Slow and Steady Gets Books Written

It seems to take me forever, but generally speaking, I do eventually work to finish up my plans. Some of them I even manage to accomplish in reality, not merely simmer internally until they’re fully formed imaginings. Another book, for example, that has finally hatched.

Photo: Hot Flash Fiction (photo credit: Blurb.com)

The newest baby from a past-childbearing-aged person….

Hot Flash Fiction is coming your way.

Yep. I have completed another book, and there are several more in the proverbial pipeline. This one, of course, joins its predecessor Miss Kitty’s Fabulous Emporium (Vol. 1), which is still conveniently available at Amazon, and the new book, Hot Flash Fiction, will be for sale both at Blurb.com and Amazon as soon as it ‘goes live’—I’ve submitted the posting materials and only await the gnomic decree from Amazon to finalize the book’s availability. While MKFE-1 is only available in soft cover/paperback, it has hundreds of poems and graphite drawings. Now that I’m going full-color and making the new book available in both paperback and hard cover versions, it is necessary to keep the book shorter in order to make it affordable enough to be worth my while (and yours!), but then I think a shorter book, since this one is dedicated to ultra-short fiction, is entirely apropos. And I’m pleased with the rich color and crisp details of the print. I think you will be, too.

MKFE-1 (photo credit: Amazon.com)

The one that started it all.

Hot Flash Fiction is a collection of tales with tiny twists, terrible turns, and ticklish tidbits everywhere you look, both in their texts and illustrations. A jot of the ridiculous here, a dot of the delirious there—from science fiction to steampunk, from romantic follies to childish fancies, from cradle to grave and back again, it’s all squeezed into the compact form of exceedingly brief flash fiction. The illustrations, collages of my photographs interwoven with vintage finds and digitally drawn and painted elements into complex treasure-maps to enhance the stories, are a complete turn-about from the entirely hand-drawn black and white images of MKFE, but merely reflect another aspect of my many visual loves.

I look forward to returning with somewhat greater frequency to this blog in the year ahead, but am working in the meanwhile to put together yet more and further different books, so I shall leave you for now with this invitation to dive into these two while the others are still in their formative stages. Happy reading, image-gazing, and most of all, a happy autumn to you all!

Oh—and lest you think I’ve been lounging around listlessly while not posting and only writing books of my poetry and short fiction and art, I have also produced, with the help of a nice company in France called BlookUp, the first of a series of books documenting this blog. Which, I suppose, is yet another book of my poetry and short fiction and art. Never mind! But in case you’re interested, Art-Colored Glasses is now available, too. I recommend the e-book version of that one, because it’s printed on lovely glossy paper in full color and loaded with content, so it’s expensive. But pretty darn entertaining, too, for all that.

Photo: Art-Colored Glasses 1

Book 1 of my blog-documenting series, Art-Colored Glasses. With a Certain Someone silhouetted on the cover, no less.

Calling All [Music] Composers!

Photo: Head in the Clouds

To all the teachers and grownups who ever complained that I always had my head in the clouds: [insert vigorous *RASPBERRY* here]!

I said I would do it long, long ago, so ready or not, here goes: a passel of potential poetic [and other] lyrics. When I write, rhyming or rhythmic or not, I very often hear music in my imagination. Too bad I don’t have the musical chops to set my own texts, whether for solo or ensemble singing, accompanied or a cappella…or maybe it’s not sad at all: I also love collaborative arts. So join me, if you like!

I will likely publish some of this stuff in my upcoming books. The only published book so far, Miss Kitty’s Fabulous Emporium of Magical Thinking: Drawings & Other Artworks, Tall Tales and Weird Creatures (Volume 1), is up for your perusal as well—just grab a copy through Amazon.

[May I suggest that you use Amazon Smile—smile.amazon.com—where you can get Amazon to make a small charitable donation of your choice from their profits]).

