An Hour a Day

May 7, 2015

Things that are good right now. Right this second. The dog is sound asleep behind my chair and is not eating the girlchild’s underwear. I am only teaching Punnett squares for about three more days and then I am done done done with the stuff that is apparently so hard we can’t do it. I had an awesome book club meeting last night and a long talk with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I have another social meeting tonight. Grades are done. I think I have uploaded every stupid-ass document Cornell needs onto the financial aid system. The boychild is coming home in less than two weeks. It’s supposed to rain. There are leftovers in the fridge for my lunch today. Google Classroom finally updated so I can grade assignments from my iPad. I’m wearing jeans to work today (this after a long work dress code discussion at book club last night). My foot hurts but it’s not a broken bone. I already had an ankle brace in my stash. I still like Cheerios for breakfast after some 48 years of eating them. Two of my quilts are traveling with the People and Portraits exhibit, and now they will be at all four AQS Quilt Weeks in 2016.

Deep breath. See. That’s all ok.

I had book club last night. This is a group of smart geeky women, the two oldest besides me are a good 10 years younger than me, but they are accepting and funny and sarcastic and intelligent. Some of the best conversations I have some months are at these meetings, no matter what the book is (we panned the book…Mass Midnight by F. Paul Wilson…lousy dialogue, messed up the story, didn’t even make sense at one point, not pleased with how they dealt with anything, except that the vampires didn’t get all sexy or sparkly). I don’t make it to all of them, because of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but I do have a good time when I go. I had a long conversation afterwards with a friend there, and it got me home and dinnerfied late (thanks to the girlchild for making dinner), but I did manage to get off the couch and do art. I almost always manage to do that. I’m not a couch sitter really. I’m usually grading papers (did that yesterday too) or sewing or cutting stuff out or drawing if I’m on the couch. Girlchild’s new TV obsession is SVU, of all things. Kind of a mental shock for her to go from weeks of watching Friends (which almost drove me bonkers) to the Law and Order offshoots. I suggested she start with L&O and she just looked at me like I was crazy. She finished the second AP test yesterday, so she’s a little braindead.

So I traced…

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Only for about an hour. That’s the key. I think some people are like, well, I’m not going to get very much done, plus it’s late, and then they never get up. I regularly do about an hour a night, or try to anyway, and when I have more time (and energy, honestly), I do more. I can do almost 4 hours in a good night, but that’s rare, except on weekends and vacations. But an hour a day is 365 hours you didn’t spend on art before. An hour a day when you figure about 7 hours to trace all the Wonder Under for this quilt? That’s a week. That’s nothing. And I wasn’t always this good at it. I had to push myself to get here. I used to put it on my calendar, just like I did the blog writing. And then it became habit. And now, I have to be sick or out of town to not be making art, and even then, I’m probably drawing with the latter.

Which reminds me, driving to the book club venue last night, a drawing related to the Barton thing I showed you yesterday popped into my head. Like BING! And it’s still there, because I didn’t draw it last night. Aargh. I need a full day just of drawing I think.

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So 4 1/2 hours in, I’m 400 pieces in as well. Only a couple hundred pieces to go. I’m feeling better about this piece. Progress. It helps.

Keep doing the work. Keep getting up off the couch.


States of Terror…

May 2, 2015

I had someone ask me recently what I do when I’m not teaching or making art (and it’s obviously not sleeping), and there’s a wide variety of things I like to do: the movies, obviously hiking (on hiatus until I find out if this is a broken bone in my foot), art opening, reading, and sometimes (although it’s been a while) a book reading. Last Saturday, I went to this…

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to hear a friend of a friend read (because how else do you hear about these things?). I had never been to Digital Gym, although I’ve been invited to a ton of things there, so that was interesting. They have a nice outdoor space for these things, but it started to rain, so they moved us inside into the computer lab.

The reading was part of the release of this book…

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Volume 1 in a series of stories about monsters in every state (available on Amazon). Certain creatures seem to inhabit territories, and each state seems to have a list of those monsters that are most known there. The authors picked monsters and states and wrote, and the artists illustrated. The reading was a sampling of edited stories (for time), and was definitely worth the trip.

I tried to photograph each author reading, but missed the first one, and then they did some weird backlit scheme, which didn’t help my photos, but here they are…

I missed Jessica Hilt…my camera was deep in my bag, but here’s the art for her Frogman story titled Punctuated Equilibrium

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The art is by David Ferreira.

