Tag Archives: reviews

Come to Bitten By Books for Chilling Tales

horror, dark fiction, specualtvie authors, Canadian writers, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy

Chilling Tales 2, edited by Michael Kelly, is out this month from EDGE.

Hi everyone, I was traveling in Europe and didn’t have time to do more blog posts. I’ll be posting more Tesseracts interviews in the next few weeks and the book is now available. Coming up next week on Wednesday, November 13, however, is an interview with the authors of¬† Chilling Tales 2 at Bitten By Books. My story “Gingerbread People” is one of the selections and I would love to hear what people think of this, as I worked very long and hard at it.

The interview session is a 24-hour real time interview so you can check it out at any time. The event runs from noon central standard time November 13, 2013 through to noon November 14, 2013. If you go to http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=66049 and RSVP before the event you will get an additional 25 entries into the contest for a $50 Amazon gift card, which you can then use to get a copy of Tesseracts 17 and Chlling Tales 2, both from EDGE. ūüôā

You can ask questions of the authors and as they come online they will answer. This is a chance to get a little more depth into the stories, the authors or the writing process and philosophies. It’s free to do, so stop by. Here are the list of authors and stories, and for once I know every author:

  • In Libitina‚Äôs House by Camille Alexa
  • Gingerbread People by Colleen Anderson
  • Meteor Lake by Kevin Cockle
  • Homebody by Gemma Files
  • Snowglobes by Lisa L Hannett
  • The Hairdress by Sandra Kasturi
  • The Dog‚Äôs Paw by Derek K√ľnsken
  • The Flowers of Katrina by Claude Lalumi√®re
  • Goldmine by Daniel LeMoal
  • The Salamander‚Äôs Waltz by Catherine MacLeod
  • The Slipway Grey by Helen Marshall
  • Weary, Bone Deep by Michael Matheson
  • Black Hen A La Ford by David Nickle
  • Day Pass by Ian Rogers
  • Fiddleheads by Douglas Smith
  • Dwelling on the Past by Simon Strantzas
  • Heart of Darkness by Edo van Belkom
  • Fishfly Season by Halli Villegas
  • Road Rage by Bev Vincent
  • Crossroads Blues by Robert J. Wiersema
  • Honesty by Rio Youers

    demons, anthologies, horror, fantasy, Demonologia Biblica

    Available through Amazon. This is my favorite cover of all three.

Other books in which I have stories, that you can find online are Demonologia Biblica, Bibliotheca Fantastica, Artifacts and Relics, Deep Cuts and ReadShortFiction.com, which is free online. The holiday season is coming up so what better way to expand the mind than with reading.

writing, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, anthologies

The Book With No End, is in this anthology just out from Dagan Books.

Deep Cuts, horror, editing, dark fantasy

Deep Cuts is published by Evil Jester Press

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Movie Review: Cabin in the Woods

movies, entertainment, horror, Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard

The Cabin in the Woods, a horror pastiche that maybe tops all such stories.

I had the opportunity the other night to see Drew Goddard‘s and Joss Whedon’s latest, The Cabin in the Woods. Whedon has a cult following as a screenwriter, from such TV shows as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel series, as well as Firefly. While I never warmed to Firefly (though I liked the film Serenity well enough) I was re-introduced to TV watching with Buffy. I hadn’t watched TV in years, except for a show here or there. Mostly I thought it was banal at best and idiotic most of the time, catering to the lowest common denominator with tired and clich√© dialogue. Married with Children epitomized the wretchedness of TV for me and I just stayed away.

The process of helping a client (who became a friend) lay out her novel involved watching an episode of Buffy afterwards. I was stunned. Here were characters that changed, dialogue that was unpredictable and a plot that was dark and delectable. I was hooked. Whedon’s fame was justifiable for original writing and well-fleshed characters. And while Buffy could have been staked and slain itself before that final denouement, half-baked season came along, even that didn’t detract from the fact it was one of the best storylines on TV I had ever seen. I have since met HBO and found other stories that show the bravado of today’s scriptwriting when writers are allowed to blossom.

cabin in the woods, horror, film, movies, Whedon, Goddard

Kristen Connolly fights back the zombies out to kill them.

