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

ghost-gears-grimoires

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

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble in Words and Pictures

It’s been awhile, but as I love October, the time seems ripely right. So, another catch-all post. I’m considering doing the 6.66 days of horror fiction at the end of the month as well—and maybe even NaNoWriMo—but we shall see.

Think of this as a kind of Monday Markets, although it isn’t. Hope you enjoy what could be the beginning of a more consistent and beautiful blogging and reading relationship . . .

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble

Publications & Awards (you, me, and any every-body*)

  1. MY SHORT STORY “MUZZLING THE MONSTER” IS BEING PUBLISHED at the end of this month, in a steampunk and horror anthology called Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires (by Mocha Memoirs Press), and I’m thrilled and honored to be included. I literally cannot wait to see what the ghost-gears-grimoiresother storytellers have concocted for the book. And, in a first in my writing career, there’s even a creepy, cool trailer for this anthology, designed by the talented Terry Phillips. I’ll let you know as soon as I know acquisition details (sounds like something a Ferengi would be interested in, eh?).
  2. THERE’S ALREADY A TON of books out there, right? But you don’t want to waste your time with poorly edited or conceived works either. Thankfully, that is far from the case here. Although I am biased in the sense of having been a beta reader of this book (and her previous one), I am once again happy to champion Sarah Potter’s speculative fiction offering, this one christened Noah Padgett and the Dog-People. (I also hope to have Sarah over to the blog very soon, as her schedule allows!) Although NPATDP is aimed squarely at middle-grade readers (or accelerated 7-10 year olds), there’s every chance as an adult you will enjoy this romp through the world of Canis sapiens, in a dimension something like ours but curiously tipped. Will the human boy, Noah, make it out of Zyx alive? Do tell! . . .  I’ve done a review over at Amazon, and you lucky folks & blokes in the UK can get a deal on the book right now, with free delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. So, whatever are you waiting for?
  3. HAVE YOU READ? Resident WordPress poet Robert Okaji has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for his poem “Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine”! Even though Bob might profess to be an ordinary person—and they, too, can be nominated for and win a Pushcart!—his diction, structure, and nimble enjambment techniques boggle the brain. Do check out his latest offerings at his blog, “O at the Edges.”
  4. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! WordPress humorist and author Hugh Roberts is releasing a book in early December 2016. If you’re a reader of Hugh’s blog, you know that some speculative fiction and otherwise wacky, wild, and wee-urd jellybabies (I mean, stories) await! More on all that Welsh Winter Wonderfulness at Hugh’s post, and you’ll find a slew of other books to add to your lists (chosen by Hugh).

 

Markets & Other Interesting Things

Depending on your time, desired compensation, experience, genre, word count, and so on, markets are your bread and butter. Your mead and meat. Your nectar and ambrosia. Your cake and icing. Your chutney and naan. Your Dornish wine and saltfish. I really shouldn’t blog while I’m hungry, should I?

  1. DeadLights magazine. This is a new market. They have hatched a nonpaying weekly short fiction market, called “Shotgun Horror Clips,” as well as a paying short-story one for the DL magazine. Citing influences from King and Straub to Barker, Jackson, et al, they clawed their way high up my horror-writing market list. The specifics about submitting paying short fiction, flash, art, and CNF for the magazine can be found here. For the Shotgun Horror Clips, check this link.
  2. More horror: Pseudopod, dubbed “the sound of horror,” is seeking your first-form, A-level, Big League, Premier League speculative fiction in the weird, gory, dark, violent, thrilling/unsettling vein. Got a time-traveling Jack the Ripper? Oh, wait. That’s been done already. But give them your absolute best, with emphasis on the dark and macabre (less comedy, more tragedy), and see if you can hit the really high notes with this HWA and soon-to-be SFWA approved market (professional rates, mind you!). Before you do submit, do get a really good feel for what they like. One of the writers I enjoy and follow, fictionist Aeryn Rudel, recently had a piece called “Night Games” converted to audio and featured on Pseudopod here. Think vampires and the desolation of the pitcher’s mound in baseball and you might harness a scintilla of this story.
  3. Interesting things:
  • Eavesdrop on F/SF writer Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series et al) as he instructs on topics ranging from the business of writing to plotting to world-building and more. It’s as if you’re taking a master class but you can be introverted at the same time!
  • #HoldontotheLight: Did you know that 100+ authors of SF/F are blogging about mental illness and wellness this month? The matters touched on range from PTSD to anxiety to suicide. I can attest that these issues surface time and again in the science fiction and fantasy communities. If you’d like to join the movement, as a reader, commenter, contributor, or otherwise, one fitting place to start is writer Gail Z. Martin’s link round-up.
  • You might not know it, but there’s a campaign to create an exhibit and anthology of women’s science fiction writing, with confirmed participants as illustrious as Jane Yolen, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and a bevy of others thus far. As I write this, the “Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF” project is raising funds and in the process of kicking off a call for submissions by or featuring strong female protagonists, including those from the stellar authors mentioned above. Now here’s a campaign to fund, if ever there was one!

