I Know What I Did Last Summer . . .

For those number of you who have inquiring minds and want to know

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This mantis is ready for the creepies and goblins, as it’s already preying on a ghost. (CREDIT: Archive of bad puns.)

(hi, hubby o’ mine!), here’s a round-up of a few things that have been on my mind of late, what I’ve seen, read, or been working on and so forth. Let it henceforth be know as a Smorgasblurb, or daisy-chain of what’s-its, widgets and, quite possibly, the world’s best collection of literary bric-a-brac.

1. Are you nervy, irritable, depressed, tired of life? Don’t keep that up! Here’s a short, down-to-earth post by author Dan Alatorre to help dispel the writer’s imposter syndrome that all some I have been feeling this summer and into the now-autumn.

2. Followed by the not-so-flattering assessment, albeit literary, of the United States’ commander in thief, by the ever-creative Rebecca Solnit (“The Loneliness of Donald Trump”) and available on Literary Hub. My favorite turn of phrase is in the very last graf: “The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego . . . One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall.” And that, folks, is how you bring it on home (whether you agree with the message or not).

3. I’ve had quite a few “close, but no cigar” with my writing this year, so the main thing I’ve got in the pipeline right now is a short story in the Biketopia anthology of feminist speculative fiction. (Yes, that.) But seriously, Publishers Weekly has said it’s “…a deeply moving and powerful anthology. ” Wow! 

P.S. Have you got anything close to publication or recently published? I know for a fact that some of you do. So consider this your pop quiz! Your chance to blast your own horn. Please feel free to comment in the ol’ leave a reply section below. And thanks!

4. A couple weeks ago I was pursuing one of my hobbies by perusing a nearby community’s town-wide yard sales. There was an old truck parked across from a church, and I don’t know why, but I stopped to look at the wares situated among the dust. Nothing there was probably anything anyone would need or want, but the woman tending them kept engaging me, imploring me to take a look at this or that. So, I got to talking with her and, unfortunately, concluded that she most likely has some level of mental illness and lives in her truck (long story) with these two kittens she says she couldn’t bear to leave at home because they got scared. Anyhow, without trying to sound sanctimonious, have you ever looked around you to everyday people and situations? We seem to not see images we are regularly exposed to, with them fading bit-by-by, day-by- day. Perhaps it’s something as simple as misplaced keys or something vastly more important: an invisible person or unjust situation or environmental problem that just keeps persisting in a sad state mostly because of apathy.

In short, have you tried helping anyone or anything in need lately?

Our opportunities to be loving and helpful to our fellow humans abound (and not only during natural disasters): to earthquake victims in Mexico, for Puerto Ricans who might not have potable water or electricity for weeks or months, Rohingya families driven out of Myanmar/Burma, bombed-out Yemeni people starving to death or dying of cholera, or innocent people rotting into the rubble of Syria. It turns out, if we look, I mean really look, we will probably find that there’s a literal neighbor of yours or mine who is silently in need. It can certainly be very depressing and soul-submerging to confront all the violence and hatred in the world; you’re only one person, right?! But . . . Whatever you do, just try. 🙂

5. Now, on to a much more pleasant topic. If you love fantasy, fae, and fairy tales like I do—you’re probably a super-fan, in fact, as I feel like I can never learn enough from all the world’s cultures—you will want to support Enchanted Conversation, a fairy tale magazine. Not only does this publication pay authors, but its editor/creator Kate Wolford helps keep the word percolating about how fairy tales and fabulism resonate and enrich our lives today . . . whenever we see an Emperor with No Clothes or a squirrel digging hundreds of tiny nut-graves all over our yards to prepare for cold weather, a figurative army of furry ants guarding against unprepared grasshoppers. Please chip in to their Fundrazr campaign now (there are rewards beyond just knowing ‘you did good’!) and if you’re a poet or fiction writer, consider submitting to the “Godfather Death” issue now through Sept. 30th or the “Elves and the Shoemaker” taking subs in November.

6. Well, this is rather long, isn’t it? Here’s one more, and just in time for the scary month of October! Stitched Smile Publications is seeking your horror-themed stories for two different paying open calls, one about the Seven Deadly Sins and another about a drive-in pulsing on the warty split-lip of damnation. I’ve not worked with them before, but they’re listed on Duotrope and have a history of in-genre publishing with a stable of many authors. Good luck if ya do construe a boo or two for them, much like the mantis on the ghost above. And, with that, I’m in copywriting mode!

ONE FINAL WORD Hang in there, everyone; help is on its way (with apologies for the crudulous advert at the beginning)!!

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Do you miss summer already, too? (A ramble and a flash fiction piece)

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A small mantis watches me & vice versa.