Goddard has his own cult following for his writing of the Alias and Lost TV series. Likewise, Alias became far too convoluted with plots and intrigues within intrigues, and Lost got wackier to what I thought was an ending that didn’t really work. Still, they were compelling stories with complex characters both likable and detestable at times. Lost‘s way of going forward with the present story while revealing more and more past history of the characters gave it interesting layers.

With The Cabin in the Woods all I knew was that Joss Whedon wrote it and that it was based on those tried and true horror genre films; you know the ones. The creepy basements, the unknown in the wild, the strange occurrences, the glimpses out of the corner of the eye. In fact, I thought it was going to be a play off of that pseudo reality styled film, The Blair Witch Project, where you never see the horror. If you don’t want spoilers before you see this film, you might want to stop now, because horrors you see aplenty. I called this the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink film.

I think this is the ending Joss always wanted for Buffy or Angel but didn’t quite get. You couldn’t squish another monster into this film. Indeed, they all burst forth, for the weekend in the woods is not what these people bargained for but it’s even more bizarre than anyone could have feared, because there is a whole network of technicians and masterminds at work helping orchestrate these college students’ downfalls. But of course, it doesn’t go smoothly for anyone; you could say it doesn’t go well for the monsters either.

cabin in the woods, horror, movies, film, Whedon, Goddard, scary

Fran Kranz, Chris Helmsworth (of Thor fame) and Anna Hutchison enter the treasure trove beneath the cabin’s floors, the beginning of all their problems.

The main characters are manipulated right from the beginning, with interspersed images of these guys in a bunker watching them and initiating protocols so that you’re saying WTF? A slow reveal gives more and more information, until the last tidbit is unveiled. Overall, this isn’t built up with the total dark suspense music that leads to a shocking reveal of the bad guy. Every time it looks kind of intense, something alleviates the buildup. So when the creepy looking backwoods fella at the decrepit gas station (with lots of furs and dead skinned things) calls the guys in the bunker, he delivers an Armageddon brimstone and fire soliloquy. The bunker guys listen intently until creepy guy says, “Do you have me on speaker phone?” He continues with the prophecies of doom once assured it’s turned off while the other guys break down in hysterics.

Basically every horror movie clich√© is turned on its ass or twisted into something new. Almost. With the plethora of creepy critters to choose from Whedon and Goddard’s immediate antagonists are…zombies. Yep. But maybe that’s the point. This movie, if nothing else, is a pastiche of and an homage to horror movies and every bizarro monster ever imagined that sucks, occupies, eats and terrorizes humans. A true horror story is one where the protagonist fights and tries to prevail against the odds and evil, but ultimately is overcome. This movie fills it to the max without hope of redemption, survival or a sequel. Throughout the film a dark vein of humor is threaded, sometimes lighter, but in the end, when everything ends you still have to laugh.

Is this because Whedon and Goddard were worried about it being too bleak or that they really are paying tribute to the genre of horror? To me, it seems the latter. The movie was worthy, with some very fun characters and unexpected outcomes. It had enough twists that there is literally no dull moment, and in this case overcoming evil isn’t such a good thing. I’d give it an 8 skulls out of 10 on the monster movie meter.

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Writing Update

I haven’t done one of these in quite a while so here is an update on the writing front. “Obsessions,” a long poem came out in the gothic anthology Candle in the Attic Window through Innsmouth Free Press. It is available online and you can read the online interview about the poem here. I received my copy right before Hallowe’en.

“A Book By Its Cover” came out a few months before this in the Mirror Shards anthology, a collection of stories about augmented reality. This story was not written for the theme and needed little adaptation to fit in. There are a couple of reviews at agrippinalegit and thenewpodlerreviews.