Here is Sunny Katz reading her scary Mystery Box

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About a dog that can sit on the ceiling before it eats you.

Ed Farragut reading When You’ve Seen Beyond about the Dover Demon…

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Hanna Tawater reading Wakiya, a surreal tale of snakes who could fly…

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Jim Ruland reading Flesh Air, the story of the Bunnyman…

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Julia Dixon’s story of a weeping mother looking for her lost children, La Llorona, She Weeps with You

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Ryan Bradford’s The Desert Climate…a story about a missing wife and maybe some aliens… 

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Rachel Lee Taylor’s Route 351, the story of Charlie No-Face…

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And finally, the man we came for, Alex Bosworth, whose story Old Foukey made everyone laugh out loud with his sarcastic tale of a balding monster with an enormous penis…

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 I took the obligatory weird leg photo…

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And saw this art in the book…by Emily Dumas…

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I’m totally giving that little guy a hug…

All in all, very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to reading all the stories and seeing future readings as the rest of the volumes come out…only 18 stories were included in this one, and they plan to do all 50 states.


Make Art

December 5, 2014

I got one picture for last night. Because I didn’t do much but cut little pieces out and write sci fi. This is how far I got by the end of the night…

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Top left is trash (kept until I figure out if I threw any tiny pieces in there by accident. I do it all the time, unfortunately.). Top right is what I’ve actually achieved (which yes, doesn’t look like shit at the moment; thank you for reminding me.). Bottom is what I still have left to do. Two pairs of scissors, the phone, wine, TV remote, and pajamas. Really, it was not a bad night, except it started with a soccer parent meeting (aargh. asshole coach. stupid people. grrr.) and I didn’t get to go to the gym and I was really really tired. I’m hiking tomorrow morning, so I’d really better put myself to bed early. If I’m smart. And we’ve already proved I’m not, at least when it comes to sleep.

I did cut more tonight at my stitching meeting. Nice conversation. Those things keep me sane. School? Not so much. I was supposed to enter some art shows this week, and only managed one. So little free time. So little time for anything. People wonder how I get anything done. I wonder too. I do crazy stuff like listen to lectures while I’m writing, write while I’m exercising, grade while I’m watching. I rarely do Just One Thing at a Time. Except for the art. The art is big enough and strong enough to fill up the whole mind, to make sure the bits that wander off into depressoid land don’t have a chance. They can’t get out. All the exits are blocked by artmaking activities. It’s all art.

Sometimes I wonder why I got bit so hard by the art bug. I have two kids who are creatively minded, one who draws/paints really well, but doesn’t get obsessed by it. I don’t remember being her age and making art. I know I did, but I don’t remember what it felt like. I know what it feels like now. I remember what it felt like when the kids were little and I didn’t have time. It felt like grinding your teeth. It felt like that migraine caused by the Santa Ana winds blowing dry and hot in the fall. It felt like fingernails on a chalkboard. It was just wrong. But I don’t remember when it got like that. I had this conversation with the boychild, who is leaning towards a major (I didn’t even ask…because it doesn’t matter), and I explained how I wasn’t allowed to just major in art when I went to college, that I had to have another major. That it was assumed that art would not sustain. And I guess it’s true that financially it does not sustain, but it is the One Thing that I have done most of my life consistently and purely and truly. It is the core of who I am. How I am. I could not stop, as I have seen some friends and acquaintances do, and just go to work and come home and watch TV and sleep in on Sundays and go to the park. I would rather be in a fluorescently lit room with bad wallpaper and containers of fabric: tracing, drawing, cutting, sewing. That is where I need to be. I’m scared of getting old and not having that. I’ve seen that. The old artists who aren’t well enough to draw or paint any more. Maybe they don’t even remember how. I don’t want to be like that. I can’t imagine being that empty.

So art. Yes. Fills.

I had this quote sitting around for a while: “Don’t go into art for fame or fortune. Do it because you cannot not do it. Being an artist is a combination of talent and obsession.” John Baldessari

And Neil Gaiman’s speech…

about Make Good Art. Love Gaiman. Do not love this book though…

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Really. You should look at it…until it gives you a headache. Because it will. It’s the speech…but the design is torturous.

Anyway. Make art. Hopefully it will get good. (Make Art was the title of my original blog, started 10 years ago.)


