Yeah. I was a Kindergarten drop out. Something my mother never let me forget.


  • I also thought that when a person died on television, they used terminally ill patients so they could have a shot at stardom or people on death row as part of their sentence.


  • I was told that if you sang at the dinner table, Satan would drag you down to Hell. This idea plagued me. I worried what would happen if I accidentally started humming a tune at the table? Did that count? I could envision the linoleum of the kitchen floor bubbling from the heat as the hellfire cracked through, opening a hole so that Satan could drag me down to Hell. Someone also told me that if you heard someone calling your name three times, and if you answered it, Satan would drag you down to Hell.

Satan turned out not to be the great threat I imagined he’d be.


  • I believed that bats turned into people. I had seen it in an old black and white movie and that made it real as far as I cared. I was 7 and tried to check out a book from the school library about bats to further research the phenomenon. The librarian said the book was too hard for me and challenged me to read it. I did and that got me slapped in gifted classes and my road to Nerdom was solidified.


  •  When I was 9,  a babysitter told me that according to Ancient Tennessee Law, if you found a horse in the field and it had no saddle, you could take it home. Well, we happened to live in a stone cottage that was surrounded by fields. And, I knew where there was a horse. My cousin, Mandy and I went out today, put a rope around the horse’s neck and took it home.  My mom and aunt came home from a beer run to find a horse in the garage. I remember her screaming, “THEY HANG HORSE THIEVES, NIKKI!”

She made me take the horse back, Ancient Tennessee Laws not withstanding.


  • My grandmother, a backwoods country woman so don’t judge her too harshly, once told me that if you took a sponge, you could “wash the color off a black person and they’d be snowy white underneath” because it was the ‘mark of Cain’. As a kid, that idea fascinated me. I desperately wanted to sneak into a funeral home and test it. Ya know. For science.


  • As I got older, I was a diehard believer in all things weird. UFOs. Aliens. Loch Ness Monster. Ghosts. Bigfoot.

Ah, Bigfoot.

When I was in elementary school, I started up a Monster Hunters Club. We entered   a Cryptozoology exhibit in the yearly science fair. We won an Honorable Mention. My teacher, Mrs. Tarkington, even allowed the club to perform a play where Trent Ridley put on a furry parka, we hunted him down and then autopsied him, throwing guts and bones into the classroom.

Mrs. Tarkington retired after that year.





I don’t know if I should post this.

I don’t know if I’ll post this.

But I still need to write it.

I was invited to be on an author panel to discuss beta readers/critique groups and how they benefit writers.

A rather dry topic to anyone outside the craft but, hey, I thought I could contribute a little something.

Oh boy.

I soon found myself drowning in things like Google Forms, Google Drives, Google Docs, Excel Plotting Sheets, Newsletters and newsletters within newsletters, Project Management Tools, Questionnaires, Beta reader pools alongside ARC groups, and two things, Storyorigins and Trello, that I have yet to look up.

Luckily, I have the superpower of Lying My Ass off (my therapist called it sublimation), so I just nodded and agreed to the benefits of everything. Yeah, sure. Yeah. Definitely.

Inside, it was like being in high school geometry where the teacher was explaining the mysteries of the cosmos via triangles and polygons. The entire class nodding and obviously drinking this in like mother’s milk while my eyes crossed and my brain imploded.

What. The. Ever. Loving. Fuck.

Where do these people find the time to even have the time to plan out their days?

One author said she would outline the entire novel with synopsis and plot points and send it off to her critique partners with the challenge to break the idea BEFORE EVEN WRITING IT.*

I spent two hours last night researching the history of poor farms in the 1800s before ditching the whole idea.

And newsletters. The idea of subjecting myself to littering people’s emails makes my stomach hurt.

And joining online writing groups, newsletter swapping sites…streetcrowding or some such fuck…..oh gawd….I just can’t.

One author said she had presold 500 copies of her book. PRESOLD. Fuck me. I got excited when I saw that one of my books sold 6 copies on Amazon.

Suffice it to say, my Imposter Syndrome came on strong. REAL STRONG.**

And I can’t be the only one who wonders am I cut out for this? I just want to write fun stories.


I guess it all comes down to what you define as success.

If I want to be the next Brandon Sanderson and make quadrabillion $$$, have a fan base that obviously bleeds into other dimensional realms, well, that’s going to mean a big lifestyle change.

If all I want to do is write some cool stories that find themselves magically into a few dozen hands, well, sweetie, that’s the track you’re on.

Still….a newsletter might be a good idea.***

*Frankly, that sounds brilliant. I might steal that idea if I could ever get the squirrels in my brain to outline something that intensively.

** A bit of retail therapy and Lindor chocolate truffles fixed that up.


My Morning Adventure

It started with a smell.

I check the kitty litter box. Oh yeah. Someone, a dog I suspect (because if it was a cat….man, would we know it) had pissed on the Puppy Training Pad we keep next to the box for just such occasions. However, today being a SPECIAL DAY*, the pisser had aimed for the edge so the urine was half on the absorbent pad and mostly on the very non absorbent linoleum.

I get on my knees, start cleaning up the mess and instantly regretted the decision when upon standing I find that both knees are drenched in piss.

Sweeping up the disaster, clumps of litter and grossness gets caught up in the bristles. Now that needs to be hosed off.

Here is now my updated chore List:

*Dispose of litter

*Sweep and swiffer the offending floor

*Put down new Puppy Pad

*Take the broom outside and hose it down

I grab the bag of shit, the pisspad and the funked up broom and dustpan. I dispose of poobag, put the broom on the porch and then gather up the utensils to swiffer the floor clean.

After taking care of the bathroom floor and getting that mess sorted out, I grabbed the broom, opened the porch door…..and Jack** entered into the fray as he took this moment to bolt out to freedom.

FUCK! I tossed the broom into the yard and ran after him.

He darted under the shed, his usual first hiding place. However, I have been tossing potatoes out there for the rabbits that live under the shed so I had projectile weapons to hurl at him.

He looked at me like, “ARE YOU THROWING TATERS AT ME? STAHP!”

Then Jack ran out from under the shed and toward the bird feeders. SHIT SHIT SHIT….too close to the gate! He could get out. I run, cursing and shouting. Jack flattened himself to the ground and then bolted towards the porch but the door was closed so he turned and ran towards the back fence.

The back fence closest to the clump of trees and bushes outside the border of the yard. If he gets out there, we’ll never find him.

FUCK! I curse and start running with my arms and legs flapping like Phoebe from friends.

Jack flattens himself to the ground, looks at me like I’m a monster*** and then darts back to the house. Brenna opens the porch door and he races inside, probably looking for his Da to protect him from the crazy bitch outside.

FINALLY, I go wash off the broom and find a massively dead mole.

Now I need to take a picture of it because my sister is having an apocalyptic war with the moles in her yard.

Seriously dead

I go inside, mud and grass trailing in my wake, find my phone, go back outside, take a pic and send it off.

THEN I wash off the broom and leave it to dry in the sun.

Back inside to change clothes that are now covered in mud and wet from piss.

My daughter sees me and asks, “Are you taking the day off? Why aren’t you at work?”

And this all started with a smell….

*Checking the calendar I learn that today is Friday the fucking 13th. So, obviously.

** Jack is a cat. Just in case you might be under the delusion that we have a person named Jack trapped in our house desperately looking for help. Please don’t call the police.

*** Because I am.