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

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.

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The magazine’s subtitle is “Strange Science, Weird Worlds, Hostile Aliens, Renegade Robots . . . and the Cold Vacuum of Space,” and the theme for the upcoming BLACK INFINITY would be “Derelicts.”  Abandoned space ships, alien ships, lost ships on the high seas, as long as they had some science fiction element and, yes, reprints would be okay as well.  So exactly a week ago (sneaking in, that is, on a last minute call and why not take a chance?) I sent the hopefully not too generically titled “Ghost Ship,” set on the far-future dying Earth of my mosaic novel TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, adding that while not in TOMBS itself it had been previously published in TECHNO-GOTH CTHULHU in 2013 (cf. May 2 2013, et al.).

Then yesterday the reply came from Editor Tom English:  Thanks for submitting your eerie horror story “Ghost Ship.”  I’d like to reprint it in the next issue of BLACK INFINITY, to be published in October.  Details as to payment followed and, if all was well, I’ll send a contract.

So what with being in a play and all, I’d say Saturday was a pretty good day, not to mention following just two days after “International Cat Day,” plus an anthology’s publication, another in progress, and a “surprise” acceptance just before that — an interesting first half of August so far!  So this morning I sent back my “okay,” with more to be told here of BLACK INFINITY as it becomes known.

Remember those ne’er-do-wells “Crow and Rat,” and how they slinked into England to be in the book HUMANAGERIE (cf. April 3, March 21, et al. )?  So wouldn’t you know, they’ve gotten themselves in the news again, or at least the book that accepted them has.  According to Co-Editor Allen Ashley:  I just wanted to let you know that HUMANAGERIE has been shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award in the “Best Anthology” category.  Sarah and I are absolutely thrilled.  And of course, we could not have done this without the superb writing that we received from all of you.  . . .  The British Fantasy Award shortlist of five titles — including an anthology edited by our very own Dan Coxon (AKA Ian Steadman) — now goes to a select jury for final decision, to be announced at FantasyCon in Glasgow on 20 October.  The British Fantasy Award, I might add, is not a small thing; sponsored by the British Fantasy Society it’s the UK equivalent of, on this side of the ocean, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Nebula or the Horror Writer Association’s Stoker Awards(R), rather rarefied company for such as Rat and Crow!

“Crow and Rat,” one might remember, were beggars and thieves in the far future world of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, albeit not in that book itself, whose unwise (and probably one-sided) love simply led them into even more trouble.  To quote from their own story, [h]is name was Crow, and she was called Rat.  Both of them were beggars in the New City, not the creative kind, jongleurs or tale-tellers, gossip-mongers or criers or news-spreaders, but rather the shabbier, desperate grubbers of others’ detritus — ghouls as it were of the wealthier precincts’ trashheaps and middens.  Petty thieves, sometimes, when courage and opportunity blessed them.  In other words, common enough to be unnoticed.

However the book they are in has been noticed.  For a complete list of British Fantasy Award finalists in all categories one can press here — while for background information on the world Crow and Rat came from, the world of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (which disdains to give rascals such as them even a mention), one can click its picture in the center column.

Book bargains galore (well, sort of), or a very quick update, Amazon’s price for TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (see July 15) is still holding good, though one never knows when such things may change.  But here is some new news, a recheck on THE TEARS OF ISIS now has listings for three used copies in “very good” condition, and with shipping FREE, at $9.98.  That is, under ten dollars (though, since Amazon now adds on sales tax for at least some states, the actual cost may be a little bit more).  And there’s also a fourth copy at $6.03 with a shipping cost of $3.95 which comes to . . . also $9.98!  For more (and maybe to buy one?) press here.

Best hurry though, if you want a bargain — the next least expensive used copy of TEARS is for $22.98 (with shipping still free, but in just “good” condition).  While for a new copy, Amazon still lists the paperback at the cover price of $12.95.

