Category Archives: #MakeItLocal

WELCOME TO THE NEW SPACEANDTIME.NET

We’ve been busy behind the scenes… but we can finally reveal what we’ve been working on. A revamped Space and Time website—but wait—there’s more! Spaceandtime.net is now more than just a place to park the latest issue. The new website features ways for writers to interact in both team and solo competitions. And of course, the Exquisite Corpse has been revived to come play with us again. Visit the fresh new site here.

What is the point of this? To do our part to energize and add a dynamic element to the speculative genre. These competitions offer new ways for writers to interact, show off their skills, gain credibility and build a spirited, united literary community. But that’s all the warm fuzzy stuff that keeps me up at night. You might be more interested in how ink will be spilled in the paper arena. Keep reading…

What are the Flash Battles like? Think of the most ferocious gladiator battle you can imagine… four demon warriors, drenched in sweat and blood as they eye their opponents ready to fight to the end. Now imagine four writers creating these four warriors in 500 word flash stories and ready to write to the end. That’s a flash battle. Four writers go head to head to write their speculative fiction story in three days. They will all be working from the same three prompts.

How do you begin? Sign up for a choice of four teams. You will be notified when we have a match available and given a week to decide if you’ll be able to compete. No matter what, you earn points for your team. Readers vote on their favorite stories, which is where the points come from. Some stories will be randomly selected to showcase in Space and Time magazine. Ready to learn more? Find our all about Flash Battles here.

But what if you are more of the Max Max, lone wolf type of writer? You don’t play well with others and prefer to go it alone? Then you may be suited to try out for Iron Writers. Each month writers will pit their skills pen to pen in 1,000 word flash fiction inspired from four prompts in seven days. The piece with the most reader votes (each reader may vote once for each piece they like) wins that month and can’t compete until the quarterly challenges. Finally, the quarterly champions will compete to earn the title of Iron Writer Champion 2021. This challenge will begin in June 2021 and run until June 2022. All winners receive recognition and get to showcase their flash in Space and Time magazine. Find out all about the Iron Writer Challenge here.

But what if you don’t want to compete at all? Then come help us build an exquisite corpse. Not a new event, the Exquisite Corpse game has been played either here or at spaceandtime.net for about two years now… and exquisite corpses as a form of poetry have been around far longer. Like the Stone Soup of poetry, come with your half baked thoughts, toss them in the pot and see what magic we conjure. Each exquisite corpse is honored in Space and Time magazine with the new prompt going up on the 13th. Exquisite Corpse submissions are open from the 13th – 19th of every month. January’s poem is up now. Find out all about the Exquisite Corpse here.

I invite you to come poke around the new Space and Time. This is just a little of what we have planned for the next year with more being announced in the coming months. I believe that the responsibility to change the future rests with those who can visualize it. Those that can visualize it are those who can write it.

Experimenting with Playwriting

I have never tried writing a play so of course when I was offered a chance to write something for performance I jumped on it. Written for a playgroup in Niceville, Florida, I based the story off of real places people in the town would be familiar with.

The Bog Spiders are a reference to pirantulas, of course. Pirantulas are the monster I made up for a short indie film and short story that was published both independently and in Retro Horror, available on Amazon here.

The play was written to be performed on Halloween for a mixed age audience, but it was one of the COVID cancellations this year. Maybe next year. For now, here’s my first try at writing a play. Any playwrights out there? Feel free to give me advice in the comments.

Super Noob here!

The Turkey Creek Creeper
by Angela Yuriko Smith©

Cast of Characters

OLD MAN:   79 years old, an old cook.

YOUNG BOY:  10 years old, schoolboy.

Place

Niceville, Florida

Current

Halloween Afternoon

ACT I

Scene 1

       Setting:  A back room of a cafe. A chair and an overturned bucket, some stacked up pots and boxes of supplies are stacked around.

       At Rise: OLD MAN is working in his back room. Voices are heard off stage.

                   (OLD MAN is sweeping. He wears kitchen attire and sports an eye patch.)

VOICES (Off.)

You can run but you can’t hide! If we don’t catch you, the Bog Spiders will!

                   (OLD MAN stops his work and walks to a door to peer out.) 

YOUNG BOY (Voice off. afraid.)

