Posts Tagged ‘The Writing Life’

As posted just below there will not be a September “First Sunday Prose Readings” scheduled because the Bloomington Arts Fair, and with it the Writers Guild’s “Spoken Word Stage,” will be on that weekend.  And now a preliminary schedule has been released, with me slotted for a half hour of “horror fiction” at 3:30 Sunday, September 3.  The reading most likely will be from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, probably the same program I offered at NASFiC last month (cf. July 13).  Then, as we already know from the post below, I will also be a featured reader when First Sunday Prose resumes on October 1, most likely again with a story-chapter from TOMBS, but a different one this time.

In other news, PayPal has apparently adopted a policy this year of refusing to tell people when they’ve received payments, one would like to presume for good purpose.  Keeping us on our toes, for instance, or maybe trying to discourage small businesses from reporting earnings to the IRS.  I’ve asked (well . . . complained to) PayPal about this for which they’ve responded thus far by not bothering to get back to me on it.  Be that as it may, today I’ve discovered — only four days late! — that another mammoth royalty payment has been received by me, of nearly a whopping three times as much as the amount the PayPal folk skimmed off for themselves (to cover, presumably, the cost of providing such services as not emailing me that I’d received it).

For how much?  From whom?  For what story and where?  Well, as is my custom, let’s let that be secret to prevent embarrassment on all sides, but this is for an anthology that’s been in print for a few years now, and for which the initial payment had been refreshingly substantial (well, for an individual story, shall we say in a highish two figures?).

What is this about nine-day acceptances (see “Needle-Heat Gun,” July 29)?  We may recall England’s GRIEVOUS ANGEL, publisher among other things of my Rhysling-nominated poem “On the Other Hand,” on King Kong’s doomed romance with Fay Wray (cf. September 5, March 30 2015).  So on that same day, July 29, just nine days before today as it happens, I sent GRIEVOUS ANGEL a flash submission for which has just come from GA-White-Red copyeditor Charles Christian:  Another fantastic story — love it & will use it.  Has that wonderful mix of quirky with a human touch.  And so for the first acceptance for August, a new story, “Matches,” the 650-word “slightly absurdist” tale of a frustrated young man who hopes to set the world on fire.

Then yesterday brought the coming fall’s opening “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. May 7, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local bookstore Boxcar Books, with featured readers Dennis McCarty reading reflections on the Little Bighorn/”Custer’s Last Stand” battle site from his upcoming book, tentatively scheduled for early 2018, MONUMENTS:  ONE ATHEIST’S TOUR THROUGH TIME, CULTURE, AND MEANING; Wendy Teller with opening excerpts from her novel-in-progress BECOMING MIA BROWER; and novelist Annette Oppenlander, who noted that her first ever public reading had been at a Writers Guild First Sunday and, scheduled to leave Bloomington later this month, this will be her last reading here, an excerpt set in Germany in the final days of World War II from her fact-based SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND.  All were interesting and well received, though the presentations for the open mike session after the break were a bit skimpy.  Mine, third of only three on a rather gloomy afternoon outside, added perhaps to the ambience with a tale of New Orleanian vampiress Aimée, “Flightless Rats,” on a date gone bad, one that’s been around the block a few times already and is soon to be reprinted next month in FANTASIA DIVINITY (see below, July 16 and 7, et al.).

And two announcements regarding First Sundays:  Next month will be skipped insofar as September’s first weekend will also bring the Bloomington Arts Fair with the Writers Guild-sponsored Spoken Word Stage.  Then for the month after, on October 1, I have been asked to be one of the featured readers.

Two things, and both of them lists.  The first, “25 Reasons That Writers Are Bug-Fuck Nuts” (WARNING:  may contain adult language) by Chuck Wendig on TERRIBLEMINDS.COM (courtesy of Scott M. Goriscak via THE HORROR SOCIETY), is sort of self-explanatory — and fun!  It can be checked out here and, yes, Number 14 does involve a $7.53 royalty (for which I would be jealous, but the one I got from Elder Signs Press just the other week, cf. July 23, landscape-1501510359-scifi-comics-leadwas actually for more than that).

