From B Cubed Press last February: B Cubed Press is pleased to announce an open call for ALTERNATIVE DEATHINESS. A fun filled romp into the concept and nature of Death.

Seriously what the hell is death, big guy with bones and a sickle? An ominous Tarot Card? Or is it simply the passing of one thing for another. A change in phase. Or, it is the ending of you, and just you, a personal FU from the universe that say oopsie, you’re out of here?

So be prepared to look hard at this topic, its rituals, its layers. Have fun. May as well, considering the end comes for us all.

The title to be ALTERNATIVE DEATHINESS and you may be sure it was one I would bite on. Another book, ALTERNATIVE WAR, was announced at the same time and, although perhaps not quite as fascinating, I submitted to it too, a reprint called “Refugees.” But of the most interest, a reprint as well, was “The Sidewalk” for the one about death. What would be its fate?

Well . . . it died. In a rather full fullness of time, July 20, the word was returned. It had been rejected (“Refugees,” however, was apparently still on campaign). And there the matter lay.

Until. . . .

Fast forward to this morning, August 3, from Tom Easton (who he?): Thank you for submitting “The Sidewalk” to SPAWN OF WAR AND DEATHINESS. We loved this and would like to accept it for publication. A note followed concerning bibliographic information and then, not much later, a second acceptance came for “Refugees.” Such is the life of the fiction writer, always interesting, filled with surprises. A little detective work however (aided by Facebook), provided the answer.

On B Cubed’s page: Breaking News: MORE STORIES BEING BOUGHT.

The Alternative Deathiness and Alternative War anthologies have drawn so many excellent submissions that we find ourselves facing a dilemma. These anthologies have drawn such a collection of quality reprints, far more than we could ever use, that something MUST BE DONE.

Our Solution? Bob has asked Tom Easton to pick the best of the reprints for both War and Deathiness for a single extra anthology.

NOTE: Some rejections will be Retracted (or at least we will try).

And there you have it.

It was an historical event, really, the first live post-pandemic Bloomington Writers Guild Event, though while great crowds were hoped for the actual turnpout (perhaps due to recent COVID delta varient misgivings — or maybe just a hardish to find local library room) was sparse. Not a record low, though.

The event was August’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (see March 1 2020, et al.) with announced featured readers Kalynn (“K.H.”) Brower and . . . me, but due to a mixup Kalynn had to cancel at the last moment, causing coordinator Joan Hawkins to take her place. And despite a year and a half face-to-face hiatus the audience proved to be only two, poet and member Antonia Matthews (who we’ve met before) and one of her daughters, visiting from out of town. So, local plus visitor, not a bad mix, yes?

My reading was a story of insects, its choice inspired somewhat by last month’s cicadas, and returning memories and UFOs, “Waxworms,” originally published in Canada’s CHIZINE for July-September 2003, and reprinted in my 2013 collection THE TEARS OF ISIS as well as, most recently, BLACK INFINITY’s “Insidious Insects” Summer 2020 issue (c.f. August 20, et al.). This was followed by Joan with “French Lessons,” a creative memoir of how learning a language — with an excellent and dramatic teacher and using texts by absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco — ended up proving to be life-defining.

Then a break, with cider and snacks, followed by “open-mic” poetry reading and chat made for a pleasant, if not large event, with the next to be scheduled not for September — when Bloomington’s annual Fourth Street Arts Festival will intervene — but for Sunday October 3. I plan to be there.

The call seemed like a winner. I want good, solid stories in a cosmic horror/Lovecraftian vein. I specifically say Lovecraftian rather than Cthulu because I’d like stories across the entire Mythos, including additions by the original group of Mythos authors like Robert Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. In fact, this year I’d like to use more stories that do not have specific Lovecraftian references and that move away from the traditional Lovecraft style and voice. . . . Although open to all forms of cosmic horror, science fiction horror is more of a focus in this year’s anthology. I am especially interested in stories of mad science and stories that “peel the onion.”

So how could I resist — especially when Editor MKeaton added: For this anthology I’m asking for non-exclusive rights and will happily take reprints. And I had just such a tale, originally appearing (one adds) in an anthology called THE CHILDREN OF CTHULHU, published in 2002 by Del Rey Books.

And so Friday’s email: I would like to use your submission in the anthology. The contract is pasted below; please read it and send me any questions you may have before you sign and return it. (It should be very simple boilerplate.) Section 5 describes payment (it’s slightly different depending on which country you’re in) and let me know how you would like to be paid: by paypal or I can send you a check. Please fill in your address (I need it for payment and sending comp copies where applicable). After you return the contract, we’ll start the editing process.

The book in question is titled STRANGE AEON: 2021 (FEARFUL WISDOM), a sequel of sorts to one I missed being in, STRANGE AEON: 2020 (LOVECRAFTIAN TALES), the former as might be expected more strictly adhering to Lovecraftiana. And my story, “Dark of the Moon” (see also November 4, September 15 2016; August 22 2012, et al.) with reference as well to Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe, a tale of NASA and one-time Soviet cosmonauts banding together on an international lunar mission. And, “going where no man has gone before,” discovering. . . .

More to be revealed here as it becomes known.

Just a very short note, really, from Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge: I’m now working through the proofed copy of ASININE ASSASSINS, and hope soon to have the full cover. Once all of that is accomplished (probably mid- to late August), I’m headed into the last stages of production. So, the book should be available in September, barring unforeseen issues. YAH! My tale in this: “Shooting Fish” of alien tomfoolery and invasions of Earth (cf. June 25, et al.). With all then, with luck, to be ready for reading in not much more than a month.

