A writerly update of sorts: Hardcover?

After almost two years of financial woe, illness, natural disasters, layout snafus, lost files, perfectionist editing, emotional turmoil, and overwhelming workload, the hardcover edition of Psychopomp has finally arrived. Hooray! Thus far I haven’t noticed a single copy with a page printed backwards, any strangely embossed spines, or any hidden pan-flute piping gnomes asking to be inserted into envelopes. If your envelope contains a gnome, it’s not my fault.

The interior layout of this book comes courtesy of one Mr. Clay Fouts, who used GIMP to make the formatting a bit prettier than what’s found in the softcover edition. The cover and dust jacket are the handiwork of Nolan Ashley and myself. You’ll also note some new quotes making their debut on the back, including a few plucked from kind Amazon reviewers who also granted me permission to use their names. I was particularly pleased to receive a quote from Jack Matthews, a former mentor and National Book Award finalist who also happens to be the inspiration for a professor character named Daryl Gates.

All are encouraged to send comments to amanda (dot) sledz (at) gmail (dot) com, because I really would like to know if you enjoyed reading. Thus far the only person with the guts to confess not liking it is my younger sister, who didn’t like the “three stories mashed together” style. Fair enough. It’s not for everyone. I hope it’s for you.

Should you find yourself declaring: “HEY! I want Volume 2!” know that I’m in the process of writing a few grants for myself, in hopes of earning sufficient funds for a month long hiatus from everyday life for the sake of Volume 2 completion. The goal is to complete it by January 2014…in Hawaii. Aloha!

There are some events coming up, starting with a reading at Rain or Shine Cafe on March 28th at 6:30PM. If you haven’t already given my author page a “like” button on Facebook please do. I’ve also been maintaining an author presence on Goodreads, so don’t hesitate to “fan” me there, too!

When I’m not embarrassing myself in front of literary sorts, I’m finishing up Channel Insomnia. Fans of memoir/essays I’ve written over the years may find themselves more drawn to this collection. Much of it was written almost accidentally when insomnia left me nothing to do but monkey slap my keyboard and wait for the sun to rise. This affliction tends to hit me the hardest during daylight savings crime, so this book will likely arrive at completion in April and go to print in May. I’m doing softcover and ebook exclusively, which makes it less useful as a weapon but more useful as a pillow. I always think of you.

I’ll close by saying: the most important asset to authors (particular the unknown sorts such as myself) are reviews and recommendations. If you have the time and inclination after finishing Psychopomp, please consider posting a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, your own blog, etc. Each review (especially on Amazon) increases the likelihood that it will appear as a “Recommended” book to readers of certain genres, which means more sales from people who don’t already know me. Recommend it to friends, leave it in a bus station, pass it on to a neighbor, or display it on a shelf with your other treasures. Of course, you don’t have to do these things, but it would be nice if you did. 

Again, thank you all so much for helping my first book find its way to print. Without your support, and the contract created by Kickstarter, I might have found cause to further procrastinate and hoard all my words on my hard drive. That would be a waste.

Thanks again, and enjoy!

International Customers – I’ve got your number

If you are interested in ordering and you live outside of the USA! USA!, you can still click the button below. The only difference is, your shipping charge will be $11. I can ship anywhere in the world for this dollar amount. Don’t be skittish about ordering. It’ll meet your mitts eventually with a proper autograph.

Psychopomp Volume One: Cracked Plate Now Available

This blog has been a quiet place. Novel completion is quite an ordeal. That should be belt categories awarded with each stage of progression, kinda like Karate.  My boxes of completely pretty and complete novels have been temporarily delayed on account of Hurricane Sandy. Just when I’d resigned myself to a fate of them having been fashioned into a raft, I received a message that the books will arrive November 6th. If you haven’t ordered and would like to, it’s actively available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and anywhere else in reach of Ingram distribution (which is pretty vast). Bonus points to whoever completes the first Amazon review.

The book is also available for purchase from the One Eye Two Crows website. There’s a few kinks in the store, but they should be worked out ASAP.


The Ebook and the hardcover should be available very soon. I’ll keep you posted, fine friends!


