Archive for the ‘Lagniappes’ Category
Sunday, the second day of a cold snap that’s finally brought November temperatures to November, also brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Third Sunday “prompt” session (cf. September 19). This is kind of fun mostly, a group of us around a table writing like mad to prompts the facilitator(s) offer, completing an essay or story or poem within a fixed time. There are usually three of these, the first yesterday involving description/analysis of a recurring dream, the second a poetry prompt from an outside source, and the third. . . .
Well, a moment on that. The third, for which we had only five minutes (the first two were fifteen minutes each), was to write a “thank you” letter. But my mind wasn’t entirely on this. It seems the cave cat Wednesday (more on whom, here depicted in kittenhood some twelve and a half years back, can be found under her name on “PAGES” at the far right) had her annual visit to the vet last week and the news wasn’t all good. She had been losing weight and, tests coming back, the reason appears to be hyperthyroidism. The good news is she can have the condition treated by eating a special *expensive* cat food, a bag of which is now on order in hopes she will like it. The bad for her is that she must eat it exclusively, which means no more cat treats (her favorite: Friskies’ “Beachside Crunch”). So anyway what came up was a cat-related “thank you” to a hypothetical sister, for the gift of a hypothetical book, with the hypothetical cat “Fluffy” standing in for Wednesday — and which, as a tip of the hat for her, I offer as a lagniappe:
Dear Sister. Thank you very much for the book you sent, 101 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CAT. Fluffy thanks you too, though she thought numbers 18 and 36 were a little rough. Her favorite, though, seems to be number 52, the one that involves catnip. I would have one complaint, however — or perhaps a warning you might include if you give copies to people in the future — for numbers 48, 77, and 82, I would strongly recommend wearing thick gloves. (Your Loving Brother)
Then back to business for Monday, today’s email included a proof copy of Popcorn Press’s LUPINE LUNES, including my Rhysling-nominated poem “Beware of the Dog” (see October 29, et al.), returned with no problems found this afternoon. “Beware of the Dog” was originally published in GRIEVOUS ANGEL, September 11 2014.
It’s a contest put on by Grey Matter Press, publishers of SPLATTERLANDS and others (cf. September 11 2015, et al.), to select a small number of flash fiction pieces to play with the big boys (“five disturbing visions from five diverse authors that include Josh Malerman, John F.D. Taff, Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone, and Joe Schwartz”) in a new anthology I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD. The prizes include publication, a copy, and a modest gift card and entries must be published in advance for the judges and others — readers who can vote for their favorites too. The stories must be inspired by the “bloody” title, be 500-700 words in length, and, the month almost over, thought I “why not?”
So think of it as a pre-Halloween lagniappe, free stories for all! Mine is about, natch, sweet lesbian vampire love (so why not?) in a 698-word bare bones version of a longer tale originally published in MON COEUR MORT (Post Mortem Press, July 2011*), “A Cup Full of Tears.” But here’s the thing, for “A Cup Full of Tears” to be published in the anthology too, it must be voted on by those who read it. A jury of sorts will look at these too, but when the smoke clears, by noon I believe on Halloween Day (the voting itself ends at 12:01 a.m. October 26), it is those with the most votes that get to move on. Voting consists of clicking a button to the right that follows each story, and leaving a comment — hopefully positive. Also, up until October 21, you can enter your own mini-story as well if you desire.
So to vote — or just read — one must press here. You will see the rules, the details of the contest, but then you must scroll down. Down and down, passing stories and comments, until you reach the sixth (6th) story. My name will be above it in blue, then the title in all caps, “A CUP FULL OF TEARS.” And should the spirit so move, the vote button is at its bottom right, labeled “Reply.”
(Or if, by now, even the idea of elections has you down, just read and enjoy.)
*See also July 28, 14, June 17 2011, below.
As fall creeps forward, despite a hot, humid, and sunny day, this afternoon marked the 2016-17 season opening “Last Sunday Poetry Reading,” sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild in conjunction with the Monroe County Convention Center (for its “First Sunday” prose analogue, see below, August 8). But this year’s started a little differently, one of two scheduled poets down with the flu, plus the convention center also hosting the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo (so that’s why those people were out in the hall wearing Imperial Storm Trooper armor! Also the R2D2 upstairs). So, while the crowd wasn’t the largest it’s ever been either, that just meant more time for the Open Mike after.
