Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I read a story years ago (I can’t find it right now) where a novelist sold his soul to the Tenth Muse (in Greek mythos there are nine). This tenth muse was the muse of insanity. And the character was nuts, but produced One Great Novel. There’s reference to many of the “Great Writers” having been inspired by this muse–the writers who drank themselves to death, killed themselves, and went to insane asylums.

My experience has suggested that a lot of people think you need to be broken to be a writer. This isn’t true at all. But to back up my claim initially, let’s talk about mental illness. The CDC suggests that about 25% of people in America have a mental illness of some sort. This could be a whole host of things from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to a variety of other things. There have been a ton of more eloquent posts from writer’s all over the interwebs that talk about living with mental illness, living with how it affects being a writer, etc.

When I first started seeing my therapist, one of my great concerns was that if I “got better” the words would stop. For years, I’d learned to survive everything going on in my life (a post for another day) into the writing. All the drama, love, hate, depression, all of it went into words. And, to quote Hamilton: I wrote my way out.

Many people, I think, who are creatives worry about what happens if this ever-constant in their life suddenly vanishes. Will the [insert creative thing here] be the same when it’s not fed from those things? I asked my therapist, and she said, candidly, that I would be better at the things I loved if so much of my energy weren’t deployed in ways that kept me safe, but didn’t let me function at my best.

My therapist, Hannah, is a rock star. I also thought she was full of it at the time. But, after almost ten years in the Social Services field, I was jumping at bangs. I was almost unable to enter a room full of people. Unexpected physical contact got me ready to throw and grab and punch. It would have been hard, I decided, to write in prison for smacking someone who spooked me, since I don’t write by hand much.

So I did the work. I worried that the writing would suffer. This is, as I suggested, the myth that sometimes comes to us from seeing other “artists” in action. Does every van Gogh need to cut off their ear, or every Zelda Fitzgerald need to be a drinker? I don’t think they do.


As I crawled my way from where I started to these days (about a year later) I think about my writing process now and how it was and how its changed. Much like when I was in high school, writing my first novel powered by teenage angst, and my second novel fueled by college angst, as I’ve found myself less angsty the words come better. I have more “spoons” to write, to consider what i’m doing. I’m not writing to keep from drowning, I’m writing because I like to swim.

So, as we look down the barrel of the holidays, be gentle with yourself. As you work on your creative projects (whatever those are) perhaps also think about yourself as a creative project. How might you make yourself better, and in turn, allow that to support your art? Just a thought.

For most folks, the day after Halloween is about nursing sugar hang-overs, taking down the pumpkins and bracing for Thanksgiving in three weeks. For a crew of writers, it is Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in which folks write a 50k word novel in a month.

For me, it’s the beginning of the down season. Because, dear reader, I do not write in the month of November. Sure, there will be Tweets, and perhaps some blog posts here (that would be a change). But no major work, unless I have to. Why, you might ask? Because my participation in NaNoWriMo is cursed.

Many moons ago, I thought about doing it. I love challenges and creativity and time constraints. I wrote Conner Chant in 5k word bursts, the second half of the book in ten days. Crazy times. But whenever I think about NaNoWriMo…my computer crashes.

Four times. This has happened four times.

Explainable issues with the mother board. A broken screen. A power cord that exploded when it was in the wall. So, for the last several years, I complete my last addition to my serial story, Peter Price the Pumpkin Prince on Halloween. I back up all my writing. And then, I settle in for the month of November.

