Archive for March, 2019

Or at least sometimes their stories do as blogger Carrie Ann Golden points out in “10 Films Based on Short Stories, on A WRITER & HER SENTIMENTAL MUSE, who asks [a]re all movies produced from screenplays only?  Her answer:  Nope. Many have been inspired by novels.  Think Harry Potter and Twilight.  But, did you know that there are a large number inspired by short stories?  She then proceeds to list ten as examples, starting with two that may be obvious, SLEEPY HOLLOW and THE BIRDS, followed by some that might less quickly come to mind like THE CANDYMAN (based on a series of stories by Clive Barker) or DARK WATER, SCREAMERS, and THE THING, with titles that differ from those of the original stories.  If interested one may press here, or simply take heart that there may be more to short story writing than occasional one dollar (or one cent) royalties.

But also an extra! Scroll down beyond the tenth movie title, beyond the article itself, and one of two links to other blog topics includes an interview, going back all the way to November 14 2016, of . . . me (see also post on the same date, below).  Herewith, for the curious, added to comments on characterization and theme are two questions on a then not-quite-yet-published work in progress, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

Hark us back to March 12, a mere sixteen days ago, and the post titled “Goodreads 384 Best Horror Anthos (First 100) Plus Post Death Review” concerning Goodreads’ LISTOPIA BEST HORROR ANTHOLOGIES listing.  As I said at the time, 384 is a pretty big number, but I did skim through the first one hundred and, the news of the day, I have work in at least three titles, numbers 24, 50, and 97.  More specifically these are THE BEST OF CEMETERY DANCE VOLUME 1 & 2 OMNIBUS (CD Publications, 1998) with “A Christmas Story,” SLICES OF FLESH (Dark Moon Books, 2012) with “Bones, Bones, the Musical Fruit,” and AFTER DEATH (Dark Moon Books, 2013) with “Mall Rats,” the first two of these reprints and the third an original publication.  And that was that.

But that also means there are 284 titles I did not skim through and so, in a moment of relatively idle time earlier this afternoon, I glanced through the next 100 where two more books popped up with stories by me:  in a five-way tie for number 130, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS with “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” and by itself at number 155, THE CHILDREN OF CTHULHU with “Dark of the Moon.”  To see for oneself one may press here.  And, as with the first one hundred titles, the entries are “live” in that one can click on them to go to their Goodreads pages, and from there to Amazon and other vendors should one have a desire to.  (In fact, in going through the list myself I came upon several other anthologies, including a tribute to Robert W. Chambers’ “The King in Yellow,” A SEASON IN CARCOSA, that seemed worth ordering for myself.)

Then one mini-oddity, as it happens both of my stories in the second 100 have strong science fiction aspects to them as well as horror, “Dark of the Moon” being, in fact, about a lunar expedition and “The Wellmasters Daughter” a very environmentally based introduction to the Sahara desert.

It was the first new story acceptance for 2019, “The Junkie” (see January 21, 19), a 750 word epic of mean streets, addiction, and urban zombies.  Skid Row with a bite!  And, contracts all worked out, an edited proof copy came back yesterday from Editor Jason Brick for ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE with a request to get it back “by the first week of April.”  The book:  an anthology of 100 stories, each 1000 words or fewer, in any genre and/or any style.

So today I opened the attachment up and found few changes, mostly technical (e.g., changes in the form of dashes), checked them off, and back it went with a note that I had no quarrels.  Thus one more step taken toward publication, with more to be here as it becomes known.

An interest of mine is the study of artists other than writers, how they are inspired, how they translate experience into art.  On occasion this vice is fed by the Indiana University Cinema in collaboration with IU’s Eskenazi Museum of Art in a series of films about artists preceded by lectures at the museum.  An example last fall about Van Gogh featured the movie LOVING VINCENT (cf. September 9 2018); yesterday’s double-header for spring coupled an opening talk by Asian Art curator Judy Stubbs, including slides from the Museum’s collection, with the 2015 anime MISS HOKUSAI.

