About a year ago, I sent off a flash fiction piece titled 'Pandemic' to an online magazine called Ascent Aspirations
. It was accepted, and now it's finally ready for the world to see. It's a fun, horrifying glimpse into a character I invented years and years ago, The Mute. I'll say upfront that there's a novel swimming around in my head that will more than likely feature this character, so I look at this piece as a kind of prequel to the narrative (I actually explored The Mute's backstory in a play titled 'Eudaemonia', which no one will ever read, unless I rewrite it.)
Check out 'Pandemic' here
In non-fiction news, my latest column From Screen to Screen: 5 Mobile Screenwriting Apps for Tablets and Smartphones is now live over at LitReactor
. Take a look.
Last time around, I mentioned a new story I was prepping for potential publication in Ellen Datlow's Fearful Symmetries
anthology. I'm happy to report that the story, titled 'A Map of Darkness' is currently waiting in the to-be-read queue. It turned out quite good, if I may say so myself. Of course, it wouldn't be nearly as good as it is without the insight's of my lovely partner Lauren, who is a gem and helps me tremendously both through critiques and moral support, and my long-distance pal Liam Meilluer, who despite readying himself for Clarion West and an impending move to Binghamton, NY for graduate work, took the time to give me some notes. If this story makes it into the anthology, it's as much because of their contributions as it is mine.
Of course, Fearful Symmetries isn't the end of the line for 'A Map of Darkness.' There are plenty more publications I'd like to try should Ms. Datlow decide it isn't right for her. In the past, I've been discouraged by rejections, which is just about the worst thing any writer can do. I'm now determined to keep submitting any piece I write to as many publications that I enjoy as possible until it's published. Rejection doesn't mean my work is bad--albeit maybe in need of a polish; it simply means the work wasn't right for that particular editor. It will be right, however, for another editor out there somewhere, and the key is to keep trying, so that's what I'm going to do.
That's it for now. Until next time.
Greetings. I’ve got a few updates to share, so I’ll get right to them.
My latest column, 5 Dramatists as Novelists: The Joy of Reading Plays
is now up at LitReactor. In it, I explore the literary weight behind some of our most esteemed playwrights, including Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill, and Arthur Miller, amongst others. It’s a pretty dense column with lots of analysis and what not. Check it out.
I’m hurriedly (but not sloppily) readying a short story of about 4,500 words for Ellen Datlow’s upcoming Fearful Symmetries
anthology. Deadline for this one is May 31st, so I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me, but it’s worth it (particularly if I get in). If not, I’ll explore other avenues for the tale, as I think its particularly good even in its early stages. Of course, no one has critiqued it for me yet, so I may be way off base. We’ll see.
As for my novella Bad Blood
, I plan to begin seeking publication for it as soon as I finish up with the current story for Datlow. It’s just about as ready as it will ever be, so its time to send it off into the world and see what happens. I have a few markets in mind, so its just a matter of choosing the most ideal, sending it over, and waiting. Getting it published will no doubt be a lengthy process, so if there’s no news for a while, you know why.
Outside of writing, life is just as rich. I had a wonderful day with the Lady Lauren yesterday. We started out our morning by watching a fascinating TED talk from Juan Enriquez, in which he discusses, amongst other things, how ‘syndromes’ like Autism and Aspergers fit into our evolutionary path. He argues that these conditions are in fact not conditions or diseases at all, but very possibly a new chapter in the human narrative. Enriquez also touches upon topics ranging from human cloning to brain and memory copying. Really great stuff. Check it out below.
We’re in the process of some major Spring cleaning here at the Chateau, partly in anticipation of the arrival of our summer (and possibly fall) lodger Meredith, partly to get rid of the excess clutter in our home. This of course can aid in clearing out the clutter in your mind, and I feel that’s exactly what our little domicile overhaul is doing for the both of us. Score!
I think that’s about all for now.
All my best.
I’ve published a handful of columns at LitReactor since my last post, so I thought I’d link to them real quick. Here they are: Book vs. Film: Jurassic Park First Drafts in a Mobile Landscape: Five Word Processors for Tablets & Smartphones Reading with Purpose: Four Reasons Every Writer Should Join a Book Club Workshop Tips for Mobile Users: How to Critique on Tablets & Smartphones
I’m equally proud of them all, and I hope you enjoy. My aim is to write three to four a month, but of course this depends on my editors and their enthusiasm for the columns I propose. I may or may not update published columns in my blog, but I’ll always list new ones in the Writing section of this site, so be sure to check back there as well.
