Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category
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 BROS. 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 one 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!
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 story) “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 Trouble?” 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.
MEET CUTE (cf. November 23), the flash fiction anthology of unexpected, eccentric, or just unusual meetings of couples, has had a few changes in scope, according to Editor Kara Landhuis. An immediate one is a change in pre-publication funding from Kickstarter to Indiegogo, deemed a better fit for a smaller publication’s actual needs. For other news, publication is tentatively planned for January for distribution in February; the funding project itself will close December 31.
As Ms. Landhuis explains, MEET CUTE was born out of a love for several things, most notably: Storytelling and connection. I wanted to create a book that celebrates human connection, and I thought there was no better way than to invite writers and illustrators to collaborate. MEET CUTE will include around 20 short stories (very short — fewer than 1000 words each) written by writers from around the world. There will also be 10-15 black and white illustrations that enrich the stories. My own entry in this is “Butterfly,” a saga of forests and fairytales — or was that insects and axes? To find out more, one will just have to buy the book, or for an inside track, check out the Indygogo crowdfunder by clicking here.
In other action, The Bloomington Writers Guild’s December business meeting and end-of-year party was Saturday afternoon. As in previous years, it ended with an open reading for about a dozen participants, my contribution (in lieu of a story which I suggested I’d save for February’s First Sunday Prose, as being perhaps a bit long for this session) was three Santa Claus poems, posing the question — especially in the case of the first two, which also appear in my collection VAMPS — do we really need Krampus?
It seemed an interesting fit even if, technically, too long. The guidelines did say poetry was to be no more than 100 lines, while my “Dreaming Saturn” was more like 170. It was also a reprint, but that would be okay, having originally been published in White Wolf’s 1994 anthology DARK DESTINY. And the venue was fascinating:
the ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, which was a period of general merrymaking and was the predecessor of Christmas.
an occasion of wild revelry.
noun: saturnalia; plural noun: saturnalias
A time of revelry and reversal, Saturnalia represents the breakdown of what has been deemed the natural order. HYPERION AND THEIA’s inaugural volume wants stories and poetry that runs the gamut of genres and turns expectations on their heads. Submit a fantastical murder-mystery set in the biggest carnival in Atlantis. Wow us with a sweeping romance in space where gods and goddesses serve their creations after a bloody war. Deadline January 31st, 2017 11:59 EST.
So, caution to the wind and all that, Saturday, December 3 I sent “Dreaming Saturn” in, apologizing for the length but hoping it still could be considered. Today, six days later, came the reply: I would be happy to include your poem in the upcoming anthology! I think it would make a great opening. Please give me a few weeks to get back to you so I can close out submissions. I would need your PayPal address and preferred digital format (ePub/mobi/PDF) in the mean time. I’ll come back with a sample contract for you to review.
And there we are, not just in the show but possibly even the opening act! For which, a merry pre-holiday to HYPERION AND THEIA Editor Olivia, and the moral: once in a while it’s worth taking a chance.
So a member of my writers group, presumably planning to write a “Krampus” story herself but declining to actually go to the local parade right here in town on Saturday night, made me this request: You might describe to me the sights, smells, sounds, etc. of the local parade. I imagine kids shrieking, music, smells of food for sale, etc. Who is it that hands out candy; was it “angels?” And the Krampuses have switches? (I read that the traditional Krampus does. I know he’s Austrian. He has relatives like Klaubeuf.) Sensing an attempt to get me to write part of her story for her, or at least do her research, and possibly in a cynical mood, I replied (after a brief snark that, re. “smells,” there would be crowds and undoubtedly body odor but it would be too cold to smell it) thusly:
I’m jaded myself, I remember the first one when you could march along the route with the Angels and Krampi yourself. But a quick rundown (oh wait, I copied the stuff from Facebook for you in my other email, it’ll tell you what to expect!), based on last year’s which would seem to be pretty much what will happen this year too, were you to go at 5, you’d probably mill around with people in the area behind the Showers Bldg (City Hall), you’d probably find a stand or a person giving out the “Naughty” and “Nice” stickers and choose the one you want to paste on your jacket (Hint: it’s considered bush league to paste on both). There may also be some food stands (or trucks, since those are “in” these days, the trucks probably parked on the street) Also some game-type things to help keep the kiddies quiet, though, half-frozen, most won’t be too noisy. As 6 p.m. works around, it’ll have gotten rather dark and someone will announce the parade will be starting and suggest you head south along Madison St. to watch it. You do, then you stand with others in the cold for awhile, then see some kind of lighted stuff (majorettes with light-up batons? Who knows) way in the distance to the south. In what seems like ages, it will finally get to where you are and move on past, Angels (giving out candy to the “nice”), Bishop Nick, maybe in the parade proper they’ll have the cart with the cage with a couple of “naughty” kids in it, maybe some other stuff, plus guys in Krampus suits. These last may or may not be holding switches or sticks but I doubt they’ll actually hit anyone — lawsuits, you know, not to mention possible criminal charges. But they will run toward children near the parade route with “Naughty” stickers yelling “Rowrrr!” And quite quickly, considering how long it seemed to take for it to get to you, it will be passed. Madison Street will seem deserted, the wind whistling, perhaps a piece or two of trash blowing along the now-empty expanse, and you’ll look around at other people looking as puzzled as you. Is that all there is? you’ll think. Then you remember what you’d read on Facebook, that there may be a sort of after thing, maybe an hour or more later, when some of the Krampuses will go around to the local bars, possibly go inside and yell “Rowrrr!” but you won’t stay around that long to find out. Nor will anyone you know remember having done so in previous years, but if you really want my experience, I usually continue south to Krogers to see if anything’s on sale (one gala year, I stopped in at the Wendy’s to use the rest room), then go home. Another year, another Krampus parade.
