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Press Release: From a Tilted Pail

Niteblade contributor Ajay Vishwanathan is celebrating the release of his book, From a Tilted Pail and we’d like to help spread the word 🙂



From a Tilted Pail: Exploring Seven Journeys of Struggle and Triumph

Atlanta, GA – The world gets smaller with every flight that takes off for some far away, exotic destination. But do travelers ever really see the heartbreaking stories of locals from their 4-star hotel balcony? From a Tilted Pail by Ajay Vishwanathan transports the reader into the lives of people in small towns and villages, and their everyday struggles.

Ajay loves India. And it shows in his simple but eloquent portrayal of the strengths and blemishes of the beautiful place. He delves into the lives of the underprivileged, and follows the struggles of those imprisoned by circumstances, their spirit of hope and celebration of triumphs. Each story is poignant, coaxing readers to appreciate things oftentimes taken for granted.

Ajay Vishwanathan brings acute world awareness and champions life’s hurdles through his lyrical prose. The editor-in-chief of the Foundling Review, Ajay’s work has been published in more than 90 literary journals, including The Minnesota Review and The Southern Humanities Review. In addition to his passion for the written word, he also has a Ph.D. in microbiology, and spends his days researching ways to battle AIDS and the HIV virus. Ajay currently resides in Georgia with his family.

From a Tilted Pail

By Ajay Vishwanathan

Publisher: Queen’s Ferry Press

Sold at:

ISBN-13: 9781938466403

Release: July 30, 2014




AJC Decatur Book Festival (Aug. 29-31, 2014) – Ajay Vishwanathan will be a featured panelist and will debut his book, From a Tilted Pail



Through deft storytelling, Vishwanathan turns the story of hopelessness into one about the resilience of the human spirit, a theme that lurks just beneath the surface, and unites all the characters in From a Tilted Pail.

In a slim collection of 92 pages and seven stories, Ajay Vishwanathan delivers a powerful tour de force and captures the essence of the human endeavor—hope chasing away despair, and light, darkness.

Concise, yet power packed sentences are truly the star attraction of this collection.

Poignant, profound and perceptive, Vishwanathan’s collection is chicken soup for the soul, simmered to perfection.

“There is a lyricism in Vishwanathan’s writing which reflects the warmth and vastness of the land he described and the depth of his people.”

Barbara Bruce, KVSL radio (107.9 FM)

Ajay’s writing reminds me of O’Henry. But he takes it to another level with his poetic prose.

Jen Michalski, author of Could You Be with Her Now and The Tide King: “Vishwanathan is a magician who pulls hope out of a hat.”

Anis Shivani, 2012 Pushcart winner, The Huffington Post Columnist, and author of My Tranquil War and Other Poems and Anatolia and Other Stories: “I admire Vishwanathan’s ability to step right into the skin of the other—his perception of the female sensibility is particularly acute—without any sense of patronization or exoticism.”

Robin Stratton, editor of Boston Literary Magazine: “Ajay Vishwanathan’s From a Tilted Pail will break your heart with seven exquisitely crafted short stories about the longing for liberation, and the triumph of setting another spirit free.”

Michael Salcman, author of The Enemy of Good Is Better and editor of Poetry in Medicine: “This is a remarkable collection of exotic short stories…whether the subject is an execution, a silk factory, a snake hunter, a facial deformity, or the keeper of lamps in a village shrine, each tale has the force of parable…”

Terri Kirby Erickson,
author of Telling Tales of Dusk and A Lake of Light and Clouds: “Ajay Vishwanathan is in love with India—the deep, abiding love of a man who sees very clearly his beloved’s strengths and flaws. There is such beauty in these stories, but also heartbreak, loss, and the kind of cruelty most of us turn away from rather than face head-on, yet he doesn’t flinch. He loves ‘her’ still, and by the time you finish this jewel of a collection, so will you.”

Stefanie Freele, author of Feeding Strays and Surrounded by Water: From a Tilted Pail is a brave, powerful exploration of the painful struggles that happen when characters are trapped between strife and the universal human need for freedom.”

2013 Fundraiser

It’s that time of year again. Our second annual fundraiser 🙂 This year we’re doing things a little differently and running the fundraiser on IndieGoGo:

Click here to check out our fundraising campaign!

