creative

Lemniscate Small Press

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I started a small press and named it after my poetry chapbook I published. The second publication is now available for purchase: Devourments by Langdon Hickman.

“It was during one of Abhi’s wanderings through the vast expanses of his Cascadian property that he found the cave in which he planned to die.”

Haunting and visceral, each story in Devourments by Langdon Hickman confronts death and grief in very different ways. Preserver and Satan Will Rise To Meet You force readers to challenge the uncomfortable ways we are used to coping with loss. Hickman’s prose conjures vibrant and strange worlds and characters with disarmingly uncanny familiarity, and leaves his imagery in the reader’s mind for days.

Illustrated by Caroline Diezyn.

52 pages, saddle-stapled on glossy paper. Black and white.

These will ship the week of August 14th, 2017. __________________________________________

Langdon Hickman is a writer based in Fairfax, Virginia with his girlfriend and dog. He graduated from George Mason University with a degree in creative writing and has been published previously in Empty Lighthouse, Treble, 365tomorrows and Weaponizer; this is his debut book.  You can support him on Patreon.

Moon Of Retribvtion

isbl_fullxfull.25829279_k2s2ly6m About a year ago, I changed the name of my store, where I sell my art and writing, from Lunar Baedeker to Moon Of Retribvtion.

Since then, it's changed so much it's completely unrecognizable.

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I've tabled at three Punk Rock Flea Markets in town; my art and writing is available at a few local shops and I'm starting wholesale with shops across the world; and my tiny side project has grown into a bona fide business.

I appreciate all the support I get (especially from my bff Naomi!!!) and I'm very grateful that this weird little diversion has blossomed into a weird little business.

https://moonofretribvtion.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moonofretribvtion/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moonofretribvtion/

Tumblr: https://moonofretribvtion.tumblr.com/

Dining with the Undead: Etiquette for Today's Host

il_570xN.901929144_lo7p I wrote and illustrated a fictional non-fiction etiquette guide for entertaining zombies in the post-apocalypse for the zine press Pamphlets for the Apocalypse, and you can buy your very own right here.

"It is a well-known fact about the undead that the idea of 'home' is near and dear to their still hearts. The undead must visit their former house before they can exist peacefully as undead -- banishing it from what's left of their consciousness -- but that doesn't mean that they can't enjoy exquisitely planned and executed candlelight suppers with entertainments."

In Dining With The Undead, author Caroline Diezyn takes the guess work out of entertaining some of the most difficult hosts--the Undead. While the world around us may have changed, Diezyn shows us how humanity's prevailing sense of manners and propriety can indeed survive any apocalypse. Raise a glass (or bottle) to toast yourself; with this handy book of etiquette, you're sure to be entertaining post-apocalyptically in style.

Here's a peek at one of the accompanying illustrations:

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Day Jobs and/vs. Passion Jobs

I received another question from the student who I'm corresponding with regarding editing and writing jobs:

Is it true that like a writer, editors should not quit their day jobs for a very long time (low, inconsistent pay)?

Here's my answer:

This is question is a Really Big One. I’m also really sad that it needs to be asked, but I totally understand why you’re asking it! I’ve felt the same way many times since I began my undergrad in 2006. I’m going to try to answer in a way that remains genuine but that doesn’t sound too pessimistic.

The short answer is probably that yes, you gotta pay the bills. The long answer begins: yes, you gotta pay the bills, but whatever you devote the most time to in your life should be what you really want to do. Most people, except the very fortunate, need to continue in some job they don’t love in order to make ends meet until they can hopefully move onto something more fulfilling. The problem with this, especially for our generation and especially for creative projects, is that creativity is so often devalued in our society as not being lucrative enough, that often people will never break free of the mindset that they can’t possibly make a living doing what they love.

I’m not an idiot, or even an idealist, and I understand that not everyone’s circumstances are such that they can devote themselves to work that they find meaningful instead of work that keeps them alive. Capitalism works by making it necessary that people need to continue doing work they hate to survive.

That said, and while acknowledging my own bias and privilege, I have seen how a focus on my creative pursuits as Legitimate Career Options has helped me to not only ameliorate those skills and become more successful, but has also made me a happier person. I’ve been really lucky in that I have often found employment that has at least tangentially fulfilled some aspect of my creative interests, but I’ve also been in situations where I’ve worked jobs I absolutely hated, where I was treated badly, making minimum wage, with no creative or intellectual stimulation whatsoever. I worked these jobs because I had to. I was in a terrible financial situation where I was reliant on a partner who resented having to support me. I hated that whole situation, and it made me hate myself. My point to this overshare is that there are those who say that they can work at their “day jobs” and then work on their own fulfilling creative work on the side. In my experience, I was so incredibly beaten down by how much I hated my job that it sucked all creativity out of me, anyway. Instead of spending the evenings and weekends on my own fun work, I spent it dreading going back to my day job, and became very depressed.