But then the other, more serious maybe but also fun in its own different way, is “The 25 Best Sci-Fi Comics” on POPULARMECHANICS.COM, by Tiffany Kelly and Darren Orf.  From ASTRO BOY (#12) to PUNK ROCK JESUS (#21), this one covers a fair bit of ground with stops in between, e.g. for movie buffs like me, #24 TANK GIRL, #6 VALERIAN AND LAURELINE, #14 THE GHOST IN THE SHELL, and others as well.  And potentially perhaps the most interesting of all, #3 INCAL by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (Jean Giraud).  Or make your own choices by pressing here.

From C IS FOR CTHULHU to Clive Barker’s THE THIEF OF ALWAYS?  Indeed, there are books for the younger set, first readings for our tots of terror (while me, I was raised on THE STORY ABOUT PING, “[t]he tale of a little duck alone on the Yangtze River”).  And so for today, courtesy of DIRGEMAG.COM, hark to “10 Beginner’s Horror Books for Your Little Darkling” by Marni Molina.  Or to let her explain, . . . you can’t seem to shake this tiny human relying on you to not only love them and feed them and keep them safe, but to educate them, teach them right from wrong, and expose them to art and culture.  While it’s clearly our responsibility as breeders to raise our little darklings right, I believe it is our right as humans to enjoy the process.  One of the best ways I’ve found to connect with and delight my little monster while finding genuine joy in the process is to consume stories together.

To share for yourself, you and your moppets of madness need but press here.  But Ms. Molina does add this caution:

In preparing these suggestions for you, I tried to stick with a few basic guidelines.

1. No scarring the kids!  The goal is to spark their love of storytelling in the horror genre.
2. No scarring the adults!  The goal is to enjoy these stories with your spawnlings.
3. No obvious answers!  I kept my focus on lesser known titles, when I could.
4. No Halloween veneers over mainstream children’s lit standbys!  I endeavored to single out titles that are wholly dark-themed, horror-lite, or horror.

Enjoy, enjoy!

In Saturday’s mail, but no, it wasn’t concerned with TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH which, after all, was only published at the beginning of last month.  No, this was a 6-month-plus check for stories in two Elder Signs anthologies, DARK HORIZONS and STREET MAGICK (see March 16; November 27, 4 2016, et al.), that came out in October and November last year, respectively.  The stories in these were both reprints, “Dark of the Moon” in DARK HORIZONS, of lunar exploration and . . . monsters originally published in THE CHILDREN OF CTHULHU (Del Rey, 2002), and STREET MAGICK’s “Bottles,” from CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004)*, of Cold War paranoia and vampires.  And best of all, even though anthologies rarely bring in BIG bucks (the royalty having to be divided among, say, twenty or so different authors, plus editors, et al.), the check for these books is for a respectable two-figure sum.

So no need in this case to keep things anonymous — both books, in fact, were on the shelves briefly in Barnes & Noble’s brick and mortar stores (though not, alas, TOMBS, though I understand it was considered) — as has been the case for most royalties periodically received, in order to avoid embarrassment all around.  Indeed the amount here, put into edible terms, would easily have been enough for a decent dinner for two back in the days when I was courting the woman who was to become my ex-wife.  (Though perhaps it wouldn’t go quite that far now.)  That is, to cover both nourishment and love, which is not a bad deal at all.

 

*And also reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS.

A lovely, not-too-hot Sunday afternoon brings two quick notes of the “The Writer’s Life” variety.  The first was a contract from Madeline L. Stout of FANTASIA DIVINITY MAGAZINE for reprinting “Flightless Rats” (cf. July 7), starring New Orleanian Casket Girl Aimée on the prowl for a husband, signed and sent back.  Then earlier this p.m. it was time for the annual Bloomington Writers Guild picnic and open reading (see July 24 2016, et al.), starring fried chicken and many sides, in which I read a cautionary poem not of Aimée but those of her kind, titled “Evening.”  Also announced, beginning with the first Sunday next month and “First Sunday Prose Readings,” a new fall cycle of Writers Guild activities will have begun.

