Category Archives: moderan

Halloween greetings and solicitations


Well, 2022 is continuing on. It almost did for me as I caught the COVID earlier in the year and went on the vent for a bit, but I recovered (almost completely). Still have the usual health complaints and I’m due for glaucoma testing next month. Hooray.

Sadly, while I didn’t pass, my micropress imprint Oxygen Man Books did, as the NIY anthology succumbed to bad health and rising distribution costs. It wasn’t pretty and cost me plenty. The Kickstarter people didn’t get anything back, which I regret, but that money went to financing the business, which went under as none of the published titles generated much in the way of roi.

Publishing is hard. I’m going to stick to my own material, thank you, which is much cheaper to obtain and process, and maybe spread the baseball writing around a little. After all, that has the bigger market right now and is actually generating income.

I’ve put up something on the order of 500 videos of me doing acoustic cover songs on Facebook, as I’ve been reinventing myself as a guitarist after a couple of years in which I was idled due to arthritis. Newer and better vids will be going to my Ko-Fi account (https://ko-fi.com/oxym) and my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/moderan), and I’ll be populating both with some of the writings that have been hanging around here.

Am now 61 — my pop and grandpop both passed at 62. I need to pass that by.

Happy Halloween!

Advertisement

The Spirit is Willing?


Happy Hallowe’en!

Here’s a little story I wrote:

The new kid went trick-or-treating with us. He had done a good job of makeup and totally looked pale and insubstantial, and I told him so.

“Thanks,” he said, simply, and we walked to the next house together, maybe in the middle of the general queue. People were mingling a little and the shape of the line varied. I tried to keep my place so as not to miss any houses or double-dip.

It was one of those really clear and cool evenings in a midwestern late October.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Ed,” I was told.

“Trick or treat!” we said as the door opened.

A tall woman with a gray bun and lots of smile lines gave us each a handful of dubble bubbles in fruity flavors and we trotted to the next porch.

“Ed Coffin,” he finished.

“Good to meetcha, Ed. I’m Danielle. Danielle Canaday.”

I hitched up my skirts a little to ascend the stairs. I fluttered my parasol.

The line had clustered a little and the first group were just leaving. They smiled at us and nodded that this was a good place. Chanterelle Gibson blew Ed a kiss.

He didn’t blush. I gave him credit for that.

The queue kept moving. There was a two-block stretch, from the strip mall to the graveyard, that was prime territory and we meant to hit each house and then head for home.

“What’s that costume?” Ed asked. “It could be a lot of things …”

“Yes. I am a wicked stepsister.”

“Really truly?”

I laughed. “Actually, yes. That’s my stepbrother over there …” I waved at Kevin, in all of his football-hero finery. “The quarterback.”

“I see,” he said, gravely. “It must be tough, living with someone like that. Just living is hard enough.”

That was a little strange but somehow charming? At least I leaned that way. Ed was a tall guy but skinny. Very pale even under the makeup. He didn’t look well.

I wondered things. I kept them to myself.

“You’re new here.”

“Yes. We just got our plot last week and moved right in after that. The building was already up.”

That sounded strange too. But I didn’t understand. Yet.

“So when do you turn into a pumpkin? Or was it only Cinderella? I never understood,” he said and we laughed.

“I just turn directly into pie,” I answered. “Cutie pie.”

“You’re funny.”

“You are too. Funny-looking.”

“I know you are, but what am I?”
Oh I know … so twelve. But hey! I’m twelve!

We were maybe three-four houses from the end of the route, having already done the other side of the street.

Leaves crunched underfoot, and I wrapped my cloak a little closer, feeling a chill.

“Just a couple more places,” I said. “Then some hot chocolate and maybe some of that cutie pie.”

“I’m for a long nap,” Ed said.”The longer the better.”

Kevin was behind us by then.

“You’ll get your wish,” he announced. “If you get any closer to my sis.”

“Oh god. Shut up, Kevin. We’re just talking.”

We proceeded in silence, to the next house.

“Leave us alone, Kevin,” I said.

Two more to go.

The penultimate home had whole Snickers bars. I smiled a real smile at them and filed away a mental note.

The last house we all knew. It was the Applemans, who gave out little pumpkins full of assorted loot. Foreign coins, rabbits’ feet in little sealed bags, tiny black and royal blue pouches sometimes, with green folding money in them, and other things …

They were LEGENDARY. That was WHY they were the LAST HOUSE.

