Banish the Ego

From Shots of Awe with JASON SILVA: We are living through a mental health epidemic… depression and anxiety levels are skyrocketing… traditional treatments are failing too many people… What is needed is a mental health revolution…

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Be Art

I have fallen in love with Shots of Awe with JASON SILVA. I find myself invigorated and inspired every time he posts a new video. I want to share that inspiration with you. What do you think of his message? He does all of this with no script. This is all off-the-cuff.

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$400 Prize for Poetry in Pain

Who doesn’t have some angst-y verse laying around? Go find your old notebooks because your painful poems may net you a $400 cash prize.

Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2018 for‘s Poetry in Pain contest. Poems can be any length, style and language. You retain all rights. $4.50 per submission reading fee.

Complete details here.

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The Giver

I’m finding myself worn out from work stress this week and not too creative with blog posts… so I’m cheating again and posting my homework assignment for this week from the HWA online writing group.

The assignment was to take a worn out trope, specifically vampire, werewolf or zombie, and give it a new spin. I was leaning towards zombies before I mentioned it to my husband.

“Easy,” he said. “Just make a vampire that gives life instead of take it.”

I envisioned a karmic, zen kind of vampire that both gives and takes to keep the balance… and The Giver was written.

The Giver
By Angela Yuriko Smith  

   The baby lies in the crib, struggling to breathe. Her ignorant parents are passed out in the next room, television screams overpowering her feeble cries. She is on the edge of the veil. This little thing is so frail—I envy her delicateness. She will pass from this life to the next as easily as a sparrow flies through shade.

   Impervious, I travel anywhere I please on this planet—unaffected by heat, ice and flame. I explore it all. Lava  has sizzled on my cold skin as I sunk into molten depths and I rose up to find myself unscathed. I once sought to drown myself in the deepest cracks of the ocean floor. I walked along the barren depths for an age, but eventually I again rose, unscathed.

   Immortality hangs around me like a chain. I am the First Darkness. I am the Father of Death.  Shtriga, vrykolakas and strigoi… I have many names. I have been here from the beginning and will likely remain until the end is memory. I have limitless power, but this tiny, weak thing goes where I may not.

   I bend over the human trifle, a shadow moving within shadow. I have a gift.

   I slide my hand beneath it, cradling the flesh clad bones against my palm. It shifts against me, mewls and falls still. They never fight. My omnipotence quells the mortal struggle. I am inevitable. They sense it.

   I stroke my finger along the sallow cheek. It smells of feces and nicotine. The baby is naked, but for the bloated diaper. I trace the web of blue beneath the skin. There is life here. It belongs to me so I may choose: take or give. I choose to give.

   I open my mouth and the gates of Hell gape wide. Here have passed kings and paupers, creators and destroyers, mothers and daughters… I do not discriminate. I descend upon the infant, my lips of ice do not warm on her fevered flesh, and breathe into her.

   I am the keeper of life force, and a taste of this I send into this child. Her chest swells at the incoming gust, nearly bursting the sacs of air within, but she holds. Her baby mind lights up, synapses firing as they form a new network beyond the map to mediocrity they were originally programmed for. I breathe into this child and it lives.

  “You will suffer,” I whisper to the infant. “But your suffering will give you depth. You will burn, but your heat will warm this earth.” I lower the baby back onto the stained crib mattress. Her breath is strong now. She is strong now. She will do much in a lifetime before I return and take back my gift.

   I exit the crooked, grey trailer in its nest of junk. It sags in an unkempt copse of tree and shrub. Tattered remnants of plastic bag and paper tremble in the bushes like ghosts. A skinny dog watches me from beneath the splintered wooden stairs. He whines softly, a plea to leave his life to him, in spite of suffering. His blood smells sour and doesn’t call to me.

   I leave the hovel, following a trail of moonlight. Anyone watching would see only the shadow of a cloud passing across the moon’s face. Some, more keen, may notice the dancing of dry leaves at my silent step. Only the mad would see my true form.

   I have given a gift, and now I must receive a gift to retain the balance. There is no method to my choosing. I am neither good nor evil. I am yin and yang. I am the eternal circle of life. I spy a tent draped in white roses, and I move toward it.

   Behind the tent is a small, yellow house. The scent of golden anticipation wafts toward me, drifting through twilight, and I follow. It leads me up the wooden siding, through a trellis of wisteria, to find an open window. Thin eyelet curtains are the only barrier between me and the heady odor that calls. I traverse glaciers. I push through ice sheets that trap mammoths. I meditate on mountains so high the air can’t climb them. I push through the curtain easily.

