Tag Archives: writer

A Primer on Speculative Poetry by Kimberly Nugent

When Wendy approached me about writing an article for “No Wasted Ink,” I was thrilled and immediately began to waffle about which idea to put to digital paper. Despite a career in editing, I kept coming back to a topic about which both Wendy and I are passionate, speculative poetry. Genre poetry has a lovely community of poets, and a thriving market for both paid and unpaid submissions.

Like a lot of creators, I had a long break from poetry until editing an e-zine that featured speculative poetry. I was fascinated and thrilled! So, I began writing again. Whether you are returning to poetry, looking for a change in your existing poetry, or would like to write for the first time, I have a few tips for writing in general, and a few specific to speculative poetry.

Keep a notebook. This notebook can be a 99-cent special or something bound in leather, but whatever you pick, keep it with you. And keep your favorite writing implement in stock. Keep pencils in your car, pens in your purse, grab some markers, something that will make a mark. I previously kept notes digitally but have since switched back to physical writing. Not only do you not have to worry about backups or where you saved that file, you will find the thought required to put words on paper also puts contemplation into your ideas and word choices.

Write. Just write in that lovely notebook. It can be anything from words and phrases to outlines and perhaps even a rough draft. But don’t worry about form—yet. The goal here is just to create the words that will build your poetry. Feel free to be wordy. Write in the margins, make notes. The more words in your notebook, the easier to compose your verses. Also, I find inspiration in various media, especially scientific articles and lectures! Your muse can be anywhere, so be sure to jot down all your ideas.

Buy a good form reference book. Now that you have those lovely thoughts and phrases, combine them into the forms that feel natural to the ideas when writing your final poem. I suggest buying at least one (or more!) form reference books. Two of my favorites are “The Prosody Handbook: A Guide to Poetic Form” by Beum and Shapiro and “The Book of Forms” by Turco. The more you write and create, the more you should challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone. If you generally write a sonnet, try an epic poem or haiku! What specifically sets speculative poetry apart is the topic. The is sky is NOT the limit! Putting the fantastical, science fiction, and even mythological themes into form (and yes, you can include free verse) is what will set you apart from flash fiction and the short story.

After you write your poetry, always let it sit overnight before you make any changes. Like prose writing, a little distance between yourself and the words will make the editing process easier. Now is also the time to share your work with a trusted listener or reader. Your sounding board should give both praise and constructive feedback.

Your edits are complete, your trusted evaluator has appraised your efforts, and you are ready to submit your first poem! But, where? The largest poetry-only markets typically shy away from genre poetry, however, there are organization specifically for the speculative poet. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and Horror Writers Association are both excellent resources for a genre poet. Also, look for publications and journals that are focused on certain forms in addition to genre-specific publications.

When you have decided on a market, read the submission guidelines carefully. Always follow their directions and pay close attention to if the market accepts simultaneous submissions or those that have been previously published. I also highly recommend you keep a log of your submissions so you can keep track of where you place your poems, and which publications you should follow up with.

The most important thing after submitting your work is to congratulate yourself! Whether your first submission or your 100th is your first published poem, creating a work you can be proud to submit is an accomplishment in itself.

Kimberly Nugent lives near the beautiful Sandia Mountain range and edits speculative fiction and RPGs. She spends her free time with her family, cats, and various nerdy hobbies! You can find her on Twitter at @BlueTeaEditing

The Planets: a #scifaiku Poetry Collection Launches

a scifaiku poetry collection
written and illustrated by Wendy Van Camp
New Release #scifaiku #haiku #astropoetry

The planets have fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. We’ve looked up into the heavens and wondered what these wandering stars are and why they are different from their more stationary cousins. In modern times, humans have sent probes to all the planets in our solar system, sending back tantalizing views from faraway worlds. The planets are woven into our culture and history. They are signposts of our journey ahead.

This collection of 108 science fiction haiku poems (scifaiku) will take you on a journey of exploration showcasing tiny moments of wonder with each of the planets of our solar system.

