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Missing my friend

Dear Mark,

You’ve been gone a little over six years now. I still miss you.

I think about you constantly. Usually in the context of “I wonder what Mark would have to say about this.” (Lordy, I’d give my left arm to be able to hear you rant about Trump just once…. though I’m mostly glad you didn’t live to see this.) I still want your opinion on so many things. I miss the font of esoteric knowledge you possessed, how your passion for the strange ignited similar interests in me. I think I miss that the most. Finding new, weird things to research, bestowed by you.

I’ve started writing poetry and I want you to read it. You would encourage me and find the kindest ways to tell me when I’m full of shit. (Or you’d just tell me I’m full of shit in a way that would make me laugh.) I always liked your poetry but I’m not sure I appreciated it as much as I could have. Not having you here to guide me through this new part of my writing life is probably punishment for that. Karma is, as you would have no doubt put it, an “infectious deathwhore.”

I bought your book. The one they published posthumously. I see you in every crafted line. Your love of language. The symbiotic relationship you had with the past and with legacy and heritage and yearning for simplicity unmarred by hatred and injustice. Reading it is not the same as having a conversation with you–man, nothing can ever replace that–but it’s good to know your voice is still within reach.

I still do the things so many of us do when a loved one dies. I worry I didn’t make sure you knew how much you meant to me. I regret that we didn’t talk more as we moved further and further from each other and the advent of email and cell phones should have made us closer. I think about the things we’ll never get to do. (I always wanted to take you to New York to see shows.) These things pull me down from time to time but I’m okay with that. If that’s the price to keep you swirling in my heart, I’ll pay it again and again.

The thing I share most often about you–and I do my best to keep you alive in this way–is how you were the first person who ever wanted to be my friend. That was, and is, so important to me. I probably never thanked you for that. But thank you.

Mark, you were always a more religious person than me. I do not believe in heaven or hell but I still hope our paths cross again. The heartless cynic in me wants to think there’s a way back. If “souls” are energy and energy can’t be destroyed, well… If there’s something else, I really hope you’re there. Let’s do this again.

All my love,


Published in: on July 27, 2019 at 12:53 pm  Comments Off on Missing my friend  

The Bet VIII (I think)

Has it been eight years? More? Certainly not less. It feels like forever.

Short version: I lost a bet and had to write a short story with the title “The Improbable Cat of Neverwhen” (a title supplied to me by the evilly wonderful Kimberly Pauley ). Limberly won this year’s bet, making her exempt from writing a story. Fellow better Catherine Ryan Hyde was also forced to write a short story (hers was titled “A Cathedral of Bees”) and you can find it here. Our third loser, Gail Doggett, will be posting her story shortly.

Here’s my story: “The Improbably Cat of Neverwhen.”

I’m sure the Bet will be back next year albeit with a slightly different origin. For years, we’ve been betting on the Kentucky Derby. In recent months, though, our core Betters have been rethinking this in light of information about how cruel the world of horse racing can be towards horses. So we’ll be finding something else to bet on next year. What exactly? Well, we’re looking for ideas…

Published in: on July 2, 2019 at 9:40 am  Comments Off on The Bet VIII (I think)  

A Poem for Pride

For the past couple months, I’ve been taking a class called “Writing the AIDS Generation” taught by Brian Malloy. Brian’s a great teacher and an amazing writer. As you can imagine, the class can be pretty intense. Many of my classmates remember the AIDS crisis of the ’80s very vividly. They lived in major metropolitan areas and watched many friends die.

Keith Haring’s Radiant Baby

I was 11 in 1981 when “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals” fired a warning shot. I lived in rural Wisconsin and what I knew of the growing crises was dictated to me by Dan Rather on a nightly basis. It was terrifying. I knew it related to me somehow–I didn’t identify as gay but I knew I was different–and I didn’t know how to express this fear. So I kept it inside and it ate at me.

Poor me. I was scared and people were dying.

