Archive for January, 2012

What interesting and varied lives we live!  A reader of the local paper’s consumer “hotline” column noted this morning that “[s]everal hundred black vultures have been nesting in the sycamore trees near Childs School and the neighboring areas for two weeks now.  I have lived in Sycamore Knolls for 20 years and have never seen them before,” continuing on to ask if it might be “because of the relatively warmer winter this year?”  The hotline answered via university ornithologist Susan Hengeveld that indeed there has been an increase in the number of vultures in recent years in the eastern part of North America.  Quoting Ms. Hengeveld, “There is some suggestion that the movement of the range north is not just due to warming trends, but also an increase in food supply. As human populations continue to grow and roads are built, the vultures have found a steady supply of food in road-kill.  So the tasty road-side snacks have increased, keeping more vultures around even in colder conditions.  This is not to say warming tends aren’t playing a role, but it may not be the only contributing factor.”  To which I might add, warming or not — and it has been by and large an extremely mild winter thus far — that I kind of like the crows we get in my own neighborhood, so I hope the vultures aren’t going to displace them.

Speaking of dead guys, I ran across a notice on the Collaboration of the Dead Forum just over a week back, “ZOMBIE, THE OTHER FRIGHT MEAT:  AN ANTHOLOGY – Open for Submissions – Closing Soon!”  So what the heck, I sent in a recent story called “The Zombie Prince.”  Apparently it came in just under the wire as, lateish last night, I received an acceptance with contract attached:  “Congratulations!  Your story . . . has been accepted by NorGus Press to be published in our upcoming Zombie anthology,” adding that they were hoping to publish “by the end of February, early March.”  In terms of speed, that’s not exactly shambling.

So what is this anthology anyway?  According to the call, ZOMBIE, THE OTHER FRIGHT MEAT “is a Living Dead-themed anthology.  All genres of horror will be considered.  Dark, disturbing, suspenseful, supernatural, gruesome, and gory are welcome.  Bring out your undead!  Romero-style is always great, but send us anything you think people will want to read:  intelligent zombies, running zombies, zombie animals, whatever.”  In my case, this meant a story I’d written last summer in large part for the pleasure, a 3000-word updating of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Frog King” (from which legions of accounts about young maidens kissing frogs have arisen through the succeeding years) . . . but with zombies.  That being said, while I can’t vouch for its other contents, if “The Zombie Prince” is in any way typical this anthology, whether or not its contents be exactly written by Shakespeare,  ought to be fun!

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The pace picks up for 2012.  Today the January-March issue of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s journal STAR*LINE arrived.  This is the first issue edited by incoming editor F. J. Bergmann, although, to quote Bergmann’s maiden editorial, “Just to clarify:  for the first two issues of 2012 (i.e., this one and 35.2), Marge Simon will still be the titular Poetry Editor, since the poetry for those issues had already been selected by her.”  Bergmann hopes to accept poetry for subsequent issues year-round (that is, with no special reading periods, unless the volume of submissions becomes too great) starting now.  Submissions of up to five poems pasted into an email can be sent to starline@sfpoetry.com (subject line to read “S*L Sub – [poet’s last name]”).

I have two poems in this issue, one concerning the dearth of werewolves in modern suburbia titled “No One Wants to Run Through the Woods Naked Under a Full Moon Anymore,” and my runner up in the “The Last Typewriter” contest titled, straightforwardly, “The Last Typewriter” (cf. posts for July 11 and December 2 of last year, respectively).  Possibly oddly, mine is the only poem in the “The Last Typewriter Contest” section  with that exact name (although there is one by David C. Kopaska-Merkel called “The last poem”).  Also, “No One Wants to Run Through the Woods Naked Under a Full Moon Anymore” turns out to be one of three “Editor’s Choice” poems selected by Simon for the issue and reachable even by non-subscribers via the STAR*LINE website by clicking here.

