Archive for the ‘Lagniappes’ Category

“Ballet of the Dolls,” we may recall (see May 4, 2, et al.), is now up on Tell-Tale Press’s NABU CARNEVALE promotional site.  Or to put it in the publisher’s own words:  THERE ARE EVEN MORE FREE ONLINE STORIES FOR NABU CARNEVALE!  This story is a beautiful dark fantasy piece by James Dorr.  James has provided us with his wonderful work before; his story “The Bala Worm” appeared in THE BLOOD TOMES VOLUME 2:  CREATURES, NOVELETTES EDITION .  This time, his engaging and haunting piece from the FANTASY LIBRARY, “Ballet of the Dolls,” fits perfectly within the NABU CARNEVALE theme.  We’re always happy to have James’s work in our books and libraries!

Artwork is by Ruslana Golub from the Ukraine.

Artwork too?  The story, “Ballet of the Dolls,” was first published in 2004 in the Lone Wolf CD ROM, CARNIVAL, as well as in print in my 2007 collection DARKER LOVES (see center column), and is about an ambitious young woman, needlework, and birds in a sideshow setting — plus a bit of not-so-nice seduction.  The artwork, along with a link to the story, can be seen on FaceBook by pressing here, or just for the story — it’s free! — press here.

Another stroll down Memory Lane (see November 30, 2019):  The guidelines said it.  “We’re looking for nursery rhymes, poetry, and stories that can be read and enjoyed by children of all ages.  There is no lower word limit on poems or nursery rhymes.”  Mine, however, would be a story, “Snow,” a 2000-word riff (more or less) on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”  An evil queen, a stepdaughter in training, height-challenged jewel miners.  The book in question, to be published by B Cubed Press:  ALTERNATIVE BEDTIME READING FOR PROGRESSIVE PARENTS.  Thus the story accepted; a contract signed (a drawn-out process involving coronavirus-related computer limitations, but so it goes, eh?); yesterday, Sunday, evening brought the edited copy of “Snow” from the publisher for my approval.  Then, following a lateish night read, I added in a few small corrections and back it went.

So despite the troubles of the world around us, the writing life continues as always.  Contracts. . . .  Approvals. . . .  The slow grind of publishing, but this book, I think, will be well worth the wait.  More to appear here as it becomes known.

Also for a shorter look-back, the promised preview of stories for Tell-Tale Press’s NABU CARNEVALE promotion (see May 2, below) has now gone live in the Press’s “Library,” for which one may press here.  Scroll down to the Fantasy section, the first section listed, and press to find mine, a dark fantasy titled “Ballet of the Dolls,” where it will be the second of four stories.

Once again the third Sunday of the month and time again for the Bloomington Writers Guild “Third Sunday Write” (see November 18, et al.).  These are sessions where a bunch of us will be given prompts, assignments, whatever for timed (short) writing sessions, sometimes resulting in usable ideas for subsequent stories or poems, otherwise possibly only for fun.  But one never knows, my most recent story for instance came out of just a portion of a long past exercise, combined with some quite unrelated ideas — or at least until they became parts of the story.  But mostly . . . well . . . this time one cue was to make a list of things done every day — in my case I picked things I did every morning.  Then we were to pick just one item, but draw it out into a set of instructions (so others, presumably, could do it too?)

So we ran out of time fast (in fact, I had to complete my last half-sentence in “overtime”), but here’s my contribution:

“FEEDING THE CAT

“1.  It is important, first, to avoid stepping on the cat — the cat’s breakfast should be a full and enjoyable experience for all involved.

“2.  So, deftly avoiding the cat’s extremities, reach down and pick up her water dish.  CAREFUL, DON’T SPILL IT!

“3.  The Water Dish:  Empty it first into the sink, then run water in it to wash it out — use fingers, if needed, to capture soggy bits of food the cat may have dropped in it.

“4.  Then fill it with fresh water just over half full, and bend down again carefully placing it gently on the newspaper that serves as the cat’s place mat, being careful, again, not to let it spill when the curious and/or hunger-crazed cat tries to head-butt it out of your hand. . . . ”

(Perhaps next month we’ll learn that the other bowl is used for dry food, along with the extra challenges that may bring.)

