Friday, December 9, 2011


It all started at lunch today, when my hand caught the edge of my taco plate. Spicy meat juice splattered all over me, to the great amusement of witnesses. I smell like tacos now. No big deal, right? Yeah, well, I wasn’t counting on the rats. Apparently they have a thing for tacos. I’m not sure if they want to mate with them or eat them, but they’ve been following me all day. Skittering and squeaks behind my back, but as soon as I turn, they’re gone. Oh God. Is that a...NO! It’s a Rodent of Unusual Size! RUN!

With a Flapping of Wings

I can feel it here, inside, under my skin. It begins just beneath the muscles in my back, goose-flesh rippling against the bones. There’s a writhing along my vertebrae. Maggots. Terror solidifies there, trying to build, making my body an ill fit. It is trying to break through, but hasn't yet. I fight it. The sensation grows; I try to convince myself that it's just a feeling, crawling along the nerves of my spine like a repressed shudder between my shoulder blades. Phantom wings trapped beneath my skin, twitching and pulling. My skin crawls as I begin to doubt that this is just in my head. There is really something there, hiding along my bones and inside my muscles and my nerves. It spreads its arms and wings and legs and stretches luxuriantly. I feel something wrapping around my ribcage and creaking against my sternum. My stomach clenches and I want to vomit but do not feel nauseous. My heart can't decide whether to pound or to flutter. Tears prick my eyes and I cry out at the intensity of the horrid itching that has replaced the goose-flesh ripples inside. I feel the slithering of some plurality of limbs moving along my torso and my arms and legs, buds pushing out from the sides of my body, not yet bursting through.  The skin on my back stretches with painful sharpness and I experience a burning like childbirth as my back opens up.  My fingers seize and I watch in horrified awe as something sharp and black begins to protrude from each fingertip. The flesh rends and peels back, revealing scaly claws where smooth skin once lay. The scales seem to absorb light, yet they reflect, like oil, a diseased rainbow. Black. I feel new, supernumerary arms emerging from their buds on my sides, tearing through, flexing and seeking freedom from their cage of meat. The flesh of my face begins to stretch with the same sharpness as my spine. I feel sharp ridges emerge, splitting my skin, finally shedding my former flesh like a husk. I stretch my maw in an experimental yawn and tap my newly emerged talons against the ground, then leap skyward with a tremendous whoosh of my leathery wings. 

Creative Commons License
With a Flapping of Wings by Tena Kolakowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Cookies!

I made these cookies this weekend, partly because I wanted to (ok, mostly because I wanted to, since I got some awesome new fall cookie cutters at Target in the cheapo bins. $2.50 for 6 cookie cutters? Yes please!) and partly because we had a family birthday party today, and I knew that everyone would like some cookies.

I am very proud of these. I am especially loving the owls, they were so much fun to make!. Also, they are SUPER yummy and super chocolatey.

The recipe for the cookies can be found at LilaLoa's blog, it's the End-All for Chocolate Cookies.The dough is almost satiny, it's probably my favorite cookie dough that I've ever used to make cutouts.

Friday, October 14, 2011

No soup for you!

Darn, rejected again. I need to find some more flash fiction markets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Submitted "With a Flapping of Wings" to The Molotov Cocktail.

Currently editing "Numb" for sending around to some new places.

Goal: At minimum, 2 new rejections. At best, an acceptance, someday. :-) No, I am not being pessimistic!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I find this terribly funny.

I may be alone in that. But really, if you have kids, you should take advantage of their toys when you can. I think the Ancestors enjoyed their "snack" before 3 of them got packed into boxes to be sent to their owners.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I don't just write. I am multi-talented. And modest.

Okay, so apparently I never posted this here. When I first read Ancestor by Scott Sigler (the new version) my son was 2 and I decided it would be fun to make him one of these:

I actually made one for Scott Sigler too :-)

If you want one, you can get one! They are now available at our Etsy shop: Music, Memories and More. It did take me a long ass time to actually get them up there, but there they are!

My review of Ancestor can be found here. I highly recommend it. I actually think it's about time I re-read it.
Now that I'm thinking about it, how fun would it be to make some Triangles? I'll have to do some serious thought on those though, I'm not sure how I'd make them. I could have a whole Sigler menagerie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Warning: this story is a horror story and not intended for children.

