Publication of “Guts to Moon Dust”

I’m thankful that my poem “Guts in Moon Dust” has found a home. You can visit it at Polu Texi: A Magazine of Many Arts.

This science fiction poem might reflect today’s world events.

A more personal experience from almost three years ago is also reflected in it. While moving long distance for a new life, my health failed. Because so much was dependent on my ability to work, or at least to negotiate, my vague dreams were quickly destroyed. With intimidating debts and what felt like no way to escape a hostile environment where my disabilities put me in danger from the apathetic people and organizations I needed for survival, I could feel almost no hope. In attempts to rise beyond feelings of hopelessness, I frequently wondered if, on my death, my body would return to my childhood home.

I have written several poems and a short story from my feelings at the time. Each goes into a different genre. “Guts to Moon Dust” was a near-future imagining of the ageless story about a dangerous journey to what was promised to be a better life, but which ends with entrapping disappointment.

I would very much like it not to be anyone’s future.

Publication: “Gifts of Gods and Men” in The CSZ

My poem retelling of the Pandora’s box myth has been published!

In my mind, “Gifts of Gods and Men” is in part about how a ruler sets up the first human woman to be blamed for spreading sickness and death into the mortal world. Readers are of course welcome to different interpretations.

The poem is in the Winter 2020 issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone, which contains visual art, reviews, flash fiction, and more poetry. Digital copies of the magazine issue are available from the publisher’s website for $3 (USD).

Bee-lieve, a Fantastical Submission

Happy New Year! Let’s wish for wonders amid the angst that 2020 C.E. will no doubt bring. I would like to make a tiny offering of writer humor.

Dear Editor,

Enclosed are approximately 600 bees, which will perform an interpretative dance titled “Bee-lieve” for your consideration. My submission takes little over a minute to watch.

My pollinators have been previously shared on YouSnuze and Intergalactic Meditate Show. One of my dances received last year’s Tap Dancing Penguin Award.

Also enclosed is a self-addressed, stamped package for my bees and your reply. Thank you for your time.

The Royal Choreographer

The Importance of “So What?”

My goal is for you to take away at least one new idea….

This phrase must be taught to presenters, because I’ve heard it many times in seminars and classes. I walked away from each presentation with a new idea, so I think it’s a good phrase.

The new idea doesn’t always stick around for long, though.

There’s one idea for writing that stuck around for years after my college Technical Writing instructor drilled it into me: “So what?”

You’ve chosen a topic. So what? What might your writing on that topic do for a reader?

You’ve added a sentence. So what? What does that sentence add to the sentence before it? After it? Would it matter to a reader if it didn’t exist?

You’ve used a semicolon. So what? What would happen if you used a comma instead? A period? Are you even using the semicolon correctly?

Okay, my Tech Comm instructor didn’t go into the so what’s of punctuation. I expanded on the lesson he provided. Isn’t that what every instructor desires?

My point is everything written should answer the question, “So what?” Most of the time, answering the question doesn’t involve thought. When you write a note to remind a friend to feed your cat while you’re on vacation, let’s hope you don’t need to ask yourself, “Why am I writing this?” You probably knew the answer without your conscious mind getting involved.

However, if you write a note to a coworker, a research paper for a class, an article for a magazine, or anything else and get stuck with the nagging feeling that something’s WRONG, then reach for the caged So-What to throw at your writing. Allow So-What to nibble on your words, sniff at your concepts, and claw at your intentions.

Use So-What to expose where you haven’t shown remarkable talent at predicting readers’ thoughts and feelings. Indeed, So-What is the helpful offspring of Who’s-Your-Audience. When So-What turns from your words and could-become-words to bark its question, it’s really telling you to remember what your audience wants, needs, and expects. Those are what define your audience. Acknowledge So-What’s mommy by answering its question.

If you remember this, I’ll be happy. After all, my goal is for you to take at least one new idea from this blog today.

A similar post with the same title was published in 2009.


Every Word a Correction

Writers, this is a tiny workshop! The only supplies you need are what you with you this very moment. At the end, you can show your participation with a comment.

