The cheery front door at Broadkill Resort! (Photo credit: John Edward Lawson)
This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural writing retreat held at the brand new Broadkill Resort! My amazing publishers at Raw Dog Screaming Press recently purchased a beach house in Milton, Delaware, where I and a handful of other authors spent a few days work-shopping, writing, and brainstorming projects–along with all the other fun and shenanigans that happen when many authors get together in the same place!
We were lucky that the Broadkill Resort was pretty much rental-ready when we bought it, but there were still a few things we wanted to improve before we started have workshops and retreats there. So over the holidays we decided to celebrate at the beach while making improvements to the house.
My sister came up with a fabulous Christmas/seafood themed menu and did most of the cooking. Here’s what we had:
It turned out to be the perfect weather for Christmas at the beach with unseasonably warm weather. It got into the 70s! Santa brought the resort a great yard wagon for carting things like firewood to the beach. We discovered mistletoe in a tree on the property and learned that space under the griddle of the antique diner stove works as an excellent broiler.
We worked on many projects to improve the house including:
Fixing all the doors that were sticky (most of them) and adding doorstops
Getting more than a trickle of hot water out of the shower
Touching up paint around the windows
Painting the bathroom mirror
Fixing a crack in the entry door
Cutting and stacking firewood
Yard clean up
Hanging a new bird feeder
There are also a few projects we began that are not yet completed
Painting the entry door
Adding built-in bookshelves to one of the bedrooms
Installing a dry erase board for workshop use
During our yard clean up we discovered a hinged flagpole that had been lowered and was almost buried by sand. We’re excited at the prospect of having our own Broadkill Resort flag in the near future but first the flagpole needs some repairs.
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Seven years ago I found myself in a marshland over night, and fell in love.
I was staying with my wife’s family at a house in Delaware. Over the last 25 years they have been gracious enough to let me stay with them at beach rentals every summer, starting down at Dewey Beach on the Atlantic coast of Delaware. Gradually we moved up through Rehoboth, and as that city grew increasingly crowded we continued up to Lewes. Lewes was nice enough, but after staying there for five or so years my in-laws decided to try a new place: Broadkill Beach.
My wife and I arrived seven years ago with our 3-year-old son in tow. He was sick, and rapidly infecting us with whatever he had. We couldn’t sleep, couldn’t get comfortable, and were in the middle of nowhere. The outcome could have been terrible, but turned out to be just the opposite.
It’s hard to adequately describe the serenity of the area. Broadkill Beach isn’t a proper town. It’s a community of houses along a single road that runs parallel to the beach. There is one store, the Broadkill General Store, and that’s it. The beach itself is just inside Delaware Bay, so the water is more calm than at those other towns along the ocean. On the other side of the road, behind the houses, you have miles of untouched wetlands in every direction. This is the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Nobody knows about Broadkill because it’s tucked away behind the Wildlife Refuge, and a half hour removed from the entertainment offered by Rehoboth.
I’ve been meditating regularly for years now, and realized that just sitting on the upstairs balcony, listening to the breeze sweeping across the wetlands, and the gentle sound of the waves, left me feeling as refreshed as active meditation. At Rehoboth you can find yourself fighting for a space on the beach during the busy times, but even on July 4th weekend the beach at Broadkill remains virtually empty. Miles of beach to fill with the residents of just a couple hundred houses…that math results in basically a private beach.
After just a few days I knew I would one day own property there. I wanted to wake to see the sunrise uninterrupted by human constructions, and see the stars and constellations of the night sky–none of which are visible at home due to light pollution. Now that dream is coming true, sort of.
You see, when it was just a personal dream it was nice, but seemed a bit unnecessary or self centered. However, in the last 12 months we at RDSP rented a luxury resort for two writers’ retreats, and the thought was planted that perhaps we should take things to the next level. We began to think in terms of a permanent writers’ retreat. What better location than at Broadkill Beach?
During this last summer we spent months on scouting expeditions to find just the right location. We needed a place that could accommodate multiple authors, be secluded yet have easy beach access, with appealing amenities, not to mention be something our team of investors could manage. The house we settled on is unique even among the eclectic beach houses that have built up here and there over the last century at Broadkill.
