My Life Has Peaked

At some point in the past few months (keeping dates ambiguous), my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. I had an absolute blast on our trip to Nashville.

That blast was in no small part due to the fact that my husband planned this trip for me. Well, he did almost all the planning; I bought the tickets because he didn’t know which tour(s) to book.

That’s right, folks: we got the VIP tour… to Andrew Jackson’s house.

The Hermitage mansion as viewed from the entry path

If you know me even passingly, you’ve probably seen my reviews of (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) 10 books about him, his cronies, his events, and his enemies on my blog (more on Goodreads, more I’ve read but not reviewed). I’ve tricked a couple of you into beta reading a literal fanfic about him. I’ve had visiting his mansion on my bucket list since high school, and now – now – my dear beloved presented me with an opportunity and trip so amazing that I LITERALLY STILL CAN’T HANDLE RETURNING TO NORMAL LIFE.

I got to walk in that house and, because I did the VIP tour, I was allowed to take pictures inside. Not only that, but I met other people who were just as die hard as myself! I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be in a group of people all jittering like lunatics for the sake of relieving their historical nerd tension.

Omg this is where he once slept:

Omg his earthly remains are under this thing somewhere:

ZOOM IN ON THE EXPLAINY BOARD – REMEMBER THAT BOOK REVIEW?! HUH!?

And, my friends, we’re not done. All of the above were events drowning in pure greatness and joy. All of the above were enough, by themselves, to make a 10th-anniversary-life-dream come true.

But then, my life peaked. Everything is downhill from here. There is literally nothing I can think of that can top this:

I ATE A SNOWCONE ON ANDREW JACKSON’S LAWN.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

Q1 2022 Life Update

Honestly y’all, I couldn’t suck more at these. I promised in January that I would do them more, and here I am: still nothing this year. Granted, my computer broke on February 9th and (thanks to how terrible warranty service is) just got fixed yesterday. Still, not a good enough excuse, really.

So much has happened, and yet here I am wondering, “What should/can/will I tell the internet world?”

I’m not good about describing trips to Costco or even vacations in Atlanta. I’m not allowed to tell you about the challenges and successes of making drugs in order to maintain confidentiality of clients/patients/etc. I feel like I can’t tell you about family drama because it’s just garbage nonsense and wouldn’t help anyone to gossip over.

I’m just going to tell you about my poor dog.

Poor Baby Hector

Like I said up above, we went to Atlanta for four days. My husband was going for a work trip, and I was going as part of my soon-to-evaporate-into-ether PTO that I ended up mostly using for work and dealing with the aforementioned family drama. Hector, the little pupper-duck, went to daycare and boarding. He’d successfully been there several times before, and he only hated the other dogs a lot.

The view outside my hotel window. There were other, bigger buildings farther away, but you can’t see through the fog in the photos.

This time though, there was a new challenge. The limit for the little dog section of boarding is 30 pounds, and even a giant Pomeranian (10 pounds) can’t handle a 30 pound poodle puppy that REALLY WANTS TO PLAY NOW. Hector got rolled, very hard, by this poodle puppy. He then begged to go back into his cage, and the keepers let him back in. They fed and watered him, but he wouldn’t come back out. They didn’t know, and probably couldn’t know since they don’t know him well, that he was injured.

In fact, the husband and I didn’t really figure it out when we picked him up. He was acting weird, and we knew he’d been weird since the poodle incident because we’d been watching the webcam, but he wasn’t acting hurt. He was acting sad, sick, and tired.

A couple days later, however, Hector flipped out at a neighborhood dog trespassing on his lawn, and that was the straw that literally broke him. The injury that had occurred at daycare finally kicked into overdrive, and we figured out what was wrong: he’d hurt his back. It’d happened before, and we should have realized this had been the issue over the webcam, but we didn’t. I also don’t blame daycare: they were very forthcoming, but no one understood what had happened.

Poor baby went to the hospital, and they put him on hard drugs for pain and ordered crate rest and more pain meds for when he got home. Does he not look like a sad, sick doggo hiding in the shoe cabinet?

So we crate rested him for three weeks, gave him his medicine, ordered him some dog ramps (still not here because I WILL HAVE WALNUT DOG RAMPS, NOT OAK, THANK YOU VERY MUCH), and took him to the vet. At the end of week three, the vet said he was good to let out for some small exercise and freedom. Day 1 we did two hours of freedom, and it was ok. Day 2 we were going to do four hours of freedom, but he injured himself by trying to jump on the couch even though he wasn’t supposed to.

