Category Archives: News

Official release and book signing, Nevermore, Inc. (and also an update)

This Saturday is the official release date for Nevermore, Inc. into the big, wide world of readers! If you’re anywhere near Werner Books in Erie, PA, I do hope you will stop in! I’ll also have a few copies of 366 Tales: Stories Year Round, and since I have yet to empty my trunk from the Erie Comic Con last month, there are a few copies of other titles available as well.

In other news:

I’ve been pretty awful about keeping up on my memoir. I get an occasional story down on paper every few weeks, but I’m feeling a little soul-crushed by my new job and motivation and inspiration are hard to find. In the interim, I’ve at least been faithful with the re-editing of Empress Irukandji (my, how my writing has improved since it’s first printing….Yikes!), and even though it’s a slog, I am confident it will be done by the end of November for a re-release. In case you’re wondering why I am bothering with this,  Empress was never meant to evolve into an 8 book series (are you caught up through book 5 yet???), but it did, so I thought it only fair to clean up some of the continuity.

**Remind me never to write a series from end-to-beginning like this ever again.**

I’m pretty sure that all subsequent books are safe, but I will go through them as well. As I slowly get all of my titles shifted over to a new publishing platform, it seems the best time for such a tedious process.

Also, and in completely non-related news: I just booked myself for a Transatlantic crossing. I was informed it is not a “cruise” because it’s not on a “cruise ship” but an ocean liner…. And it’s 1920s themed, so I can hardly stand that there’s 9 months’ time between now and when we set sail. Is there a more perfect setting for me to be in??? Probably not. It’s a shame I don’t have anyone going with me, but as I fully intend to dress for the occasion from the moment I leave my doorstep to the point of returning to it, I’m sure I’ll make some new friends along the way. If something like this interests you, you can find the info here:

The deadline for putting down a deposit is the end of this week, I believe, so if this is your scene–CHOP CHOP! To say it’s pricy is an understatement–a chance of a lifetime (and who even knows what stories will be inspired because of it??)–and I have no idea how I’m actually going to afford it, but I just went ahead and paid my deposit yesterday, so I guess I’ll have to figure that out! I will be posting items in these entries of things I am selling off in the hopes of bringing some funding my way. This will include things like original artwork I’ve done, costumes I’ve made, and a number of other items. Please feel free to share any of those with parties you believe may be interested.

I’m quite excited about the opportunity. I have been saying for a few years that I want to make a sea voyage and have been wondering if there were any themed ones, and …voila! So there is. My sewing room is now in complete disarray while I decide what I’ll be wearing. How fortuitous that I’ve slowly (maybe not that slowly) been converting my wardrobe to the 20s/30s aesthetic over the past 3 years! Look forward to hearing more about this as things develop.

Handle It: A Social Media Update

After ditching Twitter for a while, I’ve made a new account (link below). It’s getting the same results as before: a like here and there, but mostly none. It’s been speculated that I have to make 100 tweets a day just to get one seen, so I’m lucky for any likes at all. Lovely. Anyway, here’s my handle:


I’m also on Instagram, in case you didn’t know that already:


And for those of you who would like to keep up on projects more frequently than I blog about, but we haven’t actually met in person, I have a Facebook page:


I’m also on LinkedIn, if that’s your thing:

It’s been suggested to me that I join the world of TikTok, but in my medium as an author, I’m not quite sure how to spin that one. Open to realistic suggestions.

Oh, good–It’s an Imposter Syndrome kind of afternoon.

How in the world did I get to this?? One minute, I’m thinking about the letter author Andrew Ward wrote to me back in 1988 after his son and my classmate, Jake Ward, handed over my hand-scrawled vampire story (after promising he wouldn’t show it to anyone, let alone his professional author father…), and how that letter has carried me through tough moments like right now…

And then the next, I’m questioning just what exactly have I done with my life?

Why do I have 21 of my own publications, a few dozen articles written for a news site, two historical documentary series penned in my name, two annual invites back to a couple great conventions as a guest author, a few appearances on podcasts, and yet I have nothing to show for it?

What exactly is success?

I suppose to me it has something to do with accomplishing things as I have, but that’s not all of it, is it? Trees falling in the woods and all that. My following? Minuscule,  though no less loved for sticking it out over the years. No awards, no accolades, no #HeatherEHutsell popping up on Google or social media because those avid readers just can’t get enough. Could it be that success has yet another element to it? That being–for once in my life–something just might come easily for me???

