Archive for January, 2017

Back for 2017, this afternoon saw the new year’s first “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (see November 28, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center.  Featured poets this time were Lisa Low, in her final year in the MFA program at Indiana University, whose reading covered such subjects as grocery stores, ghosts, and gold, ending with a group of poems from a work in progress about a girl named Ruby; and Stephen Hopkins, “born in Texas but raised in the Midwest, bloomingtonwritersguild[and] moved all over Ohio, often,” an IU PhD candidate who read works from his recent chapbook HYMNS OF PERPETUAL MOTION.  This was followed by snacks and an open mike session in which I was last of six participants, with five short, relatively light poems about vampires, “The Vampire’s Reflection,” “An Unsuitable Kiss for the New Year,” “Something New,” “Nothing Better,” and “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment.”

Also announced was a new Writers Guild “Second Thursdays” evening series to be held each month at Bloomington’s Players Pub, beginning February 9.  While programs will vary, the premiere offering will highlight prose readings,  including a short tale by me from THE TEARS OF ISIS, “River Red,” set in the same universe as my upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 19, 16) is the one about mankind’s relationship with its gods, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour.  Or maybe for our purposes here, most often sour.  My song in this sin fest is a poem this time, a “story in verse” about a dead boy named Little Willie called “Tit for Tat” (originally published in GHOSTS:  REVENGE, 2015).  And now with publication due soon, Adrian Ludens, whose story “Hero Worship” will be in the book as well, has shared its contents list from publisher A Murder of Storytellers, along with this flattering comment about three of its contributors:

Some very talented authors lined up for this anthology.  Especially excited to see Joseph Shelton, John Biggs and James Dorr included.  Never been disappointed by any of their stories.  Can’t wait to read this!

and from the publisher:

Just a few more days.  To tide you over until then, here’s the TOC for THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS.

A Hole in the Head Reveals the Secret Nature of All Things by Joseph Shelton
Sack Race To The River by Chris Kuriata
Holy Fire by Tracy Fahey
The Order of the Night Moose by Jonathan Raab
Hare Hill by Kristin J. Cooperblasphemouswords
The Holy Filth by Tom Breen
Madness by Morrison
Hero Worship by Adrian Ludens
An Adventure in Wootton by Colin Harker
Meant to Be by Kelly Gould
Outer Darkness by Grant Skelton
The Damned by Jake Teeny
Kill Fee by Victor H. Rodriguez
The Blue Ruin of Vicar Junípero, the Throat of Heaven by Rhoads Brazos
Grume by Tim Meyer
The Unearthed Thing by Ben Larned
Tit for Tat by James Dorr
Bust to Dust by Wesley Southard
Hiding from the Rain by Mark L. Groves
The Sign by John Biggs
A Demanding Religion by Darrel Duckworth
The Hunted by Shannon Iwanski
Killing the First Gods by Morgan Crooks
Our Pale Lady Clad In Red by 瓦砾卡夫卡
A Bloody Miracle by Anusha VR
Insiliconation by Eric Reitan
The Annunciation of Josie by Jack Burgos
The Edifice by Lorraine Scheln
Angels are so Beautiful Until They Rust by Jason Howell

It’s a small thing, but one that is greatly appreciated — an endorsement in a sense that one is doing some things right as a writer at least, over and above what may sell or not sell.  And a very nice touch by pure coincidence that this was in my inbox yesterday evening, when there was so much of sadness that had to be shared here.  This was a post by TammyJo Eckhart, a fellow writer who actually is also Bloomington based, though we don’t tend to run into each other that often.  But still legitimate, I think, in that I’m just one of a number of authors she cites, for whom read below or, to see it in context, press here.

This is just a few of the authors that I not only enjoy but also respect for their bravery with the topics they tackle.  I know that their bravery will continue in the next few years and hopefully beyond.

If I have left you out, there is no intended slight on my part, I promise.

Laura Antoniou, Cecilia Tan, Janet Hardy, Elizabeth Schechter, Stephen Zimmer, Chrissy Garrison, Race Bannon, Lisa Kaye, John Warren, Jack Wallen, James Robert Crews Wylder, James Dorr, Angelia Sparrow, Travis Clemmons, Rosemary Laurey, Lee Harrington, Peter Tupper, Matthew Barron, and Gloria Brame.

So thank you TammyJo, and thanks to the others on the list too.  In current times, it’s good that we writers can stick together.

