Posts Tagged ‘The Writing Life’

And here it is, the DAILY SCIENCE FICTION contract for “Steel Slats” (see August 17) arrived and has been signed (or more precisely, my agreement assented) and returned.  As requested I also included an about 150 word biographical note and, as DAILY SCIENCE FICTION will sometimes have, a few remarks concerning the story’s writing — the latter in this case including the words “the devil made me do it.”  “Steel Slats,” that is, is a sort of reaction to troubles at the US southern border, and celebrates the *President’s Dream* of a “beautiful wall” to be paid for by Mexico to solve all problems.  But might it possibly lead to some new ones?

Exactly when we’ll find out I don’t know, DAILY SCIENCE FICTION usually having a robust lead time before stories are published (though not as bad as some recent examples, including the one that won’t appear until 2021).  In this case it should be within a year, though, and possibly sooner than later, exact information to be shared as soon as I find out.


It goes round and round.  In a Goodreads reading group I sometimes indulge in the book of the moment is Karel Capek’s WAR WITH THE NEWTS.  It’s one I had read long, long in the past and on re-reading am finding entirely enjoyable, at least as of chapter five or so.  It starts however with a sea captain named van Toch who works largely in the then Dutch East Indies, and one of his ports of call, mentioned several times, is Surabaya.

So big deal, right?  Except there’s a song by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht called “Surabaya Johnny,” from a musical by Brecht and Weill with Elisabeth Hauptmann called HAPPY END — with a story line much like GUYS AND DOLLS and with nothing to do, really, with the East Indies (it takes place in Chicago and also includes “The Bilbao Song,” though the action has nothing to do with Spain either) — and I found the tune going around in my head.  And . . . anyway you can hear it now too, sung by Lotte Lenya (who didn’t actually sing it in the play when it was produced in Germany, but never mind), by pressing here.  And to read the lyrics in English, press here.

No, not this update, but the BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP anthology itself (see August 4, et al.) will be illustrated according to an email today from Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg.  Also, yes, things have been somewhat delayed for various reasons, but a promised kickstarter is expected to be ready on or about September 1.  More will be here as it becomes known.

We may remember that the full title (I think) is BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS, or words of that sort, and the guideline description:  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope.  Silliness and weirdness will abound.  Also my part in the potpourri is an all of 75-word saga (possibly long, BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP is to be a book of *very* short stories) of magic and beauty called “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair.”

Writers Guild at Bloomington tagged you in the description of Writers Guild Spoken Word Stage was the email message header; the content the schedule of readings for this year’s Writers Guild Spoken Word Stage at the annual “Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts” (see September 1, August 27 2018, et al.) on Labor Day Weekend or, more precisely, August 31 and September 1.  I’m up for “Horror Fiction” on the Saturday, the 31st, in a prime time spot at 2 p.m., sandwiched between a half hour of audio theater and a poetry reading.  But what shall I read, that is the question — I have my eye on one piece from THE TEARS OF ISIS that I don’t believe I’ve read before, but I need to go through it to make sure it isn’t overly “family unfriendly” in terms of language.  And that said, I’ll probably need to choose a shorter piece too, or perhaps some poems, to round out my half hour.

So I’ll try to update in a week or so when I’ve made my decision and done some timings — with also perhaps a schedule then of other readers, allowing a little time for late adjustments.  But circle the dates, the Arts Fair is always fun and this year it’s Saturday and Sunday, the 31st and 1st, on Bloomington’s 4th Street with the Writers Guild’s booth and stage just around the corner to the south on Dunn Street.

What a busy second week in August!  Sunday brought an electronic authors copy of SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES (see the first week, August 6, et al.) along with an interview questionnaire.  Part of “The Writing Life” and all that.  A check with Amazon also shows the Kindle edition is now available and can be found by pressing here, while, with the above mentioned busy week, I was only able to get to the interview part last night, with answers going back to the editor today.

SOCKHOPS AND SEANCES, we may remember, is an anthology of stories set in the 1950s.  Supernatural stories.  . . .  Not horror stories, necessarily, but stories that use the 1950s and its spook culture (and spook-busting culture) in an engaging way.  Bring us supernatural adventures, supernatural mysteries, supernatural fantasy, or supernatural pulp.  My part in this, originally published in CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004) and also reprinted in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, is titled “Bottles,” the tale of a Puerto Rican maid in 1958 Cambridge Massachusetts, mixed up with anti-Communist crusaders and . . . vampires.  Or are they vampires because, as everyone knows, vampires don’t exist, do they?

To find out, one can press the link in the first paragraph, above, or in the August 6 post below find links to the publisher’s ordering site, or to Amazon for the print edition.

