Posts Tagged ‘The Writing Life’

Tis the season, well into the run-up to Halloween.  Thus in today’s email, from C.P. Dunphey of Gehenna Publishing, [w]e are happy to announce that from the 25th-31st of October, we will discount all our titles to $0.99 on Amazon.  We may have some difficulty running the promotion for HINNOM MAGAZINE Issue 003, but rest assured, we will do our best to include the Halloween-themed issue in the lot.

We advise you to buckle up and prepare for one haunting Hallows’ Eve with these terrifying tales.

He says “all our titles” from which presumably not only the two already published issues of HINNOM MAGAZINE but YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 ANTHOLOGY including my story “Flesh” (cf. September 25, et al.), among other books, will be included along with HINNOM’s third issue; also given the low sale price cited it’s most likely for electronic format, but no matter the details it sounds like a sale worth looking into, in less than ten days time.  More details here as they are learned.  And for those who can’t wait, YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 ANTHOLOGY is available on Amazon now in both Kindle and paperback editions for which, to take a look, one can press here.

Also received from Bards and Sages Publishing, a galley proof for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES, Volume 1, with its lead story by me, “By Force and Against the King’s Peace” (originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE; see January 19, et al.).  This will be the promised print collection of stand-alone electronic chapbooks that came out last year under the “Misfit Stories” aegis, hopefully to be out “in both large format trade paperback and hardcover for libraries” in time for Thanksgiving.

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Friday the Thirteenth proper has revealed more good news too, at least so far.  At least from the writing standpoint, with a Friday publication of THREE DROPS FROM A CAULDRON, for Samhain 2017, by Britain’s Three Drops Press.  Although largely a book of poetry, my ingredient in the inculcation is a very short story, “School Nights,”* originally published in GOTHIC BLUE BOOK IV:  THE FOLKLORE EDITION (Burial Day Books, 2014, cf. October 29 2014, et al.), about a young girl who . . . well . . . learns.  The book itself can be read for free by pressing here, with instructions also for purchase of a 74-page paperback edition for $7.32.

Then, speaking of money, another royalty has been received with again, as is my custom, neither publisher or amount revealed to avoid embarrassment.  Nevertheless, had it not been paid via Paypal anyway, the check would have covered the cost to mail it with some cash left over.

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*Oddly enough, the title seems to have been omitted from the contents page.  Look for the “School Nights” on page 22, following “Vampire Girls” and “House of Horrors.”

Who knows what Friday the Thirteenth will bring, but yesterday, Thursday the twelfth, was rather nice despite a gloomy, Octobery day.  The highlight, a first poetry acceptance for me by STAR*LINE new editor Vince Gotera, for a “horrorku” titled “Wet Work.”  Horrorku?  Well, it’s sort of supposed to be horror plus haiku though it’s really more just a three line poem with a vaguely 5-7-5 syllable count (mine is 5-7-4) on a horror subject, which in my case would more likely be epigrammatic, although not always.  But to the point, even if lacking walruses (cf. October 1) “Wet Work” does have a mermaid.

Then Thursday night brought the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. June 8, et al.) with, this time, a special reading performance of PREMIUM TAFT, a two-act play by Tom Trent, with musical interludes by Jason Fickel.  PREMIUM TAFT is, to read from the Facebook description, “[a] fictional time-traveling comedy about William Howard Taft’s whistle-stop presidential campaign appearance at the Mitchell Opera House in 1908 . . .  or maybe 1958?”  Or science fiction meets farce, in this case with an Indiana small-town ambience with grifters, politicos, greed, and rock ‘n’ roll.  And lots of fun.

This was followed by “open mic” presentations of which mine came in fourth of six, to an audience of about 15 people.  Noting that it had been a gloomy, Octobery day, ideal as a precursor for Halloween, I read four poems from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “Night Child,” “La Méduse,” “Moonlight Swimming,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.”

