Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

We are excited to announce the first round of acceptances for inclusion in BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS.  This is our charity anthology to raise funds for the Australian bushfire victims.  All sale proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross and matched dollar-for-dollar by Microsoft (up to $50k) as part of their Giving campaign.  This was the announcement on Facebook today, and so it can now be made known:  This is the “Mystery” acceptance of January 15’s post, with preliminary details just released — despite being still open for submissions “of 1,000 words (ideally, but we’ll consider any length as it’s for charity!)” until January 31.

The guidelines:  The theme is Valentine’s Day, so we’re after dark, suspenseful, menacing, memorable tales of human love gone wrong, or monster love gone right!  We want to have your stories by end of January please!  It’s a tight deadline, but we think it’s a fun theme and a worthy cause, so please get your writer’s heads on and start scribbling.  So what better story for me to send but one concerning those New Orleanian vampire ladies, les filles à les caissettes (see e.g. May 2 2019, et al.), one as yet unpublished of the literal-minded but always ready for fun Claudette?  And best of all, titled simply “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale.”  And thus, five days ago, Editors Louise Zedda Sampson and Chris Mason agreed.

So there’s no money in it, but les filles are not averse to a worthy cause.  Should you be good with that as well, more information can be found here, or if you would simply be interested in a whole bunch of flash stories on love gone bad, to be out in time for Valentine’s Day, for details/Kindle pre-orders press here.

Those horrid vagabonds, Crow and Rat, have been at it again!  Or at least the book they appeared in, HUMANAGERIE (cf. September 8, July 24, et al.), published in the UK in October last year is still getting reviews.  Thus the latest, by Megan Turney in the British science fiction magazine SHORELINE OF INFINITY:  One of the joys of reading this collection was not knowing what to expect from one poem or short story to the next.  The style of these texts dabble in magic realism and fantasy to the almost academic; each style as engaging as the last.  Even though I could easily recommend every contribution, there are a select few that I find myself returning to. The key element that that drew me to these specific texts was their focus on the often unusual, but always compelling, question of what it means to exist.  So, in no particular order, my personal favourites included:  ‘The Orbits of Gods’ by Holly Heisey; ‘Crow and Rat’ by James Dorr; ‘Aquarium Dreams’ by Gary Budgen; ‘Polymorphous/Stages of Growth’ by Oliva Edwards; ‘And Then I Was a Sheep’ by Jonathan Edwards; ‘Hibernation’ by Sandra Unerman; ‘Wojtek’ by Mary Livingstone; ‘Notes for the “Chronicles of the Land that has no Shape”’ by Frank Roger; and ‘Her Audience Shall Stand in Ovation’ by Jason Gould.
Well, despite the inclusion of Ms. Rat and Mr. Crow with their habit of finding themselves in places where they’ve not been invited, Turney’s review is extremely thoughtful, even scholarly, and well worth reading — as is the anthology itself with hats off to Editors Allen Ashley (with special thanks for bringing the review to my attention) and Sarah Doyle.  For example, to quote from the final paragraph:  To paraphrase literary critic Karl Kroeber, this kind of literature can serve as a powerful lesson in ‘how our world [is becoming] so exclusively humanised as to be self-diseased.’  To agree with the writers of Humanagerie, it is considerably ironic that we continue with such detrimental practices.  Whilst nature has the power to persevere without us, we certainly wouldn’t be able to survive without it.  So, finally, it surely seems like the right time to recommend such an outstanding contribution to this increasingly essential genre, especially one that emphasises our need to be more aware of humanity’s destructive behaviour.
To see all for yourself, press here.

The wages of sin are not large for Black Hare Press’s SEVEN DEADLY SINS anthology series, but reprints are accepted and it’s an interesting sounding venue.  So when the second in the series, LUST (the first, I believe, was PRIDE, but the deadline had already passed), opened for submissions I thought I had something that might fit the bill.  The theme was broad enough (although, of course, “lust” would be part of it too):  Speculative fiction.  Dark bias.  Can include comedy and romance elements.  Word count was up to 3000 words, with no minimum.  And so I had a slightly less than 1000-word tale (957 in fact, according to the “official” count in the contract) of a lesbian vampiric seduction of, shall one say, a youthful new prospect, which seemed a reasonable one to try.

The story itself:  “A Cup Full of Tears,” originally published in MON COEUR MORT (Post Mortem Press, 2011), and Saturday the word came back.  Thank you for your submission to LUST.  We really enjoyed your story — A Cup Full of Tears — and would like to inform you that it has been accepted for inclusion in the publication.  Congratulations!  With it came more information, a link to Facebook, and guidelines for a couple of future projects, plus a contract which I filled and sent back yesterday afternoon.

And so it goes.  Word is they’re trying for a release date of February 18 2020 — in time for a late Valentine’s Day present?  Also that the next deadly sin to be tackled is SLOTH, perhaps not so exciting, but I might lazily take a look to see if there’s anything I have that might fit that theme too.

