The Wrath of Horus 2022 Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards

At the end of May, while I was at Wiscon, I received a note in the mail that The Wrath of Horus also known as Klaereon Scroll 3, was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Horror category for 2022. Then I promptly disappeared to California on a wonderful vacation for two weeks before I could really spread the news around.

Wait one moment. I’ll be right back.


Ahem. Okay, so, there’s a huge list of people in the notes of the book to thank, all of whom helped me make an AWARD-WINNING book, and again, I want to thank all of them from the deepest parts of my being.

Please, read the book. Someone else has given it the stamp of approval now. 😀 Also, please think about leaving a review. That really, really helps.

I guess I should… write another book?

Sure. But also, yay.


I’ve just spent my evening re-envisioning my writer goals for this year.

When I originally made my plans, I was living in a pandemic world. I didn’t feel good about my stay-at-home life, but one thing that seemed to be working was my writing. The philosophy was the apocalypse is coming. Look busy. My mate is also a project-driven individual, and so it was something positive for us to do—invest in our creativity. Believe me, I really wanted to get back out there into the real world, and it hasn’t been what I hoped for, given all the culture shifts, but when I sat down and planned out my writer schedule, I skewed toward the ambitious side.

I started writing The Autumn Warrior and the Ice Sword for three reasons: 1.) Writers are always looking for different venues to publish in, to perhaps expand their appeal. 2.) I wanted to feel closer to a particular time in my life when I had run the campaign this serial was based upon, and 3.) I had fear of missing out on a new thing, Kindle Vella. I have enjoyed writing the serial, and it’s made me more money than many of my other endeavors. I thought I could balance writing the serial and writing the book projects I wanted to write.

I also planned to write two Abigail Rath books this year, with the goal of releasing a Christmas one in the Christmas season. Based on the amount of writing I did last year, that seemed doable.

This was a lie, much like the cake is a lie. Here’s why. I didn’t really do all the writing I did for The Wrath of Horus last year in the pandemic. I started The Wrath of Horus in 2019, was slowed up by 2 deaths and 1 health crisis, and then finished it in 2020, and released it in 2021. I did do a lot of quality re-envisioning, thanks to my horror writing group, plus I wrote a whole extra novella, and that was a lot of writing, but it was also fine-tuning a lot of writing that had been done already.

Other things I failed to take into account when I made up my ambitious writing calendar?

Anyway you slice it, returning to the real world takes much more time than isolation. My commute grew to an hour a day from thirty seconds. Teaching in-person takes more time. Exercising at the gym takes more time. Going places to see friends takes more time. Eating out takes more time. Every appointment I make for maintenance or socialization takes more time. Living. Takes. More. Time.

Yes, I do rather like having friends, getting a haircut, and teaching my mythology course, thank you very much. But I do have to get used to planning all of that back into my schedule, including not only the event, but the getting there and coming from.

And then, there’s the trap I try not to fall into, but I did. I know many writer friends who have been sidetracked by editing or slushreading or other writerly tasks that distract them from their projects. Given my very full time job which I won’t be getting rid of for another ten years, I knew I needed to stick to a limited number of projects (read: one). And I fell into the serial trap. I needed to choose, rather than trying to do both. Curse you, interesting ideas. Damn you all to hell.

So, here’s how the future is going down. From this point forward I will be working on Abigail Rath Versus the Mummy’s Hand. I still have some cons to attend and a writing workshop to attend, but these are things I have juggled successfully with writing and work before. My serial will sit for a while. It’s like priority four now. The Crone, by the way, is priority five, but it is super easy for me to whip one of these out, and they are handy when you have something to say, so I suspect you’ll see more of these. If I haven’t had a chance to return to the serial at all this year, I’ll pull it off of Vella and see what can be done with what I have regarding publication. Right now it’s a bit scattered, and in order to be novels/novellas, it’d need to be more focused. At any rate, that’s a problem for next year, for sure.

Regarding my current plan Mummy’s Hand should be finished at the end of June and released around Halloween. Abigail Rath Versus the Krampus should be done December 31st, and regrettably will not be released for a year, because it needs to be released in a Christmas season and it simply cannot happen within a time frame needed for best quality this year.