Twelve years is considered old age for house cats, even if many —  especially if in an indoor environment —  may continue to thrive considerably longer.  But at about twelve they can become prey to various ailments associated mainly with elderly cats.  Resident cave cat Wednesday had her twelfth birthday in May last year.  Moreover, Wednesday had already had some bad luck with her health the year before, in 2015, which she took a number of medicines for as well as getting a high-powered flea collar (cf. “Wednesday’s New Clothes,” October 30 2015).  But then last fall, for 2016, she had her checkup and this time tested as having hyperthyroidism, a definite “old cat” kind of metabolism disorder, and a serious one.  So in late November she started a special diet to keep that in check, but last weekend she stopped eating altogether and, yesterday morning, went to the vet to have more tests.  The new problem seemed to be kidney failure.  Very serious.   So she spent last night at the cat hospital having her system flushed out in hopes she’d be better this morning, be able to eat again — plus have more tests, but it  didn’t look good.

Last night was strange in a very sad way.  I found myself doing little things I really didn’t have to be doing, closing the front door quickly behind me when I got home.  Looking around me before I set food out in the kitchen unguarded — things I do when there’s a cat in the house.  Missing, when I got home, how Wednesday would sometimes run out to greet me.  I did look in on her yesterday afternoon at the vet, though, and she didn’t even seem to recognize me then, granted she’d had a really rough morning.  But then this morning the vet called to say, while they’d had a little hope the night before, her test results, if anything, were even worse now.  Other aspects of her health were going down as well, she still wouldn’t eat, and her temperature had gotten dangerously low.  So, long story short, after much discussion I came back in this afternoon for our final goodbyes, she responding to petting a little at the end, but otherwise still didn’t seem to know me.  Then at about 4 p.m., there being nothing else to do, we had to let Wednesday go.

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She was a good cat.

And it’s the first for a story in story form (as opposed to a story in verse form, cf. January 16 below) for 2017!  The story is “Swarms,” also a reprint originally seen in Lone Wolf’s CD ROM anthology, BLOODTYPE, in 2001 as well as my 2007 print collection DARKER LOVES.  The acceptance is for MOTHER’S REVENGE, . . . a passionate anthology about Mother Earth taking her world back from the humans and teaching us a lesson.  . . .  Any aspect of an ecological disaster or climate change mothersrevenge1problem can be created or considered.  And so, on the day that Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the next US President, publisher Scary Dairy Press e-replied:  It’s with great pleasure that we notify you that your story “Swarms” has been accepted for the MOTHER’S REVENGE anthology.  Our readers enjoyed your tale and thought it fit perfectly with the anthology theme!

As it happens, “Swarms” in a way has its own political component, in this case beginning with the first action against Iraq under President George H.W. Bush (that is, the father, not the son), where at least one side, and probably both, had chemical weapons whether or not used.  But spent, leaking chemicals from a bombed-out convoy could be worse than those that were used and at least dispersed, having who knows what effect on local fauna, especially of the smaller varieties like certain insects.

And so it goes, with more on MOTHER’S REVENGE to be reported here as facts become known.

Yes, a raise of the glass to Edgar Allan Poe, “who started it all,” January 19 1809 – October 7 1849 — and see, as well, my interview by Weldon Burge linked in the post just below, start-poecoat1ing quite by coincidence with a quotation from Poe.  Go ahead, take a quick look — I’ll wait!  Okay, and now to the business of . . . well, actually late yesterday, but posted today.

Wednesday afternoon’s email brought, from Bards and Sages Publishing’s Julie Ann Dawson:  When we launched THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES last August, we knew it was a bit of an experiment. We really didn’t know how readers would respond to the project. I’m pleased to say that the response has been wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that three of the stories placed very well in this year’s Preditors & Editors Reader Poll.

Chamber Music By Peter A. Balaskas earned 2nd place in the non-genre short story category
Raising Mary:  Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall earned 5th place in the horror short story category
By Force and Against the King’s Peace by James Dorr earned 11th place in the fantasy and sci-fi short story category

But the email goes on to say [t]he one question I keep getting asked, however, is “When will the print be available?”  A great many of our readers still prefer print (I know, shocking!).  Of course, individually, each story is too short to justify publishing as a single book.  But as an anthology, it would be perfect.

Which is why I would like to invite each of you to participate in THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES, Volume I.  This will anthologize all of the stories published in the first year of the project.  We would love to bring your stories to print and, potentially, audio formats. . . . 51hxoyeaatl

Then follow some details, plus an attached agreement which went in the mail today with my okay.  And, let’s not forget the neat Preditors and Editors news, not just for me but a huge shout out for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES itself!  This, we may remember (see, e.g., November 18, 2, October 3 2016, et al.), is a continuing series of electronic chapbooks for stories from 5,000 to 20,000 words long, both new and reprints (“By Force and Against the King’s Peace” is the latter, originally published in the December 1999 ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), awkwardly long for some electronic markets but too short for novels.  A little more money would change hands too for the print anthology, which is always a sweetener for the writers, and since, judging from the Preditors and Editors standings, the stories themselves seem to be top drawer, some at least of them, it should be a good deal for readers as well.

