Archive for September, 2019

Yes, the email said the final week but the site itself says only “five days,” though it also says Sunday, October 6, 7:59 AM EDT, perhaps as an allowance for London time?  But one way or another in just a few days the DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH kickstarter (see September 12, et al.), and the opportunity to sign up for bargain copies and even swag, will be no more.   Love takes on many forms, as does death, and this anthology features twenty-two stories that dance the line between Dark Affection and Paranormal Romance, where death is not the end but merely the start of some truly original tragedies, tales that will often stop you dead in your tracks, challenging your preconceptions of what is right and wrong, before allowing you to return and continue reading.  DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH offers up twenty-two fabulous inspired short stories, by a fresh line-up of authors from around the world, ensuring that there is something for everyone; and with many being on the macabre side, we believe that this anthology makes the perfect alternative gift for those who want something a little different come Valentine’s Day.

My tale in this tangle is one of hauntings, and gangsters in Depression era Florida, and of a young woman whose life is in danger titled “The Sending,” a slightly longer description of which can be found on the kickstarter site itself, along with descriptions and mini-biographies of all the writers.  And, as said above, many prizes including publisher-related cups and T-shirts and other such merch, but one still must act fast.  (And may one remind, from the authors’ point of view, last minute pledges may mean higher pay?)  So for information and possible action — the book itself is slated to be out on Valentine’s Day 2020, so why not reserve your copy today? — one need but press here.

Also known as SCIFIANDFANTASYREVIEWER.WORDPRESS.COM, the word came Saturday evening from SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES (see August 14, 6 et al.) Editor Nicole Petit:  I wanted to let you know we’ve had one of our first reviews come up!  It’s really detailed and positive!  Thank you so much for all of your hard work, and I’m so glad that someone is noticing!

Nine stories, in fact, are singled out for individual comment by the eponymous reviewer of which my own “Bottles,” about a young Puerto Rican woman in 1958 Cambridge Massachusetts, is one:  Set against a background of white privilege, anti-communism and outright racism  . . .  an engaging and unique story that has a genuinely surprising ending that caught me off-guard.  Other tales cited are set in such locales as Las Vegas, the back roads of Texas, and even outside the US in the British Isles, with equally eclectic aspects of the 1950s — and the occult, or at least just strange — providing their own unique background color.

The review can be read for yourself by pressing here (note that the link at the review text’s top is for, though it is on Amazon, et al., in the US too).  I should note too that “Bottles” itself is also reprinted in my own collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.

The story was titled “Silent Scream,” and the anthology SCARY SNIPPETS (cf. September 21).  This was to be a “Micro-Horror” collection, seeking horrific short stories that feature the theme of anything creepy for the Halloween season.  Ghosts, goblins, any and all horror is accepted.  The major constraint, the word count must be 500 words or less.

And so things progress, the contract arriving today from Suicide House Publishing, now signed and sent back.  The story in question was just under 500 words itself and is about silence.  The virtue of silence.  Its desirability.  An absolute need for silence . . . or else.  Hopefully, if all continues on schedule, to be out by or before Halloween.

Let us go back toward the end of August, and BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP (see August 21, 4, et al.).  Remember?  This was the anthology of super-short stories of which [s]illiness and weirdness will abound.  Moreover it’s to be illustrated — in color, no less — but these things all take time.  A kickstarter had been planned for the start of September.

Well, we know the story.  Delays breed delays.  But now we do have a new starting date (or thereabouts).  From Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg:  The Kickstarter package is finally finished and under review.  I’m hoping to be able to go live October 1st.  I’ll be putting together something you can share once I get approved and have a url for the project.  Please start talking this up on your social media.  Let’s get people excited!  More will be reported here when it’s ready.

My part in the porpourri, incidentally, is a tale called “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair,” a 75-word saga of beauty and magic (and perhaps with an ilustration primarily in green — we shall see when we see).  The book’s full title is BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS (or words of that sort, at least last I’ve heard), and despite production problems it is still on the way.

