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

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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

Feminism + Bicycles + Fiction — How You Can Help Support One or All

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My Feminist Family on the Prairie (yes, men can be feminists, too)

Believe it or not, there is a connection between feminism, bicycles, and fiction. Witness the fiction anthology Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures from Microcosm Publishing, an anthology now in its fourth incarnation. I am proud to be an author in the fourth Biketopia, and I’ve got a favor to ask on behalf of all the authors and the publisher.

But first, a little bit about the latter. Microcosm Publishing, whom you can find on Duotrope, on their Web site, and all around the social media sphere, occupies a subversive publishing space—if feminism, LGBT rights, veganism, mental health, and a punk attitude qualify as such. Book titles upcoming or already published by this Portland, Ore., company include: Trump: A Graphic Biography; Cats I’ve Known; Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005; Bikequity: Money & Class; and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. For myself, I was drawn to a publishing company that’s been around more than 20 years and supports women who write while making a statement of engagement with our environment, politics, music, feminism, do-it yourself, relationships, and so much more.

Support a Feminist Fiction Endeavor (That I Happen to be Included In)

But there’s a small hitch to Biketopia four. It’s not completely funded. Not yet.

This is where you come in!

There’s a crowdfunding campaign at this very moment to ensure it makes its way into the world. Featuring 11 stories and a batch of reviews that are dystopian or sometimes even utopian,  Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures awaits full funding.

I cannot speak for the authors in this anthology, but as a writer among their number, I can say that my story focuses on a dystopian future in arid, desolate Colorado. Inspired possibly by subliminal crossflow from too many “Twilight Zone” marathons, I wrote about a protagonist who owns and runs a dusty diner alone but for two canine sidekicks. Then, she meets someone, and everything changes from there. So, pretty simple plot, without giving too much away.

Looking at the other story synopses, I am stoked to read Biketopia four, which includes a few comics within as well. Here are a few story blurbs from the Kickstarter fundraising page:

  • In the solarpunk future, will robots have rights, too?
  • What is the secret behind some people’s seemingly random plague immunity, and is it okay for them to take your bike?
  • When your health is closely monitored during a pregnancy, who gets to decide if bicycling is healthy or dangerous for your unborn child? (text by Microcosm Publishing)

May the Fourth Be With Us, and How You, Too, Can Submit

Please consider supporting Biketopia four via the Kickstarter drive; with a minimum of $10 you get the latest anthology. With a donation of $25 or above, you get all four Biketopia anthologies. The goodies abound, with a variety of levels from which to chose.

I’d be ever so pleased, not just for myself but for the mission of Microcosm, if you’d consider donating to the campaign and checking out Microcosm’s site. In addition to the previous book titles mentioned in the intro, you’ll see that MP offers up ezines to coloring books to stickers for your bike and all kinds of books including self-help and vegan recipes inspired by Morrissey (whose band, The Smiths, are no relation to me, sadly).

Finally, Biketopia five is, ahem, gearing up for action, too. Through March 1, you can submit your feminist-inspired science fiction (though you need not be female or identify as such) stories of 2-6K words, to Biketopia five, with a theme of “Intersections.” In fact, they say “We especially welcome submissions from writers of color and transgender and nonbinary writers, and seek stories that portray more diverse perspectives than are classically found in sci fi.”

So, get on that seat and ride your creativity into worlds unimagined!

The Arrival—and, Yes, I’m Still Alive

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Election results got you down, Leigh?

Reports of my demise have been exaggerated, I’m afraid. In fact, there I am over at the right, looking pensive, as opposed to looking Pence-ive, which is just gross.

Over the last five weeks or so that I’ve not blogged, I’ve been both working hard and hardly working. A new job—copywriting—is occupying a lot of my time so I haven’t gotten to do much creative writing (or responding to your blogs) of late. In fact, in terms of fiction, I submitted only five pieces for publication in January.