I know what isn’t success: having to repeatedly take pay cuts at a new day job whenever I make a move to improve my life. (Side effects including but not limited to: stunted creativity, putting off plans some more. Getting behind even more when it comes to travel, to book signings, to becoming known enough that maybe I don’t have to fight so hard to just have the sort of life I want.) And I don’t make enough with the writing gig to even pay a utility bill. Why am I still doing this?

I do wonder, and often, what flaming hoops I have to jump through to get more frequent invitations–HELL, just have people remember that I even exist, and that they’d rather walk on hot coals than wait another second to fill their shelves with my books, without my doing all the legwork. What triggers old friends to vie for one’s time? “Oh! You’re coming to town! Let’s do dinner!” “Are you coming out this way anytime soon?” “You know, I think about you sometimes.  I see your name all over the place!” People who spent so much exhaled oxygen during our schoolhood telling me I should write and publish my stories: Talk is cheap. It pays almost as much as exposure. WHERE ARE YOU NOW??

Having amazing, successful lives, no doubt. (“Heather, who?“)

I am torn between feeling I spent most of my life being invisible so none of this should be any great surprise, and thinking I never tried to come off as anything but unusual–so how could I be so easily forgotten?

Well, Boo. Hoo. 

If you’ve gotten this far and don’t follow me on social media (or do and don’t actually read my posts), let me step out from under this rain cloud and regale you with some news:

Book 5 of The Case Files– Darling Orphan: The Case of Lucy Stewart and 366 Tales both came out recently. Nevermore, Inc. should be out no later than Halloween. October Poems should arrive around the same time.

On September 1st, I’ll officially start my first memoir (Horse Legs and Other Lunchbox Mysteries). I’ve already been poking around on it, making notes, writing out passages that may get scrapped, because who really wants to read about some guy that I think about frequently but didn’t have the courtesy to say good-bye to when I skipped town at age 17? Unless you went to school with us, you wouldn’t know who he was. He wouldn’t know who he was in the book if I didn’t include his name. Even so, Faith No More/The Real Thing might spark a vague memory for him. For me… well, obviously it meant enough to make the cut in the prelim entries for the book, and ahead of a few volumes’ worth of stories. If it doesn’t make it into the final book, let it be on record here that our too-short interlude still means the world to me.

Writing this blog post isn’t making me feel any better, but maybe it will help someone…somehow. Isn’t that what I ultimately want to do with writing in general? Change lives? Affirmative. The plan is to get the memoir done and hit the road with it (via invites, paid travel, and couch surfing, because otherwise it could be years more before that happens); go do some talks and book signings and all that. How’s that for lofty? I honestly don’t know how else I will ever achieve the sort of success I’m after. Not in the wildest recesses of my imagination can I come up with another plan.

Someday I will wake up and feel successful because I have become successful in my own right.


Stalled Out In The Driveway

Almost two months later and I’ve gotten nowhere. Some might say that every day I am making progress toward my goals, but I see myself standing here doing the Pulp Fiction John Travolta, “Well? Where is it?” stance, and I am not amused. Some of my recent goals have required sending out a whole lot of resumes that have either returned rejections, or been complete scams. Scams are something I expect of emails about long-lost funds or watches, or from apartment listing on Craigslist (Yeah, I see you, you absolute jerks), but to have them show up on job listing sites? REALLY? How much of an absolute lowlife must one be to go that route?? Some of us are really trying to find work so we can advance our lives (and many more are just trying to survive), and then we come across this garbage? Shameful. Get your own life, you cretins.

Anyway, I’ve gotten nowhere with that and have concluded two things: I either need to already be in the area I am looking to work, or I am overqualified. Or both. I don’t think I’ve ever taken this long (8 months) to find work. I suppose some of it comes with not being willing to settle for less than what I want. I don’t believe in taking on a job that I’m just planning to quit and start over again elsewhere when the better job comes. I may as well wait it out, as much as it stalls me in the driveway.  I can’t tell you how much I want that to change so I can get on with things that cannot be got from where I currently stand.

