Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reprint Poem to Appear in THE DARK FICTION SPOTLIGHT

My dark speculative poem "The Collector", originally published in the Spring 2008 issue of DemonMinds and also published in the DemonMinds, Spring 2008 print edition, will be appearing in the January 2011 issue of The Dark Fiction Spotlight. The TDFS team actually called it an "incredible piece". It was something I wrote after watching the movie Jeepers Creepers. It was inspired by the movie, but I went in a bit of a different direction. Let me just say that my artistic side influenced my choice of direction.

I like to get my previously published pieces back out there every so often. I figure, the more times a work is published, the more potential readers it has.

Monday, November 29, 2010

'Tain't Always Easy, Bein' Unique

I have been told that I have a rather unique artistic style. When you compare my works to other works currently out there, it does indeed appear to be true; I seem to have a fairly unique style.

However, I've come to the conclusion that unique isn't always the best when it comes to trying to sell art to publications. Sometimes, I think my uniqueness backfires. I may produce works too different from "the norm" for the tastes of some editors. In at least one instance, I had an editor say that he dug my art, but my style wasn't right for his publication.

My art is heavily influenced by medieval illuminations and woodcuts, as well as the works of a number of illustrators of years past. Even with these influences guiding me down the artistic path, I still try to go my own way. Also, colour is often important in my works, and I may use it boldly at times, but when it comes right down to it, the line is still the thing. Apparently, for some, those lines can become "too busy". I actually consider my drawings to be less busy than some of the works of past illustrators like Arthur Rackham (his "The Leviathan" is a study in busy lines), but my penchant for busy, active lines might not always work in today's markets.

I know art is a very subjective thing, but I get very frustrated when pieces I think are among my strongest yet ("Kamal Del and the Dark Elemental", for example) see repeated rejections. It makes me think being unique isn't always easy. Van Gogh was unique, and saw little success, and less appreciation, in his lifetime. I really don't want that happening to me. Not that I think I'm an artist of Van Gogh's caliber, but at times I definitely feel under-appreciated in my own lifetime.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Poem and Illustration Accepted for Publication in COVER OF DARKNESS

A dark speculative poem and an illustration of mine have both been accepted for publication in the May 2011 Sam's Dot Publishing anthology Cover of Darkness. However, it appears that the poem and illustration will not be appearing together. Apparently, they will be in the same issue, just not side-by-side.

If that works for the editor, it works for me.

Yay, an acceptance again after a long string of rejections from various publications! I was hoping I would finally have some good news regarding some of my submissions out there. Maybe this will be the start of a new trend, one that involves consecutive acceptances rather than several rejections in a row. One can always hope.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Horrorku in MICROCOSMS

My horrorku "musty ebon tome" has been posted (November 23rd) in the tweet-length speculative poetry publication Microcosms.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rejection #3

That wizardly story I keep going on about has been rejected by pro-venue number three. It has been dutifully sent to pro-venue number four, although I'm going to run out of potential pro-venues soon.

Alas, it looks like this one won't see publication in the pros. However, that should come as no surprise. With this story, I wrote what I wanted to write, instead of writing for my potential markets. It was probably a mistake, but I often go my own way in spite of it all.

Oh well, I can always try the semi-pros, and then "fan-zines" after that. It will just be sad to see a story that's so close to my heart be relegated to the "minor leagues" of genre publication, but dem's da breaks! That's the way it goes!

Am I being a bit defeatist before I've even tried all potential pro-venues? No, I'm just being realistic. I knew going in that this piece's chances in the pros were pretty slim, practically non-existent.

It would be much harder to take, and quite the blow to my self-confidence, if this piece never sees publication at all! I would rather see it in the semi-pros or fan-zines than let it languish in the trunk-of-doom. I simply refuse to do that to my piece of wizardly fiction.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holy Cow!

What an author said about recently completed cover art for his collection of short stories:
"I'd say "Holy Cow" but it wouldn't be enough! That is unbelievable, and outrageous! A perfect introduction to Dougworld."

