Archive for May, 2016

Sunday, for the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, brought something new to the Bloomington Writers Guild’s normal “Last Sunday Poetry Reading.”  This one, also the last for the season as the Guild goes on its summer haitus, combined with a local Creative Aging Festival in conjunction with National Older Americans Month (so many things, so many goings on!), brought numerous guests for what amounted to an all-open mike session.  Most poets were also, therefore, on the elderly side themselves, though many of us in the Writers Guild seem to be so anyway.  But as for another difference from expected practice, even though I was invited to, I begged off from reading a poem myself on the grounds that I — who do not age creatively — didn’t have anything that seemed appropriate.

But what of “after-aging,” one might ask?  Poems on death, as on creatures undead, might not have been proper, but what should greet me afterward when I stopped by the library on the way home to look at email (their equipment being faster than the cave computer) but, via DIRGEMAG.COM, “The Victorian Séance:  The Ultimate Feminist Death Party” by Patricia Lundy.  The gist is that seancespiritualism offered an opportunity for women in a strictly defined male-dominated society to find a niche where they, themselves, were a center of power, however limited.  But spiritualism had become quite popular among men as well as women so, even if specialized, an ambitious practitioner could escape at least for a time her expected role.  As a medium conducting a séance, a woman had more status and opportunity than she did anywhere else in society.  Victorian society demanded that a woman satisfied her husband sexually whenever he wished, had no property or voting rights, and did not have the power to divorce her husband or even gain custody of her children if he divorced her.  Spiritualism offered her a way to fight the patriarchy — by communicating with the dead.  Although male mediums existed, female mediums were preferred because they were thought to have more spiritual faculties than their male counterparts:  “A female medium was often considered a better communicator than a male medium because she had allegedly a better predisposition to spiritual perfectibility.”(2)   Thus death with social history as well!

The article as a whole, though, is just a taste, the quote above covering much of Ms. Lundy’s ground in itself, but footnote “2” to which the quotation within the quote is attributed offers more depth for those who wish to delve.  This takes you to THE VICTORIAN WEB and Dr. Andrzej Diniejko, D. Litt. on “Victorian Spiritualism” (and which also has its own short set of bibliographical notes).  Dr. Diniejko’s piece can be found by pressing here, while Ms. Lundy’s piece is available here.

The release date, also, should be in June, or so said this morning’s Facebook announcement.  The anthology, Alessandro Manzetti’s THE BEAUTY OF DEATH (cf. April 19, January 23), and the story, my H. Rider Haggardesque (sort of) “Gold,” printed here for the first time.  Elections are coming — shall we vote for greed?  Or at least the story pertains to greed, and how one with that to spare but little money did something about it.

So herewith the contents (look for me seventeen places down, a tad over a third of the way down the contents) as well as a whole new cover design.  Enjoy, enjoy!

Stories:

Blue Rose by Peter Straub
Above the World by Ramsey Campbell
In the Garden by Lisa Morton
Bleeding Rainbows by Shane McKenzie
Finding Water to Catch Fire by Linda D Addison
Mulholland Moonshine by John Palisano
Calcutta, Lord of Nerves by Poppy Z. Brite/Billy Martin
This is how we learn by John SkippBeautyOfDeath2
White Trash Gothic by Edward Lee
12 by Gene O’Neill
Metamorphic Apotheosis by Rena Mason
Breaking Up by ‘Monica J. O’Rourke
The Dark River in His Flesh by Maria Alexander
Fathomless Tides by Tim Waggoner
Every Ghost Story Is A Ghost Story by Nick Mamatas
Cold Finale by Bruce Boston & Marge Simon
Gold by James Dorr
Season’s End by Colleen Anderson
Alley Oops by Del Howison
The Bitches of Madison County by John F.D. Taff
No place like home by JG Faherty
Rotten Apples by John Claude Smith
In Frigore Veritas by K Trap Jones
Dearly Beloved by Ron Breznay
How to make love and not turn to stone by Daniel Braum
Candy by Paolo Di Orazio
Contractions by Kevin David Anderson
Building Comdemned by Adrian Ludens
Professor Aligi’s Puppets by Nicola Lombardi
By the River She Wakes by Erinn Kemper
The Office by Kevin Lucia
The Carp-Faced boy by Thersa Matsuura
The Captain by Stefano Fantelli
Blacker Against the Deep Dark by Alexander Zelenyj
Larrie’s Tapes by Gigi Brigante Musolino
Game by Daniele Bonfanti
The I of the Beholder by Kathy Ptacek
Vestige by Annie Neugebauer Tilton
Kozmic Blues by Alessandro Manzetti
The Lady with the Stick by Simonetta Santamaria
Black-Eyed Susan by Mike Lester

