The April Weird Circular

Three Promps, Where to Submit Your Writing, and New Icelandic Piano Music

My fellow strange travelers,
It feels weird to say that April is already here! This month, I’m teaching a workshop on writing a book-length poetry collection (A few of my tips from the workshop are in my article on structuring a collection), and it’s really making me miss writing poetry more regularly. Lately, my writing focus has been on novel-length fiction and visual art projects. I’m a jack-of-all-writing, and being able to dip into different genres when I need a refresh is a huge help to me.

This newsletter is a part of that! In February, I talked about the Future of Feminism. Thinking about those ideas led me to create a new blackout poetry art Triptych inspired by the classic feminist essay by Linda Nochlin, “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?”.

24×36” Acrylic on Watercolor Paper, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists” by Linda Nochlin, a Triptych

In January and February, I also participated in the Hardy & Nance Studios exhibit “Mashed” with fellow Houston paper artist Tria Wood. We wrote a collaborative post about the process & how it worked, if you’re curious about how you might collaborate as a creative. Doing new things makes me nervous, so it got me thinking about how we battle self-doubt as creative people: How do we get past the self-shame of not meeting goals (or maybe setting goals too high.) It reminded me that the goal of writing for me is always to do what I love: Write What You Love, Love What You Write. (More on that in my March post on Outlining for Panters).

I’m also stoked to have 2 poems published this year in Kaleidotrope: The Will of the Whisps Mother and Here Be Dragons.

These are just a few of my favorite things 🙂 I hope you’re enjoying the new-and-improved Weird Circular. We had a guest post in March from Beth Cato on Food-Focused Historical Research, and I hope to have more soon. Do you have a guest post for me? Reply to this email! I’d love to hear about it. If you want EVEN MORE weird writing advice, you can now upgrade to get extra-weird perks:

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Probably from PANK 💀

Every Weird Circular, I list upcoming opportunities to publish your writing geared toward writers of the weird (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, speculative!) I prioritize PAID opportunities by markets that I trust and try to vet as much as I can.

Upcoming Submission Windows:

  • 4/21/24: Flash Fiction Online: Theme: Weird Horror. Short fiction under 1,000 words. Pays $100.

  • 4/30/24: Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. Theme: Adventure Fantasy. Short fiction under 6k words. Pays “industry-standard rates”. Contest. No fee.

  • 4/30/24: Fiyah Magazine. Theme: Disabilities. Short fiction by black writers. 2k-15k words. Poetry under 1k words. Pays .08 words for fiction, $50 USD for poetry.

  • 5/15/24: Eat the Rich Anthology, Atomic Carnival Books. Theme: Billionaires being eaten. Short Fiction 100-8k words. Pays .05/word.

  • 5/31/24: Heartlines Spec: Theme: Long-term relationships, speculative. Short fiction 1k-3.5k words. Poetry (up to 5 pieces). Pays .08/word for fiction, $60 CAD for poetry.

  • 6/1/24: Escape Pod: General submissions. Stories suitable for audio. Short fiction/reprints1500-7.5k words. Pays .08/word.

Need more submission ideas? Check the Grinder's newest markets, Duotrope's calendar, Submittable’s Discover Feature, Heavy Feather Review’s Where to Submit, SFPA's Speculative Poetry Markets, Horror Tree, Moksha's Open Publications, The International Writer’s Collective Blog, or Literary Mama's Blog

Prompt #1: Weird Words for Weird Writers

Go to the Weird Word generator and generate 5 words. Use them in your story, essay, or poem. Here’s a little haiku I wrote:

In the transept
nuns dance whirling black habits
forwhy? to be free

Bonus Round: Make up 5 words that aren’t in English (or your home language). Include them in your piece in some way.

Prompt #2: The Turn

The turn is the part of a poem or story where everything shifts. Unlike a “twist”, turns don’t always have to be surprising. Write a piece where instead of a surprise for the reader, the narrative shifts or turns to somewhere new. This could be in setting, character voice, dialogue, or events.

Bonus Round: Try writing a piece with more than one “turn”. How does this impact the movement of the piece? Can you make a series of interconnected turns?

Prompt #3: Music to Write By

Pick a random song and write something inspired by it. For a challenge, and because copyright, don’t include any of the direct lyrics in the song (no quotes.)

Bonus Round: Put a “bard” character in your piece. They might be someone on the sidelines or serve as the narrator of the story. (Your piece does not have to be fantasy for this to work!)

Things I Put In My Brain So I Can Put Out (Words! I’m talking about words!)

📚 Weird Book of the Month: So, I am apparently hyper-focused because last month, I was reading Kelly Link, and this month, I’m reading Kelly Link’s new book, The Book of Love. Kelly better come out with a new book next month for me to read, or I’m screwed here. 😉 I love how Kelly Link manages to make every bit of her prose deeply lyrical. If you’re looking for a masterclass on how to write poetry-prose that still feels like fiction, it’s this book.

🧵 Craft Article of the Month: Lisa Ko on How Writing a Novel is Like Wandering a Flea Market @ LitHub. I love this quote from Lisa Ko: “Don’t be too precious about things. And also: everything has the potential to be precious.” It’s a great way to think about writing for those of us who struggle to keep our thoughts (and creative pursuits) organized. For me, everything I write dovetails into itself. My thoughts are transcribed into words by my hands. I have so many threads, they feel like a knot some days. But in reality, those ideas are pieces of a puzzle I have to put together myself. That’s writing—putting together the pieces to form something recognizable to everyone else. I can see the beauty in each piece. But I have to learn to translate it into a bigger picture.

🎵 Music to Write By: I’m currently writing a WIP set in 1700s France, so I’ve been listening to a lot of weird baroque music. This month, I’m really loving the music of Víkingur Ólafsson, a 40-year-old pianist from Iceland. Check out his NPR Tiny Desk Concert below. His music is old-school and yet somehow also modern sounding. In an interview, the pianist said, “We performers must weigh our knowledge of period style against our individual and inescapably contemporary sensibility.” I feel like this is a great point to consider for writers of historical fiction or retellings.

🎮 Video Games for the Video Game Gods: I’m currently re-playing Resident Evil 4 because I’m a basic bitch, and it’s a comfort to me. Things I forgot I loved about this weird early 2000s gem: It was the first game to use the “over the shoulder” shooting mechanics if you can believe that. Leon’s voice is supremely hot. Ashley is the most annoying person on the planet, and my niece spent the entire time we played it for a bit together, making fun of her voice. The writing is desperately lazy, and I kind of love it? (See: “Sucks for them” as a literal phrase used when Leon sees some dead people.) I am a giant baby, and every single jump scare makes me jump. I miss how long video games used to be, although I do love a short game because my attention span is impossible. Thank goodness games got rid of having to mash certain buttons in cutscenes. Ada is so cliche, but I kind of love her?? The game is a good reminder that even trash can be loved <3

Same Leon, Same.

Is it getting a little weird in here, or is it just my tentacles?

Upcoming Workshops from Holly Lyn Walrath

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