Sunday, August 24, 2014

Upcoming Reading Event & More!

A while back I had a short story titled, "Beautiful Libby and the Darkness" published in the anthology "Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails," published by Dragon's Roost Press and in support of Last Day Dog Rescue. On Friday, September 26th at 7:00 pm, fellow contributor David Hayes and I will be reading our stories at Off the Beaten Path Books in Farmington, MI.

I'm pleased to be part of this event and honored to have been invited to read.

Speaking of being honored, I have also been asked to be a speaker at Penguicon next year. More on that as events unfold.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Robin Williams & The Movie Zone.

I chose to wait until I was a few weeks in before really posting about this just to make sure it was going well and in the direction I wanted. So far, so good. The Movie Zone is filling the gap left behind by Yahoo Voices quite well, despite my only being able to write about movies.

In light of the stunning and tragic loss of Robin Williams, we were granted permission to write as many articles about him as we wanted. I waited until the following week because I wanted to review a movie of his I'd never seen. Click here for the review.

I chose the movie review because I couldn't really put into words why my reaction to Williams' suicide hit me so hard. I could have mentioned how my dad was obsessed with him when he first burst onto the scene and how Williams always stood in place of my dad, who died much too young. But even that doesn't really get to the heart of it and I've given up trying to do that for the moment.

Also, if you're interested, here's where I slammed Guardians of the Galaxy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sweet, sweet validation.

I don't tend to write easily accessible stories for the mainstream genre market. I tend to see genre as an extension of the literary world, just more dynamic and fable-based. So, occasionally I write something that becomes very difficult to find a home for, a fact my previous post also discussed. This time it is the tale of a sad, lonely woman who's always been a bit too close to her brother who suddenly finds the perfect man entering her life. Of course there's a catch. There's always a catch.

The story has been passed around from magazine to anthology to weekly grocery store newsletter, always with the same result...until now. Below is the acceptance email I just received upon waking and my response to it. Nice way to wake up on a Monday morning:

Hi Christopher, and thanks for the submission, we really appreciate it. Sorry for the long response time, we've been pretty inundated with submissions lately.
I really enjoyed reading through 'The Love of a Good Entity', it was a very well told and compelling story on a character level. Very touching in a bittersweet fashion. If it's still available I'm potentially interested in publishing it on the site; I say potentially because I wanted to ask you if you would consider cutting out the last section of the story. I feel like leaving with the open ended conclusion better suits the sense of loss and emptiness of the story, and the added bit after that seems to detract from the somber and heartfelt atmosphere by making it a more 'conventional' horror tale, in part for its bluntness.

Let me know what you think and maybe we can get something going; if so, I'll put it through an editing pass (though I didn't notice much of anything that needed work on the first read-through, ending aside) and once that's done I'll get the simple contract to you. Is it original (unpublished), or would this be a reprint?

Thanks again for the great story, I think it will make a great addition to our line-up!

Brett Reistroffer - Editor, Bad Dream Entertainment
Thanks for your kind words regarding what has been a difficult-to-place story. I agree with you regarding the ending and have always ping-ponged between the open-ended section and a perceived need to explain the aftermath. I have no problem losing the last section for publication. The story is previously unpublished.
Also, if you think the amount of time it took between submitting and your response is a long time, you and I just became BFFs!
Chris Nadeau

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Floorboards" has found a home.

Most of you have no idea what I'm referring to, but my short story "Floorboards" was read before a small yet captivated college audience two years ago and has been bouncing around the submission world ever since. Now, finally, the annual Triangulation anthology which published my short story, "The Party" in 2011 has included it in their latest collection entitled "PARCH."

It just came out and the first Amazon review is already a positive one!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

First Look at Darkness Internal Issue 2!

The next issue of Voluted Tales' The Darkness Internal, created and edited by this here guy right here, is soon to go live. In the meantime, below is the cover image (not a final version) of the next issue. As always, I am very proud of the work being presented. This time, however, I had some input on the cover's concept.

I am very pleased to see that artist Terry Pavlet took my vague notion and made it something really eye-catching!

Here it is:

I will also a link when the issue goes live.


For those interested in reading the final installment of the Catholic and Buddhist posts, don't fret none. It's a'comin'!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Catholic & a Buddhist Walk into a Nursing Home Part II: The Special Section

(Continued from Part I)

Having left the woman who had been pleading for death behind, we made our way deeper into the nursing home, in search of the next person on the list. Dazed by our recent experience, we walked in circles in the hallway for a few moments.

