Monday, January 26, 2015

What is Waiting in the Wings

2015. Hard to believe. I will soon be eligible for Social Security but, as I was exempt from the program, can't claim it. Never mind. Other things are hopefully coming out this year that may delight and entertain.

I have several stories that have submitted over the last several months yet to appear. Here's a rundown on them as of today.

I have been assured by Pro Se Press that the first Velvet Wasp tale (O Death, Where is Thy Sting?) is to appear very shortly and another tale, which I cannot further discuss due to contract restrictions, is in the works.

My story The Hard Part will appear in the NovoPulp anthology, volume 2 (Niamh Brown, editor), from Hermit Studios Press.

I have an acceptance in hand for Granny Wise for Southern Haunts 3: Magic in the Moonlight (Dark Oak Press, Alexander Brown editor). Another submission for that publisher's Tales of the Goth Gnome anthology (Homer and the Little Man Under the Tree) remains in limbo. I did have encouraging feedback on my latest submission (The China Incident) for their Dreams of Steam VI anthology (Kimberly Richardson, editor) and the one I sent (The Game) for their Interstellar Bartender anthology (Aubrey Stephens, editor).

I received a heartening mention from Ink Monkey Mag indicating that my short stories What is a Ninjabot? (Blink! anthology, Mandi Lynch, editor) and Ned and the Tomatoes (The Tomato anthology, Kay Iscah and Mandi Lynch, editors, in association with Amoeba Ink) should come out sometime this year.

I have submitted a short story (Below Tennessee) to Charon Coin Press' State of Horror: Tennessee anthology (Jerry Benn, editor) but received no word yet on that one.

I recently penned several scripts for Claude D. Miles' comedy web series The Mysteries of Science. With any luck, and some funding, they should get produced this year and appear on their YouTube channel.

This is not to say I haven't had a few rejections. I prefer to concentrate on the successes rather than the failures, however. I learn from the rejections and move on. Dwelling on what you have done wrong without learning from it is counter-productive.

Alban Lake Publishing
I continue to work as an editor for both Pro Se Press and Hermit Studios Press (Denmark). I am also currently serving as editor-in-chief of an upcoming anthology from Alban Lake Publishing, The Idolaters of Cthulhu. We have had some really excellent tales submitted for that collection and I hope to put together something the fans of the Mythos will enjoy.

Earlier this year I attended Shadowcon XIX at their new location in West Memphis, Arkansas. I got a chance to reconnect with my friends/publishers/fellow writers, which is always a pleasure. My next convention will be Midsouthcon in Memphis, TN then on to Madison, IN for the Book Fair. I hope to see some of you there. Stop by and say hello.

Enough puttering. I need to get back to the notebooks. Til next time, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Looking Forward

Here we are at the end of another year. It seems like they get shorter as I get older. I finally understand the concept of time dilation.

My short story The Price of Immortality appeared in Alban Lake's Bloodbond magazine in November. This was the only vampire story I ever had published. Although it hasn't appeared yet, AL's Disturbed magazine will contain my short story Uncle Bill's Boys, one of my few werewolf tales. I seldom branch off into those two genres, not because I don't read them but because I believe today's take on those stories has departed from the monster aspect and become soap opera. When women and men begin to see walking parasitic corpses (vampires) and shape-sifting predatory killers (werewolves) as targets of romance, I have to cry foul. And I've heard the argument that sex has always been part of the vampire mystique. What is conveniently forgotten is that in its original form vampirism was a form of predation perpetrated by a maniacal murderer. Sex was used as bait to draw in the victim. Is it a statement on our society that we have come to see that as romantic?

There is a dearth of good speculative fiction nowadays, in my opinion. Television and movies have degraded the genres into prepubescent entertainment. The occasional attempt at reaching an adult audience doesn't ever seem to get the same attention and dies off almost as soon as it appears.

Recently on Syfy (Lord, how I hate that name) there was a miniseries called "Ascension". I found it principally a good example of science fiction and understand they may be trying to pitch it for a series, but like all speculative fiction today it suddenly veered off course and hurtled into the abyss with the line "The starchild must be born". 

I am a writer and an editor. Unfortunately. I can see where writing works and where it goes wrong. I know how the sausage is made. Sometimes I wish I didn't.

I got the chance to see the movie "Radio Free Albemuth" based on the Phillip K. Dick story of the same name. It cost nearly 40 million to make and garnered less than 6,000 in theaters. The reason? It was true to the story. The movie actually used the concept behind Dick's story, that of an oppressive society that controls dissension with an iron fist. It is a depressing story on the whole, even though it does have a hopeful ending. People in America shy away from that kind of thing. We have become educated to be a society of followers, led by fantasy ideas of the possibility of a perfect society if all just recognize everybody is the same. The idea of individuality and individual responsibility is being leached out of our society, something we as writers should be highlighting in our work rather than avoiding.

