Ponderings, New Scenes, and Other Quandaries

My apologies in advance, this post takes something of a shotgun-blast approach to gathering and sharing thoughts. Hey, it’s the new year, my brain is still in tatters.

  • Congratulations to good friend and critique buddy Gale Deitch, who had a short story published with literary journal The Writing Disorder. Her story is Pressing Matters, which I have not had the time to read just yet (it was only published this morning as far as I know), but am sure is excellent, as is all of Gale’s work. Give her some page views!
  • My strange penchant for talking around certain scenes has struck again when it comes to Broken Wing. I realized that in the first draft I mentioned the awkwardness of early sexual encounters between two sex addicts as they learn to truly relate in the act rather than being present-but-not-really, but I never showed it. This is akin to walking to the end of the diving board with the world watching and saying, “Nahhh, not today.” If you’re going to write about a sex addict it must encompass the whole experience, good and bad. There’s a lot of the bad and not much of the good as it stands. I decided to add the good as well, so we get some awkward – but sweet – sex in what is currently Chapter Ten.
  • Have been searching for the equivalent of an iPad when it comes to writing – something lightweight, flexible, easy to start up and use on a moment’s notice. Traditional laptops did not cut it for the interminable start-up, sheer bulk, and headache factor of Windows. Something of a holy grail for years now. Got one of these (hint: it’s a Chromebook) for Christmas and it’s fantastic. I keep the novels in Google Docs to write on the fly, but if I need a bigger set of tools, I can remote network with my desktop and get the more robust Word tool set. one of my favorite gifts of the year. If Google ever gets Docs to the same place as Office, Microsoft could be in trouble.
  • Desperately seeking books about writing that are written for someone who has gotten past the basics. I gave up on writing books last year, thinking I had outgrown them, but the truth is that I need something more tailored to where I am right now. When I comb through writing books, so many are written for beginners, which may contain tidbits that I haven’t considered/thought of, but don’t really hit some of the more advanced tricks and tools I’m looking to pick up. I’ve learned a lot of things through trial and error and critiquing and editing that belong in a book, but I can’t find one that hits that level. Any suggestions?
  • It seems the new publishing trend is here, and it’s one that I can get on board with. Psychological thrillers with lots of messy domestic implications? Anything beats the Fifty Shades stuff, but this has even more promise.
  • Post-Holiday Blues and insomnia are both the worst. Yesterday was the absolute nadir for both, but I think I’m on an upswing. At least, I hope so. Can’t take much more.
  • Being back in the office is both fantastic and terrible. Change of scenery is great, rough re-entry. I imagine that’s playing out across the country right now.
  • To the folks in the Northeast, stay safe and warm. That storm looks rough.

That’s all for now. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the continuing navel-gazing episode soon.

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Picking Journal: I Live For This Stuff

First of all, want to send out my wishes that everyone who celebrates Hannukah and Christmas had awesome holidays; the Allen household had a pretty great time.

Things have, of course, been a little quiet on Shaggin the Muse, as is the norm for this time of year. Important things to tend to in real life – not that my writing career is unimportant (far from it, I’ve just signed on to do two shows next year, with two more in the pipeline), but the holidays are important to me for connecting with friends and family. You can definitely expect things to heat up again here in the near future.

I’d like to talk about something outside of my writing career today. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to discuss my picking career a little more on the site, and today I had an amazing stroke of luck that I wanted to share, hence the title of this post.

By the way, we had a great holiday season for sales; this looked to be a much improved year from last year, when the doldrums really took hold and we couldn’t count on much from buyers. I don’t know what’s changed exactly. Could be that the economy is improving. Could have been a result of focusing on a niche and putting more effort and money into that niche. Either way, I’m happy with the results, and I want to keep that momentum going.

Now, back to the pick. Like I said, I live for this stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across something exceptionally old or rare in thrift stores that grab hold of my imagination. Sometimes those things just don’t fit my niche and I have to pass; I saw a sweet reel-to-reel recorder a few months back that had to pass for just that reason. Nice, but not the kind of thing that I sell.

Today, those worlds intersected. I hit up a couple of my usual haunts, coming up fairly dry at the first place; they do bigger sales on the weekends and so are kind of in the phase between Christmas and Valentines, leaving a lot of empty shelf space. I scared up a few minor finds, mostly software and PC games that will earn a profit of a buck or two. Nothing major, but the kind of stuff that you have to build your business around.

