I tweaked the ebook cover for The Lost Librarian’s Grave a bit. I’m planning on uploading it to Amazon this weekend. As I mentioned in the Redwood Press blog post, suggestions and feedback are always welcome.
Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology, which is good because October will be here before we know it. Today I tweaked the ebook cover a little, giving the gargoyle a bit of an aura or glowing effect, as well as a few other things.
I also decided to put some author names on the cover. It was very hard to decide* so the three of us each picked our favorite story–none of us liked the same one the best. This was easy for Don, a bit harder for Occasum, and very hard for me because I liked all the stories and had several favorites for differing reasons.
Then I added another author because I have misspelled their name now about a dozen times, and while not a huge deal it seemed a way of balancing the scales and achieving some literary Maat. Finally…
666 is the eleventh title of the Dark Drabbles series of books, published by Black Hare Press out of Melbourne, Australia.* My magnificent contribution to this collection is a 100 word piece entitled “Azazel’s Heart,” which I came up with a couple of years ago. I recently rewrote the drabble to give it a more infernal flavor, what with the title of the book and all.
“Azazel’s Heart” is something of an epistolary** tale of sorcery and revenge set in the same vaguely post modern milieu I often use as a backdrop for some of my other stories.
I was casting around for a devil’s name to use and I came up with a few names, and then I thought of Azazel. Now, this devil is associated with various things, including the idea of a scapegoat and also forbidden knowledge, but in modern times this mighty fiend is perhaps best known as the dark patron of miniature painters, who ardently wish to both achieve a high output and excellent quality for their creations. So, Azazel it was!
I liked the cover when I first saw it, though my first reaction was, “Poor bunny!”***
Now I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly interested when I first heard of drabbles some years ago. A drabble is a type of flash fiction where one tells a story in exactly a hundred words. I had all sorts of objections, which I won’t go into here. Eventually I came around to where I put my objections aside and now enjoy both reading and writing in this form.
Reading, because I like to wind down with a book for about a half-hour each night before I go to sleep but sometimes I’m too tired to read that long or with much attention, so I go to one of the many books of drabbles I now have in my collection and read three or four selections before sliding into a hideous yet strangely restful dreamland.****
Also, it is fun to see how others paint a picture and tell a story within the limits of this form. To my thinking, a properly written drabble is not just a scene or a slice-of-life, it is a small story. That is where both the challenge and the fun lie.
Writing, for many reasons–too many to go into all of them here. A few are:
I enjoy the challenge of trying to tell a story in exactly 100 words, which I think is the main attraction for many people.
I like exploring an idea by writing a drabble and then seeing if any longer work comes from it. Lately, I’ve been writing drabbles in the same “universe” or along the same theme with a longer story. The idea is the drabbles and the longer story stand together, while still being able to stand apart as a coherent whole.
I use drabbles as a way to catalogue ideas to take a look at them later, while still producing something that is (hopefully) interesting.
Drabbles are a nice way to have some fun with writing when one is busy. Too often I have gone long periods of time without writing because of some other large project or ongoing responsibility that is dominating my life at the time.
* Australia is one of those countries I’ve always wanted to visit, ever since I was a kid. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I hope to once travel becomes easier and I figure out a plan to deal with that ubiquitous terror of German backpackers all over the continent–the dreaded Brown-Legged Kidney Huntsman! (Be warned about the K.H. link, it is most definitely NSFW in so many ways, lol.) I’m sure Pat has had to dodge these monstrosities more than once in his travels!
** The story is taken, in part, from what might be a page in a diary.
*** Zeus, our infernal (note the sanguineous Evil Eye!) bunny from the early 2000s, whose great claim to fame was he was featured in a pet magazine–the name of which I can’t recall–with national distribution, isn’t sure what he thinks of the 666 cover. I really liked the art, as I said, but I can see why my favorite fiendish lagomorph has mixed feelings on the issue.
**** Certain others in my household like having physical, rather than electronic, books of drabbles laying around for “bathroom reading.”
I was going through some old stuff when I found a white, stone (apparently hand carved) ashtray in a forgotten box of stuff. I’m not one to toss things that aren’t mine, so I asked my husband about it and apparently the ashtray has been in his family for 75 or 80 years now, and one of his aunts gave it to him back in the early 90s. Given all of that, and the fact that neither of us smoke, I came up with the idea of repurposing it as a decoration: enter the Birdbath of Stone and Brass Birds.
