STAR*LINE 42.3, the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, has been available in PDF form for SFPA members for several weeks, but now the print version has been released too.  This is the Summer issue and, rolling with the season, concentrates a bit more on lighter verse than the average issue according to Editor Vince Gotera.  And with the print issue its web page is up, with a list of poems and information for purchasing for non-SFPA members who might wish to do so.  If interested, one can press here.

I have two poems in the pack myself (see July 26, et al.), both humorous — or, perhaps, better classed as tragicomic.  One, “Enemy Action,” concerns a certain gluttonous mermaid vampiress who we’ve met in STAR*LINE before, while the second is about an iconic young couple, beloved by American girls near and far, and is titled “Roadkill Doll.”

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And here it is, the DAILY SCIENCE FICTION contract for “Steel Slats” (see August 17) arrived and has been signed (or more precisely, my agreement assented) and returned.  As requested I also included an about 150 word biographical note and, as DAILY SCIENCE FICTION will sometimes have, a few remarks concerning the story’s writing — the latter in this case including the words “the devil made me do it.”  “Steel Slats,” that is, is a sort of reaction to troubles at the US southern border, and celebrates the *President’s Dream* of a “beautiful wall” to be paid for by Mexico to solve all problems.  But might it possibly lead to some new ones?

Exactly when we’ll find out I don’t know, DAILY SCIENCE FICTION usually having a robust lead time before stories are published (though not as bad as some recent examples, including the one that won’t appear until 2021).  In this case it should be within a year, though, and possibly sooner than later, exact information to be shared as soon as I find out.

It goes round and round.  In a Goodreads reading group I sometimes indulge in the book of the moment is Karel Capek’s WAR WITH THE NEWTS.  It’s one I had read long, long in the past and on re-reading am finding entirely enjoyable, at least as of chapter five or so.  It starts however with a sea captain named van Toch who works largely in the then Dutch East Indies, and one of his ports of call, mentioned several times, is Surabaya.

So big deal, right?  Except there’s a song by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht called “Surabaya Johnny,” from a musical by Brecht and Weill with Elisabeth Hauptmann called HAPPY END — with a story line much like GUYS AND DOLLS and with nothing to do, really, with the East Indies (it takes place in Chicago and also includes “The Bilbao Song,” though the action has nothing to do with Spain either) — and I found the tune going around in my head.  And . . . anyway you can hear it now too, sung by Lotte Lenya (who didn’t actually sing it in the play when it was produced in Germany, but never mind), by pressing here.  And to read the lyrics in English, press here.

No, not this update, but the BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP anthology itself (see August 4, et al.) will be illustrated according to an email today from Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg.  Also, yes, things have been somewhat delayed for various reasons, but a promised kickstarter is expected to be ready on or about September 1.  More will be here as it becomes known.

We may remember that the full title (I think) is BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS, or words of that sort, and the guideline description:  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope.  Silliness and weirdness will abound.  Also my part in the potpourri is an all of 75-word saga (possibly long, BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP is to be a book of *very* short stories) of magic and beauty called “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair.”

Speaking of Aimée et les filles à les caissettes, the contract arrived today from WEIRDBOOK for the blood-appreciative New Orleanian’s most recent adventure, “Death and the Vampire” (cf. June 16).  This will be the fifth, I believe, of the “Casket Girl” stories to be published, including two in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION as noted below, so Aimée and her friendMusidora_6_16_19s have been getting around.  Not to mention some of these have been reprinted as well, plus that the entire casket girl canon, published and non-published, is currently being presented at the Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” in form of successive open mike readings.

“Death and the Vampire” runs at about 1000 words and concerns a late night meeting on Rampart Street, in front of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, between Aimée and a tall, gaunt gentleman claiming to be Death.  But if, as the saying goes, Death cannot be delayed, the issue he’s to be a guest star in apparently can.  According to Editor Douglas Draa, due to a last-minute special issue, material planned for WEIRDBOOK #44 in mid 2020, including this story, will now appear in #45 later that year.

A busy Saturday!  First there was my writing group’s monthly critique session; then a Bloomington Writers Guild meeting.  If that weren’t enough, the Goth Cat Triana reminds us that August 17 is “Black Cat Appreciation Day” (so, she’s mostly black).  But added to all that is one thing more.