I felt horrible for not being there to stop him from doing that, but poor baby went back into crate rest, medicine, and vet visits. He will not get out before his ramps arrive, I can assure you all of that, and he will not be free until he shows he can make good choices and use the ramps.

Even so, he is doing better, and I think we can get him back to health. His back will always be fragile, hence why he can’t return to doggy daycare, but we’ll try to give him the best possible care. As my mom said, getting Hector to be friendlier with other dogs was never Hector’s goal, but mine, so he’ll be fine with not going back to daycare.

Here’s to getting well, puppy!

2022

So, it’s 2022, and I guess we’re still here. Mostly.

Here’s a gif with a Pomeranian in it.

And, because of this, it’s time for everyone to start making their plans for the next year and sharing them as if it’s important. Not going to lie, I’ll join in that too because it seems fun.

Collective Fantasy

First off, Collective Fantasy: An Unsavory Anthology releases on January 3rd! I’ve got a story in this upcoming anthology, and it is dope as hell. I say this about every story I write, but I think this one may be the best I’ve ever published to date. “Come and In My Chamber Lye” is a book of witchery and laundry. Snippits incoming soon!

Amazon Link for pre-order – only paperback right now, but the indie publisher usually gets out an audiobook and Kindle version soon after.

We’re also having a “Book Signing” party on January 4th from 8 to 11 pm EST! If you’re in the Salt Lake area, the physical party is going to be at Under the Umbrella bookstore, and there’s a virtual Zoom link (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9630443174) for those who (like myself) are in other places. I’ll try to be on during the early parts, but no promises past 9:30 eastern, given my bedtime!

I’m going to try to be there, but I’m on eastern time so we’ll see how late I can stay awake!

Lastly, there’ll be another story in an anthology coming up in the next few months… I’m super excited to tell you all about that one, too, but it’s still a bit of a secret. Shhh…

Books To Read Lists

Last year (and every year before that), I made a list of books that I’d review every Monday. This list would come out on the first Monday of the month, and I’d coast through on those books for the rest of the month. That gave me 3 or 4 books to read per month.

Though I might not read as much this year as last, this limitation to 3 or 4 books per month meant a couple things. One, and probably the most important, is that not every indie book I read got a slot on the blog. That bothers me because indie books need reviews – including blog reviews – more than the big guys. It also meant a lot of other books didn’t get a spotlight even if they probably should or could have; instead of talking about books I liked, I spent all of August 2021 flogging a series that I hated.

Instead, what I’m going to do is just push out a post when I read a book (assuming I get it written quickly enough). That will both reduce my need to make “to read lists” and also give me more opportunities to post book reviews. It also will mean I don’t have to theme my months.

Life Updates

I want to do more life updates, mostly because blogs with a life update every now and then keep me engaged more. At the same time, I really don’t want to post about other people in my life. We’ll see if I manage to get anything along these lines done.

Obligatory dog picture.

A Drive by the Lake

I’ve not been around much the past few months. Some of you read what was effectively my “goodbye, at least for now” post and commented very nice things. I read and cherished every comment.

One of the most prescient statements was made by Elizabeth Merry:

Take your time and get to know yourself better. I think that’s what you are doing.

— Elizabeth Merry, as seen in her comment

You’re pretty much right on the money, Elizabeth.

Though much of what I’ve thought about these past few months is personal, I want to share a few things with you. This post doesn’t represent a “return” to full blast blogging, but I hope it’ll at least explain a bit of what I’m doing instead. As a warning, some parts of this post may get darker than you may be interested in right now and all parts will be more political than you probably want. (Heck, it’s more political than I’d want!) I’ll mark the section that is dark, but suffice to say much of this will be distasteful to some readers.

Also, I apologize for two years of bold faced lying to everyone (and years before that of halfhearted lying), but I hope you will soon understand that I’d lied to myself for much, much longer.

A pond-ish, beautiful section of The Lake. The lake is actually pretty good sized, and this is just a little water treatment swamp spot.

My Conservative Upbringing

I know what you’re thinking: H.R.R. Gorman had Reagan Republican parents who were part of the moral majority.

Lol.

No, I am the descendant of Dixiecrats (yes, they’re still real) who believe Jefferson Davis was a legitimate president. I grew up in a church that taught listening to your secular school teachers talk about evolution or Greek mythology would lead you to communism and Hell. THAT’S the level of conservative I’m talking about.

Only one small step from Satan.

Because of just how far down the one-sided-thinking train my world existed, there are many things that I wouldn’t – possibly even couldn’t – question. We were far enough into the backwoods that there wasn’t anywhere to go if we weren’t safe at home. You either struggled to make it work, or… well, what happened to those other people wasn’t good either. Usually some combination of teenage pregnancy, death, jail, and/or drugs.

