Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Scaring the Stars into Submission" - NOW ON SALE!

"Scaring the Stars into Submission" 
by Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger

16 stories across 354pgs

A blend of science fiction, magical realism, and dark surrealism spread out across a dystopian landscape. 

$9.99 for the Kindle/E-Reader Version
$15.00 for the Paperback Version

Available for Purchase Here - Kindle/E-Reader

Available for Purchase Here - Paperback

A great, unnamed event. A world both drowning and engulfed in flames.
Autopsies reveal gardens of lilies sprouting up inside the rib cages of the dead.
Clouds fall to the earth and affect the behavior of those that come in contact with them.
Revolution and violent uprisings spread through nations across the globe.
Twelve blind men in a basement transcribe the history of the world as it burns down around them.
Nightmares become reality; reality becomes nightmare.
Families turn to reluctant cannibalism in the hopes of waiting out the horrors beyond.
Corporations push to create a new population to replace the old one.
Philosophical musings from a balcony overlooking a dark, empty city.
A brief moment of something good between lovers as the world begins to slowly recover.

These are the stories before the event.
These are the stories during the event.
These are the stories after the event.
These are the stories of people coping and surviving, fighting to live, or fighting just to be doing something, anything.

The stories in this collection are brief moments, tiny pockets of surreal happenstance, but pure emotion. Each piece ties into the next by the tiniest filament, each story connected to the one before and the one after, each trying to hold on to some bit of normalcy, but failing in spectacular and terrifying ways.

“Maybe we had reached a point where we were forcing ourselves to believe in something better, something different than what this current reality was spoon-feeding us on a daily basis. The psyche can’t cope with such bleak surroundings for long. Something inside breaks, either for good or ill, but it breaks regardless. Maybe we were just tired of being broken and didn’t know how to go about fixing ourselves.”


Friday, December 30, 2016

Today We Made a Book; Tomorrow We Try to Convince People to Read It

I graduated from the University of San Francisco in December of 2011. Over the course of three summer semesters, two fall semesters, and two spring semesters, I had completed a single novel ("Impasto"), half completed another ("Rise") and completed most of a four-part novella (currently called "Green Leaf, Brown Leaf"). I would've wasted my time had I not left the program with tons of material to work with upon graduating.

Ironically, it was none of these projects I returned to immediately after graduation. I had a wealth of seemingly disconnected pieces of flash fiction, the longest measuring *maybe* 4 pages. I knew I had to keep producing new work post-grad school, but realized a full on novel was a lot of work for where my head was at then. Instead, I tried to see if any of these flash fiction pieces were worth expanding and fleshing out, worth completing to find the end of the story.

For months, I remained on my strange sleep schedule; go to bed at 7pm, wake up at 2am, have a smoke outside my building in the black San Francisco night, and type out whatever ideas came to me on my phone. The fruits of that labor are now available in a single collection called "Scaring the Stars into Submission," which is now up for sale on Amazon in hard copy. Digital copies will be made available soon; their formatting is significantly different from that of their hard copy brethren.

From February 6th, 2012 to September 1st, 2014, I spent every writing moment focused almost entirely on completing this collection. "Marina, Patina, Corona" was the last story to be completed while "Firebug for Hire" was the first. There was often no rhyme or reason to which story was completed when, only that sometimes one felt more ready to be written over the others.

What I did not expect was the stories left untold in the pages I had yet written. I flat out love this collection. At the time, I was reading a lot of Blake Butler, Ben Marcus, and Matt Bell, all of whom do fantastic work linguistically in some very strange narrative situations and settings. These authors were my base and had a great influence over me. Their books "Scorch Atlas," "The Flame Alphabet," and "How They Were Found" (respectively) have been read over and over again because they are just that good. They are also just that engaging in subject matter for me.

I did not want to self-publish. I had read entirely too many excerpts of books that were poorly edited, poorly written, or both. This tainted my ideas of the nature of self-publishing through Amazon. Publishing houses and editors alike had no interest in publishing the collection as a whole, so I finally decided this summer (2016) to do it myself.

