Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Some fungi, viruses and bacteria have evolved a spine-chilling way of being transmitted from one host to another. They turn their hosts into witless zombies.  Say what?  But this is the subtitle of a decidedly non-fictional article,”Real-Life Zombies that Are Stranger than Fiction” by Chris Baraniuk, published earlier this week on BBC.COM.  To quote Baraniuk further:  The zombies we know from fiction are ferocious, flesh-eating post-humans.  And while such stories have never come true, nature is full of disturbingly similar cases of zombification among plants and animals.  Sometimes the parallels are striking.  And moreover this isn’t something new.  While the “victims” thus far seem to be confined to such lower life forms as insects and spiders, at least one zombie-inducing parasite will attack frogs.

So are humans next?  I have a story, “Swarms,” coming out on Earth Day, April 22, in MOTHER’S REVENGE (Scary Dairy Press, see March 8, et al.), that takes a similar spin from possibly mutated ichneumon wasps — another insect of interest in itself.  But according to Baraniuk, some ants, at least, have been so affected for 48 million years.

Interest whetted?  Then gird your stomach and take another big swig of green beer, then check it out by pressing here.  But do so at your own risk as, to quote its author once more, [t]here is something particularly disconcerting about the idea that an animal’s behaviour could be drastically changed by an infection or parasite, but it is a phenomenon well-established in nature.

Here’s one I blundered on via Facebook’s ELDER SIGNS PRESS site, dated March 9 and touting a two-week only sale on Amazon.  Today being the 16th, I think that would mean there’s a week to go, ending March 23.  So for a happy Saint Patrick’s Day Eve, check out these deals for DARK HORIZONS (Amazon’s price is 12.95, but individual new copy offers start at $9.67 as of this writing) and STREET MAGICK (Amazon price $9.21) and, as a bonus, give the figure on STREET MAGICK’s cover a green suit and hat, and it could look a little bit like a leprechaun.

To check it all out, press here for the ELDER SIGNS PRESS Facebook site, then scroll down just a tad for the sale

“. . . give the figure a green suit and hat, and it could look a bit like a leprechaun.”

announcement with links to Amazon for both books — just under the listing for early orders for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, in fact, with its own link to Amazon should you wish to indulge while you’re at it!  My dogs in these donnybrooks are “Bottles” for STREET MAGICK, of vampiric doings in the late 1950s Boston area, complete with Cold War paranoia, and “Dark of the Moon” in DARK HORIZONS, of an international expedition to the Moon’s back side, combined with a dollop of H.P. Lovecraft and Russian myth to become dark indeed.  Also (ahem!) while the books haven’t gotten too many reviews on Amazon yet — and let this be a *hint* to readers, if you like a book you do your favorite authors a favor by sending reviews in — one review under each title (cf. “Mr. Vlesco” for the one for STREET MAGICK) singles my stories out for special mention.

Swinging into the life of the writer, two days ago the contract arrived from the “Scary Dairy Press Team” for their eco-horror anthology MOTHER’S REVENGE (see February 12, et al.).  My offering in this is a story I’m fond of, “Swarms,” originally published in Lone Wolf’s 2001 CD ROM anthology BLOODTYPE (and listed in Datlow/Windling’s THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR — ah, those were the years!) and also in my collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.  A reprint in the recycling bin, as one might have it.  But MOTHER’S REVENGE is mostly to be original fiction, as most anthologies tend to be these days, making my little tale an exception but, if I may say so, a good enough fit for the theme for (my having explained the story’s status in my cover letter) the editors to have accepted it anyway.  Only problem, the contract that came was one designed for original fiction.

What one does then, though, is fairly standard.  This was one I was to print out and send back as hard copy, so what one does is to pen in corrections, initialing each as well as signing the contract as a whole at the bottom (thus, in effect, signing the contract “as corrected,” in theory allowing the publisher then to correct the corrections if need be, then send it back, and so it goes. . . ).  In this, changing a reference from “first rights” to “one-time rights” and lining out wording having to do with no “prior publication” (since for reprints there is, by definition).  And thus yesterday it went into the mail while I emailed the publisher telling them that it was on the way as well as explaining the changes I’d made in case they might cause any problem at their end.  Then, later that evening I got an email back, Wonderful!  Thanks so much!, so apparently we’re still on the path for a hoped-for Earth Day, April 22, release.

For Mardi Gras or, more to the point, this was a six-month royalty for the last half of 2016 and one pretty generous as these things go.  But — how to say it? — perhaps more than one thing has been disappointing about the nether partindexs of the past year.  As the editor/publisher herself put it (as is my custom, to avoid embarrassment on both sides the actual publisher/book[s] will remain anonymous), [w]e hope it rebounds in 2017, and are redoubling our promotional efforts to that end.  Unless you object, we will simply hold your royalty over through this royalty period in the hopes that it grows substantial enough to pay you at the end of the summer.  And fair enough, say I.  Actually this one would buy a small meal at a discount restaurant, but why not let it slide for now and maybe, by Labor Day, have enough for dessert as well!

