Posts Tagged ‘Darker Loves’

Swinging into the life of the writer, two days ago the contract arrived from the “Scary Dairy Press Team” for their eco-horror anthology MOTHER’S REVENGE (see February 12, et al.).  My offering in this is a story I’m fond of, “Swarms,” originally published in Lone Wolf’s 2001 CD ROM anthology BLOODTYPE (and listed in Datlow/Windling’s THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR — ah, those were the years!) and also in my collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.  A reprint in the recycling bin, as one might have it.  But MOTHER’S REVENGE is mostly to be original fiction, as most anthologies tend to be these days, making my little tale an exception but, if I may say so, a good enough fit for the theme for (my having explained the story’s status in my cover letter) the editors to have accepted it anyway.  Only problem, the contract that came was one designed for original fiction.

What one does then, though, is fairly standard.  This was one I was to print out and send back as hard copy, so what one does is to pen in corrections, initialing each as well as signing the contract as a whole at the bottom (thus, in effect, signing the contract “as corrected,” in theory allowing the publisher then to correct the corrections if need be, then send it back, and so it goes. . . ).  In this, changing a reference from “first rights” to “one-time rights” and lining out wording having to do with no “prior publication” (since for reprints there is, by definition).  And thus yesterday it went into the mail while I emailed the publisher telling them that it was on the way as well as explaining the changes I’d made in case they might cause any problem at their end.  Then, later that evening I got an email back, Wonderful!  Thanks so much!, so apparently we’re still on the path for a hoped-for Earth Day, April 22, release.

Quotation marks — do I sense a pun?  But first let us repair to the wayback machine for a journey to June 21 2015, “Now It Can Be Told. . . .” (cf., as well, November 4, August 7, et al.), where it was revealed that my reprint story from GOTHIC GHOSTS, “Victorians,” had been accepted for an omnibus volume of unworldly imaginings, both old and new, called CHILLING GHOST SHORT STORIES, to come out in Britain in a deluxe edition by Flame Tree Publishing.  In this case, neatly sandwiched between tales by luminaries Charles Dickens (“The Signal-Man”) and 09_flame_tree_chilling_ghosts-1Arthur Conan Doyle (“The New Catacomb”).   And then to fast forward where we now discover that Editor Gillian Whitaker is at it again.

Two titles were announced this time out, CRIME AND MYSTERY (to “feature whodunits, detective stories and mysteries bordering on the supernatural.  Probably the more gentle of the two volumes so think Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown and Poirot”) and MURDER MAYHEM (“more hard boiled and hard gore.  If your story features real monsters, human, serial killer or otherwise, this is the home for them, especially if the story’s POV is the killer’s”).  Ah, now, I thought. . . .  And so I submitted a total of three stories, actually (we were allowed to do that), two for the MURDER MAYHEM selection lest my favorite of them prove too extreme (good news:  it didn’t).  Then Monday and Tuesday last week the word came back, first for MURDER MAYHEM, then the next day for CRIME AND MYSTERY, but with the request that successful submitters hold off announcing the fact until all authors had had a chance to be informed.

So . . . to cop a cliché, now it can be told!  For MURDER MAYHEM my dog in the dogpile will be “Mr. Happy Head,” originally published in WICKED MYSTIC for Spring 1996 (and also reprinted and noted in the pages here in BIZARRO BIZARRO, cf. December 27, October 12, October 7 2013), about a dead man who’s still very persuasive and . . . birds.  For CRIME AND MYSTERY “Paperboxing Art,” originally seen in the Summer 1997 issue of NEW MYSTERY and subsequently an Anthony Award short story finalist at Bouchercon the following year, about an artist whose skill is in sculpting (wait for it!) paper boxes (and also reprinted in my collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, for more on which one can click on its picture in the center column).

The expected publication date for both of these is August 2016, of which more will appear here as it becomes known.

