What Jasper Bark has to say about “WEIRDSMITH: ISSUE ONE”

Greetings friends and fellow readers,

It’s a lovely feeling when an author whom you highly respect compliments your work. Here’s what Jasper Bark, cult novelist and all-around literary Renaissance man, graciously had to say about WEIRDSMITH: Issue One:

In the space of these two stories, Tylor James puts the reader through an emotional wringer. Starting with a Roger Corman style, radioactive, body horror that is genuinely gruesome and highly chilling, Mosquito Summer left me wheezing on the floor holding my guts after the last line. Whereas the gentle lyricism of Old Dance Hall left me full of the sorrowful nostalgia that was once Rod Serling’s stock in trade. Be warned, if you pick this Weirdsmith up, you’re likely to find yourself hunting down everything else Tylor James has written.” — Jasper Bark, author of ‘Quiet Places’

Fellow dark fiction fans should know that WEIRDSMITH is a brand new series of novelette-length books from Too Much Weird press. Each issue features a talented author from the dark fiction/horror community. I’m fortunate enough to have two of my macabre tales selected for the first issue, available on kindle for 0.99 and in paperback for $7.99. Can’t beat those prices, eh?!?!

If interested, Weirdsmith: Issue One is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Weirdsmith-Magazine-Number-Tylor-James-ebook/dp/B08Q1WHZRQ/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=weirdsmith&qid=1611791211&s=books&sr=1-2

Madness of Crowds (A Poem for the Pandemic).

Mortality
on the empty shelves
Of ransacked
Convenience stores.
Vitality in the blood
Of our denied veins.

Fear
in the products we buy
Thinking life can be purchased;
Suffocated in the same
Plastic wrap we use
to cauterize our minds.

Greed
Throbs in cellulite hands
Sagging into the coveted.
Monsters who believe
They are victims.
Taking more than their due.

Ignorance
Is the real pandemic.
Humankind has been
Sick with it
From the dawn of time.
And getting sicker still.

Infinity
Is the folly of the species
That worships whatever
They are told.
Precaution is wise, yes,
But mindlessness leaves us cold.

Compassion
is for the brothers and sisters
You have never known,
Yet observe scurrying to and fro,
From aisle to aisle, warding off
The inevitable.

Solitude
Is the beacon of hope.
That the quarantined fearful may
Pick up a book and gain insight, or
Turn off Netflix to be with themselves
For one, single, solitary moment.

Badly Written Stories Are Your Friend & More —- The Writing Life!

Greetings, and welcome to The Writing Life! In this week’s article, we’ll be discussing the importance of believing in one’s self, the latest updates in my personal rejections & submissions, as well as finding value in badly written stories . . .

THE WRITING LIFE (issue #3)

It has been said that if you want to make it in the arts, you have to be mad. Whether you want to be a writer, a painter, a musician, a cartoonist, or whatever, you have to be mad.

And being mad means this: you have full confidence in your talent and abilities as a creative person and, above all else, you will turn it into a career. There isn’t any doubt in your heart that it will happen. You have complete faith in yourself and the understanding that through extreme devotion to your craft and plenty of endurance, it will only be a matter of time before the world recognizes and values your good work.

That’s what being mad means in the arts. It also means throwing aside pragmatism, throwing aside the dire warnings from family and friends about the economic fallibility of living off one’s creations, AND, ultimately, it means not listening to anybody but your own true self.

Think of the arrogance of such an attitude!

It is, nonetheless, the attitude one must cultive if one desires to make it in the arts. This is not just my opinion. It’s also the opinion of such legendary artists as Ray Bradbury and Gayon Wilson. Both men have spoken eloquently about the necessity of this outlook in lectures and interviews.

In addition to fostering one’s skills and abilities and believing in one’s self, a good bit of leg work in the way of making a career out of art is often done by sheer luck.

So, dear friends, fellow writers and artists, may you be good to the muse (that means show up and do the work, every day, relentlessly) and may the muse be good to you (that means may you get damn lucky and everything works out).

There’s plenty of room in this world for artists of all kinds and stripes, in my opinion. It isn’t a competition, or a battle for first place. There’s no need to fight over who’s the best writer or painter or dancer or singer. There’s room for all of us.

The muse is wonderously vast.

***

I GOT THEM REJECTION BLUES (My favorite segment of The Writing Life!)

It’s time for me to share the latest rejections of my stories. Every once in a great while, they can get me down, but most of the time, they make me smile. Whenever I read a rejection slip, I just say ‘Ok!’ And send out another submission straight away.

In the hope of inspiring fellow writers with the notion that rejections CAN be fun, here’s the latest:

Cast of Wonders rejects my story, Love From Another Place, a supernatural tale of love and loss. This tale is almost ashamedly adolescent in nature, BUT, hey, some people dig that. Teenage girls, for one.

