July 3rd, 2012


Aether Dancer Villain Contest

This contest is running on the Aether Dancer Facebook page and on the IndieGoGo fundraiser page.  You may vote for your favorite villain(s) by Liking or Sharing that villain's post page (not the main page).  If you make a donation, you may earmark it for a given villain and that counts as a vote also.  Rules are listed in the contest post. Here is a direct link to the photo gallery.

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Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "alternate history."  I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

Alternate history is an interstitial genre existing at the crossroads between historical fiction ("How was?") and speculative fiction ("What if?").  It usually relies on identifying a key moment in history and asking what could have changed and how that would have affected the outcome, although there are different approaches as well.  (The terms "linchpin" and "ripple point" for these appear in the game Chrononauts, which I highly recommend.)  AlternateHistory.com has a discussion forum for this genre.  Uchronia lists books and stories about alternate history.  Other Timelines has a "Today in Alternate History" feature along with other resources.  This genre also works well with ethnic history, gender history, and other under-represented groups.  Tell ALL the stories!

Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live.  Click to read "The Charlady's Tale" (The Steamsmith, 17 verses) or notify dreamwriteremmy of linkbacks to reveal more verses.

What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?

Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "alternate history." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.

Cyberfunded Creativity

I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:

1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.

2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A new feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated.  There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.

3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).

0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.

4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl.  If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem.  One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal.  dreamwriteremmy has volunteered to post the verses this month, so you'll need to notify her of your linkbacks in a comment to her post, in order for them to count.  "The Charlady's Tale" belongs to The Steamsmith series and has 17 verses.

Additional Notes

1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."

2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function.  (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.)  These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.

3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.

5) If donations total $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl.  These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size.  If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day.  If donations reach $300, you get a half-price sale for one week in one series.  Everyone will get to vote on which series to feature in the sale, out of those with extra poems available.

Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "alternate history."  I'll be soliciting ideas for historical figures, historians, time travelers, ancient objects, probability machines, time machines, books and other records, things associated with a specific point in history, time periods, cultures you'd like me to feature (if I haven't promoted your favorite one to world domination, now's your chance), battlefields, laboratories, schools, other places where historical events occur, turning points in history where things could've gone quite differently, events that inspire people to want changes, and poetic forms in particular.  But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.

I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "The Charlady's Tale.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission, or for serial poems, get unlinked listings on the Serial Poetry page.
Fly Free

Poem: "Shards of a Different Past"

Here is today's freebie.  It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion, who asked about the alternate history of Torn World.  Yes, you may prompt for alt-history in a project I frequent, rather than Earth history, if you wish.  In canonical Torn World history, Inoram -- the core of what became the great Empire of the south -- contacted and conquered Roluma fairly early.  But suppose the shards had fallen in a different order, and Roluma had more allies when that barrier fell ...

Shards of a Different Past

As the barriers began to fall,
the people of Roluma expanded west
through the Riilass swamps to the central gulf
where they met the Irfai and the Duurludirj.

Fierce pirates and doughty warsailors
braved the high waves despite the sea monsters.
The Irfai loved the Roluman spearbeaks, and
rode them as easily as the pitching deck of a ship.
The Duurludirj in particular were thrilled
by scytheclaw packs that would attack even Death
and by oxbirds as beasts of burden for their tropical islands.
The Roluma had found loyal new friends.

When the Little Empire attacked out of Inoram
across the deadlands of a fallen barrier,
the cavalry held them at bay
while the navy sailed up the interior sea
to cut Inoram into three pieces,
dividing and conquering.

To the children of Roluma, it was nothing more
than another boring chapter in the history books,
the place marked by a colorful feather.


Poem: "A Hole in the Blanket"

This poem began with my post about "Always Chaotic Evil" races in fantasy, which led to marina_bonomi's thoughtful discussion, and between us we came up with the core ideas for this piece of "sword and soul."

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: marina_bonomi, Anthony & Shirley Barrette

138 lines, Buy It Now = $69
Amount donated = $15
Verses posted = 5 of 25

Amount remaining to fund fully = $54
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2.50

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Call for Cosponsors

je_reviens has chipped in $10 toward "People of the Longboat."  Who wants to pick up the remaining $10 for this poem?

FULLY SPONSORED!  Thanks to Stephen Laird for picking up the other half.

From the prompt about Iroquois crossing to Europe, I got the free-verse poem "People of the Longboat." It features collaboration between Leif Ericson, the Algonquians, and the Haudenosaunee as to the best construction of a ship.