Posts Tagged ‘The Writing Life’

Publication of a book is made up of a lot of little acts, along with the larger technicalities like getting it written or, in an anthology or collection, getting the individual stories gathered and put into final order.  As an example, this evening saw my sending an up-to-date biographical note, with media links if they should be needed, to Nicole Petit of 18th Wall Publications for the 1950s-themed anthology SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES (cf. November 11, May 1 2018).  Thus a small detail of “the writing life,” but one that will see the anthology one step closer to publication in the hopefully not-distant future.  My part in this potpourri, incidentally, is titled “Bottles,” a tale originally published in CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004) and also available in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, having to do with a young Puerto Rican woman during the Cold War in 1958 Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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The third Sunday this April is Easter Sunday so the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Third Sunday Write” (see March 17, et al.) had to be scheduled a week early this time.  And while the warm-up exercises could be a bit prosey — a list of things known and that one might like to know, answers to the question “What feeds you?” (which could be poetic), and a descriptive rendering of a favorite place, the final event took on a more poetic flavor.  Poems from three poetry books were read with instructions to note down lines or phrases that seemed to particularly stand out; then write your work incorporating some of these phrases.  Mine, a poem called “Magma,” discussed energy in its various forms, potential, kinetic, but also mental — in imagination — and will it matter?  The ending, another “borrowed” line:  “The gods are never caught.”

Not much will come of this one for me, probably, in terms of work that could lead to a story, but it was fun.  And the end, fun too, was to comment not so much on others’ readings of what they composed, but to also pick out lines and phrases that stood out — an exercise in imagination but also an appreciation of things that can spark it.

A funny thing happened at yesterday’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local tavern Bear’s Place (cf. March 3, et al.).  We ran out of time.  We had two featured readers, both of whom we’ve met before, Shayne Laughter with a story, “The Long Game,” from a collection in progress of tales about the Greek fertility goddess/Mistress of Hades Persephone plus an earlier story, “Her First Poem,” followed by PDVNCH with a dramatic poem in ten scenes, concerning a woman who rebels against being her true self, opting instead for the images society thrusts on her.  But afterwards, when it was open mike time, with a film showing scheduled after our readings at 5 p.m. sharp, and with seven walk-ons signed up, it was doubtful everyone could be fit in.  Result:  MC Joan Hawkins and I drank the Kool-Ade, as the saying goes, opting to postpone our presentations until May, with (result number two) the reduced list of five ending the program right on time.

And so the the second Bloomington Writers Guild “Spoken Word Series at Bears” occurred last night on its new first Wednesday schedule at local (located, in fact, on Third Street) tavern Bear’s Place.  The featured readings started with parts of a 1968 Chicago-set novel in progress by local author and WFHB radio star Mike Glab; followed by a radio theater dramatization of part of a Robert Heinlein novel, THE SAIL BEYOND SUNSET, by also WFHB community radio host Richard Fish; and Indiana poet Steve Henn (most recent collection:  INDIANA NOBLE SAD MAN OF THE YEAR from Wolfson Press) with a group of personal poems including his 2018 RATTLE Poetry Prize finalist entry “Soccer Dad”; interspersed with poetry-with-music sets by SHAKESPEARE’S MONKEY, who we’ve met before (see September 1 2018, March 10 2017, et al.).  For the “Open Mic” part, I led off a series of five readers noting first that last month’s “Casket Girls” (cf. March 6) was just one of about a dozen flash stories concerning these New Orleanian vampires, so why not continue with their adventures for at least the rest of the year, then segueing into this month’s story, “A St. Valentine’s Day Tale,” about a fatal practical joke played by one of les filles on a loving, but sometimes abusive husband.

I probably shouldn’t single out any of the stories, because all of them are excellent, but I have to mention that “Aquarium Dreams” by Gary Budgen, “Crow and Rat” by James Dorr, “Rut” by Ian Steadman, “Dewclaw” by Ian Kappos, “Her Audience Shall Stand in Ovation” by Jason Gould are among the best stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  I also greatly enjoyed “Susheela” by Bindia Persaud, because it reads like a fairy tale for adults, and I loved “Ouroboros” by Douglas Thompson, because it’s something mesmerisingly different.  These stories alone make this anthology worth owning and reading.

So begins the conclusion of a review from March 29 in RISING SHADOW, e-pointed out to me by HUMANAGERIE Editor (with Sarah Doyle) Allen Ashley:  Just in case you haven’t seen this on Facebook, we have had another fabulous review, this time by the respected review website RISING SHADOW.  I am attaching a copy for you.  Everybody gets a positive mention.  And positive these mentions are indeed!  Earlier, reviewer Seregil of Rhiminee comments on each item in the contents, saying this of lowest-of-low ne’er-do-wells Crow and Rat (cf. January 13, et al.):

Crow and Rat – James Dorr:

– An excellent story about Crow and Rat who are beggars in the New City.
– The author’s vision of the world where the sun has become hotter is fascinating and satisfyingly dark.
– This is a bit different kind of a love story, because it has a dark and epic feel to it.  It’s almost like a dark and romantic fairy tale for adults.
– I consider James Dorr to be an author to watch, because this story is amazing.  (When I read this story, I said to myself that I must read more stories by the author, because what I’ve just read is something special.)

