Tag Archives: publishing

The Death in Me – Published in Bete Noire Issue #17

BN17I’m a little late in posting this, but Bete Noire Issue #17 is out now and it includes the first-time publication of my poem, The Death in Me.

In case you don’t know, Bete Noire is a great little quarterly magazine full of “…stories that are well written, character driven and have a dark bent to them.”

My poem, The Clog was first published in Issue #6 back in 2012 and it’s great to see this publication not only going strong, but getting better and better with each new issue. So pick up a copy of Issue #17 in print or digital format, and if you enjoy the stories in this magazine, (which I have no doubt you will) consider supporting this small press publisher by grabbing a subscription so you will never miss an issue again!

[P.S. In January look for a slightly revised version of my poem Another Light (first published in Phantom Kangaroo issue no. 9, July 2012) to be included in Bete Noire Issue #18!]


Hell Fossil

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Today I present ‘Hell Fossil’ from my chapbook Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski. In case you missed the previous posts, here are ‘One in Hell‘ and ‘Ocean Eyes.’

Enjoy!

HELL FOSSIL

Men of lost goals
and minuscule purpose
lie crunched and broken,
impacted with the weight

of hollow burden,
angered with the memories,
to bleed forever
with their brethren.

Armies pile high in cold-stone fusion.
They died amidst the pit.
They brought their war to Hell
and marched upon the Black Gates.

Their skulls still don the helmets
of their killing suits,
their death rags,
their funeral wrappings.

Their spines drip upon on the wall,
crags layered with the corpses—
a bluff of rot and suffering
erodes softly into the abyss.

Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski releases on Sunday, October 12. Pre-order the ebook here on Amazon for $0.99 or the trade-paperback (List Price: $5.99) on Amazon or the Createspace Storefront. Or wait a week or two and support your local bookstore by ordering directly from them (recommended!).


One in Hell

Zdzisław Beksiński - 1986 (4)

Zdzisław Beksiński – 1986

With only four days until its “official” release, I think it’s time I let you folks sample some of my chapbook, Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski. So as a sort of “countdown,” I will be posting one poem from the book right here every day through launch day, Sunday, October 12.

Today I am sharing the first poem included, which is also the first one I wrote for the collection. It was inspired by the image of the painting above (and I might be breaking some copyright laws by posting that, I really don’t know).

So have a read, and if you like the poem, consider pre-ordering the ebook on Amazon for only $0.99, or grab a physical copy, which has (unintentionally) arrived a few days early (whoops!) and is now available to order on Createspace or Amazon for the retail price of $5.99. The print edition should also be available to order through your local bookstore in (just?) a few weeks (why that process takes so long, I have no clue).

And be sure to stop back here to check out a new poem from this little chapbook every day through Sunday.

Enjoy!

ONE IN HELL

Bones wrapped in bones,
wrapped in layers,
layers of bone on bone;
encrusted earth of flesh
crumbles at our feet,
our feet formed of clay.
Your face, my face—
we melt into one.

Our place,
Our flesh,
Our bones,
heaped upon this pole,
this whipping pole,
this torture pole
jutting from the nightmare.

You give me hugs.
I taste your lips;
they are one inside my mouth
and fused in teeth,
blended as I bite,
and eat you whole
and eat your parts.

My heart still beats
somewhere inside your chest,
deep within your cage,
ribs stripped of flesh;
and your heart mingles, tickles,
tingles in my skull.

My eyes peel wide
to wicked weather,
creeping fog,
settling dew
saturated with our fluids;
rain of skin
falls softly now upon us.

Me, you, we—
there is no start,
there is no end;
our twisted corpses
stretching on
forever,
and forever—
we are intertwined.

Come Fly with Death: Full Cover Reveal (and Other Stuff)

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October 12, 2014 is a very important date for me, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. That’s right, AMC’s The Walking Dead returns for it’s fifth season of Zombie action-drama goodness, and I know we are all just dying to know (Spoiler Alert!) if Carl makes it out of the train car at Terminus.

In other news, my chapbook, Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski will be released on that same date. It has been over three years in the making, and I am extremely pleased to now be able to share this little chapbook with you. The ebook is currently available to pre-order for just $0.99 HERE.

In honor of its forthcoming release, I wanted to also share the full cover for the printed version (seen above), as well as a brief history of how this project came to be.

