Archive for February, 2014

What with THE TEARS OF ISIS on (as it were) the banquet menu and not only that but World Horror Conventions are fun, I’ve finally taken the official plunge, filled out the form, put my registration money down, and am now an official member of the 2014 World Horror Convention.  For those not yet signed up, it’s on May 8 through 11 this year in Portland Oregon, so part of what I was doing today was scoping out air fares and times to make sure I, who am not rich (hey, I’m a writer, need I say more?), could swing the transportation.  The answer to that, a conditional “yes,” though it remains to be seen if I can work it to avoid camping out all night in Indianapolis or, on the way back, a three-hour-plus layover in Chicago.  And then there’s the question of the hotel — the convention one isn’t all that expensive, but there could be others that might suit me better (also as in New Orleans last year, the hotels seem not to offer airport transportation, but apparently there’s a light rail line one can commute in on at not too much cost).

Then there are restaurants and that sort of stuff too — groceries, sandwich shops. . . .  How much luggage can I carry and should I leave room free, well, just in case (I have handled the little haunted houses the last two years, so I do have a sense of the size and weight)?

The Cave Cat Wednesday

The Cave Cat Wednesday

And who will feed the cave cat Wednesday?

Well, that last one is actually fairly well settled (though Wednesday doesn’t know it yet), but, speaking of pets, let’s have a little celebration, a story, free, for those of a mind for one.  A bizarro-ish (surrealist?  absurdist?  dumb?) tale of a different pet who told stories, and not always of the pleasantest kind — which, come to think of it, is somewhat like us, who write horror.  The story is titled “Koko’s Rabbit,” originally published in January 2010 in issue #1 of UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND (cf. December 23 2010, et al.), and can be enjoyed by pressing here.

Here is the big news, as of about noon today:  THE TEARS OF ISIS has been officially nominated for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection (cf. January 22).  Nominees will be voted on during the month of March with the winner to be announced at this year’s World Horror Convention, in Portland Oregon, May 8 through 12.  It’s a bit of a distance from here — and even more distance between being a nominee and actually winning the horror community’s top award — but, barring monetary disaster (e.g. tax time comes in April), I’d better plan to go.  And anyway WHC is fun.

But in the meantime life must go on and, this being the month’s final Sunday, I’ve just come home from the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Last Sunday Poetry Reading (cf. January 26), with featured poets Lisa Kwong and Shana Ritter.  Thus, in view of the above news, when “Open Mic” time came I celebrated by reading the two poems that appear in THE TEARS OF ISIS, “The Birdcatchers” (at the end of the story of the same name, though originally published as a stand-alone poem) and the book’s opening poem “La Méduse” (“a mood piece,” I said, “to prepare readers for the stories to come”).  More on the Stoker Award®, incidentally, can be seen by pressing here.

And speaking of THE TEARS OF ISIS, may I quote Marta Salek:  “[t]here’s something unique about James Dorr’s horror. Something unusual about the twists; something lovely about the writing and something very human about the monsters he brings forth in his pages.”  Sometimes these things seem to come in pairs.  Scarcely had the cave computer keyboard cooled from typing Saturday’s post, below, when Marta’s review went up on Amazon just too late to be included.  This time it’s only four stars, not five (“I won’t say every story appealed to me, but I did like most and I’m still thinking about many of them even now that I’ve finished.  To me, that’s the mark of a successful writer.”) but, nevertheless, a very positive — and honest — review.

So thank you Marta (to read the entire review press here) and thank you, also, the members of HWA who voted for ISIS for the final ballot!

Actually Isis is rather happy, the headline referring to a new review of THE TEARS OF ISIS by author, poet, and reviewer Vincenzo Bilof.  This is the tenth to appear on Amazon and perhaps the nicest one to date!  Isis basks.

To pull out a few quotes:  “I was reminded of the old HEAVY METAL cartoon; Dorr’s storytelling never ventured into the same exploitative style, but instead, each story was written with a different style, almost as if each piece were written by a different writer.  I think the greatest challenge with a story collection is keeping the reader interested enough to isiscovermasterfinalebook1-copy-201x300read all of the stories.  Most authors have a familiar style that fans of their work can connect with; even the short story masters, like Lovecraft and Barker, arguably maintained similar writing styles throughout their narratives.

“TEARS OF ISIS is interesting because the storytelling methods are diverse.  I wanted to see what Dorr was going to do next.  Here are stories of the grotesque, and stories of personal horror . . . It seemed that Dorr decided to tackle a familiar horror trope — or even popular horror film — with each of his stories, but make them HIS.