For one thing, it is at ground level making it accessible to everyone, opposed to most of the Broadkill homes which are on stilts. The rooftop cupola provides a unique place to write, away from distractions or noise, with 360 degree views out over the landscape. The kitchen is equipped with a massive industrial stove top and ovens from a 1960s diner. The spacious custom outdoor shower, referred to by the previous owner as a “bathhouse” due to its size, can handle any needs after beach excursions. And there is so much more! Custom built in bookcases, custom shelving in the master bedroom closet, all seasons room, etc.
Now, after several more months negotiation, our team has finally closed on the house. There will be constant news pertaining to the Broadkill Writers’ Resort in coming days, including the scholarship for writers to attend free of charge, house upgrades especially for the needs of authors, and more. We have a mailing list so you can keep up with all the updates as they happen over at the Broadkill Resort site.
This will be an ongoing endeavor, for both individuals and groups, plus workshops with writing and editing coaches, all in a pristine shoreline environment. A stay at Broadkill offers more than just the beach, though. Below are details about the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and three nearby towns that offer entertainment and necessities…
Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is a 10,144 acre refuge officially established in 1963 to provide protection for threatened and endangered species, as well as many neo-tropical migrating bird species. Prime Hook’s habitat features include salt marsh, freshwater marsh, ponds and impoundments, wooded swamps and upland grasslands and forest. Hundreds of native plant and animal species thrive in this mosaic of these diverse cover types that provide habitat for 308 species of birds, 51 species of fish, 45 species of reptiles and amphibians, 37 species of mammals, and an array of rare insect and plant species.
The closest town, Milton, is only a 10 minute drive away and is full of shops and restaurants. Established in 1672, and operating under several names until 1807 when it was renamed after English poet John Milton, this old ship building community has a historic district full of restored Colonial and Victorian houses, ranging from Gothics with turrets to those with peaked roofs trimmed with gingerbread lace molding.
Further down Route 1, about 20 minutes from Broadkill, is Lewes, a quaint seaside community known for specialty shops, historic buildings, advanced health facilities, and its own beach. Continuing south on Route 1 30 minutes from Broadkill you next come to Rehoboth, a large beach vacation destination with a boardwalk and more shopping and entertainment options than you could take in during a week’s stay.
In the meantime check out Broadkill Writers’ Resort on Facebook and Twitter.
Earlier this week I was lucky enough to speak with somebody who is friends with the folks at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and they informed me of the multidisciplinary arts residency program there. Before I present that information, however, permit me to thank everyone who shared my last blog post, regarding H.P. Lovecraft, the controversy surrounding his views on race, and the overall cultural problems facing us today. Readers of this blog generated many more thousands of hits per day to my site than usual this week, especially after my blog was posted to Reddit. Two of my favorite comments from the Reddit reaction are:
Those savage Satan worshippers from the equatorial regions are infiltrating this country and spreading Ba’al worship amongst our children while hiding behind the burqa of progressive tolerance! Soon it will be too late to stop the dark legion and we will all be bound to their unholy sharia!
Pretty sure I saw that on my Facebook last week.
Even if he personally partook in the lynchings or hunting black people on university campuses, I wouldn’t give a shit. He wrote good stories. That’s all I care about in a writer. His personal political affinity doesn’t and shouldn’t matter in the slightest.
You can join in the conversation either here on my blog, or at Reddit, or better yet share the post with those who might find it worth reading. Thank you!
And now for the arts residency…
How to Apply to the Master Artist-in-Residence Program
If you are interested in becoming an Associate Artist, first view the Current Residency Schedule and select the Master you are interested in working with. Each Master Artist determines the requirements and basic structure of their residency. Masters may select up to eight Associate Artists to participate in the three-week program.
You may apply by following the instructions below. Note: ACA no longer accepts application materials via mail, email or fax. An extra administration fee is required if you wish to apply by mail or email.
Visit the current Residency Schedule to review the application requirements and deadline for the Master Artist you want to apply to. Completed applications must be submitted by Midnight EST on the deadline date.
Prepare the application files for your application submission.
The next page will ask you to sign in with your current submittable account, or to sign up for a new account. You have to have an account to apply.
This page is where you enter the information for your application. At the bottom of the form, you can upload the files listed in the Master Artist’s application requirements. Programs require various documents that can include word documents, images, scores, sound files, or other materials. Some artists also require a document with links to online videos. The submission website does not allow you to edit your files after you complete your submission.
