Haintsong–a Hallow’s Eve Poem

Hello all, and happy creppy, spoopy day! I wanted to celebrate with a new poem I wrote while thinking about the woods where I spent so many youthful days rambling, dreaming up stories of valiant last stands against armies of evil creatures, the pines whispering all around me, the Spanish moss dancing in my path on breezes I could not always feel. *shivers* I don’t normally use much rhyme in my work and though I did not employ a strict form, this piece was a challenging little exercise in word choice. I creeped myself out a bit while writing it, so in the spirit of Halloween scaring-is-caring, I hope you enjoy! <3

haintsong

Haintsong

swish of pine needle, stir of fir

borrowed silk snags thorny branch

bare feet striking frozen dirt

thud of footfall, doesn’t hurt

 

run like the devil’s on your tail

and all the world’s on fire

run, she’s nearly through the veil

hurry girl you better run

 

spanish moss shapes an arch

breaths of night stir the fronds

swish of pine needle, stir of fir

all that waits for you is her

 

nowhere left to run my girl

there’s nowhere left to hide

the fire is licking at your feet

and the devil lives inside

*

she waits for me in a thistle-vale,

her smile of smooth old bones

an echo of a darker day,

rotting silks all turned to gray

 

she sings to me in night-time wind

in words all shades of gray

cathedral stone and charnel ash,

cat’s eyes and freezing skies

 

her promises are gossamers

laced with motley grays-

cold rain, mother’s hair,

shipwreck waves, mossy graves

 

she tells me I am like her now

creature with a life gone gray

clouded ice, mind of smoke

soul of lead, heart stone-dead

 

Horrorscopes: Fall 2016, Election Edition!

zodiacnWhy hello again, Starchildren! Here in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet Earth, it’s autumn…time for cozy sweaters, those first chilly evenings, the re-emergence of the Disciples of the Cult of PSL (pumpkin spice latte) into the unsuspecting human populace, and why yes, the Fall Edition of Horrorscopes! I have to say, this is an exciting time and this year is a special year—a year in which Americans cast lots to determine the fate of our people.

I͍̯̚ṭ̲̯̫ͩ̄ͫ’̸͕̜̭͖̏s͉̤̜̳̟̝̉͌̇͞ ̬̪͈̩͉͎͒ͮ̑̅e̺̜̬̺̱̻̍̽ͨ̏͗l͐̈̎ͧ́̈́ͫe̵̩̣͉͓̗ͯ͂ͫc̲͔̩̙͛ͨͧ͂ͪ͗̏t̴̺͖̟̰̬͖̐͗̇ͦͦi̠̓̓͟o̠̻͇̦̲̦̓ͨ͐n̮̆̌̆̄ͅ ̳̰̬̻͔̐̀͆y҉̹̤̣͚̹͈̞e͇̼̝͌̈́́ͪͩ̚a͖̝͕͚̞̦̋ͦ̃̑͡r͔̗̺͍̺ͫ͛ͨ.̢̪̌̂́̋̚̚̚

In this special edition, friends, we will look a little closer at the inscrutable skies and find out what the coming months will bring for each of you! Hold on tight…it’s going to be a wild ride!

All Signs:

This is one of those rare occasions when there is a message for ALL of you! With the onset of a new season and bigger still, a new season of change for the American people, remember that style cannot be underestimated. Dress for confidence—dress for success. Dress for the journey ahead, and be sure that your new wardrobe has plenty of pockets…you’re going to need them for hoarding food and resources, for hiding your shaking hands, for the utility of knowing you still have places within you the others cannot see. In relationship news, things will be more exciting than ever for each of you! Hug your loved ones, high-five or show them your affection by cooking a meal or making sure all of your vehicles are fueled, your wallets and mattresses stashed with cash and gold and silver currency, and that any and all batteries are replaced with new, longer-life models. And finally, don’t forget to have fun! In the face of the unknown, in the path of the storm, in the wake of all that is achingly new, painful and strange, embracing the unique ability to see humor in the whole of who and what we are is essential to a full life in the coming days, and a just dandy part of being h͕̘̮̹̱̰̤͘u̝͇͇̣̠̻͝m̨̦̟̹̩͢ḁ͎̩̙̻́͝n̛̮͙͝!

