So it’s April…already. The year flies and things get done. In 2022 I seem to be focussed more on my poetic submissions rather than short stories. Several pieces of poetry have been accepted to anthologies this year. See above or below.
I have about 6 stories to further edit sometime this year, most likely. 2022 has involved national travel, more permanent relocation, running several experiential writing workshops, retreat activities and catching up with many old friends and acquaintances.
So a lot of time and attention to the above – enjoyably so, and although the writing of course is still flowing, it’s not foremost priority. Which is fine. My aim has always been to get published and this has been achieved with work in over fifty anthologies with several publishers.
It’s almost late January. Over New Year I had 4 enjoyable days in Canberra with friends and fam. It’s a beautiful green city with so many big trees and grassy spaces, such a joy to visit. It gave me time and clarity to consolidate my hopes of the year ahead, although I know it’s ‘a day at a time’ and plans can change by the minute. Covid thinks it rules. But then, I obey the rules and be safe, sensible and avoid the angst. Where does conflict get you? Really.
2021 saw a range of accepted writing work and resultant publication. I won’t list the details here, it’s on my other social sites. Poetry, short stories and drabbles have been in numerous anthologies. I should do a head and cover count, but in all honesty that doesn’t seem so important. I am writing – mostly poetry – and I’ve run a few small creative writing workshops. Good for the spirit! In 2022 I’m planning to pursue more genres and poetry calls. My time is currently highly invested in my spiritual path – my 38 years of yogi life – as I am living in a retreat centre, so this is calling me, according to present times and circumstances. I will still be writing, of course, but less social media presence. In fact I’ve said adios to Twitter as it didn’t seem necessary any more. I never said I wanted fame, wealth or glory as an author; it’s always been about the love of writing. That’s it. And I’ve encountered some unique and interesting people too, on the way. You know who you are.
So for a snapshot of 2021s entire range of writing productivity, you may want to go to https://www.facebook.com/djeltonwrites/ Apologies for the redirecting but it’s the best I can do – I’m having a lazy moment.
I spent quite some time in 2021 being the team leader for the 13 Lives of Alice anthology; a Black Hare Press publication. Apart from being a good behind-the-scenes learning experience in communicating with and managing (mostly-haha!) a team of 12 prolific authors, I had a chance to think on my feet regularly. The mighty Ben from BHP was in my radar and latched onto his ear, as needed of course. I do believe it was a pretty good team effort, and thank you a thousand times over to all the team, especially those of you who gallantly came in at the almost final moment! Heroes, all!
Just a snapshot of some work in 2021. Lots of good moments in writing, getting published, learning more about writing & publishing, as well as chatting on socials with writing buddies. See you again soon, hopefully before June. Just kidding. haha. Plans for 2022? Have started writing some essays for a proposed collection currently called UNBLOCKED. (Let’s see how it progresses, especially with that title…..)
I blinked and it’s November 2021 already. How did that happen? This has been a significant year for me and my writing. I’ve spent the last four months in the stunning Blue Mountains in New South Wales, west of Sydney. The last coinciding lockdown is easing and it means travel is possible, which allows me to plan a few short visits in the region. Exciting stuff. Two big lockdowns in the past two years has been rather life-changing. I feel different, wiser perhaps?
So where does my writing take me of late? I’m looking into writing in other genres and speculative fiction sub-genres. What do I most enjoy writing? Short stories with humorous sci-fi or sci-fantasy themes, YA dark fantasy or paranormal romance themes, and poetry with a broad range of speculative themes.
Some of the published fiction and poetry anthologies that have included my work this year can be seen below.
It’s now September – which is great news. Here in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, where we’ve been locked down since the end of June, Spring is emerging. It’s great to see nature doing it’s thing, amidst all the blah, fake news and escalating concerns around Covid 19 and it’s progeny of angst. I’ve had my 2 AZ shots, I encourage others to do the same and be forward-thinking, but not everyone is joining me in this boat. It’s become a very individual choice. So, it’s rejuvenating to see deep red camelias, magnolias bursting alive, puffy pristine yellow wattle balls branching out and a range of green colours, daphne and the rest just coming along to join the play.