No, it’s not my headline this time but rather the title of an animated lecture/interview by Kurt Vonnegut on BLANKONBLANK.ORG/ PBS DIGITAL STUDIOS, delivered to a class at New York University on November 8 1970.  And please forgive the annoying Dropbox commercial toward the end.  But, speaking of SCIFI’s CatsCradle(1963)venture itself into academe (see post just below), I’d say that while this one was rather more exciting — the rocketship, for instance, vs. “Killer Kudzu”? —  I’d like to hope ultimately that  we’re all talking about the same thing.

And the man-eating lampreys as well?  To find out press here.

Kudos for indirectly leading me to BLANKONBLANK, etc., go to Mike Olson and ON THE EDGE CINEMA.  And if that weren’t enough, there are more of these animated interviews — times run to five or six minutes or so each — such as one with “Ray Bradbury on Madmen” (this time via Youtube and without commercial, at least not interrupting it toward the end like with Vonnegut’s session) which can be found here.

SCIFI is its name and it stands for South Central Indiana Fiction Interface, or something like that.  I didn’t make it up, but for those who care, we generally pronounce it “skiffy.”  It’s the writers group that I belong to, monthly meetings involving critiquing one another’s stories.  But SCIFI went highfalutin this morning, with regulars Frida Westford, Christine Rains, and me as invited guests to Indiana University Associate Professor Joan Hawkins’s media class on Science Fiction Television.

No, we don’t write TV scripts, but the class is about how science fiction, and speculative fiction in general, “is a favored genre for reimagining, reworking and critiquing gender roles, human sexuality, the relationship between humans and technology, war, and racial stereotypes.  It is a place where utopic and dystopic notions of government and power are explored, a powerful lens for looking back at our own contemporary reality.”  And, Joan and I both (well, and Frida too, but she wasn’t there when this first came up) being in the Bloomington Writers Guild, she asked me if I, as a bona fide sometimes science fiction (or if not, horror’s close enough) writer, and colleagues if I could gather some, could come into her class one day to give her students an idea of how things work from the creators’ point of view.

And that was, among other things, my first official non-blog announcement that it looks like I’ve got a “Tombs” novel-in-stories coming down the pike (see post just below), allowing as well an DystopiaFullCoverexample I could use in discussing, in this case, far-future dying-Earth themes.  In general it worked like a panel at a science fiction or horror convention with Joan starting off and then the students following with questions about such things as what draws us to speculative fiction, if and how it may allow us to explore topics we might have trouble with in more mainstream fiction, how one gets ideas and how they’re converted to stories, other writers we’re influenced by (Frida and I both cited Ray Bradbury and, specifically, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, to which I also added Poe, Allen Ginsberg, Bertolt Brecht, and the ancient Greek tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides).  And, Heaven help us!, at one point I found myself actually explaining the plot line of my recent flash story “Killer Kudzu”  (cf. May 21, March 27).

“Killer Kudzu” aside (we also talked about vampire movies some), it was an interesting session and a good one, with the students responding well and coming up with some really good questions themselves.  And not only that, it was a chance to show off and do a Good Deed at the same time.

Also (cf. May 21, 5), “May is International Short Story Month, and what better way to celebrate than with great savings?” to quote from today’s email.  The sender this time is Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing who reminds us (cf., again, May 5):  “We’ve got tons of titles on sale in every genre, so get big savings on short reads!”  It goes on to say that from now until the end of the month, individual short story titles are $0.50 each and short story collections and anthologies will be available for up to 50 percent off.

These would include my story chapbooks PEDS, I’M DREAMING OF A. . . ., and VANITAS, with all three reachable by clicking one of their pictures in the center column.  And — *BONUS* — the page that will lead you to also includes the short story anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with its sale discount too.  And from there, of course, one can navigate to Untreed Reads’ main pages, of which they advise, “[b]e sure to explore all of our genres on the left side of our store page to see everything we have to offer,” adding though that one must hurry.  “Sale ends May 31st.”

“It’s only time travel, what could go wrong?  . . .  No, seriously, you tell me.  When things don’t go as planned, what’s Plan B?  What’s the contingency?  Who cleans up the mess?”