Now, without further ado, your Fall 2016 horrorscope:

Hamal, the brightest star of Aries gives light to its void as do all things which burn at their hearts and in their souls but do not trust to the hearts of stars to hold fast in the wake of what will be. Do not trust the orange titan Aldebaran of Taurus, though once steadfast; do not petition mighty Pollux of Gemini and the meteoric lights that tear through Janus’s domain. Do not strain your sights to distant, glowering Cancer or trust that Regulus, Alpha Leo and a legendary light will persist as what scouts the edges of our universe sends outriders, ever bolder and more clever, to pick away at what is known and bright. Virgo boasts Spica and Libra preaches her balance and in the wake of war, Antares marches beneath the banner of Scorpius but even he may now know despair and though the archer Sagittarius lets fly his arrows and wise Capricornus, quick Aquarius and subtle Pisces all rise from the Sea of Water in a show of timeless, beyond-ancient power, their lights flicker in a coldness not new but newly remembered, not alien but of our universe’s own heart.

*

It was the song on the legionnaire’s lips it was the arrows of Li Guang it was a Maasai victory feast it was the cry of Boudicca it was Artemisia’s ships set sail it was written in blood and ink and time it was the reverent chant around the Plains bonfire and it is now silence and the fires are doused and the Elysian Fields empty and the Valkyries turn their heads from this feast of crows for none are worthy of hallowed halls and guys, hey ya’ll, calm down because maybe it is a crazy joke. We’d call it whistling in the dark but that would imply that sound carries in the Void and we have no longer teeth or lips for whistling or the voices to laugh.

*

When She wandered the wasted plains in the unnatural winter, so many layers bundling her body that She tottered and slowed, a lump on the landscape, She sang to herself then She lost the words to songs so She began to speak and when her voice was tired and frayed She wrote in the dust with a withered branch:

ALL CANNOT BE KNOWN WHEN KNOWING IS NOT WISHED FOR. ALL CANNOT BE SEEN WHEN THE SIGHTED GOUGE OUT THEIR EYES. ALL CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD WHEN MINDS ARE BURIED IN THE ASHES OF THE WORLDS THEY BURNED.

YET THERE WILL BE SOME WHO KNOW AND SEE AND UNDERSTAND AND IN THE LIGHT OF DYING STARS THEY WILL TAKE MEASURE OF WHAT IS LEFT AND NAME THE SPACES BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THE PLACES THEY HAVE BEEN AND THEY WILL SEAL THAT KNOWLEDGE AWAY IN THE VOID AND WILL STAND VIGIL SO SUCH AN EXISTENCE IS NEVER AGAIN ALLOWED.

Then seeing her words She felt a sound rise from her chest, felt it bubbling up, pouring out, a raucous intrusion on her world’s silence and She laughed, She laughed until She collapsed into the dirt, weak from the joke of it and She lifted a bundled arm and wiped a gritted tear from her eye and She took a breath and knew how it would play out, how it begins again, and again, an ouroboros, a feedback loop, an assertion of being.

An assertion of life.

*

Will this year bring me luck? Money? Love? A journey by sea? What does the seer see for me?

The answer is no.
The answer is no.
The answer is no.
The answer is no and
The question
The question was
The question is
The answer and the question are
why?

*

Don’t forget, Starchildren, that autumn is a time of gratitude, of harvest bounty, of the warmth of family and friends. Do not forget to cherish these moments of light and warmth and love. Do not forget to be the best that you have it within you to be, to love with the radiance of a universe of stars.

Do not forget to be beautifully, humanly you.

Creative KC: Sara Kincaid, Writer Vs. World

creativekc-1

Hello, all! Welcome to my first installment of Creative KC! For those of you who’ve never been to the Kansas City metropolitan region, let me just tell ya’ll…there are exciting things going on in this city in the arts and makers’ fields. I’m crazy-lucky to know talented folks (who themselves know many more I’ve not yet met!), and I am excited to share their stories with the world. The series will be ongoing, and I plan to highlight local artists, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals and hobbyists in metro.

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Photo by Whitney Knutson Photography

First up on the docket is Kansas City writer Sara Kincaid, who published her lyrical, absinthe-tinged historic mystery novel in August. Sara, I’m going to ask you the same question I’ll be asking everybody I interview—exactly what do you do that has landed you here in a column about Kansas City creative professionals? I wanted to know the how’s, the why’s—as a writer, I can’t help but be curious about what makes other creatives tick.

I am a writer and have been since I was seven years old. As long as I can remember, I have been inventing places and stories. I was a child who loved to play pretend and loved the escape aspect of reading and writing. I still do in many ways. I enjoy inventing new places and crafting beautiful sentences. I always used to say that the only thing better about being a writer over being a reader is that you get to control what happens to the characters. 

Are there any influences or inspirations for your writing generally? I know you’ve talked a lot about your love for Poe, and that you have a pretty fantastic appreciate for and knowledge of Gothic literature–

My writing is definitely influenced by my education. I have a M.A in literature and am an expert in Gothic literature. I have read so many Gothic novels… I am inspired by Hawthorne (not a Gothic writer) for the way he describes an inanimate object to the point that it almost becomes a character. When I write, I aspire to write like Carlos Ruiz Zafon, one of my favorite living writers.

