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This has been a rough week for culture. First David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman has succumbed. There’s a reason why we use the word “cancer” to name a scourge that plagues us.

In 20 minutes, I will convene my Harry Potter class, and we will pay tribute to the man who gained an entirely new generation of fans by embodying the Half-Blood Prince.

Probably I will show them this:

 

 

And then I will show them this:

 

 

Rest in peace, Alan. Enjoy the Bowie concert.

This has been making the rounds online, but in case you missed it… If I knew whom to attribute it to beyond what’s on this gif or in the URL, I would. If you know how to contact the person responsible for this wonderful art, please let me know in the comments.

 

 

And here’s a little soundtrack by which to enjoy it.

 

I woke up this morning, like so many people, to the horrifying news that David Bowie had died.

My alarm clock is also an internet radio, and so when it goes off every morning, the radio goes off with it. Since the alarm is programmed to my local public news station, I wake up to something horrifying more mornings than not — as if the act of being awakened by an alarm wasn’t bad enough. But I digress.

I think I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that he’d had cancer, but it had never occurred to me that he wouldn’t be alive forever, in the same way it doesn’t occur to me that my husband’s ancient healthy cat won’t be alive forever. I know there’s a flaw in the logic, but I don’t feel it.

Today I’m feeling everything. Too much. And because I cannot express it half as well as my friend Paula Billups did on her blog today, I’m just going to share her post here with you (with her permission, of course). Click on the photo of the man to read the entire piece. It is well worth the five to ten minutes of your time it will take to do so.

 

I think the title pretty much sums it up, don’t you? Anyway, here’s the link to the essay by Geri Lipschulz, “Of the World that Freely Offers Itself: An Exploration of Writerly/Artistic Rituals.” It’s an interesting, lyrical piece which synthesizes the processes of a variety of artists and writers. It appears in The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!

 

 

Like I typically do, I want to share a few interesting — well, interesting to me at least — statistics about this past year in the life of my blog, and to also let you know about what’s coming up for this next year in my writing life. Brief mention of a resolution or several might accidentally find its way into this post, but since those things are notoriously adept at self-sabotage, maybe I’ll just make some suggestions about where, in this moment, I’m eager to see my writing career meander. You know, all casual-like, because we’ve seen that Pronouncements are rarely flexible enough to work In Real Life.

So first, some nifty stats.

Sappho’s Torque had a good year, with nearly 7,000 hits. That might not sound like very much, but for my tiny little operation that doesn’t even get a new post every week (more on that later), it’s kind of lovely. Building a platform with social media and a blog is a long, slow process, but a worthwhile one, it appears, since new subscribers are jumping on board with pretty much every post. (And hey, thank you!) WordPress tells me my blog is being read in 99 countries, but I’m not sure how much of that number matters and how much of it is Wonky Computer Network Ephemera That Means Nothing In A Practical Sense. What is interesting — again, to me — is that, after the US, the blog’s biggest readership is in the UK (not a surprise) and Brazil (definitely a surprise). It appears that Brazil has edged out Canada and Australia, which were previously two of my biggest audiences. Yet I know I still have faithful readers in Canada and Australia, so… Go Brazil! Welcome!

Among the most popular posts on my blog this past year were ones from some of my periodic series, including April’s Poet-a-Day, Women Writers Wednesday, and the 12 Days of Christmas Music That Won’t Turn Your Brain to Goo. But the most popular stand-alone post — and in fact it was one of the most popular posts of all this year — was The Pep Rally I Cannot Forget, an intense little memoir piece. These kinds of posts, ones that allow me to tell stories and comment on them, and sometimes come to terms with them, through the perspective of hindsight, are my favorite ones to write. One of my goals for 2016 is to write more of them. I’ve got a lot of material for this type of post, a long list of stories I want to tell, and my hope is that this coming year I’ll find the time to write a bunch of them and share them with you.

A recap of my writing accomplishments for 2015 includes the achievement of a few goals that I can’t quite tell you about just yet (though I will as soon as I can, depend on it), but also a few noteworthy things that I can now mention. For one, my newest collection of poems, PLAYING HOUSE, is almost ready for publication and should be available this year. Watch for exciting announcements in that vein in the coming months.

And for two, those of you who are fans of FINIS. — and oh, how I do so appreciate you and your emails and posts on my social media and your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads! — you will hopefully be pleased to note that the new, illustrated print version is now out and available! The print edition contains four beautiful drawings by Houston artist Lauren Taylor.

 

Elsa and Gerard, as imgined by Lauren Taylor

The fifth image for FINIS.: Elsa and Gerard, as imagined by Lauren Taylor.

 

You can click here to get FINIS. on Amazon in either ebook (unillustrated) or print (illustrated) form, but know that the ebook is still available pretty much everywhere ebooks are sold, and the print edition is coming very soon to other stores. (It may already be there by the time you read this post, but slow distribution times at the holidays being what they are, etc. etc. you know how it goes, etc.) I hope you love the illustrated print edition — early response to it so far has been very positive — and that you will continue leaving reviews of it on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are the best way to expand the audience for a book. Thank you again to those who have done so!

Many people have asked, since FINIS. came out, if I plan to expand it into a larger novel or if I’m writing a sequel. The answer on both of those, at the moment, is no; however, I am writing more stories set in that world. One of them is in its final stage of editing right now and is called “Farce Macabre” — a title I hope it will get to keep. I have a third story set in this world which is still in process and a fourth which is in notes. It appears a collection is in the offing, though the timeline on when it will be done is nebulous at best. A few other short stories and novellas, primarily of the “literary” fiction variety, are in the works, too.

My hope is that 2016 will see me write another novel and also launch the vlog I’ve been planning with the exceptionally awesome Sarah Warburton. We keep saying we’re going to do it; now we just need to finish what we’ve started. Other goals I have for the near future include finishing setting up my study in the no-longer-quite-so-new-to-us house and continuing to strive for something like balance in my two careers (writing and teaching). I swear, if I do nothing else this year but achieve work-life balance, I will consider myself the most accomplished person alive. (I will also never experience stress again and probably be able to fly around the world in five minutes like Superman, so don’t hold your breath.)

You can expect to see more fun stuff on the blog this year like A-Poem-A-Day for April and more recipes and stories and maybe even a writing contest or two. We have some political conventions coming up later this year, and those are always good for a short-form poem contest like the one we had back in 2012. I’m actively soliciting more work for the Women Writers Wednesday series, too, so if you’d like to suggest a female-identifying author for it, please send me a message here or on Facebook or Twitter (@AngeliqueJamail).

I’m also curious: what else do you want to see here on the blog in 2016? Feel free to make suggestions; I’m always interested in what you want to read.

 

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Special thanks to Dharma Comics for permission to use this image. See their other work at www.dharmacomics.com or on Facebook here.

 

Today concludes this year’s 12 Days of Christmas Music series, and I hope you have enjoyed it. Have a wonderful holiday. Even if you aren’t celebrating Christmas, I hope you take pleasure in not having to go to work or in hopefully coming into contact with fewer frustrations in your day.

All the best. See you in the new year, if not sooner.

 

I need to lighten the mood a little around here.

 

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