The police sergeant crouched over the woman’s lifeless body, sipping at his lukewarm coffee. Damn, he thought, another one. Just like the others: no hair, not even eyebrows or eyelashes. Her eyelids were a blotchy purple, and it wasn’t makeup. He knew that when the coroner’s report came back, the cause of death would be suffocation and there would be no trace of hair remaining anywhere on the body. Maybe this time they’d find some clue about this killer’s identity or motive. Unlikely, though. Last time all they’d found was some of Victim Number Two’s hair in the woman’s mouth and throat, with a few cotton/poly blend fibers. The women were apparently unconnected, and the sergeant was getting sick of whatever game this psycho was playing. 

A man casually strolled past the yellow tape, weaving through the inevitable gawkers. He smirked inwardly and pulled his fedora down over his eyes a little further. The chill of the winter day made him less than conspicuous in his overcoat and hat. He scratched his chin, fingers searching for any sign of growth. So far he was still clean. Satisfied, he turned and headed away from the crowd to get his morning coffee.
Laughter followed Liz onto the street as she stumbled over the curb. She giggled, steadying herself against the tall man she’d met at the bar. She found his tobacco and lavender scent arousing and she pulled closer as they approached his car. She faced him, leaning against the car in a way that she hoped was seductive but wouldn’t leave her sliding into the icy mud on the street. He leaned in to kiss her, then suddenly collapsed, pulling her down with him. Her eyes grew wide and her shriek was cut short as a damp, chemical soaked cloth was pressed against her face.

Consciousness came slowly and painfully as sounds dimly filtered through Liz’s mind. Worst hangover ever, she thought, in the brief moment before she realized that her hands were not just asleep, but tied behind her. Her head throbbed as she craned her neck to look around and her heart rate increased its rhythmic thudding. She was laying face down on a futon in a sparsely furnished and completely immaculate room. A hairless man was sitting in an armchair across from her, sipping coffee. 

“What do you want with me? Who are you? Where’s John? Where am I?” Her voice was dry and uneven, and she became aware of a soreness in her scalp. The man smiled, slowly, like a cat might smile. 

“Tsk, tsk, chérie. No more talking.” He rose and strode toward her. “You need to freshen up.” 

The man pulled her to her feet and she realized that she was naked. Her horrified gasp earned her no sympathy. He led her to a meticulously neat bathroom. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror; her hair was gone. Every blond strand had been plucked by the root, and her scalp was covered with red blotches. The strange man held a pair of tweezers in his hand as he reached toward her eye. 

Once the man was done plucking her eyelashes and eyebrows he’d carefully gathered every single hair and placed it in a small silver bowl. Liz watched as he gently added these new acquisitions to a bulging pillowcase, carefully zipping the top closed afterward. She had seen the news stories and knew it was only a matter of time before he’d killer her and leave her hairless, naked body in the street like the others. She contemplated escape. The window revealed the rooftops of nearby buildings, so she was too high to try jumping. The room had two doors; one to the bathroom and a bolted front door off to her right. There was no phone, therefore no way to call for help.  

By the time the sky outside had darkened, the man had shaved her arms and legs with a dry razor, carefully cleaning the blade and collecting the hairs in his little bowl, emptying it frequently in the pillowcase. Ignoring her cries of pain he’d plucked each of her pubic hairs and ripped the hairs from her underarms that had only recently broken the surface of her skin. He carefully dabbed each spot that she bled with alcohol, making her wince. Attempting to pull away earned her a hard slap to the face. Every hair was carefully gathered and added to the pillowcase. He worked quietly, but maintained a murmured monologue. 

“Filthy, unclean little things. Get them all. She will be clean...get them all.”

Twice, he left her alone, going into the bathroom and closing the door. When he came back his skin would look pink and abused, and she guessed he’d been shaving. During his second absence she made a plan. As soon as he shut the door behind him for the third time, Liz scrambled to the front door and started working the bolt with her mouth, hands still tied behind her. She cut her lips and tasted blood, but was rewarded by a click as the bolt moved. She turned, grasping the doorknob in her hands, and as the door opened her brain screamed FREEDOM. Liz turned, moving her body into a corridor. A hand roughly pulled her back and knocked her down. The man stood above her, holding the pillowcase in his fist. 

