Posts Tagged ‘Casket Girls’

Told you so (cf. May 7; also April 28, 21 2015, et al.), and now it’s up.  A tale of les filles à les caissettes of New Orleans, in particular of the one named “Lo,” being interviewed by a reporter from the Times-Picayune.  But let’s let Short Mystery Fiction moderator Kevin R. Tipple make the formal announcement.

Today, James Dorr shares his “paranormal detective story” archived at DAILY SCIENCE FICTION titled “Dead Lines.”  James adds that the tale is also “. . . intended as a tip of the hat to Edgar Allan Poe as a father of the detective genre.”  While at the site, James has another story, “Casket Girls” in the archives for your reading pleasure.

So what’s the occasion?  May happens to be International Short Story Month and in celebration, the SMFS has been posting a story a day from society members throughout the month.  To see for yourself, one need but press here.  This takes you to the Society’s blog from which there’s not only the story du jour, but scrolling down (e.g, .mine will be one story below if you happen on this tomorrow, Friday May 12) you can read the stories of previous days all the way to May 1.  So how’s that for a deal?

And one thing more, as Kevin points out, an additional link to “Casket Girls” invites you to go to the background tale of les filles’ arrival at the Big Easy in 1728, and the one named Aimée.  And as a further bonus, when on the DAILY SF site if you type my last name in the search box on the right, you can find three additional  stories by me, though not in the New Orleanian series.

May is International Short Story Month and, in celebration, the Short Mystery Fiction Society has put out the call for a story a day, if they can get ’em, from writer-members.  These would be already published stories, to be sure, with the idea that links will be provided on the SMFS blog daily, and word came this morning:  I’m up for Thursday.  That is, this Thursday, May 11, with the story in question one actually published on DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, but nevertheless a mystery of sorts, a tale of les filles à les caissettes of New Orleanian fame and the one called Lo, titled “Dead Lines” (see April 28, 21 2015, et al.).  Moreover, according to coordinator Kevin R. Tipple, “I took the liberty of adding your explanation of the tale to the blog posting so that folks who are clueless don’t send me emails asking what is up 🙂 ,” this regarding the story’s also referencing, in an oblique way, Edgar Allan Poe as a founder of the detective story — and also, if he includes it, a second link to the original story “Casket Girls.”

So you get two for one on Thursday (or even more — since the story will be in DAILY SF’s archives, type “Dorr” in the search box it will provide to find three additional short shorts by me).  Or, if in a hurry to see what’s what on the mystery side, the SMFS blog with today’s story can be reached by pressing here.

In other news, a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon marked this month’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local bookstore Boxcar Books, with  featured readers Amy L. Cornell (who we’ve met before, cf. May 1 2016) with a poem, a short story, and a sort of essay coming back to poetry; Abegunde (cf. March 27, 6 2016, et al.) with a selection of essays on “what lies beneath” her recent poetry MS about  a visit to Juba, South Sudan (a portion of which was also a finalist for the 2017 COG Poetry Award); and Khashayar Tonekaboni (pen name Terry Pinaud, cf. February 7 2016) with a short story based, in part, on a French Canadian play.  Then after the break, there were five open mike readers with me number three, with a story of sweet lesbian, non-casket girl, vampire love titled “A Cup Full of Tears,” originally published in MON COEUR MORT (Post Mortem Press, 2011).

This also marks the last “First Sunday” gathering for this spring, with the series to resume again in early autumn.

That title may be a little misleading.  Okay, a lot?  But it occurred to me that, as a horror writer, cults and people’s joining of cults is an area that might be worth exploring whether for story ideas, or defining characters within already written (or read) stories.  Does DRACULA, for instance, with vampire-in-progress Mina psychically linked to the one who is “turning” her, actually describe a cult, with the ritual of driving a stake through the count’s heart representing an ultimate means of deprogramming?  I think, myself, of my New Orleans-based “Casket Girls” (cf. August 4, March 6 this year; April 28 2015; April 17 2014; et al.) as having formed a polyamorous society of ladies with similar dining habits, but to what extent might that be cult-like too?  Or, more generally thinking, how many horror tales might simply feature bands of non-supernatural zealots who, possibly, might stick together after some menace has been conquered — think torch-bearing mobs following a charismatic burgermeister to seek more Frankensteins’ castles to burn.

