Tag Archives: Writing

A Few Things, and a Tease

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So I know it’s been quiet on the blog here lately, the cobwebs are even getting stale, but fear not, I have been quite busy doing all the stuff I usually do, you know, lurking in the shadows, stalking about in people’s dreams, harvesting the Blood of the Dragon, oh and writing of course.

I currently have some sixty-plus new poems written that I’m starting to shop around to various markets. A few of those have hit publication recently or are forthcoming, like my poem From Corn to Sea in April’s Devolution Z Magazine, these poems just published at Tuck Magazine, oh and some reprinted work here on UFO Gigolo. There are a couple of other poetry projects I’m working on like this: In So Many Words: Interviews and Poetry from Today’s Poets, edited by Adam Levon Brown and Claudine Nash.

Now, the title of this post promised some teasing, and I’m nothing else if not a man of my word, so here we go. It appears that I have a pretty AWESOME ANNOUNCEMENT to make, but I’m not going to tell you about it right now (hence the tease).

See, we writers tend to be a sadistic bunch, and I get far too much pleasure out of keeping people in suspense. Well that and I’d like to iron out more of the details first. Honestly, I received this news so recently that it still feels a bit surreal, and I’d like to marinate in it for a bit I suppose. But once a few more things come to light, I’ll make the announcement right here on the blog, so stay tuned (but please don’t hold your breath, there are enough corpses in my writing as it is). I will tell that it has to do with a certain fiction project  I’ve been working on, off and on, for about the last five years.

So until next time, stay thirsty my friends, or stay classy, or drunk, or something. Whatever.

Cheers!

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Free Today and Tomorrow – No Foolin’

Come Fly with Death Book Cover - Kindle

Hey folks! My little chapbook of horrific poetry, Come Fly with Death, is free today and tomorrow for Amazon Kindle. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, now’s your chance!

Here’s the rundown:

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 poems new and collected, including 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.

Thanks! Now go spread the word.

Cheers!


NaNoWriMo 2014 and Something, Something…Instagram!

Participant-2014-Twitter-ProfileI fizzled out on NaNoWriMo this year. I know, I know, I can hear you saying, “But it’s not over yet!” Okay, good point, but for me, it’s just not happening this year (despite how badly I want this “Slay 50K” T-Shirt!).

I have tons of excuses, all of which are just that, EXCUSES, and none the more probable truth that I just got lazy. But for laughs, let’s say we analyze a few of these excuses:

 

  • With my project this year to finish my Nano novel from last year, I quickly realized there wasn’t another 50k words left in it and feared that I was severely padding it. Participating in Nano last year was a great way to get started, but now I think what’s best for this novel is to do what I should have done in the first place, and that is slow down and finish the story at my natural writing pace, which is nowhere near 50k/month. (Make no mistake, I will finish this draft, but not before November 30th.)
  • After only one week, I felt like I was starting to burn out again, and didn’t want another eight months of barely writing such as what I experienced after Nano last year.
  • I’m stressed out over trying to find a new job. (I like this one, it feels very genuine!)
  • Perhaps it was just my way of distracting myself from the goal, but for some reason, my creativity was pulling me towards poetry. Being a true believer in following the muse and writing where the greatest energy is at the moment, I gave in and have let my recent focus drift into poetic verse. (Queue the opponents of  “hippie-dippie baloney.”)
  • I discovered Instagram, and have since found an uprising community of poets sharing their work to a receptive and welcoming audience. I have been enjoying the work of others and have also started to share some of my own. (Okay, not really an excuse, but makes for a nice segue into the rest of this post.)

Now for a word or two about Instagram:

Instagram

I still have no clue what I’m doing exactly, but have nonetheless been attempting this blending of media, writing and photography (even if it’s bad photography). I like that I can share my work in a more visual and striking manner, and it brings another element of creativity. Handwriting adds another personal touch (despite my atrocious handwriting). This has further kindled my desire to learn calligraphy, and eventually, with enough practice, I’d like to blend this art of beautiful handwriting with my words, perhaps even incorporate images to create something akin to the contemporary form of Japanese Haiga.

In just two short weeks on Instagram, I have been truly inspired by the work of some great writers, poets, artists, and photographers. Suddenly, my creative gears are spinning in exciting new directions and realizing a trove of possibilities. Honestly, I have no idea where this thing is going. For now I’m just learning, trying to post something every day, and happy to be part of this growing community of creative souls. So if you’d like, please join me and let’s take this journey together.

[P.S. Wasn’t this post supposed to be about NaNoWriMo?]

Hor·ri·fic Po·et·ics

HP

So I went and started a new blog. This one over at Tumblr. While I occasionally post poetry on here (and will continue to do so) I decided I wanted a virtual space dedicated to posting poetry, specifically that stuff I sometimes write with a darker edge to it.

Thus horrificpoetics.com was born.

I wanted something with a clean interface where I can just let the words speak for themselves, so you’ll find no fancy graphics or flashy images, nor any long-winded descriptions or endless explanations. Just poems (along with previous publication acknowledgments, if they exist).

