We’re a watercolor picture painted in July.
And the colors run too close where I love you most, and I think maybe it’s because I left us out in the rain. 


Because you always forget your umbrella.
And I like to carry mine upside down.

—  A scribbler // It’s Raining in July
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By The Paris Review

Two great reviews. One low price.

It’s been a while. I’ve been doing some reading though: 

Find Me by Laura van den Berg - (Publisher Summary: Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune.) 

This book is split into two parts: Book 1 and Book 2. I was optimistic (excited, even) during Book 1. It was a well-written, inventive take on the dystopian novel, and I enjoyed the intrigue of Joy’s stay in a mysterious hospital for those immune to the virus killing off nearly everyone on the outside. There was suspense, tenderness, and good characterization–all of which completely goes to shit in Book 2. It was like I turned the page into another book entirely. It becomes dream-like and bizarre, with the momentum established earlier all but disappearing. I don’t know which is worse: a book going bad from the start or starting off great and spiraling downwards halfway through. I think the latter, because I was really annoyed by the time I finished reading this. 

Disclaimer by Renee Knight - (Publisher Summary: Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day she became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.) 

So far, this summer has been one big hunt for the perfect escapist fiction book and I had high hopes for this. How creepy would it be to find a book on your nightstand that is barely disguising your biggest secret? Very, or so I thought, but Disclaimer couldn’t maintain the kind of suspense I was looking for. It’s a entertaining, quick read, though, and better than some of the other books I’ve read in this genre in the past few months. 

Housebreaking by Dan Pope - (Publisher Summary: In this gripping, gorgeous literary drama, two suburban families are hopelessly entangled during an explosive Thanksgiving weekend that changes their lives forever.) 

This book–definitely in the “families-falling-apart” category–is dark and dramatic, and maybe a little cliched too, but Pope’s writing is what I really enjoyed about it. The book changes perspectives several times and each new point of view feels authentic and tragic and realistic. It’s rare that books can capture the suspense and angst that is so real for families going through private drama. 

Finders Keepers by Stephen King - (Publisher Summary: “Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.) 

Finders Keepers is an indirect sequel of Mr. Mercedes (borrowing setting and characters). It’s something that gave me pause because I didn’t love Mr. Mercedes and I wasn’t overly attached to the characters or the plot. (Review here.) Luckily, Finders Keepers is a superior book in all possible ways: the characters are stronger and more vivid here, the plot is creative, and I was genuinely invested in the story through the end. 

Playground by Jennifer Saginor - (Publisher Summary: Welcome to the world of Playground, the true story of a young girl who grew up inside the Playboy Mansion. By the time she was fourteen, she’d done countless drugs, had a secret affair with Hef’s girlfriend, and was already losing her grip on reality.) 

I owe reading this entirely to Selena, who told me it was the trashiest book of the summer (in a good way) and it was. IT REALLY WAS. I finished it and thought that there was no way half of the stuff in the book could have happened, but then I went down the rabbit hole of Jennifer Saginor’s website (pictures!) and news articles (Playboy tried to squash the book!). More of these this summer, please. Trash books all day long. 

Paris, He Said by Catherine Sneed - (Publisher Summary: Jayne Marks is questioning the choices she has made in the years since college and is struggling to pay her bills in Manhattan when she is given the opportunity to move to Paris with her wealthy lover and benefactor, Laurent Moller, who owns and operates two art galleries, one in New York, the other in Paris.) 

The Paris-based self-discovery book is a well-trod road and it’s hard to find writers saying anything new about it. Drinking game: sip when the protagonist sits at a cafe by herself and feels renewed. I’m not as cynical as I sound–really–and that’s mostly because sitting at a cafe by myself in Paris sounds absolutely delightful. So I get it. Anyway, this book surprised me in ways good and bad. It was deeper and darker than I anticipated, with interesting reflections on relationships, family, and human connections. The main character Jayne is believably flawed: she’s insecure and confused in ways that might reach parts of all of us.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - (Publisher Summary: As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.) 

It’s not a super awesome sign when you keep asking yourself “what the fuck I am reading” in the middle of a book. I get what Knoll was trying to do here and I can appreciate that she thought she was being suspenseful, but I found the big plot twist to be in poor taste (there I thought: too soon, girl, too soon). If the rest of the story had not been so tongue-in-cheek, that moment would have made more sense and not felt exploitative. Oh, also: The main character is an idiot. The book does give backstory that explains some of her adult behavior, but it still wasn’t enough to make me care about her. 

The Pill

Once you take the Pill, the cracks seem to heal themselves: at least that’s what they say. Everyday we pop them and then grey fringes of the world get pushed out and filled in with the color we lost during the night.

Without the Pill, every day is disjointed. Each moment seems to skip to the next like how a shoddy record player dropped one too many times plays music; wonderful when experienced between the skips but infuriating when trying to appreciate the song as a whole.