Then there are the real cults, as that of Charles Manson.  Or in Waco Texas.  But are all cults bad?   Which all comes down to that, via the magic of today’s email, I ran across an interesting piece, “How Do People Become Indoctrinated Into Cults” by Derek Beres, on BIGTHINK.COM for which one may press here.  Is the horror writing community in itself a cult (well, for this one no, because we all run in different directions — at least when we’re left alone — so we’re probably more unfinishedlike a hypothetical herd of cats.  All after the mouse, yes, but. . . .)?

So, changing the subject, last night I and four others met in an old house on darkest 6th Street for a ritual of our own, a rehearsal for a reading performance of a play, to be presented on October 28 at local Bloomington pub The Back Door.   Scenes from a grisly play in progress, “The Unfinished” by Donald Mabbott, will be read by Writers Guild members Shayne Laughter, Joan Hawkins, Tony Brewer, and James Dorr.   Just in time for Halloween!, to quote the blurb for it.  A horror-themed open mic will follow.  For more on this one, one may press here.

Her lipstick is flawless and her eyebrows are the boss of you.

Why is it that female cartoon villains get to be all of these things, to have all of these things?  Why do they get to have hairstyles — no, Hairstyles, with a capital Hair — while their protagonist counterparts are drawn small and soft and childlike?  Why does Ursula get to have a beauty mark and the most impeccably waterproof makeup a sea witch could hope for, while Ariel gets the same wide-eyed small-jawed face as every other white Disney princess?  Why does Maleficent get a headpiece that defines menacing elegance and dark grandeur, while Aurora gets Villainess-Shegogeneric late-fifties bangs?  Why does Shego get to mouth off to Drakken and read magazines by the pool and decide what is and isn’t her job, while Kim Possible has to leap into action regardless of whether she’s tired or sad or sick or, heaven forbid, too busy?

So asks Sarah Gailey on today’s TOR.COM with “In Defense of Villainesses.”  Outside of cartoons, I could add my own Aimée and her fellow filles à les caissettes.  And I especially like one observation Gailey makes, or at least sidles up to.  That it may be the most perfect, innocent princesses who eventually grow up to be the Evil Queens.

In any event I couldn’t resist (and if you can’t either, press here).

February is Women in Horror Month, and we here at Mocha Memoirs Press love our ladies of horror!

In celebration of “Ghoul Power,” we hosted a Flash Fiction Contest.

This collection contains the bone-chilling stories from the top ten finalists.

So says the announcement from Mocha Memoirs Press for their Women in Horror Month Flash Fiction Contest chapbook (cf. June 21, 8, February 23, et al.), now titled MOCHA’S DARK BREW.  At least for the present, the book can be bought on Createspace only for a THUMBNAIL_IMAGEmere $3.00 — but, buyer beware, a shipping cost of slightly more than that will be required too.  Nevertheless, while most definitely a proverbial “thin volume,” what wonderful stuffers for Halloween stockings!  Or handing out for tricks and treats?  Or even for gifties for next February’s Women in Horror Month, maybe combined with Valentine’s day too.

For all that, my entry in this self-styled “micro-anthology” is a tale of the vampiress Aimée on a post-concert night in 19th century New Orleans, originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG (see January 12 2015).  Arrived in the city slightly more than a century before, from time to time she finds herself between husbands — but, as for anyone, dates sometimes go wrong.  And now, in “Flightless Rats,” what happens next can be tasted again with nine other finalist stories, all fine bitter spoonfuls of horror delight in a truly dark brew, for information/ordering of which one may press here.