I have installed the Disqus platform so I do encourage comments and/or questions, and I’d be happy to delve into conversations about each work or whatever thoughts or fears they may bring to mind.

Currently, there are only three poems up on the site, but I do plan on posting regularly, hopefully weekly. At least in the beginning, the content will primarily be previously published material, but I may sneak in some new stuff as well. If you don’t see a publication acknowledgment at the end of the post, it is previously unpublished and likely still a work in progress.

So head on over to Hor·ri·fic Po·et·ics, check it out and let me know what you think. Feel free to leave a comment over there and if you see something you like, share it with a friend!

Thanks for reading!


NaNoWriMo: The 2013 Wrap-up

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The hardest part about National Novel Writing Month was dragging my lazy ass out of bed. That and, well you know, actually writing.

With another NaNoWriMo looming just around the corner, I thought it was time I posted my 2013 Wrap-up:

The Overview

2013 was my first attempt at participating in this chaotic, month-long writing marathon to churn out a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days. Along the way I learned quite a bit about myself, about my writing, and about my own abilities as a writer. I learned that I can write from an outline (granted, an outline thrown together in the week before the event), and still have the freedom to “pants it,” find surprises, and drift from the script now and again. I learned that I can set a writing goal, and I can achieve it. I learned that I can write (almost) everyday.

While I didn’t actually complete an entire novel, I learned that I have the ability to write a “novel-size” manuscript in just thirty days. And I learned (or rather reminded myself) that large quantities of coffee and energy shots can in fact replace sleep.

Overall, it was a great experience (from what I remember anyway, the entire month is all still very much a blur).While I technically “won” the event by hitting the 50,000 word goal on November 30, I’m certain there are some things I could have done differently, not necessarily better, to make the experience even more rewarding. So let’s take a moment to recap my adventures in NaNoWriMo 2013.

The Plan

I signed up mid-October on a whim, and started throwing together a quick outline from a story concept I’d been harboring for some time. I’d never tried to write “fast” before and had never really tested myself to see how many words I could cram out per hour, but I guessed that if I was typing at a good rate and just letting the stream of consciousness flow, just writing whatever came to mind without second guessing sentence structure or word choice, that I could probably hammer out about a thousand words in an hour.

So I planned to give myself roughly two hours per day to write, in the early morning hours before work and before the family started to stir. I hoped to reach two thousand words per day so that I could take Sundays off and not fall behind on word count.

The Process

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

Depending on the day’s work schedule, I would wake up anywhere between 4:30-6 a.m. I’d brew my coffee and take my place on the sofa, working on a T.V. tray set up as a desk with my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard. I had my music of course, ear-buds plugged in to my phone cranking out Pandora. (For some reason I was listening to a lot of Alt-J, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band.)

Most days I found it easy to hit my word count in the given time, and I do believe my estimates proved pretty darn accurate. From what I remember, I was averaging right around 1,000 words/hour. There were a few days that I found time to write in the afternoons and those sessions would put me ahead. Me, being the lazy, procrastinating person that I am–instead of using these moments to really take off and up my word count–found opportunity several mornings to only write for an hour or so and then go back to bed for another hour prior to work.

I planned on blogging the whole experience along the way, but became so engrossed that I only managed to poke my head out once for a Week One Update. After that, there was only writing, coffee, and then darkness…

The Aftermath

2013 WriMo Stats
As you can see from the above image, I stayed on track and hit a total of 50,041 words on November 30. I ended up writing every day except for two days, day #10 and #28. Despite that, I never fell behind in the overall word count goal for any given day. I think this is really a good point to take home for anyone attempting the event this year. It is very important to keep your head above water. If you want to write ahead, write ahead, but don’t skip a day if it’s going to put you behind thinking you will make up for it tomorrow. That is, write for credit; don’t write yourself into debt. While I have read a few other writers post about falling behind and then making up for it in a final, glorious surge near the end, writing from a deficit only makes an already difficult challenge that much more challenging.

The Result

2013 WriMo Stats 2
So, what do I have to show for all this, aside from the satisfaction of knowing that I am now officially a WINNER! (With a t-shirt to prove it! Yippee!) plus all that ooey gooey knowledge and creamy-center-filled confidence I gained? Let me tell you: I am now the proud owner of 50,041 words of a half-finished “zero” draft novel that I haven’t looked at since and can barely even recall writing let alone remember what the hell I actually wrote. It is probably complete orangutan puke, but it is mine. It is mine to finish. It is mine to rewrite, edit, and revise. It is mine to turn into something perhaps worthwhile, something that could even one day be yours as well, and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, it might never have existed.