You’re all liars! There’s no such thing! Leave me alone!

VOICES (off. Sing song) 

Bog Spiders and witches will give you the itches. 

The Turkey Creek Creeper will sew you in stitches!

YOUNG BOY (Voice off.)

Liars! There’s no such thing!  

                   (OLD MAN is knocked to one side as YOUNG BOY bursts through the door, slamming it behind him. He doesn’t see OLD MAN at first. When he turns around, he is startled.)

YOUNG BOY (panting) 

Yikes! I didn’t see you. Let me just stay here a minute? I just need them to go away.

OLD MAN

What are you hiding from? The Bog Spiders or the Turkey Creek Creeper?

                   (OLD MAN leans in boy’s personal space against the door. Boy backs away) 

YOUNG BOY (uncertain)

Those things aren’t true. My mom said they are just made up to scare kids. I’m not scared.

(OLD MAN leans in, rubbing hands together)

OLD MAN

How long have you lived here, boy? I’ve never seen you hanging around here before.

YOUNG BOY

I think less than a month. I started school at the end of September. 

   (OLD MAN nods and moves to pull over the chair. YOUNG BOY backs away another step or two so the bucket is behind him)

OLD MAN (shaking head) 

Ah… so you wouldn’t really know then. You aren’t from around here. Someone outta have told you.

YOUNG BOY (nervous) 

What… told me what?

OLD MAN

About the Turkey Creek Creeper… you really gotta be careful. You gotta know the story… or else.)

YOUNG BOY (uncertain)

Or else what?

OLD MAN (loud and fast jumpscare)

He gets ya!

(OLD MAN leans in quickly. Startled, YOUNG BOY backs into bucket and sits down hard)

OLD MAN (laughing)

I’m sorry, boy. I couldn’t resist getting your heart beating. It’s good for ‘ya. (turns serious) But still… someone oughta tell you what to do…. In case you do ever run into the Turkey Creek Creeper. 

YOUNG BOY

You mean it’s not just a made up story? 

OLD MAN (ominous)

Not only is it a real story, but I seen him myself. When I was a boy about your age. I only wish… I’d known what to do. (taps eye patch) I might still be seeing double like you if I had.

   (OLD MAN sits down in the chair. YOUNG BOY leans forward, expectant)

YOUNG BOY (scared)

Is that what happened to your eye? The Creeper got it?

OLD MAN (ominous)

You might could say that. You might could indeed. Like you, I thought he was a joke. I had to learn the hard way to take The Creeper serious.

YOUNG BOY (transfixed)

What happened?

OLD MAN (smiles)

I thought you’d never ask. (rubs hands together) See, it was a long time ago, 50 years to be exact, on a Halloween night much like this one. The shadows were extra dark that night, like they were trying to suck in any of the light they touched. The only sounds were crickets looking for winter shelter and the bog spiders looking for…

YOUNG BOY (interrupts)

Bog Spiders aren’t re…

   (OLD MAN claps his hands to startle boy)

OLD MAN (loud) 

Who is telling this story?

 (YOUNG BOY points to OLD MAN, sheepish)

OLD MAN (loud) 

Who’s lived here longer than you were even a thought in your Daddy’s mind?

 (YOUNG BOY points to OLD MAN, sheepish)

OLD MAN (miffed) 

Okay then. Like I said, the Bog Spiders (emphasis, pause)… were looking for an easy meal. (looks at boy for response, none given, before continuing) I was just a stupid young lad then. A young lad with two eyes and and no time for foolish stories… or so I thought. It was Halloween, as I said, and I had one thing on my mind that night. Candy. I was going for the Niceville record of most candy got in a single Hallloween. 

Back then all the good neighborhoods that gave the best candy were all around Kelly Way and I lived all the way over by Sparkleberry Cove. Everyone knew not to cross through Turkey Creek after dark, but I didn’t believe that nonsense. Or what I thought was nonsense at the time… when I still had both my eyes.

Even if I had thought the Creeper was real, I might still not have listened. My head was all full of Pixie Sticks and Fireballs, root beer Dum Dums and chewy Long Boys. I was so determined to get the biggest candy haul Niceville had ever seen I would’ve risked running across the devil himself. (pause for effect) Which I pretty much did.

