Archive for March, 2020

This one’s a short note, a bit of an early taste of UNREAL (cf. March 22, 19, et al.), the The Great Void Books anthology that includes my novelette “The Garden.”  Quoth the blurb:  In these 20 short stories and novelettes, there’s magic, time travel, a gravity defying machine, resurrection, selkies, pirates, a talking monkey-god, aliens, vampires, unknown particle physics, AI and so much more!  Each story also comes with a brilliant illustration.  The special price is valid for only a limited time.  So get your copy now!

Intrigued?  Press here.

It’s been awhile.  The issue was actually published on New Year’s Day (cf. Jan 24, 2; Oct 7 2019, et al.), and today the copy arrived in my mailbox, a longish time later though not a record.  The publication is HOUSE OF ZOLO’S JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE FICTION, VOLUME 1, with an original call:  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.  We are looking for radical authors, feminist authors, LGBTQ2S authors, authors who experiment.  Themes that thrill us:  transhumanism, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, new systems, resistance, activism, queer perspectives, feminist perspectives, nature.  My own story in this, “Golden Age,” a tale of extension of life through bio-mechanical transplants was originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994 (also reprinted in ZIPPERED FLESH 3, see February 3 2017, et al.), and is one of thirty-two items, both prose and poetry, in a hefty three hundred plus page book — a fair bit of reading to help fill the hours while confined to one’s home.  Or to see more for yourself, press here.

This goes back to Tuesday, March 24, and an email from Michelle McLachlin from Eerie River Publishing:  Thank you so much for your patience.  We really enjoyed the story and I would like to officially notify you that it has been accepted into the anthology IT CALLS FROM THE FOREST:  VOLUME 2. Congratulations!  The story was titled “The Calm,” a reprint originally published in NEW MYTHOS LEGENDS (Marietta Publishing, 1999) and also in my 2001 collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES.  But then, the next sentence:  Attached you will find the contract, please review, complete all the highlighted sections including your name and story title, sign, and return this as soon as possible.  You will be getting a full page after your story for your bio, so please also email me an updated bio with any social media links you would like included.  No problem, of course, to provide a bio, but the label on the attachment said “DOCX.”  The Cave Computer, the “older” machine the coronavirus lockdown makes me use (the local library being closed) does not like DOCX.

This is not the first time the balky laptop has stood between me and a story contract, see, e.g., March 24 below where “Midnight Dark” and SHALLOW WATERS involved PDF translations (after an RTF attempt had resulted in an over bulky, multi-megabyte attachment) and ultimately photographing a printed out version signed extra darkly with a felt tip pen.  So here again a PDF switch allowed the contract to be read — which in turn uncovered two clauses that needed reworking — but was ultimately solved with a dodge as old as the laptop itself:  a TXT file.  Ugly, but workable.  And, happy ending, the printed-in signature added with other fill-the-blank items, the contract went back about mid afternoon, roughly two days after the initial acceptance.

Oh, those pesky vampires, you can’t get away from them, you can’t keep your blood when they’re around.  This time it’s a poem, another three-liner about the overly-gluttonous mermaid vampiress who, this time, hasn’t gotten the word that people should not congregate at beaches — at least for the time being.  The title: “A Ray Of Sun,” and just now accepted by Editor Vince Gotera for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association’s magazine STAR*LINE, or to quote the source, I’d like to accept “A Ray of Sun.”  Could you please let me know . . . still available?

So I sent back my “yes” and will post more news as further details become available.

So today the governor of Indiana has ordered residents, with a few exceptions, to stay holed up at home until April 6.  That is, for two weeks (well actually thirteen days), with April 6 also the tentative date for the public library to reopen (see March 16, 14) — though when the time comes both closures could of course be extended.  Meanwhile the writing life, even if curtailed, continues.