The second store, however, ah, that’s where I struck gold. They’ve already completed the Valentine’s transition and had put out a couple of tables of new stuff. I saw some things that caught my eye, including a semi-rare Playstation 2 Game that was still sealed and should fetch close to 50 bucks. Not bad at all, but not really worth sharing.

Then I saw the second table, and I spotted these:



For those who don’t know what these are, board wargames have been a cottage industry for quite some time, originating in the early 70s, generally considered its heyday, and lasting up to today, though it’s something of a genre without a standard bearer these days. One of the real stars of that era was Avalon Hill, who popularized the genre. I’m not even a huge board gamer or into war games and I knew the name Avalon Hill, so when I saw it on these boxes, I knew I had stumbled across something special. The thrift store was selling these for $3.99 with a blanket 20% off, so I knew I had to have them. Here’s a look at what I found. Continue reading

Sunday Fiction: Open Slay Part 4 (The Finale)

Open Slay

And so we have the final entry of Open Slay. Have a happy holidays, everyone! See you soon.

Oh, click here for Part 3.

Hearts Wires

Jen watched Bill’s body jerk on the claws, reveling in the savage satisfaction that glowed within her. She couldn’t think of a more deserving end for the bastard. How many nights had she endured of the pig writhing over her, snorting out his perverse sentiments? Too many, and she was glad to see their end when the beast jerked its hand, its claw no doubt bursting Bill’s black heart.

She thought it might have been appropriate for the beast to give out a bloody roar now in celebration of its savage victory over the man, but it remained silent, studying Bill’s dead body. Goosebumps rose on Jen’s body as it lifted Bill’s body a bit more and then flung him against the far wall. The heavy man rattled the walls, knocking a few pictures to the floor.

Now the beast raised its head and turned, setting  its gaze on her. She controlled the situation, but still it unnerved her, adding a quivering stomach to shaking hands.

She remembered her grandfather’s advice: Stand your ground. No matter what, stand your ground. It must know who’s in charge.

She touched the charm and shook her head, but the beast didn’t seem to understand. It took two steps forward, its claws dragging the floor, making a horrendous noise.

Stay calm, her grandfather said in her head.

Far easier to hear than to do, but she extended the charm toward it with a trembling hand. “No. You can’t harm me, great-grandpa.”

That stopped the beast in its tracks. It cocked its head, studying her as it had studied Bill’s corpse.

She nodded, chancing a step toward the thing. “That’s right. Gustav. You remember Gustav, your only son?”

It considered a moment longer and then nodded.

“He was my granddad. He told me all about you. He told me about this,” she said, and nodded toward the charm. Continue reading

Fiction Friday: Open Slay Part 3

Okay so here’s how we’re doing this: I have two parts to post and I want them both up before Christmas. I had originally planned to just combine them into one part, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible with my current schedule. So today I’m posting Part 3, and Part 4 will come either tomorrow or Sunday. Let’s get this thing out the door! I’m also going to have a mini-giveaway on Sunday, so keep your eyes open for that. For those who might not be back until after the holidays: have a happy one, from us to you. You helped us give close to $200 to the Capital Area Food Bank, and it means a lot. Now, on with the show…

Oh, and click here to read Part 2.

Bill couldn’t – wouldn’t – believe what he saw when he opened the cabin door. Ally’s initial screams, even muffled though the cabin walls, had shaken him to the core. His hand shook and his stomach rebelled as he turned the doorknob. What he saw on the other side of the threshold, though, that hit him fast and hard. He heard himself shouting (though not a scream, he would never do something so histrionic as a scream) out as the snowy thing lifted the axe above Ally.

She’ll be all right. She always gets out of things like this, he thought. She would get out of the way just in time, and run back to the cabin, just as he yelled for her to do.

No miraculous save this time. No last-minute intervention. Nothing but the ax completing its horrifying arc, burying itself square in the center of Ally’s beautiful face with a thick, sickening schwack.

This time, he might have screamed. He couldn’t be certain of much once she had fallen backwards into the snow. He wanted to run for her and destroy whatever that thing might be, but Jen held him back.