So started the original guidelines for SINGULAR IRREGULARITY, twenty-plus answers to these questions as time has gone by, including mine, “The Master of Time” (cf. May 9, April 27).  The book is scheduled to be out for an Indianapolis, GenCon debut in early August.  But before that happens comes the kickstarter, in this case to help pay the authors more which means, among others, me.  At about halfway through it’s not doing too badly, and as of tomorrow will be entering its final two weeks.  And this means that, while there are some tasty incentives still left, if you had been thinking of taking a lootimetravel4CharlieChaplink at the offers yourself — or just plain pre-ordering now rather than later — this is a good time to check it out.  One need but press here.

Meanwhile, the weekend has brought some exciting news.  I’m downplaying it here a bit to wait for a few details, but for those who’ve seen one or more of my (mostly) prose collections, you might recall a few stories therein set in the far-future world of the “Tombs”; in THE TEARS OF ISIS, for example, “The Ice Maiden,” “Mara’s Room,” and “River Red.”  For the last few years I’ve been pitching, as a sort of back burner thing, a novelization linking sixteen stand-alone story-chapters (including two of those noted above, as a sort of preview) within a continuing narrative frame, similar to the Ray Bradbury novels THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, or Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB, etc., under a tentative title TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

And so Sunday’s email included a contract from one of the publishers I’d sent it to, not one of the international giants, but not the smallest of small press either.  And maybe not with every detail I might have liked, but still a good one at least at first glance.  I’ve already sent back a couple of questions, but in all probability, after I’ve gone through the seven densely packed pages of clauses, there’ll be no problems.  And so, as more becomes known, look for more here.

Kudos today go to Susan Oleksiw who, via Facebook, reminded me that my flash noir tale “The Winning” went live, or at least the link thereto, on the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s blog as part of its celebration of International Short Story Month (cf. May 5).  “The Winning” was originally published in OVER MY DEAD BODY in Spring 1994, and in the version presented here, A TWIST OF NOIR, December 9 2008.  To read “The Winning” and other great stories — at least one a day, and mostly two, for each day this month — one may press here.

Then also this afternoon, continuing to peruse my email at the county library following my monthly writers’ group meeting, I came across this note from Lynn Stranathan of Yard Dog Press:  “Sorry for the rush, but the end of the school year is crushing and we’re trying to get ready for ConDome, too, so I need to get this put to bed or we won’t have it for SoonerCon.  So, if you have any corrections, it’s now or never.”  The subject, their upcoming short short anthology FLUSH FICTION II (see March 27) and my story in it, “Killer Kudzu.”  This one will be presented in, to give it its full title, FLUSH FICTION, VOLUME II:  TWENTY YEARS OF LETTING IT GO!, for the very first time.  While as for the proofreading, for which Lynn added, “I really do need any corrections by tomorrow evening, though, so please look at it ASAP,” the two typos I found will be sent back tonight.

ERASERHEAD, anyone?  No, not here, but remember that ear?  For BLUE VELVET fans there came a notice from Mike Olson, via ON THE EDGE CINEMA on Facebook, of an interesting article thirty years after the making of that film, by Rebecca Bengal, including photography by Peter Braatz.  The thirty year anniversary, actually, is 220px-Bvmoviepostercoincidence — as is part of the subject of the piece, “Blue Velvet Revisited:  Unseen Images From a New Documentary on the Making of David Lynch’s Classic,” on VOGUE.COM.  Also by Peter Braatz, the documentary is hoped to be out sometime this year, at least for film festivals and the like.

Indiana University Cinema, anyone?

And of the ear, discovered in the grass:  Lynch has said he got the idea for BLUE VELVET from that ear — the film’s central metaphor and a seashell-like portal to this small-town underworld — but also from Bobby Vinton’s 1960s version of the song.  “There was something mysterious about it,” he said. “It made me think about things.  And the first things I thought about were lawns — lawns and the neighborhood.”

For more, press here.

Evil queens, you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.  In any event, there’s a3016rarely a dull moment when they’re around.  So at the movies, sort of, with this from TOR.COM, “Ayesha, White as Snow:  H. Rider Haggard’s SHE and Walt Disney’s Evil Queen” by Gilbert Colon.  Was the image of Disney’s iconic naughty lady in SNOW WHITE in fact inspired by producer Merian C. Cooper’s 1935 film with Helen Gahagan Douglas in the role of Hash-A-Mo-Tep — “She Who Must Be Obeyed”?  An interesting comparison, no?  Or, to see more of the origin and fascination of not-so-nice royalty (“Princess Kriemhild from the 1924 Fritz Lang film DIE NIBELUNGEN was cited . . .”) press here.SHE-Hash-A-Mo-Tep

Moving now from queens to a countess, but also vampires — Elizabeth who?  Well maybe, maybe not.  And how about the US of A’s own Mercy Brown, reports of whom may have helped inspire Bram Stoker?  Thus on LISTVERSE.COM, by Aaron Short, “10 Creepy Historical Vampires You’ve Never Heard Of.”  But included is Bathory, the “Blood Countess,” who also lent her name for the movie DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS.  And the Highgate Vampire?  Though of the obscure ones my favorite, I think, is #2, the one with the iron teeth, though apparently he was somewhat of a wimp as vampires go, having ultimately been chased away by a mob of children with sticks and knives.

