Welcome to the Icy Column, which will come (at least) weekly online, as well as appear within each issue of WMP Dark Fiction Magazine moving forward.
Obviously, if you’ve read Rise Above (#0), this column was not present. It will be our official first issue that premiers the Icy Column outside of our website, which is slated for a July publication. There will be no theme continued throughout the column, though I will try to tie in reading and writing somehow one way or another. Before I paste below what I prepared earlier, I would also like to note that every issue of WMPDFM will have its own title, as seen with Rise Above. They will always have something to do with that specific issue, such as its fiction theme. With Rise Above, this was done loosely, I admit — the theme was featuring writers on the rise. It didn’t play any factor in the sort of stories I was looking to publish that issue. That being said, the next two issues (#1 July, #2 October) both have planned themes that are specific to the fiction calls to come. I won’t be announcing them publicly just yet, however. I think there will be an announcement in May for #1 that will reveal the theme and its corresponding call. I’m excited for them, though. Most writers won’t be able to just submit a story they have sitting around, I don’t think.
Moving on, today’s column is actually about finding my way around being able to write the damn thing! Let me start by asking who else has a job with way too much downtime? My day job — which has nothing to do with writing, editing, or publishing, sadly — has a fluctuating workload based on the amount of mail that comes through our company on any given day. For a while now, we’ve had little to do because a good chunk of our account programs that issued letters to customers have since shut down, at least on our end, meaning we are no longer receiving that mail to catalog. As such, half our month is very slow. The notices that go out at the start of every month don’t circle back around to us until the 15-20th, so the first two weeks of any given month are characterized by an average of 2-4 hours of work per shift. The rest of the time, we just sit around and access the internet, what parts of it aren’t blocked, that is (and a lot of it is blocked). Worst of all, we have numerous rules here that serve no real purpose other than to make things complicated and frustrating. This includes “no books” — they rather we sit at the computer playing games off Yandex than read a fucking book. It’s ridiculous. I’m losing my mind just sitting here all day watching MSN videos (again, the ones that AREN’T blocked — anything to do with YouTube sourcing is not accessible, for example). Luckily, we’re nearing the mid-month mark, which means we should get slammed with notices to process any day now. And with our small staff (following a slew of department cuts in the last four months), we can make that mail last about two weeks. Then we’re back to the start of a new month with little to do. To think of all the reading I could be doing if I was allowed to bring a book inside the building…it’s depressing.
But I may have found a good way to kill time. At the time of writing this week’s column, I am using an unpublished Squarespace account to blog. Why am I doing it this way? Well, our WMP website uses WordPress, which is blocked. Google Mail is also blocked. Anything that I have already in place is blocked, essentially. And I have no way to write in doc. files that I can then send to myself or save to a flash drive (nothing that connects to a computer is allowed inside the building). So, I hopped onto Google (the search engine works, thankfully) and looked up free website builders that had blog customization. Then I made a vaguely named Gmail account on my phone (from my car, on my break) and created a login for Squarespace. Once my lunch was over, I came inside, logged into the new profile, and viola! I now have a space I can write while at work. After my shift, I can access it from my home computer and copy over the text to the WMP website or magazine, wherever it goes. So far, so good; I have not run into any roadblocks. Assuming you are reading this column, the plan must have worked. (Fingers crossed!) I did notice the Squarespace account is a two week trial before payment, but I can always continue using other Gmail accounts to continuously create blogs for me to access after work. It will be annoying but I can manage it.
If only I could read my ARCs here! I am currently very much interested in the two titles I’m currently reading. One is the latest John Everson novel, The Night Mother, which is a sequel to The NightWhere— it’s dark, gruesome, and sexy. I won’t say much about it just yet, but basically there’s a chase going on, interwoven with flashbacks that detail the depravities of some of the characters that come and go during the hunting of this fallen angel. My other ARC is from DarkLit Press and Zachary Ashford: Polyphemus. That novel is about a band struggling to fulfill their recording contract after losing their vocalist to rehab. Though he returns ready to play, the others aren’t so sure they can trust him again. Though I haven’t gotten deep enough yet to know how the “pact with the devil” idea comes into play, I’m sure that’s where it’s headed in some way or another. This premise is especially luring to me because I worked in the music industry for a decade; it’s where I got most of my writing and publishing experience before moving onto fiction.
Also on my docket for (hopeful) review in issue #1: Knock Knock, Open Wide by Neil Sharpson; The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin; Our Own Unique Affliction by Scott J. Moses; Lacuna’s Point by Tim Meyer; Let Him In by William Friend; Godly Heathens by H. E. Edgmon; and Spin A Black Yarn by Josh Malerman. These are my priorities for that issue, though I also have some other books on the sidelines I would like to include if I find the time. I’ve also already read and reviewed a few books, like The Once Yellow House by Gemma Amor and The After-Death of Caroline Rand by Catherine Cavendish. Luckily, Justin Montgomery will be returning to issue #1 with his own stack of reviews to help me out. (If you haven’t yet read Rise Above, Justin wrote around ten of the quick shot reviews published in that introductory issue.)There’s a lot more I could tease regarding the next installment of WMP Dark Fiction Magazine, but I think I’ll wait until next week’s column to say anything else! Until then, let us know in the comments what you’re currently reading and/or recommending.
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