(This is being written late Tuesday night, and will likely be time/date stamped for Wednesday.  So it goes.)  Flood or famine, it’s always that way.  Nearly a week of nothing to post, then a flurry of items, the first for today (really late yesterday, that is to say Monday evening) being an email from GrayWhisper Graphics Productions:  “Thank you for your submission to SINGULAR IRREGULARITY, AN ANTHOLOGY ABOUT TIME TRAVEL GONE TERRIBLY WRONG, and giving us the opportunity to read ‘The Master of Time.’  We feel your story would be a great addition to the book and would like to include it in this collection.”  And so this evening was spent in part going over, signing, and emailing back  the contract plus going over and filling out a “checklist” with a number of items including a biographical statement (“This bio will appear on the KickStarter page along with a list of your credits, so quirky and anecdotal are welcomed”), the already mentioned credit list in its books-mostly form, a few other things. . . .  “The Master of Time,” also, is a reprint (“We all travel through time in a generally steady progression.  But suppose there was a clock which, in the reverse of the usual order of things, did not measure the progress of time but rather caused it.  Now suppose something happened that threatened to make that clock stop.”  Yes, part of the checklist was a “Story Teaser” too), first published in Summer 2002 in FANTASTIC STORIES, and also included in my collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.  But what a neat new home!  As the original guidelines challenged, “When things don’t go as planned, what’s Plan B?  What’s the contingency?  Who cleans up the mess? . . .  Anything from hiccups in the time-space to full-blown Armageddon. . . .”

But what if the clock stopped?

Then just the day after DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES #102 was received, I sent back corrections for another poem, “Godzilla vs. King Kong”  (cf. August 30 2015), for DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES #103 — actually received Monday too but, due to issues with the cave computer, not opened until today at the public library.  But also, and this one did come today, a second proof has been received, read, and returned to Bards and Sages Publishing for my story “Pavlov’s Dogs” for Volume 2 in their GREAT TOMES series (see this year, March 4).  So at least for now, the life is busy.

The curator tried to solve the mystery.  Of her flesh’s coolness.  “The soul,” he explained, “is a complex thing, a thing of more than a single aspect.  Its z’etoile, over all — its ‘star of guidance’ — in some ways determines its other parts’ workings.  Its will, its psyche, those things that make it unique, that is, the person whose soul it is part of.  For the body, also, is part of a person.   

    ”Its animus, that which inhabits the flesh and gives to it motion.  And halts its corruption.  These are other portions as well, all held together in delicate balance.  When one is living, held, too, with the body.” 

    ”And when one is dead?” a listener questioned.

    ”And when one dies, that balance is broken.  A ‘glue,’ if you like, has released its hold on these parts, letting all go their ways — some all at once, some lingering for some time.  Some leaving, perhaps, never, as in those cases the Ancients called ‘hauntings’ in legends that have come down over the ages.  Yet this is no ghost-soul — “

(From “The Ice Maiden,” THE TEARS OF ISIS, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013)

In my “Tombs” series of shared-universe, far-future stories of which “The Ice Maiden” is an example, I have yet to depict an actual full-blown religion, with ceremonies, temples, etc., but I have had characters often relate to a set of shared beliefs in spiritual matters — of what is the soul made?  what becomes of one after death?  etc. — from which a religion might be constructed.  Other descriptions come up, e.g., in “The Walking” and “There Was an Old Man” in my DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, as well as “Raising the Dead,” published this spring in the White Cat Publications anthology AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS.  Thus in “The Ice Maiden” the title character’s z’etoile, for instance, has placed her into a sort of stasis, body and soulimages, until her fated lover, Caldera, arrives to join her even if thousands of years too late.

Not all of these stories hinge on these beliefs, as the three I cite do, but they’re still in the background, a part of the (hopefully) rich, complex setting that becomes the common theme of the series.  So, too, any horror story that includes characters existing after their Earthly deaths — zombies, ghosts, vampires — also implies a set of beliefs which, even if not a part of the foreground, suggests a society in which religion or spirituality plays a role in the way people think.

