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

Open for Business_blog.jpg

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

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

redundantfortune

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

Time Travel Limericks: Week 29 Challenge

The gauntlet is thrown! Consider yourselves challenged to write, or read, a time-travel limerick (or two, or three; be loquacious like me).

I first read about the time-travel limerick challenge on Sue Ranscht’s blog (thanks, Sue!); she re-pointed me to a blog I’ve been following for awhile (but am not always able to participate in). So, as this one was particularly inspiring, you see the results below. Do visit Rashmi’s post at Mind & Life Matters for the limerick-y shenanigans, with yours due by Friday (tomorrow!).

***

Once there was a lady from before

Whose friends thought her a bit of a bore

‘Til she found a tunnel to after—

that didn’t incite laughter—

now she turns down parties galore!

***

There once was a man from Then

whose 20-year wife always nagged “when?”

Fortieth anniversary planned to Niag’ra

(He’ll bring the Viagra).

On his wife he’d (eventually) put a grin.

***

The scientist had turned time to taffy

to stretch moments to maximum happy,

but as joys got longer

so, too, did the wronger.

Thus, she concluded the methods daffy.

 

 

Monday Markets: The Taxing Spring Edition

April—what some say is the cruellest month—might also be one of the busiest.

See what you think, poets and fictionists and essayists (oh my). . .

  1. April 15: WordPress poet Bob Okaji and friends will be reading their works in Austin, Texas, at Malvern Books. Here’s the full scoop on how you can make Tax Day (better than) great again by injecting it with some lively  lines.

    Lawn Needs Trimming

    Fortunately, I love purple. As for mowing grass, not so much.

  2. April 15: Earth’s Daughters, which might be the longest-extant feminist literary arts journal in the United States, is seeking poetry and prose on the theme of Ebb, which itself includes themes of “cycles, rhythm, continuation, or cascades.” Up to 3 poems and/or one 500-word fiction piece; they harvest first rights only, but it might take upwards of 2 months for them to read all submissions. Make sure you peruse their complete guidelines—or, better yet, subscribe to them if you like what you see on their site, including poets Denise Levertov and Marge Piercy and those whose names you don’t know (yet)!
  3. April 15: This is a popular date for submission deadlines, and I’m not even including several Hungry birdother good ones. Whortleberry Press, who thrive on speculative fiction, are looking for sci-fi, fantasy, and light horror works for their “Strange Mysteries #7” anthology. Short stories must be 4,000 words or fewer. You’ll also want to read their brief stylebook with your full attention.
  4. April 22 deadline: If you’ve got something to say about Mother’s Day, then you might like to contribute to the 200 CCs story site stewarded by writer Paul A. Hamilton. So, you need a story of +/- 200 words, that’s “punchy, memorable, and complete if possible rather than vignettes.” This is a paying market, but it does request some rights from authors, so familiarize yourself with that, as well as what he has already published. Then, good luck!
  5. Starting April 30 (multiple deadlines): The people who do the Chicken Soup books are looking for a bevy of stories, from tales about dogs and cats to blended families to teachers and teaching. Wouldn’t it be fun to make it into one of these well-known branded books?
  6. May 12: If you’ve got a completed dark manuscript lurking about, with strands of ambitious saliva dripping from its fangs, then the #PitDark Twitter contest/party could be right up your menacing alley. Writers of dark literature, including fantasy, horror, YA, and murder mystery, this note’s for you. Check out writer Jason Huebinger’s site for the specifics on how you can pitch agents and publishers in the genre and—one lives in hope—receive a request for a partial or full manuscript afterward.

AND NOW: I see you, but do you see me?

Peekaboo

Humans are such meddling, nosy creatures.

Limerick Challenge: Week 14

Pear tree

Our pear tree, minus partridges.

This is for the latest limerick challenge at Mind & Life Matters, which I’m having trouble linking to (Inlinkz-wise) just now. So, go read ’em, and thanks for reading mine!

Resilience

Within every green or gravid thing,

something rests on sublime wing.

