Monday, October 12, 2009

Back to work on "Interference Equation - Fireworks" today. Listening to a switch off of Din of Thieves and IAMX. I need to read more Fissure submissions, but Monday's are my days for my writing. I do need to go fill out more job applications, but may do that tomorrow. Procrastinating isn't my usual way of operation, but I don't want to look like a drowned rat.
High Time I stepped off the ego train and went back into the world of my confused and bizarre, but spiritual, quantum physicist, Sean O'Connor, as he stumbles through his erratic life in Greenville, SC. He looks a lot like the man in my painting, "The Philosopher," except he has black hair. Haven't painted any other of the characters but need to.
Spending a weekend with my granddaughter, doing fun real world little girl things, brought me back down to earth. I kind of slid up into a freakish bubble after the art show and poetry readings. so time to get grounded in my little world that I know the best, where Carl Jung and John Fowles whisper warnings, tests or answers, and I struggle to make a little bit of sense of it all in my cozy nest.
Of course, Halloween month is our favorite month and as Kendall says, we get to play with all of our October friends, who are: ghosts, witches, black cats, skeletons, gargoyles, vampires pumpkin-headed creatures and werewolves. Most of them are now living on our porch advising on which October movies to watch which night. We watched Corpse Bride, Saturday and I'll also have to work in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Frankenstein, Mirromask, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Crow, and other faves within the next few weeks. Some of those are not for Kendall, but I mustn't forget my roots either.
Books will be Coraline by chapters, Wolves in the Walls, and the Graveyard Book which I've been saving for her (and for myself to savor) for this month.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Poets in the Forest

I'm finally counted among the Poets in the Forest. While, I've been out to Leopard Forest Coffee Co.'s monthly poetry readings sponsored by The Trillum Arts Center before, I've never had the guts to read. But after seeing Justin Blackburn read, I got brave. He is such a gifted poet, a philosopher wiser than his years and a fun, open, inspiriational performer poet. It was a fun night all round, I laughed a lot, (think I kind of rained on the fun mood with two of my poems, one of them about the neglect of New Orleans post Katrina. ) But I learned a lot, laughed a lot and am getting a bit better at readings. Still a wreck, still can't look at the crowd, only strangled on a few words this time.
I met lots of cool folks, talked to Barbara Allen and Gil Allen. Gil is a professor of creative writing at Furman, veyr active on the poetry scene and has a small press too - 96 press.
So it's been a good week, what with my story "Creggie and the Coat of One Color" a disappearing shop story (dark fantasy -psychological horror) based on the dream of a friend, coming out in Dark Gothic Resurrected this month. Can't wait to get my copy. It's a gorgeous award winning magazine stuffed with goodies. And the cover is right up my alley. And following the dark themes of Halloween, Virgogray Press accepted my poem "Fear Not" for their death theme anthology.
Some weeks (like two weeks ago before I started this blog) are nothing but rejections, handfuls of them. I hate the days more than one comes in the email box, but they're par for the course, will always outnumber the acceptances by 80-90% and give me the impetus to either re-write the piece or send it back out into the publishing cloud of chaos.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Status report and musings on the writer's dilemma

Completed a number of necessary items this week. Some in response to my editor at All Things That Matter Press. As the owner of a small press, I knew the pages necessary to include in a new book.
I have a long list I send out to all Shadow Archer Press authors. But when it came to my own novel, Shaman Circus, I realized how difficult it can be to write a long and short summary, a long and short bio that's not just a list of credits, but has some interesting facts as well, along with deciding on a dedication and remembering everyone to acknowledge. It took me longer than I expected to pull all of those elements together and email them to him, while they work on copy-edits.
And in addition, I'm taking his suggestions regarding blogs and marketing, which is a whole new learning curve in some of the blogging realms and web aspects, as well as learning how to publicize without a "toot your own horn" aspect going on all the time. I've discovered it's a very fine line I haven't mastered yet. Already people like B. Miller, Brian K. Ladd, Joseph Goosey, Leigh Green are teaching me how to do this effectively.
And now I'm onto working out cover concepts with an overseas artist and we'll have to wait to see if they match with my publisher's ideas.
And then to balance that off, there's been so much to do with my press, printing many copies of Justin Blackburn's book as he travels all over the country, selling books like crazy at organized readings as much as spontaneous readings at places like Starbucks. The guy is amazing on how he can sell books and needs to teach the rest of us.
Also, j michael niotta's book is in the works and I've completed printing on Enzo Marra's book, and am working on books to be released early 2010.
So that's a lot. But that's not all. Even as a writer or handles marketing, works their everyday job (right now mine is Shadow Archer Press (SAP)- a demanding mistress) and write blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace (which has proved a touchstone for SAP) etc., the main thing is to keep writing.
Writers must switch off the administrative side of the brain and go back to the creative - something I've had a hard time doing lately, only averaging 500-1,000 words per session as opposed to 3,000. In addition, a writer can't play hermit all the time. They must get out and be flooded with influences, observe people, society, local and current events, mayhem, conversations, - all the fodder we need to develop characters, construct complex plots and make our stories or poems vividly alive.
Hmmm... a balancing act to be sure. A teeter-totter always ready to toss us in the mud, a paradox inviting all our archetypes to run wild.
Such is the life!

