Posts Tagged ‘Death’

So still not huge, but enough to purchase a modest dinner with maybe a glass of sweet tea on the side.  Thus, this the announcement from Editor “Mr. Deadman”:  It’s pay day. The royalties for CAMPFIRE TALES BOOK ONE comes to $96.00.  Split between the authors would mean $11.  CAMPFIRE TALES BOOK ONE gets hits every so often, and I’m actively promoting it via social network and writing groups.  . . .  Thank you all for considering Deadman’s Tome for CAMPFIRE TALES.  It was a different sort of animal, and the way CAMPFIRE TALES came to be was unusual.  I wish to work with you all in the future.

My story in this is “In The Octopus’s Garden” (see July 15, et al.), originally published in 69 FLAVORS OF PARANOIA, March-April 1999, and later lead story in my collection TEARS OF ISIS (for more on which, press its picture in the center column).  Also, for more on CAMPFIRE TALES BOOK ONE (yes, there’s a second book too, but that’s not the one that has my story), press here.

Then in other news, I’ve received the contract for “Got The Wash Day Blues” (see December 28), the tale of a laundry cop and a giant pile of animate dirty clothes, which has been signed and sent back late Thursday afternoon to Third Flatiron Publishing.  It will appear in their Spring anthology MONSTROSITIES to be published in March, more on which as it becomes available.

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No, the pictured DEATH: A GRAVESIDE COMPANION is not part of the list but, courtesy of ELECTRICLITERATURE.COM, herewith by its editor Joanna Ebenstein “10 Death-Obsessed Books to Satisfy Your Inner Goth.”  And, did I say eclectic?  How about leading it off with E. B. White’s beloved children’s tale of CHARLOTTE’S WEB in which Wilbur the pig learns that his purpose in life is to be made into bacon — and then adding, at number 6, Oscar Wilde’s SALOMÉ: A TRAGEDY IN ONE ACT, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley?  Other entrants include Edward Gorey’s THE GASHLYCRUMB TINIES (number 5), Henry James with THE TURN OF THE SCREW (number 7) George DuMaurier’s TRILBY (number 4), even Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (number 9).  So some may be familiar, some maybe not so much, but all can be found by pressing here.

There is nothing like hearing a scary story over the crackling of a burning campfire.  Some of the most memorial stories we’ve heard were when we were young, gathered around the warming glow with other kids.  To this day, though you may not necessarily recall the words, but I’m sure you remember the feeling.  The unnerving chills as the sense of dread slowly begins to overwhelm, yet you’re captivated and eager for more.  The stories in this collection are crafted by talented writers to tap into that feeling.   (Amazon blurb)

So has come the word from Jesse Dedman of DEADMAN’S TOME that CAMPFIRE TALES, in two separate volumes, is up for pre-order on Amazon, awaiting official publication on August 1.  So what’s the deal there?  Well, we may remember long, long ago (see June 5 2016, et al.) that a story of mine, “In the Octopus’s Garden,” was slated to publish in CREEPY CAMPFIRE STORIES, except (cf. April 1 this year) CREEPY CAMPFIRE STORIES was to be no more.  But then (April 21) the campfire spark was rekindled, with DEADMAN’S TOME sponsoring a new CAMPFIRE TALES which, with this new announcement, is almost upon us.

“In the Octopus’s Garden” itself has been around the block more than once, originally published in 69 FLAVORS OF PARANOIA in March-April 1999, not to mention being lead story in my Stoker nominated (ah, now!) collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.  And elsewhere I’m sure too — that’s octopuses for you!  But the point is, it’s once more slithering up from the depths to be in the new CAMPFIRE TALES, Volume 1, for more info on which one need but press here.  (Or for volume 2 info, press instead here, or to run a quick check on THE TEARS OF ISIS just click on its picture in the center column.)

Another month and, on a crisp but sunny afternoon, it was time for February’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf., e.g., January 29, et al.).  Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, some 18 to 20 people attended, with the featured poets Indiana University MA/PhD student Nathan Schmidt reading a long poem, “Because I Would Not Stop for Him,” its title based on an Emily Dickenson line “Because I Would Not Stop for Death,” followed by Nancy Chen Long, author of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry winner LIGHT INTO BODIES and other poems and chapbooks, with seven shorter works, several on subjects related to “home.”  Following the break were nine walk-on readers (including Tonia Matthews with a delightful series of variations on the theme of “chocolate”) of which I came in at number six with four previously published poems loosely about death:  “Dust to Dust,” “Firelight,” “A Little Night Music,” and “The Instrument Maker.”

And so, to Mardi Gras and March!

Thursday night, one may recall, brought readings of poetry.  These were followed a half hour later by a panel on TERRIFYING TROPES:  DARK CARNIVALE:  FREAKS, GEEKS, MAGICIANS AND SPIRITUALISTS covering, well, just that.  “Magic, mystery, and romance” — except you don’t know what hides under the greasepaint.  The panels I got to struck me as quite good in almost all cases, in this case also touching on nostalgia — weirdness and whimsy — and different takes between children seeing the glitter and wonder, rides, excitement, lots to do, versus teens where it becomes highly sexualized, a place to take girls where anything can happen, versus adults who now take their kids.  And the carnies themselves as playing roles, but even after the gates are closed as members of a separate culture (cited here was Tod Browning’s movie FREAKS).

