Archive for April, 2019

I find that sometimes my best stories come from combining several different ideas.  Thus “The Sending” combines a detective/crime story with a ghost story, then with a romance, and brings in details both on lighthouses and on Depression-era Florida.  The details also required research (including touching on spiritualism as understood in the 1920s and ’30s, and references to Florida’s original colonization by Spain) which, as a one-time graduate student, I find adds to the fun, which I hope shows through in the finished product.

Details on this had been a little fuzzy, with an original call on December 6, re. LOVE BEYOND DEATH — An anthology of short creepy & emotional stories based around the idea of love evading the limitations of life & death.  For the anthology I am looking for around 20 short stories — (based on the overall word count of all accepted entries).  The genre will be a mix of ghost stories / horror / thriller and erotic fiction, cross genre stories are welcome.  Each story to be of approximately between 4,000 > 8,000 words in length.  So four days later I sent “The Sending” (aha, one that has absolutely nothing to do with my novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH!) a reprint originally published in the December 1997 ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and also appearing in my first collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (for info on which, one may click its picture in the center column).  A reply came back on April 13:  The selection process for the deliberately ambiguously entitled anthology LOVE BEYOND DEATH has now concluded, and it gives me great pleasure to say that your story has been successful. . . .  The next step is to agree a few terms before I can make the announcement official.

So it goes, an acceptance I could not announce quite yet, from Beyond Death Publishing in the UK.  Until, that is, two days ago on Sunday when I received details and a questionnaire from Editor Dickon Springate, and a check on Facebook to make sure the news was, as it were, now in the public domain.  And thus my answer, above, to “Question 2” which went back yesterday afternoon, or, the publication machine grinds on with corrections (or not) to edited copy to come, along with details on a Kickstarter campaign, the latter one hopes to bring us authors more money, set for the future.  So please be generous.  Question 1, in fact, had to do with Paypal details while Question 3, on a brief plot description, may appear on these pages in the near future.  Or maybe not — after all, the best way to find out what a story will be about is to buy the book after it’s published.

Publication of LOVE BEYOND DEATH is tentatively set for 2020, on Valentine’s Day, if all goes well — and so the writing life continues — while above, to the right, is a tentative table of contents (and with, it would seem, a few more than the originally planned twenty stories).

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Sunday brought a new festival of sorts, a “Bloomington Street Fair” in which the Writers Guild, among other groups, had a booth.  I was not a participant myself directly, though I did lend several books to be displayed with other members’ to let the world at large (or at least locally) know of our various publications.  Among others, two favorite anthologies of mine were there, a very respectable-looking, hardbound GOTHIC GHOSTS (Tor Books, 1997) and an almost maniacally enthusiatically designed THE HUNGRY DEAD (Popcorn Press, 2010), the latter with both a story and a poem by me in it.

But speaking of poetry, Sunday afternoon also meant “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” time at the Monroe County Convention Center with, in honor of April as National Poetry Month, a special “Poetry Palooza” all open-mike session which I, having missed last month, did attend.  COME and read your own poems, or read poems written by someone else, talk all things poetry, laugh and listen and meet and greet.  I brought a couple of items there as well, should people wish to read from, say, a RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY, but the turnout was actually on the small size, with eight attending, so chairs were arranged into a circle with all of us reading work in turn.  My selections were both from my VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the first and last poems in the book, “Blood Portrait” about Max Shreck and the movie NOSFERATU in the first round, then “Chagrin du Vampire” about a vampirized Mina Harker for the second.

It’s a bit low key in its way, with only this the description on Amazon:  BÊTE NOIRE brings you the best in dark fiction.  In this issue we bring you William Delman, James Dorr, Kevin Hartack, Abhishek Sengupta, Bruce Boston, Pauline Yates, John Grey, Ken Goldman, Marge Simon, Alice Andersen, Bill Thomas, Ronald A. Busse, and Luke Chapman.  Marked as published on April 14 (the news travels slowly to match a late-coming spring) it’s a rather slim volume at 46 pages, but these containing some heavy hitters, Boston, Grey, Simon. . . .  My part in the patch is called “Even Odds,” a quietly apocalyptic speculation which (one hopes) will match the issue itself in being a long time coming (see February 26 2019; December 11 2017).

