Monthly Archives: October 2017

Almost Halloween!

What is/isn’t Haiku?

Haiku is a traditional Japanese form of poetry that consists of three lines of 5/7/5 syllables… isn’t it? At least that’s what I learned in school. Lately I’ve come across poets who disparage the translated haiku we were raised on. They say the 5/7/5 rule is dead.

As usual, my first reaction at this wanton disregard for the sacrosanct 5/7/5 syllable structure was rejection.

The structure is the point, I whined to my ever patient husband and fellow writer. What’s the point of a haiku with no boundaries?

As usual, my second reaction was to try and understand how anyone could think this travesty was a good idea. Maybe I’m missing something, I thought. And, as usual, I found myself enlightened.

Turns out, we’ve been doing it wrong. According to NaHaiWriMo, the Japanese 5/7/5 counts sounds, not syllables. Rather than have me butcher this, here’s how they explain it:

 Japanese haiku counts sounds, not strictly syllables. For example, the word “haiku” itself counts as two syllables in English (hi-ku), but three sounds in Japanese (ha-i-ku). This isn’t how “haiku” is said in Japanese, but it is how its sounds are counted.

Similarly, consider “Tokyo.” How many syllables? Most Westerners, thinking that Japan’s capital city is pronounced as “toe-key-oh,” will say three syllables, but that’s incorrect. It’s actually pronounced as “toe-kyo.” So two syllables, right? Actually, no. Rather, it counts as “toe-oh-kyo-oh”—four syllables. Or rather, sounds. Click here for more.

As I’m trying to digest this nugget of information, I was hit with another. Haiku are not traditionally written in the cute, trio of lines we grew up with.

Japanese is written in a format called tategaki (縦書き) where the characters are written in columns going from top to bottom, with columns ordered from right to left.

So… a traditional haiku is written in one line more like Allen Ginsberg’s “American Sentences?” I didn’t even know there was such a thing until my friend and fellow poet Bryan Thao Worra mentioned them. My world is, once again, blown apart.

And, just when I’m considering what this means to me and how I feel about it, I discover even more haiku derivatives:

All this, and there’s a month dedicated to haiku? Yes, February is haiku month and the NaHaiWriMo organization is the place to go to find out more.

In the end, I come to the same conclusion I usually do: I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m glad. I believe when you stop learning you start to die. I will probably be immortal.

And to finish, here is my very own unauthentic American haiku discount knock off (hey, was that an “American Sentence?!?”):

Diary of a Sorceress Giveaway

Enter to win a signed “and kissed” copy of Diary of a Sorceress by Ashley Dioses from now until Oct. 27. The giveaway is being hosted by Goodreads. Click here for the link.

From Amazon: The young poet Ashley Dioses has already established herself as a leading voice in contemporary weird poetry. Known for her meticulous use of rhyme and meter, her deft melding of the strange and the erotic, and her novel treatments of such age-old themes as the vampire, the witch, and the ghoul, Dioses now gathers the best of her recent poetry into her first collection—a scintillating assemblage of nearly 100 poems short and long, published and unpublished.

With this single volume, Ashley Dioses takes her place as a worthy successor to the long line of California Romantics, beginning with Ambrose Bierce, Clark Ashton Smith, and Nora May French, and carrying on with Donald Sidney-Fryer and K. A. Opperman (The Crimson Tome), with whom she has worked closely.

Ashley Dioses is a poet from Southern California whose work has appeared widely in print and online venues, including Spectral Realms, Weirdbook, Weird Fiction Review, and HWA Poetry Showcase.

Work is… Working

A representation of how I feel after working 114 hours in two weeks.

The past two weeks have been a blur. I worked 114 hours total at my new job. Yes, I had overtime—34 hours of overtime. I will have a very fat paycheck next Monday.

I still managed to keep up with blog posts here, published Spiders Are Everywhere, relaunched Monsters Are Everywhere and reformatted Everly is Everywhere.

I’ve also somehow managed to get 81 images up on Pixabay and have been in the top 100 producers for the past two weeks.

Am I tired? Yes, yes I am tired…. but that’s what coffee is for.

In Niceville Nov. 12

I’ll be back in Niceville on November 12 for one day and I’d like to see all the people I can for farewells.

I’ll be at Cafe Bienville from 2-4 p.m. that Sunday, and then it’s back to Kansas City. Stop by and say hello before we go.

HWA Poetry Showcase Volume IV is LIVE

I’m excited to announce that the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume IV is now available on Amazon. This prestigious collection showcases the work of some of the best dark and speculative poets in the industry today.