It is time, or far past it, for me to close this post. *If you’d like to plug your own latest publication in the comments, please feel free.* Just don’t try to sell Russian watches, Cialis, or other male enhancement paraphernalia there.

See you in the funny papers . . .

fm-1-cropped

For those times when you want to look like Freddie Mercury with a sore shoulder. Maybe it’s under pressure?

recordplayer

Remember these console record-players? You never know what you’ll find at Goodwill.

 

Three Ways I Owe Stephen King My Life—and My Sanity

The King is NOT dead. In fact it is his birthday today (21st September). He’s 69 years old. No joke (crude or otherwise).

king-on-nightstand

The (night)Stand. Dead center, wedged between anger and the unseen (Anne Carson poetry): King’s On Writing, sans dust jacket.

I’m not talking about Elvis, but the master fiction-writer Stephen King. Otherwise known as He of the eternal bestsellers list. Or maybe Scary Writer Guy.

If Mr. King hasn’t been on “The Simpsons” yet, please, somebody call Matt Groening. A scenario involving Itchy and Scratchy interviewing him, and perhaps literally being slaughtered by his words.

As for me . . . If given a few minutes with Mr. King, although there is much I would like to ask (including about language choices!), I should perhaps first offer him my hearty thanks.

In thinking about King the icon on his birthday, I am drawn to how many ways I owe someone I’ve never met, and am never likely to, my gratitude. Here are just a few. A tiny token. A kind of not-yet reliquary object; the moving finger, mid-writ. A curled, disintegrating pink sheet of paper, my treasure.

Three Ways I owe Stephen King . . .

1. It’s not about me. It’s about the bottle (if not the battle). Sometime last year, I read King’s (perhaps, although I hope not) conclusive novel in the saga of Dan(ny) “Doc” Torrance, Doctor Sleep. It makes so much more sense now. I can finally write it, nonfictionally, too: I am the child of an alcoholic. Curiously, it feels good to be truthful.

2. Have you read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft? Really, there are too many gems in this short, leanly titled book to carry away in armfuls. To write, you have to read. Dogged persistence is key. Hammer at the words until you’ve fashioned something new—accessing a big, green god of ecstasy perhaps. You will survive; he (and his brother) did, after all. (Including the farting babysitter.) This book has saved me missteps I did not even realize were steps.

3. The pink sheet of paper, you ask? Circa, oh, 1989. Rest assured, it’s in storage. Not lost. Never lost. Dragged to a bingo game for the umpteen and first time as a child, I had two choices to make, both appealing: read or write. Thanks to reading King (and not always understanding what was beyond my range to understand), I nevertheless started turning to writing. On pink bingo programs or any scrap I could find. And, lo and behold, I became better at it (at least marginally, no pun intended) the more I did it. It propelled me in ways that being a sort of invisible raggedy-child of a dysfunctional family did not. Death and suicide, I saw through the veil of prose, were a termination. Not a clean and strings-free release. I, too, persisted.

So, world, you have Stephen King to thank (or stone) for my finding my way to the present me.

