Archive for February, 2012
It’s another shortie, 300 words at most, one of a series of exercises I’ve been doing lately, a first person tale in which the meaning — whatever’s actually going on — is not directly related to the narrator, a story fragment called “The Cage” and it somehow seemed right for the call for submissions for MISCELLANEA: A TRANSDIMENSIONAL LIBRARY. “The shelves will be filled with books of the other: books that have never existed and that haven’t been written yet. . . . excerpts from fiction works, otherworldly recipes, snatches of poetry, faux reviews of imagined books, articles from cryptozoological texts, parapsychology manuals, works written in fairy languages, pictograms or mathematical equations, footnotes, even dedications are fair game.” “The excerpts shouldn’t be complete stories in regards to plot or character. Although they should certainly lead the reader to believe they are part of a larger, complete work. As with all the best excerpts and quotes, they should evoke curiosity on the reader as to what the whole is like.”
And so, late last night, came the email from publisher Eggplant Literary Productions, Inc.: “Thank you for your submission of ‘The Cage.’ I would like to publish this piece. . . .” A lagniappe for me in a sense, a delightful winding down of the month, accompanied by a contract and a request for a short bio. And, for those who wish, check the publisher’s website for submission info re. any entries you might also have that could fit in the Transdimensional Library.
One of the earliest stories that ever I wrote was a character piece about a cat. Called “Minushka” (that is, both the cat and the story about her), the story was under 500 words long and had an, ahem, nasty (some said disgusting) twist at the end. It eventually got published after approximately fourteen rejections by the long-since defunct Small Press Writers and Artists Organization SHOWCASE in Spring 1987. No cats were harmed in either its writing or publication.
Flash forward to Fall 1999, when the term “flash” was only just tentatively, maybe, possibly becoming used to describe a certain type of ultra-short fiction, and when British publisher MT Enterprises came out with a different story of mine, a whopping nearly 900 words long tale called “Urcheida,” the name as well of its central character, a newly-married woman with old-fashioned ideas about what goes into a successful honeymoon. This was in an anthology called NASTY SNIPS — describing the types of stories desired — edited by Christopher C. Teague. “Urcheida” itself had been published in the US before in the Fall-Winter 1993 DEAD OF NIGHT, and many a young couple came to harm in the telling of this one.
So then, last month, an announcement went out for NASTY SNIPS II, edited once more by Christopher Teague, from new British publisher Pendragon Press. “We are looking for short, sharp and shocking tales of the flash fiction variety — that is 1000 words or less.” Ah, the nostalgia — just thirteen years later! The memories! The stories! So why not?
Thus in today’s email has come an acceptance by NASTY SNIPS II for . . . for any of you who may have missed it way back when . . . “Minushka!”
Things may be picking up in a positive fashion. Word came today that my story “Gas” has been accepted as a reprint by Red Skies Press for their upcoming anthology TRUE DARK. In the words of editor Mark Crittenden, this is to be “quite simply an anthology of the best of the best horror (open themed),” or, as per the guidelines, “What I am looking for is simple. The most horrific story you have ever imagined. . . . I want subtle terror dripping from every page. Absolute deviltry, the macabre, and the monstrous is the rule of the day.” “Gas” was originally published in the Winter 1994-5 issue of EULOGY and, as I said in my cover letter with the submission, “with its background motif of changing (yet sometimes continuing) directions of scientific research as wars wind down (but new ones may be just around the corner), it strikes me as being still relevant now.” Whether or not it lives up to all the editor’s criteria, however, will be a decision that’s up to the readers.
TRUE DARK is still open to submissions with guidelines available via the Red Skies website, with a tentative deadline of September 12 though it could fill up sooner. Red Skies Press is also publisher of the upcoming DREAMS OF DUALITY (see Feb. 13, et al.) with Crittenden also as editor.
Then, also received today, were two reviews of WTF?! (see Dec. 21, Dec. 18, et al.), published last December. Both are quite favorable, one a short blurb from MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW, and the other by April L’Orange, self-admittedly one of the authors in the anthology, in more detail including a flattering mention of my own story there, “Mr. Claus.”
