Wednesday, December 30, 2020

PJ Harvey (2021) Reading Challenge


I really love reading challenges because of the way it stretches your reading comfort zone, but I've always sucked at actually completing them.

In 2015, over at Goodreads, we kicked off our most outrageous challenge ever, borrowing The Beatles Reading Challenge from another group I was a part of, which had turned their songs into reading tasks. And 2016, we whipped up The REM Reading Challenge. (I really sucked at this one. I couldn't even complete one album, but man was it fun trying!). And then to honor David Bowie's passing, in 2017, we pulled together the Bowie Reading Challenge! In 2018 I decided to take a break from our music theme and challenged everyone to read whatever the fuck they wanted in our RWTFYW challenge. The only rule was that there were no rules : ) In 2019 I spread my love of Guster around, and 2020 was all about Ani DiFranco.

I decided to stick with kickass females for 2021 and am thrilled to annouce that we're hosting a PJ Harvey Reading Challenge!

Similar to my history with Ani DiFranco, I fell hard and fast for PJ Harvey in the mid nineties. Her debut album Rid of Me still holds some of my favorite songs of hers!

Whether you know and love PJ Harvey, or this is the first time you are hearing of her, what I think is most cool about these kinds of reading challenges... is that you don't even have to be a fan of the musicians to participate. You just have to be a fan of READING!!


The PJ Harvey (2021) Reading Challenge

(click through to create yours!)

So here's how this works:

*The goal is to cross off as many of PJ Harvey's songs as you can throughout the course of 2021.

You can challenge yourself to complete one entire album, focus on completing one decades-worth of albums, or build your own challenge by hitting your favorite song titles... it's totally up to you!

*You cross off the songs by reading a book that meets the criteria listed after each song title.

If the book meets multiple reading tasks, cool! You can apply it to multiple song titles, OR you can make the reading challenge more challenging by limiting yourself to one song title per book.

*There may be built in redundancy with some of the tasks.

They are repetitive on purpose, to give you an opportunity to read more than one type of book and still get credit for completing a task. (Sneaky, I know!)

*Please copy and paste the entire list, or your customized challenge list, into your own thread in this goodreads folder and strike through the song titles as you complete them, OR, you can simply copy and paste each song title and its criteria from the master list here as you complete it. (obviously put your name in the thread title so we know whose challenge it is).

*Do not add your list directly to Rule and List thread.

*YOU MUST LIST THE BOOK TITLE AND AUTHOR that coincides with the song as you complete it for the challenge so we know what you read!


An example of a completed song title task in your Challenge thread would look like this:

““This Bouquet” – Read a book that features flowers on the cover - The Distance from Four Points by Margo Orlando Littell


Aaaaannnnnnnddddddd here's the list:
A total of 10 albums and 93 total songs

Rid Of Me (1993)

“Rid Of Me”- Finally give in and read that one book that keeps popping up in your feed
“Missed” – Read a book you didn’t get to read in the year it released
“Legs” – Read a book with a body part on the cover
“Rub 'Til It Bleeds” – Read a book that contains a lot of blood
“Hook” – Read a book that features fish or fishing
“Highway '61 Revisited” – Read a book that takes place on the open road
“50Ft Queenie” – Read a gender bending book
“Yuri-G” – Read a book where the main character has a unique or uncommon name
“Man-Size” – Pick up some feminist fiction and read the fuck out of it
“Dry” – If you read a book that left you unsatisfied, take credit for it here
“Me-Jane” – Read some fantasy or a fairy tale retelling
“Snake” – Read a book with an animal on the cover
“Ecstasy” – Read a book that you immediately fall in love with

To Bring You My Love (1995)

“To Bring You My Love” – Read a sprawling, epic novel that covers a lot of time or distance
“Meet Ze Monsta” – Read some good old fashioned horror
“Working For The Man” – Read a book where the protagonist is a pencil pusher / works a hum-drum job
“C'Mon Billy” – Read a book with a person’s name in the title
“Teclo” – Read a book that features a made-up language or strange slang
“Long Snake Moan” – Read a book with witchcraft, voodoo, or weird ass weirdness going on
“Down By The Water” – Read a book that takes place on, in, or near water
“I Think I'm A Mother” – Read a book about parenthood of any kind, in any form
“Send His Love To Me” – Read a book that has letters, emails, or texts in it
“The Dancer” – Read a book that features music or dancing