As a goody-two-shoes, I did what I thought I was supposed to. I shut up and didn’t question anything lest I be sent away somewhere. Perhaps because my mom was/is extraordinarily prudish, or perhaps because it was so very, very much a taboo subject, I was not allowed to ask my parents or any adult anything about sex or remotely related subjects. I knew that gay kids went to conversion therapy, but I didn’t really know what that was beyond “where bad kids go.”

I just knew something bad would happen to me if I ever told anyone about crying in the bathroom and praying that God turn me into a boy. That was, of course, assuming he didn’t answer me.

(He did answer – it just took a longer time than I’d planned, and it’s going to demand a lot more work from me than I’d expected at the time).

I have battled with the fear that God doesn’t want me for a very long time. Before I knew I was transgender (or, at least, before I knew the term and how to deal with the fact), I feared God had cursed me in such a way that I’d never make it to heaven. I supposed that I needed to be feminine because everyone told me to, because everyone told me it was my body and not my soul that mattered, but I resolved to be as masculine as I could get away with. When I left for college, for instance, I resolved not to date or get married because that would drag me down and I’d just be a problem.

While that last resolution lasted, oh, about one week into college as I began dating the man I’m now married to, that fear continued. Through pre-marriage counseling, in which my husband’s then-priest tried to convince me that I was deontologically doomed by the circumstances of my birth, and through a fight with my own church on the ability of deacons to be born female, I continued to fear that God didn’t want me. I’ve had spurts of intense devotion, and I’ve had spurts in which I felt so unwanted by the deity that I couldn’t stand to look at His book. I sometimes had this fear that I didn’t even have a soul, or this fear that women didn’t have souls and I was an unlucky man who was “born wrong.” From when I was 16 to when I was 26, I refused to sign up as an organ donor on my driver’s license because I was convinced God wanted to kill me for my organs. At 26 I gave in and became a donor because I was very depressed and tired of waiting for Him to pull the trigger. That fear ended only after The Lake.

At this point, I’ve reached a new view on myself, God, and our relationship. Somehow, coming out to myself allowed me to see that God had more of a plan for me, and that I’m not just here for my organs. My body became less of a horrible place, and God made more sense. I was here not because of a mistake, but because I was who He wanted me to be. I’m not “a man’s soul in a woman’s body”, but instead am a whole package that would not be me without being transgender. I feel more complete than I ever have in the past.

If you, dear reader, now think that I’m going to Hell, that’s your prerogative. It’s ok. I completely understand the belief and the concern.

NC House Bill 2

It was March 2016. I was slated to graduate with my master’s in May, then come back to North Carolina and seek my PhD.

And North Carolina’s General Assembly, gerrymandered as hell and as they are wont to do, passed a dumb bill that month. It shouldn’t have really come as a surprise to anyone, and I personally suspect that several – but I doubt it was all – proponents of the bill genuinely believed in their cause.

It was, as you may already suspect, the greatest of all North Carolina law-writing blunders (unless you count the gerrymandering): the infamous Bathroom Bill.

Before the Bathroom Bill was passed, I actually didn’t know what the term transgender meant. Banned from knowing a lot of information growing up and uninterested in learning during college, I had somehow made it to that point believing that people who got gender-confirming surgery were thrill seekers and short-sighted. I somehow was unaware you could go from female to male at all. When North Carolina’s House Bill 2 came out, I looked up more about this “transgender” thing and what it really meant.

The more I read, the more I thought to myself that these stories described much of my feelings for as long as I could remember. The more I read, the more I realized that “being female” doesn’t equal “suffering” as I had been taught. I learned that the type of suffering I endured, the suffering of not feeling like my body is me, of feeling like being female is the worst thing that could have ever happened, probably wasn’t even the same kind of suffering that my parents told me would be my lot.

I realized then that I was transgender. I realized that I wanted to have testosterone, and that there were good reasons I’d tried to push my hips inward during puberty with efforts to prevent their widening. There’s a reason I cried when I realized my voice wouldn’t drop, and there’s a reason I’ve tried to make my tits look as small as possible for as long as I can remember.

But I didn’t believe it, mostly because I was afraid. I now thought I knew why God hated me, and I worried that no one would want me anymore. I remained in denial and hid behind the specters of “statistics” and “trans isn’t real” for three more years.

I just couldn’t bring my lips to say it aloud, couldn’t bring my fingers to type it straightforwardly. It’s why, when I first got online with the blog, I hid my biological sex until I published my first short:

And it’s why, even then, I chose to lie to you. By the time I published the January News post linked above, I had decided to announce to my husband that I was trans and wanted to transition. I failed to do that, so I gave my bio to the Dark Divinations team with feminine pronouns and announced myself as female in the Late May Newsletter, also linked above.