But amid the flus and allergies and product descriptions and torn knee-parts (husband, not me) and holidays, I’ve managed to get my second horror fiction piece published in a free ezine newly rechristened as Shotgun! Strange Stories, a publication of DeadLights Horror Fiction Magazine. I’d call the story, Volume 2, Issue 2 (27 January 2017; cover depicts two skeletons at a door and says “Featuring ISOLATED written by Kyle Lybeck”) a radical departure from my typical protagonist: this character is a right bastard, I think my British friends would say. Possibly with no redeeming qualities, but I hope the story manages to convey . . .  something. I’ll leave that something up to the individual, however!

I received several book-gifts for the holidays (the very best kind of gift), from poetry to short story collections to biography (Phil Collins, I’m looking at you, against all odds).

So-so-sodio (you have to sing it), I just wanted to give a brief update and a swift kick in my own tuchus. I am hereby making a half-way commitment to blogging two times a week. I’m sure you’re all thrilled, yes? 🙂 Two, yes two. These posts could be anything. Fence posts. Post offices. Post cereal.

Moving along . . .  I’ve been trying to save my dollars and pounds to support indie authors like some of you (I wish it were more; I truly do). Hence, the latest arrival.

Let’s all celebrate some good fiction-writing  . . .  c’mon!

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Congratulate, cajole, coax, consult, or converse with Hugh at his blog, Hugh’s Views and News, where you can also get this book (a short story collection chock-full of horror, science fiction, weirdness, and drama galore).

Way to go, Hugh, as to all of you living the creativity dream. I’ll see you around.

~Leigh~

Play Genre Slip-n-Slide: My Interview with Sarah Potter, Author of “Quirky” Novels

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Sarah’s newest novel, on special Dec. 25 through Jan. 1, 2017! Check out her Kindle Count-down deal and the Audio book version.

If you’re like me, you love to pick the brains of all the book-lovers and writers you know.

To that end, I’m very nearly ecstatic to host my very first author interview here on the ol’ Wordsmithery blog. So, without further ado, please join me in welcoming speculative fiction author and blogger Sarah Potter, who recently published a new novel.

*Please note that green typefaces are for emphasis and were supplied by me (that is, Leigh).

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Author walking in the wilds of the U.K.

1. Sarah, for those who might be visiting my blog and/or getting to know you for the first time, could you please introduce your own writing and other literary history, such as your own blog (and how long you’ve been doing that, etc.)?

Before answering this question, I’d just like to say a big thank you to you, Leigh, for inviting me to your blog for this interview. I can’t remember exactly when we stumbled upon each other in Blogland, but probably about two years ago. As fellow eccentrics, who enjoy exercising literary freedom writing speculative fiction, we gelled with each other from the start. And for those who don’t know, Leigh was beta-reader-in-chief for both of my published books, and a grand job of it she did, too.

In reviews of my work, people have used the word “quirky” so often that I’ve decided to make it my brand. Hence the recent birth of my Facebook fan page, “Sarah Potter’s Quirky Novels”. In other words, I slip and slide between genres, not to rebel against the pigeonholing of books into neat categories, but because that’s the way I write. The chunks of genre in my mixing pot include science fiction, fantasy, thriller, humour (both light and dark), snippets of romance, and the occasional eroticism.

I’ve written five novels, two of which I’ve indie published. The three unpublished ones are waiting for me to knock them into shape, armed with some invaluable, positive, and constructive feedback from publishers and literary agents over the years. I haven’t given up on the idea of traditional publishing, but just wanted a break from submitting material, in order to contemplate whether I could write a straight genre novel and, if so, what genre?

I started my blog Sarah Potter Writes in the last week of December 2011. It began mostly with haiku, which I’d been experimenting with on Twitter, and then moved on to include occasional flash fiction, or music-related stuff, as I’m a singer. Also, I got involved with various inter-blog weekly or monthly challenges. Then I took up photography and began posting my own pictures, mostly nature ones. In January 2014, I started a monthly guest storyteller flash fiction feature and my weekly Monday morning haiku feature, both of which have proved extremely popular and are still going strong.

2. Noah Padgett and the Dog-People is your second published novel, correct? For those not familiar with Desiccation (your first), what made you turn toward juvenile literature for your latest work?