Across the pond in England, “Tasty Morsels” came out this summer in Polluto #8. I haven’t seen any reviews of this magazine so I have no idea how well-known it might be even over there. The story, “It’s Only Words,” written specifically for Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies also came out in the summer. Publishing and writing dynamo, Des Lewis has worked hard at getting various reviews for the anthology. There will be an interview with him coming up in the next issue of Black Static and it will also highlight this anthology.

As reviews go, my story isn’t mentioned in many of them. So it goes that sometime you’re not noted for a particularly good or bad story. Some reviews really aren’t reviews, but just a recapping of each story. And one reviewer decided to only read a few of the stories by the authors he knew. Again, since I’m not British I got no reviews. Seems an odd and narrow way of reviewing stories. Why not expand the horizons and learn about other writing voices? Still any review is better than none.

Other writing news is pretty slim at the moment. I’m working on a freelance editing project and that’s been taking a lot of time. I still have one German steampunk story in the works but I’m stuck on how to get my protagonist out of her tight spot. Overall, I quite like the plot. I just need a good way for the resolution to work.¬† That’s it for this time around. Following are the Horror Anthology‘s reviews.

http://adamscantwell.blogspot.com/

http://thegingernutcase.blogspot.com/2011/09/starting-this-week.html

http://ismspress.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/the-horror-anthology-of-horror-anthologies/

http://wwwbillblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/kind-of-face-you-slash-day-6-dust-that.html

http://horrorworld.org/hw/2011/10/the-horror-anthology-of-horror-anthologies/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1447757351/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk 

 

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More Ways to Slaughter Your Career

Creative Commons: @daniel_nelson abduzeedo.com

The human race is capable of mighty deeds and also some pretty stupid ones. We already saw the editor who blew her career (and Food Source’s site) to kingdom come with her arrogance and ignorance in regards to editing and publishing.

Now here’s another end to the writing and publishing world. Writer’s who self-publish may have great works or really humdrum pieces or even gobbledy-gook that is completely unreadable. Some writers who decide to self-publish their works have the unassailable attitude that they are geniuses, their works are brilliant and anyone who doesn’t agree is a misanthrope or worse.

It would almost seem that people should know and understand this but many don’t. Some people have an idea and write it, without having any expertise as a writer. Expertise comes from practice and learning the techniques, and from what I can tell it’s a lifelong process. Publishing houses have editors and copyeditors and proofreaders who all work to make sure the manuscript is shipshape and will sell. If someone is going to self-publish, then they can serve themselves best by hiring a copyeditor, someone to at least go through and fix the grammatical issues.

So, it’s of interest when one Ms Jacqueline Howett was reviewed for her book The Greek Seaman on a blog titled Big Al’s Books and Pals and she did not react well. How badly did she react? Well, I read the review and the sample of her writing and as I read her responses I thought, “This can’t be real. Surely it’s a gimmick to get more hype.” But as I looked a little further and then found her own webpage I realized in fact this woman was real but had no clue. At first I thought she must be only about 12 years of age with the way she responded.

The reviewer says the story is quite interesting but the writing lags, and has numerous grammatical issues and typos, which garnered Howett only two stars. She responded that he didn’t download the correct version (why have the wrong version up). Al responded with posting just two passages of her writing:

“She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs.”

“Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance.”

WTF? I mean seriously, I would not have been as generous in giving two stars. Talk about Frankenstein sentences. How about this for a rewrite:

She carefully walked back down the stairs. (Frankly, it’s difficult to make this one very good at all and would need the context of the scene to rework it. It separates the person from their body in awkward phrasing and would have been better to describe her shape/size elsewhere.)

Don and Katy watched as Gino hypnotically set more coffees at another table. (I’m leaving out the “supreme balance” because I can’t tell if Gino is balancing himself or the coffees, and if he’s balancing them in his hands, on the tray or on the table.)