Having just realised I haven’t done a blog post since February, I shooed away the procrastination goblin and got cracking. So here we are. What’s been happening? Apart from moving soon and the consequent downsizing, I actually haven’t written many new words of late. However, I’ve been editing, keeping on top of the not-now-secret ALICE project and it’s 12 savvy authors, and joining another group project via Black Hare Press.
Further on the indie publishing scene, a few new worthy of note anthologies have come out in the past few months from Black Hare Press, Raven and Drake, Black Ink Fiction, Breaking Rules Europe, Barrio Blues Press and Clarendon House Books. Maybe I’m a little biased here as my work is in a sprinkling of these publishers recent works. See cover pics below. Short blog today. Stay safe. Stay happy.
Inspiration for June 1st.
Be Kind, you don’t know what’s going on under anyone’s external face, however brave they may be appearing.
It’s already March and I’m sitting inside listening to non-stop soft, relentless rain and about to make a coffee. My writing achievements since last blog have been varied. For accepted publication I’ve written vampire and ancient myths drabbles, longer dark fantasy stories about mermaids, envious witches and dying queens. A favourite piece was for children (family friendly) which was a delight to write; The Chocolate Cake Elves.
In the world of social media and writing groups and connections there have been comings and goings, new publishers stepping out boldly with a range of interesting calls for super-short and longer-long work. As usual my best writing time has been around 5am, and on those mornings where I have been free to write, I’ve notched up some words, sometimes 1k plus which is an achievement for me.
My five favourite publishers are currently Black Ink Fiction, Raven and Drake, Black Hare Press, Paper Djinn Press and Breaking Rules Europe. This is where I am sending most of my work.
It’s a time of change in the world, and on a personal level. And I am getting shrewder as to where I want to spend my online socials time, and what I want to write about. I feel a novel stirring inside, although can’t just yet get cracking on it, as a few other things need to fall into place. Mysterious? Yes I know.
We’re getting into the beginning of February 2021 already, and it’s a timely time to write a blog post. I’ve been quite proactive with drabbles this month, having three each accepted by Insignia Stories on the theme of Asian Mythical Beasts, four accepted by Breaking Rules Europe, and two by new indie press, Raven and Drake, on a themes of European folklore, legend and mythology. Wonderful stuff to write about, and greatly enjoyed the research, from one side of the planet to another. Am loving writing myth and legend; well it’s really rewriting isn’t it? Revisionism. Those Norse legends have intrigued me the most, having never delved into that area much at all in the past.
I pitched an idea to my Black Hare Press publisher revolving around a speculative take on Alice, the heroine of Wonderland. It was accepted and now there’s quite a buzz flowing with a range of genres where Alice is led to her latest very interesting adventures. This is a challenge for 13 exciting authors (including myself), and will be out in 2022, possibly earlier perhaps. Stay tuned. 🐰
Dawn DeBraal is highly prolific, writing numerous short stories in the couple of years since she has been professionally writing. You can catch her work in a large range of press including Paper Djinn Press, Kandisha Press, Black Hare Press and numerous others. She writes first drafts of 5k words in a day. So she’s that kind of committed to her writing.
Ximena Escobar recently relocated to Sydney Australia from the UK. She’s originally from Chile. She writes and publishes short fiction and poetry. She has also written for numerous indie press. She recently featured in Zero Hour, a cyberpunk anthology from Black Hare Press. She also greatly enjoys the Sydney beach out-of-town coastline for family get-aways.
D. Kershaw is the co-founder of Black Hare Press.As well as having stories accepted by WPC Press, Paramour Ink, Breaking Rules Europe and Blood Song Books, he moonlights as a minion of the hell hare, Captain Woundwort, in the dark hours.
Authors – Dawn DeBraal, Ximena Ecobar and D. Kershaw.
Authors on writing ideas
In a recent discussion, indie author Dawn DeBraal said to me, “If I can come up with an idea, I can write,” after having just written the first draft of an over-5000 word story in just one day. As I was quite impressed by her writing speed, I posed the following questions about writing to Dawn, as well as two Australian authors, Ximena Escobar and D. Kershaw.
