Posts Tagged ‘Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth’

These things have a way of sneaking up on you!  The essay was actually published on Thursday, February 9, as advertised last week (cf. February 4), but in the circuitous way of the internet at times, word finally only caught up with me last night.  So it goes.

The essay, anyway, pertains to my upcoming novel, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but is actually about novel structure.  That is, TOMBS isn’t structured like a majority of novels, as pretty much a continuous narrative, but rather is what is sometimes called a mosaic novel or a novel-in-stories.  Say what?   That is, like Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB or Ray Bradbury’s THE 8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13MARTIAN CHRONICLES.  Or what about Bradbury’s THE ILLUSTRATED MAN?  Or John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy.  Novels pieced together from parts, the parts sometimes short stories in their own right — but not necessarily always.  And anyhow why do it that way at all?

Well, now we have an answer, courtesy of blogger Heidi Angell who, as of Thursday, has published my “What Is a Novel in Stories” as a guest blog.  And did it really start with Edgar Allan Poe?

To find out, press here.

This was a first, the Players Pub Spoken Word Series (see January 29), premiered Thursday night from 6 to 9 by the Bloomington Writers Guild in conjunction with local bar and music venue Players Pub in off-downtown Bloomington.  This will continue on second Thursdays every month, combining musical interludes with readings of various sorts.  This time, for instance, the readings were prose, with the musical guests the group Urban Deer, while next month’s will most likely feature poetry and, from out of town, the group Shakespeare’s Monkey.  The name of the series is not necessarily fixed yet either, but a flavor is already being established, more freewheeling and possibly “adult” in nature than, say, the more formal First Sunday Prose and Last Sunday Poetry programs.

That said, the first reading ever for this was by . . . me.  The piece read was my story “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS, but with a brief introduction from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (“River Red” being set in the “Tombs” universe, even if not in the latter book) to help set the mood.  And also . . . well, maybe . . . as a sort of commercial to push both titles.  This was followed by Shayne Laughter, who we’ve met on several occasions before, with a tale called “Incident at Grandmother’s Cottage,” a part of a fiction work in progress; Arbutus Cunningham (a.k.a. Hester), a Saturday morning radio star on local WFHB with four brief and mostly funny (the exception, the third called “After the War,” combining survival and sadness) semi-fictionalized, off-the-wall reflections; and triana3c2001playwright and comedy performance artist Stevie Jay with longer excerpts from a newer work, “Falling Through the Cracks:  a homeopathic remedy for the New Millennium in one dose.”  The audience totaled some 15 to 18 people (not counting bar personnel), most of whom seemed to stay for the whole nearly three-hour period, and once warmed up seemed quite enthusiastic.

Then another note on new goth kitten Triana, who has momentarily held still and in the light long enough for a new photo portrait, this amongst the jumble and clutter of the printer corner of the computer cave.  But the thing is, missing from all other pictures thus far, she has lovely golden-brownish eyes, now seen here for the first time!

Saturday brings us news that THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (cf. January 27, et. al) has been released on Kindle with, according to publisher A Murder of Storytellers, the paperback version hopefully to be available soon.  More here as it becomes known.  This is the one about people’s relationships with their gods, not always as lovely as one might hope, with my “burnt” offering about a lad who apparently couldn’t get to hell, with a cautionary note to preachers.  Titled “Tit for Tat,” it’s a poem in the class sometimes called “Little Willies,” humorous quasi-Victorian takes on boys who cause, or have caused to them dire things.

Then one more quick note:  Word came last night from Heidi Angell, who we may recall from her interview of me last month (see January 10), that she plans to use  an essay by me on her blog sometime next week.  Again, more here as it becomes known.  The essay is titled “What is a Novel-In-Stories?” and explains why that form may be superior to more straightforward narrative for some applications, with special reference to my own upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (due in June from Elder Signs Press, for more information on which click its picture in the center column).

Back for 2017, this afternoon saw the new year’s first “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (see November 28, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center.  Featured poets this time were Lisa Low, in her final year in the MFA program at Indiana University, whose reading covered such subjects as grocery stores, ghosts, and gold, ending with a group of poems from a work in progress about a girl named Ruby; and Stephen Hopkins, “born in Texas but raised in the Midwest, bloomingtonwritersguild[and] moved all over Ohio, often,” an IU PhD candidate who read works from his recent chapbook HYMNS OF PERPETUAL MOTION.  This was followed by snacks and an open mike session in which I was last of six participants, with five short, relatively light poems about vampires, “The Vampire’s Reflection,” “An Unsuitable Kiss for the New Year,” “Something New,” “Nothing Better,” and “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment.”

Also announced was a new Writers Guild “Second Thursdays” evening series to be held each month at Bloomington’s Players Pub, beginning February 9.  While programs will vary, the premiere offering will highlight prose readings,  including a short tale by me from THE TEARS OF ISIS, “River Red,” set in the same universe as my upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

So the first answer starts with a citation to “Allan Poe.”  That’s Edgar Allan Poe, of course, but what’s in a word — I still stand by the answer.  And thus the promised interview by Weldon Burge for Smart Rhino Publications (cf. January 11, 8), in conjunction with a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming ZIPPERED FLESH 3 anthology, is now live.  A mention is made at the very beginning about my Smart Rhino story appearances, “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” in UNCOMMON ASSASSINS, “Labyrinth” in INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, and “Golden Age” in the upcomi8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13ng ZIPPERED FLESH volume, but that’s not what the interview is about.  Rather, with reference to Poe as well as my Stoker(R) nominated collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, we talk about short story writing in general and why, as a writer, I find short forms more interesting than novels.  But then novels come up too with reference to TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (expected in June this year, not really “spring,” but that’s because of a change in schedule after my original biographical notes were in) and what is, exactly, a novel-in-stories, also known as a “mosaic novel”?  And, more importantly, why TOMBS is put together in that style.

