Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

So today the governor of Indiana has ordered residents, with a few exceptions, to stay holed up at home until April 6.  That is, for two weeks (well actually thirteen days), with April 6 also the tentative date for the public library to reopen (see March 16, 14) — though when the time comes both closures could of course be extended.  Meanwhile the writing life, even if curtailed, continues.

Thus yesterday, from Crystal Lake Publishing Editor Joe Mynhardt, came the email:  I’d love to publish “Midnight Sun” in the next SHALLOW WATERS anthology, out around Mid-April. . . , but with one small catch.  We may recall that “Midnight Sun” scored last fall in a three-way tie for third place in Crystal Lake’s Flash Fiction Contest for “Travel Horror” (cf. October 15, 11, et al.), part of the prize being prospective future publication.  So the time has come, but the catch was an up-front request for possible editorial changes.

Well, that’s part of the writing life too and, as I looked the story over, I did see one thing that bothered me about it, a passage justifying the title that otherwise didn’t seem to make that much sense.  So I changed the passage — but also the title, the story of a Los Angeles vampire’s Christmas journey to the far north now renamed “Midnight Dark.”  Then a round of small changes from the publisher’s side, my okaying some, re-changing some others, all taking far longer than they otherwise might have due to the underpowered Cave Computer at this end.

But then nobody said it would be easy, right?  The changes went in Monday night, a contract came today (more problems for the Cave Computer), and a photograph of the signed contract plus an RTF copy of “Midnight Dark” with its final changes went back to Crystal Lake this evening.  The book, when it comes out, will be SHALLOW WATERS:  A FLASH FICTION ANTHOLOGY, VOL. 5, with more to come here as it becomes known.

With a tip of the hat to gone but remembered Cave Cat Wednesday, and from the Goth Cat Triana as well  (courtesy Gary O. Clark, et al., via HORRORHOMEWORK.COM)

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.

‘Twas the month of December and time for the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (see November 3, et al.) at Bear’s Place.  The featured readers were Carolyn Geduld with two selections from her about to be published novel-in-stories TAKE ME OUT THE BACK, about a mass shooting and its effects on the surrounding community; followed by Abegunde (who we’ve met a number of times before) with readings from a draft work in progress “for Ruth George and all the women killed by angry men.”  This was followed by seven walk-ons with generally lighter fare of which I was fourth with a “rerun” of my seasonal horror/black comedy “The Worst Christmas Ever” (cf. December 4 2017). Then afterward a number of us reconvened at Writer’s Guild President Joan Hawkins’s house for a farewell gathering for member Shayne Laughter (also the afternoon’s second “Open Mic” reader) who will be leaving Bloomington later this month for an extended stay in India.

Talk about quick!  We may recall SCARY SNIPPETS:  HALLOWEEN EDITION, the flash fiction book of lots of stories — 100 or more — each of 500 words or fewer (see November 11, October 30, et al.).  Well, they’re at it again, this time for the Winter Holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s, say, and even a few up to 600 words, but we know we mean Christmas), with SCARY SNIPPETS:  CHRISTMAS EDITION.  And, one of my dirty little secrets, I often write Christmas stories myself though they’re hard to sell — strictly seasonal interest plus for some reason people expect them to be jolly.  I don’t do “jolly.”  But, well, anyway I went to the Trunk of Unused Christmas Fiction and extracted one titled “He Knows When You’re Awake” and whisked it right off only two days ago.

And the word just came back, along with a contract:  CONGRATULATIONS!  Your Story — He Knows When You’re Awake — Has been ACCEPTED into the Scary Snippets Winter Holiday (I freaking like that) edition!  Thank you also for thinking ahead and sending your bio; you’re on the ball this holiday season Mr. Dorr!  Thank you!  Here is your contract; sent in either docx or pdf for your convenience, you only need to return one.

So, just for the record, the contract does say “SCARY SNIPPETS:  CHRISTMAS EDITION,” but what’s in a name?  The contract is signed and went back today, with more to come as it becomes known.

The results are in:

1st: “Driving On” by Guy Medley
2nd: “Hook-Hand Man’s Last Night on Lovers’ Lane” by Patrick Barb
3rd: “Travel Bag” by Bryan Miller &
“Turkish Delight On the Blue Line” by Shoshana Edwards &
“Midnight Sun” by James Dorr

These are the results of the Crystal Lake Flash Fiction Challenge (see October 11, September 25) on the theme of Travel Horror, my entry being “Midnight Sun” on the wisdom (among other things) of heading north when threatened by a zombie apocalypse.  At least, that is, if it’s almost Christmas.  These were voted on by Crystal Lake Patreon subscribers (is that the right term?) of which I am not, so I can’t read the stories myself — but a win (even if in a tie for third place) is a win, yes?  And that’s not a bad thing.

And there’s more as well.  The e-announcement, received yesterday from Contest Coordinator Joe Mynhardt, went on:  After every challenge I check with the authors of stories I really like (or stories that were quite popular with the patrons, even though they didn’t win) about what they want to do with their story.  I’m looking for some stories to fill our SHALLOW WATERS anthologies, and would love to include your story.  These books roughly 20k words, eBook only, and selling at only 99c.  It’s basically just a cool way to promote great flash and our Patreon page, while bringing in a bit of funds for our bigger projects.

So “Midnight Sun” will have a home too, my having just sent back my “yes” this afternoon.   More details to come as soon as I get them.

Then one more item.  Today the proof copy came for STAR*LINE 41.4, for Fall 2019, with corrections going back later today.  I have three poems in this one (cf. October 4), “Parents,” “The Frugal Vampiress,” and “Gourmet Warning,” to appear on pages 13, 28, and 29 respectively.