From my earlier post, BÊTE NOIRE specializes in fiction and poems that are (quoting the guidelines) well written, character driven and have a dark bent to them.  We are open to most genres as long as they have a dark side. This includes horror, dark sci-fi, dark fantasy, crime, mystery or dark humor.  For more on which, or to order a copy one can press here.

April 6 saw the announcement that Tell-Tale Press had accepted “The Bala Worm,” the story of a dragon hunt in present-day Wales initially published in BLACK DRAGON, WHITE DRAGON (Ricasso Press, 2008) as well as in THE TEARS OF ISIS, for the Horror Novelette division of its upcoming CREATURES anthology.  Today Editor Andrea Dawn has announced that it’s expected out on Kindle on May 23, with pre-orders starting May 17, as well as on the Tell-Tale Press website.  Also included were tables of contents, divided into separate “Libraries” for Fantasy, Horror, Mystery & Crime, and Science Fiction, with the horror one also subdivided into Short Stories and Novelettes.  Thus “The Bala Worm” is in Horror/Novelettes as we see below, also noting that all CREATURES stories are listed as in Volume 2, Volume 1 being a previous collection with the over-title WINTER HOLIDAYS:

The Blood Tomes, Volume 2 – CREATURES, Novelettes Edition (Horror Library)

The Buchanan Boys Ride Again – Gordon B. White
The Bala Worm – James Dorr
Buck – Mark Pantoja
Teddy Bear Picnic – Jon Gauthier
Borderland – Peter Emmett Naughton

One quickly notes that while there are only five titles here, “Novelettes” is the smallest category, horror short stories for instance having about twenty stories in it (the largest of all), with the other Libraries coming in at 11 titles each.  Confused?  I know I am, but more will be clear when the volumes are actually published, for which see here as the time grows nigh.  While the cover above, also, is for horror novelettes only, with separate covers for each of the other Library divisions.

Well, first off it’s now the final 86, two more slots apparently having been added since last we checked.  This is the LISTOPIA BEST HORROR ANTHOLOGIES LIST on Goodreads that we’ve been exploring to see if any with stories by me are in the lineup.  And, yes, there have been:  three in the first one hundred slots (as posted below on March 12), two in the second 100 (March 28, one of which was in a 5-way tie), and one in the final full one hundred (April 12, this one in a . . . wait for it . . . 58-way tie!).  But what of the rest, the 84 — oops, 86 — titles that remain?

The good news is yes, there is one more book, DANTE’S DISCIPLES, locked in a tie also with ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY READER, that includes not quite a story of mine but a poem.  A very long poem.

And herein is a tale, and perhaps a special spot in my auctorial heart (isn’t that a neat word — auctorial?).  It’s one I was invited to write, a “canto” in the style of the poetry in Dante’s INFERNO, which actually came out a little longer than Dante’s cantos at a bit less than 200 lines.  Also, titled “Canto (Evocare!),” it was written in the voice of Satan, giving a sort of overview of Hell is all about.

The thing is, I subsequently presented “Canto (Evocare!)” at a poetry reading at World Fantasy Convention where Dark Regions Press Editor Joe Morey heard it, inviting me to republish it in his upcoming THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASTIC FICTION, which I agreed to.  Then in subsequent conversation we discussed my submitting a collection — something I was at just about the right time to do — resulting in my first full-size book, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (and which was, some years later, followed by DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, for both of which click on their pictures in the center column).

But back to the present, for more on DANTE’S DISCIPLES itself (which despite my poem, is mostly stories) and the 85 other books in this last batch, please to press here.

There is a peculiar allure of insidious characters — and especially assassins, hit men, and their ilk.  Perhaps we find their uncomplicated moral codes and brutal efficiency appealing.  These characters care little about ethics — and perhaps that alone, that freedom from guilt, is exactly why we love them.  Perhaps, deep down, we wish we could be like them.  And perhaps, by reading stories with such characters, we can vicariously experience that thrill.  With this fascination with evil characters in mind, Smart Rhino Publications decided to publish this anthology, INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, a sequel to UNCOMMON ASSASSINS.  The book contains 24 stories by some of the best horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy authors writing today — including Jack Ketchum, Joe Lansdale, Billie Sue Mosiman, Lisa Mannetti, L.L. Soares, James Dorr, Shaun Meeks, and 17 others!  In these stories, you will meet some truly insidious characters — characters you may find yourself applauding when you know you shouldn’t.  Enjoy!

