fence 3Quite a while ago, before my brain was frostbitten, the poem below was published for a holiday issue of Soul Engravings.

Recently, I came across it and had to smile because it reminded me of how this blasted winter storm in Michigan, with its unforgiving icy prisons and below zero temps has affected the attitudes of many people around me.

***

Frozen Decadence

Usually, I can force
all who have desires to hastily drink up
and drown in a spiral of never-ending wants.
I can lick souls to death and catch hope on fire;
it’s almost too easy, but someone has to do it.
Most days, the game of manipulation brings
forth sparkling innocence, which I shred to pieces
with only a glare of sugary lust.
I can blind those who would otherwise give
and I can deafen those who habitually listen.

But, alas…when the autumn air chills
and snowflakes fall upon my misery,from aaron ice2
I seek refuge for a smidgen of time and freeze.
Strange red and green balls of light
drape over my power and weaken me.
Silver and gold tinsel, surely infused with optimism,
strengthens my everyday victims; they do not feel me.
Quite foreign to the likes of me, hope rules without fear.
I am left abandoned in an abyss of frigid solitude
where I fester until ‘tis the season is over.

True, in the poem hope rules, but heavens! Has anyone noticed the winter blues…more like blustery grays, have saturated optimism and replaced it with negativity dipped into chilly dispositions? A friend of mine got her little car stuck in a huge snow drift and since no one stopped to help her, and her cell phone refused to work, she walked about twenty-five frigid minutes back to her home. Even with all of her winter attire, she said it took hours for her body to warm up.

ryan outside2Now, almost the same thing happened to my daughter, although she had the good fortune of a neighbor with an awesome truck to assist. So, yes, not all is lost! I like to think this visit from Jack Frost will not completely destroy hopes and wishes for 2014.

Many stories swirl around in my head most of the time, yet I’ve never introduced “weather” into the storyline as a driving force. Sure, weather conditions are in my stories, and a demonic storm does attack Jake Cottrell in The Twelfth Paladin much to his dismay. This latest bout with Jack, with his mind numbing temps, skin slicing wind, and so much snow cars disappear into drifts has inspired me to use weather much differently. Too cold, too dark, day after day and then maybe into months…what might happen to people not used to it, like me? I hate being cold! I sip on either hot chocolate or hot tea all day and night. Just the warmth of it helps, you know?

If your imagination is held captive by Jack, don’t let him triumph! Consider how the weather might enrich a story or poem you are working on.

• Frosty temps with snow, ice, high winds, loss of electric, and gasoline shortages lead to desperation settling in. How will your characters react? Can they hunt for food? Did they plan for a disaster, or were they caught off-guard?
• It’s so cold your characters no longer feel their limbs. Starving, who will survive? Who stands out as the leader, and who falls well below everyone’s expectations? Are any of the characters willing to sacrifice big time for others?
• Possibly, a character once believed to be mundane, weak, or simply irresponsible is the one who has the smarts to rise to the occasion and think his/her way to beat Jack at his own game. Or, turn this around. The supposed genius of the group proves to be unable to function once fighting for basic needs comes to play.

Have the harsh winter conditions changed your attitude? If so, what prevents your spirit front2from ice overload? Have you considered using the weather as a character in your work? Feel free to share!

Off I go! It’s tea time.
Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

*Also a big thanks to Aaron and Ryan for the lovely pics!

Happy New Year!

Hopefully, 2012 was a year that passed with good friends by your side and precious moments spent with your loved ones. As winter creeps in, I appreciate the chilled beauty all around me and stay warm by drinking lots of scorching hot tea. I always read a bit more during the frozen months, plus my mind races with short story ideas, and poems emerge with a distinctly cold bite to them.

Short stories and poems need to be published! So check out this post to venture into the exciting land of submissions. Keep in mind while searching for markets these all-important things…