Dance Hall at Louse Point (1996)

“Girl” – Read some YA
“Rope Bridge Crossing” – Read a book with some action and adventure
“City Of No Sun” – Read something that’s really dark
“That Was My Veil” – Read a book to escape the world and take credit for it here
“Urn With Dead Flowers In A Drained Pool” – Read a post apocalyptic book
“Civil War Correspondent” – Read historical fiction or a book that is based on an historical event
“Taut” – Read a collection of flash fiction
“Un Cercle Autour Du Soleil” – Read a book that was translated
“Heela” – Read a book in which one of the characters is “saved”
“Is That All There Is?” – Read a book that left you feeling like WTF
“Dance Hall At Louse Point” – instrumental freebie, read anything and take credit for it here
“Lost Fun Zone” – Read a book that others might consider a guilty pleasure

Is this Desire (1998)

"Angelene” – Read a book with a kickass female protagonist
“The Sky Lit Up” – Read a book with end of the world / alien invasion type shit
“The Wind” – Read a book that heavily features one of the four elements (earth, air, water, fire)
“My Beautiful Leah” – Read a book about a main character who is sad or suffers from mental illness
“A Perfect Day Elise” – Get some fresh air and go read outside
“Catherine” – Finally read that book you’ve jealously watched others read and love
“Electric Light” – Read a digital book
“The Garden” – Read a book that mostly takes place outdoors
“Joy” – Read a book with a one word title or that has an emotion in the title
“The River” – Read a book about transformation
“No Girl So Sweet” – Read a book that makes you swoon
“Is This Desire?” – Read a book that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)

“Big Exit” – if you DNF a book, take credit here
“Good Fortune”- Read a book you picked up at a book sale or bought for crazy cheap
“A Place Called Home” – Read a book that takes place in your hometown/state
“One Line” – Read a book of poetry
“Beautiful Feeling” – Read a book that gives you all the feels
“The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore” – Read a book that features sex and/or drugs
“This Mess We're In” – Read a book that’s a hot hot mess
“You Said Something” - Read a book that takes place in a big city
“Kamikaze” – Read a book that features flying or outer space
“This Is Love” – Read a book by a favorite author
“Horses In My Dreams” – Read a book that prominently features an animal (bonus points if the author isn’t a dickhead and animal doesn’t die)
“We Float” – Read whatever the fuck you want and take credit for it here

Uh Huh Her (2004)

“The Life And Death Of Mr. Badmouth” – Read a book by an author who is no longer living
“Shame” – Read a book you would not want someone to catch you reading
“Who The Fuck?” – Read a book by a new-to-you author
“The Pocket Knife” – Read a coming-of-age story
“The Letter” – Read a book about writing
“The Slow Drug” – Read a book that takes you a while to warm up to
“No Child Of Mine” – Read a book that features a child protagonist
“Cat On The Wall” – Read a book with an animal on the cover
“You Come Through” – Read a book a buddy recommends for you
“It's You” – Read a book told in second person or a book that breaks the fourth wall
“The End” – Read the last book of a series or published by an author
“The Desperate Kingdom Of Love” – Read a book you desperately wanted to love but didn’t
“The Darker Days Of Me And Him” – Read a book about a break up

White Chalk (2007)

“The Devil” – Read a book about angels, devils, demons, or religion
“Dear Darkness” – Read a book that takes place primarily at night
“Grow Grow Grow” – Read a book has repetitive words in the title
“When Under Ether” – Read some science fiction
“White Chalk” – Read a book with a white cover
“Broken Harp” – Read a book that disappointed you
“Silence” – Read a book when no one else is around
“To Talk To You” – Listen to an audio book
“The Piano” – Read a ghost story or a story about murder
“Before Departure” – Read a book while you’re on a trip / travelling
“The Mountain” – Read a book that’s been sitting in your TBR pile for a long time

A Woman A Man Walked By (2009)

“Black Hearted Love” – Read a Halloween themed book
“Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen” – Read a book with a number(s) in the title
“Leaving California” – Read a book set in a state you used to live in, or written by an author who lives there
“The Chair” – Read a book in your most comfy reading spot
“April” – Read a book with a month in the title
“A Woman A Man Walked By / The Crow Knows Where All The Little Children Go”- Read a book with a ridiculously long title
“The Soldier” – Read a book about war, or in which a war is taking place / in the background
“Pig Will Not” – Read a book set on a farm or featuring farm animals
“Passionless, Pointless” – read a book that literally went nowhere / made no sense
“Cracks In The Canvas” – Read a banged up, used book

