Archive for December, 2016

MEET CUTE (cf. November 23), the flash fiction anthology of unexpected, eccentric, or just unusual meetings of couples, has had a few changes in scope, according to Editor Kara Landhuis.  An immediate one is a change in pre-publication funding from Kickstarter to Indiegogo, deemed a better fit for a smaller publication’s actual needs.  For other news, publication is tentatively planned for January for distribution in February; the funding project itself will close December 31.  meetcute

As Ms. Landhuis explains, MEET CUTE was born out of a love for several things, most notably:  Storytelling and connection.  I wanted to create a book that celebrates human connection, and I thought there was no better way than to invite writers and illustrators to collaborate.  MEET CUTE will include around 20 short stories (very short — fewer than 1000 words each) written by writers from around the world.  There will also be 10-15 black and white illustrations that enrich the stories.  My own entry in this is “Butterfly,” a saga of forests and fairytales — or was that insects and axes?  To find out more, one will just have to buy the book, or for an inside track, check out the Indygogo crowdfunder by clicking here.

In other action, The Bloomington Writers Guild’s December business meeting and end-of-year party was Saturday afternoon.  As in previous years, it ended with an open reading for about a dozen participants, my contribution (in lieu of a story which I suggested I’d save for February’s First Sunday Prose, as being perhaps a bit long for this session) was three Santa Claus poems, posing the question — especially in the case of the first two, which also appear in my collection VAMPS — do we really need Krampus?

It seemed an interesting fit even if, technically, too long.  The guidelines did say poetry was to be no more than 100 lines, while my “Dreaming Saturn” was more like 170.  It was also a reprint, but that would be okay, having originally been published in White Wolf’s 1994 anthology DARK DESTINY.  And the venue was fascinating:

sat·ur·na·li·a ˌsatərˈnālyə/
    noun
    the ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, which was a period of general merrymaking and was the predecessor of Christmas.
    an occasion of wild revelry.
    noun: saturnalia; plural noun: saturnalias

A time of revelry and reversal, Saturnalia represents the breakdown of what has been deemed the natural order.  HYPERION AND THEIA’s inaugural volume wants stories and poetry that runs the gamut of genres and turns expectations on their heads.  Submit a fantastical murder-mystery set in the biggest carnival in Atlantis.  Wow us htlogowith a sweeping romance in space where gods and goddesses serve their creations after a bloody war.  Deadline January 31st, 2017 11:59 EST.

So, caution to the wind and all that, Saturday, December 3 I sent “Dreaming Saturn” in, apologizing for the length but hoping it still could be considered.  Today, six days later, came the reply:  I would be happy to include your poem in the upcoming anthology!  I think it would make a great opening.  Please give me a few weeks to get back to you so I can close out submissions.  I would need your PayPal address and preferred digital format (ePub/mobi/PDF) in the mean time.  I’ll come back with a sample contract for you to review.

And there we are, not just in the show but possibly even the opening act!  For which, a merry pre-holiday to HYPERION AND THEIA Editor Olivia, and the moral:  once in a while it’s worth taking a chance.

Working fast!  Just nine days after returning the contract, yesterday saw the receipt of the proof copy for “The Candle and the Flame,” set to be published next month at 3 p.m. EST on the thirteenth by DARKFUSE MAGAZINE (cf. November 28).  After a bit of a bobble due to a bad attachment (nine blank pages, no typos there!), the real stuff candle_headercame and later last night I sent it back with only two corrections at my end.  “The Candle and the Flame” is a steampunk tale of capitalist economics partially based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” — not my first foray into that particular story — but of a seller of candles, not matches.  “The Candle and the Flame,” also, is set in a universe where there are no angelic grandmas to convey little girls’ souls up to Heaven, not exactly.  But if its “Candle Girl” should come to an unlucky end consider this:  the announced January 13 2017 publication date falls on a Friday.

Another one published, this one LUPINE LUNES:  HORROR POEMS & SHORT STORIES from Popcorn Press, as announced by Editor Lester Smith.  To give Amazon’s take on it, Welcome to Popcorn Press’s eighth annual celebration of horror writing, this year featuring the werewolf in a collection of stories and indexpoems, particularly that crescent-shaped smaller sibling of the haiku — the lune.  Each year, on October 1, we host an open call for horror-themed poems and stories.  By October 31, we have a finished document published in ebook form, with a print version close on its heels.  What you hold in your hands is the result of that creative marathon.  Inside you will find werewolves galore, along with a handful of other shapechangers and harbingers of transformation.  Read it by the light of a full moon, if you dare, or perhaps by candlelight.  Read it aloud to family and friends — there is safety in numbers when the werewolf prowls!

