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How to Write a Query Letter

Sat Mar 21, 2015, 3:00 PM by PinkyMcCoversong:iconpinkymccoversong:

Publishing Week

A query is kind of what it sounds like -- you're ASKING an agent or publisher if they're interested in seeing your book. But a query is more than hey what's up I'm awesome my book is awesome look at it plz!  You have to write a professional letter that will entice the person who will read it into writing back with a HECK YES SHOW ME YOUR BOOK! (Okay, they probably won't say it like that. But you get the gist.)

The first line in your query should be:

Dear Ms./Mr. AgentLastName OR Dear Ms/Mr. EditorLastName

This might sound obvious, but you never EVER want to address a query with Dear Sirs/Madams or To Whom it May Concern. You also don't want to address it to the publisher or the agency. You are writing a specific agent or a specific editor, whom you've taken the time to research. You know what this person likes and you think he or she will like your book. So address them personally.

The next lines should should look something like:

I'm writing to see if you'd be interested in my novel/memoir/biography/etc [Awesome Title]. Awesome Title is the story of [Thing that Happens] when [Interesting Character] does [Thing] and [Enticing Shenanigans].

Okay, so that sounds like totally gobbledygook. So let's pretend we're writing a query for J.K. Rowling.

Hpletters by PinkyMcCoversong

I'm writing in hopes of piquing your interest in my novel HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. It's the story of an orphan who finds out that is he a wizard, only to be whisked off to a magical school where he quickly discovers that it is up to him and his new friends to save all of wizardry.

That's the HOOK. A one to two sentence summary of your book. If you're having trouble figuring out your hook, whoops, it's time to go back and make sure your book has one! ;)

You can also think of hooks as what the movie-trailer-voice-over-guy would say if your book was a movie. So, like, Supernatural would be "In a world where ghosts and demons terrorize the good people of middle America, it's up to two brothers from Kansas to keep the terror at bay -- if they could only get along."

Supernatural-Sam-Dean-Winchester-GIFs by PinkyMcCoversong

So you've got your hook. What's next?

In the next paragraph, you have a brief synopsis. EMPHASIS ON THE WORD BRIEF. As in specific and concise. Imagine what would go on the back of your book/inside flap of the jacket. Put that here. 

tumblr lvdjudgsUr1qde6p1o1 500 by PinkyMcCoversong

EXCEPT, and here's the tricky part, you want the spoilers in. So when on the back of Harry Potter it doesn't say "when it turns out that Voldemort is actually hiding under some shifty professor's turban, Harry and his friends totally kick all the ass the end" ...well, you have to do that for your mini-synopsis.

I'm not going to write you a whole mini-synopsis of Frozen or The Vampires Diaries pilot or anything. You're welcome. That would be so tl;dr. But you should know your book well enough to summarize it and then cut it down to about 400-500 words.  GODSPEED.

The Sign Off:

The last paragraph of your query letter should be short and sweet, and it should include the following things:

1. Some info regarding how you found the agent and why you're querying him or her.  For example, maybe you read the agency's blog and saw that this particular agent was looking for Valley Girl Vampire Steampunk. You write valley girl vampire steampunk. And you were all like, hey, I should query this agent. In this case, you could write "I saw on your blog that you were looking for valley girl vampire steampunk, and I think my book fits this bill."  Or maybe you saw that they represent a few favorite authors of yours who write in a similar style or genre. You might say "I really love the work by your client Awesome Author and I admire your work with Fabulous Author."

2. A thanks for his or her time. You can also say that you look forward to hearing back.

Cfbed03c1682c4287ec25fa355aaa83f by PinkyMcCoversong

3. Peace out. And by peace out, I mean sign with something like "Sincerely, Your Name." Business style.


Now, I'm not saying you didn't write a masterpiece. I don't know you, and I don't know your work. But you WILL GET REJECTED. That's the nature of the industry.  The only proper response to a rejection is a thank you. And, even then, agents' and editors' inboxes are so overfull that you should really only write back if they've sent you personal notes. Which is rare. So if you get a personal rejection, feel GOOD! 

Definitely do not write back asking why they rejected you, demanding that they read again, generally raging at the agent or editor for being stupid/nearsighted/mean, or saying anything along the lines of "you're going to regret this when I'm a billionaire!"  Just no. You can feel that way, but that doesn't mean it's appropriate to send rage emails.

tumblr mwsxpn0yRs1sc6j2oo2 500 by PinkyMcCoversong

A lot of rejection comes down to taste.  That said, if you get a lot of rejections that say the same thing, it might be time to get revising or even to move on to the next project.

PS: Why do I want an agent?

So, I realize, you might not know what exactly an agent is or does. An agent is someone who works as a kind of liaison between author and publisher. Many publishers don't accept submissions unless they come through an agent. So, yes, if you want to be published with a larger publisher, or even some of the smaller publishers, you will need an agent. And some of you might be wondering things like "but don't I have to pay an agent?" or "what if I can't afford an agent?" Here's the thing: the agent doesn't get paid unless you do. Any agent who charges you up front for services is running a scam or is just too green to be working. The way an agent gets paid is by selling an author's book -- which often takes a lot of work on the agent's part, which could be anything from working on additional revisions with an author to meetings with publishers to negotiating contract terms -- and then taking a cut. Industry standard, at least in North America, is 15%. So. That's the short version on agents. 

Prince Bathtub Phone by PinkyMcCoversong

Any Questions?

Leave 'em below. I'll do my best to answer anything I can!

The In's and Out's of Book covers

Thu Mar 19, 2015, 4:57 PM by jowyn:iconjowyn:

Publishing week

Hello All!!

My name is Jodie and I’ve been asked by Emily of CRLiterature to write a bit about design, or more precisely, design for book covers!  I’m a part-time, freelance illustrator with a passion for reading and have had the great pleasure of illustrating a cover or two in the past few years for some very talented writers.  I also have a lot of experience talking to authors about their ‘dream covers’ and then trying to explain why an epic fantasy scene or the main character in a heroic pose probably isn’t the best idea for their first self-published novel.

(On a side note, I'm not an expert in the area of book design/graphic design, but hope the little I do know helps you all to share your work with more people)

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and while this is a very good piece of advice, it’s actually pretty useless when it comes to trying to sell books.  And if you want to one day sell your books (which I’m sure most of you reading this do), your want your book to stand out amongst the thousands of others on the store shelf, or the online store preview, which is where a designer comes in!

In professional publishing, when a book publisher decides to publish a manuscript, authors are very rarely given any control over the design and artwork of their ‘baby’; the cover is usually placed in the hands of a graphic designer, either in-house or via a freelancer that they commission.  In self-publishing however, the choice is yours on whether you design the cover yourself, commission an artist to interpret your own vision, or hire a designer to make your work stand out amongst others of the same genre – but they are still catering to your tastes (and the brief you set them), so you need to be aware of what they are and whether they will help or hinder your books saleability in the long run.  None of these options are ‘bad options’, if you want to design your own cover, that’s great!  But you need to be aware of how designers think, in comparison to how writers (non-designers) think, and most importantly; how the consumers, aka, potential readers of your book think too.