In other news: 366 Tales is going along as planned. I hit the halfway mark a few days ago, which should keep me on track to get this book out to the world for those wanting to start reading it on January 1st. I’ve taken to posting teaser snippets of stories once a day on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to read those, here are my handles:

Twitter: @EmprssIrukandji
Instagram: heather_e_hutsell_authoress
Facebook (authoress page):

Lastly, in my post previous to this one, I mentioned wanting to travel and write. Like the job and the move, that has yet to come about. I realize I’m wasting time by going nowhere, but it’s rough wrapping my head around the idea of traveling and having to stay masked that has me stuck at the moment. I don’t mean the actual traveling part–I am 100% in favor of keeping others and myself safe during this dragged out pandemic–I mean once I’m in my destination. I guess there would be times where I could go without, but only if no one is around, and that’s rough to accept. People are part of the experience, after all. Maybe there will be a short trip to a closer location in June. I’m considering it. Until then, follow me on social media, get caught up on 366 Tales‘ snippets, and get your vaccines so we can all get back to more.

The Dream Just Keeps On Growing

It’s never a bad idea to have a lot of dreams, because not all of them are going to come true. So: back up dreams, right??

The most recent dream I’ve come up with (not even 24 hours old yet), is to travel and write. While this isn’t exactly new, I am feeling drawn to a life of both fiction and non-fiction in the ever-changing world of that notion. I am feeling a sudden calling to travel and blog those experiences, while also writing fictional pieces that take place in those same locations. The trick is this: Who is going to pay for it? Who is going to pay my bills? It always comes down to money, doesn’t it? What ever happened to the super rich patrons of the arts who would choose an artist or author and say, “You know what? I will pay all of your expenses off of my old family money, that I will NEVER otherwise spend in my lifetime, so you can live out your dream!”??? Maybe I just made this up and no such people ever existed. They should. Let’s go ahead and take care of all of the other societal issues while we are at it, too. There is more than enough green molding the pockets of the uber-rich to see to that. Can you imagine?? Having billions and billions, but being such a stingy waste of space that you wouldn’t bother trying to get some stuff turned around in the world? That’s like being a superhero and saying, “Nah. I don’t feel like helping anyone.” What a waste. That money never should have gone to the people who have it and do nothing useful with it.


I want to do this. I want to travel and write based on my travels. I can picture it perfectly in dozens of locations, but if I’m just supposed to show up and take baby steps, but not worry about the “hows”, then just how far is that actually going to get me??

In other news: 366 Stories (which will eventually be changed to 366 Tales) is still coming along. I’m starving for inspiration, so I’m grateful that I am able to continue to complete at least one of these a day. There have been some interesting pieces to come out of this. Here’s hoping they’re as thought-provoking for the readers as they have been for me as their author. Since I never know what I’m going to write until I sit down and start one of these stories, I am perpetually eager to see what each new writing session will bring. Especially since I feel like I’m having to really stretch to get any ideas at all. And yes, due to that, these have gone into some strange areas. Still, I think it will be fun for all.


So far, so…great?!?

Yeah, so 2021 so far has been a mixed bag. While I haven’t touched Darling Orphan again yet, and have only final edited a couple of stories for The Doll Collection: Volume Three, the daily short stories have been going, well, daily.  I have several dozen of them completed so far, but here’s the thing: 21 of them were more than a page long, and seeing as how the whole point behind 366 Stories was to have one single-page story per day of the year, this wasn’t going to work well. The average number of pages for those 21: Three. At the rate I was going, the book was going to be around or well over 1k pages. No one’s going to buy that because no one wants to hold a 1k+ page book, and sorry–I’m no longer adding titles to Kindle. So the best course of action, since I really like these 2+ page stories was to cut them and set them aside for their own collection, then do my best to stick to 1 pagers. The past week of this has gone according to plan (WHEW!) I haven’t made up for those 21 stories yet, but I will. Some mornings I get lucky and write two stories instead of one, but that’s a rarity at the moment.

That said, something I have come to realize about writing versus going out in the world: novel writing can tolerate that, because they like to mull and stew; they thrive on that solitude. Short stories do not. Short stories crave constant input and activity, change and stimulation, and that is making this project much more challenging than it should be. Until the pandemic tapers enough that I can again have a social life and see my people, I have to make do. I guess it’s good that I have more than 300 stories left to write, even though I think most of those will still have to be conceived as the first 15+21 have been. I guess I will find out how good or bad that makes them once I start giving them a read.

On a completely different note, I have suddenly become obsessed with going on a cruise. I’m guessing this is stemming from the desire for a drastic change in scenery, and as someone who is currently landlocked, I cannot imagine anything being more opposite of where I am now than that. I’ve never been one for the idea of cruises or even tropical locations, but I guess that’s changed! Again, and thanks to the continued selfish behavior of many, though, I won’t get to have this opportunity for some time yet. At least I can start dreaming about it and work out a plan.