Except he’s been demoted to just any “Prisoner” and beware of Episode 40 that went up today too.  In fact, timewise, #40 showed up in my email before the real McCoy, #39.  Such are the mysteries that roam the Interwebs.  Nevertheless the one titled “Prisoner,” née “The Third Prisoner,” originally published in LVWonline.org (as Honorable Mention, Ligonier Valley Writers 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, “Zombie Stories”, November 2008) as well as in Brazil in I ANTOLOGIA LUSIADAS (in Portuguese as “O Terceiro Prisioneiro,” Ediciones Lusiadas, 2009), along with a few other places in English, is now up with its slightly shortened title in FLASH IN A FLASH, EPISODE 39.  If you’re a subscriber, just plunk your email announcing the fact (cf. January 20, 14, et al.).

But if you’re not, there may still be time, and subscriptions to FLASH IN A FLASH are free. To try it out, press here.  Or if you prefer, I understand episodes are eventually gathered up for a future FLASH IN A FLASH anthology — except that that one probably won’t be free (of which more will be here when/if it becomes known).

Just a quick reminder, if schedules hold up my “The Third Prisoner” should be tomorrow’s FLASH IN A FLASH feature (cf. January 14).  But to read it one must subscribe (it’s free — for two stories a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays!) which one is invited to do by pressing here.

Well, what a coincidence!  Wednesday I posted about an anthology, FORBIDDEN!  TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION, that had been delayed but was now finally released.  A collection, one might surmise, that might include musings on political topics, real or imagined.  Perhaps even a bit of political satire which, by its nature, would likely displease at least some of its potential readers.

So fast forward two days, and a here-and-now piece of satire, a tale I was hesitant to send out at first but at last took a chance on, a reflection of fast-moving current events — has someone just been impeached for some reason?  But not the ones described in this story! — a 1000-word flash piece called “Steel Slats” has just gone live on the prestigious and relatively high-circulation (and free!) DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (see August 23, 17; also April 21 2015, et al.).  A little bit of “if this goes on” one might say, but SteelSlatshopefully, too, with a touch of humor.

To back up a moment, I’ll quote from myself, from the email I’d sent submitting “Steel Slats” and which also appears now on DAILY SF:  There’s a certain class of stories I think of as “the devil made me do it” stories, when the news of the day starts sounding so wacky it seems to demand some kind of response.  This is one of those stories.  To read it for yourself — and remember, it’s free! — press here.

Usually I don’t report on the Bloomington Writers Guild “Third Sunday Write” (though sometimes I do, cf. April 15, et al.); they either end up in ideas that translate into stories, in which case it might come up if/when one sells, or otherwise it’s just an exercise, good for me in crafting first-draft poetry or maybe an essay, but more a personal thing than anything worth sharing.  These are sessions in which a facilitator offers prompts or other bits of inspiration for the rest of us to craft into . . . well, something.  At worst still putting words on paper (last month’s, for instance, on ekphrastic writing based on Renoir’s painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party” produced scenes — from at least four of us, each more hilarious than the last — focusing in on a little lap dog fawned on by its mistress at the foreground table.  But you had to be there).

But occasionally it might spawn an essay that, if not usable in itself, might at least still be fun to share.  And so, yesterday afternoon, after some warmup exercises with lists, came this (based on the item “Cat Treats” on one for grocery shopping):

“Well, first there was Wednesday — the first that I think of — whose favorite plaything was her spider collection.  Black plastic spiders with rings attached for wearing on Halloween, but between that and eight legs lots of things for claws to catch, tossing the toy up into the air, it then falling crazily, bouncing who knows where, to pounce on again.

“There were the crickets, too, but these were live ones that came up from the basement, but the problem was they didn’t last long, generally going limp after the first or second toss.  So plastic was far superior for her.