Let England Shake (2011)

“Let England Shake” – Read a book set in a different country
“The Last Living Rose” – Read a book with flowers on the cover
“The Glorious Land” – Read a book where setting and place is very much its own character
“The Words That Maketh Murder” – Read some murder mystery / noir
“All And Everyone” – Read a book that features a large cast of main characters
“On Battleship Hill” – Read a book in which nature takes over / cli fi
“England” – Read a book written by an author from another country
“In The Dark Places” – Read a book that’s dark and twisted
“Bitter Branches” – Read a book that takes place mostly outdoors / in the woods
“Hanging In The Wire” – Do a buddy read and then chat with your buddy about it online
“Written On The Forehead” – Read a book that makes you frequently furrow your brow
“The Colour Of The Earth” – Read a book with earth tones on the cover

The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016)

“The Community Of Hope” – Read a book that could be considered a sell out
“The Ministry Of Defence” – Read a dystopian novel
“A Line In The Sand’ – Give a genre you didn’t like a second chance
“Chain Of Keys” – Read a book you’ve been hesitant to pick up
“River Anacostia” – Read a book that features religion
“Near The Memorials To Vietnam And Lincoln” – read a book that’s an homage to something/someone
“The Orange Monkey” – Read a book that’s a bit bizarre
“Medicinals” – Read a book that deals with drug use or addiction
“The Ministry Of Social Affairs” – Read a book that addresses social injustice in some way
“The Wheel” – Read a book with an inanimate object in the title
“Dollar, Dollar” – Go ahead and buy yourself a book, then read it as soon as you bring it home

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Kayleigh Edwards


Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....


Today's ink story comes from Kayleigh Edwards, author of Corpsing.

My horror sleeve started with the wolf on my forearm, back when I didn’t know I was going to add anything else afterwards. I’d always wanted a sleeve but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to plan for one before I started work on my arm. My tattoo artist (Chloe Black – she’s amazing!) lovingly created this wolf for me and then soon afterwards, I told her, “hey, so I want to turn that into part of a sleeve now”. I’m sure tattoo artists just love it when they spend hours drawing, placing, and tattooing a one-off piece just for the client to then tell them they have to retroactively fit it into something else. Still, she was very lovely and accommodating when I told her that I wanted to have a full horror piece, and we started building around it, one image at a time.


The wolf that started it all is the most personal part of the overall piece. I’d gone through something and was inspired by song lyrics about inner strength/the inner wolf, etc. I know it’s cheesy but hey ho – that’s why it’s there!


The bat came next. Come to think of it, the bat came before I’d decided or told Chloe that I wanted to develop it all into one big piece. Oh God… I must have started as a nightmare client for her, now that I think about it, because she had to try and work a theme in around two disconnected pieces that took up considerable space.


Lucy (from Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula) was the first proper “horror” part of my horror sleeve, and she’s my favourite! I decided to go down the supernatural route when deciding what I wanted in the sleeve, and vampires and werewolves seemed like a good way to tie in the wolf and bat that were already there. Lucy is one of my favourite horror characters ever. She’s my favourite in the story and I love FFC’s iteration of her. I even got to play her in a theatre production of Dracula once (though not nearly as well as Sadie Frost, I regrettably add!) The building next to her is Carfax Abbey. I have another little Dracula piece on my wrist – Dracula’s carriage and horses travelling through the mountains. This was Chloe’s idea and she spent an unbelievable amount of time searching for a decent picture to go from, and ended up playing and pausing the movie and taking a screenshot to get it.


At this point, I have to say that deciding the few things I had space to include from allllll of horror was so difficult! I love so many things and trying to pick was almost like torture.


An American Werewolf in London, the poster image was outlined at the same time as Lucy, and both were filled in and finished later. It’s not only my favourite werewolf film but it’s also easily in my top 5 favourite films of all time.


The Exorcist, poster image was added next. I briefly considered a picture of Regan’s face first, but she’s too scary, so I went with the iconic poster image instead. I know Lucy’s a bit scary to some people, but I think she’s pretty. Regardless, there’s a big difference between a fangy vampire lady and then a possessed child with an almost green, wounded, evil devil face.