The Poe citation, incidentally, is to his essay “The Poetic Principle,” which I believe he meant to apply to prose fiction as well.  But to read the whole interview, including some things on the challenges and joys of writing, and what to expect once one has written, why not press here?

Just a quick note, that Weldon Burge has announced a Kickstarter campaign for for the upcoming Smart Rhino Publications anthology ZIPPERED FLESH 3:  YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD, scheduled for launch next Tuesday, January 17.  In conjunction with this will be his interview with me (cf. January 8, below) with remarks on short stories, novels-in-stories, structure of novels, and TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIM298555_180672618685797_840344211_nES OF EARTH:  “I’ll be sending out the e-letter once the campaign has started, so you should see your interview posted next week as well!”  Also mentioned in the interview are THE TEARS OF ISIS and “The Poetic Principle” by Edgar Allan Poe.

As for ZIPPERED FLESH 3, my part in this is a strangely muted (given the promise of some of its stories) science fiction tale called “Golden Age,” reflecting a future history of worn out, or otherwise damaged body replacements (see September 9), a reprint originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994.

No, this is a different one, not the Smart Rhino interview-to-come noted just below, but one completed in a flurry of activities the week before Christmas with Heidi Angell.  This one includes such questions as what director I’d choose were TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH optioned for a movie (my answer suggests three, the third of whom may come as a surprise but whose work has been reviewed on this blog) and what is one great lesson I may have learned through being an author?  I might mention, too, that I may have some other posts on Ms. Angell’s blog in the months to come in anticipation of TOMBS’s planned June release, as well as possibly some reviews of books of mine by her.  And then later this month as well, perhaps we will see the “other,” Smart Rhino Publications’s interview of me by Weldon Burge.

For this one, however, on Heidi Angell’s late Monday MEET THE AUTHOR feature, please to press here.

Another interview lurks in our future.  Completed just now, this one was rather a quickie as well, the contact coming from Smart Rhino Publications Editor Weldon Burge just last week:  James, would you be open to a short interview for the January Smart Rhino newsletter?  It would only be three or four questions, short and sweet.  But I’d need a pretty fast turnaround, if possible.  Please let me know.  Thanks!  My connection here is having stories in two Smart 463_zippered_cvr_3Rhino anthologies thus far, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS and INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, and in a third to be coming out soon, ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. September 9, et al.).  So, “sure,” I sent back, and we set things up to be done this weekend.

More, such as a tentative date, will be noted here when it is known, but I will say now that, while short, it’s one of the heavier ones I’ve done in terms of writing and writing theory, even including a quote from Poe from his essay “The Poetic Principle.”  Why that essay?  Because I think Poe intended it to apply to fiction in prose as well, perhaps then explaining his own predilection for the short story form, and hence, by extension, mine.  This is for a question having to do with my own short story collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS.  But then, from there, a question on TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH brings up a discussion of form, in addition to content, and novels-in-stories or “mosiac” novels (see also, October 20), and why that form might be chosen over traditional narrative for telling certain kinds of stories.  And also, why the mosiac form might answer Poe’s dictum that effective “poetic” writing be kept short.

. . . the idea of faith is more general in the sense that it covers any devotion to a higher being or spiritual power.  It could be anything, from a religion-based god to alien overlords to the Force.  The point is that you believe in something outside yourself that, in some way, shapes, influences, or even controls the nature of our world.  Yet somehow, regardless of the faith, the path to getting there is always the same:  you have to hear the call, and then yoarrival_movie_posteru have to take conscious steps to overcome that adversity within and without to reach its source, taking you from a non-believer to a believer.

Well, no, I haven’t seen ARRIVAL yet, I tend to wait sometimes for what I think may be important films to be out long enough on DVD to bring the price down to buy for myself, but that’s my problem.  The above, from “Communication and Faith in ARRIVAL”  by Michael Moreci, on TOR.COM a day or two back, piqued my interest however (cf. below, for instance, November 3, August 26 ; September 17 2015):  the question of faith, belief, in science fiction as well as, perhaps to be more expected, in fantasy and horror.  The need for an author — or reader — to know a people’s traditions in order to build their world.

Or that’s how I see it.  Moreci also brings up Joseph Campbell (the hero’s journey), and the movies STAR WARS:  A NEW HOPE and CONTACT; while in my own writings I might note the upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH as well as, at least in part, THE TEARS OF ISIS.  And in any event I may look into ARRIVAL myself sooner than I had expected.  Moreci’s critique, on the other hand, may be read right now here.

The beat goes on.  Late yesterday evening the contract came for my story “The Dark Call of the Sea” from PHOBOS MAGAZINE (see October 25) to be initialed, the “Author Credit” section double checked, and the bio for publication okayed and/or updated.  “Once we get the contract back then we can send over your payment.  Thank you and talk to you soon!”  And so, today, all ha170px-20000_squid_holding_sailors been sent back with, yes, one small correction to the bio (my novel-in-stories TOMBS, to be published in June 2017 rather than just in “spring-summer”), Paypal information had been sent before, and now one awaits the cash and an author’s copy of the publication.

The writing life as it’s supposed to be lived!

“The Dark Call of the Sea,” incidentally, is more or less what it sounds like:  A Lovecraftian horror story about a summer at Innsmouth gone bad, with a bit of a tip of the hat in addition to that author’s “The Music of Erich Zann.”  The issue itself is to be PHOBOS’s fourth, on the theme “Deep Black Sea,” so you landlubbers realize it won’t be alone — and you have been warned (details to come as they become known)!




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