16 Themed Submission Calls for Writers in June

The themes for these anthologies/websites/magazines include stories on LGBTQ lives, the invisible world, corporate shadows (inspired by the net neutrality rulings), anthropomorphic fiction, holiday crime and crime by bumbling sidekicks, work and play, deadly bargains, curiosity and the curious, addiction, and talking to strangers. Some of these also accept nonfiction and poetry. Many of them pay writers. Also see this list for some more deadlines coming up.

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Ruining Bethlehem and Mince Pies

Enough time has passed for me to look dispassionately at the date, December 23rd—the day I found myself in the office of my family doctor—a life changing day.

To back-up a bit, he’s a man I’d had a pleasant professional relationship with for years. Even so, I didn’t think he’d be calling me in the wish me the compliments of the season. I’d had a blood test days before. I’d been purposefully called—no  ‘if your passing just drop in.’ And let’s be realistic, no busy doctor calls you in two days before Christmas to chat casually about the excellent state of your health. Some sword belonging to Damocles hovered.

Who knows, maybe it was test-result nerves that made me greet the doctor with a mini-book report. The bestseller I’d been reading as he came into the room, had among other things, debunked the myth Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem. Instead, the author argued, the main event took place in Nazareth. Hence the title, ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’  I yammered before he got properly seated.

He nodded. “So, no stable. No star. No, ‘no room at the inn’? No little drummer boy?”

I didn’t notice the enthusiasm-dip in his voice, another side effect of the nerves I suspect. I prattled on. “Nope,’”I said. And with no hint of seasonal diplomacy, I gave him the title of the book so he could put it on his Christmas wish list.

The moment arrived, further evasion became futile. We were after all working on his dime. He looked solemnly at the computer screen and moved onto the test results. In a word, my glucose management was ‘crapola’—not his word. This came as tragic news, since I had, freshly baked at home, enough mince pies to send an entire city block into a coma. I could almost taste the deliciousness. I felt a sharp pain cross my forehead as their sugary promise faded.

Then there was the prescription, and the referral to diabetic school. At the door, we looked at each other, knowing life had for ever changed.

“Sorry about the mince pies,” he said.

“That’s okay. Sorry about Bethlehem.”

We managed a laugh but only just. We had entered his tiny consulting room, neither of us suspecting Christmas would be forever altered.

Parumpapumpum!

NWW Photo Prompt ~ I prefer the cello, but it is still theft.

This post is a response to the NWW Photo Prompt, Dimples.

Dimples
Dimples

You see, I like Beethoven. I like to hear the bow of the violin cut into the string. I like to follow the phrase of the violin as it goes on and on, like a deep-rooted orgasm squeezed out into a rope of sound. I like to go out at night in a cosmopolitan city and sit in a dark auditorium watching dancers fly into each other’s arms.
~ Wallace Shawn
  The Fever

It’s interesting that over the years I’ve transposed the violin in this passage from Wallace Shawn’s play, The Fever to the cello. You see, I prefer the cello.

I prefer the deeper tone, the way — especially when it’s amplified, in an arena — the vibration of the string moves through my chest. It’s like a low AUM resonating beneath my sternum when sung from the diaphragm. It connects me to something. Something very deep. Something exquisitely beautiful.

Though, not so much the Beethoven. I prefer my music more modern, more contemporary, some beautiful piece of music even Beethoven could never have dreamed of.

Still… None of this deflects from what Shawn is really getting at with this passage. Its context is privilege. And the question it asks is a complex one: how did I come to deserve to have such beauty in my life, when so many in the world — the vast majority of its 7 billion souls, in fact — live in a poverty so abject and profound, it is beyond my ability to comprehend? How dare I have all this beauty? How can I expect to attend any concert of my desire when so many toil in sweatshops to make the concert t-shirt I bought for just $26? (And complained about the exorbitant cost!) None of those workers could afford that price, let alone the admission to a concert.

I may prefer the cello. But simply knowing of its existence, having the ability to attend a live music event in a multi-million dollar facility with tens of thousands of others so privileged as I… I am humbled, and chastened.

“Property is theft,” the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhoun infamously said with tart insight. Shawn observes in The Fever, so too beauty is theft.

NWW Photo Prompt

New West Writers Photo Prompt

Welcome to the NWW Photo Prompt where twice a month we offer a photographic writing prompt. We publish our writing challenge on the 1st and 15th days of each month, but you can respond to any prompt, any time you like.

Participation is simple. Just:

  1. Check out our photo; write something awesome and post it to your blog.
  2. Display the photograph somewhere in your post.
  3. Use “NWW Photo Prompt” in your post title, AND/OR
    Add a link to our post offering the prompt you’re responding to.
  4. Add “nww photo prompt” to your tag list, so we can find your post.
  5. (optional) Announce your response as a comment on the NWW Photo Prompt post.

So long as you use the “nww photo prompt” tag, or post a link to your submission in a comment, we’ll add a link to your post on our next photo prompt.

Prompt ideas:

  • Tell a story about what’s happening in the photograph
  • Find something in the photograph to tell a story about
  • Write a poem about the mood or emotion you get from the photograph
  • What’s the first word that comes to mind looking at the photo? Start there!
  • What’s the backstory?
  • What happens next?
  • Who took the photo, and why?
  • Continue the story we posted for the prompt.
  • Or change its ending!

Your written piece can be as short or long as you like, a couple lines or a couple thousand words, even a six word story. Write in any form, in any genre. Poetry, haiku, flash fiction, longreads, non-fiction, memoir… anything!

But, most of all, have fun!

Current and past prompts:

Grand Cayman - Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden - Palm Fronds
Palm Fronds August 1, 2015

Dimples
Dimples July 15, 2015

Dancing with Vertigo
Dancing With Vertigo July 1, 2015

Favourite Words

Skeletal– relating to or functioning as a skeleton. I think this word is best with the UK pronunciation “skel-EE- tel” rather than the US “SKEL-eh-tel”.

Amnesia– loss of a block of interconnected memories. The soap opera disease! A cliché plot point so hackneyed that it almost makes me want to use it, just in case it comes back into fashion.  Even better is the adjective ‘amnestic’, as in “They were amnestic for the duration of their vacation on Secret Bloody Skull Island. They did not know exactly why. Privately, Charles suspected something terrible had happened.”

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A Day without Reading or Writing

I spend the better part of most days reading and writing. In recreational reading alone, I average about 150 hours per month. (How do I know? My e-reader software actually tracks my reading hours.) When the time I spend reading things like paper books, the Interweebs, and work documents is factored in, I think the grand total would be closer to 275, or maybe even 300 hours a month.

Recently I performed a thought experiment on myself: if I had a whole day during which I had lost the ability to read and write, how would I spend it? What would I do all day?

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My Biggest Success as a Writer so Far

The writing demon is with me always. From the security of her perch on my shoulder, she sporadically rouses from hibernation to taunt me with grand ideas and inspiration. “Come on, Joanne. Give it a go. You can do it.” And in that moment, I believe her.

Inevitably, each and every tidbit of fiendish encouragement and support is rapidly reversed. “Stop, stop, Joanne, stop! What were you thinking?” And in that moment, I believe her.

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