“Ah, chérie. We can’t have you going out and getting dirty again.” His eyes sparkled as he pressed the heavy sack against her face. Liz struggled and kicked, flailing desperately. She could smell the shampoo and perfume of other women as the fabric pressed into her nose. Her lungs tried to expand without success. She could feel burning weakness in her chest and limbs as oxygen became scarce. Gradually her struggles slowed, then ceased altogether. 

The next morning the hairless, naked corpse of Victim Number Six was found in an alleyway between an apartment building and a coffee shop.

Rejected again

Well, that's nice. 3 total submissions, 3 total rejections. My first two rejections were the nicest; the most recent one was rather form-letter-y. I wonder if Pseudopod just got slammed or hired a bunch of slush readers. Oh well. I will be putting Hair up here, because I want to put it somewhere and what's the point of having a writing blog with no actual stories?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years

I awoke early to get ready for my first day of college at the University of Denver. My roommate was still asleep. The air felt strange and heavy but I thought it was just in my head and tried to ignore it while I showered. I turned on the radio when I got back to my room, to listen as I got dressed. I remember taking my vitamins. The DJ was somber and he was talking about a plane crash. He was talking alongside a broadcast from New York. Screams and cries of utter shock and disbelief erupted as the second plane struck. I woke up my roommate, shaking her gently, telling her I think you should hear this.

Classes were not cancelled.

Welcome to adulthood.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I wrote during lunch again today, but I don't know how many words because it's by hand and I am not going to count them. It's 1 full page of lined paper, front and back, and half of another page. Part rambling, then I was suddenly struck by inspiration and started a horror story I'm calling "Egghead" for now, but we'll see if that sticks. Maybe it's not even horror, it might fall into the "speculative fiction" category. I just have to finish it and see where it goes.

I don't know what my deal is with horror; when I was younger I always (and I mean always) wrote fantasy. The last couple of years all my short stories seem to be horror. Maybe it's because that's more of a challenge for me? I don't know. Maybe my brain is just that messed up inside since having children... Who knows?

I may start putting whole stories up here, I just don't know yet. I feel like it would be nice to be able to put them out there but at the same time, I don't want to just toss them out here in case it hurts me while trying to submit them places. Oh, and I did submit "Hair" to Pseudopod, I'll update when I hear back about it, but it will probably be in a couple months.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


It's okay. They did tell me to submit more in the future, so that's encouraging. Maybe I'll try Pseudopod, though I don't know how frequently they take flash stories. If you have any suggestions of where to submit a flash fiction horror story, please post a comment!

Submissions to date: 2
Rejections: 2
Acceptances: 0

ETA: As it turns out, Pseudopod does accept flash stories. I'll try them and search around for other possibilities.

Progress, and taking myself more seriously

I realized that I spend too much time wasting my time on games on Facebook. I didn't even play them all weekend and I didn't miss them, so today I deleted them. I plan to use all my "new" free time to work on crafty things and (you guessed it!) writing!

I also wrote during my lunch today. The Man in White made another appearance, I got about a page written. Should I choose to continue using my lunch break this way, I will need to get better at eating with my left hand so I can write and eat at the same time. Trickier than it sounds.

No word yet on "Hair" but I wasn't really expecting anything so soon. Otherwise I'm looking forward to reading some more and also hoping my headache goes away soon.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short story submitted!!

I submitted my short story "Hair" to The Molotov Cocktail! We'll see when I hear back from it, but even if it's rejected it means I'm making progress, and there are always other magazines.

