An Honorary Mention

Last February, I submitted a short story entitled HOW LILY AND IVAN THE TERRIBLE’S SON SAVED THE WORLD FROM SHAKESPEARE to Devilfish Review, an online magazine that previously published my short story CHRYSALIS in the fall of 2012. Yes, it has a bit of a Snakes on a Plane feel to it, and that’s intentional.

They were holding The Kraken Awards, a short story contest to celebrate their four years of publishing awesome speculative fiction. A few months later…ba DA DA DUM! — an honorable mention appears!

I’m so grateful to Devilfish Review for picking up a weird short story about a girl with colored hair (wonder where I got that idea from?) who has to protect the world from the things that come out of the colored strands at night. A wee bit Lovecraft, a wee bit absurdist (I was writing this whilst writing STAR-CROSSED, my steampunk zombie novel that is just this side of Daniil Kharms when it comes to surrealism), and a lot of puns.

(True story: a lot of magazines have a list of things they DON’T want you to do and one of them — I kid you not — said NO PUNS. My heart was broken a bit that day, as puns are the bread and butter of my writing process.)

I submitted that story high and low — got the feedback once that it was “too clever”– and thought that out of all of the short stories I’ve written, it would be the toughest sell. Of course, now that I’m back into the sending out and receiving rejections game, I think that another short story of mine, THE JAR TREE, is the toughest because it’s written in southern dialect with a little bit of stream-of-consciousness thrown in for good measure. So, the gladness in my heart of it finding a home — and being good enough to be an honorable mention! — has spurred on some new inspiration and has pushed back the impostor thoughts that so often crowd my worldview.

Amanda Palmer, my personal hero, published a book The Art of Askingin which she talks about the “fraud police,” or rather, the thoughts that she’s not good enough, not a real artist and that some shorts-wearing, moustached, uniformed officers are going to cart her off to I’M-A-FRAUD-AND-I-DON’T-KNOW-WHAT-I’M-DOING jail. I think all artists — or at least the ones I’ve come into contact with — have this feeling of not being adequate enough, of writing complete and absolute shit, only to figure out that NO ONE knows exactly what they’re doing and that we’re all just swimming along, doing our best. And that, more often than not, that best is actually kind of awesome. So, with this publication — and another one that’s TOP SECRET, but to-be-announced when I can, I’ve pushed those fraud police away just a little further.

So, without further ado:

HOW LILY AND IVAN THE TERRIBLE’S SON SAVED THE WORLD FROM SHAKESPEARE, by yours truly.

Check out all of the other authors that made the Kraken Awards issue and expand your mind!

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A Comic…on the Web

I’m terrible at making names for things, but my working titles are kinda killer.

Along with Blue-Haired Stevie, I am writing a comic book that we’re going to be releasing on the internet that’s a sci-fi film noir about brain ghosts in literal machines.

I have no idea what to call it, but its working title is Fedoras in Space. Because that’s what happens.

Main Character is named after two heroes of mine: Gillian Anderson (aka Agent Scully, and yes, Agent is her first name) and Hayley Atwell (aka Peggy Carter). She investigates strange happenings in the future where Mars has been colonized and the colonists have supplanted their own bodies with so many bionic implants, that they’re almost no human anymore. Atwell and her partner, January Wallace, investigate supposed ‘hauntings’ and uncover a greater plot to destroy all of Mars. Both Gillian and January wear Fedoras and at one point in time, they go into Space.

There is method to my madness.

This is my first time writing a comic book–and although it may seem daunting, I’ve read plenty so I feel like I’ll get my comic-book legs soon enough.

I tried at first to just write down dialogue and then snippets of what was happening visually, but then decided that was just too far from where I normally brainstorm. So, I started just writing a synopsis of what would potentially happen with random dialogue tags and descriptions of scenes I’d really like. I’m hoping to sort of expand from there.

What I’ve learned, though, is that the pacing of a comic book is VERY different from the pacing of say, a short story and even more so than a novel, which is where I am most comfortable. I thought things A,B,C,D, and E would happen all in the first issues (22 pages) but, alas, not even all of A will make it into the final cut. I’ve had to revamp how I develop characters and plot and that’s been rather challenging.

I’ve also had to rethink how I plan out a scene. I’m sometimes dialogue-heavy in my stories, which I thought would be really helpful for a comic book–it’s pretty much all speech bubbles, right–but a conversation that goes on between two characters for a few pages could get visually boring, so I’ve had to spice up how characters say things, when they say them and maybe even leave a lot of what would be said up to the artist to show the audience.

Another thing I’m struggling with is knowing that Stevie will start to draw it before I’ve finished the entire story. Who even knows how long this comic will go on? We’ve both said we want a definitive ending and don’t want it to go on forever, but still, can I churn out 40, 50 issues? There will be no going back. I’ve been strictly told by Stevie the Artist that I cannot change anything once she’s starting drawing, which means I’m stuck with the strings I lay down and cannot do anything about it. There is no backspace once they’re up. It’s daunting.

We’re also going to be trying to get funding through Patreon–and hopefully get enough patrons to supplement our steady incomes so that we can devote more time to art and writing and become LEGIT ARTISTS. Building a fanbase will probably be extraordinary work, but I think we’re up to the task. And able to make it rad. Do people say rad anymore? Jeez. I’m going to lose my cool card.

This is a journey I’m super excited to be on and will be updating with progress as it is achieved! Stay tuned!