 YOUNG BOY (mesmerized) 

But what…

OLD MAN (loud and gruff) 

Eh! No interruptions. I’m telling this story and you’ll get your turn one day when you’re a one eyed old man. Any more questions?

 YOUNG BOY (gulps and shakes head)

OLD MAN (softer, still gruff) 

That’s what I thought. Anyways… the devil… or as good as. See, the story of the Turkey Creek Creeper is this. When he was a young boy, like you are and I was, he also didn’t listen to warnings not to wander Turkey Creek after dark. A brave and silly boy, like us, he took off one Halloween after the mother load of goodies. He also cut through Turkey Creek… but back then the warnings weren’t about the Creeper. He was warned about… the Bog Spiders. 

YOUNG BOY (interrupts)


What was his name?

OLD MAN (blinks, confused)

The Bog Spiders?

YOUNG BOY (annoyed) 

The boy!

OLD MAN (confused) 

The boy? Er… um… Sam. The boy was Sam. (loud) Now no more interruptions!

OLD MAN (continues)

So the Bog Spiders have lived in Niceville a long, long time. Back when the place was still called Boggy, back before they tried to fancy it up for the tourists… there were Bog Spiders. Some say they are a kind of vicious, freshwater crab and some say they are a kind of tarantula that migrated here on some driftwood, but everyone agrees you don’t want to meet one. Bog Spiders are very particular in their dining habits. They don’t eat bugs or mice. They don’t even eat people… not all of us anyways. No, Bog Spiders are very particular diners. (pause) They only eat… your eyes!

YOUNG BOY (jumps)

OLD MAN

So what the poor old Creeper was up against back before he was the Creeper… 

YOUNG BOY (interrupts) 

When he was still Sam?

OLD MAN (annoyed)

Who? Er… yes. When he was still Sam. Now hush up and listen. (clears throat) Back when he was… Sam… he also cut through Turkey Creek on his way to maximize his candy haul. And of course, it was after dark. Back then there weren’t no fancy boardwalk like now. Back then you crossed the creek area on foot, through the muck and mud. So he’s hurrying along, his mind all on whatever old fashioned candy they had then, and he hears a noise. A clicking sound coming up behind him. A clackety click creeping up on all sides of him. So he starts to hurry, but it’s no use. The faster he goes, the faster the clackety click goes. He hears it behind him. He hears it on both sides. Then (pause) he hears it ahead. Suddenly, poor old…er… Sam… is a believer. Suddenly poor old Sam regrets cutting through the dark, boggy muck late on a Halloween night. Suddenly, Sam thinks he’s in trouble. (pause) And Sam was right.

There, in a sliver of moonlight cutting through the tangle of dark he sees the biggest spider he has ever seen. It’s the size of a dinner plate, it has eight glowing eyes across it’s hairy forehead. Eight legs scuttled along through the underbrush, glittering in the bit of moon. Each leg ended in a spike. Sam sees this and you know what he did then?

YOUNG BOY (terrified)

Did he run?

OLD MAN (suppressing laughter)

No. (pause) He peed his pants.

YOUNG BOY (shocked)

What? No he wouldn’t! He did not!

OLD MAN (suppressing laughter)

It’s true! He was so scared he peed his pants right there! But can you blame him? (serious, eerie) There he was, face to face with the scariest thing he’d ever seen in his young life. Something so scary he’d been too scared to even consider it could be real. Not only was there one, but he knew from all the clackety clicking all around him… there were probably hundreds upon hundreds of these monsters all hungry for one thing. (pause) A young boy’s eyes. (silence)

YOUNG BOY (after long pause, impatient)

What happened? Did he get away?

OLD MAN (matter of fact)

Of course not. They got his eyes. Otherwise how would he become the Turkey Creek Creeper? Think, boy!

YOUNG BOY (confused)

But that’s it? That’s the whole story? There isn’t more?

OLD MAN (matter of fact)

Yep, that’s the whole story. (Stands up, starts to continue his sweeping ignoring boy. A long pause)

YOUNG BOY (confused, disappointed)

But… then how did you lose your eye?

