Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Looking to January 4 and the first story acceptance for 2020, last night the contract arrived from Deadman’s Tome and DEEP FRIED HORROR:  CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER and, less than an hour ago as I write this, I e-mailed back my agreement to the terms.  This was the one for Horror, campy horror, schlock, and dark fiction about Cthulhu and other lovecraftian influences.  Think off-beat Cthulhu stories. . , with my entry in it a flash piece called “The Reading,” about a poet who writes on dark subjects.  The greatest horror of all, however, is that which he faces in reading his poems. . . .

Thus the writing life continues — with more details to be revealed as they become known.

Two very quick items:  The first, a new story has been accepted, with email and contract received last night.  The problem, however, and not an unusual one, is that the market is still open and the editor has asked that I hold off on giving details until all acceptances have been announced.  At a guess, I’d suspect this might be in late January/early February at which time the news will be reported here; until then we’ll just have to wait together.

Then the other, on the 13th I announced that authors’ copies of MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! had been sent out.  So yesterday evening my copy arrived, exceedingly quickly, and coincidentally at a time when I’d just finished reading another anthology.  So now I know how I’ll be spending my evenings the rest of this week. . . .

They seem to be coming just days apart (one wishes!), acceptances first for “The Reading” from DEEP FRIED HORROR: CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER, then “River Red” for APPLES RED AS BLOOD, and now, yesterday evening, an email from Jason Brick re. FLASH IN A FLASH:  Thank you for your patience in how long it took to work through our massive pile of submissions. We are thrilled to accept PRISONER for our January 21st episode, if it’s still available. Just let me know, and we’ll get you set up.  The story in full is “The Third Prisoner,” like this month’s other two sales a reprint having first appeared in LVWONLINE.ORG in November 2008, on political repression in Latin America and . . . zombies.

Jason Brick, we may recall, was editor of the anthology ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE that included the debut of my “The Junkie” (see August 28, July 9, et al.), another flash piece (with, also, a zombie).  As for “The Third Prisoner,” this acceptance is for “use in the FLASH IN A FLASH newsletter,” but also potentially publication in a FLASH IN A FLASH anthology for which there would be additional payment.  I might add also that “The Third Prisoner” has been around, including translated into Portuguese (as “O Terceiro Prisoneiro”) in the Brazilian anthology I ANTOLOGIA LUSIADAS (Ediciones Lusiadas, 2009).

Sunday afternoon brought the new year’s opening Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (see December 1, et al.) at local tavern Bear’s Place, with both featured readers presenting essays.  First up was poet and Writers Guild regular Eric Rensberger with “Some Old Books 3,” which is to say the third in a series of prose pieces on several books in his collection discussing not so much their actual contents, but rather their provenance.  Thus old children’s readers with successions of past owners’ names in the front, speculation about how they were passed on, anecdotes about family members who’d had them before they came into his hands — in short, the human side and what may have been made of the contents rather than what the contents themselves may have said.  He was followed by writer, freelance photographer, actor, and director Darrell Stone who, noting America may once again be moving toward “the fog of war,” presented three essays based around kindness, the first on the sole souvenir her father had kept from his service in World War II, the second on a transformative sixth grade teacher, and ending with a humorous piece about three nuns and the joy of their laughing over an absurd item found in a store.  In all just over thirty people attended, a possible record, of which about 25 remained after the break where I was second of five walk-on readers with a post-Christmas tale — or rather a dark-humored sequel to Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which I had premiered about two years before — “The Christmas Cat.”

Well small, if not scary.  The story in question was called “Silent Scream” and the book, SCARY SNIPPETS:  HALLOWEEN EDITION (cf. November 11, October 30, et al.).  This is a book of “micro fiction,” Halloween-appropriate tales of only 500 words or less, with at least a hundred between the covers.  So right off you know any royalty received will not be large, that is if it’s to be shared among 100 authors, with more shares for editors British London satire caricatures comics cartoon illustrations: Dancing bearprobably as well — so it’s rather like the “dancing bear” maxim, that what’s important is not whether the bear dances well, but rather that it dances at all.

And so, today, Saturday, Suicide House Publishing posted on PayPal . . . well, a sum more than half way to a dollar.  This was after a check on Friday to make sure my PayPal address was right, and less than two months since the book was published which, in the world of royalty payments, is FAST.  If interested in the book itself, one can press here, perhaps to buy one and make the next full quarter’s take larger.

Are you ready for a party you’ll never forget?  So starts the blurb.  When people think MONSTER PARTY, they tend to visualize a party with the big names like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf-Man just hanging around drinking, laughing, and scaring.  While that does sound like a good time, the lesser known names are often shoved off to the side as if they’re a bunch of basic bitches.  But why is that?  And so the idea was to present something different:  We at Deadman’s Tome thought that the big names have partied long enough, it’s time for the lesser known monsters like the Yeti, Mothsquio, and Leorilla to have some fun, and you’re invited.  And that was that.

But hark us back now to the misty time of October 14 and “Another Internet Mystery Unveiled:  MONSTER PARTY ‘Late’ Contract Received from Deadman’s Tome,” to quote my post back then.  This had to do with a contract re-sent, the original having never arrived, for a story for that book, “The Stalker.”  It seems it had been accepted, though that news had not gotten to me either.  But not to worry, “new” contract downloaded, perused, and signed, all that was left was to await the book’s publication.