If you have never done NaNoWriMo before, don’t kid yourself, this is a very difficult challenge. By December 1, I was exhausted, burned out. With family obligations and a full time job, there’s no way I could keep that kind of pace going for much longer than a month. Even only writing a couple or three hours a day, it just wears you down, both physically and mentally, trying to keep pace and consistently make your word count. But if you can hang with it for the whole month, win or lose, it is extremely rewarding. And yes, I will be “competing” again this year. (As I’ll discuss here in a few days, this year I plan on cheating. Shhhh…)

How about any of you? Done NaNoWriMo in previous years? Care to share your experiences, good or bad? Or, if you’ve never done the event but are thinking about it, please feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below. While I’m still somewhat of a NaNoWriMoNewbie, I’d be happy to chat about the issue, and perhaps we can pull some real veterans into the discussion along with us.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, Just Write!


Come Fly with Death

Come Fly with Death Book Cover - Kindle

Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski is available now as an ebook for $0.99 and trade paperback for $5.99, and will also be available to order through your local bookstore in the coming weeks.

Below you’ll find two poems from this chapbook (two because I failed to post yesterday when my iPad became possessed). First is the title poem, ‘Come Fly with Death’ along with ‘Bring the Light.’ You can also sample three additional poems which I’ve previously posted: ‘One in Hell,’ ‘Ocean Eyes,’ and ‘Hell Fossil.’

Thank you so much for having a look at my work, and if you like it, tell a friend! (If you don’t like it, just pretend you never read it.)

 

COME FLY WITH DEATH

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Come fly with Death
and feel the splitting as you come apart
with turbulent screams bifurcating bones.

Flee further from this life—
unfurl your wings and soar
with tangled feathers cutting the night.

Join his skeleton beak,
slicing stabs at airless wind,
and wield its dashing spine.

Stay near to glinting shroud and glide,
knowing tattered wings will guide,
as whispering scars are left behind.

Go now into that hollow abyss,
but do not pass the dark in calmness;
break the barrier with raging clamor!

Do not scrape or merely crawl.
Come fly with Death—
and swoop, and yawp, and bawl.

 

BRING THE LIGHT

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

What wretched creatures lie before me!
Squealing, squirming in the dark,
enthralled
amidst their feasting orgy.

Gnashing teeth, spattering blood,
festering bone;
their tongues dance along the drips
of other men’s pain.

A cryptic overseer
looms beyond the mist,
his crow shoulders
pecking upon the scars.

A thousand wicked grins
gleam from rubble and from rot,
a pile of waste—
dead men leering in the dark.

A door to freedom is at their backs,
but most will never see it,
long since trading eyes
for sharper teeth and larger maws.

But I bring the Light,
and I wear the shroud.
My candle burns;
my flame never falters.

The Bearer of the Cross walks beside me.
We pass among the throng
and it parts before our steps;
like the splitting seas—

I bring the Light
and the darkness scatters.

 


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!).


Ocean Eyes

Zdzislaw Beksinski - 1978

Zdzislaw Beksinski – 1978

Today’s poem from Come Fly with Death is called ‘Ocean Eyes.’ While it was initially inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s painting seen in the image above, this poem is really about my wife, Brenda. It is a quick, simple little poem that I think displays some variety in the book (not every poem included is quite as horrific as yesterday’s ‘One in Hell‘ but many are) and it is actually one of my personal favorites, possibly due to its sheer simplicity. I hope you enjoy.

OCEAN EYES

Beneath the crescent moon

I’ll know your scent,

buried in the breeze that sweeps your hair.

I’ll taste you on the shore,

salted skin sweet with sweat,

flesh made orange upon the grit.

I’ll swim inside your ocean eyes,

pulled so hard within your tides,

and drown inside your depths.

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!).


Bog Bodies

300px-Tollundmannen

Tollund Man – Public Domain

In an effort to stick with my original vision for this blog, which was to be a sort of online writing journal where I share story ideas, concepts and moments of inspiration, I thought I would share the birth (rebirth?) of this story idea while it is still fresh.

Yesterday morning, I came across this article, The 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries in History, and it included a post about bog bodies. I vaguely remember reading or watching something on this subject years ago, and my fascination for it was instantly rekindled. If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, here is a link to the Wikipedia article, which is as good a place to start as any, I suppose. Go on, check it out, it’s pretty freaking awesome, but be sure to come back here when you’re done.

Anyway, as I let my mind dwell on these bog bodies, a story began to emerge. I turned to Evernote to record the ideas I was having, and I quickly realized that the concept was not new to me. There was something strangely familiar about it. As soon as I had the opportunity, I dug through my old writing journal. There, I found two entries from nearly five years ago that I had scribbled and forgotten. Here are some images from those pages in my journal:

photo (3)

Click to Enlarge

photo (2)

(good luck reading my scribbles)

Well there it is. A moment of inspiration, linked back to other moments of inspiration from almost five years ago. I will take this as further argument as to why it is so critical for every writer to keep a writing journal and write down every idea, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time. (I shudder to think of the ideas I’ve lost because I didn’t write them down.)

But perhaps most importantly, I will take this as a sign that these Bog Bodies will not let me go until I’ve fleshed out their story, and given them new life through the written word.

What about you? Have any of you ever had an idea that just would not let you go? Perhaps a recurring idea that you didn’t remember having previously? A Déjà vu idea? A Déjà-dea? Thoughts? Comments?


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

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00005]

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.


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