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08 February 2011 @ 09:45 pm
I just sold three poems to ElektrikMilkBath Press's PAPER CROW magazine! PAPER CROW is a new bi-annual of speculative poetry, and I've been hooked since the introductory issue. Three have been released thusfar.

The poems are "The Musician," a serial killer poem that I'm quite fond of, and "Whispers" and "Vanity," two dark cinquains from a series I started with anatomical imagery. "The Musician" started as a poem with nifty imagery that was going very lyrically twee on me. However, when I was short a poem for my Speculators meeting, I revamped it, made it dark and twisted, and I like it much more now. Go figure. The dark cinquains look at various body parts or functions and how they can be destroyed or perverted. Or both.

Oh, and I don't think that I said much about the last bath of fairy-tale poems. "The Mermaid's Betrayal" is a series of interlocking cinquains that bring out the darkness in "The Little Mermaid" type story. The other three are haiku based on tales evident from their titles: "The Wicked Queen," "Rapunzel," and "The Frog Prince."

It has been so long, so very long, since I sent anything out to an editor. Somewhere along the line, I lost faith. I lost my drive. I lost my way. Finally, it feels like I'm finding the road I'm meant to be on again after wandering lost in my own dark wood.
27 January 2011 @ 10:23 pm
I just received an email today that ElektrikMilkBath Press bought the four poems I submitted for their IN THE GARDEN OF THE CROW anthology!

From the website:

We are now accepting poetry for a special, limited edition poetry anthology entitled In the Garden of the Crow. Our planned release date is Spring 2011.

For this project we are looking for original poems that are inspired by fairy tales and old nursery rhymes, and we are particularly open to those poems written with a darker slant.

Dark fairy-tale poems? OMG! SIGN ME UP!

The folks at ElectrikMilkBath Press also produce PAPER CROW, a biannual speculative poetry magazine, and I’ve been very impressed by the offerings in the first three issues, which is why I’m excited to be a part of the new anthology.

When I saw the email in my Inbox (hiding amidst a long string of ICFA correspondence), I tensed up, bracing for a rejection. Even though collecting 15 rejections this year is a personal writing goal (See this post for an explanation why.), I didn’t want to start the year with a “Thanks, but this just isn’t right for us” letter. What writer does? Then I told myself that a sale of any single poem in the packet would be a victory and to focus on that (should I be lucky enough to get an acceptance) and not on the ones that didn’t make the cut. Yeah, I’m like that, but not without reason.

You see when I was submitting poems more regularly, I’d always send 4 or 5 in a packet (most magazines’ limit), and inevitably, the poem(s) I’d stuff in the packet as “filler” would end up being the ones that editors bought. Now, that is not to say that I sent anything I thought was mediocre. I didn’t. It was just that the poems I felt the most confident about were missing the mark.

Kill your darlings. True enough for me in the cases of those poems.

Now, I just have to wait on the second submission batch I have out and get more poems finished and submitted. Perhaps I invited good poetry karma today by hitting another of my 2011 goals:Write one poem a month. I just revamped “The Banshee,” a scifaiku I wrote last year, that wasn’t working in that form. It’s now a paired of linked cinquains and works much, much better.
23 January 2011 @ 10:17 pm
Remember the green tea challenge I mentioned the other week (and thanks one and all for your recs, which I need to respond to)? Well, the challenge this week was to try quinoa, another thing I'd been meaning to try but never did. A guy in our team, figuring that people didn't just wander about with it on them brough in a cold veggie and quinoa salad that was to die for. I demanded the recipe and will make it sometime soon.

Tonight, I cooked the quinoa for the first time. Seasoned and braised some beef, then cooked it and the quinoa in a low-sodium organic beef broth. Then I mixed it all with cooked broccoli and cauliflower, and it was so comfort food yummy and just plain good.
15 January 2011 @ 09:22 pm
I went bookshopping today, because I haven’t been in a while and because after the great snowstorm of the South and my enforced hibernation earlier this week, I wanted to get out and roam. Turns out that the road by the mall and bookstore still had treacherous patches of thick ice. These were mostly where tree cover/buildings shade the road from direct sunlight.

