Archive for December, 2019


(But try not to overdo it)

A quick note.  Hark us back to December 18 and the re-emergence, in Kindle form, of FORBIDDEN:  TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION from the mire of delayed publication.  My stories in this one (yes, plural — two):  “The Wind,” on one man’s loss of religious faith, and “Fetuscam,” of an anti-abortion effort gone bad.  Well, no one said that these were to be in the best of taste.

Anyhow, to the chase, FORBIDDEN, the paperback edition, is now available on Amazon, dated (as is the Kindle) December 18 and announced as “[a]vailable to ship in 1-2 days.”  For more, press here.

Well small, if not scary.  The story in question was called “Silent Scream” and the book, SCARY SNIPPETS:  HALLOWEEN EDITION (cf. November 11, October 30, et al.).  This is a book of “micro fiction,” Halloween-appropriate tales of only 500 words or less, with at least a hundred between the covers.  So right off you know any royalty received will not be large, that is if it’s to be shared among 100 authors, with more shares for editors British London satire caricatures comics cartoon illustrations: Dancing bearprobably as well — so it’s rather like the “dancing bear” maxim, that what’s important is not whether the bear dances well, but rather that it dances at all.

And so, today, Saturday, Suicide House Publishing posted on PayPal . . . well, a sum more than half way to a dollar.  This was after a check on Friday to make sure my PayPal address was right, and less than two months since the book was published which, in the world of royalty payments, is FAST.  If interested in the book itself, one can press here, perhaps to buy one and make the next full quarter’s take larger.

Are you ready for a party you’ll never forget?  So starts the blurb.  When people think MONSTER PARTY, they tend to visualize a party with the big names like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf-Man just hanging around drinking, laughing, and scaring.  While that does sound like a good time, the lesser known names are often shoved off to the side as if they’re a bunch of basic bitches.  But why is that?  And so the idea was to present something different:  We at Deadman’s Tome thought that the big names have partied long enough, it’s time for the lesser known monsters like the Yeti, Mothsquio, and Leorilla to have some fun, and you’re invited.  And that was that.

But hark us back now to the misty time of October 14 and “Another Internet Mystery Unveiled:  MONSTER PARTY ‘Late’ Contract Received from Deadman’s Tome,” to quote my post back then.  This had to do with a contract re-sent, the original having never arrived, for a story for that book, “The Stalker.”  It seems it had been accepted, though that news had not gotten to me either.  But not to worry, “new” contract downloaded, perused, and signed, all that was left was to await the book’s publication.

So these things take time, yes?  And life went on.  A funny story about “The Stalker” too, while we wait, it’s a not-quite reprint, a “clothed” version having appeared before in THE GREAT TOME OF CRYPTIDS AND LEGENDARY CREATURES by Bards and Sages Publishing (see June 23 2016).  But this would be the original (quoting from 2016) “in which the horror trope of the defenseless woman lost in the woods being stalked by a monster would be ratcheted up, the victim becoming a college student in a ‘survival geology’ course with nothing but a rock hammer, a thong, and a silver dollar.”  Ah, college!  The monster in question, a wendigo . . . but for more, well, you’d just have to read the story.

But here’s the punch line:  It turns out MONSTER PARTY’s been published all along, just eleven days after that contract signing on October 25 (so I only got the first hint today — it’s been a busy two months)!  To see for yourself, or to purchase, press here.