You can read the full interaction at Big Al’s but here are a few of her responses:

Look AL, I’m not in the mood for playing snake with you, what I read above has no flaws. My writing is fine. You were told to download a new copy for format problems the very next day while they were free at Smashwords, so you could choose any format you wanted to read it in and if their there were any spelling mistakes they were corrected. Simply remove this review as it is in error with you not downloading the fresh copy i I insisted. Why review my book after being told to do this, and more annoying, why have you never ever responded to any of my e-mails? My comments in italics, red for corrections. Wow! She’s accusatory and demanding. What the hell is “playing snake?” She can’t see any errors in her writing. She can’t capitalize “i”, she doesn’t use commas.

And please follow up now from e-mail.
This is not only discusting disgusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me, AL Al. Hmm, discusting?¬† Al is in all caps, maybe for emphasis; again no use of comma. How can I believe she knows how to write if her comments here are an example of her writing style? Let’s not even get into the highly inflammatory and juvenile language.

Who are you any way anyway? Really, who are you?
What do we know about you? And no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. I wonder if she’s forgotten to take some medications as this has nothing to do with a review.

You never downloaded another copy, you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail I’m not even through all her subsequent curses but I started to think she was a teenager at about this point, though many of them talk way more maturely.

Besides, if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors. Hooboy, yet another example of how people don’t understand a process. Reviewers review. They don’t need permission, and yes everyone is entitled to an opinion but Ms. Howett exhibits arrogance and that she just thinks she’s entitled. What’s debated or discussed more amongst authors is the self-righteous self-publisher and some of the crap that is published. No one debates the right of someone to review anything.

Your You’re the target not me!
Now get this review off here! Demanding, and the wrong use of “your.” Try “you’re”, Jacqueline.

I skimmed through the some 300 comments (before comments were closed) and Jacqueline’s tone gets worse until she’s just saying “F–k off!” At least she spelled that correctly. Although she’s gaining notoriety (can we say viral) and maybe even a few sales from this, I doubt that many people will bother to read her book because it’s not edited and because of her rant that paints her as someone lacking any nobility and just a temper tantrum waiting to get uglier. If you’re thinking of publishing anything, even if it’s self-publishing, please don’t even walk beside Howett’s footsteps, let alone in them. And get a proofreader.

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Writing: Horror Library

Today, another wee chat about writing and reviews. Horror Library Vol. IV has had fewer reviews (and maybe I’ve post this already) than Evolve but there are still many who could review or post yet. Since both of these anthologies are on the long list for a Stoker award I figured I’d post some of the reviews here. My story has not been mentioned very much in the Horror Library volume either. Wah! So it goes for the little monkey.

http://www.paperbackhorror.com/2010/12/horror-library-volume-4-ed-by-rj.html

http://hellnotes.com/horror-library-volume-4-book-review did say:


Horror Library Vol. IV

Mental metamorphosis and mutation of the mundane are themes in ‚ÄúI Am Vision, I Am Death‚ÄĚ by Erik Williams, and Colleen Anderson‚Äôs ‚ÄúExegesis of The Insecta Apocrypha.‚ÄĚ In the Williams story, dreams/visions blur with the seemingly substantive. Perception of identity is fragile and dicey. Persona pales when a mysterious hitchhiker catapults the central character into a twilight zone of recognition and acceptance. The final tale in the book belongs to Anderson: It is a doozy. Insects rule in this yarn. They are the protagonist‚Äôs objects of focus and desire. Obsession is taken to horrific heights, as the author weaves and

buzzes; bites and burrows; getting firmly under the skin.

http://www.zone-sf.com/wordworks/horlibv4.html

http://shroudmagazinebookreviews.blogspot.com/2011/01/horror-library-vol-4.html

For Evolve there are so many reviews that the central site to find most of them is here: http://www.vampires-evolve.com/NEWS_Page.html There are also many interviews with Nancy Kilpatrick on the same site. It may not list every review but has a goodly number and a few I hadn’t see before.Black Static’s magazine says:

Evolve

This is a book however in which the good outnumber the indifferent by a considerable margin, with a satisfying amount of stories that put moral dilemmas at their centre. ‚ÄėAn Ember Amongst the Fallen‚Äô by Colleen Anderson is one of the highlights of the collection. The story is set in a world of vampires, where humans are cattle and their masters discuss if they are capable of intelligent thought and feeling, and the worst crime is for a vampire to have sex with one of the beasts. It‚Äôs a clever reversal of traditional stereotypes, reminiscent in a way of Planet of the Apes, with a subtext about racism and the story brutal enough in places to horrify, both on the visceral level and intellectually.

