Archive for March, 2012

You’ve heard the buzz  (see April 5, 2011), now here’s a chance to read the story.  Is it the worst I’ve ever written – or at least the stupidest?  Or is it actually well-disguised genius?  Very well disguised.  Now is your chance to find out for yourself, at least in a bit.   You see, once upon a time I wrote a story based on a title someone else had written as a joke, “The Dripping Nose that Wouldn’t Wipe.”  But we all do things like that, don’t  we, then mercifully forget them?  Except I didn’t — I sold the story to TOOTH DECAY (Sonor4 Publications, 2009), an anthology half devoted to stories on vampires, the other half zombies.  And which is the Dripping Nose?

Fast forward to earlier today when the email came, that projected anthology ZOMBIES GONE WILD (“Think DEAD ALIVE, CEMETERY MAN, UNDEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, EVIL DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III [Hello Spinal Column Zombie?], PLANET TERROR?”) received so many good stories that they decided to put out two volumes, and they’d like to use “The Dripping Nose that Wouldn’t Wipe” in Volume 2, to “come out a month or two after the first volume is released.”  To go back to the guidelines, “Bring out your undead!  We want to see the craziest, wackiest, most out there living dead stories you can possibly think of!  In fact, the more unique and bizarre, the more likely your story will get the star treatment. . .  Well, at least it will get into the book!”  And the funny thing is, due to an accident of record keeping on my end, I actually have another story submitted there too, in this case a flash piece, and (crossing fingers here) wouldn’t it be a hoot if it got accepted for Volume 1?

On a maybe more serious note, tomorrow I’ll be doing final packing and planning for World Horror Convention and, unless someone wants to lend me access to a computer there, this may be the last blog entry until sometime next week.  For those who will be in Salt Lake City and may want to meet, I’m scheduled to be on two panels, “How Poetry Can Influence your Fiction Writing” on Friday at 1 p.m. and “Vampires Through the Ages” on Saturday at noon, as well as doing a half-hour reading Friday at 4:30.  I should also be at the Mass Autograph Signing Friday at 8 p.m., possibly in the company of Marge Simon who illustrated VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) thus affording an opportunity to get two autographs for the price of one.  And also, of course (see just below, March 23), I will have a presence of sorts at the Stoker Award Presentations after the Banquet Saturday night, starting at approximately 9 p.m.

What exciting times we live in!  It seems like only a few days ago the county did its annual spring test of its tornado warning system.  And then, today, at about 6 p.m. the sirens sounded!  It was on the TV as well, offering background chatter while I worked on my income tax – in fact, I’d just come to a convenient stopping place – when the Weather Service announcement broke in:  tornado warning.  It wasn’t an actual tornado sighting, but a thunderstorm was on its way with conditions that could result in tornados about 15 miles to the southwest.  And moving northeast.

There’s a sort of fascination with this, to hear the small towns named in the warning, then mentally map them as the names shift – confirming that, yes, the storm’s coming our way.  So I grabbed some pillows, called resident cave cat Wednesday to me, and settled in in the corner at the end of the hall by the bedroom door.  Wednesday was spooked, possibly from a hint of electricity in the air or, I suspect more likely, rapidly lowering atmospheric pressure.  She finally slinked off to find her own shelter when sounds of  loud rattling came from above – “hail the size of Ping-Pong balls” had been part of the forecast – and then it was over.  Seemingly only minutes later there was even a moment of sunshine while the Weather Service was ticking off the name of a lake just to the northeast and other place names just this side the neighboring county.  Outside it seemed considerably cooler but other than puddles on the ground, a lot of water rushing from drainpipes, and remnants of  hail still the size of mothballs, the yard and the house seemed sound and safe.  While back inside, checking a weather station out of Indianapolis, I saw pictures sent in from the local area, one of a black tornado-shaped cloud but not actually all the way down to the ground, another of a “wall cloud” showing tendrils that the announcer explained were the kind sometimes seen when tornados are formed.  But no actual twisters as far as they knew – at least at that moment.

Meanwhile I’ve been taking some time to get ready for World Horror Convention, including making sure my good suit will still fit me.  It seems I’ve gotten an invitation to be a co-presenter at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday night, March 31st, for the Stoker for Best Poetry Collection.   I won’t be at the banquet proper (but look for me fressing the cheese and crackers at the Artists Reception beforehand) but doors will be opened, I understand, for all to attend the awards part after the plates are cleared.  And another award I want to be present for – even if probably not on stage myself as part of its presentation – is the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award, for which I was a jury member with Jo Fletcher, Linda Addison, Ron Breznay, and Chairman Leslie S. Klinger.

