Archive for November, 2019

The guidelines said it.  We’re looking for nursery rhymes, poetry, and stories that can be read and enjoyed by children of all ages. There is no lower word limit on poems or nursery rhymes.  Mine, however, would be a story, “Snow,” a 2000-word riff (more or less) on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”  An evil queen, a stepdaughter in training, height-challenged jewel miners.  The book in question, to be published by B Cubed Press:  ALTERNATIVE BEDTIME READING FOR PROGRESSIVE PARENTS.

So today, Saturday, I received the word from Editor Bob Brown, short and sweet:  We would like to buy Snow.  Please advise if you accept.  Then a second email gave instructions for things to come, among other details.  A need for a bio, pre-publicity, edits to be reviewed, etc.(some, like the bio, to be handled now), more on which will be reported here as it happens.  And, all in all, a nice continuation of the Thanksgiving weekend to wrap up November.

Actually it was taken a bit over a week before when she had been doing something unbearably cute but, when I tried to take a picture, there wasn’t enough light.  So I took this one instead, as she anticipates a possibly turkey-flavored treat — and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all!

These occasionally turn up on the internet and, as one might suppose, the answer is hoax.  Regardless of the actual age of some of the items included, they have a way of relying perhaps a bit too heavily on vampire lore gathered from post 1950s-ish movies.  Nevertheless. . . .

Well, I’ve used the notion once in a story, “La Valise,” starring Aimée, of les filles à les casettes, published in ZEN OF THE DEAD (Popcorn Press, 2015; cf. November 17, October 28 2015, et al.), suggesting that should a real vampire come across one in your luggage, it might not lead to a happy conclusion.  But for a bit more on the “hoax” part of the formula via Dan Evon, “Is This a Vampire Hunting Kit from the Early 19th Century?” on SNOPES.COM, one can check here.

So I was strolling the internet this afternoon and came upon this from CRAFTY.DIPLY.COM, “11+ Extreme Pix That Prove Nature Is Hardcore,” courtesy of Facebook’s MOMMY NEEDS VODKA (“Vodka Is Practically a Health Drink If You Just Call It ‘Potato Juice'”).  The attribution is to “Dan” and there’s lots more than just eleven pictures — the one here being a black widow spider that happened to make its nest in a skull — which is followed in turn (just keep scrolling and scrolling) by “15+ Terrifying Times Nature Was At Its Most NOPE” by Mason Zimmer, it also followed by “8+ Insane Photos. . . .”  Well, you’ll get the idea by just pressing here (or, it starts with the one of a hairy frog).

And enjoy, enjoy.

It’s really kind of self explanatory, the story’s whole title, that is. “Catskinner Sweet and the Twirling Teacups of Deadwood City,” which is next to last — or next to next to last depending on how you count things — in the Death’s Head Press anthology BREAKING BIZARRO (see September 2, June 15) that arrived Saturday afternoon.  Well, maybe some explanation, a “catskinner” for instance is someone who herds cats, or drives such a herd, much like a muleskinner.  Or twirling teacups or flying saucers, it’s how you look at it.

But the thing is it’s all absurd, twenty-six stories in all — or is that twenty-seven. That is twenty-six written stories, the last of which is “How to Build a WW2 Armored Express Train Set” by John Wayne Comonale (preceded by me with “Catskinner Sweet,” natch), which is followed by the title “Title:” by “Your Name:” and nine or ten pages of lined paper.  That is, the last story in BREAKING BIZARRO is yours in a do-it-yourself kit sort of way.  And that is bizarre.

But the thing is the book has been published in both print and electronic versions, and you can have yours too by pressing here.

That’s the way they put it, and part of the reason for choosing that date — New Year’s Day 2020 — is simply that it looks so cool.  Though starting a brand new publication at the start of a new year as well as decade seemed appropriate as well.  The publication’s full name is the HOUSE OF ZOLO JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE, VOLUME 1 (cf. October 7, September 17), for which HOZ are looking for literature that explores possibilities for the future.  We want challenging short stories that are character driven, that reimagine the world and our place in it.  . . .  Themes that thrill us:  transhumanism, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, new systems, resistance, activism, queer perspectives, feminist perspectives, nature.  Originally planned for a release this month, they decided to give it a bit more time, with January 1 2020 now the official release date.