So, a little bit of superstition to go along with your holiday 🙂

Patreon Launch

Posted: July 9, 2017 in Uncategorized
Hello Gentle Readers,
I am very excited to share that after a lot of thought, i’ve decided to open up a Patreon. What is Patreon? It’s a monthly crowd-funding source that allows Patrons (that’s you) to sign up and offer a little bit of funding to support my creative work.
At the moment there are three support levels.
At the $5/ month level, you’l have access to a Patreon-only serialized story, which will go live every Friday. If we hit some targets, the stories will morph into a novel.
At the $10/ month level, you’ll have access to the Patreon-only serialized story, and also be able to command my services. I will write a for-you-only 1k word flash fiction story. It will be yours forever.
At the $20/ month level, you’ll have access to the Patreon-only serialized story, but you will also be invited to work with me one-on-one with your writing. We’ll spend the month tackling a specific craft issue you identify. This will include some work shopping, some reading, and collaboration.
Patreon support levels can be changed at any time (so if you want to workshop one month, but only want the story the next, that’s fine!). As this will not begin until the 1st of August (or be charged until August), folks who sign up now will recieve “Fever Dreams” a sampler of some of my favorite published short stories. At just over 14k words, this collection also includes a previously-unpublished short story “Emily of Oz” which is a personal favorite of mine.
Please consider becoming a patron, the process is very simple and every little bit helps me bring my creative work to a larger audience.
Here’s the link:
Very happy to share that my flash fiction piece, “Spindle Talk” is out from The Future Fire. It’s about Sleeping Beauty and Narcan. Let me know what you think! Share, comment, spread the word.
Very happy to share that my short story “The Snow Queen’s Daughter” is out today from Metaphorosis. Please give it a read, share it, spread the word.
It’s about finding yourself, overcoming challenges, learning to love.
“I extended my hand out the window, reaching as my mother had taught me since I was old enough to understand her words. Palm up, an invitation to the distant skies.”
Happy to share that my flash fiction piece “Reintegration, on the Process of” is now up at The Airgonaut.
It’s a little bit about conversation therapy, coming home, and being broken. Or when the world wants you to be broken, but its the world that’s broken. Check it out.
Happy to share that my essay, “The Absence of Being Alone” is now live at Mothership Zeta. It’s really about the moments in books that make me cry no matter how many times I read them, about Ms. Lamontagne’s seventh grade English class and about finding your tribe. The issue is $2.99 and features some great writings from other writers as well. I hope you’ll consider purchasing it!



On Beast Claiming, from the

Lady’s Societal Gazette of New Manchester

By Sean Robinson





Long time readers will recall that the Editricies of The Gazette hold steadfast in their belief that women of good breeding must adhere to the social conventions of both their sex and class. That is to say—to demonstrate the virtues of tenacity, ferocity, and single-minded mastery of their chosen avocation.

To this end, we continue our exploration and celebration of the successes of the Ladies of New Manchester.Lady, Victorian, Crinoline, Parasol, Dress, Fashion

A young lady, as we know, is judged by the pursuits she holds closest to her heart. These might be the harpsicord, the joy found in paints and canvas, or the recitation of poetry. In recent months, the good homes of New Manchester have taken to hosting parties around such themes. It has been quite charming. In particular, our in-house writers enjoyed the poetic exploits of Melenna Ambersoft, her work “On Dancing Slippers” left us quite ready to dance, while Dayanah Meadowslark’s “Ode to New Manchester” touched our hearts with patriotic fervor.

Both ladies were kind enough to remark that they are avid readers of The Gazette.

We most recently attended a menagerie hosted by Cerise Lutenbach, just returned from abroad, who shared with us her experiences as a Beast Claimer, as well as guidance to the young society daughters who will, undoubtable, seek to emulate the up and coming menagitrixes of New Manchester.


On Beast Claiming


The art of Beast Claiming has spent much time believed as the pursuit of bluestockings, the rural, provincial, and the untutored. Nothing could be further from tPhoenix, Bird, Fire, Bright Red, Swing, Fantastiche truth. It is the very essence of the wild brought to high art. No matter the class, or the current societal convention, it is, however, something that required dogged determination and art.

To be a Beast Claimer is to brave the wild and find a beast with which you might find some measure of common virtue. It is to stand alone in a field, or tall grass, and with skill, fervor, and will, to join them to you, gentle them, and further your mastery.

As the art has grown over the years, while both in and out of fashion, there remain several conventions that must be taken into account should a woman of quality wish to pursue this avocation.


On First Beasts


Generally the nascent Beast Claimer is brought into the profession with the presentation of their first beast. In the Hinterlands Plain, beyond New Manchester’s Third Ring, this presentation is traditionally done on the tenth birthday.