Those horrid vagabonds, Crow and Rat, have been at it again!  Or at least the book they appeared in, HUMANAGERIE (cf. September 8, July 24, et al.), published in the UK in October last year is still getting reviews.  Thus the latest, by Megan Turney in the British science fiction magazine SHORELINE OF INFINITY:  One of the joys of reading this collection was not knowing what to expect from one poem or short story to the next.  The style of these texts dabble in magic realism and fantasy to the almost academic; each style as engaging as the last.  Even though I could easily recommend every contribution, there are a select few that I find myself returning to. The key element that that drew me to these specific texts was their focus on the often unusual, but always compelling, question of what it means to exist.  So, in no particular order, my personal favourites included:  ‘The Orbits of Gods’ by Holly Heisey; ‘Crow and Rat’ by James Dorr; ‘Aquarium Dreams’ by Gary Budgen; ‘Polymorphous/Stages of Growth’ by Oliva Edwards; ‘And Then I Was a Sheep’ by Jonathan Edwards; ‘Hibernation’ by Sandra Unerman; ‘Wojtek’ by Mary Livingstone; ‘Notes for the “Chronicles of the Land that has no Shape”’ by Frank Roger; and ‘Her Audience Shall Stand in Ovation’ by Jason Gould.
Well, despite the inclusion of Ms. Rat and Mr. Crow with their habit of finding themselves in places where they’ve not been invited, Turney’s review is extremely thoughtful, even scholarly, and well worth reading — as is the anthology itself with hats off to Editors Allen Ashley (with special thanks for bringing the review to my attention) and Sarah Doyle.  For example, to quote from the final paragraph:  To paraphrase literary critic Karl Kroeber, this kind of literature can serve as a powerful lesson in ‘how our world [is becoming] so exclusively humanised as to be self-diseased.’  To agree with the writers of Humanagerie, it is considerably ironic that we continue with such detrimental practices.  Whilst nature has the power to persevere without us, we certainly wouldn’t be able to survive without it.  So, finally, it surely seems like the right time to recommend such an outstanding contribution to this increasingly essential genre, especially one that emphasises our need to be more aware of humanity’s destructive behaviour.
To see all for yourself, press here.

With a tip of the hat to gone but remembered Cave Cat Wednesday, and from the Goth Cat Triana as well  (courtesy Gary O. Clark, et al., via HORRORHOMEWORK.COM)

It’s another stop on the run-up to Christmas, and if not definitive still a pleasant one.  The subject a story, “La Fatale,” at about 1300 words about Mina Harker of DRACULA fame becoming a vampire after all and, having had a French mother, moving to France to try to sort things out.  And almost after I wrote it it was accepted by then-professional WHITE CAT MAGAZINE . . . which, then, semi-immediately went out of production.

So, these things happen, but there it languished, perhaps due in part to a sort of metafictional tie-in to Rudyard Kipling and Philip Burne-Jones, as well as Bram Stoker, perhaps more heady fare than the average short short.  Or, anyway, those places it went to seemed not to want it, and I had other pieces to market.  Until, fast forward to Friday last week, and an invitation from a Writers Guild friend to submit to a planned anthology, tentatively titled RAPE ESCAPES:  We define the word “rape” loosely and are looking for pieces — any genre — that describe escape from an unwanted sexual situation in which force (psychological or physical) would be used. . . .  And moreover a suggestion for me that a piece about a vampire escaping human violence (perhaps with a quick bite to the neck) would certainly warm the heart of at least one of the editors.

So, long story short, I thought at first of les filles à les caissettes, whose adventures I’ve been presenting at First Wednesday readings, suggesting a couple that might fit the guidelines.  But something seemed to be missing to my mind.  And then I remembered “La Fatale,” concerning a non-Casket Girl Anglo-French vampire and sent it Sunday in a second email noting that it might be more powerful . . . if the literary references don’t get in the way.

Then this morning, the answer:  James, I love this.  And yes, I think it is more powerful.  So, with your permission, I shall add it to the dossier.  It isn’t an acceptance, exactly — for one thing there’s a co-editor who will have to pass on it too — but it enters the fray with good credentials.  As for the next step, we shall see, but it seems to me RAPE ESCAPES should be an important book, good company to be in — and, again, a nice opportunity just before Christmas.

Well, what a coincidence!  Wednesday I posted about an anthology, FORBIDDEN!  TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION, that had been delayed but was now finally released.  A collection, one might surmise, that might include musings on political topics, real or imagined.  Perhaps even a bit of political satire which, by its nature, would likely displease at least some of its potential readers.

