Archive for December, 2012

It seemed like a nice idea at the time — and I still think it was.  At just after midnight the night before Christmas, technically Christmas Day local time, I posted my Facebook “Christmas card” with a painting, courtesy of Victorian Vampire Society UK, by Edmund Dulac (1882-1953) illustrating a 1911 edition of THE SNOW QUEEN, AND OTHER STORIES FROM HANS ANDERSEN.  Little did I know at the time (drum roll up) that in scarcely more than 24 hours the regal lady would be on my doorstep, in fact literally, in drifts, covering the front porch.

So this morning came the digging out — one thing good, a package from my sister yesterday contained warm gloves.  Other activities on Christmas included devouring, with a tiny bit of help from the cave cat Wednesday, a small chicken, along with sweet and Irish potatoes, green beans, onion, and salad; unwrapping the presents (Wednesday got a new toy spider which she’s playing with as I write this) accompanied with hot chocolate laced with coffee; and much, much later enjoying orange slices and cherry pie with whipped cream topping while watching NUTCRACKER:  THE MOTION PICTURE (cf. December 9 —Image yes, since then I got my own copy) on the VCR.  Music via Public Broadcasting on the TV accompanied much of the day’s activities, in fact, a pleasant time all around, although interrupted at times as the afternoon and evening progressed by National Weather Service warnings that the night and next day would bring a blizzard.

So we almost had a white Christmas, missing by only just over three hours (so I’m a night person in my natural habitat — vampires are too), and we certainly have a white Day After Christmas, my stairs now cleared enough for the Post Office guy to get from the street to my mailbox, if the Post Office guy even comes out today, another path cleared to the alley out back with a branch to my back door (I even had to shovel off the top of the garbage can).  How many inches deep? — it’s hard to say with all the drifting.  But one thing I can say:

From time to time I’d stop to rest, especially by the time I’d gotten to the back, and looking around, it’s stunningly beautiful.

I couldn’t resist.  A poem of mine, as yet unpublshed, “The Vampire’s Advice” gives instruction to a protégée to “smile, my dear, smile,/ let them think of those ruby lips/ . . . .”  Nor is my vampire the first in this strategy.  The jewelry, below, is by Salvador Dali (1945) via Facebook, courtesy of The Bram Stoker Estate, while the quotation that follows is from Jonathan Harker’s Journal in DRACULA concerning the ladies resident in the Count’s castle.


“All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips.  There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear.  I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.  It is not good to note this down; lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth.  They whispered together, and then they all three laughed — such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips.  It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played upon by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.  One said: —

“’Go on!  You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.’  The other added: —

“’He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.’ . . .”

A Thursday double header with “The Christmas Zombie” officially published in the “other” end-of-year anthology, AT YEAR’S END:  HOLIDAY SFF STORIES (see December 3, November 19), by Kazka PreImagess.  From just dipping into it, AT YEAR’S END seems to be a nifty little 46-page electronic flash fiction anthology as compared to YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR which features longer stories with all specifically set on New Year’s Eve.  Two books, two eyes — what could be better?  For more information on Kazka Press’s offering (including Nook and Kindle versions hopefully within 24 hours) press here.  

Then . . . well, it was another of those last minute submission things, which seem to have happened a lot these past few months.  The moral for me is I probably ought to look at marketing lists more frequently.  This was an anthology called GAIA’S MISFITS, for fantasy stories aimed at Young Adults, interesting sounding right from the title and, as it happened (they also being willing to look at reprints), I had a story that might be just right for it.  The story, “All Swords Melt,” originally published in FANTASTIC WORLDS in 1996 (“[w]hile their mistress, Althena, is away,” as went the description the editor asked to be sent with submissions, “apprentice wizard Bronwyn casts a spell which inadvertently leaves their town vulnerable to a possible attack by brigands.  She and her fellow apprentice Humfrey must then make the dangerous journey to the conclave Althena is attending to either bring her back or obtain the means from her by which they can save the day themselves.  But worse, they must also face Althena’s wrath.”), seemed worth a shot at least, and so off it went at 10:54 p.m. on Deadline Day, December 1.  

By now you may be ahead of me, but anyway . . . Happy Ending!  Today as I write this, the 13th, Editor T.J. Lantz emailed me back.  “I enjoyed this story very much.  I found the characters believable and relatable and the writing style enjoyable.“  Thus a contract will be on its way.  

