2014: The Year of Getting Serious Again

Happy-2014-free-wallpaper

First, to Everyone who reads this, Happy Holidays! I wish that all of your wishes come true during the next year and that you live life to its maximum capacity. Always.

This past year has been rewarding and challenging. I graduated with my associates degree, lost one job and got another with the same employer (lost student assistant job at St. Petersburg College when I graduated and got hired back on a few months later as an OPS writing tutor), started new university to go for the bachelors degree, moved into a new apartment  in the downtown area, and gave up my car (it was a piece of shit anyway) for the benefit of walking for exercise.

I was busy writing many essays for my junior year at the University of South Florida, so my creative writing efforts suffered a little. But those essays helped me improve my writing, and I hope all future academic witting will do the same.

For my resolutions in 2014, I don’t have many. I’m keeping it simple and doable.

  1. Continue to improve my health by walking. School and grocery is within walking distance from me now, as well as many other activities and entertainments that the downtown St. Pete area has to offer.
  2. Write new stories. Turn on my creative juices and get them flowing whenever possible. Write for fun, but also write for publications. Poems, too. I want to write some more poetry in 2014.
  3. Submit stories and poetry to major publications and journals. I’ve already started on this one. I’ve submitted my previously unpublished award-winning short story Parker’s Pygmalion to Glimmer Train literary magazine and three unpublished poems to Northwestern U’s Tri-Quarterly journal. I’ve started some fantasy and sci-fi stories that are pretty good so far, I just need to finish them and get them out into some slush piles. I will also continue to try and get some previously published stories reprinted.
  4. Keep my magazine going. My side-project as publisher and editor of the spec-fic ezine The Were-Traveler has taken a toll on my sanity this year. Finding time to read and respond to stories while reading 2-3 books a week for lit classes has been very challenging, but I have no desire to stop doing it now. In fact, I’m even more determined to make it work. I may ask for help along the way, but I’m definitely keeping it going. I nominated 3 stories to Critter’s P&E Readers Poll and wish I could have showered other writers with that kind of love and recognition. I’m still trying to find all those yearly award venues out there, where I can give my authors the cred they deserve. If any of my readers have recommendations, please let me know.
  5. Keep my sanity at school, work, writing, editing, publishing. This is a given. I must maintain a sensible balance to this crazy happening that is my life. Need to breathe a little in between and enjoy other things, too. Relax, take deep breaths, meditate.

That’s it. I’ll probably add goals as I go along through the first part of the year, but this is enough to start with.

I hope all of your goals for the coming year lead to success and happiness.

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“The Apprentice’s Mother” Published in Sunday Snaps Anthology

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Sunday Snaps front cover via Chuffed Buff Books.

My latest short story “The Apprentices Mother” appears in the anthology “Sunday Snaps” published by Chuffed Buff Books. Sales from the book will go to benefit the Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.

Susan May James of Chuffed Buff Books is the creative force behind the inspiration for “Sunday Snaps.” It got started when she started posting photos on her website as writing prompts. The image below served as the Muse for my story.

door knocker

Image courtesy of Susan May James.

Here’s the cover blurb for the project:

“This colourful and quirky collection contains short stories, flash fiction, vignettes and poetry of various styles and genres. It developed over the course of 52 weeks in 2010/2011 whereby a series of ‘Sunday Snaps’ were posted online as a creative writing exercise. Writers were invited to use the snapshots as inspirational writing prompts. The result: an eclectic assortment of light-hearted comedy, romance, dark tales, tragedy, slice-of-life stories and expressive verse. While the spires of Milan Cathedral and a café in Toronto provide the backdrop to romance, elsewhere a marriage is arranged, children grapple with loss, and a woman rushes to the side of a life-long friend. With a bit of French cuisine, a spiteful kitty, a mother’s pact with the devil, a birthday kiss and a dash of supernatural revenge, this unique collection offers a tale for all! Stories and poetry by: Sam Adamson, Kim Bannerman, Cath Barton, Dominique Boller, Juliet Boyd, Jodi Cleghorn, Sandra Davies, Miriam Dunn, Rebecca Emin, Annie Evett, Stacey Faulkner, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, D A Volpe Herskowitz, Stephen Hewitt, A J Humpage, Steve Isaak, Mandy K James, Susan May James, Maria Kelly, Mari Lee Kozlowski, Lisamarie Lamb, Shannon Lawrence, Tyrean Martinson, Tony Noland, Linda Olson, Roslyn Ross, Tony Schumacher, and Ren Thompson. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services. For details on the Canadian Red Cross, or to donate without purchasing a book, please click: Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.”