This was the pitch:  This month’s theme is Travel Horror, so any stories taking place on planes, trains, boats and goats.  Or any other medium of travel you can think of.  The prize includes a $20 token payment, publication in an upcoming Shallow Waters anthology, and an Author Spotlight on the Crystal Lake Patreon page and newsletter.  Stories had to be under 1000 words and sent by September 19 at the latest, so why not thought I.  Other information from Crystal Lake Publishing’s Joe Mynhardt included:  For those not familiar with the challenge, it’s open to all authors, and you don’t have to be a Crystal Lake Patreon supporter/patron to enter.  I’ll personally read the stories and choose the best stories, which I’ll then post to the Crystal Lake patrons.  They’ll read and vote for a winner.  And even if you don’t win, the most popular stories will be invited to one of our Shallow Waters anthologies.

So Wednesday the word came:  Congrats, James, your flash fiction story is moving on to the Patreon voting stage of our flash fiction challenge.  A list followed of thirteen titles (of about 40 entered) with mine the last of them, which means it will be the last to be posted on the Crystal Lake Patreon page.  So those who are patrons take notice, and perhaps think of giving my tale your vote (though, alas, I cannot vote for it myself, or even I think read the rival stories, not being a Patreon member myself).

But it’s the thrill of the chase that counts, no?  My story is titled “Midnight Sun” and is the tale of an ER night nurse’s pre-Christmas journey to the far, far north.  But why, one might ask (hint: it’s not to meet Santa)?  For that you will have to read it yourself, with a link to come when the story is up which will be posted here.  But as publisher Mynhardt also reminds us, [p]lease take note that only subscribers/patrons can read and vote.  Hopefully folks who follow your link will like what they see on our Patreon page and join (and vote for your story, of course).

And so the writing life continues.  Tuesday’s email brought a missive from Zombie Works Publications Editor Alan Russo:  Me, Randy and Dave have really worked hard on this and are at the final stage of this project.  Attached you will find a digital copy of MONSTERTHOLOGY 2.  Please look through it thoroughly and either send me corrections to make or your approval to print.  The story in question is one set in New Orleans, with zombies and vampires (but not “Casket Girls” ones) called “Beefcake and the Vamp” (see July 31, February 19, 12), a humorous tale of detectives and coffins including a vindictive vampire hunter.  One might note also that there was once a first MONSTERTHOLOGY and, aha!, that I had a story in that one as well, a cryptobiological outing titled “Stink Man” (cf. September 12 2012, et al.), of cow parts and man parts and an accident on the highway and . . . well . . . togetherness.

So anyway fair’s fair, corrections going back later Tuesday evening, with more to be reported here as it becomes known.

Come the autumn solstice and, ho!, the first fall royalty take emerges above the horizon.  This time not the iconic one penny payment of a few seasons back (see March 13, below), but not much over an order of magnitude more than that either.  Also a discussion with the publisher on ways of payment — PayPal will be okay so postage can be saved.  Every bit counts, eh?

Thus the life of the short story writer.  Actual publishers and amounts are not reported to save embarrassment on either side.  But in the interest of truth, this is for one story in an anthology which has been out for almost seven years — and a seasonal one at that (and not this season) — so that it’s still reporting sales at all is actually rather nice.

At least I think so 😉 .

A Saturday snark, too, a weird computer glitch preventing the previous post from going up late Friday.  That fixed though, there is one more thing to report re. an email coming late Friday night too.  A short post, let’s say, for a very short story.

It is an odd story at only about 500 words, very atmospheric.  Very much in the head of its narrator, claustrophobic, almost, in his mind.  A story of warning, of a need for quietness, but not perhaps for a “normal” reason — the story’s title:  “Silent Scream.”  So, that time of year coming, off it went to SCARY SNIPPETS:  HALLOWEEN, a Micro Horror collection  . . .  seeking horrific short stories that feature the theme of anything creepy for the Halloween season. Ghosts, goblins, any and all horror is accepted.  And also, exclusive stories only.

The word came just about 24 hours ago as I write this, from SCARY SNIPPETS Editor Kyle Harrison:  CONGRATULATIONS!  Your story, “Silent Scream” has been accepted into the Halloween edition of SCARY SNIPPETS!  Be on the lookout for contracts within the next two weeks.  In the meantime, promotional graphics are being made up to share your success!