One thing that is the same as last year is that our writers have been extremely generous in donating amazing things for us to use as perks. We have everything from art to cookies, handicrafts to critiques. We’ve raised $50 and a couple perks have already been claimed so be sure and hop on over and pick out what your dream perk is. And even if you can’t support us financially, pop over anyway. There are loads of sharing tools on our campaign page that will help you spread the word about our fundraiser, which is an awesome way to help without spending a dime 🙂

One perk that everyone gets to take advantage of is that since we’ve raised $50 already, we also released the web version of issue #23 today. Yay! Check that out… after the fundraiser 😉

Poetry Slush Update

As of right now, all poetry slush has been cleared, final selections for the March Issue have been made (a strong issue, if I do say so myself).

Three poems are being held for further consideration, and those authors should be able to see that the status of their submissions is listed as In-Progress in Submittable, there should also be a note in the system letting you know that the pieces are still under consideration (though if in doubt, query).

On a related note: it is only February, and there are only 13 spots for poems left to be filled for the rest of the year, that is how strong the competition was this spring, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing more good stuff!

Poetry Slush–Update

As of today, all poetry submissions have been replied to. If you sent in a poem and haven’t heard back yet, please contact me at

All the poetry slots in our December Issue have also been filled which means that any poems that come in now will be under consideration for next year’s issues. Please remember: dark and/or fantastical, powerful, stuff that draws you in. Please send me some!

Horror Mounts

Horror Mounts
A guest post by Sandi Leibowitz

The noive of me, to agree to write a blog post for the Niteblade blog train.  (Forgive me, I just returned from California and am at my most New Yawkish.)  I have a confession to make:  I don’t “do” horror.  Don’t read it, don’t watch it.

The more I thought about it, I realized—well, I do in fact “do” horror, in my limited way.

I was one of those kids who rushed home from school every day to see “Dark Shadows.”  When I went off to sleep-away camp in the summers—it was agony to miss what was going on with Barnabas and the rest.  What was the big draw?

Setting, I think, came first.  Seriously, I was meant to live in the Old House at Collinwood.  I need mahogany-paneled corridors, a west wing unused by anyone but ghosts, a widow’s walk overlooking the sea, portraits of someone’s ancestors on the walls.  When the day arrives that I must use a cane, I positively will insist on one with a silver dog’s head.  Jonathan Frid, requiescat in pace.

Did I merely accept the horror aspects, because of the setting and the casting?  No.  I adored them.  I wanted to know more about vampires and witches and Tarot cards and werewolves and alternate time.   A good friend of mine, who I met in college and also was a DS fan, once mentioned that she was often scared by the program.  I never found it frightening.  I guess this version of horror lured me in because it was completely devoid of gore (which I detest), but reveled in the fantasy elements of horror.

Now that I think of it, in those days Channels 5, 9 and 11, which often aired old movies, sometimes—especially on Sunday afternoons—showed hokey horror films like the ones Vincent Price starred in.  Having gravitated towards “Dark Shadows,” I could hardly resist those.

When I was 11 or so, I discovered Poe.  My parents’ bookcase contained an old, hard-covered copy of Poe’s collected short stories, which I delved into out of curiosity—and then kept going.   I read them ravenously (no pun intended).  The main thing that attracted me was his use of language—that delicious, erudite vocabulary, that poetic use of alliteration!  Secondly, I relished the strange worlds he took me to—torture chambers, Italian castles, decaying mansions.  That shiver when you see the dark corridor he’s been leading you to all along…  The corpses that refuse to stay quite dead.   LOVE IT.

So—I DO “do” vampires and werewolves.  And ghosts.  And witchcraft.  Just no zombies (decomposition–yuck).

Ah, and later on, I was absolutely addicted to the “Night Gallery” series.  I remember going to school the morning after “Night Gallery” was on, and all my friends excitedly discussing the show.  I gave it up, however, after “The Doll” episode because it freaked me out.

So, so much for me not watching horror.  Well, I don’t READ horror.

Oh, unless you’re talking about the Anne Rice books, which I devoured in the 80s.  OK, I guess I do “do” horror, after all.

However, I’m not a horror writer.  I’m a fantasy writer, often dark.—Well, in fact last November Niteblade published my poems “The Cat Accursed” (based on a friend’s story of an Eastern European Jewish superstition, as reported by her grandfather) and “Allegory of Time”, and is about to publish “Crimson-Hooded,” a dark take on Little Red Riding Hood, where Granny devours more than just muffins.  And I’ve recently written two stories about the unruly dead and a poem about an island of creepy blindfolded crows, based on a dream.  Son of a gun, I guess I’m a horror writer.  Who knew?