Unbraiding the strands of self from the writer is difficult to impossible at this point. At least, in that, I am thinking King and I are on common ground.

Long live Stephen King, my writing hero!

 

Monday Markets: The Spiders Spinning the Moon Edition

Long time, no blog. Well, a couple weeks. An eon in interwebs years perhaps.

the-spiders-and-the-moon

Can you spot the second spider? The first certainly seems bigger than the moon.

Despite the annus miserabilis (yep, I meant that) on many fronts, there are good things about, too. Thank goodness.

I’ll do “markets” a little different this time. Once I get more sophisticated (maybe someday ponying up for the cost of a ‘real’ WordPress or other writing site), perhaps this might grow and improve and transmogrify. First:

Things to Read

Apart from your posts, which I’m still trying to catch up on after the Great Computer-Cord Fry-Up of August 2016, in which the little adapter box thing went bzzt (and my battery had no juice), here’s some notable writing (news and otherwise) you might enjoy or find helpful:

  • Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home, editor Hilary Custance Green’s very personal book about Far East POWs—with an endearing and enduring love story wrapped therein—is out now. Has been out for awhile. Do consider it for your reading list. Even better? It’s in hardback!
  • Another fellow WordPresser, Sarah Potter, just last week released her second book in a year. Wow! This one, Noah Padgett and the Dog-People, while written for the youthful crowd, approximately age 10 (up to and beyond age 100), features a boy with all the resources of Harry Potter, minus the wand. So, by his wits alone, he must survive and navigate a bracing crab of a stepmother and another dimension, called Zyx, ruled by Canis sapiens, or upright-walking, clothes-wearing, English-speaking dog-people. And with all the foibles of humans, spun into a new view, from a (nearly?) megalomaniacal poodle to a fretful golden retriever with a hidden beauty secret. Can Noah save his real dog, Bluebell, from Monsieur Percival Poodle and get out alive? Although I was a beta reader on this, I can confirm it was a quite enjoyable book. As an adult or, I would think, a dog-loving or imaginative child. Here’s where you can get it on the Kindle.
  • Take a look at a post by Diabolical Plots titled “Negotiating Short Story Contracts.” I won’t give away the keys to this kingdom, but when you sell a story, ask for a contract and actually read it. That’s one of the most basic tips for any writer. But get more insights from the diabolical personage himself, David Steffen, here.
  • If you like epic stories and the storytellers who execute them, then you’ll probably enjoy this Powell’s (bookstore) interview with Annie Proulx as much as I did.
  • And, finally, a survey of the psychologically “deep” short stories of British horror writer Robert Aickman.

 

Things to Write: Markets & Submissions

  • National Lampoon is looking for humor writers. This is a well-known, and paying market, but, I’ll presume, pretty competitive. If you submit, you absolutely must bring your funniest stuff. Otherwise, you’re schtick out of luck.
  • If you aim for the top, you’ll find Tin House, among others, sitting astride it. And, by the by, they are accepting submissions the entire month of September 2016, for several issues slated for 2017. One story or essay and up to five poems per submission. So, in September at TH: there’s an open-publication (no theme); there’s a rehab-themed issue; and then there’s a true crime issue. Many submit, but few, alas, are chosen. See more here.
  • Rejectomancer and author Aeryn Rudel has announced he will be a judge in an upcoming flash fiction contest run by Red Sun Magazine. There’s a small entry fee for submitting your fiction under 1K, and the deadline is Sept. 23. Prizing and other salient criteria are at RSM’s site here. And, if you’re a speculative fiction writer, aspiring or otherwise, you owe it to yourself to follow Rudel, whose name rightly appears persistently among the rolls of winning stories.
  • As this is a long post already and it’s almost bus-time, I’ll share one last one. Tacitus Publishing is seeking short fiction, 1500 to 5K, on the theme of shattered space. I’ll let them tell you: “[the story] takes place in space and has a strong horror element.  This can include aliens, ghosts, or disturbing circumstance[s].  The key to success, as with all strong writing, is the human struggle and relatable characters. . . . . ” Your story is due Oct. 31, and, as always, it would behoove you to know your market before submitting.

