There had been a hiatus for September, that being the weekend of the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts with its Writers Guild-sponsored Spoken Word Stage (see September 6), but this afternoon, October 4, brought back the 2015 First Sunday Prose Reading season (see August 2, et many al.), including an “open mike” reading by me.  Sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington (about which more can be found here) in conjunction with Boxcar Books, the session opened with featured reader Samrat Upadhyay, award-winning author of such books as ARRESTING GOD IN KATHMANDU, THE GURU OF LOVE, and BUDDHA’S ORPHANS, who read a short story set in Nepal, “Fast Forward,” from his latest, soon to be published collection.  He was then followed by Wendy Teller, currently working on her first, as yet untitled novel, who read its opening chapter, followed in turn by Molly Gleeson, a mostly nonfiction writer but “dabbling” in fiction, who read her newest (and also as yet untitled) short story.

These were followed by a refreshment break and then the open mike readings, in which I took the third spot of four with a new story (alluded to below on September 19), “His Dead Ex-Girlfriend,” a saga on why the mere fact of one’s significant other having become a zombie shouldn’t prevent a rekindling of romance — or at least going through the motions.

It is hilarious.  This was the Friday night, 10 p.m. showing at the Indiana University Cinema — hence my writing this just after midnight Saturday — of director John Waters’s 1994 SERIAL MOM.  “A hilarious and dark twist on the everyday mediocrity of suburban life,” so say the program notes, “SERIAL MOM gives us Kathleen Turner as we’ve never seen her before.  As Beverly Sutphin, Turner plays a seemingly perfect homemaker, who will stop at nothing to rid the neighborhood of anyone who cannot live up to her perfect moral code.”  This even includes, as we find out when she’s finally caughtSerialMom, brought to trial, and in a parody of courtroom dramas acts as her own lawyer to gain an acquittal, murdering one of the jury members for wearing white shoes after Labor Day.  This even after the juror explains that particular etiquette rule is no longer in force.

So it’s a crime film in a way too, or a satire of one — but is it horror?  Her son and his friends’ watching horror movies (he works in a video rental store, which helps feed his habit), which mom does too augmenting it with reading about real live serial killers, is certainly part of the “corrupting” mix.  But what of the neighbors?  Those who she finds “guilty” and metes out varying degrees of punishment to.  How well, in fact, do you know your own neighbors?

Even at this moment they could be watching you.

But the supreme horror for me was at the end, just as the jury found mom not guilty, and one sees the looks on her family’s faces when it sinks in:  They will have to continue living with her.  (The daughter hastily assures her new boyfriend, the previous one deceased after mom overheard the daughter complain when he’d stood her up, that everything would be okay as long as he was careful not to get mom upset.)  Granted, of course, they had stood by her, but to the extent of wearing “anti-death penalty” buttons and hoping for an insanity finding.  And such was her fame already that Susanne Somers was set to play her in an upcoming SERIAL MOM TV film.

Paranoia anyone?

For better or for worse I’ve always considered Ray Bradbury a major source of inspiration in my own writing.  So today’s email brought an report from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies on their recently ended exhibit, MBradburyiracles of Rare Device:  Treasures of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, which “featured art and artifacts from the Bradbury Memorial Archive housed at IUPUI.  The exhibit ran from August 3 to August 28 in the IUPUI Campus Center Cultural Arts Gallery and was visited by nearly one thousand people during the month.  The August 28 reception and lecture by Bradbury Center director, Dr. Jonathan R. Eller, drew over a hundred attendees, both local and out-of-state.”

Included was a link to a video tour of the exhibit conducted by Director Eller (pictured above) which can be found here.  Also, for more information on the Center in general, one can press here.

Stephanie Buosi has announced a minor diabolical ruse, a shift of release date one day forward to October 15 for Erebus Press’s HOW TO TRICK THE DEVIL (see September 25, et al.), including my story “Lobster Boy and the Hand of Satan.”  Moreover, she tells us that for “the first week, following the release, Horrified press will give 10% off the RP and will provide free global delivery,” so beHTTTD Cover7-2 alert and be aware!  And, one more thing, the cover designed by Shaun Brassfield has now been unveiled as well.