Hive. New. Over. There.


drinking games of the future (part 1)

The one guarantee of me post-apocalypse is that my logic-brain will abort, leaving behind a slope shouldered droop-mouthed mumble to paw through clouds of I-told-you-so. A full 90-degree antenna adjustment will be required to pick up my frequency, the same oh shit sputtered at the start of our universe.

My in-the-now mind is a teaming mass of riddles, one worm crawling over the other and poking at eyes and adenoids in hopes of hasty escape. Let’s saddle them all.

The apocalypse will be sponsored by everything in your medicine cabinet, everything string-walking your carcass through the vacancy of waking before coffee, everything floating in the water.

The apocalypse dictates that you need to be where I am as soon as possible, covered in some colorful fur. Synthetic shields ward off zombies inevitably sent out in droves to salvage our mutating DNA strands for the preservation of our black hole birthing species.

Modern-day medicated marvels will make convenient zombies. All the xanax and ritalin and zoloft popping pseudo-humans will find their brains in uproar when neutral shifts to high-octane and unexpected serotonin floods leave them feeling, unfocused, and horny. The brain freeze that trapped them in adolescence or their twenties or whatever age they consented to cease evolution for the sake of assimilation will thaw, and either they’ll access some mightily repressed thunderclap of survivalism or they’ll wander the streets whining that their heads have come uncorked.

Or something else entirely.

Maybe the end of convenience will send my own brain into mudslide, and I’ll join the hoards kicking out the glass walls of empty pharmacies, shaking the shoulders of the four remaining doctors and begging for a chemical-charged escape hatch from the holy shit.

Feeling, unfocused, horny: why aren’t we fucking in the street yet? As soon as public copulation becomes part of the day-to-day we’ll be too distracted to complete our morning commutes, accelerating abandonment of bills and rent, reducing us to squatters defending paper huts with makeshift bows and dirty grandpa shotguns. Then time can be occupied with better things, like recalling movies we can no longer watch, ruining all the endings. We can trade quotes until we’re bored enough to consent to a sober round of “I Never” featuring new world statements like, “I never drank a clean glass of water” and “I never had sex without wearing a gas mask” and “I never fucked a man without a tail.”

Of course, the giggle sucks dry with the ugly realization that most of the survivors are coal-faced drainers of the happy tank. With their generators dead and fish growing feet they’ll get angry some fuckers have the nerve to start a pillow fight. There’s a lot of organizing and filing to do. Children could witness the pillow fight, and think for a second that survival isn’t only continuing to go even if you don’t know where you’re going, or why.

Even in a post-flood world some will be too busy hiding in their shelters to ask.

August and the Day of 8

For the past several years I’ve written down my dreams, some of which are conversations that carry on for hours. In the first few minutes following waking I try my best to transcribe these ramblings, but they’re never coherent and weren’t meant to be. This collection of riddles and numbers came from a dialogue with Odin/Merlin, who exist as one and the same on Planet Amanda Dreamworld.

August and the day of 8, 2010 to start, 2011 to end. Set your clock to tremble. Eyes wide and ever chattering, blinking forehead wink. Will you rise orange like the cloud-splitting sun?

27 and the month of 8

9 to carry the 9

10 fastened to the 26

and 8 to follow


The 6, the 6, 10 and 26

Shake and erase – all emptied.

Listen well on august and the day of 8

when the final petal falls and summer surrenders and silver staff splits antler stands and ash covers the dust. Goodbye, kentucky fried. a single boom chased by a rumble confused as thunder turns all eyes skyward before the scream. Don’t hesitate to point the finger. A single A points to B. Ear to track for coming train. Did you feel it vibrate so close to your ear? Do you hear the whistle? Wet finger to sky, testing air. Nothing can prepare you.

Listen for the laugh track tumbling from the bumbling mouths of bookstore prophets. All skull-capped and rocking, tearing fingernails, waiting for the right question for the answer. He’s never been asked. He’s never been asked.

Ask him.

There’s no place to begin pacing. There’s no center to this stone. There’s no smell to trace this memory. There isn’t a map. There was never a map. Just a spiral and patterns in sand.

Pulled in from skyward glances. This is the bait. Do you see it dangling?

Call your glamours home. There’s no gateway to hold your linger. No tank for what would have been. There’s only boarding, seat 23A.