So why bring this up?  As it happens, today’s email included a piece by Michael W. Clune on “Five Books About Imaginary Religions,”on TOR.COM, in which it is noted:  Speculative fiction writers can’t look away.  If technology represents humanity’s transcendence through reason, religion implies its eternal submission to mystical entities. . . .  [O]ften anti-science, they attract charlatans, they prey on ignorance — and yet there’s usually a kernel of real mystery at their heart, and the workings of the religion are often the coolest things about a book.  Perhaps it’s no surprise.  After all, sci-fi and fantasy writers create entire worlds; many of them feel that no imaginary world would be complete without an imaginary religion.

And so, in the spirit of Monday’s entry on economics just below, about something else I think is important to be aware of in a story’s background, one may (or not, as one’s taste dictates) click here.  But if so, be sure to read the comments too for other titles beyond the first five.

Kenneth A. Gunther, President and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said, “The Federal Reserve’s response on September 11th ensured a fully functioning payments system when the private sector could not….  The Fed’s dual roles [as provider of services and regulator of the payments system] are an essential element of the ongoing homeland security of the United States.”

[a true story]  Weirdly, I had written a story in March 2001 inspired in part by the October 12 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbor, about the interconnectedness of worldwide financial systems and how they, just as the interconnected alliances in 1914 turned a single relatively unimportant political assassination into World War I, could result in a terrorist attack on a New York-like US city.  On September 11 that year it was being looked at by GOTHIC.NET and I, feeling it perhaps a bit tasteless given that day’s events, considered withdrawing it.  Others, thankfully, not realizing my inspiration didn’t make the same connection — or if they did, still didn’t consider the story inappropriately prescient — and so it was published, titled “King Rat,” in GOTHIC.NET on March 11 2002.  (“King Rat” has subsequently been published in my Dark Regions Press collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET in 2007 and Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s 2013 anthology BLEED, profits from the latter going to the National Children’s Cancer Society.)

Be that as it may, there is an even more intriguing story about what really happened to the international finance system, via the US Federal Reserve, on “9-11” and the days that followed — and how perhaps the whole world was saved from a financial meltdown by (are we ready for this?) heroic bankers.  Which brings the question, are economics proper fodder for science fiction/horror?  I myself am interested in the economic underpinnings of the worlds I create in my fiction, and so I found this real-life account, “The Astonishing Story of the Federal Reserve on 9-11” by bunnygirl60 (that is, financial writer Arliss Bunny), to be fascinating.  If you would be inclined to agree (or even if not), you can find the skinny, courtesy of DAILYKOS.COM, by pressing here.

Then, in comparatively trivial news, I received word today from MAIN STREET RAG Editor M. Scott Douglass that a reprint story, “Curious Eyes,” originally published in THE FICTION PRIMER in December 1988, has been accepted for their anthology IT’S ABOUT TIME.  “’It’s about time.’  When you hear that phrase, what comes to your mind?  A parent or a spouse, arms crossed, foot tapping, watching as someone sneaks in at night?  Or do you see a calendar, its days or weeks flapping.  Maybe you see time extending into an imagined future, something yet to be understood or experienced.”  More information to be forthcoming.

Well, the blog’s formal name is RAMEAU’S NEPHEW, for (I believe) the 18th Century French writer and critic Denis Diderot’s philosophical satire Le Neveu de Rameau ou La Satire Seconde.  Be that as it may, a few days ago it included a review of the BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY JOURNAL #12 (see below, December 9) including, as one scrolls down, this about my story “Flute and Harp.”

“Playing together, they syncopated, their melodies weaving.  Trading crescendoes.

