Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington Writers Guild’

Sunday, May 6, brings two out of the ordinary items.  The first of these was the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (see April 1, et al.) in the Monroe County Library auditorium which, first off, had no “Open Mic,” the entire time being taken up by a reading performance of a play by Antonia Matthew, HOMEFRONT, a powerful memoir of her childhood in England during World War II, culminating in her father’s having fallen in action.  Its heart consisting of an exchange of letters between daughter and father, this was only the play’s second performance (it had also received a staged reading in 2000) and there’s talk of performing it again as a radio play with sound effects added.  This one was also recorded for Community Access TV, and was followed by a workshop-style question and answer session with playwright Matthew joining the principal actors on stage.

My part in this was somewhat of a last minute nature, having been asked last Monday if I could stand in for an actor who had had to bow out, reading the parts of the Undersecretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for War, these consisting of only one short paragraph each.  Whether this will lead to my being in the radio play remains to be seen.

Max Ernst – Castor and Pollution, 1923

Then, of things off the beaten track, serendipity during the hour before the play and a brief pre-play setup and partial rehearsal, using the upstairs library computer, brought me to an interesting article I hadn’t run across before, “The Complicated Relationship Between Opium and Art in the 20th Century” by Jeff Goldberg on ARTSY.NET.  It’s a period I’m interested in, in early 20th century France, as well as its subject, for more on which one may press here.

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Sunday morning, Easter, was sunny and if not warm not too cold either.  Quite pleasant all in all.  Then now, a bit after 10 p.m., it’s snowing outside along with some rain, with the Weather Channel predicting as much as three inches by dawn.  That for us April fools.  Then, in between, it being the first of April, up DisappearingProse-150x150to twenty of us gathered for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic,” hosted this time by downtown coffeehouse Soma.

The featured readers were all “First Sunday” veterans, starting with Abegunde (cf. August 30, May 7 2017 et al.) with an essay/memory piece realting to earlier days as a poet, specifically citing a pair of letters from summer 1993; then followed by Alisa Alering (May 1 2016 et al.) with part of a story podcast on CAST OF WONDERS this February; and finally Wendy Teller with excerpts from her soon-to-be published historical novel BECOMING MIA (August 7 2017, but going back as far as 2015 and 2014).  After the break these were followed by only three readers from the audience, me in third place with an as yet unpublished fairy tale variant, “The Mouse Game,” the story of Cinderella from the viewpoint of one of the mice turned into horses to draw her coach.

And so the second report came in this morning from Pole to Pole Publishing (see just below):  Thank you for sending “The Game” for Pole to Pole Publishing’s “Re-Launch,” anthology.  We appreciate the chance to read it, and have decided to accept “The Game” for inclusion in the anthology.  Your contract and additional information will be sent to you in a few weeks.  RE-LAUNCH, we’ll recall, is to be the science fiction half of Pole to Pole’s reprint dyad, with my story “The Game,” about an “on the beach” spaceman earning redemption, originally published in Britain’s HUB magazine on November 7 2007.  More will appear on both publications as it becomes known.

Then Sunday afternoon brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. January 7, et al.), this time in a County Library conference room as it continues to seek a new home, with featured readers Molly Gleeson, a one-time teacher of English in China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan now working as a writing tutor at a Bloomington community college reading her short story “House of Atreus”; international doctoral student Maureen Chinwe Onyeziri with a story about a young girl identified as a malevolent spirit, “Taming the Spirit,” followed by a brief memoir of a recent visit to her home in Nigeria; and local poet and fiction writer Cara Hohit with three short stories linked by a theme of intimacy, both old and new and both wanted and shunned.  My own contribution, third of six when it was time for the open mike segment, was a recent tale especially chosen for Valentine’s Day, “Home Is Where the Heart Is,” about a first meeting between a vampiress and a just-in-the-process-of-changing werewolf.

With a Sunday respite from cold, cold weather last week, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (see December 4, et al.) had its 2018 start in a new and most likely temporary venue, the Monroe County Library Auditorium, due to the imminent closing of Boxcar Books.  The featured readers were speculative fiction writer and sometimes poet Darja Malcolm-Clarke with an excerpt from a story to bloomingtonwritersguildappear in SEE THE ELEPHANT magazine, “Wren’s Flight”; YA novelist Julia Karr with three short pieces based on prompts from a writing course several years back; and School of Education doctoral candidate Adam Henze with a group of fictionalized essays on various aspects of the teaching experience, including one in haibun form.  Snacks (to be eaten in the library’s atrium only) followed, leading into the open mike session with five readings, of which mine was third, “Midnight Sun,” a Christmas tale of zombies and vampirism in its own cold, cold weather setting, thus giving it a special relevance to the well below freezing previous few days.