It was a sort of strange coincidence.  Walking home from the public library, just starting to cross the local campus, I passed a student, his jacket open, sporting beneath it a Miskatonic University sweatshirt.  I almost called out “Go Pods!” until I realized his had a white background with the name in block letters, and wasn’t a team shirt like I have at home with the Fighting Cephalopods logo along with the lettering.  Thus we passed silently.

The coincidence, though, was that at the library I dipped into my email and, in a notice from Post Mortem Press, had just run across what will be the cover design for the TORN REALITIES Lovecraftian anthology noted just below.  TORN REALITIES is still open for submissions, technically until March 15,  but they are making early acceptances — notably my historically set “The Calm,” and their Facebook site reveals other tales are already being accepted too — so those contemplating or working on pieces to send them might do well not to procrastinate too much.  The length limits are 2000 to 8000 words (mine’s about 2600 words) for “stories of the darkly fantastical and how the characters involved deal with the impossible circumstances they find themselves in.”  “… stories that will leave us unable to turn out the lights and fearful of looking up into the night sky.”  More details appear below as well as at the Post Mortem Press website and, while not overly lucrative in terms of pay (yeah, where have we heard that one before 😉 ), just the book itself sounds exciting enough that I was glad to submit to it.

While still not expecting a plethora of new sales, at least until I bring my submission rate back up, one acceptance has appeared in Friday evening’s email — the first for the New Year!  This is for a new anthology by Post Mortem Press, TORN REALITIES, “for stories about the places where reality is thin and easily torn, where things we accept as part of everyday life (science, religion, What Lies Beyond) become myths, and where the world is not the most important thing going.  . . . what happens to people who find these places, for pure and impure reasons, and discover whatever lies on the other side.”  In the case of my story, “The Calm,” the place in question is an 18th century village in the Taconic Mountains, in upstate New York, during the French and Indian War, and why it’s bad when the wind dies down.  To quote editor Paul Anderson’s  acceptance, “[t]he piece is short, sweet, to the point, while teasing out info for the reader to gain a sense of dread.  The language is fluid and kept me reading.”

But here’s the best part for those of us who are writers as well.  “The Calm” is an early acceptance and the anthology is still open, according to the guidelines, until March 15.  For more information click on TORN REALITIES here — then send in (to return to the guidelines again) “your version of what may lie beyond the rim of the universe, beyond what we can see with our senses and our knowledge.”  Lengths  range from 2,000 to 8,000 words with a preference to 4,000 to 6,000 or so, and crossover genres are welcome as long as there’s at least some element of horror.

This will be my third appearance with Post Mortem Press, the others being “A Cup Full of Tears” in MON COEUR MORT published last July (see Jul. 28, et al) and “Girls Gone Dead” in NEW DAWN FADES last November (Nov. 23).

So what have I been doing other than partying over the holidays?  In that today marks the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, let it be revealed that in honor of a different writer but one who might be as revered in his way, Bram Stoker, I’ve been reading lots of vampire novels.  Lots and lots of vampire novels.  At the behest of the Horror Writers Association, I and four others, chairman and internationally-respected authority on both Dracula and Sherlock Holmes Leslie S. Klinger (editor THE NEW ANOTATED DRACULA, W. W. Norton, 2008, et al.), Stoker winner and HWA Trustee short story writer and poet Linda Addison, HWA Trustee and writer/researcher Ron Breznay, and British publisher/writer/poet Jo Fletcher (winner of both the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Society’s Karl Edgar Wagner Award), have been compiling a list of six nominees for the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award, and choosing from it the most influential vampire novel since Stoker’s death in 1912.  In the words of HWA President Rocky Wood:  “HWA is proud to present our iconic award on the centenary of Bram Stoker’s passing and pleased to be doing so in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Family Estate.  While Stoker’s novel is undoubtedly the most influential of all vampire fiction, we look forward to recognizing the vampire novel that has had the greatest impact since the publishing of DRACULA.”

