Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

‘Tis the season and all that, so Saturday had me attending not one, but two parties, the first of which was the Bloomington Writers Guild year-end business meeting, pot luck fest, and open mike for everyone gala (see December 9 2017, et al.).  Chicken, salads, pizza, sweets.  Come reading time, my presentation was four very brief, humorous horror poems, all of which were in this Spring’s STAR*LINE: “Never Trust a Vampiress,” “She Did What?,” “The Young Transylvanian’s Guide to Dating,” and “From the Zombie Hunter’s Field Guide: Tracking the Zombie,” all of which I now discover I’d read before but nonetheless which went over well.

That was Saturday afternoon, while evening brought the local Society for Creative Anachronism annual Yule fest:  more food (ham and turkey, pulled pork, deviled eggs, more sweets) and music, the latter of which I helped provide, my recorder group playing carols for a sing along session, followed, as time in the hall ran low, by a Renaissance tune for people to dance to.  In all a pleasant end to the day, but exhausting also.


Today the Samhain 2018 issue of OKLAHOMA PAGAN QUARTERLY arrived, with my story “The Great Man” next to last (as second place winner — see October 19; September 23, 16) in a special section of top ten “Spooky Samhain Contest 2018” winners.  Or to quote Editor-in-Chief Belwoeth Harbright:  This year we have a specially curated concoction of creepy chronicles for you especially eerie individuals. . . .  Our silver honorable mentions come first; then our four finalists round out our 2018 Samhain Edition.  The contest itself had had three divisions of which I had chosen number two, “Spooky Semi-True Stories,” that is tales which are purported to be true or, at least, that the spooky element might be real, as opposed to the other two, of accounts claimed to be absolutely real (ghost encounters, etc.) and those presented as entirely fiction.

So “The Great Man,” anyhow, has to do with certain beliefs that came up during the French Revolution, about guillotining and when an executee’s brain becomes truly dead.  Is there an interval of maybe a few seconds in which one still has consciousness enough to realize that he’s been killed?

The issue actually has been out since October 1 in print-only format, but if you missed it and have a hankering to check out the fuss, just press here.  You get news and features on  pagan subjects plus nine great stories along with mine (well, just having received it myself, I haven’t yet read the other stories, but if they had the taste to give mine the second prize, I assume the others are good as well), which makes for a nice package of Christmas Eve reading while waiting to see if the snare you set to catch Santa this year will actually work.

The last month of the year and a new “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. November 4, et al.), presented by the Bloomington Writers Guild at the Thomas Gallery, featured local activists Bill and Glenda Breeden and long-time participant Antonia Matthew (see, e.g., May 6).  Glenda led off with three personal essays on bumper stickers, visiting prisoners, and . . . um . . . the down side of not watching one’s step around dogs.  She was followed by Tonia with a sad “fictional memoir” inspired by a writers workshop prompt, to write about a marvelous person, but with a serious defect.  Then rounding it out, Bill, who is also a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, offered two humorous memoirs about growing up as a preacher’s son in 1950s and ’60s Indiana.

After the break there were only three open mike offerings this time of which mine was second, previewing my recently sold science fiction Christmas saga “Holly Jolly” (see November 14, 6, September 7) of an alien invasion that failed (and another that didn’t), soon to be out in the Winter issue of PLANET SCUMM.

Strange on strange.  A completist, I checked out the DriveThruFiction site of yesterday’s post to see what other (if any) Untreed Reads titles of mine were available.  One can reach there from the link on that post or, a bit more directly, just press here.  Two of my chapbooks are indeed on sale as well, I’M DREAMING OF A. . . at $0.66 and PEDS at $1.01 on “pages” 5 and 7 respectively (scroll down to the end of the listed titles).  See for vanitas_SMyourself!  But, oddly, my third (and the first, I think, published with Untreed Reads), VANITAS, is not (I did look — it would have been on the last page, 12).

So then I tried the Untreed Reads site and not only is VANITAS listed there, but at its own price of $0.50, making it the best bargain of all.  Doubt me?  Press here.  So how’s that for weird (for all my chapbook titles, incidentally, as well as YEAR’S END on the Utreed Reads site, one can press any of the three chapbooks’ pictures in the center column)?

Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing has announced an all-weekend sale through Monday via DriveThruFiction, including, with other anthologies and story collections, YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR (cf. November 29 2012, et al.).  New Year’s Eve isn’t all champagne and confetti.  For some, it’s filled with regrets, the changing of the day dragging them kicking and screaming into a year for which they aren’t prepared.  This year, some people will be screaming, but they may not make it to the New Year at all.

So goes the blurb.  And opening with my own story “An Appointment in Time,” a fantasy-steampunk saga of one-time colonialism and ancient myths gone live, YEAR’S END is now reduced from a normal price of $4.99 to a bargain $3.34, in EPUB, MOBI (for Kindle), and PDF formats.  But, again, for the extended weekend only, for information on which one may press here.