Good news comes. In the wee, wee hours of Sunday morning I received an email, “Re: Your Wily Submission — Acceptance.” It took me a few moments to remember just what that was for, but — mystery solved! — a variation I’d written of Cinderella called “Cindy,” originally published in FANTASTIC in Spring 2001, has now been accepted by WILY WRITERS for their upcoming “Mythpunk” issue. This will be for audio and non-exclusive electronic print rights and should be out via www.wilywriters.com by or before the end of 2012. “Cindy” is written to give the fairy godmother’s side of the story with a much more deliciously horrible ending than the one most readers may remember. More information will be forthcoming as soon as I receive it.
Then, for another bit of good news, I’ve managed to scrape enough money together to be able to get to World Horror Convention this year after all, to include the Horror Writers Association’s special Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award that I’ve been involved with as part of the jury (see Jan. 20). Hopefully I’ll also be able to say hello to some of you there along with other friends.
It’s been a hazy, lazy, unseasonably warm day for February with me just back from my writers’ group meeting, not much else going on. So I thought I’d share a story, “The Winning,” originally published in the Spring 1994 OVER MY DEAD BODY and here reprinted in A TWIST OF NOIR on December 9, 2008. But that’s not all, A TWIST OF NOIR is still going strong, so for any out there who indulge in short, sharp, dark mystery/crime stories, to the right of my story you’ll find writer’s guidelines should you care to submit something yourself. It doesn’t pay but it’s a classy little e-publication and editor Christopher Grant takes reprints as well as originals so it’s a way to build readership. Also it’s fun — so even if you don’t read “The Winning,” scroll down to the bottom and press where it says “HOME” to get to the latest in short, noir fiction and other less savory goodies as well.
Word came today that my short story “Jessie” is first place winner for best story in the upcoming Red Skies Press anthology DREAMS OF DUALITY (cf. Aug. 5, Jul. 29). According to editor Mark Crittenden, this will make it the opening story as well as meaning a few extra bucks for me. DREAMS OF DUALITY is to be a collection of tales “centered around the concept of duality” — evil twins, clones, dual or multiple personalities, inner devils or angels, you name it. Past, present, and future. Jessie herself first saw print in August 1995 in the magazine ABERRATIONS with her “second coming” now tentatively scheduled for April this year.
In unrelated news, I happened to visit the Untreed Reads Publishing site this afternoon and see that, should you buy either of the two ebooks I have listed there, VANITAS or I’M DREAMING OF A. . . , you can get the other at the same time at a 40 percent discount. Both are stand-alone short stories (VANITAS is the longer one, a steampunk/mystery crossover, and is a reprint from ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE while the other’s a Christmas horror story unpublished elsewhere) and both normally sell for $1.50, which means a 60-cent savings (I think — I’m a writer, not a mathematician) on the second title, or both downloads for only $2.40. I don’t know if this is a special deal or normal practice or, if the former, how long the discount will be offered. If interested, though, just press on either of the books’ pictures in the center column.
A poem of mine, “Landing,” has just been received in the chapbook MOON: THE EIGHTH CONTINENT, published by The National Space Society of North Texas (see Sept. 15) and available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al. These are short poems on the general subject of space exploration that were either winners or honorable mentions in the first of what will be an annual “Space Exploration and Settlement” poetry contest sponsored by the NSSofNT, an organization formed for the promotion of space education. Also, this year’s new contest has been announced for poems under 28 lines on the topic “Mars: The Next Frontier” with a submission deadline of July 31. More information can be found via their website, www.nssofnt.org or more directly by pressing here.
