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Yes, I know they’re crappy, but (a) I’m new at this, (b) I’m using a camera that cost $4.95 on eBay, (c) in most cases she’s a moving target.  (But otherwise, enjoy!)

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Saturday brings us news that THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (cf. January 27, et. al) has been released on Kindle with, according to publisher A Murder of Storytellers, the paperback version hopefully to be available soon.  More here as it becomes known.  This is the one about people’s relationships with their gods, not always as lovely as one might hope, with my “burnt” offering about a lad who apparently couldn’t get to hell, with a cautionary note to preachers.  Titled “Tit for Tat,” it’s a poem in the class sometimes called “Little Willies,” humorous quasi-Victorian takes on boys who cause, or have caused to them dire things.

Then one more quick note:  Word came last night from Heidi Angell, who we may recall from her interview of me last month (see January 10), that she plans to use  an essay by me on her blog sometime next week.  Again, more here as it becomes known.  The essay is titled “What is a Novel-In-Stories?” and explains why that form may be superior to more straightforward narrative for some applications, with special reference to my own upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (due in June from Elder Signs Press, for more information on which click its picture in the center column).

So go the news cycles, days in which nothing happens at all, then periods where it all piles up, one or two happenings every day.  And so, today, a twofer the first of which is by William Herkewitz via POPULARMECHANICS.COM, “Behold Bat Bot, the First Flying Robot Bat.”  Yes, really, but not necessarily intended as an aid for blood drives, but landscape-1485967968-batbotrather activities where drones might otherwise be used, except they’re in close proximity to people.  That is, if there’s an oopsie, even mechanical bats are softer than something with four little whirling, sharp rotors.  And besides that, they’re cool!  But a robot bat does provide, it seems, some unique design problems, for more on which one can press here.

Then, actually a day before, what should be met in the computer cave mailbox but my authors’ copy of MEET CUTE (see December 31, 11, et al.), with my own tale of flying beings, “Butterfly.”  This is a small book of flash fiction concerning unexpected encounters between pairs of people, some romantic, some not so, but all with a touch of the unusual to them.  In this case, my story met up as well with an illustration by Marge Simon, but that wasn’t necessarily surprising — Marge and I being friends for some years, I had told her about it.

Edited by Kara Landhuis, MEET CUTE can be found on Amazon by pressing here.

Word came yesterday from Smart Rhino Publications that my story, “Golden Age,” has been chosen for final position in ZIPPERED FLESH 3.  This is an honor — just as the first two or three stories in an anthology are meant to hook the reader, so the last one is to provide the memory of what the book was about, as well as to prime the reader should a subsequent volume be published later.  Or, as Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge explains:  I’ve decided to end ZIPPERED FLESH 3 with “Golden Age.”  It’s a “quieter” story than others in the anthology, and a perfect denouement for the book.  I think, when you read the story, you folks will understand my decision.  Also, to whet appetites a bit more, Smart Rhino has offered a list of all authors selected thus far to be in the book, with more to be announced, to be sure, as they’re added to it:

Billie Sue Mosiman
Graham Masterton
Shaun Meeks463_zippered_cvr_3
William F. Nolan
Jack Ketchum
Jeff Menapace
James Dorr
Meghan Arcuri-Moran
Jason V Brock
L.L. Soares
E.A. Elizabeth Black
Sandra Rutherford Webster Campbell
Adrian Ludens
Christine Morgan

And then a reminder:  Smart Rhino has also been running a Kickstarter campaign to, among other things, provide the ZIPPERED FLESH 3 writers professional-level payment.  Need I add that that includes me?  But there’s only a dozen days left to give, including reserving some rather nice premiums, so best take a look while there’s still time left by pressing here.

So I’d spent a day at the Monroe County Animal Shelter perusing the pussycats.  I had gone to check out a reputed tortoiseshell, but she proved not to be the glamour-puss she had been touted as (oh, all right. . . ).  But, still, with Wednesday departed, as large as those pawprints may be to fill (cf. January 25), the computer cave did need a new cat.  And so I forged on, looking at those in the rows of cages, then into the room they call the Cat Colony. . . .

