Archive for April, 2012

The “Upstart Poets” venue, previously held in the coordinator’s home, had changed to a somewhat obscure location called “The People’s Bar” which I, no fool, had made a point of scoping out beforehand.  This is where I had been invited to read two weeks back and, as it happens, it turned out to be a person’s garage converted into a rather nice outdoor pavilion — although perhaps just a little bit chilly after the sun went down.  Nevertheless, the evening went well, with fellow reader Karen Groth leading off with a half hour of poems primarily about Indiana and the Midwest, travel, family, the seasons, and one’s relation to these and to the intersection of rural and urban spaces.  I followed then with poems about — guess what — vampires and related dark topics, leading off with a poem first published here, “From the Vampiress Mignonette to Prof. Abraham van Helsing, Currently Deceased” (Apr. 13), followed by the dedicatory poem of VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) to NOSFERATU actor Max Schreck, a trilogy of poems about King Kong (with a special nod to actress Fay Wray),  grave worms and Medusas,  the death of Virginia Poe (“The White Worm,” being reprinted in THE SPIRIT OF POE, cf. Apr. 2, Jan. 9, et al.), and ending with a ten-minute reading of  “Chinese Music,” a long jazz-based poem originally published in STAR*LINE in March-April 1998, reprinted in 1999’s RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY, and currently in VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE).

In all we had about a dozen people attending, a record turnout for the Upstart Poets series, although this is only its third presentation, with donated drinks available to help things along (thus the “people’s bar,” not a cash enterprise, albeit mostly with root beer and cider where I was sitting).  Special thanks go to coordinator Joel Barker, bar “proprietor” Dan, and local poets Frida Westford and Tonia Matthew who accompanied me there with Tonia driving us.

Then in the wee hours of Friday morning I sent copy in to Naomi Clark who, anticipating the release of her new werewolf novella, is planning a series of guest blogs on her site “from writers of vampire and shapeshifter tales, discussing which you prefer and why.”  Or, as she continues, “Are you a bloodsucker-lover or a full-moon fiend?”  In view of VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) it’s easy to guess which side I come down on, but in my entry I also point out that, in folklore, sometimes it’s not so easy to tell one from the other.  Today I received an e-confirmation that her posting of guest blogs will start next week, with mine to come in some time during the series, at which point I’ll have a .url so readers of this blog can see it too.

Finally issue #7 of DARK MOON DIGEST arrived today with a reprint story of mine, “Skin” (cf. Jan 9).  It’s a story I’m fond of, originally published in GOTHIC.NET in April 1998 – thus exactly fourteen years ago this month.  “Skin” is an example of psychological horror,  where obsessions influence behavior based on what is perceived as reality by the protagonist.  And, need one add, that can’t lead to a good end.

In addition some other work of mine has been coming out this year from DARK MOON BOOKS, notably “The Third Prisoner” in DARK MOON DIGEST #6 in January and “Bones, Bones, The Musical Fruit” in SLICES OF FLESH, expected in the next few weeks.

For monsters that are actually monsters!  No glitter, no sparkle!  For those who like their zombies raw (well, sort of), NorGus Press’s ZOMBIE:  THE OTHER FRIGHT MEAT arrived today.  My polecat in this pile is “The Zombie Prince” (cf. Mar. 23, 19, et al.), a take on the familiar fairy tale of princesses and upwardly mobile frogs — but this time with zombies.  And mine is just one of 19 stories of flesh-eating, bad smelling (it stands to reason, their noses have rotted off!), disgusting zombies — who could ask for more?  ZOMBIE:  THE OTHER FRIGHT MEAT can be ordered through CreateSpace by pressing here.

Then in other news, Untreed Reads Publishing has announced a 30 percent off sale for all titles through Friday to celebrate the week following Earth Day.  These include my two electronic chapbooks VANITAS and I’M DREAMING OF A. . . ., a steampunk/mystery originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and an original horror story for Christmas.  Sale prices are only available through the Untreed Reads site by pressing here, or to get to my titles specifically, by clicking on the pictures in the center column on this page.

Clive Barker has top billing, of course, with the reprint of his “Rawhead Rex,” originally published in 1984 in BOOKS OF BLOOD — but my name’s there too, granted in much smaller letters and discreetly placed on the back cover with the seventeen other authors who round out Post Mortem Press’s anthology TORN REALITIES.  My story in this is one called “The Calm” (cf. Apr 10, Mar 17, et al.), a tale of an unexpected event in a tiny New York village during the French and Indian War, joining such other intriguing titles as “Ankor Sabat,” “The Midnight Librarians,” “Casa de los Cadavres,” “Amsterdamned,” and “A Ride in the Dream Machine.”   “The Calm,” too, is a reprint, having originally appeared in Marietta Publishing’s NEW MYTHOS LEGENDS in 1999 as well as my own collection STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE.