This was another trip to the movies, a Sunday matinee, this one related to questions of remembering and forgetting (see October 23 below) but with emphasis on the point of view of the person who might be telling the story.  Events may be altered — or at least the way one relates them — according to the teller’s agenda, purposely in the case of this film, but it also could be just a matter of interpretation.  One of a series labeled “The RASHOMON Effect,” the film was YING XIONG, translated as HERO, directed by Zhang Yimou, and is somewhat about an actual historical event, an attempted assassination in 227 B.C. of the king of Qin who subsequently united seven warring kingdoms to form the empire that became China.  But it is a “wire fu” fantasy too, a martial arts film where fighters fly through the air as they do their deeds, and a single assassin not being enough there are at least three here, not to mention at least two or three versions of what actually happened.

To let the Indiana University Cinema explain:  In pre-Imperial China, during the Warring States period, a nameless soldier with supernatural skill embarks on a mission of revenge against the fearsome army that massacred his people.  To achieve the justice he seeks, Nameless (Jet Li) must first take on the empire’s most ruthless assassins — Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Broken Sword (Tony Leung).  Once his mission is complete, he is granted an audience with the ruler of the most powerful of the seven warring kingdoms, and he relates to the King (Chen Daoming) the tales of how he defeated each of the three of the ruler’s adversaries.  Despite what Nameless has told him, the King presumes his score with the assassins was not all it seems to be and weaves his own tale of what he believed is at play.  In Mandarin with English subtitles.  Contains mature content, including violence.

The film has been criticized on somewhat political grounds, as placing emphasis on the idea of “state,” which brings up point of view again; it is at least a film to make one think, regardless of the action/adventure aspect.  And the fights themselves are more like dance sequences, the film being amazing in places in terms of beauty, my favorite being a battle between Flying Snow and another woman, both dressed in red, within an autumn forest of swirling leaves in bright yellows and oranges, deepening as the fight ends to its own red.  Other scenes are in blues or in greens, others in more natural colors, even a couple of brief dream sequences of sorts in black and white. . .

Or, story completely aside, YING XIONG is still stunning.

I had mentioned the film myself in a post on June 26 2014, five years ago, about ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE:  In some ways I’m reminded of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, though that may just be my own eccentricity, but like that movie ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is sweet and beautiful yet, at the same time, ruthless and sad.  So last night, Tuesday, courtesy of the Indiana University Cinema, I had the chance to see ETERNAL SUNSHINE again.
IU Cinema blurb:  Joel is heartbroken when he discovers that ex-girlfriend Clementine has erased all memories of their time together.  As Joel undertakes the same treatment in revenge, his subconscious fights back in a surreal, dream-like journey through good times and bad, one that has Joel questioning whether he wants to lose his happy memories in order to forget the painful ones.  Michel Gondry’s direction and Charlie Kaufman’s acclaimed screenplay produced a film that is both intellectually complicated and deeply romantic. 
And so both quotations, I think, are true.  But there’s also more to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND at least at the IU end, the film being part of a fall “themester” — a themed grouping of courses and ancillary programs and events — on the concepts of “Remembering and Forgetting,” giving this mini-blurb:  In this unusually serious romantic comedy, heartbreak leads a couple to erase all memories of each other.  But, of course, can they really?  And how would that complicate life and possible pairings with others?  And, in the talk before the screening, how can this even be depicted at all in a movie?
That is, films are great for showing things from the outside, but what of showing things that are internal — to get inside a character’s head as one might in a book?  In this case through a series of “fantasy dreamscapes” where techniques like colors or camera angles may gain extra importance.  Thus Joel can experience memories as dreams, and these sometimes then be manipulated, but not in a sense of reality changing but more perhaps as an exploration of what could be.  Or perhaps might have been.
Confused?  I know I am, but that’s not the point.  My point is I think the film is worth seeing — very worth seeing — but also probably has to be watched more than once or even twice.  Or, if failing that, at least enjoyed once as a bittersweet romance with a rather neat, with the memory erasing technique as a subtheme, science fiction flavor.

Yes, the email said the final week but the site itself says only “five days,” though it also says Sunday, October 6, 7:59 AM EDT, perhaps as an allowance for London time?  But one way or another in just a few days the DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH kickstarter (see September 12, et al.), and the opportunity to sign up for bargain copies and even swag, will be no more.   Love takes on many forms, as does death, and this anthology features twenty-two stories that dance the line between Dark Affection and Paranormal Romance, where death is not the end but merely the start of some truly original tragedies, tales that will often stop you dead in your tracks, challenging your preconceptions of what is right and wrong, before allowing you to return and continue reading.  DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH offers up twenty-two fabulous inspired short stories, by a fresh line-up of authors from around the world, ensuring that there is something for everyone; and with many being on the macabre side, we believe that this anthology makes the perfect alternative gift for those who want something a little different come Valentine’s Day.

