Monday, July 19, 2010


It must be award season. This past week I received both the Fabulous Flash and One Lovely Blog Awards. The latter award marks the first time anyone has used the word “lovely” to describe my blog, and possibly anything about me.

Before I play along with the rules, I’d like to thank my benefactors. Thanks to Jon Strother for the Fabulous Flash, and thanks to T.S. Bazelli for the One Lovely Blog.

The request with One Lovely Blog is that you give seven things about yourself. Here we go:

1. Since age 13 I have struggled with a crippling neuromuscular syndrome. The syndrome initiated from a mix of my body going into puberty and a rare adverse reaction to steroids. One month before the doctors put me on the regimen that would unwittingly destroy my body, I received the only chain letter of my life. I threw it away.

2. I distinctly remember spending one Christmas Eve alone. Realizing the quiet was a good opportunity to hit the ten-page assignment I had for High School English, I began writing an extremely violent fantasy. I became so enraptured in writing that I jumped when my family came through the door. I’d lost track of everything: the story was thirty pages, and I’d been writing for four hours. That night I decided that I had to become a writer.

3. I also distinctly remember spending one random afternoon alone. I lay on my bed, trying to think of what occupations would make the most money and require the least effort. Art, directing or being president were possible, but authors seemed to have it the easiest. That day I decided that I had to become a writer.

4. A few years after college I began walking for exercise. On the first day a police car stopped me just twenty meters from my house. I’d been alternately either away at college or so sick that I was a shut in for so long that none of my neighbors recognized me, and they phoned the police that there was a suspicious looking man wandering on the road.

5. Walking was part of a diet and exercise regimen that allowed me to lose 60 pounds. I was very proud until I started having acute pains in my side. It turned out the rapid weight loss had ruined my gallbladder, requiring a surgery that almost bankrupted me.

6. It took me two months to recover after the surgery. On my first day returning to exercise I had a leg spasm and tore cartilage in my left knee. I could not walk for months.

7. The night before my gallbladder surgery I cleaned up my room so it would be easier to traverse post-op. There was so much bare floor that I could actually dance in my room. I did. It was a combination of waltzing and boy band nonsense, lasting five minutes before I entirely lost my wind. It felt wonderful and probably looked idiotic. In the coming months, including both the surgery recovery and the knee injury, I often reflected how smart it had been to dance when no one was watching. Remembering it often took the sting out of immobility, because I knew I’d used the gift well while I’d had it.

There you go. You now know everything about me. People will feel silly reading my autobiography in a few years when they could have just read that.

The rules of Fabulous Flash are to share the award with four flash fiction writers you admire. One Lovely Blog seems to have a malleable number, so I could cheat and give both awards to four people.

Instead we’ll do a little compromise. I gave you seven bits of information, so I’ll give you seven award winners. The first four people below are flash fiction specialists. The last three are also talented flash writers, but their blogs tend to feature other material as well. What material? Read on.

1. Peggy MacFarland is a lively speculative fiction writer I encountered about a year ago on the Habringer*33 project. She tends to share a new tale about once a week, spanning ghost stories, aliens, incompetent house painters – you know, the usual.

2. Gracie Motley, author of Crone’s Cauldron. She posts at least twice a week, once with her Fantasy “Fire and Water” serial, and once with the weekly #fridayflash offering. Since going twice-weekly she’s displaying admirable versatility.

3. Laura Eno is a funny lady. Her Death and Chronos series was one of my favorites. Though she’s buried in a novel right now, she continues to share amusing flash fiction.

4. Karen Schindler. I’m putting her last in the Fabulous Flash category because she’ll have an amusing comment about it. She is pell-mell and free. If you think my sense of humor is wacky, she may be even further out there. Or perhaps we're like Saturn and Uranus - two planets so far out there that it doesn't even matter anymore, because the Sun doesn't talk to us that often anyway. Did that not make sense? Well it did to us.