My own pup in this pack is a single poem, albeit longer than lune or haiku, “Beware of the Dog” (see November 21, October 29), a working-class take on exactly how disruptive a werewolf might be on a Saturday night in a factory town.  Delve within at your own risk!  “Beware of the Dog” was originally published in GRIEVOUS ANGEL for September 11 2014.

To check LUPINE LUNES out for yourself on Amazon press here, or for Popcorn Press’s direct order page here.

Aha!  It has come to pass!  Click on the center column’s picture of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (cf. December 1, et al.), scroll down to the author’s mini-biography and find these words:  Indiana writer James Dorr‘s The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® nominee for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.  Other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret,tombswithsubtitle and his all-poetry Vamps (A Restrospective).  An Active Member of HWA and SFWA with nearly 400 individual appearances from Airships & Automatons and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Xenophilia and Yellow Bat Review, Dorr invites readers to visit his blog.  Who’s he, you may wonder?  “He,” here, is . . . me!

Yes, no more of the wilds of Pennsylvania, the arcane titles of works actually written by one James C. Simpson.  Just weeping goddesses and wonder and mystery, but, hey, it’s all mine!  And note while we’re there my sneaky product placement of AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS, also published (with TOMBS) by Elder Signs Press.  (And, seriously, also my thanks to the publisher for getting the error corrected quickly.)

Then finally, remember that TOMBS is available for pre-order — just press its picture in the center column (or if you’d rather, click here) and take it from there.  The official publication date, so says Amazon, will be June 1 2017, but why not slip in now ahead of the crowd, eh?

This, a bit of news from late Monday via Facebook, the December issue of Alban Lake Publishing’s DISTURBED DIGEST is ready for purchase.  Also included, the table of contents with, natch, one from me, this time a poem about zombies and how the undead can only be eradicated by hiring a competent pest control service, thus asking the question “Zombie Trouble?”  DISTURBED DIGEST is a companion magazine to Alban Lake’s BLOODBOND (cf. November 7) which came out last month with my vampire poem, “Her First Time,” bought in the same bundle as “Zombie Trouble?” (see June 22).

More on DISTURBED DIGEST, plus purchasing info can be found here; a sneak peek at the contents directly below:

Stories
Alone in the Cataloochee Valley by Lee Clark Zumpe
The Closet by James A. Miller
Two Drops of Blood by Sandy DeLucadisturbeddigest
I’ll Always Hear You by Kelly McCrady
Three Coins by Lorraine Pinelli Brown
Remote by Kendall Evans
The Holy Computer by Glen R. Stripling
Ghosts in the Gaslight by Andrew Knighton
Backwater Saints by Elise Forier Edie

Flash Fiction
The Chopping Block by Matthew Wilson

Poetry
Zombie Trouble? By James S. Dorr
Fly Movie Rationalization by Herb Kauderer
Sounds on a Lover’s Night by Guy Belleranti
Extremist by Herb Kauderer
Cosmic Blues by Russ Paladin

Illustrations by Sandy DeLuca
It Happens When You’re Dead
Two Drops of Blood
Conjurer

So a member of my writers group, presumably planning to write a “Krampus” story herself but declining to actually go to the local parade right here in town on Saturday night, made me this request:  You might describe to me the sights, smells, sounds, etc. of the local parade.  I imagine kids shrieking, music, smells of food for sale, etc.  Who is it that hands out candy; was it “angels?”  And the Krampuses have switches?  (I read that the traditional Krampus does.  I know he’s Austrian.  He has relatives like Klaubeuf.)  Sensing an attempt to get me to write part of her story for her, or at least do her research, and possibly in a cynical mood, I replied (after a brief snark that, re. “smells,” there would be crowds and undoubtedly body odor but it would be too cold to smell it) thusly:

