Monday Writing Markets (and More): The Icefire Edition

20160209_104552

I keep written & digital files. How about you?

Some say the universe will end in boiling,

Others say in Frost, or Snow.

But from what I know of roiling,

I prefer the fate whose face waits to show.

 


 

Whew, I’m glad that’s out there in the aether now. Moving on . . .

To writing. So, keep in mind, carpe diem (carpe scribere diem? why yes, I’ve forgotten high-school Latin completely). In other words, seize the day and write!

To help you in that regard, I’m wielding another edition of the somewhat-biweekly sword that is Monday Markets (& More). Partake, imagine, write, edit, submit, accept, integrate, and enjoy!

  1. Tonight only (Feb. 15), starting at 7:30 p.m.!

    See feminist firebrand, author, and essayist Claire Vaye Watkins—she of “Let us burn this motherfucking system to the ground” fame—and poet Steven Schreiner at the River Styx reading series in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Tavern of Fine Arts. Entrance fees are $5 at the door or $4 for students, members, and seniors.

  2. Deadline: as soon as possible! Milkfist, a self-described “compendium of art and writing for stammering low-lifes who barely know what year it is” wants your poetry, art, and/or nonfiction. They are a paying market. Check out their guidelines or buy a back issue.
  3. Deadline: Feb. 20, 2016. After the Happily Ever After (anthology) by TransMundane Press is in search of new blood. That is, they want updated takes on old (fairy)tales like Cinderella, Goldilocks, or even Snow White. Exactly what does happen after Ariel gets her voice back and marries her prince? Does Cinderella ever see her Fairy Godmother again; does she keep that glass slipper forevermore? Does Red Riding Hood grow up and develop agoraphobia or, alternatively, an overwhelming fear of canines? It’s up to you to give them new experiences.

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    Thanks to my audience volunteer (who didn’t even have to get sawed in half, except by the photographer!).

  4. Win a book, through Feb. 27! Author Sarah Potter is giving away a copy of her newest novel, the sci-fi crossover Desiccation. This novel is suitable for ages 14 to 90-plus, as she says. Here’s her blog post about the Goodreads #giveaway.
  5. March 13, 2016: Grammar Ghoul Press (full disclosure: they reprinted one of my poems in their Spring 2015 edition of The Ghouls’ Review) is holding a Winter 2016 Fiction competition. There’s a $10 entry fee per fiction story, 100 to about 3500 words (so, both flash fiction and short story categories), and a $100 top prize, per category, as well as publication in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of The Ghouls’ Review. Multiple submissions allowed. Be advised that they like weird and wacky tales, so give them a whirl if oddities are in your wheelhouse.
  6. Deadline: Now through March 15. The Indiana Review has waived their traditional $3-per-entry general submission fee for their Spring 2016 window. Get your general submissions of poetry, fiction, or visual artwork in pronto (only 1 submission per genre)!

 

Now, as Rush might write in a lyric, get out there and rock!

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Undelivered Valentines, Part 4-A

There’s something to be said for sticktoitiveness, besides the unpleasant beating-a-dead animal simile. I’ve just about wrapped up a beast of a short story that algally bloomed into my (ahem, first) novella, aka “Undelivered Valentines.” Here’s a link to Part 3, and I’m providing a synopsis to sprint my memory and yours. I’m splitting Part 4 up because it’s hovering around 16K in sum; I will have it all posted by tomorrow (21 January), come hellish unedits or high watering-down. Thanks again for bearing with me on a gut-grinding-into-hopeful-diamonds process of creativity. Both this story and the blog.

 

. . . Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.” —Stephen King, On Writing

 

SYNOPSIS of the STORY SO FAR

It happened one summer . . . Jamie and her teen-aged daughter Emily (not to mention their mutt, Rusty) have moved into a large, old, in-need-of-TLC house in rural Indiana that was used as pest house in the past. Jamie is a widow and an academic. Emily is a somewhat shy teen, but she’s made a new friend named Jud, who works as a page at the town’s library, and he figures into the story more as time passes, although the story proper plays out in a less-than-one-week period. The girl at the center of the story feels she has made contact with a being inhabiting her new (old) home, and she proceeds to try to convince her skeptical mother that ghosts do exist. Set in approximately the early 1990s, this yarn limns elements of grief and loss, race and identity, forgiveness, life and the beyond-life, hope, and hearts hardened and whether they can be made malleable again. All this froth flows into a speculative (paranormal) historical novella that’s oddly romantic and that leads several characters toward illnesses, risks, and, ultimately, some epiphanies in the challenge to find out who wrote a mystery love letter, signed only Thomas, some 80 years ago and found by Emily.

 

Undelivered Valentines, Part 4, Section A

 By Leigh Ward-Smith

They shared ideas over a thick-crusted pepperoni and cheese pizza at one of the three eating establishments in town, Alighieri’s Pizzeria, which was not yet busy on a Saturday afternoon.

