Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

If you’re familiar with Smart Rhino’s anthologies (and we certainly hope you are!), you may remember his stories “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” in UNCOMMON ASSASSINS, and “Labyrinth” in INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS.  His story “Golden Age” will be published in ZIPPERED FLESH 3, now in production.  So marks the start of Monday’s outing of Smart Rhino Press Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge’s blog, BULLETS AND BUTTERFLIES.  Here you will find things concerning my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS and the lure of short stories, as well as my upcoming novel TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, though of the latter the publication date is now set for June (i.e. rather than “spring,” which only means things sometimes get out of date; also the poet Allan Poe may be better known as Edgar Allan, but typos can happen too).  Also the blog itself  may seem familiar, having also been published in Smart Rhino Publications’s own January NEWSLETTER (see January 18).  But as Weldon himself says on his Facebook page:  Just posted my interview with Bram Stoker nominee (and frequent writer for Smart Rhino Publications) James Dorr.  His story “Golden Age,” will appear in the upcoming ZIPPERED FLESH 3.  He has some great advice for writers from his own experience.  So maybe it will be worth reading anew.

Or in any event for those new to this blog it can be found here.

The announcement, from Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge, was brief:  All of the Smart Rhino books are currently on sale at Smashwords, most at 50% off.  The sale is until March 11, so grab them while you can.  Just search for the individual titles.  But the finding them may possibly not be quite so simple as it may seem (hint:  for some, you may have to toggle the “adult” switch ON).  For mine, press here, but — remember — then toggle the words “Adult Content” at the top right to be sure it’s on (a check mark is good, circle with a slash through it is bad).  Then scroll down past THE GOOD FIGHT 3:  SIDEKICKS for the ones I’insidiousassassinsm in, and ignore PRESIDENTIAL PULP plus the history one at the very end.  These are all anthologies or magazines with stories by me in them, whether or not they may be on sale, with the Smart Rhino ones being INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS and UNCOMMON ASSASSINS (this latter, I think, toward the very end).  But linger a bit, perhaps there are others that you may like too.  Or  if in a hurry, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS can be found here and INSIDIOUS here (the “Adult” switch pre-set), with my stories in each being “The Wellmasters Daughter” (see August 16 2012, et al.) and “Labyrinth (see January 23 2015, et al.) respectively.

In other news, we had another pleasant, sunny afternoon for this month’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and Boxcar Books.  And for two hours, we had a good crowd as these things go, with about eighteen people (fourteen of who persisted through open mike afterward) for featured readers Eric Rensberger, with a contemplative essay on books and dust; Joan Hawkins, standing in for advertised reader Jenny Kander who couldn’t make it due to illness, with a memoir of 1974 Prague under Soviet occupation; and bestselling “rural noir” fiction writer Bonnie Jo Campbell with two short shorts from her MOTHERS, TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS collection, an excerpt from the title story, and the opening paragraph of her novel ONCE UPON A RIVER.  Then after the break (with lovely cookies), mindful of Mardi Gras having been less than a week before, I ended a walk-on session of some five readers with a New Orleans set “Casket Girls” story, “Death and the Vampire,” in which the flavor of Death is found to be, if not the best, at least not bad.

This just in from Editor Cliff Gerstang, that EVERYWHERE STORIES:  SHORT FICTION FROM A SMALL PLANET, VOLUME II (cf. November 27, September 29, et al.) can now be obtained in a Kindle edition.  One need but press here.  But for those new to this blog (or perhaps short of memory), let us now take a trip on the Wayback Machine to July 25 2016everywhere-stories-vol-ii, quoting from publisher Press 53:  With a theme of “It’s a Mysterious World,” this exciting addition to the EVERYWHERE STORIES series, edited by award-winning author Clifford Garstang, takes readers on a journey around the globe:  to a wrestling match in Turkey, to a mysterious eye doctor in Guatelmala, to a homeless man wandering the streets of Chicago, to a religious school in Samoa, to a drowning in Mexico, to a fortune-telling monk in Korea, to a miraculous hotel in Egypt, and to more stories in countries on every continent.

Yes, that EVERYWHERE STORIES, VOLUME II, originally published in good ol’ print in the days of yore on September 26.  So these things take time, sometimes.  My tale in this one is “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” of crime and family life gone sour in the Sahara Desert, originally told in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, November 1991, and also reprinted in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (for more information, click its pic in the center column).  Or for the print version of EVERYWHERE STORIES, VOL II, us dead tree buffs can still press here.