Thus yesterday, from Crystal Lake Publishing Editor Joe Mynhardt, came the email:  I’d love to publish “Midnight Sun” in the next SHALLOW WATERS anthology, out around Mid-April. . . , but with one small catch.  We may recall that “Midnight Sun” scored last fall in a three-way tie for third place in Crystal Lake’s Flash Fiction Contest for “Travel Horror” (cf. October 15, 11, et al.), part of the prize being prospective future publication.  So the time has come, but the catch was an up-front request for possible editorial changes.

Well, that’s part of the writing life too and, as I looked the story over, I did see one thing that bothered me about it, a passage justifying the title that otherwise didn’t seem to make that much sense.  So I changed the passage — but also the title, the story of a Los Angeles vampire’s Christmas journey to the far north now renamed “Midnight Dark.”  Then a round of small changes from the publisher’s side, my okaying some, re-changing some others, all taking far longer than they otherwise might have due to the underpowered Cave Computer at this end.

But then nobody said it would be easy, right?  The changes went in Monday night, a contract came today (more problems for the Cave Computer), and a photograph of the signed contract plus an RTF copy of “Midnight Dark” with its final changes went back to Crystal Lake this evening.  The book, when it comes out, will be SHALLOW WATERS:  A FLASH FICTION ANTHOLOGY, VOL. 5, with more to come here as it becomes known.

The process continues, with UNREAL (see March 19, just below) and my story “The Garden” available now for pre-order on Kindle, for which one can press here.  Also the contents have been revealed, or as Amazon has it:

UNREAL is the inaugural anthology of The Great Void Books celebrating the sheer awesomeness of speculative fiction.

The twenty stories featured in this anthology have been selected after careful consideration.  Each story is set in its own independent world.  So this single book is your ticket to twenty diverse lands where mind-bending things happen.

Speculative Fiction is a vast genre, but we have got delicacies from almost every subgenre.  We have got AI, magic, talking monkeys, time travel, oppressive governments, ancient temples, weird futuristic tech . . . even aliens!*  These short stories (btw none of them are very short) are some really serious works of art.  And since this is an anthology, you’ll get to meet a bunch of some really terrific authors. . . .

The stories featured:

A Door For Miriam by Jeff Sullins
The Hidden Entity by John Campbell
Monaro Goes On A Walkabout by Steve Carr
The Runners by Lorenzo Crescentini
Blood Of The Swan by Vonnie Winslow Crist
The Wizards Of Snails And Woodlice by David Donachie
The Garden by James Dorr
Camp Napanoo by Angelique Fawns
Checkpoint by Elana Gomel
Undo by John Haas
The Monkey’s Tale by Carlton Herzog
Dark Wings by Tom Jolly
The Alien Emissary by Shawn Klimek
Dottie by W. T. Paterson
Full Integration by Sophie Jupillat Posey
Beyond The Spires by Frank Sawielijew
Abrama’s End Game by David Shultz
Sunbringer by Abiran Raveenthiran
The Gale At Quiet Cove by Austen Worley
Food For The Moon by Todd Zack

And  finally a new request came today for a biographical statement and picture, items not expected to be needed quite so soon.  Or as Editor Aditya Deshmukh emailed:  Please send me your bio and author photo ASAP (like today, if possible).  Sorry for such a short deadline.  I was thinking of putting together a Who’s Who booklet of accepted authors, but found a better way to do this within the anthology.

So, not to worry, these things were on hand and off they went this afternoon, with more to come here as it becomes known.

*Also, not to forget, cutting edge invertebrate biochemistry.

A short note on the Writing Life, and a “cave computer” coda.  The first is a new update on The Great Void Books UNREAL anthology, featuring my biochemical horror novelette “The Garden” (cf. March 7, et al.).  To quote Editor/Publisher Aditya Deshmukh, I’m currently formatting the first edition.  Will send it in a day or two.  Amazon listing has also been made.  It’s currently under review and should go online in next 72 hours.  (I will email again when it’s up.)  So new news should come around the weekend and, internet connections (and the struggling cave computer) holding up, will be reported here.