Although these two novels were the first I published, they were my third and fourth ones written.

With Desiccation, I’ve never been able to decide if it’s a teenage or an adult novel. On Amazon, I have it under the browsing categories of science fiction (young adult) and urban fantasy (adult), with its readership age set at 15-18+. But with Noah Padgett and the Dog-People, I have it under animal stories/dogs (children) and action and adventure (children), with the age set at 10-18+. In other words, both of these works come under the umbrella of juvenile fiction but they are also crossover novels that will appeal to adults, too.

I never made a conscious decision to write for one age group or another, and suspect that my readers in main are aged forty-plus. With each of my five novels, I wrote the story that inspired me at the time, two of which happened to have juveniles as the main characters. As to whether this makes them primarily juvenile fiction, I’m still undecided. Certainly their Flesch reading-ease scores would indicate that this is the case, but some of the humour and references may go above some young people’s heads.

My three unpublished novels are definitely for adults, especially the last one, which is very controversial!

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Sarah’s own dog (shown here as a puppy) inspired her latest novel.

a. Following on this question: was your own Labrador inspiration for any character(s) in Noah Padgett (such as Bluebell!) and, if so, how?

Yes, indeed, my chocolate Labrador was the main inspiration behind writing this story. At the time when I started on the novel, she was a puppy just like Bluebell and, whilst we housetrained her, my son and I took it in turns to stay with her in the kitchen and stay on hand to let her outside into the garden at a moment’s notice. Each of us would use the time to work on our laptop computers at the kitchen table, which had the additional positive result of teaching a puppy with needle-sharp teeth some important lessons, such as the fact that wires are not for swinging on, playing tug-of-war with, or chewing.

What triggered the story was a dream I had about my puppy disappearing and not being able to find her anywhere. I awoke from this dream in a terrible state of anxiety, imagining how terrible such a thing would be, which then gave birth to the main premise behind my novel: that a boy has his precious puppy stolen from him and he has to rescue her from an arch-baddie in another dimension.

3. Could you describe what your writing process is like? This is something that I, as a writer, am always curious to know. Or, alternatively, what is a typical day like for you, in which you do some writing?

I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, so I start with an idea and do any research on the trot. With my first book, a science fiction romance, I set it in a psychiatric hospital similar to the one where I used to work. Thus, I fictionalised a familiar setting and had as one of my main characters a student psychiatric nurse who falls into an inappropriate relationship with a weirder than weird patient. People say, “Write what you know”. Well, I know about psychiatry back in the late 70s and early 80s, and about those huge institutions, now mostly closed down; although I never had an affair with a patient!

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Quick-link to this soon-to-be SF/F classic: http://myBook.to/QuirkyLit

Again, with Desiccation, I used both a setting and a time period with which I was familiar, having been at a boarding school for girls in the late 60s. Then I asked myself the question, what would have happened if my old school had come under attack by body-snatching aliens?

With my most recent novel, it started out as a 400-word piece of flash fiction with two characters, which grew into a 65,000-word novel because the setting and characters would not let go of me. The writing is very experimental, the plot complex, and, if I’d been of a weaker mental disposition, the writing of it could have given me a nervous breakdown. It involved such complex family trees and timelines that at one point I had to press the pause button on my writing and start plotting, or literally lose the plot. Such were my love-hate feelings towards it, that I drew my only consolation from the fact that George Orwell felt like this about his novel Nineteen Eight-Four, although unlike my book, nobody would have classed his one as a dystopian soap opera.

My typical writing day, when working on a novel, involves sitting at my desk and occasionally gazing out of the window to contemplate, or rummaging through research notes. This happens from Monday to Friday, give or take other family commitments, from 11am to 1 pm and then again from 2 to 3.30pm. These days differ from the times when I’m not writing a novel, which are much more fragmented and less inspired.


4. As you call him in your Amazon synopsis, there is a central villain in this book dubbed “mad entrepreneur Monsieur Percival Poodle.” My question is: why do you hate poodles? (Only kidding!) What in your background led you to describe (in spot-on ways, I must say) the Canis sapiens characters with the personalities, temperaments, habits, strengths, and foibles that you do?

