Monday, January 20, 2014

"Beautiful." An Aberrant Tale About Perspective & Perception & A Whole Lot More.

There are a few keys to writing that grabs me.  A mastery of words is one, of course.  The words need to, as I like to put it, crackle.  There needs to be magic; they need to sing.  Another element that really draws me in is a sense of the fearless, of going boldly, or boldly going, where no writer has gone before.  Well, that's rather impossible in a manner of speaking, yet not so much if you know you're moving into explorative territory, at least for yourself.

Hence, "Beautiful."

Sometimes an idea comes that is so bizarre, one must laugh as it takes root, but also be aware that it IS taking root, and you're just going to have to deal with it. 


     We are beautiful.

     We of nine limbs and three pleasant smiles.  We, with we one great silver eye and many large breasts.  We, one of a kind and special because of it.

      We are beautiful.


That's the opening to the story.  It came to me, just like that.  I had no idea what or who We were, but it struck me as something to explore.  As the story took shape, it demanded so much more from me, though.  It touched on ideas of how people perceive others who are different (and how the media influences and corrupts perceptions).  It touched on how one's perspective shapes one's reality, as well as how the perspectives of others really should not matter.  What matters is what's inside each of us, a simple yet obvious statement.  It touched me as a writer because it demanded a consistency of tone and construction.  The "we" in the first sentence is not a group, it is one person; a person most might consider a freak.  When you read the whole story, you'll see exactly what I am getting at with the comment about tone and construction.  This is like reading the mind of another life form, yet it's not so foreign as to make understanding impossible. 

But that's all a matter of perspective, because where you're coming from is bound by everything that goes into the make-up of you; of each individual.  We all see things differently, perceive things in a way inherent to Who We Are--our distinct self--even if we connect, or at least feel connected to others; or perhaps more so if we don't feel that connection...  (Yeah, me thinking out loud; I don't map these things out, I'm trying to be regular with the Monday blog and have a tendency to wing it, see where it all leads.)  The world shapes those who are different in a negative way.  Why?  Especially those who have something visually different about their appearance than what we have come to understand as the norm.  As if, for example, the person with a birth defect has a choice about this.  They're still a person.  I shouldn't even write it like that.  They are a person.  Period.    

So, "Beautiful," my exploration of these themes.  Perhaps it's as much an exploration of what it really means to be human.  I mean, one of the stories written soon after it was a story called, "Becoming Human," which delved even deeper into the theme.  Themes run through our lives, our art.  I know some that have been with me forever and will be extrapolated to infinite possibilities.  This one, though, seems more recent, and I welcome its addition to my repertoire.  Something to, yeah, explore.  (Exploration is a major part of all I endeavor to do in this thing we call life, in all facets of living.)

Ha, yes, winging it, let's wrap it up.  Where was I?

Where can you find, "Beautiful"?  In the brand-spanking new anthology released by Daverana entitled, Fossil Lake, An Anthology of the Aberrant.  That word, Aberrant, is what caught my eye.  I like that word.  Though there's a lot going on with "Beautiful"--layers, always layers--it is, if nothing else, quite aberrant; or, actually, it might simply be beautiful...  37 tales, a mix of fiction and poetry and, hey, Ramsey Campbell bookends the whole collection.



Monday, January 13, 2014

"Black Hole Son." A Poem About The Viral, Three-Headed Cerberus Dominating The 21st Century: Spirituality, Technology & Media.

Or something.  Includes nods to Alice In Wonderland, The Exorcist, and more signposts on the road to WTF?  Yeah, sometimes as a writer--often, as far as I care--one must simply let the words flow and decipher messages and meaning afterward.  Hence, "Black Hole Son"--yeah, that's your Soundgarden nod, too--a hodgepodge of madness that, ultimately, carves a path toward salvation or, at least, acknowledges there is none. 


Look, Monday Blog time and I am mentally fried, exhausted.  I was scribbling one on my take on the second Hobbit Movie, The Desolation of Smaug, but I'm not going to fight the exhaustion, so as a failsafe, I was thinking, share poetry.  Yeah, share poetry, John Claude.  But, I don't write easy little verses meant to make one smile and warm the cockles of one's heart.  Though, actually, anybody who smiles at this might be getting some cockle-warming, (and that smile might be quite devious).