Awkward Foreign Accent

October 16, 2014

I’ve been having bad dreams, careening around steep mountain roads in a minivan, I’m not driving, mom is and sometimes other people are, and they’re fishtailing around corners, sometimes fully spinning around before regaining control and continuing at an incredibly fast rate down the hill. My stomach’s in my throat for most of it and then I wake up…and I eventually fall asleep again and I’m right back in the same place, starting over again at the top of the hill, someone else driving, holding onto the oh-shit handles and not screaming, because there isn’t enough air. That was Tuesday night.

Last night, it was lights in the eyes; I kept waking up thinking someone was flashing lights in my eyes. You know that crazy jump of your heart when you wake up terrified? It was that about five times. Scared the cat once.

I didn’t start ironing until late, and I knew I’d have to be up really early this morning for girlchild’s doctor’s appointment, so I told myself I was going to bed before midnight. It was pointless, because then I tossed and turned for at least an hour before finally falling fitfully asleep. My sleep app says my sleep was only 79% effective last night. I’m not sure which is worse…only sleeping 4 hours or sleeping crappy for longer? I’m not sure I got 4 hours last night.

I worked on the man’s head…

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It was pretty easy to put together. The gender symbols throughout this piece…I purposely picked a fabric with computer code jargon on it for the male and typeset letters for the woman.

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Think of that what you will.

The tree was a pain in the butt. First of all, I needed two of the ironing sheets to get the full width, but the other one kept falling off the ironing board.

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Then I realized I had fucked up on the cutting…the top two branches were supposed to be different fabrics, but they aren’t (I left that mistake). The continuation of the top right branch, though…totally wrong fabric, so I had to recut that one. Same with below…there’s a piece of branch on top in the middle that is the same as the one below, but the ones on either side are different (like they’re supposed to be), so I had to recut that one.

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There she is in all her glory.

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See that’s why I do them. Because now it looks cool. Now I need to do all the things that grow off of it and hang off it. Not a small amount.

I only have about a third of my voice this morning. That wouldn’t be a huge problem, except I am a teacher. I did wonder yesterday, because I ran a lab about gas exchange (blowing carbon dioxide into an indicator to make it change color…they were very excited) and my voice was necessary, so I overused it, and now it’s barely here. I think I can do today. They’re doing research. I do have to talk in the beginning. Ugh.

A kid wore this to school the other day…find the typo.

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Amazing. Yeah, I notice shit like that. All the time. In emails from the district office (bad practice in a school district). In emails from political locals. In books. Everywhere. TV ads seem to be better edited. Maybe you get better editors when you spend more money. Apparently there’s something wrong with me because I notice those things.

I blew off grading yesterday evening to finish my book…Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

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I think it’s official. I’m done with Scott Card. We read this for book club for November, because Thanksgiving. And Columbus. Get it? Sort of. I know. I’ve read most of the Ender’s Game series, which I liked at first, but got bogged down with in Xenocide. His writing…it took me a while to figure out what the issue is. He’s deep into histories and politics and details of all that, but relationships? They’re dealt with in like one sentence. “Tagiri decided she liked Hassan and they got married and had children” and all of a sudden, 30 years have passed and we’re on to the next stage. It’s very separate from human emotions, which is strange, because he doesn’t leave those out…but there’s just very little feeling in all of it. Even when the two main characters meet after a bunch of years, there is a brief moment, and then we’re on to explaining the rest of the story. It’s an interesting story, sure, but it’s dry, and I had a hard time with the long middle of it. But he’s planning a series, and the next one is about Noah’s flood (he did actually have a theory about that in this book). I bet he’s Asperger’s. I found this quote from one of his books…one I’ve actually read, I think: “He would always speak the language of the heart with an awkward foreign accent.” That’s it. He doesn’t know how to write about it. I think. Good topic for book club discussion (if I remember in three weeks).

Anyway. I know I haven’t posted any book reviews in a while. I’m still reading; I’m just not writing about them as much. I don’t know why. OK, have to get out of here. Need a title. Dammit.


Crazy It Is…

October 2, 2014

No real pictures today. And this will be a speedy post. Already managing school stuff without a full cup of tea in my brain (trouble). But spent a goodly amount of time last night with friends discussing vivisection and 120-year-old science and beliefs and the terrors of online dating for old ladies like me…

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My book club read The Island of Dr. Moreau this month in honor of Halloween. I had never read H.G. Wells before. It’s difficult to admit that I, as an artist, had a hard time visualizing the characters in a book, but this one did it to me, and this cover Does Not Help at all. I love my geek book club…such wacky discussions from so many directions, from gene splicing to zombies to chemical dependencies and corporate structure. I go for the smart discussions, because I don’t get that very many other places. Thank god the book was short, but it’s interesting that (1) such a short book brought up so many things to talk about and (2) I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure how she felt about it. I did rate it well on Goodreads, but only because it made me think (and look up about 400 words on Dictionary.com). I have been reading a lot lately, but not posting about them here. Not sure why. Time.

