Kaiju Haiku competition

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Can YOU beat ME in a haiku showdown?

THE HAIKU:

If you look at traditional examples of the haiku, there’s a simplicity and beauty about them that you just don’t see in a sonnet or ballad or villanelle. And I don’t think you can find a better haiku master than Matsuo Basho, the man who truly championed the form.

Traditionally a Japanese poem, the westernised version translates much the same. It must be three lines long and contain seventeen syllables, with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, five on the third. If you’re old school like me, you’ll want to write your haiku keeping in mind the traditional focus on themes like nature and time and seasons, capturing the simple beauty of animals and plants and shit like that.

If you’re more of a new school kind of guy (I’d consider Josh Myers’ haiku as new school) the form is a launching-off point where you can say and do anything, so long as it remains confined within those seventeen syllables. Greater freedom of content, opportunities to do interesting things with the form.

THE COMPETITION:

I’ve teamed up with Josh to bring you the Kaiju Haiku competition.

I’ve seen and done enough competitions to know that there’s enough where you do something to enter a draw to earn a prize. This competition isn’t like that.

This is YOU versus ME in a kaiju themed haiku challenge, judged by the haiku champ, Josh Myers.

Best two out of three wins.

THE PRIZE:

If I win, I get bragging rights as the ultimate kaiju haiku beastmaster.

If you win, you take the metaphoric crown and I’ll mail you out one of my chapbooks (your choice between several chapbooks of poetry or short fiction).

The contest will stay open for two weeks (until the 5th of October).

Submissions will be accepted by social media smackdown. Contact me on Facebook or Twitter with #KaijuHaiku and show me what you got.

EXAMPLE:

Josh Myers:

Godzilla is big.

Golly, look at that lizard.

Sure is a tall one.

S.T. Cartledge:

Cherry blossom fields,

crushed petals beneath giant

feet, a giant beast!

Josh Myers:

Holy smokes, monsters!

How big do you think they are?

Bigger than my dad.

S.T. Cartledge:

The river trembles.

Hey, look! In the mountains, a

kingfisher kaiju!

Josh Myers is the author of Haiku Fuck You from Carrion Blue 555, as well as Feast of Oblivion and Guns.

Productivity and Success

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I once met an author who wrote childrens’ books and had sold some thousands of books, or tens of thousands of books, and considered himself a failure.

This was right before I was set to publish my first book which would go on to sell roughly eighty copies in its first year.

Four years later, and I’ve got four books under my belt, and I’m still nowhere near selling a thousand books across the span of my writing career.

I understand that this is the nature of the industry I’m in and that you have to work damn hard to get those big sales.

But I don’t consider myself a failure. I work hard at what I do. I surround myself with fantastic and talented friends who are kind and encouraging.

Success comes down to how you define it.

Sure, I would consider high book sales a success. If you can live off the money you earn from writing, that’s a success. But also finishing a manuscript is a success. Getting accepted by a publisher is a success. Actually holding your book for the first time as a real thing, that’s another success too.

The writers I talk to usually consider my achievements, and my lengthy list of works in progress, as success. You could have five or ten books out, and if you’re struggling to write that next book, it can feel like failure. If your book came out and no one’s talking about it, no one’s buying it or reviewing it, it can feel like failure.

I was really proud of my second book, Day of the Milkman. I thought the concept was great and that it had just the right balance of narrative substance and dream-like style. To this day, it’s only received one review on Amazon. I didn’t want to have to push people for reviews, and I think at the time, my presence and handle on social media wasn’t up to the standard that it probably should be. I still don’t think I’m there yet, but that’s a different kind of success that I’m working on.

The thing I’ve found is that once a book is out there, you can promote it, you can watch your sales rankings closely, you can brag about how well it’s doing or wallow in its failure. But the book itself is finished and you can’t change it now.

I think part of my success, and the perception that people get that I’m succeeding in what I do, is that once I’ve got one thing out, even before it’s out, I’ve got something else working its way up through the pipeline.

I’ve got at least half a dozen projects in various stages of development because something is with a publisher waiting on edits, something is waiting on an acceptance or rejection, something is currently being edited, something is being written, and something is just being formed as an idea, planning out what will be written soon.

Some days the writing may not come. Some days the editing doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. But there’s always something I can do to make progress with one thing or another.

My success comes in making personal goals that are challenging, yet realistic. I want to push myself further. Sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes I have trouble keeping track of everything and I don’t know where to start. I go through periods where I won’t write anything, or I won’t read or review anything. Hell, this blog was inactive for a good couple of years. I pick things up and put things down, and it’s hard keeping on top of everything.

I’m trying to manage my time and my projects with various apps at the moment. I’ve started off with Nozbe, which seems pretty robust in what details you can put into your projects and tasks. Wunderlist is another one which seems good for general organisation, but I found the emails and the notifications annoying. I tried setting deadlines for a bunch of different things, but it doesn’t work out like that. I’m setting out time each day for general housekeeping, my mental and physical wellbeing, and for my writing projects. The writing projects are the complicated stuff and it’s hard to predict my time frames there. I’ve had a bit of a poke around an app called Asana, which looks like a simpler Nozbe. Simple is good as far as breaking my goals down into stages and ticking them off as I go. First draft, editing, submissions, etc. Even breaking them down into sub-tasks, every thousand words or every chapter or two, another step towards my goal.