I took this class partly because I wanted to write about the era through my eyes. I’ve been experimenting a lot and one of the new things I’ve tried is to approach this through poetry. I wanted to share a fairly early draft of a poem that might be my final project for the class. The limitations of the blog don’t quite allow for the lines to fall as they do on a typewritten page but you get the gist. Feedback is welcome.

1988—A Footnote

The kingdom of calculated silence has fallen, my children, my lovelies
The unholy ramparts sundered under the strain of the Great Experiment
An eight-year reign denying reins to quell the rain of burning blood
Cursed with a king and queen who wore hatred on their satin sleeves
Until democracy’s design disgorged new ramparts for a shrub
Second curse, same as the first


Hail to the keepers of secondhand grace! Ye sacred! Ye profane!
Ye alchemists between two worlds who parlay faith into indifference
The scorn and bile of 4,855 pilgrims won’t be wasted on you
Their fevered dreams are precious, reserved for the survivors
Who tend their bedsides like beloved gardens, plucking weeds
Waiting for a spring that won’t come


We all watched the brightest souls of our generation destroyed by apathy, a madness unto itself
Sacrificed to a new Moloch for an era of singed ascendancy and power
And the Congress of Sorrows who bleed allegiance to the flag in the name of Nobody’s God
These blessed souls upon whose broken backs was erected a cenotaph
Monument of War! Tower of Discontent! Honoring reluctant soldiers
Losing the fight for their own bodies


Until we stop dreaming in color and only dream in blistered shades of rage
The detritus of wicked angels demands our attention
It is we who are the new kings and queens and rulers
Usurpers bargaining for another year, another day, another minute
My children, my lovelies, take it back. Take it all back.
Rising up is only the beginning.

Six years in and the worst is yet to come
But we don’t know it now and we’ll be too stricken to know it then


Published in: on June 1, 2019 at 9:14 am  Comments Off on A Poem for Pride  

Let me tell you about my friend Ann.

Simply put, Ann Kaner-Roth was an amazing woman. Early in her career, she was an advocate for early childhood education. She was perhaps best known as the leader of Project 515, a nonprofit organization in the mid 2000s that fought to overturn the 515 laws on Minnesota’s books that discriminated against same sex couples. Her work there evolved into being one of the driving forces behind Minnesota United for All Families, the movement that successfully stopped a proposed 2012 constitutional amendment to prevent same sex marriage in Minnesota. When love became the law of the land, she went to work for the ACLU and then eventually became deputy secretary of state for Minnesota.

Ann passed away yesterday. She’d been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year and did what she always did: she fought like hell. In the end, she lost the battle. In November, she’d been given about three months to live. She only ended up with barely three more weeks.

I wasn’t Ann’s closest friend, not by a long shot (she had so many….). But I loved her. I’d only known her about ten years. I met her through my husband who’d known her since the 80s. From our very first meeting, I knew immediately that she was a person of infinite kindness, compassion, and love. In fact, there was not a single thing in her life that Ann didn’t do in the name of love, whether it was because she loved the cause or because she was fighting so others could love. She is someone I will always associate with that word.

At one point during the service today, an event that packed the facility, the attendees were asked to stand if their marriage is now legal because of Ann’s actions. So many people stood up, and I was proudly among them. I’m glad I once got to thank her for everything she did so that my husband and I could enjoy the same rights as all married couples. We were so lucky to have her at our wedding. I hope she knew how many others in Minnesota were grateful as well.

She leaves behind her adoring husband and three super amazing kids (she lived long enough to see her youngest get bat mitzvahed a couple months ago). I know they’ll all be hurting for a while, but I know equally well that every single one of them will more forward with a piece of Ann inside them and they’ll continue to do everything they do in the name of love.

I will miss her a great deal. But I thank her for all the love and kindness she put out into the world and I’m glad I can count myself among those who are better people for having known her.

Published in: on December 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm  Comments Off on Let me tell you about my friend Ann.  

I lost a bet and now YOU must pay the price…

Short version until I can write more:

–I lost a bet.
–I had to write a short story as a result.
–I did not get to choose the title of the story. That was the punishment for losing.
–I had to write a short story around the title “If the Bra Fits.”
–Kimberly Pauley, who gave me the title, is pure evil and I will have my revenge.
Here is the story.