My story in this is “Golden Age,” a tale of surgical life prolonging procedures that lead to a possible near-immortality, originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994 and also reprinted in Smart Rhino Publications’s 2017 ZIPPERED FLESH 3 anthology.  And for a sort of a preview about this first issue, or at least its authors, one can press here for a list of bios with further links to blogs and personal websites, Facebook pages, etc.

And . . . it’s out, on schedule, the 2019 BOULD Awards Anthology for stories “Bizarre, Outrageous, Unfettered, Limitless, [and] Daring” (see November 15, 8)!  To see or to buy press here.  A list of contents also appears in my November 15 post below, while we also learned the winners today of the small money prizes (the “Awards” part of the title) for the four presumably BOULDest tales of all.  To wit:

1st Place ($50): The Mystery of the Missing Albino – Steve Shrott
2nd Place ($30): The Society – KM Rockwood
3rd Place ($20): Bitch and Chips – Maddi Davidson
4th Place ($10): Euthanasia – Karen Duxbury

Okay, so my entries are not on the list, not that they’re still not bizarre, etc., in their own right (one, in fact, having also appeared in a 2013 anthology titled BIZARRO BIZARRO*), “Mr. Happy Head” and “In the Octopus’s Garden.”  But hopefully all should be quite worth reading, to be found, again, by pressing here.


*While the other, “In the Octopus’s Garden,” is also lead story in my Stoker(R) nominated collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.


It was a bit of a star-crossed submission.  “Moons of Saturn” was originally published in Algis Budrys’s TOMORROW in July 1993 as well as reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  Fast forward to this year and, following a second read, it had been rejected by PULP LITERATURE on January 7, though as sometimes will happen with an explanation that it just didn’t fit in with a particular issue.  In any event one doesn’t just send something right back again — except that I did, on June 20, having misread (or somehow skipped over) its previous trip on the story’s log!

So I did what one does in such situations:  the following day I sent an email with my apologies, asking that it be considered withdrawn.   And so life went on.  Except a bit over four months later an email came saying “Moons” had advanced to a second reading.

So you know what comes next.  Today an email arrived from Assistant Editor Genevieve Wynand:   Thank you for your submission.  I am pleased to offer you a tentative acceptance for ‘Moons of Saturn’ to be published in 2020 (specific issue to be determined).  I thoroughly enjoyed your story and look forward to sharing it with our readers!

So . . . closure of a sort.   It’s not unknown that a story not right for one issue will fit exactly right for another.  But what, exactly, does a “tentative”acceptance mean?  So, roll with the motion, I sent a “thank you” email back but added the question of when we would know for sure.  And so it is thus far (the “tentative,” after all, may just mean pending signing a contract, which usually won’t come until at least a little while after).

As for the story, “Moons of Saturn,” here’s the description that had been asked for with the submission:  A man and a highly imaginative woman watch extensive TV coverage of the Voyager missions past Saturn while the woman grows progressively more ill.  More to be revealed here as it becomes known.

Usually I don’t report on the Bloomington Writers Guild “Third Sunday Write” (though sometimes I do, cf. April 15, et al.); they either end up in ideas that translate into stories, in which case it might come up if/when one sells, or otherwise it’s just an exercise, good for me in crafting first-draft poetry or maybe an essay, but more a personal thing than anything worth sharing.  These are sessions in which a facilitator offers prompts or other bits of inspiration for the rest of us to craft into . . . well, something.  At worst still putting words on paper (last month’s, for instance, on ekphrastic writing based on Renoir’s painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party” produced scenes — from at least four of us, each more hilarious than the last — focusing in on a little lap dog fawned on by its mistress at the foreground table.  But you had to be there).

But occasionally it might spawn an essay that, if not usable in itself, might at least still be fun to share.  And so, yesterday afternoon, after some warmup exercises with lists, came this (based on the item “Cat Treats” on one for grocery shopping):

“Well, first there was Wednesday — the first that I think of — whose favorite plaything was her spider collection.  Black plastic spiders with rings attached for wearing on Halloween, but between that and eight legs lots of things for claws to catch, tossing the toy up into the air, it then falling crazily, bouncing who knows where, to pounce on again.