Stay tuned.

A New Year, A New List of Goals

In case you missed it, or I completely forgot to announce it, The Merry Widow of Frankenstein was released in October. My stab at an epic poem of what could have been, had Shelley’s Frankenstein taken a few different turns.

Petite, adorable, and looking a little roughed up. (The book, I mean.)  If you would like a copy, you can find it here:

So, perhaps not all of my goals for 2021 are new. My productivity for 2020 was such garbage that several things I should have accomplished then are still on the steadfast platter that is my To-Do list. For starters:

Darling Orphan: The Case of Lucy Stewart (book 5 in The Case Files series) is SOOOOOO overdue to come out, yet there’s something about making final edits on a 500+ novel that just doesn’t grab me with enthusiasm. And as this book goes farther back on the series timeline, a lot of the underpinnings of Empress Irukandji: The Case of Charlotte Sloane are really coming to the surface. It’s dense and it requires a lot more focus for continuity than I’ve been able to muster. Regardless, it is once again a goal of mine to get it done and get it the heck out the door! The cover art has been done for over a year so guess who’s the hold up now?? That’s right: moi.  And that sucks. Since my books in this series seem to come out in either February or October, it looks like that’s the target I’m shooting for. Here goes somethin’…

Also up for completion and release this year–The Doll Collection: Volume Three. The good news about this one is that all stories are complete, and a few of them have already undergone final edits! YAY. Even better: I also have a few of the illustrations for it already. Quite a few more to go, so I’m going to refrain from getting cocky about it, but hey–looks like this thirteen story collection could hit the shelves around October as well.

Speaking of October! POETRY! You may recall that in 2019, I got the wild idea (not that wild) of digging up one of those “Inktober” lists, but instead of drawing, I would write a poem to fit each prompt for each day of the month. Initially, I wanted to do short stories, but with school I didn’t have enough time to even consider it. So, me not being much of a poet and figuring that Poe’s ghost was probably bored and needing a little time away from the Neverwhere, I gave it a shot. In 2020, I went for a second round. For reasons unknown to me, I am in it for a third, and by the end of 2021, you should have a hard copy of all three years’ worth in hand. I hope you end up loving them, because that’s a lot of poetry!

So maybe trying to write a story a day wasn’t possible during school (totally not!). Well, I graduated so guess what? Why not go ahead and write a short story a day….for the entire year of 2021?!? Never fear–I am so on it! And so far, so good. There has been a pretty great mixture of genres, themes, messages, characters–quite a ride, and I have 340-some days left to go. Talk about a marathon. I cannot be sure of the release date for this, but it’s my hope that I’ll be on top of editing along the way (starting in May, most likely), and 366 Stories will be available no later than January 31st, 2022. Ugh. Who even wants to think that far ahead??  Well, truthfully, I do. I have other plans in the works that I can’t go into just yet, but they are BIG and EXCITING, and I’m looking forward to sharing them soon!

That’s about it for the moment as far as writing goes. In the world of conventions, so far my first show of the year will be virtual (FarPoint, February). Programming to be determined and I will post the link here when I have it. Shore Leave  is also on my calendar for July, and like everyone else who is planning to go, I am hoping it will be safe enough for us all to attend in person. At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess if that will be the case. Same for the Erie Comic Con in September, though that one may be a better bet. Stay tuned on all of that.

Oh! Last but not least! Thrilling Adventure Yarns: 2, the pulp anthology (which, if you’ll recall, includes my story “Casting Couch”) put out by Crazy 8 Press was fully funded (including illustrations!!!) and is due to be released on February 19th. I will provide a link to that as well, when the time comes. That should be a wild ride!

More to come…

Kickstarter for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2 and An Excerpt From My Story, “Casting Couch”

Hey! Lots going on over here, but the biggest at the moment is that the Kickstarter campaign for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2 has launched!

In case you haven’t read back through my posts, this is a collection of yet more pulp stories, headed up by Crazy 8 Press’s Robert Greenberger. Having read volume one, I cannot convey in words how excited I am to have a piece included in this anthology!

The authors involved include: Bob (of course!), Aaron Rosenberg, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Russ Colchamiro, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, David Mack, Paige Daniels, Will Murray, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Greg Cox, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael A. Burstein, Richard White, Scott Pearson, and Sherri Cook Woosley! And me!