I cannot explain to you how vital my friend Rob Romine was in the final stages of the process. I've known Rob nearly the entire 16 years that I've been a DJ. He worked at one of the record stores I would often frequent on the weekends and, eventually (with mutual friend RJ Bass), asked me to join them in their Sunday night downtempo/trip hop residency in the Martini Corner part of Kansas City. I've made mixes in his basement, partied with him long into the night, and gotten to make some fun music with him over the years. But having his patience and his technical skills in handling this cover art and making sure the page formats were up to snuff has been invaluable through this entire process. There was scotch a-flowin' once we realized we'd gotten both the manuscript and the cover art perfected and accepted. Especially considering how much we volleyed back and forth with ideas, whether on cover art or simply trying to get the right formatting on the page to fit the templates through the Amazon site. Today alone, I spent no fewer than 8 hours on preparation for this. A lot of good lessons learned, a lot of mistakes that won't get repeated again so the process goes smoother next time.

There is also an incredibly beautiful foreword by my good friend and brother-from-another-mother Surya K Kalsi at the beginning of the collection. We went through literary boot camp together and we could not be more different in our personal aesthetics, but we are both very, very serious when it comes to the craft. He keeps a blog called Headers, Margins, and Footnotes that is always worth reading. He also has a book out, published by Little Feather Books that can be bought HERE or HERE. It is an unbelievably, beautifully written book that's easy to get lost in for several hours at a time.

For now, my book remains "In Review" on the Amazon site. It's also currently only available in paperback since digital copies require a more stringent and particular formatting (which I'll be doing this week). So don't worry, a digital copy is coming soon for those of you that love the e-readers.

Once the link goes live on Amazon for the paperback copy, I'll create another post. Until then, you'll have to wait the same way I do for this link to be available. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I know it's WAY the hell outside of the average reader's wheelhouse; it's far too strange in places for most. But I honestly think the heart is there. I think there is some very solid storytelling happening in several of these stories and I could not be happier with the finished product.

It's looking to be a solid start to 2017.

And speaking of 2017, a little memory popped up on my Facebook news feed today about the number of places I submitted to over the years. The post is worth repeating here: 

"2012: submitted stories to 15 places.
2013: submitted stories to 148 places. 
2014: submitted stories to 237 places. 
2015: submitted stories to 262 places. 
2016: submitted stories to 116 places 
and released a full short story collection. 

Hustle harder. Do more with your time. It gets easier the longer you do it." 

And it's true, it *does* get easier the longer you do it. I've already got a second collection of stories ready to go, but which I'll be sitting on for most of 2017 while I work on a third collection and one of my novels-in-progress. I'm not a fan of floating in place; if there's no forward momentum happening in my life, I feel like I'm simply wasting it. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more literary news on my end as it comes. 

Quit wasting your talents. Grab the bull by the horns, gather up your supplies, and go create the hell out of something for people to enjoy. You'll be glad you did. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wrapping Up the Weirdness of 2016

Where do I even start with this year?

Musically, we lost Prince, David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Sharon Jones, Maurice White, and Leonard Cohen. Other notables include Gene Wilder, Muhammed Ali, Alan Rickman, and so many more. Some were less surprising due to health issues, but no less sad to see pass on.

I also lost two friends this year, John and Cheri, two fantastic people. You can read more about them here.

Personally, however, my year was full of creativity. As a DJ, I played 22 gigs and made 19 mixes of various musical styles, 5 of which were recorded live at their respective events. You can enjoy my entire collection of mixes at my mixcloud site HERE. There are 59 mixes of various styles of house, trip hop, hip hop, downtemo, techno, funk, soul, get the idea. If you can't find a mix I've done that you enjoy, then you haven't checked them all out yet. There's a little something for everyone, guaranteed.

As a writer, I finished writing fewer stories than I would've liked (3), but had 2 short stories picked up for publication and wrote 9 articles for the Weekend Collective / YeahKC! sites. I'm also releasing my first short story collection called "Scaring the Stars into Submission" on Amazon in both digital and hard copy. I could not be more excited about it as my good friend Rob Romine did the cover art and was infinitely patient with my constant revision requests to his evolving work.