This came to me Monday afternoon via Robert Dunbar on Facebook’s LITERARY DARKNESS, an interesting, grotesque, and in its way beautiful piece by Josh Jones from OPENCULTURE.COM.  Titled  “Discover the First Horror & Fantasy Magazine, DER ORCHIDEENGARTEN, and Its Bizarre Artwork (1919-1921),” the article describes and offers examples from a German precursor to even America’s venerable WEIRD TALES (first issue March 1923), its title translated as THE GARDEN OF ORCHIDS.  To quote the article’s third paragraph, “[t]he magazine featured04-Der-Orchideengarten-1919-German-magazine-cover_900 work from its editors Karl Hans Strobl and Alfons von Czibulka, from better-known contemporaries like H.G. Wells and Karel Capek, and from forefathers like Dickens, Pushkin, Guy de Maupassant, Poe, Voltaire, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others.  ‘Although two issues of Der Orchideengarten were devoted to detective stories,’ writes 50 Watts, ‘and one to erotic stories about cuckolds, it was a genuine fantasy magazine.’  And it was also a gallery of bizarre and unusual artwork.”

To see it all for oneself, why not press here (and also be sure to check out the links in the piece itself, including the “Related Content” down at the bottom)?

Yesterday also brought a missive from Alexandra Christian, to wit:  “Here is the very limited edit on your flash story.  I just wanted to make sure it was all good before it went out to the formatter.”  And so the writing life continues, the very few changes checked out this morning with my reply just sent back.  This is for the Mocha Memoirs Press chapbook that will include my New Orleanian “casket girls” tale of “Flightless Rats” (cf. June 8, et al.), as one of ten stories that placed in their last February’s Women in Horror Month flash fiction contest.  More on this to be announced when it happens.

For starters, Tuesday brought a second “mystery” acceptance, with contract attached, with the same proviso as with yesterday’s, that details cannot be released until all aspirants have learned their fates.  Or something like that.  The idea is not to have rumors flying until everyone concerned knows whether their stories have found new homes or not.  Again, fair enough.  But in the meantime, another thing learned:  that all can be unveiled next Monday.

Also, harking back to June 8 (cf. that date, also February 23 this year), we have an update on “Flightless Rats” and Mocha MemoirThedaBaras’s Top Ten Flash Fiction Finalist chapbook.  Stories are in the editing process (“not planning on doing any huge changes, but I do want you to look them over”) with proof sheets to come in, probably, the next few weeks.  Also a cover is being designed, according to Tuesday morning’s email from Editor Alexandra Christian.  “We don’t have a final release date yet, but we’re looking at getting this out by the end of July.  It’s going to be a whirlwind, but I think we can do it.”

(Again the picture could be of the vampiress Aimée after an extremely satisfying night, but it’s actually early 20th century American film actress Theda Bara.)

It seemed a mystery at first when it arrived.  From Nicole Kurtz of MOCHA MEMOIRS PRESS, the email read:

Dear Contest Winners:

Thank you for your patience, and congratulations on being our top ten finalist in our flash fiction contest.

Here are our next steps.

1. The stories are being edited.

2. They will be published in a promotional horror chapbook from Mocha Memoirs in both ebook and print versions.

3. Cover art is being considered.

But . . . contest?  Chapbook?  Something dim stirred.  I did a search on Mocha Memoirs — yes, they had published a story of mine in the past as well, maybe more than one, but this was something different.  I had a vague memory. . . .

And then it clicked!  Women in Horror Month, February 2016.  And this, dated February 23, Now it has been revealed!  My story, “Flightless Rats,” has made the list of finalists for the Mocha Memoirs Press Women in Horror Month Flash Fiction contest.  Or, in the official wording:  “The following stories have been chosen as the TOP TEN Flash Stories of 2016!  These stories (pending various technical stuffs) will be compiled into a micro-anthology FlightlessRats2for use by the press.  However, now we need YOUR VOTES to determine the winner of the GRAND PRIZE — $20 Amazon GC!”

The voting is long over, of course, the winner announced.  The top ten finalists, “Diabolique” by Tracy Vincent, “Flightless Rats” by James Dorr, “Pickman’s Model” by Jason Ellis, “Hell on Earth” by Carrie Martin, “The Damned” by Melissa McArthur, “Servant Girl Anihilator” by Robert Perret, “Staying” by Myriah Strozykowsky, “Hag” by Marcia Wilson, “What the Dollhouse Saw” by Karen Bovenmeyer, and “Thin Ice” by Marcia Colette, with the grand winner being Myriah Strozykowsky’s “Staying.”  “Flightless Rats” was originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG, a.k.a. FREE SCIENCE FICTION, on January 12 2015 (cf. that date, below), and starred the New Orleanian vampiress Aimée (who we may recall from “Casket Girls” in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, see April 17 2014 et al.) about a century after her original 1728 arrival in New France.

