I can remember when, if one thought of Indiana, one thought of basketball and cornfields — and maybe the Indianapolis 500. So now we’re the host, approximately seven blocks from my house, of the Diabolique International Film Festival over this weekend, Thursday through Saturday, “presented by DIABOLIQUE MAGAZINE, the fastest growing publication in the world dedicated to genre cinema.” How far we have come!
To further quote from the program book: “The festival began eight years ago as the Dark Carnival Film Festival. Since 2007 it has presented over 250 films from more than a dozen countries, and hosted visiting filmmakers from around the world. The festival has been recognized by MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE as one of the ‘Top 25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,’ and one of the ’13 Horror Film Festivals to Die For.’”
I just got home a few minutes after midnight, Friday morning, from the opening feature, PROXY. It’s one that starts brutally with a pregnant woman attacked and beaten on her way home from a checkup. She loses the baby, but later on makes a new friend in a grief support group — but then some things start not to add up. And then the film takes a new direction, and then another. . . . Deception upon deception — which is reality and which a fantasy? As the director himself had said, it’s “a film that works best if you don’t know too much about it beforehand,” but I’ll give two hints. It is, throughout, a film about psychological comings to terms with things. And the title is what it is for a reason.
There was a question/answer session afterward with Director Zack Parker, originally himself from Indiana — with the movie also having been filmed primarily in Richmond, on the Ohio border (then adding to the Indiana connection, Parker admitted the boy, Peyton, in the film was deliberately named for one-time Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, a popular name locally at about the time the boy would have been born). Other highlights: that he had spent four or five years in Los Angeles, and even worked once with Roger Corman (cf. March 30, below), but it’s much cheaper to actually make one’s films away from LA; his methods for casting (a prospect’s attitude and whether he or she seems to “get” what the director’s trying to do with a film counts more than the audition); his creative method of thinking first about what kind of movie he wants to make, then coming up with a story to fit it; and the rather dark roles of the women in this picture as a breaking away from “typical” female parts.
Friday evening will bring three features by horror director Ti West, of which I will hope to watch all three (I have a pass that’s good for the whole weekend) but may only have stamina enough for two. Then Saturday afternoon and night will be taken up by blocks of short films, of which I will hope to get to the later, more intensive screenings. During the day, though, I also have a monthly meeting of my writers group.
For those interested, more on the Diabolique International Film Festival can be found here.
“Below are the titles that will be submitted to OverDrive for their various promotions in October. All titles will be discounted 25% where allowed (some are $0.99 already, which is the lowest OverDrive will go). The sale will be available to all libraries as well as most retailers who source through OverDrive.” So began today’s email from Untreed Reads Publications editor Jay Hartmen. And so, to the chase, a scroll down revealed that one of the titles is YEAR’S END: 14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR, Untreed Reads’s 2012 New Eve anthology with (ahem) its leadoff story by me, “Appointment in Time.”
As for OverDrive, their website explains: “OverDrive.com is designed to help you get digital eBooks, audiobooks, videos, and music quickly and easily. You can search for a title, then immediately see if it’s available to borrow, for free, from your library.” That is, from the library’s point of view, they’re a distribution service that libraries can buy ebooks, etc., from, whereas from the reader’s point of view it’s a service through which one can borrow these titles directly through the OverDrive site. Moreover, they presumably highlight selected titles for seasonal or other occasional reasons — and, according to Untreed Reads’s list, YEAR’S END will be part of a “Halloween/Spooky Stories” October promotion.
For more on OverDrive, one can press here; while for information on Untreed Reads, including three other titles by me, PEDS, I’M DREAMING OF A. . ., and VANITAS, click on their pictures in the center column or (for a more general look) press here.
The print edition of BLOOD TYPE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VAMPIRE SF ON THE CUTTING EDGE (cf. August 13; December 9, October 30 2013, et al.) is finally here, landing in my mailbox a little before 12 noon today. Hats off to Editor Robert S. Wilson! It’s a large volume (there was an audible thump! from my front porch signaling its arrival) of just over 450 pages, of which my story “Eudora” is ensconsed in just about the middle. And not only that, it is a charity anthology with profits going to fight cystic fibrosis.
More information, etc., can be found by pressing here. Buy it!