My wife sucked up her tears and said, “This isn’t my suffering; it’s hers.”

Together we walked back into the main lobby, where one of my wife’s favorite patients sat in the window, as usual. Her husband who only has one arm sits with her all day and they stare out at the day as if on the cusp of joining it. Despite having dementia, she can be surprisingly lucid and her attitude is always positive and upbeat.  That includes this visit, during which she admitted to having been feeling a bit down the past few days.

She and my wife agreed it was likely due to the abrupt temperature changes we’d been experiencing and more pleasant small talk took place afterwards. Sometimes the husband would chime in with words that didn’t sound quite like words, his bemused expression more distant than that of his wife.  I looked over and saw a woman coming towards us, smiling. She had been at the counter next to us signing in. She was also the daughter of the couple we’d been talking to.

She too had been to church that morning, happily sharing the message she’d heard about monitoring our words and actions when it comes to dealing with others.  She was a positive force in a negative place and, perhaps selfishly, I was grateful for her presence so soon after the woman who’d been pleading with us to let her die.

My wife and the daughter hugged once they’d concluded Communion, both of us still stunned by the revelation that she was 62 years old. We’d thought she was in our age group. And her mother, whose appearance indicated no older than early seventies, is nearly ninety.

We went to the dreaded second floor next, the one with the special section of advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. One lady in particular holds a special place in my wife’s heart because she was one of the first patients she connected with when she first started her ministry and because the woman looks like she could be a relative. She’s been in hospice care for months and comes and goes as far as awareness is concerned. This time she was very aware and very much into taking the host.  I had to stay behind for a few minutes and make sure she didn’t choke before rejoining my wife in the patient lounge.

This was where some of the worst patients were located. Elderly men and mostly women sitting in wheelchairs, staring off into nothing, drooling, spitting. But not all of them.

While my wife was busily doing her best to pray for and with a woman who barely registered her presence, I had gained the attention of a couple old ladies who, shall we say, were in enough possession of their faculties to have the following conversation:

Lady#2- Now that’s what I like right there. Big and tall!

Lady #1- Tell him.

Lady#2- What? No!

Lady#1- Go ahead. Tell him what you like.

Please let this pass, I thought. Please let this pass.

I knew it wouldn’t; I’d had this experience at too many nursing homes in the days my mom was trapped in them to expect any other result except what happened next.

Lady#2 said, “Stop it. You’re crazy!”

Lady# 1 reached over and tapped my arm. I pretended not to understand what she said next, prompting her to repeat herself.

With a raised eyebrow and a smile that was probably sultry when she was younger, Lady#1 said, “She said she likes them big and tall like you.” She leaned in closer. “I like it too!”

I laughed nervously. “Thank you.”

Now she was holding onto my wrist with all her strength which was, surprisingly, pretty impressive.  “Do you have any brothers?” she said.

“No, I’m an only child.”

“You’re an only child?” She glanced over her shoulder and leaned closer to me. “Any cousins?”

The young medical assistant who had let us through the security doors walked over, covered her mouth with her hand, and asked if Lady#1 was bothering me.

“No, she’s fine.” Aside from her aggressiveness, this was nothing new.

“Yep, I have some cousins,” I said.

“You do, huh?” She pulled me in closer. “Well, bring ‘em! Bring ‘em all up here!” She laughed, but not in a way that meant she was joking.

The medical assistant said, “I’m so sorry, sir!”

I forced a chuckle and disengaged my wrist, following my oblivious wife to the next woman, whose dementia was so advanced she had to wear a bib due to periodic spitting. She had no idea what was happening and, after a quick prayer, we moved on to Lady#3.

She was sitting in a wheelchair off the beaten path.  As we approached, she looked up at me and said, “Hello, Father.”

My wife said, “Oh, no. He’s not a priest, he’s my husband. He’s helping me with the Communion. Would you like to take Communion?”

Lady#3, whose eyes had been half shut, seemed to come to life as she looked me up and down. “That’s your husband, huh?”

“Yes,” my wife replied.

“Good-lookin’ man,” Lady#3 replied. “GOOD-lookin’ man. Mmmmm-hmmmmm.”