Come share in the adventure.

I’m pleased to announce the launch of my long-awaited poetry collection, “The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection”.  Scifaiku has been a passion of mine for the past four or five years. Not only do I regularly publish the poems, but I also illustrate and sell them as art prints at the various science fiction conventions that I attend.  Some of the poems in this collection have previously published in magazines such as “Far Horizons”, “Quantum Visions”, or “Lit Up” on Medium. I’ve also performed a few sets of them at live open-mic readings.

Most of the 108 short poems in this collection were written for the book and are not seen elsewhere. Likewise, all the pen and ink line art was created by me for this volume.   I felt that I should do the art myself since I have a history of illustrating my poems in the past.

This is the ebook launch of “The Planets”, but a paperback is in the works and should be available shortly for all of you who prefer paper.

Author Interview: Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Author Madeleine Holly-Rosing has a husband that likes to call her mono-polar manic. Whether he is right or not, this is one author who can turn out a rousing thriller of supernatural steampunk fun. Please welcome Madeleine to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Madeleine Holly-Rosing and I’m the writer of the steampunk supernatural series, Boston Metaphysical Society. It began as a six-issue graphic novel mini-series, but it has expanded to two graphic novel sequels (and another one coming), an anthology of short stories and novellas, and a novel.

I have an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA where I won the Sloan Fellowship among other awards. I’ve had a few scripts optioned and done some work-for-hire, but nothing produced yet. However, while I was there, I wrote the TV pilot for Boston Metaphysical Society which I then adapted into a graphic novel after I graduated. I also wrote a PSA which was co-produced by Women In Film. (The PSA won a Gold Aurora and a Bronze Telly.) And I’ve run six successful Kickstarter campaigns for Boston Metaphysical Society and wrote the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.

I recently retired as a Fitness Instructor for LA Fitness after 18 years, and I’m working on rebuilding my right shoulder after having it replaced. With a titanium shoulder joint, you could say I’m steampunk from the inside out! I also love to bake, especially if chocolate is involved, and I like to garden. And I love dogs. My current favorite authors are Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries) and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone).

When and why did you begin writing?

I think I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to write. However, when I was in my early twenties I decided to stop writing until I got more life experience under my belt. And that’s exactly what I did. About ten years later I started writing again. It definitely made my writing better.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when I optioned my first screenplay. It was great to have someone pay me for my work.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

You bet. Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets is a prequel to the original six issue mini-series graphic novel. An alternate-history steampunk supernatural thriller, it dives into the lives of Elizabeth Weldsmore Hunter, her ex-Pinkerton husband, and her father as they deal with political intrigue and her growing psychic abilities.

The book also won a silver medal in the Feathered Quill Books Awards in the scifi/fantasy category as well being chosen as the overall top pick for Adult, YA, and Children’s categories.

The original six-issue graphic novel mini-series is about an ex-Pinkerton detective, a spirit photographer, and a genius scientist who battle supernatural forces in late 1800s Boston. Bell, Edison, Tesla, and Houdini are also involved in the storyline.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write Elizabeth Weldsmore Hunter’s story. We only learn a bit about her in the graphic novel, so I wanted to give old fans (and new ones) a chance to get to know her.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I go pretty deep into world-building, but make sure everything is character-driven.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That was fun. I knew the core theme of the book was about secrets, but a friend and I brainstormed it together through Facebook messaging.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A couple actually:

  1. Women have been saving the world forever and no one knows it.
  2. Secrets can kill.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Hahahaha. No. Since it’s set in the late 1800s and has paranormal elements, I can safely say it’s not based on someone I know or events in my life. However, I do use historical figures in the graphic novels and reference a few in the novel.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Lois McMaster Bujold. Her characters rock and her sentences are beautiful.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I’ve been fortunate to have had mentors for my comic book writing, but not really any for prose. However, I do have awesome beta readers that keep me honest.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The amazing cover art was done by Luisa Preissler and the title graphics were done by Anke Koopman. I saw a painting Luisa had done on Facebook for a steampunk novella which I loved so I tracked her down. My original thought was to have three characters on the cover, but that was outside of my budget, so I settled on having her depict Elizabeth Weldsmore Hunter, one of the main characters. Turns out that was the best decision.

