Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous… coming soon! [fading light]

Fading Light“The light has failed: the era of man is at its end.

“Born of darkness, the creatures of myth, legend, and nightmare have long called the shadows home. Now, with the cruel touch of the sun fading into memory, they’ve returned to claim their rightful place amidst humanity; as its masters.

“Fading Light collects 30 monstrous stories by authors new and experienced, in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, each bringing their own interpretation of what lurks in the dark.”

(Click on the cover art by Jessy Lucero to see it in full-sized, tentacly glory!)

Fading Light, edited by Tim Marquitz, is an anthology of dark fiction (horror, fantasy, sf) coming out September 1st, 2012, from Angelic Knight Press, and will include my short story Goldilocks Zone. I’m really jazzed to have a story in this; there are a lot of amazing stories here, and its great company to be in.

Below is Tim’s introduction to the anthology, and the Table of Contents (including descriptions for the majority of the stories).

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I started Fading Light with high hopes, but I wasn’t sure what to expect having never orchestrated an anthology before. There was a lot of uncertainty the night before submissions opened. What kind of stories would I get? Would any of the invited authors take me up on the offer to submit? What was I letting myself in for?

Turns out, the process went better than I could ever have imagined. Not only did I receive amazing stories from the vast majority of my invitation authors, I received a ton of great pieces from a wide range of folks from all over the world. Even better still, the stories were all diverse and original, each author taking the anthology prompt and making it their own. I ended up with way more stories than I could accept. Because of this, Angelic Knight Press and I decided to do a companion book so we could say yes a few more times.

In the end, I’m proud to say Fading Light features a number of debut authors alongside a cast of seasoned veterans, all poised to send a chill down your spine. So, dive into the darkness and experience the monstrous.

Tim Marquitz
El Paso, TX
July 5, 2012

Table of Contents

“Parasitic Embrace” by Adam Millard: A volcano erupts, sending an ominous ash-cloud across the ocean. The ash-cloud is the least of our worries. Contained within the hellish plume are millions of micro-parasites that have been dormant, waiting to find their host.

“The Equivalence Principle” by Nick Cato: Steve Burke is a man suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia. He treats himself with a homemade cocktail of natural herbs and over the counter pain killers. But what he has spent most of his life avoiding becomes real in the ways he’d always feared.

“A Withering of Sorts” by Stephen McQuiggan: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Goldilocks Zone” by Gary W. Olson: Amita has had a trying evening––and it’s just getting started. People are becoming monsters, buildings are slipping into sludge, gravity is turning optional, and assorted parts of her body are mutating. A voice in her head tries to explain, but somehow, understanding only makes it stranger.

“They Wait Below” by Tom Olbert: The world is near dying. An ecological inspector stationed on a deep sea oil rig suspects something is very wrong with the rig’s crew. His investigation into the mystery leads him to an ancient cosmic evil that has slept for eons, waiting for its chance to return.

“Buck” by Mark Pantoja: This is a tale of humans trying to survive on our Earth which has been infected with an extraterrestrial ecology. It isn’t personal, it is just life. This story is about revenge––a sad and hollow revenge.

“Blessed Be the Shadowchildren” by Malon Edwards: The Sun is dying––mortally wounded by an asshole god and his jealousy. There’s hope (and love) in the slow, dark death promised. Hope hangs on fifteen-year-old Levi and Lali reaching the warm arms of the Bright Lady before a horde of pursuing Biloko devour them––intestines first.

“The Beastly Ninth” by Carl Barker: The Sorcerer Napoleon is free, having escaped from his island prison and returned to France, to begin re-raising Hell. The only man standing in his way is Lord Arthur Wellesley, and this time, the Duke of Wellington has a few tricks of his own.

“Late Night Customer” by David Dalglish: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Rurik’s Frozen Bones” by Jake Elliot: It is Scandinavia, 819AD. The Vikings rule the North Atlantic through both warfare and trade. A beast hunts the cold waters between Sweden and Denmark, a monster unchallenged by the bravest of sailors.

“Wrath” by Lee Mather: Steven hasn’t touched a drink in months and now the time is right to take his son back from his brother’s custody. What he hadn’t counted on was the end of the world. Steven stopped believing in God a long time ago, but seeing is believing––will belief be enough to deter God’s wrath?

“Friends of a Forgotten Man” by Gord Rollo: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Altus” by Georgina Kamsika: The Altus is a free-diving submersible whose helmswoman aims to break depth records. She finds more than she bargained for at the bottom of the sea. Something monstrous lurks in the darkness with her and her submarine.

