Archive for September, 2011

Stuff happens in clusters, at least this time.  It often will be at the ends of months, when editors and publishers may be finishing up items on their desks for a clean start the next month.  Or possibly, since two of these items came in today’s mail subject to the vagaries of the postal system, it’s just coincidence.  Nevertheless, with two comings forth of a decidedly Gothic nature, and one that concerns cats, what a wonderful way to gear up for October and, soon enough, Halloween!

First let’s look at cats with the cover unveiled for DARK THINGS II:  CAT CRIMES, an anthology of mysteries with cats as the culprits – or anyway, at least suspects in wrongs done.  To be brought out by Black Car Publishing hopefully in time for Christmas, profits will go to several charities aimed at cats, including “some of the most well known cat shelters and sanctuaries in the USA” as well as the ASPA and the Humane Society.  And, yes, I’ve got something in this one too, a possibly slightly silly (albeit ending blackly) tale called “Cat and Mouse.”

Then came a contract from “The LORE Firm, LLC,” the now revived one-time publisher of LORE magazine, for reprint rights for my story “The Galvanic” (see Jun. 2).  Originally published in the Autumn 1997 issue, it, with others, will see light again in an anthology tentatively titled LORE, A QUAINT AND CURIOUS VOLUME OF SELECTED STORIES.

Then, finally, CANDLE IN THE ATTIC WINDOW arrived from Innsmouth Free Press (see Sep. 21, et al.).  To give a sort of peek inside, this handsome trade paperback is divided into four sections, “Dwellings & Places,” “Lovers & Desire,” “Objects & Mementos,” and “Ghosts & Death,” with my story, “Victorians,” in the second part.  Or for more of an overview, to quote from the Introduction:  “Picture yourself standing at the curb of the road.  Your cell phone has gone dead.  A tall, dark house looms upon a hill.  The wind whips your coat.  You open the iron gate and climb the steps toward the front door.  A sickly, yellow light streams from the windows.  High above, you think you see the oddest thing, a flickering candle in the attic window. . . .”

THE SPIRIT OF POE is an anthology of horror stories and poems  “along the lines of The Fall of the House of Usher or The Telltale Heart, psychological and mysterious,” to be published by Literary Landmark Press on or about Halloween this year.  But that’s not all.  While authors will be paid (successful authors, however, can also donate their earnings if they wish), all other proceeds over costs will be donated to help save the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum which, in the spirit of  governments everywhere tightening their fiscal belts, has recently lost $80,000 in annual funding from the City of Baltimore.  Reprints as well as original work are allowed and the deadline for submissions is October 1.

I have several dogs in this fight myself, and this evening one of them came in a winner, a poem called “The White Worm” originally published in ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT in 1995, an anthology of poetry celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Poe’s “The Raven.”  While there’s not much time left, I understand there are still open spots so perhaps some of your work will be there too?

It’s a twofer today. First a lagniappe of sorts, “Waiting for Geoffrey” (see Sept. 10, Apr. 6), already published in the UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND ANTHOLOGY, is now available free in issue #5 of the magazine as well.. To read the story, a romantic tale of the triumph of young love over nerdly shyness and carnival sports, just press here for the printer friendly version or, for the “full” version, here.

Also today CANDLE IN THE ATTIC WINDOW (see September 8, August 5, et al.), “an anthology of gothic horror,” has officially been released by Innsmouth Free Press and is available at the publisher’s website as well, eventually, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc., with electronic versions also available via Amazon and Smashwords. My story in this, “Victorians,” has to do with older loves and repression and family traits that pass through generations. And domestic architecture. And, not only that, the anthology has its own webpage for news and info, ordering, etc., as well as a series of “micro-interviews” coming up from us, the authors.

JACK-O’-SPEC:  TALES OF HALLOWEEN AND FANTASY (cf. Aug 14, May 24) came Monday, in plenty of time for Halloween and Halloween giving for those so inclined.  A definite treat — I’ve only had time to dip into the insides thus far, but what I’ve seen I’ve liked very much (for a link to the contents, see also Jan 8).  While stories and poems include traditional Halloween fare, haunted houses, witches, vampires, ghosts, the volume is meant to be much, much more, as editor Karen A. Romanko explains:  “Twenty-six authors have contributed short stories, flash fiction, and poetry to the anthology, transporting us to Mars for the solution of a ghostly Halloween mystery, introducing the trick-or-treating Norse Gods, or describing a lover’s visit on a brief respite from Purgatory.  The intent of the anthology is to speculate, placing Halloween in incongruous locales with unimagined celebrants, although there are plenty of good, old-fashioned chills along the way, including battles with invading demons, revenge from deceased magicians, a visit from Death (in Halloween costume, of course), and the return of ol’ Jack himself.”  My witch in this coven is a slightly-more-than 1000 word mood piece called “The Leaves,” conjuring images of autumn and poetry and wildness and unwise loves. 

