A Day for Angels, A Day for Witches

 

I warned you before that I had a Christmas story appearing in a horror anthology, so look for ‘Christmas Angels’ in the newest edition of the Yellow Booke. Like the previous editions, it will be illustrated by M. Grant Kellermeyer. And will be released on the very night of the Witches’ Sabbath, Walpurgisnacht, April 30th.

I should also say that it will Kellermeyer_Christmasbe released as an ebook so you can download it, be safe, and not venture out of the house.

 

 

 

More Bizarro

I am really at a loss about what ‘Bizarro’ fiction is, although I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with a rather serious treatment of the rise of Odoacer and the fall of Rome (or with cabaret music but that is another matter), but my odd little verse-play on these subjects is going to be in Vincenzo Bilof’s ‘More Bizarro’ anthology due this March.

So keep your eyes on the news stands, not because the book will be found there, but because it’s good to keep up on current events.  After all an empire can collapse at anytime.

 

Where Have All the Good Stories Gone?

I saw a few open calls for short stories this week that I was very excited about.  I had a story for each that had been cluttering my hard drive for years. They were great stories. No editor would turn them down. All I had to do is give them a once-over proofing and send them off.

The quality of the stories seems to have unexpectedly decayed in storage.  I remembered them as being fast, fun, and unpredictable, but somehow over the years they had become plodding, dull, and didactic.  I never took myself to be the didactic type, or the type who thinks he’s clever and goes through great lengths to prove it, to only come off like a putz. So I am at a loss to what happened to them.  I think that one of the stories can be rewritten front to back so that the idea can be salvaged, but the other must be scrapped completely.

These stories are not bad or incompetently done.  If I were to send them out they would likely be published. But I think I have an obligation to not send out anything into the world that doesn’t represent my best.

It makes me a little vulnerable, because it cuts me off from excuses like ‘well, it’s not my best but there was a deadline…,’ but maybe the vulnerability can make me a little better, and anyways, you, my public, always deserve the best material possible.

Don’t be Like Me If You Can Help It

 NOTE: this was first published on my old blog June 5th, 2016

Back in ’09 I submitted a story to a fancy-pants magazine. I remember how angry and frustrated I was when the story was rejected. I fumed about it for days.

The other day I was looking for another old email and found the rejection, which ended   “I appreciate your interest in {name of magazine} and hope that you will keep me in mind for future submissions.”

The email was actually not a form-letter but a nice little note mentioning some of the peculiarities of what I had written. It was clearly an encouragement to submit more, although I never did. I may never have read it in its entirety till now. Now the venerable old rag, like many a venerable old rag is out of business and I have wasted the opportunity. At another time, I could have been excused on the foolishness of my youth, but I was 31.

I missed out on 9¢ a word, a big audience, and being published in a legendary magazine, all because I couldn’t get passed the “I’m sorry” that began the message. I hear people advise each other to “not take rejection personally,” but I’m not sure that many people are better at it than I am.

So today I will give you no advice except to hope  that we all become a little more rational as we get older.

 

Corextions…um…corrections

The first run of my book, Priceless Treasures and Ghastly, had a few noticeable errors, particularly in ‘Snakes and Cigarettes,’ and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mister Essex-Bathwater.’ They are all things that I did notice before it went to press, but somehow didn’t fixed.  I blame it on my nerves.

The plates have been broken and reset (or whatever it is that they do these days), and the corrected copies are available in plenty of time for the ghoul-tide revels.

AGAINST DRABBLES

NOTE: This is an unrevised entry from my old blog from August 5th, 2016

I don’t usually write gratis (out of principle this is one of my jobs) and I don’t usually write fast enough for commission, but I made an exception this week. I saw an open call for ‘drabbles,’  which are little hundred-word stories.  Collections of them are surprisingly common, this particular one had a Hallowe’en theme. So I gave it a try. It seemed like a challenge. It took nine seconds to write and another eleven to edit.  My home internet connection is a little slow so it took about fifteen seconds to send the submission by email.

I like the little story that I came up with, but I am not fond of the form. When laid out in textbooks the drabble looks as weird and arbitrary as the sonnet. But it isn’t — because the sonnet is not a set of arbitrary rules — poetic forms are made for the ear (and that mid-century America Literary critics couldn’t hear shows no problem with the sonnet, or any other form, but a problem with tin-eared critics).

Waltzes have value because when we hear them we have a background in waltzes, we know the dance.

The same is true with poetic forms. The cultural baggage is an aspect of the aesthetics and the meaning.  Whoever is experiencing the art provides  part of the meaning by knowing other things in the form. No one (or no one In-the-Know at least) has to count the beats to know the waltz, and no one has to count the lines to know the sonnet. They are just part of the world we live in.

The drabble, however, is just an arbitrary bit, it doesn’t have any distinction resulting from rhythm or repetition.  So a reader wouldn’t know what it is without counting the words, and there isn’t any reason  why a story with 100 words would differ in anyway from a story with 102.

Art has to have restraint, but the restraint has to have meaning for the both the one who experiences and the one who creates.  Which is to say you ought to know that you are reading a drabble, while you read the drabble, but there is nothing inherent in the drabble that would let you know this.

*****

 

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on the drabble. I like what I wrote. I have read some by others that I liked. Maybe the discipline of word-counting is good practice.  And, if one is reading a book of drabbles, one is likely to acquire a drabblish sensibility.  The form does have a meaning in the context of an anthology, if not on its own.

And, reservations aside, I do look forward to seeing the other pieces by the other contributors, when the book is published.  And when it is I’ll post a link so that you may judge for yourself.