As a visual artist, and an avid reader, I love well-designed book-covers.  When I pick up a book, any book, I’m automatically judging the content within without even knowing it – based on the cover. It’s a subconscious process as much as a conscious one and it’s the designers job to tick those subconscious boxes that most people don’t even realise are there.  They have to condense the whole book into a colour palette, image/graphic, mood, font, composition, etc, that appeal to the target market, age-group and gender (or neutrality of) while taking into consideration current popular trends and making it stand out amongst the limitless amount others within that specific category.  That’s a lot of boxes to tick.

It’s very rare that I’m contacted by an author who doesn't already have the cover meticulously planned out in their minds, with no thought to the elements above.  Granted, they are usually first time self-publishers who are excited to finally get their work into the literary world, but like with any marketing strategy (and a book cover is a marketing tool after all), it needs to be carefully planned and thought out from angles that an author won’t have considered before.  I’ve read some amazing books with beautiful covers, written and designed by the same person, but most authors aren’t artists (at least not at a professional designer level) and should take that into consideration when considering how to present their work to potential readers/buyers.

When all is said and done, if you’ve spent a long time polishing your writing to the best of your abilities, you should consider the cover as an extension of all that hard work!  Don’t settle for anything less.  If you’re with a publisher and they’re handling the design; they want your work to sell as much as they do so it’s in all of your interests to have a great cover, so don’t worry if you don’t have a say in it.  If you’re self-publishing; take the time to research current trends, grab yourself a book on graphic design, or better yet, save up and contact a designer with the skills and experience to make your work shine (on the outside at least, the story inside is up to you!).

Feel free to ask any questions, and myself or the CRLiterature team will do our best to answer.

How To get Published 2.0

Fri Mar 20, 2015, 2:00 PM by CailinLiath:iconcailinliath:

Publishing Week

It's been a little over 15 months since since I last wrote a "How to" Guide to Publishing for Project Educate. And guess what? Nothing has changed in the last 15 months. The greatest change to happen in Lit Mag submission is the ability to submit your work online. And some of the more established journals just want you to get out your SASEs. My previous article is still available for perusal.  It was written specifically in regards to poetry submissions, but the general tenants hold for other lit subs as well. 

How To get PublishedOr be Satisfied when You Aren't
A Beginner's Guide
Poetry publication is awash with literary magazines, internet journals, print-on-demand presses, vanity presses, indie presses, and major publication houses. So many options! It's a lot to navigate.  But before we delve into the 'How-To's,' it's important to understand the 'Why.'
I'm talking about the the Big Why, the biggest WHY after 'Why write poetry?' Which is, of course, 'Why are you publishing your poetry?'
"BECAUSE!" I hear you shouting. 
But that's not the best answer. You'll be happier, or at least more content with the results of the following advice if you understand your motivations behind the urge to publish. What specifically do you hope to achieve?
How to Succeed in Poetry Without Really Trying
If, for example, you want your poems out in the world, in a place people might read them; if you want to be able to say that you're a published poet; if you're not feeling great a

However, I'm sure you all are craving that mineral

I mean,
ahem, new and pertinent information Now with GIFs! 

Here's the breakdown: 

First catch your hare.

And by that I mean, write something. Write something that you want to have published. Write something that you will still want to have published once you've shopped it around to journals for over a year. Do it again. Write more things. Create a body of work. Stuff you're really proud of and really think is ready. Done that? Good. Now you can focus on publication.

Selecting Journals and Magazines

There are so many Lit Mags in the world. You can find databases of them at Duotrope and NewPages and Poets and Writers. If you prefer print to digital Poets & Writers has a bimonthly magazine or you could just go whole hog for 2015 Writers Market, in one of it's myriad forms. So many journals. So many ways to find them. But which journals are right for your work?

OH NOES! Dreaded research!

Lucky for you, most magazines have samples available. And some magazines an journals can even be found at your local library or bookstore. So you can read whole issues and really get a feel for what they publish. And if you really like it, you can even buy a copy, support the sale of poetry and short stories, and maybe even *gasp!* discover some current writers who you enjoy.  So when you've found a few, ask yourself:

  • Do they publish work you enjoy?
  • Do you want to see your work in that magazine?
  • Do you they even publish work that's like what you've written? (I mean don't submit a zombie story to a romance mag. Unless there are some truly terrible puns and a love story going on underneath that peeling skin and quest for brains. And even then it's a long shot. Boom! )

If you've answered 


Then Congratulations! You're ready to send out work! 

But first - Did you you read the submission guidelines?!

Submission guidelines tell you really important things like 

  • No simultaneous submissions
  • Wait 120 days before querying
  • This magazine is not taking zombie love stories at this time. Or any time. Sell your bollywood zombie love story somewhere else.

Submission Time!

Did I mention the Guidelines?  Follow them. No really. Just do it. Read and follow instructions. It's not that hard. You've been practicing since you were six. If you're concerned about some special snowflake formatting, you can query the editor for clarification. But use your common sense. And check the guidelines first. 

Once you've got it all in order, send your baby out into the world! And if you can find several magazines that all take simultaneous submissions and you think you have a shot with them, send it to ALL OF THEM! Five? Ten?  Twenty? DO IT!

And then sit back and get ready for 

Because nobody loves you!


You will be rejected. Probably by all of the magazines. It will feel terrible. Like you've just been shot.

Print them out. Decoupage your bathroom with your rejections. You can use the time that you're waiting for rejection to write more. So write more. Write better. Send the new stuff out. Send it to a hundred and twenty magazines. Eventually someone will say, This is great, but doesn't work for us right now. Send us more things. And when they do, send them more things. Eventually some of them will say 

And you can say


to everyone who said you weren't gonna make it. 

What Can You Do For Us?

Tue Mar 24, 2015, 5:11 AM
CRLiterature Journal Header by inknalcohol

We're always asking the Lit Community "What can we do for you?"  And you guys are awesome and always tell us what you want.  Sometimes we're able to help with that and sometimes we're not.  But that's not what this journal is about.  :giggle:

If fact, we're gonna do the opposite.  We're going to tell you, how you can help us!  Because as a community, we're supposed to be able to rely on each other; help each other out as much as we can.  Otherwise, it'll be hard to succeed and more importantly, to grow as a Community.