How long have you been writing seriously?
DDB: I sent my first story out in November 2018. It was accepted! I have been addicted to that feeling since.
XE: Thanks for having me! Dawn is definitely a writing machine. Me, not so much. I could write articles and essays fast—- get an idea, as Dawn says, and write it. But the way I write fiction is tied to form and this slows me down. I reread and edit as I go; even if it’s a casual dialogue, nothing pretentious or poetic. Because I usually don’t know what’s going to happen next, so what I wrote before shows me the way forward, gives me the ideas.
DK: I had my first story, a drabble, published in 2019—”Hungry Restrain” in Blood Song Books’ Forest of Fear 1 which was a fill in for a post-production dropout (and I may have been a little drunk when I wrote it…don’t judge me, I was camping…). I didn’t really write anything seriously before that. It hasn’t been a big part of my life—bar the editorial bits—until now.
It’s taken a while to feel confident in myself. And I’m an introvert, so I don’t like to share anything of my personal life. And when you’ve been closed for such a long time, it’s hard to let people see what’s inside.
Do you get lots of ideas just like that, or do you get inspired by particular themes?
DDB: I work well with prompts, so a lot of my writing is toward a call for a particular submission. But life and memories give prompts everyday if we are open to them.
XE: Both… Certain themes inspire me more than others, though. Ancient cultures, philosophy, women, misogyny, heart ache, intimacy, friendship. Visuals too. An image will often get those juices flowing, providing that extra ingredient to the above themes. But never the story. A situation yes, but my stories are not usually plot driven. When they are, such as in the case of collaborations where several authors write a chapter of the same cohesive story, I still need something else to get me going. Zero Hour, for example. I had the plot premise, but it was the question of how would your mind cope with sound and vision augs, the idea of that intensified stimuli /experience, that got me writing. It birthed a character which was totally outside of the main storyline, and trying to fit her into it gave my story shape. Also channelled Blade Runner and picked up elements from the only two other chapters I read before writing mine… I love it. Love everything about writing.
DK: I write to themes. I see a call I like; I try to write for it. But I don’t have much time, due to my commitments with Black Hare Press.
Or if I have a special someone who I know likes to read.
I can’t really just write, I need an end goal.
What has been your fastest to publication story you ever wrote?
DDB: Sometimes I write it in the morning and send it in the afternoon. Then you are at the mercy of the publisher. I am not a long-distance writer, yet. I hope to get there someday. 3000 is my sweet spot.
XE: Probably Gluttony, for Black Hare Press’s Seven Deadly Sins Series. It’s short, no more than 1k, but I wrote it in one sitting just before the deadline, and I received my acceptance soon after.
DK: I’m not sure. Maybe Forest of Fear 2? That was an invite only and I had to beg to be in it—I know, right? Me??
How many short stories did you write last year (2020)?
DDB: I submitted 274 stories, poems and drabbles, I received 128 acceptances in 2020.
XE: About 45, not including poems. Less drabbles than the previous year so I upped my word count.
DK: Not so many—I’ve been a reluctant writer.
“Quota” for Blood Song Books’ Harvest, “Heaven Scent” for Paramour Ink’s Happy Howlidays. I was invited to the tribe by author David Green for Black Hare Press’ Route 13 (which comes out later this year) and had five drabbles as a fill-in for a dropout in Quietus 13.
How many have you written to date? (Include drabbles or micro-fiction separately if you want to include them too.)
DDB: I’ve submitted 647 stories in the two years I’ve been writing which includes short stories, drabbles, and poem. With this morning’s acceptance, I am at 298 acceptances excited to be hitting that 300 mark.
XE: I’ve had about 150 stories published all up, including reprints, drabbles and poems. But I have more, unpublished, and several wips. I’m too lazy to count!
DK: My first was a drabble for Forest of Fear 1 in 2019…then eight more in 2020…plus seven this year…that’s…sixteen! (Twelve of those were drabbles.). All were accepted. Some are still pending publication.