OLD MAN (loud, jumpscare)

Ha! I thought you’d never ask. (creepily) So the day I was cutting through Turkey Creek, it’s dark, and I also hears this terrible clackity clicking coming up all around me, and suddenly I start thinking maybe all the tales about Bog Spiders and the Creeper aren’t such tall tales after all and I commence to running. These clickety clacks are running with me though. The faster I go the faster they go. Finally, I’m running as fast as I can in the dark, dark and tangled underbrush, screaming my head off. I think I can hear the Creepers feet behind me, running just as fast… faster even. I know he’s just about to catch me… I feel his icy breath on the back of my neck and his long, slimy fingers snatching in the air just behind my head. Suddenly, a patch of moonlight, a pale splinter of light shines on the path ahead of me and I see a sharp stick jutting up through the mud. It’s angled right at me, like a spear. (pause) What I didn’t see was a whole mess of twisted grass tangled up across that path. My foot caught up in that grass, and down I went… right on that pointed stick. (straightens up and continues sweeping) And that was the end of that.

YOUNG BOY (confused)

What? The end of what? That wasn’t the end of anything. What happened then?

OLD MAN (matter of fact)

Oh, I lost my eye.

YOUNG BOY (confused)

To, what? The Creeper or the Bog Spiders?

OLD MAN (matter of fact)

To the stick, boy. There was a sharp stick in the path and I fell on it. Weren’t you listening?

YOUNG BOY (confused)

But the Creeper was chasing you… where did he go?

OLD MAN (matter of fact)

Oh, he probably got scared off at that point. I was screaming up a storm. It really hurt, you know. (continues sweeping)

 YOUNG BOY (confused)

But… but…

OLD MAN (suddenly serious, menacing)

Look boy, that’s all I know, and I won’t be one caught telling tall tales of made up nonsense. I tell you what I know and leave it at that. But I will tell you one thing I learned that night… (pause) Screaming scares ‘em off. Both the Bog Spiders and the Turkey Creek Creeper left me alone that night and they’ve never once bothered me since. Yessir, I’m convinced that screaming scares them off. As high pitched as you can get, as loud as you can. They can’t take the frequency.

YOUNG BOY (confused)

But… but…

OLD MAN (matter of fact)

Now off with you. I’ve got work to do. I don’t feed myself sitting around telling stories. Go on…

(shuffles protesting YOUNG BOY out the door and continues sweeping From offstage there’s a sudden high pitched scream) 

VOICES (Off.)

Do it again in case that wasn’t high pitched enough.(high pitched scream again)

(OLD MAN listens and just smiles. The scream comes again. OLD MAN begins to laugh maniacally, super villain style and turns slowly to face audience)

OLD MAN (addressing audience)

Happy Halloween, ya’ll. (continues laughing as lights dim)

(END)

What NaNoWriMo Taught Me

Sometimes the destination we are headed to turns out to be the wrong place when we arrive. This is NaNoWrimo 2020 for me. I finally wrote my first novel and broke the magic 50k number. I expected to be ecstatic. The truth is, I’ve barely thought about it except to be relieved it’s over. Then today I had an epiphany. I realized I’m in the wrong place.

The flash of enlightenment occurred in the library today as I was shelving books. This is not something I normally do, but we are closed to the public and operating with minimum staff so we are all doing things different. Right now we have a ton of books to shelve so I got to go into almost every section of the library.

As I shelved, I became aware of my feelings and reactions to the different genres. I found it was hard to focus on shelving books in three areas because I was distracted by what I was shelving. These three areas were non-fiction, poetry and short stories. A lightbulb popped in my brain. Why am I trying to write fiction novels when my favorite things to read are non-fiction, poetry and short stories? I thought back to how I even got here.

My favorite books growing up were Alfred Hitchcock’s anthologies and collections of Sherlock Holmes. The first thing I can remember writing was a short scary story about a man who went insane in a house because it was full of baby ghosts that cried 24/7. The first thing I wrote that I received praise for was a poem inspired by David Bowie’s song Wild if the Wind. My first professional sale was to a website called Lovewords Ezine and it was a short called “Bad Baby” inspired by the origins of the Jersey Devil. Then I discovered non-fiction and worked for a wide assortment of newspapers, ad sites, online venues… basically anyone who would pay me. And I loved all of it.