Also announced Monday by Community Manager Kathryn Lively, will be hosting a guest blog post by me on October 22.  This will be an updating of a piece I had had on the Open Book Society in 2012 on networking as a help in marketing ones work titled “To PEDS and Beyond:  Community and the Writer,” using as examples (among others) four stories from Untreed Reads Publishing that are available on AllRomanceEbooks’s sister site OmniLit.  The chapbook/stories are VANITAS, I’M DREAMING OF A . . ., PEDS (a novelette), and the full-size anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with my lead story “Appointment in Time.”

The titles themselves can be found now on OmniLit by pressing here, then typing in “James S. Dorr” in the search box for author.  And on October 22 or after, “To PEDS and Beyond” will be available here — but not until then, please.

It was the final one of a series of Dark Carnival and, later, Diabolique Film Festivals (see also September 19-21 2014) and so the Friday Night opening session consisted of films the festival people just happened to like as well as feel had lasting value:  JAWS, THE LOST BOYS, and FRIGHT NIGHT.  I skipped the last due to lateness of night plus having seen it (and not for the DiaboliqueLogofirst time) just a year before, but I saw JAWS for the first time on the “big screen.”  While I’m not that much a fan of fish movies (note:  MOBY DICK doesn’t count, whales being mammals, and anyhow despite the title it’s about things other than sea life), I do have to say that one is a good one.  Of course — and sorry, Roger Corman — I now have to set a higher standard for anything else I now see that has sharks. But even without quality action and acting, JAWS was a first, as was THE LOST BOYS, this time in suggesting in a punk sort of way that being a vampire could actually be fun.

Then Saturday came with my once more missing the final movie, LANDMINE GOES CLICK, directed by Levan Bakhai (“Trapped standing on an armed landmine, an American tourist is forced to watch helplessly while his girlfriend is terrorized,” say the program notes), though word of mouth afterward on Sunday said it was intense.  Just not my kind of movie, sorry.  Most of Saturday’s sessions were for short films, but there was one other feature, DEEP DARK, directed by Michael Medaglia (“Hermann, a failed sculptor . . . finds a strange, talking hole in the wall.  The hole has the power to fulfill his wildest dreams, or it just may become his worst nightmare.”), which was of particular interest to me in part as a film about art and 1DeepDarkcreation.  I would recommend it for just being weird in a good way, though its depiction of the artist’s passion for his/her work struck me as being a little bit off, at least in terms of my own experience.  But also (speaking of Roger Corman) it just occurred that he handled the basic theme — artist finds “shortcut” as a substitute for talent — as well many years ago in BUCKET OF BLOOD.

Of Saturday’s shorts, some that stood out were “Black Eyes” by Rick Spears (two children play dead, then play zombies), “666 Square Feet” by Ray Zablocki (especially chilling in that it’s based on a true incident), “Crow Hand!” by Brian Lonano (wonderfully zany new monster), “Lifeline,” Jeffrey Wang (festival winner for best effects and best actress), “Trajectoires,” Phillipe Massoni and Sébastien Jovellar (small-time crime gone bad, with a French bourgeois flavor), “Invaders,” Jason Kupfer (small-time crime gone bad — must be seen to be believed), and “Lapsus,” Karim Ouaret (bigger-time crime and a laundromat, questioning what one is to believe).

Sunday’s program moved out of the Indiana University Cinema to a lecture hall in the nearby Radio/TV Building, with three feature films — including one I had been waiting more than a year to see — and one session of shorts plus extra shorts with the first two features (highlights including “Soccer Moms in Peril” by Damian K. Lahey and ”Son” by Judd Myers).  The first full-length film was a near-future, paranoic science fiction dystopia, LISTENING, directed by Khalil Sullins, about experiments in mind-reading technology and resulting governmental abuse.  It was interesting and raised real questions, although the MV5BMTkyOTkxOTc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODAwODQ2NjE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ending was a bit abrupt from a writer’s point of view (both wonderfully clever in setting up but possibly too easy in execution).  I’d call it the weakest of the three, but still much worth seeing if one has a chance.