From the devil, it felt only natural to go ahead and fill most of the remaining space with witches, hence the little The Blair Witch Project inclusion, and both the poster image (just realised, I sure like those poster images) and Black Phillip, the goat, from The VVitch. I really love Black Phillip (as does my 4 year-old niece, who told me my arm is ugly except for the “happy goat”). How I laughed and laughed when she said that, after crying and dying a bit inside after her cutting comments about the rest of the artwork that I worked so many hours to afford.


The last piece of the sleeve was the most difficult to decide on because it was the last spot to fill, and I had about 20 movies that I was agonising over. John Carpenter’s The Thing and Ridley Scott’s Alien are my 2 favourite horror movies of all time, but there were problems with including either of them. Because the sleeve is in black and grey and was already so dark, we couldn’t very well stick a xenomorph in there. A xenomorph deserves to be noticed!


The issue with getting anything from The Thing is that, while the creature design and effects are spectacular.. it’s just… you know, ugly. I love horror but I didn’t particularly want something gross tattooed to my arm forever. Besides, using anything from either of these films would ruin my overall theme, because the monsters are aliens and fit under sci-fi horror, not supernatural horror.


Just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to ever decide, I thought back to the start of the process, when I was all focused on vampires and werewolves, and thought OMG how could I forget about Near Dark. I don’t know why it’s so underrated, but that is a beast of a vampire movie and so I went with the character of Severen, played by the late great Bill Paxton.


Kayleigh Edwards is a writer obsessed with all things horror, living in the valleys of South Wales, UK. She hopes to one day write herself out of having to do jobs she hates, which is anything that forces her to leave her house and her books.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Blog Tour: The Road to Woop Woop


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title The Road to Woop Woop by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.


For today's stop, author Eugen Bacon shares some insight into where stories begin to germinate. 

Stealing from the Everyday: The Road to Woop Woop 

People ask: Where do you get story ideas?

If you have a nose for a good story, ideas are everywhere. I’ll share with you an excerpt from Writing Speculative Fiction (2019) by Macmillan:

Stephen King in his book on writing saw stories as relics, parts of an undiscovered world for writers to excavate. Feel, smell, see—ideas float everywhere. Stories cartwheel in little word associations in your vocabulary. Unfound plots flirt all around you: in the rubicund bell innocently dangling on the Christmas tree in your unswept lounge; in the bald young man with honey-brown eyes who beamed at you in the lift on your way to work; in the ash-eyed tramp by the wayside who held your gaze a particular way and asked for nothing, but something drew your hand to your pocket and you pulled out a note; in the tarmac-black pebble that a little girl with braids throws onto a chalked out square on the gravel, and you see nothing but the blackness of the stone as the child hops on one foot, square after square, humming a nursery rhyme … --Writing Speculative Fiction

I was powerwalking in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens one dawn, when I remembered an ad I saw on Must have a phone.

It struck me, right there, an idea of a black speculative fiction set in Old Kampala, where a village woman sacrifices everything for her family. It starts with an ad the husband sees:

“Must have a smart phone,” the job ad said.


Ping! A job alert.

He was good with gasfitting, roofing, drainage, even power outlets, ladders, testing and repairing. Most electrical things he could do, and gardening. His hands were clever with greenscapes. He could water and feed lilies or stinkwood, trim shrubs or mow grass, fertilise sunflower or pluck cashews from the plant.

What he wasn’t good with was lies. The employer hadn’t been upfront at the interview about the data, how it was out of pocket.

—“Unlimited Data”, unpublished story

The husband gets employment as an itinerant handyman on call:

… peddling over fields, tarmac and potholes, moving from suburb to suburb, gasfitting, roofing, draining, mowing. Ping! Another job and he wheeled to it, phone in his pocket. But doing jobs on call gobbled data.

The black-market solution is cheap but costly.

Most stories in my new collection, The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories—be they surreal, fantastical, scientific—came about walking, swimming, watching, listening to people… A word, a phrase… It’s silly, really, how easy you can craft a poignant story by taking something ordinary out of context and extrapolating:

What if?


Releasing December 1, 2020
Speculative Fiction | Dark Fantasy

Eugen Bacon’s work is cheeky with a fierce intelligence, in prose that’s resplendent, delicious, dark and evocative. NPR called her novel Claiming T-Mo ‘a confounding mysterious tour de force’. The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories imbues the same lushness in a writerly language that is Bacon’s own. This peculiar hybrid of the untraditional, the extraordinary within, without and along the borders of normalcy will hypnotise and absorb the reader with tales that refuse to be labelled. The stories in this collection are dirges that cross genres in astounding ways. Over 20 provocative tales, with seven original to this collection, by an award-winning African Australian author.

 BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She’s the author of Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press) and Writing Speculative Fiction (Macmillan). Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

 AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter




 An Excerpt


     Tumbling down the stretch, a confident glide, the 4WD is a beaut, over nineteen years old.

The argument is brand-new. Maps are convolutions, complicated like relationships. You scrunch the sheet, push it in the glovebox. You feel River’s displeasure, but you hate navigating, and right now you don’t care.

The wiper swishes to and fro, braves unseasonal rain. You and River maintain your silence.

Rain. More rain.

“When’s the next stop?” River tries. Sidewise glance, cautious smile. He is muscled, dark. Dreadlocks fall down high cheekbones to square shoulders. Eyes like black gold give him the rugged look of a mechanic.

“Does it matter?” you say.

“Should it?”

You don’t respond. Turn your head, stare at a thin scratch on your window. The crack runs level with rolling landscape racing away with rain. Up in the sky, a billow of cloud like a white ghoul, dark-eyed and yawning into a scream.

A shoot of spray through River’s window brushes your cheek.

A glide of eye. “Hell’s the matter?” you say.

“You ask me-e. Something bothering you?”

“The window.”

He gives you a look.

Classic, you think. But you know that if you listen long enough, every argument is an empty road that attracts unfinished business. It’s an iceberg full of whimsy about fumaroles and geysers. It’s a corpse that spends eternity reliving apparitions of itself in the throes of death. Your fights are puffed-up trivia, championed to crusades. You fill up teabags with animus that pours into kettles of disarray, scalding as missiles. They leave you ashy and scattered—that’s what’s left of your lovemaking, or the paranoia of it, you wonder about that.

More silence, the cloud of your argument hangs above it. He shrugs. Rolls up his window. Still air swells in the car.

“Air con working?” you say.

He flexes long corduroyed legs that end in moccasins. Flicks on the air button—and the radio. The bars of a soulful number, a remix by some new artist, give way to an even darker track titled ‘Nameless.’ It’s about a high priest who wears skinny black jeans and thrums heavy metal to bring space demons into a church that’s dressed as a concert. And the torments join in evensong, chanting psalms and canticles until daybreak when the demons wisp back into thin air, fading with them thirteen souls of the faithful, an annual pact with the priest.

Rain pelts the roof and windows like a drum.

He hums. Your face is distant. You might well be strangers, tossed into a tight drive from Broome to Kununurra.

The lilt of his voice merges with the somber melody.

You turn your face upward. A drift of darkness, even with full day, is approaching from the skies. Now it’s half-light. You flip the sun visor down. Not for compulsion or vanity, nothing like an urge to peer at yourself in the mirror. Perhaps it’s to busy your hands, to distract yourself, keep from bedevilment—the kind that pulls out a quarrel. You steal a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. Deep, deep eyes. They gleam like a cat’s. The soft curtain of your fringe is softening, despite thickset brows like a man’s. You feel disconnected with yourself, with the trip, with River. You flip the sun visor up.

Now the world is all grim. River turns on the headlights, but visibility is still bad. A bolt of lightning. You both see the arms of a reaching tree that has appeared on the road, right there in your path. You squeal, throw your arms out. River swerves. A slam of brakes. A screech of tires. Boom!

The world stops in a swallowing blackness. Inside the hollow, your ears are ringing. The car, fully intact, is shooting out of the dark cloud in slow motion, picking up speed. It’s soaring along the road washed in a new aurora of lavender, turquoise and silver, then it’s all clear. A gentle sun breaks through fluffs of cloud no more engulfed in blackness. You level yourself with a hand on the dashboard, uncertain what exactly happened.

You look at River. His hands . . . wrist up . . . he has no hands. Nothing bloody as you’d expect from a man with severed wrists. Just empty space where the arms end.

But River’s unperturbed, his arms positioned as if he’s driving, even while nothing is touching the steering that’s moving itself, turning and leveling.

“Brought my shades?” he asks.

“Your hands,” you say.

“What about them?”

“Can’t you see?”

His glance is full of impatience.

You sink back to your seat, unable to understand it, unclear to tell him, as the driverless car races along in silence down the lone road.