87 Bedford rejects Love From Another Place as well (double your money!).

The Forge Literary Magazine rejects The Hating Game, a flash-fiction piece commenting on such contemporary topics “online trolling” and “cyber-bullying”.

The Future Fire rejects ‘Til Death Do Us Never Part, a story about a bickering married couple whose problems follow them even when they’re both six feet under! This is a comedic, philosophical horror tale, which I’ve recently adapted for the stage. There’s a good chance it may be performed live before an audience in 2020, along with two other strange tales of mine.

SUBMISSION NEWS

On the other hand, I’ve sent out:

Fish Out of Water, a strange fiction tale which merges pulp-style writing with Kafkaeque horror, to Automata Review.

I’m really proud of this tale, and I hope someone picks it up.

The Hating Game to After Dinner Conversation and Confingo Magazine.

Blue Christmas, the shortest story I’ve ever written, to 50-Word Stories! Read this one if you want to cry on Christmas.

Crash Landing, a lost-genre science-fiction story, to Planet Scumm.

LOVE the name of that last one, don’t you?

***

IN OTHER NEWS/WRITING ADVICE

I’ve had a great time tonight writing a zombie tale entitled, No Way Out. It’s got a hell of a lot of descriptive, gory passages and, what I hope are, some sympathetic characters.

First draft adds up to a little over 6,000 words. Tomorrow night I’ll be editing, re-writing and generally making it look like I knew what the hell I was doing the first time around.

NOW, time for this week’s edition of UNSOLICITED WRITING ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS— advice you never asked for, and which may or may not damage your writing career.

Today’s advice is more to do with one’s attitude than it does with the craft of writing, although it is nonetheless vital:

One ought to greatly value every lousy, bad, terrible story they’ve ever written. You know you’ve done it. Admit it! You’ve written a lousy tale or two; a story that might have germinated from a good idea, but couldn’t quite stand on its own? Even the best writers in the business have done it.

It’s not a bad thing, and here’s why: By completing a lousy, no-good story, you learn things. What you learn, especially, is what not to do the next time around. So for every lousy story you write, you are paving the way for all the good ones. You are gaining experience, and likewise, knowledge about your craft.

And that’s where I leave you: pestered and possessed by the muse. Until next time,

Your constant writer,

Tylor James.

 

 

Ode to Caffeine (poem)

When you’ve got the jitters, the best respite is poetry.

Without further ado, Ode to Caffeine:

 

Caffeine
bullet train
ripping between
alleyway neurons.

Strong cup,
keeps me up
raging at dawn
singing my own songs.

Wild brew
shooting through
a star-blown mind;
rapture in the night.

Sip, Sip
jump and skip,
alive and wired;
ecstatic mind-fire!

Heart beats!
machine gun!
stocatto fire!
A soul-rage live wire!

Black Joe,
lean and mean
keeps my soul clean
reaching ever higher.

Caffeine —
drug of choice;
Maddening muse of
Galvanizing visions!

Stained teeth
grounds-powdered
fingers stabbing
delectable keys!

Restless

jittering.

Can’t stop moving

to the rhythm of nerves!

Sunrise
bloodshot eyes
Reborn once more;
An espresso-laden embryo!

The Life of a Writer — Dec. 1st (STANGE FISH, LOWSY LUDDITES, & ENDURANCE)

Greetings, friends. It’s just another day in . . . The Life of a Writer. 

Lots of good stories underway, let me tell you.

STORY NEWS

I’ve got a science-fiction story, Crash Landing, about a man who crash lands on an unknown alien planet. It’s your typical “lost world” genre story — except this particular yarn explores the absurdity of being a total luddite in a technological world.

Note: I was not aware of the word “luddite” until earlier this year. I came across it in a Kurt Vonnegut story. For those readers whom might not know, it means: a person opposed to new technology or ways of working. 

Imagine being a luddite AND a member of a planetary exploration crew AND your space ship crashes AND you have no understanding or meaningful relation to the technology that could potentially save your life — should you know how to use it.

Crash Landing is in its second draft stage at the moment, but will be a third and final draft next week and ready for submission to the magazines.

Then there’s Fish Out of Water, even better! It’s about a gang member who gets dropped in the lake wearing cement shoes because he’s killed somebody he shouldn’t have and pissed off a lot of dangerous people. He drowns, then awakens at the bottom of the lake with slimy gills on either sides of his neck. He’s grown webbing between his fingers. He’s got scales growing on his body. And he’s hatching a plan for revenge.

Fish Out of Water is a cross-genre piece, mixing hard-boiled pulp style prose with Kafkaesque twists of fate and, oddly enough, some mysterious Christian imagery having to do with the ressurrection of Christ.