This post is not an endorsement of Amazon, paid or otherwise, though I happily use the behemoth’s services extensively myself. Including as my book publisher, since I am far too “unmarketable”—thank you, gallerists, publishers, and agents of the past who classify anything non-repetitive, unprecedented, or wildly varied as impossible to package and sell. This post is not meant to be a whining snark-fest, either, since I am genuinely grateful that said business persons were honest enough with themselves to recognize their limitations in promoting unusual or unclassifiable works, and honest enough, in turn, with me to help me recognize that my vocation isn’t in making a living out of my arts but in making a life with and through them.

Meanwhile, I still love to join forces with other creatives, no matter what our project or theme, when the muse brings us together. I have collaborated with other artists to create numerous visual, written, and performed artworks over the years and am always delighted with the learning, bonding, challenges, inspiration, and joy that come from such interplay. If you find anything in here that sparks (no pun intended) your imagination, I welcome you to my playground. If you’re just here to read and—hopefully—enjoy, you are most welcome as well. I’m happy for the company.

Photo: Afire with Inspiration

Here’s hoping to fan the flames of your imagination…

To read any of the dozens of sets of poems and texts, grouped loosely by theme or topic or mood, just click here or on the freshly minted Poems & Lyric Texts link at the top of my homepage.

Photo: CHEESE!

I’m not above grinning at you crazily if you’re even remotely a kindred spirit. Cheese!

What is the Metric Equivalent of Thirtyhunnert Pazillion Words?*

Digital illo: Birds' WordsA Flock of Words

How fleeting is the flight of birds

Compared to mine, on made-up words!

Vast verbal ventures fly me high

Above their wings—above their sky—

Above the reach of angels’ thought,

So lofty are the words I’ve got.

Proliferation I can send

Beyond the universe’s end,

Where birds and angels, so it seems,

Fly only on the wings of dreams,

And I, the master of the words,

Master the dreams, the angels, birds,

The flimsy few whose flight intends

To float to those far-reaching ends

Where language takes me—but I know

Linguistic lands where they can’t go,

Because they lack these fragrant words,

Unknown to angels, dreams, and birds,

And all whose wings are not enough

To keep up with such heady stuff.

Wafting aloft, flaring with fun,

I leap the moon, the stars, the sun,

The past, the present, times not yet,

The known and unknown, and I get

No weariness from flying here

Above the mental atmosphere,

But elevated past all birds,

I’m wild with joy on wings of words!

* One of my posts.Digital illo: Word Wizardry

A Word to the Contrary

Photo: The Yolk's on Me

Three for the price of two, or a double surprise: the yolk’s on me!

Orange (Mission: Preposterous)

Can there be anything that’s more ing-

enious than to rhyme with orange?

Or have you heard aught more absurd

than rhyming an unmated word?

Just this: that even realists

can turn into idealists

when once they think they have attached

a mate to words that seemed unmatched.

So if you’d make your rhymes more orangey,

just sip a wee dram of Glenmorangie;

you might learn words to score in Scrabble on,

or, at the least, be led to Babylon (*),

but certainly, however foreign,

just know that all rhymes lead to Orange.

Photo: I Rose to the Occasion

At least, I hope I rose to the occasion!

A Dawdler in the Regiment

In olden times, say, when I was in high school, such schools still had Guidance Counselors who evidently thought it genuinely helpful for students (or at least, highly amusing to the counselors and their pals) to give “aptitude tests” to predict youths’ futures. These assessments were ostensibly meant to help us kids find our true paths in life and, more importantly, to steer us somewhere in a job-like direction when we graduated. But of course, they had more than a tiny whiff of the whimsical, as most students knew that giving fanciful answers to the quizzing garnered some pretty fantastical career proposals for them. I was too much of a Goody Two-shoes in those days, apparently, to opt for that form of entertainment. Pity.

You would think I’d’ve been right there on that artistic bandwagon, given the inspiring leadership of my father, who was known to send excuse notes to school after any of my illness-driven absences that led to Public Service Announcements on the school intercom system detailing my kidnap by Green Gremlins, among other purported adventures, and filled my classmates and teachers with glee. But instead of following Dad’s fine example, I answered the Aptitude Test questions with the dull and timid truth that was my safety net at the time, and was assessed as having correspondingly dreary potential.