I was raised in kennels — well, not literally, but my mother bred and showed dogs, so I was around them for most of my childhood. Then for about three years after leaving school, I worked in her kennels.

As for poodles, I don’t hate them; in fact, I know a wonderful white standard poodle who gets on just fine with my Labrador and isn’t villainous at all.

5. Backing up for a moment, Sarah, what would be (or is) your 30-second elevator pitch for Noah Padgett and the Dog-People?

You know, this question almost brought on an instant headache, until I realised that my book description on Amazon takes 30 seconds to read (if you’re a fast reader). So here it is…

The tale of a boy who fell into the paw-hands of a villain crazier than the Mad Hatter and more puffed up than Mr Toad…

Noah Padgett’s new stepmother treats him as the worst inconvenience in the world. She wants him to disappear out of her life, along with Bluebell, the nuisance puppy his father bought him for his birthday. Her wish comes true, although too fast for her to notice, after Noah clicks the wrong link on his computer at midnight.

Mad entrepreneur Monsieur Percival Poodle is the self-appointed ruler of Zyx, a dimension where Canis sapiens is the predominant species. Percival likes to collect alien specimens, and two of them have just arrived in his dimension from Earth. One is a primitive four-legged chocolate Labrador and the other a human boy.

Mercenary Lurcher Sergeant Salt works for the highest bidder and makes it his policy to extract maximum profit from jobs. This means selling his alien captives separately, however much distress it causes them.

Fate has already stolen Noah’s beloved mum from him, to replace her with a stepmother from hell. Now it seems that fate has struck again, by stealing Bluebell and leaving Noah to languish in a high-security hospital for criminally insane Canis sapiens, with no apparent means of escape and terrified for his precious puppy’s safety.

6. Merely a matter of curiosity for me, but something I’m wondering is did you ever consider making Noah Padgett a Naomi Padgett? In your novel Desiccation, the plot is centered on a girls’ school in the UK, so the main protagonist, Janet, is a teen girl–and the setting is some years earlier, whereas for Noah, it’s decidedly modern-day (ie, 2000 or later). Was it a conscious move on your part to make the next novel center on a boy exiting the pre-teen or “tween” years and entering teenage-dom full-fledged?

I always wanted a “Noah” and not a “Naomi”, except for one brief spell. This was after I’d finished the earliest draft and wondered, as a female author, whether my use of the first-person point of view for Noah might confuse children. In the end, I decided to rewrite the novel in the third-person. I also made Noah three years’ older than in the first draft.

7. Let’s dig into your writing process a little more. Yet another thing I am curious about, as both a reader and writer, is how authors arrive at titles, character names, settings, and so on. Could you briefly describe how it works for you?

I have a working title for each novel, but usually end up calling it something else. It’s quite fun deciding what to call my characters, but I usually google a name to check that it doesn’t belong to a famous axe-murderer or war criminal or somebody undesirable. As far as fantasy names go, I like to check that they don’t mean something horrendous in another language other than English. Recently, I watched the Shannara Chronicles [based on the best-selling fantasy series by author Terry Brooks] on TV and thought “drat”, now I must find another name for Shanastra, the fantasy kingdom in my sword and sorcery fantasy novel, as it’s too similar.

I think I’ve already answered the rest of the things in this question.

8. From whom and/or what (e.g., hobbies, past-times, work) do you draw inspiration, for writing, life, or anything else?

I’ve already answered this question, too, but you might find a few additional snippets on my blog at https://sarahpotterwrites.com/about/

9. Can you give us a sneak peek into what you might be working on next? A novel? A novella? Short story?

I’m not sure whether to give my sword and sorcery fantasy novel an edit and final polish, then indie-publish it. For me, this would be an experiment into whether a novel that fits into a definite genre is easier to market, or that marketing for an indie author is always a pain.

Alternatively, I could work on something new. I have several ideas, including a crime novel, a ghost story, and a literary classic/paranormal mash-up.

