Monday, June 25, 2012

Prompt the Muse #35 - Speculative Writing Prompt

Art: Battle at Sea
A craft carrying one of your characters is attacked and badly damaged.  Your character manages to escape, and also manages to avoid getting captured.  What kind of craft was your character traveling in, and how did your character get out without being seen?  Write your thoughts in 150 words.

Image credit:  Battle of the Nile, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain   

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More of the Joys of Mixing Genres

Art:  "Dragon" by Raymond Minnaar
The idea of genre-crossing stories has always intrigued me.   I first wrote about it in a post entitled "Mixing Genres in Spec Fiction - Some Pros and Cons."  Some of the most influential movies and books that I loved in my youth were those that mixed genres.  Movies like "Alien," which brought science fiction and horror together so masterfully, and books like "Mirror of Her Dreams" and "A Man Rides Through," which mixed science fiction into a fantasy world - these were the sorts of influences that really crystallized my ideas of the boundless nature of all these genres.  Then of course there is art like "Dragon" by Raymond Minnaar, which feels right at home in the area between horror and fantasy.

This piece of art has made its way onto my blog via my business card.  As I was looking for art to help me represent my current efforts, I came across the gallery of Raymond Minnaar, who has pieces both on deviantArt and his own official website.  I enjoyed seeing the breadth of speculative genres represented in his portfolio, and I got it into my head that his art would be a perfect match for my own current place in literary space and time.  After working with the artist, I now have this particular piece of amazing art to grace my new business card.  

It is an interesting sort of commitment, and a strong statement, what one chooses to put on their card.  After all, you want a card to be something you are proud of, something that reflects on your interests as a writer, and something that will be remembered.  This is also a darker piece, which I wanted because my stuff seems to be largely cross genre horror at the moment, particularly the poetry. 

When I began writing, I was surprised and baffled to find that people drew hard lines between genres.  Science fiction over here.  Fantasy over there.  Literary books someplace else completely.  That was the hardest to swallow - the idea that my novel couldn't be a genre novel and also literary.  Seemed to me like a solid, character driven story with a crisp plot and an inventive setting (my definition of good novel in most any genre) could be as literary as anything else.

That was before I'd even come across the term "Speculative Fiction."  Just to have found that term was an immense relief, since some people were concerned about an author who wrote different genres in different books, let alone in the same book.  I found and happily embraced this term, finally feeling like it was a way to fit myself into the picture without too many constraints.  (For those who want more info, here's a wikiattack: Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.)

Since I wrote my last post on the subject, I've seen more interest in work that crosses genres.  When a mixed genre becomes popular, say like urban fantasy, steampunk, or slipstream, it can expand the idea of what is included under the speculative fiction umbrella.  Some publications are specifically calling for mixed topics, settings and perspectives.  These kinds of opportunities are something I love to see - watching the literature adapt and grow.  I think it increases both the chances for bringing in readers, and the chances of something really new and interesting being available to read in the first place.

Pax, All 

Image Credit:  "Dragon" by Raymond Minnaar at deviantArt.  

If you are interested in commissioning art from Raymond Minnaar, he is available, and has his full portfolio and prices available at his website.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prompt the Muse #34 - Speculative Writing Prompt

Photo: Two Aliens
Two of your characters have entered into an unconventional romance.  There are at least three issues that make the relationship unusual within their cultures.  What are the three issues?  Do you think your characters will remain together, or will these issues create a permanent division between them?  Write your ideas in 200 words.

Photo: Science Fiction Museum Restroom Signage, marcin wichary on flickr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prompt the Muse #33 - Speculative Writing Prompt

Art: Painted Wood
Ancient art has been found depicting a creature that only exists in myth.  Some people believe this art was made before the creature went extinct, while others dismiss the art as whimsy.  Describe this ancient creature, and how the art supports one of the previous points of view.  Take 200 words for your writing.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Silent Energy Creeps Into Niteblade

Image: Logo for Niteblade Fantasy and Horror Magazine
My poem "Silent Energy," which was sold to Niteblade Fantasy and Horror Magazine, has now been published in their June 2012 issue CarnivoyeurNiteblade is the kind of small-press magazine that reminds me of the periodicals I was reading in the 70's and 80's - the sort of mags that got me hooked on the genre in the first place, right down to the internal line art.  The issues have a bit of a retro feel, and the stories and the poems tend to more straightforward forms of storytelling.  I love reading and writing the surreal, but I still enjoy reading the kind of stuff I can actually understand from the very first sentence.  There are times you want to focus on the question "I wonder what is going to happen?" rather than "Why does nothing that is happening make any sense?"  Niteblade delivers genre entertainment that feels both authentic and enthusiastic.

I submitted my work to Niteblade for a host of reasons, one of which is that they are now on Issue #20 of a quarterly magazine.  That's practically tenure for a genre publication these days.  So many genre mags and ezines don't make it past the second year.  Twenty issues is a sign that both the creators and the readers have a long term investment and interest in the magazine.  So another reason I submitted here was that I wanted to support them.  We often think that the only way to support a publication is to buy it.  That is naturally a great way to offer support, but sending a magazine a piece that they think their readers will love is another way to make them happy. 

I also like their strategy for selling issues.  They ask a nominal ($2.49) price to download the current issue in pdf until they have reached their financial target.  From their site - "The web version of each issue initially offers only teasers of the stories and poems for free. With each issue we set a monetary amount that is a portion of the hard costs of producing that issue. Once we reach that goal through advertising, sales and donations, we will release the entire web-based version of the issue to everyone for free."  I do most of my own reading online these days, so I love a site with stories that are freely available, but of course a magazine has to find a way to get an income stream going or they won't last long.  Niteblade's financial model allows them to do both.  Best of all, their issues are completely ad-free.

Many thanks to Niteblade for buying and publishing my poem!  You can support them by downloading the issue (before financial goal if you have a couple of extra $, or after if you don't), linking, blogging, donating, and by spreading word-of-electronic-mouth.  You can support my writing by following and commenting on this blog right here, following my twitter @grierja, and of course, reading my pubs.

Pax, All