Monday, May 2, 2022

April ’22 Madhouse Recap: True Crime, National Poetry Month, Comics, and Jack White

Hello Friends and Fiends—

Blessed and belated Beltane and Walpurgisnacht! We’re all recovering from this weekend’s bonfire (Evie’s first!) and rallying after a comic event Dennis and I vended at. It was Dennis’s first time going to an event as an independent bookseller, so I’m really excited to share this with him and celebrate all of his hard work—which has included a lot of all-nighters, endless amounts of cataloging, and more comic book boxes in our house than I care to admit. Sass aside though, it was a lovely event and everyone was really nice and welcoming to both of us. I’m looking forward to going to some more events with him and co-selling some of my stuff as well. We have big plans on the horizon, so I’ll be sure to keep all my horror fans updated. In the meantime, you can follow us on Instagram, me @theHauntedBookshelf, and Dennis @WanderingComics.

April was a pretty great month overall. I went back to work in the middle of the month, and honestly, I handled it better than I thought I would. It feels good to get that part of myself and my routine back, and it’s helped my mental health a lot. I will say that the days feel even more of a whirlwind now, so it’s going to take a minute for me to readjust to yet another schedule, but we’re all doing well with it, which is what’s most important.

Lots of other cool things also happened this month. I fell down the true crime rabbit hole pretty obsessively (this happens every couple of months, but admittedly, it’s been a while) and I watched and read crime stories pretty much exclusively, and it was a lot. I think between the two of us, I’ve had my fill for a while, but it did encourage me to sign up for two classes in the fall: Theories of Personalities and Critical Perspectives in Psychopathology. I’m really looking forward to them both and I think they’ll help me with my writing and teaching a lot, which is always a plus. For those who don’t know, I’ve been low-key studying psychology and philosophy over the past year or so in an effort to learn more about criminology and the science of evil, so you know, normal stuff that people do when they have free time…

Outside of that, I grabbed some cool merch from Fright Rag and Fangoria this month, and then Dennis and I went to see Jack White, which was phenomenal. It was my second time seeing him and he always delivers an amazing show, but this time I was excited to hear him play some songs from his Raconteurs days. It “takes me back” to some of my favorite moments and memories in my 20s.

I also attended a ritual workshop led by Pam Grossman and Janaka Stucky: Hecate’s Dark Moon. It was my first longer ritual/meditation since having Evie, and everything about this class was just such a gift. I felt so relaxed and connected and my body felt liminal and light and it was just marvelous. I’m so happy that they were my introduction back into the deeper parts of my practice. Both of them are pure magic and I’m always happy to support and/or be a part of anything and everything they do.

On the writing/teaching front:

  • I woke up to a poem acceptance the other morning that I’m really, really excited about. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more with you folks soon.
  • Finished teaching Writing the Vampire. This was my first time teaching this class, and I’ll admit, I was a bit worried with doing it so soon after having Evie, but I had such a blast, and it was something I looked forward to participating in every day when I woke up. I learned so much from the students and I greatly enjoyed reading everyone’s creative takes on the assignments and the artwork and stories we discussed. Cheers to the vampire and thank you to everyone who took the class. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
  • Under Her Skin went live! This is a powerhouse poetry anthology from Black Spot Books, and I remain so honored to be a part of this piece of magic. If you haven’t treated yourself to a copy yet, please consider it! It’s a great example of the work women in horror are doing, and if you’re a poet, specifically, you’ll be introduced to a cast of diverse and inclusive voices, some that are familiar, and some that are just emerging.
  • I did an interview with Cassie Daley from The Ladies of Horror Fiction for National Poetry Month and in celebration of my forthcoming nonfiction book from RDSP Writing Poetry in the Dark. You can read the full interview here.
  • My poetry collection, The Apocalyptic Mannequin, got a wonderful shout out in The Ladies of Horror Fictions article: Team Favorites, Dark Poetry Collections We’ve Loved.” You can read the full piece here.
  • My poem “Family Offerings”—which was previously published in Southwest Review, Vol 106.3–was awarded The Elizabeth Matchett Stover Memorial Award. This award is given annually to authors of the best poems published in the Southwest Review.
  • My poem “In the Gallery of Queens” was published in issue 44 of Eye to the Telescope. You can read it here.