On the other hand, I might compile an anthology of flash fiction and poetry, using Japanese poetic forms.

But before any of the above, I’m going to submit my dystopian soap opera to a new publisher who’s interested in speculative fiction that’s controversial and diverse.

10. Anything really important that I’ve missed? Such as, do you plan any specials on your book or have any other things in the works related to Noah Padgett?

In November [2016], the audio version of Noah Padgett became available to buy through Amazon or direct from Audible. A fabulous actor, Mil Nicholson, narrates the story with style, even managing to do different voices for all the characters. When I heard her recording for the first time, it was almost as exciting as having had a movie made of my book. At some point in the next few weeks, I will be interviewing her on my blog, so make sure not to miss that treat.

My Kindle Countdown Deal is to run from December 25 – January 1 on Amazon (US & UK only), throughout which time Noah Padgett and the Dog-People will be $0.99 (£0.99). Added to this, if you download the Kindle copy of my book you can get this offer for my Audiobook …
Add Audible narration for an extra £2.99 Save 81% (List Price: £16.00)

~~~~~

MORE FROM SARAH:

You can find all the info appertaining to Sarah’s published novels on her blog page https://sarahpotterwrites.com/publication-updates/, including links to previews, an audiobook sample, plus links to her product pages on Amazon and on Audible.

A full list of Sarah’s author links:

Blog: https://sarahpotterwrites.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SarahPotterWrites/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sarahcpotter

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/sarah-potter-9590aa3a

Amazon author pages: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Potter/e/B019A7QHO6/

https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Potter/e/B019A7QHO6/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14775807.Sarah_Potter

Independent Author Network (IAN): http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/sarah-potter.html

Quick-links to both Sarah’s indie-published books:

Desiccation: http://myBook.to/QuirkyLit

Noah Padgett and the Dog-People (Kindle edition): http://getBook.at/Zyx

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 . . .

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

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

 

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

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

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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!

 

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.

Good times, bad times

Tree-2-22-16

May the sun be ever setting on your troubles! (Photo with filter applied)

First and foremost, it has been a rough couple weeks for one of the kids (and thus, my whole family), such that I’m thankful and glad it’s almost at a close (we hope). So, I haven’t had the time to read blogs and comment–at least not to the degree that I’d like. That should change as the days go on.

To balance out a tiny bit of the terrible, I’ve had a double-dip of the literary toe into pleasant waters. In short, I’ve had two microfiction pieces published. One is “old,” having been published in October 2015, and I just found out about it. I owe my belated thanks and gratitude to The Drabble for publishing “A Lotta Guts.” If you’re not familiar with this term or concept, basically most definitions say that a drabble is a short literary story, or microfiction piece, of exactly 100 words, not including the title. So, it’s exceedingly succinct. Somehow, I was able to craft and send a brief darling forth into the world (you can, too), and they published it. If you’re interested in the connection between American actor Ernest Borgnine and infectious disease, you shouldn’t miss this speculative fiction story. While you’re there, do be sure to partake of other “shortness[es] of breadth,” which is The Drabble’s motto.

That was the older “new news.” Now, the new news is that I just had a 50-word story, called “Love Offerings,” published on 50-Word Stories on February 22, 2016; they list me as Leigh Smith there. They publish two “bite-sized” stories daily, so your palate is always satisfied. And, if you enjoy my story or all or some of them, please give them a thumb’s-up (there’s a “like” at the bottom of each day’s stories). I feel very honored to have been included on this forum–and with another L-named person (this one was a Lee) on the same date. A big barbaric yawp-y shout-out to 50-Word Stories and its editor, Tim Sevenhuysen. Unless otherwise noted, they read submissions between the 1st and 15th of every month, and publish what they like on their Web site, with you retaining the rights. Give it a go if you like writing the short stuff.

So, a short(ish) post befits a couple of my recent short publications. This will be a Monday Markets stand-in for the time being, until I’m off and running again with blogging. Have a creative week, everyone!

 

 

 

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!

 

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