The rewards are spectacular, and the stretch goals…well, go see for yourself!

A direct link to the campaign for your convenience!

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2

And now, a teaser from my story, “Casting Couch”….

            There it was—Sizemore Studios—larger than life in an arch across the lot entrance, and all lit up even though it was just before ten in the morning. He stood there looking at it, a smile half-cocked under his thin, black mustache, and hands akimbo. It was nicer than the sign to the lot at Shortfellows Productions, but it wasn’t a flashy sign that had brought him here.

            He passed through the gate and headed toward the main office building. There was plenty of tipping his hat to the ladies and tittering and whispering behind his back. People knew his face. The reactions were enough to float him above the packed-dirt roadways, if only in his head.

            The office was bustling with the chatter of secretaries on telephones, writers commiserating over scripts, and various others coming and going. A good amount of that activity stopped when he walked in and removed his hat. He flashed smiles all around—they deserved that for giving him their undivided attention. He even winked at a few who recognized him and watched roses bloom on cheeks. 

            “Mister Ducats—”

            He turned to see a lovely, little blonde with sparkling blue eyes and a nice pink dress. She had plucked up the receiver from her telephone the moment he walked in, likely to announce his arrival to the boss, and was now practically melting at his feet.

            “Why, yes, miss?”

            “Ms. Valentine will see you now.”


            He knew exactly who Ms. Valentine was. Judith. He’d never met her before, but someone like her didn’t go long without someone like him knowing about her, or vice versa. Sure, Judith made her sound in charge—and she was, unusual as those things tended to be. But Valentine? Valentine was soft, warm, complacent. She’d probably give him anything he asked for, she just didn’t know it yet. Why she’d never requested a meeting with him before now, he didn’t know. Shortfellows had held him over well enough, kept him on the silver screen, made sure he had his public eating out of the palm of his hand. But Sizemore—better late than never.

            Even though it was rumored that Shortfellows would catch up to raking in the same sort of dough Sizemore did, it had yet to happen. No one could really blame him for wanting to test the waters between studios to see who would pay top dollar for him. Maybe he could start a wage war in all this, making it better for everyone, all the way down the payroll. Just as long as, in the end, he was the one who ended up making bank. 

            The blonde doll went to a dark, austere-looking door and then opened it, quickly stepping aside so he could enter. From behind a heavy desk of cherry wood, a tall, voluptuous brunette in a scarlet suit stood up. Her eyes were so dark they were black, and there was an exciting, fierce look about her. She wasn’t of the petite model brand like the secretary, but he couldn’t argue that she was rather attractive in her own way.

            “Mister Ducats—” She came around the desk to shake his hand. 

            “Misses Valentine. Pleasure to finally meet you.”

            “It’s Ms.”

            The Eastern European accent that carried her words sent a delightful buzz through him as her hand remained in his.

            “Is that so?”

            “It is.” She withdrew her hand before he could give it a squeeze and resumed her place behind the desk. “Please, sit.”

            He took a glance around and spied a black leather sofa. “Is that your casting couch?” he asked with a wink. She didn’t respond, visibly unimpressed, so he took a seat on a matching armchair that squeaked under him in the suggestive way only leather could.

            “So,” he began. “This is a surprise—being invited here. Looking to do a little star-napping?”

            “I beg your pardon?”

            “Well, I’m sure you know—I’ve been acting for Shortfellows. And the invitation was from you, was it not?”

            “Mister Ducats—stage name, is it? Buck Ducats?”

            “Yes, ma’am. It didn’t seem likely someone named Charlie Diddle was destined for the pictures—” He reined in the twang in his voice that only appeared anymore when mentioning his real name. “—So, I changed it.”

            “Mm.” Her nod was curt and of disinterest. “Mister Ducats, I’d hardly consider you to be a star just yet—” The sting of her jab was unexpected, and Buck silently soothed it with a veil of smugness. What did she know? “But it has not gone unnoticed that your popularity has grown substantially over the past year—”

            “So it would seem.”

            “I invited you directly because I think you have the potential to become the star you think you are. Clearly, you are here because you’re interested in that prospect.”

            “Indubitably, ma’am.”

            “You’re twenty-four, yes? You’ve done—” She looked at her notes. “Two films so far. I’m sure you’ve been led to believe that your face on the screen means big dollars for any studio that you’re a part of.”

            “I do.”