“Angela’s Garden” by Dorian Dawes: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“The Long Death of Day” by Timothy Baker: For John and the love of his life, a terrifying shadow threatens to tear them apart. The world is at its end, and a blanket of darkness has spread between the Sun and Earth, turning day into deep gloom. With it, something monstrous writhes within the unnatural night, intent on devouring our dying planet.

“Out of the Black” by William Meikle: 300-years after the great dimming, the energy resources begin to run out. A man is sent from the underground city to the surface to scout for survival-necessary ore. All he finds is a dead world and a great blackness; a blackness that will not be kept out.

“Degenerates” by DL Seymour: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Dust” by Wayne Ligon: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Der Teufel Sie Wissen” by TSP Sweeney: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner: After clouds block out the sun, Jeb struggles to keep his family safe and his faith intact. With his wife’s unexpected pregnancy and two strangers seeking refuge, things go from bad to worse. How do you tell who follows the path of light when you can no longer see who’s immersed themselves in darkness?

“Lottery” by Gene O’Neill: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Where Coyotes Fear to Tread” by Gef Fox: The world is shrouded in darkness and people have started acting strangely. Only two people can save the world from an ancient evil rising out of the Tennessee River––a ne’er-do-well redneck named Lester and his ex-girlfriend, Carla. Carla might be up for the challenge, but all Lester wants to do is get the hell out of Knoxville.

“The Theophany of Nyx” by Edward M. Erdelac: A fissure opens in the moon’s crust and swallows Earth’s first lunar colony whole, resulting in a thick cloud of dark dust that drifts into our planet’s atmosphere, blotting out the sun. Night falls across the entire world and vegetation begins to die. After eons of exile, something driven from the Earth in its primordial past is at last returning…

“Double Walker” by Henry P. Gravelle: Psychoanalyst, Dr. Maria DOBBS has a new client who believes his shadow has murdered his parents and others. She attempts to decipher whether he is a clever killer feigning insanity, an unwilling victim of an electrical storm jolting his senses, or the victim of a lifestyle placing his emotions in turmoil. Will she discover the truth before it is too late?

“Light Save Us” by Ryan Lawler: It has been months since Ted last saw the Sun. Hideous beasts lurk in the darkness outside the compound, waiting for the lights to fail. Ted works hard to keep the lights running, but the longer he fights, the more inviting the darkness becomes.

“Dark Tide” by Mark Lawrence: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

The following are bonus stories, available only for NOOK and Kindle:

“Roadkill” by CM Saunders: Jimmy and Tito make up one of the freelance ambulance and recovery crews patrolling the notoriously dangerous roads and highways of Brazil. Their job is not to the common man’s taste, but the money is worthy, and they’ve become very good at it. Everything worked great until the night they stumbled across an accident victim who refused to die.

“Torrential” by Regan Campbell: The author has opted to keep this story a surprise.

“Night Terrors” by Jonathan Pine: Dr. Mark Jacobs is a well-meaning physician just trying to do his best for his patients. But after a chance encounter, he ends up taking his work home with him in a way he could never imagine. Now he will have to face his own night terrors.

“Final Rights” by Peter Welmerink: The world has been cast into the cold embrace of Nuclear Winter, the Earth withering towards a dreary demise. The once-glorious daylight hours, now a perpetual dusk as the last bastions of humanity hold beneath the brightly-lit, but slowly dying vestiges of the larger cities. On the perimeters of our cloud-cloaked countryside, light succumbs to deep shadow–where a myriad of mutated beasts hungrily await civilization’s light to wink out.

“Evensong” by Alex Marshall: Demons rule the outside––but devils stalk within. These are the hidden halls of Agartha–perhaps the last of Earth’s buried strongholds where, for countless centuries, Morya’s folk have been enslaved. But now, rebel-soul Morya and her lover Seth have a chance to escape the hated Seers; a chance to breathe clean air and see the sun’s fading splendor for themselves…if only they dare…

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. His blog originates here. Fading Light blurb and intro by Tim Marquitz, story descriptions by the identified authors. Cover art: Jessy Lucero.

Something You Should Know (a Brutal Light short story) now free for Kindle!

Something You Should KnowOk, I finally got around to making Something You Should Know (a Brutal Light short story) available for free on Amazon.com for Kindle users. Not sure why it took me so long, except that I’ve been busy and it’s my first time going through Kindle self-publishing and there are all kinds of shiny things on the Internet. You know how it is.

(Quick recap: Something You Should Know is a short story set a few months before the events of my dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. While not a direct prequel, it does foreshadow events in that book.)

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. His blog originates here.