Montreals Rover Arts http://roverarts.com/2010/05/stretching-the-vampiric-envelope/said:

In ‚ÄúAn Ember Amongst The Fallen,‚ÄĚ Colleen Anderson gives the reader an all-too-visual/tactile glimpse at a world where humans are used as cattle for food and blood ‚Äď and the results when the metaphoric apartheid barriers are crossed.

And one more sample from A Novel Approach where he said:

An Ember Amongst the Fallen by Colleen Anderson was another troubling, yet clever story. In this version of reality, humans are relegated to the status of cattle and are harvested as such. It is ever so slightly reminiscent of Planet of the Apes in the role reversal it applies to humans as animals. If you are squeamish, you will find this story very disturbing. It was sometimes difficult to read but played interestingly to how we view our food.

So if you want to vote for Evolve or Horror Library IV or even me in the case of the Auroras http://www.prix-aurora-awards.ca/wordpress/, then I suggest reading these very good volumes (and not just because I’m in them. Writers and other artists do want to be known for their art. We monkeys of all sizes do have some vanity. All humans do.

And if you want to give input on the new cover of Evolve II then you can go to this site and vote. http://vampchix.blogspot.com/2011/02/which-appeals-more.html The two covers are called Banshee for the more blue colored one and Embrace for the darker cover. I’m not in the second volume because I didn’t submit anything. Just ran out of time with other projects.

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ChiZine Publications Update

ChiZine Publications continues to get good reviews on the books that they are publishing. It’s very important for selling books and selling more of them to spread the word about publishers and authors. The best is when the publisher has a massive budget, but even so they only designate so much money to marketing and advertising and big names will get more because it brings in more revenue.

There are many ways to market and some of the ways are social media (Facebook, Twitter, websites), bookstore displays, attending conventions, doing readings and signings and of course alerting the media through press releases and review copies. Reviews can get a fair amount of attention and helps the writing world as well as the readers know about trends and authors and the genres out there.

So here are some of the reviews (and a pre-order):

You can check out all ChiZine Publications books at: http://www.chizine.com/chizinepub/

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Chizine Publications: New & Upcoming

cinematographer Michael LeBlanc, Brett Savory, and director Bruce McDonald

I’ve joined the slush readers for ChiZine Publications, which is not the same as Chizine the online mag, but they are related. I’m already an assistant poetry editor for Chizine, but I’ll now be reading submissions to the publishing arm CZP. http://chizine.com/chizinepub/ I haven’t got my batch o’ manuscripts to read yet and haven’t even sent in my pic and bio but I’m on the team.

So,in the grand flurry of getting more goods on the books being published, and coming on board, I’ll list here what’s happening. CZP has been getting good reviews as a publisher and for their authors so I’m proud to join the team. I’ll also be going to the World Horror Convention in Austin, Texas next spring, representing myself and supporting the Chi team.

  • Tony Burgess’s book Cashtown is being promoted with a book trailer. This great piece was directed by none other than Bruce MacDonald of Hard Core Logo, Pontypool, and This Movie is Broken fame. Take a look: http://tinyurl.com/26ssg3u

There is a review of People Live Still in Cashtown Corners at  http://justinelewkowicz.com/blog

  • Sarah Court, by Craig Davidson has made it to the #8 spot for bestsellers at Horror Mall in the digital category for September. And here it is as a featured title on Wowio. http://www.wowio.com

Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi are the masterminds behind CZP and I’m honored to be joining their team as CZP continues to pull in great reviews and stellar writers. So drop on in to see what’s coming out in the realms of dark fantasy, SF and horror.