So these things take time, yes?  And life went on.  A funny story about “The Stalker” too, while we wait, it’s a not-quite reprint, a “clothed” version having appeared before in THE GREAT TOME OF CRYPTIDS AND LEGENDARY CREATURES by Bards and Sages Publishing (see June 23 2016).  But this would be the original (quoting from 2016) “in which the horror trope of the defenseless woman lost in the woods being stalked by a monster would be ratcheted up, the victim becoming a college student in a ‘survival geology’ course with nothing but a rock hammer, a thong, and a silver dollar.”  Ah, college!  The monster in question, a wendigo . . . but for more, well, you’d just have to read the story.

But here’s the punch line:  It turns out MONSTER PARTY’s been published all along, just eleven days after that contract signing on October 25 (so I only got the first hint today — it’s been a busy two months)!  To see for yourself, or to purchase, 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.

It’s another stop on the run-up to Christmas, and if not definitive still a pleasant one.  The subject a story, “La Fatale,” at about 1300 words about Mina Harker of DRACULA fame becoming a vampire after all and, having had a French mother, moving to France to try to sort things out.  And almost after I wrote it it was accepted by then-professional WHITE CAT MAGAZINE . . . which, then, semi-immediately went out of production.

So, these things happen, but there it languished, perhaps due in part to a sort of metafictional tie-in to Rudyard Kipling and Philip Burne-Jones, as well as Bram Stoker, perhaps more heady fare than the average short short.  Or, anyway, those places it went to seemed not to want it, and I had other pieces to market.  Until, fast forward to Friday last week, and an invitation from a Writers Guild friend to submit to a planned anthology, tentatively titled RAPE ESCAPES:  We define the word “rape” loosely and are looking for pieces — any genre — that describe escape from an unwanted sexual situation in which force (psychological or physical) would be used. . . .  And moreover a suggestion for me that a piece about a vampire escaping human violence (perhaps with a quick bite to the neck) would certainly warm the heart of at least one of the editors.

So, long story short, I thought at first of les filles à les caissettes, whose adventures I’ve been presenting at First Wednesday readings, suggesting a couple that might fit the guidelines.  But something seemed to be missing to my mind.  And then I remembered “La Fatale,” concerning a non-Casket Girl Anglo-French vampire and sent it Sunday in a second email noting that it might be more powerful . . . if the literary references don’t get in the way.

Then this morning, the answer:  James, I love this.  And yes, I think it is more powerful.  So, with your permission, I shall add it to the dossier.  It isn’t an acceptance, exactly — for one thing there’s a co-editor who will have to pass on it too — but it enters the fray with good credentials.  As for the next step, we shall see, but it seems to me RAPE ESCAPES should be an important book, good company to be in — and, again, a nice opportunity just before Christmas.

Featuring over 100 Christmas microfiction horror stories from around the World.  Christmas is near/bring holiday fear/to young and old/snippets to be told/proudly they write/of people’s fright/snippets of fear/Christmas is here!/Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas/Scary, Scary, Scary, Scary Christmas (slightly re-punctuated)

So goes the blurb.  And as of Thursday, SCARY SNIPPETS:  CHRISTMAS EDITION has been up on Amazon in print and Kindle editions (see November 14).  This is the one for stories from 100 to 600 words long of sinister nature relating to Christmas, Hanukkah, or other Yuletide holidays, from Suicide House Publishing, my part of which at a tad under 500 words is “He Knows When You’re Awake,” on the making of Christmas presents and joy.  And now it’s available, possibly just in time itself for ordering for Christmas gifts; for more, press here.

Then Saturday brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s year-end election meeting and pot luck Christmas party, at the end of which was an around-the-table “open mike” session.  So what did I read?  In that it’s just been published, “He Knows When You’re Awake,” of course.

We had been thinking about “point of view” (cf. December 3, et al.).  Now imagine this.  Imagine a being from another planet disguised as a human, wearing a woman-suit, or a “skin,” but functionally a sort of vampire.  Her job* is to lure lonely men, men who will not be missed, into her lair where they’ll be “transmitted” to her home world (never mind the details, they just sink as it were into a dark pool) where they’re presumably considered food(?).  Ick!  But here’s the twist.  The film is shown almost entirely from the “woman’s” point of view, that of an alien who only gradually gets used to Earth and the ways of its people — who slowly becomes an Earth person herself, at least in her own head, including becoming a victim in turn (yes, there’s some sexual satire here, but wait for the end).  As such the film moves slowly:  she’s slowly absorbed, one might say, into “Earthiness” just as in their own fashion her victims are absorbed through the dark pool into peopleburgers.

The movie:  UNDER THE SKIN, i.e., what’s beneath the Earthwoman surface, Saturday night’s science fiction fare (sorry) at the Indiana University Cinema.  To quote the catalog blurb:  Programmed by IU Cinema Lead House Manager Elizabeth Roell.  UNDER THE SKIN examines the human experience from the perspective of a mysterious young woman (Scarlett Johansson) who seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland, luring them back to her strange, dark lair.  However, a string of events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.  Contains explicit content, including sexual violence, strong language, and violence.  The trick, though, as a couple of Amazon reviewers have suggested too, is to see the movie as a kind of documentary, but one made for the aliens — to take for oneself an alien point of view and learn, with the woman, what’s going on with this strange new world.

But pay attention:  the film may move slowly, but even the smallest details are important.

*With sometime assistance by a man with a motorcycle.

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