But yes, by the time I wrote both of the above posts: I knew. I was sure. And I was a fucking liar.

A Drive By the Lake (it gets dark and a wee bit sexy)

One day in 2019, I was driving home from my job as a research assistant – a job which paid for my graduate studies. In and of itself, grad school was very stressful and horribly depressing.

But it wasn’t the only – or even core – thing that kept me down.

Many times on the drive home, I’d gotten horribly sad and had to pull over at the Food Lion grocery store or a church while I just thought about how much I hated myself. Most of the time it would be about how dumb I’d been at work, but sometimes it’d be about how I felt uncomfortable in my body. Those old prayers in middle school and high school would pop into my head, and I’d wonder and pray, “Why did God curse me?”

Those were the good days.

There were much, much worse days.

As I was driving by the lake on the way home, my long-term fear and belief that God had purposefully cursed me by placing me in a body with internal genitalia and horrifying weakness became too intense. I’d considered it before, but on this day the sadness was overwhelming: I decided to drive into the lake and die.

“God doesn’t want me – He just wants my organs. He wants me to die so someone better might live,” I thought. “I hate myself – I’m cursed. I don’t want to be a woman, and I can’t believe he did this to me!”

I screamed at this point, my hands stuck to the wheel and knuckles whitening. A calmer side of me thought, “Maybe you don’t have to be a woman. Just believe you are a man, when it comes to it. Let it happen.”

“No!” another part of me screeched. “That’s just the devil tempting me!”

“Is the devil tempting you to be a man, or is he tempting you to run your car into the lake and die?”

I realized there that I had a real choice: accept that I am a man or die. One of those options seemed a lot easier to back out of if it turned out to be a mistake. I’d been considering that I was trans for a while, and accepting it to myself and telling no one seemed a reasonable course of action.

The two posts below were borne of that decision, even though I was still lying to you. To my husband. To everyone.

Telling the Husband

It was January 9th, 2021.

We’d just finished a Google call and session of D&D with my husband’s brothers. The session was good; we’d had a wild ride against a disease (too on the nose for January 2021, but whatever). Despite this, there was one, mere seconds-long set of frames during the chat that destroyed me.

My sister-in-law walked into view of the camera, and it reminded me she was pregnant.

That I could become pregnant, which I didn’t and don’t want, without my permission.

That I had these parts that could lead to this horrible fate.

That I was weak.

That I hated myself and feared the consequences of living in a female body. I didn’t want this fate, and being trapped in this fleshy, hormonal prison was almost more than I could bear. I managed to get myself to our bedroom, but all I could do was bury myself in dirty laundry. I paradoxically hoped to be ignored until my demise while still desiring comfort I could not achieve alone.

My husband came up and pulled me out of the dirty laundry. He calmed me as he could, but words poured from my lips that I couldn’t take back. I babbled out strong hints that I had decided on a drive about a year and a half ago that I was a man. I suggested that I couldn’t take this lying any longer. Yet, I had this conviction that as long as I didn’t say it aloud, as long as I could maintain the lie, the longer I could be with him.

I was worried that he wouldn’t love me. No, not “stop loving” as in no longer want to be my friend, but “stop loving” as in no longer share all of my life, my soul, and my bed. It’s a selfish fear, really, but my heart was breaking as he pulled me from the dirty laundry that night.

How do you tell your husband, “Hey, I think you accidentally married a man”? How do you say, “Hello, beloved, we’ve been married 8 1/2 years and boy do I have a surprise for you”? Until I’d started asking myself those questions, I didn’t understand how bad a slur “trap” was. When you start worrying that you trapped someone you loved, even if you didn’t mean it, it feels bad.

And yet here I was, crying in a bed with my husband after just being helped from the laundry and into the covers. I held him tight because I knew he needed to be told. I had been trying to tell him for so long, but I couldn’t figure out how. At last he asked, “Do you want me to tell you what I think this is about?”

“Sure,” I answered. I’m pretty sure we were both crying by then.

“I think you… I think your, uh,your gender identity is, uh… is…”

“Mega fucked,” I filled in during his hesitancy.

He laughed.

I cried harder, because I was being serious.

He just hugged me and said, “Oh, I love you!” in part because he knew I needed it and in part because he neither expected any response from me nor ever “mega fucked”. After a later conversation, I discovered he was afraid I didn’t know I was trans and that I would be insulted by his conclusion. He’d decided a long time ago that he would quietly help me no matter what, and he would help me figure it out if it ever came to it. He’d known for a while before I told him. We’re going to work through this as we can and take it at a pace both of us can handle.