   A young woman lays in a tumble of sheets. Her hair is tangled from restless sleep. Laid out on a nearby chair is a dress of white satin and sequin. Veils, silk flowers and ropes of pearl cover a bedside table. She smells like hope, love and lavender dreams. I lick my lips and move toward her.

   I stroke my finger along her blooming cheek. It smells of perfume and musk. Her bare shoulder lies exposed where the sheets have fallen, cream against white. I trace the web of blue beneath the skin. There is life. It belongs to me so I may choose: take or give. I choose to take.

   I slide my hand beneath her, cradling the flesh clad bones against my palm. Her head falls back, leaving her neck open to me. I descend, a shadow moving within shadow. I take a gift.

   I open my mouth against her skin and the pulse of her blood warms me. I pierce her, and all of her joy flows into me. I fill with her essence, a rich and fragrant life. I drink deeply until she goes cold and I grow warm. I lower the woman back into her cocoon of linen and  depart. Outside, beneath the trellis of heavy, purple flowers, I find night bleaching into dawn. I make my way silently through the tent, and toward my own repose.

   In the tent, I pluck a rose, hold it to my face and kiss it. My lips are still wet from her blood and the petals curl and stain with red. I inhale deep, relishing my rich and fragrant life. Immortality graces me like a chain. I place the reddened rose on the altar and depart.

   It is my gift.

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WIP Snippets and Bits

Over the last three days I’ve written over 3k on three projects… but skimped on my daily blog posts. Today I’m going to be lazy…er…efficient… and just share a few snippets of what I’ve been up to.

From “Flaming” for Ladies of Horror

“You are not right,” he said. He touched her cheek, soft and wet, and tasted her tears. He discarded the last of himself then. Her skin was fragrant and warm. She bled without reserve, helpless without her costume.

He draped her across his strong shoulders—she was the mink, dangling and limp—and became her. The thought was hot and it burned through his scalp. He was a woman in flames. His new self stood in the bedroom door. Behind him, her naked pieces lay in disarray, powerless.

From “The Giver” for HWA Online Writing Group

  “You will suffer,” I whisper to the infant. “But your suffering will give you depth. You will burn, but your heat will warm this earth.” I lower the baby back onto the stained crib mattress. Her breath is strong now. She is strong now. She will do much in a lifetime before I return and take back my gift.

From “Carrie Study” for HWA Online Writing Group

The girl scrambles up the silver stairs but before she can reach the top, the woman catches her by her shoulders and begins to haul her back from the stage. As she is pulled back, the girl pulls back festive blue and white striped bunting to see a couple hiding underneath. Between them dangles a string. The boy tugs it impatiently but the girl hiding with him pulls it from his hand before slapping him.

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Deep in the Crazy

Last night’s entertainment…

I am in the middle of a million things this week—family in town, prepping for the Bitter Suites book release for July 13, the regular 40+ hour work week (now with drama!), a visual art show, the upcoming Crypticon, the HWA writing group homework, a second round of mailing SFPA books, my Ladies of Horror submission—and I lost last night due to a power outage.

Since it was dark in the house, we decided to just go to bed early and get up the same. After four hours I woke up stressed and with a sore throat but at least the power was finally back on. I sat down at the computer to finish some things, wondering how I had gotten so busy. Deja vu struck. I’ve been here before…

And I will do what I normally do when overwhelmed. Duck down, assess and start shoveling. And I’ll get it all done. And I will promise not to get myself so bogged down with busy work again and focus on what matters to me. People I love, and writing.

And I’ll probably find myself having this same conversation again—some things I will probably learn when I hit my expiration date.

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Be You

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Massive Paying Markets, No-Fee Submission List

Erica Verrillo just published another extensive list of submission calls for the next month on her blog, Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity.

There are requests for flash fiction, speculative fiction and poetry, creative nonfiction, children’s stories, along with themed issues. All of these literary magazines pay, and none charge submission fees. Read her amazing list here.

If you want to get a jump on next July’s calls for submissions, check her  Calls for Submissions page, which posts new calls as they come up.

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Madness Muse Seeks Poetry

Madness Muse Press is now accepting submissions of poetry with a political/sociological edge. They seek stories on addiction and recovery including poetry, personal accounts of growth or stories of family with addiction.

Please send up to five poems or stories to

Submissions close June 12th.

Click here for more details.

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