Let’s see. In summary, my summer’s been about parenting, copywriting, parenting, parenting some more, mowing grass, seeing a few critters here and there, working at weeding, parenting again, a too-short vacation and time with my husband, and, (unfortunately) a car wreck (bright spot is that no one was injured beyond minor aches).

I hope your hot or dry or windy or wet season has been much more fruitful or at least enjoyable. How’d you spend it?

Here’s today’s vignette, followed by a flash fiction piece . . .

As tides of laughter and shrill screams cascade over LEGOs and reverberate off walls into my writing room (a.k.a., the couch; tomorrow, it might be the kitchen table), I realize, with some mush of sadness and trepidation, that yet another summer is ending.

But I’m ready. It was a busy season; not necessarily a creative writing-productive summer, although I did do a bit of copywriting for the dough.

In a few days, I hope to have a few fascinatin’ features and facts about my friends’ endeavors (like this one) the last few months, as I (I hope) fall into a more regular pattern of blogging about all things literary, spec-fic, ghosty, dystopian, horror-ific, and whatever fancy strikes me in the head that day. [Also, in short, I’ve missed reading & commenting on your blogs! What can I say; full-time, full-on summertime parenting takes precedence.]

Anyway, less rambling and more story-ilization, right? Here’s an odd little throw-away that I hope you’ll enjoy; coincidentally, it has both fire and fury in it (but was written months ago for a 100-word challenge I couldn’t cut enough for).

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Hot Fur

GENRE: Weird, futuristic, dystopian

By Leigh Ward-Smith

“As you know, we’re here to commemorate the crumbling of 21st century institutions. To a man, you each had a role in slaying the dragon that is—or should I say was?—the prevailing mentality.”

The crowd bellows a series of whoops and howls, but fidgety coughs, footshuffles, and unholstered AugReal guns give them away.

Rich, you’re losing ’em. Do something dramatic.

I pull out the cannister hidden behind the flag-strewn lectern. “You all know what this is!” I waggle the can to massive cheers.

“And this.” The realization of the clear tub’s contents spread like our accustomed rolling blackouts.

The chant went up: “Pour it, pour it!” From there, the spark was mere formality.

BLOG_anarchy bear by Gerry Lauzon

Image by Gerry Lauzon, Creative Commons license 4.0 (CC By 4.0).

“Gentlemen, witness the death rasp of the 21st century and all her attendant scum!”

As flames lick the air, I pull a fast-disintegrating specimen out with tongs. I shake a clump loose, and the pallid throng wriggle onto its fallen char.

“It’s Burn-a-Bear Workshop now, ain’t it, boys?!”

END

Terrific Tuesday to You: Writing Updates, Shout-Outs, and Some Markets

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And to think: I actually dimmed this somewhat to take down the brightness.

Well, hello there! I shall have been returning and I have returned. (?)

But seriously, welcome (back)! I’m glad to have you visiting me.

On top of the busted ankle, so to speak, I’ve been doing copywriting out of my ears. Not titillating writing, but it certainly helps with the bills. And the Randys, Adams, Jakes, Simons, etc. (Or should I say with the GEs, Maytags, and fine furniture everywhere on the Internetz and on this great little dot we call a planet?)

Anyway, since I love doing the writing market posts, I figured what the heck. I’m behind in weekly posting once again. This is a good way to go, methinks.

Perhaps these will help you? I do hope so. Continue reading

Feminism + Bicycles + Fiction — How You Can Help Support One or All

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My Feminist Family on the Prairie (yes, men can be feminists, too)

Believe it or not, there is a connection between feminism, bicycles, and fiction. Witness the fiction anthology Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures from Microcosm Publishing, an anthology now in its fourth incarnation. I am proud to be an author in the fourth Biketopia, and I’ve got a favor to ask on behalf of all the authors and the publisher.

But first, a little bit about the latter. Microcosm Publishing, whom you can find on Duotrope, on their Web site, and all around the social media sphere, occupies a subversive publishing space—if feminism, LGBT rights, veganism, mental health, and a punk attitude qualify as such. Book titles upcoming or already published by this Portland, Ore., company include: Trump: A Graphic Biography; Cats I’ve Known; Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005; Bikequity: Money & Class; and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. For myself, I was drawn to a publishing company that’s been around more than 20 years and supports women who write while making a statement of engagement with our environment, politics, music, feminism, do-it yourself, relationships, and so much more.

Support a Feminist Fiction Endeavor (That I Happen to be Included In)

But there’s a small hitch to Biketopia four. It’s not completely funded. Not yet.

This is where you come in!

There’s a crowdfunding campaign at this very moment to ensure it makes its way into the world. Featuring 11 stories and a batch of reviews that are dystopian or sometimes even utopian,  Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures awaits full funding.