My brainmeats are all wrung out, so…

It has been a long week for me, for reasons I can’t really talk about. I was going to see if I could kludge together some book reviews, but… maybe next week on that. So, let’s see… what can I talk about?

There’s writing, of course. The Morpheist is at 26.5k, and I’m thinking I can get it to the end (about 32k or so) within the next two weeks. As first drafts go, it’s rough enough you could use it to shave a moose, but it’s workable enough to go on with. Once it’s done, I’m gonna put it away for a little bit (but not too long) and work on something else, but I’m not sure what just yet.

I’ve been kicking about an idea to record me reading the first chapter of Brutal Light. Either just as an audio freebie or something to go up on YouTube. Of course, if it goes up on YouTube, I’m gonna have to come up with some visual bits to add to it, so it’s not just my comical-lookin’ mug up there reading for 7-10 minutes. I want to attract people to the book, not drive them away…

I haven’t seen too many movies on the big screen this year, for some reason. There’s been a lot I’ve wanted to see, but they just seem to whoosh by. Last ones I went to were… let’s see if I can remember… The Hunger Games and The Avengers (both of which were as good as I’d hoped, and even a bit better). More and more, I don’t end up seeing the movies until they end up on DVD. And it doesn’t really bother me. (In other news, you kids get off my lawn.) I think I should be able to get some friends together to go see Prometheus this weekend, though…

Theme from ‘Super Skrull’ by Ookla the Mok. I have the CD that this is on, but I only re-listened to it recently. Super Skrull is possibly one of the silliest characters ever created by Marvel; this song does him justice.

Author Tim Marquitz has the first chapter of his new dark epic fantasy novel, Embers of an Age, posted for your reading pleasure. Also, the book that Embers is a sequel to, Dawn of War is now free on Kindle!

If Earth is invaded by aliens and you were going to place a bet on the outcome, here’s why you’d be foolish to bet against them. In case that was something you were going to do.

Gladiator Ariel and other crazy designs from a nonexistent fighting game. My wife would demand we get this game, if it existed. I would cheerfully comply.

Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types. I’d like to say I’m a Chaos Muppet, but in all honesty, I’m probably an Order Muppet. I will not comment on my eyebrow size.

Right… time to get on with Friday. Hope yours is a good one!

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. His blog originates here.

Links or Consequences, New Mexico

I’m up to 19.5k words on the first draft of The Morpheist, though my projected word count is also up–to 33k. I like how it’s shaping up so far, though it’s going to take a lot of working over after the first draft is done to get it ready to go. I’m realizing a lot about the motivations and desires of some of the characters as I go, even though they may not surface in this novella. I’d almost forgotten how much I like this process of discovery. I’ve had to pause it, though, to work on the revisions and polishing of “Goldilocks Zone,” the horror short I first-drafted a couple months ago. Once that’s out the door, it’s back to The Morpheist till it’s done.

As I briefly mentioned three weeks ago, I’m going to be at PenguiCon 2012, April 27th-29th in Dearborn, Michigan (USA), on panels and otherwise slithering about. Don’t know my schedule yet, but I’ll list it here when I get it–also, it will be available online here. I’m really looking forward to this one, as PenguiCon always has some seriously awesome and fun stuff going on.

I’m also slated to be doing a reading from Brutal Light at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA) on May 7th, 2012 (7pm EDT). I won’t be there by my lonesome–also reading and signing there will be Jim C. Hines, author of the Princess Novels fantasy series from DAW Books, Emmy Jackson, author of Empty Cradle: The Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson, and Bethany Grenier, author of Sings with Stars. Save the date!

You know what else is happening on April 28th, besides Penguicon? It’s Obscura Day! Which, according to the website, is “an international celebration of unusual places, full of expeditions, back room tours & explorations of the hidden wonders in your own hometown.” Sadly, even if I wasn’t busy that day, I’d still be far, far away from the events I’d like to go to the most, such as ones at the House of Automata in Scotland, the Athenaeum in Boston, Massachusetts, and Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.

I fully support this use of unmanned drone helicopters, even though it doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon: TacoCopter startup delivers tacos by unmanned drone helicopter.

Here’s a cool DIY augmented reality monitor baseball cap… thing. I’m tempted to see if I can put one of these together myself.

The privacy invaders are back. Did they ever leave? CISPA looks even more awful than SOPA.

Waiting for those hand-manipulable 3d windows, as seen in films like Minority Report? They’re getting closer to being real.

Someday soon, you’ll be able to design and print your own robot. THE FUTURE, WE ARE IN YOU.