“Wednesday has passed on by now though, possibly to a home in the sky where the crickets last longer, or even the spiders which would themselves lose legs eventually under the pressure of fangs and claws.

“The new cat, Triana, however is more of a practical cat.  She enjoys the crickets, but her trick is that when they’re no longer good for play she eats them.  Thus she will exercise, building an appetite, but then instantly sate it.”

So the lesson may be that timed, instantaneous writing exercises are conducive to run-on sentences (the above is presented without being edited).  Or, for what it’s worth, two others at this session also presented essays at least in part concerning cats.

This was the deal.  This month’s theme is Travel Horror, so any stories taking place on planes, trains, boats and goats.  Or any other medium of travel you can think of.  The prize includes a $20 token payment, publication in an upcoming SHALLOW WATERS anthology, and an Author Spotlight on the Crystal Lake Patreon page and newsletter.  Patreon supporters would vote on these stories, thirteen in all as it turns out (see September 25, below), with mine being last to be posted.  Lucky number thirteen!  And now its time has come.

The story in question is “Midnight Sun,” the tale of a Los Angelino night nurse with a secret, and a need to journey far, far to the north.  Those interested can find it by pressing here, along with, I assume, the twelve that preceded it.  Even better, they can vote for it and, even if it doesn’t come first, if it gets enough support it, too, may be chosen to be in SHALLOW WATERS, Crystal Lake Publishing’s periodic flash fiction anthology.  But there is a catch:  If folks ask, they need to be a $5 Fans of Fiction tier patron, or any of the higher tiers.  Authors who want to read and vote but also want to see our author related posts will have to join the $7 or higher tiers.  If they only join the $5 Author on the Go tier, they won’t be able to read these stories.  Again, information, including how to join should the spirit so move (and, remember, vote “Midnight Sun”), may be found by pressing here.

Also Facebook brought word that ABYSS & APEX Editor Wendy S. Delmater’s “how to” book WRITING THE ENTERTAINING STORY is currently out on Kindle.  So why mention if here?  Well, I get mentioned/supply an example in a discussion about how a writer can use a few broad details to induce readers to flesh out a scene by bringing their own memories and experiences to it.  The story in question — a science fiction flash piece of almost exactly 1000 words (I’d had to cut it down from 1200!) — is called “Nanoflakes,” about a young boy in a future that includes interactive breakfasts, and was published itself in ABYSS & APEX in its Second Quarter 2006 issue.*  Information on the Kindle edition can be found here.
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*”Nanoflakes” was reprinted in UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND ANTHOLOGY (cf. September 10, May 6 2011), but also — and here’s the lagniappe! — can still be found in its original outing in the ABYSS & APEX archives by pressing here.

The Goth cat Triana, herself a lover of seafood, was given the choice of a short poem of mine to share for the occasion.  Her selection, as it happens, might be dedicated especially to southern hemisphere readers who, in places like Australia where 100 degree plus temperatures appear to be common for this February, might plan to spend Valentine’s Day at the beach.

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WET WORK

mermaid vampiress
scarlet billows greet her kiss
a sea of love

 

“Wet Work” was originally published in the Fall 2017 STAR*LINE.

His name was Crow, and she was called Rat.  Both of them were beggars in the New City, not the creative kind, jongleurs or tale-tellers, gossip-mongers or criers or news-spreaders, but rather the shabbier, desperate grubbers of others’ detritus — ghouls as it were of the wealthier precincts’ trashheaps and middens.  Petty thieves, sometimes, when courage and opportunity blessed them.  In other words, common enough to be unnoticed.

Thus starts the tale of “Crow and Rat,” but who however have not been unnoticed.  First in the UK, in the anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 28, 3, et al.), then an Honorable Mention in MYTHIC BEAST’s “Icarus” story competition (November 30 and 11), they have made their mark, not to mention in their tale itself set in the universe of the “Tombs.”  And now a culmination of sorts, the MYTHIC BEAST retelling has just gone live, joining the Icarus contest winner and several companion placements, with several more of the latter to come on a weekly basis throughout December.

For more, read their story as they themselves lived it by pressing here.




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