I cannot speak for the authors in this anthology, but as a writer among their number, I can say that my story focuses on a dystopian future in arid, desolate Colorado. Inspired possibly by subliminal crossflow from too many “Twilight Zone” marathons, I wrote about a protagonist who owns and runs a dusty diner alone but for two canine sidekicks. Then, she meets someone, and everything changes from there. So, pretty simple plot, without giving too much away.

Looking at the other story synopses, I am stoked to read Biketopia four, which includes a few comics within as well. Here are a few story blurbs from the Kickstarter fundraising page:

  • In the solarpunk future, will robots have rights, too?
  • What is the secret behind some people’s seemingly random plague immunity, and is it okay for them to take your bike?
  • When your health is closely monitored during a pregnancy, who gets to decide if bicycling is healthy or dangerous for your unborn child? (text by Microcosm Publishing)

May the Fourth Be With Us, and How You, Too, Can Submit

Please consider supporting Biketopia four via the Kickstarter drive; with a minimum of $10 you get the latest anthology. With a donation of $25 or above, you get all four Biketopia anthologies. The goodies abound, with a variety of levels from which to chose.

I’d be ever so pleased, not just for myself but for the mission of Microcosm, if you’d consider donating to the campaign and checking out Microcosm’s site. In addition to the previous book titles mentioned in the intro, you’ll see that MP offers up ezines to coloring books to stickers for your bike and all kinds of books including self-help and vegan recipes inspired by Morrissey (whose band, The Smiths, are no relation to me, sadly).

Finally, Biketopia five is, ahem, gearing up for action, too. Through March 1, you can submit your feminist-inspired science fiction (though you need not be female or identify as such) stories of 2-6K words, to Biketopia five, with a theme of “Intersections.” In fact, they say “We especially welcome submissions from writers of color and transgender and nonbinary writers, and seek stories that portray more diverse perspectives than are classically found in sci fi.”

So, get on that seat and ride your creativity into worlds unimagined!

The Arrival—and, Yes, I’m Still Alive

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Election results got you down, Leigh?

Reports of my demise have been exaggerated, I’m afraid. In fact, there I am over at the right, looking pensive, as opposed to looking Pence-ive, which is just gross.

Over the last five weeks or so that I’ve not blogged, I’ve been both working hard and hardly working. A new job—copywriting—is occupying a lot of my time so I haven’t gotten to do much creative writing (or responding to your blogs) of late. In fact, in terms of fiction, I submitted only five pieces for publication in January.

But amid the flus and allergies and product descriptions and torn knee-parts (husband, not me) and holidays, I’ve managed to get my second horror fiction piece published in a free ezine newly rechristened as Shotgun! Strange Stories, a publication of DeadLights Horror Fiction Magazine. I’d call the story, Volume 2, Issue 2 (27 January 2017; cover depicts two skeletons at a door and says “Featuring ISOLATED written by Kyle Lybeck”) a radical departure from my typical protagonist: this character is a right bastard, I think my British friends would say. Possibly with no redeeming qualities, but I hope the story manages to convey . . .  something. I’ll leave that something up to the individual, however!

I received several book-gifts for the holidays (the very best kind of gift), from poetry to short story collections to biography (Phil Collins, I’m looking at you, against all odds).

So-so-sodio (you have to sing it), I just wanted to give a brief update and a swift kick in my own tuchus. I am hereby making a half-way commitment to blogging two times a week. I’m sure you’re all thrilled, yes? 🙂 Two, yes two. These posts could be anything. Fence posts. Post offices. Post cereal.

Moving along . . .  I’ve been trying to save my dollars and pounds to support indie authors like some of you (I wish it were more; I truly do). Hence, the latest arrival.

Let’s all celebrate some good fiction-writing  . . .  c’mon!

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Congratulate, cajole, coax, consult, or converse with Hugh at his blog, Hugh’s Views and News, where you can also get this book (a short story collection chock-full of horror, science fiction, weirdness, and drama galore).

Way to go, Hugh, as to all of you living the creativity dream. I’ll see you around.

~Leigh~

If I Were a Defiant Animal . . . (Palinode)

I’ve been busy writing and promoting. My ‘soft’ horror story, “Muzzling the Monster,” is out in book form with some other excellent hobbits’ people’s stories.

But in the meantime, a sort of narrative manifesto in the form of a palinode.

Palinode: According to the Poetry Foundation, a palinode is “an ode or song that retracts or recants what the poet wrote in a previous poem.”

And now, in response to the world today and in homage to WordPresser and poet Robert Okaji, whose much more deft and studied poetical works you can find here . . .

If I Were a . . . (defiant animal/goddess/dolphin/force)

for Robert Okaji

If I were another kind of defiant animal than me, I think I’d choose to be a well-kept black cat. I’d be haughty about my rich, luxuriant fur and take every opportunity to let the sun follow my lead, basking in its admiration like the goddess I clearly am. Continue reading

Winning and the winsome winner who won it; or, the giveaway has ended

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From the Department of Redundancy Department. Nevertheless, thank you for reading!