Cockles.  I think that's the first time I've ever used that word. 

Anyway, here's the poem, crude around the edges--so skip it if that's not your bag--mostly written about three years ago, I believe, though tweaked and tampered with, fondled and flayed, over the last couple days, to make it, um...

Just read it and remember it's © 2014 by John Claude Smith.


Black Hole Son


Down the rabbit hole we tumble,

Alice with a cross jammed into her vagina,

“Fuck me, Jesus,” followed by a tip of the hat

to the Maddest Hatter of them all:

Religion, by any other name

still pricks with thorny abandon.

“Praise Allah!  Praise Technology!”

Infected impact of overbearing ideals,

illusions of faith falsely constructed


Black Hole Son, Won’t You Come,

And Take the Dreams Away…


But He‘s got a cross to bear,

so bear witness to his cross defense:


Ommmmm said the anchorman,

anchored to ideals based on the perfectly plastic hairstyle.

Ego and substance battle for the rights to

Spirituality. Humanity. Ratings!

Contagion sandblasted like blood off the cross.

“Praise Jesus! Praise Bill Gates!”

As technology tweaks the Shroud of Turin--

the appropriate Jurassic Park impetus--

cloning The Second Coming for Prime Time approval.


Black Hole Son, Won’t You Come,

And Take The Madness Away.


Enter stage left, the stars of this absurdity,

featureless foes fortified on faux features:


American Idol? How about Mythbusters?

Spreading like a rash, a disease,

mad cow disease for those who follow like sheep.

Alice still screaming, “Fuck me, Jesus!”

while live cams and duplicitous sponsors

await the true climactic moment--it’s cumming, it’s cumming!

At the hands of the intrusive (24/7) Sinister Technology,

a viral spirituality that has corrupted the world

to our own gleefully negligent approval.


Black Hole Son, Won’t You Come--

Come As You Are, Fercrissakes!


Patience a withered and weary March Hare, 

a disgruntled Red Queen in grim observance:


Down the rabbit hole humanity tumbles,

hands clenched in prayer to the Real Religion.

one basked not in blinding spiritual glow,

but blinding ignorance and social media seduction

tallied as How Many Friends one has on Facebook

or who we follow on twitter--such twitiotic times!

Oh, did you see the latest sound byte/snapshot/ego stroke blurb

from [fill in the blank space with the latest bland celebri-soul]?

Hence, Psalm 69 from the New Dark Age Bible:


“Sold my soul to the devil for a pack o’ cigarettes and some Taco Bell.

Felt I got the best part o’ the deal even with the gas. [cont.]


[cont.] You see, I wasn’t using it anyway, this so-called soul,

So what’s the use o’ carryin’ it around?  It didn’t fill the dead space…”


Black Hole Son, Won’t You--

Won’t You?  Please…?


Alice no longer curiouser and curiouser,

simply bleeding from self-imposed spiritual abuse:


While the water cooler zombies gossip about the celebri-soul’s every word,

God, the ultimate carrier/enabler, gleefully guns down rumors and ideals

in the latest version of Grand Theft Auto, 

with a Pazuzu possessed Regan MacNeil humping his leg BigTime

in the celestial wasteland, not heaven

but the vacant expanse where dead souls used to reside.

Now, dead souls and dwindling hope share the s p a c e,

feast on the empty airways where the corrosion of self

has reached code blue--critical mass.


Black Hole Son, You Have Come,

Deceptive and Divine!


Shaped by the technologically corrosive landscape the Viral Spirituality feeds on dreams and designs, a narcissistic future based on need and not necessity.

A black hole, son, a void within a void within a void.



…and pass the remote control.

Yes, that's the heart.  Here's some info on the cockles. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014: Waiting In The Wings--Stories, A New Book, The Need For Consistency, Etc.

Thinking about how to approach the blog again, been lean for awhile.  If I say there will be consistency, will there be?  A regular post at least on Mondays, perhaps; more posts when necessary, what with story publications, book stuff, random thoughts.  I'm good when it comes to writing fiction when it comes to consistency, usually finding time to "be with the words," as I like to say, even on the days when I'm less driven or I allow distractions to dictate.  For me, focus is the key.  The last couple weeks have been less than perfect, but with the holiday, I expected that.  So now I am circling and about to swoop down and pounce, take my Words back, and firmly entrench myself in the novel in progress.

