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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Critical Thinking

Kersley Fitzgerald

It is November in Colorado. Maj. Tom (USAF, Ret.) is another year older. The weather in Colorado can't decide if it's going to snow or be seventy degrees. Or both. And I, once again, inexplicably, have my craft on. This year, the theme is steampunk. So far it's three purses, two coatracks made out of plumbing connections, and an abstract owl.

What's different about this November is I am determined to skip NaNoWriMo. Too, too busy. In part, reading the amazing submissions that come in to Stupefying Stories. And, in another part, making owls out of discarded hardware. (I have no idea why. It seemed a good idea at the time.)

When our fearless leader posted his proposed line-up for this month, I blinked hard and thought to myself, "Another one? On time? What's gotten into us?" Then I took one look at the titles and declared it more bipolar than the Colorado weather. For every funny, often irreverent story, there's another quiet contemplation about life and what we're willing to do to protect it. When I brought this up, he was quick to point out that he had deliberately given a sampling from men and women. Looking at the stories again, I realized that of the stories I had read, the tone parted exactly down gender lines. Is the Mars/Venus thing true? Are our natures polar opposites? You'll have to decide after you read this month's edition.

I do know that Sarah Frost's "Borrowed Feathers" blew me away the first time I read it. The imagery was so clear that I could see everything the main character experienced. "The King of Ash and Bones," by Rebecca Roland, is similarly poignant. And it was obvious to me from reading "The Bamboo Garden" that Clare Deming knows little kids.

In the blue corner, Aaron Starr's "First Impressions" left me laughing out loud. And our own Henry Vogel's "Watch This!" made me homesick. I grew up with these guys! (Yes, Oregon has rednecks, too!)

For now, I leave you to November. To shortening days, turkey sandwiches, and long nights of plumping up that NaNo word count. But, as the Christmas holidays approach, I also leave you with one thought:

Wouldn't a year's worth of short stories make an excellent stocking stuffer?

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