Then, finally, I have a cover picture for INDIANA HORROR (see post immediately below).  The official opening date for submissions is April 1 for Indiana authors and those with Indiana connections, but editor James Ward Kirk has been accepting early submissions and, judging from the number of stories he’s accepted already, at this point it might not be wise to wait.  He says he’s aiming for a June 3 publication date, which also suggests one should not dawdle.  Information and guidelines can be reached via the website toward the end of the previous post.

My story in INDIANA HORROR is a 1000-word piece called “The Christmas Vulture” while I have a fistful of other stuff coming out just in time for World Horror Convention, or shortly thereafter.  One of these is “The Zombie Prince” (see Mar. 19) which is already out in ZOMBIE:  THE OTHER FRIGHT MEAT (as of now it’s listed in paperback too on Amazon), a variant on the Grimm Brothers’ fairytale “The Frog King.”  And so this morning DAILY SCIENCE FICTION’s offering was “Frog/Prince” by Melissa Mead while, this evening at 7:30, tornado threat over, the Disney Channel presented its TV premiere of THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (interrupted only once for a weather alert for the county just east).


Not too long back James Ward Kirk, editor of INDIANA HORROR 2011 (cf. Aug. 30, et al.), contacted me about possibly sending him a story for a planned sequel anthology, INDIANA HORROR 2012.  It wasn’t officially open yet, he was just sounding out some of the authors in the previous volume, so I gave it some thought but not to be in too much of a hurry.  Then about two days ago, he happened to mention an interest in an article on vultures someone had posted on Facebook and it put me in mind of “The Christmas Vulture,” short short and lagniappe (Dec. 23, 2010) originally published in UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND for Fall 2010.  Hmmm.  Vultures.  Horror story request. . . .

So yesterday evening I submitted our hopefully mutual feathered carrion-eating friend just about as editor Kirk sent me a little prod via Facebook and — the rest is history.  Very recent history.   Within hours I received an email with acceptance and contract, the latter of which I’ve just e-signed and sent back.  I also was asked via Facebook to “feel free to pass this on to your writer friends” so, for any who are reading this and are either Indiana residents or have ties to Indiana (you know who you are 😉 ) or possibly just have stories set in Indiana, even though I don’t believe the anthology is officially open yet, take this as an invitation to submit something early.  Information and guidelines can be found at but, to keep us all honest (and/or so the editor won’t freak out), if you do submit please add a note that you heard about it from

Says the blurb:  “Zombies.  You can’t live with ‘em. . . At least not without getting a chunk bitten out of ya.  But we here at NorGus can’t live without ‘em!  And who’d want to?  In a world where vampires sparkle in the sun instead of roasting like pigs at a barbecue and werewolves run around with capri pants and washboard abs, it’s nice that we can fall back on zombies to actually be monsters!”  So how did my story “The Zombie Prince” get into this anthology since in this one Beauty gets the Beast and lives (or un-lives as the case may be) reasonably happily ever after?

To find out for yourself, NorGus Press has just announced that ZOMBIE:  THE OTHER FRIGHT MEAT (cf. Jan. 30) is now available on CreateSpace and is expected to be available on Amazon soon.  To order an early copy now, just press here, or, for a preview look at the table of contents, you can check out NorGus Press’s own announcement by pressing here.

As it happens this month, my writers’ critique group meeting fell today on St. Patrick’s Day.  I brought a flash science fiction story, “When the Internet Monster Gobbled the Web” (which is snarky satire and may never actually see print), and wore my “Night Visitors” T-shirt with the picture of a landed flying saucer and little green men. Then on the real Internet there was a new email from Post Mortem Press announcing that TORN REALITIES with my story “The Calm” (see Mar. 15, et al.) now has an official release date set for April 10, thus missing its hoped for World Horror Convention debut.  But lose one, win two.  With the announcement came a useable depiction of the cover and, not only that, that it will include a reprint of the novella RAWHEAD REX by horror icon Clive Barker.

TORN REALITIES will showcase “storiesabout 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 the people who find these places, for pure and impure reasons, and discover whatever lies on the other side” —  like maybe a primitive god resurrected in an English village?  TORN REALITIES is available now for pre-order with a special offer of free shipping in the US and Canada, with ordering info available bere.

I didn’t even know myself what it was about when the email arrived late this morning.  It was from PayPal saying I had money from Innsmouth Free Press with a cryptic small print note way at the bottom: “Prime Books, subsidiary rights payment.”  I currently have two stories published by Innsmouth Free Press, I think, so I checked first one — no mention of subsidiary rights in the contract there — and then the other, “Dark of the Moon,” published in December in FUTURE LOVECRAFT (cf. Dec. 16, et al.).  There I found pay dirt, an all but forgotten contract “addendum” from last November covering a possible mass market paperback edition to come out from Prime Books.