5. Eric Krause is branching out all the time. He writes speculative fiction flash, but has also included book reviews and writing prompts.

6. Anthony Venutolo’s “Bukowski’s Basement” may have a short story about life in America, or the latest trailer for an HBO series, or a reflection on Harvey Pekar. A news editor elsewhere, this is the destination for his personal creativity and whatever relates to it.

7. Mark Kerstetter. He probably won’t appreciate that I cognize his name as “Marker Starter.” Mark’s blog, The Bricoleur, features some of the finest regular free-to-read literary essays around. He is cultured in fiction yet enamored with that culture, rather than mourning it in the way scares off so many young readers. His fiction has distinct art about it. I won't bother describing it. Just read it.

T.S. originally worried about giving me an award that was pink. I've now given it exclusively to men. She didn't know about my historic support for pink's manliness.


  1. I'll be Saturn, because as much as I wuv you John, I don't want to be Uranus.

    I'm so thrilled that you gave me the fabulous flash award. For you to say I'm funny is high praise indeed. I'd come up with one of those metaphor or simile thingies but it's early, and I haven't had breakfast yet. Maybe once the sun is up and starts ignoring me I'll think of one.
    [I can call you collect, right?]

    Big squishy Hugs!
    Karen :0)

  2. Thanks for telling us about yourself, John. Very humbling. But most of all congrats on your awards -- well-deserved! You ARE amazingly funny, but that humor also gives us a peek into your soul. Graet bloggers you picked as well. Peace...

  3. Many congrats on your awards! You certainly chose well whom to pass them on. ;)

  4. Congrats to you on your awards and I am humbled that you chose to give me the Fabulous Flash award!

    I had pegged you to be Uranus, because...well, this IS the Bathroom Monologues, is it not?

    I am happy to say that Death and Chronos will be back very soon - I hear the boys are back in town ringing in my head now.

  5. I'll never think of pink as a girly color again. Good to know more about you. There are few pleasures like dancing alone in your room. ;)

  6. Oh, man. That's a high honor, especially coming from you! I'm so tickled. Thank you! And just look at the company I'm in.

    I love your seven things. My favorite? Dancing like you're in a boy band. That's the image of you I'll have in my head from now on. :D

    Congratulations to all the awardees. You all deserve it.

    And congratulations to you, too, John. You earned every bit of these awards. Thanks again!

  7. I dance home alone all the time, and how did you know I LOVE PINK? "markerstart" is one of my pseudonyms. You're psychic, right? I like that you said I don't mourn culture. I don't have time for that sort of thing. Thank you John. I'm very flattered.

  8. Karen, of course you can call me collect. We outer planets get free roaming, plus I got Pluto's spare minutes after... well, you know.

    Linda, I don't think my seven things turned out as funny as I wanted them, but I'm glad you liked them. I tried to balance how silly some events in my life have been, along with how grave. Often they're the same, which affects my writing. Thank you for the kind words about that writing, too.

    Mari, thanks! It was a kick to get two in the same week. I guess some people do like me?

    Laura, you're quite welcome. I look forward to the return of your boys. I should have seen the Uranus pun coming...

    TS, thank you again for the award. Pink is really an equal opportunity color, but its association with femininity had to sting eventually. The hermaphrodite has to protest eventually.

    Gracie, it's probably my favorite too. I do that little dance improv every so often. Got to loosen the knee and the spirit. You're quite welcome for the award - you've earned it, too!

    Markerstart, where do you use that as a pseudonym? On a message board, or print, or in actual publications? What an alternative branding possibility. And of course you're welcome for the award. It's a pleasure to read you.

  9. 'Tanks, john ... I'll wear it with pride ;)

  10. Thanks again John. I use it for one of my email accounts.

  11. a fine choice of writers and a grand peek into all that is Wiswell..

  12. Congrats on your award, you deserve it. I always enjoy reading your posts.


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