There were many tears that night. Since then, I’ve told a few people in real life, and a few other people in online life. And now, my wide array of internet friends, I tell you.

Where I’m Going With This

Well, for now this post is about as comprehensive as I can get in any sort of compact space. There’s additional details, plans, and GENUINE MOTHER-OF-GOD-FEARS about having to tell mine and/or my husband’s blood relatives. Everyone so far has been pretty accepting and kind, though, so maybe (hopefully?) my terror is unwarranted.

As far as you people here on the internet go? Honestly, the reason I’m telling you at all is because I made that stupid decision to lie a long time ago. I wanted to get a nice, long article out concerning my transition, then shove it away to a corner. This is still a writing blog, not a blog about my personal life. Though, I suppose, I’d be willing to forsake that if the article miraculously goes viral and a strange demand for this sort of content surfaces. It won’t, though – look at how long this article is.

Last, I’m willing to talk with you about transitioning in the comments, though I probably won’t go into much (if any?) detail regarding physical metamorphosis or sexual activities. I understand some, or maybe many, of you don’t agree with my conclusion or “lifestyle decisions”, and you know what? That’s ok. That’s up to you entirely. I am not here to convince you to give up those ideals. I am just here telling you why I’ve been absent and, in a long-winded fashion, try to explain why transition wasn’t just “the best” choice for me: it was the only choice.

Luxury Trucks: A Rant

The other day, I was driving home from work in my Chevy Volt when I spied, just a few cars ahead of me, the familiar and nostalgic curves of the C3 Corvette. The delightful buckskin paint job had a genuine patina one simply does not find on a modern vehicle. Using my car’s disturbingly good acceleration, I snuck in between some shmucks and managed to stop half a length behind and to the left of it at a stoplight. I rolled down the passenger window, which aligned with the car’s rear wheels.

Sure, this one was clearly just a ’76 or ’77 given the color, badging, and bumper shapes, but it was beautiful. Upon opening the window, I expected the familiar sound of an old engine and the majestic scent of incomplete combustion of gasoline.

Instead I got a lungful of diesel fumes and the ‘glug glug glug’ of a pickup.

This truck was part of an infection in this country: luxury trucks.

Let me rant a bit more on why this needs to stop. It’s going to be very long.

Ruggedness and Bullshit

A while back, we had this thing called “Luxury Sedans.” These were cars that had no other purpose than to be loud, plush, and screech “I pay people to do stuff for me.” You put out your cigarettes in the built in ash trays, slid around on the leather, and stretched out within a steel cage.

The image of “I have people for that”, however, no longer jives with what (white) Americans wish to convey about themselves.1 Rather than implying that they’ve made it to the next eschelon in society, there’s a bit of the zeitgeist to seem like an “every man”, like the relatable salt of the earth. Rather than seeming a manicured, well-to-do rich guy in charge, people want to be seen as a go-getter and hard worker. It’s why George H.W. Bush had a campaign that was very straightlaced and George W. Bush, despite being the fucking child of high-class H.W., decided to style himself as a cowboy in his campaigns.2 At some point we decided that independently wealthy wasn’t what we wanted to be seen as.

That’s why people buy trucks. It’s not because they need them to do physical work. It’s because they want other people to believe the dirt under their purposefully untrimmed nails isn’t from lack of washing – they want you to believe they worked. They want you to believe they’re just like you, but then do so in comfort and more richly. It’s a way to be relatable and still have the Luxury Sedan effect.

And it’s stupid.

Most people who drive the new Luxury Trucks don’t have this work to be done. The trucks drive on interstates with empty beds and empty promises, fulfilling the pipe dreams of the misled.

Making Trucks Too Expensive for Folks Who Need Them

While people spew clouds of diesel by attempting to accelerate a truck in ways that simply don’t work, there are definitely, definitely other people who need trucks to do their jobs. Farmers need to haul equipment from place to place, especially where there aren’t well-worn and paved roads. Same with construction workers, landscapers, and countless others who need the space of a pickup but not the space of a tractor trailer. Some people live in areas where they need the high ground clearance of a truck (or SUV, I guess, but that’d be a different rant) just to get to their houses.

But do you know what happens when you make an item a luxury?

It becomes a fucking luxury.

The people who need these trucks in order to perform their jobs must now pay the useless “luxury tax” that workers of the past didn’t have to. Instead of buying a functional piece of equipment with low markup and no excess add-ons, everyone now has to get high-end, luxury equipment or buy something that’s so old it’s almost not fit for purpose.

