Monday, May 31, 2010

Two Poems in ONCE AGAIN WITH FEELING

Two of my previously published dark speculative poems, "Midnight Encounter on Merais Minor" and "The Incubus", now appear on-line in the latest issue of Once Again With Feeling, a zine that publishes mostly reprints. I believe this is the first time either poem has appeared on-line. "Midnight Encounter on Merais Minor" was originally published in the All Souls' Night 2008 Issue of Hungur. "The Incubus" was originally published in Issue 2 of Sounds of the Night and also appeared in the Scattered Verses, Moonlit Curses Grim Poetry Anthology. So this makes publication number three for "The Incubus". It looks like my experiment of writing a darkly romantic sonnet from a feminine perspective actually worked.

This latest publication of these two poems came as a bit of a surprise. I sent five poems to the editor of Once Again With Feeling on February 17, but hadn't heard anything back from her yet. It was just about nearing time to query when I happened across a link to the latest issue of the zine. Something told me to check it out, and to my surprise, I saw two of my works listed in the table of contents.

I suppose a reply could have been sent but subsequently eaten by cyberspace gremlins. It happens. Anyway, I don't really mind surprises like this. This was a nice surprise. Reprints are always nice, although I really should work on writing more new material sometime. I haven't been in much of a writing mood lately, and I have had quite a few art assignments to work on. Excuses, excuses, excuses...

The Most Evil Person I Personally Know

Today is the birthday of the most wretched, most warped, most evil person I personally know - my own mother! Trouble seems to arise on this day so often that, here in this household, we like to call it "The Day of Doom". Tornadoes have hit on or around this day. Small things tend to go wrong on May 31st more than other days, and this date produces a general feeling that something is just not right, a bad vibe.

All of this could be a misinterpretation of events having no real connection, but it doesn't change the fact that my mother is evil. Like the serpent that she is, she speaks with forked tongue and spits pure venom. When corresponding long-distance, she writes with poisoned pen. Lies flow from her mouth in a noxious stream. Truth must be extracted as painfully as the pulling of her rotten teeth. She inhales toxic fumes and exhales a vile spume. Barbed words fly thick in the air about her, wounding any foolish enough to stand nearby. Savage darts strike straight toward the heart as she strives to stir up trouble and strife. Devious, dastardly, and possibly down-right diabolic, she has proven time and again that she cannot be dealt with, cannot be reasoned with, cannot be trusted, and cannot be expected to display any sort of human decency toward her own child. Selfish, petty, and often unkind, like a mindless beast my mother would just as soon destroy her offspring as nurture her young.

So, unhappy birthday, mother! I wish you all the ill-will you've wished others over the years. Of all the malignant creatures in the universe, I truly believe you deserve it more than most. Of course, being a victim of your venomous spite over, and over, and over again, I am a bit biased.

(Anyone wonder why I write quite a bit of dark poetry?)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Query Sent, Fingers Crossed

Hoping to find yet another publisher interested in publishing my illustrated dark speculative poetry collection, dealing with the news that the collection's would-be publisher released the rights back to me in the best way that I can, I just sent off a query letter to publisher number three. Wish me luck! Considering this collection's troubled history, I'll need all the luck I can get.

If this doesn't work out, I may either consider self-publishing the bloody thing, or just throw in the towel and break-up the collection, sending the unpublished material out as separate zine submissions. Frankly, I'm starting to think this collection is cursed, and I don't know if it's worthwhile wasting much more time and energy trying to find a publisher for such an accursed work. Despite the fact that I really want to have a poetry collection credit under my belt, despite the fact that the publisher who just released the rights to the collection once told me that it must be seen, I am starting to think that finding a publisher that will actually follow through with publishing the collection is more trouble than it's worth.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Happened to Too?

I'm starting to wonder what happened to "too". I've seen it written as "to" too many times. I've spied this trend not only in casual on-line conversations, but in published print material as well. Could "too" be slipping toward extinction? Does it simply have one "o" too many for today's abbreviated society?

Personally, I like "too". I like the look of its double-o's. If "too" is truly endangered, I may just start a movement to save it.