So then, 2022 will be the year of Mummy’s Hand. In 2023, you’ll get Krampus, some sort of project pulled from The Autumn Warrior and the Ice Sword, an as yet unnamed new Klaereon novella to promote The Wisdom of Thoth, AKA Klaereon 4, which I’ll begin writing in June 2023. Or not. That’s what I can see right now, the best laid plans and all that.

Life is very good at the unforeseen, so I expect further revisions. I’d rather hope otherwise, but it’s what I expect.

What If?

Spring begins officially today. Outside the sound of lambs bleating and duckies quacking is deafening. No? You live in a different headspace than me, then. My spring break is in the rearview. Bryon and I took a small junket into Chicagoland with a couple of friends for an overnight and an eating tour. We had a great time at some places we knew were good, and discovered an awesome little Greek place we’ll be sure to visit again.

There has been a little bit of writer action. On Wednesday last, I read the first draft of a new short story, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It will be critiqued tomorrow, and then sent off to the anthology it will appear in later this year thereafter. If you’re interested in seeing me read, plus hearing another wonderful writer, Juliet Kemp, you can go right here.

Now, finally, some discussion of Marvels’s What If?. For those of you not interested in animation, What If? is a cartoon anthology that takes its cue from the Marvel anthology comic of the same name. Because the show was created on Disney +, it riffs on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The star of the cartoon series and the titular comic is Uatu, the Watcher. And of course, I’ve borrowed this image from Marvel.

Uatu is a super cool character. He is a member of a powerful alien species, but they’ve taken vows to not interfere in the manipulations of the multiverse. That’s right. One of the cooler powers of Uatu is that he can see all the multiverses AT THE SAME TIME. Sort of like a Netflix streaming super power.

In the comic, Uatu would usually see something cheesy, like WHAT IF Tony Stark had been evil, or WHAT IF the Fantastic Four all got each other’s powers. The answer to these questions in the comic was often a). Nothing would change or b.) The world would be destroyed. I was a little skeptical that this series would yield contemplative fruit with the comic as its template, but I was happy to be wrong.

Two episodes of the What If? anthology were my favorites. The first one was when Peggy Carter gets injected with the super soldier serum herself, and becomes Captain Carter. Steve Rogers ends up with a very big version of Stark armor called the Hydra Stomper, and the two of them become the darlings of the Allies, fighting the Axis, until Captain Carter is whisked away to the future by interdimensional exploits. the second one is when Dr. Strange gets this idea that saving Christine Palmer is worth any sacrifice, including super dark magic. Predictable results? You betcha. BUT character growth? You betcha.

There are other interesting turns. What if Prince T’Challa became Star Lord is great, and the most significant event in the universe IS NOT that Yondu gets to keep all his teeth. What if Ultron beat the Avengers? What if Uatu could no longer just watch?

The good news if you haven’t watched What If? yet, is that you can easily fill in a few spare moments with an enjoyable 25 minute episode. And no previous knowledge of Marvel is required to enjoy it, although you can enjoy the twists better if you’ve at least seen the movies.


In case we’ve forgotten what it looks like to be really brave, we have before us the bright and shining example of Ukraine.

As an citizen of the United States, I have been bitterly disappointed in our inability to pull together during the crisis of Coronavirus. I have been unhappy with our inability to see how Black Lives Matter isn’t embraced, because too many see it as an attack on themselves. In Iowa, I have become more and more sad as censorship moves into our classroom, people accuse teachers of teaching Critical Race Theory, and transathletes are banned from sports. Voter fraud is created by people with an agenda. All of these things are divisive, petty, and patently a manipulation by those who have something to gain from the gullible, from exploiting others. I am disappointed and ashamed of what my country is becoming.

And then there is Ukraine.

In Ukraine, where there are differences of viewpoints and ideology, the people pull together to protect their democracy in the face of despotic odds. The leadership of Ukraine, in the face of great personal danger and unlikely odds of victory stand up, and then the people of Ukraine stand up, because they all have the love of one thing to pull them together. They love Ukraine, and they wish to protect their country.