Yes, a raise of the glass to Edgar Allan Poe, “who started it all,” January 19 1809 – October 7 1849 — and see, as well, my interview by Weldon Burge linked in the post just below, start-poecoat1ing quite by coincidence with a quotation from Poe.  Go ahead, take a quick look — I’ll wait!  Okay, and now to the business of . . . well, actually late yesterday, but posted today.

Wednesday afternoon’s email brought, from Bards and Sages Publishing’s Julie Ann Dawson:  When we launched THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES last August, we knew it was a bit of an experiment. We really didn’t know how readers would respond to the project. I’m pleased to say that the response has been wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that three of the stories placed very well in this year’s Preditors & Editors Reader Poll.

Chamber Music By Peter A. Balaskas earned 2nd place in the non-genre short story category
Raising Mary:  Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall earned 5th place in the horror short story category
By Force and Against the King’s Peace by James Dorr earned 11th place in the fantasy and sci-fi short story category

But the email goes on to say [t]he one question I keep getting asked, however, is “When will the print be available?”  A great many of our readers still prefer print (I know, shocking!).  Of course, individually, each story is too short to justify publishing as a single book.  But as an anthology, it would be perfect.

Which is why I would like to invite each of you to participate in THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES, Volume I.  This will anthologize all of the stories published in the first year of the project.  We would love to bring your stories to print and, potentially, audio formats. . . . 51hxoyeaatl

Then follow some details, plus an attached agreement which went in the mail today with my okay.  And, let’s not forget the neat Preditors and Editors news, not just for me but a huge shout out for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES itself!  This, we may remember (see, e.g., November 18, 2, October 3 2016, et al.), is a continuing series of electronic chapbooks for stories from 5,000 to 20,000 words long, both new and reprints (“By Force and Against the King’s Peace” is the latter, originally published in the December 1999 ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), awkwardly long for some electronic markets but too short for novels.  A little more money would change hands too for the print anthology, which is always a sweetener for the writers, and since, judging from the Preditors and Editors standings, the stories themselves seem to be top drawer, some at least of them, it should be a good deal for readers as well.

Also,  for another quick “The Writing Life” extra, here’s a note from A Murder of Storytellers on my story-poem “Tit for Tat.”  James,  Wanted to let you know that I looked over this piece and saw no need for editing.  So, unless you’ve got a burning desire to fix something, it’s good to go.  What it’s going to is their upcoming THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 16).  And an editor’s pass with no changes at all is always good news for a writer to receive.

Another interview lurks in our future.  Completed just now, this one was rather a quickie as well, the contact coming from Smart Rhino Publications Editor Weldon Burge just last week:  James, would you be open to a short interview for the January Smart Rhino newsletter?  It would only be three or four questions, short and sweet.  But I’d need a pretty fast turnaround, if possible.  Please let me know.  Thanks!  My connection here is having stories in two Smart 463_zippered_cvr_3Rhino anthologies thus far, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS and INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, and in a third to be coming out soon, ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. September 9, et al.).  So, “sure,” I sent back, and we set things up to be done this weekend.

More, such as a tentative date, will be noted here when it is known, but I will say now that, while short, it’s one of the heavier ones I’ve done in terms of writing and writing theory, even including a quote from Poe from his essay “The Poetic Principle.”  Why that essay?  Because I think Poe intended it to apply to fiction in prose as well, perhaps then explaining his own predilection for the short story form, and hence, by extension, mine.  This is for a question having to do with my own short story collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS.  But then, from there, a question on TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH brings up a discussion of form, in addition to content, and novels-in-stories or “mosiac” novels (see also, October 20), and why that form might be chosen over traditional narrative for telling certain kinds of stories.  And also, why the mosiac form might answer Poe’s dictum that effective “poetic” writing be kept short.

And there is something new under the sun to ring in December 2016.  TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH has been added to the portrait gallery in the center column, just to our right.  It is still scheduled for publication next year in June, but the link will take you to Amazon’s listing for pre-order, if desired, and which also contains the notorious James C. Simpson substitute biography instead of mine (cf. below, November 14, 4).  Well, we’re working on that one.  Also, as time goes on and some people may have a chance to have seen pre-publication copies, perhaps a few will be moved to offer early reviews there as well.

