Wednesday, 28 July 2010

TARGET MARKET -- SERIAL SLAUGHTER ON LINE


Released today by BeWrite Books is Mark Moehlman's Target Market.

Ever wondered what data is being collected and carefully distributed when you casually swipe your card at the supermarket or down at the gym ... and how it's used?

The hunt for an online serial killer in the market for targets reveals the chilling answer. Could you be on someone's computer-generated death list?

Click on the BeWrite Books open book icon to the right of this blog post and visit the front page of the bookstore section to read more about the book and its author and for an extract from the brand new BB novel.

For those interested: the edit was by Hugh McCracken and the cover art, external and internal design was by Tony Szmuk and -- as usual -- everyone on the team was involved in the proof reading. Print is by Lightning Source International in the US and UK and distribution by Ingrams.

The ebook version is avaliable for immediate download in PDF, ePub and Mobi fomats. Ebooks prepared in house by Tony Szmuk.

Best wishes and happy reading. Neil Marr

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

AND FOR MY NEXT TRICK -- NEW BB POETRY RELEASE



By Sam Smith

Good news to break: Brian Rosenberger’s collection, And For My Next Trick, is released today by BeWrite Books. I’m BB’s poetry editor, of course, so I’m particularly proud of this superior piece of work from an outstanding poet.

Horror films and heavy metal are not what usually spring to mind at mention of poetry. Flowers, love, a little woe-is-me angst maybe. And then one opens Rosenberger's And For My Next Trick.

The collection should carry a health warning: *These Poems Can Bite*. 

And maybe the real next trick is that they can also move you. To new ways of seeing? You certainly won't be indifferent to them. Because Rosenberger has come up with a whole new way of being in-yer-face. And funny. At times so very funny. Especially when telling of his relationship with his grandmother.

I haven't seen Brian perform any of these poems, but I should imagine that he does it deadpan, and I expect that his audience's groans will be interspersed with laughter. Maybe both at the same time.

Here are two reviews from critics who read And For My Next Trick before release:

"With his twists and turns in poems like "Spaghetti Sauce" and "The Tenth Commandment" Brian Rosenberger is the modern-day Saki of the poetry world. In "9 to 5" he dumps on the workplace ("the suicide crawl of the second hand"). In "State of Decay (…a tattoo that seemed a good idea at the time),” he mourns the waste of his intellect. In the powerful "You Don't Hear the One that Hits You," a lost love is compared to Russian roulette. Rosenberger can be hilarious, as in "By Pork Possessed" or deep, as in the title poem, but he's always right in your face. Whether you like it, or not."
                                                  Cindy Rosmus (Editor of Yellow Mama, author of collections:
                                                  Angel of Manslaughter, Gutter Balls, Calpurnia's Window, and 
                                                  No Place Like Home.).

"...spiked with poisoned puns and acid alliteration... Rosenberger's blamk verse wriggles with imagery as witty as it is disreputable."
                                                   Ramsey Campbell

Saturday, 10 July 2010

ON PERFORMING POETRY -- SLAM BAM, THANK YOU MA'AM



By Magdalena Ball


I think at heart I’ve always been a rock and roll star. I can’t pick up my guitar or sing along to my favourite tunes without visualising myself on-stage before a rapturous crowd. But it irritates me that the words I’m singing along to are often dumb. Sung or spoken with enough conviction, almost anything can move a crowd. Bush and slam poetry sometimes makes emotive appeal and delivery its end goal – taking simple sentences or stream of consciousness outpourings and speaking them with punch.

I’ve attended a couple of events recently that have had me picturing the spoken poem on the page and no matter how powerful the performance, finding it wanting. I’ve done the same with music lyrics and been similarly disappointed, even with my very favourite songs. Neither is an appropriate response, but being a wordgirl, I just can’t help myself. However, I can’t let go of the notion that poetry is a natural medium for performance, and that the best way of getting people, especially young people, interested in poetry is to perform it, with enough pizzazz for anyone – even the person who claims to ‘not be into poetry’ or to ‘not have time to read’ (yes, that puts a shiver down my spine too), to feel the power of what you’ve written.

Is there really a disconnect between performance poetry (that is, poetry written specifically for the purposes of performance, rather than for distribution on the page), and traditional poetry (that is, poetry written to be read on page rather than performed)? Are the two mutually exclusive? I think not.

The best performances, for me at least, are those which take what works perfectly on the page, using imagery and subtlety, and presents it out loud with rich nuances that might not have hit me on my first few readings, or ever. Of course the performance of poetry is one of the oldest of art forms, going back to Gilgamesh, to the Ramayana, to Homer. It tugs at something rather deep in our preliterate psyche. Getting the listener to feel that tug, and recognise the meaning being created is what a good poetry performance is all about.