Photo: Calculated Risks

I guess I just never was big on taking risks.

That was how it sounded to my young ears, anyway. My best option was listed as joining the military, not the most obvious choice for a deep-dyed pacifist. I certainly was no Daughter of the Regiment, born and bred to the military life.

Future Me #2: working in a funeral home. Now, lest you think I’m denigrating funeral professionals or that I consider them or their work boring, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I want minimal fuss, maximum simplicity, when it comes to disposing of my corpse: recycle any usable parts for medicine and science, burn the rest without flourish, and throw out the ashes as compost ASAP. But funerary services aren’t for the dead, are they. Those who offer care and consolation to anyone in need, especially in grief and loss, have my highest respect. It’s tough and complicated work, and tremendously important. I’m just not the person for the job. I haven’t the knowledge, the skills, or the selflessness that doing that admirable work requires. It would take a more creative and positive approach than I can offer.

I don’t lack for imagination, and I’m not wholly without empathy, I hope. But perhaps my peculiar kind of imagination—the surreal and byzantine, the cheerfully macabre—is not the very best sort to be exercised in most funeral counseling and service arrangements, let alone in preparation of a person’s remains for a dignified viewing and memorial service. And there are the added complications of my being easily overwhelmed by others’ worries and struggles, never mind my being horrendously squeamish. If the High School guidance counselor thought it’d be a hoot to see what happened when he put me into the parlor with a grieving family and I suggested they convert Grandpa’s remains into a friendly robot to keep them company and tend to their housekeeping, following that recommendation immediately with a fit of hysterical cackling and a dash out the nearest door to vomit, then perhaps he had the right candidate. Green Gremlins in my future as well as my past.

Photo: A Boar No More?

I’ve always loved the interesting landscapes, history, and art in cemeteries, and I don’t mean to be a pig about it, or a boor, but funerary work didn’t seem like my destiny to me.

The military option was at least in one way more realistic: part of me does crave order. So many other characteristics (dare I say it) militated against my joining any of the armed forces that it was an obvious non-starter for me, but all of these years later I still find myself  wanting to bring more order to my daily life. Starting a daily blog was a good step in that direction, when I did it four-plus years ago. Now I need to extend that discipline to other areas of my day-to-day occupations so as to maximize both their productivity and my pleasure in them. I expect both better health and more enjoyment as payment for the new commitments.

What elements of life would I like to habituate more fully by regimenting them with a slightly rigorous daily schedule for now? First, sleep. Yes, I know that you know I sleep far more than average, and I relish long, uninterrupted nights. I would rather sleep less but more healthfully, to be honest. Be more dependably, deeply asleep, and a bit earlier, and then more fully refreshed and alert when awake.

Hydration is a higher priority than ever, too. It seems small enough, but the good doctor who just shot down my kidney stone assures me that no matter what my geological analysis reveals, I had better start drinking more water to stay healthier, and I know that if I don’t just plain schedule it in for a while, I’m unlikely to remember to make it a habit. Exercise is another such thing. I have no desire to become an athlete. That’s neither in my inherent character nor on my wish list; I do, however, want to be set up for as long and healthy a life as I can manage, and the sedentary nature of writing and making most kinds of art is both antithetical to physical movement and so engrossing that I tend to forget to merely take breaks to move. If I schedule those breaks for a while, just like any old-school union employee, I hope I may train myself to improve in that regard.

I’ve already become slightly more regulated in my dietary ways, since my spousal-person and I successfully navigated our post-summer month of rehab-style eating (low carb, low sugar, no processed and junky foods) and both feel better. Good encouragement to continue the process with diet and otherwise.

The most important piece of the newly regularized itinerary for my average day is to shift the focus of my writing and artistic discipline gradually away from being dedicated to daily blogging and toward a new, more personally fulfilling version of my creative output. More books for publication, probably, on the relatively near horizon. A reduced blogging schedule, something more like three days a week, will certainly help me in that regard. But I think I’m just getting a little hungry, whether it’s more from four-plus years focused on that daily post or from merely getting a little older and more constantly aware of my finitude, the ever-increased nearness of my own need for funerary services from somebody who took the career path I didn’t—it doesn’t matter why. I’m just feeling ready to ramble in a new direction, and the only way I generally get used to such things is to build them into a Plan, for starters. To regulate and codify and systematize them into a semblance of order.