Long story short, a new cat has arrived at the computer cave, the goth cat Triana.  Her shelter name is (was) Lucy Lu (thus gaining her the ID when she went to the vet yesterday afternoon for additional shots, “The Cat Formerly Known as Lucy Lu”) — she’s a mostly black cat with a white chest and “socks,” short haired, occasional small white bits on an ankle or a knee, but with the black a deep, deep black and the white a snowy white white, giving the impression of what a cat might look like in a Chinese brush drawing.  Very beautiful and, one of my criteria, very different from Wednesday (gray and fluffy) so I can keep Wednesday’s memory separate and not fall into trying to compare them.  She’s only four months old (I expect I’ll advance her birthday a few days to October 1, so she’ll be an “October cat” presaging triana1the fall and Halloween, just as Wednesday’s probably late-April birthday was moved to May Day, for International Labor Day as befit a proletariat in the mousing trade).  Also she’s very lively, in fact at the shelter when I reached to pet the cat next to her she sank her little fangs in my hand, kitten talk for “pay attention to me instead, please” (I joked to the staff about her possibly having not completely teethed yet).  She followed with the rubbing against me bit, purring very loudly, obviously having had her kitty basic training.

And, “dressed” mostly in black, she’s a goth girl cat, and thus the name I’ve given her, Triana, after the necromancer Dr. Byron Orpheus’s daughter in the VENTURE BROS. cartoon series.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of her for now (she was new enough to the animal shelter that they hadn’t taken any of her yet), so the picture here is that of her namesake, Triana Orpheus.

Back for 2017, this afternoon saw the new year’s first “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (see November 28, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center.  Featured poets this time were Lisa Low, in her final year in the MFA program at Indiana University, whose reading covered such subjects as grocery stores, ghosts, and gold, ending with a group of poems from a work in progress about a girl named Ruby; and Stephen Hopkins, “born in Texas but raised in the Midwest, bloomingtonwritersguild[and] moved all over Ohio, often,” an IU PhD candidate who read works from his recent chapbook HYMNS OF PERPETUAL MOTION.  This was followed by snacks and an open mike session in which I was last of six participants, with five short, relatively light poems about vampires, “The Vampire’s Reflection,” “An Unsuitable Kiss for the New Year,” “Something New,” “Nothing Better,” and “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment.”

Also announced was a new Writers Guild “Second Thursdays” evening series to be held each month at Bloomington’s Players Pub, beginning February 9.  While programs will vary, the premiere offering will highlight prose readings,  including a short tale by me from THE TEARS OF ISIS, “River Red,” set in the same universe as my upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 19, 16) is the one about mankind’s relationship with its gods, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour.  Or maybe for our purposes here, most often sour.  My song in this sin fest is a poem this time, a “story in verse” about a dead boy named Little Willie called “Tit for Tat” (originally published in GHOSTS:  REVENGE, 2015).  And now with publication due soon, Adrian Ludens, whose story “Hero Worship” will be in the book as well, has shared its contents list from publisher A Murder of Storytellers, along with this flattering comment about three of its contributors:

Some very talented authors lined up for this anthology.  Especially excited to see Joseph Shelton, John Biggs and James Dorr included.  Never been disappointed by any of their stories.  Can’t wait to read this!

and from the publisher:

Just a few more days.  To tide you over until then, here’s the TOC for THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS.

A Hole in the Head Reveals the Secret Nature of All Things by Joseph Shelton
Sack Race To The River by Chris Kuriata
Holy Fire by Tracy Fahey
The Order of the Night Moose by Jonathan Raab
Hare Hill by Kristin J. Cooperblasphemouswords
The Holy Filth by Tom Breen
Madness by Morrison
Hero Worship by Adrian Ludens
An Adventure in Wootton by Colin Harker
Meant to Be by Kelly Gould
Outer Darkness by Grant Skelton
The Damned by Jake Teeny
Kill Fee by Victor H. Rodriguez
The Blue Ruin of Vicar Junípero, the Throat of Heaven by Rhoads Brazos
Grume by Tim Meyer
The Unearthed Thing by Ben Larned
Tit for Tat by James Dorr
Bust to Dust by Wesley Southard
Hiding from the Rain by Mark L. Groves
The Sign by John Biggs
A Demanding Religion by Darrel Duckworth
The Hunted by Shannon Iwanski
Killing the First Gods by Morgan Crooks
Our Pale Lady Clad In Red by 瓦砾卡夫卡
A Bloody Miracle by Anusha VR
Insiliconation by Eric Reitan
The Annunciation of Josie by Jack Burgos
The Edifice by Lorraine Scheln
Angels are so Beautiful Until They Rust by Jason Howell

It’s a small thing, but one that is greatly appreciated — an endorsement in a sense that one is doing some things right as a writer at least, over and above what may sell or not sell.  And a very nice touch by pure coincidence that this was in my inbox yesterday evening, when there was so much of sadness that had to be shared here.  This was a post by TammyJo Eckhart, a fellow writer who actually is also Bloomington based, though we don’t tend to run into each other that often.  But still legitimate, I think, in that I’m just one of a number of authors she cites, for whom read below or, to see it in context, press here.

