Archive for April, 2020

We’re speaking of visual beauty here, as the author explains:  As humans, we are predisposed to crave beauty in our lives — you know, even in the most dire of circumstances, we seek out spring flowers, blue skies, a dazzling smile.  When it comes to film, visual excellence can enhance the story in ways we, as an audience, might not even notice upon first watch.  The lighting may shift towards a darker color palette as the plot thickens.  The fabrics and dress style of our heroine may indicate something about her character.  And then sometimes the camera is fully focused on Harley Quinn’s breakfast sandwich cooking on a bodega griddle and it’s just gorgeous.  We can’t explain why, but it is.  But all of these elements combine to take us out of the real world.  And in this real world of coronavirus and global pandemic — from which any of us may crave a brief respite — the author adds that any and all of these may be streamed on the device of your choice right now.

The article is “In Pursuit of Visual Escapism:  8 Beautifully Designed Films to Watch Now” by Christina Orlando via TOR.COM, and I haven’t seen the “Harley Quinn” movie, but she does mention a few that I have.  First off, for instance, Guillermo del Toro’s CRIMSON PEAK (which I, with DVDs I can watch too, just took off the stack for a possible re-screening tonight) as well as PAN’S LABYRINTH at number seven, combined with Jim Jarmusch’s ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (cf. June 26 2014) in number four spot.  So one of these, already, is about vampires, to which is added (and which I may re-watch tonight instead) BYZANTIUM at number 3.  And then there are four more, including BLADE RUNNER 2049, which from their descriptions I think I may want to add to my collection.

To see more, press here.

So we know the drill, both the amount and the particular publisher are being held back to avoid embarrassment on both sides.  Suffice to say, this time, it wouldn’t pay for even a small dessert.  Well . . . maybe a really small one.  But the point isn’t that, the point is that even during pandemic lockdowns the life continues, and that’s a good thing!

The question is raised:  At a time when speculative fiction and fact seemed to have collided, three small magazine publishers have gotten together to discuss their viewpoints on the genre and the future of publishing.  Join Scot Noel of DREAMFORGE MAGAZINE, John Linden Grant of OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY and me, Angela Yuriko Smith of SPACE AND TIME as we discuss how the pandemic is affecting publishing.  The “questioner” is PUBLISHER’S ROUNDTABLE via ANGELAYSMITH.COM, and whether or not things end up seeming as dire as one might expect, it seems appropriate for the season.  My thanks for this go to Ms. Smith via HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION on Facebook, while for the actual piece one may press here.

Let us revisit Tell-Tale Press, who we may remember for publishing my reprint novelette “The Bala Worm” in THE BLOOD TOMES VOLUME TWO, CREATURES, NOVELETTES EDITION (cf. March 2; June 11, May 23 2019, et al.).  Subsequently last September they put out a call for a “Festivals 2020 Anthology” to be titled NABU CARNEVALE and, reprints still being fair game at the time, I sent a 4400-word story, “Ballet of the Dolls,” originally published in the CD ROM anthology CARNIVAL (Lone Wolf Publications, 2004), and later in print in my second collection, DARKER LOVES.  Then things started to get a bit complicated with enough stories having come in to make the main publication a wholly original one, but with the possibility that some of the best of the reprints might still be published online as a sort of NABU CARNEVALE promotion.  So okay, why not?

Today the email arrived from Editor/Publisher Andrea Dawn:  . . . I read “Ballet of the Dolls”, which you had sent to me as a reprint.  I absolutely loved it, and I would love to publish it in the online Fantasy library to help promote NABU CARNEVALE.  Details followed, the gist of which is this and the other selected reprints will be online on May 4, but I will post them on Facebook and Instagram on specific days throughout the month, try to spread them out by genre.  I’ll have both schedules to everyone by May 3.  Mine presumably will be in the “Fantasy” section, something I had okayed before to help avoid the horror part becoming overburdened (and anyway “Ballet of the Dolls” has a sort of witch in it, and witches are fantasy creatures, yes?).

Anyway I sent back my agreement this afternoon, with more information to be reported here in early May.

It was a nice idea, to produce a group of electronic anthologies for people locked down in response to the coronavirus to read for free.  The publisher would be Black Hare Press, who we’ve met before with their LUST anthology (see February 28, 25, et al.), though these would be a bit broader in content.  To quote from the call:  WE ARE LOOKING FOR:  General horror, sci-fy and fantasy.  Any sub-genres, darkness, etc.  These anthologies will be FREE publications across all retailers, to be launched during #lockdown only.

So okay, it’s a nice idea, and even if no money for writers either, reprints were okay.  And I had a sword and sorceryish dark fantasy, “The Blade of Gudrin,” originally published in SPACE AND TIME for Spring 1993 that could be good to go.  Then today the word came back:  Thank you for your submission to FANTASY (#LOCKDOWN FREE FICTION).  We really enjoyed your story – The Blade of Gudrin – and would like to inform you that it has been accepted for inclusion in the publication.  Congratulations!  A contract came with it which, filled out and signed, went back this afternoon, with more to be here — such as when it will be published and where one can read it — as it becomes known.