So which will it be?  Well, you’ll just have to wait until March 31 when it will be announced at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet to be held at World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, March 29-April 1 2012.  But the finalists have been announced this month, so to whet readers’ appetites (as well as to give an opportunity for catching up on reading, then seeing if you can outguess the panel), herewith the nominees:

PRESS RELEASE (to be issued January 2012)

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), the international association of writers, publishing professionals, and supporters of horror literature, in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Family Estate and the Rosenbach Museum & Library, proudly announce the nominees for the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award™, to be presented at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet at World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 31, 2012. The Award will mark the centenary of the death in 1912 of Abraham (Bram) Stoker, the author of Dracula.

A jury composed of writers and scholars selected, from a field of more than 35 preliminary nominees, the six vampire novels that they believe have had the greatest impact on the horror genre since publication of Dracula in 1897. Eligible works must have been first published between 1912 and 2011 and published in or translated into English.

The nominees are:

The Soft Whisper of the Dead by Charles L. Grant (1983). Grant (1946-2006) was a prolific American writer of what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror,” writing under six pseudonyms as well as his own name. Grant also edited numerous horror and fantasy anthologies. The novel is part of Grant’s series of 12 books set in his fictional small town Oxrun Station, Connecticut. Grant was a former president of Horror Writers Association and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. First published in 1975, this was only the second work by the now-legendary American author of dozens of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror stories, comics, and novels. Set in the town of Jerusalem’s Lot, it tells of a man’s return to his hometown, where he finds a plague of vampirism. The book has twice been made into television mini-series and has been recorded by the BBC. King’s work has won countless Bram Stoker Awards™ from HWA, and King (1947- ), a lifelong New England resident, was recognized with HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. First published in 1954, the novel is set in the mid-1970’s, when a plague has swept the world, bringing with it zombie-like creatures identified as vampires. Richard Neville, the book’s protagonist, may be the last living human. The work has been filmed three times under various titles, most recently in 2007, under its original title, starring Will Smith. Matheson (1926- ), an American, has written screenplays as well as short and long fiction, and many of his works have been filmed or made into teleplays. He wrote frequently for The Twilight Zone in its heyday. Matheson received HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman first appeared in 1992. The novel imagines an alternate history in which Van Helsing and his cohorts failed in their attempt to rid England of Dracula. In this timeline, Dracula went on to marry Queen Victoria, ushering in an era of vampire aristocracy in England and elsewhere. The book is followed by two other novels and a number of  shorter works set in the Anno Dracula universe, all meticulously researched to include numerous historical details and many characters of Victorian and more recent popular literature. Newman (1959- ) is an English writer of fantasy and horror, as well as reference books in the field, and frequently appears as a host and critic for the BBC and other media.

Interview with the Vampire by Southern American author Anne Rice first appeared in 1976 and achieved enormous popularity, selling more than 8 million copies. The book introduces the vampires Louis and Lestat, who, along with a dozen other unique individual vampires, appear in a long series by Rice known as the Vampire Chronicles. The novel was filmed in 1994 starring Tom Cruise as Lestat and Brad Pitt as Louis; another work in the series, Queen of the Damned, was filmed in 2002; the novel was also produced as a Broadway musical in 2006. Rice (1941- ) has written numerous other gothic fantasy novels, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide, and has won many awards, including HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, published in 1978, is the first of a 25-book (so far) series featuring le Comte de Saint Germain, a 2000+-year-old vampire, whose adventures in many historical periods are recounted. This novel overlaps in many details with the historical facts of le Comte de Saint-Germain, a mysterious figure . An American writer, Yarbro (1942- ) publishes three or four books a year, under various pseudonyms, in a variety of genres, including mysteries and romance tales. She was awarded HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

And the winner is. . . ?  Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Holidays take their revenge months after.  Planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s — I have a party for friends every year which requires cleaning up the computer cave, then “re-messing” it over the next several weeks so I can find stuff again — and also this year rehearsing with my Renaissance music group for a “12th Night” charity gig (technically a bit over a week late on the 14th of January, last Saturday night), the blowback on this is less stuff gets written, less stuff gets submitted.  Then, blogwise, after a gap of maybe two or three months, less stuff gets accepted, less stuff gets published — less stuff gets reported here.