Laissez les bon temps rouler, eh?

As we may know, the goth cat Triana, a.k.a. The Cat Formerly Known As Lucy Lu, takes her name from Triana Orpheus, the daughter of Dr. Byron Orpheus, necromancer and neighbor of Dr. “Rusty” Venture in THE VENTURE triana1BROS. cartoon series (see February 2).  But what more do we know of Triana’s namesake?  Fortunately we can find Ms Orpheus listed in “Goth Girls of Cartoons” by Miss Haps, on POPGOTHICA.BLOGSPOT.COM, among other goth ladies of ink and pigment translated to film and TV.  Many more, in fact — one must scroll down and down to the section “Extra Shadows” to find Triana herself.  And, yes, some of us may seem to have too much time on our hands on occasion.

But you know you’re curious yourself, so press here.

And it’s not really new either, only missing but now restored as a Valentine’s Day extra.  VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) is a book of poetry about vampires and things vampiric, sexy, deadly, and by moi.  This is the White Cat edition which should eventually be updated, with new cover, etc., but the upgrade has been taking some time and no need to not buy the book now if vampscover001one wishes.  In print it only costs $7.00 (plus probably postage, but still a good price for a small love token for that special person) and even less in a PDF version.  Just click  its picture in the center column.

It isn’t listed on Amazon either in this edition, but probably will be when the new one comes out, although I believe print copies of this one can also be purchased through Alban Lake (for which one can press here).

Or, on this page with its link to White Cat Publishing (plus option for PDF), scroll down the center column, through books and chapbooks, to find an all-new category for Poetry.  And there it will be!

And why not, a little freebie for Valentine’s Day, in this case a portrait of Gloria Holden as DRACULA’S DAUGHTER, combined with a brief poem describing a scene that’s not in the movie.  Or in any vampire movie I’ve seen, come to think of it.

draculasdaughter

THE VAMPIRESS’S EMBARRASSMENT

she loved blood
but she hated the clots, when she laughed
and they came out her nose

The Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. December 4, et al.) was not held last month on Sunday, January 1, since it was a holiday — meaning, among other things, that co-host and venue Boxcar Books wouldn’t be open — so this year’s “first First” was on Superbowl Sunday, February 5.  The featured readers were Writers Guild founding member and chairperson emerita Patsy Rahn who, while primarily a poet, read a selection of essays and observations, followed by retired Indiana University Astronomy professor Richard H. Durisen with a science fiction short story having to do with transforming karma between two people, and why it might at some future time be both physically possible and confusing.  With about nine people attending, a bit under par but also competing with a rare sunny and not-too-cold afternoon, I batted fourth in a field of six readers with a tale I’d postponed from 2016’s business meeting and Christmas party (see December 11), “The Christmas Cat,” a Victorian fantasy of Ebenezer Scrooge, kittens, and (as I put it in introducing the storytriaba2b4001) “intimations of gastric distress.”

Then of non-Christmas cats, Sunday evening I also took some more pictures of the goth cat Triana, star of yesterday’s photo feature — mostly during commercial breaks during the game.  Quite the fourth quarter that!  One of these actually turned out rather well, and so here it is.  I especially like that the white blaze above her eyes appears with a little more prominence (that is, it can be seen in three of the shots posted yesterday but subdued enough that they look like they could be defects in the photos, while actually it’s a distinctive feature).  However, since her eyes are closed in this one too (i.e., as well as the larger one just below), we will still have to wait before we can gaze into their gold/brown glory (and possibly for a long time since computer caves have naturally dim lighting, not to mention the quality of the camera).

One final note for 2016, DISTURBED DIGEST (see December 6) arrived New Year’s Eve with my poem “Zombie Trouyearsedd2ble?” in it.  Also Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing has announced a special sale through Saturday, January 7, via DriveThruFiction for their New Year’s Eve-themed anthology, YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR (cf. March 19, et al.), with my lead-off story “Appointment in Time.”  The sale, which reduces the price from $4.99 to $2.99, is only available on DriveThruFiction and must be reached through a special, one-week-only link, for which press here.

So we’ve all met Krampus (cf December 4, et al.), but for real Christmas carnage, what about Krampie’s big brothers (and sisters)?  This comes to us via BLOODY-DISGUSTING.COM by Trace Thurman, “5 Absolutely Terrifying Christmas Legends!,” for which press here.

knecht-ruprecht
And to all a good night. . . .




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