So here will be a chance to make one’s acquaintance again in the presumably fairly near future.

Then, speaking of Eighteenth Century France and King Louis XV, a very interesting article — especially for science fiction fans with steampunk proclivities (speaking of “clockworkpunk,” just below) — also turned up in my (e)mailbox this afternoon.  On automata of that time and before, it comes courtesy of ELECTRIC LITERATURE (ELECTRICLITERATURE.COM) by Michael Peck, “The Impossible Bleeding Man:  On the History and Mythology of Artificial Life,” and begins with the bringing to the French king’s attention an amazingly lifelike mechanical duck.  But if ducks, why not men — at least model men, for the betterment of the study of medicine?  Or, as some might say, might that not be taking science too far (believe it or not, a pre-Mary Shelly inventor named “Frankenstein” appeared in France in 1790 in THE LOOKING GLASS OF ACTUALITY, OR BEAUTY TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER by François-Félix Nogaret)?  To see more, press here.

(The flying thing at upper left in the picture, however, is not a duck but a bat; while the standing figure, while it conceivably could be Aimée, is actually Carol Borland in the 1935 movie MARK OF THE VAMPIRE.)

Back into the swing of things for spring with March’s First Sunday Prose Readings.  Guest readers this time were Indiana University Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies visiting faculty member Abegunde with excerpts from a continuing “memory work,” a composition neither wholly fiction nor nonfiction; Lisa Kwong, an “AppalAsian poet in the Midwest” and MFA graduate currently teaching Asian American Studies and Freshman Composition, this month reading from new work in progress, mostly essays but also ending with two poems; and historical novelist Annette Oppenlander reading from her latest book, ESCAPE FROM THE PAST:  THE KID, in which time-traveling gamer Max journeys to the wild west of 1881 New Mexico, rubbing elbows with, among others, the original Billy the Kid.  When open mike time came, my offering was a 400-word piece as a sort of background on last month’s “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale” (cf. February 7), recounting the arrival of the “casket girls” in New Orleans (in one sense covering much the same ground of my 2014 DAILY SCIENCE FICTION story “Casket Girls” — see April 17 2014, et al.) but adding the sense of irony to it that I then transferred to the character Claudette in last month’s offering.  And one other thing, written for an exercise as a 500-word or less story containing the exact words “taxes,” “carpenter,” and “vinegar,” in this case ending up with the title “The Flavor of the Jest.”

Now it has been revealed!  My story, “Flightless Rats,” has made the list of finalists for the Mocha Memoirs Press Women in Horror Month Flash Fiction contest.  Or, in the official wording:  The following stories have been chosen as the TOP TEN Flash Stories of 2016!  These stories (pending various technical stuffs) will be compiled into a micro-anthology for use by the press.  However, now we need YOUR VOTES to determine the winner of the GRAND PRIZE — $20 Amazon GC!  So use the form below to find your favorite (CLICK THE TAB FOR WiH Flash Fiction Contest 2016) and VOTE!!!!   “Flightless Rats” was originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG for January 12 2015, and is one of several flash pieces I’ve been working on concerning the origin and further adventures of the “Casket Girls” of  New Orleanian urban legend (cf. February 18, et al.).

Following is the list of finalists which can be reached for voting by pressing here.  Also for those who want a reminder read-through of some or all tales, texts of the original twenty-plus entries can still be found by pressing here.

The Top Ten Flash Fiction Finalists!

Diabolique by Tracy Vincent
Flightless Rats by James Dorr
Pickman’s Model by Jason Ellis
Hell on Earth by Carrie Martin
The Damned by Melissa McArthur
Servant Girl Anihilator by Robert Perret
Staying by Myriah Strozykowsky
Hag by Marcia Wilson
What the Dollhouse Saw by Karen Bovenmeyer
Thin Ice by Marcia Colette




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