Friday brought more TERRIFYING TROPES:  POE-ETICS:  SETTING SCENE AND ATMOSPHERE IN SUPERNATURAL FICTION, with a note that “The Dark Place” in horror is any place in that it’s being seen through the protagonist’s eyes.  So, in writing, establish the protagonist’s hang-ups — what’s in his mind — and think like an actor to not just see but react to a setting (and don’t forget other senses too, especially sound).  And look for details, especially ones the reader might not expect, as well as picking your own words carefully, also with an ear to their sound and their connotations, in setting a scene in the reader’s head too.   Then WEIRD SOUTH:  FROM VOODOO TO RATTLESNAKE REVIVAL:  SOUTHERN FOLKLORE IN HORROR LITERATURE brought in mixtures of cultures, especially in places like New Orleans, and distortions brought through oral retellings.  Thus the Devil may have been to some people an African god, yet close and personal to a Christian.  In that the South industrialized late, people still live close to the ground, and folk magic plays in people’s minds — the idea of Hoodoo, a large collection of magical techniques, versus Voodoo and Santeria which are actual religions.  But the truly frightening person is not one the Devil speaks to, but the one who says he’s been spoken to by God, because he’s the one who’s going to act on it.  DEADLY DEFINITIONS:  WE ARE BIZARRO!  BEATING ON THE BONGOS AND SCRAPING THE VISCERA OF HORROR’S ZANIEST SUBCULTURE then spoke to “the weird stuff” — Burrough’s NAKED LUNCH, BUBBA HO-TEP, David Lynch movies, THE KAFKA EFFECT.  To try to add something that “completely f ***s up, doesn’t blend in, twists 180 degrees” . . . but still works.  Surreal, or told in a surreal way.  Or, as one panelist put it, think Dr. Seuss, noting that that’s one of the first things, with talking animals, that we give our children.

Also on Friday were several showings of short films that I got to, in whole or in part, plus PANEL/READING:  DARK POETS FACE TO FACE in which a group of poets (one, though, in absentia whose plane hadn’t come yet) read one another’s works, explaining why they chose that particular poem and commenting on it.  This was a repeat of a panel I was on in New Orleans two years before (cf. June 19 2013) and then, as now, it was interesting as a look into the poets’ minds as well as just fun, whether as audience or at the table.

Saturday’s fare included more panels, with DEADLY DEFINITIONS:  WHEN THE WEIRD GO PRO:  EXPLORING THE PARAMETERS AND CONSIDERING THE DIRECTIONS OF A LITERARY RENAISSANCE concluding that maybe the “new weird” isn’t that new.  There’s Lovecraft too, where when you end with a monster too big to kill, that’s “weird, not horror.”  Post-Lovecraft we’ve become more self-absorbed, but the knowledge at the end of a story that here’s a thing we’ll never understand, that’s weird.  Giant butterflies that will eat your soul . . . a magician with a spell that will destroy everything . . . that’s weird as well.  But there’s always been weird fiction, it’s just that we’re talking about it in a perhaps new context.  Also weird fiction “works better in short form, while longer novels need to include redemption.”  WEIRD SOUTH:  I WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY AGAIN:  WHY ARE SO MANY CONTEMPORARY VAMPIRE NOVELS SET IN THE SOUTH spoke of Southern traits, as surface politeness that may mask darker feelings underneath, as well as the South’s dark history in general (“that’s why we fear clowns, they have smiles painted on and you know it’s hiding something”).  Thus vampires, beautiful people, cultured, walk among us and, unlike, e.g., zombies, we don’t smell the rot that lies underneath.  Then add tradition, strong religious feelings including the darker parts of the BIBLE, resistance to outsiders and “foreign” ideas (such as fearful Counts from places like Transylvania), master/slave relationships which the South still has trouble handling, and like the South, lush and green where everyone flourishes except the outsider, like kudzu and vines that grab hold and won’t let you go, so is the vampire both beautiful and grasping.

Earlier Saturday but to the point too, was SPECIAL PRESENTATION:  DACRE STOKER:  BRAM STOKER/TRAVEL GUIDE NEW DISCOVERIES 118 YEARS LATER, a PowerPoint presentation by Bram Stoker’s grand-nephew on Stoker’s life and experiences that led to the writing of DRACULA, with places and backgrounds, plus some recent discoveries adding to our understanding of the novel; plus a presentation, MEDIA:  WHCFILM:  SKIPP’S SATURDAY SINEMA FUNTIME, in which Director John Skipp showed a short film and possibly pilot for a TV series, BOMBO AND FLOPSY IN “AN HONEST MIS-STAKE.”  Clowns . . .  and vampires.

And then Sunday, finally, brought WEIRD SOUTH:  THE DEVIL CAME DOWN:  GROWING UP LOVING HORROR BENEATH THE MASON-DIXON LINE which amplified several themes from the days before, on the South’s unique features, but authors too including Edgar Allan Poe (though born in Boston, brought up in Virginia), story-telling traditions that affect all classes, folk expressions and word choices and multiple meanings and high-context cultures.  Then, one hour later, from noon to 1, TERRIFYING TROPES:  THE DEATH PANEL:  FUNERALS, CEMETERIES, BURIAL, AUTOPSIES, AND DECOMPOSITION brought the convention for me back to DEATH TO DUST (as in my mis-citation in my Friday panel) with many excursions from mourning customs, to green burials and “death composting,” uses of cremains, paintings and photography of the dead, “death cafes,” food used in funerals, medieval medicine, books bound in human skin, and other objects preserved in museums.

After which time it was time to go.




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