I started writing this book purely by accident. By that I mean I didn’t set out to write a poetry chapbook based solely on Beksinski’s artwork. One morning (on May 21, 2011, to be more or less precise, but who the hell really cares) I was looking for something to post to my tumblr, and as I had fairly recently discovered Beksinski’s work (and as a result had become completely fascinated by it), I decided to post some images of his paintings.

As I looked upon one image in particular, words began to fill my brain, and so I did what writers are supposed to do when words fill their brains, I wrote them down. What resulted was a rough draft of the first poem in this collection, One in Hell. I liked what I’d written so I tempted fate again while viewing an image of a different painting. I wrote down my response, liked it, and repeated this yet again some days later. I continued to repeat this experiment over the course of the next few months, viewing a different piece of artwork by Beksinski in each case, to ultimately produce rough drafts of the twenty poems included in this collection.

In the years since, I have revised these poems, restructured stanzas, changed titles, agonized over line breaks and synonyms and em dashes and capitals and commas. I have edited, re-edited, re-revised. I have submitted selected works for publication and seen many of them published in print and online. I have further analyzed the work as a whole, as well as taken each poem stanza by stanza, line by line, word by word, tweaked and adjusted and revised again and again. It’s crazy to think about it, but I can’t even begin to calculate the number of hours I’ve put into these mere 2,000-something words.

Well, now it is finally ready, and I can honestly say that this chapbook is a work that I am truly proud of. I know that this won’t be for everybody, likely a very small niche group. But for those who enjoy dark writings, all things horror, surreal and/or Gothic-themed fiction and poetry, my hope is that this collection will be something that those folks can truly appreciate. Even if it’s not for you, if you happen to know someone like that, whom you think might enjoy something like this, please feel free to share it with them. I, of course, will be eternally grateful.

Oh, and one last thing. I am actively seeking folks interested in reviewing this little book. I have it available electronically in PDF format, as well as a limited stock of printed proof copies that I will ship free of charge anywhere in the Continental US to anyone genuinely interested. Please comment below or message me at wesdgray(at)gmail(dot)com if you’d like to receive a review copy. All you need to do is ask.

Thank you for taking the time to read these words. Don’t forget to mark your calender (10/12/14) for The Walking Dead Season 5 premier on AMC (official trailer included below, just for kicks), as well as the release date for my little chapbook, Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski.


Come Fly with Death: Release Date (and ebook Cover Reveal)

Come Fly with Death Book Cover - KindleDo you have a date with Death? Well, you do now. On 10/12/14, my chapbook, Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski, will be unleashed upon the unsuspecting public.

The ebook is now available for pre-order HERE for $0.99. While this pre-order is exclusively for the ebook, the print version will be available to order on the same date, provided there are no set backs with the proofing.

The ebook cover image is revealed above, and I will post the full-wrap cover for the physical book soon.

And now I will leave you with the book’s newly updated description:

Book Description:

Come Fly with Death is a chapbook of 20 poems inspired by the artwork of the late Polish painter, Zdzislaw Beksinski. Up until the time of his murder in 2005, Beksinski created a fantastic collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs, specializing in the field of utopian art.

Like Beksinski’s works, the poems contained here are surrealistic and graphic. They are at times horrific, Gothic, even erotic, and apocalyptic. Above all, they attempt to serve as a rare glimpse into the heart of our most beautiful nightmares.

Contains reprints from: The Horror Zine, Twisted Dreams Magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Indigo Rising Magazine, Gothic Poems and Fiction, Death Head Grin Anthology Vol. 2, and Fossil Lake: An Anthology of the Aberrant. Also includes several poems never before published.


Title Change and Other Stuff

I’ve given this quite a bit of thought, and after a few years of living with my WIP poetry chapbook as Nightmare Dreamer, I have decided to completely change the title prior to publication. Better to change it prior to, than after the fact, I suppose. So the new title, as given away by the little graphic above, is…dun dun dun… Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski.
 
There are several reasons I’ve decided to make this change. Both titles come from poems included in the book, but the poem, Come Fly with Death is one of my personal favorites, and honestly I just think it proves to be a more original title. Nightmare Dreamer has always had a slight generic taste to it, at least to me. And although that title and its poem are direct references to Beksinski himself, the genius artist whose work the entire book is inspired from, I feel that the title, Come Fly with Death and its corresponding poem both speak much more closely to the overall spirit of the book as a whole. So, there. It is done.
 