Speaking of Jurassic Park
, I went to a remastered 3D showing last night, and I have to say, this semi-new (and often gimmicky) way of watching movies wasn’t as bothersome as I expected. The conversion looked rather nice overall, my only complaint being that the actors sometimes appeared to be performing in front of a green screen.
Strangely, though, I stopped noticing the 3D effects about 45 minutes in. I don’t mean to say that I got used to the glasses and comfortably immersed myself in this fully-dimensional world; what I mean is, the picture eventually flattened out to 2D for me. I wondered if this happened to other people, so I did a Google search. This guy
'stopped noticing' the 3D with Jurassic Park
specifically. Commenters on this article
experience the flattening effect with any 3D film. Other than this, however, I’m not really close to a definitive answer on whether or no this is a ‘thing,’ from a scientific standpoint. My partner Lauren and her mom continued to see eye-popping dinosaurs all the way to the end of Jurassic Park
, but it just looked like a regular old (albeit timelessly awesome) movie to me.
Well, I haven’t blogged in some time. I could go on about being busy and living life--all of which is true, and in no way am I undervaluing those reasons--but in the end, a blogpost really doesn’t eat up that much time. So, away we go.
Much has happened since I last checked in. Last time, I posted the exciting news that one of my flash fiction pieces, Killer Defense
, had been published online at MicroHorror. I’ve since had another story go up at Freaky Fiction. This one’s titled Outsider
, and it’s all about the ways we make monsters out of not-so-monstrous people. Read it here
. Soon I should be able to share more publishing news, but more on that later...
I’ve officially moved from daily news writer to columnist over at LitReactor. My first article, Paperless Writer: 5 Steps to a Successful Digital Rewrite
, is now live, and it’s generated a lot of positive responses. I’m particularly proud of it myself. More columns are on the way as well, so stay tuned.
For the second year in a row, I applied to attend the Clarion West six week workshop; sadly, for the second year in a row, I did not make the cut. I submitted what I feel is my best piece of writing thus far, an excerpt from a novella titled Bad Blood
. It’s a horror narrative involving vampires blended with crime noir elements and, as I’ve said, I’m quite pleased with it. Perhaps I’m tooting my own horn a bit too much, but I don’t think the powers that be passed me over for a lack of quality; my theory is, because Clarion West makes it clear they prefer to see completed stories with a beginning, middle and end, the fact I submitted a novella excerpt was the damning detail. If the decision was down to me and another writer who delivered a solid, complete story, for instance, they would of course go with the writer who gave them what they were looking for, regardless of how much they enjoyed my piece. Possibly the story itself was not up to their standards, but I’ll never know for sure. All I can do is keep writing, and hope for the best next year.
I am pleased to announce, however, that my long-distance compadre Liam Meilleur did make it into Clarion West. He’ll be studying under the likes of Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, and Ellen Datlow, amongst others. Am I jealous? Sure. But am I happy for Mr. Meilleur? Absolutely. He deserves it. (And now I can at least live vicariously through him :) Read all about Liam and his awesome news over at his blog, Eden’s Orphan
In the meantime, I plan to pursue publication options for Bad Blood
. The market for novellas isn’t huge, but there are a few small horror/dark fiction markets that I think might work. Another couple of rewrites, and then I’ll begin submitting. Stay tuned for results...
Where my personal life is concerned, things are still wonderful and happy, despite not always being peachy and easy. My lovely Lauren’s been battling a mystery illness she’s named Marvin, after the sad helper robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
. To be sure, it’s been a trying experience for her, and to a lesser extent myself, but I give her nothing less than my undying support, which she reciprocates. The love we have for each other can withstand any hardship. This may sound a bit like a cliche, but it’s the truth, and truth is something you should never avoid.
I think that’s about it for now. Until next time (which I will definitely be sooner than last time).
For any writer, the first published story is a huge deal, so naturally I'm thrilled to report that my flash fiction piece "Killer Defense" was accepted by MicroHorror, an awesome website devoted to short and scary stories (their word limit is 666). My tale is not this long, only about 250 words, so it won't take you very long to read it.
Go here, and enjoy!
There probably aren't many viewpoints concerning the gay marriage "issue" that haven't been aired in public through news or social media sites, and perhaps the opinion I'm about to throw out into the online universe has been stated more eloquently already, but I feel the need to speak my mind. I'm going to make some bold statements here, statements that may offend certain sensibilities, but please bear with me and read to the end.
