Saturday, May 14, 2022

notes & things | 5/14/2022

I blink somehow and another week slips through.  We've had a spate of warmer weather..really least away from the water. Temperatures more suited for late summer than late spring, but here by the lake, it's still rather mild and cool.  The water that remains after a cold spring will till have a cooling effect for a few more weeks, after which I will no doubt be pulling out my fans.  Today, I had initially planned to head down to campus to take in the year-end Manifest celebration, but this morning was still a little worried about those rising numbers and potentially being in crowds. I had some work to do on the neighborhood writing project anyway that I hope to finish early next week.  I have a big batch of books to make, and some other e-mails to answer and layouts to finalize, so I may be working through the weekend, especially since I plan to head out to Rockford next Friday and so this coming week will have to be a little more condensed.

I am still paused in my next writing exploit and plan to give  myself until June 1 to figure out what I am doing, what exactly I'll be working on over the summer.  Wil it be more of half completed unnamed mss #14 (I kind of have a name, but am still trying it out in my head). Or will it be the epic project, which as it's name suggests, feels like a hug undertaking I am not sure I am ready to embark on just yet. Toward the end of the summer, I'll start working on edits and finalizing automagic, which I would love to release around Halloween given its spooky, Victorian feel. However, I am still recovering from the final sprint that was animal, vegetable, monster. Over the last couple days,  I excitedly sent off signed copy orders that are still filtering in. If you haven't ordered, keep an eye out this week, since I'll be doing a 3-in-1 sale with other recent books.

I've spent this week knee deep in furniture styles (Jacobean, French Provincial, Victorian, Eastlake) and architecture details, as well as another assignment on vintage vending machine cards (this time devoted to TV westerns.) On Monday, I was downtown and thought I smelled lilacs, but realized they were the hyacinths in the planters around the perimeter of the Cultural Center.  I was able to sit in the park a little more comfortably than last week under a rein of white petals from the trees, that are now filling in everywhere you look.  I swear to god a week ago it seemed like spring would never come, but then it always does in a just a couple of warm days and spreads like wildfire. 

Sunday, May 08, 2022

notes & things | 5/8/2022

I have been trying to figure out if working alone expands or condenses the passing of time.  My routines are different and dictated by me, but they are still routines that sometimes feel like the days fly by.  I turn around and it is almost the beginning of a new week, though to be honest, the last one did not properly end. Despite my promise to free up weekend, a lot of good things are gaining fruition on the freelance front and a number of things landed that I had to tend to, including a large assignment writing a neighborhood guide for a real estate site, a really fun thing, but prep research swallowed a good number of hours amidst some other random tasks.  

I also found out my first piece for the antiques / collectibles site hit the mark, so have been assigned another this week and am waiting to hear if my trial book cover design is a winner for another contract job--all various things I am trying to line up to add a little bit more cushion to the freelance work as I eye potential apartment changes and rent increases. They will allow me to move back and forth between different things and keep steady income streams. The shop will also grow with new things over the next few months (I've been moving slower since there is a lot of catch up even after three months on chapbook business so that's where my priorities are at the moment. So my time on that daily is a lot of layouts, orders, and admin work.)

Other than those things, the rest of my days are usually working on my own writing stuff and making reels and other promo materials for the new book, and soon, more video poem content. I get up around noon most days, and work til 10 some nights, but its nice to have freedom to set that schedule, which is actually when I am most productive regardless (also the shift I worked even when I had a day-job.) 

I've been doing a few edits on unreal city (which I hope to submit a few pieces of out in the world when they are ready.  I've been waffling since abandoning my NAPOWRIMO efforts on whether to write more in the series I was working on there, or start the new thing that I have been both relishing and avoiding in equal measure.

It's been a couple cold days, but there has been some sun, and the trees are doing all sorts of miraculous things that they do every year, though its a couple weeks later than usual. It really may be spring, but I will believe it when I see it.                                             


Tuesday, May 03, 2022

films, readings, and other social media fun...

I will be posting some great little snippets of ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MONSTER over on instagram in the coming weeks, including mini films and reading for them here...