Enough of that.

My facebook page will likely break 30,000 likes by the end of the year. I am delighted at this but wonder how the changes to facebook policy will affect my pocketbook when they go into effect on January 1. I have already looked into Ello and Tsu as alternatives and have begun using Twitter more often. If it become necessary, I will shut down the facebook page with great regret and move on.

I'm headed to Shadowcon in a couple of weeks. This is a comfortable little convention I enjoy and look forward to every year. I already have a few more conventions to attend in 2015. Maybe I'll see you at one of them.

Til then, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

With everything going on in this world, it may be hard to stop and give thanks for the blessings and loved ones in your life. I understand that. But why else do we go on if not for those very things?

I have been blessed with a loving wife for more than 40 years, two beautiful daughters, grandkids, friends far and near, and the ability to finally do what I've always wanted to: write. I may not have the perfect life in another person's eyes but I think I'm doing very well, thank you.

It isn't enough to simply accept your life as it comes. You should appreciate it because it's the only one you're ever going to get. Take the time to look around you, not from the spirit of greed or envy but from the spirit of gratitude for what you have and who you are. There are millions of people who have little or nothing, not even their health, the most basic of blessings.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you can appreciate all those in your life.

Enough of that.

My writing is going well. I recently received a rejection for a reprint of "No Pay, No Pass" but an acceptance for an original story. I finished and sent in the second Velvet Wasp tale and am looking forward to hearing back about stories I have submitted for Pro Se's Hercules Hathaway, Seventh Star's Tales of the Goth Gnome, Dark Oak's Dreams of Steam VI, Charon Coin's State of Horror: Tennessee, and the Interstellar Bartender anthologies. I have also started writing for a web series that will premiere in 2015. More on that as it develops.

On the editing side, things have been quiet but steady. November has been mostly dedicated to the writing side.

I continue working on several short stories for submission to different publications who have no idea I intend to inflict my work on them as yet. We shall see what they think.

That's all for now. Have a safe and happy holiday. Remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October Wrap-up

The majority of  what has been done this month isn't immediately visible because it resides almost exclusively on my laptop and in my notebooks. 

I finished, finally, the second Velvet Wasp case and am currently putting the finishing touches on two other stories whose deadlines are the 31st. Finishing these stories was often interrupted by editing assignments from Pro Se Press but I can't blame them for my own procrastination. The VW case was supposed to be done by the end of September. 

Good news came in the form of the announcement that my short story "The Hard Part" was accepted for Hermit Studios Press' NovoPulp Anthology Volume 2. I got a look at the preliminary cover art and it looks fantastic. I also got a notice that the Blink! anthology from Ink Monkey Press, which contains my flash fiction piece "What is a Ninjabot?", has started back up again after an extended hiatus brought on by computer problems.

Expect me to start talking soon about a Lovecraftian anthology I will edit for Alban Lake Publishing next year. The guidelines have been drafted and the details are being ironed out now.

Last month Jackie Gamber and I had a blog tour through the internet. You can check out the index of the tour in a previous post. I'm happy to participate in blog tours. It gives me a chance to connect with a larger audience without having to traipse all over the place physically. I want to thank all the host websites for the opportunity.

After the Imaginarium convention, I'm done with conventions for this year. This gives me a chance to catch up on my writing assignments and spend more time with my family, friends, and grandkids. Over the last couple of weeks we've had wonderful visits from my daughter and her boys then from James and Marcia Miller and their kids. We were delighted to get a surprise visit from Nora Tamada, who we hadn't seen in about 10 years. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the family between now and the end of the year.

Okay, back to the notebooks. Til next time, stay low and keep your powder dry!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Poisonous - A Review

Poisonous
by Tommy B. Smith 
ISBN-10: 1937758249 
ISBN-13: 978-1937758240
Rainstorm Press, 2010
118 pages

Blurb: Following the Quake of ’79, a terrible force came to the city of St. Charles. This was the Living Poison. In Lilac Chambers, it may have found the perfect host. As she finds herself changing, becoming increasingly dangerous to everyone around her, it becomes apparent that her state of being is no accident of nature. She is becoming a prime vehicle for the Living Poison’s destructive swath through the streets of St. Charles. Detective Brandt McCullough has seen the Living Poison’s brutality. John Sutterfield, ringmaster of Sutterfield’s Circus of the Fantastic, is discovering its malignancy festering within the very circus he founded. These two are the only ones who might stand in the way of a force greater than anything they have ever known, one which threatens to wash the streets in red and swallow the city into chaos, but the stakes may be higher than either of them can imagine. St. Charles—indeed, the world—may tremble.