Yes, I cut out pieces of fabric last night…for about an hour…interrupted by the girlchild’s food poisoning. Fun week. Really. I could use a break. But more pictures of cut-out pieces just depressed me last night…mostly because progress is really slow (of course, it helps if you get home before 10 PM). And right now, I’m trying to type this with a cranky old bitch of a cat pawing at me, purring, desperately wanting (a) my tea and (b) my full attention. So she sits on the mouse. Sigh. Hey! I’m also considering a modern-dance class for beginners (it doesn’t outright say Total Klutzes Like You, but it should). I know, crazy. But crazy seems to be my middle name these days…whether it’s trying to do way too much at one time, get all this art done, go on hikes, or just make it through the day…crazy it is.


Preparing for Hell in a Handbasket

September 9, 2014

I’m trying to stay on schedule with the new quilt. I know for a fact that at some point, the schedule will go to hell in a handbasket. Some major thing will happen that will completely suck up all my time and I will fall behind, so the better I am NOW about trying to make up time, the better off I will be later. So I traced Wonder Under for about two hours last night while helping the girlchild fill out the Common App for college…aargh…I feel like I should be able to copy all the pertinent info over from the boychild’s app, like the exact date of my divorce. I looked it up last year, and since it’s significantly different from the separation date, which is seared in my memory, I can never remember the year. It didn’t matter by then. They asked for stuff I don’t remember having to look up last year, like the address of the school in Wales I attended for a year. So the ex was on speaker phone while watching the Chargers lose (as always), girlchild was on the computer, swearing at the app, and I was tracing Wonder Under.

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It kinda looked like this, except she was sitting over there. The light table is not a small thing. But I absolutely love it. It’s so incredibly convenient for what I do, so much easier than what I was doing before.

I got over 200 pieces done, so I’m now in the mid-300s. That’s good progress. If I can do that every night (questionable?), I’ll be done Friday night. Then cutting out the pieces? Maybe another three nights? Hard to say. I do actually have teacher duties and art events this week, so I might have to adjust.

I try to fill in as much of the space in between pieces as possible.

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The girlchild has a much different college-choosing process than her brother. I don’t actually know what his thought process was…I just know he eventually had a list. She had a list from all the mail she got, locations she wanted, a bunch of internet searches, and other random info. Then she talked to a college counselor, and got some more names (but also got kinda pissed off, because the counselor gave her a chunk of schools she really didn’t want, like religiously affiliated schools), and then last night, she finally did this…

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Yes, there are like 21 schools on those post-its, but she knows she needs to get down to about half those. Some she just needs to research a bit more, like the UC schools…I suggested she pick two, but she’s having a hard time deciding which two. She has a couple uber-reacher schools…she probably doesn’t have a chance of getting in, but she really would like to try. So we’ll see. The plus is that she’s not leaving it until the last minute, like some relative of hers who is now at college (cough cough, her brother, cough). Needless to say, the stress levels around here are somewhat charged.

To counteract those stressful thoughts, I present this…

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My GISHWHES diploma…I do love their sense of humor. If you can’t read it, “In recognition of the personal sacrifices and dedication demonstrated by shocking the world with public art, kind deeds and generally being an unapologetic weirdo.” I think that’s my life philosophy. I probably need to work a bit more on the kind deeds. I think I will print this out and hang it next to my credential at school. I did not choose to hang my credential at school. It was done for me, by the way. I get kinda tired of explaining why I teach science when I have so much painting/literature experience (and really, I was never much of a painter).