Saturday, April 30, 2022

thoughts on the close of another april

As we come to the end of another National Poetry Month and another NAPOWRIMO (albeit one I did not finish) I've been thinking about how we, of course, are still poets all months of the year and how one month does not nearly contain the vastness of the poetic endeavor nor its products (which I have now thrown one more on the pile of new poetry books, and almost weekly, at least one new dancing girl chapbook in the mix.)  As I sat here today on a rainy Saturday afternoon, making reels to support the new book, printing and folding chaps, sipping tea and watching author branding videos on YT (these are usually geared more toward fiction, but there is useful info nonetheless for other genres.) I still felt a little sad that more people out there in the world--people who do seem to enjoy books and reading a lot, shy away from poetry as a genre. People who would probably like it, were it not wielded at them by scary English teachers making them read dead white guys who have absolutely nothing to do with their lives as they know them.

Last night. I finished another re-watch of Bridgerton and looked up the books (to get an inkling on future season fodder) Judging from samples, they aren't exactly literary masterpieces, but I do appreciate how the author has created an entire world and just kept building it, something that translates really well to the small screen. Worldbuilding is one of my favorite things about being a writer, which sounds strange coming from a poet, I know. I'd like to think my own books take place in a world I somehow created in small bits and pieces..that the sisters in the fever almanac share space with the women in girl show. That the narratives of something like taurus and beautiful, sinister exist with more supernatural tales like the summer house. These worlds are sometimes my world (like major characters in minor films) and sometimes not even close (automagic, whose publication I will be turning my wheels toward this summer. for fall release) Sometimes, it's a a mix of both, as in the new book. 

The past couple months, I've been dipping my toes in writing more fiction. . Every time I think I've finished something, however, I look at it and think it pales so in comparison to the poems I've written.  My genre work  (in horror and erotica, sometimes both at once) is serviceable, but ultimately feels like a waste of good writing time. I think, "this would be so much better as a poem" and maybe it would. Or maybe I have written too much poetry and now there is no way back out. Poetry allows so much more and so much less.  More fragmentation and wander, less wordiness and ramble. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

the monsters we make

While I have published traditionally published poetry collections and self-published them, there is always the pleasure of making a book from beginning to end.  For sure, its more work.from the editing and proofing to the design. All the costs, all the marketing and promotion falls on you (though some would argue this is the case with poetry in general.)  There always the uncertainty that maybe it's all crap without someone else's stamp of approval on it--for the potential audience and maybe sometimes the poet themselves.  I've actually felt more confident about these last several self-issued titles than I did with my first traditionally published book, but that was probably to be expected.  It's not easy, and there is a lot trial and error.  It's also considerably more complicated than chapbooks.  But there is something very rewarding about birthing a book from the every first poem to unboxing the very first copies. 

I've been lucky that most publishers I have worked with allowed me to be pretty hands on in terms of design, often designing my own covers or having considerable say.  I know this is not always the case, and definitely less so when it comes to marketing fiction.  This cover began as a set of postcards I created for Halloween patreon subscribers a couple years back that are floating around out there.  As I started to put the final version of the book together, they seemed a perfect way to tie them together, given it's wealth of taxidermy and natural history-laden themes.  In the book, you will find my artist statement pieces, the Walter Potter poems, the strangerie portraits, the poems about Lavinia Fontana and the Renaissance dog-girl, Antoinette Gonzalez. You will also find extinction event, the poems I wrote about climate change for the Field Museum reading a few years back, that is about birds, but also dinosaurs and museum dioramas. The earliest pieces were written in 2018, the latest, last spring. (initially, the manuscript did not include the Walter Potter stuff, but then, once I wrote them, how could I not include them?)

Together, it's a book about art and monsters, the ones we create and how art can itself make us monstrous. About our need, as humans to catalog and define and make sense of things.  You can get your very own copy, here....

notes & things | 4/29/2022

The week began with tiny celebrations in the form of lemon cake and new vintage procurements of lovely sea glass colored glassware. With afternoon naps, italian feasts,  and new books in the form of animal, vegetable, monster. It was a less raucous birthday than some in the past, but covid is still very much a thing and it was a Monday to boot. I did give myself permission for a couple days to do nothing much productive, which has led to doubling down the past couple of days on money-making things. The weather is still uninspiring after a single favorable Saturday, but I am hoping this weekend looks a little more like the cusp of May than March. I did swap out my spring clothes on Sunday, so hopefully they will be wearable (though I may have to wear my winter coat even still)  Every day, despite the clouds, there is a little more green on the trees I can see near the street, so its something...

There is a day of lit events mid May at the American Writer's Museum I may take in if things are not too contagious out there.  It's free, and though the poetry seems a little spare compared to fiction, it might be worthwhile.  I am hoping to get to take advantage of a lot of things I missed out on while working (or laying prone in bed exhausted from working on weekends.)  Leaving home now is a treat and less of a daily obligation and even a mid-week movie (last week, we went to see this and it was so good.)is a thing I really enjoyed and want to do more.  Plus things like plays and more museum visits. So much of the last two decades has been working constantly and strange schedules and just a lot going on I kind of forget why I like living in a city. 

