And it’s here! Today’s email brought my electronic copy of Third Flatiron Publishing’s THINGS WITH FEATHERS: STORIES OF HOPE (cf. just below), with my story, “The Wise Sister,” ensconsed toward the end in the humor corner. There it is paired with “The Summer of Love” by Art Lasky, these two stories followed by a closing essay by Gerri Leen, “What Hope Might Ask.” While above, the main contents of 22 more stories and a poem (this last a reprint by Emily Dickinson, that which has connected the feathers with hope).

All this, with an opening editor’s note by Juliana Rew, can be ordered now in its Kindle form (see link in the post just below), with more to come when the paperback edition is out in the hopefully not distant future.

That’s out on Kindle with paper to come, with supply chain problems, perhaps a bit later than first . . . um . . . hoped. But for the “sort of,” last minute corrections may slightly delay even the Kindle version, a new file having been sent, but it’s up to Amazon to have it ready for sending to buyers. This is the anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS: STORIES OF HOPE from Third Flatiron Publishing. Or, as Amazon blurbs it:

Is there hope for us all?

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope,” described it as “a thing with feathers.” Third Flatiron Anthologies’ latest collection of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories touches on the theme of hope, whether it’s about taking flight filled with optimism for the future, venturing outside one’s comfort zone, taking outsize risks in order to succeed, or finding it dashed on the rocks. Twenty-four authors give their entertaining takes on the subject, including Nemma Wollenfang, Emily Dauvin, Paula Hammond, Barton Paul Levenson, Sharon Diane King, Cayce Osborne, P.A. Cornell, Arthur Carey, David Cleden, F. T. Berner, Raluca Balasa, Melissa Mead, Nicholas Stillman, Shannon Brady, Bonnie McCune, Brian Rappatta, Bruce Arthurs, Alicia Cay, Danielle Mullen, E. J. Delaney, Wulf Moon, Art Lasky, James Dorr, and Gerri Leen. Edited by Juliana Rew.

My story therein is one about deadly tsunamis and best laid plans, “The Wise Sister” (see September 20, et al.), and which one will succeed — or fail. The hope, of course, is for survival, but will either sister’s plans come out a winner?

To find out (or for more information) press here.

NIGHT FRIGHTS 2, the second of DARK MOON DIGEST’s special younger-reader oriented issues (see September 14, et al.), is now available on Kindle with my story “Upward!” in it. In the second issue of Night Frights magazine, we have stories by Christa Carmen, Greg Cypress, James Dorr, Gina Easton, Alyson Faye, Ken MacGregor, Donna J.W. Munro, Matthew Stott, and Roger Venable. Also includes a classic short story by Edgar Allan Poe and an article all about Halloween!

But that’s not all. In an email Editor Lori Michelle has added: It has been sent to the printer, copies are being printed and sent here, ebooks have been uploaded (and attached to this email for you) , and we will probably be announcing it in the newsletter this weekend. . . . Once the copies arrive (FYI, both printing and shipping times are super slow right now. Just another fun COVID side effect), I will get them to you guys. That is, for those like me who prefer them, print copies also are in the offing.

As for “Upward!” it’s a tale of a cliche, in horror circles. That is, it takes a general subject that’s become a sort of cliche — sort of like vampires, there’s nothing new in the concept itself, but there are all sorts of new ways one can handle it — and, in this case, turns it on its head. That is, the point of view is one that’s much more rarely used.

But that’s for the reader to see for themself, which now can be done (via Kindle at least) by pressing here.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to terrify, scar and haunt our audience of 10,000 daily listeners, then we want your stories

If accepted, we’ll get our fantastic narration team to lend their voices, our editor will sprinkle some magic pixie dust on the track, and you could have your story heard by thousands of listeners each week.

Such was the pitch, along with a list of themes, one of which was “Post-Apocalypse II,” with a fairly tight word count of 2000 words, give or take 10%. That is, 1800 to 2200 words, so how about a reprint (these accepted also) at about 2175 words from British magazine LEAFING THROUGH, December 2004, in the voice of a child? A child, that is, born underground in a colony of World War III survivors who had been trapped there when “the big one” came, and survived by tunneling deeper.

Well, it should be horrifying enough, and in a first person “sub standard” dialect to challenge voice actors, so I sent it in to THE OTHER STORIES (also in the UK, come to think of it), this back in April. And so it waited.

And waited. . . .

Until today, October 7: We loved this story and would like to run it on the podcast.

I’ve attached the paperwork and we’ll just need your signature on that along with your PayPal email address for payment.

Looking forward to getting it into production!

The email came earlier this afternoon, but with one deviation from how these things usually go. It was an acceptance, but what it was an acceptance for was to remain a secret.

Thus: We would like to use your submitted story, “________”, in the ________ anthology. The contract is attached to this message. Please read through it carefully and let us know if you have any questions or concerns. If you do not have any questions, please sign it, scan the full document, and send it back ASAP.

Please do not publicly announce any specifics regarding this yet. . . .