Published in: on November 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm  Comments Off on I lost a bet and now YOU must pay the price…  

The Bet VII–Lucky Number 7

I must be a glutton for punishment.

Once again, fellow writer friends and I are indulging in THE BET. Short version: we bet on how horses we choose will finish in the Kentucky Derby. Those who choose poorly are forced to write short stories with titles provided by those who choose wisely. We then post these stories for free on our respective websites for the world to enjoy (and/or mock us for losing).  It’s a lot of fun and I can’t believe we’ve been doing it for seven years now.

As always at my side, I have the amazing Kimberly Pauley and the effervescent Catherine Ryan Hyde. The three of us have been doing this since the very beginning and every year brings a fun new set of twists and turns. New to our cadre this year is young David Oppegaard, a rakish scamp with mad story skills. The horses we’ve chosen are:

KimberlyRoyal Mo

CatherineAlways Dreaming

DavidLocal Hero

Me–Thunder Snow

Here’s more information on past bets and links. Join in the fun on Twitter as we harangue each other, talk trash, and just have a generally good ole time in the weeks leading up to the Derby (set for Saturday, May 6, this year). If nothing else, send me good vibes so I win this year. I haven’t won in a while. It’s embarrassing. And I have titles I’m dying to assign to each of my fellow Bettors. Trust me, you want to read stories with the Evil TitlesTM  I’ve selected.

Last Year’s Bet

A Summation of all Bets.


Tally ho!

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 8:45 am  Comments Off on The Bet VII–Lucky Number 7  

The Bet VI

So, if you don’t know the history of the Bet, I recommend catching up on these posts here, here, here, here, and here. These links will also take you to all other stories from the past that were written to satisfy the Bet.

Short version: I lost a Bet and had to write a short story based on a title given to me by Kimberly Pauley.  This year, the title provided to me was “The Walking Cage.” Here is the story I wrote.

I need to up my game. I’m tired of losing the Bet. Next year will be my year. MARK MY WORDS WELL.

I will link to the story that Kimberly wrote (with a title provided by Catherine Ryan Hyde) once she posts it.

UPDATE: Kimberly’s free story is here.

Published in: on July 11, 2016 at 7:52 am  Comments Off on The Bet VI  

Lovely things

dreadwillowcoverIt’s nice to have lovely things in your life. I’ve been fortunate of late to have wonderful people say very lovely things about my new book, The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse. Thanks so much to all who have taken the time to give this book a read and were kind enough to share their thoughts with the world.

” Farrey weaves a captivating and suspenseful tale of the power of female friendship and the pain of growing up. .”

Starred Review–Kirkus Reviews

“The labyrinth of characters and dilemmas expands as the novel progresses, culminating in a rewarding ending that highlights the importance of embracing emotions, curiosity, and measured choices.”

—Publishers Weekly

“This book is wise and wonderful.”
– William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.”
– Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy

Published in: on February 5, 2016 at 8:53 am  Comments Off on Lovely things  

Remembering Corey

Corey Allan Farrey 1977-2015

                   Corey Allan Farrey 1977-2015

“Corey’s a good kid.”

It was hard to sum up my brother. Often, especially later in life, this seemed the best way to do it. Almost everyone in our family had to concede this at some point.  Oh, he had his problems. He was dealt a rough hand in the form of a number of health problems that plagued him throughout his life: epilepsy, autism, diabetes, spinal and stomach concerns.  A combination of these concerns—coupled with the fact that he’d stopped taking his medications about a week ago without telling anyone—finally caught up with him. He passed away this past Sunday night, peacefully in his sleep. My husband and I had seen him just twenty-four hours before when we left to come back to the Cities from my hometown, Wisconsin Rapids, where we’d spent Christmas.

