Rise of the Monday Markets: Where to Submit Your Writing

Papa writing

Papa advises: Just go write!

Because I really enjoy connecting people with information, which perhaps stems from my background in journalism, I have long been wanting to continue or resurrect market listings. These listings have appeared from time to time on the blog: (as) Monday Markets and Submission Sundays, if I recall correctly.

I read multiple magazines, newsletters, blogs, and university Web sites, as well as subscribe to Duotrope for $5 basic membership a month, to receive and cull these markets for your use. If you have enjoyed or benefited in any way from these posts, please consider following me here, on Facebook, and/or Twitter. [Oh, and I’d love to hear of your writing or art-related successes in literature!]

I hope you will enjoy today’s eclectic collection. #amwriting

  • January 15: Bring out your dead! World Weaver Press is seeking tales of the uncanny, under 10,000 words. They may be reprints or new stories. Payment: $10 + paperback copy of the anthology. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but you may only send one story per anthology. #specfic #supernatural #fiction
  • January 15: If you’re a runner who writes or a writer who runs, you’re set for this theme. Tree-Lion Press awaits your speculative fiction inspired by long-distance running, 500 to 10,000 words. N.B.: “We tend toward (soft) Science Fiction and Fantasy,” but well-written horror without gore and meeting the other guidelines is okay. Follow their guidelines exactly! This is for the “Keeping Pace with Eternity” anthology. #running
  • January 20 (absolute latest): Put on your honorary fedora and chart your most winding adventures for benefit of Popshot magazine, a UK publication. Poems on adventure are accepted (up to 25 lines). Short fiction addressing the theme must be 2,500 words or fewer. You may obtain a copy for £6 plus postage or a yearly subscription starting at only £10. #fiction #poetry
  • February 1: Has Nature ever been your tutor? If you can craft a creative nonfiction story about your education at the pedestal of the wild, using “research and reportage . . . at least to some degree,” then you might like to consider Creative Nonfiction magazine’s themed call/contest “Learning from Nature.” Submit online ($3/story) or by regular mail. #essays #writingcontest
  • February 19: Use words wisely! Daisy-chain your best 91 bons mots into a memoir and win a free class with Gotham Writers. #memoir
  • October 1 to May 1: It’s not an easy road, considering a (short)list of publishees in the last 3 years—Joyce Carol Oates, Albert Goldbarth, “Charles” Simić, Alice Hoffman, and Anis Shivani—but should you decide to take the road-to-publication not taken, you might like to consider the literary magazine Boulevard. Published by St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), Boulevard seeks your fiction, poetry, and essays through May 1, 2016. No e-mail submissions are accepted; however, you can submit online via Submittable ($3 fee) and via regular mail (no fee, but mailing cost). Familiarize yourself with the magazine by buying a copy or subscription (or perusing it at your local library). They do post a few excerpts, such as this stunning Billy Collins (poetry) gem from Spring 2015 (at the bottom of the page): “Poem to the First Generation of People to Exist After the Death of the English Language.”

Good luck, and keep writing, reading, and learning!

 

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.

The Garden Avenger Versus The Scourge: A Not-So-Fictional Story

Trigger Warning: Contains descriptions of insecticide, gore, and, of course, insects.

Day 1

Not only are the butternut squash anemic-looking, but now they are writhing. The novice gardener had noticed that the vines had been in decline for a couple days. She’d wondered whether the wilting meant they needed to be watered more. She had surveyed her raised beds at a remove, not getting20150821_090237 her fingers or eyes down into the dirt.

For which she paid dearly.

On Day 1, The Scourge made their presence known. Legions besieged the squash that had once thrived.20150821_090251

The war had begun in earnest.

The Garden Avenger was born.

Day 2 (early)

As fortuity would have it, the Avenger had a bag—and then some—of diatomaceous earth, a natural solution she used for dusting her duck coop.

Bellows in a steely vise, she wanted to feel as light-hearted and buoyant as Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins.” She wasn’t. So, she went a’poofing (no, not that kind, definition 2).

After 30 minutes spent squash patch–squatting, she had made that section of the garden look like Narnia during the Long Winter.

