Shall We Corpse Again?

E. Corpse courtesy of Kyra Starr

Soooo… my life has been a bit busy of late, but all for good reasons. Things are settling back into a new flow, which means I can get back to what I love. Soooo—it’s time to create another Exquisite Corpse!

I’ve fallen in love with this collaborative, ‘village-writes-a-poem’ creation. Who’s ready to Corpse again? In case you don’t know, an Exquisite Corpse is a collectively assembled poem. You can read more about them here.

NO RULES except keep your submission to a line or two. Let’s see what crazy masterpiece we make together.

Please send me your line via email to with EXQUISITE CORPSE: [YOUR NAME] in the subject line. Please add your line and your name as you would like it to appear to the body of the email. Deadline is June 21.

Poe lucky charm for writers… bottle contains soil from his original burial site.

Shall we do a prize? How about we will pick one name at random and send them a swag bag that will include an Edgar Allan Poe lucky charm necklace, S&T goodies, poster, signed books, etc. We can even make a video of the winner selection because…

…next week on June 21 R.A. Smith and I will be at the Englewood Station 3rd Friday Art Walk for the release of the audio edition of Space and Time issue #133! This is a first for the magazine, and our resident Australian will be on hand to woo visitors with his dulcet tones and discuss all things Space and Time.

Something new: this time the resulting poem will be posted at with the names of contributors in order of contribution. I’ll post here when it’s up and ready with links.

Exquisite Corpses from the past:

Exquisite Corpse #1: Collaborative Poem
Exquisite Corpse #2: The Daunting Riddle
Exquisite Corpse #3: ‘Toxicated
Exquisite Corpse #4: Deceptions
Exquisite Corpse #5: Final Chimes
Exquisite Corpse #6: Treading
Exquisite Corpse #7: The Reckoning
Exquisite Corpse #8: The Last Kiss


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Review: Shanti by Alessandro Manzetti 

I had many long hours of travel last week, but I wasn’t bored. I read Shanti by Alessandro Manzetti and the miles and hours vanished like the suffering people in his tale. It’s not light reading and I advise the squeamish and easily frightened to stay away from this world.

But for the less timid among us, Shanti is a wonderful, horrible story. It reads like poetry that spins the spasmodic dance of mortality into a ballet. The word play is beautiful. There were sentences I stopped to savor, rolling the puzzle of words across my mind to extract every bit of nuance. Lovely words knit together to make brilliant tapestries of horror… the scenarios Manzetti creates threaten to haunt the reader long after the final page.

No boundaries stand in this book and nothing is sacred. Manzetti explores every aspect of depravity along these pages through the combined voice of the inhabitants of Paris, or what is left of it. Possibly the most frightening part of the story is the fragments of ourselves we see mirrored in Manzetti’s alien Paris.

Between the smoking, chemical rains perversion finds a way to survive, preying on the defenseless. It is a world of eat, or be eaten in a diseased landscape that whispers to us of now, our present day. It warns us of what we might be, given the right push. Worst of all, it questions what we might want to be.

This is not a book for everyone. It is not a book for most. It is a book for those brave enough to delve into the worst of humanity. Those who resurface will have treasure. It is viscous, graphic, assaulting, brilliant and worth surviving. There is beauty in horror. This is beautiful horror.

Find Shanti The Sadist Heaven by Alessandro Manzetti on Amazon here.

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Back in the Closet

Where do I begin?

The last week+ has been busy, grueling, amazing, brilliant… and more. And I’m tired. The people I met on a Greyhound bus were tragic and beautiful.

  • The 72 year old woman who has been a truck driver for the last 25 years. Her last shipment was hit but a careless driver. Her trucking company refused to pay her. She was on her way to live with her daughter with nothing but her Greyhound ticket and a phone that would lose service at midnight.
  • The homeless woman that was trying to make a new start. A church bought her a bus ticket so she could get back on her feet at her brother’s house. She was afraid everyone was out to get her. Sadly, in Philly something went wrong with her ticket and she wound up getting put on another bus, I hope.
  • The tall Russian immigrant who became my best buddy for about 200 miles. He had just quit his trucking job because of an accident due to how his shipment was packed. The company tried to charge him for damages. He left in search of new horizons. We were split when our driver got ill and the riders were split up with minutes to find the next bus. I could barely understand his English. He was happy to have someone to talk to anyway.
  • The girl who just got out of jail for getting caught with an ounce of pot six months ago. She wore oversize men’s clothing the jail gave her, men’s tube socks and shower shoes. All her possessions were in a recycled box that had once held a travel size television. She was leaving the area to make fresh friends. Her cellmate was in for lighting her own baby on fire. The girl on the bus hoped she could make the nightmares go away if she went far enough.