I think he likes it. Now to see if the publisher likes it as well...

Moments likes this are the moments that keep me going. Sometimes, it's hard to keep at it, to continue to work on my art/poetry/prose. There are days I wonder if any of this is worth it. There are times I compare myself to other artists/poets/writers out there and feel dreadfully inadequate. Rejections always nurture those feelings of inadequacy, and I've seen several rejections of my art/poetry/prose over the past few weeks. However, moments of praise, moments when I do indeed seem to "get it right", help to counteract those negative feelings just a bit. Then, for a little while at least, I think it may actually be worth it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Consequence of Taking Too Much" On-Line at APHELION

My dark speculative cinquain "Consequence of Taking Too Much", which originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Macabre Cadaver, now appears in the November 2010 issue of the web-zine Aphelion. I think there is a little bit of interesting word play in this piece, but I could be seeing too much in my own poem.

Check it out and see for yourselves.

Handsome Cover

My cover art for David C. Kopaska-Merkel's poetry collection Brushfires is handsome, or so says the poet himself:
Brushfires cover
I wish I could take all the credit, but I just did the art. Credit must certainly go to the Sam's Dot Publishing cover designer as well. That font used for the title does a fine job of complimenting my art. Still, I do think that the art itself is very eye-catching.

Brushfires is available at the Genre Mall. David also mentions on the Dreams and Nightmares blog that he has signed copies available.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rejection #2

Remember that wizardly fantasy story I mentioned in my previous post "Let the Rejections Begin"? Well, the story has been rejected by pro-venue number two, which came as no great surprise. I figured its chances of getting accepted for publication at this particular venue were practically nil. The story in question has been dutifully sent to pro-venue number three. Will it receive rejection number three, or is the third time a charm? I can't even begin to guess its chances at this third venue. It might all depend on if the editor thinks the story is poetic, or if he thinks it's overwritten. I simply never know how others will judge my work.

There are at least a couple more pro-markets I can try after this one, if the story gets rejected again. Then it will be time to start trying the semi-pros. Alas, this one may not be right for the pros. At least I will have tried.

Monday, November 8, 2010

About Writing, Adjectives, and Cooking...

This may be contrary to the prevailing notion in the realm of writing, but I feel that writing without adjectives is like cooking without spices. Alright, I may be able to buy into the idea that adjectives can be overused; I certainly can't eat overly spicy foods. I have to take extreme care when using peppercorns in any dish; too many peppercorns can definitely be a bad thing! However, I think adjectives spice up writing, give it that little bit of extra flavour. I would never make my special pumpkin pie without adding in all the spices (double what the recipe calls for). I would never write my poems or stories without adding in a hearty dose of adjectives when and where I feel they are necessary to add flavour to the tale I'm telling.

Too many times I've received feedback claiming I've overused adjectives. I'm almost starting to think today's writers and editors hate adjectives almost as much as they hate adverbs. What the heck are you left with, then? "See Dick run. See Jane run. See Spot run." Riveting writing, there!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Interesting Spec Fic Database

Check out this Internet Speculative Fiction Database. It looks like it could be an interesting resource.

And, yes, my own vanity and ego had me checking to see if I'm on there somewhere. I am, in the author directory toward the end of the "Fa" listings. However, the only publications listed are my dark speculative poem "Gothic Window" and its accompanying illustration, published in the December 2007 issue of Aoife's Kiss. I've actually had quite a few more speculative poetry and art publications than that. I've even just had a couple of pieces of prose speculative fiction published recently ("Vengeance of the Alpe" in Hungur and "From Within the Earth" in MicroHorror). My current list of publications can be seen toward the bottom of this blog.

(Of course, not every single one of my poems published have been speculative in nature, but most have.)