Are you ready?

A picture is worth a thousand words.

You’ve likely heard this statement before.

How about the next statement?

A thousand words is worth at least a thousand pictures.

That’s today’s focus.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, several publications printed an essay titled “About Five Thousand One Hundred and Seventy Five Words”, by Samuel R. Delany. I came across the essay in my copy of SF: The Other Side of Realism (1971). Using what I presume to be about 5,175 words, Delany explains how the meaning of each word in a novel relates to every preceding word.

How that works is that the novel’s first word forms an image. The image may be more of an impression, vague and unseen in your subconscious, but it is there. The next word modifies the image, or at least, the emotion tied to the image.

Of course this psychological trick doesn’t only applies to novels. A single word can change any story. Each word modifies your image of the story’s contents.

Let us go through a quick example:


What if the word above were the first word of a story? Are you within the image, below it, or elsewhere? Is it doing anything, or does it wait for the next word? What would you expect next?

Below is the rest of the first sentence in my hypothetical story. To see the words, click at the end of this paragraph, then slid your mouse down to highlight each word. Please pause after each word and note how your image of “Stars” has changed, if at all.





Is the image in your head the same as when you read the first word?

Please comment below.

Revised from the original 2009 edition.

Publication: “Better Latte” in Dark Moments

I’ve been trying to figure out deadlines in and out of writing lately, which is difficult even when the deadline isn’t for how much time loved ones or I have left in life. Too often, I hobble around in an exhausted daze, wondering who I’ve disappointed and when I should next eat.

More uplifting news: “Better Latte Than Never’s” is scheduled to appear Tuesday, September 3, in Black Hare Press’s Dark Moments. This is my first sale of microfiction as A.L. Blacklyn.

Update: “Better Latte Than Never’s” has posted. You may read the story now!

The release date was corrected.

Beating Dead Horses

My birth father left me a leather switch. It’s the kind used for striking livestock. I think he used it on my grandfather’s ranch.

That man moved me and Dad, us alone, away from the ranch without a partner or genetic parent. When I think of the move, I hate his switch. It’s a horrible heirloom. Is that brick-red discoloration on the leather knots dried blood from a broken animal? Why give me a tool from a place I’m no longer allowed to go?

Other times, I’m only angry with our big city neighbors. Those nosy no-goods tsk at Dad when he goes out to date, which is an ordeal with enough drama on the San Antonio singles scene.

On flaring hot days are when I hold the switch tight in my fist, tensing against the useless judgement of near strangers.

I relax as the switch raises over my head. I take in the snapping force of its fall. The feeling helps to stop thinking about them all.

This story has been revised since its first appearance, in Ad Hoc Fiction Issue 169.

A Wizard and a Wandering Grotesque

Hello, ebook and short fiction readers,

My seventeen-page story on Amazon is available for free through Thursday. Afterwards, the price will go up to $0.99.



A city-state…
The magical order of King’s Capitol is threatened.

A lost guardian…
Memories drive a former king’s guard away from her duty.

A pensive wizard…
Head Royal Wizard Iel must face his life’s regrets to restore the peace.

When life ends, it begins in a different form.

purchase from the Kindle Store

Happy World Book Day! Please note that my short ebook is not of a children’s story. The themes are most appropriate for adults.

Post edited to correct the promotion’s end date.

Mourns She

The girl clutched locks of long hair to the top seams of the moss green linen of her dress. Her free hair streamed sunset above a white fog cloak. She flew against blustering sighs of wind above the hills to her mortal clan.

I am Siren, she thought. The mortal folk will hear my song.

This time, she concentrated not on the music but her words. The mortals never understood her music.

They will hear my words. All my heart will go in them!

“There!” a voice called. A lad by a whitewashed cottage on the hill pointed up to her. “T’is a keening woman!”

“She mourns before the death. Pop’s end is near.”

Stinging tears slipped past Siren’s russet lashes. Hear my song of life, not death. Do you not hear my words?