You can order the print edition from Amazon.com at:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Snaps-Susan-May-James/dp/190885801X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1368636263&sr=8-3&keywords=Sunday+Snaps.

And you can get it from Amazon.ca at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/190885801X/sr=8-1/qid=1368636517/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1368636517&seller=&sr=8-1

If you’re in the UK, it can be found at Book Depository…they offer FREE WORLDWIDE delivery: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Sunday-Snaps-Stories-Susan-May-James/9781908858016

Also for readers living in the UK, it can also be ordered online at Foyles for in-store pickup or for delivery: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/sunday-snaps-the-stories,james-susan-may-9781908858016

And, of course, It can be ordered from the Chuffed Buff Books website – http://www.chuffedbuffbooks.com/bookshop/sunday-snaps-the-stories/.

Susan May James from Chuffed Buff Books has said that the kindle edition is in progress and will be available in the future.

Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

megrad2

Graduation from SPC on May 4, 2013

I have not made a post in quite some time. I apologize. When you’re a college student/author/publisher/editor/part-time employee it’s hard to find time to blog.  I am enjoying a nice summer break, though, so I hope to be able to catch up on my posts.

First, let me catch you up on the recent past. After a grueling spring term, I graduated from St. Petersburg College with my Associates of Arts degree on May 4th. It may not seem like a very significant accomplishment to some folks, but it means the world to me. I am an older student (47…not afraid to say it) who was told in high school by a guidance counselor not to waste my time with college. I wish he could have been there as I not only proved that it wasn’t a waste, I did so by graduating summa cum laude with a 3.95 G.P.A. and by being a finalist for one of SPC’s most prestigious academic honors, the Apollo Award. I didn’t win, and that doesn’t matter. Just to be considered for it is a huge accomplishment that will no doubt have a lasting effect on my life.

Ahead lies my goal for a BA in English Literature. I’ve chosen to remain in this area and transfer to the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg campus. I’m not quite ready to move out of Tampa Bay or Florida yet. The St. Pete campus of USF is gorgeous. It sits right on Tampa Bay with lovely water views from nearly every building. I’m looking forward to starting my classes in the fall…one of which includes a literature class on the occult. Hell yes!

Now for the present and future of other aspects of my life.

This summer while I am off I have many goals. Here are a few.

  • Employment. I lost my student job at SPC, so I’ve been working on updating the resume and creating a portfolio. I hope to use it to land my next job.
  • Writing. I have lots of writing goals for this summer.
    • More Blog Posts. That’s a priority. Need to get back into writing more frequent updates and doing the writing prompts again.
    • Parker’s Pygmalion. I’ve decided to upload my Phi Theta Kappa award-winning short story to Smashwords as a free e-book. I have to start doing this indie thing soon anyway, and this is a good story to start with. If it works out, I will likely add it to Kindle on Amazon as well.
    • Kill the Crow. I’ve begun putting the stories into one document. I still need to finish writing and editing a few of the tales for the book, and get it formatted for publishing. Once  that’s done, I will upload it to Amazon…maybe Smashwords again, too.
    • Quellseek: Army of Empaths. I have people who will murder me if I don’t finish this novel,  so I’m working on it. The biggest problem I’m encountering is that the plot bunnies have tortured me with another great idea, one which I’ve started the research on already.
    • The Dragon Siblings. See above. I’ve got Phandara and T’kanyae (a.k.a. Kane Anthony) Morphyrades story starting in my head and I’ve begun a research project on it involving (fictional and real) sorcery and alchemy.  I don’t even have a title for this yet and have no clue about the scope of it, because Quellseek and that series MUST come first. The tale of Rafael Errick, Emory Atarem, Marta Sanis, Alverin Ness, and Wellynd Niles/Well-and-Truly must be brought to a close and that could take 2-3 years to tell it all. The Dragons will happen at some point, though. They’ve sort of already happened in some pre-cursor/same multiverse short stories.
  • Publishing and Editing. 
    • The Were-Traveler. Yes, I also edit and publish a speculative fiction magazine. It’s a rewarding venture I dove into like a madwoman and for the moment I’m enjoying it. Not quite ready to give it up yet. I recently posted the descriptions for up-and-coming issue themes. I’m looking forward to some of the upcoming themes. I may have to pen something myself for the Lovecraft/Poe issue. So tempting.

