What’s The Word From Wendigworld?

WENDIGWORLD makes me think of some kind of horrible amusement park. Robotic Wendigs wander the park, entertaining you, until you decide they are fodder for your violent desires, and then the Chuckdroids revolt and — well, ha ha, I’m sure none of that is real, please ignore the Wendig Automaton on the workbench behind me. *hastily covers it with a tarp* *the tarp twitches*

Whatever. Once again, a missive, an epistle, a newsletter-shaped thing. Let’s go.

Our Dog’s Butt Has Been Exorcised, Maybe

So, when last we visited the topic of Snoobug’s butt (aka, the Snoobutt?), it was haunted by butt ghosts, and though in that post she was improving, she then took a turn for the worst. She stopped eating, and ping-ponged between Restless Velcro Dog and Dog Who Sits In One Place Staring Off Into Space. So we investigated having the butt ghosts exorcised via butt ghost surgery, but getting a consult on the surgery would take weeks — because, as it turns out, there’s a veterinarian crisis in this country in addition to all the other current crises. (Someone on Twitter, and I forget who, I apologize, said vets basically pay medical school prices for training, and make teacher salaries for the actual job. Which, yeah, is not sustainable. The vet hospital we called said it was also in part due to the surge in shelter pets, though some articles suggest the data doesn’t necessarily hold up there, so who the hell knows. Either way, welcome to the work crisis unfolding across jobs and age ranges.)

We were not particularly excited about the prospect of surgery

a) because it’s surgery

b) because recovery from butt surgery involves a lot of, well, theoretical ass mess and

c) umm, it was going to cost around $5-6k when all was said and done.

And we’d already paid like, over a grand just in vet visits and meds. And though we would gladly pay the price to save the life of our butt-ghost-possessed Frankencorgi Shepherd, we were not exactly excited about the prospect of finding that kind of money.

One more trip to the regular vet got us a load of new meds, meds to help her eat and such — and then, somehow, mysteriously, she began to turn the corner. She started acting normal again, and not possessed by the Haunch Demons that inhabited her Haunted Caboose. So, we canceled the consult, though I note here our vet suggested still getting the surgery. We said maybe to hold off, and we’ll just have her looked at (and her Ghost Glands exorcised) monthly to see. The vet seemed amenable.

So, we saved ourselves many thousands of dollars, huzzah.

And then the next day, our HVAC broke.

Fuck.

Eat Shit, Heating And Cooling

I know, what an exciting update this is so far! Butt ghosts and heating-air-conditioning. Fucking scintillating material, I know. Is it any wonder I am a wordsmith by trade?

Yeah, the blower motor fucking died and then, of course, because there is a Crisis Around Every Corner, our HVAC company was like, “We can fix that, but we don’t have the part, and we don’t know when we can get the part, because” and you know what’s coming next, don’t you, “SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES.” *crash of thunder*

They did call us and tell us they should have it sometime this week, and it has admittedly been the best possible time of the year not to have HVAC — it’s been a nice 60-70 degrees outside and inside. Just the same, it’s going to cost us, because of course it is. Did I mention you can help me out by buying my books? That would be nice. Buy books, help a dog, exorcise some butt ghosts, heat a house. Er, you’re not heating the house with butt ghosts. Though I suppose that is one sustainable way forward in this era of a changing climate. But are butt ghosts made of methane? Hmm. Probably. This needs more thought, by which I mean, let’s not think about this any more at all.

Speaking Of Supply Chains And Books

Hey, did you know I have a book out soon? You did, of course, because I won’t shut up about it, but juuuuuust in case you’ve been trapped under a WOODEN BEAM or have been LOST IN A COAL MINE, my debut middle-grade novel, Dust & Grim, is out October 19th. Amazon has picked it as one of their Best Books of October, and as always, local brick-and-mortar bookstores across the country will have the book for you (Indiebound | B&N | Bookshop). Even more fun, if you were so inclined to get a signed and personalized copy (oooooh), then I will soon be signing those for both Doylestown Bookshop and Let’s Play Books, so order there and let ’em know you want me to devalue your book with my erratic marker scrawl!

(Please note, too, my event with Let’s Play Books is now all-virtual — I would love to do an in-person event, but with a kiddo unvaccinated and your kids unvaccinated it just doesn’t seem like quite the right time to do an in-person event. Ideally, once my recent books start to come out in paperback next year, I’ll be back to doing in-person events again.)

Dust & Grim should give you spoopy fun, and if you’re looking for something with less spoop and more straight-up spookiness, there’s also The Book of Accidents. Embrace the horror. Get creepy. (I can also do signed, personalized copies of that through Doylestown Bookshop.)

It’s good to order your books now, because the supply chain is being a tricky little gremlin right now, and to guarantee you get the print copy you covet, it is best to order early to ensure that you get what your sinister heart craves.

And if you have checked out the books and enjoyed them, I will waggle my eyebrows at you and try to make intricate facial gestures at you to indicate that you should definitely leave a review online at the review receptacle of your choosing. (Amazon, Goodreads, Storygraph, etc.) If you read the books and did not like them, you are free to write your review on a slip of paper and gently slide it into the mouth of a nearby badger. The badger will take it to the labyrinth below the earth, where the Badger Underking rules. He will store your negative review in The Great Root-Tangle, a vital archive.

Speaking Of Supply Chains, Part Two

Boy, it’s getting weird, isn’t it? It’s unpredictable what exactly you won’t be able to buy. It’s not just like, “Well, toilet paper is tough to find,” it’s everything from HVAC blower motors to fig bars. Some whole shelves at grocery stores are just… empty, and again, empty in a weird way. “We don’t have pickles this week,” a dire-eyed man, haunted by what he’s seen, tells you from behind an end-cap of canned beans. “We don’t know where they went. But I can hear them. Whispering their monstrous pickle desires.”