Along with a new title there will be an all new cover design. While my attempts at creating original digital artwork for this title have taught me much in the ways of Photoshop, sadly I must admit that I am not a graphic designer. I will still be creating the cover as far as layout, text placement, etc., but I will be contracting the actual artwork. Perhaps one day I can tinker around and learn enough about Photoshop and the digital arts to do my ideas justice, but in the meantime, I will focus on the writing and leave the visual arts to the visual artists.
 
As far as publication goes, I am getting very close to releasing this chapbook. A few of the poems included had been pending publication elsewhere, and I have been waiting for all that to resolve so that rights could revert back to me. At this point, I am free to publish these poems as I see fit, so I will be moving full steam ahead. Once I finish with the interior layout and scour it for final line edits, I will finalize the cover. I am hoping to have all that done so that it can be released in Ocober, just in time for Halloween. The initial release will be as an ebook on Amazon Kindle, and will also be available as print on demand. I will expand that to include all the other major ebook distributors such as iTunes and Smashwords, but as this is my first adventure into the world of self-publishing, it may take me some time.
 
In other news, my novella, Feeding Lazarus is in final revision and I am looking at a release date of early next year. It will also be getting a new cover design, which I will reveal here as we get closer to publication.
 
Until next we meet, be cool, be safe, and of course, just write.

 


2014: The Year thus Far

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I’ve been away from the blog for a while, away from writing in general in fact. After “winning” NaNoWriMo last year, I decided to take a little break in December, which inadvertently turned into an extended hiatus from writing altogether. I had managed to hit the 50K word goal during the month while working full time, meeting various other obligations, and still spending time with my family, but by the end of it, I was tired, perhaps even burned out. So I decided to take a step back during the holidays, with a plan to return in January. My aim then was to finish the first draft of my Nano novel which, though it stood at 50,000 plus words on December 1, wasn’t (and still isn’t) even close to being a completed anything. I’d left the story dangling somewhere in the hazy middle, in the middle of a terrible and laborious storm if I recall correctly, and that is precisely where it stands today.

Now with the summer months nearly gone, I stand facing September as it screeches near, and I’m wondering where the hell the year went. I don’t want to make excuses for not writing and so I’m not going to dwell on the time lost. I just know this: it is time to get back to The Work. Okay, so not that work exactly. Not the half-completed nonsense novel thus far left by the wayside. Don’t get me wrong, I will finish that sloppy “zero” draft. I will eventually revise, rewrite, mold and sculpt it into something that hopefully won’t make your eyes bleed. But first I just need to get moving again, and I’ve got other projects that have been on the shelf which I feel I owe my obligations to at present.

Also, with another Nano approaching, I don’t think it’s too early to start planning the work to be done during this year’s madness. Yes, that’s right. I am crazy enough to do this thing again. This time however, I’d like to set a personal goal beyond the 50k word count. Hopefully, with a bit of planning and some time to conjure up a decent outline, I’d like to actually complete an entire draft during the month, so as to not end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble roughly half of a completed novel. My personal goal then will be to end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble an entire novel.

So I’ve had a wee little break but now I’ve got work to do. In the coming weeks I’ll be plotting and outlining the new novel as well as working to finish up another novel and a chapbook which have both been in the works for far too long. I’ll be making an effort to post more regularly to the blog, if for nothing else than to pop in and say “hi” and tell you what I had for dinner. No. I won’t really do that. No one really cares about that. But I do have a few ideas to expand upon the current content and make it reflect additional topics outside of writing. Perhaps that will liven the place up, make it more fun, like some sort of futuristic cyborg monkey disco. Wouldn’t that be cool? Anyway, I believe I also promised some posts on the NaNoWriMo experience, so as we draw closer to this year’s event in November, I’ll try to post a summary on my thoughts from the chaos of 2013. So until next time, be cool, be safe, and just write!