I’m reading sketchy websites that say an entry level truck (an F-150 or a C10, no add-ons) in 1980 for $5-7k. The average vehicle cost $7k at the time. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $22k. Now? You can come in entry at $28,000 with an F-150, which pretty badly outstrips the inflation.3 You could spend $80k for a top-end GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD with Duramax diesel, and it’s that end of the cars – the high end – that’s driving the ever-rising cost of trucks. Low end trucks are like the new pony cars: status symbols for people who can’t afford status symbols.

Are you going to haul a bed full of gravel in your $70k truck? No, that’s like a year’s income for a household. You’re going to treat that like your grandpa treated his Cadillac Eldorado, except it’s stupider because a truck is there to pretend it’s working whereas the Eldorado never lied about what it’s there for.

Making Everything More Expensive for Everyone

A farmer’s old Custom Deluxe truck breaks down, and they need to purchase something else. Entry level trucks don’t exactly litter the lots anymore, so they end up buying a “reasonable” vehicle for $35k. However, they have to pay for this somehow, and they need to sell their crop for more. Enough other farmers are in the same boat, and the overall price of food increases for the middleman, and then for you.

It was an avoidable problem. If truck prices hadn’t risen in stupid proportion compared to cars, workers wouldn’t have capital costs so much higher than they used to be. It’s actual nonsense. By buying a truck and treating it like a luxury sedan, we’re further paying out the ass in literally every other way.

So when you’re running a business, you have a much steeper slope to climb when you’re having to consider the purchase of a new work vehicle. “Hire a new employee, or get a new truck?” becomes a real and almost equivalent cost.

Taking Dumps on the Environment for No Reason

I started this with a story about diesel fumes to the face when I expected something rarer and more precious. However, there’s also another type of rare and precious breath: our planet’s air at all. People4 are not eating meat in effort to reduce emissions, but that’s comparatively drastic compared to “drive a car that makes even a modicum more sense for my needs.” Barreling down the road at 85 mph in your heavy-ass, highly wind-resistant truck that SHOULD BE DESIGNED FOR TORQUE MORESO THAN SPEED is just burning gas for no reason.

If you want to burn gas for no reason in an expensive car, at least do yourself a favor and get a C3 Corvette.

1 I’ll admit I don’t know what people of color want out of vehicles.

2 Don’t ask me to explain Trump, though, because I still don’t understand his and his team’s political strategy.

3 Some people say you can get cheaper trucks, but I’m lazy enough and not going to look further. The trucks I’m comparing to from the 1980 sale price are the F-150s and the CK -> Silverado type lines. It’s probably like the Ranger or the Canyon or something that might be cheaper, but those aren’t the 1/2 ton pickups I’m comparing everything with.

4 I said I drive the Volt, so you should have expected this sort of bullshit from me.

Where Have I Gone? What’s Coming Next?

Whew – it was a doozy of a February! It looks like I was barely even online, going by my post schedule and how good (i.e. bad) a job I did at reading other people’s stuff. But that’s ok – I think I did more good by choosing the path I took this month.

It’s made me sit back and think, though: what are/were my goals for the blog? How is what I’m doing going to get me closer to those goals? Have my goals changed?

The short answer: my life goals have most definitely changed, and everything else has as a result.

The longer answer is more complex. Chief among the things behind all these changes is my depression has, in recent months, gotten significantly better. I am able to experience things and have my mind not instantly go to “well, life is basically over now.” I’m also not constantly afraid that I’m going to be fired, and thus I don’t feel like I have to get a book traditionally published as a backup career. I’ve never wanted to self-publish because then I’d have to spend time and effort being my own salesman, which I hate and am not good at. I’m not invested in blogging as a sales platform, and I’ve only done it when my short story contracts required some social media presence as part of my contract. And that’s fine. The career/monetary/advancement prospects of blogging have essentially evaporated.

Related to feeling less depressed, I have new reason to become more introspective for a while. It’s not bad stuff that’s happening, and neither is it good things coming to pass. It’s just real life things I need to meditate on, mull over, and think about. It’s things that I won’t be able to do by focusing on trying to make people like me – whether that be in real life or over the internet.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, I must let some things go, and it’ll be a while before I’m back on the blog at full speed.