Also I’ve made another change in the center column, just below TOMBS.  If you click on the picture of THE TEARS OF ISIS it will now take you to Amazon’s listing for it, partly to bring it into conformance with most of the other books’ links, but also (*speaking of reviews*) to allow those who might wish to see them some thirteen other readers’ opinions.  (WARNING:  one or two didn’t care for the book!)  Just click on the picture, then scroll down and, if you like what you see (with the exception of the just aforementioned “one or two”), well this is one you can order for delivery right now!

Two more tomes have been added to the computer cave bookshelf, found in the mailbox Saturday evening.  The first of these is STREET MAGICK:  TALES OF URBAN FANTASY (see September 28, January 2, et al.)  with, I’m happy to say, James C. Simpson’s and my biographies in the “About the Authors” section properly placed with our respective namesstreet-magick2-194x300 (cf. November 14).  My story in this, number two in the lineup, is “Bottles,” a mystery/horror first published in CROSSINGS (Double Dragon 2004) and which also appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS, more on which can be found by clicking its picture in the center column, a tale of a Puerto Rican domestic caught in the midst of Cold War conniving and . . . vampires.  Then the second, BLOODBOND from Alban Lake Publishing, has a new poem, “Her First Time,” concerning the thrill of a young vampiress just learning her trade.  More on STREET MAGICK can be found by pressing here; BLOODBOND by pressing here.

Then, received today, EVERYWHERE STORIES, VOLUME II is being given away on Goodreads, or two copies anyway.  From the horse’s mouth:  Enter Everywhere_Stories_Vol_IIfor a chance to win a copy of Everywhere Stories:  Short Fiction from a Small Planet, Volume II.  Twenty stories by twenty authors set in twenty countries.  Discover why we say “It’s a Mysterious World!”  My story in this one is “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” (cf. September 29, 18, et al.), originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S and having to do with Saharan desert life in Mali.  The giveaway has started today and will last until Christmas Eve, December 24, for more on which one may press here.

This year, we launched a new initiative called THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES.  To celebrate we’re adding the “Misfits” to our Reader’s Choice poll.  Such was the beginning of November 2’s post announcing that my story “By Force and Against the King’s Peace,” late of ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE for December 1999, appeared to have been voted favorite “misfit story” this year by a fair landslide, though no real announcement had been made.  Well, as of this week it’s official, for more of which one may press here (and, reflecting the relative importance vis a vis their other category winners — hey, they did say it’s for “misfit stories” — scroll down, and down. . . .  But as a bonus, you’ll find a link to Bards and Sages Publishing’s MISFIT STORIES page as well, where you can even buy a copy of “By Force” for yourself).  As for the prize, well, that’s still unsure (though these days simply being honored for anything is, in itself, something), but more will be posted here as it becomes known.

Then, moving on down to October 22, in a post announcing the up and coming Sonnet O’Dell pre-Halloween interview in DUSTY PAGES you may have noticed this buried toward the end:   In the meantime, alas, one of the local cave computers died last night, the one that takes care of bloggie business here, so I probably won’t be able to post until Monday afternoon, EDT, on a library computer.  Whatever works, yes?  And indeed for the next several weeks these posts were coming to you from the Computer Annex, a.k.a.The Monroe County Public Library.  But now, a consultation with a local computer repair guy having suggested the afflicted instrument would do best to receive a peaceful interment, an all new reconditioned machine discovered on eBay is now up, running, and equipped with the appropriate software, and is bringing you this very post.  The same basic model as the one it replaces but of a slightly more recent sub-vintage, it seems to be working well and, if anything, may be slightly more sprightly than its predecessor.

Let’s wish it a long life!

This year, we launched a new initiative called The Society of Misfit Stories.  To celebrate we’re adding the “Misfits” to our Reader’s Choice poll.  Let us know which story you have enjoyed the most so far.  Each story is only 99 cents and they are also available as part of your KindleUnlimited subscription.  This was the announcement from Bards and Sages Publishing as part of their annual Reader”s Choice poll.  This year, however, we are changing things up.  You will still select your favorite stories from each issue, but now the Author of the Year selections also include authors published in our GREAT TOMES series and THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES!  You can also vote for your favorite “Misfit” that we have published so far!  But the thing was, while I’m not sure they follo51hxoyeaatlwed through on the others, a quick check of the “Misfit” voting showed that my entry in the stand-alone electronic chapbook series, BY FORCE AND AGAINST THE KING’S PEACE (see October 3, et al.), was running in first place!