This is just a few of the authors that I not only enjoy but also respect for their bravery with the topics they tackle.  I know that their bravery will continue in the next few years and hopefully beyond.

If I have left you out, there is no intended slight on my part, I promise.

Laura Antoniou, Cecilia Tan, Janet Hardy, Elizabeth Schechter, Stephen Zimmer, Chrissy Garrison, Race Bannon, Lisa Kaye, John Warren, Jack Wallen, James Robert Crews Wylder, James Dorr, Angelia Sparrow, Travis Clemmons, Rosemary Laurey, Lee Harrington, Peter Tupper, Matthew Barron, and Gloria Brame.

So thank you TammyJo, and thanks to the others on the list too.  In current times, it’s good that we writers can stick together.

Twelve years is considered old age for house cats, even if many —  especially if in an indoor environment —  may continue to thrive considerably longer.  But at about twelve they can become prey to various ailments associated mainly with elderly cats.  Resident cave cat Wednesday had her twelfth birthday in May last year.  Moreover, Wednesday had already had some bad luck with her health the year before, in 2015, which she took a number of medicines for as well as getting a high-powered flea collar (cf. “Wednesday’s New Clothes,” October 30 2015).  But then last fall, for 2016, she had her checkup and this time tested as having hyperthyroidism, a definite “old cat” kind of metabolism disorder, and a serious one.  So in late November she started a special diet to keep that in check, but last weekend she stopped eating altogether and, yesterday morning, went to the vet to have more tests.  The new problem seemed to be kidney failure.  Very serious.   So she spent last night at the cat hospital having her system flushed out in hopes she’d be better this morning, be able to eat again — plus have more tests, but it  didn’t look good.

Last night was strange in a very sad way.  I found myself doing little things I really didn’t have to be doing, closing the front door quickly behind me when I got home.  Looking around me before I set food out in the kitchen unguarded — things I do when there’s a cat in the house.  Missing, when I got home, how Wednesday would sometimes run out to greet me.  I did look in on her yesterday afternoon at the vet, though, and she didn’t even seem to recognize me then, granted she’d had a really rough morning.  But then this morning the vet called to say, while they’d had a little hope the night before, her test results, if anything, were even worse now.  Other aspects of her health were going down as well, she still wouldn’t eat, and her temperature had gotten dangerously low.  So, long story short, after much discussion I came back in this afternoon for our final goodbyes, she responding to petting a little at the end, but otherwise still didn’t seem to know me.  Then at about 4 p.m., there being nothing else to do, we had to let Wednesday go.

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She was a good cat.

And it’s the first for a story in story form (as opposed to a story in verse form, cf. January 16 below) for 2017!  The story is “Swarms,” also a reprint originally seen in Lone Wolf’s CD ROM anthology, BLOODTYPE, in 2001 as well as my 2007 print collection DARKER LOVES.  The acceptance is for MOTHER’S REVENGE, . . . a passionate anthology about Mother Earth taking her world back from the humans and teaching us a lesson.  . . .  Any aspect of an ecological disaster or climate change mothersrevenge1problem can be created or considered.  And so, on the day that Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the next US President, publisher Scary Dairy Press e-replied:  It’s with great pleasure that we notify you that your story “Swarms” has been accepted for the MOTHER’S REVENGE anthology.  Our readers enjoyed your tale and thought it fit perfectly with the anthology theme!

As it happens, “Swarms” in a way has its own political component, in this case beginning with the first action against Iraq under President George H.W. Bush (that is, the father, not the son), where at least one side, and probably both, had chemical weapons whether or not used.  But spent, leaking chemicals from a bombed-out convoy could be worse than those that were used and at least dispersed, having who knows what effect on local fauna, especially of the smaller varieties like certain insects.

And so it goes, with more on MOTHER’S REVENGE to be reported here as facts become known.

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