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?

 

 

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).

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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!

 

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 Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 25 – Music

Here’s a hat tipped—a toast post or post toast, if you will—for the theme of music. Eureka, that’s one of my favorite subjects!

This post exists because of the weekly inspiration provided by Hugh at Hugh’s Views and News. Hugh recently took a turn as judge for the Eurovision song contest as well—on his blog, that is. He was ably assisted by his adorable pal Toby, a corgi.

Oh, and the photos are pretty rough. I don’t have any photo-editing software (that I’ve figured out yet, anyway) on this new computer. I hope you still like them.

Have a harmonious week!

 

 

 

Sister, Can You Spare a Dollar for Fort McMurray?

Hello, friends. I’m kind of between computers (getting a new one going, yet doing some essentials here on the ‘old’ one), but I really wanted to share Sue Slaght’s critical post with an overview of the wildfires ravaging Fort McMurray, in Canadian Red Cross-logonorthern Alberta, Canada. If you’re like most Americans, you might not know where in Canada this is taking place, but Sue gives a helpful pinpointed map and details on how the spirit of selflessness and compassion has prevailed. She also tells you how to donate to the Red Cross of Canada, a link that I’m pleased to duplicate here, for helping the survivors of the Alberta Fires.

I’m unable to get Sue’s post reblogged at present, but I wanted to give you all a pointer to it if you haven’t read or seen it yet. Please do give it a read at Sue (and Dave’s) blog, Travel Tales of Life. In happy times, this vivacious Canadian couple cycles, runs, floats, climbs, and walks in lovely locations all over the world.

Also, as a former animal welfare worker-bee who helped with the evacuation of animals in a few situations, I would feel remiss if I didn’t point out all the domestic pets who have lost

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Our beloved Heinz-57 pooch, Sherman, a former shelter dog. RIP, buddy.

their homes and possibly their pet-people, if not their own lives. According to the Alberta SPCA on May 8, 2016, “Peace officers from the Alberta SPCA and the Calgary Humane Society have been working tirelessly in Fort McMurray to help the Wood Buffalo Animal Control Services with the rescue of all the pets that remain there.” Among others, the Alberta SPCA is accepting donations to help with the pet rescue during this terrible time for scores of Fort McMurray’s people and their entire families, including pets.

Thank you for reading, stay safe, and relish your day!

Monday Markets: The Fantasy Fiction Edition

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Fables and nursery rhymes.

It’s that time again. Approximately every fortnight, a catchall market-conference-author appearance-publishapalooza listing, this one somewhat abbreviated as I’m working on a fiction piece under deadline (wish me luck). Hope you all will find something beneficial in this partly fantasy-based list, with dashes of mystery, paranormal, and even academics among the fables and fairy tales.

 

    1. Deadline March 1!   

      Got any bright bits of poetry or prose concerned with the lighter months of the year, approximately April through June? If so, you might like to consider sending them to this call for submissions for Beltane 2016 courtesy of Three Drops from a Cauldron. They note interest in: “Any myth, fairytale, or bit of folklore with a green, golden and growing feel – or even bright beauty with a dark side too: Persephone, Blodeuwedd.”  Submit up to 6 poems, or three flash fiction pieces, or one prose poem (750 words or fewer), with a short third-person bio. Full guidelines are available at the link. Good luck!


       

    2. Like your mysteries with flares of the paranormal?  If you answered yes, then you might enjoy C. Hope Clark’s Edisto-based series of thriller novels, “flawed heroine” and all. And, what’s more, you might learn from some of Clark’s upcoming writing workshops. Most are in the southern United States, particularly South Carolina, where Clark hails from, but if you’re nearby, you might like to visit. In addition to running a successful Web site, Ms. Clark offers free and paid e-newsletters. The free Funds for Writers newsletter lists some of the upcoming dates for Clark’s appearances, which I have excerpted some of here (many more are available on her Web site):