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Writing: Vanity Press, Vanity Review

In the world of writing there are presses we call vanity presses. A Google search of my name is a vanity search, and a vanity press lets you publish your work. Vanity is all about you but is it the best for you? Publishing with a vanity press means that there is no editorial review, and therefore no standards for quality, consistency or proper grammar. Anyone who writes a book, regardless of plot, description, comprehension, setting or character development can publish a book…if you have the money. In most cases a vanity press is a press that will take your money to print copies. Some have varying packages dependent on whether they lay out the copy, do the graphics, add extra details or just print and bind the book. Some such presses also offer editorial services for a fee.

Another form of vanity press is that which offers a contest of some sort. This is most common in the world of poetry. Inevitably, no matter what drek you send in, you’ll receive a note that you have won or placed in the competition. The catch comes in that you get no prize except for a bound edition of all the winning entries, being pretty much every poem entered by anyone. But to receive your prize edition it will just cost you $49.95 plus $10 shipping (or something similar), which means that the company probably makes $40 on each book and in the long run you’ve paid to have your work published.

Vanity published works are never considered for any awards or even reviews. Vanity publishing satisfies the writer’s need to be published, but the books are looked at askance. (I should mention that in the world of Print on Demand {POD} and the internet some very good books have come out of self-publishing and even been picked up by a publishing house but it is rare. This doesn’t mean POD is bad at all as many publishers use it.) Some of the works I’ve copyedited would never be picked up by a publisher. New writers are often unwilling to take criticism, or rewrite to a standard that would even be considered by most publishers. So they self-publish.

Small presses should not be mixed up with vanity publishing. A small press may use POD because they do not have a big budget and can do smaller print runs, and very little marketing. But quality work can come from them and marketing will consist of sending out some review copies, word of mouth and selling at every fair or convention. To that end, a review is a great thing to get.

So now we have vanity reviews. A few “reviewers” have decided that if you want a review, well you can pay for it and then we’ll give you your review. One such company is ForeWord Reviews Foreword Reviews Guidelines. It seems that they are partially legit with their print magazine but now offer a digital review for a small fee of $99. Then they have their full fee for review service called Clarion, for only $305. For half that price I’ll do a review.

What’s the problem with a paid for review? This: you cannot trust that the review is giving an honest and informed opinion but just that the company is a mill for making money and that the review will be in favor since you paid and they want you to pay again for your next book. Sad. Don’t go there. In fact, this vanity review service from ForeWord Reviews has been their response not only to self-published authors but also to small presses. For more information, you can go to the following links.

http://www.mobylives.com/ForeWords_vanity.html

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/jimcox/jul_01.htm (check out #2)

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Writing: News & The Rannu Competition

I’ve finally received my issue of Evolve and the reviews continue to roll in. It’s interesting how reviewers pick different favorites. I’m not mentioned in one but I am in the other and my story continues to intrigue and disturb, as I intended. Overall, it’s getting good reviews. Following are two more reviews.

http://roverarts.com/2010/05/stretching-the-vampiric-envelope/

However, there are also some stories that will stand out and sparkle, that come across as an exceptionally new take on what some think is rapidly becoming an over-plowed field.

Among these is Claude Lalumi√®re‚Äôs ‚ÄúAll You Can Eat, All The Time,‚ÄĚ his female-narrated first-person take on vampirism as an extension of the hyperactive, quick-to-burn, fear-of-growing-old generation being spawned at this very moment. In ‚ÄúAn Ember Amongst The Fallen,‚ÄĚ Colleen Anderson gives the reader an all-too-visual/tactile glimpse at a world where humans are used as cattle for food and blood ‚Äď and the results when the metaphoric apartheid barriers are crossed.

http://www.sfsite.com/05b/ev320.htm

As well, my poem “Of the Corn” is about to come out in Witches & Pagans. The poem was lost for about two years due to computer crashes and restructuring of the magazine. I have “Secrets of Trees” about to come out in Pinecone. It likewise was stuck in a two-year limbo.