The cover won a silver medal in the Authorsdb.com cover contest.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Finish what you write. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And find good beta readers.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Welcome to the word of Boston Metaphysical Society. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing
Los Angeles, CA


Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets

Luisa Priessler – https://www.luisapreissler.de/


Author Interview: Nick Brown

Author Nick Brown is a full-time author who straddles being writing supernatural thrillers and historical fiction. He claims that both genres show how humanity can never escape its past. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Nick Brown and since 2010 I’ve been a full-time author. I have seven published novels and am currently writing the biography of a major British artist. Prior to this, I was an archaeologist and the Principal of one of the UK’s most successful Further Education Colleges. I studied at Leeds and then Manchester University but never wanted to work in education, my dad was a teacher. Unexpectedly, due to quite hard experience in my late twenties of dealing with the aftermath of two racial murders and race riots in Greater Manchester I was asked to open a multiracial college in Oldham, a racially segregated town. I’m very proud of the achievement but it left its scars which can be traced in my books. I was made an ‘Officer of the British Empire’ by the Queen and found talking to her in front of an audience at Buckingham Palace more frightening than any physical danger I’ve faced. I’m a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and live with my wife and sons in a reputedly haunted house in Cheshire where my Skendleby series is set.
I’ve always wanted to write and decided that once the college was well established and I’d paid my dues to society for my education I would give writing a go. It was a good experience for me to fail at first; I couldn’t get an agent or a publisher, no one was interested in what I was writing. Then I was given some quite brutal, constructive criticism by a friend of mine who is a successful author. I heeded the advice, for which I’m very grateful, and took the time to learn the craft. I self-published my first book, ‘Luck Bringer’, in 2013.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began to consider myself as a writer about four books in. I was offered a publishing contract out of the blue and was then approached by a film company to make a movie of Skendleby, the first in my ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series. The film is in the pre-production stage and I co-wrote the script with my youngest son, Gaius, who works in film. This was an interesting experience, to say the least. Being bossed about by your youngest offspring can be a chastening experience.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book is ‘The Dead Have Gathered’. It is the final instalment in the ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series. It deals with a series of inexplicable worldwide disappearances and the search for the cause of these. Like the rest of the series, it is a supernatural thriller but also with overtones of current politics and a looming ecological Armageddon. I think it’s fast-paced and gritty but sprinkled with mordant humour and provides an unexpected answer to the questions the rest of the series posed. It is a dark book which reflects the troubled times we live in and I guess could be read as a metaphor of the mess we seem to have got ourselves into. I can’t imagine how they’ll film this book if the Skendleby film is successful.

What inspired you to write this book?

I thought I’d finished the series with ‘Green Man Resurrection’ but I had a cataclysmic dream about a new character in that book, the shady U.S. secret service spook, Choatmann, and an unworldly mutating tree. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head so started to write ‘The Dead have Gathered’. I wrote it against a backdrop of the political chaos Brexit has plunged the UK into and the emerging story of climate change. I think it is the most frightening thing I’ve written and a fitting conclusion to the series.

My writing style varies depending on the book. The ‘Luck Bringer’ series, set during the Greco- Persian Wars of the 5th century BC, is based on my academic background and, although visceral, has quite a literary style. It attempts, in an exciting way, to fill in the gaps left by the historians. The ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series is very different and although based on archaeological evidence, is more gritty and written in a modern idiom. I think a writer’s style should be led by the nature of the characters being written about. If the characters don’t ring true the book fails, in this sense, the characters write the books.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Deciding a title for this final book in the series was more difficult than any other. My first idea, to call it Choatmann after one of the main characters I rejected as uncommercial and it took almost as long to choose an appropriate title as it did to write the book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, there are a couple of messages which I’ve tried to develop across the five books that constitute the ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series. The series is an exploration of fear and how ordinary people cope with it and the idea was to begin with a simple ghost story in Skendleby and mutate it into something much stranger in the other books. The series has a core cast of ordinary women and men whose, relationships, faith and loyalties are increasingly tested and as such is an examination of the strange ways in which we find the courage to deal with what faces us and the consequences that all our actions have and what we have done to the planet.