Enter your payment information at the bottom of the page for the application fee.
Click Submit to complete your application. At the time of this writing, users received two confirmation emails; one confirming your payment and another confirming receipt of your application submission. You should be notified within 6 weeks of the application deadline a to whether or not you have been accepted.
A white supremacist towered over me shouting about how he ought to kill me when I was in the fourth grade. He was a Vietnam vet and a gun owner and was only restrained from attacking me by, well, people restraining him. I had committed the grave error of fighting back against his little brother-in-law who was my age.
This is the family that had discharged their firearms at people playing basketball at night from their balcony. They also kept a German Shepherd on their balcony, four floors up, with a giant bloody bone hanging from a chain on the wall to keep it company— a German Shepherd trained to attack on the command of “nigger.” The dog was set on me once using that command, biting my thigh when I complained about it getting sick near me; I was only able to escape due to that very sickness preventing the dog’s pursuit.
These memories came to me in the wake of the decision to retire the bust of H.P. Lovecraft used as the World Fantasy Award, during which time whites with guns patrolled a university campus looking for black people to shoot. There was debate online about the past being in the past, and fiction being about fun and not politics, and why do people with dark skin have to make everything about race. After all Lovecraft was alive a long time ago so what’s to be offended about? There were arguments about how racist Lovecraft really was and how damaging could that really be.
We’re talking about a time when Birth of a Nation was a huge film release lauded by the press and even receiving a standing ovation from the president of the United States, when segregation was enforced by the populace itself, when lynchings occurred throughout the North and South, when the cartoons in literature of the day did their best to portray almost every ethnic group in a horrible light, when the eugenics movement of the United States was so prevalent that it provided inspiration — and even direct support — for Hitler’s political career. The truth is that in comparison to his contemporaries Lovecraft’s bigotry was merely common. To view him, and his body of work, in that light is to acknowledge that much of what we consider classic literature all the way up through notable contemporary works was made by racists.
How we receive Lovecraft and his body of work is distorted by the fact that much of his era’s cartoons, film, music, and literature are out of print or lost to the sands of time. English is not an uplifting and inclusive language for many of us, nor have its stewards been uplifting or inclusive. English language writing has been the mortar of the wall separating us from opportunity for many years, shaping the thought processes which led to our condition.
As the title above suggests I posit the problem of Lovecraft’s legacy is not his bigotry. After all, there is a long stretch of history during which people were tortured for being left-handed. This is common knowledge, and there are still left-handed people among us, yet the cruel fate of so many left-hand people no longer figures significantly in our perceptions. Why? Because society adapted to include the left-handed fairly in all levels, and there are very few — if any — of us remaining who perceive the left-handed as a threat and something to stamp out.
Which is quite telling when it comes to racial bigotry: those of us who are of ethnicity not supported by Lovecraft’s bigotry react strongly because we are, in the course of our daily lives, still the target of such bigotry… And more importantly many of us still feel misgivings about those with dark skin pigmentation and whether they are to be trusted.
Even more crucial, though, is that which society fails to train us to look for. After all, institutionalized bigotry is now recognized as a “bad thing” but there are so many other issues which our society fails to address so readily. For example the lack of female existence in Lovecraft’s work or, when recognized, its malicious nature. As we are in a patriarchal system misogyny seeps into our world view when we are children, to such a degree that as adults it’s very difficult to even recognize what is in front of our faces. It is clear from the writings of Lovecraft that women are really better off not existing. When I read his work I am often reminded of the autobiography of Malcolm X in which he at one point proclaims Mecca so wonderful, and at another point comments that you would never know there were any women living in the city, but never directly connects the two thoughts, which add up to wonderful cities being places where there are no women. Lovecraft’s work is similarly wonderful, and while exploring it you would have almost have little indication that women existed in it. Save for the stray witch or two.