JACK-O’-SPEC is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as other online retailers.  It’s worth looking into.

No, no, these aren’t the “Gun Girls” (see May 13). But it was kind of strange. Last June I had sent a story, “Girls Gone Dead,” a sort of takeoff on the Girls Gone Wild videos sometimes advertised on late-night TV but with zombies, to Post-Mortem Press for a projected DEAD SOULS anthology. Themes, revolving around the idea of a loved one becoming a zombie, were to include “[d]ealing with the dead, the impact of the dead, and the spiritual implications of being ‘walking dead'” though other interpretations would be okay too. So, okay, this story dealt more with friendship, sticking together, and professional relationships (it’s told from the point of view of the photographer/director), but, hey, it was worth a shot.

Still, no great surprise when I happened to bumble across Post-Mortem on Facebook with a list of final acceptances for DEAD SOULS with no “Girls Gone Dead” on it. I marked the MS “presumed rejected,” not having actually gotten a formal rejection letter, checked market lists but found no likely places to send it on to right then, put it back in the file cabinet (remember, I’m the Caveman of Computing, I still do some things with physical manilla folders), and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t. Yesterday afternoon, checking my email at the library after this month’s writers critique group meeting, I found an email from Post-Mortem Press. “Your story has been selected,” it said, “to appear in Post Mortem Press’ newest anthology of short fiction, NEW DAWN FADES, with an introduction by New York Times Bestselling Author Joe Schreiber.” As publisher Eric Beebe went on to explain, “We initially opened for one book, DEAD SOULS, and received several hundred submissions. Being unwilling to turn away so many good stories, I decided it was better to publish a second book.” NEW DAWN FADES is expected to be out “in late 2011 or early 2012.”

The moral: You can’t keep a good zombie (or zombie story) down.

VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) finally came back from the printer after about a two week delay with my copies arriving here at just about noon! A nice looking book, I think, and it ought to be proofread to the hilt if I had anything to do with it — if there are any typos at all they’ll probably be (blush) my fault. Words by me, some poems also with illustrations by Marge B. Simon, on subjects including Max Schreck; Bela Lugosi; “Guillemette” (née Mina Murray); Annchuck; the instrument maker; crows; krakens (with blood on their beaks); Nikki (who flies); the night child; the birdcatchers; jazz music; dancing; tourists in Europe (“he had a tendency to change the subject when I asked him what he did. Eurotrash, I suppose”); vampire hobbies, runners, swimmers, baseball fans, dates gone bad; from Ancient Greece to the 1,000,000 Credit Galactic Lottery.

For those who pre-ordered, VAMPS should be on its way now if it hasn’t already arrived; while for those who haven’t, it can be ordered here or by pressing its picture in the column to the right. A review I’ve seen by Terrie Leigh Relf with several quotes in it will be, I understand, in HUNGUR and AOIFE’S KISS and in December’s STAR*LINE, while I’ve been invited to say some things about VAMPS in the HWA NEWSLETTER’s “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side” column also in December.

Here, from time to time, I may also offer a poem from VAMPS as a sort of free sample, a lagniappe exclusively for those who read this. For today, from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), p. 64 (with an illustration on p. 63, a turn of the page ahead), please to meet


She never understood it,
Van Helsing’s anger,
after all, was it not he
who had murdered her father —
him and the others —
not even respecting the old Count’s
Did not rank still retain
privileges these days?
Still, she was a countess,
noblesse oblige and all that,
she who, if anyone, had reason
to be mad, she must retain her calm,
show by example a high-minded nature.
True, she had her vices too
but she held these in check,
slaughtering humans for blood only when
her thirst no longer could be restrained,
only when necessary.
It wasn’t her wish, that.
It wasn’t her wish to so be persecuted,
but breeding was breeding and thus
must be satisfied,
even if that meant wearing her corset,
steel-lined and uncomfortable,
especially when she slept,
taking it off only for a new lover;
avoiding mirrors — she who had every
right to be vain.
But then no one was perfect.

I might note also that another poem in VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “The List” on p. 68, was the inspiration for the story “Naughty or Nice,” cited in the post just below, that has been accepted for a future DAILY SCIENCE FICTION.

Perhaps it should be méchant ou mignon? Today I got word from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION that they are accepting my more or less latest Christmas story , “Naughty or Nice?” (have I mentioned before that I usually write a Christmas story every winter? — cf. “The Christmas Vulture,” Dec. 23), a saga of the vampiress Mignonette, forced from her Transylvanian homeland, and her struggles to come to terms with the Western customs of modern Paris. In particular, what will happen if she, who feels uncomfortable just walking past a church, writes a letter requesting presents for Christmas from one Saint Nicholas (and how would a vampire even know where to buy milk and cookies to leave out on Christmas Eve)?

This will be my second story to be published by DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, a high-end market for usually short science fiction, fantasy, and horror fiction. The first, “Killer Pot,” was published last month on August 9.