As promised, SHALLOW WATERS VOL. 5:  A FLASH FICTION ANTHOLOGY is officially out on Kindle, at least for the present at only 99 cents for approximately 84 pages with 23 stories. For more one may press here.  My tale in the tote bag is called “Midnight Dark” (see April 8, March 24, et al.), officially blurbed as “A woman journeys north for survival.”  But the question is why she must travel, no?  And it’s listed fourth from last in the contents although, due to some late term editing, the title there is now slightly outdated.  So these things sometimes happen (in this case the “old” title is the one it had for the original competition).

To quote from publisher Crystal Lake:  SHALLOW WATERS is the official monthly flash fiction challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing.  Every month a new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email.  The best submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page (an exclusive behind the scenes community of readers and authors), where patrons read daily entries and vote for the winner.  What you’ll find in these SHALLOW WATERS anthologies include the winners as well as the most popular of our finalists.  Stay tuned for more volumes in this series, or find Crystal Lake Publishing on Patreon to enter or vote on future challenges (or gain access to our STILL WATER BAY series).

Volume five includes suspenseful stories of horror on the road, war, graveyards, Karma, and Halloween.

Introduction by Joe Mynhardt
“Driving On” by Guy Medley (winner)
“Dichotomy” by Jason Parent
“Babysitting for Writers” by Kevin David Anderson (winner)
“The Good Samaritan” by L.F. Falconer
“Of Debris and Duty” by John Boden
“The Visitors” by Mark Allan Gunnells
“Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave” by Richard Thomas
“The Knights of Cold Days” by Dave Jeffery
“Travel Bag” by Bryan Miller
“In the Desert, In the Night” by Pedro Iniguez
“Grievance” by Christine Lajewski
“Fuel for My Fire” by Linsey Knerl
“The Dead Lands” by Anthony D Redden
“Welcome to Gothmart” by David Bernard
“The Mascot” by Jennifer K Carstens (winner)
“Wasteland” by Sheldon Woodbury
“All’s Fair” by Michelle Mellon
“Stay Away” by Michael Patrick Hicks
“The Road Home” by Rand Eastwood
“Midnight Sun” by James Dorr
“The Wind Stakes Its Claim” by Kris Kinsella
“The Forest of Skin” by Esteban Vargas
“Second Chance” by Alex Ebenstein (winner)

So what have you been doing to while the time away during coronavirus self-quarantine?  Well . . . if one thinks about it, it was inevitable, wasn’t it?  Lockdown Porn, or perhaps better described Erotica, is already making itself manifest on Amazon.

Or as THE GUARDIAN puts it:  Who knew extreme cleanliness could be a turn on?  Ebook authors are kindling lust by rushing out tales for bored, horny, quarantined readers.  The article, brought to my attention courtesy of ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE Editor/Publisher Jason Brick (see August 28, July 9, et al.), is titled “Filth In A Time Of Handwashing:  Why Lockdown Erotica Is The Hottest Trend In Publishing,” and can be found via THE GUARDIAN.COM by pressing here.  So can Lockdown Horror be far behind?  Or does that sub-genre exist already, if one thinks about it (claustrophobia, anyone)?

Or maybe that aspect comes too close to home.

Triana does too.

Life continues, the good with the bad.  As I write this, Triana has just had her supper.  Outside there’s still coronavirus, but as one unexpected local spinoff, at least for now one can ride city buses for free (albeit on a somewhat reduced schedule, and there may be fewer places or events to ride them to).  And then — the Writing Life — today brought the contract from BLACK INFINITY for “Waxworms” (cf. April 4, et al.), my story of insects and flying saucers and strange goings on in the West Virginia hills:  Please find attached the contract for “Waxworms”.  I’m sending these contracts as word documents, which should make signing easier for contributors, I hope.  Please sign and return at your earliest convenience during the next two weeks.

The document format was easy to handle, even for The Second Slowest Computer In The World (the slowest is being used exclusively these days for off-line work), and it went back about an hour ago to BLACK INFINITY Editor Tom English.  The theme this time out is “Insidious Insects,” with the issue expected to be published around early June.

Its full title is SHALLOW WATERS VOL. 5:  A FLASH FICTION ANTHOLOGY and its Amazon description begins:  With 23 Dark Fiction & Horror tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the mystery that lies beneath.  Elsewhere it’s noted of shallow waters that that’s where “nothing stays buried.”  So what exposed treasure might I have therein (cf. March 24, October 15, et al.)?  A story of zombies, vampirism, and Christmas called “Midnight Dark.”

The theme to write on, I recall, was “travel,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean all the tales will relate to that subject — the twenty-three chosen will have come from several of these calls.  But in any event the Kindle edition of SHALLOW WATERS 5, with new story “Midnight Dark,” will be available a week from now, Wednesday, April. 15, with more information including pre-ordering to be found by pressing here.

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