Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

‘Tis the season and all that, so Saturday had me attending not one, but two parties, the first of which was the Bloomington Writers Guild year-end business meeting, pot luck fest, and open mike for everyone gala (see December 9 2017, et al.).  Chicken, salads, pizza, sweets.  Come reading time, my presentation was four very brief, humorous horror poems, all of which were in this Spring’s STAR*LINE: “Never Trust a Vampiress,” “She Did What?,” “The Young Transylvanian’s Guide to Dating,” and “From the Zombie Hunter’s Field Guide: Tracking the Zombie,” all of which I now discover I’d read before but nonetheless which went over well.

That was Saturday afternoon, while evening brought the local Society for Creative Anachronism annual Yule fest:  more food (ham and turkey, pulled pork, deviled eggs, more sweets) and music, the latter of which I helped provide, my recorder group playing carols for a sing along session, followed, as time in the hall ran low, by a Renaissance tune for people to dance to.  In all a pleasant end to the day, but exhausting also.

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The last month of the year and a new “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. November 4, et al.), presented by the Bloomington Writers Guild at the Thomas Gallery, featured local activists Bill and Glenda Breeden and long-time participant Antonia Matthew (see, e.g., May 6).  Glenda led off with three personal essays on bumper stickers, visiting prisoners, and . . . um . . . the down side of not watching one’s step around dogs.  She was followed by Tonia with a sad “fictional memoir” inspired by a writers workshop prompt, to write about a marvelous person, but with a serious defect.  Then rounding it out, Bill, who is also a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, offered two humorous memoirs about growing up as a preacher’s son in 1950s and ’60s Indiana.

After the break there were only three open mike offerings this time of which mine was second, previewing my recently sold science fiction Christmas saga “Holly Jolly” (see November 14, 6, September 7) of an alien invasion that failed (and another that didn’t), soon to be out in the Winter issue of PLANET SCUMM.

Details, details.  It’s another “The Writing Life” adventure, a tiny one this time yet oh, so important.  It happens I needed to check a review of one of my books on Amazon and my eye happened to spot my biography on the site.  It was out of date — and had been so for at least about two years!  And so, set right again, the updated version now also includes an important name:  The Goth Cat Triana.  (Well, it’s important to her.)  It can now be checked out by clicking on the picture of TOMBS in the center column, along with the prose collections below it.

Well, the bio to be of me as author, of course, with the story in question “Holly Jolly,” a saga of cosplay and STAR TREK and Christmastide elves (cf. November 6, September 27).  Not to mention the big guy himself, Santa.  But, of me, the request came today from PLANET SCUMM editor Tyler Wonanin:  Could I get your author bio? Something written in third person between 80 and 150 words would work best.  And so back it has gone at something just under 135 words.

PLANET SCUMM, incidentally, is now open for post-Christmas issue submissions for those interested.  It’s semi-pro, paying $30 plus some profit sharing for up to 3000 words — not riches, but it looks kind of fun — with guidelines available by pressing here.

The writing life, a day of routine that goes with the game.  Two brief items this time (well, the second is rather long, actually), the first from 18th Wall Productions reaching back six months into the past, to a story, “Bottles,” and its acceptance for a 1950s-themed anthology, SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES (cf. May 1).  The story itself is a reprint originally published in CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004) and also available in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, having to do with a young Puerto Rican woman and the Cold War as experienced in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and today the contract arrived — with edits promised to follow soon — and has as of this writing been, with a slight annotation, signed and readied for mailing back to Editor Nicole Petit tomorrow.

Then second an email from Bryce Raffle of Grimmer & Grimmer Books, publishers of DEADSTEAM with my story “The Re-Possessed” (see September 15, 4, 3, et al.), originally published in CEMETERY RIOTS (Elysium Press, 2016), which now has garnered a clutch of reviews.  None of these actually mention my name, but what the heck it’s a good anthology, and so just this once (“I would encourage you all to share the reviews, so fans know they’re buying something worth reading”) they are quoted herewith:

The first review here is from BookLife (A Publishers Weekly site); particular congrats goes to Ross Smeltzer, for his particularly high praise in this review.

Raffle brings together a fine selection of 17 “dreadpunk” (gaslamp horror and dark steampunk) stories in this gritty, enjoyable anthology.  The London Underground becomes a playground for the undead in Raffle’s suspenseful “Burke Street Station.”  A greedy lover gets her comeuppance in Jay Seate’s “The Velvet Ribbon.”  Rob Francis’s “B.A.R.B.” plays with the concept of devil worship, and the lengths a grieving man might go to revive his dying wife.  The pinnacle of the collection is Ross Smeltzer’s “The Hunger,” in which a man’s encounter with the undead in a forgotten cemetery lurches him toward Lovecraftian insanity.  Although Raffle includes several stories that hover around a similar idea or theme (there is a glut of vampire fiction in this anthology), the standout tales are those that break from conventional horror.  The nature of human frailty and propensity towards violence is underscored in all of the collected tales, making it more than just full of good scares.  Seasoned horror readers will appreciate this dark anthology.  (BookLife)

What a reading delight!!  This dreadpunk (steampunk horror) anthology is a perfect way to get in the Halloween mood.  These stories are reminiscent of classic penny dreadfuls and gothic horror.

I especially loved the tales where vampires were the focus.  Like Agony in Red by Jen Ponce and The Case of the Murderous Migraine by Karen J. Carlisle.  I haven’t read gothic vampire tales in a while and forgot how much I enjoy those tales.

Additionally, I absolutely was spooked by Harvesters by E. Seneca.  It reminded me strongly of The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey.  (Which I absolutely devoured those books).