            “Well, believe it or not, Mister Ducats, your face has nothing to do with it—it’s your voice. That’s where your value is and, look—I’m not going to mince words, Mister Ducats—whatever contract you may have with Shortfellows, I will buy it out. I want you to work for me. For Sizemore Studios.”

            The idea of making the switch—and so easily—was just as intriguing to him as the mysterious woman who offered to make it happen.

            “You can do that?”

            “Mister Ducats, would you even be here if you thought there’d be any complications for you?”

            He would have come no matter what, just to see what it was all about, but Shortfellows was in the game for the money. Surely, they’d understand that he was, too.

            “Well, no. But it just so happens that those two films I did for them were all I was scheduled to do, so you don’t really need to bother them about it.”

            “Oh? Is that what was in your contract?”

            “Oh, sure. Kind of a disappointment that was all, but I guess they didn’t see what you do—things switching from silent pictures to talkies and all.”

            “So, you are interested then?”

            The almost impatient prompt struck up visions of flashing camera bulbs and endless champagne in Buck’s thoughts. She had invited him, in a world where a person’s voice in film was starting to equate to gold, and it was he her studio wanted. Never minding that something as naturally occurring as his voice was out of his control. Buck managed to refrain from huffing on his knuckles and then dusting them across his lapel.

            When his pause was mistaken for indecision, she added, “You’ll always have top billing with us, and be paid accordingly.”

            Buck was suddenly struck with elation over it all and this seemingly out-of-nowhere luck. “When should I start?”

            “Tomorrow. And seeing as how I couldn’t locate your agent—”

            “Yeah, I don’t have one.”

            “I see,” she said after a pause. “Well, in any case, we have a new script that you can read for, though the part was practically written for you. Formalities—I’m sure you understand.”

            “Oh, of course

            “Good. Of course, if you work for me—and Sizemore—it will be exclusively. You will be under a new contract. We don’t want you working for any other studios.”

            “Naturally,” he accepted with a shrug and a schmoozy smile.

            “Not even small, independent ones. I know how inconsequential they may seem. I promise you: it will be worth your time. You think you’re a star now? You cannot imagine what you could become with us.”


So there you have it! What will become of  Buck Ducats?? Back our Kickstarter for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2 and find out!

The Carousel of Life

In the time since my last entry, I’ve continued to work from home due to the continued spread of COVID-19, the world (namely the states) have erupted with social unrest because too many humans still don’t know how to act decent and worthy of the air they breathe, and I experienced traveling during both of these pandemics.

I want to say I’ve been making the most of my time, spending it creatively and wisely, but it’s been a struggle. I’ve finished two short stories, written a grip of pages for a third; I’ve written a few local interest stories for my organization’s sister site, but since the semester ended, I have not been nearly as creative as I would have liked to be. It’s all in there–the fuel, the ideas–but nothing wants to budge.

It’s pretty easy to get angry about this–to look back at the work of my predecessors in literature who went through equally trying (if not worse) times, and see that they were highly productive. At the very least, they turned out works that are still praised today, one hundred or more years ago. Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I come up with something brilliant, life-changing for others–something that brings a sense of justice, grace, and positive restoration to this horrific circumstance? I’ve been cheated out of so many other things in this lifetime–why can’t I have and also give this?

There is no making up for anything. We’d all like to think so, but my life has so far proven that it’s a myth. The tails tied onto my kite that are supposed to help it soar higher only weigh it down more. There are some things I can do to try and cut those loose, but every small victory ribbon has the potential to catch on some dead and gnarled branch. Maybe there’s still a bud of a green leaf on there–that little bit of life that captures my interest, but will never grow and become free to its and my fullest delight–and ultimately, it just stunts me more and makes me withdraw even further from the things that could still offer the good–why take the risk? Because I’m a fool–I will always take the risk. It’s just that the temptations have to be that much more intriguing, that much more impressive and that’s a rarity. And when it comes to people…well, let’s just say that a few have caused the bar to be higher for all the rest. Don’t blame me–blame them.

There’s an early morning ramble for you. Back on task–

I’ve put the story writing on hold for the sake of trying to edit through Darling Orphan. It’s almost criminal that it’s been hanging out there for so long. And just as I said the last time: it needs to be done. There’s so much in it that I need to put to rest, and the only way to do it is to get the book cleaned up and released. Here’s hoping it will at long last see that moment..

