Thursday, April 25, 2019

Summer Toads and Missing Moths

I had a summer of toads once. I must have been eight or nine, an impressionable age to be sure. We lived in an apartment, my mother, sister and me. she was doing what she could to provide as a single mom, my sister doing whatever it was she did that summer, and i found toads in the night.

The apartments were built on an old wetland I guess but no one had told the toads about the new landlord and that summer they sprang up and spread like rain. I never learned know how or where from—lord knows I looked. They were just there one night and for the nights that followed.

I remember seeing under the light of a distant streetlight, mounds of shadows wiggling and hopping. I’d catch them. It was easy. They were bigger than my hand. Expressionless, they’d look up at me and piss. That was their defense. I learned quick how to catch them and hold them so when the inevitable stream came, it would miss me.

I didn’t keep them. I just greeted them, admired them as only a little boy can admire a toad and set them down and watched them hop away. Or maybe they’d sit contemplating the strange visit we’d just had.

In the morning there was carnage. Flattened toads carpeted the roads. Hundreds flattened under car tires to a pancake , to cook solid and dry in the sun by the next night when more toads would come.

I never had another summer like that. The toads came back for a year or two, but never in those numbers. And then they didn’t come at all. Nothing. Never again.

I think back on that summer and wonder at it and mourn. As an adult I read that amphibians are among the most sensitive species on the planet, one of the first to suffer from a weakened environment. That was my first sign. The missing toads. The effects of my species on another

What makes me remember those toads now so longingly, so wistfully, is I remember seeing also under that distant streetlight in my childhood, swarms of moths. The light was clouded by fluttering insects. I suppose that’s whey the toads were there to munch up the low fliers.

The moths lasted longer than the the toads. They followed me to other houses, but now too, they are gone.

I remember not being able to open a patio door for fear of a hundred getting in the house. Patio lights a were shadow plays under talcum wings and head butts, misidentifying a sixty watt bulb as the moon.

Now nothing.

I haven’t seen moths in years.

Not one.

The toads and the moths— their fates were the same.

We too must be on the list.

This is anecdotal. This is personal. This is tragedy.

Thursday, April 18, 2019


I'll be at FanX this weekend, hanging out with the tribe. I'll be manning the League of Utah Writers table #31 in the Vendors area, west end of Aisle 1700 on the main floor.

Fri. April 19th & Sat. April 20th 

Salt Lake Convention Center
100 S W Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101 

Friday, April 19th

Author Spotlight 11:15-11:30 a.m.Convention Stage, Exhibit Hall 1831

League of Utah Writers Information Table #31
West end of Aisle 1700

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Peaks of Madness Cover Reveal

It's spring so you know what that means. Rain and allergies and surprise snow storms that seem to kick you square in the...

But also, the annual Utah Horror Anthology.

This year I was once again privileged to participate as an editor and contributor. It's release is imminent. The cover is below. Check it out!


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Reading Time

I rearranged my schedule and it has made all the difference.

Live in Letters is this year’s theme of the League of Utah Writers. I thought of it. It’s my theme. I’m the president. It’s a challenge to make literature a way of life. Since I’m a writer, that’s not too big a stretch, but the other end, I noticed needed some attention.

I read a lot, but only in the odd moments between other things. My change of schedule was to give myself time to read. By scheduling some time each day, for me in the morning right now, it happens.

It’s that old adage about saving money from your paycheck. Most people get their paycheck and pay for the things they need first, and then, later if there’s anything left, they put the remainder away for a rainy day. The better way to do it, is to save money first, then pay the rest. The money at the end of the month is then free money, guiltless spending. Time is the same.

Everyone’s resources are different of course, but a time budget has to be as important as a financial one.

Putting the things one values high on the list means it happens. I’ve been really good at finding time to write, but too often at the cost of reading. I read plenty, but I honestly could and should read more. By blocking out some time each day, that happens. The internet doesn’t miss me, the TV can get along without me, and I am fulfilled.

I know I’m talking to the choir here, fellow readers, but I have noticed, because I looked for it, a distinctive improvement in my life since I started blocking time out early for words instead of waiting for time to show up on its own. For one thing, I concentrate much better. Reading in the morning, means the afternoon will be effective, whereas surfing news sites online, especially these days, meant the doldrums later. Knowledge, focus, enlightenment and studying my craft all at once. It is part of living in letters.

I’m not saying that reading is a panacea, but it is a panacea.