So, I’ve been musing, why do people gravitate to horror?  What does it do for us?

I’m not one to run to Aristotle for my literary theory, but I do think that we enjoy horror, just as we enjoy tragedy, for the sense of catharsis.  I’m sure this isn’t a profound or novel analysis, but I think it must be true.

Life is filled with horror.  Filled.  This summer I’ve been dealing (albeit second-hand) with a lot of real-life horror.  A good friend of mine is spending over a month in Sloan-Kettering trying a new treatment for leukemia, since the last one didn’t work.  At the same time, another close friend has spent most of her summer in Florida looking after her hospitalized mother.  She’s in the same hospital where my mother died in 2008.  Talking to my friend brings me back to a place I don’t want to be.  Horror.

This year, two former students of mine were in the news.  The first was a teenager arrested for attempting to bomb synagogues and rabbis’ homes.  This would-be murderer was once a child to whom I read stories and taught the ins-and-outs of the Dewey Decimal System.  I helped him pick out books.  I wonder if he was one of those boys who only read R.L. Stine—I can’t remember.  Horror.

The second one was a boy who, with his older brother, was the victim of a freak accident; a metal laundry pole crashed onto them while they were playing in their back yard, injuring one and killing my student, the kindergartener.  Horror.

As I started thinking about writing this blog, the tragic shootings occurred in Aurora, Colorado.  What better example of real-life horror does one need?

We all know that at any moment, we could be hit by a car, or stricken by a disease, or become a victim of a fire or a mugging.  In July, I stayed home from my beloved monthly writers’ critique group meeting because of a massive thunderstorm going on at just the moment I was leaving my apartment.  I’ve never seen such intense, frequent lightning strikes.  Next day the news reported that a woman was killed by lightning not far from where I live.

Part of the pleasure of reading/watching horror is that we get to contain the things that terrify us.  Leukemia, mad gunmen, lightning—nothing you can do about those.  It will happen to you or you’ll be spared.  But ah—the horror in a book or movie—you feel the terror—but, no matter what happens to the characters, you survive unscathed.  And you don’t have to suffer from survivor-guilt.

What’s curious about the Aurora killings is the fact that they occurred in a movie theatre.  The people attending the movie were there to experience violence and horror and adventure vicariously—not in the flesh.  What was the gunman’s reason for picking a movie theatre?  This movie?  Is it that the vicarious experience of horror for him wasn’t enough?  It didn’t provide him with catharsis.  It only egged him on in wanting to partake of the creation—but not in an actually creative way.  Instead of writing a horror novel, or a dark fantasy poem, he felt the need to make it happen in real life.

Here’s to facing our terrors, our dark sides, in creative rather than destructive ways.  Read Niteblade, paint a portrait of a vampire, write a poem about succubi.  Keep the nightmares where they belong: in our actual dreams and in our art.

Well, I have survived my trip to California.  I’m afraid of heights and not keen on driving.  I’d been concerned about all the driving (alone) on Route 1, along the coast (but not down on the shoreline; up on the cliffs).  Parts of it were just as terrifying as I had feared.  Some parts worse.  I mean, no guard rails?  One false step and it’s—car off the road, tumbling down the cliffs, splashing into the ocean.  I spent days and days and days driving.  As time progressed, my fear didn’t lessen; it grew.  I cut three days off the northernmost portion of the trip because I was incapable of enduring yet another moment of “cliff-crawling.”

Having lived through terror (the red lines incised in my palms from gripping the steering wheel while cliff-crawling are proof), I am now ready to sit back, relax, and ride the Niteblade blog train.


A Note From Rhonda: The blog train continues on with a stop at Andrew Patterson’s blog tomorrow, and in case you didn’t see it, yesterday’s stop was at Sharon K. Reamer’s blog.

My Love Affair With Niteblade

My Love Affair With Niteblade
A guest post by Marge Simon

Where did the years since 2007 fly to? I remember that I was smitten from the start with Niteblade when I discovered that Editor Rhonda, mother of a sweet young girl, sought work that went where no P.C. editors dared venture. You know what I mean. Most all of the zines (online or otherwise) warn, “We don‘t want stories about children coming to harm”. So Rhonda says, “Well, I do want stories and poems like that, so have at it!”