The Submission Process

It was nice to see Neil Gaiman on Twitter sweating over whether one of his stories was going to be accepted. Granted he only waited one day, but still, its good to know established writers, well rock star status writers, still have to sweat it out.

Which brings up the whole issue of submissions, rejections, acceptances. As a writer, I still get a little bummed out when I get a slew of rejections, as any writer does (maybe not folks like Gaiman) but as an editor, knowing the other side, I want to writers out there, especially writers new to the whole submission process, to not take rejections personally.

Many of the stories I reject are not simply due to quality, but more due to how they fit into the way a magazine is shaping up. If I get a slew of Sci-Fi stories and no horror or fantasy, I'll have to reject good Sci-Fi stories just so I'll have a balance. If I'm doing a seasonal issue such as a Halloween issue I might go heavy on accepting horror. But new writers always feel like its their fault their story is rejected and often that's not the case. Sometimes its a matter of style, sometimes a simpler matter of space in the publication.

The best thing I advise, as many writers before me have advised, when you send a story or poem or manuscript off, forget about it and go write more. Don't keep checking your e-mail box. Use Duotrope to keep track of your submissions, follow the markets' writers' guidelines and develop a thick skin. Research your market and make sure your work fits.

When an editor rejects your writing - they are not rejecting you as a person. Step away from your writing. When you get to the submitting point you've turned it into a business.

Magazines are innundated with hundreds, even thousands of stories per issue and only have room for 4 or 5. Many rejections are perfectly good stories. If an editor makes a suggestion for changes, even though rejecting the story, don't take it as a slam, but as a helping hand from an objective reader. After all that's what editors to - they present your work to their readers and they know better who they are than you do.

If an editor accepts your story, but suggests changes, don't blindly accept them, if you can argue a valid reason why you don't want a change or edit, a good writer will listen. Afterall, we are limited in our scope and writing evolves quickly. New styles of writing may stymie an editor who hasn't been exposed, but its often that kind of writing which ends up becoming classes, winning awards like The Pushcart Prize or The Booker Prize. So editors need you - the adventurous writers to teach us these new developments.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Last week was frenzy, this week is calming down and I'm getting more into a pattern. Work on the press in the morning, two books this week, j m niotta's "The devil's doing the same damn thing he's always done" trying to get the cover right and checking edits on Michael Casare's The Winter King. j michael and I are working on the book as he traverses Europe ( alot by train). So far he's written from Ireland, and he's now in Prague. It sure makes our emails more interesting.

Then second part of the day is taking care of Shaman Circus details for All Things That Matter Press. Yesterday, I sent off the long and short summaries and bios, dedication page, acknowledgements. I'm working on the cover art for Shaman Circus, back and forth with Steve Viner in the UK, a marvelous artist. I'm so honored to work with him as he tries to interpret my vision from my vague rambling descriptions. It's like magic working with Steve, like having my own personal artistic genie on hand. He can interpret night time dreams and a few weeks later amkes them real. His work is so much like Dave McKean's of Sandman fame, one of my favorite artists of allt imes. My mind sees things like he does, but my skill level simply can't pull them off. Steve can. Steve's work takes my breath away and also touches me on emotional levels. Besides, he's such a generous, kind humble individual.

Then, I must print some books for folks and mail off Enzo Marra's contributor's copies. Justin will come by today to get his and he has a reading this Friday at Leopard Forest Coffee House (I may even read if they have open mike). Well that's just what's on the agenda this morning. Time to turn up the IAMX and get cracking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Art Show and Book Release at Vitti Gallery

So here's the first installment... a little bit about writing, a little bit about art, a little bit about publishing. I've paid attention to all three this week, having just come off a weekend art show at the Vitti Tile and Pottery Gallery in the Pendleton Street Arts District in Greenville, SC. It was a busy show, with waves of viewers where I displayed some of my paintings and showcased the catalog of chapbooks and six issues of Fissure magazine which I publish under my micro press, Shadow Archer Press. Suzanne Vitti was kind of enough to let me hang paintings and display books alongside her diverse collection of Asian influenced, Mexican Day of the Dead and funky pottery and tiles. Kay Larch was on hand with her amazing mosaic-style paintings of rock icons, fantasy figures and street scenes of Greenville. Mark also displayed his contemporary abstract painted windows.
I chose a Halloween theme since my work is rather gothic and dark anyway and I love October: Skeletons and carnivale scenes, the River Styx and other ghoulish paintings were on display, including one of the Francois Burgougne, a character from my Shaman series. Shaman Circus, the first book in the series is to be published by All Things That Matters Press in Maine.I've been invited back to show at Vitti gallery and hope to bring out more of the paintings and assemblages from both Shaman Circus and Shaman in Exile, the second in the series. Shadow Archer Press featured 19 books by 16 writers from all over the world with original cover art and photography by ten local and international artists.More info can on Shadow Archer Press can be found here http:// for a peek at my original artwork, photography and weaving, check here:
Web Analytics