I would not wish the situation in Ukraine upon anyone. The attack of a Russian autocrat for his own private purposes is one of the most catastrophic events I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. What I am saying is I doubt very much my own country could face these circumstances with an iota of this bravery. Pockets of us would. Other pockets of us, right now, embrace the autocrat.

Witness Ukraine. An old woman tells a Russian soldier to fill his pockets with sunflower seeds so when he dies, sunflowers, the Ukranian flower will grow. The Ukranian president tells the United States he doesn’t need a ride, he needs ammunition. Children make molotov cocktails. Teachers weave nets to camoflauge tanks. Baristas make caltrops and metal traps. Highway signs tell Putin to fuck himself, and roads point to the Hague. President Zelinskyy is everywhere, telling Russian soldiers to surrender, making applications to the European Union, begging for aid, enlisting private fighters who want to fight for the cause. Witness Ukraine, its incredible bravery.

The sanctions we have against Russia are helping. The process of pressuring the Russians is helping. The protests in Russia, the arrests, these are all instrumental parts. Humanitarian aid. Border assistance. We cannot invade without widening the conflict, which in turn widens the danger. Zelenskyy could be right. This could be the beginning of a spread across Europe unless something is done. We are back up, the United Nations and the NATO Alliance.

But the Ukrainians, by necessity and design of Putin, are the frontline. Strangely enough, as dark as it is in the world, as horrible as this situation is, the bravery of the Ukranians has gone a long way to reinstating my faith in humanity, that we can stand for something more than petty principals and inconveniences. In the US we protest not wearing masks. In Ukraine, eighty year old grandfathers show up to fight for the future of their grandchildren. Ukranians are afraid, but they continue.

I too am afraid, but I have their example in front of me. The least I can do is follow their example

Zeus and Odin Walk Into a Bar

My infatuation with teaching bolted down upon me in August of 1986. I love teaching, even during those times I don’t. The Covid crisis? Not about the performance. Always about the lack of masking and the contortions the college and the state goes through to make everyone feel politically okay, rather than working toward the public good. Teaching, though? Yes, I love teaching.

This semester, strangely enough, I’m teaching a subject I have never taught before. The teacher at the college who taught Mythology retired last spring, and our dean asked me if I wanted to teach the course.

I suppose if you know me, you would know the answer, wouldn’t you? 😀 It’s not my area, but it is my life. Even though the class was live, I decided to teach it.

Let me tell you: my classroom hasn’t seemed this magical for me in years. I am doing an approach which is a scattershot of world mythologies across the port bow. We started with Greek Gods and moved into Hero Stories. This week it’s afterlife and apocalypses. Among the material we’ll be covering this semester is Norse cosmology, Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, and the march of Christianity through Arthurian Legend and Norse Folktales, and across the many bodies of the Witch Trials.

There’s more than this. Each week I engage in a conversation about mythology with enthused students who are mostly there because they want to be. The online course shell is alive with vibrant enthusiasm. Is this what it’s like to teach a true elective? I wouldn’t have known before this, being mostly a service class teacher. It’s bizarre. The curtain is closing on my teaching career, but this act might have been the best act of the play.

All of the students have to do a presentation and a deep research paper. I’m excited to see what they will do.

Like a Phoenix

Okay, so it’s like this…

I promise you that I was going to streamline my media as of the January 1st post, but I do in fact have readers of The Crone who prefer the direct mail method as the way to get news from the world of this Crone. After some thinking, I’ve decided it’s cool to keep the Crone, AND I’ll be duplicating this content at my website as well, with links proliferating Facebook, Twitter, and those places where I park. I will also link to general author tidbits here, but not hardcore like in the author newsletter. And The Crone remains free. And my Ko-Fi account remains open for those of you who want to tip.

So, first some author stuff: I did a reading and interview with Swamp Fox books last Wednesday. Thanks to the awesome Terri LeBlanc for hosting. You can visit my website and find a link to the recording. At the same link, you can catch John Busbee interviewing me at Culture Buzz as a precursor to the reading Doug Engstrom and I will be doing at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, on Saturday, January 22nd at 2 pm. In case you’re local to Des Moines.