Once again I entered the Rannu competition, in fiction and poetry. Last year one of my stories made it onto one of the judges’ shortlists. Again, this year, my story (unpublished at this point) “Freedom’s Just Another Word” made it again onto at least one judge’s shortlist. I didn’t win but that’s still not bad. And one of my poems, “A Good Catch,” bout a modern-day mermaid, did get an honorable mention. This comes with a small cash prize and I’m quite pleased by that.

Competitions are even harder than magazines to get into. Whereas you may be competing for several spots in a magazine, this repeats monthly or quarterly. A competition has only one spot (and up to three often) and everyone is competing for that one spot. Like the Olympics and getting Silver or Bronze, I’m happy with the honorable mention.

I know the winners of the fiction and poetry prize and they are both excellent writers.¬† I recommend finding their work. I believe the winning entries may be printed in the future on the CZP site but I’m not quite sure.

Fiction Winner:
“Foretold” by Barbara Gordon

Fiction Honourable Mentions:
“Little Escher” by¬†Robert Borski
“A Swarm of Shadows” by¬†Francine Lewis

Fiction Judges: Don Bassingthwaite, Nick Stokes, Sandra Kasturi

Poetry Winner:
“Barren – A Chronicle in Futility” by¬†Steve Vernon

Poetry Honourable Mentions:
“A Good Catch” by¬†Colleen Anderson
“Manifesting Universes” by¬†Francine Lewis

Poetry Judges: Gemma Files, Helen Marshall, Sandra Kasturi

We would also like to note the entries that made it onto one or more judges’ shortlists:

Fiction:

“Freedom’s Just Another Word” by Colleen Anderson
“Water of Life” by F.J. Bergmann
“Bat Story” by Michael Colangelo
“Book of Kishon” by Ivan Faute
“Gentle Awakening” by Maybelle Leung
“The Official” by Eric Sandler
“Simulove Industries, Model #69” by Myna Wallin

Poetry:
“Nephology” by F.J. Bergmann
“Overtures” by F.J. Bergmann
“Polterguest” by Robert Borski
“Yeti-Nessie: A Cryptid Love Story” by Robert Borski
“Persephone Depressed” by Adrienne J. Odasso
“For the Reverend Adelir Anton de Carli” by Matt Schumacher
“From a Little-Known Collection Entitled ‘Legends of Spiders & Water'” by Matt Schumacher

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Weird Tales’ 85 Weirdest

I’m never up to speed when I’m reading and sometimes read magazines a long time after publication. This was the case with last year’s Weird Tales. I’ve found these magazines are easier to deal with while working out so I’m reading many after the fact. Weird TalesMarch/April 2008 issue listed 85 of the weirdest storytellers in the last 85 years, celebrating the magazine’s (of course) 85th anniversary. That means they started in 1923. Imagine how the world and the concept of fantasy and the weird has changed in that time. It’s a lifetime.

This list of storytellers covers everything from writers, musicians, filmmakers, artists to entertainers.¬†I found that I knew most of the names on the list (that has a short paragraph or two of description) and started thinking about who wasn’t on the list that I would have added. Of course the magazine went with who they thought should fit in there, plus recommendations from the readers. Their list has these names (the first list those I know and the second, those I hadn’t heard of):

