Archive for January, 2014

This was a submission last month by invitation, sort of, for a charity anthology to be put out by Alex S. Johnson under the Chupa Cabra House imprint.  “In the spirit of Christmas and doing the right thing, I am now announcing that submissions are open to the first SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES anthology, to benefit writers and artists in need.”  Niot a slam dunk, but today the word came that the story I sent, “The Worst Christmas Ever,” a reprint first published in 2006 in DARK JESTERS (Novello Publishers), has been accepted for, to give its full name, HEARTCORE:  THE SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES ANTHOLOGY, Volume 1.

Details will follow, although it presumably will contain line art as well as writing, and essays and poetry as well as fiction.  As for flavor, a later description offers this promise:  “Featuring horror, fantasy, Bizarro, and heart core erotica.”

As for “The Worst Christmas Ever,” about a bad year in Santa’s workshop due, in part, to one of his elves’s second job at the Ultima Thule Nuclear Power Plant, combined with a monkey escape from the zoo, it probably falls under the bizarro aegis as much as any of the above.  Although one might argue it’s horrible too.

Then speaking of bizarro, perhaps it’s not really bizarre as such (but who can resist?  certainly not I), but it is a good review that appeared on Amazon Wednesday.  That is, it’s a bizarro-bizarrogood review not just of the BIZARRO BIZARRO anthology (cf. December 27, October 12, 7), but it singles out my story, “Mr. Happy Head,” specifically for. . . .

Well, let me quote reviewer “denial66” who gave the Kindle edition 4.5 stars yesterday.  After saying he (she?) really enjoyed stories by Dustin Reade, Michael A. Rose, Gary Arthur Brown, and Andrew Wayne Adams, he adds:  “The winner for best in this anthology, in my opinion goes to Happy Head by James Dorr.”  You can see it for yourself by pressing here!

Guy’s got taste.

Although he did take a half star off, I suspect it’s for what he says at the end:  “While this volume may be a bit more than someone new to bizarro should take on, those familiar will love what it has to offer.”  (And doesn’t that really just make it one level better?)

It started just two days after Christmas, an invitation from Australian writer Natasha Ewendt (who also has a nice review of THE TEARS OF ISIS on Amazon, by the way) to be featured on her AUTHOR SHOWCASE blog on Goodreads.  “The series is about all things writing — it can be about yourself, your stories and your career, or offer tips on the industry, or be about an aspect of the industry — absolutely anything really.”  A chance, in other words, to toot my horn — but maybe say something useful as well.  How could I refuse?

Well, the useful part will be up to the reader to say (and should he or she wish, there are sections for comments both on this blog and on Natasha’s, including a good  chance of receiving a reply or at least a “thank you”).  And so, to the point, my guest post just went up this evening — that is, in the US; in the morning, I think, for those in Australia — a coming together of some things I’ve been saying in interviews lately, under the rubric “On Character, Stress, and a Love of Language.”  To see it for yourself, press here.

At least these are things important to me right now in my writing, with applications as well (as I try to explain in the blurb that follows it) to THE TEARS OF ISIS.

The local Upstart Poets readings (cf. September 23, et al.) are, unfortunately, a thing of the past, but a new reading series has sprung up this year, the Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic, that may replace it.  And so this afternoon, on the swiftly passing weekend of relatively warm weather preceding tomorrow’s below-zero forecast, off I went to the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center for its premiere manifestation.  The format was similar to that of Upstart Poets, two featured poets reading first — at this outing local poets Nandi Comer, Poetry Editor of INDIANA REVIEW among other honors, and multi-published and Indiana University Bloomington Libraries Website Editor (plus rock ‘n’ roll mavin) Anne Haines — followed by 3-minute mini-readings by whoever wanted to step up to the mike (in my case, with two vampire poems from DISTURBED DIGEST, “It Would Be Wrong” and “The Specialist,” cf September 23, et al., and one werewolf poem, “In the Company of Wolves,” from BLOODBOND, November 29).  In all, I’m not sure it quite replaces Upstart Poets which, with its “People’s Bar” setting, may have been both a bit more informal and edgier, but it came pretty close — as well as, in time, most likely developing its own personality.