Hello, fellow humans or any visitors from beyond (or from beneath the depths).

You might remember that last week (actually, from about Oct. 29 through the wee morning hours of 4 Nov.), I was doing a giveaway. It was in conjunction with the release of the new #steampunk and #horror anthology Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires, in which my story “Muzzling the Monster” was published along with those from 15 other sterling folks. If anything, my story tips more toward historical, horror, and ghostliness, but that’s my opinion. In chatting with some of the authors, who are from around the world, I’ve discovered stories within are historical fiction, Western steampunk, and a mix of subgenres within the genre. See what you think of our creation and be the first to leave a review!

Now comes another exciting part. The announcement of the winner, of the graphic novel Monstress. I hope everyone who wanted to participate, got his/her entries logged on my Rafflecopter giveaway. [It’s entirely possible I’ll do more of these in the future, and with different prizes, too! Maybe something for the December holidays, wherein several different cultures have days of special significance.]

Continue reading

Electageddon 2016: I was going to, but then I didn’t . . .

. . . Write a literary Q & A with both presidential candidates, here in the U.S., but I’ve decided to succumb to election fatigue or, as I’ve termed it, Electageddon. (I’m not saying I coined it; most probably John Oliver said something very similar.)

Simply put, most of the humor has gone out of U.S. politics. Other than the angry brand.

Now, I don’t think the dialogues should cease—except for the two political ads I receive every stinking day(!), as well as all those commercials between newscasts—but at this time, I choose to look to other matters, to move on. As well as to strive, to seek, and not to yield. The jury’s still out on the “finding” part, Tennyson fans. [Tennysonites? Tennysonians?]

Of course, I will vote (I haven’t yet) and do my part [for I have a vagenda of manicide; there, I finally said it]. Heck, my family even attempted to get yard signs for local candidates (but were unsuccessful, two times).

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From Shakespeare: The Bard’s Guide to Abuses and Affronts

But I’m done with arguing. I’m also done with racism. I’m sickened by those who shame the disabled. I’m done with the immigrant-bashing. I’m fed up with those who attack Islam. And finally, I’m done with Republicans [who stump for Trump] tweeting that Drumpf is leading “the cunt.”

The best way that Trump can make America great again? If I were mean, I’d say shuffle off your mortal coils, ASAP. (The case could be made that they’re mostly useless because of all the heavy rust anyway.) But since I’m not: Get out. Just get out. We don’t want you here. Let’s not make America hate again.

That said, I’d not want to be back in the newspaper biz come Nov. 8th or 9th. I predict a farked-up election (remember the hanging chads?) and possibly some violence. It would be a pity if it devolves to that. But wait, it already has. See that point way up there in the clouds—way, way up; past the thermosphere now and into the exosphere—that used to be us. The good us. And it’s getting farther away, not closer. (Hat tip to John Oliver for this idea.)

So, what else can a rational person from the 99% do? I’ve tuned in and turned on (television and radio, phone and computer).

But, for now, I think the best choice for my sanity is to drop out, to kill my television and other media tools. Perhaps you’ll join me in boycotting election news?

 

 

Hallo-ween Lite: A Twictional Experiment

Is everyone excited for Halloween? I know I am, and probably more than when I was a kid. And, for my friends in India or who have celebrated elsewhere, here’s wishing you a joyous, if belated, Diwali. 🙂

Anyway, as most people are probably reaching for the blood, guts, and gore in their fiction today, I’m going to switch it up. BGG I can do anyday; in fact, I do it pretty often here on the blog and in writing submissions. I’m going to treat you today, however. Free fiction, and, it is my hope, some smiles or laughter.

So, if you can follow this . . . I hope the formatting’s not too bad . . . here’s a(nother) merger of Twitter and fiction (Twiction) that I worked on for a recent submission cycle and which was (sniff, sniff) rejected.

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Our little paladin. And Artoo. (Pre-Halloween, at a con)

I’m biased of course, but I think the ending’s worth at least scrolling through to.

Thank you, sit back, and enjoy.

Oh, and go buy my latest work!

Continue reading

Want to read good stuff and enter to win more? Then I’ve got your giveaway right here

. . . to have a larger perception of surrounding facts, and to care for knowledge that was tinged with the unfamiliar.—Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Well, friends and new visitors to The Wordsmithery, the time has come for me to do some self-promoting and I’d like to offer you something in return for reading my latest work (beyond my continual wellspring of gratitude, which you already have access to). If I could offer this small token to each of you, I would.

That said, in conjunction with the launch of the Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires #steampunk

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You can buy me NOW!

#horror anthology that I have a story in now, I’m taking part in an author tea party on Sunday, 30 October, from 2 to 6 p.m. CST.

If you have a spare moment, I and the other Continue reading