Over the weekend, I hit pause on the NAPOWRIMO poems, mostly becuaue I wanted a break and no work-related obligations over the weekend.  I intend to pick them up this coming month and maybe edit and finish them off, however long that series winds up being.  I am not too hard on myself about not finishing, since I did make it about as far in as I usually do the last couple years. In the past, I've completed whatever I started in April over the summer anyway (this was the case in 2020 with overlook.) I would like to get back to weekday daily writing anyway, since it always is super fruitful, even if I toss a lot of it out. 


Monday, April 25, 2022

animal, vegetable, monster

 This little monster offspring is now available for order!

Get it here:

What does it mean to be an artist in a world full of monsters?  What does it mean to be the monster?  This collection rifles through dusty museum halls and neglected cabinet drawers to get at the nature of art and creation in the face of danger--to the body, the heart, to the earth---and how art can both save us and destroy us at the same time.  

Sunday, April 24, 2022

notes & things | | 4/24/2022

My birthday, which lands tomorrow, strangely on a Monday, is always a time for reflection, perhaps moreso than even New Years, a time when I become even more introspective than usual.  The boost is that I will also be releasing animal,vegetable, monster so its also a book birthday, and its looking like my copies will be in my hot little hands as early as Tuesday. In other news, I spotted the first bursts of green in the trees after a warm Saturday (though Friday it stormed and then howled like a wintry banshee all evening outside my windows.) Such is weather inconsistency in the midwest I suppose, though this spring has felt longer, cloudier, and colder than others. I've been happy to not have to be out in it much, but I still long for those longer, better lit days even inside.  I can finally have the windows open, which is my favorite things after so many months, and enjoy that longer wander into evening.  After years inside in a library cubicle-land with no windows, I learned, during the lockdowns a couple years ago, to appreciate testing how long I can go before having to turn on lights. A little later everyday starting in late March, then through September, not til after 8pm most nights.

In all my taking stock efforts, I sat down this morning with my favorite scones and tea and thought about what I want to accomplish in the coming year, which are mostly creative and press-related goals, but also bulking up my content writing to be able to put more away for rainy days or things like travel or bigger purchases and not just surviving, which is how I feel I've spent my entirety of the past 20 years. One of the the things that spurred me out into the freelance world was the feeling that I should be much less in survival mode and more stable in my late 40's than I was, but maybe that is a lie the world tells us and no one really is--least of all creatives. The nice thing, is have much more time and mental energy to work harder and smarter (and not simply more..) 

In creative goals, I'd like to continue to release a couple larger projects each year (self-issued or traditionally published, either way), a few smallish zine projects here and there. I'd like to send more out for submission in general (hell at this point at all, the only work I've published in the last year or so has been solicited.) I've been building a list of possibilities, but I haven't really had time to sit down and do the work of preparing submissions and reading guidelines. Paid would be nice, but I realize how rare a bird those are. I'd also, if and when things are less covid-ey, like to do (and just go to) more readings They were always harder to manage working nights, but now I have a bit kinder schedule and more impetus to leave my house.  Even having done a handful via zoom, which I appreciated for not having to go on long public transportation journeys to get to them, in the end, I like the performance aspect of face to face.

As I put the final touches on my trailer for the new book this week, I also realized how much I need to get back to making more video poems.  I 've done trailers for other releases, and some small reels for instagram, but since I finished up swallow, the video chapbook, I haven't done as much as I'd like.  That was a mammoth undertaking, but small random videos here and there for individual poems would be more feasible and allow me to jump around more where my interest takes me with newer work. 

As for newer work, there are lots of things sitting on the back burner--the blue swallow project, ideas for my female Greek epic, some flower poems that will accompany artwork, a more epistolary-driven project.  Right now, I am knee deep in the memoir in bone and ink poems, which may wind up being a larger or shorter series--we'll see how I'm feeling at the end of this month (which I do realize means next week.) I've been writing a lot of prose things late at night that I have not yet decided the intent of. I like them, but when I am writing stories, I always feel like I should be channeling those similar narrative energies into poems. That maybe I am an okay fiction writer, but so much better at poems. But I do feel the efforts are making me better at writing and finishing longer things, which is good either way.