The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

What I Did On My Summer "Vacation"

It wasn't planned, this "vacation."I had been working in higher education since 2000 an in secondary education period for about six or seven years before that; most colleges and universities in the US operate on a fiscal year (July-June) and so I was used to the quietness of campus as undergraduate students went off for the summer and our offices got a bit less hectic. It was always a good time for cleaning out files, rearranging the furniture, and dusting the shelves in preparation for a new year come September. Graduations were past and caps and gowns were tucked away. Financial reports were submitted well before the end of June. After the 4th July holiday, it was time to review plans for what was coming when students started back.But not last year.I had stepped out into the abyss in 2011; I took a temporary position for the 2011-12 fiscal year with the same university and decided I did not want to go back to what I had been doing previously. My supervisor was kind and got me another year of work, where I reported directly to her doing special projects for the division. I thought that after more than five years there I had shown myself to be a valuable and dedicated member of the overall team. I applied for various other positions but got the form letters telling me 'thanks, but no thanks.'And then it was 1 July and I had no job and minimal prospects, which turned into no prospects fairly quickly.A few days before my last contract ended, I bought "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. This hefty paperback was just shy of 1000 pages and I looked forward to the read. In the end, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed it and even began following the television series on CBS, which, while different is just as entertaining.I have always been a reader but over the last handful of years had been hit-or-miss. I mean, I usually read something every day but now it seemed like more of an imperative.I needed to replenish my soul and while writing had helped, that was me pouring out. Reading was pouring in.So, to that end, here is my reading list (basically in order) from this summer and beyond. NOTE: the list does not include the chapbooks I've read for Flash Fiction Chronicles; those were published (you can see them sprinkled throughout the blog space if you do a search for "Flash Fiction Chronicles") which, while entertaining, is more like work.This list covers the period from 26 June 2013 through 26 February 2014 and represents the books I've read for the pure joy of reading all by itself:"Under the Dome"-Stephen King (1074 p)"Lucifer's Hammer"-Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (629 p)"The Tracks of Angels"-Kelly Dwyer (270 p)"Starchild Trilogy"-Frederik Pohl & Jack Williamson (442 p)"Inferno"-Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (237 p)Total here: 2652 p"Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum"-various (reading it on Kindle, but print version: 260p)"Creatures of Light and Darkness"-Roger Zelazny (190p)"The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth"-Roger Zelazny (252p)"Supertoys Last All Summer Long, And Other Stories of Future Time"-Brian Aldiss (232p)Total here: 3586 p"Machineries of Joy"-Ray Bradbury (245p)"Eon"-Greg Bear (503p)"Invasion of the Body Snatchers"-Jack Finney (216p)"Again, Dangerous Visions"-Harlan Ellison (ed.) (450p)Total here: 5000 pSecond volume of "Again, Dangerous Visions"-Harlan Ellison (Ed.) (449 p)"One More for the Road"-Ray Bradbury (350 p)"The October Country"-Ray Bradbury (276 p)"S is for Space"-Ray Bradbury (211 p)Total here: 6286 pThe reading has continued in smatters but I moved more deeply into my entrepreurial ventures in March of this year because I have skill, talent, and have a lot of value to offer to the universe and had been too busy wallowing in nothingness to recognize that in fact I had been working. I do what I love, I am a free agent, and am building my own empire (insert "Star Wars" theme music here). It's not "safe" like a day-to-day out-of-the-house corporate-type gig, but did Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King, or PKD live in "safe"? Nope.I figured I'd been sitting on this post for a long time (I am absolutely positive that it is no coincidence that my reading spree began on the 26th of one month and ended on the 26th of another...there are always connections) and decided to end my silence today by posting it.I have been writing too (see the new widget on the sidebar of the home page for From Reality's Edge, Volume One). I decided to publish it through FastPencil to see what the procedure is like. It was quite easy!And now I'm writing/editing as my day gig and in the last few days have gotten my muse back.But more on that in a moment.I'm back.

How I've Missed You, My Darlings!

Making Haste, For the Hour Draweth Nigh