I’m proud to have been included this year, my third in a row with my poem, The Resurrection of Snow

I’d like to thank David E. Cowen for all his work putting this together. Big kudos also go to the Horror Writers Association for publishing this volume every year, and for all their amazing support of poets and writers in this genre.

If you are a writer, you should seriously consider a membership and submit to next year’s showcase!

Amy, Absinthe & the Renaissance

Today I finally got to meet my first book editor and long time friend Amy Eye face to face. She happened to be in town for the Kansas City Renaissance Fair. She owns a booth there for the company she owns with her husband, Le Loup Garou Alchemy. They sell absinthe kits. As a bonus, I also bought two kits 🙂

It was good to connect face to face, but it hardly felt new. We’ve had so many long conversations and shared projects over the years it felt… normal.

We’ve known each other since my first book, End of Mae, which she edited. We co-hosted JournalJabber, a radio talk show about authors. We’ve published together. We have a history.

The Renaissance Fair itself was a blast and I wish we had more time to play there. Next year I expect we will get season passes. I love the raucous nature of things like this. The colorful chaos appeals to me as long as I can be my same, uncolorful self.

Of course, I took a ton of photos. I’ll try to post them in the morning. Until then, be sure to check out the absinthe kits from Le Loup Garou Alchemy. In about a month I’ll let you know what I think of absinthe.

From Soraya: Interview with Jack Ketchum

Today I have another interview from my friend, Soraya Murillo Hernandez, from Spain. Soraya speaks Spanish, and I only speak English, so our friendship has leaned heavily on technology and Google Translate.

Soraya has so many incredible interviews that I’ve created a category for her work. This time she shares her interview with Jack Ketchum, the horror writer that Stephen King says is “the scariest guy in America.” You can find all of Soraya’s interviews here.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ketchum a few times at StokerCon and at WorldHorrorCon. For a guy with such terrifying work, he seems like a really nice guy.

Photo credit Steve Thornton.

Soraya—Your novel, The Girl Next Door, is fantastically well written, but I don’t know if I could read it again because the story is so hard. What it compelled you to pass this true story to the paper?

Jack Ketchum—I had read about the crime it’s based on in J. Robert Nash’s BLOODLETTERS AND BADMEN, a compendium of true-crime stories, and the story haunted me for several years before I started writing.

The themes interested me: violence against a young woman perpetrated by a woman, adults giving children permission for horrible cruelty, and the heroism of one sister giving her life, if necessary, to protect her defenseless sister.

Soraya—You have received many accolades from Stephen King, what are these compliments for you? Do you think that these accolades helped or harmed you?

Jack Ketchum—When Stephen King talks, people listen! He’s been very generous to me over the years and his comments have definitely helped the sales and distribution of my books — particularly THE GIRL NEXT DOOR because of his long, extensive introduction to the hardcover edition, which reclaimed it from obscurity.

Beyond that, it’s very fine to know that a writer I admire and respect likes my stuff so much. And to top it off, he’s a very nice guy.

Soraya—Always it’s said that the reality surpasses fiction, however people see violent pornography in your work. Why do you think this happens?

Jack Ketchum—My first book, OFF SEASON, was accused by the Village Voice of being violent pornography.

Pornography is supposed to turn you on. Sexually excite you. If anyone is turned on by the violence in OFF SEASON, or any of my other books  for that matter, they need to see a psychiatrist— fast.

Either that, or the inside of a jail.

Soraya—I guess that you have been asked on numerous occasions  about why you chose the nickname of an outlaw?

Jack Ketchum—I liked Jack Ketchum. He rode with Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall gang but he was a pretty stupid outlaw.

He robbed the same stage at the same time of day from the same place something like five days running and somebody finally said, gee, maybe he’ll be there again tomorrow! And he was, so they caught and hung him.

I loved his last words. “I’ll be in hell before you finish breakfast, boys. Let her rip!” Colorful!

Soraya—The monster is always human in your novels. What attracted you to depart from the traditional monsters of terror?

Jack Ketchum—Simple answer. People scare me far more than monsters do. Always have, always will.

Soraya—In the novel Off Season, a novel with much stress, not knowing what will happen on the next page gives the feeling that there is not a lot of affection for the characters. There is never a second chance. Is it as well as you see life?

Jack Ketchum—Sometimes life deals us very bad cards, and there’s nothing we can do but lose the hand.

A fatal accident, an inoperable disease, or crossing paths with the wrong person at the wrong time. So I write about that.

But I’m essentially a hopeful person and I think that comes through in much of my writing too. Take the end of RED, SHE WAKES, or JOYRIDE. Granted, though, OFF SEASON, STANGLEHOLD and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR are very dark, very bleak.

The paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver, a pessimist says, it’s going to be a bad winter. We’re all going to die! An optimist says, nah, it won’t be so bad, we’ll be fine. A hopeful person says, maybe there will still be somebody left alive by February, so I’m going to put some potatoes down in the root cellar, just in case.

I’m that hopeful person.

Soraya—You write clear, uncensored, with all the precise details to read a torture or a dismemberment. Do you think this is why you have become popular? Do you think that society likes lurid things?

Jack Ketchum—Peter Straub once paid me the high compliment of saying that he thought people came to my work for the wrong reasons, and stayed for the right ones.

You may be drawn to my books and stories because you’re looking for extreme storytelling, but if you keep reading, you’ll hopefully just find some very good, well-told stories.

Soraya—Your novels have been taken to the cinema and in some you worked as an actor. You have involved much or you have given freedom to writers and directors. In acting, have you tried the character to appear as you have imagined it?

Jack Ketchum—I’ve been involved to some degree in all the films, either in working with the script in the early stages or later on, sitting in on the filming. I was most involved with THE WOMAN, because Lucky McKee, the director, and I wrote it together, and then I was on-set for almost the entire shoot.

We had to rewrite some scenes as we went along. I don’t butt in on other talented people who are trying to film my work, but I’m there if they want me to be. And to a great degree the films have all captured the intent and themes of the source material, the books themselves, so I feel quite good about them.

Soraya—And finally when will we have another of your books in Spain?

Jack Ketchum—Alas, my agent tells me that the publishing industry in Spain isn’t doing so well, that they aren’t buying a lot of books. But we’re still in there trying! And hopefully that will change soon.

Soraya—Thank you very much for your patience and attention.


Soraya Murillo Hernandez

From  Soraya Murillo Hernandez: I am an early reader, I started reading very soon and I was interested in terror, I liked to look for monsters and ghosts in the stories. Then I knew that the greatest terror came from humans. I am a book reviewer in Spain, I do it free to help its authors to know their works.

Soy una lectora precoz, comencé muy pronto a leer y me interese por el terror, me gustaba buscar monstruos y fantasmas en las historias. Luego supe que el mayor terror venia de los humanos . Soy reseñadora de libros en España, lo hago gratis para ayudar a sus autores a conocer sus obras.

For Monsters & Dark Verse

Happy Friday the 13th! To celebrate this special day, I have two quick announcements. The first is that a new version of Monsters Are Everywhere is available on Amazon.

Now part of the Everly Everywhere books, it was the book that really started the series. Officially, it’s book #3.

More exciting news: the 2017 HWA Poetry Showcase Volume IV is about to go live on Amazon! A yearly tradition, this poetry collection features some of the finest writers of dark verse. I’m included again this year with The Resurrection of Snow.

Interesting Wiki trivia: Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, which happens at least once every year but can occur up to three times in the same year.

In 2017, it occurred twice, on January 13 and October 13. There will be two Friday the 13ths per year until 2020, where 2021 and 2022 will have just one occurrence.

The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.

While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

So happy Friday the 13th! Two new books on the shelf for those that favor the other side of things.

Back Into Newspapers!

I just received an opportunity to get back into the newspaper business by freelancing for The Kansas City Star.

With a circulation of one million readers, that is definitely a byline I covet. Ernest Hemingway wrote for this newspaper and attributes the Star for making him such a good writer.

There is a really interesting history of the Star online.

From their website:

October 1917: Ernest Hemingway gets a job through family connections as a reporter for The Star but leaves the next April to drive ambulances in Italy. Hemingway credits a Star editor, C.G. “Pete” Wellington, with changing his verbose high school writing style into clear, provocative English. The author referred to this admonition from The Star’s style sheet: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.”

An article of faith at The Star is to aim for the readership of the 30,000 “best people” in Kansas City — the schoolteachers and preachers who love its restrained appearance. But concealed behind the genteel exterior is a newspaper full of human-interest stories: the country girl wronged by the city slicker; the failing Union Avenue druggist who wrote a note and then stuck a revolver in his mouth; the Anti-Vice Society complaining about women loitering in cigar stores on 15th Street enticing male customers into the adjoining saloons. Because photographs reproduce poorly, pictures are turned over to staff artists and turned into line drawings.

Other famous Star employees:

  • Harry S. Truman

  • Theodore Roosevelt

  • Walt Disney

  • Wilson Hicks

  • Eugene C. Pulliam

  • Bill Vaughan

  • William Rockhill Nelson

  • William Allen White

You can read all about them here.