  • Read the guidelines for each market carefully. If said magazine or e-zine states they only accept literary poetry and fiction, then do not submit horror, fantasy, or science fiction.
  • Take notice if the market for your work accepts simultaneous submissions (submit that poem or story to other markets at the same time) and/or multiple submissions (submit more than one piece at a time), and if your chosen market accepts reprints.
  • Read examples of what has been accepted to that market to provide a better idea of what those editors are drawn to. Some editors are all about surreal experiences that can be interpreted differently by each reader, yet others prefer details galore that make sure the reader gets exactly what the writer is saying. It’s fun to write both ways, so give it a try!
  • Does the market insist upon a bio and intro letter? Most of the time, I’ve included these with my submissions. If it is stated no such things are welcome, then do not send them. Why would an editor not want a bio or cover letter? I’ve worked with a handful of editors who want to judge a piece solely on its own merits and not the background of the writer. If the piece is accepted, then a bio may be requested.
  • If possible, find a submission editor’s name to use with your submission. It shows you have taken a little extra time to read about that market.
  • Unless the publisher’s guidelines state otherwise, use industry standard manuscript formatting. What is that, you ask? Check out William Shunn’s post on industry standard manuscript formatting.
  • Does the market pay? You must decide if this matters, but be sure you know before agreeing to anything.

MARKETS

IDEOMANCER: One of my favorite markets, Ideomancer publishes speculative fiction and poetry. Their guidelines state, “We want unique pieces from authors willing to explore non-traditional narratives and take chances with tone, structure and execution, balance ideas and character, emotion and ruthlessness. We also have an eye for more traditional tales told with excellence.” Their site is beautiful, and the work published is top-notch.

INTERSTELLAR FICTION: If writing about little, green Martians, robots gone mad, or Slide1doomsday devices are your thing, check out this market. Interstellar Fiction loves the old clichés, but if something new blows them away, chances are a publishing credit is coming your way.

THE SOUTHERN REVIEW: You’ll have time to submit to The Southern Review because unsolicited fiction and nonfiction is only accepted (postmarked) September 1st through December 1st, and unsolicited poetry is accepted (postmarked) September 1st through February 1st. If you have poetry ready to go, hurry and submit! Fiction, poetry, essays, including nonfiction and literary essays that are previously unpublished, are considered. Simultaneous submissions are permitted but they ask to be notified promptly if your work is accepted elsewhere.

PERIHELION: If hard science fiction is what you write best, I hope you submit to Perihelion. This e-mag says, “No fantasy. No horror. No fan fiction. No poetry. Stories do not necessarily have to restrict themselves to robots, rocket ships, and extraterrestrials. However, the science and/or technology must be integral to the story. If you remove the science, the story falls apart, or disappears altogether. If the plot can be easily reconstituted as a western, a swashbuckler, or a bodice-ripper, it is probably not for us, either.” Doesn’t this sound like a challenge? I really want to submit to this market!

THE BARCELONA REVIEW: All genres and a diverse styles and techniques are all open game at The Barcelona Review. “We’re after original, potent and powerful writing with a contemporary feel that is literarily sound; writing marked by a strong sense of imaginative distinction. (We do not publish tales, fables or re-worked fairy tales; nor are we after vignettes.)” Submit!

ABANDONED TOWERS MAGAZINE: A market for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, Abandoned Towers Magazine has an online presence for fantastic reading material and a print publication as well. Guidelines are listed for Art, Books for Review, Audio, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Video, so take your pick and submit.

ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE: A publisher of crime, mystery, and suspense short stories, AHMM has delighted readers for over fifty years by releasing mystery fiction of “the broadest range and the highest quality, featuring every subgenre of mystery fiction.” Kirkus Reviews adds, “The lack of a specific house style is its greatest strength.” This is an impressive market because many stories featured in AHMM have won dozens of awards, including numerous Robert L. Fish awards for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year. Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine features 12 issues (8 single issues and 2 double issues). Guidelines here.

PRISM: A quarterly magazine whose home is Vancouver, British Columbia, Prism International’s mandate is to “publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world. Writing from PRISM has been featured in Best American Stories, Best American Essays and The Journey Prize Stories, amongst other noted publications.” Regular features include creative non-fiction, drama, and translations.

FIND MORE MARKETS

NEWPages.com: Do dreams come true? If you dream about a huge listing of links for literary marketsNEWPages.com states, “The most up-to-date and reliable lists of literary magazines on the web.” An example listing for Sliver of Stone shows a writer everything needed to pursue this market. Emerging and established poets, writers, and visual artists from all parts of the globe are welcome to submit.

Speculative Literature Foundation: Speculative fiction is close to my heart, so this absolutely amazing list of market links is one to visit if you’re all about science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Ralan.com: Providing links to speculative writing markets for over sixteen years, Ralan.com is a site I often visit.