Many people side with the belief of a particular Christian sect/fast-food chicken restaurant that legally recognized same-sex partnerships will bring about the downfall of our "sinful but not that
sinful" society. I have no desire to deny you that belief. It is yours to keep. Within the confines of your own religion, if you wish to keep marriage strictly between a man and a woman, do so. No one seeks to change that.
But recognize that it is your
belief. It is your
religion's belief as well, and it is not shared by everyone. Consider this: the concept of marriage, or partnership, or civil union or whatever, is not inherent to Christianity. Cultures were practicing marriage et. al for ages before Christianity came along. Not only this, up until the fifth century marriage was strictly a civil matter and of no concern to the church on an official level (http://theweek.com/article/index/228541/how-marriage-has-changed-over-centuries
Therefore, modern-day Christians don't have the right to prevent gay couples from marrying. It does not matter that you believe yourself to be in the right, because while religiously speaking you are in the moral right, societally speaking, universally speaking, you are wrong.
Let me say it again. If you believe you have the right to dictate who can and cannot get married, enter into a domestic partnership, form a civil union, or whatever terminology you wish to use, you are wrong.
Now, so as to avoid sounding like a firebrand with no weight to his argument, let me tell you why you are wrong. This will be lengthy, but again, please stick with me.
In the days before government as we currently know it, people lived together in small communities. Marriages were formed, in many cases by arrangement of the happy couple's parents, and most often between a man and a woman, though there is evidence same-sex partnerships were recognized in early civilizations (http://www.randomhistory.com/history-of-gay-marriage.html
). The priest or holy man or general religious official of the community performed a ceremony, and boom, the two were joined or wedded or what have you. End of story. They went home to make babies and tend to their daily affairs.
Today, when two crazy kids decide to commit to one another, not only does the religious official have to be licensed and sanctioned by the government, the couple must procure a marriage certificate to validate their union of love. We could debate on the bureaucratic necessity of this, but for the time being let's just accept it as fact. Good? Good.
So, the man and the woman have undergone a ceremony with an officially sanctioned holy person, they've been granted their certificate, and now they've gone off to make babies or not make babies and tend to their daily affairs. However, because daily affairs these days involve paying taxes and all kinds of crazy bills, the government decided to offer all newlyweds a solid: tax breaks, breaks on insurance, breaks on loans, breaks on education, breaks on all kinds of things. It really pays to be madly in love and married. It pays big.
Now here comes the monkey wrench. Since roughly the 1970s, its been more and more culturally and societally acceptable to be openly homosexual. There's still some huge strides we need to take, but overall things have gotten better. The ability to live your life and pursue the people you're attracted to has, naturally, caused many individuals of the same sex to fall in love and spend the rest of their lives with each other. I know its easy to demonize them as monsters out to destroy everything you hold dear and near, but most of these couples just want to live their lives and tend to their daily affairs, just like all you heterosexual couples out there.
But aye, there's the rub: while heterosexual couples get to enjoy all those sweet governmental benefits that comes with their marital status, homosexual couples do not. Now, some of these couples are demanding fair and equal treatment. Thus we get the "issue," which comes from Christians asserting their religion prohibits same-sex couples from joining in "holy" matrimony.
Here's where I take issue. As I said before, the notion of "marriage" or "civil union" or whatever you want to call it is not inherently Christian. Furthermore, when those crazy dudes in wigs set out to form a more perfect union, they wrote into the Constitution of the United States a separation between church and state, i.e., the rules of religion do not apply to the rules of government. We can argue day and night about their true intentions, but at the end of the day, all we're left with is the written word, and if we're all agreeing to abide by the Constitution as the supreme governmental document in this country, then we have to recognize separation of church and state as a supreme law. Many of us do not like the Second Amendment's provision that all Americans have the right to bear arms, but in its in there, so we have to deal with it.
If the Constitution dictates that religion and government are separate entities, then it follows that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same governmental benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples take for granted. Because here's the thing--marriage simply isn't a church-only matter anymore. Any man and woman can visit a justice of the peace and get married. No holy person officiating over the ceremony. No ceremony held in a church. No "we are gathered here today" exchange of vows. Just two people, making a governmentally-sanctioned commitment to each other. Even if a particular religion or sect of Christianity decides to allow same-sex partners to wed, the government has no right to prohibit that.
So the gay marriage "issue," in fact, is not an issue at all. Those of you who choose to believe homosexuality is a sin and a choice that can be reversed or "prayed away" are entitled to believe that. But the idea that marriage is sacred and specific to your religion is, as I said before, wrong.