So what’s the alternative? I shared your question with a friend of mine whose response more succinctly sums mine up: “Make it your day job. Well, your day jobs. Three of your six day jobs.” That’s basically how I’ve operated. While I need multiple gigs to stay afloat, and I’m really busy as a result, I’m way happier than 9-5 Mon-Fri in retail would ever make me. The only insight I can offer here is something you’ve mentioned before: the value of building a portfolio (or CV). I’m not saying the work you find will be fulfilling. I’ve written way too many smarmily flattering words about jewelry boxes and bikinis for search engine optimization that I know that nobody will ever actually read. But they’re all part of a portfolio of writing, that show me practicing my skills. Of course, these types of gigs can be inconsistent, but the pay typically isn’t “low” – not nearly as low as soul-crushing retail where men sexually harassed me on the regular. Friends of mine who are creative writers work at career counseling companies editing cover letters, or at newspapers writing copy for ads, as their “day job,” while they shop their writing around and work on their own projects. These “entry-level” writing & editing jobs require skills and degrees and experience, but they can be stepping stones as they help you hone these skills, get new experience, and make connections in the field.

I’m also not saying that this method is a sure-fire path to success. If I wasn’t a PhD student full-time, I’d have to be hustling a lot harder trying to find jobs to pay the bills (which is, by the way, another reason why I recommended considering grad programs that offer entrance scholarships rather than ones you have to pay for). In a way, the PhD is my “day job” – but it’s something that specifically ties into writing and editing. And as long as (you’re lucky enough that) your “day job” is in service of your passion jobs and eventual dream job, I think you can hit that medium between “happy” and “fed” (maybe even both!?).

I hope this answer provided some insight without coming across as narrow-minded or naïve. I really do have faith in creative careers and the people who seek them out. And I believe that the only way we can change the system that precipitates your ubiquitous question is by relentlessly and courageously turning the jobs we actually want into our “day jobs.”

 

So you're interested in editing

I received an email from an undergraduate student who wanted to pick my brain about how to get into editing and publishing as a career. Though my current career is "grad student," I've worked extensively as an editor since 2006. I thought my response could be useful to others, too. I've changed some details for the sake of privacy, but I think the info here could be widely applicable. Moreover, whenever I spend a while writing something, I feel like it's worthwhile to put it on my blog, too. Maybe that's another piece of advice I want to share. Or maybe it's weird.

Finally, this doubles as a mini-bio when it comes to publications/editing experience, which I think is kind of cool in and of itself.

~ Hi S.! Nice to meet you.

It's so great that you've found your passion. I'm happy to give you whatever information I have based on my experience.

I'll try to answer your questions in order:

1) How do I get started in the editing and publishing industry/get my foot in the door?

2) To become a proofreader or an editor, do I need to have extensive experience as a published writer first?

The answer to these depends on the type of editing you are looking to do in the future. You could edit magazines/blogs, news, books, journals, etc., and all of these types of editing require different skill sets and have different style guides. No worries if you don't know which type of editing you want to do right now, but if you know you'd rather work for, say, an academic publishing house than a newspaper, let me know, and I'll tailor my answers in the future.

The most important thing you can do is get experience editing rather than publishing your own writing (though that's rad and helpful, too!).

First, have you spoken with the Arts and Humanities Student Council on campus? They have a publications team that publishes essays and fiction written by students multiple times a year. I just went and spoke with the Editor-in-Chief (their office is next to mine) to see if she needed volunteers for editing, and she said yes, and that she'd email me to get in touch. Once I hear from her, I'll forward it to you. I highly recommend getting involved with them because it's fun and it looks great on your CV. I was the Editor-in-Chief in my fourth year here at Western, and though you won't be able to take over as EIC since you're graduating, it would be great to get that experience before you leave Western.

I also volunteered for campus newsletters when I was in undergrad. I didn't work for the Gazette, but it might be worthwhile checking out if they're looking for proofreaders. Here's the volunteer page. It seems that they have a dedicated person answering emails about copyediting, so there's probably a good chance that you can get some work there. I realize that doing both of these things in the last semester of your university career could be a bit much, but the lines on your resume or CV will be helpful, in my opinion.

Back in undergrad, I sent an email to a blog I really like letting them know that I love their work but the writing could use some help. I said I'd volunteer, just for the experience. The publisher wrote me back saying thanks but no thanks, and then six months later wrote me again saying "Actually, if you're still free, we could really use someone to copyedit -- and we'll pay you." I ended up working there for five years, all remotely over the internet. I acknowledge that this was a huge stroke of luck, but I encourage you to try the same thing. If there's something you enjoy reading that produces content daily or weekly, it can't hurt to get in touch with the editorial board and volunteer your services.

