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.

 

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.

The horror, the horror!

Thorny issue

Those thorny writer types!

Yes, my (writing) roots are showing AND I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (I know, I tote that one out a lot).

That is to say, I’ve been crafting a lot of horror or otherwise dark short stories lately (read on to learn about a writing competition now in the judging phase). I’m working on a science fiction one now with a lesbian couple and involving ants, as well as a fan fiction horror short inspired by Halloween. That’s all my internal editor will permit me to speak of just yet.

On another riff, I love this time of year. I’m not going to mention pumpkin lattes, because I’m not even hip enough to be a hipster at this point (and I’ve certainly no desire to be one). I will, however, mention Dairy Queen’s pumpkin blizzards. Or ginger snaps in something pumpkin-y. I will mention the glorious sea change, a seasonal shimmy of leaves, chemically induced, especially along the lovely mountainsides here in the Northern hemisphere. Cuddling with your special someone, even if it’s bound tightly within a cover and consists of sharp-edged pages.

Indeed, it was in the 40s here overnight and is slated to be in the 60s today. Autumn has sprung!

Finally, I will direct you to a horror writing contest that is going on now. I might or might not have a story or two entered. It will be held the ENTIRE month of October, if I understand the rules correctly, with 2 groups of stories (first round) released every other day, so Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 5, and so on. I dedicated my long morning to reading both groups, and geez, Louise. I can promise you one thing: you will enjoy, if not adore, at least one of these stories and discover an author (right now, an anonymous one) to follow. The stories are classified as horror, though some fit that only marginally, and so are friendly to those fond of speculative fiction as a widespread, wickedly pointing, fleshy bits hanging off the end umbrella (I’m thinking Sylvester McGory, fellow DW fans).

So, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thriller, true crime, horror, applelutely fabulousand, hell, even romance readers . . . come one, come all: The PseudoPod flash fiction writing contest is live, now (I believe you’ll want to navigate, with your new log-in, to the forum called The Arcade; the contest is called Flash Fiction Contest IV – Pseudopod). You’ll have to set up a free account if you wish to vote, however; voting for each set of two groups (18 groups total) will last only 7 days each time and you can vote for up to 3 stories per group.

Anyway, enjoy your week—wherever you are in the world right now, whomever with—and make it applelutely fabulous (couldn’t resist a terrible parting pun, sorry)!

Art Effects: Flash Fiction for Grammar Ghoul Challenge #2

FrancisBacon-Pope Innocent X

“Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” (1953) by Irish artist Francis Bacon.

“It’s by Francis Bacon,” Mialy pointed to the violet hologram and elevated her voice, “ ’cept for the shrieking, of course. That’s a modern addition.”

“Wait! The Francis Bacon? The one who invented everybody’s favorite sizzly meat that almost nobody is able to get their hands on anymore?” Joba snickered. “He sure did a lot of wildly different stuff in his lifetime.”

The screaming subsided as Joba spoke, but the New Memphis Art Museum & Distillery hum-spun sound within its walls, smothering the tortured yells for the next patrons.

The building itself had been dubbed “acoustically perfect” through stringent certification channels. One’s ears could only be thankful the hologram of Munch’s famous disconcerting painting was housed in a faraway room.

“No, goofball. It’s some other Bacon according to Teacher Farflung’s notes.” Mialy moved her neck from side to side and it cracked as she attempted to get the implant into better position. “I told you, you should have gotten the neural implant at the door. Teach will not be pleased, if it’s monitoring this field trip out there somewhere.”

Mialy thumbed over a shoulder, causing mauve hair to swing a seeming pendulum behind her head.

“Ayieargggggggggghhhhhhhh!”

“Hmm. I thought they were supposed to be motion- and heat-sensitive to a particular genetic pattern,” Joba muttered.

“Oww, that chair guy is giving me such a hunormous head-ouch,” she typed hurriedly onto the tablet, afraid the wailing would start up again at random.

Joba nodded. “Or maybe it’s the imp. I’ve heard of brains that reject the injection . . . “

“Nah.” She interrupted. “Just listen! Whadda you figure’s his problem?”

“Access your hoytay-toytay mind-friend, why don’t you? Harness alllll the benefits of your tech,” he mimicked the booming voice in the jingle for TechUnique Products. Mind-fiend is more like it, Joba thought.

Mialy nearly shouted again. “I know, but I wanted to figure it out myself. Art’s effect is personal, y’know. Some people get pain from art, especially this holo-painting. Some reap pleasure. Some get both. Art’s supposed to provoke, amiright?”

“Yeah, but with the whole pain/pleasure thing, art reminds me of drugs.”

“Uh, well, yeah, I guess it’s like those drugs that mold to a person’s genetic contours. Personalized psychotropics.”

Joba fiddled with his tablet. “Howya access the data on, um, what’d you say the artist’s name was again? Franks’N Bacon?”

Snickers seemed to trigger another blood-in-a-centrifuge moment courtesy of the now-popping hologram.

“Arrgggghhhhhhhhuuuuuhhhieeeeeee.”

“You know,” Mialy made a tunnel of her fist to amplify her voice, “I think the screams are changing. You hear it? But why?”