Stop waiting for your watery home.

Shouting the muse down

Today was chased up the hill by a rooftop windfarm.

Thar. She blows.

No one was meant for this.

In the tumbled-down now there’s too much material, culled from pretty boys that don’t notice me and tattooed ones that do, and I’m certain there’s at least one dreamer soaking eyes into me who knows all the twisted lyrics invoking pretty little horses.


No one is going to stop me from drinking coffee.

Fuck, all this prose is constipated, me mining me, pulling up bridges and blowing up others and never throwing this laptop across the room and through the window at the minicooper slamming on its brakes and the driver screaming “fuck you!” before the laptop lives in the street in pieces as it’s always wanted.

Pieces. Peace. I’m witty.

Ronnie James Dio. You know, the heavy metal guy. Don’t even try it.

Somewhere I lost time and none of these notebooks ever got transcribed, all my musing and ranting and handwringing dream spindles fell off the loom and died. That wasn’t what I wanted. That was never what I wanted.

Spindles. Loom. I might be going somewhere with this.

What I want: to scribble “you” on the side of plastic tubs holding all my personal belongings, before abandoning them on random porches for some unfortunate lottery loser to find. I don’t want anything in them and neither do you, but I’ll stay up all night sorting my nothing into something and weaving it into ugly tapestries that imprison names and faces until screaming attempts at escape are burned into the fabric.

Weave. Fabric. Spindles. Loom. Vomit. Sorry.

Another want: to storm into the room and push you out of your chair and just when you approach peak confusion I squeeze you from your folded position in a four-limbed lobster grip, arms and legs pushing your pieces together until they finally click and reconnect their electric current and nothing hurts and every inch is lost to me.


And: I want to walk behind the counter and give a shout out to the producers of barista-friendly soymilk and ask if anyone up in this joint has a hankering for something sweeter? When hands reach for the sky I’ll escape with one of those milk whipping wands and dance from human to human, tickling the soft spots under chins. Can you think of anything sweeter?

Candy. Candy would be sweeter.

I suppose I could be more, oh I don’t know. Why aren’t you trying? Commitment to lifelong laziness, approaching the doorway and instead of knocking or opening or kicking the damn thing down just shrugging your shoulders and walking away, deciding there must be a place around here suitable for napping. That wasn’t really a door now, was it? Huh.

How is it possible to not be curious?

In an instant I call you forward, I’m not asking anymore. All of this is commandment.

Come on. Stop being bullshit.

I’ve got another card up my sleeve, one that just fell from the deck after I shuffled and shuffled and shuffled, never resigning myself to the single-card fate of bad movies where Death appears and everyone shits their pants.

No: it’s time to stuff the whole deck down the sewer and divine with a bowl of rice. The rings of a gas station toilet. The drafts email folder. The curve of your middle finger.

Here’s what I’ve got:

Nothing. I’ve never felt so complete.


Sitting here exposed, naked, vulnerable with my face hanging out in the aftermath of a Clockwork Orange exam with all the prying and haunting images and none of the eye drops – for the sake of contacts.

For more than ten years vision has been an obstacle course of dirty lenses and plastic frames. Open Eyes. Pause. Glasses. Pause. Vision. REM. Better Vision. Memory. Rewriting happens later.

The minute I stopped smashing the thin plastic half-moons into my calamity eyelashes and let them settle on my actual eye I knew that nothing would ever be the same.


The first hours of perfect vision felt like waking up in Oz, except instead of dodging tiny people pushing me too aggressively towards a yellow brick road I stepped out the way of a sunglasses and helmet adorned security guard motoring away on the plastic equivalent of a Segway, and into a fog of tiny green insects that settled all over my arms.

Beyond the brick road that wasn’t Oz turned into disenchanted forest fucking fast. Every endless encounter between unfortunates happened right on my face.

Scene one: a couple tapped fingers and bobbed knees and scanned menus and pushed lips into constipated not-smiles before both reached for cell phones fancier than mine and pushed buttons and told far away others about how something was supposed to be great before it wasn’t.

Scene two: a woman stared off from the holes in her jeans before the bathroom called her forward, and she grunted the first fart out before tossing her paperback like she was aiming for the burning pile.