      Mar 3 – McCormick County Library, SC – Character Development – 6:30 PM
      Mar 10 – Calhoun County Library, SC – Character Development – 6:30 PM
      Mar 14 -21 – Edisto Beach, SC. Signing at Edisto Bookstore
      Mar 24 – Anderson County Library, SC – Character Development – 6:30 PM
      Apr 14 – Calhoun County Library, SC – Successful Editing – 6:30 PM
      Apr 28 – Anderson County Library, SC – Successful Editing – 6:30 PM
      May 5 – McCormick County Library, SC – Getting Published – 6:30 PM
      May 24 – Darlington Library, SC – Getting Published – 6:30 PM
      Jun 23-25 – Midwest Writers Center Conference – Davenport, IA
      Aug 18-21 -Killer Nashville Conference, Franklin, TN


    3. Due March 30. Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine is also looking for your fantastic(al), folkloric, fabulistic fiction; this time, the theme is “rain,” and it must appear as more than just a singular word in the story. The guidelines are fierce, so your fiction should follow and buttress that. If you want to get a good idea of what they’re seeking, read their site (for instance, their soaring Valentine’s Day edition) and/or purchase or borrow their books from the library or a friend, such as Beyond the Glass Slipper (by EC’s own Dr. Kate Wolford) or Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, to name but a couple.


    4. Due March 31. For those academics among us, or those who still practice the art outside academe, the Writing Between the Lines Symposium invites proposal papers (abstracts) of 300 words or fewer on the intersection of the theory and the practice of creative writing. They note: “We invite papers which examine the lively dynamic between praxis and critical appraisal; explore the nature of creative writing as a research methodology; investigate its position within pedagogy and evaluate how it may be developed in order to elevate approaches to high quality research.” I first read about this call for 20-minute presentations on the Rhys Tranter blog. The proposals must be submitted electronically, and the symposium itself is in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.

As always, I’m wishing you a fulfilling week of writing/blogging, art-making, and living!

A Winter Tirade, with Photos

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Snow-city panorama

The day is a diffuse white, blunted to gray. Periodically, birds burst from ledges or eaves or from the last spent leaves (ah, yes, bright, but still spent). Their bodies strafe the eye. Confused snowflakes cavort with, shuffle by, skitter, shimmy against, bump into, and bend with the now-visible air. If the winter air were malleable matter, I think it would be a blooming sort of smoldering steam: an extra-spectral substance of an inhuman colour, nebulous, neither white nor gray nor blue. Nor any other.

Still, I can’t drag my eyes away . . .

Breadbox buildings have been dropped down, brick by brick, deposited perhaps a century’s worth ago, from when there was no snow as it is now. Today’s snow—we call it ours—is a (by)product, a staged phenomenon, a commodity, and a managed entropy, made sheerly to be seen. A honeycomb of progress, humming eternalwise, have we created to view it, the perspective extending farther than these eyes can see, perhaps any eyes. Visualized, viralized, winter’s reality—its realness—always in the wings, parade and charade only a click-blink away. Under-thumbed, if you will.

Yesteryear’s snows, it seems to me, were an occurrence. Better still: an event, a surprise, and an opportunity for communion. With each other. And it offers up unparalleled opportunities to link with extraneous aspects of self–atomstuff (or starstuff or plantstuff or any number of substances)–that earlier were perhaps closer to the vest, held to the heart, even.

Now, on a tide of leveraging and mergers, calculated risks and calendars

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A different day; a different cathedral

and broken benefits, winter starts to recede, if such evolution can be eye-tracked.

In places, the spires are hewn, nearly gone, used up, spat out among true detritus. Heretofore, Nature hobbled along, alas, just barely, as we left it alone, keeping our jaundice-ringed cuticles to ourselves. But has it now passed the point of no-intervention, here in the Anthropocene?

The snow, once inescapable, rendered incapable, salted like earth, sewn like the kind of dragon’s teeth that were never intended to grow. Yet, ice-wind can still whistle clean through the ribs, ghost song, so long-gone.

Will we listen, or just push it away and adapt?

What say you?

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This squirrel has found a lunch scrap of old, mustardy bread.