Not to bore you with my autobiography… just to point out what should have been obvious to me. I am not a novelist. I love fast, intense and lean reading. I am usually reading something non-fiction. I enjoy an economy of words. I like to find out new information and then share it. How did I get stuck in the novelist mindset? Oh yes, it was to prove a point twenty years ago.

Back in 2001 I attended the 19th annual Southwest Writer’s Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a non-fiction writer. I was actually working on my first non-fiction book (another story, another time) and was enjoying all the workshops and comradery… until I heard a man claim that non-fiction writers weren’t real writers because they had no imagination.

Hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion and I voiced mine. I think non-fiction and fiction are equal. You have to gloss up the truth to sell it and you have to have a kernel of truth in your fiction to sell it. They are two sides of the same coin. He loudly, and rudely told me I was wrong and before you knew it we were having a shouting match in the hallway of the Hyatt Regency about writing.

We almost got kicked out of the conference because we were disrupting the other workshops that were trying to wrap up and neither of us would back down. I went home infuriated and determined to prove him wrong. I started my first book that night in a rage, and quite a few years later published it as End of Mae. To my surprise, it did fairly well with good reviews and decent royalties for quite awhile. It was fun. I kept writing fiction.

End of Mae is a novella at about 20,000 words. A few years later came Bitter Suites, also a novella. When it became a Bram Stoker finalist I was told by a few publishers they would purchase it if I would write the entire story arc (planned for three connected novellas) as a standalone book. I got excited and started working on it as a novel.

And this brings us to the moral of this long discourse: to thine own writing be true.

When Bitter Suites was just my fun, crazy novella I loved it. I was so excited about the story arc and how it was going together. Then I tried to force it to be a novel. If a story is my baby, I smeared make up on it and forced it to wear grown up clothes.

It felt wrong. It looked wrong. I don’t like it. Burn it with fire—metaphorically. I went back to my original plan and published the second part as a novella. That’s Suite and Sour published this October.

After I finished my long slog with the NaNo romance novel I was tired of the nightly marathon, the characters I’d lived with for a month and writing in general.

I needed my mojo back so I wrote something, but this was just a quick story of less than 5,000 words. It is fast, intense and lean. There is some death and gore. The underdog wins and justice has no mercy. All the things I love. It was what writing has always been for me: a pleasure. And I’m rejuvenated.

So, I officially wrote my novel and I’m all good. Bucket list item checked. I’ll probably do NaNoWrimo next year but I will just write 30 short stories. That sounds like a fun challenge. I do plan to publish this NaNo romance in February 2021 but it may not be a novel anymore. So much of it felt like it could be condensed or cut. Do we really care what her dress looks like? The beta readers will let me know. BTW, contact me if you want to be a beta reader 🙂

Future novels? I think it’s out of my system. Wordcount is not what makes a good story for me. I will listen to my own advice to let the story be what it wants to be. I don’t think it wants to be a novel, and I definitely don’t want to be the person writing it.

Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay 

Local Author Panel for My Birthday

I can think of no better way to celebrate turning 53 than to meet new authors and chat about writing… so that’s what I did today. Joining Mel Carney, Darlene Deluca and Anola Pickett for the Mid-continent Public Library’s annual Local Author Fair we had a lively discussion about publishing, writing during the pandemic and our work.

Darlene Deluca is a romance writer so I’ve already started hopping in her inbox to connect and ask her genre questions. I’ve also repented of my genre biased ways and bought her book Something Good on Amazon so I can be more educated about the less fatal attractions.

Which, speaking of not killing anyone, I am just about at 30,000 words with Soft Deadlines and no one has died yet! There is a lightly creepy dream sequence where a giant silver praying mantis eats the head off our heroine Naomi but it’s only a dream. Dream death can be romantic, right? Side note: I’m told the praying mantis dream sequence will probably be cut before publication.

This week I did get waaaaay behind on my wordcount. This has been a crazy week of COVID issues at work. We had seven branches close almost all at once, and the decision was made to go back to curbside service only beginning this Monday. That’s the bad news. The good news is I will have time to catch up on all my emails, this NaNoWriMo and get the final issue this year of Space and Time out.

Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes across my social media. I feel loved. I’ll do my best to answer all of them because you all rock, and I love you.