Scene three: a man looked over at me and down at his computer screen and over at me again, then his fingers started tapping and he was frowning and I can’t imagine what he harvested.


Suddenly I’m sorry for vampires who wake up with too much to do and an entire evening to do it wrong.


Now: the candles in this coffee shop trigger the soft light setting and my human eyes turn phantom.

Not that long ago a phantom terrorized my television, raising the volume and switching channels and arguing with me about the likelihood of my day turning productive if the damn thing exploded, leaving television guts all over my world. His voice emerged from what some might mistake for static. Inside the static was whisper, in the whisper words, and in the words desperation.

Even before we shared vision this phantom didn’t scare me, I know what he’s up to and what I’m in for. He’s as trapped on this planet as the rest of us until a trumpet sounds and our ears bleed and we suddenly have instructions.

Other than cockroaches we’ll outlast them all. The phantom and me.


Hands over my eyes, I think that if with the next blink the whole palette could change I’d color my contact-world sepia tone. In the cooling bath of yellow and gray pores magically close and dark circles are banished and we’re all ancient and endless remembered. We’re star gazers with parasols trading sideways looks and smelling single flowers on park benches. Our top hats are full sized, just like our skirts. No one smiles with teeth. Teeth don’t exist. Crying is single tears. Cheek kisses replace hand shakes, and both are traded for hand kisses and agreement that people don’t do enough loving things with hands. This is why they bungle contact lenses.

Then Sepia World fragments and I wake at a bus stop littered with human casings, tanktops and tattoos and too many children. Overgrown crows peck at remains before they return to Odin, feathers flecked with message. The bus never shows.


As I abandon coffee shop for bike I want my eyes to communicate questions, blink their own code so I don’t have to say anything anymore. I can just look and wait.

What are you doing what are you thinking what are you wearing underneath your clothes are you hoping you get caught?


Is it all you ever dreamed of do people run into your nose when you kiss them?


When you’re holding someone’s hand do you ever kiss the palm and let the person’s fingers uncurl over your face like a spider? Do you turn your nose into this and giggle or wonder what a hand is doing over your face and do you get scared and wonder if they’ll push you and break your nose and the spell forever? Do you think it’s possible to love someone without hating them first?


When you met my eyes did you know in an instant what the phantom knows?

I am the albatross, I’m the accident, I’m the elephant in the room.

Eye Problem at Powell’s

There’s too many people trapped in this box together and I’ve got blood all over my keyboard. The outcome of an accident involving my pinkie, a screen, a window slam, and me feeling absolutely nothing. It was only after several seconds of typing that I found the red splotches peculiar. Never being one for cleaning when it counts the blood got forgotten and so did the cut, and now my finger is mangled and my keyboard is ugly and there are still too many bodies in this box.

The kid across from me has a face that’s never been broken into pieces, and he’s earnestly filling out job applications and formulating wholesome ideas about changing the world. I know this because he tells me. For a second I thought he was flirting, but I don’t attract such doe-eyed creatures. People gunning for me respond to my online presence with emails asking if they can describe in detail the many ways one might perform cunilingus. I respond that I am open to receiving such messages if it’s acceptable to retort with a finger-wagging dissection of prison rape. He hasn’t written back.

Anyway, the earnest butter-faced boy tells me about jobs he kinda might want to have and how he’d like to make some money over the summer, you know. I say I might know someone, but the person I mention has arms like fire-forged hammers and three missing teeth, and the interaction could end like a fight between a whiffle ball bat and a battle axe, so I nix it before numbers can be exchanged. Besides, this guy has other possibilities, and he tells me about friends he has who are setting up a school in a Latin American country, though he doesn’t mention why they might need a school or what qualifies his friends to set one up. Still: he’s so damn honest I can’t activate my mean, and I can’t picture him naked unless the scene involves me giving him a bath while he cries.

Now I’m distracted. There’s too many bodies in this box. One man is wearing a t-shirt that says “fuck the system” and based on logo production alone it’s pretty safe to say the system made the t-shirt. In other words, his t-shirt takes the long road to “fuck yourself” and I’m exhausted.