One sapient heart can never know

the pain of the taproot, or the furrow.

“When I’ve light,” says the coal-trapping girl, “I sing.”


 Oh, also, I’m sorry for the “Daily Fail” link about the coal trapper (ignore all that celebrity junk in the page gutter); that’s the place I found the quote, hanging there as it is. As you can perhaps intuit, I’ve been doing research on child welfare/child labor in the 19th century, and from this, I’ve concocted a “soft” horror story. (It’s out for submission . . . wish me luck!) Also, I #amwriting something in the Steampunk vein; it’s been an education so far. How about you?

Pear close-up

I’m ready for my close-up.

Monday Markets: The Fantasy Fiction Edition

Aesop photo

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!

Know Thy Audience, or, What Do You Want from This Blog?

I’m pushing away the pagefright and digging into new territory. Hence, this post. Entirely too long, most likely.

But first, a quick summation might be in order, just so you know where things stand. Everything sucks.

I’m only kidding (mostly).

2015 was ho-hum, if not depressing, globally and personally. I won’t go into unpleasant details. I’m sure many of you remember much of it.

Even with all the good that did actually happen (and that I’m also not going to list), I feel comfortable in closing the book on 2015.

So, then, taking a page—alright, alright, tearing it out, cackling, then running away mischievously—from Donna’s deftly delivered book-o’-blogging (at yadadarcyyada), I’m starting this 2016 post off in song.

But, really. Think about it a moment. What more does a writer want than to be read (or heard, as the case may be in our postmodern podcast era)?  In a very real way, the writing process can be viewed as an artful partnership. It’s art, true, but there can be a palpable aspect to writing, whereby the fruits of the process lead to an exchange of a vision-product (e.g., the book, anthology, short story, podcast file, or novel) with a reader or listener. Many writers, therefore, like to be at least partly mindful of audience. For instance, novelist and WordPresser Curtis Bausse (One Green Bottle, a mystery; French Sally) talks about knowing the target audience vis-à-vis the promotion of your work.

So it is that, with the heralding of a new year, I turn to my readers (and viewers) and ask the open-ended question of what do you want to read (or see) more of here. Leave a comment, tweet me, e-mail me [wordsmithery[dot]email[at]gmail[dot]com], send a smokeless signal, or use semaphore if you wish; I’d love to hear your feedback.

In the meantime, a few stats to amuse or amaze you.

Leigh’s Wordsmithery blog had 40 posts last year (2015) and was viewed approximately 2,400 times. Coincidentally, this mimics the blogger’s lifespan. No, I mean the 40 (years, not decades).

The most visited post was a book review of Robert Okaji’s then-new poetry chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. Check with Bob himself, at O at the Edges, to find out the latest, greatest way to purchase this peregrination through regret and remembrance.

I don’t have this aspect statistic-ified, but I’ve read hundreds, maybe thousands, of WordPress blog posts this year and commented on as many photographs, ideas/concepts, and stories or novels-in-progress as possible. This was very fruitful, enjoyable, and educational, although I didn’t keep count. Likewise, the number of books I read this year, which, whatever it is, is entirely too few; however, I think I probably should try to be better about demarcating those. [To wit, as of Jan. 4-5: I’m reading Atul Gawande’s “medical literature” title, Better, and a book of writing exercises that was a gift to me from the kidlets.]

This blog’s author also submitted manuscripts various and sundry on 37 occasions (of those logged; there are probably a couple lost to disorganization) in the calendar year 2015. Of those occasions the results are (as of 4 January 2016): 1 hit (aka, an acceptance, publication forthcoming, 2017); 27 misses; 1 non-response; 1 presumed defunct; and 7 results pending.