Now, let’s talk Covid. It is brutal out there. I spent most of my Christmas break with a sinus infection, and I tried to see a doctor twice. The first time, I went to an urgent care where there was one doctor, and I had to wait three hours to see her. That urgent care is currently closed because they do not have enough staff to cover it. The meclizine I received from her did not help me, and so I moved on to another urgent care. I avoided another three hour wait by getting up at 5 am and waiting outside the door in negative 20 degree windchill. I procured the necessary antibiotics and got better, but couldn’t help noticing the 50 people waiting their turn as I walked out.

I know Omicron is milder, and people are saying maybe we should just get it. I suspect I will, because I am teaching at a college where most of the students don’t wear masks. My state’s governor is oddly okay with that, to the extent that our legislature has baked it into our laws we can’t require masks or ask about vaccine status or none of it. I have done my best. I have 3 shots and I wear those kick ass masks. Also, 5 out of the 6 classes I am currently teaching is online, so I’m only live three days a week. If I catch it, well, that’s that.

The reason I’m still trying not to? Well. I keep hearing these stories from more people in my circle who have relatives dying because they can’t get care because of Covid. I’ve heard about tumors growing, heart attacks, pneumonia cases, and these folks were unable to get the care they needed. Our healthcare system really can’t handle Covid right now. My advice? Stay safe out there, okay? Also, don’t get Covid if you can possibly avoid it. It’ll still be fashionable later.

While couch bound this break, I watched television. A lot of television. So much television. 😀 Expect more analyses of shows. I also want to spend some time talking about the new Mythology course, which I am truly, truly excited by. It’s the class I was born to teach, baybee.

I will see you in a couple of weeks, more or less.

January 2022–The Year of Living Authentically

Welcome to my website. This is where I will be writing my reflections, thoughts, and pithy screeds from here on out. I will be continuing my author newsletter to keep people abreast of my professional appearances, publications, and so on. However, I’ve decided to replace The Crone, my Substack publication, with reflections in my blog in an effort to streamline. I can link to these things in my social media, and there will be less overall duplication this way.

Or, I guess, work smarter, not harder. Plus, you can leave (moderated) comments here, as long as that continues to work in the age of the troll.


There’s nothing like the third year of a pandemic to get you to really reflect on what matters, and this year I’m keen to stay in the zone of what matters.

This past week I’ve been sick. Not with Covid (and I have the test to prove it!), but with a thing that affected my ears and kept me on the couch for literally four days until I staggered into town on Friday to hang out waiting for the doctor for a literal three hours. My reward seemed understated–a bottle of hard won meclizine, but I’ll admit I was able to do things more like normal today, albeit much more slowly.

During the last several days I’ve been watching a lot of television. One of the shows I’ve completed was Canadian comedy Kim’s Convenience. You never know where life lessons are going to come from. Here’s the situation: Mrs. Kim was making a list for what she would do after Mr. Kim died. Mr. Kim was not planning on dying any time soon, and he was affronted that Mrs. Kim had many things she wished to experience when he was gone. He started making his own list, and the couple’s daughter suggested that maybe the time for both of them to do these things they wanted was when they were both alive and could appreciate the delight of them.

Oh. Well, yeah. Sure. There’s that.


I always mean well, and every year I make more progress. And every year, eventually, I get caught up in the agenda of other things where I am less authentically myself. It’s all the stuff I tell myself about what matters, and the relative worth of a variety of things, and expectations I manufacture for other people. I have made progress. Long ago, I gave up living for the college, and I write and publish my own fiction now, rather than waiting passively for a dream from others who give me the thumbs up to write. I am a work in progress and I’ve been making progress.

It’s just…well, why shouldn’t my whole life be satisfying? I know I can’t be happy all the time, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m looking at is a general sense of well being and a general sense of contribution. I’m trying to make sure that purchases, actions, social life, all these things are based on who I am, rather than who other people think I should be, or more to the point, who I think other people think I should be. That’s some messed up headology there, but that’s the legacy of being the pleaser/star kid. You know, I’m pushing 60. Time to be done with that.

My goal this year is to lay out who I am, the pieces that I know, and the pieces that I have yet to know. All of me, as complicated as I am, with my gender shifting, my love for costume and theater, the living of my writing, the need I have to give back. All of it. Whatever I do this year needs to come back to who I am, and I have to feel my choices are the right, honorable, authentic and true choices.