Thursday, January 3, 2013

Monstrous Project Update: January

Welp, it's been awhile since I updated due to moving to Germany and general life nuttery.

However! I'm going through all the lovely submissions I received and will be sending out emails about acceptance or not this coming week. I'll be including lots of info in that, such as deadlines for drafts and final work, who's participating, and plans for keeping people aware of the project, especially when it comes time to fund it.

As I work through the material I'll be figuring out exactly how big this book will be and other details. I suspect that I'll be using Indiegogo for crowd-funding, but we'll cross that enormous bridge when we come to it.

I may also open up submissions again, though I'll be more specific about types of stories I'm looking for so that more diverse body issues are represented.

That's it for now!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Monstrous Update Week 3

Goblin Girl Sketch
Hello, everyone! A somewhat shorter update this week as things like the aftermath of hurricane Sandy seem more pressing to me than any project, however well-intentioned. My family and many friends live back east so I've been following it all very carefully. I hope people to continue to donate to the Red Cross and other groups to help.

As for MONSTROUS: I've gotten about 50-60 submissions so far, running the gamut of prose, poetry, comics, and art. So far the theme that I'm seeing most is stories that deal with mirrors and the distortions they create. I can't say I'm surprised, mirrors and reflections are something most of us can't really get away from and we develop love/hate relationships with them for all kinds of reasons.

I would love to see more submissions that vary in genre outside of autobio, as well as LGBT, women of color, and issues of aging in their stories. Again: any genre is welcome, I just want to make sure the book represents a variety of pov's and types of stories. I'm really moved by the honesty and rawness of the submissions I've seen so far, so please keep them coming and share the word.

I don't want to do the whole "name dropping" thing, but I am really pleased to say that a lot of professionals I know and love have expressed interest in contributing to this, or already submitted an idea. Folks like Lora Innes (The Dreamer), Bonnie Burton, Kiala Kazebee, Ross Campbell (Shadoweyes), Leah Moore (Sherlock Holmes), Jenny Frison (Angel), Drew Rausch, Corinna Bechko (Planet of the Apes), Rachel Edidin, Jennifer DeGuzman, Blair Butler, Leigh Dragoon (Fraggle Rock), Rantz Hoseley (Comic Book Tattoo) and lots of Womanthology alumni. All of which is deeply humbling and lovely and I'm glad they feel as strongly about the project as I do. Of course, all of this is subject to people's schedules and such, but, I'm working out a reasonable publishing schedule so I can accomodate people as much as possible. The Kickstarter/Indiegogo whatever for this won't launch until likely late Jan, so, I'll keep doing these weekly updates so everyone stays informed.

And just to reiterate: Submissions are due Dec. 1st. You can go read my first post to find all the guidelines and email them to: monsterteatime at gmail dot com.

Something I should mention: similarly to Womanthology I'm happy to pair up writers with artists if you're looking for someone to illustrate your prose or draw your comic. Just let me know in the submission if you're looking for that and, if it's selected, I'll make that happen.

Last week I had a Twitter conversation that absolutely MADE MY LIFE when the writer of GINGERSNAPS, Karen Walton, re-tweeted about the project. We chatted a bit about horror and I kind of gushed about GINGERSNAPS and what a huge influence it is on this project. Aside from my personal struggles with body image, an eating disorder, and body dysmorphia, the way certain films/books/writers have handled the theme of "the female body" in different mediums and genres is really why I want to do this. GINGERSNAPS deals with some very visceral body horrors, and I would put it up there with CARRIE (the book) in terms of confronting the very taboo, but very essential, issue of menstruation and how we view it. It does that through the supernatural/werewolf lens, while also deftly handling a loving but dysfunctional sibling relationship, and the whole terror of female sexuality.

Another big influence for me personally: JENNIFER'S BODY. I love this movie so much I can't even tell you. I mean, just the title alone, speaks volumes about the themes at play. It doesn't hold back and there are lines in that film that made me gasp out loud in the theater, they were so familiar and haunting.  If I ever get to meet Diablo Cody I will thank her profusely for writing it and for being so incredibly fearlessly feminist in the work she does. And, of course, BLACK SWAN, which might be the most accurate portrayal of what goes on inside the head of someone with severe body/perfection issues.