Based on the number of cars at the movie theatre (near the bookstore) and at Barnes and Noble itself, others must be feeling the same. While not at the level of busy that I might expect pre-Christmas, bookstore traffic was much higher than for a normal Saturday.

I went in search of SECRETS OF THE DEMON, the newest Kara Gilligan novel from Diana Rowlands. Rowlands’s work is a delightful blend of romance, police procedural, and urban fantasy. The covers of BLOOD OF THE DEMON and MARK OF THE DEMON, the first two books in the series look more dreamy and romantic than the content, but I like them. However, Rowlands switched publishers, and SECRETS OF THE DEMON now has a more stereotypically urban fantasy cover.

Yes, that probably is because Daw’s marketing team thought it would sell better, but it makes me sad for two reasons. First, I liked the other covers. Second, and far more vexing, I have a series that will not look like a series. Grrrrrr….

Anal-retentive, bookish Barb is not impressed.

However, I’ve read the first chapters, and I’m still loving the story, which is the important thing.
14 January 2011 @ 10:11 pm
My company is piloting a wellness program/competition at my office for the first four months of this year. If it gets participation, results, and positive feedback, the program will be rolled out to the whole company. Participation is voluntary, and the program involves focusing on nutrition, stress, physical activity, and emotional wellbeing.

One of our daily challenges (one component of the program) was to drink a glass of green tea. We always have packets of it in the break rooms, and I’d honestly never tried it before, so the challenge gave me the push to whip up a cup.

First, let me say that I’m not a big tea drinker. I like chai (though I’m picky about it), but beyond that, not so much. Perhaps I have just not found that tea to scratch my itch. Well, I hadn’t. At least not at that point.

After the challenge and first cup of tea, I find myself hooked on it. I’m going to make cups a few times a day at the office, and I just ordered some green teas (and some flavored black teas) from Adagio Teas online. I have a cup steeping right now, and last night, I had to retrieve a used tea bag from Ripley, when I saw her run past with the little string and piece of paper you can press against the bag to squeeze out the goodness dangling from her muzzle.

Maybe it’s a combination of the placebo effect and circular reasoning (green tea is good for you so drinking it will make your feel good), but it actually does make me feel calm, relaxed. I find that I love it when I’m eating an orange and the citrus tang and juice blends with the tea I sip after eating a slice.

So if you have a favorite tea (green or otherwise), feel free to hit me with suggestions.
07 January 2011 @ 11:39 pm
I first saw this meme posted in kirby_crow's journal, and it stuck my fancy because it's a variatoin on a writing prompt I used as an icebreaker at the beginning of some of my comp classes. The prompt was to write a 2-3 paragraph journal that focuses around the following statement:

IF I COULD BE ANY SORT OF ________________ IN THE WORLD, I WOULD BE A __________________.

This meme is very like the prompt, except I don't have to explain each answer. Something tells me that would make it more appealing to my students too. ^_^

If I were a month, I’d be October.
If I were a day of the week, I’d be Saturday.
If I were a time of day, I'd be midnight.
If I were a planet, I’d be Saturn.
If I were a sea animal, I’d be a killer whale.
If I were a direction, I’d be into the sunset.
If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a bookcase.
If I were a liquid, I’d be ice wine.
If I were a gemstone, I’d be dark amethyst.
If I were a tree, I’d be a bonsai.
If I were a tool, I’d be a pen.
If I were a flower, I’d be a lilac.
If I were a kind of weather, I’d be a thunderstorm.
If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a harp.
If I were a color, I’d be amethyst.
If I were an emotion, I’d be hope.
If I were a fruit, I’d be a blackberry.
If I were a sound, I would be rain on the roof.
If I were an element, I’d be silver.
If I were a car, I’d be a Celica (right before Toyota stopped making them).
If I were a food, I’d be creme brulee.
If I were a place, I’d be London.
If I were a material, I'd be soft leather.
If I were a taste, I’d be a rich, homemade canoli.
If I were a scent, I’d be Pink Sugar or blooddrop’s 8:30 AM.
05 January 2011 @ 09:56 pm
I thought I’d write a little about my new writing planner. You see, I’m one of those people who can easily lose track of details, so the advent of the planner was a godsend for me. Even though I’m not always as regular at updating it as I should be, my planner keeps track of meetings, television shows, writing deadlines, personal errands, important tasks and chores—a host of things that need doing.