But movies endure. Last night’s was MATANGO, a.k.a. MATANGO:  ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, a.k.a. CURSE OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, a.k.a. FUNGUS OF TERROR — well, you get the idea.  Or maybe you don’t.  Imagine instead a rerun of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, the Skipper, the Mate, the Rich Man (in this case the owner of the yacht we’re on), the Singing Star, the Professor, the relatively plain woman the Prof is sweet on, and taking a bit of the Bob Denver role, the clutzy Fiction Writer.  Puts us writers in our place, but he’s really doing it just for the money which even he’s starting to realize isn’t exactly how it works in real life, and who’s also getting sweet on the Singer who, by the way, is the Rich Man’s mistress.  Now imagine it all in Japanese:  the closing on the DVD blurb says, “One of the strangest and most horrific TOHO productions to  date.”

So it opens in a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo where the Professor is explaining that, as sole survivor of the lost AHO DORI (well, that’s the name on a life preserver, which probably isn’t Japanese for “Minnow”), if he were to tell what really happened, they would think him mad.  Segue to the deck of the Aho Dori where the Singing Star gets to sing one song (the lyrics of which are “La, la, la, la, la. . . .”) while the Mate ogles her and the Skipper tells him to get back to work, then partying in the cabin that night, then the Storm (where the Writer gets caught in the blown down rigging, giving us a chuckle as he has to be extricated), then the dismasted ship’s limping to . . . the Island.

On the Island is found (in order of appearance) fresh water, an abandoned grounded research ship bereft of crew and most useful supplies (exception:  one rifle and ammunition) but with its interior covered in mold and other fungi including a giant mushroom of an unknown species discovered in a locker with a sign on its container saying “Matango,” a jungle outside with lots of mushrooms of various shapes and sizes and colors amongst the trees and other foliage, and no food other than the possibly two weeks worth they have on their own boat.  So, living on the grounded ship, the Skipper tries to repair the Aho Dori (for all I know, that may be Japanese for “life Preserver”), various others try unsuccessfully to hunt game (even sea birds “seem to be avoiding the island,” as one of them observes), take turns telling the sulking Rich Man he’s “not boss here,” ogle the women some more while occasionally suggesting dishonorable intentions, and wondering about these mysterious never quite entirely seen “visitors” who make noises at night and leave footprints in the mud and things.

Well, you gotta figure, with virtually no other food (about a half dozen turtle eggs did turn up to supplement their diet, but that’s about it), despite the fact the research ship’s log suggests it’s not a good idea, someone’s going to try munching on mushrooms — and more than maybe than just one someone.  It turns out they’re delicious and even maybe sort of addictive.  But there is a side effect. . . .

Meanwhile the “visitors” get more active, revealing themselves to look somewhat like people who’ve been turned into giant walking mushrooms (hmmm, whatever did become of the research ship’s personnel?).  And more of our crew have been sampling those tasty small mushrooms out in the jungle, sometimes not coming back.  The Professor, however, has been trying to get his sweetie to abstain, as he has apparently been doing himself, until. . . .

Mushroom Zombie Apocalypse!  

But actually the film is rather good, with, if somewhat clunky monster costuming, really great and creepy sets and a generally unsettling atmosphere throughout the second half, not to mention what  I thought a satisfying ending, the kind that when everything seems wrapped up turns and asks us a serious question.  I’d recommend it, but with a caveat  that, as it seems to have a minor cult status, if you want to buy it try to find a cheap copy.

It took some doing, but a release date of January 19 has been announced for the anthology IN THE SPIRIT OF POE (see  Oct. 21, 13, et al.).  My contribution in this is a 53-line poem, “The White Worm:  On the Death of Virginia Poe, By Consumption.”