And now polls have closed and, while I’ve not received an official announcement yet, the totals on the voting pages show BY FORCE to have won in the “Misfits Division,” if one may call it that, with 56 percent of the final vote!  Or, to see for yourself, press here.

BY FORCE AND AGAINST THE KING’S PEACE, incidentally, is a reprint, originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE in December 1999, a tale of mystery and courtroom drama concerning a peasant’s plea for redress against a wayward wizard.  As for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES (cf. July 6, June 23), the general idea is to provide a place for longer stories, from about 5,000 to 20,000 words (BY FORCE is about 9800 words), to provide a loving home for those misfit tales that are too long for most periodicals but too short for print.  So it looks like it may be printed yet again, or at least so has said the polling information, that [w]inning stories and authors will be invited to have their work republished in next year’s BARDIC TALES AND SAGE ADVICE anthology.  But if you want to read it right away, you can also press here.

But let us start Thursday with something I was not in, but attended.  Thursday night offered an, as it were, otherworldly start to the Halloween weekend with a 100-year commemoration of Cabaret Voltaire.  Say what?  In the sponsors’ words:  On 5 February 1916, in the back room of a small bar in Zurich, a group of artists launched a nightclub which changed the course of modern art.  Cabaret Voltaire was the home of Dada, a movement that revolutionized European culture and led to seismic global shifts in art, literature, music, film.  Like Punk, Dada survives as an attitude, a rejection of aesthetic convention and authority.  A hundred years later, The Burroughs Century Ltd. and the Wounded Galaxies Festival are creating a dracula1958-melissastriblingandchristopherlee-50one-night-only homage:  a feast of the senseless.  This was at a local Bloomington nightclub and included, yes, movies as a sort of background/ accompaniment, some old, some just filmed,  but all experimental.  Added were musical and spoken word performances, as well as costumes — some quite creative — worn by onlookers (mine, less creative, was of a Zurich bourgeois who has come for an evening of entertainment).  Odd and fun, the event was also a fundraiser for Wounded Galaxies Festival to help with more presentations in the future.

Then Friday came the reading performance of Act I of D. L. Mabbott’s play THE UNFINISHED (cf. October 19), with two readers who also performed the night before, Joan Hawkins and Anthony Brewer, and two who didn’t, Shayne Laughter and me.   Or, quoting Shayne, [f]ree, tonight, at The Back Door!  I’m reading with Joan Hawkins — we are two lovely ladies in the organ harvesting biz, Tony Brewer is the burglar who sees too much, and James Dorr is the Inspector who . . .  well.  We could call this a 21st-century “Arsenic and Old Lace,” with more sex and stabbing.  This also was at a local nightclub, sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild, and while underattended (in this case perhaps because it was early, before many patrons had arrived, but more to the point before we’d be displaced by the night’s headlined band*), quite a bit of fun.

Then, Saturday having been a day off of sorts, Sunday night brought back the Ryder Film Festival (see October 27, 24, 17), this time with two films at local tavern Bear’s Place, 1958’s Hammer production HORROR OF DRACULA and new Korean ghost movie THE WAILING (the latter also screened tombs-final-copylast Sunday at the Buskirk-Chumley theatre), including my rescheduled reading of “Raising the Dead.”  As originally planned for last week, it preceded THE WAILING, scheduled at 7:30 but, because that’s the way things seem to work, actually starting about ten minutes late.   Like Friday’s play-reading the “crowd” was sparse (maybe the big kids were out trick-or-treating too) although at all times it outnumbered the players (me), even picking up a bit about half-way through.  Such is the way of the oral presenter.  “Raising the Dead,” billed by the Ryder as a tale of necromancy, dark fantasy, airships, and doomed love, is a story/chapter to be included in my forthcoming novel TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, due out from Elder Signs Press in spring-summer next year, and concerns an attempt to reunite a deceased man’s soul to his body by raising the latter up into the air, where souls congregate, during an impending storm.

But of course, if things all worked as planned, it wouldn’t very well be horror, would it?
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* The walk over, in fact, included fording a river of Halloween-costumed children and parents.




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