Archive for July, 2016
Just a few quick items for the end of July, the first being a royalty payment from Martinus Publishing. As mammoths go, it’s a bit on the petite size which isn’t exactly world-shattering news, but the thing is part of it’s for the anthology ALTERED AMERICA (see January 20 2015, March 28 2014, et al.) with my Y2K story “Avoid Seeing a Mouse” which, although it’s clearly ending its run, has paid quite handsomely over the past three years, in fact probably nearing professional rates had it been paid for by word count. And the story is a reprint to boot, originally published in ZOMBIE JESUS AND OTHER TRUE STORIES (Dark Moon Books, 2012).
The other anthology in the mix, though, LIFE OF THE DEAD with my “Girls Gone Dead,” has (to pardon the expression) pretty much died.
But speaking of zombies, for those who might be in Indianapolis in August, be sure to check out the Indiana State Fair or, more precisely, the Purdue Extension Agriculture/Horticulture Building. To quote the news release, one will find therein “a walk-through maze and interactive video game designed to simulate a zombie apocalypse. The maze ends at an underground shelter stocked with all the supplies necessary for survival in an emergency.” Why? According to the Extension’s Steve Cain, “the goal is to help visitors learn about disaster preparedness.”
And then, lest local Bloomington folks feel left out, about 9 p.m. Friday the Indiana University biology department’s nine-year old Amorphophallus titanum, or “corpse flower,” bloomed for the first time. Named Wally after a former department greenhouse administrator, the corpse flower is so called because of the rotting-meat stench it emits to attract insects for pollination and its bloom is short-lived, averaging only 24 to 36 hours. It is also a native of western Sumatra and one of the world’s largest species of flowers.
Serendipity strikes again with this one blundered on by pure chance, plus a bit of the carney game known as Facebook. And not only that, I’ll confess to amusedly tattling on Number 6 myself in terms of the soap opera quality of his once upon a time private life (“Hi there, Claire Clairmont!”). But yes, these guys could be dangerous too — or just bad to be near. Or, to quote Matthew Keyte’s “10 Poets Who Were Completely Mad, Bad, And Dangerous to Know” on LISTVERSE.COM: Poets are sensitive, ethereal creatures, ineffectual dreamers obsessed with metaphors and finding the right rhythms and rhymes. They’re generally harmless, right? Not always. On this list, there are killers, crooks, plotters, rakes, a blackmailer, several revolutionaries, heartbreakers, duelists, drunkards, an opium fiend, a serious oddball, and even one fascist. To borrow the words of Lady Caroline Lamb, who played mistress to one of them, these men were mad, bad, and dangerous to know. So you never know, eh?
But, whether lover of poetry or actual poet, the list is fun. To see it yourself (and you know you want to) press here.
Two quick items, the first serendipitously* discovered via Facebook, “New Film Extraordinary Tales Animates Edgar Poe Stories, with Narrations by Guillermo Del Toro, Christopher Lee & More,” by Josh Jones on OPENCULTURE.COM. This discusses an animated version of several Poe tales, with several in some cases famous narrators, that came out last October, complete with trailer and a sample clip (from “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”) and can be found by clicking here. If impressed, more can be found as well on the film’s own Facebook page here.
Then word also came out on Facebook today that Upper Rubber Boot Books’s eclectic anthology THE MUSEUM OF ALL THINGS AWESOME AND THAT GO BOOM (see July 14, et al.) is now officially available in both print and electronic forms, including my tale of Christmas and Santa and . . . zombies, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians” (originally published in HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT BUBBAS by Yard Dog Press, 2007). If interested, the Museum’s Gift Shop offers links for all editions and can be visited by pressing here.
*Well — full disclosure — with help from Dan Clore and THE WEIRDVERSE: GOTHIC HORROR FANTASY & DECADENT POETS & POEMS
Sunday night saw an announcement from Clifford Garstang that EVERYWHERE STORIES, Volume 2 (see July 13, et al.) has gone to the printer for an expected September 26 publication date. However it’s open for pre-order now, with a discount available for ordering Volume 1 as well. Quoting publisher Press 53’s official release: With a theme of “It’s a Mysterious World,” this exciting addition to the EVERYWHERE STORIES series, edited by award-winning author Clifford Garstang, takes readers on a journey around the globe: to a wrestling match in Turkey, to a mysterious eye doctor in Guatelmala, to a homeless man wandering the streets of Chicago, to a religious school in Samoa, to a drowning in Mexico, to a fortune-telling monk in Korea, to a miraculous hotel in Egypt, and to more stories in countries on every continent.
