Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

Let us take a quick trip down memory lane to April 25 and my coverage of the Polish mermaid film THE LURE, a Goth-rock variant of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”  Then, back to today, what should I run across courtesy of DIRGEMAG.COM but “Dark Mermaids Take Everything Men Fear and Use It Against Them” by Brenda S G Walter, including her take on “The Little Mermaid” as well as THE LURE and two other films.  In this case the “lure” (sorry) is primarily via the Andersen tale — no dwelling on mermaids’ alter lives in the siren trade, for instance, but then the payoff is still the same.  These are hungry fish-ladies.  And, music or not, the piece is interesting (and a little Freudian) and can be read by pressing here.

Then, for the writing life, Saturday after my writers group eviscerated my TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH essays (cf. May 18 just below, et al., and no, they didn’t really — I did post all three essays to the group in lieu of a story this month, for which comments, while mixed as to which one might be a given critiquer’s favorite, were generally encouraging), I continued to local restaurant-bar The Crazy Horse for a celebration and signing for Bloomington Writers Guild member and poet Nancy Chen Long’s just published book, LIGHT INTO BODIES.  To lazily quote from the invitation:  This event is a thanks-giving.  As a way of honoring, Nancy has invited Cynthia Bretheim and Beth Lodge-Rigal, two women that she credits for getting her back into poetry back in 2006, to read.  Members of Five Women Poets, a local writing group that Nancy belongs to, will also read.  In addition, two friends whose artistic-ness inspire her — Matt Allen on jazz guitar and Stephen Simms on bass — have been invited to share their music.  It also was fun, and with good snacks too, and a special feeling of kinship for me on the eve, as it were, of my own book’s release which, if not an absolute first as such, is my first novel.
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More on Nancy’s book, officially published on May 10, can be found by pressing here; more on my TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH by pressing its picture in the center column.

And here it is, the third of my TOMBS-related essays in Heidi Angell’s AN ANGELL’S LIFE OF BOOKISH GOODNESS.  This one is titled “The Ghoul-Poet” and has to do in part with the division of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH into sections based on what’s sometimes called “Five-Act Dramatic Structure,” the structure of classical plays like those of Shakespeare.  Well, that sounds pretty fancy, but then what’s a ghoul doing being a poet?  “The Ghoul-Poet” joins my previous guest posts “It Began With a Map” on March 30 and “What’s a Novel-In-Stories?” on February 9, concerning, respectively, building the world of the “Tombs” and the reasons for choosing a mosaic, or novel-in-stories format for its presentation.

So, okay, then what is a ghoul doing being a poet?  To find out, press here.  Also there are links in the essay to my first guest post, on mosaic novels, and a month before that, on January 9, Heidi’s original interview of me, as well as to Amazon’s page on TOMBS where, at least as of this writing, a bargain $9.95 pre-order price is still being offered*.  (For the second essay, however, you’ll have to scroll down to March 30 and use the link there.)

Then a quick, somewhat related note:  TEARS, TOMBS, and contributions by the Goth cat Triana?  And what about the influence of music?  Yes, an all new interview of me is in the offing, this one conducted by Gwendolyn Kiste (cf. April 18), and has now been officially scheduled for this coming Monday, May 22.  This will be part of a series of interviews I’ve given this year (cf. April 7, March 13, January 10) leading up to next month and the June 1  release date for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  So, sure, the purpose is commercial too, but there still should lurk a few fun facts (or so one might hope) about me.

See you all Monday?

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*Or one can always just press TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH’s picture in the center column.

Dragons — bad-ass dragons.  Dragons that destroy things and eat people, and the people/robots/aliens/time lords that fight them or out-smart them — or get eaten by them.  No story book dragons that live in forests helping orphans or peddling psychedelics.  My dragons eat orphans for breakfast.  Timeline and setting is wide open.  Your dragons aren’t necessarily getting stabbed by swords — but swords are welcome too.  I want dragons — awe inspiring fear provoking monsters.  They can be mechanical, mystical, steam-powered, alien, aquatic, from another dimension, or from outer space — but they must be terrifying beasts of destruction.  Here be dragons.

Now who could resist that?  Moreover, while the money offered by publisher Digital Fiction may not have been much (though there may be a royalty involved as well), HIC SUNT DRACONES is to be a reprints only anthology and, as it happened. . . .  Well, as I told them with my submission, [h]ere is the bad-ass dragon tale of “The Bala Worm,” originally published in BLACK DRAGON, WHITE DRAGON (Ricasso Press, 2008), with reprint rights in my possession.  It also appears in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013).  

It had the makings of a marriage arranged in . . . well, wherever it is that dragons arrange such things.  And so, this afternoon, the word came back from Editor Michael Wills:  Thank you for sending us “The Bala Worm”.  We think it is a great fit and would like to publish it.

