Posts Tagged ‘The Writing Life’

Yes, it’s “Holly Jolly” (cf.  September 27), chugging along on schedule for a Christmas-ish release in the Winter 2019 issue of PLANET SCUMM.  Late yesterday I received suggested editorial changes, mostly somewhat condensing the story but keeping the plot points, which I went over today and, with a few corrections, sent back this afternoon.  “Holly Jolly,” we may recall, is the tale of a Christmas elf – or was that a cosplay “Mr. Spock”? – and the fate of planets, or at least this one.  Now all to be revealed before your eyes when the issue comes out, more on which will be posted here as it becomes known.

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Today saw the return of the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. August 5, et al.) at Bloomington’s downtown Thomas Gallery, having been pre-empted in September by the Fourth Street Arts Festival and Spoken Word Stage (see September 1) and in October by Frankenfest (see September 30).  The featured readers were Amy L. Cornell, an active participant with Woman Writing for a Change and on the board of the Writing for a Change Foundation and a past community columnist for the Bloomington Herald-Times, reading a flash fiction tale about a Presidential request for poetry, followed by a series of “relatively short poems” including a narrative of the re-invention of libraries and three retold fairy tales; Lisa Clay Shanahan, author of MURDER BY THE BOOK and MURDER MASTERPIECE in her Boston Publishing House Mystery Series and MFA candidate in creative writing in the Sewanee School of Letters, with a short talk about inspiration followed by the opening scene of a new novel, THE BROKEN CIRCLE; and me with my recently published dark romance “Crow and Rat,” out last month in the British anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 21, 3, et al.).  This was followed after the snack break by a relatively short session with four walk-on readers, including both poetry and short prose.

“…and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations — sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.”
– From J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla

So this, the final reading on THE POETS WEAVE, on radio station WFIU, was actually broadcast Sunday, October 28.  But that was simply because that’s the Sunday closest to Halloween, while here we can greet today officially with its recording.  Two previous segments were aired on October 14 and October 21 respectively (see October 17, 21), on the “Who” and the “Where” of vampirism.  And now, to end it, are four poems on the “Attraction of Vampirism,” as produced by LuAnn Johnson and introduced by Romayne Rubinas Dorsey:  “Moonlight Swimming,” “The Aeronaut,” “When She Won the One Million Credit Galactic Lottery,” and “The Esthete.”  All poems are still from my collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) and may be heard by pressing here.

It often will take a few months for a publisher to gather all royalty information together, especially if there are multiple vendors reporting — Amazon plus B and N plus perhaps the publisher’s own website, for instance.  And then there may be more than one book involved.  So, unsurprisingly, the statement received today is not for the third quarter but rather a six-month total for 2018’s first half, ending in June.  And, as has been my custom, the micro-amount logged into my ledger, I shall report neither amount nor publisher to avoid mutual embarrassment.

But wait, there is something that I can add, that it may not be as trivial as it sounds.  As it happens, the royalty covers four separate anthologies with a story in each, though only two had actual sales.  But these are anthologies that were published quite a few years before, which in their day provided half-yearly amounts in the $10.00 to $12.00 range each.  And these continued over periods of several years, adding up for each, if not riches exactly, what would have been reasonable one-time payments for each of four stories, and possibly more than that for some.  Remember these are royalties, too, that are shared among every writer with work in an anthology.

So, the moral, while today’s haul might be good, at best, for a down payment on lunch, the books and the publisher have done well enough in the past for me, and it’s actually a small delight that even a few are still interested enough to buy some copies, and that enough to provide the authors any royalties now at all.

It starts with a longish poem from Marge Simon, “Robert Browning and the Spider Poet,” and ends with a flurry of poetry by Christina Sng (a fun one, her second, “Catsitting on Halloween”).  No, Triana, don’t get any ideas.  But what it is is a “Gallery of Poetry” in a jam-packed October/Halloween edition of the HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER.  And, between the two poets already mentioned, are three mini-poems (two haikuish, the third a four-liner) by me.

But for extra fun, the three I chose were all published first on this very blog, on February 14 2013 (yes, that’s Valentine’s Day) and February 14 and September 24 2017.  And one at least, the first, is a love poem (well, sort of a love poem — a warning perhaps).  The others, perhaps, a bit more on the dark-humored side.  The poems themselves are titled “Best Appraise that Diamond Fast,” “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment,” and “Land of Milk and Honey,” and all may be seen (Marge Simon’s, Christina Sng’s, and mine) by pressing here.

“Listen to them—the children of the night. / What music they make!”
– From Bram Stoker’s Dracula

So begins the second of three readings, by me (cf. October 17), on the topic “Let Us Explore Where Vampires May Be Found,” on the Indiana University Public Broadcasting Station WTIU.  The program:  THE POETS WEAVE, produced by LuAnn Johnson and announced by Romayne Rubinas Dorsey, and which may be heard by pressing here.  Thus, to repeat the introduction:  Today, [James Dorr] will read on the subject of vampires and things vampiric from his all-poetry collection Vamps (A Retrospective), which is available from White Cat Publications or Alban Lake Publishing.  More information can also be found on James’ blog.

James reads “Why She Started Writing Poetry,” “California Vamp,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.” 

