Thursday, March 13, 2014

Little Daughter and the Wolf

Rather than talk about my [wicked/hella/super....Is there a qualifier specific to the Midwest?] long hiatus, I'm going to talk about this other thing:



I'm extremely excited to have a story appearing in Fox Spirit's anthology The Girl at the End of the World!

Here is a blurb about the antho:

"It’s the end of days. The sky is falling, the seas are burning and your neighbour is a zombie. It’s brutal out there. It’s every man for himself and these heels are going to have to go; you simply can’t run in them!
Across two volumes, The Girl at the End of the World offers forty-one striking visions of the apocalypse and the women and girls dealing with it. From gods to zombies, from epic to deeply personal, from the moment of impact to a future where life is long forgotten; bestselling authors and exciting new writers deliver tales you’ll still remember when holed up in a fallout shelter with one remaining bullet and a best friend with a suspicious bite mark on their neck."

While my story, "Little Daughter," is not post-apocalyptic, this collection still seemed like a perfect fit as my main character is a girl whose own world, at least, has exploded (much at her own hand). The good people at Fox Spirit thought it fit too, so here we are!

Here is a blurb about "Little Daughter": 

" 'Little Daughter' is a 6,500 word dark fairytale that is more than simply the story of a fugitive princess, cursed with the Midas touch, and the crafty witch who ensnares her. It is a story about story itself, about how carelessly a singular life can be spun into a bedtime yarn, a fable, a cautionary tale. When the most influential phrase in a young girl's life is "Once upon a time," and her only role model is the myth she's made out to be, what hope can she have of blissful, anonymous normality? And to what lengths will she go to achieve it? Gather close, and allow Little Daughter to weave her word-song spell."

I'm especially proud of "Little Daughter" for two reasons: 1)  it's based on a fairytale my dad told me as a kid (and continues to tell to children in his capacity as a professional storyteller - perhaps the greatest job title ever!), which originates, I believe, from Russia, and I've always wanted to tell my own version. The nature of fairytales is purposefully amorphous; as an oral tradition, they are meant to be passed around, added to and subtracted from, to fit the moral agenda of the storyteller. This appeals to me and my terrible goldfish memory.  2) I'm currently working on expanding "Little Daughter" into a full length novel. Once I started in on the nature of story itself I just couldn't stop. Story's story never ends! Now I'm at 33,000 words and have at least that much to go. Wish me luck!

FUN FACT: When editing for the antho, most of my edits consisted of European-izing my work by adding a "u" to tons of words!

The Girl at the End of the World releases either later this month or sometime in April! I believe it will be available in ebook for those who don't want to deal with international shipping! I will keep you posted. In the meantime, you can find a list of stories here, and the contributors' bio page here (mine mentions pirates and was originally accompanied by the following photo to give it some context!).







Sunday, October 27, 2013

Scarily Cute Halloween Thingies!

At my place of employ, we're having a contest wherein all the employees costumize these little monster figurines and then the customers may vote as to which is most aesthetically pleasing. All the little monsters are so adorable/ridiculous/creepy, I feel compelled to share.


Can you guess which one is mine?


Is it....


me, Mario?



Joss Whedon's Marvel's Agent of Shield's Captain America?



 Fancy Zoot Suit Skull Man Thing Guy?



That One Thing From That One Movie by That One Guy with Them One Things?



The Boy Who Lived?



Your Grandpa?



Pinhead's Aborted Fetus?



The Most Fabulous Skull Man Thing Guy You Ever Did See?



This Scary Motherfucker Right Here?



This Slap-dash Piece of Crap?



HINT: Mine's a piece of crap that I whipped up slap-dashedly!

Kudos to all my super crafty and imaginative coworkers!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

All of My Stories Aren't About Zombies - Just the Ones that Get Published!

Just in time for your Halloween campfire! 

I have a little story in Feast of the Dead: Hors D'oeuvres, called "The Elephant." 

This is how it starts:

"That was delicious, Temperance!"

This is Albert, my next door neighbor. He teaches remedial English at the community college. He's always saying things are delicious. I hear him over the fence in his backyard, playing catch with his eight-year-old. "Delicious toss, son!" On quiet nights, I imagine I can hear him on top of his wife: "Delicious, dear. Delicious."

Copies are only $7. Buy one?

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Seneca Falls: First Recorded Outbreak of Strain Z"

Got my copy of ZOMBIES: SHAMBLING THROUGH THE AGES! It's thick and beautiful, just the way I likes 'em:



Lookit, here's my story, with an appropriate amount of crazy eyes:


(I haven't washed my hair today; I hope no one notices....until they read this.)