Then also today I received an email from the National Space Society of North Texas that my haiku “Landing” has been selected to appear in their upcoming anthology THE MOON: THE EIGHTH CONTINENT, EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT OF SPACE. This will be published as a print on demand book through Amazon, according to the acceptance letter, as well as in several e-book formats, including Kindle and the Nook.

More details on these as I learn them.

Into each of our lives comes the occasional unexpected treat.  Sunday I received an email from Untreed Reads Publishing (cf. Aug. 2, Jul. 8, Dec. 28) that my e-book VANITAS had been reviewed on NightOwlReviews.  But that’s not all.  While, according to Untreed’s Editor-in-Chief Jay Hartman, it’s “extremely difficult to get even a three-star review out of NightOwl,” mine copped 4.75 stars out of five, just the tip of the right-hand point of the rightmost star missing, putting it between  “Top Pick and I’m looking for more by this author” and “Top Pick – All Time Keeper Shelf” according to NightOwl’s own explanation key! 

Now you know the next time they review anything by me, they’ll find a reviewer who thinks it sucks, but for now, this week, let’s bask in the glory!  And what the heck, you might even want to buy a copy — it’s only a buck and a half in your choice of a variety of electronic forms.  To do so and/or to get more information, click on the picture in the column to the right, the one with all the purplish blue, but first (because, between you and me, the cover picture doesn’t really have much to do with the story) you can read the review here.

For a quirky, sometimes rough around the edges, but nearly always delightful read, one place to visit is UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND (cf. Apr 6 and Dec 23, the latter including a link to a sample story by me, “The Christmas Vulture”).  Stories, rarely much more than 1500 words long and often less than 1000, are grouped in categories like humor, horror, science fiction, literary, etc., but in fact often take their inspiration from more than one genre or are just plain unclassifiable.  But they’re always imaginative and fun. 

 UNTIED SHOELACES has, thus far, published four official electronic issues from the beginning of 2010 to the present, with a fifth issue waiting just around the corner.  But now as well, it has just come out with its first print UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND ANTHOLOGY (see also May 6) reproducing all thirty stories from those first four issues, plus the eight stories waiting to come out in issue five, plus seven more “bonus” stories (three by authors who haven’t appeared in the e-zine before), plus seven stories by editor Geoffrey C. Porter originally assembled as a sample issue, to give a complete history of UNTIED SHOELACES in a single 289-page volume.  The cover illustration is by one-time local “SCIFI” critique group (not to be confused with the also local Bloomington Writers Guild) co-founder/member Susan Urbanek Linville — and I might humbly add that five of the stories within are by me, two from the first issue, one from issue #3, one from the upcoming issue #5, and one originally published in ABYSS AND APEX in the bonus section.  My titles, in addition to the issue 3 story cited above, are “Undying Love,” “Koko’s Rabbit,” “Waiting for Geoffrey” (in the humor, horror, and romance categories respectively), and in the bonus section “Nanoflakes.”

 Since the magazine is free, the link in the first paragraph above can take you to the stories in the first four sections of the anthology — as well as the fifth as soon as its electronic counterpart is posted.  Or if you would like to have them all in one place, as well as fifteen additional stories, the first UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND ANTHOLOGY can be obtained by pressing here, with an e-book edition and links to more of the editor’s books available as well.

Last Saturday’s Art Fair had me out in, according to one newspaper, temperatures reaching 102 degrees in the shade; yesterday I played music for an informal Society for Creative Anachronism demo and had to wear long sleeves as well as a jacket.  How things can change in only a few days. 

September changes will also include the release of several anthologies we’ve been following, one of which, CANDLE IN THE ATTIC WINDOW (see Aug. 5, et al.), has announced a pre-publication sale with a 20 percent discount until Sept. 19.  Copies are then expected to ship on Sept. 20, but to order early and save some money — as well as for other information —  just press here.  Other “CANDLE” news according to Innsmouth Free Press includes a new Facebook page for the book, a giveaway on Goodreads, another giveaway next week at the Innsmouth website, and a series of authors’ “micro-interviews” for the near future. 

Also, the September-November SORCEROUS SIGNALS has been posted with my sword and sorcery (sort of) story “When Cats are Away” (cf. Jun 7).  “When Cats,” originally published in HAUNTS a long time ago, concerns a young thief and a mixup she gets in with the goddess Bast, the results of which are that all cats have disappeared.  However, there are mice, including in the city’s graineries, and winter is coming on. . . .  Well, as it will be here as well soon enough, as a sort of lagniappe to start off the indoor reading season, herewith a direct link to “When Cats are Away.”

“When Cats are Away,” incidentally, is also the lead-off story in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE, so, if you like “Cats” and would like to read more, albeit, in most cases, not so light hearted, stories by me in a variety of settings and styles press the book cover in the column to the right for descriptive and ordering information.  (Also, if interested, check Nov. 30, below, for a link to reviews for both STRANGE MISTRESSES and its “sequel” volume DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.)

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