“Each character seemed distinct, and most importantly, interesting.  I’ve gone through many anthologies where I paused between stories for an extended period of time, but for TEARS OF ISIS, I couldn’t help but see what Dorr had up his sleeve in the next story.  Even though each story was distinct, I felt like there was a sense of ‘mythology,’ as the title might suggest.  As if each story presented a museum-like gallery of horror stories that were a homage to a fear-mythos. . . .”

I bask.

To read the review in its entirety, along with Amazon’s other reviews (though one or two toward the bottom may not be quite as nice) press here.  The review also appears on Goodreads where it can be found here.

Untreed Reads Publishing has announced that they’ve reduced prices of some of their longer stand-alone stories to $0.99 as a permanent price reduction.  “In almost all cases this was because the title was originally $1.50 and we’re bringing all of the short story pricing to the same price point.”  In my case this affects only one story, the novelette PEDS, which will now be at the same price as my Christmas horror tale I’M DREAMING OF A. . . .  and the steampunk mystery VANITAS.  The hope is, as they move away from individual stand-alone stories to book-size genre anthologies, to simplify things in part, but also, in lowering some prices, to increase sales.  They add also that “[m]ost of this pricing is now in effect at all of the major retailers and most distributors.”

For more information on PEDS press here, or press the cover pictures in the center column for individual titles.  Or to see all four of my titles on Untreed Reads (the fourth, the New Year’s Eve anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR, features my “Appointment in Time” as lead story) press here.

First blood for February, as it were, was spilled today with the acceptance of my story “Girls Gone Dead,” originally published in Post Mortem Press’s 2011 anthology NEW DAWN FADES (cf. November 8 2011, et al.), by Martinus Publishing for LIFE OF THE DEAD.  “Tales of undead terror have been woven into the fabric of modern society,” so said the guidelines, “and amidst the blood and gore lie hidden questions:  What motivates these reanimated cadavers to do what they do?  What is the scientific rationale behind their existence?  Why do they always seem so hungry, and seek the flesh of the living?  All very scientific queries begging for answers.”

Or could it be that their undead desires aren’t so far from what they strove for in life — this was the premise of what I submitted, a tale of sisterhood in a way, of how friends in life weren’t going to let a little thing like death break up their relationship.  And, indeed, how popular taste might help them to go on.  But would it be right for this new anthology?

Editor Martin T. Ingham has now spoken:  “Thanks for sending ‘Girls Gone Dead’ to the LIFE OF THE DEAD anthology.  I enjoyed this atypical zombie story, and I’m pleased to accept it into the collection.”

More will be shared here as it transpires.

In the meantime, for those who wish to know more about me, I’ve gone and been interviewed one more time, this time for Sally Franklin Christie’s WRITERLY WEDNESDAY with simultaneous posting on SALLYFRANKLINCHRISTIE.COM.  The date for this will be the last Wednesday in March, March 26, with links to appear here on that date.  Or, for a preview, WRITERLY WEDNESDAY can be found by pressing here, and Sally’s other site by pressing here.

Whichever you choose though, on March 26 you can be sure that, along with new questions answered about me, there will be material on THE TEARS OF ISIS including an all-new excerpt from one of the stories.

(Which story?  I’m not saying until the interview is published. 😉 )

Hans Baldung - 1484-1545

Hans Baldung – 1484-1545

This is just a short note from Horrified Press, but one worth passing on:  The anthology NIGHTMARE STALKERS & DREAM WALKERS has been been picked up for distribution by Ingram, one of the largest book wholesalers in the U.S.  So for readers this means the book may actually visit your town, on a shelf in your local bookstore, for some brief period before it’s returned to make way for the next shipment of titles.  It’s a dog eat dog world out there.  For us, the writers, it could be we’ll get an actual money-type royalty if horror fans are alert and snap it up when it appears.

For the record, my dog in this fight is a tale called “Flesh” (see October 23, et al.; also November 1 for a mini-interview with the editors), a zombie saga with a dream dimension in which a man is warned he must become fat.  If you had a dream like that wouldn’t you believe it?  And for those who may no longer have a local town bookstore, NIGHTMARE STALKERS & DREAM WALKERS can be found on Amazon too by pressing here.

We’ve been having a William S. Burroughs (b. Feb. 5 1914 – d. 1997) festival here, not considered a horror author but books like JUNKIE and NAKED LUNCH come close.  So I’ve been watching movies as part of it at Indiana University Cinema, BURROUGHS:  THE MOVIE (a new remastered version) Thursday night, then Friday night, braving 6 degree weather, CHAPPAQUA.  The latter, about an addict in rehab reliving/hallucinating experiences on drugs, was NakedLunchespecially interesting, non-linear by definition, surrealistic in places — think “bizarro” if one will, though it’s not that exactly — with cameos by Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, soundtrack largely by Ravi Shankar.  There’s no specific local connection to Burroughs except that despite connections to Tangier, etc, he was really a Midwesterner, born in St. Louis and died in Lawrence Kansas after he’d left New York.  A few nights before I’d also attended the opening at the IU Fine Arts Building of  a small display of paintings he did mostly later in life, a number of these while in Kansas.  I understand there’s also (though I haven’t been to it yet)  a display in the university’s rare book library.