So, new rules for my blog:

  1. I’m not going to be reading as many posts. Most people’s posts are interesting and fun, and I’ll still try to peruse the WordPress reader and pick a few to read, but I’m going to turn off all my email notifications. I can’t follow anyone religiously anymore.
  2. I encourage everyone to only read my posts if you’re actually interested. I’ve planned this year’s book review posts in advance (except June, which I may be changing), and all of those will be published on the blog and my Goodreads. I’ve also got many other posts planned in advance.
  3. Except for those posts I’ve already pre-planned, I’m only going to write a post if I’m inspired to do so. No more forcing myself to respond to a prompt with the hopes to bait people to the blog. No more struggle to boost the stats.
  4. I’ll respond as quickly as I can to comments, etc., but won’t work myself up over it.

In effect, these new “rules” will likely kill the blog. I assume I’ll start back up on full steam at some point, and I’ll potentially have to do so from almost scratch. I’m not worried, though, because there’s many times I’ve had to do something new. I don’t have a timeline for when I may pick up the blog again fully, and honestly it may end up being “never.”

Godspeed, my friends. Regardless how involved I am in your and your blog’s future, I hope I’ve improved a day or a moment for you in the past. You have almost certainly improved some of mine.

The Rodeo Has Begun!

It’s time to saddle up and get in line, because the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is happening NOW at the Carrot Ranch! Writers will have the opportunity to support Sue Vincent, a stalwart center of our blogging community, as well as compete for a $100 prize!

That’s right – we’re trying to make this the biggest writers’ Rodeo yet and celebrate Sue Vincent’s work and writing in the process. On the Rodeo Classic page, you can find a beautiful photo (from none other than Sue herself) to serve as a prompt. Write a story of 99 words or a poem of 99 syllables – no more, no less – based on the prompt photo on the Rodeo page. Also on the Rodeo page is an entry form where you can put up to two entries for the contest. And don’t worry, entries will be anonymized – everyone’s on an equal playing field at the Carrot Ranch, even if you get some TUFF bulls to ride or horses to break! But don’t lollygag – you only have until February 19th to get on your bull and ride out the chute.

There are many ways to participate in the rodeo. Every Rodeo has multiple events, and the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is no different. In addition to participating in the contest and donating to the cause, we have multiple events you can participate in!

  • The Sue Vincent Reblog Barrel Race – Check out Sue’s website or the website she shares with Stuart France. Find a poem, essay, or photo that speaks to you, and re-blog it. Feel free to include links to the contest and make sure to include a comment on the re-blog!
  • The Great Book Parade – Buy and read one of Sue’s books. If you’re feeling adventurous, leave a review or publish it on your blog!
  • The Comment Riding Contest – The prize for this one is a fuzzy good feeling and the sharing of community. Like and/or comment on Sue’s posts, whether new or old.
  • Snack Stands – Share the contest on other social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or others! You can definitely follow Sue Vincent on Twitter.
  • The Prize Ceremony – Winners will be announced on March 21st, 2021. It could be you, but even if not, come see what Sue’s prompt invoked.

See you on the Carrot Ranch circuit, cowfolk!

Come Ride in the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch!

Sue Vincent is one of those special bloggers that inspires people all over the world. Personally, I have been touched by several of her #midnighthaiku posts. Not only does she write beautiful haiku, she includes her own fabulous photos to match. The haiku “Weep” is one of my favorites. Imbibe that and try not to be moved after the words.

Readers have long been galvanized by her posts about mythology, about ancient ruins and medieval churches, and her daily #midnighthaiku. Even more have participated in and grown as a result of her #writephoto prompts. In addition to posting her prompts, Sue has tirelessly supported other bloggers by sharing others’ responses to her 19,000 and counting followers.

Recently, Sue has been faced with a new and difficult challenge: lung cancer. You can follow her blog to find out more directly from her. The Covid pandemic has served not only to pose a specific threat to a person with a severe respiratory illness, but it has caused loss of human connection through self-imposed quarantine.

Now it’s time for Sue to receive something back from the community she’s been a cornerstone of for a decade. Let’s bring the Rodeo into Sue’s house through her computer, and let’s come together with hearts full of joy. Join us for the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch – a contest, parade, and celebration all in one!
There are many ways to participate. One is to visit the prompt image, “Hidden”, at the Carrot Ranch. The prompt image and entry form will go live on Monday, February 1st, 2021. Enter a flash or a poem by Friday, February 19th, 2021, and you could win either $100 or a copy of one of Sue’s books. The form will allow you to give a small donation for Sue and her family, and a link can be found on the contest page. The winning entries will be announced at the Carrot Ranch on March 22nd, 2021.

If you’re not ready to rodeo, there’s always the “Parade”. Reblog one of Sue’s posts from any of her sites (Daily Echo or France and Vincent) with a comment about why you found it special. Follow her blogs. Read one of her books, then leave reviews where you can. Several people are already gearing up for the parade – so feel free to check out other people’s blogs for suggestions.