Contributors include Mark Brazaitis (THE RIVER OF LOST VOICES: STORIES FROM GUATEMALA, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award), Chris Cleary (THE RING OF MIDDLETOWN), James Dorr (THE TEARS OF ISIS, a 2014 Bram Stoker Award nominee), Christopher Woods (THE DREAM PATCH), William Kelley Woolfitt (CHARLES OF THE DESERT), plus Hira Cheema, Rijn Collins, Lucinda Nelson Dhavan, John Matthew Fox, Pamela Hartmann, Joel Hodson, Alison Grifa Ismaili, Robert Kostuck, Barbara Krasner, Gabriela Maya, Frances Park, Brandon Patterson, Brooks Rexroat, Candace M. Robertson, and Frank Scozzari.
My story in this is “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, November 1991 (also reprinted in STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE, for information on which one may click on its picture in the center column), which takes place in the Sahara Desert in Mali. Here, however, it appears with four other stories set in Africa and fifteen more elsewhere in the world, each story in a different nation. For more information or for pre-ordering one may press here.
Also for movie buffs, yesterday’s browsing brought, via Facebook, a piece by Rebekah McKendry on BLUMHOUSE.COM, “Can Viewing this Film Really Make You Go Insane?” It seems there’s a lost film, allegedly made in 1897 — the year, incidentally, Bram Stoker’s DRACULA was published in England, possibly made by Georges Méliès or, some say, a disciple named Victor Sicarius who (it is also alleged) was involved in matters of the occult. But the thing is, according to McKendry, [this] film is a legend because it is rumored to actually cause audiences to go insane, FURY OF THE DEMON from the late 1800s. At the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, I just screened a fantastic documentary called LA RAGE DU DÉMON (a.k.a. FURY OF THE DEMON) about the original film, the legend, the possible filmmaker, and the alleged resurfacing of the cursed movie. And: Fast forward to 1939. Tod Browning (the guy who made FREAKS and DRACULA), released a feature called MIRACLES FOR SALE. When the film screened in New York City, FURY OF DEMON played before hand. Supposedly, the screening of the short caused the audience to erupt in mass-hysteria. People ripped their hair out and fought fellow audience members. It was a bloody, vicious scene. Eventually, a fire broke out, and six people died in the inflamed theater. The documentary even interviews some of the audience members from the 1939 screening who recall the madness firsthand.
A sultry, sunny weekend of lounging and iced coffee, being lazy and feeling excused for it. But with a couple of happenings as well, the first with an announcement from Elder Signs Press on their Facebook page of the cover for TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, plus a reprinting of an announcement (including a picture of me for any who care) from the Bloomington Writers Guild that I had received and signed the contract for TOMBS. Also an announcement with a link from this blog (see January 22) giving the contents for two ESP anthologies scheduled for this fall, DARK HORIZONS (with my story “Dark of the Moon”) and CITY MAGICK (with “Bottles,” also reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS). To see for oneself, one need but press here.
But for things in the air still, TOMBS is now being announced for “Spring/Summer 2017,” which could make it too late for a World Horror Convention and/or StokerCon premiere next year. This might not be too terrible a thing though, as I probably wouldn’t be able to make both conventions myself and, hey, better to come out a few weeks late and do things right then to be on time but with errors, perhaps, that might have been avoided. Also the cover, as depicted, has the short title “TOMBS” in nicely dramatic lettering, but omits the subtitle, although it might be on the spine and elsewhere — or possibly even back on the cover (though most likely still in much smaller letters) as things progress.
Then today brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s annual summer picnic and open reading. Lots of chicken and potato salad (plus ham rolls, melon, other salads, bread, cookies. . . .). I brought lemonade and diet root beer, then when the time for readings came, two poems from a mini-poem cycle of six, originally published in GOTHIC.NET on successive weeks from August 2 through September 6 2002, and which also appear in the poetry section of DARKER LOVES: TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET (for info on which one can press its picture in the center column). Touted as being on the subjects of picnics and fellowship, respectively, the first was “Bon Appétit,” on things crows eat in the rather dark city the cycle as a whole depicts — and which itself is based on my early chapbook TOWERS OF DARKNESS, and the second, “Dig We Must,” on camaraderie among the inmates of a cemetery and how, through judicious tunneling beneath mourners above, one may add new friends.