So it might have been more a celebration for Halloween, first published on FILMSCHOOLREJECTS.COM on October 18, but even if just for the first three-quarters of the year (January 2018 through September), Rob Hunter’s “The Best Horror Movies of 2018 So Far” offers goodies worth a look any time of the year. And,  especially, for Thanksgiving weekend if sometimes the football games don’t thrill enough.

Well, see for yourself by pressing here!


(Triana, on the other hand, thinks she’ll just eat and eat. . . .)

Well, the bio to be of me as author, of course, with the story in question “Holly Jolly,” a saga of cosplay and STAR TREK and Christmastide elves (cf. November 6, September 27).  Not to mention the big guy himself, Santa.  But, of me, the request came today from PLANET SCUMM editor Tyler Wonanin:  Could I get your author bio? Something written in third person between 80 and 150 words would work best.  And so back it has gone at something just under 135 words.

PLANET SCUMM, incidentally, is now open for post-Christmas issue submissions for those interested.  It’s semi-pro, paying $30 plus some profit sharing for up to 3000 words — not riches, but it looks kind of fun — with guidelines available by pressing here.

Yes, it’s “Holly Jolly” (cf.  September 27), chugging along on schedule for a Christmas-ish release in the Winter 2019 issue of PLANET SCUMM.  Late yesterday I received suggested editorial changes, mostly somewhat condensing the story but keeping the plot points, which I went over today and, with a few corrections, sent back this afternoon.  “Holly Jolly,” we may recall, is the tale of a Christmas elf – or was that a cosplay “Mr. Spock”? – and the fate of planets, or at least this one.  Now all to be revealed before your eyes when the issue comes out, more on which will be posted here as it becomes known.

The way the IU Cinema docent explained it, in Mexico November 1 is for remembering departed children, November 2 for all the dead.  Not being Hispanic, I’d learned that the 1st is All Saints Day, the 2nd All Souls, but if one assumes that children die innocent these map together.  The occasion Thursday night, as I write this, was a special Dia de Meurtos (so it’s really a three-day plural “day,” also taking in October 31, All Hallows Eve) showing of the film COCO. Or, quoting the IU Cinema blurb:  Produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, COCO is a vibrant tale of family, fun and adventure, as an aspiring young musician named Miguel (newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) embarks on an extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors.  There, the charming trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) becomes an unexpected friend who helps Miguel uncover the mysteries behind his family’s stories and traditions. Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, and Edward James Olmos round-out the cast.  The film won Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, “Remember Me.”  The screening is part of IU Arts and Humanities Council’s First Thursday celebration of Day of the Dead.  And, yes, the events of the film take place on Dia de Muertos.

So I liked it.  It is fun and had good music, though as a Disney movie it also had some flaws, such as taking a visual joke that’s funny (in this case, a skeleton falling apart, then putting itself back together), repeating it while it’s still a bit funny, and then repeating it four or five times more.  Also heaping on its villain, making things worse and worse, stamping out even a hint at redemption.  But there are also bits of really good writing, one of which mentioned by the docent was the inclusion of the traditional song “La Llorona” near the end.  This is a film at heart of sadness and almost too-late reconciliation.  Also when the twelve-year-old hero requires his ancestors’ blessing — and needs it fast! — his great grandmother’s spirit first offers it if he’ll remember always to love his family (I don’t remember the exact words, but something like that — previously she had refused it unless he gave up music), then quickly changes it to “no conditions.”  It took me a moment to let that sink in, but yes, like love, a blessing that isn’t unconditional is really no more than a business deal.  And third, as it ended, I understood why the title of the film had to be “Coco,” why it couldn’t be anything else.

Technically received lateish on Halloween, though I only opened the email this morning.  But back to the call earlier this spring:  The story must address the “Oath and Iron” theme in some way.  To us, oath and iron is a reference to fairies and the treacherous bargains they make.  We’re interested in both classic and new interpretations of fairies.  We’re interested in clever, dangerous, unpredictable creatures, bargains and promises that aren’t what they seem, and bright, brave characters rising to the challenge.  We expect a fairy, faery, fae, elf, pixie, kobold, nixie, dryad, brownie, or other creature of Faerie in the story, but the role this character plays is up to you (protagonist, antagonist, contagonist, innocent bystander, etc.).  The anthology, from Spring Song Press, was to be called OATH AND IRON and would reluctantly accept a few reprints.  Also noted in the guidelines, [w]e  prefer “clean” stories and strongly prefer noblebright stories.

So “noblebright” isn’t really all that much my thing, but there was one story, originally published in DARK REGIONS MAGAZINE for Winter 1998-99 as well as reprinted in my first collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE.  The tale was called “Nixies” and had to do with wicked water sprites who collected men’s souls, including that of a charcoal burner’s husband who wanted her man back.  Noblebright enough, perhaps?

Thus the reply came from Editor C. J. Brightley, a nice top-off for the end of October:   I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you with a decision — we had many great submissions to this anthology.  I enjoyed “Nixies” and am pleased to accept it for the OATH AND IRON anthology!  We will ask for a few edits, which I will pass along to you when we’re through the copy-editing phase.  You’ll have the opportunity to approve the edits before signing the contract.

Thanks for writing a wonderful story! 🙂

More to be reported here as it becomes known.

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