Here is my author bio, short, sweet, and pertinent:



Finally, here are my favorite words from Steve Berman's intro: "One of the librarians has brought to my attention that a disheveled man has been seen near the front entrance. He is most likely a student demonstrator. I would not be surprised if, upon exiting after our lectures, we find the number of these ragamuffins has exponentially multiplied."

Won't you pick up your own copy today?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Five Cost-Free Ways for You to Support Your Favorite Small Press Author (Perhaps Me?)

(Did you all know I have a story coming out in Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages? It's pretty long and in good company, and you can pre-order it now for roughly $12 through Amazon!)


People often tell me they wish I would write more, which is an awesome thing for someone to wish of you. The truth is, I have written a lot more, and some of those things are ready for publication and some of them are not. The reason you are not reading these things is because I have not found the right publisher/agent for them yet. And helping me find a publisher for my work is something YOU can play a huge role in - simply by being an active fan. Here's how:

1. Pimp my work on social networking sites. Post links to thedingram.com on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads. Pin a book of mine on Pinterest, share it on your blog or Tumblr, do something with it on Reddit (I'm not actually sure what Reddit is/does, but I'm sure it can be of use). Spread it like mouth herpes on the lips and tongues of the vasty interwebs!

2. Write a review. (Or give a simple star rating if you're not the verbose type.) A review is the most generous gift you can give to an author (I always ask for them on my birthday). Even if you didn't wholly enjoy the title, a thoughtful critique is always useful to the writer AND to potential discerning readers. Because of its insanely large customer base, Amazon is the most crucial site on which to post a review, but other good ones include Goodreads, Library Thing, Shelfari, and even your own personal blog or a retailer site like bn.com. Also, if you want to really make an author's day, email or tweet them (when possible) to let them know how much you liked their work, so they can pee themselves with happiness (maybe it's just me who does this?) and retweet or blog your link, driving traffic to your various webspaces in return. Everybody wins (and pees)!

3. Good ol' fashioned larynx-based word-of-mouth. At a loss for words around your new coworkers or at that slightly awkward family BBQ? Got nothing interesting to say at your high school reunion, on a first date, during your driver's test, or while getting a breast exam? Books are a great way to get the conversation flowing! Eat Your Heart Out, for example, has many topics you could focus on: queer culture, celebrity, relationship issues, motorcycles, furniture outlet stores, zombies. It has so many topics that some people (Lambda Literary and Queered Science of Oakland, CA) find it extremely fun to read for their book clubs! I even wrote up a handy Discussion Guide for just this specific purpose. Share, share, share!

4. Ask your local bookstore, chain store, or library to order a copy. Even if you don't intend to purchase it from them, ask them to order it in anyway, so that the title is floating around, and the name is in their heads.

5. Buy the book! (This one costs money.) Buying the book not only provides you with hours of entertainment, it shows potential publishers that the author has selling power (and possibly allows her to break even on all of her out-of-pocket expenses for promoting the book herself). An author with a proven audience has a greater chance of selling more manuscripts or acquiring an agent so that they can continue to put out books for you to enjoy for hours and hours and hours to come! EBooks are especially affordable - why, you can snag a copy of Sleep Like This for a paltry .99 cents! Eat Your Heart Out is now only $3.99, and the preorder for Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages is currently discounted at $12 (physical copy).


Thank you to everyone who has done any or all of these things for me (there are too many of you to list!), and to anyone and everyone who will do them for me in the future. I couldn't chase my silly dreams without you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brief Life Update + New Writing Samples

In the last six months, I have: realized that living in the SF bay area is not financially feasible (student loan repayments, hooray!), moved to the Boston area only to make the same realization (can't live off the generosity of my friends forever), and moved back to my (super financially feasible) hometown in Southern Ohio to live off the generosity of my dad (I can do that forever). My Yaris has packed on quite a few miles over these months, and my personal possessions have been downsized to fit inside said hatchback. I am pretty tired of moving, you guys! And also I would like to be able to buy some furniture that I don't have to resell or give away within one year of purchase.

MEANWHILE....I have been working on my pitch package (industry term, because I am the epitome of professional) for my horror novel All Good Children and sending it out to potential agents. I've started a new fantasy story called Little Daughter, about a girl cursed with the Midas touch, that also explores the power of storytelling and murkier themes such as personal ethics and morality. I've also been sending out short stories and flash fictions to various markets, and have a new story, "Seneca Falls: First Recorded Outbreak of Strain Z," coming out this August in the anthology Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages. Finally, I am awaiting word on whether I got into a certain Fellowship program, but I consider this quite a long shot. To sum up: I have been writing, submitting, and waiting, waiting, waiting.

BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO WAIT...for some juicy sample paragraphs from my new/current projects!