Life is going to be a challenge for me once school starts again in August. I have decided to attend USF full-time, which means I will have even less time for the other parts of my life than I do now.

Going to do as much this summer as possible…got to get it while the gettin’s good.

Post It Note Poetry—Week 3

We’re coming down to the final week of our Post It Note Poetry challenge. This was a bad week for me, as you’ll see when you read some of the poems. Still, I managed to sling a few words on post-its, and in one case, my Mac’s Sticky App.

Monday, February 18, 2013

joy dance

joy dance

joy dance

who dances

for joy

dances

with joy

and joy

moves through

every step

of the dance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

archiving heresy

archiving heresy

archiving heresy

if it isn’t alphabetical

it’s considered heretical

—filing.

(after much introspection, it occurred to me that the poem would have worked much better as a solage if the the first two lines had been reversed…hindsight…)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

i cried when i found out stars die

i cried when i found out stars die

i cried when i found out stars die

stars carry in their shine

touches of ephemeral time

for though we see them

there on high

that’s only their souls

only their souls burning

ghosts sparkling on

a funereal will

and testament

to the firmament.

Friday, February 22, 2013–Bad Blood Day

bad blood day

bad blood day

bad blood day

nurses

beat, slap my hands

put on heat packs

drink an ocean of water

all for four

pricks.

(I hate giving blood…it’s always an adventure. You can tell I wasn’t much into poetry that day, or making the whole thing look nice by lightening the post it note. It was a bad day. Blood work and had to study for Spanish exam. Saturday would be no better. I got a lousy D on my exam and had other homework to attend…so no poetry got written or posted on Saturday.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Walking Away

Walking Away

Walking Away

“My feet are on the floor,”

I said,

in response to my lover’s

random complaint.

He shook his head,

as lovers in the wilted afterbirth

of love are wont to do

when finding fault

with their loves.

“Your head is in the clouds,”

he said,

again, as if I didn’t hear it

the first time.

“Yes,” I agreed,

since I knew

it was true.

“But…

my feet are on the floor.”

That one was probably the best poem I wrote all week.

There are only four more days left in the Post It Note Poetry challenge…I hope I can write a few more verses during those days, and I hope wherever you are, you’re enjoying poetry.

Post It Note Poetry—Week 2

This week was a dismal week for me writing Post-It Note poetry.

Muse has been absent, I’ve been in a miserable temperament with being cold and having pain in legs and shoulder. I’m just becoming a crotchety old fart at too young an age!

I did manage to write some short poetry this week, though. And here it is:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Matador of Monday

Matador of Monday

Matador of Monday

charge…

come at me

eyes glaring red

horns lowered

to impale me

and bloody me.

I will face

your fury

head on.

Come on, then,

Beast.

Monday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

wednesday_2_13

Swimming

Swimming

Still waters run deep

and yours will drown me.

For a little while, I’ll be drowned.

But not forever.

I will take a deep breath,

and brave those frigid depths

and dive down,

and sink to the bottom,

to the bottom,

all the way to the bottom.

Then shoot back up spinning,

Spinning, spinning…

Until l break the surface

of your soul,

and make you

drown in me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013 – Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Valentine Haiku

A Valentine Haiku

A Valentine Haiku

oh, well of my soul,

dry as dust—it yearns to be

filled with love again.

Friday, February 15, 2013

(on which I suffer from misspelling simple words)

promises and lies

promises and lies

promises and lies

the air is brimming

with leftover promises

floating on the breeze

recycled, regurgitated

over and over again

like all of the other

lies you have told me.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Dionysus Bug Photo by Me! :)

The Dionysus Bug
Photo by Me! 🙂

The Dionysus Bug

A cup of gladness—

let us share!

The taste— exquisite,

floral and fair.

A hint of berries;

with notes of lime…

“Oh shut up—

And pass the wine!”

And that’s all for this week. Enjoy poetry…wherever you find it!