TORN REALITIES is an anthology with a difference, though, a Lovecraftian anthology but one without  emphasis on Cthulhu.  After all, to quote editor Paul Anderson, “nowadays Cthulhu is everywhere.  Tee-shirts, mouse-pads, computer wallpapers, toys; hell, I have a miniature plush Cthulhu my wife got me for Christmas once.”  While here, by contrast, “[t]hese stories – whether they’re balls-to-the-wall horror, fantasies, science fiction — honor Lovecraft in every way without treading on his work.”  In short, by taking Lovecraftian themes beyond the tried and true and the common, into the “gray areas” Lovecraft himself was fond of, bringing the horror up close and to people just like you and me.  I’m looking forward to reading the stories.

Got crime?  Violence?  Mystery?  Thrillers?  Monday night’s email brought  another acceptance from an anthology called UNCOMMON ASSASSINS, to be published by Smart Rhino Publications.  This one is not for horror as such, but “thriller/suspense stories in which the central character is a hired killer, assassin, hitman/woman, vigilante, sniper, or someone forced to kill for circumstances beyond his/her control.   . . .  a mix of stories:  noir, contemporary crime fiction, police procedural, historical fiction, dark fiction, steampunk, or even a hybrid of genres.  Use your imagination!  The emphasis is on ‘uncommon’ here.”  And so this was the reply to my submission, “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” an ethnic tale of the Sahara Desert and a father forced to turn wrong to right at a horrific cost, originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE in November 1991:  “I enjoyed the story and, although it is quite different from the hitman/paid assassin stories currently in the anthology, I would like to accept the story.  I think the readers will enjoy it!”

UNCOMMON ASSASSINS will be officially open for submissions until June 30, but could fill up sooner so any interested should start considering things to send now.  Publication is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2012.  What is not wanted are simple serial killer stories – characters here “should be paid killers or assassins working from a moral or political motivation . . . they are doing this more for others than themselves.”  Also not wanted are supernatural horror stories – “the focus here is on suspense/thriller fiction, not horror.  Futuristic or science fiction will be considered as long as suspense/thriller elements are evident.”  UNCOMMON ASSASSINS also pays, granted not much but a little, and while preferring original work will also consider reprints from 2500 to 8000 words (with a preference for shorter over longer).

If intrigued, complete guidelines are available here.

Just a reminder that NIGHTBLADE Magazine’s fundraising effort (see just below, Apr. 13) begins today.  To put it in editor Rhonda Parrish’s own words:

“Most of the people who work on Niteblade do it for the love.  Their only payment is the satisfaction they get from contributing to a high quality publication, however, labour aside there are some actual costs associated with each issue.  We have to pay our authors, our artist and all the miscellaneous costs associated with running a website.  And advertising, did I mention advertising?  We’d love to be able to have an advertising budget.  So far that hasn’t been possible, but it’s on our wishlist.

“This fundraiser will be the biggest single factor when it comes to determining our budget for next year.  That means it directly effects how many stories and poems we can include in each issue and potentially how many issues we put out.  Every dollar makes a difference.  Every one.”

And not only that but for those who donate, NITEBLADE is offering some really cool prizes.  For list, other info, check  out their page here.

For a change of pace (and because a friend on the committee armtwisted me into it :-)) I attended a poetry workshop last night at the local library, sponsored by the library and the Bloomington Writers Guild.  The official title was “Improvisational Poetry:  Creative Techniques to Jump-Start your Poem” and, while I didn’t think it quite as good as the haiku workshop held last fall (see Oct. 9, 2011), it was refreshing to get out with a different group of writers and poets.  Also, afterwards, I was invited by one of the others there to do a reading later this month.

Topics covered at the workshop included “List Poems,” “Letter Poems,” and “Object Poems,” with time allowed for writing our own poems for two of these.  Also, as last fall, there were refreshments, although, alas, not of as high a quality.  Still, cookies are cookies, there were also small brownies, miniature chocolate bars, and to drink . . . water.  (I think I was not the only one who thought coffee might be nice as well, but then if poets rarely have money to spare, it follows that a poets’ organization was doing well at least to have a container of ice too.)

So for a special lagniappe herewith the second of the poems I wrote last night, raw and ugly, in the letter poem category:


Van Helsing, I am sorry, really,
that I in my corset ruined your trifecta,
that steel-boned undergarments
even if lacking in comfort
have uses.
Who would have imagined one would be
deflecting stakes?
What is done is done, though,
and I am sorry
on finding you are now some years
in your grave.
No doubt you cannot read this.
But you must understand
when you slaughtered my sisters, my master,
that cold, cloudy day in Transylvania
I sensed there was no use
in trying to reason,
in trying to dissuade you in what you, no doubt,
saw as being your mission.
No, Abraham, I was content just to lie still
as if you had killed me,
to flee the next night so you would
not find me
had you discovered your fatal mistake,
but I am sorry now I could not have paid in kind
your treatment of me,
to drain your blood, living,
to increase my beauty with breath stolen from you —
and so do you not see the irony in it?
That I, an immortal, am cheated in death too.