And ramble on as I often do. 

So, let's get to what's upcoming in 2014 so far, as there's a lot in the pipeline.

My Heavy Metal Horror story, "Louder, Faster..." will appear in the Axes of Evil anthology put together by Alex Johnson, a fellow writer whose work I need to know better; he seems to have his head in the right place; a strange place, sure, but that's a good thing, hehe...  On the ultimate coolness side of things, Lucy Taylor will also be amongst the stellar TOC of this anthology.  Lucy Taylor!  Her Unnatural Acts and Other Stories was a landmark collection for me, influential and essential so, yeah, stoked about this whole deal.

The story that will squirm into your head, leave its mutant babies, and make you most uncomfortable, "Beautiful," will appear in the Fossil Lake anthology, edited by Christine Morgan.  Sometimes, something so out of left field seeps into my brain...and I run with it.  This story, the tone and voice, are utterly unique, alien in a way, yet a human foundation holds it up; but a human of--No!  Can't give it all away.  The guidelines mentioned wanting aberrant stories...well, this one, this one...[shivers]  Trust me, it will really mess with your head.

I entered a story into the SQ Mag short fiction contest because they publish Quality fiction and thought I'd give it a shot.  Didn't win, but was pleased to be in the top six, which means you'll get to read, "It's Only Going To End Badly," at some point soon.  Some things go bad; some things go sideways; some things,'ll see.

I have a reprint in the first Heartcore anthology, another one put together by Alex Johnson.  This was crazy as the page was put together on FB, mention of submissions posted, and about twenty minutes after I submitted my story, "My True Name," there was a notification on FB that I was mentioned in a comment.  The comment was the TOC so far for the anthology...and there I was.  Probably the fastest acceptance I've ever had. 

I should also mention I will have a poem, "The Dead Souls Work Song," published at some point in the middle of the year, though details are still being ironed out. 

Ah, but the Biggest News, not that any of what I've mentioned so far doesn't bring a smile to my face (as well as to my dark heart), but the Excellent, High Quality Dark Fiction publisher, Omnium Gatherum, will be publishing my second book, a kind of mini-collection centered on my 14,000 word novelette, Autumn In The Abyss.  Details still being worked out, even the actual title--though AITA will most probably be a part of the title--but this one, oh yes.  As a writer, I always want to push myself, never settle for the average or formuliac elements in my fiction.  Autumn In The Abyss does just this.  One of the two best pieces of fiction I have ever written, yes, according to moi, and something I hope you all enjoy, because it's quite a ride, indeed.   Poetry, history, the power of Words in ways most lethal.   

Yes, two mentions of Quality. This matters to me. 

But...there's even more percolating underneath.  I am deep into the second draft of a novel that has a strong William S. Burroughs well as the man himself, though not in the form of a man, not exactly, as well as three perspectives, with one being, perhaps, unreliable.  Which means it is really working my brain in ways I have never stretched the imagination.  I don't believe in comfort zones when it comes to my art.  This one is anything but.

Or something, but that's a start.  You ready for all of this?  Deeper details and samples will be featured when the stories and book are released, as well as I will touch the writing of others who inspire, movies, art, music, this and that.  Yeah, shaking it all up and getting back to that one thing that needs to be addressed: consistency.  For me, more happens when I am locked in and writing regularly.  More happens when a lot of things in life are dealt with regularly, y'know?  (My workouts, reading, etc.)  Just part of the deal.  So, I ask again...

Are you ready?

Strap in, let's get to it! 

Here's a picture of the giant bird "purported to come from an antimatter galaxy" from the movie, The Giant Claw.  Why?  Well, I titled this, Waiting in the Wings, had no picture in mind to add to it, so thought, Pterodactyl wings, for whatever reason--that's my mind for ya--and then shifted that to this movie, one from my youth that I stole the idea from when I was a wee lad for a class and...sure, some day ask me about that whole mess.  Anyway, here's the handsome fella...