Okay, so I taught elementary art to cherubs for over thirty years, have a lovely daughter and two grandchildren of my own. But I loved where Rhonda’s objectives took my questionably warped mind. I approached her first as an illustrator (later as a writer and poet, and was welcomed, by the way.) And suddenly I was given the bulk of the illustrations for Issue Numero Uno. The cover was done for R.K. Gemienhardt’s grim story, “Dark Angel”. It shows a innocent tot with a teddy bear sitting up in bed waiting for her grandfather’s good night kiss. You see him approaching from the shadows, and he doesn’t look very much like a doting granddaddy at all. A shocking concept, akin to the folk tale “Rawhead and Mr. Bloodybones” bedtime story told to scare little children out of their wits.

After that, Rhonda approached me to be her “in house” artist. I was thrilled! I got to illustrate the stories (and a poem) for coming issues. She must have been crazy and still is, because I’m still doing it. Of course, each issue is different and children might or might not play into the stories of any one issue. Just knowing that such may be included on the keenly whetted blade of night was enough for me.

I’ve had the pleasure of illustrating some fascinating stories and challenging poems (and vice versa) along the way by such as Joe McKinney, Beth Cato, Megan Arkenburg, Greg Schwartz, BD Wilson, and many more extraordinary talents!

An additional perk is that Rhonda has generously included me in announcing new issues stating that my art is available from me both to the authors and the reading audience for a very affordable sum, postage paid. I love it when the authors want to have the work that fired in my imagination! I feel it belongs with them, not in my files.

So this is thanks to Rhonda, to her wonderful and talented husband Jonathan, BD and now Alexa for empowering one hardly saintly, but most unique online publication of dark literature to carry on. Here’s to keeping it moving onward and upward!

Marge Simon


Note from Rhonda: In case you missed it, yesterday’s stop on the blog train was at Ash Krafton‘s blog and tomorrow’s is at Stephanie M. Wytovich‘s. Check them out 🙂

Also, for the record, I didn’t/don’t specifically seek out stories where children are in danger (well, except maybe for that one time), I just don’t want a policy in place to specifically exclude those types of tales 😉

Poetry Lineup March 2012

It’s time to announce to poetry content for our March 2012 Issue:


The Wake of March by Dan Campbell

The Woman in the World by Patrice Wilson

A Hellbound Tragicomedy by Stephanie Smith

Lycanthropist by J.S. Watts

The Coast Guard by Sonya Taaffe


Looking forward to this yet? Good. Spread the word.

Slush Update–Poetry Slush Pile

As of right now, our March Issue is full in terms of poetry (ToC for poetry will be posted here in a bit). We have a small backlog of all of two poems, so chances are good that you should have heard from me (if not, please check your submission’s status in Submishmash before querying).

At any rate, as of now, I will be primarily looking for vampire themed poems for the June issue, anything non-vamp will be automatically considered for the September or December issues. Yes, a Niteblade Vampire Poetry Special, I kid you not.

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: the vampire topic is well-worn, to say the least, so make sure you send me something with a fresh take on things, ‘kay?

Now, keep a weather eye out for that Poetry ToC.

Regarding Originality of Work

This is one of these hard to write posts, so I’ll just try to be succinct:

In July of 2011, Niteblade received a poetry submission: “Foretelling” was the poem’s title.

After a few edits, I accepted the poem for publication. Then I came across another poem, this one already published back in 2007. To my shock, “Foretelling” was almost identical to that other poem, not just a few words or even a few lines, but word for word, line for line; sure, that other poem had been cut significantly, and there were a few minor changes, some new line breaks, but it was the same poem.

I informed the original author about the incident; I informed the author who had sent the submission that Niteblade would no longer publish anything by them because “Foretelling” was not theirs, and that this author was no longer welcome to submit to any of the venues I edit for.

A response from the original author told me that the author submitting “Foretelling” to us had tried this before: they had submitted “their” poem to Liquid Imagination where the editor immediately found that it was not originally theirs.

For editors, this is perhaps a cautionary tale. For all concerned, it’s really just sad.


I hate lying and that, in a nutshell, is why the Niteblade twitter account is soon only going to be following our staff and authors. Our number of followers on Twitter is growing and I (Rhonda) don’t have time to keep up with a lot of followers on the Niteblade twitter account if I want to have time to do other Niteblade-related stuf. In addition, I don’t want Twitter to say I’m following people whose feeds I’m not reading. You dig?

So if you’re wondering why @NitebladeZine is not following you back, that’s why.

And if Niteblade has published or accepted some of your work and you have a Twitter account make sure you let me know so we DO follow you back.