A time of revelry and reversal, Saturnalia represents the breakdown of what has been deemed the natural order.  HYPERION AND THEIA’s inaugural volume wants stories and poetry that runs the gamut of genres and turns expectations on their heads.  Submit a fantastical murder-mystery set in the biggest carnival in Atlantis.  Wow us with a sweeping romance in space where gods and goddesses serve their creations after a bloody war. . . .

Such had been the call some months ago and, last December, came the acceptance (cf. December 9 2016).  My “epic” poem DREAMING SATURN, originally published in the anthology DARK DESTINY (White Wolf, 1994) would not only be in the inaugural volume, but tentatively would be set as the opening item.  A contract would follow.

So you know how it is.  Life intrudes, delays happen.  But then, yesterday:  Sorry for the long wait!  I have attached the final contract for you to sign.  I will contact you again on the 27th of October with the cover and other promotional material.  Suffice to say, the signed 8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13contract went back in the email this afternoon.

In other news, a run through the e-bookstores this morning unearthed a 33-percent discount for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH on Barnes and Noble, at $9.99 — and that’s just the “official” price, with individual sellers’ new copies as inexpensive as $8.98.  There’s no indication how long these prices may last, so best take advantage soon!  Amazon, also, while listing the full price of $14.95 on its site, has several individual listings in the $10 to $11 range.  If interested, check out Barnes and Noble by pressing here; while Amazon can continue to be found, including several substantive reviews, by clicking TOMBS’ picture in the center column.

The crowd wasn’t the hugest, even including the homeless guy asleep in the back row, but was gratifyingly enthusiastic for this month’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic”(cf. August 7, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and Boxcar Books, and anyway it had to compete with a lovely late-summerish afternoon outside.  And, yes, this was October.  Be that as it may, it was also our starting-the-buildup-to-Halloween special, with featured readings beginning with Frida Westford and two short shorts, “That Which Remains” about a displaced bog spirit paired with a fairy tale brought up to date in “The Eve of All Hallows,” and ending with Joan Hawkins and Tony Brewer performing brief excerpts from the screenplay for Ken Russell’s never-produced film version of DRACULA, with the title character an aesthete who specializes in biting artists about to die in order to give them eternal life to continue producing.

My reading came in between these two with a presentation from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH somewhat paralleling that of the previous month at the Bloomington Arts Festival “Spoken Word Stage” (see September 3), this time with the book’s back-cover blurb plus the ghoul-poet’s tale from Section III to introduce the chapter-story “Carnival of the Animals,” and seemed to me to be well received (snoring homeless guy in the back notwithstanding).

Then after the break, with banana bread and ginger cookies, four readers, all of whom we’ve met before, offered open microphone presentations to cap the afternoon:  Tonia Matthews, Shayne Laughter, and (this time separately) Tony Brewer and MC Joan Hawkins.

This is the time for second quarter royalties to (as it were) come home, and the first report was received this week.  One may recall that royalties for individual short stories in an anthology, for instance, or possibly as stand-alone chapbooks are rarely large, and it’s been my custom to avoid embarrassment on both sides by declining to identify either the publisher or the exact amount.  So let it suffice just to say a significant recipient this time around will be the US Postal Service for selling the stamp to send the check to me.

Then, continuing on the topic of matters postal, I stopped by the post office this afternoon needing to buy stamps for myself, and, having been tipped off, asked for two sheets (in this case of twenty stamps each) of the one honoring last month’s solar eclipse (cf. August 22).  The tip?  If you press your thumb on the stamp’s picture of the occluded sun, rolling it a bit perhaps to assure that all has been warmed by its touch, and then remove it — voila!  The picture you’ll see is now one of the moon!

An unseasonably warm sun-drenched day greeted September’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf. May 29, et al.).  Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, four local writers were featured this time, Jenny Kander, Thomas Tokarski, Doris Lynch, and Roger Pfingston, billed as “The Tuesday Poets” and offering a variety of styles and subject matter.  After the break, four walk-ons stepped up to read, offering a symmetry of sorts as well as a similar range of styles, of which I was the last with a series of very short, horror-related pieces, on tracking zombies, mermaids and vampires, Erzebet Bathory, and other such subjects, the best received of which — why not? — I’ll present here as well:

LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

It wasn’t bad
till they released the bears;
the cats came
of their own accord.