On that note, we've put together a little list of things you can do to help us here at CRLiterature.
  • Submit Your News. We have two ways that you can submit news.  It can be done directly through our journal [insert link here] or if you've already submitted your journal and don't want a duplicate out there, you can submit to our News Articles Folder.
  • Send New Deviants Our Way. Make sure you're telling new literature deviants about us for a couple of reasons.  First, they'll be getting all the information about the Lit Community in one place AND if they need help our admin team is always here to assist.
  • Join the Discussion in the Literature Forum.  It often goes overlooked because aside from the few links we drop in our monthly newsletter, there isn't much talk about the Forum. So feel free to swing by, start a new thread or comment on an existing one.  Just make sure to read the posting rules BEFORE starting a new one.
  • Run a Chat Event in Our Chatroom.  We've had our chatroom open for take overs for awhile now.  If you're interested in running an event, just check out this journal and then send us a note.
  • Submit to our Favourites Folders. We're always look for awesome lit for our favourites. Next time you're in a friends gallery and you see something awesome, make sure to submit it to our favourites, but remember, you're not allowed to submit your own work.
  • Send your Literature CVs Daily Deviation Suggestions! Do I really need to say this?  Probably not, but a friendly reminder is always appreciated.  Your current Lit CVs can be found in the top right widget on CRLiterature's Profile Page.  Their names even link to their DD Suggestion Guidelines.  We couldn't make this easier for you.
  • Give us Fun Community Games or Activities that you'd like to see run through CRLiterature.  We want to engage more and be more active, but sometimes we're just not able to come up with an idea.  Got one laying around that dusty head of yours? Send us a note!
  • Favourite and Comment on the Journals coming through the group because they're important and the more attention they receive, the faster they spread across the Community.  Also be sure to keep an eye on the News Articles that come through as they're just as important!
Remember, we're all here for the same reason.  To learn and grow and maybe make some friends along the way.  We need to support each other in order to achieve that.

Skin by Dan Leveille
Hey! Back by popular demand! I didn't think many people would like this but I was proven wrong. So, here ya go!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but this story.

You finally got home after that meeting, you even surprised yourself with how you just let go. You looked down at the sleepy bundle of adorableness in your arms.

America was subconsciously cuddling into your arm as he slept. You petted his hair as you set your stuff down and sat down on your couch.

Apparently, that was when he decided to wake up. America yawned cutely and slowly opened his eyes looking up at you.

He stared up at you with a curious expression. "Hey, buddy. Finally decided to wake up, huh?" You smiled down at him.

"Who are you?" America asked. "Well, I'm going to be taking care of you from now on." You explained.

"... Daddy?" America asked you, and you could swear you felt your heart melt when he said that word.

"Y-Yeah, I'm your daddy." You said. America grinned and wrapped his small arms around your neck in a little hug.

"Daddy!" America shouted happily. You smiled and hugged him back.

(Time skip brought to you by chibi America!)

It has been at least a month since that chibifying incident but it was a month of happiness.

You played and spoiled the little nation as much as you could and America was a surprisingly well behaved child. Some of the countries did visit you from time to time to see how America was.

Though three in particular visited you the most. And that's who decided to show up today.

"Daddy! Daddy! Look what I made!" America shouted as he ran up to you holding up a piece of paper.

"What is it, little hero?" You asked him and he held it up and showed it to you. It was a picture of you and him holding hands, poorly drawn but it was from a child.

"Do you like it?" America asked you expectantly. "Well, no America I don't like it..." America looked sad and casted his eyes downward. "... I love it!"

America perked his head up and grinned. "Yay!" He hugged you, jumping up and down.

"Okay, buddy. Let's put this on the fridge, huh?" You asked him. "Yeah!" He said, pulling you to the kitchen, when you heard the doorbell.

"You go ahead buddy, I'll go answer the door." America nodded and ran to the kitchen.

You went up to the front door and opened it. At the door was Italy, Canada, and Romano.

"Hey guys. What are you three doing here? This isn't your usual day for playing with America." You said, confused.

"Ve~ (C/n) we want to ask you something." Italy said. "What is it?" You asked.

"Not out here, bastard. Inside." Romano said. You blinked but nodded anyways and let them inside.

All four of you sat in the living room. "So, what did you guys want?" You asked them.

"W-well, it's k-kinda c-complicated." Canada said, hugging Kumajiro. "What is it?"

The three of them looked at each other, nodded, and spoke at the same time.

"We want you to raise us as well"
Yep! Stopped it right there! So, what will happen? Will (C/n) be raising four countries? Why do Canada, Italy, and Romano want to be raised by you? Are these questions redundant? Yes they are. See y'all later!
  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: Vocaloid- INsAnITY

Daily Lit Recognition for March 26th, 2015

We are proud to feature today's Daily Literature Recognition!
You can show your support by :+favlove:ing this News Article.  
Please comment and :+fav: the features and congratulate the artists!


Suggested by: chromeantennae
Featured by: TwilightPoetess
kryptonite kidi.
"I'll be batman,
and you can be my robin,"
you said with a smile.
(it's just like you
to want to play the hero.
you speak when 
someone pulls the string on your back:
you have all the right words.)
when I was a little girl,
I wished I could be a superhero.
all I needed was a radioactive spider,
or hidden powers
or super soldier serum.
I grew up in pursuit of these,
and became an adult when I realized
that I'd never find them.
I miss the days when I believed 
all I needed was a cape to save the world.
I knew you weren't the one
because somehow I still wanted a hero,
somehow I still believed they existed:
one person who could rescue the city
all in a day's work.
I knew you had the framework
but not the heart,
a branchless tree
with no roots.
sometimes I stand on the edge,
wishing I could fly
but knowing I never will.
I think it's enough to pretend 
I'll learn how one day.
(in other words,
I'm not your sidekick.)

From the suggester: This is a really unique piece centered around the concept of being a hero but ended in a very real way. Beautifully done.

Suggested By: thetaoofchaos
Featured By: AyeAye12
HandsI woke up like this.
I also went to sleep like this,
this is how I look every day.
I noticed my face for the first time today
in a bathroom on campus, two classes in and
seven hours after I woke up and seven hours after
I saw my hands for the first time this morning.
My hands are always in front of me,
pulling me forward, pushing me out of bed in the mornings,
even before my head is awake
they’re already searching through the dark.
They change with the season, they tell me
what I did yesterday in a dialect of
scabbed cuts, rough spots, broken nails and blistering skin.
They pride me with reminders of unscathed strength,
of first tries, of a confidence
I have never been able to express by way of face.
When my brain starts pressing on the inside of my skull,
when my heart is breaking,
when the fear and the stress and the directionless panic
take the place of the air in my lungs like stones,
my fingers find pens, sewing needles,
a cup of something hot to press into my palm,
and in s

A beautiful slam piece, simultaneously accessible and complex.


Featured by: SilverInkblot
The Well Beast and I"NO," the beast in the well said.
"What do you mean, 'no'?  Don't you know what an ultimatum is?" I shouted down at it. "I really will do it!"
"NO," the beast said.  "IS TRICK."
"I really don't have to cut you this slack," I yelled.  "I really loved that cat!  Not even the Prior would blame me for taking revenge!"
"WAS GOOD," the beast said.
"Was...? Wait. Did you just tell me how delicious my pet was?  Did you really, in the name of cruel irony, tell me that my Mr. Snickers was delicious?"
"WAS GOOD," the beast confirmed.
"Alright, this is fucking happening," I said, getting up onto the lip of the well.  I unzipped my fly.
"NO, IS TRICK," the beast said, a little uncertainly.
I whipped out my man-hose and started peeing down the well.
"NO NO NO NO NO," the beast said.  The walls of the well shook as the beast writhed around.
"Nowhere to hide in a well, is there?" I called down.  "I've been drinking an awful lot of water!  Why, I daresay I c

Some silly flash fiction for your enjoyment.