Being a writer and having a full-time Other Job sounds quite challenging—how do you personally manage to stay so creative in a busy work-a-day world?

A lot of times people say to me that they don’t know how I do it. How I write. And that my life makes them tired just hearing about it. I don’t know how to live and not create something. I think my life would be very boring if I wasn’t a writer. Even if I am being lazy and not writing, my mind is always tuned in. I get ideas driving down the highway or while listening to a song. They pop up everywhere. Maybe some day I will be lucky enough to be able to write full time. It’s the ultimate dream. 

the-green-lady-0413You had a book birthday in August—a big one, from the sounds of it (congratulations!). Are you currently working on any Projects Of Pure Win And/Or Awesome? What’s going on in the world of Writer Versus World? :D

I just published my first novel,  The Green Lady. It is a historical fiction piece about a lawyer in 1890s Baltimore who is addicted to absinthe. He witnesses a murder and then is accused of committing that crime. He tries to prove that he didn’t do it. But, he’s just not very good at life so he kind of bumbles his way through it. This was a really fun piece to write, but also really tough. 

My current work in progress is a completely different genre. It’s an urban fantasy story with a hint of dystopia in it titled Withered World. I hope to have it ready to publish by the end of 2016. One of my favorite things about the fantasy genre is the way different authors conceptualize the mechanism of magic. This plays into my story very heavily. I can’t wait to share this new story with the world but I have to keep it on the d/l for now :)

I also have a couple of other projects in the back of my mind. We’ll just have to see what develops next! 

book-on-shelf-3Since your interview is the first in a series I’m calling Creative KC, how would you say you engage with or rely upon others in the KC Community to do what you do? Do you have any causes or charities that you support, any active professional networks, or other ways that you interact with the Kansas City metro and its denizens?

The most significant way that I interact with the Kansas City community would be through my writers’ group. We have a fantastic group of women who are supportive of each other’s projects and triumphs. We beta read for one another and serve as a cheering squad for one another. 

If I had more time, I would love to volunteer more frequently. I have done a couple of activities with Literacy Kansas City, an adult literacy program in KC MO. I adopted my pup Lilah from Great Plains SPCA. They’re a great organization. If you’re local, I would recommend supporting them! 

Writing is a lot of hard work, at least in my experience–and adding day jobs, social lives, and other hobbies can be tough for any creative person. Are there any challenges that you face in wake of choosing writing as a vocation in addition to Other Life Stuff? If so, any pro-tips on how you personally deal with them?

For me, the hardest thing is balancing my career with my writing. I am also a writer by day so it’s really hard to force myself to sit down in front of the computer once again after I get home from the office even though the type of writing I am doing in each place is very different. The best way I have found to combat this is to meet up with my writer’s group. We may all be sitting together silently working on our own individual projects, but we are still together. This somehow satisfies my need for people, even though it’s quiet!

Now that I’ve asked you about what you do, and how and why, where can we find your work? I’d love to foist your words upon the world, and let people know where to go if they are looking for darkly lyrical fiction of the literary variety!

You can check out my website and blog at: https://writervsworld.com 

You can find me on Facebook at: @sarakincaidauthor 

Twitter: @writervsworld

My book is available via Amazon in both a print version and an ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Green-Lady-Novel-Sara-Kincaid-ebook/dp/B01ICK0LLW

I would love to end this interview with something I’ll call Non Sequitur Corner. Is there anything you want to share, Sara Kincaid, that may or may not at all be related to anything else you’ve said here? A quote, an image, wisdom of the ages, a really awful knock-knock joke?

Find people who build you up, respect your dreams and support your endeavors. This includes friends and significant others and anyone else who should rightfully embrace who you are because writing is a huge piece of what makes you who you are. Writing is a solitary endeavor in many ways. But in just as many ways, it doesn’t have to be. Those supporters are part of your writers’ arsenal as much as your favorite pen, notebook and chair. And be sure to give what you get. Be a support system to your fellow writers, not their competitor. 

Be a support system indeed–what wonderful advice! And in light of that, I want to thank you, Sara, for answering my prying, nosy questions, and for letting the world know how one woman is doing her part to keep Kansas City creative.

That wraps up this first installment of Creative KC. To all who took the time to read Sara’s story, thank you sincerely, kindly, and perhaps a bit effusively and I can’t wait to roll out more posts featuring Kansas City creators!