So I will say it’s for a science fiction story and is a reprint, but otherwise details will come when they’re ready. These things happen, usually a case of not all stories decided on yet and the publisher wanting to wait for the entire contents to be set before releasing a general announcement. All a part of the life. And in any event, the task at hand was to download and otherwise handle the contract.

So possibly you’re ahead of me here: This would be another job for the local public library scanner (see September 23, et al.). And so it was done: printed, signed, scanned, and sent back — as slick as that!

It’s all about witches, the writing life, that is. At least for today — two anthology proof sheets to read and send back with any changes.

Both actually came to me late yesterday with the first, for “Flying” (see September 29, 28, 5), actually gone over last night, but with some extra questions, most of these regarding foreign spellings, to still be resolved. So another go-over came this morning with final corrections sent back, and acknowledged, later today.

Then the second one was for “The Good Work” (see September 27), a Victorian London-set “dreadpunky” story of underage witch hunters. After a quick preliminary glance over, I took this one to the public library computer — most questions here being minor ones concerning punctuation, but with a couple of word choice items that needed comments — and out it went a little after 6:30 this evening.

So just another day, not too exciting, just part of the process. But what is exciting is both books are racing for hopeful pre-Halloween release dates. And hopefully, by getting right onto my part of the effort, I’ll have helped them make it!

Skipping a month due to Bloomington’s annual 4th Street Arts Festival, the Bloomington Writers Guild resumed its “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (see August 1, et al.) at a new venue, the recently re-opened Morgenstern’s Books. And unlike August’s, this month’s event pulled in a respectable audience, up to about twenty people for the featured readers, Kalynn (“K.H”) Brower, held over from August, and poet, essayist, and long and short fiction writer, etc., Amy Cornell.

Amy led off with a quartet of works: an opening poem, “Elegy for a Bookstore,” commemorating Morgenstern’s earlier time in Bloomington, and three short stories, “Quality Control,” “The Poetry Stalker,” and the recently published “The Tulip Trestle.” Then Kalynn presented the opening chapter of a solarpunk novel, the second in a series aimed at younger readers, MISSION TO BLUE GRANNUS. Offering a positive look at an interstellar future, BLUE GRANNUS is currently scheduled for release next April.

After a break, six readers came up for “open mic” with me taking the number two spot. Explaining that even though being a (mostly) horror writer I wanted to start off the fall season at Morgenstern’s on an upbeat note, I read a hopefully humorous piece, “Zombie With a Toothache,” about a zombie, a werewolf, and a guitar-playing vampiress (and friends) who start a rock group.

October 1, and I noticed it only because I had to check Paypal for late deposits to close my ledger for September. But there it was, an entry right away for October as well and, even though I do stick to my custom of naming neither amount or payer, this one wasn’t bad. Worth a pretty good dinner anyway at a local restaurant, and for only about a 25th of an anthology (i.e., my one story in it) that’s been good for royalties before too. A not bad start to both a new month and the run-up to the Halloween season.

And, for September — my reason for checking Paypal in the first place — another royalty was recorded during the final few days, on the 28th. This was of the more minuscule variety of which we’ve been well acquainted before, but every bit still counts.

A real quickie this time, later yesterday evening Zombie Works Publications sent the contract for “Flying” (see just below) — to go, that is, with the bio, etc. they’d just received. Except there were a few errors in it (including a wrong anthology title, presumably one for a different book). So, not to worry, I emailed back noting that and a few more details that needed a look. And, a few hours later, a new corrected contract appeared.

By then it was late, though, near even my bedtime so after giving it a quick glance, I let it go until today when, using a library computer this time, I copied, re-pasted, added an “I agree to the above text. . . .” type statement with name plus date, and back it went. Another link added to the chain of publication, for NATURAL INSTINCTS: TALES OF WITCHES AND WARLOCKS with my story, “Flying.”

The email came today, short and direct: We are going into production of the anthology NATURAL INSTINCTS, and contracts are being drawn up. What we require from you at this point is the following:

1) Up to date bio and author photo. Please keep bio’s short.
2) Physical mailing address and legal name.

To give it its full title, the book in question is NATURAL INSTINCTS: TALES OF WITCHES AND WARLOCKS from Zombie Works Publications (cf. September 5), with my story in it “Flying.” And it was a quick acceptance too, coming back just two days after I’d sent the story. It has to do with a woman in eighteenth century Spain, in the court of Philip V, who under the pressures of palace intrigue is driven to witchcraft. And in NATURAL INSTINCTS, as I understand from the guidelines, it was one of only thirteen acceptances, though (the guidelines also specifying stories between 2000 and 3000 words, which would make for a rather short collection) there may be others solicited or accepted before, perhaps from an earlier call.

Be that as it may, this is one I’m really looking forward to seeing when it comes out, witches being interesting in themselves but also because this particular story is an earlier favorite of mine, and one I’ll be glad to have in print again. To be sure, I’ve already sent the requested items back, as it looks like they’re trying to get it out fast and I don’t want to delay them.

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