Just plain wrong.
Can we all agree on this?
© 2012 Christopher Shultz
I spent two and a half weeks as a pseudo-bachelor, while Lauren vacationed in New York City. The time away was lonesome, but also beneficial for the both of us: she enjoyed some much-needed relaxation and adventure away from the doldrums of OKC, and I got to spend some quality time alone, which is something we all need. We're both ecstatic to be in each other's company again, however, settling back into our comfortable and wonderful routine of staying up late conversing and sleeping in past noon, our legs and arms and bodies like interchanging, perfectly matched puzzle pieces. Words between us in this lovely, drowsy state are pieces of an uncharted language, incomprehensible to anyone other than Lauren and I. Mornings between us are a euphoria of perpetual honeymoon, and they are one of the finest things I know.
While Lauren toured the East Village and Brooklyn's finest neighborhoods, I immersed myself in writing, going through six drafts of a short story called The Ghost and Ms. Graffiti ( or GAMG for short). The narrative went through the LitReactor treatment, which thanks to the workshop reviews of some very helpful members resulted in a satisfying tightening of its nuts and bolts. I cannot say enough great things about this site, and any emerging / aspiring writers with or without access to a regular writer's group should sign up for an account. Within the next day or so I’ll be submitting the piece to some lit mags, with fingers crossed for publication. I’m no longer much interested in self-publishing, since I fear my social networking skills are not strong enough to ensure GAMG will be seen by anyone other than a handful of people. Also, the traditional publishing route provides a significant amount of rejection, which will only make me try harder and improve my writing.
With LitReactor, I always try to provide reviews for authors who have taken the time to read and critique me. In doing this, I managed to make a new online friend. Sid from New Orleans reads Neil Gaiman and writes with a similar to my own, even if our voices are very different. We've already had some non-LR conversations and reviews via email exchanges. It's nice to meet people, even in a digital landscape, who not only understand your work, but are enthusiastic about it and give you wonderful advice on how to improve it. I haven't found a person other than Lauren who fits this mold, and while her advice is invaluable to me, I like to see a story from as many angles as possible. Hats off to Sid for reaching out.
Speaking of friends, I had the privilege of seeing my comrade Matt Mattocks shore up his courage and perform for the open-mic regulars at Sauced, a nice little artsy joint in my neighborhood that serves the best pizza in the city. Normally a venue for poetry, Matt was a bit of an outsider, not only because he sang and played guitar, but also because he covered Seal's 'Crazy,' rather than an original piece. The regulars were not fazed by his individuality, however; they showed Matt great enthusiasm and support for taking the stage, and even vocally backed him on the choruses. The best part of this experience was seeing my friend transition from a ball of nervous energy and doubts to a comfortable, seemingly seasoned musical entertainer, smiling to himself as the crowd sang along. Last I checked he was working on lyrics for a new song, and I look forward to seeing him bring it to life.
All in all, life is good.
© 2012 Christopher Shultz
My grandmother, the incorrigible Helen Shultz, finally left behind her nursing home bed in April, reclaiming her legs, body, mind, and all the things she’d lost in the stroke.
I literally bumped into her while dreaming the other night as we walked down a poorly lit, unfamiliar hallway. She laughed and said, “Are you trying to knock over your Grandma?”
“Not intentionally,” I assured her, smiling.
It was nice to see her that way again - walking, talking, smiling, laughing. It’s clear she’s doing just fine.
I’ve been away from the blog world for some time now.
The reason is simple: life’s been happening.
More specifically, I’ve been going out of my way to make life happen, since life had come to a screeching halt.
To get to the places we want to go in life, we have to work diligently and hold ourselves to a high standard. But we also have to live.
I wasn’t living. The novel I’d been working on, Returners, was consuming my life outside of the bill-paying job. Work eight hours a day, come home and write until I was ready to pass out. Outside of a few exceptions, this was the routine, repeated daily without exception.
The world outside vocation and avocation disappeared. More and more I lost sleep, willing to clock-in three or four hours of Sandman time in exchange for more time in front of the computer screen.
My wonderful girlfriend became just another face, her lips speaking to dead ears. We drifted into turbulence and barely made it back alive.
We are alive and well, and happy. But happiness only returned when I decided to walk away, to take a break from my writing and reset myself. I shelved the novel half-way through the second draft.