So they’ll be showing the movie of NAKED LUNCH later tonight as I write this, though, in that I happen to have the VHS of that one anyway — and it would also partially overlap tonight’s CBS special on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York (thus the headline above:  How Time Passes) — I’m tentatively planning a “private showing” probably around midnight tonight.

This afternoon, though, I’m just back from a showing of short films Burroughs was in or made or was involved with too, some experimental (THE CUT-UPS, e.g., probably best described as a prolonged example of montage, the more interesting because some scenes that came up had already appeared in BURROUGHS:  THE MOVIE) some less so (e.g. a sentimental cartoon version of his short story, “The Junkie’s Christmas”), also including TOWERS OPEN FIRE, WILLIAM BUYS A PARROT, BILL AND TONY, GHOSTS AT NO. 9, et al.  And then tonight, the weather report is talking about another quick cold snap plus maybe more snow (though probably not much), another excuse for the “private showing,” as well as that I’m looking forward to being able to run scenes back to look at again, etc., with some of the techniques Burroughs used himself both in his writing and his own films still fresh in my mind.

Then for something completely different, Saturday brought a long-anticipated copy of WE WALK INVISIBLE (cf. November 8, SeptWeWalkInvisible1122FINALjustcovercopyember 23), actually published in November by Chupa Cabra House, but due to postal mixups of some sort, only now sent.  So, okay, there is an air of paranoia there that might relate to some of Burrough’s work as well.  And then there’s my story “Invisible People,” a near-future tale of alienation and, yes, paranoia too, originally published in DARK INFINITY in Winter 1992-93 — and chastely described on the back cover as “A man finds that retirement makes him invisible to society.”

Ah, but there’s so much more, not only in that, but in fifteen more stories that make up WE WALK INVISIBLE, for more information on which press here.

“‘The Wellmaster’s Daughter,’ from James S. Dorr, engages with its exotic setting, foreboding mood, and rich language.”  So said David Searls in a review of UNCOMMON ASSASSINS last June 24 on HELLNOTES.  And now, if you haven’t read it already, Editor Weldon Burge has just announced that “Smart Rhino Publications has scheduled a Kindle Countdown sale for UNCOMMON ASSASSINS this weekend, Feb. 7-9.  On Friday, you can pick up the Kindle version for 99 cents; on Saturday, $1.99; and then later on Sunday, the price will go to the original price of $3.99.  If you haven’t read this anthology of suspense/thriller stories, here’s your chance to download a copy!”

“The Wellmaster’s Daughter” itself is a reprint that originally appeared in the November 1991 issue of ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, and is also available in my first collection STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE by Dark Regions Press in 2001 (at last notice, Dark Regions may be out of stock, but both new and used copies should be available on Amazon), but at least for this weekend can also be obtained with 22 other stories of crime and killing at a bargain price by pressing here.


The Vampire, Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

And here it is, as advertised Monday (cf. February 3), the review of DRACULA:  ENTRE L’AMOUR ET LA MORT.  And in French to boot (the movie, that is, not the review), perfect for upcoming Valentine’s Day romance.  Add some hot chocolate or maybe an ice-cold sherry, a fine amontillado, depending on weather; an intimate room, dimly lit and inviting; a comfortable couch.  The DVD begins. . . .

And there aren’t even subtitles to distract you — well that’s on the down side, actually, but the review itself is on M. R. GOTT’S CUTIS ANSERINA, a.k.a., WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD, and it gives enough of a description of what’s going on to allow you to just let the music take over.  Then added to that, your knowledge of DRACULA, the book, will allow you to steer your significant other (or other-to-be) through the various intricacies of plot.

And there’s even more.  While not in the order of presentation, English translations to most of the songs can be found by pressing here.  The link also appears, spelled out, at the bottom of the review, but when I checked it on WHERE THE DEAD SEEMED TO TREAD it didn’t seem to be live.  Or is that simply a limitation on the cave computer here?  Either way it should work by clicking the link just above on this page and, in a few moments, I’ll add a comment at that end directing folks to come here if they need to.

So. for the review itself, go to today’s WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD by pressing here.

And again, if the link to the translations on “allthelyrics” didn’t work there, you can find them at this end by clicking here.

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