I never did join the military, but it turns out I tend to do fairly well in my own regiment.

Photo: Ah, but Witch Regiment?

Maybe I *was* destined for a more regimented life. Ah, but witch regiment?

So Much Good Reading, So Little Time

Photo montage: So Much Reading, So Little TimeOne of the keenest problems in a comfortable life, that. So much great stuff that I would love to read, and such a short life. So many beautiful pages of literary jewels and deliriously fun junk, paper and zine, novel and blog, that I would happily devour, if only there weren’t so much other Stuff to be done in the finite hours of the day.

In my case, of course, there is the additional complication of being an interminably slow reader. I will have to live to be 627 years old, at least, to read all that I’d like to read. Add to that the extra time (about half again as long) to comprehend what I read and I will have outlasted Methuselah and any number of other supernal beings. And the problem remains, on top of this literary one, that I will have a wide assortment of other highly irksome and undignified complications to overcome and survive in order to achieve such an advanced age. So I have to pick and choose what I am willing and able to devote my actual reading time to perusing, and accept my limitations with as good a grace as I can manage.

This summer, though many of you whose blogs I am fond of visiting for both reading and commenting might be surprised to hear it, I have been reducing rather than increasing my holiday reading. Since much of what I do read is online, and on an erratic schedule with less frequent long periods of sit-down-and-read time, let alone with reliable wi-fi access, I must think about what little I can squeeze in between other summer activities and parcel out my energies and devotion accordingly. I assure you that this is in no way a reflection on the quality and desirability of your work and its pull on my imagination, but it’s rather the reverse: that I want to return to it when I can give it more of its due and proper attention and appreciation. I will return to you, rest assured. Meanwhile, I hope you are lying back on a comfortable chaise in the summer shade, sipping a cool drink, and reading whatever stirs your soul while the season lasts.

Wiggle & Giggle

Welcome to another episode of “All Words, No Meaning.”

I just get these strange, tickly tics at times, you know.

And I was just thinking about my wonderful brother-in-law’s wonderful mother, who once upon a time delighted us by asking in her musically lilting Norwegian-tinged English to explain the weird word one of us had used: “What is ‘wiggle’?” It made us all laugh, not least of all dear Mor. The word itself is funny. The ingenuous way she asked it was so irresistibly adorable that it made the word all the more funny, and we fell all over ourselves snickering and writhing with laughter. “Vot iss viggle?” V words are often special anyhow, I think. They are vivid. Vital. Vigorous.

Violently Verbose Vapidity

Voluminous in velveteen and vivid in velour,

That Venus eating Vindaloo, in the vernacular,

Was very villainous, it’s said, vermillion in her faults,

But veiled in verisimilitude, her vices hid in vaults,

Vile vortices of vermin, varmints, vipers, vexing pains,

And vigorously vinegary vapors in her veins,

Yet always, these vituperative and vast, voracious ills

Veered, voicelessly averted, by her villa’s windowsills;

So virtuous seemed all in view from vane to vestibule,

From valance to verandah, I’d avow that, as a rule,

Veracity had lost its vim, a victim to her vibe

Of viscous, vain verbosity in every diatribe,

And via Violet’s vertiginous, vindictive lies,

Her vow of victory o’er all, valid and otherwise,

Would void the verve of every nerve, veritable or vexed,

And vanquish, make it valueless, in this vale and the next.

Her viands—vermicelli and Vidalias and veal

And vegetables with Vegemite were her most voguish meal—

At last revealed her venomously covert, vile inside,

When Vi’s vast vessel of vermouth rendered her vitrified,

Made vitreous her venal guts, visiting visibly

Those virulent and vengeful, vulgar bits, for all to see.

Vast vanity and venom may vouchsafe the dark crevasse,

But even vampires are revealed, converted into glass.Digital illo: Violet & Vermilion