Likely it will stay there, at least for a long while, for reasons beyond the fact it had become my mistress and sucked my life and relationships away, and nearly destroyed the most important relationship I have. The time away from writing actually changed my approach and style. My voice. I’m actively making up stories again - short pieces, leaner, sharper, more imaginative, and more haunting than anything I’ve created before. This new direction hungers for forward movements, nothing else.
Moreover, I want to focus on short stories for right now. Building a strong wealth of short pieces to send out for publication is the route most successful writers take, and I should be no exception. Working on a novel, given my schedule outside of writing, is plainly suicidal.
Plus, Returners represents the bad times now. It’s been soured with unnecessary sacrifice. The experience creating and developing it drained me of blood and love. Until I’m certain it’s subservient to me, and not the other way around, it will remain in suspended animation.
Life, joy, happiness, love: these foster the best outpourings of creativity, and I won’t live for anything else.
Not ever again.
© Christopher Shultz 2012
Last Thursday, House Speaker Kris Steele announced that the House Republican caucus chose not to hear the controversial Senate Bill 1433, otherwise known as the Personhood Bill. Though their reasons were not entirely clear, it seems the caucus chose to avoid any further controversy rather than press forward with a such a concerning and largely unwanted measure.
During a Capitol press conference Steele indicated a common concern among the caucus that the bill “would not have any substantive policy effect'”, Tulsa staff and editorial writers report. I wrote about the measure two months ago, outlining several reasons why the Personhood Bill’s consequences would far outweigh its supposed benefits. It seems Oklahoma lawmakers have come to the same conclusion, recognizing the numerous questions and legal ramifications the proposed act raised.
Though Steele did not directly say so, I believe the extensive public and professional outcry led to the caucus’ decision. Numerous articles and editorials raising awareness about the problematic measure were published in the Daily Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette, the Tulsa World, and independent University of Oklahoma publication The Oklahoma Daily, just to name a few. Furthermore, though it is impossible to document, I personally know many people who sent letters and emails to their Representatives and Governor Fallin, signed online petitions, and participated in Capitol protests.
The medical community, including the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma section of the American Congress of Obstetricians, and several national associations, publicly denounced the Personhood Bill for its effects on infertility treatment. A full list of the organizations that opposed the bill can be found on Parents Against Personhood’s website, parentsagainstpersonhood.com.
State Senator Constance Johnson submitted a tongue-in-cheek amendment to the Personhood Bill. An uncredited article in the Huffington Post reprinted it shortly after her official submission: “...any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”
Johnson made it clear her amendment intended to “draw humorous attention to the hypocrisy and inconsistency of this proposal," and highlight the "absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women."
Like her compatriot in the Senate, Judy Eason McIntyre participated in a rally at the capitol, holding up a sign that employed humor as protest, adding a spice of profanity to the mix. “If I wanted the Government in My Womb,” the sign read, “I’d F--- a Senator.” Erin Gloria Ryan describes a photo of McIntyre’s sign in her article for Jezebel: “I'm not sure if it's the all-caps, the festive, hand-drawn lettering, or the giant grin on the [sic] Eason McIntyre's face, but I do believe that this is the perfect sign for the would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasn't-terrifying occasion.”
Silence did not prevail on this issue. We may never know why the bill was scrapped, but it seems clear Steele and the caucus realized it was bad legislation, and any public deconstruction and protest of the bill must have reached their ears and influenced their own analysis. Consider if no one - citizens, medical authorities, Oklahoma lawmakers - had raised their voice against the Personhood Bill. Without the opposition raising awareness, the powers that be would have license to do as they please.
The battle is not over yet. NewsOK’s Michael McNutt reported Tuesday morning that Representative Mike Reynolds stood alongside a dozen lawmakers and pastors, vowing to find other avenues of passing Senate Bill 1433. Steele himself stated he would have voted for the Personhood Bill had the caucus not abandoned it. Despite this, Representative Mike Christian blamed Steele for scrapping the bill, calling him a ‘tyrant’ and suggesting the measure be put to a vote by the people, convinced it would pass this way.
I’m not convinced. I still believe if Oklahomans voted on the Personhood Bill, it would not pass. If this is the course the supporters of the bill take, we simply have to vote it down. If Reynolds, Christian and the rest pursue other, non-democratic means, we must raise our collective voices again.
Do not give the powers that be free reign. If you disagree with them, let them know. Our ability to protest - to write letters, to make phone calls - is the greatest asset we have. Don’t let it go to waste. BACK TO BLOG
Copyright © 2012 Christopher Shultz