Since I’m determined to prioritize writing this year, I figured it deserved its own planner. That way writing things won’t get lost in the mix of mundania that claims a chunk of the “everything” planner.

Personally, I’m a fan of the Franklin Covey planners, though any planning system (including making calendar templates in Word and printing them out and putting them in a binder) would work. The FC master pages calendars come with annual goal/role setting and mission statement sections, which I dutifully completed last year to focus on where I want to be heading in 2011.

For the writing planner, I actually bought a new planner and pages. I got a wirebound cover (with white, black, grey, and pale gold waves on it) and botanical sketch pages. It is lively and dynamic and happy on the outside and organic and more soothing on the inside. This seems like a good combination for creators.

The monthly calendar portion lets me star workshops, conferences, and openings/closings of reading periods for target markets. The daily pages let me jot down notes, goals, expenses, contact information, plans, etc. They also allow me to enter a bit more extensive commentary on markets/events flagged in the monthly calendar.

Is it helping?

Well, since we’re only a few days into 2011, that’s hard to say, but I’m inclined to say that it is. Having one place to go to for quick bites of information pertinent to my writing goals is comforting to me. It also makes me feel more focused on the things I record in the planner and more motivated to act on them. If those two things are the only benefits I see from making a dedicated writing planner, the investment has been worth it.
02 January 2011 @ 07:39 pm
One of the movies that I watched over the holidays was Inception. For some reason, I missed it when it was in theatres, and it has been one of the DVD releases I’d been most looking forward to. I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan films, and the premise of the movie seemed like something that would tickle my fancy. Just from the trailers alone, I could tell the special effects were going to rock. In short, I had high expectations.

Maybe that was the problem. Maybe my expectations were too high, because when the credits were rolling, I couldn’t help but feel vaguely disappointed. Now, I’m not saying that Inception was a bad film. It’s not even mediocre. I enjoyed parts of it, some of them quite a lot. But Inception suffers from some weak writing and shaky pacing that robbed me of some of my enjoyment of it.

InceptionCollapse )

Inception was a mixed bag for me. It’s a film that truly could have been great with a little tighter script. As it is, I still admire it for what it tried to do. I much prefer to see an ambitious film that overreaches and fails rather than a lazy one that never even tries.
01 January 2011 @ 11:40 pm
This post is not going to be about how disappointed I am with my lack of writing progress this past year. What it is going to be about is how I plan on preventing a similar post at the beginning of 2012.

On December 30, I sent nine poems out into the wilds. Four went to a fairy tales retold poetry anthology. The other five went to a F/H/SF poetry magazine. I've even got three more magazines to submit them too if they should all get rejected. It's a good feeling starting the year with submissions in the pipeline. One goal for the year is to keep things going out so that I can collect at least 15 rejections. Why rejections? Wouldn't acceptances be a better goal?

SF writer Tobias Buckell said that he set an early writing goal that was based on rejections, mostly because he couldn't control acceptances. What he sent out had no control over whether or not submissions would be accepted. However, if he sent things out, he could guarentee that he'd get at least a rejection, and he believed that if he kept sending things out, eventually the rejections would turn into acceptances. Wise words.

Unlike other years, I have also set writing goals: some daily, some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly. Like good goals, they are specific and measurable. Some involve word count. However, generating words isn't enough. So there are other goals about finishing various projects and submitting and/or posting them. Yes, blogging has become a writing task just like any other sort of writing. I have all my goals in my new "just-for-writing" planner, where I will track progress and deadlines for projects, workshops and cnoferences. They're enough to give me some structure and direction, but loose enough so that I don't feel trapped or constrained (in a bad way) by them.

And no, I'm not calling them writing resolutions, because we all know that New Year's resolutions are made to be broken. Goals are made to be fulfilled.
01 January 2011 @ 11:13 pm
Happy 2011, everyone. May the new year be filled with magic and wonder and all good things.