Here is the intro from my 11,000 word short story (phhhsshhh, short), "Seneca Falls: First Recorded Outbreak of Strain Z," in which an 80-some-year-old Elizabeth Cady Stanton recalls that one summer in 1848 when she changed feminism forever, fell in love with Lucretia Mott, and saved the world from zombies:

"Though it was perhaps the most significant chapter in my long and—if I may be so immodest, and certainly at my age I may—quite significant life, still I hesitate to include the truth of those two short days as a chapter in these memoirs. As much as I do not care to admit it, I am frightened. But of what do I have to be frightened? I am an old woman now and the only person I might betray has long ago passed on. She swore me to secrecy that night—more for the one sin than for the other—and I, though the record shall prove it quite contrary to my nature, I have bitten my tongue on this. For her.
    All my life I feel as though I have been fighting for her in the only arena I felt equipped to fight: the political arena, the constant struggle for the rights of the marginalized. I am nothing if not a powerful orator, for God blessed me with a voice and a will to speak it and I am afraid I have never been able to turn my back on the Lord's gifts. She, of course, could speak me under the proverbial table, and did on more than one occasion. It was one of the things that made her so beautiful, that stirred up those things in me. She fought for me—for my life if not for my hand, which, God forgive me, back then I would have traded it all for that kind of fight. A fight of the heart. But she had other, more pressing matters she had to attend to, as you will read.
    Despite my fear, I have decided to write it out for you, whoever you are. Whoever would care to read the accounts of an old woman when she was but a young and impassioned fool of a girl, driven by a need for justice and equality, yes, but—but also by something too dark to name. A dark sort of longing, a dark sort of love. Never to be realized, surely, and, I thought, never to be raised up again. But, as I learned during that awful summer night in 1848, the things we thought we'd buried have a way of lurching after us."


You can find out more about my story and the anthology Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages here, here, and here. Or why not pre-order through Amazon? You know it will be worth it.


Here is a teaser from the first chapter of All Good Children, in which an anxious 14-year-old Jordan Fontaine prepares for a visit from her Liaison, a woman who will essentially decide the girl's future:

"Those slender wrists. Bare and smooth, she must moisturize. There’s that game the other kids play at school, curling index fingers around wrists to touch the thumb, and moving up and up and up, and the farther they can move up, the more babies the person will eventually birth. The science of junior high reflecting the spells we learned in grade school using only a well-placed buttercup to discern how boy crazy you might be. I could wrap my fingers around those wrists and all four tips would touch my thumb. She would have ten children, maybe, a household or two, a village. But the elbow might put a stop to that, and the muscles that come after, though they’re hard to see beneath her blazer. Blue like her eyes. I wonder what she’ll tell us and what her voice will sound like when she speaks.
     I am up in my room, it used to be the attic but I was a surprise. Dad put my mattress on top of a group of boxes full of memories he swears we’ll never need to check on, but just in case, we’ll save on a box spring. My sheets are pink with pale yellow flowers and they match my pillowcase and my comforter. I didn’t pick them out. Jason has sheets patterned with antique muscle cars, and Jeremy has plain black, and I have yellow flowers swimming in a pink expanse, and my name is Jordan even though I'm a girl. As I said, I was a surprise.
     She pulls into the driveway. I placed a bet with myself that she would park on the street, but now her Mazda is boxing in our pick-up and it’s a possibility that this was calculated. I wonder if she knows that my parents would never run—well, maybe Mom but never Dad—and if they did, we have horses in the barn and they can go places her Mazda only sees in its SUV dreams. She’s wearing heels and a skirt that only pretends to fall past her knees. She probably wouldn’t chase us. She’d make a call, that’s all it would take, and wait disinterestedly for us to fall. Fall. It’s almost Summer.
     I pick through my dresser. Mom would kill me if she knew I was not dressed yet, but she’s still at the hospital and Dad’s in the field. We have a fox problem and our last good dog died last week. Checking up, checking up. I think I’ll dress down, fuck impressions.
     A pair of Jason’s old Wranglers, torn at the knees almost symmetrically, two sizes too big and I won’t bother with a belt. Mom doesn’t know about the stud in my bellybutton so I throw on a long black t-shirt. Seems to me that kind of thing should be no big deal, but she freaked when Jeremy pierced his ears last year and I’m not taking chances. Sneakers on, and one last peek out the window.
     She’s finger-combing her hair and checking her makeup in the Mazda’s side mirror. Doesn’t look like she’s wearing much, some light lipstick, blush, subtle eye shadow.  She’s pretty and I wish she weren’t. Her hair’s the same shade as mine, light brown if you look too quickly or from too far away, golden if you don’t blink. The sleeve of her blazer slides down her arm as she combs, and the wrist stares up at me. Briefcase at her feet. I wish I’d been told what to expect."