Horrorku "empty ballroom" in TRAPEZE MAGAZINE

My horrorku "empty ballroom" has been posted in the tweet-length speculative fiction and poetry e-zine Trapeze Magazine. In this piece, I was inspired by the idea of ghostly sounds. Ghosts may be heard and not seen. In a haunted ballroom, you may just hear the swishing of old-fashioned shirts as long-dead souls continue to dance for all eternity. Or, maybe it's merely spectral sounds imprinted on the ether, simply a residue of past fetes.

Please consider rating my little ghostly poem on the Trapeze site, and maybe even leave a comment. Thanks!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let the Rejections Begin!

I finished a wizardly fantasy story yesterday (November 4th), and sent it out into the cold, cruel world of publication submissions. Trying to follow the path many of my writer friends tell me I should follow, I sent it to a pro-venue. Well, it has already received rejection number one, and has been promptly sent off to pro-venue number two (more than likely to receive rejection number two).

Why am I going on about this, you might ask? Well, I think it might be interesting to see how long it actually takes this piece to find a home, how many rejections it will receive before it does find a home, and whether or not it will end up finding a home in a pro-publication before I run out of potential pro-venues. After all, there are only a small number of pro-venues publishing fantasy fiction.

Contrary to what some people may think, I wouldn't mind a few pro-sales under my belt. However, I'm a realist in regard to this issue. I know my chances of seeing any pro-sales are slim, especially with the sorts of stories I write.

Something tells me that my odds of placing this story in a pro-venue are very, very low. Not that I think the story is bad in any way. I tried to write something poetic and yet interesting, something lyrical and yet readable, something magical and yet human. Magic plays a prominent role in the story, but the humanity of the main character is just as important. I also tried to include elements from mythology and folklore. I added smatterings of Finnish and Welsh lore about wizards, but not so much that it is just a retelling of old tales. As a matter of fact, I was so proud of what I had created that I did a happy dance yesterday after I wrote the last line.

I'm just not sure it's the right "flavour" for today's editorial tastes. That's my big worry, and something that might work against the story's chances of ever finding a home in a pro (or even semi-pro) venue.

Time will tell.

My Copies of BRUSHFIRES Came

My copies of David C. Kopaska-Merkels' Brushfires, the poetry collection that I did the cover art for, arrived in the mail yesterday. Yet again, I'm amazed by what my art looks like printed on a nice glossy cover. You see, I do my colouring digitally nowadays, and I rarely if ever see a completed piece actually printed up until it is printed in a publication. Viewing the image on a computer screen never does it justice. I noticed this with "A Leviathan Ascendant", the work that graced the cover of the July 2009 issue of Abandoned Towers. I noticed this yet again with Brushfires.

It makes me want to do more covers for print publications. I believe my art will be gracing the cover of Shelly Bryant's collection entitled Under the Ash, which is now scheduled for release December 1st. I should also have at least one piece featured on the cover of a forthcoming Sam's Dot Pulishing magazine. Plus, I've got a couple of other pieces of cover art to do for Crystalwizard (which I had better get to work on next week). So, I should have more print covers to add to my list of art credits in the not-too-distant future.

Cool. Not so bad for someone who thought his work would never really work as cover art. (Also, not so bad for someone who would never make it in a competitive field, but I have this nasty habit of proving my critics wrong.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

"My Final Masterpiece" in HOUSE OF HORROR BEST OF 2010

I received word from the editor at House of Horror that the House of Horror Best of 2010 anthology has finally gone to print, which means that my nasty little horror cinquain "My Final Masterpiece" will be published once again. It first appeared in the December 2008 issue of Niteblade, then appeared in the April 2010 issue of House of Horror, and is now appearing in the HoH Best of 2010 anthology.

I may have said this already, but I'll say it again - I'm getting quite a bit of mileage out of such a small poem.

Remember, I receive a royalty when a buyer mentions my name in the Buyer's Instruction section of the order form.