Meanwhile a few days back I received a proof copy of EXPLORING THE COSMOS, a 2-page pamphlet of “minimalist science poetry” collected by David C. Kopaska-Merkel for the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Here I have two poems, both haiku-styled (purists would point out neither these nor “Landing” are true haiku in the Japanese sense), “Escape Velocity” and “Snapshot: The Voyagers,” originally published in STAR*LINE many, many years back. Quoting the pamphlet, “Some of the science poems in EXPLORING THE COSMOS are scifaiku, some are not. Collectively they explore scientists, scientific discovery, the nature of humanity, and (of course) the future.” Once officially published, EXPLORING THE COSMOS should be available on the SFPA website at www.sfpoetry.com under “Promotions,” along with two existing pamphlet/anthologies THE UNIVERSE IN THREE LINES and DRAGON LUST.
STAR*LINE, which already accepted a poem by me last week (see Feb. 2), has accepted another, one that the editor had liked but thought the ending weak and so had asked if I could change it. I rather agreed and, now with the change, it should appear probably in the latter part of the year along with “Proper Perspective.” This new poem, “Burning Down Woods on a Snowy Evening,” was inspired by a class of poems popular around the early 1900s called “Ruthless Rhymes,” usually quatrains but sometimes longer, and often starring a hapless young boy named Little Willie. Harry Graham, among others, wrote these with many simply being published anonymously. Often they also implied a moral as in this example: “Willie found some dynamite,/ He didn’t understand it quite./ Curiosity never pays,/ It rained Willie seven days.” The pattern, basically, is (1) a gruesome act of violence usually perpetrated by Willie (though, as in the example, sometimes he can be the victim – or both), followed by (2) a humorously inappropriate, indifferent, or even approving response. In a way what we have is the verbal equivalent of a Gahan Wilson or Charles Addams cartoon.
In the case of “Burning Down Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the action/consequence is drawn out into six four-line stanzas, allowing the moral a whole stanza of its own. While its stanzas retain traditional rhyme and meter, I have sometimes written these in a freer style, as in the example, “Firelight,” below where much of the young man’s family becomes involved in the action. “Firelight” was originally published in the late Algis Budrys’s pioneer e-magazine TOMORROW SF in February 1998.
Little Willie burned his sister
just to see how bright she’d glow,
he torched her good
just like he oughta,
using matches he had pinched
from Cousin Ed, who smoked, last summer
when Aunt May had disappeared —
they found her later
in the ocean,
swimsuit top wound ’round her throat
and cut-marks on her breasts, pearl-glowing,
it was messy on the beach there
but, this winter, with the fireplace
damper open for the smoke,
and ash-grate clear —
no muss, no bother —
taught us all that it is better,
to use fire instead of water.
Books on Board is running a promotion this week on mystery e-books through next Tuesday that actually includes one by me! This is the message (well, slightly truncated) that came today from Untreed Reads Publishing: “Through February 7th, all Untreed Reads mysteries are 25% off when you enter coupon code MostMysterious at checkout. The following link will take you to approximately 90 stories that are all Untreed Reads mysteries: http://bit.ly/zTaHfT“ The book in question is my steampunk-mystery crossover VANITAS (see Sep. 12, Aug. 2, et al.), originally published by ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, and now available as a stand-alone electronic book for just $1.35 even without the discount.
The link again is http://bit.ly/zTaHfT for, as Untreed Reads says, quite a few mystery and mystery crossover titles — five screens of them, in fact. I checked it myself, and VANITAS can be found toward the bottom on screen number 3.
The word came late yesterday. “Proper Perspective,” a vampire-themed horrorku, is my first acceptance by the “new” STAR*LINE under the editorship of F. J. Bergmann (see Jan. 27, below), as well as my first sale for February. Another poem of mine, “How Things Change,” should be in the April-June issue, the final issue with poems bought by outgoing editor Marge Simon, so “Proper Perspective” will most likely come out sometime in the latter half of the year. “How Things Change,” by coincidence, while not even loosely haiku-styled is also about vampirism (and were I to guess just from the title, perhaps about the difference between older vampires and some of the ones we see today).
Anyhow, it’s a quick start to a new month, hopefully to be followed by more good news, but time will tell. For those interested, more information both on STAR*LINE and its publisher, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, can be found here.