More startling still is Lovecraft’s depiction of the working class commoner which is far less kind than that of the farm animals which run afoul of the mutilating creatures populating his world. You see, the only worthwhile being in existence – for even gods are portrayed poorly by Lovecraft — was the one staring back in the mirror, which he perceived as being a highly educated man of reason hailing from English descent. Other pale skinned men from the westernmost reaches of Eurasia receive hideous treatment by Lovecraft, which I believe if perpetrated by myself or another dark skinned author would be received with anger or at the very least trepidation. Compounding the issue is Lovecraft’s seeming self-satisfaction at being an anthropologist working to preserve the various dialects of the North in the wake of post-Civil War efforts at language hegemony. I say compounded because he uses that very same dialect in character interactions to denote precisely whom is a worthless lump of meat to be ground underfoot by both cosmic horror and contemporary progress.
It goes without saying that the aforementioned racism applies not just to people of African descent, extending to those who are Arabic and from Eastern Eurasia or the Pacific Islands. If you’re from the Middle East or the Pacific rim it’s pretty much assured you are a devil-worshiping blight on the world – although it is likely you are at the very least more knowledgeable than those subhumans from Africa.
I originally intended to post this blog on the day of the Paris attacks, but when I saw the news I held back. My speaking out on issues of race and domestic terrorism in the past, when terrorism occurred overseas in foreign lands on the same day, resulted in my message not being well received. The intervening week and a half, though, have provided much in the way of insight.
The interval has seen “white student groups” on college campuses organizing to fight the “terrorism” of Black Lives Matter protesters, political candidates and voters alike proclaiming their radicalization, the mass shooting of protesters against police violence, the announcement of an award featuring a distinctly white bust of H.P. Lovecraft (as opposed to the bronze WFA bust) by those who wish to promote “white greatness” in literature, and so much more. *
I’ve also witnessed during this time quite a few people avowing their willingness to go overseas and protect citizens of other countries while remaining silent on the campaign against mosques and black churches, and reactionless in the face of violence against citizens of color and their continued inability to get justice.
Only after much struggle and effort have we managed to do something about a racist who was around 100 years ago, but it seems the racists who are around now are only growing stronger. The problem is not Lovecraft or his racism, the problem is us. Are you the person who took action and held back the white supremacist coming after my 10-year-old self, or are you the person who stood back and made excuses for him?
* Ironically this group tarnishes the memory of those they seek to deify by promoting their noteworthy “whiteness” as opposed to enshrining their works of exceeding skill, casting aside white greatness in favor of great whiteness. Whoops-a-daisy!
If you enjoyed this article please consider showing support by purchasing Sing Me Your Scars by Damien Angelica Walters or Luna Maris by Steven Archer. My own books can be accessed free through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Lending Library.
Violence is something I don’t think you should have to endure, or be injured or killed in the attempt to avoid. So I shared the above meme with the intention of flipping the perceptions on certain types of violence, and how that violence is frequently excused away.
Not everyone will agree with me, and I encourage disagreement. I think everybody should be able to post their opinions on their personal social media pages; I might be annoyed when I see this, but it’s their space so if I disagree I can just take my attention elsewhere.
A lot of violence supporters come around to my space on the various social networks, though. The above is from Google+. As time goes on the thought matures within me that our tolerant behavior tends to fuel the poor behavior in others–more so in offline relationships face to face, but that’s another blog post entirely–so it falls to us to not confuse being reasonable with being permissive, and in so doing tacitly condoning things. More to the point: violence advocacy online has real world consequences, and can’t be ignored when it enters your sphere of influence. So, if we are to have these public discussions, why not make them public for real, not just locked away on some secure social network where impact is limited? I view it as my job, so here I am doing my job…
“The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
—Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)
I have seen the notion floated on the Internet that part of the targeting of French culture is terrorist perception of the society’s “decadence” (derived in part from the attackers’ statement: “The targets included the Bataclan theatre for exhibitions, where hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice”), including the immodest dress of the men and women. Let’s look at that. If you are traveling in the Middle East even men are advised to wear loose fitting, longer clothing–pants and a shirt with sleeves. That’s one thing; it’s how their society operates. How about extremists on the fringes of that society? Looking at the religious extremist government of the Taliban—far more representative of the region’s terrorist organizations than Islamic governments—even athletes were arrested and punished for attempting to wear shorts during soccer matches (anybody else remember interviews with relieved Afghan citizens playing soccer in shorts after the USA invaded?).