“There were the crickets, too, but these were live ones that came up from the basement, but the problem was they didn’t last long, generally going limp after the first or second toss.  So plastic was far superior for her.

“Wednesday has passed on by now though, possibly to a home in the sky where the crickets last longer, or even the spiders which would themselves lose legs eventually under the pressure of fangs and claws.

“The new cat, Triana, however is more of a practical cat.  She enjoys the crickets, but her trick is that when they’re no longer good for play she eats them.  Thus she will exercise, building an appetite, but then instantly sate it.”

So the lesson may be that timed, instantaneous writing exercises are conducive to run-on sentences (the above is presented without being edited).  Or, for what it’s worth, two others at this session also presented essays at least in part concerning cats.

The word is out.  Late yesterday the email came from Editor Jake Devlin that the BOULD AWARD ANTHOLOGY (for “Bizarre, Outrageous, Unfettered, Limitless, Daring” — cf. below, November 8) is expected to be out on Wednesday next week, November 20.  With this came a list of stories, with word counts — as I recall, the limit was set at 3000 words, but with a premium for short and sweet — as reproduced below.  And, as the quote continues:  I’m even more happy to announce that there are double the number of stories that were in the 2018 edition, and we’ve already received several entries for the 2020 edition.  I’d encourage any of you who might want to submit more stories to think “short” stories; I’d love to see more “flash fiction,” maybe 1,000 words or less.  You’ll find an email address at the bottom of the BouldAwards web site* to get the submission requirements via auto-reply.

Then one thing more — two really — my stories in these are “In the Octopus’s Garden,” collected as well in my book THE TEARS OF ISIS (for info on which, click its picture in the center column), and the as yet uncollected “Mr. Happy Head.”  For both of which, here’s the table of contents:

Bitch and Chips – Maddi Davidson – 1060 words
A Walk In The Park – Francis Hicks – 490
A Man Without His Word – Lise de Nil – 1848
Honor Amongst the Rigid – Wil A. Emerson – 2980
Clarity – Francis Hicks – 720
In the Octopus’s Garden – James Dorr – 2400
Take Nothing For Granite – John Clark – 1170
When I Think About – Gary R. Hoffman – 450
Teacher’s Pets – Kat Fast – 1990
Teagan’s Special Sand Castle – Jake Devlin – 1300
Note Found Near Scattered Human Skeletal Remains – Jack Ewing – 1840
Oh Henry – Wil A. Emerson – 2990
Bait – Eve Fisher – 2700
Zero-Sum – Cheri Vause – 1500
Chemo Queen – Tom Barlow – 2970
The Sadist – Jimmy Summers – 750
In A Town Mostly Forgotten – John Clark – 2060
The Purloined Pickled Peppers – Herschel Cozine – 2400
Eggboy and the Drunk – Lise de Nil – 2990
The Price You Pay – William A. Rush IV – 1850
Henry The Butler – Francis Hicks – 500
The Mystery of the Missing Albino – Steve Shrott – 2800
A Shifting Plan – Elizabeth Zelvin – 2500
Input From A Serial Killer – John Furutani – 2570
Confession of a Serial Killer – Jake Devlin – 500
The Cat – Robert Petyo – 2100
Deer Juj – David Hagerty – 850
The Society – KM Rockwood – 2200
Something Wacky This Way Comes – Karen Phillips – 2000
Pinning Ceremony – John Clark – 2670
Drip-Dry and Wrinkle-Free – Lesley A. Diehl – 2440
Mr. Happy Head – James Dorr – 2700
Preincarnation – Eve Fisher – 1000
To Die a Free Man: The Story of Joseph Bowers – KM Rockwood – 2790
The Suicide Bureau – Robert Petyo – 1700
The Silkie – Elizabeth Zelvin – 2900
Meeting on the Funicular – Kaye George – 735
Cold Snap – Maddi Davidson – 640
Euthanasia – Karen Duxbury – 260
An Apocalyptic Micro Short Story – Jake Devlin – 20


* Link to appear here with info for ordering on November 20.

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