NaNoWriMo: Post Week One Update

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My journey into this lunatic adventure of National Novel Writing Month is well underway as I’m joining nearly 300,000 other writers (so far) in this grand (insane?) undertaking to write an entire novel in 30 days during the month of November. Now that we’re done with the first quarter (sports term for all you sport-ish people) and boldly going right on into the next, sleep deprived and caffeine juiced, with alienated family and friends, I think it’s time for a quick update to see how things are shaping up.

First, here’s a look at the score card:

Score

 

A quick word on motivation and word output:

The hardest part of this whole adventure thus far has been waking up early. That is, actually opening my eyes, forcing my lazy butt to roll out of bed, and JUST WRITE! I’ve been waking up every morning anywhere between 4:30 and 5:oo a.m., brewing coffee, headphones tuned to Pandora, and then sitting down to write. Nothing else, no distractions. That gives me about two hours before the kids start waking up and then I’m pretty much done for the day. On two days I wrote in the afternoons, once on Saturday while the kids napped and once on Wednesday after work. On each of those days, I cleared over 3,000 words. I’m averaging about 1,000 words an hour. Some hours I get less, but some hours I get more. as far as words go, I guess I’m not doing too bad. (Note: refer to the graph at the top of the post for my daily progress chart.)

But how’s the story shaping up?

That’s a fair question. Allow me to attempt to provide an answer, but since I’m blazing a trail forward and not looking back to see the terrible mess I’m making, I’ll just have to guess. I started with a rough outline that I threw together the week before Nano began. It is basically just a work in progress TOC with the major parts listed and basic details of what’s to happen in each part. I didn’t break it down any further into specific chapters or scenes. In all there are five parts. After nearly 16k words, I’m still floating, rather aimlessly, around in Part I. Clearly I am pantsing it (within the framework of my outline) and I know I’ve written a puke-tastic amount of fluff. I mean, not much has happened yet in terms of plot, and I know that will be an issue ill need to to tackle in the coming drafts, but in the mean time, who cares? I’m fully aware that what I’m creating is a Hot Stinking Mess, but that’s OKAY! At this rate however, I’ll be doing Nano: The Extended Edition until late January before I ever reach the end of that final scene. Oh well, it is what it is. At least I’ll have something to work with once the first (zero?) draft is actually complete. 

And now the summary:

Overall, I’m actually quite amazed that Nano is going this smoothly so far. I honestly felt like it was going to be nearly impossible and that I was completely nuts for even considering it, and now it feels entirely possible. The (seemingly) impossible is now looking quite plausible, perhaps even probable? Now that I’m sensing that accomplishing the goal is actually attainable, my drive and determination are all that much hungrier. All I have to do is keep doing what I’ve been doing and at this pace, I might actually win. Well okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of novel yet to write, but so far I must say it’s looking quite good for the home team.


NaNoWriMo…Wha? I must be Crazy!

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I’ve always suspected that I might be insane. Now it’s official. Read on, I finally have the proof!

Yesterday, on a whim, without a shred of forewarning from my subconscious, I decided to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month.  Why is this so crazy, you might ask? Well in case you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, let me give you a brief rundown. Basically, every November is National Novel Writing Month. Participants sign up (for free) to write one 50,000 word novel in the time span of one month. That’s right, 30 days. One. Entire. Novel.

The goal in itself isn’t crazy, mind you. While I imagine that it might be extremely difficult to write an entire novel in one month, it IS an achievable goal. No, what makes this so crazy for me is that I’m going to attempt this with my current work schedule and home life (which I’m certain is no different than most of the participants). And of course, one thing I simply can not do is neglect my family in order to write. Family first. Writing second. Always, no matter how strong my passions are for writing, that is just the way it must be.

Currently, I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have any time to do any writing whatsoever. I tried the whole, wake-up-an-hour-early thing for a couple of weeks and I think I actually dragged my lazy but outta bed to write a total of…what was it, oh yeah, once. So how am I going to achieve this goal? Well, while it is doubtful that I will actually achieve the goal and “win” NaNoWriMo, (although I will be damned if I’m not going to give it my best shot!) I think staying up later than usual and waking up at oh, say, 4 a.m. is probably a good place to start. So let’s just see if this event will give me the drive. Let’s see if it will give me the kick in the pants I’ve been needing to really make it happen! I figure if I even only meet 10% of the goal, it’s still 10% more of a novel than I started the month with, so hey, what the hell have I got to lose?