To quote the IU Cinema catalog:  This award-winning Japanese animated film, based on a historical manga series by Hinako Sugiura, tells the story of Katsushika Oi (ca. 1800-ca. 1866), an artist who worked in the shadow of her famous father — the great ukiyo-e print designer Katsushika Hokusai.  In addition to exploring issues of familiar relationships, gender roles, and the mystical power of art, the film depicts life in 19th-century Edo and alludes to some of Hokusai’s famous images, such as “The Great Wave.”  The movie itself, which begins in the year 1814 when Oi would have been about fourteen years old, is a series of fictionalized vignettes, often, as the blurb says, showing echoes of some of Hokusai’s paintings — as well as a few by Oi herself who learned from her father as well as assisting him — but to me the main interest was in a more general sense of what art should mean.  Thus scenes were included of the daughter taking a younger sister blind from birth under her wing, verbally “showing” her things they experience together, but also sometimes harsh criticisms of lesser artists by Hokusai and others, including even Oi whose paintings of women (e.g. “Beauty Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Night” shown below) were claimed to lack appropriate sensuality.

But then Hokusai, as perhaps too many artists, seems to have been a lousy father (the younger sister, in the movie, lived with her mother apart from her father who barely acknowledged her), Oi’s name itself — the name she used in signing her paintings — can be translated roughly as “Hey You!” with the suggestion that that’s how her father usually addressed her.  Nevertheless in real life Oi, who was married briefly, came back to her father and stayed with him until his death in 1849 at about the age of ninety.

But again the main interest for me is about art, and the artist whose works included the print series THIRTY-SIX VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI in the early 1830s (when he would have been just over 70 years old), who wrote shortly afterward:  From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking into account.  At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants.  And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvelous and divine.  When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own. (Wikipedia)  And so the movie, while not quite quoting that, did end with the words Hokusai presumably said on his deathbed:  “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years . . .   Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”

One of many exciting developments in the horror genre during the 2000s has been the emergence of so many films coming out of Ireland.  Rather than yet another ranking of the Leprechaun franchise (I’ll save you the trouble – ORIGINS is still the worst), this St. Patrick’s Day holiday seems like a good time to celebrate some of the really cool Irish horror films of the last 15 years.  So the feature began, “10 of the Best Irish Horror Films to Watch on St. Patrick’s Day (Or Any Other Day!)” by Patrick Bromley, on BLOODY-DISGUSTING.COM with a note that it had been originally published “one week ago” on hallow-2March 14.  So two days after that it has come to my attention and, as an antidote maybe to the aforementioned “Leprechaun” films (which the SYFY channel actually had on TV on Saint Patrick’s Day itself, but then no-one’s accused them of having taste), here are some Irish films that are good, listed chronologically from 2005 and BOY EATS GIRL to 2019’s THE HOLE IN THE GROUND.

I have to admit I haven’t seen most of these myself (the one pictured is somewhat in the middle, from 2015’s THE HALLOW, picked I confess in part because it’s green) but from the descriptions Bromley offers all of them seem at least worth a look.  For more (better late than never) press here.

This is something I just read today via Pletcha PJ Webb on Facebook’s DARK FANTASY BOOKS, “Amazon Expects Readers To Pay If They Want To Leave Book Reviews,” by Neal F. Litherland on his THE LITERARY MERCENARY blog.  It’s not quite as outrageous as the title might imply — to try to prevent mass reviews by bots, etc., rather than genuine readers, the rule apparently is that for a book review to be posted, the reviewer must have spent at least $50 on Amazon within the last year.  This also may not be as hard as it sounds since it’s not confined to just book purchases, but anything that is sold through Amazon from automotive supplies to toys and games (or in my case, e.g., DVDs as well as books), so I’d probably have met that level and more without even thinking.  But it is a bother and one remedy Litherland suggests is to send reviews to Goodreads which doesn’t have that restriction.  To see the blog for yourself, press here or, for a possibly more comprehensive view including links to Amazon guidelines, see Derek Haines, “Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews Updated With $50 Minimum,” on JUSTPUBLISHINGADVICE.COM by pressing here.

I might suggest, even better yet, to send reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads (the worst that Amazon could do is just not print it) and maybe throw in B and N or some other favorite seller as well as your own blog.  Rules or not, reviews help authors you follow a lot (even less than 5-star reviews which, at worst, still keep us honest), including me.

This is a British thing that I don’t really know a lot about, but I understand from Editors Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley that HUMANAGERIE (see March 18, et al.) is eligible for nomination for a Saboteur Award for Best Anthology of 2018, as well as Eibonvale Press for Most Innovative Publisher.  As Sarah puts it:  I know there have been some amazing anthologies out in the past year (in which some of you may have appeared), but if you wanted to vote for “Humanagerie” in the Best Anthology category (and/or wanted to share the link with friends/family or via social media), that would be very welcome.  But no worries if not, of course!  As I understand it, the awards are sponsored by SABOTAGE REVIEWS and supported by a “Grant for the Arts” from Arts Council England.