Post It Note Poetry – Week 1

Got into this wonderful little meme created by writer friends Adam Byatt and Jodi Cleghorn. The brainchild of Mr. Byatt, the idea is to write poetry: good, bad, weird, funny, any kind of poetry on post it notes throughout February, take interesting photos of them (you don’t have to, though, there are no real “rules,” as I understand it) and post them online to Twitter, Twitpic, Instagram and/or Facebook. For Twitter, Twitpic, and Instagram we are using the hashtag #postitnotepoetry.

After 1 week we now have 42 poets from across the globe writing and posting poetry.

I started on Monday, so I’ve been at it a full week.

Below are my first offerings to the Post It Note poetry gods:

Monday, February 4, 2013

mon-pinp

A Dumpster Diver in the Space-Time Continuum

the old garbage-sifter

filters through

the junk of days gone by,

comes across a crumpled-up photo

of some middle-aged man

in a three-piece suit

sitting on a sofa

with a pretty woman

in a red flowery dress.

he stops.

stares at it

with a moment of something

he can’t quite explain

longing, maybe…or regret.

then he tosses it aside

and continues

his never-ending

search for sustenance

never realizing

that he’d just touched

a moment in time

an image of himself

from happier,

remembered days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

tues-pinp

poem as myth 

sky, she takes a deep breath…

exhales slowly,

nightfall

becomes an indigo blanket

draped over the horizons;

embracing her sister Gaia,

and holding her

bright

star children,

in her wide, wide arms.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

philosophy of mirrors

philosophy of mirrors

philosophy of mirrors

i only show

the outer view

if i could show

the inner you

i would shatter

into shards

every time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

the cat

the cat

the cat

lying by the fire

odalisque-like,

lean and languid,

stretches…

toes unsheathing

daggers.

yawns…

wide mouth reveals

sharp, white swords.

sighs

and purrs…

contentment.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Going Bukowski

Going Bukowski

Going Bukowski

on the gallows

dangling from the end

of a rope you didn’t knot.

it’s not your rope.

it belongs to

some other son-of-a-bitch.

remember that.

remember that it’s not your rope

stringing you up.

don’t hang yourself

with someone else’s rope.

go Bukowski on the motherfucker.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cantito

Cantito

Cantito

“¿Va a cantar para mí, pajarito?” he asked.

“¿Sólo un cantito?”

“Sí, papá,” she said,

and singing through her tears,

watched him close his eyes

and thought:

“I am like a canary,

come too late.”

Little Song (English translation)

“Will you sing for me, little bird?” he asked.

“Just a little song?”

“Yes, daddy,” she said,

and singing through her tears,

watched him close his eyes

and thought:

“I am like a canary,

come too late.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Soul of a Poem

Soul of a Poem

Soul of a Poem

A poem is a mighty thing.

A poet’s words weighty with wit.

But unless some of the soul is contained therein,

I won’t believe a word of it.

~~~~~~~

Well, that’s my week of Post It Note Poetry writing. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep the pace up of writing a poem a day, what with college classes and all, but I’ll do as much as I can.

I hope you take some time this week to enjoy some poetry, either reading it or writing it. 🙂

Quellseek Songs: Emery, Pt. 2 (Lovers In A Dangerous Time)

Bona Emery Atarem – Image by Dmitriy Kapitonenko

I’m getting ready to write Bona Emery’s second POV chapter, tentatively titled “Desean.”

She’s made the journey in safety to her brother’s keep at Blackened Falls, and is greeted by him in his study. Bon Pelees has a new Quell with him, a man called Aleros. Aleros was sent to replace Nissen, who recently died for Pelees, but Aleros has his face hidden behind a hood. Remembering her own ordeal with hooded knights, Emery becomes suspicious. Bon Pelees tries his best to ease his sister into what will surely be a shock for her: Desean never confided in her his true nature—the fact that he was Quellmade—a clone produced by the Quell Order.

Once more, Emery is forced to relive the nightmare of her captivity and Desean’s death at the hands of the five hooded and unidentified knights.  And once more, she refuses to answer the question, even when her brother asks her: “How did you manage to escape?

But that’s a question to be answered inside the pages of Quellseek, my friends.

As Emery continues to brood over Desean’s death, this song comes to my mind. It’s a song for star-crossed lovers like Emery and Desean.