Then there’s Habitica. This one is the most fun for me to use. It’s all about rewarding every habit or routine task and everything checked off your to-do list. It’s set up like an rpg, where everything you do on there will give you gold and experience. As you complete more things, your character levels up. Your reward is watching your avatar grow, and you get the satisfaction of achieving more in the real world.

So I’m using these tools to push myself further. The writing is going well, but I can always be doing more to reach out on social media, keep my blog updated, write a few articles, reviews, and interviews, connect with other authors. These are just simple things I can do to define my successes in different ways, and to ensure I continue to grow and reach out as an author. I’m hoping to keep this blog a little more up to date, and to try new things to engage with readers and other authors while avoiding any unnecessary drama (I’m looking at you, facebook). I’m no marketing expert, so I’ve got to learn with trial and error.

Can’t afford a coffee? Don’t buy my books (get your hands on them for free)

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I’ve never understood the argument that some authors make that if you can afford a coffee every day, you can afford to spend a few bucks on their crummy ebook. It makes no sense. Coffee and books are completely different markets.

Of course, I want people to buy my books. It’s a great personal reward (beyond the royalty payments) that someone you may or may not know has decided that they want to spend their three dollars or five dollars or whatever to buy your words, or even ten or twenty dollars to get your words beautifully bound in a fresh new paperback. It’s incredible, and every sale is its own reward.

Having said that, there are many other rewards to writing your own book. Finishing it. Submitting it. Getting an acceptance letter, or even a rejection can be its own reward. Editing. Getting a cover with your name on it and thinking it looks fucking cool. Working on the manuscript with the publisher. When you approve the final manuscript for print. When it goes live on Amazon. When the sales rank goes higher, each jump signifying another sale. When people actually read the book. When they review it.

Some people can’t afford your books, and sometimes they really want to. Some people don’t know your book exists or they’re unsure if it’s worth the cost.

That’s why I’ve got a few things going on at the moment to reach out to those readers and get some books into their hands/onto their kindles.

1: I’ve teamed up with Karl Fischer of the 2016 New Bizarro Author Series/Ultimate Bizarro Showdown Blackbird Poetry fame. This is not Black Mirror Karl (a creation of Erik Wilson’s mad colourful mind). This is the guy who wrote Towers, that beautiful crazy kaiju story of love and war.

We’re running a bad kaiju art contest in which anyone with a pen and paper, regardless of talent (in fact, less talent is preferred) can get a copy of Karl’s NBAS book Towers, and my new kaiju outback thriller, Kaiju Canyon. The competition is open until the end of August, at which point one winner will be selected to receive a sweet kaiju pack from us (mostly Karl’s doing).

Speaking of my new kaiju outback thriller, Kaiju Canyon, I have a new book out. A kaiju outback thriller, which I’m mega-excited about. That thing I mentioned about all the personal rewards involved in publishing a book? It can be very easy to feel underwhelmed at times when it doesn’t perform as well as you’d hope. Just remember that no one will be as proud or as passionate about your books as you are. No one. It feels great to have people on your side championing your work, but strangers and friends and family will never be as excited about it as you are. That’s why your book needs to be fun and exciting and it needs to make people want to buy it and read it and review it and tell other people about it. I’ve got a couple of incentives to help people get excited about Kaiju Canyon.

2: Anyone who buys Kaiju Canyon (kindle out now from Severed Press, print available very soon), hit me up and I’ll send you a copy of one of my previous three books:

My 2012 NBAS fantasy adventure epic, House Hunter, where houses are living creatures made to fight each other for sport and for war.

My surreal dystopian milk world survival story, Day of the Milkman, about the last remaining milkman in a world ruled by the milk industry now turning sour.

My dark/weird poetry collection, Beautiful Madness, featuring poems both violent and beautiful, visceral, imaginative.

I’d like to think I’ve got a good spread to choose from, so hopefully there’s something here to suit your tastes.

3: As mentioned earlier, if you can’t afford to buy my books, promotion 2 will hardly work out for you. I’ll send you a copy of one of my three older books mentioned above just for sharing the Amazon link to Kaiju Canyon. Word of mouth is a valuable thing for small-fry writers like me. I will reward your kindness with ebooks. Just share, send me a message on facebook or twitter, pick a book and it shall be yours.

4: As always, if you’re a reviewer, whether it be for a literary website or a publication, or even Goodreads or Amazon, if you’re interested in reading/reviewing my books, all you need to do is ask.

KAIJU CANYON

KC!

When a hunting expedition goes missing during a freak earthquake in the Australian Outback, the Alice Springs Police Department sends out a search team to find the missing hunters. Instead, the rescue party discovers a newly-formed canyon in the heart of the Outback.

Nothing could have prepared them for the horror that awaits them as they find themselves besieged by gigantic flying monsters and mutant lizards.

Kaiju Canyon is an action packed journey into primordial terror, where every step you take may be your last.

Milkman Days #6: Garrett Cook

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Garrett Cook is a freelance editor. He runs bizarro workshops on occasion. He is an editor for the Imperial Youth Review. He is the author of Jimmy Plush: Teddy Bear Detective, Archelon Ranch, Murderland, and Time Pimp. Oh, and he’s the two time winner of the annual Ultimate Bizarro Showdown. Boom.

Garrett’s good for helping you to find your footing in the genre. He knows the people. He knows the books. If you’re unsure where you fit in with the bizarro scene, Garrett Cook just may be able to help you find your way.

For being such an integral part of the bizarro community, Garrett Cook is my sixth and final honorary milkman.

“Day of the Milkman is one of the weirdest damn things I’ve read. And I’m Garrett Cook.”

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