It is fitting and appropriate that she be offered a selection, in keeping with her nature, but choose only one, before taking on the great challenge of her young life.

It will be, in many ways, her first and greatest friend. As the road spirals out from New Manchester, and the young girl’s adventures grow, it will be there beside her. It will fight for her, when necessary, share in her victories and mourn with her in her defeats.

In custom, a child is brought with her parents, her hair in ribbons, and presented with three orbelles. Each orbelle contains the vitaye of a prospective Beast. The child is then expected to choose between the three, finding some measure of common ground. This will be her first partner.

Crystal, Glass, Ball, Little, Small, Hands, Hand, GirlMost acceptable for a young lady are a trio: the bright-plumed alerion is fitting for a child who is concerned with her appearance. The alerion is plume with the most becoming feathers—flammeous—colored crimson to poppy. Incandantine. For the craftier Beast Claimer, the slick-finned remora is ideal. Fleet in water, it is quick to pluck bright stones from the river bank and has a most pleasant singing voice. Last, for the young lady who will be the envy of her brothers, she might choose the orbelle of the thick-rooted mandrake. Mischievous and brave, the mandrake will present a loyal guardian on the road and a challenge to opposing Beast Claimers as the young lady begins her quest.

As a young lady journey’s on into the Hinter Land plains, accompanied by her new-won beast—the must begin to search for the ultimate goal in their new avocation.

For some, they will seek to train and raise their beasts to the highest pinnacle of achievement. For others, they will seek to collect as many beasts as they may find, cataloging their experiences in a bestiary, perhaps for publication upon their triumphant return to New Manchester. Readers of the Gazette may find our reviews of several such publications in our archives.

On Capture


To be a Beast Claimer, a young lady must face her fears. It is quite likely that in her journeys beyond the Third Ring that she will encounter beasts in the grass, as well as beyond, in the marshes and fjords, forests and caverns that her exploration will take her. It is equally likely that she will wish to capture specimens along her journey.

To do so, she must have an empty orbelle. Made of crystal, they hold the beast’s vitaye and binds the Claimer and the beast together. She must be swift and brave and take the orbelle in her hand, concentrate and will.

She may fail at first, as she will fail at many things, both in her quest and in her life. The will of any beast—sphinx, or ash-drake, or golem—may be too much for the young Beast Claimer. They will fight and writhe, but she must hold firm until the orbelle lays quiet and the vitaye is secured.

The capture of a beast is cause for celebration! It is the next in the step of becoming a master beast claimer and as the Lady’s collection grows, so too, does her prowess and prestige.

She will walk away, leaving her parents behind, never looking back. Trusting as all young women trust, that home will always be there when she returns.


On Training


It is simply not enough to gather the many beasts of the forest, the fen, the sea, and the moor. The beasts the young lady claims require stimulation as they have been taken out of their natural habitat. They require growth on the prat of the Claimer as well as on their own part to grow into their full potential.

It is recommended that Beasts be allowed to wander and roam whenever possible over the course of their journey. It gives them the opportunity to take in new sights and discover new places.Rocky Mountains, Stunning, Beautiful Landscape

So too should the young Lady Claimer explore as well. She should challenge herself to explore the cavernous expanses to the East of New Manchester and explore the seashore as it moves toward the south.

Training should also include further education on the part of the Claimer. Sphinxes are well-read, as is the couatl, to speak nothing of the ferocious intelligence of the manticore. We suggest Lord Aeryc Byron’s History of New Manchester as well as Gwentolyn Reed’s corpus of literature as appropriate places to begin. The young lady will find her companions predisposed to certain topics and should, for no reason, limit the beasts in her care to her own preconceived notions of appropriate material for their scholarship and growth.

As with all aspects of Beast Claiming, as her team grows, so shall the lady. Her perceptions will grow more acute, she will learn from the people she meets on the road—including other Claimers—as well as from the beings she has accompany her. She will grow in ways unusual and unexpected, but to be a Beast Claimer of any renown, is to be succinctly and unapologetically themselves.


