Just a very, very short entry.  Yesterday saw the arrival of a preliminary proof copy of DEADSTEAM, the steampunkish Victorian anthology of tales centered around the dead, which recently accepted my story “The Re-Possessed (see January 11).  Letting no grass grow under his feet, Editor Bryan Raffle requested corrections, if any, to edits, comments on questions (including in some cases minor rewriting), plus bios and photos, etc.  And so the beat goes on:  I, seeing only a few very minor changes plus really only one comment to address, was able to get the package together and off it went back this afternoon.  Publication to my best knowledge is still scheduled for fall (thus authors who might have been asked for rewrites should have time to complete them) with, among other things, a proposed series of author interviews to be conducted as part of a pre-release publicity campaign — and which I was delighted to agree to!  More to be here as it becomes known.

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And so why not?  Do we remember the post on PHOBOS, the Deep Black Sea issue (and with my Lovecraftian story in it, “The Dark Call of the Sea”)?  Pause for a moment to scroll, below, to January 4.  And do we recall now that strange mermaid cover, reaching down to some tentacled thing beneath?  The artist for that was one Abigail Larson who, through the power today of pure serendipity, we have a chance to meet again.

Or, to quote writer Gwendolyn Nix:  Step back, Disney.  A new artist is in town, one that stays true to the dark truths of our beloved fairytales.  Inside the world of Abigail Larson, monsters lurk in the shadows and melancholy protagonists face what they fear most – their own imagination.  Crafted within a Victorian-era inspired backdrop, Larson’s imagination comes to life on the page, visually ushering in a new era of Tim Burton inspired lines and Edward Gorey aesthetic with skillful application of watercolor, ink, and Photoshop.

The article is “Darker Than Disney:  The Shadowed Imagination of Abigail Larson” and it comes to us via DEARDARKLING.COM — and the art is delicious.  A treat for a snowy, snowy Monday from where I’m writing, for more of which (including the aforementioned mermaid) press here.

And talking about a good start to the month, another acceptance came in today, also for a reprint originally published in the Spring 2006 DARK WISDOM.   Thank you for sending “The Wind” to the FORBIDDEN anthology.  As usual, you submitted a well written and captivating story.  I really enjoyed this supernatural take on the theme, and I have kept it under consideration for a long time.  Now, after such waiting, I am pleased to accept it to the collection.  I have attached the publishing agreement which you can send back when you have the chance.

FORBIDDEN, to cite the guidelines, is to be an anthology of repression, restriction, and rebellion.  Quoting Editor Martin T. Ingham, [t]hroughout recorded history, there have been rules and regulations, customs and traditions.  Some have been libertine while others oppressive; the morally strict and the sinfully decadent.  There have always been those who impose the law, and those who reject it.  Wherever there is civilization, there are things that are Forbidden!  In the case of “The Wind,” a once religious man has lost his daughter in a freak accident and, instead of accepting it as he should, he questions not law or society about it, but God.

Long-time readers may note this is not the first mention here of Martinus Publishing/Martinus Press, publishers also of the zombie anthology LIFE OF THE DEAD (with my “Girls Gone Dead”) and ALTERED AMERICA (“Avoid Seeing a Mouse”), and while paying in royalties has — especially with ALTERED AMERICA — done so fairly handsomely (cf. July 31 2016, January 20 2015, et al.).  Publication for FORBIDDEN is tentatively set for spring, most likely in May.

I want your stories that embrace the traditional horror story-telling of the Victorian penny dreadfuls and gothic mysteries.  Steampunk is certainly welcome here, but I’m more interested in Poe and Mary Shelly than Verne and Wells.  I will happily accept tales that pair the gothic with the steamy mechanical contraptions inherent to steampunk.  Give me the fog-drenched dreadpunk Victoriana.  [and]  Your tale should include at least one dead creature, be it a ghost, a vampire, a zombie, or some creature of your own invention, and should fit into some alternate version of the Victorian era.

Sounds like fun, yes?  Such was the call last fall from Bryce Raffle for the upcoming DEADSTEAM, an anthology that aims to showcase the dark side of steampunk, the ghoulish and the gothic, tales of gaslamp and dreadpunk that embrace the macabre.  And who was I to resist it? So, the money not much but reprints allowed, off went a story published originally in CEMETERY RIOTS (Elysium Press, 2016), “The Re-Possessed.”  And Thursday the word came back:  Thank you for allowing me to read your story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and think it will be a great fit for the DeadSteam anthology. Honestly, I got chills reading it!

Also attached was a contract with other information concerning proof copies, payment, and publicity, etc., the former to be sent back Friday. According to the guidelines last fall, the hope is to release the anthology Halloween this year, and, at least from the descriptions above, it sounds like a neat one!  More will be here as details become known.

