Month of the Gods – or Without?

Month of the Gods – or Without?

It’s been a very trying month, and yet rewarding.

finalistAt the beginning of the month, I found out that my science fiction novella/novellette Adam’s Stepsons had won an award (Readers’ Favorite). The next day, I was selected as a Featured Author by BookWorks. And then less than a week later, Adam’s Stepsons got another award, this time Finalist for Best Novella by the Independent Authors’ Network. Inspired, I worked on my next SF novel and got the word count up to around 25,000.

Pretty cool.

And then it started to rain.

And rain.

And kept raining. For about eight to nine days straight. Mold everywhere in the house: the entranceway, the hall, the bath, the kids’ bedroom, even our little library nook (which doubles as my writing room/man cave).

Yuck.

And then (not done with us yet!) the typhoon came. No damage for us but plenty for some of my colleagues and neighbors up north in Kyoto and Gifu.

Typhoon22Our daughter’s sports festival – her last at the nursery school, in which she gets to play snare drum in a marching band – was delayed, and then cancelled.

Then both kids got sick. Waking up several times a night, coughing with stuffy noses, and still having to get up early each morning (6 – 6:30) for school and work for all four of us.

The Month of the Gods (神無月) became the Month without Gods (無 = na (of) as well as naki (without)). As if suddenly abandoned.

So it’s fitting that after only two days of sun, October will end with yet another typhoon. Yikes.

Probably a glancing blow, but the heavy rain that accompanies the storm will no doubt scuttle our plans for a Halloween party for our kids and their friends. It may inspire some writing, however.

After all, isn’t that how Mary Shelley started?

Halloween2017

 

Adam and his stepsons: Raising Seth

AS-FinalFrontCvrIt’s been a productive couple of winter months. I got over my sickness (contracted from my daughters), finished the academic year (classes end in mid-January here), brought a group of students on a study abroad trip to Hawaii, and completed editing my long-awaited novelette/novella, Adam’s Stepsons.

Long-awaited in the sense that the nucleus of the story was written in 1994. So if anybody complains, “This has been done before,” you can tell them, “Yeah, but he did it first.”

Clones are nothing new in science fiction. In fact, the idea of creating human-like beings dates back literally thousands of years. The concept of the golem influenced ideas in Adam’s Stepsons; golems have been made famous in popular culture through D&D and fantasy games, but originally stem from Jewish mysticism. Continue reading

Stories from next to the grave

img_0719In April, my grandmother died. She was my last grandparent.

In August, I was finally able to visit her grave. Anyone who is living overseas for an extended period of time (or permanently, as I probably am) will tell you how difficult it is to have a sense of closure at the death of a loved one. Particularly a close family member.

But as we were standing there, gazing down at the names of my great-grandparents (whom I had barely known) and my grandfather and grandmother (whom I had known very well from a young age), it wasn’t just a sense of closure I was seeking.

It was a sense of history. Of stories.

When the three cars of relatives arrived at the cemetary — myself, my wife, my two daughters; my parents and one younger brother and sister (I have eight siblings in total), one of my aunts and uncles (I have at least twenty…yes, it’s complicated…) an interesting thing happened.

We all started telling stories. Maybe it’s the Irish in us (Bushnell, Connally, O’Leary, and Dougherty, among others). But telling stories has always come naturally to people in my family, as natural as eating and breathing.

My uncle started it. Stories about my grandfather when he was in the Navy during World War II (he never left Florida).

My aunt followed. Stories about my grandfather when he was growing up. Stories about my grandmother when she was the same age as my cousin. (A recently discovered photograph showed her to be almost identical in appearance, too. Scary, that.)

My father continued (with a little prodding from me) with a story from when I was a child. (This is how I found out that the United Methodist Church-owned apartment building I had lived in as a young child had been and has been occupied by family members for at least four generations.)

When I mentioned my intention to write a book of non-fiction about my grandparents and their generation — I’m thinking of calling it “My Three Grandfather” — the stories came fast and furious.

Right next to my grandparents’ grave.