I have other influences, of course. Some of this project comes from books I read during my Masters studies that gave me the context I needed for things I "felt" but didn't quite have the background to express. Lynda Neads "The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity, and Sexuality" was a big one, as it dissects the nature of the female form in art AND the nature of the criticism of that form as a subject. It addresses the issue of continually trying to "contain" the female body in art, especially in the way it is discussed by those who critique it. I think that's rather relevant in a larger cultural context, too. Then there was Susan Bordo's "Unbearable Weight" where I discovered every single thing I've thought about our culture and women's bodies was not "crazy" but in fact pretty scarily accurate. Last, during my treatment for ED, my therapist suggested the book "Life Without Ed" by Jenni Schaefer. It's an account of one woman's struggles with ED, her treatment, and a very compassionate way of looking at what's often an ongoing (sometimes life long) issue. My "brain goblins" partly came out of reading that book and finally being able to give the ugly, hateful, thoughts in my head names. It's been one of the most helpful tools in my recovery, as I am able to apply creativity to it and kind of...lance them out when I need to.

What stories have influenced you? Whose work do you connect to? Feel Free to share in the comments!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 2 Update

Hello, everyone!

Eat: MALS final project
The response to my initial request for submissions has been slightly overwhelming. I've gotten some truly stunning stories and artists interested in being involved in this project, along with a lot of really encouraging and helpful emails about how to properly crowd-fund this book, offers to help with the back end management, and just all kinds of wonderful feedback and word of mouth. I can't tell you all how much I appreciate it.

(Art is from my Masters final project: EAT, an auto biography on my struggles with ED)

To reiterate, you can find the submission guidelines and general gist of the project here:

There's also a Twitter hashtag dedicated to it: #MonstrousProject, and you can additionally find me on Tumblr under MonsterTeaTime and Twitter under TiredFairy.

As I mention in my project post, aside from wanting this project to be a diverse, meaningful, and thoughtful exploration of the issue of body image for women/girls...I also want this project to be pay its contributors and showcase different perspectives on the topic. I have story pitches ranging from exploring eating disorders, aging, gender identity/expression, adolescence/puberty, fathers wanting their daughters to have healthy body acceptance, etc. and I'm sure I'll be getting more as the the deadline of December 1st gets closer. I definitely want to be make sure the experiences in this book are as not limited to white/cisgender/straight experiences. This is open to any and all struggles with body image, not just the privileged.. Although the audience may seem "limited", namely focusing on girls and women, I suspect these stories will be more universally relatable than some folks may think.

Eat: MALS final project pg 1

I've gotten a few questions about why this project is not tackling stories about boys/men and their body image. It's my opinion that the male audience is catered to a great deal of the time in a lot of pop culture and storytelling mediums, and all themed collections put limits or restrictions on what they're exploring. So I think it's fair to define this project as for girls and women in a way that's not exclusionary, but is specific. This project is already tackling a pretty wide concept of "body image" as it is. If the audience focus concerns you I encourage you to tackle a project about men and their bodies for men. I'd all love to see that and I would certainly support it!

This week my goal is to continue raising awareness about this project, post a few example pieces, and wade through all this Kickstarter/Indiegogo information so I can pick the right platform to launch. I'm also in the process of pitching the project to a few publishers, since I'd like this to be in more than just a digital format.

As a note: I'm moving to Germany next month so it's not likely that I'll be able to start a funding campaign until afterwards. Hence why the submission deadline is December 1st, so I'll have time to get work in, properly review it and set up a reasonable time frame for final submissions and publication. Books take a long time, if you're going to do it right, and I'd rather overestimate how much time it will take than underestimate it and be unable to deliver when I say I will.

So please keep passing the word along, ask me any questions here or at: monsterteatime at gmail dot com, and continue sending in those pitches!