We had an incredibly long staff meeting yesterday. The new school year has brought us Monday Minimum Days, presumably for collaboration with co-workers, although that hasn’t happened yet. But once a month, instead of collaborating, we start a staff meeting at 2:45 PM, the worst possible time in the world for my brain, which turns into mush between about 2 and 5 PM, and then it potentially can go on until 4:45. Shoot me now. I know how my brain works, though, so I draw. My last principal, I avoided drawing, because if your eyes were not wide open and trained upon him, you would be chastised the next day for your lack of attention, so if you consider the eyeball-straining scene from The Clockwork Orange

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That’s kinda how it felt. Anyway, this new guy seems better…so I drew. One of my co-workers requested a cat. I glared at her. She glared back and said, “I know you know how to draw them. I’ve seen you do it.” True that. But I wasn’t in the mood for just a cat…

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Just so you know, because some people feel confused by this, drawing just occupies the part of my brain that otherwise causes trouble by falling asleep or spacing out. It actually allows me to concentrate BETTER on what you’re saying. I’ve always had a hard time convincing other people that I know how my brain works, but I do.

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It started with a hand on fire. Anyway. I may need to draw during collaboration days as well, based on what’s been happening in my department, which has two new teachers, both female, who may shake things up a bit (not a problem, personally).

Because of the heat here, when I’m working on stuff in my office or at the light table, I am followed by the living creatures who inhabit my house. They like to lie underfoot.

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This is better than where she was before, which was about where I was standing. I persuaded her to move over so I could actually use the light table.

Or under ironing boards so they can’t be moved.

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Eh. I do not rule my house. Pets do.

I’ve been under some reading stress lately too, which conflicts with my ability to get art done. Apparently every single book I had on hold at the library will be coming in within the same two-week time period, even though some have been on hold for over 6 months, as I was number 723 on a list of 5,000.

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I actually already finished two that came, one that was almost 800 pages. And I’m sending back the audio book, because I don’t concentrate well on those. I did not mean to get the audio version (whoops), so I re-requested it as a real book, with pages and all. I’m perfectly OK with waiting longer for that book at the moment, because I’m going to have a hard time getting through all these. Only two are book club books. And you can’t renew these, because 700 people after you have holds on them as well, so if I go over the due date, this explains my increasing fines with the library system. Pay for college? Pay my library fines? Hard decision to make.

Anyway, last but not least, here is a link to a blogpost I wrote for FIG, the women’s art group I’m in, about the installation at Art Produce opening this weekend: The Fence/La Barda exhibit

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And a picture of the flying junk-mail birds I helped install.

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And now I need to go to school and try to figure out a way to deal with Google docs without using Google Classroom, because they still haven’t figured out how to fix that. Sigh. Nothing is ever easy. Yes, I could have them all SHARE their files with me, but apparently Classroom has a really easy, efficient way to do that, and I’m not allowed to have easy or efficient at the moment. So I’m winging it. Ha ha. Birds. Winging it. OK. Need more caffeine.


Book Review: Traveling Left of Center

August 10, 2014

I recently read a collection of short stories by Nancy Christie titled Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories, through NetGalley.

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I enjoyed Christie’s writing style, although many of the stories found me wondering about the characters in them, as they made remarkably bad or just plain scary decisions. Christie says her characters cannot or will not get control over their own lives, and so the outcomes of their actions are often not what they expect. One story that sticks in my mind was Alice in Wonderland, about a woman who travels through books while her real life weighs her down. Watching for Billy was another story where you worried about the main character, often yelling out in your head, NO! Don’t be that nice person! Which is of course an interesting comment on society itself…we begin the story feeling sorry for Agnes and supporting her actions, all the while telling our paranoid selves that this will not turn out well. Still Life is a dream I myself have had, usually right before the alarm clock goes off.

That’s the beauty of these stories: they feed our paranoias, our fears, but also our dreams. Many of the characters resonated with me. I liked that each story was fully fleshed out, even in so few words. Often short stories leave more questions than answers and I feel unfulfilled by them, but this was not true of Christie’s stories. There was only one where I was left thinking, “Wait a minute. How does that work?” The creepy part of the mind is definitely at work here, but in a good way. I enjoyed reading these.

 

The publisher would like you to know that the book itself publishes Sept 9, but that the eBook of “Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories” is currently discounted for the prepublication price of $4.99 or less until September 9th (when it will go back up to the retail price of $5.99). If you preorder, it will be automatically delivered to your eReader on the publication date (September 9th). The prepublication discount is currently active on Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/q3vqvqr) Apple iBookstore (http://tinyurl.com/q3rjbkw), Barnes & Noble (http://tinyurl.com/moozc5y), Kobo (http://tinyurl.com/nt8vyyd) and other online bookstores.

If you enjoy short stories about people who aren’t perfect, but with a creepy tinge to them, because there is no way to read this book without getting a little creeped out, then you should enjoy this collection.


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