If I were a Christian, I suppose I’d say the prayer she welcomed afterwards hopefully wiped out the sinful lustfulness in her heart!

Frankly, I was eager to leave what I now saw as the “horny section” of the nursing room. As it turned out, the most emotional experience still awaited us both.

(To Be Concluded)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Catholic & a Buddhist Walk into a Nursing Home Part I: Pleading For Death

To paraphrase the insane, enormous woman on the reality show about trading wives, I’m not a Christian. I’m also not a Catholic. I’m a Zen Buddhist and have considered myself one for two decades, despite no longer practicing. My wife, however, is both a Christian and a Catholic (Yes, they're Christians, too) and she is also a Eucharistic Minister. What that means is, she takes what Catholics call the “host,” more commonly known as Communion wafers, to those who cannot visit church and participate in the ritual.

Actually, these are people who can’t participate in much of anything because they’re elderly nursing home patients, many of whom are in the throes of various forms of dementia. The Catholic Church is huge on charitable acts to those who are suffering, one of several traits they share with Buddhists. In addition, this particular church is run by Franciscan monks, men like Pope Francis, whose devotion to those in need is both admirable and intense.

Each week, my wife delivers the host to these unfortunate elderly people, and I have been going with her of late to make it easier both logistically and emotionally. Buddha spoke of having compassion for those who cannot escape suffering, and this certainly qualifies.

I’ll be honest: In the beginning, I didn’t quite understand the point beyond maintaining religious commitments to those who belonged to the Catholic Church. Having grown up Protestant, I’d taken Communion in a few Lutheran churches, but its significance, while high, was not as important in those churches as it was in the Protestant churches I attended. I didn’t know that for Catholics, the belief is that these wafers as we call them literally transform into the body of Christ.

I’ll be even more honest: That kinda creeps me out. I’m pretty sure most people who were raised Protestant feel the same way. But that’s not important. What matters is that, for these tragic individuals, it’s a link to their past when they were still young and vital and even aware enough to participate on their own. Watching how they respond to the ritual is proof enough of that.

My previous trips to this particular nursing home were difficult for me; my mother spent a few years in three different ones due to Type 1 Diabetes and complications brought upon by it. She was only in her early fifties and a clinical psychologist, so the staff tended to regard her as a mentor. They also knew I was going to be there too often to pull any shit; not that they would have. It helped that some of them also had crushes on me, I suppose.

By contrast, these people (mostly women) are old and confused and some seem to have been deposited there like expired food waiting to be thrown away for good. One woman, Nettie, expressed her utter loneliness when she said no one ever comes to see her. That brought tears to my eyes, but the most recent trip was a whole different story.

We go from room to room based on a church supplied list.  There are two floors, including a section where special access is required because of the mental state of the patients there. Sometimes we “luck out” and find several of the listed people in the lunch room. Today, as we walked in, my wife spotted two of the women she normally visits.  The first one took Communion like always, graciously and cooperatively.  The next one was a different story.

My wife had to confirm and re-confirm this was the correct person; she didn’t look like the same woman from before.  She seemed older, more withdrawn.  Once her identity was established, my wife asked her if she wanted to take Communion.

“Please!” the woman yelled. “Please!”

“You do want to take Communion?”

“Please!” she repeated. “Please! Please!”

“All right,” my wife replied. “We’ll start with a prayer.”

“Please let me die!” the woman yelled.

My wife’s eyes filled with tears. Mine did, too, and I looked away as the woman kept repeating the phrase. Even during the prayer, she kept saying it. She didn’t want to take the host, either, which is their choice, but my wife couldn’t just walk away. She started telling the woman what a wonderful person she was and how God loved her. The woman stared at her with eyes filled with intense understanding; far too much to be dismissed as someone with Dementia.  She grabbed onto my wife’s hand with all her might and stared into her eyes as the words “wonderful” and “love” and “good” filled the air.

She said it again, this time with less conviction but still enough to show she meant business.  “Please let me die!”

My wife told her she understood.

“No, you don’t!” the woman yelled.

“You’re right, I don’t,” my wife replied. “I only understand that you’re suffering.” She hugged the woman, and the woman leaned her head in.

That was only the beginning of a day filled with sadness, reminders of mortality, and even a few dashes of humor.

(To Be Continued)