Insectoid forms skittered and scattered far and wide. Victory had been seized from the pincers of defeat!

Day 2 (later)

The fecking foe had returned after a few hours. Presumably some had scuttled away and succumbed to the pale pixie dust.

The Garden Avenger suited up, bellows again in pink-gloved adamantine hands.

The land was again white.

Day 3

The rains came. And came. And came.

And the persevering pests returned, trying to make inroads in the melon patch.

The Garden Avenger shrieked within: “Oh, hell no! You do NOT take my watermelons!” (Again, novice gardener that she is, she had never gotten a melon to reach full maturity and loved—nay, worshipped—the sweet red ambrosia as much as Ralphie’s old man in “A Christmas Story” loved turkey. Yes, indeed, squash bugs were the Garden Avenger’s version of the Bumpus hounds!)

The Avenger promptly went into full-on “Après moi, le deluge” mode, spraying far and wide, chasing each little blighter as it tried to flee under a leaf, along the garden board, under the garden board, or into the snake’s den in the splitting railroad tie flanking the upper garden.

In the Garden Avenger’s mind, the work was either done or, as per her trusty Farmer’s Almanac, the level of infestation was so great, it was time for more drastic measures.

Day 4

This day, Mister Green-Eyed Hornet Lantern Arrow Man made an appearance, because the Garden Avenger was busy slaying the Green Blades (of Grass) gaily swaying. (Okay, they were mocking.)

Seeing his work and the quick return of the brown beasts, the Garden Avenger was sore wroth. She dusted. And dusted. And dusted.

And then, she could take no more as the wary wrigglers returned.

Pity had fled. She vowed to slaughter them all.

She chased, and she crushed. She felt revolted and merciless when one body exploded in a pus-green confetti-sludge, then the next. Then the next.

Tiny ones. Slow ones. Fast ones. Old ones. Gray ones. Brown ones. In the back. In the face. Some separated into segments, head and body asunder. Some merely . . . smeared.

She wanted them gone. Yesterday.

Mister Green-Eyed Hornet Lantern Arrow Man had suggested a blow-torch, but lacked some of the parts needed after searching the shed.

She rationalized that she had saved them from fiery deaths. After all, they are called squash bugs, she punned. They’re meant to be . . . well, squashed. Right?

That night, her brain lay awake, wriggling, worrying, troubled by her malice. She knew what would need to come next.

Day 5

It needed a burning.

. . . saga to be continued

You Like Me? Really? Wow, Thanks!

2 of Our Ducks

“Do you think she understands what I’m saying?”

Thank you, Dhan’yavāda, Danke schön, Gracias, Merci, Arigatō, xièxie nĭmen, Shukran

Despite that headline and to take tongue out of cheek for a moment, this post is actually about two main things: being thankful and being forthright.

First, I can’t adequately express my gratitude to you all. Regular readers, irregular readers, once-in-a-whilers,  or those for whom this blog has been a one-hit wonder or no-hit blunder. (Oh, and might I also recommend Activia, kefir, or other probiotics? I’ve had kefir, but not the others, though I have heard they work well for sluggish colons. No, not the punctuation type.)

In truth, I began this blog as a “what the heck/why not” experiment, with really zero hypotheses. Scientific method and all that. I was encouraged by a family member to start it — probably to keep me sane and to preserve his last remaining wits that living with me hadn’t yet flayed away! — so I can’t even claim it was an original idea. Never mind all the excellent — many far more so — WordPress writing sites that already existed before Leigh’s Wordsmithery was a glint in this copyeditor’s eye.

I really expected nothing, except that it would be nettlesome. Even painful. To share oneself, even through fiction, as the old saw goes, is easy. Just open a vein at your keyboard. With or without the saw.

And so, I thank you for welcoming me, taking me in like the wordulous and scrappy orphan I am, and giving me the firm roof of friendship. It has been sublime to follow your blogs likewise, to see your comments gleaming in my e-mails like a prism where I can peek at other perspectives, and to learn about you and from you. Even from afar.