As ever, let’s go out there and  . . . get rejected! And, a la Samuel Beckett, get rejected better the next time.

 

 

 

And, Finally, An End

Fortunately, bad things sometimes

victory over allergies

I declare victory over allergies!

come to an end. Even allergies!

 

In my sitting-about over the last week and a half or so, I have come to some salient conclusions about life (and maybe the universe and everything). So, I’m thinking, why not share my willy sisdom silly wisdom with the world.

 

Thus, I offer you my brief-ish spin, in list form, on being under the weather, which I hope you’ll find amusing. Goodness knows, the world needs a smile or two these days.

12 Signs You’ve Entered the Allerpocalypse

  1. Even your allergic shiners have allergic shiners.
  2. Provided you can still speak, you have gone from falsetto to baritone in one day (without experiencing puberty).
  3. You have enough balled-up tissues in the trash can to fill a life-sized R2-D2 every hour. (RIP, Kenny Baker.)
  4. It is very possible you’ve watched enough cruddy television to detach twenty retinas and wipe multiple minds of intelligent thought.
  5. Your head feels both curiously full and egregiously empty. It’s as if Lizzie Borden has given your skull 40 whacks but has left the axe blade there on the last one, like you’re some 20th century Phineas Gage.
  6. Speaking of skulls . . . at this point, you are 100% willing to undergo skull trephination to let out the evil spirits (lovingly dubbed Mucodon and Sneezmodeus).
  7. At one point you’re so delusional you imagine you’re George R.R. Martin and accidentally almost kill yourself with a pen.
  8. You hallucinate that your neck has started filling with bilgey ocean water (including all the plastic crap therein) or else it’s split open and the top of your head’s fallen off.
  9. Like Logan, all you’re seeking is sanctuary. Freedom from mucus is a human right, by your reckoning!
  10. You realize tears are just fate’s way of reminding you you’re not dead yet (hope springs eternal).
  11. It’s possible, you think, that you’ve invented a new ‘holistic’ treatment modality— 21st-century cupping—wherein you drape a towel over your head while putting your face in a steaming hot cup of tea (or toddy or whatever works for you). And unlike Bill Clinton, you did inhale.
  12. All in all, the important thing dawns on you: At least it’s not a/the Trumpocalypse.

With that said and done, I hope to begin visiting and commenting on all of y’alls blawgs that I’ve been sad to miss during my involuntary absence. Keep up the creativity! 🙂

 

 

Tuesday Taproots and Some Haiku

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I missed last week’s photo challenge from Hugh, depicting ‘glorious,’ so I’ll leave this great horned owl photo here. Enjoy!*

Hi, everyone. Now that May (short story month) has concluded, I’m retiring.

I kid, I kid. To your chagrin! But to be nonfacetious, I’ve been fairly creative—wedging in writing time and, perhaps even more valuable, reading time—in the interim. Amid camps and classes and appointments (oh my), I’ve found a way to make it work. Somehow. I hope you all are doing the same in your creative and life endeavors, however they may mesh.

I’ve got a story debuting (details to come) online, on approximately June 18. That is exciting, and I’ll let you know more when the publisher okays it. It might not be to your taste or, contrarily, it might be just the panacea Dr. Dystopian ordered.

Anyway, in the meanwhile, some haiku I’ve worked on. A few do contain mature language, Continue reading

Monday Markets and Writing Curiosities for June and July 2016

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Sitting on our lawnmower (two of three depicted.)

Hello, everybody. School’s out, here (thankfully, not forever). And the juvenile robins are on the wing, growing and practicing and—as everyone’s favorite dour playwright and existential philosopher Samuel Beckett wrote in Worstward Ho!—“fail[ing] better.”

Let’s give it a go and see how we can try, fail, try again, then fail better. I’d be delighted to hear of your progress, in the summertime or anytime.