The reader who was here was Andrew Hubbard, originally from New England but now a Monroe County resident, with two poetry books published by Interactive Press in Australia, the second, THE DIVINING ROD, having come out just last week. Hubbard started by saying he’d been reading contemporary poetry that seemed overly angry to his taste, but he would begin with a happier poem. Those that followed also were generally low key, personal poems, with a quiet optimism, involving such things as “The Last Butterfly,” a rescued turtle, deer in the garden, and the poet’s daughter. Hubbard also, I understand, will be a reader at “First Sunday Prose” in October, sharing the podium with local mostly-poet Margaret Squires and . . . me (with, in my case, most likely another tale from the upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, cf. August 18, 14, 8, et al.).
Then came the unscheduled readers, including Patsy Rahn who had warned me that she would premiere a poem inspired (sort of) by me, “A Vision for James Dorr,” a poem of bones, constructions, and science fiction. As luck would have it, the next poet was me, so I started by saying it would be amusing if I now read poems about puppies and kittens, and then recited a cat haiku from memory which I’ll repeat here*:
slinking cat’s wet cough
presages hairball, but where?
foot put in shoe knows
But, anyway, I followed that with three poems on the more mundane topic of vampires, all unpublished (just written last May), “Running Its Course,” “The Vampire’s Reminder,” and “Time-Stop,” the last an impressionistic recall of a vamp’s first blood dinner.
*The poem originally was titled “WHOOPS!” (as a lookup after the fact reveals to me) and published in HAZARD CAT on August 24 2010, and appears below as a lagniappe too on March 15 2011, but why not repeat it anyway, eh? Also, following my reading, Tonia Matthews read, among other poems, an account of taking her cat to the vet.
“Join us for this generative writing workshop. You will be provided with prompts and have the opportunity to share your work.” This was a members only activity of the Bloomington Writers Guild, despite some other offerings on hiatus for the summer (but First Sunday Prose will resurface on August 7!), held at the Monroe County Library, so on a warm sunny afternoon I and seven others had a go at it. MCs were Joan Hawkins and Lisa Kwong and, following introductions plus six-word “memoirs” composed on the spot (hey, I’ll tell you mine as a mini-lagniappe: “feet smell/ nose runs/ built backwards”), we wrote what came to us in ten-minute time slots for three successive prompts. Thus for the first, on “Where I’m From,” I offered an unrepeatably bad poem glossing the four geographical areas I cite sometimes in biographical notes. So it takes me a little time to warm up. Then, second, we had to write an apology but avoiding apologetic words, in which I in effect demanded to know what’s wrong with writing horror. And then third, on “Nature” (with the idea of speaking for something that can’t speak for itself), I wrote a mini horror story in which a disgruntled forest finds a way of getting its message through.
The bottom line: (1) the story, I think, will be worth rewriting as a sort of moody flash piece. And (2) it all was fun.
Also to round out the weekend, Editor Clifford Garstang’s EVERYWHERE STORIES Facebook page (see July 13) has a new item on it, a link to Sonnet O’Dell’s last-August interview on moi (see July 5, et al.), in which I describe my then-latest book THE TEARS OF ISIS. As I pointed out in offering the URL, Sonnet’s the one who asks purposely goofy questions among the more serious ones, that add a sense of surprise and fun — which one can find by clicking here. Also, as noted below, there will be a new interview October 24 which will take up my upcoming novel-in-stories due out next spring, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.
February is Women in Horror Month, and we here at Mocha Memoirs Press love our ladies of horror! In celebration of “Ghoul Power,” MMP is hosting a February Flash Fiction contest! Flash fiction is quickly becoming popular on the eBook scene. They’re super short pieces (usually less than 1000 words) that you can read on your phone, tablet, or eReader while you’re waiting your turn at the salon, stuck in traffic, or right before bed. So here’s how it works:
The call went on to say stories had to be horror with a female point-of-view character, no more than 1000 words long, and in by a deadline of February 15. Stories would then be posted on the Mocha Memoirs Press blog on the 17th, whereupon a panel of judges would choose the ten best, with voting for readers to choose from these to start next Tuesday, February 23. There would be a prize for the best, although not a big one, but nothing was said about sending in reprints (despite the fact that someone had asked in a “comments” section) so why not? I thought. Authors “of all genders” could submit and the top ten tales would also be “featured in a promotional mini-anthology used to promote Mocha Memoirs Press.”
So I’ve been published by them before (cf. January 18 2016, October 28 2013, et al.; also November 18, 7, 4 2015) and, anyway, that which promotes them also helps promote me, so why not indeed? Off I sent a more or less 950-word story, “Flightless Rats,” originally published January 12 2015 in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG (see August 24, January 12 2015, et al.), concerning the vampiress Aimée of the “casket girls” and a date gone bad on a 19th century, gas-lit New Orleans summer night.