Many of these stories I would love to have more fleshed out with a full novel or another short story.  This unique blend of horror and steampunk is exactly what I needed to upstart my spooky Halloween season.  Even if you don’t know about steampunk, I recommend this if you are a lover of classic horror stories and gothic literature.  (Clockwork Bookdragon)

DeadSteam:  A Chilling Collection of Dreadpunk Tales of the Dark and Supernatural is a great book for a newbie to dreadpunk like me.  Filled with stories that excite and tantalize the mind, I was on the edge of my seat for many of these short stories.  A great book to light some candles to, turn on the fire place and read in the chilly coldness this winter season. (Kay, Goodreads)

This is a delightful collection of seventeen dreadpunk horror stories, think Penny Dreadfuls.  I have never heard of dreadpunk but I have to say I have fallen in love with these stories.  They include several stories full of vampires, zombies, witches and so much more.  There is a story or two that will delight anyone that enjoys the horrors of the world.

I know I missed Halloween and this book would have been perfect.  But I still got the chance to dance in its pages amount the death, blood, and gore that make all things horror.  I loved the short stories, they gave a perfect taste of the author’s work.  There are more than a couple author’s that I will be looking into their other books.  But then again the down side to short stories is that I would just love to immerse myself in these worlds and find myself over with the trip quickly.

This is a wonderful collection of dreadpunk stories that I recommend checking out.  I will be keeping my eyes out for more in this genre.  (J Bronder Book Reviews) 

Yes, it’s “Holly Jolly” (cf.  September 27), chugging along on schedule for a Christmas-ish release in the Winter 2019 issue of PLANET SCUMM.  Late yesterday I received suggested editorial changes, mostly somewhat condensing the story but keeping the plot points, which I went over today and, with a few corrections, sent back this afternoon.  “Holly Jolly,” we may recall, is the tale of a Christmas elf – or was that a cosplay “Mr. Spock”? – and the fate of planets, or at least this one.  Now all to be revealed before your eyes when the issue comes out, more on which will be posted here as it becomes known.

Today saw the return of the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. August 5, et al.) at Bloomington’s downtown Thomas Gallery, having been pre-empted in September by the Fourth Street Arts Festival and Spoken Word Stage (see September 1) and in October by Frankenfest (see September 30).  The featured readers were Amy L. Cornell, an active participant with Woman Writing for a Change and on the board of the Writing for a Change Foundation and a past community columnist for the Bloomington Herald-Times, reading a flash fiction tale about a Presidential request for poetry, followed by a series of “relatively short poems” including a narrative of the re-invention of libraries and three retold fairy tales; Lisa Clay Shanahan, author of MURDER BY THE BOOK and MURDER MASTERPIECE in her Boston Publishing House Mystery Series and MFA candidate in creative writing in the Sewanee School of Letters, with a short talk about inspiration followed by the opening scene of a new novel, THE BROKEN CIRCLE; and me with my recently published dark romance “Crow and Rat,” out last month in the British anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 21, 3, et al.).  This was followed after the snack break by a relatively short session with four walk-on readers, including both poetry and short prose.

“…and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations — sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.”
– From J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla

So this, the final reading on THE POETS WEAVE, on radio station WFIU, was actually broadcast Sunday, October 28.  But that was simply because that’s the Sunday closest to Halloween, while here we can greet today officially with its recording.  Two previous segments were aired on October 14 and October 21 respectively (see October 17, 21), on the “Who” and the “Where” of vampirism.  And now, to end it, are four poems on the “Attraction of Vampirism,” as produced by LuAnn Johnson and introduced by Romayne Rubinas Dorsey:  “Moonlight Swimming,” “The Aeronaut,” “When She Won the One Million Credit Galactic Lottery,” and “The Esthete.”  All poems are still from my collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) and may be heard by pressing here.

It often will take a few months for a publisher to gather all royalty information together, especially if there are multiple vendors reporting — Amazon plus B and N plus perhaps the publisher’s own website, for instance.  And then there may be more than one book involved.  So, unsurprisingly, the statement received today is not for the third quarter but rather a six-month total for 2018’s first half, ending in June.  And, as has been my custom, the micro-amount logged into my ledger, I shall report neither amount nor publisher to avoid mutual embarrassment.

But wait, there is something that I can add, that it may not be as trivial as it sounds.  As it happens, the royalty covers four separate anthologies with a story in each, though only two had actual sales.  But these are anthologies that were published quite a few years before, which in their day provided half-yearly amounts in the $10.00 to $12.00 range each.  And these continued over periods of several years, adding up for each, if not riches exactly, what would have been reasonable one-time payments for each of four stories, and possibly more than that for some.  Remember these are royalties, too, that are shared among every writer with work in an anthology.

So, the moral, while today’s haul might be good, at best, for a down payment on lunch, the books and the publisher have done well enough in the past for me, and it’s actually a small delight that even a few are still interested enough to buy some copies, and that enough to provide the authors any royalties now at all.

It starts with a longish poem from Marge Simon, “Robert Browning and the Spider Poet,” and ends with a flurry of poetry by Christina Sng (a fun one, her second, “Catsitting on Halloween”).  No, Triana, don’t get any ideas.  But what it is is a “Gallery of Poetry” in a jam-packed October/Halloween edition of the HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER.  And, between the two poets already mentioned, are three mini-poems (two haikuish, the third a four-liner) by me.

But for extra fun, the three I chose were all published first on this very blog, on February 14 2013 (yes, that’s Valentine’s Day) and February 14 and September 24 2017.  And one at least, the first, is a love poem (well, sort of a love poem — a warning perhaps).  The others, perhaps, a bit more on the dark-humored side.  The poems themselves are titled “Best Appraise that Diamond Fast,” “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment,” and “Land of Milk and Honey,” and all may be seen (Marge Simon’s, Christina Sng’s, and mine) by pressing here.




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