Then a second note, while I now have to cut and paste blog reports onto Facebook myself, they still presumably go automatically to my LinkedIn page.  I say “presumably” because, through the mysteries of technology and “older” computers, I’m unable to get onto LinkedIn myself and most likely won’t until the public library, with its current century computing equipment, reopens.  So those who may be reading this on LinkedIn, and others, an apology.  I’ve received several requests lately to join my network, but I’m unable to act on them, so if you’ve been trying to do so and I haven’t responded that’s why.  But once post-coronavirus conditions have hopefully normalized somewhat, please just send LinkedIn a new request then.

(Though she’ll be drinking her green beer at home.)

Monday’s local newspaper headline:  IU Classes to be Virtual Rest of Semester.  So over the weekend Indiana University has added about a month to the shutdown, from previously the first week of April (that is, I’m not all that up on the academic schedule, but I believe spring semester normally ends in early May).  I don’t know if this means non-classroom activities won’t reopen until May either, but some things like ongoing experiments in laboratories would presumably at least be open to individuals involved.  Then on TV this morning the President was saying the whole coronavirus pandemic as such may last to July or August, though that doesn’t necessarily mean things would be closed (if at all) that long.  And the County Library — I did look this up — is still saying they will tentatively reopen on April 6.

So hopefully that will be the worst.  With students not coming back from spring break (with its opportunities for out-of-town infections) Bloomington is probably about as “safe” as anywhere in the US.  One meeting I wanted to go to downtown still went on on schedule though with a lower-than-usual attendance, which I expected.  But the trip downtown, usually about a twenty minute walk, was a little bit eerie.  My normal route takes me through the center of the IU campus and, granted that it has “officially” started spring break, I saw only four people as I passed through.  Discovering that I’d left home a bit early I also stopped in the student union which was still open, where I saw only one other person, and one of the restaurants there that I passed also seemed to be open (menus displayed outside by the entrance) though I didn’t notice anyone inside.  Then moving on downtown, I only saw four or five more people on the streets, although passing the closed public library I saw some people had taken advantage of its now-uncrowded parking lot.

Then on the way back, I went a bit out of my way to pick up some things at the supermarket I usually shop at, finding it more crowded than might have been normal, but got the things I wanted with no trouble — some vegetables, bagels, a package of frozen meatballs, a few other items.  I did pass the toilet paper section though and the shelves there did appear to be empty.

Saturday the 14th.  A bit of history:  as a result of the coronavirus, Indiana University had decided that following spring break, technically beginning tomorow for a week, classes would be only taught online for two weeks more, or in effect the University would remain closed until Monday, April 6, the notion being to allow self-quarantining if needed for students returning, e.g., from overseas.  Other things followed.  Non-classroom functions would be curtailed too — no more IU Cinema movies for me for the rest of the month!  Local schools also, with their own spring breaks on similar schedules, would be closed for the same time, and non-vital local government meetings would be postponed.  And then, for me, the hoped-against drop of the Friday the 13th shoe:  the Monroe County Public Library would also be closed until April 6th.

The problem is I do most of my internet work at the library, the Computer Cave equipment (including the World’s Second Slowest Computer on which I’m composing this post now) being too old and underpowered to cope well with much of what must be done.  It can do some things — and actual new writing that I do is done offline, for which it works fine — so I won’t be completely out of touch with the world outside, but it can have troubles with certain downloads, for instance, or, more to the point, is not at its best dealing with things like Facebook.  Or blogs like this either.

So, bottom line, my own activity may be curtailed for the rest of the month — or possibly more if emergency measures have to be extended.  That most likely means fewer blog posts, and those I do post sometimes not being quite as up-to-date as I might prefer, to some extent due to my not getting new messages at this end as quickly as I might like — not to mention not being able to send work out as easily to publishers, et al.  So I’ll still be around, but possibly a bit more hermit-like than I’d want.  And on the good side, not being in places like public libraries, where already infected people may lurk, might have an effect in keeping me healthy (I being old enough to be in an at-risk demographic).

But then who said the Writing Life would be easy?

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