“Just a bug in the programming,” Joba offered.

“Anyway, let’s get going. We’ve got lots of art to partake of today, my lady.” He pulled Mialy gently by the hand and past the room sensors that guided the advanced acoustics of the 19th and 20th Century Modern Art pavilion of the museum.

*****

In an interior room adjacent to the artwork informally called “Screaming Pope,” two people are at work.

“Ay, Segala, you can go easy on the audio now,” Rayson shouted to his colleague from well across the room.

“It’s no use,” she called back, letting the arm drop to the side of the chair.

“Damn. That’s the sixth audio to crap out this week, and it’s only Wednesday.”

She shook her head slowly. “I know, tell me about it. Hope we don’t get a lecture from Kathy. She’s a beast when it comes to protocols.”

Segala tugged on the straps, but nothing gave.

“Ray, can you help me get the electric nails out? It looks like I accidentally blew a vein. Don’t slip on her hair . . . anyway, we’ll have to pick up another volunteer on the way back from the DR.”

“Yup, I sure hope the next one holds up longer, for both our sakes. And is less messy. You just never can tell by looking when you’re gonna get a spurter.”

“Yeah, and it seemed like those last patrons were beginning to suspect . . .” Segala’s voice trailed off.

The wet echo of a thump came, and then only a prolonged squeal-screech of a cart on wheels. As the two left the room, a resonant door slammed behind them, complemented by a piping up of hidden music, which was believed to encourage employee tranquility.

“I think to myself/what a wonderful world” serenaded the duo down the hallway, although neither had a clue who the singer was.

Terminal House: Flash Fiction

Photo copyright Björn Rudberg.

Photo copyright Björn Rudberg. Björn is also an amazing poet and fiction writer.

Terminal House

WORD COUNT: 183 words

GENRE: Paranormal, horror

If Megan Beuchanan had been the type of person to take the figurative temperature of a potential home, she’d have discovered the Turner House was zero at the bone.

Clinging to the cusp of the ravine, every bit the Victorian-era vulture, the now-dilapidated residence was everything the single mother sought: cheap.

It also, then, wouldn’t have come as such a shock when daughter Ava found the small sachet of letters stuck behind a swatch of old wallpaper in her closet. The letters spoke with the ghost-tongue of long-lost lives and lovers. Thomas would come back for Gladys, somehow. His illness—and confinement in the Turner pest house—would be only temporary. She was to pay no mind to the purported mystique of the manor. Indian haints* did not roam the grounds, nor could they be heard screeching as the diseased husks of their bodies were rolled into the waiting arms of Brine River below.

If only Megan could have steeled her psyche for the night Chief Swift-as-Hare John Harris’s smallpox-addled corpse came calling. Ready to reclaim the feathers of his people’s whisked-away souls.

THE END

*A Southern United States (dialectical) word meaning ghost, specter, or spirit.


This flash fiction is humbly submitted for Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers photo-prompt challenge, though it comes in a bit too long (as usual). If you enjoy writing or reading (or both), I encourage you to take part with your own story or to follow along by absorbing the brilliant fiction out there in Rochelle’s quadrant of the WordPress-iverse. Cheers!

Midweek Markets: The Dark Earth Edition

If there’s any auspicious day to be a writer, it’s most likely today, William Shakespeare’s birthday. But I’ll spare you the astrology and entrails- or tea-leaf readings and simply wish the Bard a happy birthday. What do you get the 450-year-old cultural icon who has everything? Naturally, you write in his honour.

will.i.am.not--folio

Title page of the First Folio, with copper engraving of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. Image courtesy of Elizabethan Club and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University (via Wikipedia).

On that note, here are some midweek markets to help you blast away that coating of quintessence-dust!

  1. Get grisly: Writer, it’s the wee hours of the morning and you’re plotting revenge. If you can scare people with your own desert places or alien races, then Dark Markets could be after your new blood. Check out this clearinghouse/treasure-trove of sources and resources to send your “dark” writing darlings out to, for possible sacrifice. It’s wordcraftery, Lovecraftery, and more!
  2. Love Your Mother: Brother, can you spare a rhyme? Okay, it need not rhyme, but if you can tap into a brevity of wit about Mother Nature/Earth Day, Six-Word Memoirs and SMITH magazine want your six-worded thoughts. Their SixContest #22 seeks nuggets of “What You’d Say to Mother Nature” and features a small prize (a keychain). Submit through Friday, 25 April, until 3:00PM ET, on their site. Good green luck to you all!
  3. You down with OTP? That would be On the Premises, “a Web-based fiction magazine . . . [that] aims to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write what we feel are creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose.” There are no entry fees. Nonetheless, they offer cash prizes, publication/exposure for winners, and free critiques for contest finalists who do not get published (nonfinalists can also purchase critiques). The latest contest unravels in the form of decisions. They write: One or more characters face an especially difficult decision.” To find further criteria for your “1,000 but no more than 5,000 words” piece due 30 May 2014, visit OTP online. Note that they also hold mini-contests (with small cash prizes) for only their e-newsletter subscribers. My personal observation as a several-year newsletter subscriber is that if you’ve got spec-fic (speculative fiction) chops, this market will be particularly fruitful for you.