So, yes, I was looking to see if I still had a VHS of MEET THE FEEBLES (on a different shelf, though, from FORBIDDEN ZONE), but while I have the original LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, I may not have the one with the music. But then I do have REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA on DVD, underappreciated in my opinion despite the singing of Sarah Brightman in the role of “Blind Mag” (and also starring Paris Hilton as “Amber Sweet”), and a few others noted as well. So, what’s this about? An article by Reneysh Vittal on TOR.COM that’s in today’s email, “Where Are the New Cult Musicals?”
Some good, some bad, the piece laments the tameness, of late, of movie musicals, recalling some of the edgier, wackier ones from the past. There may be reasons, or maybe things just work in cycles where films are concerned — or, as one in the comments section suggested, maybe the problem is we, the audience, have become too jaded. And perhaps a whisper of hope is expressed at the end, with a list of a few upcoming musical films that may have it in them to become the cult hits of tomorrow.
Or maybe not. But to judge for yourself, press here.
So yesterday I attended a session of prompts and readings, the object being to inspire imagination. But many are the roads to creativity with, semi-serendipitously discovered today, an essay by Ted Gioia, “Were Ambrose Bierce’s Ghost Stories Inspired by Undiagnosed Agoraphobia?” offering one alternative method: the mining of one’s own fears. Bierce, one may recall, was author of THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY as well as such short stories as “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and (for science fiction horror fans) “The Damned Thing.” For more one may find the essay itself on CONCEPTUAL FICTION.COM, brought to us courtesy of Robert Dunbar via Facebook’s LITERARY DARKNESS, by pressing here.
“Join us for this generative writing workshop. You will be provided with prompts and have the opportunity to share your work.” This was a members only activity of the Bloomington Writers Guild, despite some other offerings on hiatus for the summer (but First Sunday Prose will resurface on August 7!), held at the Monroe County Library, so on a warm sunny afternoon I and seven others had a go at it. MCs were Joan Hawkins and Lisa Kwong and, following introductions plus six-word “memoirs” composed on the spot (hey, I’ll tell you mine as a mini-lagniappe: “feet smell/ nose runs/ built backwards”), we wrote what came to us in ten-minute time slots for three successive prompts. Thus for the first, on “Where I’m From,” I offered an unrepeatably bad poem glossing the four geographical areas I cite sometimes in biographical notes. So it takes me a little time to warm up. Then, second, we had to write an apology but avoiding apologetic words, in which I in effect demanded to know what’s wrong with writing horror. And then third, on “Nature” (with the idea of speaking for something that can’t speak for itself), I wrote a mini horror story in which a disgruntled forest finds a way of getting its message through.
The bottom line: (1) the story, I think, will be worth rewriting as a sort of moody flash piece. And (2) it all was fun.
Also to round out the weekend, Editor Clifford Garstang’s EVERYWHERE STORIES Facebook page (see July 13) has a new item on it, a link to Sonnet O’Dell’s last-August interview on moi (see July 5, et al.), in which I describe my then-latest book THE TEARS OF ISIS. As I pointed out in offering the URL, Sonnet’s the one who asks purposely goofy questions among the more serious ones, that add a sense of surprise and fun — which one can find by clicking here. Also, as noted below, there will be a new interview October 24 which will take up my upcoming novel-in-stories due out next spring, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.
Two items to post for Bastille Day, the first that Alessandro Manzetti’s THE BEAUTY OF DEATH anthology (cf. June 25, et al.) has now been officially published. My story in this, we may remember, is “Gold,” a tale of greed, adventure, and . . . well, gold. Learn of its mining, its smelting, its spending, a Greedy-Gus guy you’ll love to hate, available only in Kindle, however. For more, press here.
Then added to that, and also in Kindle, Editor/Publisher Joanne Merriam has announced that Upper Rubber Boot Books’s THE MUSEUM OF ALL THINGS AWESOME AND THAT GO BOOM (see March 17, et al.), “. . . an anthology of science fiction featuring blunt force trauma, explosions, adventure, derring-do, tigers, Martians, zombies, fanged monsters, dinosaurs (alien and domestic), ray guns, rocket ships, and anthropomorphized marshmallows” according to the blurb, is now available for pre-order. Official publication date will be July 26, in just shy of two weeks. My tale in this is “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians,” a jolly Christmas accounting of down home values, interplanetary space adventure, and . . . zombies! To latch onto this one, press here. Or as an extra, and a fun one at that, to learn more about it from its Facebook page, one can also press here.