In short, you all have helped me grow (no pun intended). So, the sole reward or award that I need from you all is one big heaping helping of being-present, when and if you can. I haven’t always had that in my life. Many of us bloggers haven’t. So, lest I fall into my own pity party, I just want to say. loudly and clearly: I appreciate you all and wish each one of you the best and brightest life has to offer.

Honesty is Not a Lonely Word

Presuming you have read this far — hey, I said I was wordulous! — honesty is not a lonely word, because we’re here together, experiencing these slippery letters, which I think that we craft together (I engineer the form, you make it function; conversely, if I’ve goofed, you let me know). I hope we’re not sharing these moments in the Stephen Crane-heart-in-a-desert sense, mind you.

I owe a lot, just short of everything really, to you, readers and friends. I haven’t been ignoring y’all, but I do have to sheepishly admit that I’ve been nominated for a few awards since I started blogging at WordPress in January (2014), by several kind and generous souls.

In no particular order, these good folks have gobsmackingly nominated me, lo these 10 months of WP blogging: Frankie at Trucker Turning Write, Swoosieque at Cancer is Not Pink,  and the Exquisite Priyanka. I am awed and very grateful that the images and/or writing here have been meaningful to these readers in some way. These bloggers have made me blush, but in a good way. Please do visit these writers whenever you can; I’d be happy to know you did.

Now, I thought it might be fun (and I hope not tedious for you) for me to do a very brief interview with myself, since the requirements of so many of these awards are that you share yourself with your readers. (Gawd, the height of arrogance am I, a Q & A with myself! I have to smile.)

And now, seven “deadly” factoids about me, which you may later wish you’d never read:

Yep, that's me. Post-run.

Yep, that’s me. Post-run.

1. As a kid who was a “tomboy,” one of my early pastimes was baseball. Playing and watching (and collecting). I shared the love with my grandfather, whom I have old audio tapes of when I interviewed him about seeing Babe Ruth play.

2. Our family has 6 ducks as pets. They give us eggs, companionship, and fascinating vocalizations and observations.

3. I was once “arrested” for playing spy at nightime when I was about 9 or 10. The neighbors called the police for, presumably, “strange small person hanging out in a tree near our driveway.”

4. My husband and I took Shaolin kung fu for several years (as adults) and really enjoyed it. I also learned a smidge of Cantonese from Hong Kong cinema, which I still love.

5. I have a weird aversion to styrofoam and, perhaps not so weird, heights and flying. Also, flying in a styrofoam airplane.

6. In college I hoped to someday work as a writer for “The Simpsons” television cartoon/comedy. I have a partial episode or two I wrote still lying around somewhere.

7. T.S. Eliot is (directly/indirectly?) responsible for at least $400 of my lifetime writing income. A flip of the penny for the old guy.

Again, all the best to you. And my deep appreciation to Sally Field, from whom I cadged the headline. Have a great weekend and be kind to each other and our planet. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Me and the Running Man

runningman (1)

No, not that one!

 

First he was smiling. Then falling.

If his pelvis had been a shovel, the heave of dirt would have landed on me. I had just pressed the rectangle of the angry red “stop” button with my knuckle. My water bottle, mobile phone, and balled-up borrowed towel waited in the recesses of the treadmill to the left and right of the console.

His cell phone started it all. He stepped on the adjacent machine. From the peripheral view, he looked like Alex, a guy I knew in high school who later went in the Army and lost lots of weight. He was a sandy blond with close-cropped hair. About 6 foot tall and barrel-chested.

He started his workout routine, then within about 15 seconds, the phone dropped like a lead zeppelin (mind you, he wasn’t on the stair-stepper to heaven) and flew off the back of the treadmill, looking like a small, sailing gray claymore mine before the steel balls explode out of it.

Thunk, whirr.

I turned at the sound, and our eyes collided. His were an electrocuted blue. Still, he smiled.

Perhaps that was his biggest mistake.

He hit hard on his left hip, which I guess was better than hitting face-first or knee-first, the latter of which I’ve done on a home treadmill (or dreadmill, as I often call it).

In short, his manparts were probably saved, but I doubt his pride was. He bounced off the back of the treadmill and out into the aisle as I winced inwardly.