For writers: Eight reasons your story might not be selling that have little or nothing to do with whether the story is any damn good. Favorite line: “I mean, sure, it seems funny and original when you’re six tequilas to the wind, but then again, so does Zardoz.”

More for writers: 9 ways to piss off an editor. I don’t know how accurate this is. I’ve been a pretty princess for ages, and no editor has yet remarked on it.

And finally, here’s what your favorite tv shows would look like if they starred marshmallow peeps — at least, if your favorite shows are The Walking Dead, Dexter, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, or Arrested Development. I see this and pose two questions: 1) Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? 2) No Doctor Who or True Blood?

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: The Story Behind Blood Forge

Kathryn Meyer GriffithThe Story Behind Blood Forge (Author’s Revised Edition)
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith


1985. I’d just published my second paperback novel, The Heart of the Rose, an historical bodice ripper (remember those?) about a suspected witch in 15th century England amidst the War of the Roses political intrigues, with Leisure Books of Dorchester Publishing and my editor there asked me if I had another novel to show them yet.

It just so happened that, yes, I’d been working on a third novel; another romantic horror similar to my first book with them, Evil Stalks the Night (which will for the first time in 29 years also be out again, revised and updated, on July 1, 2012) I was tentatively calling With This Gun. The story centered around a scandalous love triangle/murder between police officers that had taken place in our small town years before and that I had firsthand knowledge of. Some of them had been my friends, as my first husband had been a police officer in town as well. The police force, their wives and families, had been a tight knit group, but the murder still came as a great shock to most of us. One of my husband’s coworkers had been seeing another coworker’s wife and the two were thinking of splitting up their respective marriages, both with children, to be with each other. The problem was, the cop being left didn’t like it and shot the other cop dead in his house one day after being told what had been going on. It was terrible situation.

Well, I’d let the whole matter age for over a decade and was finally writing about it, sort of, as a way to free me of all the bad memories.

Now to the horror aspect. I’d use a possessed gun as a device to explain the killings the gun would be responsible for. Now I wasn’t exactly a lover of guns, but I was married to a cop. Guns were part of our lives. Always in the back of my mind was what I’d say to people who didn’t like the idea of me writing about a gun or hated guns: It isn’t a gun that kills people… it’s the person using the gun.

In this book, I gave an even better motivation. The gun made people kill because it was evil. This theme was what made it a supernatural story. A Colt Python would be possessed by an ancient demon; that the weapon had been forged from tainted iron or metal from the bowels of the earth centuries ago connected to that ancient demon-god. So the title Leisure eventually came up with was: Blood Forge (though I begged the editor to call it With This Gun or at least, Blood Forged, which made more sense, but no the publisher was determined to call it Blood Forge and in those days the author didn’t any say so on that or the cover).

Anyway, in the book I’d follow that gun after its creation from unfortunate human to human as it made people crazy and murderous; created havoc in everyone’s lives it touched. Until two people deeply in love have faith that they can defeat it…with the help of a mysterious priest (who may or may not be a priest at all). There are ways to get rid of a demon, no matter how strong it is.

Blood ForgeThat plot about following a gun on its deadly rampage has been used many times since in television shows and stories, but I’d began thinking about the book as early as 1983, so, perhaps, I was the first. Who knows?

Which brings me now to what happened after I turned the book in to the publisher. My editor for my first two books, Jane Thornton, read it and refused to editor it. Turned it down flat, saying she despised guns. They killed people. Guns bad. They scared her. She wouldn’t edit such a story, sorry.

I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. It was a long time ago. I think either Jane Thornton left Leisure or she gave the book to another editor, a man called John Littel.

Anyway, he liked the book, gun or no gun, and they offered me a contract on it anyway. I was thrilled. Wasn’t thrilled with the title, as I said, though, and I wasn’t impressed with the cover, embossed or not. Too dark. A snake coiling around the barrel of a menacing gun on a black background. Along with the title, I felt it didn’t portray what the book was entirely about. The novel was a love story, a survival against great odds, a parable of faith, tale. A story of a man’s fight with alcoholism and how his wife’s love helps him beat the insidious influence of the alcohol as well as the gun. It was about cops, their lives and their families. But, as with the title, I had no choice on the cover and had to take what they gave me. That’s just the way it was back then. I still feel that’s part of the reason the book never did well in its first incarnation. I was still an unknown writer and when that’s the case I’ve found that the cover and title–how compelling they are–makes a difference in the sales.

At this point, I must admit, after having just finished rewriting it…it was a very dark book written at a very dark time of my life. The darkest, I think, of all my books. I had gone through a divorce, remarriage and was juggling a full time job and a family. Trying to write at night. It was actually difficult for me to relive most of it. I was still in that early part of my career, still young without enough life experience, where I’d embed what I’d lived through and saw around me into my stories. I didn’t have the maturity yet to write anything too layered.