In the next twelve days before the writing frenzy begins (twelve? really? is that all?) I’ll be trying to prepare as best as I can by daydreaming plot lines and penning character sketches. I’ll also try to post some information about the actual novel itself such as title, premise, and teasers, but I doubt I’ll have much time to post, if at all, during the month of November. But have no doubt, I will be posting post-NaNoWriMo in the weeks/months after in order to update you on how things went, what I (hopefully) learned during the process, and generally just share my experience.

Ok, now that I’ve gone public with my total insanity, all I need to do is to stock the cupboards with the finest (cheapest, strongest) espresso, a couple of cases of Monster, and a goodly supply of energy shots. Oh, and if I could somehow lose my unquenchable desire for a good nights sleep, that would be helpful as well.

What about you? Participating? Thinking about it? Been there, done that? I’d love to hear from you and any thoughts, advice, or experiences you might like to share! Also, a small smack of encouragement would be great too! 🙂


I’m Not Dead: Balancing the Equation in My Writing Life

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I’m not dead. Not yet anyway.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to say, but if this is going to become a real post, I’d better make up a few more words. I could always explain things, tell you loyal readers why it’s been so quiet on the writing front these days, but I’m sure no one is really that interested.

Oh what the heck, I’ll just do it anyway. Besides, I need to find more ways to stretch this thing out, haven’t I? So then, what I’d like to do is elaborate on the things in my life which have caused my writing to slow down, and then explain my strategies on how I plan to overcome them. If you are bored with all the personal details, just hang in there and keep reading…I promise there’s a nugget or two in here somewhere.

So here it is, the reasons why productivity has slowed down so drastically in my writing world. It can easily be summed up with this simple mathematical formula: Writing productivity is inversely proportional to the intensity of real life. That is, as one speeds up, the other inherently slows down. So what has been causing the intensity of my life to increase so much? Work of course is the big obvious and boring reason, so we’ll just get that one out of the way. There! That feels much better. Now on to the more important issues.

Buying our first home has been one of the biggest challenges my wife and I have ever faced, from the initial and grueling home search, to obtaining the financing and gathering all the countless documents that go along with it, to a myriad of other hiccups, bumps, and catastrophes along the way which I don’t have the space nor the patience to get into here. We finally closed on our first home just four days before Christmas and orchestrated a complete DIY move over the course of the next week between Christmas and New Years (with a bit of help from our friend, Lisa…thanks Lisa!). Oh, and did I mention that our second child was born just three days after Christmas? So that means I practically moved an entire household by my lonesome while my wife was recovering from childbirth all while helping to care for our newborn baby boy and very active two year old daughter. Whew! Makes me exhausted again just typing it all.

So now what? Well there are still countless things occurring on a daily basis such as work, getting settled into our home, and taking care of the family which can all decrease writing productivity, and I know that this trend will never change. After all, such is life. So how will I manage all this and still remain productive in my writing? How will I bring balance to the equation? Not-so-simply this, I must carry on and try to become more creative when it comes to finding ways to squeeze in the time to write. (A bit like trying to squeeze lemon juice out of the peel, but nonetheless, it CAN be done!) That means analyzing how my time is spent overall and looking for ways to skim a little time off the top of other activities (i.e. sleep, surfing the internet, World of Warcraft), then arranging and compiling that time into blocks, chunks, and snippets which can be reallocated for writing.

I will use this time to update the blog as I can, and conceive of ideas to help generate content and traffic flow in ways that will require less of my time, hence using more of my endless creativity. I will also be behind the scenes organizing and editing two nearly completed chapbooks, slugging away at final edits on my novella, shopping around a few completed short stories and poems to various markets, and starting up another large scale writing project as well.

To summarize all this gibberish, all I can do to rise above the delima of not having the time to write–and bring balance to the equation–is to get extremely creative in my time management. With that, I must make the absolute most of the precious time I do manage to set aside for writing. I heard it said recently that not having enough time is one of the biggest falacies we give ourselves to use as an excuse. And in a way this is true. Everybody, no matter who you are, has exactly the same amount of time each and every day. It is what we choose to do with our time and how we use it that makes the difference in our success. While I agree with this for the most part, I will say that whoever first came up with this idea, certainly did not have children.

What about you? What creative ways have you come up with to find more time to devote to your writing or other projects?


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