The black water shocked their lungs open with a gasp. But few of the passengers or crew drowned; almost all wore primitive lifesavers stuffed with cork. Instead they floated, shivering violently, uncontrollably, adrenaline pumping, inducing heart attacks in some. Others couldn’t breathe; they were “dry drowning,” their lungs unable to grasp the air. After twenty minutes or so, blood flow ceased, muscles paralyzed. Some died face down in the water, weighed down by their sodden winter clothes, unable to turn themselves over, like infants. The bodies floated. A thousand were never recovered. …


One of the biggest challenges for creatives is finding the time to actually create. Between day jobs, kids, chores, social obligations, family gatherings, their accompanying drama, and all the other stuff of life, it’s hard to keep a consistent practice going. During the holiday season, most of us just shake our heads, sigh, and decide we’ll get to it next year. But it is possible to enjoy the holiday hubbub and still maintain your creative practice. …


Whether you worship one god or many, or none at all, you can still catch the “spirit” of Samhain. The blurring of the boundary between the spirit and physical worlds is an apt metaphor for fluidity between the conscious and subconscious mind, where creative inspiration sparks. This is a great time to face your fear of starting or returning to a creative project, as well as to open your mind to creative possibilities.

For context, Samhain (pronounced SAH-when) is one of the year’s most important holidays for pagans such as myself, marking the end of the bounty of fall and…


It’s become chic to have a nemesis, or nemeses. Well-known writer Roxane Gay’s frequent — but tantalizingly anonymous — tweets about her nemeses have fans and Twitter allies following her rivalries like it’s “Downton Abbey.” (Monica Lewinsky went as far as to dress up as one of Gay’s nemeses for Halloween). This has sparked a trend of nemesis-related commentary and confessions on social media.

This is a pretty different kind of nemesis than the one I’m familiar with, which is rooted not just in rivalry, but payback. The word “nemesis” comes from 16th century Greek, meaning literally “retribution,” from nemein-”give…


A few weeks ago, I decided to treat myself to a drink after work at Absinthe, an upscale brasserie in San Francisco that serves fancy cocktails, oysters, and other delectable fare. I’ve been an occasional patron of this spot for long enough to watch the bartender’s beard turn silver, a fact he noted as I sat down at the lone empty seat at the bar. To my right were two men in crew neck sweaters talking animatedly. …


Skin Deep: A Profile of San Francisco Tattoo Artist Idexa Stern

Photo: Idexa Stern

Three and a half years ago, I got my first tattoo. I’d been thinking about the idea — an abstract, halved pomegranate — for about ten years when suddenly, at 29, it felt like the moment had come to ink this idea into permanence on my forearm. But instead of just walking with crossed fingers into any old tattoo shop in San Francisco, I went around the city interviewing artists at various shops. I was searching for someone who understood my vision, someone kind and patient who saw a…


Photo courtesy of Pinterest

The literary journal submission process is pretty much synonymous with rejection and if you’re aiming at the crème de la crème of journals, the story you’ve slaved over is doomed before you even log into your Submittable account. A former reader for the top-tier literary magazine Tin House reported that the publications’s monthly “slush pile,” the term for a pool of unsolicited submissions, is about one thousand strong. The number of stories that get accepted? One or two every three years.

Lindsay Merbaum

Lover of strange tales and strong cocktails. Author at Creature Publishing and Book Reviews Editor at Necessary Fiction. lmerbaum.com

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