Thursday, December 30, 2010

Story sale to Bards & Sages Quarterly

I mentioned this on Facebook last night--I sold a short (barely-longer-than-flash) story to Bards & Sages Quarterly. This is a fairly old one that came from a writing exercise prompt. I'm excited to see it in print. I'll post more about the story's origin and such when it gets published this coming July.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Short Fiction Thursday

I've been trying to catch up on the short fiction I missed during November (as of a few days ago, doing so on my new Nook...). I've read a bunch this past week, then, and one that stands out is "As Below, So Above" by Ferrett Steinmetz in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It's the story of a squid whose job is to protect a supposed god he's never seen but his father has. The story does a good job creating the feel of a non-human way of thinking, and it just stands out as being a wonderfully creative, sometimes brutal, and ultimately satisfying short story.

I'll probably post more about the Nook and my thoughts on it in a few days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A December poem

This time of year I often find myself thinking about one of my favorite poems, a bleakly anti-war poem by the great William Carlos Williams:


are the desolate, dark weeks
when nature in its barrenness
equals the stupidity of man.

The year plunges into night
and the heart plunges
lower than night

to an empty, windswept place
without sun, stars or moon
but a peculiar light as of thought

that spins a dark fire--
whirling upon itself until,
in the cold, it kindles

to make a man aware of nothing
that he knows, not loneliness
itself--Not a ghost but

would be embraced--emptiness,
whine and whistle) among

the flashes and booms of war;
houses of whose rooms
the cold is greater than can be thought,

the people gone that we loved,
the beds lying empty, the couches
damp, the chairs unused--

Hide it away somewhere
out of the mind, let it get roots
and grow, unrelated to jealous

ears and eyes--for itself.
In this mine they come to dig--all.
Is this the counterfoil to sweetest

music? The source of poetry that
seeing the clock stopped, says,
The clock has stopped

that ticked yesterday so well?
and hears the sound of lakewater
splashing--that is now stone.

This was a poem I first came across in a high school creative writing class, and it's been a favorite ever since. The images--an empty windswept place; the whine and whistle of war; a peculiar light that spins a dark fire; the hidden truth that grows roots; the counterfoil to sweetest music; the lake that's now stone--they force themselves into my stories...probably even more than I'm consciously aware.

Once upon a time, I posted copies of this poem (alternating with copies of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Apostrophe to Man") around the halls of my college to protest some sort of military action. Pretty weak as a protest, I admit, but it felt good to do something...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Giant Storks!

One recurring thing in a lot of my stories is tall, stalking birds. Generally it's some variety of ratite-like terror bird (ratites are the birds that include ostriches, emus, the extinct moas, etc.; some prehistoric ratites in South America have been dubbed "terror birds" because they had huge beaks and could run down prey).

This article isn't about ratites, but still it caught my attention, even if it weren't for the Tolkien reference. The combination of dwarfism and giantism on this island makes for some very bizarre and cool juxtapositions.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bar Book Club

I got so caught up in wrapping up NaNo stuff that I forgot to blog last week about our reading club.

So, beer of choice: a new one, Imperial Bruiser Brown. I liked it, a good brown ale, dark and flavorful. I also tried a sample of another new one they had called Mild Insanity. It was about as different from the brown as you could get, but I still liked it--sweet but not overly so, so light it was almost clear. If they still have it available next time, I might order that for something different.

We had a good discussion on The Picture of Dorian Gray. It wasn't quite what I was expecting in some ways, but I'm certainly glad to have read it and to be aware of cultural references and such. I think it makes a good foil/companion piece for Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Ethan Brand."

We had a number of good choices for the next time, including Daniel Wallace (who wrote Big Fish, which we read in this group a year or so ago) and Cormac McCarthy. We ended up picking Charles Portis' Dog of the South. Early on in this group we read his Masters of Atlantis, which is a madcap, hilarious farce, one that's led to many inside jokes in our group that more recent additions to the group feel left out I'm looking forward to seeing how this one plays out. Watching out, as always, for the Jimmerson Lag.