As far as publishing your writing, like I said, that won't hurt. If you want to do that, you should totally look into the aforementioned Arts and Humanities publications, the Gazette, and any websites you like to read that accept submissions. Let me know if that's something you're interested in and we can talk more about that, too!

Finally, if you feel like you'd like to start your own publication, I can provide info for that, too. Running your own publication is its own special type of madness, but it provides extensive experience and shows a lot of initiative. I started a graduate student journal during my MA that mirrored and continued the work I did for the Arts and Humanities undergrad journal, and the experience I've gained has been invaluable. Plus, it's really fun to do it your way, for once!

3) Do I need an additional degree or certificate in editing in publishing? If so, is there a specific school/institution that has a good reputation in this area?

As far as a degree in editing/publishing goes, I actually don't have a lot of info on this, because I didn't take that path myself. But I've put my feelers out to see if I know anyone who did, so I'll let you know. I see based on a Google search that Ryerson offers a program in Publishing. It seems pretty comprehensive: http://ce-online.ryerson.ca/ce/default.aspx?id=2000

But like I said, I don't know anything about it when it comes to its practical use, or its value for tuition money. I don't know if it would provide funding (but I can make a good guess that it won't), and in my opinion, if you're going to do post-grad degrees, you should do a program where your degree is covered by the school. For example, if Ryerson doesn't offer any funding for this program, it would mean that you're going into a considerable amount of debt (factoring living in Toronto into the picture!) for a degree that might not actually be necessary or even helpful for working in your chosen field. But if you were to attend Western for your MA in English instead, your funding package would cover your tuition, and you're guaranteed a TAship where you'd be grading student papers. Obviously, grad school in English isn't a good idea if you don't love literature as much as you love perfect punctuation, so don't choose an MA in English just because; but I do think it's a viable option for someone looking to go into publishing.

An undergrad degree seems to be the new high school diploma, so an MA might really distinguish you from the crowd of applicants when you go for publishing jobs. What's more is that there are plenty of opportunities to work for publications on campus and elsewhere while you're in grad school. For example, the English department has a publication called Word Hoard that has a rigorous reviewing process and needs keen editors. Once again, I admit my bias toward grad programs that fund you, and that I don't know anything about Ryerson's program, but I think that an MA in English could help you be as competitive in the job market (if not more?). I also think that it would be a better use of your money and time to do something that calls itself a degree -- whether that be at Ryerson or similar or a Master's -- rather than a college certificate. Maybe you should shop around and see what each program could offer? Admissions to grad programs are usually due in January, so you have some time to really do your research (and I'm available to answer questions on this front, too).

4) Does it help to have a web presence? Is it too late to start now?

In general, my response to this question regarding almost any career is yes -- a web presence always helps! Especially if/when you start proofreading and editing for web publications (which are the majority when it comes to editing jobs these days I'm sure). It goes without saying that a web presence needs to be a thoughtful one when it comes to searching for a career. But if you're interested in writing anyway, starting a blog and a Twitter account shouldn't feel too uncomfortable. It's good to have a body of work to point to even if it's a "personal" blog and Twitter. I have my CV online (I call it my portfolio) so you can check that out if you like.

It's DEFINITELY not too late to start! I realize that I come across as a super-keener when it comes to this because I was doing it starting in second year, but I know based on my peers in the PhD now that I'm in the minority there. Most people don't figure out what they want to do until later, and get their feet wet with it in grad school. So you're in good shape!

Sorry this email is so long. Let me know if you have any questions! I'm happy to talk shop anytime.

Best, Caroline

Mysterious Job Application

I applied for a really cool-sounding job and they needed an extensive letter of interest. I didn’t get the job, which is just as well – I would have had to essentially quit school to make it work. But writing this letter really helped me define what I do in a way I hadn’t before. By the way: the Pamphlets for the Apocalypse story I mention was accepted, but the subject is now a bit different. The new title is “Dining with the Undead: Etiquette for Today’s Host.”

Dear Mysterious Curator,

My name is Caroline Diezyn, and I was born (and died and reanimated) to be your Senior Narrative Designer. As a queer witch currently completing a PhD in English literature with a specialization in speculative fiction, I believe I am your ideal candidate. My research interests include spooky Americana, all things Atomic Age, and zombies. My personal interests include mythology, cryptology, cryptozoology, urban legends, and skulls. My tarot cards showed me a couple weeks ago that an opportunity like writing for the Mysterious Package Company was on the horizon; I believe this was foretold by Gyromancy.