I’m jaded myself, I remember the first one when you could march along the route with the Angels and Krampi yourself.  But a quick rundown (oh wait, I copied the stuff from Facebook for you in my other email, it’ll tell you what to expect!), based on last year’s which would seem to be pretty much what will happen this year too, were you to go at 5, you’d probably mill around with people in the area behind the Showers Bldg (City Hall), you’d probably find a stand or a person giving out the “Naughty” krampus22and “Nice” stickers and choose the one you want to paste on your jacket (Hint:  it’s considered bush league to paste on both).  There may also be some food stands (or trucks, since those are “in” these days, the trucks probably parked on the street)   Also some game-type things to help keep the kiddies quiet, though, half-frozen, most won’t be too noisy.  As 6 p.m. works around, it’ll have gotten rather dark and someone will announce the parade will be starting and suggest you head south along Madison St. to watch it.  You do, then you stand with others in the cold for awhile, then see some kind of lighted stuff (majorettes with light-up batons?  Who knows) way in the distance to the south.  In what seems like ages, it will finally get to where you are and move on past, Angels (giving out candy to the “nice”), Bishop Nick, maybe in the parade proper they’ll have the cart with the cage with a couple of “naughty” kids in it, maybe some other stuff, plus guys in Krampus suits.  These last may or may not be holding switches or sticks but I doubt they’ll actually hit anyone — lawsuits, you know, not to mention possible criminal charges.  But they will run toward children near the parade route with “Naughty” stickers yelling “Rowrrr!”  And quite quickly, considering how long it seemed to take for it to get to you, it will be passed.  Madison Street will seem deserted, the wind whistling, perhaps a piece or two of trash blowing along the now-empty expanse, and you’ll look around at other people looking as puzzled as you.  Is that all there is? you’ll think.  Then you remember what you’d read on Facebook, that there may be a sort of after thing, maybe an hour or more later, when some of the Krampuses will go around to the local bars, possibly go inside and yell “Rowrrr!” but you won’t stay around that long to find out.  Nor will anyone you know remember having done so in previous years, but if you really want my experience, I usually continue south to Krogers to see if anything’s on sale (one gala year, I stopped in at the Wendy’s to use the rest room), then go home.  Another year, another Krampus parade.

Now that it’s over, I can add that it’s really more fun than that, though (as sort of a one-trick pony) it’s still rather short.  I only got downtown in time for the parade itself so I can’t report on pre-parade activities, but I can better define “the lighted stuff . . . way in the distance” as lighted hula hoops followed by some guys holding torches (“fire stuff” as a security guard called it, using that a means to get the audience back to the sides of the road where they belonged — clever, I call it) and, while the rustic cart of caged children of years past wasn’t there (though the parade ended with a motorized mini-vehicle with one child), the first krampuses were “forcing” chained kids to trudge behind them.  Also, if anyone asks, I wore a “Nice” sticker because, as I’ve explained in the past (see December 9 2012; also December 6 2015) Nice gets you free candy (only one package this time though — maybe the angels were tightening their celestial belts) while “Naughty” gets you harassment.  And anyway if you’re truly naughty who’d tell the truth?

Which brings us to Sunday and 2016’s final Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. November 7, et al.), co-sponsored and venued by Boxcar Books.  Featured readers this time were Annette Oppenlander, who we’ve met before, with a talk on how her young adult ESCAPE FROM THE PAST novel trilogy was first conceived followed by an excerpt from the third volume, published just last week; award-winning documentary filmmaker, eco-journalist, etc., Kalynn Huffman Brower with an excerpt from an “ages ten and up” science fiction novel in progress plus a part of an autobiographical essay; and Andrew Hubbard who continued a non-fiction piece begun two months back  on Nebraska’s Chimney Rock and its surrounding area.  Then when open mike time came, with an audience still thirteen people strong (including the man asleep on the couch in back), I read fourth in a field of five (that is, followed by MC Joan Hawkins and thus, technically, not quite ending the session) with a near-future Thanksgiving set 500-word story, written for a call by THE STONESLIDE CORRECTIVE shortly after a recent election, for stories on the subject of “aftermath.”

Time will tell if it gets accepted (or comes true) and, in the meantime, since next month starts on a Sunday with Boxcar Books closed for New Year’s Day, that’s the last of the First Sunday Prose Reading series until February 5, 2017.

And there is something new under the sun to ring in December 2016.  TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH has been added to the portrait gallery in the center column, just to our right.  It is still scheduled for publication next year in June, but the link will take you to Amazon’s listing for pre-order, if desired, and which also contains the notorious James C. Simpson substitute biography instead of mine (cf. below, November 14, 4).  Well, we’re working on that one.  Also, as time goes on and some people may have a chance to have seen pre-publication copies, perhaps a few will be moved to offer early reviews there as well.

Also I’ve made another change in the center column, just below TOMBS.  If you click on the picture of THE TEARS OF ISIS it will now take you to Amazon’s listing for it, partly to bring it into conformance with most of the other books’ links, but also (*speaking of reviews*) to allow those who might wish to see them some thirteen other readers’ opinions.  (WARNING:  one or two didn’t care for the book!)  Just click on the picture, then scroll down and, if you like what you see (with the exception of the just aforementioned “one or two”), well this is one you can order for delivery right now!




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