In the past year on this blog and in freelance submissions, the author has written about the following:

  • A Santa transposition
  • Surviving abuse
  • Xylophones and amnesia (separate prompts)
  • A murderous granny
  • A murderous insect-like alien, possibly female
  • A murderous wife (notice a theme emerging?)
  • A transgender alien riding a “hydrocycle” in a dystopian future
  • Time travel to the “Christmas truce” of 1914
  • 6.66 days of thrilling fiction [on the blog], including Michael Myers Halloween/Halloween fanfiction; marking the longest (8-day) posting streak
  • Wolfish shapeshifters
  • A hearing-impaired superhero
  • Nature and gardening (inclu. introducing the Garden Avenger)
  • Literary fiction on a dysfunctional family plagued by racism
  • Infectious diseases galore!

So, the question remains: would you like to see anything in particular on this blog? Not like to see something? Not care either way? Inquiring minds want to know and writing operators are standing by to log your input, like this pale but cheerful one (on the left, the one with the pen)! If you’ve got an opinion, please feel welcome to share it. And I do hope you’ll come back sometime soon.

Operators are standing by_Cheap Trick

 

Advice on Writing and a YTD Self-Assessment, in Honor of NaNoWriMo

Writing Fuel

Sugar: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner of writing champions everywhere. (!Eek!)

It’s Friday. You know that that means. Time to retreat into your shell and hope school is back in session soon. Er, no. I mean, time to pile up those leaves and disappear into their crunchy kingdom–forever! [Insert Vincent Price “Thriller” laughter here, as appropriate.]

Only kidding.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, Six Word Memoirs/SMITH magazine (no relation) held an “advice on writing” 6-word special that ended, oh, about an hour ago.

But there’s absolutely no reason the party show that is freelance writing shouldn’t go on. Perpetually. (Thank you for the memories, Mr. Bulsara/Mercury.)

I penned some writing advice earlier in the week. See what you think; share your own; laugh; enjoy. Repeat tomorrow.

1. Sit down, shut mouth, shine on.
2. Sit down, shut off, shine down.
3. Shut mouth. Open mind. Listen. Write.
4. The 3 R’s: Re-Create, Revise, Re-Submit.
5. Reduce adjectives, repurpose words, recycle mind-matter.
6. Plant butt. Cultivate creativity. Repeat daily.
7. Live. Love. Laugh. Think. Sit. Write.

#BestAdviceinSix

And now, for something not so completely different. A brief YTD note/assessment on the state of my writing endeavors, in case you’re curious. This way, you can see I’m entirely worthy of dispensing said writing advice (snark mode engaged).

Anyway, just this year, I started keeping an Excel file so that I could see submissions in an orderly fashion, as well as the results. It appeals to the “statistician” inside my noggin.

Yearly Manuscript Run-Down

  • Writing submissions (includes anthologies, contests, and magazines; some print, some online, some both; includes many genres, but usually either literary fiction or speculative fiction): YEAR-TO-DATE, from March 2015 through November 6, 2015: 25 submissions
  • REJECTIONS (or, how I learned to stop worrying and just love the times I bomb): 18
  • OUTSTANDING MSS: Keep in mind that a few of these were submitted in the last week: 7
  • UNKNOWN: A subnote. One of the 7 outstanding manuscripts, I’m not sure if I’ll ever hear back from, as the publisher seems to be defunct (although I’ve never seen it as such on Duotrope).

I could break down the rejections further. There have been a handful that have offered some critique to me other than the catch-all “does not fit what we are looking for.” But I think it’s fruitful to look back on these things as we drive forward, regardless of whether we’re involved in NaNoWriMo or not. (This year, I have opted out of the festivities, as it were.) Not as a discouragement kind of thing, but rather an honest self-assessment and noticing any areas that are in obvious need of improvement.

But that’s my spiel. What about y’all: any writing advice? Doing NaNoWriMo? Enjoying your November? But, most crucially, if you’re him and he’s him and he’s him and you’re him, am I still me . . . and is anyone eating this chicken? 🙂

Day 6.66 of Thrilling Fiction: The Deranged Boy-Next-Door

turkey vulture

Wow! These guys use vomiting as a defense mechanism! Turkey vulture, orig on flickr by user 20100130_9554 Dori. From Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Okay, so I skipped a day; my apologies. So busy with Hallowe’en! Yesterday’s animal encounters included, I think, about 8-10 turkey vultures, which I thought, appropriately enough, were turkeys from a distance, enjoying the unfortunately bountiful roadside fruits of autumn. When I drove back by, I was going to attempt a quick photograph, but they had departed.