 

My Thanks to SFR and Galaxy Express

Hello, all! Happy February! Things have been so busy lately, but it is lovely to take a break in it all to peek in with with good news. I am honored that my story Luminous from The Book Smugglers was included in their wonderfully quirky, so-much-fun SFR Galaxy Awards roster. Each piece they choose receives its own customized reward. My RL friend Cassandra Chandler’s delightful novella Gray Card garnered the “Funniest Nerdgirl Love Affair” award. Fantastic! I’m proud that Luminous was recognized with the delicious, tears of my readers title “Biggest Tearjerker Per Page.” YESSSSSSSS. I mean, thank you so very much to Lee Koven and SFR and the Galaxy Express for this love for Luminous, and for creating such a unique and fun series of awards. All of you who enjoy some good sci-fi romance should head on over to the blog and check out these titles–the fate of the universe may well depend on it. :D

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Slow Boat to Fast City Is My Jam

What is better than a good anthology? Hmm. Lemme think…oh yeah, a good anthology with a freaking fantastic OST! Slow Boat to Fast City  from Pine Float Press features works by Sean Demory, Marshall Edwards, Orrin Grey, Steven Saunders and my own story, War Paint. It was rad to start with. And now, it has a dedicated, specially crafted soundtrack by Mr. Zoth and the Werespiders–music hinting of Barsoomists, horrors masked in the ever-present red dust, and the pitched war between them. Mr. Zoth and the Werespiders have pressed some chill-strange, catchy and atmospheric tracks for Pine Float’s ray-gun pulp, Mars-themed anthology. It’s available to pay as you please on Bandcamp. Sean Demory, Pine Float’s Overlord (I mean editor) has this to say:

It’s musically fascinating, layering propulsive, tough-guy Naked City jazz riffs with insistent, anachronistic subsonics and stutter-stop percussion. It’s not comfortable music, but that’s as it should be. It’s insistent, it’s relentless and it’s at odds with itself. It’s music that’s being invaded by aliens.

And Demory’s right. Saunders’ tracks get under the skin and sift into the cracks like that never-ending Mars red dust. Go check it out–you won’t regret it. Better yet, let these tracks play while you read the anthology itself…it’s a fantastic experience. Go, listen. Read. Do it.

You know you wanna…

Thriving Artists

Hey, creatives–Imma say a thing. *ahem* Once upon a time last year, a fellow writer cautioned me, telling me that I shouldn’t ever expect to get paid for my work.  No. No, no. No. No? No. NO! Nooooooooooooo. Newp. I keep running across this same issue with other writers, jewelers, artists, musicians, sculptors, and so many other creatives (forgive me if I’m leaving you out–I’m keeping this brief for the sake of impact). Now, I understand that exposure for your project or product is a good and right thing. Free samples, demonstrations, or sales on affordable commission all make good sense. They make even better sense when you offer them from an already existing creative platform such as your portfolio website or your writer’s blog where it’s clear that you are not just some kid in a sandbox offering to build a moat, but a creative professional with a valuable product to offer. I know some of you will wince at the word “product” and maybe even legit barf when you hear “branding,” but it’s true. Not just true, but necessary if you want to be paid for creative work which in my humble opinion, is healthy and just as it should be. We don’t question paying for someone to cook our food, for getting our hair done did, for having our cars cleaned and detailed, for personal trainers. Why do we devalue our own work, then? Work that takes hours to produce and hone, that takes a lifetime to get just right?

If you start to feel like what you’re doing is not valuable, please address this feeling with a Stuart Smalley-esque pep talk, and look at this graphic I made for ya’ll (use it any-damn-where you want) and remember that what you do is important to the world, that it takes time, resources (sometimes expensive resources) and more time, and that getting paid for it is as it should be. The “starving artist” mentality is not what we should be keeping in the collective consciousness when it comes to creativity–I’ll go with thriving artist any day. <3

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Luminous Release–My Heartfelt Thanks!

Last week, The Book Smugglers officially released my story Luminous on their site and through a variety of retailers in addition to the Amazon release. So many people have said wonderful and interesting things about the piece that it’s mind-boggling. The feedback, ya’ll–it’s been AMAZING. I am humbled by the warm reception my words have found out there in the big wide world, and I’m deeply thankful to all of you who have taken the time to read, comment, tweet, share, or review. The discussions around my story and the diverse and extremely thought-provoking reviews I’m seeing make me remember why I started writing in the first place. I never dreamed this experience would be so awesome. From Plastic Skeleton George and me, we offer you thanks from the bottom of our comically giant plastic hearts–seriously, I am thankful beyond what I can articulate without resorting to Porky-Pig blathering and interpretive dance. <3

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