Featured by: chromeantennae 
Self-PortraitSo far away from what I was; I'm a thin man, now.Long grey hair and beard, where I have hair.I finally have that sallow look I always wanted,feeling that my face was too big and wide
If I'd known all the things I've learned in almost fifty-eight years, I'd have had a good life.Sadly, I was a slow learner; it's been hard. At least I know who I am now, and I like the man.
I feel comfortable calling myself a man now. For many years, I didn't; I was a lost sheep,
a black sheep who refused to follow, but never knew where he was going; a revolutionary without a plan.
But that's behind me now. I've grown into the wrinkles on my skin.I know the world and its secrets, and know that I can't change it.
I am bold and assertive when I need to be now. Sometimes I'm short-tempered, but normally laid-back. Anyone who knows me knows that I've suffered many losses, especially in the last
few years. Losing the love of my life changed me the most.I now have the gift (or curse) of empathy; I suffer when yo

You are a beautiful man, Ronald Terry Ray. Your Self-Portrait shows this in a way that no one else could possibly aptly describe. Only from your words, could you do your beautiful existence, justice. Rest in peace, my friend. We love you and thank you, thank you for everything.

For more information, including how to suggest a Deviation 
to be featured, please visit us at DailyLitRecognition.

Thanks so much for supporting the lit community and this project!

~ The DailyLitRecognition Team ~

Prepared by: chromeantennae

Skin by SimplySilent

March Literature DD Round Up

Thu Apr 2, 2015, 10:03 AM
:iconsingingflames: Features by SingingFlames

Dear Universe,Can you tell 16 year old me  that I'm 20 now and I made it out alive. She won't know what you're talking about, but at least she'll know it's possible.  i was born to destroy youi am no hydra.
there is no poison-tipped spear,
no angry torch to hold to my neck
i may not raze your fields nor eat your livestock
but i was born to destroy you.
when i smile i want you to think
not of wolves, but of girls
pretty girls, with flirtatious red lips
and teeth white as pearls
not of monsters who lurk
under grandmother's bed
swallowing children for supper.
i am no chimaera, no sphinx:
no hero can vanquish me on winged pegasus
i cannot breathe fire or deceive with words
(it's all appearances, everyone knows that.)
do not forget
it was helen who launched a thousand ships,
clytemnestra who slew agamemnon
judith who beheaded holofernes
because no one thinks that your lipstick
might be congealed blood,
nobody thinks that the points of your nails
might serve more than a decorative purpose
nobody stops to consider the nightshade in your perfume,
the foxglove flowers on the mantle
and the cyanide in your purse.
perhaps i don't look like a monster, but remember:
no one's an angel
hushi'm done wishing
on shooting stars, and
i want to be done with you:
i'll let dust settle
on my telescope,
let dust settle in
my throat, my lungs.
twist your fingers through
my vocal cords,
press your palm to
my lips and tell me, hush
don't wish on things
falling too fast
to hear you

maybe i'll wish
on seashells
they are quiet houses
for muted ghosts, though
more alive than you
have ever been.
i'll let you
pull me under,
paint my eyes
with salt, blind me
so you can murmur, shh
even dead things
can be beautiful
RavenousBones.  You saw them before you even saw her.
The all-too-visible quiver of her jaundiced skin
tightening over well-kept secrets; skeletal protrusions.
Above all, I noticed her sarcastic slouch, vertebrae sticking out in a slump.
She would persist, boasting of womanly fullness while the emaciated truth
jutted out at her pelvis.
She wasn’t just hungry, she was ravenous.
on bradbury and table dancingYou are not a wordsmith
whatever you might like to think. ('Smith'
indicates precision and coldness and fire:
words are softer than that unless you mold them strong.)
It's a difficult road to follow, and not many
make it past the fork.  Choose a path,
Janus says, whirligig keys spinning on his shoulders:
I am a wordworker, with my tools too crude, forming
rough-edged carvings painted with pretty imagery.
Notebooks scattered across the landscape
of a child's room, to be stumbled across,
read, red-penned, in the thick and choking breath of night.
When the bough breaks
a hanged man laughs.  He carries typewriters
in his pockets, and cigarettes in the soles of his shoes.
I will never be a word mistress,
whoring myself to the speech of people I do not know and will never know me.
The oven is set to Fahrenheit 452, but the words were already aflame
before they ever took shape under your tongue.
You love everything they've ever written, and carry
unabashed loathing for every syllabl
The KeeperAi-la came to me when she was eight years old, dressed in a faded hospital gown, with her feet and arms bare and littered with coloured Band-Aids from IV drips. Other than being remarkably short and skinny, there was nothing peculiar about her appearance—she was yet another child who had unfortunately fallen ill to a fatal disease.
When I first found her outside the House in the dead of night, she was staring blankly at the black sky and shivering. I was immediately able to tell she was a newcomer by the look of her skin, translucent but slowly becoming an opaque white beneath the light of the gold lanterns.
“There are no stars here,” I said as gently as I could in the silence, not wanting to frighten her, as most did not take well to their unwitting transportation to the Other Side. The child remained still. “What is your name?”
She tilted her head and her dark eyes focused upon me, intense and perceptive. She took in my masked face and black suit, her ex
Talking to Myself: A Manifesto for the EgocentricI’ve been told I talk to myself when I think no one is listening.
ME: That’s all writing is.
ME: Inner monologues.
ME: Discussions with the self.
ME: I’ve written several novels worth of words to tell myself how selfish I am, or that I’ve fallen in love with the wrong person again, or that dying was never a viable option in the first place. I write to tell readers the same thing.
ME: My words are meant to teach others what I couldn’t teach myself. To save others just like writing has saved me thousands of times.
People say that art and beauty only come to life when there’s an audience.
ADAM GWON (sung): For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen.
ME: That’s Adam Gwon. He shows up here, sometimes. He is often wrong.
ADAM GWON: Hey! No I’m n—
ME: For example, I disagree with this line from a song he wrote, called “Beautiful”. Art exists and fulfills a need before it is even seen or read or hear