“You can’t help her now. You’ll just get killed,” she whispered.

He knew this to be the truth, but how. How could he let that pass without doing something? He found a certain sick fascination in observing this: though his intellect knew that he could do nothing, his emotions insisted that she could still be saved, if only he…

The thing pulled the axe from Ally’s forehead and swung again, this time separating her head from her body in one clean swing.

There could be no other word for it: Bill shrieked and did the only thing that he could think to do, slamming the cabin door and throwing his weight against it as he stared into Jen’s steady eyes.

She’s taking this remarkably well, he thought, moments before something heavy threw itself into the door, jolting his body.

“Help me!” he cried out, reaching for her.

She shrugged, her eyes wide. . “What am I supposed to do?”

He waved his hand toward the table. “Get a chair or something. We can stick it under the handle.”

She moved, though not as quickly as he would have liked, strolling from her spot near him toward the table.

Another blow and the door shivered in its frame; he felt the contents of his stomach quivering with the shot.  “This is not good, this is not good,” he muttered, over and over.

If Jen heard him, she didn’t indicate it. She was in a world of her own as she chose one of the old wooden chairs and dragged it across the floor.

“What are you, in slow motion? Come on,” he said, and ripped it from her hands.

Her best response was, “Sorry.” She backed away, playing with the charm on her necklace, watching him as the door buckled for a moment and he did all that he could to close it again.

With the beast repelled for a short moment, he whirled, cramming the chair under the knob. He’d only seen this done in TV shows and movies and knew well the line between fiction and reality, but it had to work. The basic physics of it made sense.

He backed away from the door, wiping his hands on his pants. The chair seemed so flimsy compared to that…

Whatever that is. Whoever that is. Because it can’t be what I thought I saw. That’s impossible.

A new blow rattled not just the door but the wall itself. He swore that the wall bowed as he watched it, giving three times as the beast beat against the door.

At last, when he had become sure that the wall couldn’t possibly hold up to the beast’s ferocious attacks, that the whole side of the cabin would cave in, allowing the beast to waltz in and feast on their blood, the blows stopped.

They stopped, and the beast went silent.

He and Jen stood frozen for a long time, waiting for the next blow, but it never came.  Soon the only sound from outside was a gust of wind, rattling the eaves as it blasted toward the roof.

He chuckled and patted his shaking hands together. “There. That’ll show…”

A thump silenced him. They turned toward the source of the noise to discover a thick layer of snow at the bottom of the fireplace. The wind must have dislodged it from above, spilling it down the chimney and snuffing out the fire that they had built.

You wish that’s what happened, he thought.

His heartbeat strengthened in the back of his throat. He backed away from the fireplace, glancing at Jen. “That didn’t just happen.”

She walked toward the fireplace and knelt down, running a finger through the melting snow. She nodded and turned toward him, extending a finger loaded with snow. “Sure looks like it did, honey.”

Again he noticed her overwhelming sense of calmness. Even accounting for shock, he couldn’t understand her reaction. “Get away from it,” he said.

She shrugged and stood up, raising her eyebrows. “Okay, but I don’t think it can –”

The fireplace exploded with the wind that they had heard passing over the roof.

Of course. The bastard didn’t give up. He found another way.

This, too, coiled in his brain in the most logical of fashions; he watched himself backing away as if from a long distance. More snow blew down through the chimney and out into the room, piling itself on the edge of the hearth.  Jen backed away slowly, retreating to the far wall, well away from Bill.

He whipped his head around, his mind grasping for a weapon that would stop this beast in its tracks. It had to be impossible. How could you fight something made of pure snow?

The snow began to coalesce, going from amorphous blob to familiar patterns – an arm here, a leg there. He knew that it would be complete soon, and ready to kill them both. He had to do something.

He tried to get Jen’s attention, but she had become focused on the monster, rubbing that god-awful charm between her hands, muttering something under her breath. He shouted her name, but it disappeared into the roar of the coalescing beast.

He hated to do it, but she would have to take care of herself for now. God knows he had tried to get her away from the thing.

Now defense – how…

His eyes fell on a can of WD40 that sat, neglected, in the far corner of the cabin. He hadn’t run at full speed for close to ten years, but he did it now, practically sliding as he reached down for the  WD40 can, narrowly avoiding the beast’s swinging fist, which smashed into the mirror on the wall.