My tale in this tangle is one of hauntings, and gangsters in Depression era Florida, and of a young woman whose life is in danger titled “The Sending,” a slightly longer description of which can be found on the kickstarter site itself, along with descriptions and mini-biographies of all the writers.  And, as said above, many prizes including publisher-related cups and T-shirts and other such merch, but one still must act fast.  (And may one remind, from the authors’ point of view, last minute pledges may mean higher pay?)  So for information and possible action — the book itself is slated to be out on Valentine’s Day 2020, so why not reserve your copy today? — one need but press here.

There’s plenty of time left, however, to make a pledge in the DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH:  DARK AFFECTION ANTHOLOGY kickstarter (to give it its full name; see also below, September 6, et al.), scheduled to end on October 6 at 7:59 a.m. EDT.  And the premiums include not only book deals, but there’s also a link to an assortment of related swag (scroll way, way down toward the end of the site), and even for those who don’t want to pledge yet there’s a series of mini-bios of the authors to check out, as well as their own brief comments about the stories.  In other words, a sort of sampler before jumping in.

The title kind of says what it’s about; the initial call was for [a]n anthology of short creepy & emotional stories based around the idea of love evading the limitations of life & death.  For the anthology I am looking for around 20 short stories — (based on the overall word count of all accepted entries).  The genre will be a mix of ghost stories / horror / thriller and erotic fiction, cross genre stories are welcome.  Each story to be of approximately between 4,000 > 8,000 words in length.  Mine in this was a non-TOMBS, more real world (though at the beginning of the 1930s Great Depression, in northern Florida) crime story, “The Sending,” originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and also reprinted in my first collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE.  Which might kind of say it for the anthology:  wonder and romance, leavened with death, perhaps a murder or crime or two (though mine, a ghost story, begins with one partner already deceased).
For more, though, the kickstarter’s author comments provide many clues, all of which may be seen by pressing here.  (And also [*ahem*] a timely pledge may mean more money in authors’ pockets.  Well, a little bit anyway.)

A quick Sunday note that yesterday’s email brought a notice from HUMANAGERIE Co-Editor Allen Ashley (cf. July 24, April 3, March 21, et al) announcing yet another review, from the international poetry news and event website WRITE OUT LOUD (a.k.a. WRITEOUTLOUD.NET).  Word of the anthology does get around!  My part in this is the TOMBS related tale of “Crow and Rat,” a pair of good-for-nothings on a dying, depleted far-future Earth and, while reviewer Neil Leadbeater doesn’t cite it specifically (there is, however, a paragraph on prose in general, as well as the poetry), it does give a nice overview of the book as a whole.  It also ends with a link to the publishers website, for those who might be interested in buying it or just for further information, while the review itself can be seen by pressing here.

Hark back to a sultry July 23, and the news that the kickstarter for DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH had gone on hiatus, to return in fall a little bit closer to its projected release date of Valentine’s Day 2020 (cf. July 23,10, et al.).  That time is now upon us or, well, more exactly at midnight tonight.  But never mind that, and what time zone are we talking about anyway or, well, what’s a few hours among friends.  So maybe it is a little bit early, but Editor/Publisher Dickon Springate has opened it now!

Love takes on many forms, as does death, the description begins, and this anthology features twenty-two stories that dance the line between Dark Affection and Paranormal Romance, where death is not the end but merely the start of some truly original tragedies, tales that will often stop you dead in your tracks, challenging your preconceptions of what is right and wrong, before allowing you to return and continue reading.

DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH offers up twenty-two fabulous inspired short stories, by a fresh line-up of authors from around the world, ensuring that there is something for everyone; and with many being on the macabre side, we believe that this anthology makes the perfect alternative gift for those who want something a little different come Valentine’s Day.

And so you have it, live again and awaiting your perusal of many offers from now until October 6.  My own part in this, perhaps a bit less “macabre” than some, is a classical ghost tale, “The Sending,” set in an early 1930s Florida lighthouse, originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE as well as in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE.  But even it contains gangsters and dire plots, including a romance that can’t be thwarted by such a minor detail as death.

Or, for more details on the kickstarter press here.

It won’t be until June 2021, but “Flute and Harp” is now one step closer to publication in HELIOS QUARTERLY (cf. June 17, 3) with the arrival of the contract which, after a little bit of discussion, I signed and returned Sunday.  The still lengthy time to release, I might add, is a result of an overly successful submission drive resulting in Volume 5, for 2020, to be almost immediately filled, pushing musician lovers Flute and Harp back to issue 2 of Volume 6.  However, with success can sometimes come reversals, in this case a fire personally affecting HELIOS QUARTERLY’s editor/publisher and that in turn has engendered an emergency subscription drive, for funds to help assure the magazine can continue to come out on time.  If you would be interested in helping — or just to get a neat magazine, including the reprint of “Flute and Harp” — more information can be found here.

“Flute and Harp” was originally published in WHISPERS AND SHADOWS (Prime Books, 2001), and is a sort of personal favorite of mine.  It tells the tale of two doomed musician-lovers on a far-future dying planet and also appears as a story chapter in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017), more on which can be found by clicking its picture in the center column.

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