Thus Amazon’s blurb for INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS which, via Weldon Burge and THE SMART RHINO PUBLICATIONS MISCHIEF-MAKING SYNDICATE on Facebook and a quick scroll down to April 16, I discovered is on sale in paperback format on Amazon.  And by sale I mean really, really on sale, for $5.37 as of today with a list price cited at $18.95.  (And that’s going down — the Facebook note said it was $5.65.)  How long this will last I do not know, but to snap up a good deal I’d press here right now.  My cog in the kill-a-thon is a tale set in pre-Euro Crete, which is to say originally published in TOMORROW SF in March 1997*, “The Labyrinth” (cf. November 28 2018; January 23, 2 2015, et al.) for more on which — well, for scarcely over five dollars (granting that shipping and tax may add to that) perhaps one should just buy it and see for oneself.
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*Also reprinted in my collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES, in 2001, the year Greece itself adopted the Euro.

“All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures” (St. Francis of Assisi)

Publication of a book is made up of a lot of little acts, along with the larger technicalities like getting it written or, in an anthology or collection, getting the individual stories gathered and put into final order.  As an example, this evening saw my sending an up-to-date biographical note, with media links if they should be needed, to Nicole Petit of 18th Wall Publications for the 1950s-themed anthology SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES (cf. November 11, May 1 2018).  Thus a small detail of “the writing life,” but one that will see the anthology one step closer to publication in the hopefully not-distant future.  My part in this potpourri, incidentally, is titled “Bottles,” a tale originally published in CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004) and also available in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, having to do with a young Puerto Rican woman during the Cold War in 1958 Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This one’s been predicted often enough, actually, that it seems more like a joke than news — and as for the news part it’s really not actually being planned . . . yet.  But the power of advertising is great and, as a background detail when, say, those romantic sexbots of the previous post gaze out of their window to see the moon, well light pollution could also be a factor and who’s to say smog won’t obscure it all?  As for the joke part, this did come to my attention courtesy of Michael Parisi on Facebook’s FANTASY/SCIENCE/FICTION NEWS AND HUMOR site.  The article itself, by Anthony Cuthbertson on WWW.INDEPENDENT.CO.UK, is titled “Pepsi Considers Space Billboards to Project Logo Across Night Sky Using Satellites” and can be seen by pressing here.

But then as the article itself states:  It is not the first time extra terrestrial advertising has been proposed, with one Japanese startup aiming to place billboards on the surface of the moon by 2020.  Tokyo-based Ispace raised $90 million in 2017 to kickstart what it calls the “lunar economy”, which involves – at least in part – setting up small advertising hoards on the moon that can be viewed from Earth.

Well, some of us writers and other artists are introspective or introverted, maybe not always socialized to the highest degree, but let us not think only of ourselves.  Or perhaps not at all about ourselves, but of all humanity in a possibly frighteningly near future.  As Bernard Marr has it on LINKEDIN.COM:  While some might not protest smart sex toys and what adults choose to do behind closed doors, there’s a bit more controversy and consideration when contemplating if humanoid anatomically correct sexbots are good or bad for society.  That doesn’t stop nearly half of Americans from believing that having sex with robots will be a common practice within 50 years.  Bots such as Realbotix’s Harmony and Synthea Amatus’s Samantha are quite realistic and are adaptable because one robot can assume several different characters and personalities.  They can talk, show expression and respond to touch and pleasure in a similar way humans do.  Since they are learning machines, sexbots are also very attentive to their partner as they listen to learn and become better in conversation.

The article is “How Robots, IoT And Artificial Intelligence Are Changing How Humans Have Sex” and may portend a future trend that will need to be dealt with, at least as background, in our own fiction.  Smart sex toys, sex bots, virtual reality porn, to reference three sub-heads in Marr’s report, but what of government regulations?  There has been at least some discussion in Congress.  Or simply regulation in general — or possibly threats.  Japan may be a leader in humanoid anatomically correct robots, but also is a nation where the birth rate is declining.  Links in Barr’s article lead to a number of interesting side topics, both pro and con — all of which may be checked out (you know you want to!) by pressing here.




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