Listen Now:  Let Us Meet Some Of The Vampires

The word does not necessarily travel fast, but it comes.  Let us recall posts for August 17 and 8 (and also related, September 30, August 26) in which I spoke of recording poems for the WFIU radio feature THE POETS WEAVE.  Today, from producer LuAnn Johnson:  I’m not sure if I ever got back to you about air dates for your episodes.  . . .  The first aired this last Sunday.  The second is scheduled to air this Sunday, Oct 21 — but we’re in our fund drive week so there is a chance they will need to cut it for pitch time.  If so, I’ll reschedule for the following Sunday, and then the third will air the Sunday after that.

Thus the first of three sessions for which one may press here,* as announced by MC Romayne Rubinas Dorsey:  James Dorr writes short fiction and poetry leaning toward dark fantasy and horror, with his latest book a novel-in-stories, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth.

Today, he will read on the subject of vampires and things vampiric from his all-poetry collection Vamps (A Retrospective), which is available from White Cat Publications or Alban Lake Publishing).  More information can also be found on James’ blog.

James reads “Le Meduse,” “Vampire Thoughts,” “Daylight Savings,” and “Night Child.”
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*(Or for gluttons for punishment and/or lovers of King Kong, for WTIU’s TV counterpart one may also check here, cf. September 25, 18.)

Yes it was, the Bloomington Writers Guild “Second Thursday Player’s Pub Spoken Word Series” (see October 9; October 13 2017, et al.) with a special early Halloween lineup to honor October.  How special?  Even the five open mike readers at the end chose at least some poems, etc. specifically for spookyness while featured musical guest Travis Puntarelli also went out of his way to play and sing numbers with, let us say, Gothic overtones.  Then of the headlined readers, the first one was . . . moi.  Or to read from the blurb, JAMES DORR is a short story writer and poet, working primarily in dark fantasy and horror with some forays into science fiction and mystery.  . . .  The story he’ll be reading tonight is called “River Red,” and appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  It is set on a far-future dying Earth, populated by various creatures including ghouls — eaters of the dead — and is in the same universe as his latest novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, out from Elder Signs Press.  This was followed by another musical interlude, then by the main event, a dramatic reading by Writers Guild members of . . . well, to quote again from the blurb, DRACULA is a screenplay for a never-made film by the late, notorious Ken Russell, Britain’s cinematic sultan of excess and outrage whose films include TOMMY, ALTERED STATES, LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, and GOTHIC.*  The script was written in the late 1970s and published in 2009.  The film came close to being made only to be abandoned when Universal put its Frank Langella headlined version of DRACULA into production.  Russell’s script, however, allegedly formed the impetus for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, whose screenwriter James V. Hart was directly involved in the inception of Russell’s interpretation.

In a departure from usual practice, the evening ended shortly after 8 as opposed to a more normal 9 p.m., to allow for an additional band Players Pub had scheduled for the night.  This specifically cut down the amount of time set aside for the play, allowing for only two or three scenes, but enough to give an idea of its flavor, set in the 1920s, that of a vampire motivated by a love of music and on a quest to confer immortality on dying artists.  However, the Writers Guild also announced plans to present the play in its entirety at some time in 2019.
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*Re. GOTHIC, cf. October 5, September 30.  But readers may recall having met Mr. Russell before as creator of THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (July 17 2015, “E. A. Poe Meets Alice in Wonderland”), described as a buggy interpretation “for the 21st century” of not just Poe’s “House” (which possibly more deflates than falls at the end of the picture) but almost everything else Poesque beginning with a wink of the eye to “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Which is to say more October fun is approaching, this from the Writers Guild again in just two days from now, Thursday evening, October 11 at Bloomington’s Players Pub.  Or, let’s let Chair Tony Brewer say it again.  THU OCT 11:  switching gears from Frankenstein to Dracula . . . the Writers Guild at Bloomington presents a staged reading of excerpts from Ken Russell’s unproduced screenplay DRACULA, plus horror writings by James Dorr and music by Travis Puntarelli.  Booo!  And what will I read?  Well, maybe that should be a surprise (though I wouldn’t be all that shocked if I hadn’t mentioned it somewhere elsewhere — it’s sort of a “go to” for me for occasions of this sort).

For now anyway just know you have been warned.

So it’s over now, the Monday after.  Thanks have been Facebooked to the participants, of which I’m one.  But it ended last evening with a flurry, a reading performance (with sound effects) of a radio play version of FRANKENSTEIN, written and directed by Russell McGee (cf. September 30) and produced by Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer, for which to quote the playbill, [t]his faithful adaptation presents the creature as an intelligent being that has suffered the injustice of mankind.  In celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Shelley’s creation, we felt it was important to emphasize Shelley’s text and allow the creature to speak for itself, in Shelley’s own words.  And then one extra twist, to help de-emphasize the hulking, inarticulate monster we may have met in the movies, [t]o that end, we have cast a female actor as the creature to help lift Shelley’s own voice from the text.

It was interesting, the novel itself depicting the “monster” as one that suffers rejection when it really wants companionship with, if friendships with normal humans are too much, at least a creature like itself.  It teaches itself to speak and to read, including such books as Milton’s PARADISE LOST.  But in the end, eight-feet tall and misshapen, it is still driven away, ultimately seeking instead revenge against its creator.  And, if you missed it Sunday, all is not lost.  From the Facebook “thank yous” (including, I might [*ahem*] add, “much gratitude to our panelists and FrankenExperts Monique Morgan, Adam Henze, Joan Hawkins, Rebecca Baumann, and James Dorr”):  The performance will be broadcast on cable access and WFHB, and available online before long, so if you missed the performance you’ll get a chance to see/hear it.




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