The New City, I should point out, is one of the settings in my mosaic novel TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, although Crow and Rat’s story itself doesn’t appear in it.  But let it not go to these miscreants’ heads, but they seem to be doing quite well enough just from their appearance in HUMANAGERIE.  While as for RISING SHADOW’s review, to read it in full for yourself press here.

A rather dim “starring” actually since I was not one of the featured readers at the Bloomington Writers Guild’s March “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” (cf. February 24, et al.) at the Monroe County Convention Center.  Of those that were, leading off was Alex Chambers who read five poems from his upcoming collection BINDINGS, to be released this summer by by Pickpocket Books, followed by LuAnne Holladay with “a number of pretty short poems” on such subjects as memories, dreams, birds, and prayer.  Then after the break I was second of just three readers this time with a pair of love poems to honor a coming spring (almost here by the end of last week, but shattered by a rainy, cold Saturday with a dusting of snow by Sunday morning; a sunnier but still cold Sunday afternoon), “Love Consummated” and, with a touch of the Frankenstein in it, “Can Monsters Not Love?”

It was the first new story acceptance for 2019, “The Junkie” (see January 21, 19), a 750 word epic of mean streets, addiction, and urban zombies.  Skid Row with a bite!  And, contracts all worked out, an edited proof copy came back yesterday from Editor Jason Brick for ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE with a request to get it back “by the first week of April.”  The book:  an anthology of 100 stories, each 1000 words or fewer, in any genre and/or any style.

So today I opened the attachment up and found few changes, mostly technical (e.g., changes in the form of dashes), checked them off, and back it went with a note that I had no quarrels.  Thus one more step taken toward publication, with more to be here as it becomes known.

This is something I just read today via Pletcha PJ Webb on Facebook’s DARK FANTASY BOOKS, “Amazon Expects Readers To Pay If They Want To Leave Book Reviews,” by Neal F. Litherland on his THE LITERARY MERCENARY blog.  It’s not quite as outrageous as the title might imply — to try to prevent mass reviews by bots, etc., rather than genuine readers, the rule apparently is that for a book review to be posted, the reviewer must have spent at least $50 on Amazon within the last year.  This also may not be as hard as it sounds since it’s not confined to just book purchases, but anything that is sold through Amazon from automotive supplies to toys and games (or in my case, e.g., DVDs as well as books), so I’d probably have met that level and more without even thinking.  But it is a bother and one remedy Litherland suggests is to send reviews to Goodreads which doesn’t have that restriction.  To see the blog for yourself, press here or, for a possibly more comprehensive view including links to Amazon guidelines, see Derek Haines, “Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews Updated With $50 Minimum,” on JUSTPUBLISHINGADVICE.COM by pressing here.

I might suggest, even better yet, to send reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads (the worst that Amazon could do is just not print it) and maybe throw in B and N or some other favorite seller as well as your own blog.  Rules or not, reviews help authors you follow a lot (even less than 5-star reviews which, at worst, still keep us honest), including me.

This is a British thing that I don’t really know a lot about, but I understand from Editors Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley that HUMANAGERIE (see March 18, et al.) is eligible for nomination for a Saboteur Award for Best Anthology of 2018, as well as Eibonvale Press for Most Innovative Publisher.  As Sarah puts it:  I know there have been some amazing anthologies out in the past year (in which some of you may have appeared), but if you wanted to vote for “Humanagerie” in the Best Anthology category (and/or wanted to share the link with friends/family or via social media), that would be very welcome.  But no worries if not, of course!  As I understand it, the awards are sponsored by SABOTAGE REVIEWS and supported by a “Grant for the Arts” from Arts Council England.

For more information on the awards (with last year’s winners) one can press here while, if so moved, to make nominations press here.

Also today marks the second royalty statement for this month, this for substantially more than the last, actually topping $1.00!  I won’t say by how much nor will I mention the publisher’s name, but in full disclosure, royalties received for short stories in anthologies (that is, sharing the take with all other authors) are generally not going to be very great.  Moreover this particular one is for a series of four books published more than ten years ago, which have continued to produce sales every year from the earliest, in 2001 — and indeed, added up especially in the earliest years, have paid totals which had they been paid all at once would be fairly impressive.  (Of course — even fuller disclosure — these are a particularly bright exception, most anthologies doing well perhaps in their first year, but not having nearly that much staying power).

Many of these stories and poems are metaphors for the human world and how we behave, how we show tolerance (questionable often) and understanding.  There is much to reflect on in this book, to help us begin to understand ourselves.  The poems and stories demonstrate the power of the animal world over the human world.  We are challenged throughout this book to question power and where it lies.  (Wendy French)

Say what?

The above is from a review of the anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. January 13, October 28, et al.), brought to my attention by co-editor Allen Ashley in yesterday afternoon’s email, and while my TOMBS-set story in it, “Crow and Rat,” is not specifically mentioned, the comments in general strike me as worth reading.  The review itself is in the British poetry magazine LONDON GRIP and may be read in its entirety by pressing here.  And that’s not all.  While it’s not a review as such, HUMANAGERIE is also the featured publication for March in ATRIUM, with five poems quoted as well as a link to HUMANAGERIE publisher’s Eibonvale Press site for more information and possible ordering, all of which may be seen by pressing here.

Then finally, if one wishes to go to the publisher’s site directly, just press here.




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