Poems, Article, Illustrations in ABANDONED TOWERS

I have yet more November publications to announce. My poems "Life's Waning Season" and "Texas Stargazin'", my non-fiction article "Edward IV", and my illustrations "Edward IV/Fifteenth Century English Knight" and "Poleaxe of Edward IV", have all been published in the November 2010 Print Issue of Abandoned Towers. Buy a print copy or purchase the download and check 'em out!

"Life's Waning Season" is one of my rare forays into mainstream verse. It's for anyone who sees a loved one slowly slipping away as they enter the waning season of their life.

"Texas Stargazin'" is an unusual departure for me. I usually try to write with a decidedly English, Irish, or Scottish slant. However, quite a while back, I was asked to come up with something with a Texan slant. It was foreign territory for this Anglophile Yankee, but I think I navigated through it fairly well.

"Edward IV" is territory I feel much more comfortable wandering about in, namely medieval history. I'm glad to get a little bit of non-fiction out there once in a while, especially when that non-fiction is about something medieval. I'm also glad I was able to illustrate the article as well.

I think that's enough news for now.

Scifaiku in On-Line Version of SCIFAIKUEST

My scifaiku "purring cat" has been published in the on-line version of the November 2010 Issue of Scifaikuest. I should also have another scifaiku/horrorku ("pale shadow") in the print version of the same issue. I'll post the details about that one once I receive my contributor's copy.

"Vengeance of the Alpe" Published in HUNGUR

My prose fiction story "Vengeance of the Alpe" has been published in the All Souls' Night 2010 Issue of Hungur. Yes, you read that right, I said prose fiction! This actually happens to be a landmark publication for me. It's my first piece of prose fiction longer than flash fiction (about 2,800 words) to be published in any zine, ever. I hope it won't be my last.

"Vengeance of the Alpe" was inspired by the alpine folklore about the alpe (singular alp). In certain regions, the alpe were seen as supernatural dwarfs with a thirst for blood. In other regions, the alpe were thought to be shape-shifting wizards. I took the two concepts, that of ghoulish dwarfs and malevolent sorcerers, and combined them in one story.

Buy a copy of Hungur and read my tale. I think it's quite good, if I do say so myself. If nothing else, it's certainly special for being my first piece of prose fiction longer than flash fiction to see publication. I'm proud of it.

"From Within the Earth" On-Line at MICROHORROR

My little piece of horror fiction about an oozing terror unleashed from within our own planet, "From Within the Earth", is now on-line at MicroHorror. Yes, this is prose fiction, not poetry. It was my entry in MicroHorror's 2010 Story Contest, which had the theme of "Space", as in the physical dimension. I tried to follow the path of past writers of weird tales with this bit of prose, since those are the sorts of tales I love so well.

Please feel free to leave a comment, either praising my work or ripping it apart, right on the MicroHorror site. I would love to know what people think of my little horror tale, good or bad.

In terms of prose fiction, I'm afraid I'm still trying to figure out what works for me, and what doesn't. I think "From Within the Earth" works well enough, but I'm a terrible judge of my own work. I do worry that I did too much telling and not enough showing in that one, but I'm not a strict adherent of the "show, don't tell" rule.

Anyway, check it out!

Horrorku in MICROCOSMS

My horrorku "masque at midnight" has been posted (November 1st) in the tweet-length speculative poetry publication Microcosms. This one was supposed to be posted on the 29th of October, but Stephen's Twitter account was apparently down for a week, so the posting of the horrorku got postponed for a few days. Better late than never. Anyway, I can just add it to my huge list of November publications. Stay tuned, more to come! (I figure I had better split them up in separate posts. Otherwise, I would be posting one humongous entry.)

"Gathering of the Dead" in HOUSE OF HORROR

My seasonal poem "Gathering of the Dead" has been published in the Halloween 2010 Issue of House of Horror. This one has been previously published; it originally appeared in the Halloween 2009 Issue of Tales from the Moonlit Path. However, even if you have already read it in TftMP, check it out again in HoH. I made a few minor corrections and alterations to the poem prior to sending it back out. The version in House of Horror is slightly different than the one published in Tales from the Moonlit Path.