It really takes the edge off too. Before they started distributing the Pill, morning executions really put me in a tizzy and made my day ever so stressful with each pull of the trigger. Now, I can stand them without my stomach doing a single somersault. What ever would I have done without the Pill?

Random house checks, forced strip searches, and mandatory indoctrinations all blur together into one big happy evening. I do believe that without the Pill, these would have made me terribly ill and uncooperative with the authorities. I have been told that this would indeed be bad for me.

Thank God for the Pill.

Speaking of which, you’re looking a little grey around the edges yourself. Have you had your Pill today?


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An Updated List of Published Works

The Machine God, P’an Ku Magazine (2010) - Winner of the 2010 Broward College Creative Writing Award

Ghosts in Earthly Colors, Coastlines Magazine (2011) - Winner of the 2011 Aisling Award

On James’ third day at the hospital in Saigon, every canvass chair in his ward is found stacked into a single, tall ziggurat. The nurses circle around it, running their index fingers down the moist fabric, before separating to scold the patients, followed by a whorled cloud of Maybelline face powder and insect repellent. 

Five Houses on the Shore, Innsmouth Free Press (Issue 9 2012)

The fish arrived at midnight.

Abigail heard them before she saw them: the sound of wet fins beating against the soil, accompanied by a deep intestinal groan. Her horse reared back with a whine and Abigail struggled to keep her muscles from tensing.

Breakwater in the Summer Dark, Boys of Summer (Bold Strokes Books 2012)

Though Cody Simmer does not believe in the monster of Oxwater Lake, he is the fifth to see it and the first to photograph it, an out-of-focus cell phone shot that shows the beast’s back breaking through a layer of summer-thick algae. This happens during his morning row with the kids from Blue Bear cabin. Afterwards they clutch each other on the lake’s bank, pink-faced and screaming, “Did you see it, Cody? Did you see it? Did you see it?”

Cruel Acts, Wolf-Girls, Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws, and Lycogyny (Hic Dragones Press 2012)

She ( Eva, Veronika has to keep reminding herself) does everything with the door open. The Germans catch her squatting on the toilet in the shared bathroom on the second floor. She scrapes the tarter off her teeth with her nails. There are thick hairs trapped against the soap.

Breakwater in the Summer Dark (reprint), Wilde Stories 2013 (Lethe Press 2013)

Harris does not return to the lake, not even to watch a group of graduate students haul the monster onto a giant blue tarp and then drag it into a U-Haul truck. In the sun, the monster has pruned and turned a speckled pink. The skies have blackened with crows and vultures, screeching and clobbering each other in mid-air, while a student waits with a long-handled broom to shoo them off the carcass when they get too close.

The Wailing Hills, Zombies: Shambling through the Ages (Prime Books, August 2013)

Margaret is thirteen when her sister dies for the fourth time. Her mother doesn’t bother to call for the settlement’s lone doctor, who has already pronounced Ruth deceased on two occasions. She burns Ruth’s death sheets in the backyard, while Margaret laments her boring and unhappy life in the darkness of the cellar, tugging at beaver pelts that hang against the wall in layers.

The Empty Birdcage, Strange Little Girls (Belladonna Publishing, 2015)

The cats disappear. All at once, like they’ve been sucked up through the chimneys. The mice sense their opportunity and seize previously lost territories. Then they are gone too, and the scratching in the walls goes silent. Lupe is the first to notice the canned food in the cupboards has vanished. Ana finds her staring at a tin of Heinz beans, gouged open and rolled to a stop against the dining room table.

The Forest in the Attic, Inaccurate Realities (Issue Six, 2015)

On his first night in the house on Whippoorwill Lane, Tsuki finds a forest hidden in his attic.

St. Baboloki’s Hymn for Lost Girls, Swords Vs. Cthulhu (Stone Skin Press, 2016)

The flowers come first, and then the monster.

The four books on top are some of the best books I’ve read this year. 

(check out my instagram account: galaxiesanddust (: )

For I am the walking
the slow plodding of feet after death
when mirrors are in the mountains
and nothing stirs in your eyes.

The birds are asleep, not dreaming,
with their feathers sleek and wet
from clouds they’ve come to worship
in their chase of the sun.

A note hums in ancient chest.
Cold and fierce it coats the nothings
in the illusions of life. Slow and silent
the grays fade into new pathways. 

And I am still walking.
Playing guess who with my shadow
as the morning turns into day.

—  Michel Lazzaro | Guess Who
Rec: Taylor the Demon Hunter

Title: Taylor the Demon Hunter
Author: Domashita Romero
Format: Short story
Published/Free: Free
Length: 4k
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Blowjobs
Link: http://s2b2.livejournal.com/184524.html
Summary: Taylor didn’t want to die a virgin and Edmund was hot. And he was British. Really, it was the unicorn’s fault.