 Can a disease be sentient? And if it were, how would it act?

Poisonous might be the answer to those questions. Maybe it's the Living Poison, maybe it's something more supernatural, but whatever it is, it's killing people and spreading. The mysterious atmosphere of the storyline, it's suspense and growing threat, make Poisonous an edge-of-the-seat thriller as well as a first-class horror tale. Smith certainly has an eye for what makes a great story and relentlessly uses that skill with an unflinching determination to give the reader a hell of a ride.

Find it at Amazon and Rainstorm Press



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Letters to Daniel - A Review

Letters to Daniel
A Documentary 


Written, Directed, and Produced by Amy McCorkle


Producers Melissa Goodman, Pamela Turner
Music by Danny Jones
54 minutes
Healing Hands Entertainment


Impressed by the on-screen work of Daniel Craig, Amy McCorkle created a blog to do what she couldn't do personally: share her life with him.

A self-described fangirl, Amy is a prolific writer of novels, novellas, short stories and screenplays. Her work has won awards and received recognition from several venues. Some would envy her success but Amy suffers from bipolar disorder and doesn't always appreciate how people react to her work.

"Letters to Daniel" is a window into the mind of a woman learning how to deal with her psychological problems and her healing process from an abusive family history. It is an inspiring story describing how Amy grows to know who she is and finds out how to handle her life.

The blog has obviously been therapy for Amy, probably more successfully than any psychologist could ever be. She uses the blog as she would a dear confidant and the documentary lets you hear it in her voice, something you won't get from the blog itself.

"I wonder if I'll ever meet my heroes" she says. My opinion is she should look in the mirror.

To learn more about Amy, visit her website or Amazon page. Letters to Daniel is also available as an ebook on Kindle here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Imaginarium Convention - A Review

Over the weekend I had the honor and privilege of being a guest at the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY. In my opinion, this was a wonderful event springing from the respect and love the staff, guests, and vendors have for one remarkable man. But before I go on, a little background....

A few years ago there was an event in Louisville which came to be known in our writers' community as "SweatFest". I won't go into the details about this debacle except to say that were it not for the efforts of one man and his team of capable and efficient people, it would have been simply the most horrible experience I have ever had in my 20 years of convention-going. They literally made a silk purse from a sow's ear that year. The following year they again rose to the challenge and salvaged that same event from being a mistake of massive proportions. To this day, I am amazed at how they could do it. In spite of that, however, I have determined to skip that event from now on. I understand this last year the literary track did very well and I have no doubt it is because the rest of the concom finally allowed those who knew what they were doing to take it over.

Somewhere between then and this last weekend, it was determined that Louisville could do better for its creative community. Out of that came Imaginarium and I cannot applaud the creators and staff enough for what they have accomplished.

Am I gushing about this convention? Yes. And I don't gush often. But to see how this convention was organized, laid out, formatted, and run rank it as one of the best I have ever attended.

If you are an inveterate convention attendee or guest, you know the things that can and do go wrong. And I'm sure they did go wrong at Imaginarium but there was so little evidence of it, it may as well have gone perfectly. Of course, there was the odd cancellation and programming changes, but those were plainly posted in two places at registration. The staff were magnificent, hard-working, and ever-present when you needed them. The Author GOH did not appear, apparently due to a sudden illness (?), but we were content to have the other Imaginators (GOHs) there and things progressed smoothly. This was no mean feat. With over 100 guests and a programming track that would make a mathematician have nightmares in its complexity, they effectively herded the cats... er.. writers and got it done with admirable aplomb. For our part, every writer, filmmaker, and comic book artist worked just as hard to make sure we got to our respective panels, signings, showings, and readings on time. It was truly a joint effort as I have never seen before.

And I'm back to the beginning of my post. This was, indeed, a most heartfelt thank you to the man and his most capable staff who saved Louisville's writers' conventions. To Stephen Zimmer, Susan Roddey, Robin Blankenship, Frank Hall, all the staff and volunteers who worked so long and hard to make this come about, I salute you. You have created something that should and will be the forerunner of great things to come.

Find out more about the convention, guests, and programming, from its website at http://www.entertheimaginarium.com/.

In parting, I want to say I really enjoyed meeting up with old friends and making new ones. There are too many to list here (with over 100 of you, where would I start?) but I especially want to mention D. A. Adams, Amy McCorkle, Kay Iscah, and Jerry Benns. So glad you could make it. The rest of you -- my SSP friends, the people of Dark Oak, the Pro Se crazies, and the distinguished members of the Literary Underworld -- see you next time!

Til then, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!