Anyway, the book came out in 1989 and didn’t do as well as my first two books. I noticed that the publisher turned cool towards me after that and, seeing the way the wind was blowing, I went on to get an agent and she helped me jump up another rung of the ladder when she sold my next four books to a bigger publisher, Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing). And I left Leisure behind; and my three books there went out of print long ago.

But now, 23 years later Blood Forge-Revised Author’s Edition (wish I could change that title but it wouldn’t be fair to people that already read the original book) is coming out again in print, and in eBooks for the first time ever, in March 2012. I love the cover this time. My fantastic cover artist, Dawne Dominique, who did eleven of my other new covers, did this one, too. It’s stunning.

So that’s the story of Blood Forge. My second published novel. It, along with my older novels (12, plus a novella and a short story) will all soon be out again. And when the last old book from 1984, Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition, comes out in July 2012, my forty year writing career will have come full circle. It’s amazing. I guess a book never dies, huh? I guess not.

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A writer for 40 years I’ve had 14 novels and 8 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, and the Wild Rose Press, since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author’s Edition is a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books (most out again): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)

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Blurb:

Blood Forge–Author’s Revised Edition

An ancient snake-demon lays trapped behind the stone walls of an Incan prison, for centuries demanding blood sacrifices and scheming to escape. Then it discovers a pathway into the world of men, forging itself into a malevolent 357 Colt Python, and making itself capable of incomparable destruction and misery. Through decades it torments, decimates, the unfortunate people whose lives it comes into until a loving married couple, Emily and Sam Walters, have enough love and faith–and the help of a mysterious priest who’s much more than he appears to be–to fight against and destroy it forever…and to send it back to hell where it belongs.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

On The Speaking in The Public

It will not come as a shock to anyone who has met me in person that I am not a natural talker. I am comfortable in silence, or at least in staying silent while the world surrounds me with its endless noise. In conversations, I typically end up following the lead of a more talkative person, quite happy to listen while occasionally commenting, asking questions, making puns, or interjecting random sympathetic noises. When it is down to me to take the lead in conversing, I’m hesitant, sometimes stuttery, and often my sentences wander off when I realize I have no idea how they’re supposed to end.

So you’d think that there are certain aspects of self-promotion that would be more difficult for me–doing interviews and participating on panels at conventions, for instance. These do, in fact, elevate my anxiety levels, and I’m usually looking forward most to the experience being over, so that I can scuttle back to my silent comfort zone. But then the weirdest thing happens — I’m doing the interview or participating on the panel, and I find I’m enjoying it. I’m chattering away–still hesitant, stuttery, and sometimes meandering–but I don’t care because I’m talking about things that I love–the strange places I find ideas, my influences, and things I’m writing.

Take the interview I did with Greg Walker on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book a couple days ago. Between a desire to be ‘on’ and sound like I actually had something to say, my usual pre-speaking anxieties, and a couple large mugs of coffee, I was dialed up toward the high end of my talking abilities. (It also helped that Greg’s a good conversationalist, keeping me going while keeping me from meandering too far afield from talking about Brutal Light. People like me are helped a lot by people like him.) We probably could have gone on for a lot longer than the half-hour of the show.

As for panels, the four I was on for ConClave helped ease my mind on the prospect of my clamming up in the presence of other writers who were better talkers who could gab at length. I was less caffeinated at these events, but was determined to put in my commentary and not be That Guy. To my surprise, I enjoyed the give-and-take, and had fun. (Though, being that they were ninety minute panels, as opposed to the usual sixty, I can’t say they would have gone on for a lot longer than the assigned time.)

The key for me in both situations was preparation. A couple of the panels–the ones on social media marketing and the future of publishing–I did some advance reading on, to give myself a better idea of what the issues and sub-issues were, and to get me thinking on things I’d only nebulously thought about before, if at all. For the interview, I went over the guest interviews and guest blogs I’d done for my virtual book tour, just to refresh myself on how I’d answered some questions and to get me in an expositional frame of mind. (One thing I added that was not in the blog tour–my relating of dark fantasy to noir films and fiction.) It’s a lot easier for me to be ‘on’ when I’m prepared to be ‘on.’

So… it turns out that The Public Speaking is not quite so vexing for me as I’d expected it to be. Of course, it still stirs anxiety, in roughly inverse proportion to the amount of time until I have to do it. But now I also feel like I’m looking forward to it as well… and that’s a good feeling.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.