Publication of Collection Fell Through - AGAIN!

Through no fault of my own, the forthcoming publication of my illustrated dark speculative poetry collection has fallen through yet again (grrrr). For the second time in as many years, my collection is suddenly without a publisher. The first publisher pulled out of publishing my collection in August '08 due to the material being too diabolic. This time around, although the collection was under contract, edited, and apparently ready for the layout process, the publisher involved just released the rights back to me. It seems she simply has too much on her plate to deal with everything, and my collection is one of the things being cut. This wasn't entirely unexpected news, but it's still incredibly frustrating.

Perhaps this collection is indeed "too diabolic", since it has put me through hell! I can't believe this has happened to me, to this collection, yet again. I want to start swearing up an absolute torrent, but I know it will do no good.

Chalk it up to the craziness of the publishing realm. Apparently, quality isn't really an issue in this case, since the collection had been accepted, had been under contract, had been edited, and was going to be published by the publisher in question, up until today. It's more a matter of luck, bad luck in this instance. Yes, luck does seem to have something to do with it, luck and the looniness that is the world of publishing. This collection might have been published almost two years ago, but for such looniness.

So, any of you publishers out there who haven't already pulled out of publishing my collection interested in publishing an illustrated collection of my dark speculative poetry, both previously published and previously unpublished material (poems and illustrations)? It's already in a pretty polished state. At least, that's what I was told. I've got at least one other place in mind, but I'm open to offers. Anyone? Otherwise, I may just consider doing something rather improper and shocking and self-publish the bloody collection (gasp).

"From the Bubbling Black Pool" in Dreams and Nightmares 86

More art published! Today, I received my contributor's copy of Dreams and Nightmares 86. It contains my piece of dark sci-fi art "From the Bubbling Black Pool". With this piece, I was able to revisit a style I used, rather successfully, in my illustration "Things in the Swamp". I think the bold black and white composition of such pieces works well, and suits my style. Of course, I seem to keep coming back to drawing water, or some sort of liquid landscape. Funny, that; my wife is the nautical one with a water sign. Actually, I'm more a fiery-type with a fire sign (leo, if you couldn't already guess, or didn't already know).

Anyway, I have several more art assignments to work on next week, so I'll be busy drawing more stuff. Whereas once poetry seemed to take over, now art seems to have taken over. It's nice to be in demand, as it were, but I really want to get a bit of writing done, too. I do have a historical article and some drabbles to finish for Abandoned Towers, as well as a few poems waiting to be finished. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day, or days in the week, to do everything I want to do (and those items for Abandoned Towers will need to be illustrated - which means more drawing).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

One Big Fish

Today, Michele and I took a trip to Peebles Island State Park. We walked the trails along the perimeter of the island that sits in the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawks Rivers. As we peered down into the water, we saw what may have been the great-great granddaddy of all carp. Judging size is hard in such circumstances, especially when looking down a cliff-side at a fish swimming around in the river below. However, I bet that carp was at least two-and-a half feet long, if not a full three feet.

The carp wasn't the only interesting thing we saw. We also spotted a turtle, probably a snapping turtle judging by the size of it, basking on rocks protruding up out of the water. The turtle then slid into the water and swam about a little bit before floating lazily in the current.

Downstream from the carp, we spied a catfish swimming about. Since it appeared to have a forked tail as opposed to a squared or rounded one, I think it was a channel catfish. It was almost as big as the great-great granddaddy of all carp, but not quite. Further along the river, we saw standard-sized carp mucking around in the silty riverbed, including one that may have been an albino. It was certainly lighter in colour than the other carp.

We saw lots of other kinds of wildlife, including a great blue heron that came in for a landing right on the rocks on a waterfall, but the big carp made quite an impression.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Pieces of Art Accepted

Two pieces of sci-fi/fantasy art that I submitted to the Sam's Dot publication Beyond Centauri have been accepted for publication. "Tree-Climbing Crimbolain" will be in the July 2010 issue. "Three-Headed Dragon" will be in the October one. Yahoo!