There’s a lot of people working here, and they mean business. This is not a dungeon for the unprepared. Asking the wrong person to borrow a pencil could mean a lot of moaning and groaning and maybe a loud sigh and some muttered statement about how if you’re gonna hang in the Powell’s cafe on a Monday, you’d better bring your own goddamn pencil. The man in the corner is all black turtleneck fierce and wire-rimmed glasses and he brought his macbook and a soul patch from 1993, and three times his snakey eyes have snapped sharp to the right in pursuit of whoever is snorting and swallowing phlegm over and over and over again. This isn’t enough to send him racing for the exit, but it has informed three audible sighs, two eyerolls, and a single disgusted dish clang.

Now it’s really on. A turquoise mohawk is yelling into her cell phone: “Look, I just had a shitty day and I thought you might want to hang out, but whenever you’re with them you don’t want to hang out, and it just seems a little weird that you always want to hang out, except for when you’re with them. I mean, what the fuck?”

I agree. Definitely warrants suspicion.

“Fine, I was having a bad day and I thought I might feel better hanging out with you, but I get it, you want to hang out with your friends, so go ahead and be a dick and hang out with your friends.”

ESP message to Mr. Anonymous: you do not want to hang out with your friends. Think about it man. THINK.

“Okay then, fine, fuck you, fuck yourself, fuck your friends. Seriously: FUCK. YOU. FOREVER.”

I never thought to add forever to fuck you.

She throws her cell phone against the table and it bounces into my lap in a perfect execution of awesome. “Sorry,” she mumbles. I hand it back with the guilty smile of someone who doesn’t have a very good cell phone plan. She notices the older woman to her right and adds an additional sorry, but the woman doesn’t look up, stays focused on her novel and I affix her with my fuck you glare for not bothering to acknowledge that our sister with a mohawk is melting down.

Meanwhile I’m mining through every trite piece of advice I’ve ever dispensed to uninterested parties, searching for a new morsel to present uninvited to this stranger. I’ve got nothing. There’s nothing in my experience that offers a silver lining to her cloud, if it even constitutes a cloud, there’s nothing that offers a something to hold out for or hold on to. It’s not that I don’t believe in puppies or unicorns or gold. I definitely believe in unicorns.

In the time it’s taken me to try and come up with something worth saying she’s gone and another someone has sat down and he’s wearing a bright green and black checkered shirt that’s just begging for coffee stains, and he’s smoothing his thinning hair over his bald spot and he’s tucking his pen into his pocket and he’s loosening his belt and hoping I don’t notice (sorry), and he’s scratching his nose and he’s tapping the table and he’s not yelling at anyone.

Only one person in this box is on to me, and he’s across the way with a hood over his head looking creepy and dark and in hate with every warm and cold body in the room. He spots my stare and stares back, and I try to out-stare him and he gets all David Blaine-eyes, so fearing for the safety of others I look away. He keeps looking for a full second, almost enough to push me into uncomfortable or at least demand a dozen roses and then he glares at someone else at least as deserving.

Read. I’m here to read. The magical return cart heavy with abandoned literature has given me little, just a rambling book by an author everyone keeps ordering me to like and I keep resisting, and the promise that beekeeping is the next chicken coop in Portland even if no one has figured out what that horrible disease means, so it’s just more yuppie white people floundering around in the dark. Then I wonder what it would be like to have a matching dish set from Ikea that enabled me to host winning dinner parties to a gaggle of friends boasting soul patches from 1993, and really thrilling statements to make about finishing salts and imported chocolate. Would I also have candles from Ikea, arranged in tiny glass containers that might float in bath water, but still look awful nice on the table? Would I have a seasonal table cloth like my mother used to, one with apples dancing across it in the fall and strawberries in the summer and snowflakes in the winter, even if no one sitting at the table ever bothers to go outside? I wonder what it would be like to never hold hands or other parts under the table and give all the wrong appendages a squeeze. I wonder what it would be like to be at that table and never look across at the loving couple and wonder what it would be like to destroy them, to pull the prettier party away for an unexpected tryst just so that for once it wasn’t so easy for them. Then an older couple sits down and looks beautiful and in love and I hate myself for always unearthing my own soul patch of bitter, and I wonder why I’m lying and stoking something that isn’t really there. I wonder if I wouldn’t long for any of it.

There are too many people in this little box, and none of them escapes me.