For more information on the awards (with last year’s winners) one can press here while, if so moved, to make nominations press here.

Also today marks the second royalty statement for this month, this for substantially more than the last, actually topping $1.00!  I won’t say by how much nor will I mention the publisher’s name, but in full disclosure, royalties received for short stories in anthologies (that is, sharing the take with all other authors) are generally not going to be very great.  Moreover this particular one is for a series of four books published more than ten years ago, which have continued to produce sales every year from the earliest, in 2001 — and indeed, added up especially in the earliest years, have paid totals which had they been paid all at once would be fairly impressive.  (Of course — even fuller disclosure — these are a particularly bright exception, most anthologies doing well perhaps in their first year, but not having nearly that much staying power).

This just struck me as interesting as an idea for future stories or, rather, an element of future stories:  what attractions might future amusement parks offer that differ from today’s?  Well as it happens, short film maker Till Nowak created such an idea, based on a fictional scientific experiment concerning the effects of thrill rides on human learning, and part of which apparently has been taken by some people to be true.  Hence it migrated to SNOPES.COM with a need for debunking in “Does This Video Show an Extreme Theme Park Thrill Ride?”

To quote the SNOPES article, of Nowak’s film:  [t]he film is narrated by “Dr. Nick Laslowicz” (as portrayed by Leslie Barany), who has picked up on a project to “study the effects of kindergarten rides on the learning curve of 4-year-old children” that has been extended to “building larger, stronger devices to examine the effects also on adults.”

Dr. Laslowicz leads the viewing audience through a succession of increasingly bizarre amusement rides conceived and created to further his study — including one lasting a whopping 14 hours on which, the researcher laments, “some people fell asleep and missed their stops and had another 14 hours, and you can imagine the problems that entailed.”

And the fun thing is, not only is the video in question shown, but the entire 6 minute and 35 second film can be seen for as well by pressing here, then scrolling down to the end of the SNOPES piece and THE CENTRIFUGE BRAIN PROJECT:  A SHORT FILM.  The original video comes about a minute before the end of the film.

Now the next question to ask: in that most of these still rely on gravity for their effects, what modifications can we make for amusement park rides for use in space?

Many of these stories and poems are metaphors for the human world and how we behave, how we show tolerance (questionable often) and understanding.  There is much to reflect on in this book, to help us begin to understand ourselves.  The poems and stories demonstrate the power of the animal world over the human world.  We are challenged throughout this book to question power and where it lies.  (Wendy French)

Say what?

The above is from a review of the anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. January 13, October 28, et al.), brought to my attention by co-editor Allen Ashley in yesterday afternoon’s email, and while my TOMBS-set story in it, “Crow and Rat,” is not specifically mentioned, the comments in general strike me as worth reading.  The review itself is in the British poetry magazine LONDON GRIP and may be read in its entirety by pressing here.  And that’s not all.  While it’s not a review as such, HUMANAGERIE is also the featured publication for March in ATRIUM, with five poems quoted as well as a link to HUMANAGERIE publisher’s Eibonvale Press site for more information and possible ordering, all of which may be seen by pressing here.

Then finally, if one wishes to go to the publisher’s site directly, just press here.

Join us for this generative writing workshop.  You will be provided with prompts and have the opportunity to share your work.  This was the way it has been advertised (see, e.g., July 17 2016); the thing itself is the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Third Sunday Write,” more recently touted:  Stretch your writing muscles with prompts, exercises, and activities.  Open to all Writers Guild members, this drop-in, generative workshop is led by local writers on the third Sunday of every month. So it’s been a while, but this afternoon, on St. Patrick’s Day, feeling an urge to kickstart my imagination a trifle, I packed a small notebook and gave it a shot.  The result, three mini pieces, the challenge being to write about (1) Solids, then (2) Liquids, and (3) Gases, all in my case being thoughts of a person buried before his time.  Ick!  Except, with some editing, I think I may have the makings of a flash story, or at least mood piece, that I might try sending out to a few places.

Next month, we are told, because of Easter (and hence the Monroe County Public Library with its meeting room being closed) “Third Sunday” for April will be on the second Sunday — not that stranger things haven’t happened!  I think, perhaps, I may plan to be there.

Then in other news, Barnes and Noble is having a new sale (cf. March 16, below) with discounts of up to seventeen percent, but like yesterday’s it’s for one day only.  Like yesterday also for info press here, then scroll in this case to the second row down for details.  But again one must hurry — the discount will be in effect for only a few hours more.

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