:iconinknalcohol: Features by inknalcohol

And then, a quiet explosionTrees, full of green vitality, swayed, shivered in the cool, early morning breeze. Butterflies floated, caressed flowers of all colours. Birds, they soared, danced and sung in the heavens. And below, hand in hand, the pair walked up a grassy hill without saying a word. None were needed. A non-awkward silence, smiles and laughs, were more than enough, precious. Time together, with their black and tan dog, full of heart, sniffing, playing, exploring about their feet – perfect.
The three reached the summit, sat, close, bathed in the warmth of each other’s love and followed the sun’s birth into a crystal clear sky, washing the world with yellows, oranges and reds, with life. They embraced, tightly, with affection, friendship, and with wide eyes, in the distance, saw a star, pure, white, burst into the atmosphere. For seconds, to the Earth's concerto, it fell beautiful, terrible.
The dog barked.
The pair kissed.
And then, a quiet explosion.
A blinding light.
Sonnet XXIX: An endingThe world bent towards the end I would have written
then like a harp-string snapped—the twisted threads
unwound, and all sprung back to what we had been
now I am gutted—and you, I think, are dead.
What use are harps when vaunting horns of silver
proclaim the world has ended; what for me
is left amongst the ruin and raging rivers
of blood and ash, and every tie cut free?
And yet—when your song wound through empty halls
and through your melodies all was reclaimed
I loved it then; that strain; its dying fall--
but tunes are lost, and only words remain.
Yes, only words remain. I cannot write
the wonder in your song—the  world alight.
To MeltHush,
a dance
of heart beats-
an awkward, painful
fluttering like heavy snowflakes
struggling to stay afloat in the empty expanse of somber sky
fearing, not the iniquitous fall from grace, but the scolding caress of the torrid earth below.
InsideI watched my best friend die.
It wasn't in a hospital and it wasn't an accident on some road somewhere. There's a saying, and I guess it's also… funny… how you never know what's going on behind closed doors.
I guess you're probably thinking of suicide - overdose, hanging by the rope, or (god forbid) the knife, but... it's not that.
Because it's one thing to die and it's another to die. I believe you can exist without properly living.
What is a life? We are born into this world with no say on the matter, and yet the majority of us take for granted that tomorrow we will wake up to another morning, another routine, another day in this same old life.
Do we?
Are we happy in this life? Inside, where it counts, are we happy?
My best friend came from nowhere. One minute I had no one, and the next… I guess it's a sort of blessing that my best friend arrived when I needed comfort the most.
We began to go out and have wild trips galumphing up the roads. We made war with b
the difference between poets and practical mena practical man
feels rain and hurries indoors.
a poet gives pause
to see waves surging throughout
oceans in every raindrop.
Fall Upon Blind EyesI force a smile, my lips crack like concrete,
the words provoked are too heavy
for my voice to carry.
I sit quite awkwardly, the silence, an opponent to contend with
it's always there but not ever present,
silence does fade.
Noise in the form of simple words
fall upon waiting ears.
Accepted in the form of knowing worth,
rise from waiting years.
Patience is a friend you hate to be right,
needed yet underrated.
Living how I always have just a different life,
a want on a whim yet contemplated.
I stand for the first time, the roots tear like string,
what I've felt was too heavy
for my hands to hold.
I think in absolutes, my will is the leader of my fearful mind,
it's not always present but benevolently looms,
strength will come.
Logic is thrown to the ground and breaks, like the waves
of a tide too strong for us to escape.
We drown in a sea of our solidified fate.
We see no need to try,
that sight falls upon blind eyes.
When the world feels like an ending day,
having you solidifies faith.
Photoshopped LifeYou can't saturate the wheel
In the colors of real life;
You can't always up the contrast
In your mother's loving eyes.
You can't play with the exposure
Of a blinding summer day;
You can't include the clover
Or the smell of drying hay.
You can't take the sound of falling snow
And post for all to see,
Or capture every icy rainbow
Shining from the trees.
You can't enhance the laughter
Of the two friends by your side;
You cannot crop the flying hairs
So that they lay just right.
So let the hues be slightly dull
Who cares if skin is clear?
Just take the days, appreciate
The lovely and sincere.
5 Guidelines for Adding Romance to Your Novel5 Guidelines for Adding Romance to Your Novel – A Valentine's Day Special
Most people love to see romance in a novel of any genre. It's a universal human experience that can happen in the context of any story. However, most attempts at such have become cliched, sexist, or too unrealistic to be believable. So here are my 5 guidelines to adding romance in your novel.
Tip 1: Lose the damsel in distress trope.
It's the “romantic” trope of most movies and books, but it has become one of the worst cliches around. On top of being overdone (making your story less interesting should you employ it), the damsel trope makes the reader subconsciously respect the damsel much less, and therefore care little about the love story. Instead, make both partners, in your romance, at a similar level of competence for a truly interesting romantic dynamic.
Tip 2: Don't over-romanticize.
Do you know what happens when people run around, sword-fighting or dodging bullets? Sweaty pits and nasty
05.03.15The moon is a cold white disc tonight
yet underneath, you and I
feel warm
but small,
insignificant beneath the blackness of dreams.
We talk about work and sex
and math,
making promises unkept.
We base the moment on
each other,
the blur of tears,
the heaviness of our souls
and the stars that swathe in the black
above us.
I close my eyes,
and we're the shadows on the moon
unfurling evermore.
The Elevator ManEight hours a day, five days a week, for forty-one years he had pushed those buttons upon command.  His place of employment - The Jansson Grande Hotel in New York City.  It was one of those hotels that had five stars for everything; suites, service, food, entertainment.  Quite simply, it was the "best of the best."
Nevertheless, no one ever seemed to pay much attention to the little man who operated the elevator, the main one located just off the lobby.  Occasionally he was even mocked or laughed at.  Few ever spoke to him with respect, or treated him with dignity.  From the time he was a child he was viewed as someone undesirable, someone that you would and should avoid.  He was smallish in size, nervous around people and quiet as a mouse.  He never looked anyone in the eye, always kept his cast to the ground, even when spoken to.  
His daily routine never changed.  At exactly six o'clock in the morning he would rise, fix the usua
I'm MovingI'm going to live online.
Seduced to sleep
By strategizing baritones
Working their newest MMO.
Can I live online?
I've got a supportive community,
I promise.
People care about me there.
They listen, and they trust me.
My address can be an IP
I can even get laid that way
Within my domain
Where I can control my environment
And I never have to leave my bed.
The glorious thing
About living online?
I can disconnect from reality
And, be warned,
All real-world problems
Are sent straight to spam.
Green DawnWithout my awareness
         ... she comes
from the depths
of my cold and dormant sleep
gently lifting the white-blue veils
of such long harsh winter
where my dreams used to dwell.
Behind the mirrors of my eyelashes
         ... she comes
before old gods and their mists
leave over Earth a trail of jeweled dews
to which dawn reveals
a myriad of other treasures
rainbows of colours on curtains of greens.
© copyright of KAY MARCH - All Rights Reserved.
Thought Sketch 5don't just stand there
make yourself useful
make yourself obedient
make yourself worthy of praise
get some better shoes
and step into my fire
Apple WorldYears ago, we were giants – or so it seemed to me and my twin brother Jimmy – and we lived in a world of magical insects, fairies and various small creatures, who often seemed in awe of our presence. This world was known to others, who lived indoors and called themselves our parents, as a back garden. But then our parents appeared odd to us at that time, as they firmly refused to believe in magic of any kind. We didn’t even get the tooth fairy stuff or Santa Claus beliefs from them.
Perhaps, in retrospect we compensated for this.
The back garden was Wonder World and we strode the land, with mighty footsteps aided by our ten league boots that had been given to us by a wizard – known to our parents as Uncle Barney. We spoke to insects and fairies and every one of them had a tale to tell. We learnt a lot. In fact we knew it all then, to the extent that we rebelled at the thought of starting school and informed our parents that we had more knowledge than both of the
The Ozymandias Principle (Sandbox Jenga)Ginny always had a penchant for destroying things.
At the age of four, she was introduced to blocks (perhaps a devastating mistake on her preschool teacher’s part.) The brightly-colored wooden shapes held a certain fascination for her. While her classmates took a simple childish glee in building things up and knocking them down again, Ginny looked on their ways with disdain. She would carefully create an elaborate structure, and pull out all the key pieces until only a bare framework was left, shivering on the edge of collapse. Then she would tap on just one, or blow on it with her mouth, and the whole skeleton would come crumbling down.
Her parents often commented that if she had been born a decade or two earlier, she could have made a fortune by inventing Jenga. As it was, she was never very good at the game. She didn’t particularly like setting it all up- all she knew was that she had to build it before she could break it.
When she was seven, her Sunday school had a pi
Sunday MorningHer voice slowly crept into his consciousness as he woke. She was reading poetry in the bath.
He couldn’t watch the drop of water slip down her chest to the water from the next room so he made do with imagining. He stayed there a few minutes longer while she read a poem twice.  Perhaps she liked the way it felt in her mouth.
His thoughts came back to his own body and he kicked off the duvet. He grabbed her discarded yukata and slipped it over his shoulders. Visions of her as a geisha drifted into his mind.
He tiptoed across the linoleum towards the bathroom. The water draining into the overflow was the only sound. It almost sounded like applause. He leaned against the doorframe as a fragrance sidestepped into his awareness. It was floral, probably rose or jasmine. It reminded him of something old and pretty, but he couldn’t say for certain.
Her back was towards him. She didn’t turn but lifted both arms, holding the book she was reading from aloft, in a half salut