And here’s the video from the 7th annual Local Author panel…

Local Author Fair Panel

Watch Skeleton Hour 04: Black Cranes

I was so excited to be part of the fourth installation of the Horror Writers Association’s Skeleton Hour along with editors and authors from the new horror anthology, Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. I had a lot of fun with Sister Cranes Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn, Nadia Bulkin, and Rena Mason for a discussion about the book.

Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In Black Cranes, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their experiences of ‘otherness’, be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world.

Black Cranes is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be a perpetual outsider. This episode of Skeleton Hour was sponsored by the UC Riverside Palm Desert Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. Skeleton Hour is produced in collaboration with The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. Please buy books by the featured authors through The Last Bookstore or another indie bookstore near you!

Tomorrow I’ll be a featured author for the final Local Author Fair panel from 1:30-2:30 p.m. CST. The Local Author Fair panel will be on Facebook Live along with Mel Carney, Darlene Deluca, and Anola Pickett. This event includes a Q&A. Details here and you can watch here.

Cover Reveal for Space and Time #139

All I can think of is… almost there! This last issue ends our third year of Space and Time. By some miracle we managed to stay mostly on schedule, in spite of everything. The Spring and Summer issues almost ended the magazine financially due to a wave of missing issues and replacement costs. We finally gave up and went POD through Amazon and that has saved us, but we are still catching up on missing issues and chaos. Thank you for your patience with the chaos.

But here we are anyway, against the odds. This issue has some crazy coincidences behind it I’ll share once it’s published. I don’t want to ruin any surprises ahead of time. I’ll just say, the lead story interference by Leonard Speiser and the cover art by Arthur Haywood were both created completely independent of each other. When I first saw the cover art I cried because they fit so well. This is when publishing takes my breath away. There’s a magic in it, I swear. This issue has that magic.

And I’m grateful, because we all need some magic right now. You’ll find some powerful messages in this issue’s art, poetry and fiction. Creative voices speak loud. Revolutions are fueled by art—by words and images that cause blood to boil and banners to wave. I hope this issue inspires unprecedented love, guerilla tolerance and politicized empathy.

There’s a lot of anger and fear right now. I hope this issue can help us to protest division and refuse nothing less but full unity and forgiveness. It’s the <insert-your-belief-system-here> way, if you look at the teachings at the foundation. Whatever the differences, we all understand kindness.

Love doesn’t discriminate, is bi-partisan, is not territorial, doesn’t withhold itself because of race, sexual orientation or beliefs. In fact, I believe a wise, ancient text most of us are familiar with says it much better than I can:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

—1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I’ll have an extra helping of that please. I just have to find out who is serving it. One day soon, I hope all of us.

But enough of my soapbox. Forgive me if I’ve offended anyone, but I find 2020 wearing away the filter that keeps most of what I think safely locked in my head. This post is to show off the latest cover of Space and Time Winter issue #139 and celebrate those that will be in it.

Congratulations to everyone who is a part of #139, on the pages and behind them. Thank you to Kyra Starr for putting the cover together and Arthur Haywood for the beautiful art.

Congratulations to all fiction and poetry selections for #139

Congratulations, and here’s the the last issue in 2020… and an end to 2020!

Space and Time, Winter 2020 #139

Poetry Live with Hipness & Outrage

November has been much more chill, but not chill enough to forget our monthly Live Poetry on Instagram! Amy Zoeller and I have so much fun chatting about death, hot guys and cake that we are talking about starting an actual poetry show… most likely called Cake & Hyperbull. Amy is already composing theme music.

Why Cake & Hyperbull? It’s just nonsense that sprang from the last show, which you can watch below. Amy seems to have a lot of poems that involve cake and I’ve challenged myself to write something bright and happy about cake. If you haven’t heard Amy’s poetry yet, you are in for a treat. Her verse is full of light and life, love and vitality. She makes me happy. We all need more happy.

So where’s Hyper Bull come from? After reading I made a comment that I often don’t know how to pronounce words properly. It was within the last five years that I found out hyperbole (hai·pur·buh·lee) is not pronounced as hyper bole (hai·pur·bowl). Amy thought I said hyper bull, as in that’s so much bull it’s hyper. We both loved the word and claimed it. Shall I use it in a sentence?