I’m doing a lot of processing mentally. Putting together my scraps of notes, recreating the people I’ve met so I can bring them back to life and preserve them. Ragged faces staring out the window at landscapes swallowed by night…

I’m also doing a lot of processing physically. I came back with many back issues of Space and Time from the the 70s and 80s. We are processing those up now so we can make these historic publications available as digital back issues. We are wrapping up production of the audio version of the magazine. We are setting up a regular open mic event to provide a space for local talent to shine and share. I’m going back to work on the third and last part of Bitter Suites and getting ready to release Altars and Oubliettes. Normal life returns for me.

Finally, I’m processing my blessings. It was a physically taxing trip, but I was on my way to happy things. I got to spend a lot of time with my oldest daughter and her family.

I navigated New York’s busiest streets at rush hour, met up with my publishing predecessors Gordon and Hildy and had a brilliant time on Hour of the Wolf, despite a deep exhaustion that had set in by that point.

Too much partying with the grand-babies, maybe? In case you don’t live in NYC and listen to WBAI 99.5 fm, Free Speech Radio,  you can listen/download that show here. You can also watch the Facebook Live video here.

So now I’m home, buried in notes, tasks and things to do. Emails to catch up, writing assignments piled on high and a sleep debt to pay back… memories to record. I expect to be sealed in my work closet for the next full month.

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Travel Week Begins

MasashiWakui from Pixabay

Tomorrow morning I start my week-long adventure to the East Coast. I’ll be taking a Greyhound bus so I can work the whole way. First, I’ll be heading to Virginia to spend time with my oldest daughter and her family.

By mid-week I’ll be heading up to NYC to visit with Patriarch of Space and Time, Gordon Linzner. There are a lot of writers to meet up there, I’m told, and I’ll be a guest on Hour of the Wolf hosted by Jim Freund.

After that it will be visiting with S&T  former publisher Hildy Silverman. In between all that–who knows? That’s the point of adventure.

Keep up with me on Facebook | on Twitter | and Instagram.
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Read·a·long with R.A. Smith

My prompt inspired poem, She Waits, went up on Nina D’Arcangela’s blog for the Ladies of Horror Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge. You can find the poem here.

But wait! There’s more… You can also hear native Australian (and my hubby) read She Waits on the player below.

You can find R.A. Smith on Facebook | on Twitter | and Instagram.

Check out what’s new on Nina D’Arcangela’s blog, and make sure to follow the #LadiesOfHorror on Instagram @LadiesofHorrorGroup

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News to Me: Authors are NOT Artists?

Update: I received a call today to say I would be welcome to participate. I didn’t name the art walk originally because they are within their rights and this wasn’t about pointing fingers. I just wanted to open a discussion on authors as artists.

On Facebook there is a thread going to discuss this. Seems like a common stance that art walks are more for visual arts. I’ve participated in many art walks and this is my first time to come across this. In my experience, creatives work better when we cross pollinate.

Image by Mandyme27 from Pixabay

Today I had an interesting conversation with the director of an art walk event I applied for. She said she didn’t think I could sign up for a table because I wanted to display and sell books. I thought maybe she misunderstood my intentions, so I clarified.

“Oh, We’re only signing and selling our own books. We are local authors and we are interested in getting into the creative community here and networking.”

“Oh, I see,” she said. “Sorry, this event is for artists.”

“Oh… are authors not artists?” No reply, and then she said she’d bring it before the board.

I’ve gone through stages of being miffed and amused all day. I understand if the art walk committee only want visual art for their event. I get it. Their art walk, their rules. It would be good to specify that.

To say that an author is not an artist is what bugs me. Honey, them are fighting words. Yes, once a story is written we can have it mass produced, but that story may have taken years to create. It takes just as much creative energy to make a world as it does a painting. Don’t get me started on classifying crafts as art.

In my own prejudice, I have a hard time taking people who don’t appreciate word art seriously. What are your thoughts? Should authors/writes/poets be classified as artists?