And so the autumn season begins. . . .

The gravitational assist trajectories at Jupiter were successfully carried out by both Voyagers, and the two spacecraft went on to visit Saturn and its system of moons and rings.  Voyager 1 encountered Saturn in November 1980, with the closest approach on November 12, 1980, when the space probe came within 124,000 kilometers (77,000 mi) of Saturn’s cloud-tops.  The space probe’s cameras detected complex structures in the rings of Saturn, and its remote sensing instruments studied the atmospheres of Saturn and its giant moon Titan.  (Wikipedia, “Voyager 1”)

Two items occurred to me to close out the weekend, the first that there were space probes prior to Cassini (cf. September 17, 11, 7), including Voyagers 1 and 2 which also paid a visit to Saturn.  Launched 16 days apart in 1972, Voyager 1 was actually the second, but was on a trajectory that had it reaching Saturn first, performing flybys of not just Saturn and Titan, but also the moons Tethys, Mimas, Enceladus, Rhea, and Hyperion.  And while Voyager 2 also went on to Uranus and Neptune, on August 12 2012 Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to enter interstellar space.  Also, unlike Cassini, both Voyagers continue to journey outward.

So, why my interest?  Thirteen years after Voyager 1 and Saturn, a story of mine, one marking a breakthrough in my writing in my opinion, appeared in the July 1993 edition of Algys Budrys’s short-lived magazine TOMORROW.  Titled “Moons of Saturn,” it told of a couple watching a detailed series of news items on TV of the Voyager mission as it might have been, bringing in also the mythical origins of the moons’ names.  Added to this are fancied adventures on, e.g., the “jewel mines of Rhea,” these conducted through dreams or, possibly, astral projection, all through which the woman, Phoebe, 518B8qShonL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_named for one of the moons herself, grows progressively weaker as the man (“Enceladus,” as named by Phoebe) attempts to find a cure.  This latter possibly with tones of vampirism. . . .

And the thing is (or, here comes the plug!), while TOMORROW and its electronic successor TOMORROW SF are now long gone, “Moons of Saturn” has been reprinted in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.  For more information, or possible purchase, just press its picture in the center column.

Then one more item in the life of the writer:  Gehenna and Hinnom Editor/Publisher C.P. Dunphey emailed that the payment for my story in THE YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 ANTHOLOGY (see September 13, August 10, May 8) has been sent to Paypal — a thing good to know since Paypal seems no longer to bother to tell people themselves when they’ve received money.  The story in question here is called “Flesh” — and like “Moons of Saturn” may be a little on the surreal side although with a more domestic setting — and also a reprint originally published in Spring 1999 in MAELSTROM SPECULATIVE FICTION.  THE YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR can be pre-ordered now, by pressing here, in anticipation of a September 30 publication date.

 

While Saturday started off a bit cool and clouded for my taste, the sun had established itself by a little past noon and Sunday followed sunny and warm too, a beautiful weekend for this year’s Bloomington 4th Street Festival of Arts & Crafts and, with it, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage (cf. below, August 30).  Along with a number of poets both days, Saturday also brought Bloomington High School South’s Poetry Out Loud (getting the new generation on our side), children’s theater with the Merry Mac Players, FRANKENSTEIN as presented by the Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players, and poetry “band” Shakespeare’s Monkey.  Then Sunday introduced more prose fiction readers, including Joan Hawkins and Shayne Laughter who we’ve met before (cf., e.g., various First Sundays Prose readings, for which in a way today’s Spoken Word session was a substitute), and . . . somewhat late in the day at 3:30 p.m., me.  In my case, I read three excerpts from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the back cover blurb and the introduction to Section II — by way of a sort of introduction — followed by the Section II story-chapter “The Last Dance.”  This was the same as the reading I presented last July at NASFiC in Puerto Rico (see July 13) and it seemed to go over well to an audience that started out on the small side, but grew as I continued, a good sign as these things go.  Next month, also, I’ll probably read the same first two parts but a slightly shorter story-chapter for October’s First Sunday.