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Favourite Favourites Feature 8

Mon Mar 23, 2015, 6:00 AM
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." Douglas Adams

I've decided that I'm going to start taking suggestions. If you find a piece of literature or art that you absolutely love, send me a note titled "FF SUGGESTION" and a thumbnail of what you want me to feature.

Imagination V3 by Jon-Lock

The Zebra Goes to a Party
The zebra put on lipstick but the zebra's taste was poor.
The lipstick was an orange shade no one should ever wear.
The zebra had no mirror and it did the best it could.
But the best with orange lipstick is never very good.
The zebra had a lion friend, though some thought this unwise.
The lion saw the lipstick and had to roll her eyes.
The party they were going to was fancy, it was chic.
And no one that the zebra kissed would turn the other cheek.
All thought the lipstick awful but were too polite to say.
They never told the zebra and she danced the night away.
Allaying Alideya (9)Doctor Jin was the first man I ever killed. I wanted to feel remorse for it, but I couldn’t. I knew that he had invented the horrible torture solution and I could imagine him and Brelnin together, their grotesque, sick laughs ringing down the hallways. The moment he killed my mother flashed in my mind. It seemed liked forever as I stood over his body, alarms singing of my escape and his death. Blood pooled around me, but I couldn’t will myself to move, one death wasn’t sufficient for what he had done.
Cal’s voice broke through my trance and I saw him and Kayle bound towards me.
“Come on we have to get—“
I began to cry as Cal noticed our mother and the body of Doctor Jin, “He killed her.”
He began to say something to me, but Kayle interrupted.
“No time for that, we have to get out of here now.”
Grabbing my blood stained hand, Cal tore me away from where I stood.
“What about dad?” I asked
Life ManagementDear Human,
This is to inform you that life as you know it has been binned. There were a lot of complaints regarding life as it had been, so it was decided that a new system be adopted, which will hopefully be pleasing to everyone. As of now, life is an RPG. There is no need to worry; this letter outlines everything you need to know.
First things first. You will not age! That does away with the whole search for everlasting youth thing. No need to bother scientists with genetic research and the like. Convenient, huh? Instead, you will gain experience points as you defeat monsters on the field, which will allow you to move up from level to level and become stronger. This will allow you to be able to kill stronger beasties and become even stronger, until you hit the roof, level 99, at which nothing will pose a challenge to you anymore. At this level, you can either choose to revisit old areas and watch adversaries shrivel up at your mere presence, or you can head towards one of the crazy-
bittersweetOne night when I was at the cemetery,
I could have sworn that I saw
your ghost standing a few feet away from me.
Maybe it was the fact that
I had a few drinks before I went over there,
but I don't think that I could have
gone to visit your grave sober.

Swig.The jar of a life
Spilled out onto the new rug of society
Feet assiduously adjust to make room for the spill
Speaking, spitting as it spreads
from a tired and chipping mouth
To coat every sole it might reach
There exists a soundtrack
to this grinding of the years
Laced with surety of purpose
Steeped in tea leaves of fate
And we drink it down
Even as we wince
At the bitter whisper left on our tongues
By the things we never got to touch
Grim and Bitter   For the first time in almost a month, he was back on the roof of his apartment building for a training session he had sorely missed. The duration of the music playlist he listened to from his digital music player allowed him to keep track of the time he spent warming up and stretching and offered a sweet reprieve from the cacophony of the streets below. Turning off his music player, he slipped his earphones into his pocket and assumed a neutral fighting stance with his knees slightly bent. He threw a jab and bounced on the balls of his feet which turned into a jab-cross followed by a low round kick. He repeated the motion, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. In his head, he could see the men who attacked him waiting to have their turn with him again. Only this time, he was giving back what he received and then some. From the confines of the rooftop, he spent a good hour throwing kicks, punches, and knee and elbow strikes with both legs and arms.
   Out of brea
Plug in BabyHe watches the monitor rise
and dip. Monotome beeps
remind him he has something
to hope for.
Tubes run in and out of her,
and he never recalled her
skin being so clammy.
His silent pleas are
unanswered, and the
chill of her hand remains
Her skin stretches
around wires and bolts,
seemingly becoming one
as the world outside
moves along.
The Little Time TravellerIt all began with a cardboard box; a simple cardboard box. There was nothing special about this brown box with its collection of colorful lines swirling in no particular direction across the sides; a canvas for a little boy’s marker collection. Each line told a story of excitement and adventure; a thrill that a little boy and his friend shared together.
In his arms, the little boy held Teddy, his protector from the evils of their travels. Lively blue eyes – full of a child’s wonder – glanced at his fuzzy friend, a big grin plastered on the young boy’s face. The things they had seen on their journeys defied everything the world had taught them to believe; but then again, they were too young to believe much of what the world had to say. They wanted to explore it for themselves.
“That outta do it,” he said with a nod of his head.
Gathering himself up, he set Teddy down in a chair and made his way to his closet. Sifting through the shirts and trous