Anyway, onto literary things. It might sound ungrateful, but I sometimes lament that I live where I live (country and city), have the experiences I’ve had. I’d love to be able to write with authenticity about living in Bangladesh or Alaska or Mumbai or Hong Kong or Nigeria or, tilting that, in Middle Earth or Xanth or on board Babylon 5, or perhaps even a future real Earth.

However, today I’m going to embrace what I know (the wellspring of my limitations), just a little, if only to give me a counterpoint from which to swing around, slingshotting myself all over the place.

That’s the hope, anyway. As they say, keeping one’s eyes on the stars, even from the gutter.

An American Murder Story

*Some details changed to ensure anonymity.

——-

I began at the beginning, like most.

Earliest micro-memories include sitting on an unknown knee of the man with thinning, gray hair, and in glasses. My paternal grandfather, I later found out, who died when I was about 2. Being hoisted to be carried above a green, tiled floor–at the mom’n’pop corner store my grandparents ran. Scooting around, dragging one foot for whatever reason, on that same floor in a circular contraption that I sat in and couldn’t get away from. Always on the move, even then.

Earliest macro-memories encompass mostly violence that I probably didn’t fully perceive as such. A volcano exploded. Some musical guy in glasses had been shot and killed. Then, later, the President was shot and almost died.

Meanwhile, Grandma’s partly outdoor cat brought us gifts sometimes. I saw a charred pile one day. It was sitting up on the second of two steps leading to the driveway. Investigating closer, I determined it was the insides of some small critter, the organs in a darksome heap. Another day, I had to laugh. The same kitty was being dive-bombed by a penduluming bird, most likely a robin or mockingbird, whose nest was threatened. Still again, the other cat (daughter cat and a domestic longhair) once brought home a snake.

I didn’t let the momma cat eat the hummingbird caught in the spider’s web on the porch screen, though. The underdog, or underbird as it were, always appealed to me.

In any case, I was hooked on being a watcher of nature, and I made my footprint marks all around the neighborhood, in trees, on top of massive rocks, down hillsides, up small ridges, and so on.

Near my grandparents’ place stood the perched-on-a-hill house of our neighbors, the Harts*. It had ‘stilts’ holding up a deck that was many feet from the ground. The lower yard could have been made into a small pond if they’d wanted. The property was flanked by a wooded area, and a line of small pines and brush ringed the front of the house facing one part of the road. To another side, lining the road shared with my grandparents’ and other houses, were the semi-strong trees that I climbed, one where I was “arrested” one night by a police officer with a very bright light.

This house on the hill was where my sometimes-friends, Casey and Kevin*, lived. They were grandchildren of the Harts and visited from out-of-state on an irregular basis.

Kevin, a year or two younger than I, had hair so shockingly blond, it appeared white. It was in the spikey, almost-mullet style of that era and place. His skin was in counterpoint, tanned but covered with fine white-blond hairs all year long. His sister, Casey, had long brown-blonde hair and the same skin, though tanned a lighter brown. I mention their skin colors, I think because it’s something I remember about them, as I try to cling to the factual details largely devoid of emotion. Kevin enjoyed motorcycles; Casey, a very pretty girl I’m sure would later have lots of boyfriends if she wanted to, didn’t mind tagging along with us on our traipses through the fields and creeks. I, quintessential nerd, with Coke-bottle-thick glasses acquired in kindergarten or first grade, and thin as a rail, with ‘war wounds’ all over my legs and arms of running through said fields and briar patches.

My desperately entrepreneurial parents received lots of catalogs in the mail in those days, and one day while Kevin and Casey were in town–it might have been summertime–we snuck to the unused car in the backyard, a model from my dad’s old business. We heaved open the door with a creak and got into its palatial black backseat.