In the editors’ own words:

“It’s been a long and difficult process.  Understandable and completely unavoidable issues kept the introduction from arriving when we would have liked, and as we rushed headlong to get the anthology out, we decided a quality anthology was more important than making a deadline.

“We think the quality will speak for itself.  Our stories represent the best in psychological, visceral, and supernatural horror.  We’re excited about what we’ve put together and what we’ll end up doing for the Baltimore Poe House and Museum.

“The release date for the Anthology will be January 19th, 2012.  It’s a fitting date, Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday.”

Copies can be ordered directly from Literary Landmark Press with, as said, profits being donated to help save the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum at 203 Amity Street (originally 3 Amity Street during Poe’s residence) in Baltimore.

“Jedi, Ninja, vampire, were-wolf, pirate, fairy, or Spartan?”  So which would you choose?  “When the zombies take over the world where will you be?”  These are two of the “Final four (questions we ask all interviewees)” on Paper Dragon Ink editor Douglas Lentes’ AUTHOR SHOWCASE, on which my first interview for the new year went up today, Sunday, January 8.  Other questions, perhaps more routine, include “What is your biggest inspiration when creating?,” “Who are your biggest influences?,” some of the answers of which you may know.  But some you may not — like what if the zombies take over the world?  It’s a fun interview with an emphasis on short, direct (well in my case, fairly direct) answers, not the long winded ones I usually give.  And perhaps with some answers that may surprise you!

It seemed a natural, a story that takes place at a business convention to be in a magazine scheduled in time for the horror community’s nearest equivalent, World Horror Convention, to be held this year in Salt Lake City the weekend of March 29 through April 1.  The bad news on that is I can’t be at WHC myself — the money’s not good (though I should be at World Science Fiction this fall, closer by in Chicago).  But now the good news:  DARK MOON DIGEST has bought the story, “Skin,” for issue #7 which means I’ll at least have a presence of sorts there.  “Skin” is a reprint, having first appeared in the original manifestation of Gothic.Net in April 1998.

But that’s not all!  By a marvelous coincidence, DARK MOON’s publisher is also putting out a flash horror anthology SLICES OF FLESH, also to be available at World Horror Con, which has already accepted another story of mine, “Bones, Bones, the Musical Fruit” (cf. Nov. 4).  So, Flesh, Bones, and Skin, all will be there to help represent me.

First of all, my wish to everyone for the happiest, most prosperous New Year possible.  For me, though it technically went up around mid-afternoon on the 31st, my new year has started with my appearance with “Vamps:  The Beginning” (cf. Dec 2, Oct 27) concerning the origins among other things, including some samples, about VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) in Marge Simon’s BLOOD & SPADES:  POETS OF THE DARK SIDE column in  the January HWA NEWSLETTER.  You have to be a member of the Horror Writers of America, to be sure,  to get their newsletter so, acting on a suggestion by Marge,  I’m also adding a new page to the selection on the right, “Poetry (Essays),” just beneath the three Bibliography items.  As of today it contains two essays, both by me from BLOOD & SPADES (sans Marge’s introductions), the current “Vamps:  The Beginning” and, from June 2010, “Edgar Allan, Allen Ginsberg, & All That Jazz.”  As for “Vamps,” some may recall the essay was originally scheduled for December — hence its ending concerning (ahem) the poetry collection’s ideal qualities for Christmas gift giving — to which I might now point out that many, many  opportunities for presents to loved ones occur throughout the year (Valentines Day being perhaps a particularly appropriate one considering the romantic allure of some of the Vamps within the book’s pages).

Those in HWA, incidentally, who may be interested in seeing a complete copy of VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) for possible recommendation for a 2011 Stoker in the “Poetry Collection” category are invited to email me at edgarc@rocketmail.com and, if they would like one, to ask for a proof copy of the collection.  The only differences with the final printed book involve a few indentation issues in some of the longer poems plus a change of color from red to blue of the narrator’s dress in the poem “Why She Started Writing Poetry.”  Other reviewers for relevant magazines or blogs, please feel free to contact me too.




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