Now that it’s over, I can add that it’s really more fun than that, though (as sort of a one-trick pony) it’s still rather short. I only got downtown in time for the parade itself so I can’t report on pre-parade activities, but I can better define “the lighted stuff . . . way in the distance” as lighted hula hoops followed by some guys holding torches (“fire stuff” as a security guard called it, using that a means to get the audience back to the sides of the road where they belonged — clever, I call it) and, while the rustic cart of caged children of years past wasn’t there (though the parade ended with a motorized mini-vehicle with one child), the first krampuses were “forcing” chained kids to trudge behind them. Also, if anyone asks, I wore a “Nice” sticker because, as I’ve explained in the past (see December 9 2012; also December 6 2015) Nice gets you free candy (only one package this time though — maybe the angels were tightening their celestial belts) while “Naughty” gets you harassment. And anyway if you’re truly naughty who’d tell the truth?
Which brings us to Sunday and 2016’s final Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. November 7, et al.), co-sponsored and venued by Boxcar Books. Featured readers this time were Annette Oppenlander, who we’ve met before, with a talk on how her young adult ESCAPE FROM THE PAST novel trilogy was first conceived followed by an excerpt from the third volume, published just last week; award-winning documentary filmmaker, eco-journalist, etc., Kalynn Huffman Brower with an excerpt from an “ages ten and up” science fiction novel in progress plus a part of an autobiographical essay; and Andrew Hubbard who continued a non-fiction piece begun two months back on Nebraska’s Chimney Rock and its surrounding area. Then when open mike time came, with an audience still thirteen people strong (including the man asleep on the couch in back), I read fourth in a field of five (that is, followed by MC Joan Hawkins and thus, technically, not quite ending the session) with a near-future Thanksgiving set 500-word story, written for a call by THE STONESLIDE CORRECTIVE shortly after a recent election, for stories on the subject of “aftermath.”
Time will tell if it gets accepted (or comes true) and, in the meantime, since next month starts on a Sunday with Boxcar Books closed for New Year’s Day, that’s the last of the First Sunday Prose Reading series until February 5, 2017.
The end of November is getting exciting! Books received, TOMBS early-listed on Amazon, freebies for EVERYDAY STORIES II, a new story accepted, and now another. And this by a higher paying market! The word came Sunday morning, sneaking vampire-like in with the mist at 12:17 a.m., “Thanks for sending ‘The Candle and the Flame’ to DARKFUSE. I have finished my review and have decided to accept it and offer you a contract.” In fact the contract had arrived a few minutes before Editor Shane Staley’s email, but that’s the way the internet goes sometimes. Suffice to say I opened the contract later that day, signed it, and now it is back in DARKFUSE MAGAZINE’s clutches.
“The Candle and the Flame” is a steampunky, fairytaleish story of a little girl at Christmas time selling not matches, but candles. But nevertheless coming to grief in a friendless, ultra-capitalistic Victorian England. As for DARKFUSE, to go to the guidelines: Here’s what we’re looking for . . . Horror, thriller, suspense, crime, sci-fi, bizarre — anything with a dark slant. 500-2K words paid. They go on to say they will take longer stories, but the emphasis in on the short, with “The Candle and the Flame,” for instance, coming in at about 1700 words. And one more note, publication is scheduled for January 13 2017 to help start off a happy new year!
Then Sunday afternoon brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf. September 25 et al.), co-sponsored by the Monroe County Convention Center. Featured poets were Indiana University Education PhD candidate Julia Heimer Dadds with, to paraphrase, perilous poems for perilous times among others, followed by first generation Sierra Leonean-American poet and MFA candidate Yalie Kamara. No, neither read poems about vampires, and in fact the only such ones were read by me, one of eight walk-ons at open mike time in a well-attended session. But both that I read were about vampires: “Her First Time” from BLOODBOND, which we just met (see November 27, 7, et al.), and a just-written poem for the coming season, “The Vampire Before Christmas.”