Last night brought 2017’s closing “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. October 13, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild, and featuring three radio play presentations, Lucille Fletcher’s SORRY, WRONG NUMBER; Ray Bradbury’s IT BURNS ME UP!; and by William S. Burroiughs, THE JUNKY’S CHRISTMAS.  Added were musical performances by local group Urban Deer and an open mike session with six takers, in which I appeared fourth.  It was an interesting and exciting evening, a little bit out of the normal run, my part of which was a “First Sundays” reprise of my short short “The Worst Christmas Ever” (see December 4), this time to a largely different audience.  Also as an extra, cover charge proceeds were earmarked this time to the upcoming “Wounded Galaxies Festival 1968:  Paris, Prague, Chicago Festival and Symposium,” scheduled for February next year, more of which will most likely be covered here (and for which in the meantime, including schedules, one can press here).

Then speaking of Christmas, DEADMAN’S TOME CTHULHU CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (for which see December 12, et al.) has proposed a competition, or in Editor/Publisher Jesse Dedman’s words:  We’re approaching the end of 2017, and that means it’s time for a popularity contest.  Now, remember that this is all in good fun.  I personally will sit out on this vote as I enjoy every story in this collection, but please don’t follow my example.  Spread the link out to as many people as possible.  What does the winner get?  C’mon, shouldn’t the reception be the prize?  How about some beer money?  $20 bucks (PayPal) and a certificate.  The contest and voting is care of Patreon and can be reached here.

To remind, MY story (*ahem*) is third on the list, “A Christmas Carnage,” recently cited by “JME” in her review on Amazon (December 12).  And, technically, you don’t even have to have read the book to vote on the stories (though you really should — there’s a link on the voting page as well to where you can buy CTHULHU CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, in my opinion a great book for giving to one’s [twisted] friends too!).  So do consider, buy, and vote (again, that’s “A Christmas Carnage”), okay?

Two quick Saturday items, the first of which is the receipt of a large paperback copy of THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES PRESENTS. . . , VOLUME ONE.  This is the hard copy version of Bards and Sages Publishing’s first year’s collection of longer stories, that is ones hard to place in most electronic magazines, etc., because of their length.  And mine, “By Force and Against the King’s Peace,” a magical courtroom drama originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, appears first in the book, a result of it winning a readers poll in its electronic version (cf. October 16, January 19, et al.).  For more, one may press here.

Then today also marked the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Year End Party and Annual General Business Meeting Plus Open Mic, for which I presented orange slices for the pitch-in refreshments, and eight very recent, very short, epigrammatic poems for the readings.  One of which, “Wet Work,” was my most recently published poem in the current STAR*LINE (see December 2, et al.), while the others, thus far unpublished, were “From the Zombie Hunters Field Guide:  Tracking the Zombie,” “The Young Transylvanian’s Guide to Dating:  Taking Your Date Home,” “Never Trust a Vampiress,” “What She Learned,” “Oh No She Didn’t?,” “City of Angels,” and “Land of Milk and Honey.”

For those who may have a hankering to give a read to TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the novel-in-stories of which you may have been seeing a bit about in some past posts, Amazon has been offering fairly substantial discounted prices for some while now.  A check today (lSunday), in fact, saw the print edition offered for only $9.36 (that’s compared to a cover price of $14.95) and the Kindle edition at $6.29 (compared to $8.99), though I have no idea how long these bargains may last.  I also don’t know how that will affect the royalty that comes to me, if at all, but — especially with Stoker voting season coming up soon, for those reading this who might be members of HWA — now might be a propitious time to buy.  And that goes double should you be searching for that perfect, but bizarre gift for a horror-loving (or dystopic science fiction, or dark romance, or far-future science fantasy) special friend.  Just click on its picture in the center column, or else press here.

Then, speaking of Christmas, while I missed November’s Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic,” Sunday afternoon brought the December edition and, unfortunately, last to be hosted by Boxcar Books (or, capitalism strikes again and small bookstores tend not to last forever, though part of their mission may be revived at a new location).  Be that as it may, the featured readers were Shana Ritter who read from a just completed novel about the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the late 15th century, this part told from the point of view of a teen-age girl in one of the affected families, and Writers Guild founding member and prior chairperson Patsy Rahn with a portion of a short fantasy called “The Reality Game.”  Snacks were served, then following custom it was time for walk-on readers of which I was third of four with a seasonal story originally published in DARK JESTERS (Novello Publishers, 2006), “The Worst Christmas Ever,” from the point of view of a not-too-competent Santa’s elf about . . . well . . . a pretty bad Christmas.