On Battle

As with most chosen professions, it is likely that the Lady Beast Claimer will find themselves accompanied by, challenged by, and almost certainly exasperated by, her peer group.

In the field, or in neighboring cities, young ladies are laying aside their embroidery and poetry to take up the orbelles of the beast claimer, to become masters of their profession. No small amount of jealousy will also take place.

Vector graphics of two Victorian women in living roomIt is also quite possible that a rival may seek to engage in a test of training, of quality, using their beast companions. This is to be expected. How else might professionals measure their success against one another?

For a battle, it is appropriate to choose among the Claimer’s companions—which is the craftiest? The bravest? The most daring? Let them take the field. The opponent will do the same, and—as is the nature of beasts—they will battle. The Lady Claimer should encourage her partner, call out suggestions of how to subdue their opponent.

Let the mandrake strike out bravely with its barbs, or the entling with its jagged bark. Let the Capricorn pull torrents from the water, and the ercinee glow with such radiance that its opponents are blinded.

Battle will be difficult for the fine bred lady of New Manchester, but battle is her due and her legacy and her birthright. She will find, as her journey towards Claiming mastery continues, that she will find reserves inside herself. Reserves of tenacity and drive that, had she chosen a different avocation, she would not have found.


On Failure


It is pure hubris for a Beast Claimer of any merit to believe that they will be without challenge. For a young lady, she must be prepared for all eventualities. It is likely that they will find a beast whom they adore—such as the might garuda—who will be too strong-willed to give their vitaye to an orbelle. There will be disappointment, when the road is not kind. When hems are ripped and bonnets are lost to the water.Metaphor, Falling Down, Failure, Dry, Stressed, Cracked

In these times, she must remember that she chose the path, the beast, the quest. She must remember that the only way through is success, or to return home failed. To her parents who were so proud that their child was daring, and to her brothers, who called her names, pulled her braids, and broke her toys. To the world of New Manchester, who is kind to poets and painters, but who has not yet decided what to make of a Beast Claimer not decked with the winner’s laurels.

A Beast Claimer must be brave and hold to the course. She must believe in herself and in her journey. How else will she enter burned ruins in search of lamassu or the mines of the kobold? She must embrace the desire to push through adversity, to challenge those she might fail to, in order to grow into the lady she wishes herself to be, and to support her companion beasts into becoming the beings that they are destined to be.


On Mastery

All roads lead to New Manchester. As a Beast Claimer leaves for the road, a single companion at her side, so must she return triumphant. For some that will mean that her mandrake is a doughty warrior, champion of many battles. Perhaps it means that she carries a hundred orbelles in the bag at her side. Perhaps it means that when she knocks upon the door of her childhood home—a woman they almost do not know—she will be more than she was when her hair was braided and her parents clutched each others hands.

Let the master Beast Claimer enter her home with a smile, with quiet knowing, and great joy. Let her introduce her brothers to her cockatrice and her leucrotta. Let them wonder at the way she smiles at them when they think to pull her hair, or be cruel to her.

And, when appropriate, let her open her doors to society. To the Editricies of The Ladies Societal Gazette of New Manchester so that we may bring our readers in with us to marvel at her journey, her mastery, and how she has transformed into a formidable creature all her own.


Hello!  Little late here, but my short story “In Charybdis Bide” is now out through Kaleidotrope. You can find it HERE

This story was written at the final residency of my MFA Program. Where all of my peers read excerpts from novels or longer works-in-progress, I decided I wanted to share two short stories. The first was, “Madder Root and Rampion” which you can find published at Betwixt. This is the second.

It’s about last moments, about what comes next. About conversations and truths you might tell someone you will never meet again. It was written to a song called “As the Crow Flies” by Timothy Vajda, and the song is haunting.

“Where am I?”

I am thrilled to announce that my short story “He Who Makes the Slippers” is now available at Mirror Dance.

Have you ever wondered who stitched the footwear for the dancing princesses, or the iron shoes for Snow White’s wedding?

In his dream, he slept beside a gloaming sea.”