Also, go ahead and reblog, tweet, Facebook, or somehow otherwise share the contest! 99 word literary art is a fantastic way to celebrate a blogging hero and very deserving person.

Saddle up, everyone! It’s time for a Carrot Ranch Rodeo like none ever held before. The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic begins on Monday, February 1st, and it’ll be a TUFF prompt to fit within 99 words. 
See you at the Ranch, buckaroos!

Patriot(ism)

I’m a big fan of America. A big fan. I believe in American Democracy, in hope, in the essential goodness of people, and the bend of the universe toward righteousness. I’ve written only one purely political post before, and I honestly don’t like writing them because this is an author blog. I’m here to talk about books, connect with authors, and share works of my own.

Now I can’t hold my mouth shut. Even if things go terribly and I end up having to shut the blog or Twitter or other media down, fine. I probably wasn’t going to be a successful/famous/whatever author anyway.

The storming of the capitol upset me vigorously. As I type this, I’m eating sweetened condensed milk straight from the can because I want it and it feels like there’s no good reason to hold back. The events at the capitol were entirely wrong, and we should feel some sort of anger at what the perpetrators did. To contest the election in such a blatant, hypocritical, cowardly manner was un-American. Whether the police and/or national guard were limited by executive actions, inexcusable lack of preparation, or by sympathy of law enforcement with the perpetrators, the successful armed invasion was not acceptable.

I was ok for most of the Wednesday Jan 6 news cycle, but one image affected me more intensely than anything else. As staunchly Southern and milky white as I am, I could feel my eyes welling and my rage accumulating when I saw the image of the Confederate flag in the capitol. How dare someone perform such sacrilege? How dare someone nonchalantly bring in the flag of treason* to the center of government? A flag which hundreds of thousands died trying to deliver to the building, and hundreds of thousands of others died preventing its arrival? How dare you dishonor them by, at best, treating the action as a joke or, at worst, declaring the 155** year-old-peace invalid?

It was that image that shocked me into both writing this and delaying writing this. It was the image of someone trying to overthrow the government and replace it with something terribly flawed that broke me. The Confederate government was built upon faulty ideals, and the ultimate goal of what this insurrection sought is equally destructive.

I will not stand for monarchy or dictatorship. I will not bow to a King, will not roll over for an Emperor. My vote, whichever way I voted, counted for something. I voted for both winners and losers, as I have in every election and primary since I turned 18, and I am not afraid of the future that will be brought by the politicians I voted against. Those poltroons who stormed the capitol are afraid to face the future, and their base cowardice has resulted in a terrible price for everyone’s – including their own – freedom. Their villainous intentions and polluted ideals have resulted in death and stunted the search for happiness across the world.

I have hope that things will look up. Ultimately, I still believe the universe tends toward good. The United States has never been perfect, and at times we’ve espoused some horrible practices. But we’ve always, eventually if belatedly, done the right thing. I think we’ll still come through this, and in the end we’ll find a new way to approach existence a nation where all our citizens, not just a select group, can seek happiness.

I’ll leave you with the same quote as I left off with in the last political post I made.

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

–John McCain, Liberty Medal Speech, October 2017

*I understand the Confederate flag’s presence is more complicated than this. I chose “treason” here because the flag does represent separation and rebellion at its core. The battle flag, the one used for terrible intent in this attack, has come to represent white supremacy; truer “Southern Heritage” (i.e. white Southern heritage) flags include the Bonnie Blue or, if you’re a devious butthole, your own Southern state’s flag. (I dare you to look up, for instance, the modern NC flag compared with the Confederate flag version. Even the recently re-done Mississippi flag has its roots in the Civil War flag). I do not believe you when you say heritage not hate anymore, at least not for publicly displayed flags.

**This can be different depending on when you consider the end of the war to be (surrender at Appamattox, capture of Jefferson Davis, surrender of the Cherokee, declaration of the war’s conclusion by Johnson, end of Reconstruction, and culturally it’s still ongoing).

I’m Published in Lethal Impact!

Some of you may have been alerted on Twitter that I got a second story accepted into an anthology released by Dragon Soul Press – and it’s here on Kindle and paperback preorder!

DragonSoulPress Square HRR Gorman

In this post-apocalyptic anthology, nothing matters except survival.
In a world full of humans pitted against each other, how can there be anyone left to trust?

This book contains 16 stories by different authors, of which yours truly is one, about post-apocalyptic struggle.

As more marketing shenanigans for this book starts happening, you’ll start seeing more from me!