I think the contents of the collection will be a deeply disturbing surprise for those that have never read my stuff before, but who may know me as an individual. The contrast between the art and the artist is stark. I've never been able to really explain why so much of what I produce lies firmly at the bottom of deep, haunted canyons other than I find that the stories first birthed and then unearthed in the dark are the most interesting to me. Trite, happy endings tend to leave me feeling like I've been robbed of some kind of reality, like some kind of truth has been glossed over and hidden away from hearts and minds seeking something tangible due to a need for something pretty in the end. Fiction should reveal truths about ourselves, not obscure them.

I did a fair amount of traveling, seeing my degenerate West Coast family in San Francisco in May, the Missouri Ozarks twice, Chicago with that same West Coast family in August, and then Phoenix in November. I spent the majority of the summer in my pool, entertaining friends and family alike. The days in the unbelievably hot sun (95+ degrees most of the summer) were tempered by the water, a small pleasure I've not gotten to enjoy for the last several years. Pretty sure I made up for all that lost time with my afternoons in the pool.

In November, I saw my youngest sister get married to a guy who I immediately liked the moment I met him. That's pretty huge considering I'm the older brother and there's always the inherent tendency to protect our sisters from those that don't have their best interests at heart. They seem to be perfect for each other, which pleases the hell out of me. They always seem to be in good spirits around each other and in relation to each other. That bodes well for the longevity of their union.

And then there was the Presidential election, which I won't even go into, mostly because I've always wanted to keep this blog politics-free despite having minored in it and having followed political discourse since high school. Suffice it to say, I'm less than enthused by who the country decided to elect. I'm mildly terrified by the quality of people being put into cabinet positions. Not terrified for myself, mind you; I'm terrified for all my people of color, my womenfolk, and my LGBTQ family across the country. They have the most to lose right now.

A light injury in February turned into a very serious injury in September. What I first imagined was a pulled muscle in my back became something much more dangerous: a herniated and ruptured disc between my L4 and L5 vertebrae with pieces of the disc having broken off and fallen down my spinal column. There, they pressed against my sciatic nerve, which caused severe pain down my entire left leg. Xrays, an MRI, and a surgery later, things are back to being semi-normal. There's still a significant amount of pain in the mornings, but with a little movement and forced walking, that tends to go away relatively quickly. Another few weeks and I should be back to 100%.

Every year brings new lessons to learn if one is paying enough attention or bothers to take the time out for reflection (as I often find myself doing more the older I get). Some lessons hit harder than others; some are just purely surprising in their repetition or their suddenly obvious nature. I am easily distracted by certain things or people and that was certainly true this year. But, with the deaths of my friends early in the year, I made the conscious effort to spend more time with the people I left over six years ago and returned to last year. It's a decision I would gladly make again despite how some of the situations turned out. It's all been worth it.

I came away with two lessons this year, both worth discussion and revision, but both feeling apropos of the events of my moving back to Kansas City.

Lesson 1: Some doors aren't meant to be opened; not by keys, not by words, and not by force.

Lesson 2: If the status quo is good enough, don't go asking or looking for more; always be grateful. 

I don't know quite what to expect out of the next year. I'm fully planning on making serious creative moves, having decided to pick up painting as another outlet to my writing and my music. Perhaps, if I get good enough, I'll try to pain the cover of my next story collection "Machinery of the Heart: Love Stories," which is completely and totally done. I've also commissioned my friend Makenzie to do some of her collage work for the cover, so we'll see which route we go. I'm realizing I'd like to be able to showcase the talents of my friends on the cover of each book I release. Plenty of them don't get enough credit or exposure for the cool things that they produce, which is disappointing.

It'd be nice to see "Scaring the Stars into Submission" do well, however. No publishing house, no agent, just all hustle on my end and a little high gloss sheen by a friend. Weird that publishers and agents didn't want the collection despite so many of the stories having already been picked up and published by a large number of reputable magazines and literary journals. Maybe it's just too weird for most, which is fine. My stuff has always been far left of center conceptually. I always knew I'd be writing for a very small, niche group of readers with very specific tastes.