This month I read:

  • Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
  • Drunks and Other Poems of Recovery by Jack McCarthy
  • Internet Girlfriend by Stephanie Valente (author interview coming soon!)
  • Under Her Skin edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller
  • The Last Victim by Jason Moss (short review up on Goodreads)
  • The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence (short review up on Goodreads)
  • Something is Killing the Children, Vol 1 by James Tynion
  • Something is Killing the Children, Vol 2 by James Tynion
  • Slumber, Issue #1 by Tyler Burton Smith (Image Comics)
  • I started reading a short story collection by Karen Russell (Vampires in the Lemon Grove), and I read the title story “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” and “Reeling for the Empire,” both of which I’d read before, but wow did they hit harder than the time before. “Reeling for the Empire” might be one of my favorite stories…ever. It’s so intensely feminist and the body horror is both beautiful and grotesque. If you haven’t read it, please do!

On the media front:

  • Cleaner (2007), I Love You, Now Die (2019), Charlie Says (2018), Puppet Master (1989), Summer of ’84 (2018), You Are Not My Mother (2021), Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes (2021).
  • I rewatched Candyman this month. It had been years since I’ve watched the original and I feel like I loved and appreciated it so much more now. What a beautiful horror film. I’ve never read “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker though, so I finally ordered it and am really looking forward to fixing that soon.
  • I rewatched Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. I didn't realize that this was based on the book The Phantom Prince, My Life with Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall, so since this has been on my TBR since it came out, I finally decided to pick up a copy of it. Hoping to read it this month.
  • I rewatched the first season of Russian Doll. I love Natasha Lyonee and she is just so incredible in this series. I remembered it being emotional, but I had forgotten just how deep the storyline really was. I’m looking forward to starting season 2 here soon.
  • The Girl from Plainville (2022). Still watching, still disturbed.
  • Confessions with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes. I watched this while I was reading The Last Victim by Jason Moss, and it was a lot. I feel like I have a good understanding of the case and the timeline now, but honestly, I never want to read or watch anything about Gacy again. It’s too much and I’ve had my fill.
  • I finished watching The Thing About Pam (2022), which side note, WTF? An absolute sociopath, that woman. Renee Zellweger did a fantastic job in that role though. That reminds me: my new BFF at Barnes and Noble (the manager is a big True Crime buff and we talked for like 45 minutes the other day, ha!) let me know that there was a recent book release about the Betsy Faria case and I definitely want to pick it up soon. It’s titled: Bone Deep: Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder Case by Charles Bosworth Jr.
  • I also started season 2 of Cursed Films (2022) with The Wizard of Oz and the Rosemary’s Baby episode. Rosemary’s Baby was especially interesting. I have a feeling I’ll be rewatching that one again in the future.
  • Human Resources (2022). This was hysterical and moving and important, and I loved every moment of it. Big Mouth is one of my favorite shows and I’m just here for everything and anything this world and its extensions do.

Podcasts:

May starts my summer schedule, so I’m hoping to dive into some side projects here soon. I have two editing projects I need to finish up, not to mention some of my own personal writing that I need to jump back into, so I’m hoping that the creativity is planning on flowing this month because I’ll need and happily take any and all help I can get to write “the end” on a few manuscripts.

Oh, and I bought another pair of Crocs and I will not be shamed for it. Those shoes are comfy AF, and I love living in them. I’ve also gotten really into birdwatching in the morning…so maybe I have some more cottagecore tendencies to my personality than I was aware of? Either way, I’m fine if life slows down a bit. I feel like I’ve been running a marathon for 33 years and I’m ready to take a break and enjoy a slower pace for a while.

Best,

Stephanie

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