But worry not, she could cope.
Anyway the word came Wednesday that the initial stories are up for preview viewing, for which one may press here. “We had over twenty submissions and each one is more bone-chilling than the last!” And mine is there, one of the later ones, possibly handicapped as it is labeled “Reprint” at the top (most of the others not being so noted, a quick glance tells me, meaning either they’re all originals or some of the authors may be more candid than others).
So call it a lagniappe, a pretty good freebie which Mocha Memoirs would like you to peruse, adding that you should take note of your favorites as “the top 10 stories (chosen by our own ladies of Horror) will be up for voting next week.”
Saturday, along with the excitement of having sold “Bottles” (see post just below), brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s end-of-year combination business meeting, voting for officers, pot luck party, and open reading, for which I ran for nothing but brought orange slices for a healthy pot luck dessert. Just like “party calories” though, which do not count, so, too, healthful party food adds no nutrition, so I with everyone else went for the chocolate chip cookies. More to the literary point, however, I had brought two items for possible reading: one a Christmas story excerpt which would run about five minutes; the other three poems (one of which some people would have heard before but others wouldn’t) which could be read in less than three minutes.
The business/election part ran a bit long so I ended up taking the three-minute option, but adding that the other, a Christmas story involving a vampire and St. Nicholas, would be read “tomorrow” as a First Sunday open mike option. And so for Saturday afternoon I read the three poems, “as a sort of introduction, to show the up side of vampirism” and all from my poetry collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the jazzy “Hi-Flying,” the unlife-celebratory “Night Child,” and the exhilarating “The Aeronaut.”
Then Sunday brought December’s First Sunday Prose Reading with featured participants Shayne Laughter with “Emmonsburg,” from a collection of stories inspired by her grandfather’s writings about growing up in Indiana; speculative fiction and poetry writer Darja Malcolm-Clarke with an excerpt from a novel in progress, HIS ONE TRUE BRIDE; and Poet Eric Rensberger with “a prose thing” composed by taking an existing text, chopping it up, and reassembling it into a new story, in this case from memoirs by an early American actor, John Durang. These were followed by the open mike session where, as promised, my reading was of the latter, and larger half of “Naughty or Nice?” as published on December 21 2011 in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, concerning the vampiress Mignonette and whether she could prove to the Saint that she was sufficiently “nice” to get presents. And which, by the way, you can find out for yourself by clicking here.
And then two more items to complete the weekend. Friday I went to the opening night of a workshop production of Jean Anouilh’s version of ANTIGONE, in this case combining dance with the action and very well done. Then Saturday evening, after the party, brought a visit to the local Bloomington Krampusnacht celebration, considered one of the best these days in the United States. For various reasons this was the first I was able to get to since the initial one three years ago, for which see below, December 9 2012.
This morning’s email brought the announcement, from HOW TO TRICK THE DEVIL Editor Stephanie Buosi, that her interview of me (cf. November 10) is now up and available under the title “James Dorr, Author of Tears of Isis, talks Inspiration, and the Life of a Full Time Writer.” Well, maybe that “full time writer” requires a tad of nuance, but it’s in the interview which can be read by pressing here. Not to mention, to also find out about such lore as the attraction of “the dark,” juxtaposition of ideas, the origins of “Lobster Boy and the Hand of Satan,” and even a small lagniappe from my poetry book VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE).
Our perky French vampiress, lately of New Orleans, is at it again. Yes, Aimée, the original fille à la caissette (see April 17, 10 2014; also August 24 2015 et al.), is embroiled in a contemporary mixup of suitcases at Louis Armstrong Airport in a tale called, simply, “La Valise.” But what might she have lost in her overnight bag and, perhaps more important, what would she find in the one she picked up instead by mistake?
These and other questions (e.g., what does one do for a late supper in the French Quarter?) can now be addressed. The word came late — a mixup apparently at his end — from Editor/Publisher Lester Smith: “Reviewing my email, I find that although I’ve saved ‘La Valise’ to my ‘accepted’ folder, I may not have responded to you. . . . Thanks for the story — accepted.” The publisher is Popcorn Press and the anthology will be ZEN OF THE DEAD, hopefully, from the guidelines, to be out in ebook form Saturday, Halloween, with the print version to be published shortly thereafter.
Also, as a lagniappe, for two more stories starring Aimée check the dates in the citation above — or, more directly, “Flightless Rats” can be found here while the original “Casket Girls” is available here.