Jordan can expect a lot of heartbreak, painful Life Realizations, and sexual confusion, that's what!


Lastly, here is a bit of my current manuscript, Little Daughter, in which our reluctant heroine, Liddy Vanya, finds herself the center of a fable meant to frighten small children at bedtime (oh yeah she's also being tortured by the storyteller):

"In the Western Plains there lived a great Lord whose lands produced much food for the Kingdom. Through all seasons, there was something to reap, and no one in the Kingdom wanted for sustenance. This, it is said, so angered King Raedin of the Continent, that he cast a hex upon the lands, to weaken them in preparation for his intended war. The hex took on human form, the form of Zoloto Doch'ka."
    As he spoke, the knight took from his belt a sharpening stone and ran his blade across it, his eyes never leaving Liddy.
    "She appeared one evening in the Lord's chamber," he continued, "and his Lady wife, upon seeing her grotesque countenance, was so terrified she turned to gold in her bed. For Zoloto Doch'ka was not human after all, but a monster created from the darkest magic. Her skin was riddled with pustules, and coarse hair sprouted from her nose, lips and eyelids. Her irises were a rheumy red, and the smell of her caused pigs to weep."
    The blade satisfactorily sharpened, the knight gripped Liddy's pants leg and ran the blade up the seam, shredding the fabric from ankle to thigh. She tensed as he began to cut her shin, carving a shallow line to her knee, then a deeper one to her hip. She squirmed, but it only made his blade press deeper.
     His voice remained level, even cordial: "The Lord, upon seeing what had become of his beloved wife, took up his dagger and rushed the vile beast. But Zoloto Doch'ka, forced by her ugliness to resort to her wits, said to the Lord:
            

            A beauty, she
            But barren, see?
            And so her life
            She gave to me.
            To spin to gold
            So you'll not be cold
            Sonless yet rich
            As you grow old

   
    "The Lord, wanting to believe in his wife's noble sacrifice, accepted Zoloto Doch'ka at her word, and allowed her to escape. But the beast was only just beginning her scourge."
    The knight had cut away her opposite pant leg, and ran his jagged maze along that leg as well. It hurt a good deal less than the splinters had, and Liddy bore it bravely. Then he sliced along her Achilles tendon, and she screamed. He did not miss a beat in his tale:
    "Surreptitiously, she had used her jagged claws to cut the hand from the Lady's gold form, and she took it to the town's blacksmith and lured him with promises of riches to shape the gold into coins. Then she passed from door to door in the village, her horrid face cloaked by a shroud, and gave each family three gold pieces, and told each that three more pieces awaited them if they would turn upon their Lord.
    "And so one night, when the moon was full, a band of townspeople met at the Lord's gate, and he, not being accustomed to fearing his loyal people, met them unarmed. There he was slaughtered, as from the shadows Zoloto Doch'ka looked on and laughed. And before departing, she set fire to the fields and burned the town's livelihood, and she reported back to her King Raedin, who was set to strike any day. But our own King Arkona was ready for him, and pushed back his forces, no matter which land he attempted to seize."
    The knight leveled his sword at Liddy's chest, and popped the buttons off her shirt with its tip. "But you are not an ugly monster, are you, Golden Daughter? Your ugliness is held deeper. It is held inside your heart."
    Liddy coughed, struggled to produce enough saliva to spit. She said, "That was a pretty song. Sing it again?"


Pure, unedited drafting version right there, folks. It doesn't get much sloppier than that!

I must give a shout to Friday Night Writes and Write Club on Twitter (@FriNightWrites, #writeclub), which is a group of people just like you and me, banding together on Friday nights to participate in exhilarating half-hour writing sprints akin to the kind you might do in a manic state in the final week of NaNoWriMo.

All right, I hope you enjoyed all those words. I'll be back in a month or so with more!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eat Your ART Out: Fan Art, Part 3

Today's selection is less "fan art," more "my friend Michelle just being her general rad self."

Michelle Kendall whipped up this t-shirt for me, in support of the One True Bad Ass, Ms. Renni Ramirez! While I do think Carmelle Souffle has her charms, and I can understand why Devin would continue to feel emotionally bound to her even after her indiscretions, make no mistake: I am thoroughly and forever on Team Renni.

I guess Michelle made her own stencils for this? And possibly other simple craft thingies that are way beyond me because crafts, like maths, scare my brain into dark corners from whence it refuses to return until I give it trashy reality television and make the BAD BAD NUMBERS AND CROSS STITCHING GO AWAY.






I can be seen wearing this t-shirt at my Velvet Revolution reading here!

Thanks so much, Michelle! I couldn't dream up a more supportive friend unless that dream were to somehow wander off into an erotic space, which I only let happen on days that end with Y.