There we were, in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of a centuries-old cemetary overlooking the Hudson River Valley (near HVCC, as a matter of fact), telling stories about the dead, with the dead. With the living.

Stories aren’t just all that’s left. Stories are what we always had, and have, and will have.

Eat your heart out, Washington Irving.

Freebies and previews

Bunny-coverFinally, a post after two and a half months! Yes, I was/am/will be busy. And so it goes.

As requested, I have finally managed to put some previews of my work online. The new page of “Freebies” has one short story so far (The Lost Bunny Shrine of Annandale), which is currently available as a .mobi download for Kindle. One commenter on Goodreads complained that it was about a bunch of drunken college guys.

Yep. And a bunny shrine is, of course, involved. The horror…

I don’t view that as much of a criticism, to be honest. It is what it is. Check it out for yourself!

I can make other formats available (maybe, if I can figure out how to convert it) if people ask. Other stories have a pic but now file right now. (Coming soon!)

Continue reading

1000 Isles

Some people have asked me on FB for some previews of Notes from the Nineties. It’s difficult to prepare excerpts from short stories (which are already short). So while I’m thinking of what’s appropriate as a teaser, here’s another poem from the volume. It appears right after the story “Boys Will be Boys” together with the poem “Grandmother.”

 

1000 Isles

 

Summers of my Upstate youth were spent

in the family station wagon, the six of us, or was it seven,

traveling to the great St. Lawrence

Seaway of a thousand islands.

 

The first time we stayed one night at Mosquito Heaven,

sleepless in a brown canvas tent,

and four nights on the biggest island—

half in the US,

half out.

 

I learned how to gut a fish, how to swim,

how to roll up a sleeping bag,

and where to buy fireworks—

I mean sparklers.

 

On my 12th birthday, I got a wallet,

put in a year’s allowance,

then when I forgot it in the campsite bathroom,

got advice in return the next morning—

“I told you so.”

 

Looking back, it makes sense

to me now

that I hate dressing.

Notes from the Nineties: Upstate is…where, exactly?


This is the fifth and final preview of my upcoming collection of short stories and poems, Notes from the Nineties. In the first part, I explained the background behind the first story and poem pair, Cois Fharriage and Ag an gCrosaire. In the second part, I took a look at some of my experiences in Japan that informed Asian Dreams and Training the Mountain Warrior. In the third part, I delved into the “true story” of The Lost Bunny Shrine of Annandale. The fourth and penultimate part, I talked 
about my brief experience with occultism and the wisdom of teeth that led to The Four Teeth of the Apocrypha.

DSC00484I’m from New York. No, not New York City. No, not Niagara Falls (the Canadian horseshoe looks better, anyhow). Yes, there is something in between. An awful lot of something, actually. In fact, the oldest and still largest state park in the US comprises most of Upstate New York.

Yes, I’m from the Adirondacks. But it’s more complicated. Continue reading

Notes from the Nineties: The Lost Bunny Shrine of Annandale

This is the third preview of my upcoming collection of short stories and poems, Notes from the Nineties. In the first part, I explained the background behind the first story and poem pair, Cois Fharriage and Ag an gCrosaire. In the second part, I took a look at some of my experiences in Japan that informed Asian Dreams and Training the Mountain Warrior.

Bunny-smalljpg

Oh, it’s just a harmless little bunny, isn’t it?

The first story in the anthology takes place in Ireland; the last, in Japan. But I’m from Upstate New York (NOT White Plains and Yonkers; those are downstate for the rest of us), so many of the stories in the middle of the book take place there. Most such stories were originally written for my undergrad or graduate thesis, from ’93 to ’96 (hence, the name of the book, actually…).

“The Lost Bunny Shrine of Annandale” was not written back then. However, the events do take place in the mid-’90s, and the style (I hope) is similar to those stories.

The main event — finding a post dedicated to a bunny rabbit in the middle of the woods — actually occurred. The details are fuzzy (most of the night was…) and of course I’ve changed around the names of the conspirators, as well as combined two or three people into a single character with some exaggerated personality quirks. But there is, in reality, a bunny shrine in Annandale. And we did find it. Among other things. Continue reading