This was the deal.  This month’s theme is Travel Horror, so any stories taking place on planes, trains, boats and goats.  Or any other medium of travel you can think of.  The prize includes a $20 token payment, publication in an upcoming SHALLOW WATERS anthology, and an Author Spotlight on the Crystal Lake Patreon page and newsletter.  Patreon supporters would vote on these stories, thirteen in all as it turns out (see September 25, below), with mine being last to be posted.  Lucky number thirteen!  And now its time has come.

The story in question is “Midnight Sun,” the tale of a Los Angelino night nurse with a secret, and a need to journey far, far to the north.  Those interested can find it by pressing here, along with, I assume, the twelve that preceded it.  Even better, they can vote for it and, even if it doesn’t come first, if it gets enough support it, too, may be chosen to be in SHALLOW WATERS, Crystal Lake Publishing’s periodic flash fiction anthology.  But there is a catch:  If folks ask, they need to be a $5 Fans of Fiction tier patron, or any of the higher tiers.  Authors who want to read and vote but also want to see our author related posts will have to join the $7 or higher tiers.  If they only join the $5 Author on the Go tier, they won’t be able to read these stories.  Again, information, including how to join should the spirit so move (and, remember, vote “Midnight Sun”), may be found by pressing here.

Also Facebook brought word that ABYSS & APEX Editor Wendy S. Delmater’s “how to” book WRITING THE ENTERTAINING STORY is currently out on Kindle.  So why mention if here?  Well, I get mentioned/supply an example in a discussion about how a writer can use a few broad details to induce readers to flesh out a scene by bringing their own memories and experiences to it.  The story in question — a science fiction flash piece of almost exactly 1000 words (I’d had to cut it down from 1200!) — is called “Nanoflakes,” about a young boy in a future that includes interactive breakfasts, and was published itself in ABYSS & APEX in its Second Quarter 2006 issue.*  Information on the Kindle edition can be found here.
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*”Nanoflakes” was reprinted in UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND ANTHOLOGY (cf. September 10, May 6 2011), but also — and here’s the lagniappe! — can still be found in its original outing in the ABYSS & APEX archives by pressing here.

This was the pitch:  This month’s theme is Travel Horror, so any stories taking place on planes, trains, boats and goats.  Or any other medium of travel you can think of.  The prize includes a $20 token payment, publication in an upcoming Shallow Waters anthology, and an Author Spotlight on the Crystal Lake Patreon page and newsletter.  Stories had to be under 1000 words and sent by September 19 at the latest, so why not thought I.  Other information from Crystal Lake Publishing’s Joe Mynhardt included:  For those not familiar with the challenge, it’s open to all authors, and you don’t have to be a Crystal Lake Patreon supporter/patron to enter.  I’ll personally read the stories and choose the best stories, which I’ll then post to the Crystal Lake patrons.  They’ll read and vote for a winner.  And even if you don’t win, the most popular stories will be invited to one of our Shallow Waters anthologies.

So Wednesday the word came:  Congrats, James, your flash fiction story is moving on to the Patreon voting stage of our flash fiction challenge.  A list followed of thirteen titles (of about 40 entered) with mine the last of them, which means it will be the last to be posted on the Crystal Lake Patreon page.  So those who are patrons take notice, and perhaps think of giving my tale your vote (though, alas, I cannot vote for it myself, or even I think read the rival stories, not being a Patreon member myself).

But it’s the thrill of the chase that counts, no?  My story is titled “Midnight Sun” and is the tale of an ER night nurse’s pre-Christmas journey to the far, far north.  But why, one might ask (hint: it’s not to meet Santa)?  For that you will have to read it yourself, with a link to come when the story is up which will be posted here.  But as publisher Mynhardt also reminds us, [p]lease take note that only subscribers/patrons can read and vote.  Hopefully folks who follow your link will like what they see on our Patreon page and join (and vote for your story, of course).

Yes, let us recall PLANET SCUMM and its Christmastide presentation of “Holly Jolly” (see March 17 2019; December 27, 14 2018, et al.), the tale of a pointy-eared alien conqueror, or at least he hoped to be.  For after all, disguised as a department store Santa’s assistant elf, what could possibly go wrong?  Well, you can find out by buying the Winter 2018 issue of PLANET SCUMM, if you haven’t already, and now you can hear it for yourself too in a just-released audio edition.

Or, to quote from the reindeer’s mouth as it were:  Planet Scumm is a quarterly science-fiction magazine, published by Spark & Fizz Books.  It is produced by Tyler Burdwood, Sean Clancy, Eric Loucks, Samuel Rheaume and Alyssa Alarcón Santo.  [It] was born out of reverence for the bizarre science fiction magazines of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s.  We cherish the genre as an open forum for philosophy, anxieties, thought experiments and thoughtless experiments.

Also, according to the announcement, the issue is out as well in a new paperback book edition.  For either form, pb or audio, find more out by pressing here.

Hark we back from Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas last year and the publication of “Holly Jolly” in PLANET SCUMM (see December 27, 14, et al.), the saga of an elf invasion of Earth gone bad.  This was in issue 6, the “O Scumm All Ye Faithful” edition dated for December 2018.  But all is not over, it seems, for issue 6.  Word has come from editor Tyler Berd that an audio version has just been edited and, moreover, a new print edition in perfect-bound paperback form with “a less Christmasy cover” is in the worls, both planned to be released this summer.  More to be announced here as it becomes known.




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