And, of course, thank you to those of you who gave me feedback on it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: "The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Bryan Sykes

The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic AncestryThe Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was incredible. Exploring the mitochondrial heritage of humanity, Sykes delves into the mysteries of the seven women from whom Europeans are descended (as it turns out, globally there are more like 33 women) and the primary focus of the book. The lineages revealed by mitochondrial inheritance are sobering, and an interesting contrast to the patriarchal nature of most of human history. I really enjoyed the short pieces depicting the lives of the seven clan mothers: Xenia, Tara, Jasmine, Ursula, Katrine, Helena and Velda. I am definitely curious about which of them is my own progenitor. I feel more connected to the women in my personal history now, even those I've never known, and it comforts me to know that my daughter potentially will pass our mitochondrial DNA on to yet another generation.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Review: "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is (yet another) look at the history of science. This book is devastating and brutal in it's honesty about the history of the family to whom we owe a huge part of modern science: the HeLa cell line, and the Lacks family. As a scientist, I was not as outraged at some parts of this story as my husband (a non-scientist) but deeply saddened by what was once called "science" and the lack of ethics involved. It was great to get a look at the family behind HeLa, which was glossed over in my classes in college as having come from a "Helen Lane" and that was that. I hadn't realized the scope of the impact that the cell line had on science. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. There are parts that make you hate the doctors and the people who take advantage (intentionally or not) of the Lacks family, and parts that made me glad to be in my chosen profession. I definitely learned a lot about the history of ethics in research science, and how very new that role is.

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I have read 29 of my goal of 75 books for 2011.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All" by Paul Offit

Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us AllDeadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All by Paul A. Offit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating and horrifying read. It addressed the history of vaccines, as well as the anti-vaccine movement, which started very shortly after the first vaccine (for smallpox, via cowpox) was developed. The amount of misinformation in the world that is used by anti-vaccine activists is truly saddening. Having taken a fair amount of immunology coursework in my educational path to my two degrees, I felt that I was well prepared to read this book; however, the book is written in such a way that even someone with no scientific background whatsoever can benefit from the information therein. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you have children, you should read it. Maybe it won't change the mind of anti-vaccine parents, but it will at least clarify some things for most people. I was also pleased to note that the last 50 or so pages of text are all references. The only thing I wasn't so keen on was the depiction of chiropractors; I feel that the author should have drawn a better distinction between chiropractors who believe that there are no germs and that everything wrong with your body can be fixed by an adjustment and those who believe that having a properly aligned back can help you live a pain free, and therefore healthier life. In the grand scheme of things, though, that doesn't really matter.

Overall, this book is amazing. I had no idea the extent of the anti-vaccine movement (although at least 2 of my sisters and possibly my older brother as well have not vaccinated their children, and my youngest brother is not vaccinated either) and the misconceptions spread by its members until I read this book. I only knew that people claimed that thimerosal caused autism (very, very well refuted by multiple studies). I didn't know that going back to my own childhood there were claims that vaccines caused mental and physical disabilities.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Tragic Existence of Spike

Spike doesn’t get along with the other animals in the neighborhood. The dogs won’t play with him; they tease him about his size and claim he’s too rough. He supposes the cats are afraid of him, although none have ever come close enough to ask. He heaves a sigh and lumbers down the street toward home, trying to ignore the shouts and growls from the dogs he passes. Maybe Dr. Frank will want to play when he gets home, but he will probably just work on his new project.  Sighing again, Spike laments his existence as a designer mini-stegosaurus rex.

This story is dedicated to my son, who would probably love a pet Spike.

*tap, tap* Does this thing still work?

Um, hi. I haven't forgotten about this blog, honest. However, it turns out that growing a person saps creative energy about like a really cute leech. Or maybe a non-sparkly vampire. I'm making an effort to at least post some 100-word stories, maybe some other stuff, too, starting today, on a weekly basis. I'll probably post some book reviews from books I've been reading. Anyway, there will be a 100-word story posted just after this, so there you go! There's another one in the works, too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review "The Irrsistible Henry House" by Lisa Grunwald

The Irresistible Henry HouseThe Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a really, really sad story. It basically begins in a "practice house" where young women in the 20s-60s learned to be housewives and cook, clean, and care for babies. The psychological damage done to these babies by never being allowed to form any constant attachment for the first 2 years of life is really quite sad. The main character still goes on to lead an interesting life, and the author does a brilliant job of discussing a boy's/man's perspective in the world where he's missing the ability to truly love anyone. I think it's a fascinating part of 20th century history that is rarely even mentioned, so I'm glad I read this book, but it was really very disheartening to think of all the children brought up in these houses and then adopted out.

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