Yes, this is new, though the catch is that, unless you’re on Prime or buy at least three copies, you will have to pay shipping costs as well.  The book:  TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, and it’s still a bargain at $9.31, under $10.00, or 38 percent off its list price of $14.95.  For more click its picture in the center column or, going directly to the chase, press here.  But one would best hurry, Amazon is also doing “Prime Days” just for today and 8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13tomorrow and, while this one’s for non-Prime customers too, it may not be offered for very long.
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The above is something I found out more or less accidentally and seemed worth sharing.  I then checked out THE TEARS OF ISIS (as is my wont) but, alas, at least on Amazon one must pay its full $12.95 price.  That is for a new copy (which, I admit, I’d prefer you buy because I get a royalty on them — these are all for paperbacks I should add, with Kindle prices somewhat less), but for a less expensive read three vendors have used copies listed at $10.44, with condition rated as “Very Good,” and with shipping free.  These can be found by clicking TEARS’ picture or pressing here and, hey, if you like it, perhaps you’ll be moved to send Amazon and/or Goodreads a review.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a story called “The Plant-Sitter.”  The sitter in question, hired to take care of an exotic plant while its owner attends a horror convention, in part was a homage to the 1960 Roger Corman film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, specifically when at the end, the hiree apparently now deceased, the hirer tries to remember her name.  “Audrey something?”  The story was published in the Fall 2004 BOOK OF DARK WISDOM by William Jones, who later founded Elder Signs Press, and who I subsequently worked with on an idea I had for a novel-in-stories about a far-future world of the “Tombs.”  For various reasons that project got delayed, but eventually under new editor/publisher Chuck Zaglanis, thirteen years later, the book was published as TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

So these things are connected.  The Corman movie begat a 1960s retro rock musical in 1982, and that in turn was made into a movie four years after, in 1986, which I also have seen.  And now — one of the perks of living in a university town, where slightly off the beaten track films and theatre are nurtured — I had a chance to see the play on stage last night in an Indiana University Summer Theatre production.

For local readers the play can be seen on various dates through July 28.  For those who like horror in urban settings (a flower shop in New York’s “skid row”?) and dark, dark humor, all I can say is that it’s a delight.  It does have, yes, a carnivorous plant as well as, like most musicals, innocent lovers — or those at least who start off with some innocence.  Also it adds a sadistic dentist, and a Greek chorus-like trio of girl pop singers (early 1960s style, remember) who’re not averse to demanding tips to give strangers directions — to get to the flower shop, that is — although greed and materialism infect most of the other players as well.  Or in the plant’s case (named “Audrey II,” after the not quite entirely guileless ingenue) perhaps it’s more properly gluttony.

Anyhow I greatly recommend it.

Then a quick note on yesterday afternoon’s post on “11 Space Movies for Apollo 11,” it turns out that the wily SHORT LIST may have sent that particular feature as, apparently, a special treat for its newsletter subscribers — which means that the link may not have worked for all who tried it.  There doesn’t seem to be much I can do about that, but I can give a list of the movies alone.  Thus, from number one to eleven:  2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY, APOLLO 13, INTERSTELLAR, FIRST MAN, HIDDEN FIGURES, CAPRICORN ONE, THE RIGHT STUFF, GRAVITY, THE MARTIAN, MOON, SPACE CAMP.

2013, the year that brought us the films GRAVITY and DESPICABLE ME 2, as well as in which my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS was published. And what should I run across this afternoon, through sheer serendipity, but an interview of me dated May 7 that year on LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS (“Reviewing Fiction One Happy Ever After at a Time”)?  At that time THE TEARS OF ISIS was about to be published in roughly a week by Isis4_2Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing — pre-orders on Amazon were being taken and five free copies being raffled on Goodreads — although the cover was not the one shown in the center column. The cover change only came a year after, acknowledging TEARS having won a Stoker(R) nomination. While other concerns were about a book that was already planned, but had suffered some setbacks in terms of finding a publisher for it:  James has a series of short stories he’s been writing set on a far future, dying Earth in and around a vast necropolis called The Tombs.  Something more than a dozen of these have been published in various places, including three (two reprints and one for the first time) in THE TEARS OF ISIS, “The Ice Maiden,” “Mara’s Room,” and “River Red” (another new one, “Raising the Dead,” is also scheduled for later this year in the White Cat Publications steampunk anthology AIRSHIPS AND AUTOMATONS). . . .

So it’s not that long a time really, is it?  Other “standard” topics are covered too:  How did you first become a writer?  Advice for new writers?  If interested in how the writing life looked at least for a moment back then, the interview as a whole can be read here.