Feature two was one I not only recommend but will probably buy for myself if I can find a used copy, LIVE-EVIL.  Tag line:  “This is Biblical-grade shit; I’m an atheist.” (from a deputy sheriff attempting to resign on the spot — fortunately the sheriff talks her into staying).  Or, as the festival docent put it, “so much fun, such a crazy flick,”  supposedly inspired by both GHOSTBUSTERS and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, with the first half in black-and-white and the second half in color, and with the Devil (or maybe just a devil) in a jail cell in a  college town on Halloween night.  Funny, scary, and ultra-weird.

Then, finally, the evening closed with one I’d seen a third of before at NASFiC last summer, TALES OF POE directed by Alan Rowe Kelly and Bart Mastronardi (cf. July 23, also September 24 — including a link to a review by Terry M. West in HALLOWEEN FOREVERMORE — 2014).  This is an anthology film in three parts, the first (that I’d seen before) and in my opinion the best being “The Tell Tale Heart,” with the principals switched from male to female and the old woman a once-silent era film star, with a frame story set in an insane asylum.  The second, perhaps weaker part is “The Cask,” based on “The Cask of Amontillado” but more as a crime story than one about madness, with echoes also from “The Black Cat,” PoePicture“The Masque of the Red Death,” and even hints of “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” (and with a sullen maid named “Morella” to boot, but look also for a fellow asylum inmate’s doll named “Annabel Lee” in part one).  And finally a sort of poem in pictures, “Dreams,” based on (and quoting from) a youthful poem by Poe of the same name, though ending with a nod to the more familiar “A Dream Within a Dream,” exploring some general themes of Poe’s, including the idea that the “most poetic subject” would be the death of a beautiful woman.  (So, okay, I’ll put in the plug:  with the beautiful woman abstracted as art, this is also the overall theme of my THE TEARS OF ISIS, whereby the dedication to Poe at the book’s beginning.  Thus, you see, everything is connected.)  This is an ambitious segment and probably wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking, though it’s a kind of thing I go for, and which in this case I found fascinating (and, weirdly, a little bit reminiscent of Ken Russell’s THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER, see July 17 this year) although I’d want to look at it at least one more time before I could decide for sure if it ultimately succeeds.

One thing I can say, though:  this is a film I’ll be looking out for to buy for myself.

Stephanie Buosi, of Erebus Press, has announced a release date for HOW TO TRICK THE DEVIL (see September 9, August 8, et al.) in just three weeks, October 16.  She also points out that this will be the publisher’s debut anthology, with more projects to come.  My tale in this one is of carney life (and possible death) titled “Lobster Boy and the Hand of Satan.”  As for more on the book as a whole, to quote the back cover:

The devil lures with sweet words and promises, do you fall for his trap or trick him instead?  Can you really have it all?

HOW TO TRICK THE DEVIL tells stories of trickery and deception; of monsters lurking in unexpected places; of the lengths we might go to get what we want.  Much more than your average deal-with-the-devil tale, the talented authors in this corpus2collection explore the motivations behind the choices we make, be it out of fear, greed, or desperation.

The trickster works in confidence, never expecting the twists that just might tear their plans apart.  Evil is not always rewarded, but the hero does not always win.  

Then in other news, I’ve just received a cover image for CORPUS DELUXE: UNDEAD TALES OF TERROR , for which one need only look up to the right.  My offering in CORPUS DELUXE is a “Tombs” series story called “River Red,” of which see yesterday’s post directly below.

Sometimes you’ve got it, sometimes you don’t.  Sometimes you submit a story to an anthology that may be peripheral to its theme depending on how the editor sees it, sometimes it’s more like a solid hit right down the center of the park — or at least that’s how you see it.  In this case the money might not be great, though they encouraged reprints.  And the title, well, how could one resist?  CORPUS DELUXE: UNDEAD TALES OF TERROR.