And then one more detail for fellow authors who might have a dragon or two in the closet, the guidelines say the anthology may be open until the end of the month, May 31, for details on which one may press here.  But best hurry because they’ll only want thirty stories or so for about 150,000 words total and some of them (mine included) may be long.

The first anthology of Gehenna & Hinnom will be published in late-September of 2017.  It will feature only the most disturbing and horrifying body horror tales readers have ever read.

The challenge is up to you, the authors. How strange is your narrative capable of being?  How morose is your prose?  How in touch are you with the macabre?

Tentatively titled YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR in the guidelines, the call seemed tempting.  Pay was minimal but reprints along with original stories would be okay so, as has happened in the past, the muse on my shoulder whispered “Why not?”  That’s the submissions muse, mind you — the story idea muse is not nearly so gentle.  And why not indeed, I had a story originally published in MAELSTROM SPECULATIVE FICTION, in Spring 1999, and. . . .  The word came back from Editor C.P. Dunphey just four days later:  Thank you so much for considering Gehenna & Hinnom for your work, “Flesh.”  The story stands visceral and disturbing; the exact things we love in a work.  We’d love to have it included in our anthology.

As for the story, “Flesh” is a surrealistic sort of a tale in which, in that the guidelines asked for a synopsis, “a wealthy businessman has a series of bizarre dreams as a result of which he decides he should gain weight.  As he grows fatter his wealth grows as well but at the same time he withdraws progressively from ordinary society until one night his dreams come true.”  Also the anthology is listed as open until August 15 so, if interested in submitting yourself, more information can be found here.

Then one other item this afternoon via  POPULARMECHANICS.COM, or, it starts with a wedge-tailed eagle taking down a drone.  And it only gets worse from there in John Wenz’s “7 Robot Beatdowns the Machines Will Definitely Remember When They Rise Up” — would you believe roboticide in the City of Brotherly Love?  Or underage playground bullies?  Anyway, science fiction fans and writers, to better prepare for the Robot Apocalypse, please to press here.

I’ve mentioned before, I think, that TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is available for pre-order from Amazon with a discount offered  prior to a June 1 publication date.  I recently found out that Barnes & Noble is offering a similar deal — and their price may even be 15 or 20 cents cheaper!  To check it out, just press here, while for comparison the Amazon offer can be found here.  In both cases the discount is on the paperback price; electronic editions are planned too but won’t be available until later.

Also, are any readers also reviewers, and would you be interested in reviewing TOMBS?  If so, please leave a message, with email for contact, as a comment below and I’ll get back in touch (no Facebook messages though, please — they sometimes fail to be forwarded to me).

The word from Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing:  May is National Short Story Month, so we’ll be featuring 30% off all short story collections and anthologies throughout the month of May.  This includes all ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers and large print titles.  . . .  We will be redoing the homepage in the next day or two to reflect the sale.  Please note that this sale is only in The Untreed Reads Store . . .

and,

SUPER BONUS!  The short story collection that sells the most copies will earn a $50 bonus for the author.   The anthology that sells the most copies will earn a $10 bonus for each contributor.  There’s a minimum of ten copies to be sold to be eligible for the bonus.  This can be any combination of ebook or print.

So the moral is:  There is one book on the list with a story by me — the lead story, in fact, “Appointment in Time” — the anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR.  So if you’ve had a hankering to read dark stories set on New Year’s Eve (or maybe have been looking for inexpensive early Christmas gifts) this is as good a chance to buy it as any.  Just press here (and scroll way, way down to the last title on the list)

OR,

And here’s A LAST-MINUTE BONUS, click on any of the three pictures of Untreed Reads chapbooks by me in the center column, PEDS, I’M DREAMING OF A. . . , or VANITAS, to go to a page with YEAR’S END on it as well.  But also single story chapbooks, it turns out, are on sale too!  This includes a $10 bonus as well for the author of the best seller (hint!), so, if clicking on pictures is inconvenient, just go to my own Untreeds Reads page by pressing here.

IndieWire describes THE LURE as “the best goth musical about man-eating mermaids ever made.”  Not sure there is much more to say.  Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s fiendishly dark and sly modern fairytale is set in Communist-era Poland and highlights the havoc wreaked by two vampire mermaid sisters intertwined in love triangle.  In Polish with English subtitles.  Contains mature content, including violence and nudity.  (Indiana University Cinema blurb)