We rather like to sit in the dark and watch television with our salt globe light going, as in the picture below.
I purchased the little rocks, as well as the two interesting stones on the sides, from a local gem shop down in Santa Cruz. They have a big chest where you can buy the tiny rocks by the scoop. My mother made the doily probably 30 or 40 years ago–I have a bunch of them around the house and rather treasure them. She is quite a hand all all things knitting, sewing, and so on.
The two little brass birds complete the scene. I only wish I had a squirrel to make it a proper birdbath, because every time I’ve had a bath or feeder for my avian friends, I also get frequent visits from the squirrels. I don’t mind, really, so long as the birds don’t. I did have a brass hedgehog though, so that would have to do even if it wasn’t quite to scale. Maybe in the magic land of stone birdbaths where all the animals are made of brass, my quiet, spiny friend is just the size she needs to be….
Wed, August 11th
Morning Walk: 3.28 miles.
Afternoon Workout: Warmed up with indian clubs, steel mace, and dynamic stretching
BB Military Press: 50 lbs. x 8 reps, 55 lbs. x 8 reps, 60 lbs. x 8 reps, 65 lbs. x 6 reps
BB Bench Press: 75 lbs. x 8 reps, 85 lbs. x 8 reps, 95 lbs. x 8 reps, 105 lbs. x 7 reps
(Superset) BB Standing Skull Crushers: 51 lbs. x 8 reps, 56 lbs. x 8 reps, 61 lbs. x 8 reps, 66 lbs. x 8 reps +
Set #1: Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
Set #2: Heavy Spring Bar: Pronated x 5 reps + Supinated x 5 reps
Set #3: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 15 reps
Set #4: Face Pulls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps
(Superset) 4 sets x 8 reps of both exercises, each hand
Captains of Crush Gripper, Sport, 80 lbs.
Finger Extensions with 8 lb. band
So now that I’ve gotten my lovely barbell, I’ve decided to start doing military presses again, which I haven’t done in a very long time. I don’t know why, but I’ve always enjoyed lifting things over my head. The main difference in form between this and a shoulder press, of which the military press is a variation, is you keep your feet close together, ideally with your heels touching, or nearly so, as in the picture below on the left.*
I’ve seen some people perform the movement with the feet placed more like on the right with their toes pointed straight ahead. I’m more of a traditionalist, but I think the key take away is to keep your feet close together so you aren’t getting a mechanical advantage out of bracing your feet apart.
The idea with the military press, versus other variations, is the foot placement puts more emphasis on your core. Indeed, when I used to do these a lot back in the 80s and 90s and was far stronger than I am now, I had a solid midsection just from doing the presses, and bracing my core doing barbell squats without wearing a weight belt.
Thur, August 12th
Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
(Afternoon Workout) Warmed up with dynamic stretching, indian clubs and light calisthenics
(Superset) Lat Pulldowns (d-handles): 55 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps +
Set #1: Crunches: 30 reps
Set #2: Alternating One-Handed KB Swings (2-ct): 15 lbs. x 12 reps
Set #3: Leg Lifts: 20 reps
Set #4: Fitness Bag Snatches: 15 reps
Fri, August 13th
Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
There are some other details about doing the military press, but this isn’t meant to be a full tutorial, so I’ll touch on the big one, which is related to bracing your core: stay upright during the lift and don’t lean back. Over time, this is bad for your back and shoulders and unless your focus is competing in contests I see no point in performing a lift that hurts your body in the long term.
Years ago, the military press used to be part of what people think of now as Olympic Weightlifting. These days, guys ask each other, “What do you bench?” but years ago (according to my old timey lifting mentors) the question was, “What do you press?”
A problem that came up was it was legal then to lean way back in competition when performing the military press, as this rather impressive-looking (and limber!) gentlemen on the left is doing.
If your goal is winning a contest, then anything goes within the scope of what is allowed in the rules, but I would not recommend this if the idea is just to get stronger as a hobbyist.
Sat, August 7th
Afternoon Walk: 5.08 miles. Did about 10 minutes of miscellaneous calisthenics after the walk.
Weekly Weigh-in: I continue for now with my maintenance food plan, and was down 0.2 lbs. this week. My total loss thus far is 28.6 lbs.