This is exactly what you are agreeing with when you dismiss violence directed against women as a result of their apparel. Furthermore, the existence of that violence is all too often used to also justify violence against children or other men. You are in agreement with the most repressive of the religious extremists who will harm at random. Contemplate that if you have expressed any concern about the incidents in Paris or elsewhere.
Or you can insist that whatever arbitrary hypothetical you conjure be treated with the gravity of real world violence, reveling in others’ inability to outpace your make-believe with attempts at reason…all with the knowledge that by cultivating conditions for random violence in the world while you yourself exist in the you are supporting random acts of violence against yourself and those in your life. Also known as: the thigh bone really is connected to the hip bone.
You see, I understand it feels comfortable to be in an insular environment where you aren’t confronted by unexpected thoughts or actions. It’s natural to prefer it. I know I do! Yet, I’m convinced it’s our business as adults to challenge ourselves, because the insular environment is to the mind what outer space is to bodies: spend enough time there and you grow weak from loss of muscle mass, frail from loss of bone density, squirrelly from lack of broad human contact.
Don’t worry; I challenge myself more harshly than I do others. In addition, I’m cognizant of the fact I’m almost 7 feet tall and almost 300 lbs. The “it’s nature/might makes right/size hierarchy” approach means you condone megafauna like me either torturing, killing, or robbing you with impunity (because I can’t stop myself when I see you, so stop making me see you unless you want these things to happen). Devote some time to meditating on that one. Unless, of course, you are larger than me.
As for the classist–and potentially bigoted–nature of the comment left on my post pictured above, well, coming from an impoverished urban area (“ghetto”) I can assure anyone who holds those perceptions:
Violence there isn’t as it is portrayed in the media.
If you are a stranger coming to the hood with lots of obvious money people will assume you want to buy drugs or something–anything–else and will try to sell you whatever they can. If this fails they might get angry, but violence isn’t too likely. You grow accustomed to being on the wrong end of privilege in those places and only mess with people who seem more or less within your socioeconomic range, because police won’t care as vigorously about people who share your socioeconomic strata. Your car might get messed with, though.
Folks in the hood might be more scared of you than you are of them; if they don’t get near you they can’t be accused of impropriety and injured, killed, falsely arrested, or even just hassled by authorities.
…why am I treating hypotheticals that would never transpire seriously?! Back to the blog wrap-up…
For my part, I long ago adopted a do-not-engage policy for those who jump into discussions with knee-jerk reactions/declarations that they will reject any viewpoint other than that which already resides in their minds. Instead I write blog posts; it is my hope you have enjoyed this one. If so, please consider showing support by purchasing Cog by K. Ceres Wright or Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed by Scott Nicolay. My own books are available free to Amazon Prime members or through the Kindle Lending Library.
Recently, I attended Dog Con IV in Philadelphia. This event, celebrating releases from Raw Dog Screaming Press and its imprints, included a group tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary, readings from thirteen RDSP and Dog Star Books authors, and the transfer of the Readers’ Choice Award from last year’s winner Matt Betts to this year’s, Stephanie Wytovich. More fun-filled adventures took place on Sunday, but sadly I had to depart early that morning and missed more readings and signings. Pictures from the event are trickling out slowly over at my Instagram account, @kwtk, and Twitter, @kwtaylorwriter.
In addition to fangirling all over the authors I already knew and adored, I got to meet lots of new folks and heard some amazing bizarre fiction that made my brain hurt (in a good way). As always, Dog Star SF/F authors K. Ceres Wright (Cog), J.L. Gribble (Steel Victory
There have been a few blog posts documenting the awesomeness that was Dog Con 4 (organized by the great Raw Dog Screaming Press), but I had a unique experience and thought it would be fun to capture it all so I don’t ever forget…and maybe a few of you will get some entertainment out of it as well.
Friday started with me begging Stephanie Wytovich to take a very, very long time getting ready, because I was still tired and didn’t want to leave yet. Also, if sleeping in meant we wouldn’t get to do everything on our to-do-list while in Philadelphia, it would be HER fault for taking so long getting ready. ;)
She had the last laugh though, as she got ready quickly and forced me to groggily drag myself out to the car. I pulled it around to pick her up and inside I was wearing…
This past weekend (October 23-25, 2015), I attended the fourth annual DogCon, the annual convention hosted by my publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press. Its a wandering convention, and this year we took over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!