Of what I remember, much hilarity ensued. There were all kinds of treasures in this particular sheaf of pages. It was only a mail-order catalog, but we delighted in laughing at the whoopie cushions, hand-buzzer contraptions, “naughty nurse” costumes, “dirty joke” books, fake dog poo, pretend severed arms, sneezing powders, and bubble gum in a packet that would snap your fingers when you reached inside. Perhaps it was pyrite for adults, but diamonds for babes.

It was Kevin who convinced me to practice kissing, at which I was  inexpert, in his dark and crowded basement that I dared not venture too far into. His grandma’s junk room, however, was a different story. Assorted delights lay there, including a tossed-aside book looking like a tent, by someone called Sidney Sheldon, with words foreign and unfathomable, though I sensed somehow risque.

Kevin and Casey visited our neighborhood (where the Harts lived) with their father, Jack. Some of Jack’s siblings still lived at home with Mr. and Mrs. Hart: a son, Larry, and a daughter, Susan. Two other brothers came and went, living somewhere outside the family home.

I barely knew either Larry or Susan, though she did once take the kids and I hiking nearby our house. On that excursion, I saw my first animal skeleton, probably a racoon or opposum, because it had a long snout, devoid of all flesh and fur, accidentally stumbling on it at the edge of a creek with a high wall next to it. Before I knew it, my toe had nudged the bleached bones tumbling into the rushing waters below that led soon to a small waterfall drop of about 15-feet or so. I don’t know if it’s real or manufactured, but I can still see the bones toppling in my mind’s eye. And from my mind’s toe, too.

Have you ever felt like something dark or foreboding was following you around, all your life? I never had the words for it, once upon those times, but now I do. I think of it as the death magnetic.

Fortunately and unfortunately, now I have words and concepts for lots of things I didn’t then.

For instance, kidnapped, raped, murdered, or serial killer.

About ten years ago, in talking with my parents and searching the Internet for information, I discovered that my former neighbor–Larry Hart–had been arrested with at least one other male accomplice. He had been tagged as a serial killer of women.

This man, whom I still have photographs of, smiling and posing with both of my grandparents on a verdant spring day, his red hair neatly combed and straight, he’s gripping my grandmother’s (a tall woman, 5’11 probably, and taller than him) shoulder tightly on the side as if he never wanted to let go. With my grandfather, he still smiled but the hug was a lot looser, the smile more forced.

“I’m glad his momma was dead by the time he went to prison,” my mother remarked of Larry.

I get a bit choked up thinking of his momma, Mrs. Hart. Although I’d never wish death on most people, especially not her, I guess I’m glad she didn’t have to experience seeing her son branded–and proven in multiple court appearances–as a serial killer either. As far as I know, and parts of me really want to un-know it, he still sits on death row today.

It is only in the writing of this realistic (but creative) nonfiction story that I’ve wondered and realized something: Did Larry watch his niece and nephew? Did he watch his sister, Susan? Did he see Kevin and I  (what we thought was secretly) kissing? Was he grooming his nephew or niece or was he himself being groomed by some unseen force or person? And, if so, whom?

That really bothers me, as it has lots of people and philosophers throughout human history. How to deal with this problem of evil, a term I hate, or hatred in the human species. And, insofar as meanness or lack of empathy exist, they lead to what seems to me as deaths-out-of-time. Stemming from intended or unintended consequences.

It all sounds rather fatalistic/deterministic as I write it, but, again, the idea of the death magnetic. My fresh epiphany, in writing and living, has been this: It’s not time’s winged chariot hurrying near at our backs. Fiat Lux-2aWe can think we have hold of the reins, driving the chariot, but, really, death or fate or time (whatever you want to call that force) is in control. It pulls us toward it, wholly at its will. Death is the chariot, the driver, the wheels, the horses, and the reins. We are immutable cargo.

In any case, my challenge, now, might be to not chafe or fight so strongly, but instead to learn to accept that, with utter calmness, clarity, and patience. Presuming I’m still blogging, I’ll let you know when–or if–that ever happens.