Mignonette also appears in my story “Naughty or Nice” in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (see Dec. 28, 21, 2011) which can be read by pressing here.

Then for a quick note, NITEBLADE magazine (cf. Sep. 5, 2011, et al.), a labor of love but with little money, plans a week of fund raising beginning Monday, April 16-20.  NITEBLADE has been good to me and to other writers in the past and, whether or not you can help them, it’s hoped they’ll continue on for many years in the future.  And not only that, you’ll have a chance to bid on some really nice prizes, a preview of which is available here.

Or one rant anyway, that of an older vampire who disapproves of the ways of the young and the odd relations they have these days with their victims.  (Hint:  In the old days vampires didn’t sparkle.)  This could have been a topic for World Horror Convention!  Here, however, in 26 lines, my poem “How Things Change” was received today in the April-June issue of STAR*LINE.  STAR*LINE itself (cf. Feb. 2, et al.) is the official publication of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, currently scheduled four times per year and edited by F. J. Bergman with this issue being the final one with poetry selected by previous editor Marge Simon.  Future issues however will have poetry by me too, including at least one about a vampire!

More information on STAR*LINE and the SFPA can be obtained by clicking here.

Yesterday’s postal mail brought my copy of DREAMS OF DUALITY (cf. Apr. 2, Mar. 15, et al.), a handsome volume with a cover that looks every bit as neat as its pictures.  I’ve only had a chance to dip into it thus far, but so far the stories have been good, and of a fairly high “literary” quality, exploring the character of their protagonists  — as indeed the premise of the anthology would suggest  — as much as providing plot and action.  My outing here is “Jessie,” originally published in ABERRATIONS in August 1995, and based (as it were) on the Books of Kings in the BIBLE.

Then today brought the news that Post Mortem Press’s TORN REALITIES is now out on Amazon, complete with reprint Clive Barker novella “Rawhead Rex” (see Mar. 17, et al.).  From the ad copy:  “This is not your typical Cthulhu anthology!  TORN REALITIES deals with Lovecraft’s themes of forbidden knowledge, the idea that we are essentially untethered from the workaday world.  TORN REALITIES explores lunacy-inducing creatures predating the dawn of man — keeping Lovecraft’s most famous theme (the idea of mind-boggling other gods) more general.  The stories in this book actively seek the gray area in horror with tales of regular people in irregular situations.”  My story in this is “The Calm,” of an expedition that went awry during the French and Indian War, originally published in NEW MYTHOS LEGENDS (Marietta Publishing, 1999).  For it, and “Rawhead Rex,” and others by authors such as JW Schnarr, Kenneth W. Cain, C.M. Saunders, Brad Carter, Jessica McHugh, and many more, check out Amazon’s site by pressing here.

Talk about quick!  Still catching up from World Horror Convention, I thought it high time I submit a few stories to various markets, one of which, in the wee hours of  (technically) this morning, was Yurei Press’s horror/dark fiction anthology THE EVIL INSIDE.  Exactly thirty-one minutes later editor Von Savant emailed back:  “I happened to be reading emails when your submission arrived.  I enjoyed it and we’d like to include it in the anthology.”  The story in question is “Strawberry Fields” (and, yes, the reference is to the Beatles’ song), the tale of a house with a curse of sorts, or at least one that had been built on cursed ground, or so the rumors said.  That may be why the land behind it had never been farmed even though the most delicious wild strawberries grew there, or why the house so often found itself vacant.  “Strawberry Fields” was published once before, in the Winter 2007-8 issue of BLACK INK HORROR magazine.

THE EVIL INSIDE is an open market and will be reading stories through June 15, according to the guidelines, aiming for a publication date of October 1, 2012.  Submissions can be up to 4500 words and should be “[s]tories that instill a feeling of dread or foreboding.  Something evil is contained, but someone releases it by accident.  Feel free to explore different avenues.  Is evil contained in an abandoned factory?  How about a shoebox at the top of Grandma’s closet, or the new kid on the block?  How does it get released and what happens thereafter.”  For more information, press here for Yurei Press’s website.

And here it is!  A bit late in the evening but “The Cage” has now been entered into MISCELLANIA:  A TRANSDIMENSIONAL LIBRARY (cf. posting just below).  One must remember, it is but a fragment, yet how much more might the entry imply?

To find out, press here.  This will take you into the library catalog where you can click on the file card at the upper left or, if in a hurry, open the entry directly by pressing here.

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