August 2004






Book Reviews

Music Reviews

Movie Reviews


Letters to the Editor





That must have been it. Whenever weather patterns alter the beat of their eternal fandango, meteorolists cite sunspots. When ever radio waves cease to make it to their desired destinations, again, sunspots are the culprits. When teenagers go on sprees, shooting principals, peers, and partners, it has to be sunspots.

So when a writer gets stuck, must it not be the friggin sunspots that are to blame?

Yeah, that must be it.

"'Cause if it ain't the sunspots, the trucks must not have been making it to that Great Literary Idea warehouse last year, because last year, I had a hell of a time finding things to snatch out of the air and build a story with.

The ideas dried up. The words went away. Everything I put down on paper seemed to be crap, and when I forced it, doing exercises to fill up pages, it looked forced. And boring.

It was ugly. And it wasn't just me.

Every writer I talked to had the same answer. "So," I would say, "what have you written lately?"

Answer #1: "Oh, not a lot. I just haven't been able to focus lately."

Answer #2: "Nothing, man. Just no good ideas out there."

Answer #3: "I've other things I need to be thinking about besides my writing right now. Life is getting in the way for me."

And answer #4, which is my favorite: "I'm rewriting an older piece of mine." I liked it so much, I started using it myself when my friends asked me similar questions.

So my writing group degenerated into bull sessions, except when some of us would read old stuff. Online conversations became speculative sessions about what we might write if we could think of anything.

And we would all go home and write anywhere between 200 and 5000 words of unsalvageable rubbish. On my 2003 disk, I have the first paragraphs to over 20 different stories. And as yet, not one of them has a middle or an ending, and I don't expect many of them ever to get a middle or an ending. It was the Year of the Dog, at least for me. All my stories were just dogs, and my writing at the end of that year was bitch-slapped.

Lest you believe that this is just a whine and moan session, along about April, things started to look up. And oddly enough, things started to clear up for other writers as well.

#1: "I'm thinking clearly again. Have a look at this--I wrote it last night."

#2: "Hey, Mark, I had this neat idea. Have a minute to brainstorm it with me?"

#3: "Well, things aren't any less difficult, but I'm finding things to write about.

#4: "I've got a new novel idea I'm ready to work on."

And I produced a story. Just a little one, mind you, but it was hope.

So to those of you out there, if you're stuck, just focus elsewhere. It'll clear up when the sunspots go away.

In this issue, we've got three stories and three poems. Two of the stories are ware stories, and one is a tribute to Ray Bradbury. The Bradbury pastiche is called "The Kite," and is brought to us by playwright Evan Guilford Blake.

"Beasts of the Field" by Michael P. Murphy is a story of fear and change, in which a man seeks to find a place in this world. He does, a frighteningly appropriate place, in fact.

"Demeter in the Delta" is a story about one man's experiences with the supernatural in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam Conflict, during which he learns a valuable lesson about war, but is it one he can really use?

We've also got a rich selection of poetry this time. Bruce Boston is in the house with "The Darkness We Possess." Maria Alexander returns to us with "The Howling Man," and veteran Blood Rose guest Christina Sng offers us "Fellowship Among Vampires.

Grab a stake and dig in.


Mark Worthen


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Updated September 2, 2004

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