I start by saying he was a good kid because he really was, even at age 38. Despite the raging temper and the occasionally completely irrational behavior, you got the sense that he was someone who always wanted to do right (even when the temper and irrational behavior overruled that desire.)  Long after my sister and I had moved from our hometown, Corey remained and helped take care of my parents and later just my father. (Although, his independent streak meant he insisted on living in his own apartment across town.) He would help Dad clean, get groceries, take garbage to the dump, shovel snow, and probably more things than I even know about. Dad paid him but I truly believe Corey would have done it just to be helpful.

He had trouble processing emotions. He basically had two modes: happy and angry. But there was still nuance. A couple months ago, he called me, very upset. He couldn’t find Dad. He’d called Dad’s landline and cell and Dad wasn’t answering either. I told Corey that maybe Dad had made a quick run to the store and to try calling again in half an hour. If he still couldn’t get in touch, he was to call me back. Corey called me ten minutes later. He’d driven out to Dad’s house and still couldn’t find him. Which put him in even more of a frenzy. “I worry about him,” he said to me over and over. This kind of emotion was always rare with him but very, very genuine when it emerged. (Long story short: we found Dad, he was well, and Corey chewed him out for worrying him.)

Corey and I shared a bedroom with bunk beds growing up. I’ll be the first to say I probably wasn’t the best brother. There were seven years between us and I’d never really had autism explained to me (also, his diagnosis came fairly late). I always thought he was a belligerent kid. I didn’t understand that there was so much of his behavior that he couldn’t regulate. We grew closer as adults. When I got older and came to comprehend the battles he faced on a daily basis (not just from his various medical conditions but from people who sought to take advantage of him and people who bullied him), I worried about how he’d find his way in the world. I knew, at some point, the work my parents had started—guiding and helping him—would fall to me. I always hoped I’d do as good a job as they did.

This past summer, he did something that really made me proud. Corey was obsessed with trains. When he learned that the Twin Cities had a light rail that he could ride all day, he became determined to come visit us and do just that. With Dad’s help, he got on a Greyhound and came to the Cities. He spent the weekend riding the light rail across the Twin Cities and back—no real destination; the trip was the thing—and then boarded the Amtrak to take him back home. Corey was never big on travel, especially if he was in any way responsible for driving. (He drove around town just find but long distance did not agree with him.) For him to come here and back on mass transit was huge. It was something I never imagined he would go through with. But he did and even though I worried about him every step of the way, he pulled it off without a hitch. He had planned to come again next summer. He would have been welcome.

Corey’s behavior—those fits of rage were something to behold—sometimes got him in trouble with the law. Nothing too major but enough to give him a reputation with local police. I always hated that. Because I kept seeing this good kid. This goofy kid. This kid who struck up conversations with strangers in the Amtrak depot, just to tell them how excited he was to take the train home. This kid I pulled aside after Mom died five years ago and told him I needed him to keep a close eye on Dad and, man, did that kid step up to the plate.

Fact is, Corey was a great kid.

Published in: on December 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm  Comments (4)  

NCTE Bound!

I’ve always wanted to go to NCTE. I’ve heard marvelous things about it. Now, it’s coming to my hometown(ish) and I get to see it in all its glory.

I will be signing ARCs of my forthcoming middle grade fantasy, THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE, this Friday (November 20) at 2:00 in the Algonquin Young Readers Booth (525-527). People have been saying nice things about it:

“This book is wise and wonderful.”—William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.” —Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy

“The carse is a dark, foreboding place within a creepily blissful land. Like Aon and Jeniah, I felt myself drawn there . . . A compelling examination of what it means to be sad while finding unexpected happiness.”—Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series

“The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse is a deep, lyrical, satisfying story that will stay with you long after you have finished it.”–Sage Blackwood, author of the JINX trilogy

If you’re attending NCTE, I would love to see you. We can chat. About the weather. About that fabulous cover by Matt Rockefeller. About DOCTOR WHO (yes, please, I’m dying to). Or about anything, really. Or you can just show up and I’ll smile at you nervously. Which hopefully isn’t as creepy as it sounds.

Hope to see you there!


NCTE 2015 Brian Farrey Signing Social

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 9:28 am  Comments Off on NCTE Bound!