Have particular quotes or pictures/images given you ideas?
DDB: As I stated earlier, everything in life is a story, you just have to see it. So yes. Everything is an idea.
XE: Yes. A Haiku by Pina Leyland inspired my story “The Making of a Star”, first published by Black Hare Press and then reprinted by Literally Stories. My story “Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress” was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s painting and the story behind it. My story “Return of Dragons”, at least the first line of the first draft, was inspired by the cover of the anthology in question.
DK: No, I write for calls, so whatever ideas the call gives.
How do you create your story? Characters first? Main character first? Something else comes first?
DDB: It’s a strange process. When I was a songwriter, someone would be speaking and something they said “sang” in my head. It’s similar to my writing. When I see something or hear a name I love, I have the story, right there. As I am writing it will take twists and turns.
XE: It will be a character, an image, an emotion or a situation. I find the story as I go.
DK: I have a basic plot in my head…what I think I want to happen. Then I start writing. Then it morphs into something completely different. 😊
If I’m comfortable with the genre—such as horror or dystopian—I find it easier to write.
My Happy Howlidays story was way out of my comfort zone—no horror, and fade-to-black romance. I had to fully plot that one, and it gave me so much anxiety to get it out of my head and onto paper. I see that reflected in the writing.
Are you a plotter? A strategic writer with a plan? Or are you a pantser? Run with it as it evolves in your head? (By the seat of your pants).
DDB: Since my main genre is short stories you don’t need much plotting. You start with the idea and it unfolds as you write. And yes, most definitely a “pantser.” I will start with an idea. Sometimes I will put a break under me and write the next idea I just came up with and head toward that goal in the story.
XE: Not a planner all! I don’t even think my characters through. I just know them intimately, back to front, but I don’t necessarily know what they do for a job for example, unless it’s important.
What advice would you give to other newer writers about writing a fast short story based on one idea?
DDB: Advice. Make sure you have checked and rechecked for errors. Sloppy writing of a good story could get you a rejection because an editor doesn’t want to have to take a lot of time to go over your story. Also submit. If you don’t submit it’s a no, if you do submit, it’s a maybe. Thank you, Gopi for asking!
XE: Don’t think I’d give any advice about writing fast… But it would be to not doubt yourself. Write what you want to write, the way you want to write it. Be true to yourself. Then listen to any feedback you receive, understand the editor or beta reader’s perspective before deciding to ignore their suggestions. They usually have a valid point.
DK: Have an idea of how your story will go. I find it easier to have an end point in mind. What’s going to be your final scene? What does your character need to achieve? Then work out where it can start. And go from there. Easy, huh?
Because I don’t plot, I start where I start, and it goes where it goes. More often than not, I don’t end up with the story I first thought of in the beginning.
My “Watch Over You” for Love in the Dark (WPC Press, out 7th February 2021) is a good example of that. It was supposed to be a chilling stalker-type tale, but…well, it didn’t turn out anything close to that…
Also…research. Make sure you have an idea of what your mythological creature looks like, where they live, the name of the lakes around there, etc.
In November I aligned myself to NaNoWriMo and was inspired to write 1k words daily for over 2 weeks. It was a new kind of challenge and in that time I was consistent and productive. Mid-month I got distracted with editing for the several pieces of work I’d created. Then life got busy in other ways and I couldn’t continue with the daily 1k discipline.
The benefit of all this was that now I know I can write 1k (or more) words a day which could make a novella happening in one month seem way less daunting. Get to it, girl…
Since writing the above in the past fortnight a strong voice in my head has put it to me that in 2021 I should focus some consistent ideas I’ve had on creating an 80,000k novel. And why not? The task seems a lot less daunting since I got in the run with NaNo this year.
Keeping that in mind, I will still be following up a pitch that’s on the verge of emerging, as well as more lovely poetry, short stories and drabbles. The way to go.