Last Sundays are sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild (and not to be confused with mostly-prose First Sundays, for which see January 5, et al.), which also occasionally publishes short stories and poems by member-writers on its website, several of which have been by me.  And so, in celebration of our bone-chilling weather, why not revisit one now as a lagniappe?  “Bones, Bones, the Musical Fruit” appeared on the Writers Guild site on August 19 2011, having been originally published in BONE BALLET (Iguana Publications, 2005).  It is also one of the shortest stories in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, for more on which press here, and so for those interested in (as it were) a kind of sneak peek — or just for the pleasure — can be read by pressing here.

Frigid winter wonderland weather.  For several days now we’ve sustained below freezing temperatures accompanied by light snow now and again — even if I did go out today, this is excellent stay at home and contemplate nature’s beauty outside the window kind of weather, a sleep late and be lazy kind of weather.  Perhaps tomorrow. . . .

But the last weeks have been busy ones for me, reading like mad through stories and novels, etc., re. special recognition, the first stages of Horror Writers Association isiscovermasterfinalebook1-copy-201x300awards season being already on us.  Then that being passed, a guest blog post promised and just yesterday sent in, a blurb for a poetry book by an old friend due by the weekend.  So, with all that going, this isn’t exactly hot off the griddle.  In fact the news got to me late Monday evening, and congratulations from other friends are already up on my Facebook page.  But here it is at last from me:

THE TEARS OF ISIS has made it on the Bram Stoker Award® Preliminary Ballot in the Fiction Collection category.

Comes the disclaimer:  this is not the same thing as a nomination, but rather a short list from which Active and Lifetime Members of HWA will vote on which works should be nominated — for more information on which one can press here (click on “News,” the second item down the page, for the list itself giving all categories).  This part of the process will happen in the first half of February (and so, this afternoon, I made sure that relevant HWA voters will have a chance to see a PDF file of  THE TEARS OF ISIS if they haven’t read it already; then the next three weeks will mean more reading for those works I missed myself during the first stage), to be followed by an announcement the last week of February of, finally, the official Bram Stoker® nominees.

But it’s a start.

Editor Maria Kelly writes:  “Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19th, 1809.  His short stories and poetry have been an influence on this author/editor since she was a child and read her first Poe story, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart.’  My love for all things creepy and weird grew from reading Edgar’s stories, and later I discovered the bizarre terror that is H.P. Lovecraft.  These two authors are must-reads for fans of horror fiction.  H.P. Lovecraft was himself a fan of Poe and was greatly influenced by his work, which can be seen in his poems ‘The Poe-et’s Nightmare’ and ‘In a Sequester’d Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walk’d.’  Lovecraft called Poe his ‘God of fiction.’

“I got a ton of submissions for this issue.  Some you can tell in just a few lines are undeniably Poe/Lovecraft fandom, while others are a bit more subtle and some blend elements of Poe and Lovecraft together.  New Mythos abominations have been born.  There is even a poem.  And a creepy new Dupin story with a horror twist.  Monsters coming out of every shadow.

“CAUTION:  Don’t read before bedtime . . . unless nightmares are your thing.”

And so, today, THE WERE-TRAVELER Lovecraft/Poe homage issue is up, with my micro-addition, “The Farmer in the Well” (see post just below), available in it by pressing here.  But once you’ve read it (it’s very short), be sure to press the Home button to see the whole issue with many, many more delights — even including links to the poems by GrowingConcernsH.P.Lovecraft cited in the first paragraph quoted above!

In other news, Editor Alex Hurst announces that the Chupa Cabra House eco-horror anthology GROWING CONCERNS (see January 9, et al.) has received its first review, a full five stars on Amazon.  My weed in this woodpatch is “Seeds,” concerning a link between flowers and Chicago baseball, and a not-quite-average garden supplies store, and it gets a mention along with the rest.  To see all for yourself, press here.

So, shortly after I posted my birthday remembrance for Edgar Allan Poe, below, what should appear in the ol’ electronic in-box but this, from Editor Maria Kelly:  “Thank you for submitting your story ‘The Farmer in the Well’ to THE WERE-TRAVELER for The Shadows Only Hide the Monsters issue.  I am accepting it for the issue.  I like that it blends both Poe and Lovecraft elements.”  This was another one of those “at the last minute” submissions, sent just last Tuesday for a Wednesday deadline for THE WERE-TRAVELER’s “Tribute to H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe” themed January issue in the Micro Fiction (100 to 500 words) category.  “The Farmer in the Well” is itself a reprint, having first appeared in the original CTHULHU HAIKU (Popcorn Press, 2012 — cf. December 4 2012, et al.).