So I really should get a little more on top of the business side of this game and send things out in a more timely manner, but still the point is to get them out, even if in a heart-stopping manner.  Because sometimes it pays off.        

TELLING TALES OF TERROR (cf. December 9, 3, et al.) is now available electronically at the Damnation Books site as well as on Amazon in Kindle, with the printed version expected soon.  Also it should arrive in ebook form on B&N, Omnilit, Itunes, Kobo, Blio, and some Imageothers over the next few days, according to an announcement received early yeaterday.  Also, through the end of December, orders through the Damnation site are eligible for a 25 percent discount — just enter the code 12PE9NGO4MDS at checkout — as are other Damnation books including my chapbook novelette THE GARDEN.  As for TELLING TALES, I have a mutt in this melee as well, as the writer of  the book’s introduction.

To order THE GARDEN, or just for more information about it, click on its picture in the column to the right, while for TELLING TALES OF TERROR:  ESSAYS ON WRITING HORROR AND DARK FICTION, one need only press here.

Then, speaking of books, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing has announced that my latest short fiction collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS (see November 24, et al.), is officially on its 2013 list for publication in May — in time for it to be available at World Horror Convention on June 13-16 in New Orleans.  For a whetting of appetites (as it were) some more information about the contents of  THE TEARS OF ISIS can be found here.

In any event it’s the first I’ve seen, and I got it from YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR publisher Untreed Reads (cf. November 29, et al.), so they ought to know.  The anthology has received a 4.5 out of 5 from reviewer Alesha L. Escobar who, noting that the collection as a whole “definitely put a creepy spin on the festive holiday,” reserved special praise for (ahem) my entry, “Appointment in Time,” of which “[e]ven now, the final image remains with me.”

It is a short review and, in fairness, “Appointment in Time” is the first story in YEAR’S END, a position suited for special attention.  Nevertheless, readers can check out the review for themselves by pressing here and, if tempted by what reviewer Escobar has to say, ordering information (including direct links for Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Apple’s iBookstore) can be found by pressing here.

(And might one note also, the center column directly to right includes three stand-alone Untreed Reads ebooks by me, “Peds,” “I’m Dreaming Of A. . . ,” and “Vanitas,” details on which can be called forth by clicking their pictures.)

No, this isn’t a complaint.  It’s a reference to Krampus and, last night, my joining in the town’e first Krampus Parade.  Krampus is the dark Santa Claus depicted as a slew of hairy, horned monsters who make sure the naughty children get switches instead of candy.

So each of us has to make a decision when handed two stickers:  to wear the “Naughty” one or the one that says “Nice.”  Be chased by the monsters or be given candy by the women Imagewearing white — the Bishop/Saint Nicholas’s assistants  — even if, when I asked one if she believed the label I’d stuck on my coat, she answered “No” (but gave me candy anyway).  My favorite part was the Krampus cart, pulled along the parade route and holding, in front, a kettle of some red-glowing substance and, in the back, a wooden cage containing one or two small children, apparently already caught by the monsters to be taken home for further torture.

But I had been nice.  Thursday night, late (well . . . really more like early Friday morning), having received the materials I needed earlier that day, I sent in the completed revised introduction for Damnation Books’s TELLING TALES OF TERROR:  ESSAYS ON WRITING HORROR AND DARK FICTION (see December 3, including link; October 19).  Then earlier Saturday I was at the Bloomington Writers Guild’s (cf. October 26, et al.) annual combined December business meeting/officer election and party.  Of the party part, I ate Danish, chocolate, and several kinds of cookies and read three poems at the reading portion,  “Émile’s Ghosts” from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) plus two new ones, one about a zombie which I’d first read at the November Upstart Poets, and the other a “glosa” — a 40-line, line by line explication of the “Little Willie” poem that goes “Willie saw some dynamite,/ he didn’t understand it quite,/ curiosity never pays/ it rained Willie seven days.”  The particular Little Willie poem, incidentally, was one I also cited at Upstart Poets to explain the spirit of the zombie poem, “Pas de Dead,” that in which a terrible thing happens but is greeted by either the poet’s indifference or, worse, a rehashing of some Victorian-era moral lesson that’s tragically inadequate to the situation (“curiosity never pays,” indeed, or as the glosa expands it:  “. . . yet with caution, sidewise gaze/ upon the kitten lest its claws/ might harm the nose that’s stuck too close./ When overzealousness betrays,/ curiosity never pays.”).