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Hear “Sepia” Read by R.A. Smith

Yesterday my flash fiction story, Sepia, went up on Nina D’Arcangela’s blog for the Ladies of Horror Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge. It’s a terrible story, I won’t lie. I wrote it just before StokerCon, meant to edit and ran out of time. I remembered it the day it was due and sent as is.

But… you can listen to my Australian husband, R.A. Smith read it. If anything can save this terrible little piece, it’s him reading it. You can listen to that here:

Lucky for me I have another (edited!) piece coming out for the challenge in a few days. I can redeem myself. Read Sepia on Nina D’Arcangela’s blog here.

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End of Mae/Fin de Mae, Free on Curious Fictions

End of Mae was my first book, originally published in 2010. For a first foray into fiction it did reasonably well. With 28 reviews averaging a solid four stars, I can’t complain. Writing it taught me a lot. Were I to write the story now, it would be different, I’m sure.

Today I’m proud to have the entire book up Curious Fictions to read for free. Readers are invited to leave comments and share. The site is easy to navigate with next chapter buttons at the end of each chapter.

You can also read Fin de Mae, the Spanish translated version here. This is an experiment of mine, so if you can read Spanish please let me know how accurate my translation is. You can read Fin de Mae here.

I’ll be publishing a lot more work up on Curious Fictions as soon as I get back from my next trip, including weekly, original work. For now, I hope you will stop by and see what you think of End of Mae.

While you’re there, take time to browse all the authors on the site. There are many award winners posting excerpts, original fiction and extra material for work they have published.

Read End of Mae free on Curious Fictions here.

You can find End of Mae on Amazon here.

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Busy Days Writing, Neglecting Blog

I have kept this blog going since 2010. My goal has always been to post daily. I’m obviously struggling with that since StokerCon—but all for good reasons.

I came back with two publishers+ interested the complete story arc of Bitter Suites, among other things I can’t share yet. I unpacked and set to work to finish up the second book. After an intense 2-4,000 words a day (or more!) it was done. Then I had to write up a synopsis for the third installment. Also done, and I am excited where the story is going.

My original plan was to publish the story as three separate novellas. Now it looks like it will all be published as a stand alone novel. Although it starts as individual stories, they start to twist together midway through and become one story line. Now I can relax a little and write the third segment, taking breaks for other projects in between.

One of those is finishing up Altars and Oubliettes, the poetry chapbook I’ve been working on for awhile. I can see how my poetry has developed since I started with In Favor of Pain. I’ve been happy with this new work, and I have to credit mentor and friends Marge Simon and Linda D. Addison with help in developing my craft.

I’ve also been asked to do a new project I can’t talk about yet. I can say it’s something in a completely new format, it’s in the Bitter Suites world and I’m a good way into it already.

I have my trip to the East Coast starting this Friday. I’ll be meeting Gordon Linzner and Hildy Silverman, both former publishers of Space and Time magazine.  I’ll be a guest on Jim Freund’s Hour of the Wolf radio talk show in NYC and I’ll get to spend time with my oldest daughter and her family. I hope to see a few more friends, but time is short.

Lots going on locally. As Space and Time, we are working with the local library system to establish an open mic event to promote literacy and performance skills. I’ll be sharing details if that all works out.

The exciting developments have been non-stop. While that’s great, my poor blog here has taken the hit. Hopefully when I get back from this next trip I can settle back into regular blogging. I think I’ll have plenty to talk about.

Final note: I will be posting another call for Exqusite Corpse lines very soon, and this time the finished collaborative poem will be shared at

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Taking a Breath…

StokerCon was, as always, AMAZING!

I apologize for my vanishing act here… I’ve been a bit busy as a result of all that amazing-ness. I didn’t win the Stoker for Bitter Suites, but I couldn’t be happier. Rena Mason won in that category with her long fiction The Devil’s Throat. There are several reasons this makes me happy, but that will be another post when I have more time.

For the moment, I am powering through the rest of the Bitter Suites story. I finished the second book last week and am now working on the third, and final, installment. I can’t say much, but it looks like there are a few interested publishers. It’s likely the entire Bitter Suites story will be published as a stand alone novel instead of a series of novellas as I originally envisioned. Of course, nothing is set in stone.

I think this is all I can get away with saying at the moment except “please excuse me while I write my a** off.”

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