In other art news, it seems that late yesterday the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store sold a fridge magnet featuring my ever popular "St. George and the Dragon - 14th Century". Good ole St. George! And here I was worried that this piece may have face problems because I didn't depict the saint on horseback. Silly me - that particular depiction is a regular seller in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store!

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Parting Red Curtains" On-line at APHELION

My horrorku "parting red curtains", originally published in the September 2008 issue of The Monsters Next Door, has been published in the May 2010 issue of the web-zine Aphelion. Hurrah for reprints!

I like the imagery in this one, if I do say so myself. I don't know if I would call it one of my best horrorku, technically-speaking, but it's one of my personal favourites. The contrast of red curtains, black talons, and moonbeams seems especially evocative, in an old horror move "it's what you don't see that's truly scary" sort-of-way. The scene is set, an action takes place, and even an idea is formed, but I think enough is left unsaid that readers can fill in their own details. What does the beast actually look like? What is it? What is the story behind its return?

Yes, this horrorku happens to follow the 5-7-5 format. If I had written this one today, I probably would pare it down a bit. However, I think it still works well enough as-is.

SFPA Poetry Contest for New Poets

Saw news about a Science Fiction Poetry Association genre poetry contest for new poets. While I'm not eligible to enter (I've had more than three paid poetry publication credits), I figured I would spread the news for the benefit of any aspiring genre poets out there.

So, here are the details (copied from the Dreams & Nightmares blog, which copied Karen Romanko's post to sfpanet):

Contest Guidelines – SFPA New Poets Contest: The Art of Poetry

The Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) is holding a poetry contest with art as its inspiration! The contest is offering cash prizes and there are no fees to enter. New poets are invited to contribute. Non-members as well as members are eligible. Please read the complete rules below for theme, submission specifics, etc. Then write 'em up and send 'em in!

PRIZES:
First prize: $10, a one year SFPA membership, and publication on SFPA's web site
Second prize: $8, a copy of Cinema Spec: Tales of Hollywood and Fantasy, and publication on SFPA's web site
Third prize: $7, a copy of Dwarf Stars 2009, and publication on SFPA's web site

We plan to archive the winning poems indefinitely, but authors may request removal from the web site after six months. SFPA reserves the right to grant all, some, or none of the prizes, at its discretion.

WHO MAY ENTER:
The contest is open to new poets, SFPA members and nonmembers alike, with the following exclusions. Poets must have three or fewer paid poetry publication credits. No members of the contest committee, no current SFPA officers or web site staff, and no family members of the judges may enter the contest.

CONTEST THEME:
SFPA has posted links to five works of art at the SFPA Forum. Write a speculative poem of 20 lines or less inspired by one of these works of art. All forms welcome--haiku, cinquains, tanka, sonnets, free verse, etc., but poems must contain one or more of the following elements: science fiction, fantasy, horror, surrealism or straight science. Post previously unpublished poems only. No reprints. Poems should be appropriate for a general audience. We reserve the right to remove from contest consideration and from the forums any poems that might be considered above a "PG" rating.

SUBMISSION SPECIFICS:
Submissions must be made at the SFPA Forum (http://www.sfpoetry.com/forum/index.php). Registration at the forum will be required to post poems. Poets shall submit poems as posts under the heading SFPA New Poets Contest: The Art of Poetry. This topic will be password-protected. The password will be listed on the forum, right under the contest topic heading. One must register to even SEE the contest topic. One poem per post, with a maximum of three poems per person. Include your name, title of poem, and then text of poem. Winners will be contacted for their addresses via email after the contest closes.

DEADLINE:
The deadline for submissions is 11:59 EDT on June 30, 2010. SFPA reserves the right to extend the contest deadline, if necessary. Winners will be announced on the SFPA Forum. Questions? The first topic under the contest heading is the place to post questions. If you cannot access this topic after registering, post your question in the "Website and Forum" area. The SFPA shall not be held liable if submissions cannot be made due to website problems or connection difficulties, etc.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blogging, or Doing?