Sunday’s celebration over, it’s time to be back to “the writing life” — in this case, arriving late yesterday evening, a final proof of CRUNCHY WITH KETCHUP (see July 5, et al.). Thus:

Attached is the proof file in .pdf format.

Please review your story, bio and information on the acknowledgments page.

Please let me know if I’ve made any errors. Since this file cannot be edited — please refer to the page number at the bottom of the page and include the first few words of the paragraph the change needs to be made in so I can find it quickly in the master file.

The little details, yes, but so, so important for a book we’ll all be proud to be in or to buy. And not that much work either, in this case involving just one correction sent back tonight. Ahead of schedule then, at least for me, but with all corrections requested to be in by Friday in hopes of an early August release.

Will the book, with my story “The Bala Worm,” make it? Check back here next week.

A bit of back story: When word came that we were to go into COVID-19 lockdown, my sanity-preserving decision was to write a new story every weekend. For a year (well, in this case, as it turned out — for “the duration” or else for a year, whichever came first).

So, most of these are flash, now that it’s over (the 52 weeks, that is) tending at around 1,000 words. One or two, I think, under 500 and with at least one that’s kissing 2,000. But then these days I’ve been writing short anyway. The challenge, however, is now to sell them.

Some, of course, may just suck — that happens too. But for those that can be sold, I don’t want to have done that much work for something that will get me, say, only $10.00. Not unless there’s some other reward too. So I’ve been tending to aim high for markets (one even went to “pro-zine” FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION — it came back fast) and, in some cases, more literary outlets. Part of the “fun” that kept me going was experimentation with such things as metafiction and post-modernism. So some may never sell at all because a market for them just doesn’t exist.

But today the anti-sale logjam burst! We would like to publish your story, “The Seven”, in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION. We’ll email a contract to you shortly for your approval. A sample email, including any edits to your story that may be necessary, will come later. The edits will be sent with enough time for your feedback, so we may resolve any issues and present the best possible story to our audience. Yes, that’s DAILY SCIENCE FICTION which we last met almost two years ago with the Trumpian zombie satire “Steel Slats” (cf. December 20, August 23 2019, et al.), a high-circulation “early choice” market for less-than-1500-word stories that I’ve only placed in about six times before since mid-2011.

While as for the story, it’s titled “The Seven,” a riff on Snow White but more about stories and folklore collecting than the actual young woman herself (whose name, in any event, was “Mary,” or so the dwarves say). But then their names may mutate as well — a name, after all, is just what you call something — and, tired out from a hard day in the mines, maybe they sometimes embellish things too.

You never know — that’s fiction for you (with more to be posted here as it becomes revealed).

WATER TURNS RED is a collection of 21 chilling stories that explore the various shades of this ghastly color red.

You’ve seen that before (cf. July 10, below), but now you can read it on hard copy too. Perhaps a few days later than originally hoped but, as promised, WATER TURNS RED can be obtained in paperback format, by pressing here. So announced a quick note in this afternoon’s email. So, quickly as well, my story as we may recall is called “Madness,” some 14,000 words concerning crime and bad dreams and upward mobility in the soulless city.

At least of a sort.

(Whatever can get her an extra cat candy)

And with paperback edition expected in just a few days. As Editor/Publisher Aditya Deshmukh explains: Crime manifests itself in many forms.

But it always bleeds red.

WATER TURNS RED is a collection of 21 chilling stories that explore the various shades of this ghastly color red. Within these pages lie the corpses of those killed in cold blood, the cunning minds of their killers, and the wits of detectives. Together they paint a disturbing image of the human psyche.

Do you want to witness it?

My part in this is a 10,000-plus word novelette, “Madness” (see June 23, 9, et al.), a tale of corporate upward mobility, and dreams of wolves, and caves, and the lore of at-least-believed since-deceased immigrant mothers. Of capitalism and cunning and crime, with a serving of punk rock. Or, quoting myself from an earlier posting, “Madness” (originally from THE WITCHING HOUR by Silver Lake Publishing, 2001), a cross-genre tale of mean streets (and offices) in the city with intimations of witchcraft — or is it?

WATER TURNS RED is, as noted, THE GREAT VOID BOOKS’ entry into crime fiction. More information, including ordering, can be found here.

That’s my physical mailbox, that is, the one on the front porch, and WEIRDBOOK #44 with her story “Death and the Vampire” (see April 15; August 18, June 16, 2019) has just arrived. From the dates one can see it has taken a while to come but — don’t even say “COVID” — these things do happen.

The “her,” on the other hand, is the vampiress Aimée, one not known for patience. Indeed that is a key element of the story, about a brief encounter at night in New Orleans. Or, quoting the story’s opening, A girl walks home alone at night. But this time Aimée was stopped by Death on the bad side of Rampart Street in the shadow of St. Louis Cemetery Number 1.

That first sentence is itself a steal from Ana Lily Amanpour’s film of the same name (cf. January 11, also January 19 2015, for reviews and comments). And the story, “Death and the Vampire,” is another in the series of short tales by me of les filles à les caissettes, based on a New Orleanian urban legend of the “Casket Girls” who arrived there from France in 1728 (see, e.g., July 4 2020, and many others) and became the first vampires in the New World. A number of these have seen print several times.

But this one’s a new one, in WEIRDBOOK for the first time, details on which (including ordering if one should be so moved) can be found here.

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