So what’s not to love?  Perhaps “Golden” and “Silver” aren’t precisely classical vampires, preferring to subsist on human hearts, but they do get at them by biting through people’s throats.  At least Golden does, the one truer to her roots and, as one critic notes, the seemingly smarter of the two sisters.  But LurImage220Silver’s mistake is in taking it figuratively as well, falling in love with a dance club bass guitarist, and even enduring an operation to transplant a human lower body in place of her fish tail.  In spite of the fact that Golden warns her, should the fickle musician marry another, she has to “eat him” before the next sunrise lest she turn into sea foam.
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It doesn’t end well.
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One reason:  the film is actually a version of Hans Christian’s Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” which means part of the deal is she loses her singing voice too, and she and Golden are actually sirens of the lure-sailors-to-their-destruction kind.  And as Golden explains, she doesn’t sing solo.  In fact they’ve become a striptease act of sorts at a 1980s Warsaw night club (“Want to hang out here for awhile before swimming to America?” as Golden asks Silver early on), at one point billed as Corki Dancingu, the Polish title of the film, which I understand translates to “Daughters of the Dance Club.”  Another, perhaps, that it’s really a coming of age film about two young women, but without her sister, can Golden ever get to America by herself?
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On the down side, parts of THE LURE are a little confusing and, from a bit of a conversation I overheard outside the theater, the subtitled translations may miss some beats — but then, songs are a big part of the film too (remember:  Silver and Golden are sirens).  According to the docent before the screening, the 1980s are also important, including a sort of dance hall kitsch, as reminiscent of the director’s own childhood.  Also the music, channeling such films as ALL THAT JAZZ and CABARET, or at least a little, as well as Bjork — and the music is good!  And, the docent added, the mer-sisters do NOT wear seashell bras, but that’s not the only reason for not bringing children to this one as some of the violence does turn toward the graphic (something about “strong stomachs,” I think he said).
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So . . . maybe not the best movie ever made, but a weirdly good one.  I recommend it.

Another triple play starts the week (we seem to have had a lot of these this month).  So beginning last Saturday. . . .

1.  As we already know, eco-anthology MOTHER’S REVENGE was not to be out in time for Earth Day as originally planned (see April 11, et al.).  However I did receive payment Saturday, April 22, so things are in process —  and one might add it made for a pleasant Earth Day surprise;

2.  Also in process, CREEPY CAMPFIRE QUARTERLY plans to publish instead with DEADMAN’S TOME continue apace (cf. post just below), with a new revised contract received, signed, and returned today;

3.  And, as part of the daredevil life of the writer, much of last week for me was taken up with a second, meticulous (hopefully) proofreading of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (for information on which, plus pre-order, see its picture in the center column).  Bleary-eyed, I sent in the final corrections today, only three that I could find and all very minor, so a tip of the hat this afternoon to publisher Elder Signs Press for a job well done so far!  If all else goes well, the novel should be out in paperback form on June 1, with a Kindle edition to come sometime later.

Well, sort of.  Kind of.  Hark us back to April 1 this year, where we may recall that CREEPY CAMPFIRE QUARTERLY, scheduled later this year to reprint my story “In the Octopus’s Garden” (originally published in 69 FLAVORS OF PARANOIA, March-April 1999, as well as lead story in my 2013 collection THE TEARS OF ISIS), was not going to be coming out after all.  And so that was that.  Such things do happen.

But now it seems there may be a spark in the old campfire yet.  Through the efforts of fellow CREEPY QUARTERLY author-to-be Leo X. Robertson, CREEPY CAMPFIRE, zombie-like, is once again stirring out of its grave as a possible special adoptee,  possibly in two volumes, via Jesse Dedman of DEADMAN’S TOME.  And best of all, this won’t interfere with the TALES TO TERRIFY acceptance of “In the Octopus’s Garden” also announced in April 1’s post, to publish in the latter part of 2017, since that involves audio rights alone which CREEPY CAMPFIRE will not include.

More to be announced as it becomes known, but for now a special tip of the hat to Leo and Jesse for showing that, sometimes, you can’t keep a good CREEPY project down!

Well, yes, that’s not really what “trifecta” means, not exactly, but here’s another group of three things all bunched up in one post:

1.  THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS, a prose anthology for which I sent a poem, er, “story in verse” instead (cf. February 4, January 27, et al.) has appeared in my mailbox.  Not surprisingly, my “Tit for Tat,” originally published in James Ward Kirk’s 2015 anthology GHOSTS:  REVENGE, is the only actual poem in the book, but the editors agreed with me that it seemed a perfect fit.  Further info can be found here.

2.  MOTHER’S REVENGE, briefly noted below in Saturday’s triplet re. my story “Swarms” (see April 8, et al.), looks now as though it will slip past its previously announced April 22, Earth Day release, but hopefully will be at least available for pre-order then.  More on this as it develops.

3.  To quote Editor Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing:  You may have heard that Microsoft is launching a new ebookstore.  This will be part of an upcoming Windows 10 update, and folks will be able to purchase from the MS Digital Bookstore to read on their PC, laptop or tablet devices (like the Microsoft Surface).  I’m pleased to say that thanks to some of the distribution partnerships we have in place, all Untreed Reads titles and those of our distribution clients will be available on the Microsoft platform at launch.  My books in this batch are short story chapbooks I’M DREAMING OF A. . . and VANITAS and the novelette PEDS, all three of which (along with the anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR, with my lead story “Appointment in Time”) can be found/ordered right now by pressing any one of their pictures in the center column, while more background on the new Windows 10 outlet can be found here.




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