Regardless, it's not worth worrying over. The only thing left to do is create and never stop.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Ki Russell's "The Wolf at the Door"

If done right, your life gets filled with different casts of characters on a pretty regular basis. I've been fortunate to have known some pretty amazing (I think) writers, entertainers, and thinkers. One of those, a writer, I met during my creative writing days at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her name was Ki Russell. While we never hung out outside of the classroom, she was always incredibly friendly and her critiques towards other student writings were always fair and never laced with subversive barbs or jabs, even if she didn't particularly like the piece in question.

She put out a book (her third) last year called "The Wolf at the Door," which I was able to read an advanced copy of before it came out through Ars Omnia Press. It is incredibly interesting in that it takes the fairy tales we all know, fractures them, then puts them back together in Picasso-like fashion. Below, you'll find a link where you can purchase the book, a review by Piers Anthony, and a summary of the book itself.

Per usual, yes, I am maybe showing a little nepotism towards former classmates by spreading news of their published works here, but I'm of the mindset that I'd like to see them ALL succeed. Anything less than that kind of thinking is petty and not worth vocalizing or printing.


"The Wolf at the Door" combines fiction and poetry to present the interrupted narrative of Lana, a contemporary revision of the Little Red Riding Hood figure. Each snippet of Lana’s story weaves her life ever more densely and intimately into the weft of a wider world of fairy tale-inspired figures, against which the protagonist’s story unfolds and through which she discovers who and what she is. Interwoven between the sections of this narrative are poems exploring other fairy tale figures, the perspective of these poems alternating between the contemporary and the timeless time of fairy tales. Baba Yaga appears in her hut in the woods and also as a Kali-figure living among us in the suburbs: devouring, monstrous, sexual, divine. She subsequently appears in the fairy tale tavern where she guides the heroine of the disrupted narrative, who works and interacts with other fairy tale figures traditionally cast as villains. Ultimately, Lana must come to recognize her own identity as both the maiden (Red Riding Hood) and the crone (grandmother) which allows her to draw power from both of these extremes of the female archetype.

Review by Piers Anthony 

I read The Wolf at the Door, by Ki Russell. This is not your usual fantasy. It is set in a pub where fairy tale characters congregate in a neutral setting. I'd have to review a number of fairy tales that I was familiar with when my daughters were children if I wanted to catch all the references, but did recognize the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, who is trying to recover the harp that Jack stole. Also Little Red Riding hood who now has a fairly familiar association with the Wolf—they sleep together, though I'm not sure there's sex—and dances at the pub. The story, of a sort, is told in snatches, some of which is blank verse. I am intrigued by a blue rose plant that can be affectionate or deadly, and clearly understands those who interact with it. Definitely not a garden variety plant. Also by an old crone who knows more than she tells, and has powers she mostly conceals. Read this for an experience in outlook, rather than for a coherent story. Adult fantasy, not as a euphemism for sex, but in the necessary maturity of perspective.
(The full review can be found HERE.)

Link for Purchase of All of Ki's Books

Ki Russell teaches writing, literature, and creative writing at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, where she resides with her husband Timothy and two children, Rook and Ashe. They share space with a cat called Draco and a dog named Dooby Dooby Doo.

She holds a Ph.D. in English literature (Creative Writing emphasis) from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an M.A. in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Medulla Publishing released her chapbook, HOW TO BECOME BABA YAGA, in 2011. Ki also has a full-length poetry collection, THE ANTLER WOMAN RESPONDS, from Paladin Contemporaries in 2014.

Ki researches fairy tales and then butchers them for her own uses. She steals time from grading to wrestle with words, converse with the cat, dance with the dog, and paint. She believes people should laugh more.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Anatomy of a Mixtape Videos (Pt. 2)

Back in May of last year, I created a post (which you can read here) in which all the videos corresponded to a short story that I'd completed called "Anatomy of a Mixtape." I was hoping that whichever magazine or journal picked it up for publication would leave the link firmly embedded within the text so that future readers could always reference the post and hear the music described all in one place rather than go hunt down every song on their own. That was not to be.