So fast forward two days, and a here-and-now piece of satire, a tale I was hesitant to send out at first but at last took a chance on, a reflection of fast-moving current events — has someone just been impeached for some reason?  But not the ones described in this story! — a 1000-word flash piece called “Steel Slats” has just gone live on the prestigious and relatively high-circulation (and free!) DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (see August 23, 17; also April 21 2015, et al.).  A little bit of “if this goes on” one might say, but SteelSlatshopefully, too, with a touch of humor.

To back up a moment, I’ll quote from myself, from the email I’d sent submitting “Steel Slats” and which also appears now on DAILY SF:  There’s a certain class of stories I think of as “the devil made me do it” stories, when the news of the day starts sounding so wacky it seems to demand some kind of response.  This is one of those stories.  To read it for yourself — and remember, it’s free! — press here.

Quoting myself from a year ago August (cf. August 10 2018, et al.):  Subtitled TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION, FORBIDDEN is an anthology “about that which is disallowed, whether it be the law or custom of a society, a particular group, or even just a single individual.  Stories that illustrate the sense or insanity of that which is disallowed, all with an eye on adventure, world-building, and thought-provoking entertainment!”  Or so says Publisher Martin T. Ingham.  And this time by an odd chance of fate, I have two, not one but TWO, tales in this one myself.  Say what?

So, reminding myself, the citation above also includes a list of contents with two reprint stories by me, “Fetuscam” (see also June 9 2018) and “The Wind” (January 13 2018), and therein also lies a funny story.  Again quoting myself from that June, [o]n July 22 last year I sent a tale of loss of faith titled “The Wind” to Martinus Publishing, a reprint submission to an upcoming anthology, FORBIDDEN!  TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION.  Sounds intriguing, yes?  So much so, in fact, that exactly five months later, on December 22, having quite forgotten the first — and with a December 31 deadline fast coming — I sent another, originally published in Spring 1990 in PANDORA (and also reprinted two years later in MinRef Press’s ABORTION STORIES:  FICTION ON FIRE), “Fetuscam.”  And then about three weeks after that, an acceptance came for the original submission (“The Wind,” remember? cf. January 13). Oops!  So, long story short, two submissions wasn’t a no-no and eventually the other one was accepted too. 

Well, FORBIDDEN was shaping up to be quite an interesting anthology indeed in that, after the August 10 last year announcement, it also seemed to have disappeared.  That is, until today’s email from Editor/Publisher Martin T. Ingham:  I know it has been a long time, but the wait is finally over.  At long last, the FORBIDDEN anthology is ready to be released!  Expect it be available on Amazon by next week!

So the moral is that these things happen — we are only human, and life intervenes.  In fact, a quick check on Amazon shows it’s up as a Kindle edition now, for which one can press here, with a print edition presumably to follow for a complete pre-Christmas happy ending!

Attached is a 10,000 word submission, “The Garden,” about a mysterious garden in northern Massachusetts which conceals a cutting edge experiment in bio-chemistry.  An edited version has been printed as a chapbook (now out of print), by Damnation Books in 2009, with reprint rights in my possession.  I hope you will be able to use it in UNREAL and, either way, will look forward to your report and any comments.

So went my cover letter to Aditya Deshmukh and The Great Void Books for the anthology UNREAL.  The call had been for Speculative Fiction.  Mix of genres is okay as long as the speculative element remains the main element.  Word count was 4,000 to 15,000 and, while no previous publication was preferred, reprints would be considered.  The story itself, “The Garden,” a bit of both, originally published in a version edited more heavily than was to my taste (cf. picture below in center column) but now out of print, but what I would send would be (with one change which had been by me), the original version.

Then yesterday, Monday, came the reply:  I really enjoyed reading “The Garden.”  At first, the story seemed to have real world elements and I wasn’t really hooked until the nematode part.  The ending blew me.  The plot develops slowly but the end is really well done.

Congratulations!  I’m accepting “The Garden” for UNREAL.  Will send you an email regarding the details next month.

So there it is, the second acceptance for December (the first, a flash vampire piece for Black Hare Press’s LUST, see December 8), and not a bad run-up to the Christmas season.

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