It seems programs for Saturday’s HOME FRONT performance ran short, so Director Tony Brewer emailed an image yesterday to those of us who, being on stage, may have missed seeing one.  So for those interested, why not reproduce it here as well*?

(*And in stereo too — you can read it with both eyes!)

It won’t be until June 2021, but “Flute and Harp” is now one step closer to publication in HELIOS QUARTERLY (cf. June 17, 3) with the arrival of the contract which, after a little bit of discussion, I signed and returned Sunday.  The still lengthy time to release, I might add, is a result of an overly successful submission drive resulting in Volume 5, for 2020, to be almost immediately filled, pushing musician lovers Flute and Harp back to issue 2 of Volume 6.  However, with success can sometimes come reversals, in this case a fire personally affecting HELIOS QUARTERLY’s editor/publisher and that in turn has engendered an emergency subscription drive, for funds to help assure the magazine can continue to come out on time.  If you would be interested in helping — or just to get a neat magazine, including the reprint of “Flute and Harp” — more information can be found here.

“Flute and Harp” was originally published in WHISPERS AND SHADOWS (Prime Books, 2001), and is a sort of personal favorite of mine.  It tells the tale of two doomed musician-lovers on a far-future dying planet and also appears as a story chapter in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017), more on which can be found by clicking its picture in the center column.

First Sunday Prose, which normally would have been on the 4th, was deferred this month as it will be as well in September, the latter because it would coincide with Bloomington’s annual 4th Street Arts Fair and the Writers Guild “Spoken Word” readings there.  This month, however, was a special case which culminated this Saturday afternoon, a presentation in cooperation with the Monroe County Library of Guild member Antonia Matthews’s play, HOME FRONT (cf. May 6 2018), based on her childhood in World War II London.  As announced in the local Bloomington Herald-Times:  The Writers Guild presents a full radio theater production of this show, based on letters the Bloonmington playwright Antonia Matthews exchanged with her father during World War II, along with her narration.  At the Monroe County Library Auditorium from 2 to about 3:30 p.m., it played to a fairly full house despite competing with “Adorable Adoptables” in the Library lobby, a visit by adoptable kittens and puppies from the Bloomington Animal Shelter.

Produced by Writers Guild officers Joan Hawkins and Tony Brewer and directed by Brewer, the actors (including Joan Hawkins in the role of the adult Antonia) came from the ranks of Writers Guild members and friends, including (*ahem*) me in one of the smallest parts — or actually two parts, those of the British Undersecretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for War (yes, a rather rapid promotion I would say), which combined totaled exactly two paragraphs of dialogue (well, technically monologue, the reading of official documents).  Be that as it may the production seemed to go over well, several people afterward saying it was particularly moving, and, from my bit player’s perspective, was a proud moment to have been a part of.  I understand, too, that it has been televised by the Library’s CATS TV and so may turn up on the local programming channel.

Came the 7th, the first Wednesday in August, and with it the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” (cf. July 3, et al.), co-sponsored by local Bear’s Place tavern, with music provided by “experimental/mod classical” group ORTET.  The featured guests were Michael Dauro with excerpts from his speculative epic-in-progress spaghetti western inspired SIERRA AMNEZIA (hero:  “The Woman With No Name”); Rachel Ronquillo Gray who, “evoking her muse,” read poems on the theme of girls, girlhood, what it means to be a good girl, and what happens when good girls stop being good; and Indiana University’s Dr. Jen Maher with a wonderfully funny essay on the connections between infertility and recreational shoplifting.  Then at “Open Mic” time I came seventh of a perhaps record thirteen readers with part two of my “casket girls” story “A Moment in Time,” of the vampiress Lo and, as we found out, who the “nice sailor man” Mel really was who she’d met in New Bedford Massachusetts in late 1840.

The full title (I think) is BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS (cf. June 26, 14), but we’ll just call it BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP, and the guidelines had been:  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope.  Silliness and weirdness will abound.  All I ask is that submissions be happy and silly and hopeful. 19c833ca0d9c9bffc7e51c87a05445d5--wild-and-free-shrimp Not dark or scary or disturbing. Well, maybe a little disturbing.  Also that stories had to be *short*, as in 125 words or less.  So (the Writing Life, natch?) an email came today from Editor Jaleta Clegg, to request a VERY short bio, like 2-3 sentences and maybe 50 words total and with a note that the resulting book would be illustrated and what would be my “favorite” color.

The story I have in it is set in a fairy-tale world of witches and glamor — as well as takes only 75 words — called “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair” so my favorite color for it would be green.  Also there was some kickstarter information (see also June 26), now expected in perhaps as soon as a week or so.  More on that will be here as it becomes known.  But to the point, a bio went back with my frog-color choice as the wheels of publication grind on for what’s looking to be a very interesting book indeed!

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