Who knows what Friday the Thirteenth will bring, but yesterday, Thursday the twelfth, was rather nice despite a gloomy, Octobery day.  The highlight, a first poetry acceptance for me by STAR*LINE new editor Vince Gotera, for a “horrorku” titled “Wet Work.”  Horrorku?  Well, it’s sort of supposed to be horror plus haiku though it’s really more just a three line poem with a vaguely 5-7-5 syllable count (mine is 5-7-4) on a horror subject, which in my case would more likely be epigrammatic, although not always.  But to the point, even if lacking walruses (cf. October 1) “Wet Work” does have a mermaid.

Then Thursday night brought the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. June 8, et al.) with, this time, a special reading performance of PREMIUM TAFT, a two-act play by Tom Trent, with musical interludes by Jason Fickel.  PREMIUM TAFT is, to read from the Facebook description, “[a] fictional time-traveling comedy about William Howard Taft’s whistle-stop presidential campaign appearance at the Mitchell Opera House in 1908 . . .  or maybe 1958?”  Or science fiction meets farce, in this case with an Indiana small-town ambience with grifters, politicos, greed, and rock ‘n’ roll.  And lots of fun.

This was followed by “open mic” presentations of which mine came in fourth of six, to an audience of about 15 people.  Noting that it had been a gloomy, Octobery day, ideal as a precursor for Halloween, I read four poems from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “Night Child,” “La Méduse,” “Moonlight Swimming,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.”

An unseasonably warm sun-drenched day greeted September’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf. May 29, et al.).  Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, four local writers were featured this time, Jenny Kander, Thomas Tokarski, Doris Lynch, and Roger Pfingston, billed as “The Tuesday Poets” and offering a variety of styles and subject matter.  After the break, four walk-ons stepped up to read, offering a symmetry of sorts as well as a similar range of styles, of which I was the last with a series of very short, horror-related pieces, on tracking zombies, mermaids and vampires, Erzebet Bathory, and other such subjects, the best received of which — why not? — I’ll present here as well:

LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

It wasn’t bad
till they released the bears;
the cats came
of their own accord.

And so the autumn season begins. . . .

While Saturday started off a bit cool and clouded for my taste, the sun had established itself by a little past noon and Sunday followed sunny and warm too, a beautiful weekend for this year’s Bloomington 4th Street Festival of Arts & Crafts and, with it, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage (cf. below, August 30).  Along with a number of poets both days, Saturday also brought Bloomington High School South’s Poetry Out Loud (getting the new generation on our side), children’s theater with the Merry Mac Players, FRANKENSTEIN as presented by the Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players, and poetry “band” Shakespeare’s Monkey.  Then Sunday introduced more prose fiction readers, including Joan Hawkins and Shayne Laughter who we’ve met before (cf., e.g., various First Sundays Prose readings, for which in a way today’s Spoken Word session was a substitute), and . . . somewhat late in the day at 3:30 p.m., me.  In my case, I read three excerpts from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the back cover blurb and the introduction to Section II — by way of a sort of introduction — followed by the Section II story-chapter “The Last Dance.”  This was the same as the reading I presented last July at NASFiC in Puerto Rico (see July 13) and it seemed to go over well to an audience that started out on the small side, but grew as I continued, a good sign as these things go.  Next month, also, I’ll probably read the same first two parts but a slightly shorter story-chapter for October’s First Sunday.

Then speaking of TOMBS, Saturday’s email brought an “eligibility check” from the Horror Writers Association for works submitted to the Bram Stoker Award(R) Jury.  This consisted of questions concerning publication date, length and content, and prior publication (if any) of parts of the contents, all of which I was able to answer in the affirmative and send right back.  While this will be checked by the Jury people, with an official “acceptance” probably not for two weeks, one possibly ambiguous thing has been decided.  Although TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is a novel-in-stories, akin to Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB, under the technicalities of the Stoker rules, it will be voted on in the Fiction Collection category.

So what that means in the here and now:  If you’re a HWA member and have read TOMBS, and have a hankering to recommend it for a Stoker, please do it for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”  But even if you’re not a HWA member, while/if the spirit moves please also consider reviewing it for Amazon and Barnes & Noble (both of which are offering wildly discounted prices on TOMBS, by the way, while they last), as well as on Goodreads.




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