My Daily Cake (Written on April 17th, 2020)

One week ago today (which happened to be a Good Friday), this heathen decided to bake a cake. What kind, you may ask? Devil’s food, of course. No real connection there between beliefs and tastebud desires, I assure you. Devil’s food just happens to be the only cake recipe I have for which I also had the ingredients. Believe me–I would rather have had pistachio, but that wasn’t on my mind when I made my last grocery store run. If this were any other time than during a statewide stay-at-home order, I might have ventured out to get what I’d need to remedy that. But, here we are and here I am: at home with this 9×13 inch casserole pan partially full of imminent regret.
Making a cake under normal (not these) circumstances isn’t usually that big of a deal. As this past week has shown (in comparison to past cakes in my life), I’m not eating it very quickly, even though I’m eating some every single day–and not very small pieces either. It’s been a week and I still have just under half a cake left. Chances are, on April 24th, 2020 (a week from today), I’m still going to be eating this carbo-bomb, aptly described for the two cups of confectioner’s sugar in the frosting alone. Thank goodness I used decaf coffee in the cake batter. Can you imagine?? If I’d used all that sugar and caffeinated coffee during a quarantining? And inside a very small apartment, might I add. Horrors the likes of which no horror has ever been horrified before.
Anyway, I’m about convinced that it made some kind of it’s own pact with the devil in my fridge and has been multiplying like one of those salads that just never seems to end, and causes you to chew until your jaw hurts. Cows don’t have that problem–they can chew for hours and you never see them complain about it. They also don’t eat cake. This has also been kind of like those endless strands of spaghetti on a date night, that have no intentions of nourishing you. They’re just stringy imps of gluten that insist on making a slow, betraying appearance at “middle ground” some time later on, like just before putting on a favorite outfit for the next big date. I know you know what I am talking about.
So a week from today: maybe by then I’ll be finishing up this never-ending delectable. Mostly because, in good conscience, I must. And in a time when pretty much everything I put into it has been scarce on the shelves because everyone suddenly must bake for their lives, let’s not waste cake. Here’s hoping I won’t waist it either.
It’s hard to say whether making a cake was really a wise choice, given the circumstances of social distancing. I could get out for walks, but I haven’t, really. Some might say that the properties in chocolate are comforting so it’s okay, and I can’t much argue the comfort factor of just-slightly-melting peanut butter frosting on a just-slightly-warm piece of cake–but no doubt I’m racking up the cortisol like a telethon racks up dollars. Only the cortisol isn’t going to go off to a better cause, and because of that, neither are the calories. This cake could be hanging around for much longer than a couple of weeks. I know this, and yet at ten o’clock every morning since April 11th, I have my daily cake. It has become a ritual–an expectation, almost. Even long after the cake itself is gone, and even if it doesn’t stick around certain areas of my physique, we all know it’s not really going to be gone at all.
If you’re anything like me, you tend to draw lines between thoughts and things and situations. Kind of like how I played Crunch Time on my phone once for the entire duration of a double feature of Big Trouble in Little China and Resident Evil, and now I can’t think of any one of those without the other. Or how every time I move and spend weeks looking for boxes after work and on weekends, the residue of looking for boxes is still there every Monday through Friday at 5pm and all day Saturdays and Sundays long after I’ve already unpacked at the new place and dumped the cardboard in a recycling dumpster. Out of sight, stuck in the craw.
For a long time to come, I will think about a piece of devil’s food cake with peanut butter frosting at ten A.M., just as I will associate that same cake with the time a virus was sweeping over the world and picking off victims like the torrent of waves released from a suddenly breached dam. I’ll continue to shop like I don’t know when I’ll have my next paycheck, even though I’ve been one of the luckier ones through this and have still been working from home, and flinch if there’s an empty spot on a grocery store shelf–even if I will never, if I can help it, eat hominy or boxed mac-n-cheese, or smoked oysters.
I’ll probably also go back to looking out for others more than for myself, which isn’t always a bad thing when done reasonably. I’ll go back to acting on my plans, grateful that I made them before all this started, because I know what effort it would otherwise take if I had to rely on starting cold to move forward again. And I will go forward, holding those close to me even closer, because the sweetness of my last seven-to-however-many ten A.M.s can’t compare to the sweetness of having those people in my life.
When this has passed, and long after that pyrex dish has been emptied and washed, and my cat climbs into it for the hundredth time because it’s in her way on the kitchen table, there will be cake again–for celebrating, for savoring, for just because. And for remembering, daily, what other things always get me through.