I can’t type out a post these days without mentioning The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology, which has been eagerly gnawing away most of my free time since early May. Happily, I (barely) met my goal from last week of finishing my edits for 75% of the manuscript.
I say “barely” because it was right down to the wire for me at the close of business on Saturday, which is when I end my editing week. When the keystrokes and comma splices were clear, I was at a princely 76% so it all turned out well. My next goal is to completely finish editing by August 31st. After that the next step is to wrangle the 37 different stories and poems into an ebook.**
I also want to work on the cover a bit more. Maybe do a glowing effect around the gargoyle, come up with a new tagline, and maybe see about making the text a bit brighter.
* Some people can be pretty pedantic about the “feet touching” part of this exercise, to which I say if you really want to take it to that level then take off your shoes and perform the movement with bare feet since technically your feet aren’t touching if you are wearing shoes. 🙂
*** Thirty-three stories and four poems, for a total of a bit over 113,000 words. So a respectably sized anthology.
Sonora Taylor is making Little Paranoias, her 2019 collection of short horror fiction available for free on Amazon until midnight (Pacific Time) on July 30th. I downloaded the e-book myself yesterday and have added it to my ever-growing reading list.
Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?
“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear —…
The sense that I’m getting is the gargoyle cover is the most popular of the original three both from the comments I’ve seen on this blog and from running them by people I know, who don’t read the blog. So I did some tweaks over the weekend on the gargoyle covers and this is what I’ve come up with so far.
I fiddled around with some filters and made the gargoyle and rusty reptiles a little more vibrant, which I like better than the original. The cover on the far right is the same one from the original post but with said filters applied. Dave of Faith & Steel, when he was commenting on the original covers, wrote that he was “ambivalent” on the framing of the original picture. I thought about what he said and decided it would be fun to get rid of the framing and see how it looked.
I’m not sure which one I currently like the best, but the one on the left, where I took out the stone background, does seem like I could put a small block of text in the middle right area. Perhaps a list of some of the authors or something like that. I don’t know if I will do that, assuming I go with that design, but it is something to think about.
If anyone has any further ideas or observations about the covers, I welcome your comments.*
I kind of have gargoyles on the brain now. I’ve been trying to think of some good short stories that I’ve read featuring gargoyles and I have to admit that nothing comes to mind. I even went back through my reading diary, where I’ve been keeping track of my reading since 2010 — nothing there either.
I did find a couple of things on Amazon. The first is a short story called “The Beast Within” by D.F. Holland, that I was able to download for free. I’ll probably read that tonight. The second is a collection by Clark Ashton Smith called The Maker of Gargoyles and Other Stories. Some of the reviewers say it isn’t his best work, but I am considering picking up the e-book anyway since I’m a fan of Smith. Especially his poetry.
My next steps with the anthology are to continue work on the new website and to put together some writer’s guidelines. Speaking of guidelines, I’ll have to remember to mention that I’d love to read some gargoyle stories. Hope everyone is doing well.
* Thank you to everyone who responded thus far. I value and appreciate your opinions.
I have been setting the wheels in motion toward starting a small press where I publish speculative fiction in e-book and possibly print formats. The first effort will be a short story anthology with the unlikely title of The Lost Librarian’s Grave. The collection will feature stories of “doom, sorcery and premature burial,” which are themes dear to my Chaos Lady heart.
I put together three front covers this afternoon and thought I’d share them and ask which (if any) works the best. I would very much appreciate your opinion, if you have one! As usual, if you click on an image you’ll see a larger version.
My next moves involve working on another WordPress site specifically dedicated to my publishing efforts and also some writer’s guidelines so I can put the word out to writers, who might be interested in sending me their work. I will smile favorably on science horror, dark fantasy and the like because there are many dark jewels that are horror stories, mined by solitary dwarves, hideous in their waxing greed … tales of loss and murder plucked on harps by spurned lovers wringing out their hearts in songs of revenge and regret, and weird fantasies of sentient, well, you get the idea.
The plan is to release The Lost Librarian’s Grave in late September or early October. Such tales seem apropos for the upcoming season.
Painting-wise, I’ve started putting together the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up. These round-up’s end up being pretty sizeable so I’ve found the best and most fun way to do them (like publishing as it turns out) is to work a little on them each day.