Then speaking of TOMBS, Saturday’s email brought an “eligibility check” from the Horror Writers Association for works submitted to the Bram Stoker Award(R) Jury.  This consisted of questions concerning publication date, length and content, and prior publication (if any) of parts of the contents, all of which I was able to answer in the affirmative and send right back.  While this will be checked by the Jury people, with an official “acceptance” probably not for two weeks, one possibly ambiguous thing has been decided.  Although TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is a novel-in-stories, akin to Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB, under the technicalities of the Stoker rules, it will be voted on in the Fiction Collection category.

So what that means in the here and now:  If you’re a HWA member and have read TOMBS, and have a hankering to recommend it for a Stoker, please do it for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”  But even if you’re not a HWA member, while/if the spirit moves please also consider reviewing it for Amazon and Barnes & Noble (both of which are offering wildly discounted prices on TOMBS, by the way, while they last), as well as on Goodreads.

“Now in its 7th year, the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival is one of the largest literary performance events in the Midwest, featuring storytelling, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, live radio theatre, and other unique collaborations,” the announcement tells us (see also, below, August 9 and 7).  As in years past, I will have a slot too, billed as “horror fiction” from 3:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, September 3rd.  The event itself, arts fair, music, local displays, and the Bloomington Writers Guild-sponsored “Poetry on Demand” booth and Spoken Word Stage, spans the Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday September 2 and 3, arrayed along 4th Street in Bloomington, Indiana.  Or more to the point for the Spoken Word Stage, just off 4th on Dunn Street.

Here is the schedule, as of today, noting again that I’ll be on Sunday with excerpts from my novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, from 3:30 to 4.  And if you like it, I’ll be up again with an excerpt from a different section the following month, in a featured spot at the Writers Guild’s First Sunday Prose Reading, on which more later.

SATURDAY Sep 2
10:30 Shana Ritter (poetry)
11:00 5 Women Poets (poetry)
11:30 Merry MAC Players (theatre)
12:00 Merry MAC cont’d
12:30 Butch D’Ambrisio (sonnets)
1:00 Alex Hollett (poetry)
1:30 Abegunde (poetry)
2:00 Matt Hart (poetry)
2:30 Wil Gibson
3:00 PrideSlam Showcase (poetry)
3:30 Bloomington High School South Poetry Out Loud (poetry)
4:00 Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players (audio theatre)
4:30 Fig Tree cont’d
5:00 Steve Henn (poetry)
5:30 Shakespeare’s Monkey (poetry band)

SUNDAY Sep 3
10:00 Tony Brewer (poetry)
10:30 Eric Rensberger (poetry)
11:00 Joan Hawkins (fiction)
11:30 New Leaf New Life volunteers (poetry and fiction)
12:00 Adam Henze (poetry)
12:30 Shayne Laughter (fiction)
1:00 Jack Ramey (poetry)
1:30 Jasper Wirtshafter (poetry)
2:00 Wil Gibson
2:30 Arbutus Cunningham (storytelling)
3:00 Cricket’s Bone Caravan (audio theatre)
3:30 James Dorr (horror fiction)
4:00 Lisa Kwong (poetry/personal essay)
4:30 Bloomington Storytellers Guild (storytelling)

In other news, today brought proof sheets for “Flightless Rats” from FANTASIA DIVINITY (cf. July 7, et al.) which, with one correction noted, went back this afternoon.  To be published in the September issue, “Flightless Rats” is the tale of New Orleanian “Casket Girl” Aimée a-prowl for a new husband, but how some prospects may not make the grade.  It is a reprint, originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG, January 12 2015, and has also appeared in the flash fiction anthology MOCHA’S DARK BREW: 10 TALES OF HORROR (Mocha Memoirs Press, 2016).




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