  • Douglas Adams, Charles Addams, Laurie Anderson, J.G. Ballard, Nick Bantock, Clive Barker, Art Bell, Bjork, David Bowie, Ray Bradbury, William S. Burroughs, Tim Burton, Kate Bush, Octavia Butler, Angela Carter, Nick Cave, Lon Chaney Sr., Cirque du Soleil, Joel and Ethan Coen, Alice Cooper, David Cronenberg, R. Crumb, Roald Dahl, Salvador Dali, Samuel R. Delany, Philip K. Dick, Steve Ditko, Harlan Ellison, M.C. Escher, Neil Gaiman, Terry Gilliam, Edward Gorey, Gunther von Hagens, Jim¬† Henson, Robert E. Howard (the one I don’t agree should be on this list), Shirley Jackson, Franz Kafka, Frida Kahlo, Andy Kaufman, Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, Madeleine L’Engle, Gary Larson, Tanith Lee, Thomas Ligotti, H.P. Lovecraft, David Lynch, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dave McKean, Michael Moorcock (not so sure he’s that weird either but loved his Elric books), Alan Moore, Catherine Moore & Henry Kuttner, Grant Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Mervyn Peake, Penn & Teller, Bill Plympton, Thomas Pynchon, Anne Rice, Rod Serling, Dr. Seuss, James Tiptree Jr.¬†(Alice Sheldon), Clark Ashton Smith, Stephen Sondheim, Rev. Ivan Stang, Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Waits, Alice Walker, Andy Warhol, John Waters, Roger Waters, Wim Wenders, Thornton Wilder, Robert Anton Wilson, Warren Zevon.
  • (now the ones I didn’t know) Art Bell, Margaret Brundage, Virgil Finlay, Charels Fort, Rand and Robyn Miller, Chuck Shepherd, Osamu Tezuka, Kool Keith Thornton, Kara Walker, Sylvia Townsend Warner.

That’s it. Only a few I didn’t know and most of those illustrators/painters but not all. But then Weird Tales set up a tab on their website www.weirdtalesmagazine.com called Share Your Weird, where people could list other names they thought should have been on the list. As I read through the initial list I agreed with most but found a few that I thought were weird enough to be on there as well. Reading through other people’s comments, there are many more weird artists out there than the 85 slots and people made good ponts. In fact they could probably have done 85 weird filmmakers, 85 weird comic artist/writers, 85 weird fiction writers, etc.

Here are a few that I would have added, not just because of their impact on me but on a genre (in no particular order):

  • China Mieville–his bugheaded women in Perdido Street Station is weird enough, not to mention the cactus people. But then maybe he’s not old enough. Interestingly, of the living artists in the list of 85, no one is under the age of 40.
  • Federico Fellini–moviemaker who was doing bizarre films of ancient Greece and Rome, of love and of fools way before the more recent films (Amarcord, Satyricon, 8 1/2)
  • Peter Greenaway–filmmaker who must have been influenced by Fellini as well as by impressionist painters of the 18th century. His films often have scenes with dead animals, still lives with bugs, and great symbolism which I love. Definitely on the weird side. (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; Prospero’s Books, The Pillow Book, The Draughtsmen Contract, 8 1/2 Women [the Fellini influence])
  • Gahan Wilson–weird and creepy cartoonist where his people often looked like they were in pain or melting.
  • Jean Cocteau–Long before Wenders, Kubrick, Cronenberg, Greenaway, or Fellini, there was Cocteau doing silent films in black and white. His Beauty and the Beast La Belle et la B√™te¬† was erotic and sensual before people talked of such things. The line of sconces, arms holding torches, set some of the stage for weird but arty films to come.
  • Brian Eno–his full name alone is weird (Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno). This avant garde musician started with Roxy Music and has been producer on some of the bands you know today (Coldplay, U2, Talking Heads). His own work of eclectically weird songs and sonic landscapes, such as “Music for Airports” puts him as king of weird in the musical world.
  • They Might Be Giants–their lyrics alone are equal to the imagery in China Mieville’s books. How to make hit tunes from¬†nonsequitirs and have them make sense–that’s these guys.

I’m sure I could come up with more weird. Oddly enough there are no poets in the mix in either the magazine or my list. I would need to actually do more research because there is plenty weird. Lewis Carroll is before the 85 years of weird but¬†Jabberwocky would be on that list. It would be interesting now, to do a list of 50 weird poets though some people might think that all poetry is weird. And to Weird Tales, it was an interesting issue and well worth reading a year past the publishing date. That’s what I love about fiction magazines: they’re often timeless. And here’s to at least another 85 years of weird tales.

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