But thankfully, the Summerset Review has published the story in their December 2016 issue and you can read that here

Below, you'll find EVERY video of every song described in the story. Choose how you want to listen to them. Read the paragraph first, then listen to the song? Great. Listen to the song as you read the paragraph? This might be tough with some, but probably the best bet. There's no one way to experience the story and the music together; you'll figure out what works best for you. 

I hope you enjoy! 

Robert Glasper - "Maiden Voyage / Everything in its Right Place"

Al Green - "What is this Feeling?"

Soul Coughing - "Soft Serve"

Leon Ware - "I Wanna Be Where You Are"

Jose Gonzalez - "Heartbeats"

The Cinematic Orchestra feat. Roots Manuva - "All Things to All Men"

Explosions in the Sky - "The Only Moment We Were Alone"

Failure - "The Nurse Who Loved Me"

Jimmy Eat World - "For Me This Is Heaven"

The Radio Dept. - "Tell"

Washed Out - "Don't Give Up"

Bjork - "All Neon Like" 

Billie Holiday - "Don't Explain (Dzihan & Kamien Remix)

Little Dragon - "Cat Rider"

Jeff Buckley - "Lover You Should've Come Over"

4Hero - "Conceptions" 


Saturday, December 3, 2016

2016 Reading List

I keep saying it, but it remains a truism; 2016 has been a supremely weird year. You might look at this list of books I read and think "That's it? That's your list? C'mon, son."

Much of my creative output didn't happen until the tail-end of the year, thanks to this back injury, of which I'm having surgery in a little over a week. During that time I've done some writing (which I'll talk about in another post) and very little reading. It's been a struggle to juggle the creative life with the normal social life, more so here in KC because I moved back with a pretty diverse bunch of friend groups from all walks of my life.

With the death of two friends this summer, it became paramount to me that spending time with them was infinitely more important than sitting at home reading or writing. It just felt like the right move...and it still does.

But now I'm settled in and I seem to have found a good groove. Plus the winters here are crazy cold, so plenty of people just go into hibernation most nights anyway, which makes it easy to divert my time to other endeavors. With the back surgery in a week or so, I'll have plenty of time to do some more reading before the year ends. Below you'll find my incredibly anemic list for the year.

Because I knew that my social life was going to be outshining my personal life, I mostly chose to dig into books that I'd already read before. Somehow that makes them easier to finish when life gets a little chaotic, I think. Plus they're just really enjoyable books, which is why I read them over and over again every so often. The last two by Bolano and Dick, however, I'm planning to read during my recovery time as they've been on my "to read" list for a cool minute now.

2016 Reading List


01.) Carlos Ruiz Zafon - "The Shadow of the Wind" (487pgs)
02.) Carlos Ruiz Zafon - "The Angel's Game" (531pgs)

(1,018pgs total)


03.) Carlos Ruiz Zafon - "The Prisoner of Heaven" (278pgs)
04.) Haruki Murakami - "Hear the Wind Sing / Pinball, 1973" (233pgs)

(511pgs total)


05.) Lev Grossman - "The Magicians" (402pgs)

(402pgs total)


06.) Lev Grossman - "The Magician King" (400pgs)

(400pgs total)


07.) Amber Sparks & Robert Kloss - "The Desert Places" (87pgs)
08.) Amber Sparks - "The Unfinished World and Other Stories" (223pgs)
09.) Stephen King - "The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)" (231pgs)
10.) Stephen King - "The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)" (399pgs)

(940pgs total)


11.) Stephen King - "The Wastelands (The Dark Tower, #3)" (420pgs)
12.) Stephen King - "Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)" (672pgs)
13.) Stephen King - "The Wind through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower, #4.5)" (322pgs)

(1,414pgs total)


14.) Stephen King - "The Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, #5)" (714pgs)
15.) Stephen King - "Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)" (413pgs)

(1,127pgs total)


16.) Stephen King - "The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7)" (845pgs)
17.) Bo Fowler - "Scepticism, Inc." (256pgs)

(1,101pgs total)


18.) Philip K. Dick - "The Man in the High Castle" (274pgs)
19.) Roberto Bolano - "The Insufferable Gaucho" (164pgs)

(438pgs total)

Total Pages Read