It wasn’t to be a big convention, even by NASFiC standards – I was told there were 400-some paid attendees, but actual crowds seemed considerably less.  But I hadn’t gone for a big convention necessarily, though part of it was the new novel-in-stories, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, and a chance to show copies of it to fans in the hope word might spread.  In fact the convention could sort of be considered cozy, though part of the reason I really went was for the adventure.  The North American Science Fiction Convention, held for us home folks in years when the World SF Convention is going to be overseas, was itself overseas for 2017 — if only a little.  Farther than Cuba, though, or Haiti, in San Juan Puerto Rico.

So, yes, that’s still the United States, no problems with passports, but a lot of people speak Spanish too (which I myself don’t), and some don’t speak much English.  The money’s the same, which is helpful too, though some foods tended to be more salty, and others sweeter than I would prefer.

But in the hotel things were more familiar, including an unfortunately sparse con suite (most missed: morning coffee, heated things being forbidden, the staff explained, for “liability reasons”).  So, okay, make that a pioneer adventure.  Nor was there an autograph session, but there were a small number of readings scheduled, of which one was mine!  And there were panels, for the most part well attended.

My Part of the Show

I had two panels Friday, the first on “Genre Blending” which, in my introduction, allowed me to point out TOMBS as an example, keyworded by Amazon as Horror and Dystopic Science Fiction and on this blog as Science Fantasy and Dark Romance.  Discussion included the reason for genres — originally to know which shelf to go to in the library or bookstore — and whether “literary” fictioneers look down on us (but with one advantage of ghettoization, we have our own festivals such as NASFiC, and another as I pointed out of coming to know a small number of writers well enough to allow

San Cristobal

a sort of apprentice system).  But for the future with more and more book sales via the internet the old shelf labels are being replaced by keywords, allowing cross genres for readers to narrow their searches farther.  Then following that, “The Critical Eye” (with me moderating) included discussions of writers’ groups and mutual critiques prior to publication, editors’ comments and suggestions and why and how to sometimes decline these, and finally post publication reviews, even if not all necessarily “five star” — and why fans do authors a real favor by writing reviews, even if only one or two lines, and sending them to Amazon, et al.

Saturday gave me another panel, “World Building as More than Background,” again offering an opportunity to present TOMBS as an example (“It starts by finding the rivers,” I answered to the moderator’s opening question – rivers move commerce, and commerce brings cities, and cities begin to define civilization).  Other questions:  If you like a world, do you expand the book into a series? Can you get mired in research, and how to get out of it (my answer there referenced my story “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” which I built from leftover research about deserts, and which became my first ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE sale*)?  What do you do if your world is so popular readers want to write fan fiction in it?  And, as an example of a “built” world, this was immediately preceded by my reading (in fact, I came into the panel a minute or two late) in which I followed the back cover blurb and section II part of the Ghoul Poet’s story in TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, for orientation of a sort, with the story-chapter of “The Last Dance” to a rather large audience as readings go at conventions I’ve been to.  In fact, it was almost as though there were a cadre of readings groupies, other readings that I dipped into drawing relatively large audiences too, for which kudos to NASFiC and/or I hope it’s the beginning of a trend.

Then Sunday morning brought “Zombies Over Time and Space,” a more relaxed free-wheeling affair with an audience that didn’t mind our straying into vampires for part of the session (I had pointed out that functionally post-Romero zombies are really vampires, just after solid food rather than liquid, and that he himself had said NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was meant in part as a homage to Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND).  Also touched on were Vodoun and Haitian zombies (the “zombies of folklore”), attempts at scientific explanation including various poisons (e.g. Wade Davis’s THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, the “zombies of science”), the Nineteenth Century New England vampire epidemic, and semi-salacious gossip involving Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelly, and other companions.

