Saturday, November 26, 2016

With Rejections Like This, Who Needs Acceptance?

I've always believed that most great stories start near the end and work their ways back to the start. In keeping with that tradition, I thought I'd begin with my response to a recent rejection letter:

"That was easily the kindest and most encouraging rejection letter I've received in some time. With your permission, I'd love to share this on. my blog."

What prompted such a gushing reply, you're probably wondering? Before I get to that, allow me to include the editor's response to my response so we can get the legal crap out of the way:

"Aww, thank you. I'd be100% okay with that. That's pretty cool of you! I wouldn't mind a bit of a reputation for being a nice and thoughtful editor!
Nice, guy, right? This field is full of them, believe it or not, but they don't normally take the time to write such a positive, encouraging rejection letter. Nor, I might add, should they feel compelled or obligated to do so. I consider myself one of the good ones but when I was editing "The Darkness Internal," I didn't always write personal letters to my authors. Anyway, without further adieu (misspelling intentional), here is L.S. Engler's reply in all its glory!
"Hello again, Christopher!

First of all, let me thank you for your patience in waiting for a response to your submissions. This year, the World Unknown Review received well over 100 submissions, exceeding my expectations beyond belief. Unfortunately, not only did this mean taking more time to review the submissions, but it also meant a lot of really hard decisions, as there's only space for ten stories each year. Your story, "And What's Left of the World's a Better Place for It," made the short list, but, unfortunately, it did not make the final cut. I'm going to have to pass on publishing it this year.

That said, I really did enjoy it. Glenda was an incredibly interesting main character and the concept was really intriguing. It just didn't quite resonate as strongly as some of the others. I wish you luck in placing them elsewhere, as it truly was an exceptional story, and I hope you'll consider submitting again to us for future editions.

Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to read your work.

--L.S. Engler"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Two for Thanksgiving.

The only other time I ever wrote about Thanksgiving on this blog took the form of a history lesson/rant about the absolute bullshittery involved in such a dubious holiday. I was called crazy for writing it so I knew I’d done the right thing. I never revisited the topic because, honestly, what’s left to say that hasn’t been expounded on by others far more knowledgeable than I?
So, this post is not a history lesson but it is most certainly a rant.  A personal one.
In the wake of my mother-in-law’s passing, several things came to light and to pass. But she didn’t need to physically pass away to make that happen. Even before she was gone, months before, when she was no longer aware that it was a holiday,  my wife's siblings realized they no longer needed to avoid her scrutiny if they didn’t include my wife and, by extension, me in holiday gatherings.
Obviously if they could no longer get in trouble, they also no longer had to conform to the old ways of doing things. And while the irony of peoplre who refer to themselves as "The Family" and claim to embrace all forms of traditionalism comprising their supposed core values in the name of convenience and comfort isn’t lost on me, this post isn’t about pointing out hypocrisy. I could spend volumes on that. No, this post is about the simplest of concepts: Right and Wrong.
Who am I to discuss these things as if I’m an expert, they would probably say? My response is as simple as the concept: I’m a human being who knows better than to try and fool myself and others into thinking blatant disregard can be disguised as righteouness.
My wife devoted countless days and nights to her mother’s well-being only to be shut out towards the end for reasons I’ll not expound on here. Suffice it to say, the very least that could be done in honor of their mother and what went before is to extend an invitation to a holiday get-together. Who cares if she says no? If you don’t care enough to even present the appearance of propriety and compassion, you sure as hell shouldn’t care if someone declines an invitation. If anything, you’d get to spin it into a smug assurance of your own moral superiority.
So, perhaps the fear is that the invitation would be accepted and they would have to face their own shortcomings and wrongdoing. It is, after all, easier to remain in one’s bubble than to pop it and risk inhaling less familiar air.
That must be why they couldn’t even wait until their mother was completely gone before beginning the now annual act of choosing not to include my wife in the holidays.
You may notice that I haven’t really included myself in the non-inviting discussion. That’s because I have no stake in this. For my money, I could literally go the rest of my life and never partake in another holiday gathering with them and be perfectly fine. But she is their sister and aunt and they should at least have the good taste to go through the motions. One would think the nieces and nephews she helped raise who are now adults and had nothing to do with the falling out would acknowledge her on holidays, especially since she had made sure to send them birthday wishes. They did not return the favor on her birthday.
This year’s Thanksgiving will be almost like last year’s, with just the two of us feasting on an incredible meal (she prepared her mom's traditional meal to honor her)  my wife has prepared all by herself. Except last year we took food to her mom and spent the evening with her. No one else did that.

 I imagine at some point my wife might be hard-pressed to even do that as the years go on, and who could blame her? Pettiness has a way of gnawing at our souls until there’s precious little left. Still, sometimes I wonder if there really are only two of us. There have been signs and moments that indicate my wife is not alone.
I look forward to what she prepares and am thankful she is in my life and still willing to go through so much to make the day memorable and worthwhile, mostly in honor or her mother’s memory.
Ultimately, it is as my own mother used to say: We can’t control how others act, but we have almost total control over how we react.
Happy Thanksgiving~

Monday, November 21, 2016


Imma just leave this here and let ya'll do with it as you please...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Literary Hero James Morrow's Thoughts on the Trump Victory.

"Beneath the disgusting and endlessly distracting masks of Donald Trump—misogynist, racist, xenophobe, religious bigot—lies the matrix of a face unprecedented among those forty-four men who’ve held our country’s highest office: the face not of a mere sociopath (the republic was hardly spared that in the past) but rather of a sociopath who can’t be bothered to disguise his lack of a conscience, knowing that a corrupt legislature will do that for him. And so we leap into a void ...not foreseen by the 18th-century Enlightenment rationalists who assembled our republic: a zone of raw nihilism and provisional absurdity, reverberant with the dark laughter of a nonexistent Providence, where ignorant armies clash by night and tell lies by day, waiting for Godot. Were the stakes not so large, and the impending piles of bodies not so high, my own inner sociopath would anticipate the next four years with sheer, salivating, hideous pleasure."

Friday, November 4, 2016

Tribute to Barbara Michael, my mother-in-law.

Today is my mother-in-law Barbara Michael's birthday. She passed away this year on February 17th at the age of eighty-two surrounded by most of her children. I was there, too, as were two other in-laws and several grandchildren.

My wife Lorie and her mother were extremely close, loving and fighting each other the way only people with that type of bond can.  Below is a picture of me with Barb as she was called, taken in 2014 when she was experiencing dementia-related issues. Note the beautiful smile and childlike wonder still in her eyes:

Lorie and I were there every Saturday to spend time with her mom. It became such an ingrained tradition that I didn't even question whether it was going to happen; I just wondered when. Her mother was her world and now that she isn't here in her physical form, Lorie is facing the impossible task of moving on with her life.

My mother died in 1997.  My father died in 1991.  I have experienced parental death but that doesn't make me some wise sage.  All I can do is love and care for and be there for her.  It's a powerless feeling and while I can understand how she feels, I cannot feel how she feels. This has permanently changed Lorie and Barb's passing has left an enormous void in the world.

Barb, you are loved and you are missed.

Here's Barb on her birthday three months before she passed, still stunnin' em!