The mirror made a horrible crashing sound, falling into a thousand pieces that scattered across the floor. It confounded the thing for a few moments, giving Bill time to sweep his Zippo from the dining room table.

He whirled, turning the can and lighter on the monster. He pressed the trigger on the canister and snapped the Zippo’s wheel, gasping as an arc of flame spread out ahead of him, touching the beast in several places. It coated the snow, setting the beast alight where-ever it touched.

The beast remained utterly silent as the flames ate away its white flesh; Bill thought this might be the most unsettling thing about the whole experience, as if it were nothing more than a killing machine, refusing to slow or swerve from its purpose. It didn’t even flail as the flames consumed it. It continued to come at Bill, its strides a study in single-minded, deadly focus. Bill staggered backward, but he kept his finger on the trigger. He knew it meant the difference between life and death.

He gave a whoop of victory as the flames spread to the beast’s legs, halting its steady forward progress. Bill had only to take one step, then another, to avoid it. At last it stopped altogether, trying to hold its form. Its dying body extinguished the remaining flames, but by then the melting had progressed too far for the beast to pull its body back together.

Laughing, Bill turned off the makeshift blowtorch and kicked the beast in its soft head, sending snow, ice, and water skittering across the floor. Frenzied with power, he stomped his foot on the remains until nothing remained but a small pond of water in the middle of the floor.

When he had finished, he threw his head back, pushing his hair back on his skull with one hand. He winked at Jen. “That, my dear, is how you do it. That’s a man at work.”

Jen said nothing; she simply circled the puddle, rubbing her charm, her eyes staring at nothing and everything at once.

“Well aren’t you going to thank me?” he said.

She remained silent.

How dare she rob him of this triumph? The feeling had already begun to slip away, , replaced by a sick, shaky feeling. This was no joke. This…thing…had killed the woman he really loved. They would never get back together. There would be no happy ending for them.

He opened his mouth to speak, though he had no idea what he would say. Would he accuse her? Would he apologize?

It didn’t matter, for the words died when he noticed something at his feet. He recoiled, throwing his hands over his face.

It was the puddle; it had begun to quiver, slowly at first, but becoming more energetic by the second.

No, that’s impossible, he thought, and found the thought immediately fascinating. Even after all he’d seen he still believed this to be impossible. He would have chuckled had his stomach not been consumed by a gnawing sense of dread.

As he took a step away from the puddle, the chair beneath the door knob fell to the floor with a loud thump. The front door burst open, bringing with it a fierce, roaring wind that rose from nowhere and blasted through the cabin, cutting through his exposed flesh.

He watched in horror as the puddle rippled, catching the wind. It began to crack, the telltale sounds of freezing water. Within moments the water began to climb upwards over itself, rising in columns that resembled the beast’s legs. As the water climbed, so it froze; one moment its legs were water, the next solid, translucent ice. Then followed the beast’s abdomen, climbing upward toward its head and outward to its arms.

My God.

The beast – now made of solid ice – rose before him, extending its right arm as it solidified. That arm lengthened, growing into an angular hand with fingers that continued to extend, forming foot-long icicles that resembled razor claws.

Bill made a sound in the back of his throat, stumbling backwards. He thought he would fall on his ass, but he never got the chance. Instead, pain seared through his body as the ice beast thrust its arm forward. He looked down, his mouth spreading in dismay and disbelief. The beast had skewered him, its ice claws cutting through his upper belly and into his chest cavity; he could feel the cold, sharp things moving in there.

He tried to speak, but it must have pierced one of his lungs. He could do nothing but flap his lips. He knew that shock must be setting in, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

The beast grinned at him with its insane face and made another snapping motion.

Bill’s world went dark.


Click here for the chilling conclusion!

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First Signing Appearance and Holiday Nonsense

Hello again, readers. Another general update today; I’m lucky to even be updating during the holidays, but I must admit that I’m a little bummed with my seeming inability to create some of the more pop-culture-oriented posts for which I have become known. I’m sure there will be far more time for that come January, but for now, this is simply how things have to be. I hope everyone is having an awesome holiday season. I know I am, but it’s practically flying by with all of the work to which I’ve committed. I’ve allowed myself a bright little pocket of Christmas on my desk at work, though. Check it out:

Come on, you know that’s festive as all hell.