Of course, he didn’t need help. He was a dude, and, as such, refused my knobby little proffered hand. Two other people, both women, rushed over to his aid. Perhaps it was his lucky day, or his unlucky one, depending on how he narrated the situation to himself.

Either way, I second-guessed. Should I have called out I’ll get it, then hopped down and scooped the phone off the sparkly blue carpeting? Should I have looked at him? Did I breach gymnasium etiquette by not ignoring the phone-drop? Could I have done anything to prevent his fall? Should I have grabbed at him as he fell? (Yeah, as if I could have stopped him.) Do I dare to eat a peach? (Never mind those singing mermaids.)

I apologized to him and asked him if he was okay. At least twice.

I was sorry I’d seemed to distract him, I said. Or perhaps that’s wishful thinking, in addition to being at least a little self-centered.

In any case, now perhaps I should go polish my best Blanche DuBois accent. With fading youth as my focus.

Clearing throat and rolling out the drawl (yes, I’ve still got it way down in the bag of tricks):

“I don’t want realism, I want magic! . . . Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!” (from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Tennessee Williams)

 

 

 

Six-Word Stories: On School

School Start

“How small a part of time they share/That are so wondrous sweet and fair!” from “Go, Lovely Rose,” Edmund Waller. (1606–1687)

 

For me, school is indeed out forever. But philosophically speaking, not so much, because  the world is a schoolroom if I let it be.

Nonetheless, teacher strikes and other issues notwithstanding, here in the States most children are back in school. So I’ve been ruminating on and writing about school days: mine and those of the kidlets.

I also noticed that the good people of SMITH magazine and Six Words are tripping down the halls of recollection. Through Friday, 12 September, they are harvesting your memories of academic successes and failures in their back-to-school Six Contest.

Perhaps you’ll consider taking part over there.

Here are some of mine. (And here are some not school-related sixers from Dr. Joe in Dublin. A tip of my writerly cap to this scientist writer!)

Six-word stories on back-to-school (and all things school, really):

Nimbus of curls hovers, then evaporates.

Son rising: Doe-eyed daredevil outclimbs himself.

Trust me, I’m no good at math.

Shyness 101: Feigned illness, skipped graduation.

Kindling at home, school; youth combusts.

Hot teacher motivated my good grades.

Sprinting from self, running on teams.

Abandon hope: Moving during high school.

The words shall set you free.


And now for what some would consider very dark humour (this is the ‘cleaner’ of the two memorable “Rowan Atkinson Live” sketches, usually called “Fatal Beatings”)! Hope you enjoy . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Peels off its Mask: Story and Gallery

The yellow leaves twisted, icarean, as they helicoptered down from the trees. A soft breeze teased the grass, except where I’d tonsured a path to, from, and around the pool, raised bed gardens and duck yard, shed, and flattened miniature Stonehenge where the kids like to swing on the forgiving branches of the maple tree. A plastic orange horse with unruly blue mane lies sideways on one fallen pillar, and various play paraphernalia punctuate the circle of leviathan stones: an insect-patterned soccer ball stares you down, a blue-green geodesic dome ball peeks from behind blades, a baseball mitt is upended on another flat rock. Other spheres are caught in the trough of the stones’ belly, but a pair of girl’s well-worn tennis shoes, size 10, still tied in double bows but unfooted, wait outside the sacred almost-ouroboros. Their occupant has tromped away on purple-flowered roller skates, lifting her legs as if hoisted by cranes at the knees.

“Look, Mom, I walk like C-3PO in these.”

These scatterings seem to me a forlorn solar system, guideposts gone, lessons unlearned.

Farther back, fresh human dreck of a tricolor beach ball and a spent pool filter litter the ground, half-mown, where the orange snake threads a path among the stones, and meets its dark counterpart in a charged union of opposites.

Mating and molting, and switching one mask for the other, are already underway. The sun metes out its blight to all within blindness’ field-sight, the sky’s flash bulb freezing a moment in the white-heat of infinity.

And the dog days of August lope off in search of dead smells and living motions, that they may loll in the bed of September’s early, protean decay.

Cicada Shadow

Cicada and molted cuticula. By Leigh Ward-Smith