The acceptance email went on to say that the issue, with story, “should go live within the next 1-4 days.”  For information, and link, check back here.

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”


Gustave Doré, 1884

So what’s Nokbok (pronounced Knock-Bock)?  Let Untreed Reads Publishing Editor-in-Chief Jay Hartman esplain:

“Nokbok is a new player in the all-you-can-read market that already has a few other significant players such as Scribd (who we’ve been with for years) and Oyster (who we are working with right now to get establish a contract).  The idea is that for $4.95 a month, a customer can read as many books Pedsas they’d like.  The author gets paid depending on how much of their book was read.  For people who opt for the free account, they will NOT have access to anything other than public domain works.”  He goes on to point out that, like with a lending library, readers don’t own the books they read — they can’t download or print them, for instance — and that all titles in Untreed Reads’s current catalog will be added, with Nokbok scheduled to launch by the end of the first quarter of this year.

Relevant to me, these will include my near-future “if this goes on” novelette PEDS, Christmas-time horror short story I’M DREAMING OF A. . . ., steampunk-mystery story VANITAS, and the lead story, “Appointment in Time,” in Untreed Reads’s 2012 anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR.  For more on Untreed Reads and my titles with them press here, followed by pressing the title of interest, while for those who just wish to borrow, not buy, more information on how Nokbok works can be found by pressing here.

Word came Friday from Fox Spirit Books that THE GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD (see October 25) is now scheduled to come out in two volumes, with a total of 41 stories, in March.  These will be be “pre, during, post, and not remotely related to apocalyptic stories” in a GirlAtTheEndOfWorldBk1number of genres, with a predilection for “female lead characters who pack a punch.”  As for the volumes, the first “is non apoc, pre and during the apoc, the second is post, split again into three loose sections.”

As for me, my part in all this is in Volume 1, Section 1, a tale in my series of “Tombs” stories set in a far-future, dying-Earth, of which three appear in THE TEARS OF ISIS and others in various other places including my two previous prose collections.  This one is titled “The Borrowed Man” and will have its first publication in THE GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Fox Spirit Books has also released lists of authors and titles for each volume, though not necessarily in their final to-be-published order.  If interested, for Volume 1 press here and for Volume 2 press here.

“Lakes.  Cemeteries.  Labs.  Greenhouses.  Front lawns and backyards.  Plants surround us, and from their roots, branches, and seeds come the most visceral and horrific stories of all.  These nightmares are sentient.  They’re haunted.  They’re tired, and done suffering a population that could not survive without them.  From the most gorgeous of flowers to the smallest of fungi, GROWING CONCERNS sheds light on the last psychological terror of the human race:  Mother Earth in rebellion.”

So states Chupa Cabra House’s press release for its upcoming eco-horror anthology (cf. November 4 and 18), which is scheduled for release next Wednesday, January 15th, according to Editor Alex Hurst.  My skunk at this garden party is a tale called “Seeds,” about a man who would rather watch baseball than dig up the yard for a flower bed, except that his wife has other ideas.  But might the flowers themselves have a say?

To find out, check back here in a week for more details on GROWING CONCERNS, and hopefully a link for ordering, as soon as I know them.

In other news, Untreed Reads Publishing has announced a challenge for readers to read twelve books free during 2014, and then say what they think of them — but the thing is, you have to sign up by the end of this month, January 31.  The rules,from Editor-in-Chief Jay Hartman:

“1.  Send your name and email address to .  If you’re participating in another reading challenge on the Internet, be sure to let us know that too.  We won’t EVER share your info with anyone else, but we’ll add you to our New Releases newsletter so you can see the great new books coming down the pike . . . plus get even more coupons!

“2.  Each month we’ll send you a coupon good for a free download from our store (  You can choose any title up to $5.99 and in any format you prefer:  EPUB, PDF or Kindle.

“3.  Read the book and leave a review in our store and as many other places you can, such as Amazon and Goodreads.  Please leave an honest review!  You’ll also need to include in your review that you received a free copy of the book in exchange for a review.  The government requires that.  Darn red tape!”

Then let me now add, for four of these I might suggest my own solo Untreed Reads chapbooks, PEDS, VANITAS, I’M DREAMING OF A. . ., and the anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with my lead story “Appointment in Time,” for more information on which click here.

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