I hope I’m not alone in remembering those who maybe don’t have enough this holiday season, or who feel lonely at this time of year. It’s a tough time for so many, and it hits particularly close to home for me, with some of my friends really struggling right now. I think sometimes, especially as a writer, it becomes very easy to disappear into our own little worlds and forget about those folks. I don’t think it’s a malicious or careless attitude, just human nature.

I do, however, find this stuff to be important enough that it precedes talking about my actual appearance. You see, my wife and I run a humble little Amazon Webstore, Brown Pig Brown, which is named for my beloved lost guinea pig Milo. Now, I’m not doing this as a sales pitch or an advertisement, I’m trying to raise some awareness. We have begun donating 10% of our proceeds to the Capital Area Food Bank, and you would be amazed at how much can add up in such a short amount of time. Now would I love for you to make a purchase from us? Of course, I’m not going to lie – and you could know that a portion of your purchase is going to the Food Bank, but if nothing else, I’d be moved if you made your own donation – a lot of folks could use your help, and not just during the holidays. That link up there goes straight to the Donate page. It’s a worthy cause. I don’t think there’s any excuse for starving children in America. There should be more than enough to go around.

Oh, and I guess I should also mention that 10% of my book sales also go there, so that’s another venue.

That’s enough of my bleeding heart stuff. I promise not to hit you over the head with it too much, but I think we need to look out for each other.

So…anyway. Yesterday was my first signing and sales appearance at the Greenbelt, MD Festival of Lights arts and crafts fair. Let me tell you…

Continue reading

Wednesday Fiction – Open Slay, Part 1: The Beast

Welcome back to Wednesday Fiction, folks! As promised, I’m ready to continue this ongoing fiction experiment. The new series, Open Slay, is designed to be delightfully cheesy B-movie schlock (is there any other kind), so don’t go into this expecting any sort of highbrow art. The concept itself is silly enough, so I felt that trying to carry out a “serious” take would just undermine the whole endeavor. Besides, I’ve loved cheesy horror anthologies ever since I was very young, cutting my teeth on The Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits and numerous comic horror anthologies. I wanted to write one of those stories, and…well, last week when we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel I saw a completely demented looking snowman. Thus was born Open Slay…

Todd Bell stepped away from his snowman, putting his hands on his hips as he admired his precise handiwork. The snowman proved that he deserved better than spending Christmas weekend banished to a remote cabin in the Poconos.   He should be sipping nice claret in a warm, dry studio, not standing shin-deep in the snow, his shoes covered in ridiculous plastic bags.

He promised that he would address the issue with Ally that very night. No matter how great a lover the girl might be, she was not worth the misery of this filth.

He sighed. Still, you must do what you can with what you’re given, he thought. He thought this to be the motto of a true artist; no, a creative force. A craftsman.

Critics had hailed Todd’s paintings as – dare he think it – genius, possessed of a dramatic flair natural for the Daniel Reich gallery. He had deliberately cultivated the shocking, bloody style, as one did not see it in many other Village artists. He felt he could have carved or thrown clay. The medium didn’t matter, his dedication to excellence mattered.

And you have certainly outdone yourself this time. He smirked. He had granted The Beast (as he had christened the snowman) a strange smile, crooked and a bit deranged, promising something far worse than holiday cheer.

I have to make sure that asshole Bailey sees this thing, Todd thought. Andrew Bailey. Voice art critic and bane of Todd’s existence, the troll of a man had appeared in several of Todd’s paintings now, first as a victim of a brutal back alley mugging and most recently as the disgustingly obese victim of a murderous wife.

This, though? This might well be the best likeness yet.. Todd had decided that The Beast’s mouth – as a central feature to Bailey’s ugly maw – would have to be its most important feature. Simple stones would never have done justice to the thing, so he had used a simple spoon to carve the teeth from the snow, ensuring that they came out pointy and jagged, in the same fashion as the snaggle-toothed critic. The eyes had been a simpler matter. He had rendered these as large, rounded things that regarded the world with a perpetual hunger. Todd’s point of pride, however, had to be The Beast’s limbs.  The lack of articulation had always been his objection to the snowmen that his friends had created as a child. Today, he had kicked them in the back of the head, fashioning The Beast’s legs into thick trunks that supported its barrel body.

