Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2010

I saw my first palmetto bug a couple of weeks ago while in Augusta, GA. The foul creature scurried from under the screen door, across the floor, and to a corner of the RV. After the initial screech, I  fumbled for something (anything) with which to kill this giant cousin of a cockroach. Without fly swatter, household insecticide, husband, or faithful black-mouthed cur nearby — I resorted to cornering the palmetto bug with a broom handle, and then, dousing it with multiple squirts from my Skinsensations Insect Repellent.

 By the time husband and Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur finally returned from their walk, the palmetto bug appeared to be in the last stage of a 10 minute wriggly-leg death. With a swift stomp, husband put the insect out of its misery, and all returned to normal. Or so it seemed. But in my mind, there were more palmetto bugs lurking in the shadows, under the RV’s couch, behind the shampoo bottle in the RV’s shower, and in dozens of other nooks. And those skulking palmetto bugs had witnessed my assault on their brother, and were now plotting their revenge.

Now, home at Wood’s Edge in the outskirts of The Shire, I am still uneasy. Stinkbugs, large black ants, box elder bugs, water bugs, crickets, and other six-legged creepers seem to be everywhere. They climb on the window screens, rush in the garage, and try to sneak inside the house every time a door opens. I’m concerned that a stray palmetto bug (or 2) has hitchhiked a ride north on the RV and spread the word. Now, the local insects have been alerted to my murderous ways and watch me with growing intensity…

People always ask me where I get the ideas for my stories — I usually answer, “Life.” In this particular case, I could answer, “Palmetto Bugs!”

Read Full Post »

Over the past few days, several writers have asked about the differences in the stories & poems published by literary and genre magazines. (By genre, I mean science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, etc.) One writer even suggested that the rule for literary magazines is to “tell not show.” Dear me!

As the editor of a women’s literary magazine, “The Gunpowder Review,” published by the Gunpowder Pen Women http://gunpowderpenwomen.wordpress.com  I can assure writers that you still must SHOW not tell to get published in most literary magazines. I think the biggest difference I’ve notice as a writer/illustrator is that lit mags tend to not publish genre fiction & illos — whereas genre mags will sometimes publish literary prose & poetry as long as it’s subject appropriate.

Those with a sharp eye will notice the exception: genre poetry. If a sf/f/h/mystery poem tiptoes near enough to mainstream subjects, it has a reasonably good chance of being accepted for publication in a literary mag.

But I must tell you, if a story or poem is well-written, most editors will bend their “rules” and accept an urban fantasy or slightly supernatural mystery or near-future sf piece. And I think genre flash fiction can sneak into literary magazines easier than a 2,000+ word tale. Unfortunately, things like high fantasy, space westerns, vampire/werewolf tales, military sf, etc. are too genre no matter how well-written or short to fit into most lit mags.

Of course there are some editors who refuse to publish anything they view as genre, just as there are some teachers who rarely reward a genre story with a good grade. But even they can have their minds changed. When I took a “Writing the Novel” course as part of my Masters in Professional Writing, the instructor warned me, “You can write fantasy if you want, but it will be hard to earn even a “B” in the course.” I wrote fantasy — and much to the instructor’s credit, he changed his mind and rewarded my novel with an “A.”

So good luck to all you writers out there with writing & submitting your work. Whether you’re a genre or mainstream or literary writer, it’s important to research your markets.  And for you sf/f/h/mystery writers who want to see your writing in a lit mag, look for an editor who’s willing to stretch the boundaries of the “literary” magazine label.

Read Full Post »

Last night’s win was a great beginning to the football season for Ray Lewis and his team mates. And shouts of “Ravens Rule” could be heard around my neighborhood.

As for me, I was born & raised in Maryland. First a Baltimore Colts fan, I’m now a Baltimore Ravens fan. It’s easy: I love purple & black. Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite writers. (I’ve even visited his grave on Halloween!) A bird-lover, I feed the black birds, crows & ravens who visit my yard. And most of my family members are Ravens watchers and fans, too.

 Autumn has also started off well for ravens lovers of the reader type. Emg-Zine, an online fantasy & science fiction magazine has made September 2010 – Ravens Month. You can find raven-themed art, stories, and poems on their site. Now before you football folks go crazy – these pieces have to do with the black-feathered bird, not the lads in the purple jerseys.

Though I have written a raven poem about Edgar Allen Poe and the football team, my poem published in the September 2010 Emg-Zine issue is about the bird and a Baltimore autumn. I invite you to enjoy it & the rest of the issue for free: http://tinyurl.com/vonnie-raven  And I invite you to cheer on Baltimore’s hometown team this fall as they fight to make the play-offs.

Read Full Post »

It’s difficult to write a winter tale in the swelter of a Georgia summer, but that’s what I found myself doing last week.

I was working on a story set in a snow-covered forest with an approaching blizzard. The oscillating fan at the end of the RV’s sofa stood in nicely for the north wind. The rush of icy air that poured from the freezer when I opened it to grab a handful of cubes for my tea chilled my arm. The white curtains fluttering between the driver & passenger seats and the living area of the RV reminded me of a barn owl’s wing. (There’s an owl in the story). The sandy-colored dog sprawled at my feet took on deer-form. (And a deer in the tale, too). And the perspiration dripping from my brow became snowmelt.

The working title of the tale is “A Midwinter’s Eve,” and I’m hoping it will appear in a new anthology, Rush of Wings, from Soylent Publications (Jhada Rogue Addams, Publisher) that will feature skewed fairy tales, myths, and legends. But even if the story doesn’t make it into that collection, I want to write “A Midwinter’s Eve” well enough that some other editor will find it publishable.

Note in the first sentence I used the word difficult rather than impossible. Difficult tasks are challenging, but do-able. And with a little imagination and stick-to-it-ness, a story can be written, a picture drawn, or a problem overcome.

The weather at Wood’s Edge in rural Maryland is more fall-like, so my next draft of “A Midwinter’s Eve” will be perhaps an easier write. But easier or not, I will write! And I encourage each of you to face your challenges, whether large or small, because as Joshua J. Marine put it: “Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

Read Full Post »