Saturday’s email brought a new story acceptance and not just by any market either, but DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, a story-a-day free website with professional rates for tales of less than 1500 words, plus an amount of prestige.  Not to mention a pretty wide circulation to boot.  And it’s been a while, though I have been in DSF before (cf. April 21 2015, et al.), five times in fact including two starring our New Orleanian vampiress acquaintances, Aimée et les filles à les caissettes, one of which being their “origin story” (for which see also April 17 2014, et al.).  Today’s new, non-vampiric story is called “Steel Slats” and the really neat thing is I hadn’t had overly high hopes for it, it having been written originally for a satirical near-future anthology which, it turned out, decided it could get along with apocalypses that did not include walking dead, and, well, some of the background may be just a tiny bit politically tinged.  That is, in the case of high-circulation magazines, with a possible risk of irritating some of the readers.

As for what exactly “Steel Slats” is about, perhaps I’ll say more in a future post, but for now there may be some hints in such things as the “Tags” above.  And as for why it was accepted despite my misgivings, I’d like to think it’s because it’s a good story.

Writers Guild at Bloomington tagged you in the description of Writers Guild Spoken Word Stage was the email message header; the content the schedule of readings for this year’s Writers Guild Spoken Word Stage at the annual “Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts” (see September 1, August 27 2018, et al.) on Labor Day Weekend or, more precisely, August 31 and September 1.  I’m up for “Horror Fiction” on the Saturday, the 31st, in a prime time spot at 2 p.m., sandwiched between a half hour of audio theater and a poetry reading.  But what shall I read, that is the question — I have my eye on one piece from THE TEARS OF ISIS that I don’t believe I’ve read before, but I need to go through it to make sure it isn’t overly “family unfriendly” in terms of language.  And that said, I’ll probably need to choose a shorter piece too, or perhaps some poems, to round out my half hour.

So I’ll try to update in a week or so when I’ve made my decision and done some timings — with also perhaps a schedule then of other readers, allowing a little time for late adjustments.  But circle the dates, the Arts Fair is always fun and this year it’s Saturday and Sunday, the 31st and 1st, on Bloomington’s 4th Street with the Writers Guild’s booth and stage just around the corner to the south on Dunn Street.

What a busy second week in August!  Sunday brought an electronic authors copy of SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES (see the first week, August 6, et al.) along with an interview questionnaire.  Part of “The Writing Life” and all that.  A check with Amazon also shows the Kindle edition is now available and can be found by pressing here, while, with the above mentioned busy week, I was only able to get to the interview part last night, with answers going back to the editor today.

SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES, we may remember, is an anthology of stories set in the 1950s.  Supernatural stories.  . . .  Not horror stories, necessarily, but stories that use the 1950s and its spook culture (and spook-busting culture) in an engaging way.  Bring us supernatural adventures, supernatural mysteries, supernatural fantasy, or supernatural pulp.  My part in this, originally published in CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004) and also reprinted in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, is titled “Bottles,” the tale of a Puerto Rican maid in 1958 Cambridge Massachusetts, mixed up with anti-Communist crusaders and . . . vampires.  Or are they vampires because, as everyone knows, vampires don’t exist, do they?

To find out, one can press the link in the first paragraph, above, or in the August 6 post below find links to the publisher’s ordering site, or to Amazon for the print edition.

It seems programs for Saturday’s HOME FRONT performance ran short, so Director Tony Brewer emailed an image yesterday to those of us who, being on stage, may have missed seeing one.  So for those interested, why not reproduce it here as well*?

(*And in stereo too — you can read it with both eyes!)

It won’t be until June 2021, but “Flute and Harp” is now one step closer to publication in HELIOS QUARTERLY (cf. June 17, 3) with the arrival of the contract which, after a little bit of discussion, I signed and returned Sunday.  The still lengthy time to release, I might add, is a result of an overly successful submission drive resulting in Volume 5, for 2020, to be almost immediately filled, pushing musician lovers Flute and Harp back to issue 2 of Volume 6.  However, with success can sometimes come reversals, in this case a fire personally affecting HELIOS QUARTERLY’s editor/publisher and that in turn has engendered an emergency subscription drive, for funds to help assure the magazine can continue to come out on time.  If you would be interested in helping — or just to get a neat magazine, including the reprint of “Flute and Harp” — more information can be found here.

“Flute and Harp” was originally published in WHISPERS AND SHADOWS (Prime Books, 2001), and is a sort of personal favorite of mine.  It tells the tale of two doomed musician-lovers on a far-future dying planet and also appears as a story chapter in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017), more on which can be found by clicking its picture in the center column.

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