Business was done at the party too, and I’m now signed up for two public readings in 2013, the first to be in February as part of a new monthly “First Sundays” prose reading series, and the second in October for the more established thrice-yearly “Fountain Square Poetry” series.  Of the latter, the first opening, in June, seemed too close to World Horror Con weekend, but also, as I’ll most likely be reading vampire poems, the later date’s being nearer to Halloween seemed appropriate to the coordinator.  Fountain Square, I might add, is an upscale downtown mall and these readings usually coincide with an evening opening at one or more local art galleries there (which, not entirely to be ignored, usually means a stroll down the hall during breaks will lead to a table of high-class snacks — hey, we’re writers and a cardinal rule is never to pass up a chance to eat free).

Then rounding out the two weeks (more or less) before Christmas weekend, today I saw NUTCRACKER:  THE MOTION PICTURE on TV, from a 1980s performance in Seattle by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, including production and costume design by the late Maurice ImageSendak (i.e., author of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, et al.).  This version hews a little bit closer in spirit to the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” and was noted as being darker than the more usual ones seen at Christmas time.  Also, there is a voiceover by a now grown-up Clara at the beginning, to the effect that “The Christmas parties of long ago blur and mix as one.  The real and the unreal merge together.”  And thus, the production also seems to emphasize the blend, the never quite knowing where the dream ends, which to me as a writer of fiction — especially dark fiction — adds a particular fascination.

In all, a delicious Christmas candy!

Well, that’s the name, CTHULHU HAIKU AND OTHER MYTHOS MADNESS (cf. October 7) to give it in full, and my author’s copy arrived in the mail today.  According to Amazon, however, the book has an official publication date of October 2012 for any bibliographers out there.  Be that as it may, it is well received here, with my contribution,CthulhuHaiku a piece of short fiction about “The Farmer in the Well” (“Ding, dong, dell!  Cthulhu’s in the well!”/  “Who put him in?”/ “Look, stupid.  If Cthulhu’s in the well, it’s because Cthulhu wants to be in the well. . . .”  But what became of the farmer’s pigs and chickens?).  In all, there are 110 pages of haiku and haiku-like and haiku-related poetry as well as short fiction, short rhymed poetry, and who knows what else of short, bite-sized material on, well, Mythos madness.   And as for the farmer (and whatever happened to Farmer Brown’s wife?) the answer to that is on page 66.

CTHULHU HAIKU is published by Popcorn Press and edited by Lester Smith; for more information or possible ordering press here.

Busy, busy, busy (again).  First it was getting the finished MS in for THE TEARS OF ISIS (see November 24).  Then last week I worked on a request from an anthology editor for a rewrite of a story I’d submitted.  And now this week, Damnation Books editor Kim Richards is in the final stages of getting TELLING TALES OF TERROR: ESSAYS ON WRITING HORROR AND DARK FICTION (cf. October 19) in shape for publication — which means, having finished reading and drafting notes on three new chapters, I’m waiting for a final contents list in order to update the introduction.  Oh, and to update my biography for them too.  Ah, the writing life, ain’t it great!

If all goes well, I believe the plan is for TELLING TALES OF TERROR to be available, at least in electronic form, by the end of this week, or if not then soon after — in any event, it’s already announced as an upcoming title on Damnation Books’s site.  So, for a preview of sorts, those curious can press here.

Also, once it’s out, I believe the twenty-five percent discount through the end of December, noted in the post just below, would apply to this book too.

Then I also just got back the countersigned contract for my story to come in AT YEAR’S END:  SFF HOLIDAY STORIES (see November 19), not to be confused with YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR, already published (see also just below, for November 29).  The latter from Untreed Reads Publishing, with my steampunky nasty “Appointment in Time,” is confined to stories taking place specifically on New Year’s Eve; while the former from Kazka Press, more broad in its approach, spreads over a carton of celebrations throughout the waning days of December/early January, including Christmas as blessed with my 500-word epic “The Christmas Zombie.”  And then of the former, that is still SFF HOLIDAY STORIES, publication continues on track for December 9 while, of the latter, HOLIDAY HORROR, Untreed Reads has supplied this nifty advertising banner.
So why not buy them both?

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