Coming soon from Black Hare Press
Ending on a short note. I don’t doubt that 2021 will be full of surprises. There’s benefit in everything – even though it may not seem that way whilst in the thick of it. Time to reassess, re-evaluate, and not throw out the baby with the bathwater. It’s not the time to give oneself pain at somebody else’s mistakes. Breathe, stand back, and head in your chosen direction. This makes sense to me. Enjoy time with friends and fam at Christmas. Keep smelling the roses. 💜🌿💎🎈🌲🎈💎🌿💜
This time of year is flying along so fast that my attention is really only going to the essentials. In Melbourne we have recently emerged from stage #4 lockdown with all its limitations. Our household continues to adjust and be savvy with time, space, energy and so on….especially energy. It’s not the time to be wasting time on unproductive pursuits, whatever they may be. And from this writers’ viewpoint, that means being really certain about time going into projects and submissions that may be over-consuming of my precious time and energy.
💕💜💕 Key statement: Is it really worth it? 💕💜💕
Not much to speak of for this month so far, other than it’s NaNoWriMo time being November and many writers, myself included, are squeezing out thousands of extra words this month, including starting novellas and novels. I’m finding it a great time to complete a range of short stories for several calls I got my eye on. So it’s day 5 today and I’m up to 5k words which makes me happy and feeling productive. The plan is to do 1k words daily for the month, finish the works in progress and set up a trait of writing longer and more often. Sounds good to me.
A couple of other recent achievements are publication of a poem about boredom called “The Dreaded Blue-Grey” thanks to Dagmara at Spillwords, publication of the book, “Nation” from Jesu at Barrio Blues Press; microfiction and a short story, “Halloween Spirit” and “The Wedding” being published by Paper Djinn Press, thanks to Umair editor-in-chief. Iron Faerie Publishing also released “Hexed” this month, and accepted my future work, “The Queen Mother Saw” for their Hawthorn and Ash anthology coming later this year; an acceptance for my essay about being a writer to Sweetycat Press, “To Be or Not To Be a Writer” collection, thanks to the prolific writer and publisher, Steven Lester Carr.
Today is September 1st and it’s feeling like a mammoth occasion because Spring is here. You know; all the birds buzzing around, and bees lapping up honey in our blossomed white tree in the backyard. It has a nice fresh feeling about it even though we are still in lockdown and the days of the week are blurring, morphing into each other.
For some time now I have contemplated the writing of horror and what is unique to this particular sub-genre of speculative fiction. My written horror micro-fiction usually has irony or humour ingrained in it. I can’t write it too sublimely gruesome as my preferences lay with fantasy, sci-fi or the paranormal. So I asked three writers, who I know especially through Black Hare Press, their own slant on it. Here’s what they had to say. Thanks to Hari Navarro based in Italy, Dawn De Braal from the US and Jasmine Jarvis from Australia. Their links are also below as they are all worth following up on social media, especially if you are a horror story fan. Each one has their own talent, uniqueness and appeal.
What is it about writing horror that appeals to you?
Hari: To me it’s a very honest genre. Whereas other tropes might allude to the dark things that prod us to do and think the way that we do, horror is a far more direct examination. I know certain victims of violence find solace in extreme forms of horror. It affords chance to safely peer through the eyes of our daemons and ponder just what makes them tick.
Dawn: I love psychological horror over blood and guts, plots that twist in the end unexpectedly. Horror gives you freedom, a “no holds barred” liberty that is invigorating.
Jasmine: In my teens I was heavily into reading horror, but it never truly sunk in just how scary it could actually be until my epiphany one night in September 1997. I was going through my Anne Rice phase and was eyeballs deep in her vampire series. Up until this moment I was like “meh! Bitey monsters, no biggie!” (thanks Hollywood!) but that night after reading a few chapters of The Vampire Lestat, I stopped and actually thought about it. About being hunted by a creature that was strong, fast, driven by hunger and volatile. How would I, a then 15 year old be able to escape a vampire? Then I began to think just how horrible living forever would actually be. The more I thought about it I realised that immortality was a frightening concept too.