Adventures on the Moon by alexiuss

pleas don't register with the earplugged deafMaybe I was made to be broken.  While being created, my manufacturer decided to install a faulty sense of judgment, so I would always select people to hang around who made it their sole purpose in life to hurt me.  But I would never know until it was too late, and I was bleeding oil and love on the ground, ignored by those who crossed their hearts and held their fingers crossed behind their backs in promise. 
I’ve heard almost every variation of the vow, and yet I fall for it every time. 
I’ll never hurt you.
I’d rather die than hurt you.
I promise I’ll always be there for you.
Of course I’m your best friend!
I would do anything for you.
I’d die for you.       
That’s probably because it comes gift-wrapped in a shiny new package, and I’m lured in by the appeal.  My mind assumes, it will be different this time around.  My heart
BelligerentDrunken sparks, blood-thirsty.
And I can no longer see in singular colors.  Everything is a blurred swoon, rippled motion.  Ghosts taking shape in the faces of my friends.  My words come out like play-doh, like an infant’s first garbled croon.  An ineffective attempt at communication to say the least.
It is unlikely they will understand or comprehend or even stop to listen but still I spit and slather sideways sentences.  Mouthing shouts of unintelligible inability.  I grasp and ache for what I cannot say.  I do not have the words.
A Theory of Everythingi
You begin as a point,
The essence of nothing.
But with two points,
We make a line.
And the line is eternal.
When your line meets another,
We cross, as we must.
But in our plane of existence,
I see only a cross-section of you.
And we are flat.
You turn your head,
For there is now space to turn.
And we conceive of the world,
And the world is round.
But it is still.
We are but frames,
Moving ever forwards.
For these frames are a filmstrip,
And the film never ends.
Time carries us now.
You make your choices,
And forge your path.
And though it splits me in half,
I follow you.
Our other selves are lost.
Lost but not gone,
For all that is, was,
And ever will be,
Is contained, within this.
We are a universe.
We are not alone.
Though with different beginnings,
And different endings,
You see it.
The scale of us.
Those paths cross,
And with each intersection,
We create new realities.
Each embedded within
Our layer o
ceruleancan you tell something's wrong when you're wrapped
in three separate layers of clothing
and yet your hands still shake, your body still shivers.
this cold doesn't stem from the outside.

last ritesthe ghosts that haunted my symbolic heart have metastasized,
i feel them laying heavy in my lungs, i hear them in my labored breath.
i don't need a doctor to tell me that it's getting worse because
i'm waking up singing in your voice, half-truths that cry nostalgically
i step on the scale for the ten millionth time and think if i can
murder myself i can certainly kill the demons: two birds, one stone.
the late night hotline tells me that suicide is a shameful thing
but i'm destroying myself for you, honey. i promised i'd get better.
i count the stars as the ocean curls against my toes
i count my blessings and my fallacies: a rosary tangled
around my fingers, and even you know i'm not religious,
but i like to think there's still time for me to be saved.
La Lucha1.
a Picasso night,
laden with dust that settles on
my skin like
I'm sitting in the center of the room
with gooseflesh skin and
broken bones still shifting,
prodding my little flame with
singed fingertips
and all I can see is my childlike
staring hungrily back at me,
thirsting for an inkling of something more.
the room is awash with yellow light from
the oncoming dawn.
I claw at the floor with
scorched nails,
digging my way out.
through the genesis, my little flame swells with
hope as my reflection shifts
into someone I begin to recognize.
high noon. the roof is gone.
the sun beats upon me like a
and i take the blows with my head
bowed in paralyzing
something is perpetually falling from
my eyes, but i've already refused
to cry.
the flame is shrunken and deteriorated to
a dull pinprick
of luminance.
i no longer wish to escape this
i only long to understand the face in
the wall
that i know
is me.
i smash the mirrors.
this sunset is all I could
Sick leave, 1917Eleven battles on the Isonzo. One slight wound for each ten of them, a cracked gas mask in the eleventh. The day his legs felt strong enough to carry him to the barber, and he sat down short of breath on the chair in front of the mirror, Sublieutenant Vantini tried not to look into his own eyes.
Ho capito, signor sì,” hummed the barber, “chino il capo e me ne vo…
Quit that noise, Vantini meant to utter. The growl made the barber fall silent and the hand sharpening the razor stand still. Vantini cleared his throat. “Quit that noise; Mozart is the enemy’s music.”
“They let me sing that when I was a conscript,” murmured the barber, and apologized.
At some point when Vantini’s cheeks lay coated in warm foam, the humming resumed, feebler: Tripoli, bel suol d’amore.
Irene sat up in the rosebud of bed sheets and found him already dressed. She was on time to insist, “Let me strap your sa
HoneysuckleShe decided to stop and pick some flowers. Yes, she was a bit late getting home, but the field was so lovely in the honey light of the half-set sun. And there were daisies all around. They swayed in the afternoon haze. The honeysuckle was blooming, too. Honeysuckle were his favorite flowers.
Sweet, just as you are, he had told her when they were younger, as he held a little white flower up to her as a gift. She would pin them in her dark brown hair. He would say they looked like stars in the night sky's silk.
But now her hair was gray and no longer silky. It frayed, but she thought it would hold honeysuckles even better that way. She stooped painfully over, picked some, and pressed them against her head as she slowly straightened herself up again. They stayed in her bird's-nest hair and she sighed happily to herself. How he would laugh when he saw her this way, acting like the young girl she had once been.
She scooped some daisies into her grocery basket, tucking them among the bread a

Mid March. by PascalCampion

milkThe moon has
spilled across
the bathroom
tile like milk,
and I weep
for the sorrows
of those I love.
Each tear is for
them; I weep
and weep, and
the puddle
of moon
to be discontinuedyour hands are too small.
they always slip through the cracks in your fingers,
the ones you love,
you just can't keep the together.
but your thighs are too wide,
spacious, filled with crevices that line
like roads on a map.
you are not able to part to let anyone in.
sometimes you feel like empty space.
eyes like stars - dead but
still shining.
what if galaxies are just people
who couldn't find their dreams in the sea
of smoke; wow, that's a lot of
& other times you feel like streets,
worn away by the tires of people who just
don't give a shit about you.
they just run you over because it's easy &
they don't have time.
honest to god there are not enough people
to fill in all the pot holes.
so be empty or be full.
which one hurts less?
you have some sick fascination with the beach.
something about the waves rolling in
to wash away the shore - you can
the ocean just take, take, takes
& the sand gives.
every time the tide leaves it
sometimes we work ourselves uppanic wreathes around me, kills me
with a kiss, hisses a dying song
in my ear and i
shiver shiver shiver
(bury me with stardust and
close the curtain; these eyes
shine bright and now i catch fire!)
i bet these gulping gasps of air do me no good,
for i still drown and drown and drown
and this fear won’t stop throwing me underwater
and you know, you know, you know i can’t
breathe anymore
this avalanche within me crumbles down
watch these boulders crush me beneath
their bravery, watch
my rabbit legs twitch
and still
with stellar finalitythere are galaxies under your skin and
constellations in your hair and 
i used to love you just like a horoscope, but
telescopes make it so we don't see what's in 
front of us, that's probably where
we went wrong
slowly we learn to fall out of love,
let's weave a basket of what-if's for shot-down stars and wishes
some movies aren't meant to have happy endings,
don't twist our storylines together-
we were meant to be behind the scenes
we were trapped/wrapped up in stage curtains of 
red velvet lips and each other's arms for the longest time,
time will never let us know if 
this is what love is like