“So, di’ja find anything interesting, Em-an-Em?” Jamie asked as she picked off the globular meats.

Resisting the urge to flinch at her mother’s silly sometimes-nickname for her, Emily replied, “Yeah. A few things. For example, did you know that

in Japanese folklore there’s a tale about a clam that grows so giant that it rises to the sea surface and exhales a mirage made of cities or that there’s a mystical incense that can call up the spirits of the dead or—”

“That’s all very interesting, but I meant did you find something relevant to our Mr. Mysterious Letter-Writer?” Continue reading

Atomic Words and the Authors Who Exploded My World

Bleeding Pen--ObjectsThe word I’d found in my grandmother’s book fascinated me down to the cellular level. P-tar-mi-gan. Ptar-mig-an. How do you even pronounce it?

Little did I know then, but words would collide, then cohere, to round out my “observable universe.”

mat·ter

noun \ˈma-tər\

2b :  material substance that occupies space, has mass, and is composed predominantly of atoms consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons, that constitutes the observable universe, and that is interconvertible with energy

And as worlds go, I started small. A Dog Called Kitty was one of the first chapter books I read as a child. Fast forward to my “tween” years and I was reading everything from Brontë to Lovecraft to King. And when I turned over that pink scrap of paper and began to write my first horror—and horrible, I might add—short story, I certainly didn’t know what I was going to make of my life, but I hoped it might have something to do with language.

So it was with great interest that I discovered “Words Matter Week” (WMW) a few years ago, brought to you by the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE). This year’s WMW features a question each day, and NAIWE is actively seeking bloggers’ and writers’ ruminations on the power and prominence of words in our lives. I encourage you to participate all week long, March 2-8, 2014.

Monday
Writers craft words into memorable phrases, stories, poems and plays.
What writers make your heart sing? Why?

Unfortunately, I am limited in that I can read in only two languages, so I haven’t had the opportunity to touch all corners of the globe with this informal “Authors I Love” list. Naturally, I am open to your suggestions and will enjoy reading meditations on how words matter to you.

To prevent eyestrain, I will only briefly explain why each author has exploded my consciousness, thus reshaping my world.

In no particular order, here are some writers worth getting to know:

  1. William Shakespeare: A shroe, a shroe, my dingkom for a shroe! But seriously, hands-down, the Maestro Wordsmith.
  2. Charles Dickens: Character-driven, highly descriptive, and conflict-laden. Simply put, the best character-namer in the business.
  3. Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn and the “damned human race.”
  4. Flannery O’Connor: Gothic, Southern, conflicted. One of the best short story writers in the English language.

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    Photograph from the Southern Literary Trail

  5. Stephen King: Abandon all hope, ye who attempt to write as well as the King of Horror (as I did in my callow youth).
  6. Anne Carson: Faces pointed at me like knives. The surgeon’s skilled touch, but with words.
  7. Jean Auel: Research meets a strong female heroine or two.
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien: Language, lore, elves, and more.
  9. Harlan Ellison: Angry candy, a paladin of the lost hour, screaming without a mouth.
  10. Ray Bradbury: The writer’s writer; Martians, book-burnings, and pricked thumbs.
  11. William Faulkner: Eating toothpaste, dirty drawers, Yoknapatawpha, “Barn Burning,” and the “human heart in conflict with itself.”
  12. Tennessee Williams: Streetcars, lobotomies, tragedies, menageries.
  13. Marianne Moore: Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.
  14. T.S. Eliot: A modernist metaphysical poet whose music resonates into my time-present, time-past, and time-future.FourQuartets-book cover
  15. Wallace Stephens: Things as they are were changed upon Stephens’ blue guitar.
  16. e.e. cummings: listen, i dont pity one bit this überabsurd, underappreciated helluva good universe-creator.
  17. Toni Morrison: Haunting, harrowing.
  18. Julie Otsuka: Incisive, like a scalpel.
  19. Samuel Beckett: We are all born astride the grave.
  20. Dean R. Koontz: Three words: Watchers (the book).
  21. F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gatsby‘s partial people.
  22. Sherman Alexie: His works are at once human(e) and humorous. Pathos and black humor at their finest, and all “absolutely true”!
  23. (Poet) Allison Funk: At the epicenter.
  24. Langston Hughes: Sadly, we all defer dreams sometimes.
  25. O. Henry: Hometown boy, short-storyist and master of the “twist” at the end.
  26. James Baldwin, whose writing reflects back to me constantly and is rather like “a great block of ice [that] got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long”
  27. Vladimir Nabokov: I ooze with disgust for and loathing of Humbert Humbert (well done, Mr. Nabokov), but the writing is unparalleled.
  28. Maryn McKenna (science writer): Infectious diseases, you gotta love ’em.
  29. Carl Zimmer (science writer): Parasite rex and more.
  30. Piers Anthony: Wordplay and swordplay; dub me a Fanthony, but there’s nary a Mundaneday with this guy around.

Who bears your cup of literary nectar? I’d love suggestions of other authors and works.