No, the pictured DEATH: A GRAVESIDE COMPANION is not part of the list but, courtesy of ELECTRICLITERATURE.COM, herewith by its editor Joanna Ebenstein “10 Death-Obsessed Books to Satisfy Your Inner Goth.”  And, did I say eclectic?  How about leading it off with E. B. White’s beloved children’s tale of CHARLOTTE’S WEB in which Wilbur the pig learns that his purpose in life is to be made into bacon — and then adding, at number 6, Oscar Wilde’s SALOMÉ: A TRAGEDY IN ONE ACT, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley?  Other entrants include Edward Gorey’s THE GASHLYCRUMB TINIES (number 5), Henry James with THE TURN OF THE SCREW (number 7) George DuMaurier’s TRILBY (number 4), even Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (number 9).  So some may be familiar, some maybe not so much, but all can be found by pressing here.

With a Sunday respite from cold, cold weather last week, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (see December 4, et al.) had its 2018 start in a new and most likely temporary venue, the Monroe County Library Auditorium, due to the imminent closing of Boxcar Books.  The featured readers were speculative fiction writer and sometimes poet Darja Malcolm-Clarke with an excerpt from a story to bloomingtonwritersguildappear in SEE THE ELEPHANT magazine, “Wren’s Flight”; YA novelist Julia Karr with three short pieces based on prompts from a writing course several years back; and School of Education doctoral candidate Adam Henze with a group of fictionalized essays on various aspects of the teaching experience, including one in haibun form.  Snacks (to be eaten in the library’s atrium only) followed, leading into the open mike session with five readings, of which mine was third, “Midnight Sun,” a Christmas tale of zombies and vampirism in its own cold, cold weather setting, thus giving it a special relevance to the well below freezing previous few days.

“Matches,” short, sweet, and by SFWA/HWA guidelines paid at a professional rate to boot, has just appeared on GRIEVOUS ANGEL, a part of the UK’s URBAN FANTASIST site.  As for what it’s about, let’s let Editor Charles Christian describe it:  It’s the start of a new year, a time when many of us start new jobs or pursue new ambitions — but what if you are a wannabe superhero with no special powers.  In this absurdist fantasy story Matches, James S. Dorr considers what happens when your dream is snuffed out like a candle (in the wind).

So here’s my welcome to 2018 in a manner of speaking, one that I’ll hope will be followed by many more stories and poems as the months progress, some reprints, some — like this one — to be published for the first time.  To read it, press here.

It was a long time coming, originally set for March or April last year, then “officially” published around July, but PHOBOS 4 has at last arrived (cf. July 11, February 24, et al.) — and is listed now on Amazon as well!  PHOBOS publishes themed magazines and the subject for this one is “Deep Black Sea” with my story in it, a Lovecraftian romp titled “The Dark Call of the Sea” about a musician and his artist sister and how a beach vacation at Innsmouth may not have been wise, the last in the contents.  Other stories concern such items as killer mermaids in the koi pond, cyborgs in lifeboats, and impolite pirates, and all in all PHOBOS 4 seems a pretty good read so far.  For more, one can press here.

In other news, 2018’s first royalty check came in the mail Wednesday and, not for the first time, the real winner was the U.S. Post Office which sold the stamp.  As is my custom, neither publisher nor book will be mentioned to avoid embarrassment on both sides, but suffice to say when it’s for one story in an anthology amounts are likely to be small anyway.  Nevertheless, money is money and, no matter how little, the fact that there’s any is an endorsement.

Hark us back a moment to December 26, below, and the revelation that SOCIETY FOR MISFIT STORIES PRESENTS. . . , VOLUME 1, starring my story “By Force and Against the King’s Peace,” was a nominee for best anthology in the Preditors and Editors 2017 Readers Poll.  Well, yesterday afternoon the news came that those wily pollsters are at it again, with another nominee being the Third Flatiron Publishing anthology CAT’S BREAKFAST:  KURT VONNEGUT TRIBUTE, also with a story by — you guessed it! — moi, “Dead Girls, Dying Girls,” a tale of school science fairs, dancing, and . . . bears (see July 11, et al.).*  Music and education together.  Either nominee may be voted on by pressing here, but I don’t know whether one can vote for both (not that I might not have tried it myself, not that I would suggest. . . .).  But either way, Third Flatiron Editor Juliana Rew points out that votes are due before January 14 and, as she adds, [f]eel free to enter other work if you wish, too.  It offers good exposure to us in the small press field.
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*Should the Third Flatiron name seem familiar, by the way, they are also publishers of the upcoming MONSTROSITIES, among others, which has just accepted my story “Got Them Wash Day Blues” (cf. December 28).

So it’s still the Christmas Season, isn’t it (cf. number 10, “12 Days of Christmas: A Tale of Avian Misery,” and one of my favorites)?  So herewith, to while the minutes of an otherwise very cold late New Years Day, at least where I live and not a time to be going outside, welcome “13 Short Horror Films to Exorcise Holiday Mirth and Cheer” by Marni Molina, courtesy of DEARDARKLING.COM.  Viewing times range from 1:49 to 16:01 minutes.

To sample, press here — but think twice before sharing these with the kiddies (this means you too, Triana)!

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