The business side of writing today, this time with the receipt of two contracts Monday, one by postal mail, one by email, from Smart Rhino Publications’s INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS for “Labyrinth” (see September 9) and Burial Day Books’s GOTHIC BLUE BOOK IV: THE FOLKLORE EDITION for “School Nights” (September 8) respectively. Both went back by postal mail, for the “Labyrinth” this morning and “School Nights” (printed out at the public library since their printer is nicer than mine) this afternoon — the less glamorous part of the writing life. GOTHIC BLUE BOOK, incidentally, is still on schedule for publication on Halloween.
You heard it here first! Yesterday evening I received a date from Kate Hill, October 25 — the Saturday before Halloween — for my appearance on her “Annual Halloween Page Promo, 10 Year Anniversary.” I don’t know about the whole ten years myself, but I was a guest last year too on October 21 (cf. the same date, or, if you should wish to see it for yourself, press here) when the topics discussed were favorite autumn treats, Halloween celebrations, and sexiest paranormal creatures. Vampires scored high in that last, as I recall. Whereas, for this year, the emphasis will be on decorations for Halloween (discover what you would see on my porch should you come to trick-or-treat — or any other time, for that matter).
There’s also an opportunity to promote one’s works as the title of the page suggests, and this year’s promotee is . . . THE TEARS OF ISIS! As it happens, THE TEARS OF ISIS was featured last year too, but this year’s picture should show her in her new dress as well as mention her Bram Stoker Award® Fiction Collection Nominee status, along with including an all-new, never-seen-before-in-its-entirety excerpt (hint: it takes place in the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona — now see if you can guess which story it’s from).
Also for October I’ve sent a blog post/review to the Horror Writers Association’s “Halloween Haunts 2014,” although no date has been set for it as yet. Last year, also, I had an entry, the review originally posted on this blog on May 31 2012 of the film/opera DRACULA: ENTRE L’AMOUR ET LA MORT (see October 13, or to view the HWA version directly press here). So for this year . . . well, what I sent is another review from these pages of a film for late Halloween-night viewing with a friend you like very much. Can you guess which it is? (And, for extra credit, what refreshment I recommend for sipping while you watch?)
So is it GRIEVOUS ANGEL or URBAN FANTASIST or . . . SCIFI-AND-FANTASY.LAND? Actually it’s the last one now to mark an expansion of the British site. As Editor Charles Christian explains: “Why? Because we now cover so much more than urban fantasy, including science fiction, dark fantasy, steampunk, horror, the paranormal — in fact any weird stuff, news, images, video, fiction or poetry we like and think you would too. We have more plans for the future . . . bookmark this site and we’ll keep you updated.” However, GRIEVOUS ANGEL (cf. June 30) is still a part of it.
And so today, published under the rubric “New Poetry” are two pieces, the second of which is “Beware of the Dog” by me.
Thus enjoy as a lagniappe — a little extra at no extra cost — what the editor bills “an interesting take on modern-day werewolves” by pressing here. Along with, on this post, a portrait of the Grievous Angel herself.
We may recall UNCOMMON ASSASSINS from 2012 (cf., most recently, February 7, et al.) with my Saharan story of “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE — my first story there! — in November 1991 as well as reprinted in my first collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES. So publisher Smart Rhino Publications is doing it again, this time with INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, “stories in which an insidious character/villain intends to kill someone,” with an accent on stealth, treachery, or deceit in varying genres — as long as the end game is focused on murder.
As a veteran, as it were, of the earlier book I received an invitation to submit before it opened to the general public, and while the premium is on original stories (though with some exceptions for “established writers”) I had a reprint which I thought might work. Originally published in A. J. Budrys’s TOMORROW SF in its first electronic edition in March 1997 (and also STRANGE MISTRESSES four years later), “Labyrinth” is a fantasy of romance and ghosts and betrayal set on the island of Crete.
Thus two tales with exotic locales and nasty deeds, and the gamble paid off: the word came yesterday afternoon from Editor Weldon Burge. “I love the intrigue and mythic elements in this story, and it’s a perfect fit for the anthology! I’d love to accept it for INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS.” Tentative publication will be in early 2015 with general submissions being read until October 30 “or until the antho is full,” for more information on which one may press here.
Then, also yesterday afternoon, the contract came for my story “Extinctions” from Australian publisher Voluted Tales for its special edition, THE DARKNESS INTERNAL (see May 27). This one will be another reprint, originally published in THE BLUE LADY in Autumn 1996, an apocalyptic tale of sorts — or is it all only in the narrator’s imagination? As of now the issue is set for release in “late September/early October” so we’ll find out then.