I also think that the best performances morph what is on the page into a new medium. It turns the verbal into the visual, showing what kind of power words can have. The best poems for performance have an innate musicality, using alliteration, rhythm, rhyme and assonance to further add meaning. As the great Basil Bunting put it, it is only when ‘sounded’ that this rhythm reveals its full power. Bunting should know. He was one of the great poetry performers, charging his words with the power of a Shakespearean actor to take the audience deep into the heart of his meaning, effortlessly and instantly. The performances draw the reader into the intimacy of the work, breaking open the familiar so that it appears completely, surprisingly new. Of course that’s what great poetry does on the page too, but it takes a commitment on the part of the reader to get there.

Gaining that sort of commitment from a reader isn’t always easy. Ask any publisher who sells poetry. Ask any poet who publishes their work.

Performance is something entirely different. When done properly, with a poem that truly merits more, rather than less, commitment on the part of a reader, the performance can become its own work of art – like the musical symphony, stirring something inchoate and deep within a listener. It draws a crowd, and challenges perceptions. It can work, and should work, in conjunction with the publication – to bring in readers, and to compel people to explore their own clich├ęs and assumptions about themselves. It opens doors.

Magdalena Ball. Australia. July 2010.

Magdalena (Maggie) is the author of the novel, Sleep Before Evening (BeWrite Books), the poetry collection, Repulsion Thrust (BeWrite Books), poetry collection Quark Soup and the non-fiction Art of Assessment. She also runs the hugely popular review website .

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Creeping Reality of a Maestro of the Macabre



There must be almost as many ways to define ‘creepy’ as there are demons in a legion.

Is Jan Strnad’s Risen hair-raising? The back of my neck felt like there was an ants’ jamboree in full swing. Does it scare the living daylights out of you? I was too pussy to turn out the lights. Does it make you suspicious about the cake the neighbours just brought round? Tell you the truth; I even secretly poured the tea Skovia just made into a plant pot in case it was laced with rat poison. And it seems to me that aspidistra is wilting.

But in describing Risen as ‘creepy’ I’d have something else in mind entirely. Like others of my disreputable breed – the ‘editorial analyst’ – I’d be talking about its simmering style, its perfectly calculated pace, the steady and painstaking establishment of vivid scenes and strong characters, the small-town reality that so naturally suspends any disbelief ... and how, only having carefully and nefariously lulled you into a sense of security, does Jan Strnad hold his breath, rise to his tiptoes, and quietly creep up behind you to plant his unearthly nightmares.

When I’d rubbed away the goose flesh, I realised and could fully appreciate and admire just what expert, ‘creepy’ authoring I’d just experienced.

The little town of Anderson, as real as your own neighbourhood, the characters at the diner, in the street, on the farms, so undeniably flesh-and-blood you wouldn’t be surprised if they popped by to borrow a cup of sugar, are so skilfully made familiar that when Anderson turns to an outpost of hell and its inhabitants into blood-lusting monsters from the pit, it’s all as utterly believable as if Strnad had introduced an outbreak of measles into his storyline rather than a plague of the undead.

This triumph over rationality and scepticism prompted me re-evaluate a decision I’d made forty years ago to turn my back on the ‘horror’ genre with its cardboard spooks, zombies and vampires. BeWrite Books has never even considered submissions that skip into the fright fantastic.

Maybe we should think again with scribes like Strnad around. Perhaps we’d do well to remember the 1956 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the panic that followed the all-too-real CBS radio adaptation of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds read on Halloween night 1938 by Orson Welles. Time to forget Ed Wood’s 1959 Plan Nine From Outer Space and the B-movie-style pulp novels that rode on the back of the YA appetite for fast-food zombies and vampires and that took hold of the slushpile end of the books market.

Much more than King and Rice ever did (reading them is put down to ‘research’), Strnad has reminded me that a story is a story, that fiction is fiction, and that all we read and savour is as real as it is unreal if presented by a creeping master of his craft.

Knowing its genre – the pigeon hole into which every novel is wickedly forced – I opened this book reluctantly. A generous 400+ pages later, I closed it even more reluctantly, and in a cold sweat. The pages had turned almost supernaturally. There had been no point at which to comfortably stop and draw breath.

This is such a rare gem of a chiller, not because you can wind up believing the horror could happen in your home town, but because there are times when you can’t help feeling it already has!

I’m a ‘convert’. And if you read Jan Strnad’s Risen – which I highly recommend you do (well before midnight) – you’ll know that claim is a lot creepier than it sounds.

Neil Marr

Risen. Jan Strnad
ISBN: 978-1-4523-2048-9 (Smashwords Edition)

www.smashwords.com : $4.95 (all popular ebook formats)

Amazon Kindle version, $4.95:

The print versions to be announced. Coming to other ebook and paperback online retail outlets.

Jan Strnad's website: www.atombrain.com