“We want your horror stories featuring the undead — zombies, revenants, mummies, ghouls, ghasts, you name it, even vampires although bloodsuckers may be a hard sale since we envision ourselves being deluged with vampire stories.  Be original!”  The length range was 2000 to 5000 words (this let out some vampire stories I might have tried, published in places like DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, since they’d be too short).  So zombies could be nice, but aren’t they getting a bit common too?

But above all the idea is still:  be original.  What I do sometimes is list out stories when reprints are allowed, then cross out the ones that seem least likely, taking in word lengths, sub-themes, etc., circling the ones that seem most attuned to what seems to be wanted.  So what ended up on top was a “Tombs” story, one in an exotic dying-world setting a3766224nd with a zombie in it, yes, but with a science-fictional sort of pseudo explanation, and as a bonus one that appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS (albeit originally published in Canada in Ink Oink Art, Inc.’s 2008 anthology ESCAPE CLAUSE) thus making it a sort of advertisement as well for the collection.  And also a story I often use for readings, etc., with (may I say it?) a truly horrific ending.*  The story, if not last (cf. post for September 19, below) then next to last in THE TEARS OF ISIS, “River Red.”

Off it went Monday, September 21, and the question became “did I choose well?”  The answer arrived today, only three days later, from Editor Jorge Salgado-Reyes:  “Thank you for your submission.  We have accepted it.”  In other words, a resounding yes.

(And one sort of P.S. that can bear repeating:  “Please announce it from the four corners of the interwebs.  We need as much social media buzz as possible in the lead up to publication.”)


*The ending, actually, is cribbed from Euripides so I probably can say it.

Fantasy writers, has the Green Man of British folklore been unmasked?  This Sunday’s email brought a rather interesting piece rosslyn_chapelby Frank Cottrell Boyce in the British newspaper NEW STATESMAN, “English Magic:  How Folklore Haunts the British Landscape,” a review of Carolyne Larrington’s THE LAND OF THE GREEN MAN.  Kudos on this one go to Robert Dunbar and RJ Cavender who provided the link via LITERARY DARKNESS on Facebook, and which you may also partake of right here.

The lady gets around, at least on occasion. In fact, today, at my writers group meeting (featuring, by the way, discussion of a new flash piece by me titled “His Dead Ex-Girlfriend”) I happened to mention the way collections of stories are edited so that one of the strongest ones will usually come at the end, the reason being that that’s what the reader will remember last — andEgyptian_-_Isis_Nursing_Horus_-_Walters_481530 so it will have left a good impression should a “volume two” show up later on.  One example I gave was my own THE TEARS OF ISIS with its title story bringing up the rear. Then, less than an hour later, perusing my email, I happened to come across a new review on Goodreads, not only of THE TEARS OF ISIS, but especially praising its final story.

Coincidence? Lovely! But to the point, if you would like to read for yourself what reviewer William L. Nienaber had to say, please press here. Or, in the company of other reviews via Amazon (but, WARNING, the one just after it is not nearly as nice), press here.

I’m not sure if one should make much of this or not, but it’s in today’s crop of email alerts, on THE INDEPENDENT (, by Jack Shepherd: “Chimpanzees Love Horror Films, Research Finds.” Finder’s credit in this case is courtesy of Robert Dunbar via LITERARY DARKNESS on Facebook. In some ways the title may be a cheat, the brief film fay4in question starring, next to a regular human, a man in a monkey suit to aid audience identification. Also it’s unclear which one they cheered for, if either, only that the film held their attention — focused particularly on the hammer used in an attack — despite attempts by researchers to distract them. (In fact, it occurs to me, King Kong notwithstanding, that it might not be horror per se., but action — or violence — the chimps were applauding.)

Be that as it may, the next time someone questions you for having the bad taste to like to watch horror, you need only start to peel a banana and say that you’re in the best of company. Or so claims the article which can be found here.

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