I completed my BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. My specializations included madness, witchcraft, and the supernatural, as well as race and gender, in English fiction from The Canterbury Tales to the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Another Roadside Attraction. I returned to UWO the following year to complete an MA in American Studies with a focus on the eccentricities of time and perception in American literature of the Vietnam War era. For two years after graduation, I lived among the ravens in the Yukon teaching French, and traveled around Europe learning about such Old World stories as the Prague Golem. I compiled my research, drawings, poems, and photos into the first edition of my mystical-themed zine, Lunar Baedeker, which I produced monthly for a year. I now produce it quarterly, with a Patreon.com backing.

I returned once again to UWO to begin my PhD in September 2014. I took classes on everything from Zora Neale Hurston’s zombies, to Victorian broadsheets’ crime announcements, to the toad-covered ghastly corpses of medieval English alliterative poetry. I have an article forthcoming on the latter, wherein I explain my research findings to show that these ghoulish depictions in poetry from the middle ages are connected with German transi-tombs, which are in turn based on the classical figure of Lucretia, a woman so consumed by lust for earthly things that she turns into a worm-infested living corpse. I am working on my dissertation now, and it includes the figure of the vampire, the zombie, and alien in American literature of the twentieth century. I am interested in what these uncannily human/unhuman figures that have so captivated modern audiences have to say about the ecological and sociological fate of the human race. As a result of this budding expertise on modern iterations of centuries’-old specters of horror, I am a return guest on the Netflakes Podcast where I am called upon to talk about the supernatural forces at work in movies like Big Trouble in Little China and Interview with the Vampire. I appreciated the Princess Bride reference on your website’s application form (and by the way, my blood type is the rarest of all: AB-).

I have two years’ experience teaching students at the university level as a teaching assistant. The first was for 19th Century British Literature, including Confessions of an English Opium Eater, the poetry of William Blake, and more sordid tales. The second and most recent was for Children’s Literature, including the nonsense poems of Edward Leary, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Coraline. I added Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey to make sure my students had a well-rounded experience.

Besides my scholastic writing, I have four-and-a-half years experience writing and editing for a group of blogs called the Offbeat Empire, which produce lifestyle pieces for weirdoes who don’t feel represented by mainstream lifestyle media. My articles include “Be your own cheerleader against the zombies of self-doubt,” and “Wands optional: intentional thinking and magic.” I resigned from this position to focus on studying for comprehensive exams over the summer, and in a post bidding me farewell, my boss and publisher Ariel Meadow Stallings said:

Through it all, she was the grammar queen of the Offbeat Empire, the owner and enforcer of our internal style guide, our in-house white hat jerk, and resident consultant on all things dark and kinky. Really… she's the black glittery heart of the Offbeat Empire.

Working in a fast-paced milieu like internet publishing for websites that receive over a million hits each month helped me develop a team-focused willingness to give and take criticism, which then translated to helping me ameliorate my scholastic self-editing, too. I know first-hand how important it is to work together as a team to reach the mutual goal of the best possible outcome without letting ego get in the way. The role of “white hat jerk” is one I comfortably occupied in order to ensure that our publications were women-, people of colour-, and queer-friendly and diverse. I have many paranormal powers, and pointing out potentially problematic prose prior to it becoming a palaver is one of the most potent.

My personal interests have leaned toward the dark and mysterious since I was a child, and my professional choices have always been informed by these hobbies. I have a fondness for collecting strange books, like the 1932-oddity The Memoirs of Satan, witchcraft manuals, and a guide to exorcism, to name a few. I am an avid gamer, both video and tabletop (and I’m sure that was obvious from the Silent Hill quote in the first paragraph). I have experience as a research assistant with a Dr. Rob MacDougall working on an Alternate Reality game to solve the mystery of what happened to Tecumseh’s skeleton in the War of 1812. I also enjoy writing fiction and poetry. I have a story forthcoming in the zine Pamphlets for the Apocalypse entitled “Home Unmaking: How to Decorate When You’re a Zombie.” It’s a playful take on research I’ve done for my degree that shows that for zombies, the home and nostalgia plays a very important role in becoming un-human. I have lots of experience editing and compiling peer-reviewed academic journals for my university, and I am currently compiling a volume of unsettling, mystical, or eerie essays and poetry by myself and my grad student peers to be published under the title Ouroboros.

I would be very willing to relocate to Toronto as I have family there who would be happy to have me haunt their home with my black cat, Zendaya Wednesday. My commitments in London would only necessitate that I be here once a week to teach French. Please find attached my CV, and for a version with hyperlinks, please see my website: carolinediezyn.com.

Whether it be esoteric ramblings from a pseudo-philosopher invoking Calliope but only pissing her off; a choose-your-own adventure type of story that seems to be leading you back to that damned box in the foyer but you can’t find the key – where’s the key?!; or any manner of mysterious, eldritch, genre-mimicking or genre-bending writing; I am confident that I have the past lives’ experience to flip the big red switch and bring whichever narrative into existence.

Thanking you for this beautifully absurd opportunity, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Caroline Diezyn