Review: Oh, this was good. This was really good. It was short and funny and a little awkward at all the right moments. You don’t have to put a lot of brainpower into reading it, which I like. It was short and light, and in the end you just sort of smiled, because you can’t NOT smile. Taylor’s voice may annoy some people. I was on the fence about it too when I read it. Then I read on and I couldn’t help but think, he’s such a TEENAGER. It was perfect. Okay, enough gushing. Go read it! Shoo!

(Original Post)

THE ILLUMINATI BAR

While you’re busy drinking a cocktail of anteater blood and vermouth, a well-dressed businessman next to you shoves three curled, nacreous tokens towards the bartender. You recognize them from an illegal magazine that you stumbled across three months ago; these are mermaid fingernails, the official currency of the Illuminati.

“I’ll have the Albert Pike Special,”  he wheezes. “Easy on the ice.”

The bartender pulls out a glass shaped like a pair of intersecting pyramids, drops in two rocks, then fills it with one part whale oil to every three parts Southern Comfort. The mixture is rancid, but this doesn’t seem to bother its consumer, who gurgles down the sour beverage in one clean thrust of his throat. Having finished, he laughs his terrible smoker’s laugh, then coughs his terrible smoker’s cough.

“The ice here is special, you know.” He musters. “Frozen thylacine tears. Limited quantity. There’s a group of collectors up in Canada who make a fortune doing this. They hoard the tears of endangered animals in the hopes that they go extinct, then cash in when the last of its kind kicks the bucket. A lot of people investing in panda tear futures right now.”

“What about you?” The bartender asks.

“Well see,” his arthritic hands are restless. “I’m confident that one of these days, we’re going to see a black swan event. Maybe it’ll be the atom bombs, or maybe it’ll be plague, but humanity’s going down any day now. I’m freezing another batch of my own tears nightly and hoping for the best.”

http://www.northofreality.com/tales/2015/6/4/the-illuminati-bar

You Know What? No

This has been boiling up and up, gone from a simple ‘okay, that’s understandable’ to ‘wait, no; that’s not what your paperwork said’ to ‘alright, so how does it feel to be the main reason that media is so stagnant and lacking in diversity?!’

As my followers know (hell, I haven’t shut up about it for the past few years) I’m in the process of trying to find representation and, eventually, a publisher for my novel.

Of course, in this day and age, agents are flooded day in and day out by hopeful submissions and queries. However, there is one biting, glaring, bleeding fault that I have found with my communications with a vast majority of them.

Well, let’s give more background information: I’m a Nigerian-American woman who writes stories and pieces centering around LGBTQA individuals as well as the darker aspects of life that people like pushing underneath the rug for the sake of ‘not offending anyone’. As such, I have been focusing my queries towards agents who claim that they represent LGBTQA fiction (well, in reality they’ll just say ‘We represent Gay and Lesbian fiction… That counts for the whole spectrum, right?). 

So, I look to these agents and agencies… And I find myself even further limited because more than half of them have things like ‘we represent all fiction… But don’t submit anything with any inkling of science fiction, religion, politics, or slice of life, or etc’. 

So… You lot want new fiction that casts a human light on minorities… And brings attention to things and issues that aren’t usually talked about in most conventional best-sellers… But you actually don’t.

And that’s not even getting into the fiasco that will happen to you if you finally do manage to find an agent that seems like they’ll be a good match for your piece. So you fine-tune your work, make sure it’s of the highest caliber it can be. Then you go over that agent’s submission guidelines with a fine-tooth comb: you wouldn’t want to waste their time and send them something that they cab’t use, right? 

And then you finally send in that e-mail. Of course, as I said before, agents are swamped with hundreds of queries a week. It is more than understandable if they send out quite a few rejections. 

However. What I am learning to hate more than anything is if an agent, who insists upon wanting something new and fresh and is starving for clients… rejects something because it’s not more of the same that has been shoved down people’s throats ad nauseum. 

“Oh look! Something fresh and new and actually well-written! This will be perfect for me to throw away in favor of the same angst-ridden tripe about someone contracting aids after not using protection and proceeding to bemoan their lives for the next 129 pages!’

‘Oh hey! A piece that actually paints a portrait of a grown black woman finding love in her childhood friend’s arms after suffering for years underneath a loveless marriage since she didn’t know that love between two women was an option? Fuck that! We can just continue to make people think that lesbianism is only regulated to teenager high school girls who are going ‘through a phase’ since that is every single book I represent that deals with lesbians!’

‘A book that shows that a gay man can be strong and smart but still feminine?! Wha-Huh-How? What can I do with this?!’

More agents that not reject anything new and force writers to have to go into the wastelands that are various ebook stores where more than 75% of the offerings are poorly written smut fictions made to try and earn a quick 4 bucks.

And the grandiose irony is that people like these agents will join the cries of ‘Oh, where’s the diversity? All I get are the same white, straight writers day in and day out!’ 

You want to know where they are? You keep turning them away when you don’t say what you mean or mean what you say!!