Gothic blue books were descendents of the chap-book, trade in which had nearly disappeared by 1800. They measured about three and a half to four inches wide and six to seven inches high. Many of the blue books contained outright plagiarism, being as they were merely plot summaries of full-length gothic novels. Almost all were abridgements of full-length gothic novels, usually without change of the title or characters’ names from the original. Gothic blue books were usually either thirty-six or seventy-two pages long, selling for either sixpence or a shilling respectively. It is from their price that they derived the nicknames, “Shilling Shockers” and “Sixpenny Shockers.” . . . These short forms of the Gothic were not popular with critics, with some deeming them as the toxic literary waste of their time period.
So says Wikipedia, but Burial Day Books has undertaken to revive the form with, thus far, three annual “Blue Book” anthologies already published. These, mind you, are for original tales and poems, but ones told in condensed fashion as in the 18th and 19th century tradition. Settings should also be traditional, in convents or monasteries or castles, or, allowing for some expansion, cemeteries, funeral homes, morgues, or haunted houses, and all to be at short story length or less. So why not? thought I and off I sent a 300-word flash piece, “School Nights,” about little girl Marcie who grew quickly and the results of, shall one say, a bit of independent study – and which took place in an abandoned house reputed to be haunted.
Late last night the results came in: “We would like to publish School Nights in GOTHIC BLUE BOOK 4.” And thus September’s first story acceptance, planned to be out on Halloween, October 31, for more information on which one can press here.
Two swift Monday items, the first from a message from Max Booth III a few days back noting that The Fussy Librarian has approved THE TEARS OF ISIS for its daily email for today, September 8. The Fussy Librarian is a service for readers who can put in key words describing the kinds of books they like, receiving in turn lists of books that, based on their interests, they might want to buy. However there are criteria a book must satisfy before being listed, having to do with such things as number of reviews received, percentage of positive ones, etc. The hope is that this will expand a book’s potential readership, or in the words of the Librarian him/herself, “40 genres + content matching = fantastic ebooks for you.” Or, quoting their website, “Why So Fussy? With millions of books out there, it can be time consuming to find the good stuff. We can help! Only The Fussy Librarian remembers what genres you like and your preferences about language, violence and sexual content. . . .”
You can check The Fussy Librarian out by pressing here, then click on “book database” in the Librarian’s speech balloon and scroll down the pictures of book covers to “HORROR.” Or, if you’d just like to buy THE TEARS OF ISIS regardless of the Librarian’s advice, to go directly to Amazon press here (for the Kindle edition, since the Librarian recommends ebooks — she also offers links to B&N and Nook — but if you prefer you can go from there to the page for the print edition).
In other news, insofar as “Rocky Road” (cf. September 1) was published by DAILY SCIENCE FICTION exactly one week back, it’s now available to all in their archives, whether you’re a subscriber or not. If interested press here, then enter my last name, Dorr, in the search box at the upper right for its listings for all four stories I’ve had published there. WARNING: If you enter “James Dorr” or “James S. Dorr” or stories by title, you might get more than you really want since all keywords are searched for (e.g. everyone with the name “James,” etc.).
It may have lasted a few seconds more than the three-minute limit we try to adhere to for open mike readings (cf. August 3), but the piece I read is one that’s unpublished this time (though being looked at by DAILY SCIENCE FICTION), an odd sort of vampire tale called “The Vault.” I think of it as being existentialist in a NO EXIT-y kind of way (or maybe more Henri le Chat on Youtube — for which, if you’re unfamiliar with Henri, press here). Perhaps others would prefer “pretentious.” In any event, it went well enough.
Featured readers were MFA candidate Tia Clark, currently working on both a novel and a short story collection and reading an entry from the latter; recent poetry MFA Lisa Kwong who also coordinates the Writers Guild’s Fountain Square Poetry Series, with a fairytale about love poetry and office supplies that had itself begun as a poem; and Indiana University Writers’ Conference Associate Director and former Fiction Editor of the INDIANA REVIEW Trevor Mackesey with a story of dogs and floods on Chesapeake Bay.
Sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild at local bookstore Boxcar Books, these things are fun in general, literary pretensions aside — though I’m a show-off enough that I’ll always try to have something to read (memo to me, I need to write more 500-word flash pieces). However next month I’m scheduled for one of the featured slots (see August 14) as part of the buildup to Halloween, as it were, so I’ll have a bit more time for reading then.
For more information on the Writers Guild as well as upcoming events, press here.