“…not exactly the duelling banjos in ‘Deliverance’ or the clinching love between fist-tapping warriors amid this journal’s earlier fiction, but more a feminine symbiosis of ‘augmenting rhythms’ within music and gentle love’s passion.  This is a major work of some sumptuous substance that I enjoyed, combining previous Dunsanyan elements and, inter alia, the honest-to-goodness tunnelling of culverts reminding me of similar in The Allotment and Nielsens’s version of Wonderland, all from the point of view of a ratcatcher in this tractably believable fantasy world, where ghouls and tombs are the effectively gruesome backdrop to the two women’s love and sacrifice, and, yes, the music of words themselves as well as the conjured music that I believe I can actually hear within what the words describe.”

I might note the “fantasy world” is that of the Tombs, of which I’ve written a number of stories (ah, now comes the plug) including three that appear in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  (Also one can be found in STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE and three in DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, among various other publications, for more on which one can click on their pictures in the center column).  And more immediately, the “nemonymous” nephew’s review can be read in its entirety by pressing here.

We may recall from August 3 that the Bloomington Writers Guild’s monthly First Sundays Prose Readings series is back after a two month summer hiatus.  So it happened Wednesday that I received an email from coordinator Kamil Khan asking if I would like to be one of the three featured readers next month.  This is an honor — I had done it once before, but that was over a year ago in February 2013 (cf. February 4 2013) — except just a week previously, on August 30 (see August 1), I would be doing a half-hour prose reading on the Spoken Word Stage at Bloomington’s Fourth Street Festival of Arts and Crafts. 

So I emailed back suggesting that I be scheduled the following month, for October 5, pointing out as well that it would be “[a] good month for a horror tale for Halloween too.”  Then the word came back, yes.  “I have you scheduled for October!”  And now preparations for two readings will be in progress, but separated enough that it shouldn’t cause any undue confusion.  I’ve pretty well decided (pending a final test timed reading) that for the Arts Fair I’ll read “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS — more or less my standard 15-minute reading these days, also the one I read at NASFiC last month for instance — plus a light flash piece for a mood change, and end with the short vampire tale “Casket Girls” from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (see April 17 and 10, et al.).  Now, for October when I’ll have about 15 minutes total, I’m tentatively looking at “The First Hundred Years,” a story based on a Jamaican legend except with zombies, that was originally published in my second prose collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET. 
Information and schedules for upcoming Writers Guild events can be found here.   

In other Wednesday news, the print edition of JWK FICTION BEST OF HORROR 2013 has arrived (see August 6, June 24).  This is the omnibus collection of what Editor/Publisher James Ward Kirk considers his company’s highlights of last year, in which my story “The Sidewalk,” originally published in TERMINAL FRIGHT #13, Fall 1996, appears third on the contents page, one of two stories representing the anthology GRAVE ROBBERS.  For more information and possibly ordering JWK BEST OF HORROR, click here

Busy, busy, busy.  On an otherwise nondescript Tuesday, the peak activity of which was to be a reading of the first week’s worth of “Poem-A-Day” poetry (see April 1), what should e-appear in my computer mailbox but a contract for a book to be called OMNIBUS:  MONK PUNK/SHADOW OF THE UNKNOWN from Aaron French.  Now there’s something that needs to be known about contracts, at least for anthologies, and that’s that the name of the actual story it’s for is usually not included, but rather is represented by a blank line for the author to fill in.  And, perhaps because it’s been a busy year so far with THE TEARS OF ISIS related stuff (you know what I mean 😉 ) and all, I had no memory of having even sent, much less having had accepted a story for something called OMNIBUS etc. (though I did have a memory of an anthology to be called MONK PUNK a few years back, mainly that I had not submitted a story to it).  Mystery, mystery!  Research, however, uncovered that I had had a story in a different anthology, THE SHADOW OF THE UNKNOWN, published in summer 2011 (cf. August 29 that year), and from there came the solution:  a combined reissue of these two anthologies is in the offing, from a new publisher, in which my THE SHADOW OF THE UNKNOWN story “The Festering,” itself a reprint originally published in the magazine BARE BONE, was to appear.

Who knew?  (Well, me now.)