Also,  for another quick “The Writing Life” extra, here’s a note from A Murder of Storytellers on my story-poem “Tit for Tat.”  James,  Wanted to let you know that I looked over this piece and saw no need for editing.  So, unless you’ve got a burning desire to fix something, it’s good to go.  What it’s going to is their upcoming THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 16).  And an editor’s pass with no changes at all is always good news for a writer to receive.

So the first answer starts with a citation to “Allan Poe.”  That’s Edgar Allan Poe, of course, but what’s in a word — I still stand by the answer.  And thus the promised interview by Weldon Burge for Smart Rhino Publications (cf. January 11, 8), in conjunction with a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming ZIPPERED FLESH 3 anthology, is now live.  A mention is made at the very beginning about my Smart Rhino story appearances, “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” in UNCOMMON ASSASSINS, “Labyrinth” in INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, and “Golden Age” in the upcomi8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13ng ZIPPERED FLESH volume, but that’s not what the interview is about.  Rather, with reference to Poe as well as my Stoker(R) nominated collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, we talk about short story writing in general and why, as a writer, I find short forms more interesting than novels.  But then novels come up too with reference to TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (expected in June this year, not really “spring,” but that’s because of a change in schedule after my original biographical notes were in) and what is, exactly, a novel-in-stories, also known as a “mosaic novel”?  And, more importantly, why TOMBS is put together in that style.

The Poe citation, incidentally, is to his essay “The Poetic Principle,” which I believe he meant to apply to prose fiction as well.  But to read the whole interview, including some things on the challenges and joys of writing, and what to expect once one has written, why not press here?

The promised Kickstarter campaign for Smart Rhino Publications’s ZIPPERED FLESH 3:  YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD (cf. January 11, et al.) is now up and running.  The idea is to raise enough money to, among other things, pay its authors (that is to say, one of which is . . . me!) a professional rate.  I can stand 3cd4144d486be1e6dbbe46ca792d3588_originalbehind that!  So, if not to donate, at least to see what the fuss is about, please to press here.

My canine in the charnel house, this time, is actually a rather sedate science fiction story, “Golden Age,” originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994 and about an elderly person’s reflection, a pioneer in the trade as it were, on replacement of body parts damaged by accidents or disease.  But, gore hounds delight, it’s my understanding that other tales, in keeping with the volume’s subtitle, could be a bit more, um, visceral.

So give till it hurts, right? — and afterwards don’t forget to buy a copy when it comes out, details on which will also be found here as they become known.

There are some things one cannot resist.  One example, an anthology titled THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS, a weird fiction, horror, and speculative fiction anthology about humanity’s relationship with its gods.  When we answer the call for salvation from the bondage of the material — when we believe in gods — we reach a hand into the unknown and risk losing it to something peckish.  When we forget the power of the hearth, we risk a conflagration that can return civilization to the dirt from whence it came.  Brave words those, and so I answered, the guidelines calling for stories, not 13245380_1039385802818613_30970547213403742_npoems, with a 32-line “story in verse” called “Tit for Tat.”

Originally published in James Ward Kirk’s GHOSTS:  REVENGE anthology (see March 29, March 17, February 16 2015), “Tit for Tat” is a poem “of a type sometimes known as ‘Little Willies,’ about a naughty boy who either causes or comes to grief, resulting in the poet reacting with either glee, gross indifference, or sometimes drawing from it a tragically inappropriate moral” (Feb 16).  And today the response came from Adrean Messmer for publisher A Murder of Storytellers:  Thank you for sending us “Tit for Tat”.  We all sat around a table and gushed about this story for a while.  We would love to include it in BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS.

Details followed, including a contract (to go back to them this afternoon), with a bio, etc., the usual things, between now and Friday, with a tentative publication date to be on or before January 31.

A bad omen?  Maybe.  But through the a combination of possible server slowdowns and a misread password, I haven’t been able to see it myself.  Nevertheless the word came through from DARKFUSE MAGAZINE Managing Publisher Shane Staley:  Story is now live.  Just sent payment via Paypal and created your subscription to the magazine, both with details in separate e-mails. 

Well, word from PayPal hasn’t come yet either (which actually isn’t unusual though, they do take their time, which, with money at stake, is probably not a bad idea), and at this point I may have to change the password*, but anyhow the word is “official.”  My steampunky, wintery, Hans Christian Anderseny (but with class conflict, and robots) story “The Candle and the Flame” (see December 8, November 28), of a low-level businesswoman with spunk, has now been published by DARKFUSE MAGAZINE.  More on DARKFUSE can be found here, but to see the story for yourself you’ll have to be a subscriber with, no doubt, a password of your own.

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*And a happy Friday the 13th addendum!  The password problem has been solved.  I have read the story, with my own eyes.  I recommend it!  😉




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