So I mulled over this epiphany in my room in the dead of a hot and steamy Townsville night. Outside I could hear the fruit bats fighting in my neighbours mango tree. The realisation of just how scary these things (vampires, not fruit bats) could be was sinking in, but not enough to deter me from leaving my room to go to the bathroom. Unbeknownst to me, my mum, who was tired of constantly fighting to get me to not read at night, had heard me get up and she snuck into my bedroom where she hid behind the door and waited for my return. I walked back into my room, still occupied by the thoughts of vampires, when I closed the door and my mum lunged at me, hissing and gurgling. Her frizzy blonde hair sticking out in all directions, the sliver of streetlight that came in through the crack of my blinds made her look absolutely terrifying. I dropped on the spot, screaming and boxing the air – if I was going to die, I would do so fighting.
So fear. Fear is what appeals to me about writing horror stories.
What has been your best horror story/drabble and why?
Hari: “Pieces of Grace”, a short I based on the video for Slipknots – Vermilion Pt. 2. It involves the body of a beautiful woman who mysteriously appears from the sky and unconsciously floats the earth swirling and dancing upon the breeze. Initial fascination is replaced with greed as mankind literally tears her apart for souvenirs.
Dawn: Usually it’s the latest baby I gave birth too. One of my favorites is “Prelude to Murder,” a story about a young woman who leaves her alcoholic mother days before her 21st birthday, and hitchhikes from Illinois to Florida with a man she doesn’t know after meeting him at a truck stop.
Jasmine: My favourite drabble is one I wrote last year – The Tech Age Apocalypse (in Black Hare Press Apocalypse anthology) – because now it is even more terrifying given what is going on at the moment with the pandemic.
Which writers have inspired your writing horror & why?
Hari: I recently discovered Lucas Mangum via his book “Saint Sadist”. Not strictly horror though certainly horrific in theme it taught me to be indelibly true to my ideas.
Dawn: I grew up on Steven King and Dean Koontz. I was always amazed at how well they could tell a story, and scare you with words, not violence.
Jasmine: When I was in high school, I was an avid reader of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Christopher Pike. I was sixteen when I got my hands on a copy of the true account that The Exorcist was based on. Now that book kept me awake all night! Anything paranormal and I am like a moth to a flame! Now I mainly read autobiographies, history, crime (currently re-reading The Complete and Essential Jack the Ripper by Paul Begg and John Bennett), political, environmental and social science books. My fiction collection is across multiple genres. Basically I am happy to read anything I can get my hands on. I love reading, I love stories. I draw my inspiration for my horror stories from what is around me. My upcoming story The Rise of the Great Old One came about while listening to clips of unexplained underwater sounds with my kids one afternoon. We then began to talk about Cthulhu and what if the creatures Lovecraft wrote about in his stories actually exist here and now; and that he saw them and knew we were going to be wiped out, but instead of saying outright “hey guys, don’t want to alarm you but have you seen these monsters? Like, the person standing next to you, the one with fish eyes, yeah that is one of Cthulhu’s buddies. Oh, and by the way, we are doomed!” (which would have seen him locked up in an institution). He instead tried to impart these warnings of our demise at the hands (tentacles) of these monsters in his stories, and we lapped it up as fiction. From that, my story took shape. I have always had an active imagination, and the authors of the stories I read in my teens I think have had the biggest influence and have set the foundation for my horror writing today.
POETS – I’m over the moon about acceptance of my poem ‘Ask Your Mum’ to the Penned in the City’s charity chapbook, NATION. My first ever poem to get published and for a really good cause too. Thanks to Jesu Estrada and Ximena Escobar. Boom! That requires as much celebration as this Melbourne lockdown can provide.
A new forthcoming book from Sweetycat Press with stories from a range of emerging and otherwise writers’ journey to their current spot in the literary scheme of things. This looks to be an insightful, interesting and popular read. A big shout-out to author and publisher Steve Carr for providing the opportunity. 📚Hoping to send mine before tomorrow. 🔴
And just for some ambience my friend Patricia in Tahiti took these wonderful tropical beach photos. The doggos look a bit anxious, but the water is totally chilled. 💜
This is a submission call for speculative poetry from the new Paper Djinn Press from Umair and Shawn. Love the cover and hoping to be part of this.