A very, very quick bit of news. “Flute and Harp,” accepted as a reprint by HELIOS QUARTERLY on June 3 (see below), has now been scheduled for Volume 6, Issue 2, for June 2021.  Yes, that’s two years from now, Volume 5 having already been filled due to a greater than expected response to this year’s call for submissions.  The story itself, originally published in WHISPERS AND SHADOWS (Prime Books, 2001) concerns a pair of musicians on a dying world who like each other very much, but also share a fear of ghouls.  The story itself is a favorite of mine and, if I may say so, should be worth the wait, but for those who might be more impatient it also appears in my novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017), for more on which one may press its picture in the center column.

Some editors know what they like and don’t mind saying so very quickly.  To quote the announcement, SPECIAL CALL:  HELIOS QUARTERLY turns 5 in 2020!  Over the years, we’ve published less horror than science fiction & fantasy.  . . .  We want to change that.  For our upcoming call for submissions, we’re especially interested in horror short stories and poetry by Black, Indigenous, and other poets and authors of color.  So late Sunday night (the email auto-acknowledgement is stamped as 10:34 p.m.) I plunked the key that sent my submission of a 5500-word story, “Flute and Harp.”

Then just under twelve hours later, listed as at 10:32 a.m. Monday, the e-reply came:  Congratulations writer!  We would like to publish your submission “Flute and Harp”.  At this time we do not yet know the actual date of publication, but we will continue to keep you notified of what is happening as we move forward.  So while I don’t know if that’s a record, it is pretty swift.

“Flute and Harp” is a reprint, 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).  And I might also note that HELIOS QUARTERLY has a very narrow window for submissions (again to quote from their guidelines), from June 1-15 11:59 EST every year.  Or in other words, my two musicians (as might benefit musicians everywhere) had a very fine sense of timing!

But that also means there is at least a short time remaining for others who might have a yen to submit to HELIOS QUARTERLY (which though, in addition to quickness, seems also to be rather picky), for more on which one may press here.

I find that sometimes my best stories come from combining several different ideas.  Thus “The Sending” combines a detective/crime story with a ghost story, then with a romance, and brings in details both on lighthouses and on Depression-era Florida.  The details also required research (including touching on spiritualism as understood in the 1920s and ’30s, and references to Florida’s original colonization by Spain) which, as a one-time graduate student, I find adds to the fun, which I hope shows through in the finished product.

Details on this had been a little fuzzy, with an original call on December 6, re. LOVE BEYOND DEATH — An anthology of short creepy & emotional stories based around the idea of love evading the limitations of life & death.  For the anthology I am looking for around 20 short stories — (based on the overall word count of all accepted entries).  The genre will be a mix of ghost stories / horror / thriller and erotic fiction, cross genre stories are welcome.  Each story to be of approximately between 4,000 > 8,000 words in length.  So four days later I sent “The Sending” (aha, one that has absolutely nothing to do with my novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH!) a reprint originally published in the December 1997 ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and also appearing in my first collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (for info on which, one may click its picture in the center column).  A reply came back on April 13:  The selection process for the deliberately ambiguously entitled anthology LOVE BEYOND DEATH has now concluded, and it gives me great pleasure to say that your story has been successful. . . .  The next step is to agree a few terms before I can make the announcement official.

So it goes, an acceptance I could not announce quite yet, from Beyond Death Publishing in the UK.  Until, that is, two days ago on Sunday when I received details and a questionnaire from Editor Dickon Springate, and a check on Facebook to make sure the news was, as it were, now in the public domain.  And thus my answer, above, to “Question 2” which went back yesterday afternoon, or, the publication machine grinds on with corrections (or not) to edited copy to come, along with details on a Kickstarter campaign, the latter one hopes to bring us authors more money, set for the future.  So please be generous.  Question 1, in fact, had to do with Paypal details while Question 3, on a brief plot description, may appear on these pages in the near future.  Or maybe not — after all, the best way to find out what a story will be about is to buy the book after it’s published.

Publication of LOVE BEYOND DEATH is tentatively set for 2020, on Valentine’s Day, if all goes well — and so the writing life continues — while above, to the right, is a tentative table of contents (and with, it would seem, a few more than the originally planned twenty stories).




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