The payment is for one time only rather than royalties, like it would be for a magazine, but it does mean that FUTURE LOVECRAFT with my story in it will be distributed throughout the US in regular bookstores.  Not a bad deal in terms of exposure — and it is extra money.  A quick check into the Prime Books website reveals that the publication date is currently set for August 2012.

“Dark of the Moon” originally appeared in THE CHILDREN OF CTHULHU (Del Rey, 2002).  More information will be published here as details become known.


Ah, the administrative part of writing.  Today I signed the contract for “The Calm” from Post Mortem Press, to appear in the Lovecraft-inspired anthology TORN REALITIES (see Jan. 26, 21), with a note to try to get things back to the publisher as soon as possible.  Thus the contract will be in the mail the first thing in the morning.  If all goes well, publisher Eric Beebe hopes to have the book out in time for World Horror Convention, in Salt Lake City March 29 through April 1.  In addition there’s been a change in the cover picture with the new one something truly spectacular — although, alas, on a file too big for the cave computer to reproduce here (a funny story, the internet portion of the old cave computer complex just got replaced within the last week, but the new unit is still uncomfortable with illustration files over about 1 megabyte), but hopefully readers who get to WHC will have a chance to see it there!  And, if you buy TORN REALITIES and like my story and want to read some others like it, look for me at WHC as well with copies of  my not-necessarily-Lovecraftian STRANGE MISTRESSES where “The Calm” appeared some years before, along with DARKER LOVES and VAMPS and maybe a few other things as well.

Then less than two hours later a final proof copy of DREAMS OF DUALITY (see Mar. 8, et al., with its new cover illo already announced — the old “cat” picture, incidentally, has been moved inside where, at least on the proof, it now illustrates Marge Simon’s story “A Matter of Conscience”) arrived with another request to check it at top speed.  My story is “Jessie” and, if editor Mark Crittenden has his way, it may be out in time to read at World Horror Convention too.

Today the cover illustration for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s latest RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY has been unveiled, a star-filled night sky with a nebula background, following the trend of the past two years for astronomical themes.  The 2012 RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY is an anthology of poems first published in the previous calendar year, 2011, as nominated by members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (see Mar. 6. et al.).  Poems are nominated in two categories, short poems of less then 50 lines and long poems of 50 lines or more.  And, yes, I have a creature in this compendium myself, the short poem “Monkey See” from the Fall 2011 issue of SPACE AND TIME about the consequences of a mass escape from New York City’s Central Park Zoo — a science-fictional “what if” situation, one might say, with surprising but curiously satisfying (at least for some of us) results.

The RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY is published every year from 1978 on and is automatically sent to SFPA members allowing convenient reading of all the contenders before before voting on the best three poems of the past year in each division.  Starting as a slim, no-frills pamphlet in its earliest manifestations, the yearly anthology has blossomed into a high quality full size trade paperback available to anyone with an interest in speculative poetry — poetry on themes of science fiction, fantasy, horror, science, myth, magic realism, surrealism, and possibly other categories not yet invented.  More information on the Rhysling Award and the annual RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY can be found at the SFPA site by pressing here.

Red Skies Press has announced a new wraparound cover for DREAMS OF DUALITY (cf. Feb. 13, et al.), an anthology on the concept of the “other self,” evil twins, alternate personalities, inner heroes and demons, anything centering on the idea of duality.  This will replace the original cover design featuring two cats, one benign,  one in an instant just before attacking.   Also according to editor Mark Crittenden, DREAMS OF DUALITY is still on schedule for publication in April or even, if everything falls into place just right, toward the end of this month.

My story in this is “Jessie,”a tale of young love and lovely ladies, a young man’s adventures on his arrival in the big city — except the young man in question has his own interpretations.  And from these evolves his own plan of action.  Originally published in ABERRATIONS in August 1995, “Jessie” was also the editor’s choice for best story and, as such, I understand will be the opener for DREAMS OF DUALITY.

Also in yesterday evening’s email:  An acceptance of PEDS by Untreed Reads Publishing to be reprinted as a stand-alone electronic chapbook.  PEDS is a science fiction novelette that originally appeared in the premiere issue of HARSH MISTRESS SCIENCE FICTION ADVENTURES (later to become ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE) in Spring-Summer 1993, a story concerning a near-future America where things are pretty much like they are now — but more so.  Untreed Reads has also published VANITAS and, just this December, my Christmas short story I’M DREAMING OF A. . . .  According to editor-in-chief Jay Hartman they’ll be aiming for publication of PEDS in May.