Strange fiction? You bet.

I also got a poem out last night (Ode to Caffeine), a love song written for piano (dedicated to my fiance, Tessandra), plus some blog stuff.

As for today? I’ll be focusing on some editing and re-writing. And after that, if I feel up to it, writing some new stuff.

***

REJECTED!

DOWN-TURNED STORY NEWS (oh, boy, oh, boy, my favorite segment of The Writing Life!)

Silver Pen rejects my story, “Love From Another Place”, a ghost tale of love and loss. The editor, however, was so very kind in her rejection. I always appreciate when I am not handed the standard rejection form.

Crone Girls Press rejects my story, “The Voice”, about a man who commits hit-and-run on a trick-or-treater on Halloween night. The story was intended for an upcoming horror anthology. This is my second story I’ve submitted for this anthology, and so far no luck. Perhaps you, dear reader, if you dabble in dark fiction, will give them a try and have better luck.

STAY TUNED for future rejections. They are always upcoming.

***

ACCEPTED

My first professional publication is my story, The Typewriter. It was accepted by Jolly Horror Press two months ago and will be released in a marvelous book entitled, ACCURSED: A Horror Anthology, to be released this December 10th! JHP editor Jonathan Lambert is a wonderful guy to work with, and I highly recommend fellow writers to consider submitting to JHP for future anthologies.

***

In Other News

I work in a haunted factory these days. It’s an abandoned facility located in a snowy mid-west town where the people are cracked with an abundance of alcohol, opioids, and social gaucherie. But the facility (formerly a cheese factory) is relatively quiet, except for the clanging of the overhead pipes, the pterodactyl-whine of the boiler and the rattle of the radiator.

I sit in a break room with two security monitors. I glance at them from time to time, but mostly I write. And read. And look at what deranged things my fellow bloggers are up to.

This concludes today’s edition of The Writing Life. Questions? Comments? Hurled prejoratives? Please post them in the comments section below.

Lastly, a bit of advice for fellow writers seeking to master their craft:

The key to your success as a writer is endurance. And practice, of course.

The amount of effort you put in, and how long you can keep it up. These simple things largely determine what sort of writer you will become. To keep on top of practice, some folks aim to hit a particular word count every day, or every week.

As for me? I subscribe to the Ray Bradbury Regimen. That means, simply, focus on writing ONE short story a week. After fifty two weeks, you’ll have fifty-two stories, and hell, they can’t all be bad, can they?

As the colloquial saying goes, “Hold my beer . . .”

 

Until next time,

Your constant writer,

Tylor James.

 

 

100 Subscribers – A Thank You Note. PLUS, a relaunch of my blog: “WELCOME TO MY WRITING LIFE”!

While perusing my blog stats the other day, I noticed I’ve gained exactly one hundred subscribers. Thank you to all who follow this blog, to all who read, like and comment on my posts! I hope you’ll stick around awhile, because I’ve got some exciting plans ahead.

I don’t post often, but this habit, as of this moment, is over. From now on, expect to be hearing from me on a frequent basis.

I’ve been writing like a madman this year (nearly 300,000 words written, last time I checked), and yet I’ve been posting only once in awhile. The reason is this:

I want to earn a living by writing stories (be kind, for god-sakes, and at least attempt to stiffle your giggles!), but I can’t earn an income from my stories if I post them here. Magazines will not accept work that has appeared online. And so, I must hide them away, and submit them in private.

Writing, as they say, can be a solitary gig.

This year, so far, I’ve written one novel and forty short stories — ranging from  horror to science-fiction to western to pulp to weird/uncategorizable fiction. And it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.

Are all of my stories masterpieces? Nah. But I’ve learned a lot, and out of those thousands of words, I believe I’ve spun some pretty fantastic yarns.

So, this is the plan: Although I cannot share with my subscribers my stories, I can still share with you my life. I can share with you the labors of my daily grind, the pounding of the keys, the churning of the words, the sending out of submissions tethered with eager hopes like messages in a bottle tossed to sea . . .

I can share the gargantuan amount of rejection emails I receive from editors of little- known indie magazines and famous magazines alike. I can share with you what’s it’s like to be me. My inspirations, my struggles, my hopes, my dreams, and my failures.

I know, deep down (and forgive me if this sounds the least bit arrogant) that I am a unique, special man. And I don’t want to pass from this earth being the only one who knows that.

I believe my subscribers are unique and special as well. And I want to share with you. So, please, do stick around. Get to know me, and if you comment and share your thoughts, perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to get to know you.

Stay tuned, and welcome, to My Writing Life!

Your kind and constant scribbler,

Tylor James.