AbortifacientZeus blows over
like the paper house
of your childhood,
and it’s never nice
to see god lose, but
sometimes he falls
like a thunderbolt -
and smoothing
every face flat into boxes,
and it’s never nice
to see god cry,  but
sometimes he spills
like the memories
dropped from cardboard
flaps, and it cuts about
as sharp as the edge
of broken dreams.
(and it’s never nice
to see god break, but
sometimes: he shatters
like cathedrals)
LongingMissing you
Is forsaking
The cooler side of the pillow
For the side that remembers
The impression of your cheek
And the soft smell of your hair.
It's reveling
In the butterfly thrill
Of your gentle embrace,
But aching to close
The Rubin-vase distance
That separates us.
It's the difference between
The sound of your silver Corolla
As you pull to a stop
In my cul-de-sac
And the way it sounds
When you leave.
It's weaving "I love you"
Into every word,
Every touch,
Every song,
Short of actually saying it.
But the thing is,
I don't know
How much longer I can go
Without saying it.
speech pathologyit feels imaginary; day-glo street lamps, seven-eleven dirtbags,
laughter in the beauty aisles of walmart - i hold her in my arms
instead of nightmares.
it feels like august again; she is too celestial for every dress she tries on,
she makes the sunset look like vomit on a cardboard sky.
it feels like an indie wet-dream; the sun is a filter on an instagram photo of bliss,
my tongue in her mouth and on her love, a twin bed falsetto to modest mouse,
a doe-eyed nirvana - she is a renaissance painting touched slow by day's ending,
she is a poem i'll never be able to write.
it feels like my heart needs no apologies;
it feels like i found my way home.
martiniIn five years,
I will sit at an
oaken bar in a
little black dress
with my legs crossed,
watching my reflection
in the aged whiskey bottles
receive drinks with
small swords stabbed
through olive hearts.
I will cup my chin
in my palm and
not break the stare
of my reflection
because these drinks
are not love or from
men I could love.
They are crude boys
with jackal grins and
hands that only know
how to destroy.
I will not trust them,
but I will know how
to catch their eye
with posture and
grace, and scorn
them with a sneer
and a sharp tongue
so I may drink
their money away
in peace.

Planetarium by Chenedelic


Publishing Week

Jon Stone and I have co-run Sidekick Books since 2009. We specialise in collaborative poetry books and pamphlets on a range of weird and wonderful themes. Poetry has for a long time had the problem of a dwindling readership that sells to itself, and we believe the only way forward is to look outside pure poetry and head off the beaten track. We love genre-bending, perversion, invention and introducing poetry and new audiences to one another. 

Which has the potential to go like this:

Scaredpanda by discocabrado

But more often goes like this:

Lilo by discocabrado

People often ask us how or why we began the press. Sidekick actually began as a parasitic offshoot of our hand-made magazine Fuselit. We’d begun to produce themed bonus booklets of commissioned poetry to go with each issue, and these gave us the idea to make micro-anthologies. The first four covered computer games, Japanese monsters, destroyed text and false memory, and magical spells.

Coinopera by discocabradoObakarama by discocabradoKorsakoff by discocabradoPocketspellbook by discocabrado

Getting Big Ideas

We then got a little more cocky and went into full-size titles, with the first volume of our flagship Birdbook anthology. The aim was to gather one illustration and one poem for every species of wild bird in Britain. We're currently working on the third of the four books in the series. 

Following Birdbook, we moved on to two-person team-ups and poetry greetings cards. We produced Supermini anthologies of bird poetry, hand-sewed a collection of sonnets on tropical zoo animals and republished ePamphlets previously published by Mimesis. It's been interesting trying to work out what we want to, and what we actually can, do next.

The second question we’re usually asked is how we fund the books. Up until recently, we’ve done this from our own day-job salaries and book sales, which has given us a bit of flexibility. For Coin Opera II, our second, expanded anthology of video game poetry, we also ran a Kickstarter campaign.

Coinoperaii by discocabradoCoinoperaiib by discocabrado

If you’ve never run a Kickstarter campaign before, brace yourself for a full-on military manoeuvre and a fair bit of last-minute scrabbling:

Scrabbly by discocabrado

Of Books and Bucks

Sadly, finances and beginning freelancing meant we needed another funding solution, independent of personal funds and crowd-sourcing. Besides, we wanted to pay our contributors, some of whom have collaborated on many Sidekick projects. With that in mind, we submitted our first ever Arts Council England application, and we’re happy to say they’ve agreed to fund our next five titles.

This is the moment we found out:

Gojira by discocabrado

We’re very grateful to other small publishers, who advised us on our application. And that’s an important thing we’ve learned about publishing poetry: that it’s best to do something totally different, and then you have no anxiety about helping others out. We always promote interesting work by other presses, knowing that they have their own thing and they do it well.

Nuts and Bolts

There are a whole bundle of technical odds and sods we’ve had to learn as we’ve gone along. InDesign for layout, Photoshop for covers, proofreading, author rights, copyright, spreadsheets, sound recording, website design, printing and digital quirks, launch event protocol, email etiquette, ISBNs, press release and general copywriting, and lord knows what else. The good news is that whatever you’re stuck on, someone on the internet has had that problem before. YouTube and help forums have been immensely helpful, and recently Lynda, a subscription service with every tutorial under the sun.

Always Be Opening

Neither myself nor Jon is a natural salesperson. Few people are; it’s a gift. We have, however, found that creating trailers, engaging on Twitter and Facebook, and generally keeping a conversation open on issues in the poetry world, helps people remember us and investigate further. We also maintain a blog and post regular reviews of books and pamphlets by other presses.

Additionally, although most of our sales happen through the website, actually getting out to book fairs and meeting and chatting to people is invaluable. It’s so good to see people’s reactions to our books, and to swap stories. There’s also something very satisfying about going home with a significantly lighter wheely case.

Lilmermaid by discocabrado

So What Next?

Running a small press is obviously stressful at times.

Labyrinthrun by discocabrado

But ultimately, the feeling of holding a book fresh from the printer, or of receiving an email from someone saying who much they enjoyed one of our titles, or of simply seeing someone pick up and pore over a Sidekick book at a fair, reminds us how enjoyable it can be, and how lucky we are to be able to do this.

In terms of what the future holds, the next two books we’re planning to publish are Lives Beyond Us, a book of essays and poems on animals in cinema, and Laboratorio, a collection edited by Simon Barraclough, based on his residency at the Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory.  Then we have more two-person Team-Ups, some new greetings cards, exhibition tie-ins, comic-book poetry, fairytales, eco-poetry...I’m not sure how we’re going to get it all done, but it’s going to be a fun ride.