One approached that place with some damn respect.

I curtsied in my head and we moved up the walk. The line was murmuring happily in their dayglo finery and all-black ensembles as they left.

Ed and I got our offerings. Kevin had no attention span and lots of greed and had gone on ahead. He looked at me sharply as he passed.

“Ed, you can come have hot chocolate with me if you like,” I said as we neared the cemetery gates.

“That is very kind of you, Danielle. But I am already home and I am late. Thanks for a lovely time.”

And he passed between the bars, leaving his bag behind.

I was shocked, of course. But I grabbed the bag, and so doing, noticed the rather new tomb.

I had to go inside, to confirm my suspicions.

“Coffin.” said the nameplate.

“Okay, so I’m necrophiliac” I said to the air. “I have a future as a mortician.”

And I went home and didn’t say a damn thing to anybody, ever. I ignored Keven when he asked about my ‘boyfriend’.

What?

Say it ain’t so


undefinedI never had the good fortune to meet the man. I had known of his work since the late 90s, writer/editor EP Berglund having recommended it to my attention back when I was working on the giant Lovecraftian site Letters from Outside. Things by both of us lived in Paul’s fiction indexes, which I would check out from time to time.

But Joe didn’t hang out in the usenet sites that I favored, and our circles only intersected at in frequent intervals.

Many years later, I was introduced by writer/editor Ran Cartwright, when I was embarking on some King In Yellow-flavored work… Joe being the primary exemplar of such work, with the ability to thumb-up or down, or so was the connotation.

A lot of exclamation points followed!!!!!!!!! Joe was a fan of the idea that Carcosa was a deathworld!!!! a big dumb object with some native intelligence!!!!!! a frozen hell that was still somehow the template for all existence, an Amber, casting its baleful shadow over the multiverse, wuth the horrible monstrosity Hastur squatting evilly in the gigantic methane lake as if it were a personal hot tub!!!!!

I embarked on that course and am still chugging along. I read some of his work and was captured. Blood Will Have Its Season was an epiphany!!!!! for!!!! me!!!!! and unlocked the rest of his ouevre.

I fanboyed. Joseph S Pulver, Sr grew to become one of my three favorite living writers — and I told him so a frequent intervals, saying that I loved his work like Erich von Zipper loved his fabulous self. I wrote music inspired by his work.

And most of all I grew to know the man. His mood, his generosity. When I started to put together a book of weird tales, Joe was the first one on board.

That says more than anything, and I’m not the only one who will have such a tale.

Thanks, Joe, and farewell, and we’ll make the books as well as we can. I will bleed on the page. Rest in peace, and say Hi to Stanley and Wilum, please.

I can’t even


I’ve been writing short satirical articles for Medium lately. It isn’t going well, but as I’m not exactly following their preferred template, I expect it to be a long haul.

Am going to try to write here daily again, as well, despite the world’s apparent desire to make me invisible and keep me there.

I’m really discouraged. I’ve been a professional writer on and off since I was a teenager, and despite the many acknowledgements of my competence in both fiction and nonfiction, have yet to get any sort of headway, except for one book that sells two copies a day in Japan.

Recently an acquaintance, who I thought was a friend, published an anthology of things, work done to picture prompts, in my wheelhouse … and I wasn’t invited to contribute.

Given that I’ve gone out of my way to encourage this fellow, that really hurt. And this isn’t unusual. I’ve helped a lot of people get started, and they have no sense of gratitude whatsoever, most of them.

I don’t matter, so they just go somewhere else.

At this point, anger, spite, pain, and self-pity are pretty much all I have left. My health deserted me long ago, and money and relative comfort are not things that people on disability have any right to expect.

I write to fill the time. Originally I was gonna ‘give back’ and all that kinda noble shit but after five years of being a pro and a freelancer I’m reduced to doing research for other people’s articles and links columns with just a little op-ed.

People on the blog I write for have savaged me over and over, to the point that I’m reluctant to to write anything with any depth. I don’t feel like the work would be recognized anyway. So I just do the job — I do it as well as I can, and I’m proud of what I do, but I’m capable of more.

