Niteblade Magazine & The Newbie: A Fond Farewell


A couple of years ago I stumbled across something sharp and edgy and winsomely wicked. It was inspiring, and it sort of felt like home. It was Niteblade, a magazine devoted to horror and fantasy and sporting an encouragingly feminine…yet sinister…logo.

I’m a newbie compared to the seasoned writers comprising an astonishingly vast subculture that feels like a simmering presence once you’ve discovered the literary haunts of the internet. But newbie or no, I was compelled to submit to Niteblade. I just had to.

When my story was accepted, I gave a fan-girl squeeeee!! and then began to worry about how the editing process might work. Every editor is different. And I had no idea what Rhonda Parrish would be like.

I’d only had a couple of stories published, but for one, the editor rewrote at will, adding his own bits that only came to light when I received my contributor’s copy. It was then I also realized he’d written my bio himself, publishing my full name and the city where I lived. This led to readers tracking me down and coming to my door. A bit unsettling. I moved and got an unlisted land line.

But maybe that was par for the course, my newbie-brain thought. So, drawn by the magnetic lure of Niteblade, and yearning with every fiber of my writer’s soul to be granted a place among its contributors, I waited to see what would happen.

What transpired was courteous, professional, yet painstaking, as Rhonda led me through her editing process. It was like being steered with velvet reins. I learned a lot. I was proud of the final product. It was also the first time a story of mine had been illustrated. I promptly bought the original rendering and hung it over my workspace.

It proved inspirational, because Niteblade accepted a second story.

And soon after, Rhonda short-listed two more for inclusion in her anthology ‘Metastasis.’ The one that made the cut was shorter and tighter and more powerful than at its birth, thanks again to Rhonda’s scalpel-keen editor’s sensibilities.

I’ll miss Niteblade as it prowls off into the wings, but I’m grateful for its edgy, sharp, winsomely wicked influence on me and my writing.

And I have a feeling it might sweep back to the forefront someday, black wings spread wide to foster other newbie-writers…

So on the eve of Thanksgiving it seems appropriate to say….thank you, Niteblade…and thank you, Rhonda Parrish!


cat image from theinfinityplane.com

Just bitchin'

The ABCs of Survival



It’s a hot-button issue and everyone says to stay away from it. But I won’t. If you don’t like what you read, too bad. My blog; my right. My circus; my monkeys.

What happened in Ferguson was terrible. Heart-rending. No matter which side you fall on, when you consider a death that might have been avoided had things fallen out differently, you want to scream to the heavens and dig your nails into the dirt and shriek your throat raw. Your heart breaks for the life lost and the lives ruined.

But what I heard last night turned my rage up; turned it molten.

A Washington state politician who I can only guess was throwing her hat into the ring to further her own agenda when it comes to gathering a larger constituency, went in a direction that I just have to call out.

I wish I could find the video clip, but I can’t. So I’ll have to paraphrase.

Buffeted by the passionate crowd surrounding her, she cried out that children were dying everywhere because of police. The tragic example she provided was a twelve-year-old boy who had been shot and killed when he pulled out a toy…but genuine-looking…gun and aimed it at an officer.

“I don’t want to have to teach my children to walk around with their hands raised!” she bleated.

And that’s where the match hit the fuel and my anger went through the roof.

How about you teach your kid NOT to pull a weapon on a cop, lady?

How about you teach your kid NOT to attack or threaten anyone carrying a gun?

How about you do that right along with teaching your kid to look both ways before he crosses the street?

Or does the logic escape you?

More and more in local news there are stories about home invaders and burglars getting shot and killed when the people they’re threatening react by using deadly force. Every time I hear of one, I think ‘When are they going to get it through their thick heads that there are consequences for their actions?’ It’s risky to steal, or break and enter, or pull a gun, or confront an armed man. It could get you killed.

So, Miss Politician, please teach your children what they should do to avoid having to put their hands up in the first place.


My circus. My monkeys. My opinion.



Just bitchin'

Mischievous Marcus and The Once-and-Future King


Shortly after informing me that Catholicism was a vampiric religion (see previous blog: Mischievous Marcus and Jesus the Undead), Marcus and I met again. But this time the discussion had more to do with folkloric legend than horror.

“Christianity is a fractured religion,” he began.

“Whatever it was supposed to be, it’s been shattered starting way back with a control-freak emperor’s obsession with forcing people to switch their belief systems. And the shards have filtered down, mixing with folklore and paganism until most Christians blindly follow what they’re taught. They’re good at reacting, if challenged, but most of them don’t know and don’t question their own religion’s origins.”

Considering the multitude of sects and creeds falling under the umbrella of Christianity, I could see where Marcus was coming from, but I was sure there was more…

“The emperor Constantine took a lot of artistic license with Christianity,” he continued. “Scholars say Jesus was born anywhere from April to November, depending on whose reasoning you want to follow, but Christians celebrate His birth on December 25th. Why? ‘Cause Emperor Constantine wanted to lure people away from the festivals surrounding the Winter Solstice. So…presto! Suddenly Christ gets a new birthday that has nothing to do with reality.

“And tell me if this sounds familiar: ‘Man, born of woman, with no mortal father.’ That describes Jesus, right? Well, it’s how Merlin the magician is described, too. And Christians, who refer to Jesus as their ‘King,’ expect a Second Coming. What does that bring to mind?”

I knew what he was going to say before the words left his lips.

“It has to remind you of the legend of King Arthur; resting somewhere, hidden from the world; just waiting for the time he’ll resurrect. Both of them…Jesus and Arthur are once-and-future-kings.

“Christianity is like a shattered mirror,” Marcus concluded. “You can see partial reflections everywhere a piece falls, but you’ve all lost the bigger, original image it contained when it first started.”

His smile turned wicked. “Maybe you guys broke the mirror because you couldn’t see your own reflections anymore…

“…you know…because vampires don’t have reflections.”

And somehow, Marcus and Christianity had come full circle.


Just bitchin', poem

A Page Turns…


A tiny thing has vanished.

Like the barest tip of an iceberg, its disappearance signifies something much bigger. Something as vast as sorrow and as limitless as history.

Every year, no matter where I’ve lived, the weekend of Veteran’s Day will find an elderly gentleman sporting a military hat, or sometimes a chest of medals, sitting at a small table, handing out red, paper poppies in exchange for a small donation. Often these simple tokens are handed out for free when  their bright color catches a child’s wide, untutored eye. It’s just a pretty thing to them. They don’t yet know what it means.

But this year there is no table at the usual place. No poppies. No veteran.

When I asked about it, I was told that there were no more of the old school soldiers left to take on the task of dispensing poppies at this locale. They have all passed on.

So for those children who won’t see the poppies this year, know that they were the first flowers to grow among the graves of soldiers in a faraway place called Flanders.



In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

                     —– John McCrae, 1915