Okay, lots of discussions seem to be popping up yet again about the whole blogging issue, specifically whether or not writers should spend time blogging. Should they, or shouldn't they? Is blogging a necessity, or is it an unnecessary drain on a writer's time? Is blogging a worthwhile endeavour for aspiring writers, or is it a waste of time better spent writing works for potential publication? Does blogging simply interfere with writing those stories/novels/poems, or is it a vital aid in building important connections in the writing world?

Many, many, many writers seem to think blogging benefits their writing, and to some extent, this may be true. After all, the very act of blogging is an act of writing, although not necessarily in the same fashion as writing for publication. Still, there are some apparent benefits for writers to keep regular blogs, and to follow the blogs of other writers. I've even heard rumours of writers being "discovered" via their blogs, and blogging via networks can certainly help build connections.

However, looking at this whole blogging issue from an artist's perspective...

I am an artist (an illustrator, at the very least). I suppose I could blog about the subject of art on a regular basis, just like many writers do in regards to the subject of writing. I could babble on and on and on about composition, technique, and media. I could ramble on about the creative process behind my art. I could present my best guesses as to what went on in the heads of other artists during the creation of their own works. I could rave about the art I like, and rip apart the art I loathe (which would be very much in line with the plethora of literary reviews and writerly criticisms that seem to saturate the writing world). I could promote the works of other aspiring artists (which I actually do a bit of on the Niteblade art blog). Most importantly, I could proclaim myself an artist seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

This is all well and good, but sooner or later, I would have to stop blogging and start doing. I would have to stop talking about being an artist and start proving it. I would have to shut up and draw. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Saying I'm an artist is not the same as actually being an artist. To be quite honest, I could say I'm all sorts of things.

Yes, blogging about an artistic endeavour does have potential benefits (including the possible benefits of promotion and networking), but I think showing people you're an artist may be more effective than telling people you're an artist. Something tells me the same holds true for writers and writing. Doing may be more important than blogging about doing it. Perhaps the best path to a fiction writing career is, well, writing fiction. If you're a fiction writer, then put writing fiction first. Put blogging about writing fiction second.

Personally, I'm far more productive on the art and writing front when I cut back on my time spent blogging. When I'm involved in a major project, be it art or writing, I find that I don't blog nearly as often as when I don't have a lot of work on my hands (funny, that). To me, producing the product is far more important than chattering on about the production. Perhaps I'm just strange that way.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Niteblade Art Blog: Intricate Terror

Incredibly intricate. Wonderfully weird. Deliciously disturbing. These are just a few of the words of praise that come to mind when I view the amazingly detailed works of the illustrator Scott Nellis. You can see for yourself if my praise is well-founded by checking out the latest Niteblade Art Blog entry, "Intricate Terror: The Art of Scott Nellis".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Article, Poem, and Illustration in HUNGUR Issue 10

My article "The Alp and the Schrattl" and my poem and illustration "Shroudeater" have been published in the Walpurgisnacht 2010 issue of Hungur. I'm even listed among various other contributors on the cover. It's always nice when I graduate from "...and many others". It's one of those little things that just makes me glad I put in the extra effort to do an article and illustration as well as a poem (I had submitted the poem first, and the acceptance of the poem led to the art and article).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"In the Dragon Realm" Accepted

Hoping to see if I could manage to have my art accepted for use on a few covers, I've been working on some drawings composed specifically for just such a use. I sent the first of these, a draconic piece I call "In the Dragon Realm", to the editor of Aoife's Kiss.

Well, the editor accepted it, about twelve hours after I sent it, but he doesn't know exactly what he'll use it for yet. It might work on a cover; he'll have to see what his cover designer says. Even if it's not used on a cover, the editor assured me that the piece will definitely be used somewhere. Not only that, he wondered if I would be interested in doing more illustrations for stories and/or poems.

Yeah, I'm interested. I've been wanting to find more regular or semi-regular markets for my illustrations, so this could be a very good thing.

Good ole dragons. Time and again, dragons have worked well for me. Not to mention, I think I'm pretty good at drawing dragons. I should be; I've been drawing 'em for years.