To meet them oneself one need only press here.

And so, having received the first GREAT TOME volume (see just below), what should come in Tuesday’s email but an acceptance and contract for my story “Ice Vermin” for Volume 3, THE GREAT TOME OF FANTASTIC AND WONDROUS PLACES.  Theme:  Plots revolving around the exploration of fantasy or alien locales in which the acts of exploration and adventure are central to the plot.  It is a reprint (the GREAT TOME series does not pay much, but it is a kind of neat venue to be in nonetheless), initially published in CD ROM form in EXTREMES 5 (Lone Wolf Publications, 2003) as well as in GreatTomeV3.125102232_stdprint in my second collection, DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET (Dark Regions Press, 2007).

The acceptance was not entirely unexpected, however, as I had been asked about making a possible change to the MS which I then sent back, having eliminated interspersed “editor’s notes” ( the story is actually two separate narratives, the first excerpts from the journal of an early 20th century Russian explorer, the second comments the greater part of a century later explaining, with hindsight, portions of the original text) and replaced them with numbered end notes.  Thus, as emailed to me, “I like this much better.  Particularly because I can play with the actual formatting to give it the ‘look’ of an academic publication a little.”  This fits in with the idea of the GREAT TOMES in general, not an annotated excerpt in the “Notes” section of a relatively ephemeral geological journal, but a more full-blown scholarly treatise preserved many hundreds of years in the future, collected thus with other material into a  “Great Tome.”  And, also to the point, it’s a change in form only, not in content, thus telling the same story and in the same way, but just in a slightly different package.

The first GREAT TOME was published in March, as we might remember, even if actually just now received; the second, THE GREAT TOME OF DARKEST HORRORS AND UNSPEAKABLE EVIL with my story “Pavlov’s Dogs” (see April 27, March 4) due, if all goes on schedule, in June.  And so this third volume is tentatively set to be out in September.

The Great Tome of Forgotten Relics and Artifacts, volume one of The Great Tome Series, presents fifteen tales of cursed relics, ancient artifacts, magical items, and alien devices.  In this volume:  The Candle Room by James S. Dorr The Heart of Irelda by Jeff Sullins Her Long Hair Shining by Simon Kewin Digging for Paradise by Ian Creasey Light Bringer by Deborah Walker The Nimrod Lexicon by Taylor Harbin Life Sentence by Miranda Stewart The Shepherd by CB Droege The Rightful GTVol1.3385958_stdOwner by Linda Tyler The Head of John the Baptist by G. Miki Hayden The Binding Agent by Douglas J. Ogurek Seamus Tripp and the Golden Plates by Richard Walsh and Jon Garrett Oracle at Delphi Street by Jon Etter Special Collections by Jon Etter The Djinn at the Wheel by Kathy L. Brown.

So Amazon tells us, dating the book’s publication as March 15.  But for eldritch reasons, unfathomable to ordinary mortals (but having to do with mysterious returns through the postal system), some authors never received their copies, I among them.  To the publishers’ credit, however, they got on top of it and finally, with special shipping via Federal Express, THE GREAT TOME OF FORGOTTEN RELICS AND ARTIFACTS bounced onto my front porch yesterday afternoon.  My story in it (see March 28, 16 et al.), originally published in TERMINAL FRIGHT as well as in THE TEARS OF ISIS, is already noted in the quotation above.  Suffice to say I checked it out first, fourth in the lineup on page 107 — while the book itself can be ordered from Amazon by pressing here.  (Also as a preview, Amazon tells us the second GREAT TOME is expected, on Kindle at least, to be available June 24.)

Then also on Monday afternoon an email came from Editor Cliff Gerstang to the effect that EVERYWHERE STORIES, VOLUME 2 (cf. April 1, February 29), reprinting my tale of “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” is coming along ahead of schedule — at least so far!  Such is the biz, some things get delayed, others pop up unexpectedly early.  In any event other items were listed, cover design, galley proofs, possible launch events, leading to a hoped for release ahead of its current October target.




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