To quote from HARSH MISTRESS editor/publisher Warren Lapine’s original editorial, “Science Fiction has a glorious past.  The Golden Age is worth remembering.  Nevertheless we should respect the lessons of the New Wave.  Science Fiction can never be complacent.  It must always strive to push the envelope a little bit further.  And we must remember, where Science Fiction goes today, mankind follows tomorrow.”  PEDS was the final story in that issue, placed to give readers a taste of what following issues might promise.  Now, nineteen years later, new readers will be able to see what concerned at least some of their compatriots then, and whether these concerns still hold up today.

The week just past featured an interesting sort of double feature, THE BLOOD STAINED BRIDE a few nights before followed, Friday night, by the classic THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE.  BLOOD STAINED is about the romance between wimpy gentleman Tracy, just dumped by his old girlfriend, and Madeline who, thinking marriage is great but having a problem with the sex part of it, finds herself free having recently multiply stabbed her old husband to death on their wedding night.  So she sets about molding Tracy into the perfect (and presumably sexless) husband to be, murdering occasional threats she encounters along the way (notably the old girlfriend) until the night before the wedding when Tracy rebels by going to a bachelor party thrown by his old ne’er-do-well guy pals — and Madeline finds out even though he had promised not to go.  Carnage follows.  This is all played for humor though (well, along with sleaze too) and is actually surprisingly good, although in a genre where the bar is set extremely low.  The kind of thing that should probably best be watched with degenerate friends, and while high.  (Although it does have some pretty good laughs, but not really the movie you want to bring anyone you want to impress — even a little — to.)

BLOOD SPATTERED, on the other hand, is a Spanish vampire film directed by Vicente Aranda (though filmed in English) with some cult status, based a little on Le Fanu’s short novel CARMILLA.  New bride Susan is brought home to the castle by her sophisticated and mildly sadistic Euro-trash husband where, through a series of dreams, she meets the reincarnated black-sheepette of the distaff side of hubby’s family, one Mircalla Karnstein, buried more or less alive some centuries ago for having — are we ready? — murdered her husband on their wedding night because he had wanted her to commit “unspeakable acts.”  In her new life as Carmilla, the sheepette reintroduces herself to the melange by (a) stalking Susan in “real life” as well as in dreams and (b) burying herself nude in the sand on the family beach with only a snorkel and one hand sticking out when hubby happens by and digs her up.  From there Carmilla helps Susan discover her inner lesbian as well as the delightful relief from tension repeated knifings of various family retainers (the doctor, the gamekeeper — the latter of whom gets his as a result of Carmilla being caught in a fox trap) can bring one.  Oh, and turns her into a fellow vampire along the way (no sense in letting all that spilled blood go to waste).  The movie ends when hubby, suspecting, goes into the castle basement by day to discover Susan and Carmilla snoozing sans PJs in each others arms in a coffin built for two, and does what any,  ahem, red–blooded husband would do:  He re-closes the coffin, takes his hunting rifle, and shoots a zillion holes through coffin and contents.  The servant woman’s teenage daughter (who’s thus far played a sort of “Igor” role, enabling Carmilla in minor ways) then appears to (a) inform hubby that “they’ll some back.  You can’t kill them”), (b) reveals tooth marks in her own throat, and (c) kneels down so hubby can shoot her too.

But wily hubby has the last laugh in this one at least (unlike wimpy husband-to-be in THE BLOOD STAINED BRIDE) by then taking out his hunting knife, re-opening the coffin, and starting to carve a slice of breast when the screen switches to a newspaper headline:  MAN CUTS HEARTS OUT OF THREE WOMEN (which at least means he probably went to jail for it, but, memo to Carmilla, next time pick a less mouthy servant’s daughter to tell your secrets to).

All that said, I’d seen both these films before and both were more or less as I remembered them, with BLOOD STAINED BRIDE being an okay idle night’s entertainment (though one may feel a little embarrassed to watch it, especially if someone else sees you doing it) but with BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE holding up quite well on a second look.  It’s one I’m tempted to see if I can find a better version of on DVD (the VHS though is letterboxed so I get some effect of its original wide screen) and probably plan to watch again some day.

(The cave cat Wednesday, on the other hand, slept through them both — which is just as well since SPATTERED has a fox-killing scene early on that, Spain apparently not having a code at the time for not harming animals used in films, was reportedly done for real.)

Then moving to poetry for another bit of news — and a minimalist lagniappe — the Science Fiction Poetry Association posted its flier EXPLORING THE COSMOS (cf. Feb. 11) at the beginning of this week.  My entries here are “Escape Velocity” and “Snapshot:  The Voyagers” which can be seen with other brief poems by several SFPA poets by checking out the SFPA Promos site here, then pressing “Exploring the Cosmos,” just under where it says “SFPA Fact Sheet.”

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