And there we have it.

A bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an ambitious expat architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river towards a rapidly modernizing Shanghai, China.  Based on true events.  (From IMDb)

I don’t know about how true the events are, but the movie is called DEAD PIGS, and here’s the IU Cinema’s take on it:  Filmmaker Ash Mayfair is scheduled to be present.  A mysterious stream of pig carcasses floats silently toward China’s populous economic hub, Shanghai.  As authorities struggle to explain the phenomenon, a down-and-out pig farmer with a youthful heart struggles to make ends meet, while an upwardly mobile landowner fights gentrification against an American expat seeking a piece of the Chinese dream.  Like a mosaic, their stories intersect and converge in a showdown between human and machine, past and future, brother and sister.  In Mandarin with English subtitles.  Contains mature content.

Ms. Mayfair, a Vietnamese filmmaker herself, was on campus for one of her films as well, but she also acted as docent for this one, adding, of DEAD PIGS, “So funny, so moving, very sophisticated.”  And yes, the funniness often was buried within the absurdity of the situations, though in details also, but I at least began to feel sorry for some of the characters — not always all that innocent themselves — but trapped in an overall context that, laughs aside, wasn’t likely to end well for most.  But family, and love, became stronger than than one might have thought at first and over the closing credits was a an upbeat chorus, in English, of “Everybody Celebrate” (there’s also a group sing near the end in the movie proper, but that one in Chinese).

So to me, DEAD PIGS wasn’t entirely a laugh fest, but was surprisingly good as a movie.  Or, for a little bit more of the flavor, here’s the first paragraph of a Sundance review by Jessica Kiang, from VARIETY.COM (which can be read in its entirety here):   In the Chinese zodiac, the happy-go-lucky pig stands for good fortune and wealth.  So an inexplicable epidemic that decimates the porcine population in a developing part of China still heavily reliant on pig farming, could be symbolically as well as literally disastrous, and it provides Cathy Yan’s sprawling, bouncing, jaunty debut with its darkest images.  Along the wide river that flows sluggishly to the nearby city, thousands of discarded pig corpses keep bobbing to the surface like troublesome metaphors.  But despite tracking with forensic rigor the domino effects of this sudden aporkalypse, the surprise is the light sureness of Yan’s touch.  “Dead Pigs” is delightfully uneven, eagerly see-sawing between screwy and serious, occasionally even daring to be ditzy — not a quality usually associated with Sixth Generation maestro and executive producer Jia Zhangke.  If anything, Yan’s film, with its dancing girls, pigeon-fancying beauticians, Westerners-on-the-make and spontaneous musical numbers, is an antidote to China’s weightier arthouse output, settling the stomach after too much stolid social realism, effervescent as an alka-seltzer.

Well, at the top of the list of names at the lower right, but you get the idea.  And . . . appearing just above Philip K. Dick?  Not shabby at all (and look farther down on the list as well)!  The magazine is BLACK INFINITY #5 (see September 15, August 11), the “Derelict” issue, and my story is a reprint too, “Ghost Ship,” harking back to TECHNO-GOTH CTHULHU (Red Skies Press, 2013) and set in the universe of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

But as for the magazine itself, let’s let Editor Tom English do the honors:  Cover of BLACK INFINITY #5, (the DERELICTS issue) out in early October.  Stories by Gregory Norris, David VonAllmen, Douglas Smith, James Dorr, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Stewart C Baker, Jason J. McCuiston, Philip K. Dick, Andre Norton, Jack Williamson, Alan E. Nourse and others, with art by Allen Koszowski and others.  Plus:  retro movie reviews by Matt Cowan; weird science by Todd Treichel; a classic SF comics story from the 50s; a special tribute section to the original Lost in Space series; a brief survey of derelict spaceships in SF; and a free music download (details inside the mag) created especially for BLACK INFINITY by Mac of BIOnighT.  — with Jason Krueger.

And out well in time for Halloween — I’m looking forward!

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