Eat: MALS final project panel selection

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monstrous: Let's Talk About Body Parts - Project Details

MONSTROUS: Let's Talk About Body Parts
Brain Goblins and "ED" = eating disorder, art exercise

This weekend I posted a sort of vague tweet about wanting to do a collection for girls and women that explores our experiences with body image. It's a very personal subject to me, a lifelong struggle, and an issue I see effecting all the women I know to one degree or other. I've wanted to do something about it, something creative and productive, something honest and meaningful, for a long time. I just wasn't sure if it was something anyone else would want to contribute to, read, or otherwise be interested in. Well, I'm sure now. I've received quite a bit of interest in just the initial concept and received some utterly heartbreaking emails that make it that much more apparent that it's a necessary endeavor.

Which brings me to the project: MONSTROUS. 

The title is significant on a few levels and I picked it because it encapsulates, I think, the complicated and often destructive relationship women have with their bodies and the concept of "beauty"vs. worth in our culture. This is due to a lot of things, such as the fact that our bodies are treated as public property to be judged, critiqued, and regulated. It can be as "harmless" as Photoshopping, as serious as basic body autonomy. It's a difficult maze to navigate and we all need an outlet for those thoughts and feelings. Because I'm a writer and artist I work my own issues out through storytelling quite a bit. I supsect that there are lot of others who have something to say about this topic as well, and even more who could benefit from reading about the struggles of others and discovering they aren't alone. 

Okay! On to the project details: 


Project type: collection/anthology

Theme: The relationship between girls/women and their bodies through the lens of storytelling in different mediums and genres.

Looking for: Prose/comics/poems/art

Genre:  fiction (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc), auto-bio, non -fiction

For: Girls/Women

Open to: contributors of any age and gender, on the general theme of “body image & girls/women”. This includes trans/genderqueer contributors, POC contributors and related stories and experiences.

Purpose: Let girls/women know they are not alone when they struggle with their body and our narrowly defined, “beauty” obsessed culture. Positive overall message, but, the stories themselves can be in any genre and be difficult/upsetting. Focus is on being meaningful explorations of theme.

Stories can be about: Any body image related topics, from eating disorders to self-harm to sexual identity. Not limited to these topics, so stories will be evaluated individually.

What elements to avoid/won’t be accepted: Size or weight numbers, instructions on how to restrict/binge/self-harm. Obviously nothing that promotes sexism, homophobia, racism, fatphobia, or transphobia (stories may address said issues, however). Will also not accept stories that demonize ANY body type. No “real women have..” malarkey. This project will inevitably have triggering elements, but we can avoid giving people a destructive how-to guide.

Important note: The book audience will likely skew “older” because I think in order for this to be a truly meaningful conversation about the theme, it will need to be open to addressing difficult subject matter via possibly graphic language and visuals.  Therefore stories do not need to be for “all ages”.  Story content will be considered on an individual basis.

The things I don't yet know: Funding. I want to pay contributors AND get this printed, so funding will be incredibly important. Obviously there are crowd-funded sources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to consider, not to mention hopefully finding a willing publisher for the final piece. If I go the Kickstarter route I'll need some sample work to show, a video, and help with spreading the word. Before I can do that, though, I will need to figure out a timeline for publication that makes sense and a whole mess of other things. Suggestions in this regard would be very welcome.

I would also like to find a way to make this project available to organizations like the National Eating Disorder Association, and have a digital version. I'd like to keep the cost of the actual book down so it can be read as many people as possible. So I'm definitely looking for help on the backend.

How to Pitch to MONSTROUS

Submit to: Use MONSTROUS Submission and YOUR NAME in the subject.

Submission will be open until Dec 1st, 2012.

Submissions: 1 paragraph story “pitch”.  Include number of pages, genre, format, issue addressing, and brief bio. Must include full name and email. Sample of script writing/prose/art preferred (though not more than a page for writing, and a link to an online portfolio/example is fine for art).

Being previously published is not required, but pitches will be vetted for quality and thematic relevance.

DO NOT send final pieces. Pitches that have been accepted will be contacted for final work.

Story/piece requirements:
Poem – one page
Prose- 2, 4, or 6 pages (even number only)
Comics- 2, 6, or 8 pages (even numbered only)
Art pieces- color and b/w (one piece per artist unless otherwise decided)