Like, I Dunno, Maybe Facebook Is Toxic?

When the news broke about Cambridge Analytica obtaining personal information on Facebook for use in a presidential campaign, I shouldn’t have been surprised. And yet.
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Story Publication: “Mold”

I am pleased to announce that my short story “Mold” will be appearing in a forthcoming anthology! Survivor, edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke, will be released by Lethe Press in Summer 2018. Pre-order the anthology here.

A big thanks to Alison McMahon, Karl Dandenell, Jocelyn Kirby, and others for their insightful input during the development of this story. It took a long journey from first draft to publication, but now the public will get a chance to read it.

Edit 2018-04-02: new release date and pre-order link added.

Jen Grew Up: Moving on from The Dark Crystal

Even the Urskeks knew when it was time to leave.
Sunday afternoon I turned on The Dark Crystal for my annual re-watch, a New Year’s tradition of mine. As I was sorting through old mail and generally cleaning house, something odd happened:

I turned it off midway through.

My feelings about this beautiful, imaginative film have evolved over the past few years. I was deeply invested in this film not too long ago. Yet after my disillusionment with the Henson Company’s prequel writing contest in 2013, I started taking a more critical look at it.

I typically don’t do this to movies. Books, including both prose and graphic novels, I can engage in with some distance, which allows me to tease apart a story more easily. Yet movies have always been visceral, and I’m usually too emotionally involved with the visuals to properly engage them.

But The Dark Crystal meant a lot to me, and I had to figure out why. The writer in me had to know whether it was the storytelling or the production design that drew me to it.

Well, here’s what I found.
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Sunk Cost Fallacy, or Why My NaNoWriMo 2017 Plans Are Up In The Air

On my hard drive sits a novel-length manuscript. I wrote the rough draft about four years ago, and subsequently revised, polished, rewrote half of it from scratch, revised and polished yet again, and let it sit while I decided where to take it.

This novel had some similarities to a very popular show on a global video streaming site. I thought I could use that show as a comparable, or comp for short. (Comps are used in pitches to editors and agents: they demonstrate that a story is enough like a successful work that it can be sold.) I would need to differentiate my work from this show, since there were some uncanny similarities, but that could be done through incremental revisions.

However, a new season of this famous show just dropped.

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“In the Eye of a Hurricane, There is Quiet”

There’s been a persistent numbness lately, as if a circuit board in my brain was shorted in a power surge and lies dead and smoldering. So, so many things have happened — are happening — are about to happen — that they cannot be processed. Like logs down a river, my feelings have caught on the banks and jammed.

After my post about Harvey, we Floridians, as well as those in the Caribbean islands, had to deal with Irma. I evacuated with a friend to Tallahassee for several days to wait out the storm, worried about family and friends who stayed behind. After two weeks of gas shortages, empty grocery stores, and awful traffic, I made it home, my apartment just as I had left it.

And then there was a family crisis.

And then we had to worry about Maria, on the heels of Irma and Jose.

And now TrumpCare is back.

I feel beyond tired. All I want to do is sleep for a week. I know that it’s compassion fatigue, that it’s probably lingering sleep deprivation, that it could be a depressive episode. 2017 hasn’t been a cake walk by any stretch, but it feels like this past month has been the worst. And there are three months left this year.

I need to stay focused. I need to be there for my family, for work, for my writer friends and for my church community. I need to be here for someone I’ve just begun to know. My stories still need me to write them.

So I’m “writing my way out,” one day at a time.

In the meantime, here are some ways you can help after hurricane Irma.. We were largely spared in Tampa, but other places weren’t, and are getting hit yet again, this time by Maria. Please give if you can.

Weathering the Storm: Environmentalism, Harvey, and Climate Change

My heart aches for Houston. The arrival of hurricane Harvey over the weekend has dumped trillions of gallons of water onto the city and much of the gulf coast of Texas, turning highways into rivers.

I’ve lived through a hurricane. I was seven when Andrew swept through Florida. My family evacuated to a motel in Fort Myers, thankfully on the other coast of the peninsula, away from the hard-hit Miami area. I was recovering from surgery. As I tried to peel off my bandages, I watched as streetlights and palm trees swayed and bent in the wind and rain.
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