As a person who knows very little but has read way too much (i.e. a writer), I am fascinated by the concept of cascading failures — how systems become so complex that their failure points are diverse and hard to predict. Earthquakes are products of distributed chaos in this way. Or, the power grid. The Northeast Blackout of 2003 is worth reading about — the timeline, in particular — in watching how a series of small, hard-to-see and hard-to-predict failures rippled out and killed power to over 55 million people. And of course it’s not simply that it’s too complex, but also that there are a lot of failures put into place, too, born of ineptitude and unregulated capitalism, that weaken the overall fabric of that system.

Anyway. I’m reminded of that because this feels like that. I don’t necessarily mean to indicate we are on our way to some manner of collapse (or capital-C Collapse), though I also don’t think it’s impossible: we’ve created a woefully complex system designed to get Everything You Want the Moment You Want It, and we have done this without much concern for workers, or their health, or the infrastructure that supports all this, and on a normal day the system can weather that strain — but, say, under the hefty burden of, mmm, a Global Pandemic, a lot of little failures start to build up, inserting more and more chaos into the system, and you get enough of that…

And, well.

Cascading failure.

Things begin failing in directions you did not expect, and that seem random, because in a way, they are random — we don’t have a total grip on how a weakness in one little system here creates a total system failure in another area entirely. The impacts of e-commerce, the impacts of lost workers (sick workers, dead workers, workers who don’t wanna take your shitty pay anymore), the transition to working-at-home, the gig economy, things can’t change that fast without something breaking. And it’s now starting to break.

I’m sure it’s fine.

Things I Have Enjoyed Recently

Midnight Mass — holy shit, an instant horror classic, and a suddenly essential work in the <spoiler> genre. I mean, I have my quibbles: Flanagan really, really loves to have one character monologue, but to his credit, they’re really good monologues performed by excellent actors. There were also a few logic issues I had that I didn’t quiiiiiite buy, but really, those are small imperfections that do little to highlight what an excellent limited series this was.

Malignant — this is like the very opposite of Midnight Mass, honestly. It’s a gonzo, dwell-no-time bananapants horror movie that feels like some coked-up thing from the 1990s, and the last 20-30 minutes of it are so fucking batshit it’s honestly hard to imagine who greenlit this thing. I’m glad they did, to be clear, because I had an absolute blast with it. It’s rare I hoot and gibber at a movie while watching it in my own home, but I did that with this.

Deathloop — boy, this was a finely-tuned game, perfectly non-linear. Beat it, enjoyed it, felt the story was thin on the ground, hoping for a sequel that keeps the clockwork timing of the game but also sharpens the narrative.

The Supervillain’s Guide To Being A Fat Kid — middle-grade by Matt Wallace, coming out in January, just a lovely book, essential in a lot of ways, and fun and thoughtful and you really need to be reading Matt’s books.

Ted Lasso — I don’t know how the season will end on Friday, but I suspect it’ll be a bit of a downer, but I also think it’s important to go with the story they’re trying to tell and not the story we want. I think there’s this sense that the show is a ceaselessly positive show, but I don’t think that’s it, not in the sense of being toxic in its optimism. It’s clearly getting at something, and part of that something is the problem with (some) fathers and toxic masculinity, and it’s grappling with that in a way that is interesting and maybe necessary. I don’t think it’s pap or pablum and I’m eager to see where it goes.

Ha Ha, Facebook Is Down

A whistleblower notes that Facebook is choosing hate speech for profit, and then, whoopsie-doodle, there goes Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp, etc. Most social media outlets are shit in their own way, but Facebook seems to go the extra-mile in being awful. It’s a bad place. I’m still there, though in a walled garden way, because I have to use it to connect to things for school and family and work, but my use of it is limited to those walled garden conversations and not much else. (Some will tell you that it is essential to get off Facebook, and that’s fine, if easier said than done — also many people will tell you to get off it, while still using Instagram, even though Instagram is still just Facebook.) Anyway, social media is a poison and we are soaking our brains in it! I mean, not blogs, of course. Blogs are good. BLOGS ARE GOD.

KNEEL BEFORE BLOG

Ahem. Sorry. Moving on.

Where Wendig At

Noah Evslin and Dan Rutstein had me on Screaming Into The Hollywood Abyss to talk about rejection and failure and other pitfalls, cliffs and oubliettes across writing careers.

Gabino Iglesias reviewed The Book of Accidents at Locus: “The Book of Accidents is about a family fight­ing something much bigger than them while also struggling with their personal demons. It’s a wildly entertaining narrative about entropy, death, and the most horrible things humanity can do, which balances things out by showing the power of love, family, and friendship. Wendig is already a house­hold name, but he’s not resting of his laurels, and this one might just be his best book yet.”

Publishers Weekly reviewed Dust & Grim: “Packed with pop-culture references and creepy beings, the novel is written from Molly’s sarcastic-beyond-her-years viewpoint and subtly threaded with life lessons that together create an engaging narrative.”

YA Book Central reviewed D&G, too: “Engaging, fun romp in a paranormal world. Sure to appeal to fans of paranormals. A perfect read for the Halloween season.”

At Shondaland, I talk about why writing is so damn hard alongside other authors.

And I’m with other awesome scary folk at Goodreads talking about horror.

Here Are Some Photos

(With more over at Flickr.)