What I Wasn’t On

There were other panels, including one I had been assigned to at first but then removed from in later schedules, “Writing Diverse Characters of Impact” on Saturday morning, that I still attended.  Others included “Alternate Histories Outside the West,” “Imagining the Impossible” (this primarily about visual art, but of interest to me as having to do with creativity), and “How to Make Religions in Fantasy/SF Stories Real” (also in its own way relating to TOMBS).  In addition, the Opening Ceremonies Thursday night were followed by an “Ice Cream Social” (and as we know, cf. July 7, my being caught in a sudden rain on my way back to the hotel I was staying at), Friday night offered an Artists’ Reception, and Saturday brought an “Alien Abduction Masquerade Party” including food and a live slide show and reading performance of 1976’s “The Capture,” by Robert Aspirin with art by Phil Foglio, depicting an SF convention hijacked by aliens.

The Castillos

Weather for the most part was good, despite brief bouts of rain the first three days. Sunday it was supposed to be rainy in the afternoon, which was to be my free time for exploring the old

El Morro

part of the city and the “San Juan National Historic Site,” but Weather Channel forecasts aside it turned out to be sunny.  Lovely.  So this was the main “adventure” part, including a glance into the huge Cementerio Maria Magdelena de Pazzis outside the city wall to the north, the Cathedral of San Juan, the Plaza Colon (a very nice park, of which there are several, in this case with a statue of Columbus at the top of a pillar but up too high for my camera to reach to), and to the south a walk down the Paseo de la Princesa along San Juan Bay and entering the city through its original main gate.

But the main attractions were the two castillos, that of San Cristobal to the east, dating back to the Seventeenth Century, and a century before that El Morro guarding the bay on the western tip of the city, begun in 1539.  Both fortifications continued to be added onto over the centuries, El Morro ultimately having six separate levels (of which I explored five but skipped the “water battery” at the very bottom, my knees beginning to give out by then), including a lighthouse at the top built (I think) in the early Twentieth Century — and still in use.

And then, Monday morning, I chickened out on taking the city bus (I had come in on the bus, however, through – someone has to say it, yes? – picturesque narrow streets) and hailed a taxi to the airport.  Time to go home.  But, having changed my seat to the left of the airplane the evening before, I did have a brief final look through the window at a tiny Morro Castle to start the trip back to the mainland.
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*”The Wellmaster’s Daughter” can also be found in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (for which, click its picture in the center column).

Received last night, from FANTASIA DIVINITY Editor Madeline L. Stout:  I really enjoyed this story.  I love the twist.  For inclusion in this particular anthology however, it doesn’t really fit.  . . .  Although it doesn’t fit what we are looking for in the anthology, I would like to publish this in our September issue.  Please let me know if that would be something you are interested in.  And so, yes, I emailed back that I would be interested — the money’s not much, but the story, “Flightless Rats,” originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG on January 12 2015 (see November 30, 26 2014) and starring New Orleanian vampiress Aimée (cf. April 17 2014, et al.), is a reprint and publication is publication, so why not?  Details to be revealed as they become known.

So this is being written on a hotel computer in San Juan Puerto Rico where I arrived MASFiC2017safely yesterday afternoon, checking into NASFiC and attending Opening Ceremonies that night.  More details on the convention will probably wait (except maybe for snippets, like this) to come most likely after I’m back home.  But one note — ah, those tropical weather patterns! — Opening Ceremonies plus a following “Ice Cream Social” over, who would get caught in a sudden, brief rainstorm?  Me, that’s who, who am writing this at the end of a similar rain event Friday morning and must rush back to the convention hotel now.

Again, more to come later.

And so in the late afternoon hours of Monday, I returned to the Computer Cave to find 2017’s first mid-year royalty check in my mailbox.*  Yep, stories still selling — in this case with sales enough to provide, say, a bag of chips to go with a burger not yet earned.  But others should come in the next few

“Cutting the Check”

days for the just-completed first half of the year, so who knows?  In any event we will most likely have to wait till next week before the check can go to the bank to start collecting interest, since the banks will be closed Tuesday, though for reasons having nothing to do with my mammoth financial windfall, but rather because tomorrow is Independence Day.  Happy Fourth of July!

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*As is customary I am not saying exactly how much or who from, in that way to avoid embarrassment all around.

.  Getting her rest (in an old, old, but oh so comfortable chair).




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