1. Special limited-time offer!

I was not asked to do this, but I got word that a blogger-friend of mine, Curtis Bausse, has released a triad of short stories called And it Came to Pass. Considering that May is Short Story Month, why don’t you consider picking up this ‘linked’ set of stories by the writer of the Magali Rousseau detective series? There’s despair. There’s terror. And there’s also hope in these intertwined past-present-future stories. You’ll be happy you spent the pittance (far, far less than they’re worth, artistically or otherwise) of 99 cents to snag this series of short stories now. They’re on Amazon, available for your Kindle.

2. I read a really good article presenting an editors’ discussion about what it means to portray strangeness in fiction-writing. Unless you’re Jim Morrison or the Lizard King’s ghost, you might like to get some pointers from the Master’s Review article here.

3. I, Me, Mine . . . As we are on the supposed cusp of a new golden age in short story-making, perhaps you might like to buy one of mine, a flash fiction that appears now in the spring/summer issue of moonShine Review, along with delectable fare from several other authors. My story is flash fiction, and, I hope, enjoyable. If you buy direct, it’s $10 per bound journal, and that includes tax and shipping (and tell Anne that Leigh Ward-Smith sent you, pretty please!). As the “old” commercial used to say: {I} thank you for your support!

4. Through June 6th: work out your demons on paper. Call it a writing exorcise. Whatever the case, Bloodbound Books is seeking your best disgusting, disturbing, splattering, and gruesome over-the-top horror stories (fiction, that is), from 750-5000 words (query for longer).  They’re a paying market, too. Five cents a word, so get on it, if you relish sloppy horror!

5. Room magazine, quite in contrast to the last market, seeks work by, about, and for women, including trans-women. This feminist publication needs “food” themed poetry, art,  creative nonfiction, and fiction of up to 3500 words or 5 images (in the case of art) for their fast-approaching 40.1 issue (deadline: July 31). This is a paying Canadian market that powers its submissions via Submittable.

6. Are you a playwright living in Wisconsin, Iowa, or Illinois? Do you have something written for 5 or fewer actors on the “nature of masculinity” (however you choose to interpret that concept/reality) any genre, and running ten minutes? There’s a no-fee competition now through June 3 for just such a work. Check out the details here, including how you can win one of the $100 honoraria; I found this listing originally at the treasure-trove of playwriting resources that is AACT.org.

7. Lucky seven, just for y’all: Maybe you’ve driven down South (U.S.). Maybe you live there. Maybe you’re just passing through. If you’re a writer with a “Southern journal” style article/reportage piece, Southern Living just might want to take a gander at your pitch. Be familiar with what they like to publish, then fire away. (No compensation, but seeing your name in publication lights.)

And now, I’m off to edit another story for publication. Wishing you all, all the best.

Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 23 – Season

Well, May is shaping up very nicely. And busily, especially in that my fledglings will be leaving the school-nest in a few weeks and flying home. Let’s hope they don’t peck each other to death. (Only kidding! Okay, partly.)

The lovely Hugh, via his able and charming stand-in host Ronovan, has a photo challenge once again that sparked my interest: Seasons, which I interpreted as Nature. You’re shocked, right? [In any case, I do encourage you to visit blogger & author Ronovan’s blog, right over here.]

Here are a few views of the season here in the Northern Hemisphere, North American style.  Oh, I’m told I should put a warning/caveat of sorts here. These photos will feature wiggly squiggly critters from outdoors.

There was one decent photo of a cute little toad(let), but I’m having a problem converting it from the phone. Besides, you’re saying “oh my glob, does she not know when to stop?” And so, I shall.

Hope you enjoy these nature photographs of the spring season.

Two blue eggs

Robin’s eggs. They should hatch soon.

Powerbox Nest & mom

Same nest, same avian ingenuity.

Baby grapes

Tiny grapes a’growin.

Introducing Charlotte

The kids call her Charlotte.

Sick tree

The fungus that looked like a flat rodent.

Balancing nest

Avian ingenuity, part 2.

Crow watches

Hey, human, you talkin’ to me?

Snake-front 2

Ssssstay away from me, lady!

Snake-above

Yesss, I’m colorful, but didn’t I tell you to get losssst already?