Good luck submitting in 2013, and if you know of a great market, leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

Welcome to Earth

As far as planetary real estate goes, creatures from the cosmos may…at first glance, believe Earth’s residents to be highly disposable, savage beasts.  It is not possible to defend thousands of years of war, a lack of humanity raging within some humans, the carelessness at which we destroy our planet, or the seemingly hopeless way history repeats itself since we must learn things the hard way. The ugly truth is brutally obvious; humans are violent creatures who force war upon each other to control everything. The nightly news makes sure we are aware of our mistakes on a daily basis.  Feeling a sense of doom and shame for how we’ve handled ourselves is too easy.
Michaelangelo’s “David”

But all is not lost. Humans have great potential, and are not disposable beasts, even though we may require a tune-up…a desperately needed awakening of our minds, bodies, and souls.

So, what have we done right? Take a few minutes to marvel at mankind.  Some have accomplished astounding things which have affected millions, while others have made quiet, relatively unknown contributions…that are just as significant when placing mankind under a microscope of cosmic proportions.

For an instance, let humanity shine.

Dr. Jonas Salk: Produces Polio Vaccine

While there is no cure for Polio, an acute viral infectious disease, Dr. Jonas Salk produced a Polio vaccine in 1952 to prevent catching the disease that weakens muscles and can cause paralysis. This is the disease that put  Franklin D. Roosevelt (President of the United States 1933-1945) in a wheelchair.  Do you ever think about catching this horrible disease? I never do thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk and the other medical professionals who worked on the creation of this vaccine.

Invasion of Body Snatchers

Think you’re having a bad day? Take one minute to read The Worst Outbreaks of Disease. It will make you appreciate the diligent efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, and unrecognized guardians who care for the sick and dying. Read about Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) to discover the true power of compassion. The pioneering of nursing, along with the reform of hospitals, are her two greatest accomplishments, especially since she was a Victorian woman. She was also a noted mathematician.

Tiny Word Loaded with Death…War

War has been, and is currently, a part of life here on the blue sphere. It’s a sad fact of life, but read about the courageous women of the 14th Kentucky Infantry who supported soldiers during the United State’s Civil War. None of these women had to go out of their way; they could’ve hidden deep in the hills and waited for the war to end, yet they proved to be unsung heroes whose wartime efforts speak volumes about what it is to be human.

Also consider the valiant efforts of Len Smith who risked life and limb in the trenches of WWI to sketch enemy positions and camps. Does this not make you think about the soldiers who died bringing peace to a few corners of our world? It makes me think about the cost of freedom and of the men and women who saved others from harm’s way, but perished while doing so.

Lost in Magnificence

I acknowledge the good, bad, and ugly sides of humanity, but what I absolutely love about our species is the yearning to create beauty…to mimic what Mother Nature has to offer with paintings, poetry, fiction, sculpture, and the supreme tranquility offered by our greatest musicians. Why do we create? That’s an age-old question, and I’m sure no answer will satisfy me, although it always intrigues me.

Take a look at Michelangelo’s Pieta (1499) that was carved for the Vatican/St. Peter’s. Michelangelo lived from 1475 to 1564 and produced magnificent works of art that to this day leave his audience spellbound. And let’s not forget Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) since his legacy as a painter, sculptor, scientist, mathematician, inventor, musician, architect, botanist, and writer still astounds people. To think Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci lived at the same time is almost unbelievable. After viewing Leonardo’s work online, and reading his bio, I really cannot imagine how this person had time to sleep.  The activity within his brain must have been relentless.

Now, take a look at the ceiling fresco in Duomo Cathedral/Florence, Italy. It was designed and started by Giorgio Vasari in, 1572, and then finished, in 1579, by Frederico Zuccari.

Duomo Cathedral/Florence, Italy/Judgement Day

One of my previous posts has links to music, like Johann Pachelbel and Felix Mendelssohn. These composers are flawless in their craft…both musicians mastered the art of infusing music with emotions. You will surely smile and feel something tender, or joyful, while falling into their musical realms. Feel as far away from savagery as possible while listening to either one of them.

Ancient Greek Vase

If creatures from the cosmos ever drop in to greet us, hopefully, they will not judge earthlings too quickly…or we may appear as ravenous control freaks incapable of compassion that utilize the intelligence given to us merely for selfish gratification. No…not all the time anyway! Humans, as bizarre as we are….have the ability to create beauty, and they will sacrifice so others will benefit. I hope that’s the impression we make if realtors from afar ever visit.

Please feel free to comment about extraordinary people you know to inspire others! Thanks for visiting.