2020 is already so hyperbull, what else can happen?

Want to witness this historic exchange? Or just watch two weirdos talk about poetry and nonsense? Here’s last Sunday’s live reading, in parts one and two. Sideways, because that’s how we roll.

NaNoWriMo: Tough Week for “Soft Deadlines”

The second week started off strong. Having a blast with romance, I participated in my first live NaNoWriMo Write-In and I did over 1k words in an hour. My keyboard was blazing. I was invincible. And then something important came up and I missed a day. I’m rocking this, I thought. I’ll write extra tomorrow to keep my lead.

No worries, because I was ahead of schedule, remember? I could afford to miss a day. Then, something came up the second night and I missed a second day. But I’m really only one day behind, I reasoned. I’d been a day ahead before.

Third night I realized I had double the writing to do. I’d worked all day, one of my kids needed to talk. I squeezed in a quarter of what I needed to accomplish and limped through a third day of writing. Having soared too close to the sun, I pouted as I plummeted to earth. Why do I do these crazy things to myself, I thought. Who am I to write a romance anyway?

Fourth night was another long day at work. We have so many people out, my super-part-time job has gotten intense. I was tired and depressed. I calculated out what my word count needed to be the next day and, not being a math-er, somehow got three different answers to my problem. Math is stupid, and so am I for trying to do this, I snarled. I’m a failure at life.

Fifth morning I had two days off in a row. I woke up, downed coffee and started typing for dear life. I worked all day, off and on. I drank far too much coffee. I looked for excuses to do anything else. By evening I recalculated how short I was—less than 2,000 words behind! I can do this, I thought. I can catch up and stay on track from here.

Sixth morning, another long slog but I was hopeful. I had coffee, went on a walk with the dogs and Ryan and buckled in to work. Piles of leaves beckoned to me outside. My Pokemon Go app needed to be restarted and I got sidetracked by cleaning out my inbox… but I’d force myself back. Lucky for me I finally reached a part I’d been excited for since day one and I sped forward and caught up, at least for today.

I’m still off track over all, as you can see in my progress graph but I have hopes that I can get some extra words in this next week when things promise to slow down. If I stay at this pace I’m on track to have 50,000 words done by December 3rd. I can live with that, but I still have high hopes I’ll finish ahead of schedule or go over wordcount (if the story calls for it).

I love where the story is going and see no reason not to publish this next February (after edits and clean up, of course). That’s the important thing. Pushing myself for 30 days to write something I can work with—setting up habits that put my writing back at the top of my To Do list. In spite of everything, still here… still tapping.

And if I keep tapping, tomorrow I should hit 25,000 words—the official halfway mark. Crossing fingers, humbled and wiser.

Now Accepting English Students for Alessandro Manzetti’s Creative Writing Academy

Pleased to announce I will once again be taking a limited number of students as the English component of Alessandro Manzetti’s Creative Writing Academy. I’m modeling my curriculum on the successful program already instituted by Manzetti in Italian. Each course is individualized to work with each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Basic Course, lasting 6 months, is free for candidates aged between 18 and 26, as part of the Under 26 Young Talent Project supported by us, and paid for from proceeds from the Academy. The Advanced Course, lasting 12 months, is only available for a fee. You can read about the courses here.

Space and Time magazine will be considering exceptional work from both Italian and English students for possible publication in the magazine. The student would be compensated for their work and retain rights as if it was a regular submission.

Students interested in applying please contact me at admissions.angela.yuriko.smith@gmail.com

Please include your current educational qualifications, any other courses taken complete with a list of publication credits and a 500 word essay on why you are a writer.

Black Cranes on Skeleton Hour TODAY

Today is the day when editors and authors from the new horror anthology, Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women will be featured on the next Skeleton Hour, the Horror Writers Association’s monthly horror literature webinar series. Please join Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn, Nadia Bulkin, Rena Mason and myself for this event. You can register for the online event on Facebook here.

Leading up to this event I’ve posted interviews with some of the Black Cranes so you have a chance to know them a little better ahead of time. Think of questions you want to ask because I believe there will be an opportunity for Q&A in the chat.

I hope you’ll join us. I’ll try to embed/link the video here afterwards in case you can’t, so be sure to check back. For now, I’m off to chat with some Cranes.