So I signed that one and emailed it back at about the time another one came, this one from British Editor Theresa Derwin with the subject line “Zombie Anthology.”  It’s always nice to narrow these things down.  The cover letter, however, made reference to ZOMBIES GONE WILD and a relatively easy look-up revealed that the story in question was “The Dripping Nose that Wouldn’t Wipe” (cf. March 27 2012 — this story also a reprint, first published in the half-vampire/half-zombie anthology TOOTH DECAY), originally accepted for an  as yet untitled followup volume.  So that, too, was signed and sent back yesterday evening just in time for. . . .

A late Tuesday email from Editor Warren Lapine with a contract for “No Place to Hide” (yet another reprint, originally appearing in SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW) to be in his new FANTASTIC STORIES PRESENTS anthology.  This one is easy, the acceptance having come mere days ago (see March 31), but, weary from reading and signing things by now, I’m going to let it wait until later on Wednesday.

(And, just to be a completest, I also wrote and received emails Tuesday from Nicole Benz of Dark Regions Press, which could lead to updated, um, contracts for my collections STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE and DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.)

So what do writers do when they’re not writing?  Well, this is one answer.

Today, “Black Friday,” Dark Regions Press has announced its own post-Thanksgiving sale, this one lasting through Sunday, December 1.  Two offers may be of interest  for those who don’t yet have my first two mostly-prose collections, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE 10_limited_300pxand DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, but might be tempted to get one or both at a bargain price.  Any one paperback is being offered for only $9.00, the buyer’s choice, which amounts to a savings for DARKER LOVES, although the older and lower-priced STRANGE MISTRESSES might cost less at what seems to be a continuing offer (that is, regardless of this special sale) of 50 percent off of all backstock titles.  Then, for the second, Dark Regions is also offering one limited edition, hardcover, deluxe copy of ten pictured titles for just $25, which includes the deluxe edition of DARKER LOVES, although this appears to be more like a grab bag rather than letting you choose your title.  There are other offers in this sale too, though, some involving multiple titles, with information on all of these available by pressing here.

In other dark news, the premiere issue of BLOODBOND (see May 16) arrived today and the opening item in this first issue is a poem by me!  Published by Alban Lake Publishing, BLOODBOND is a semi-annual print “digest of Vampires, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters” with the current November issue edited by Terrie Leigh Relf.  And so, along those lines, my poem is bloodbond1-100x150“In the Company of Wolves” about what happens in present-day America when werewolves grow up.  Other authors and poets in this issue include Sandy DeLuca, John Grey, Tyree Campbell, and Marge Simon.

For more information, guidelines, and ordering information on BLOODBOND and its sister publications, including DISTURBED (see June 20, et al.), check out the Alban Lake website by clicking here.  Also, just following “In the Company of Wolves” is a two-page spread on my poetry book VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), for more information on which click its picture in the center column.

If you’ve never bought a book from Dark Regions Press via their website before, they have a deal for you this weekend — and for me too!  Their offer:  “During this weekend, any first-time customer to the website can receive a free trade paperback book of their choice with their order by indicating their selection in the Order Comments in the final stage of checkout.  . . .  [The] free trade paperback must be equal or lesser value than purchased title and must be in stock.  Only valid for customers who have never ordered through”  They go on to say that this offer is good only until Monday, Jamuary 21st, so one must buy quickly.  But the thing is, I (ahem) happen to have exactly two books available as trade paprbacks from Dark Regions Press myself — so if you’ve a mind to, here’s your chance to buy my second collection, DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, at full price and get my first, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE, thrown into the deal free.

For more information or to order either collection (DARKER LOVES is the more expensive so, if buying, it’s the one to go to first) you can click on their pictures in the center column just to the right, or go directly to my little section of Dark Regions’s website (and see a not too out-of-date biography of me there to boot) with both books conveniently listed with their prices by just pressing here.

And then of course, pimpage being pimpage, if you should buy them and like what you read, my newest collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS, should be coming out from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing just a few months from now in May.

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