Snickering, Todd whipped out his iPhone to snap a picture. He may not have been able to get a signal in this godforsaken asshole of the world, but he could still ensure that the world saw his genius, Instagrammed, the moment that he got 4G reception. Continue reading

Room 3 Launch Winners, Holiday Crush, and Planning a Tour. Whew!

Evening, readers. First of all, congrats to Cinta García de la Rosa for winning the $25 Amazon gift card in the Room 3 launch. If you missed this one, don’t worry – we’ll have a tour in early December for the rest of you folks. I’ll talk about that one shortly.

In the meantime, of course it’s a holiday week, and I’ve decided to take this week off from my day job. We’re heading out of town on Thursday to visit my parents and spend time with friends, so I don’t know how much I’ll be updating the site. Hopefully “enough” will do the trick? I don’t know. I’m focusing especially hard on City of the Dead right now, in hopes that I can get the first draft of that completed before the end of the year. Can it be done? I don’t know. I’m about halfway through, but it’s flowing out in a fairly steady stream, and it seems pretty good so far.

Fans of the series (all five of you) should enjoy it, based on how things stand now, and it’s far from having the early problems that I experienced with Room 3. The new characters are a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying spending some time with them. I’ll talk about them sometime in the future, but for now…a slight teaser: I think that the cover weapon (as it was a pistol for Corridors of the Dead and a sword for The Station) will be a scythe. Consider what that one might mean. Continue reading

Swings and Roundabouts: Some Words about Persistence

The last week has been rather…interesting. I think I mentioned it previously, but my boss came to me one day last week, I believe it was Tuesday, with a very high-visibility, high-profile project with an incredibly short deadline. I burned my way through it and delivered what seems to be a high-quality document, but in the process I seem to have burned myself out a little on structured writing. That’s why you things have languished just a bit, and I considered dropping the blog for awhile. In the end, I’ve decided that I have to do what I’ve done during other fallow periods: push through. I’ve been knocked down, but I won’t let myself lie there, even if I feel drained and have had some stomach issues that may have been a bug, may have been stress-related.

What I really want to talk about here is persistence. Persistence is what gets you through writing another chapter when the only thing you want to do is hide in bed. Persistence is what makes you keep on writing blog entries, to keep on moving in the face of the world’s impressive amount of apathy. Persistence keeps you from falling into the trap of waiting for inspiration. I know it has for me. I’m not sure if it’s a bull-headed consistency or something else that drives me onward. I think it’s something that most writers need, though.  Continue reading

The Corridors of the Dead Price Drop; now 99 cents

That’s right, in honor of the Christmas season, I’ve dropped the price of the eBook at all locations to 99 cents from now until the end of the year, so if you’re getting an eReader for Christmas, the price will remain. Get yours now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords – and let me know if I’m not on your eReader of choice. I’d like to look at the other options that are out there.

My short story The Kayson Cycle also remains at 99 cents on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

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You and Yours: Incorporating the Holidays

Okay, so the holidays are upon us. It’s impossible to escape. It’s everywhere you go. Some years, it feels like a relentless push, a hammer beating on your skull insisting that you BUY, BUY, BUY.

This year…? Well, it’s almost like that. But I’m still jazzed for it. Part of it, I’m sure, is the potential to find new readers who receive Kindles for gifts, etc. But part of it is unrelated, and is about having a good, solid family at home at last. About being a little more settled at the holiday season after year upon year of bad news arriving just weeks before Christmas.

I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story. I don’t mean something that teaches the morals of the season or stands in as a thinly-veiled play on existing Christmas tropes or lore. In other words, something about Santa Claus, or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking more about a story that uses the season as a backdrop and, at times, an extra character.

Some might say that incorporating the year-end holidays (all the usual suspects) would force some sort of commentary on the story, either by comparing or contrasting the story’s theme with the accepted themes of the given holiday. I suppose that’s true, in a way, and maybe that’s what you want. Maybe it’s easier to make a statement by, say, setting a story about a building occupied by terrorists in which one rogue cop must save the hostages against a backdrop of the Christmas season. But I mean, who would do that?? Continue reading