The second theme explores the nature of what it is that generates the horror we fear: are there ghosts? Are they merely a consequence of quantum physics that we have yet to understand? Do we generate evil ourselves?

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Some of the experiences in the books are based on events in my own life but I was unaware of this as I wrote them. I think the best example is an episode of rage that Mandrocles, the young hero of the Luck Bringer books, directs at his lover the, the flute girl, Lyra. The episode takes place months after a traumatic episode in his own life which he thinks he has forgotten. After I finished writing the episode I sat back thinking ‘where did that come from’. Days later it hit me; ‘That’s how I felt months after some of the experiences with violence in Greater Manchester. I think the writing had sprung from my subconscious. Examples of some supernatural events in the Skendleby books stem from experiences in my own house, however, I don’t speculate on these; they happened but I’m unsure of what the cause might have been. I think to an extent it’s difficult for any serious writer to exclude at least trace elements of the autobiographical from their writing.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I’ve always been influenced by writers since my earliest childhood memories, particularly those that capture the feel of a place. The foremost of these is Alan Garner who, although not prolific, has written with great intensity about Alderley Edge and its grip on the psyche. In ‘The Dead Have Gathered, I revisit his wizard, shamanic figures. I think that the most intensely felt emotional scene in world literature is Hector’s death and the events leading up to it in the Iliad and that has certainly also been an influence. In terms of psychological depth and human embarrassment, I think ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens is the most acute. I know Dickens included a lot of padding to his narratives and a great deal of slapstick humour but at the heart of Great Expectations there lies an all too familiar bleakness. I have read avidly and collected books since childhood.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

My mentor as a writer would be the war hero/ poet Aeschylus. He fought at Marathon and probably Salamis and brings that harrowing perspective to his plays. Unlike the ancient Greek historians, he writes major parts for women and allows them to carry the action. Sadly only seven full plays and a handful of fragments have survived but every word carries integrity. I’ve included Aeschylus as one of the principal characters in the Luck Bringer books in an attempt to try and get a picture of the man. He would make a testing but fascinating mentor.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

For my first six book covers I’ve had the same illustrator, Samuel de Cecatty, I like his work and the covers are original and have been entered for awards. However for ‘The Dead have Gathered ‘, I have a new illustrator; Marcus Brown who is a graphic artist and also my son. He came up with a vision for the cover which portrays the cataclysmic events in the book through the dramatic juxtaposition of the key elements defining the series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I always offer the same advice to writers; ‘write because you love it not for money and fame because both are ilusive and illusory.’ Writing ought to be a creative joy. My other advice would be learn what you can from criticism but don’t be put off, persevere and you will get better and develop integrity to your style.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To my readers, I’d like to say ‘Thank you’.

Nick Brown
Manchester, United kingdom


The Dead Have Gathered

Illustrator: Marcus Brown
Publisher: New Generation Publishing


No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday! Each week I offer up a top ten list of articles that I find interesting as an indy author. There are links to general writing tips, help with your author career path, and sometimes articles that simply tickled my fancy. I hope you enjoy reading them. Let me know your favorites in the comments.

How to Establish a Long-Term Writing Career: Insight From Two Literary Agents

How to Write While Not Writing

Building an Author Platform: What It Is, Why You Need One, and How to Get Started


Get More Done By Giving Yourself Less Time

In It to WIN It: How Committed Are You to Being a Successful Author?

Choosing Naval Tactics for Your Pre-Gunpowder World

Habitable Planets: Exoplanet Research for Worldbuilding

How To Become A Creative Writer & Figure Out What You Should Write

Writers, Remember: The Wand Chooses The Wizard