My fiction is relatively subtle and fairly stylized. But there’s no traction there, either. It’s hard for me to successfully argue with myself to continue. It isn’t a crisis of confidence in me – I have no confidence in anyone else at this point.

I’m trying to be above it, and above feeling resentful that what I feel is lesser work is lionized, but I’m utterly failing and the chronic pain and the effort it takes to draw breath are winning the battle.

So I’ve resolved not to support anyone who doesn’t support me. I think that’s fair.

Those who do extend a hand either in friendship or as aid will reap a bounty soon as I write for them these days. The others?

I will treat them with exactly the disrespect I experience, and have all of my life from people like them. I don’t give a fuck anymore.

Yule love these


Happy Holidaze. We recommend these as stocking-stuffers. They’re books I have either produced, helped to produce, or have appeared in.

This is the first book from Oxygen Man Books, a specialty micropress that I run. It’s brand-new, oversized, and ready for prompt delivery.

Moe moe moe


I mentioned the skein of personal victories this weekend… my beloved Cubs won two home games going away, the Scott Thomas poetry collection happened, and lastly, a smol cat boy entered my life.

His name, for now, is Moe. He is about ten weeks old, a sturdy and athletic and curious and lovable black kitten. He’s been here about a day and a half and he and I are firmly bonded. He’s sleeping on my hip right now.

Moe, by Elizabeth Bailey

Sweet little guy. The grown cats hiss and occasionally slap, and he goes about his business. They’ll stop eventually… mean kitty Shadow doesn’t bother him as much as the guys do. That girl’s a born hunter.
He purrs loudly and easily, is easily able to jump up on tables and chairs, is fully box-trained, and loves to curl up in my belly when it’s time to sleep.

Midmonth updates


Been a busy-ass weekend so far, with lots of personal victories. Yesterday I accepted additional material for NIGHTMARES IN YELLOW, and again today some words rolled in and aggregated themselves to the whole.

I’ll post the current Table of Contents below, so you can see how it’s shaping up.

Oxygen Man publication schedule currently sits at four chapbooks, three novels, an anthology, four collections, and two books of poetry, taking us through 2020. No contracts have been exchanged, but we’ve just agreed to publish a book of poems authored by renowned scribe Scott Thomas, with an introduction to be written by his brother, Punktowner Jeffrey Thomas.

The other book of poetry is by up-and-coming horrorist/absurdist Matthew St. Cyr and will contain illustrations. The collections are by esteemed horror writers Sam L. Edwards and Calvin Demmer and by yours truly (who also penned the three novels and the four chapbooks). More by the latter are always possible as I have a tremendous backlog of material and few outlets.

I’m also shopping two novels and am about to get a third out there. Plus the last two Planet X anthos, which are just about wrapped on my end. I’m about ready for a fall staycation, where I can just write my baseball dailies and kick back some. I might even try at some point to take a week off from the blog and go somewhere, if sales are decent (by micropress standards).

All of the Oxygen Man stuff will be available at huge discounts to Patreon subscribers. I urge you to get in on the ground floor while you can.

NIGHTMARES IN YELLOW

Table of Contents as of September 14, 2019

Rebecca J. Allred — Lambda 580
Donald Armfield — BEing (p)
David Barker — Chamber of Shards (p)
Adam Bolivar — The Door to Nod (p)
Bruce Boston — Exiled to Hastur (p)
Frank Coffman — Warnings to the Curious (p)
Frank Coffman — Audience With the Last King (p)
Scott Couturier — We Are the Sacrifice (p)
Matthew R. Davis — IL Re Giallo
Mike Davis — Tales of the King in Yellow
Douglas Draa — Neighbors Good and Fair
John Paul Fitch — Faces
Mike Griffin — No Mask to Conceal Her Voice
David Hoenig — Of Kings, Queens, and Knaves
David Hoenig — Last Dance for the Ancient Gods (p)
Curtis M. Lawson — Pinocchio and the Black Pantheon
Ross E. Lockhart — Shrubberies (p)
Edward Morris — Beast: A Fable For Children
Edward Morris and Joe Pulver — The Resplendent Troswoman Below
Renee Mulhare — Paper Masks
KA Opperman — Cassilda Dons the Pallid Mask (p)
Duane Pesice — Sunshine and Scarlet
Mark Rainey — Masque of the Queen
Peter Rawlik — The Imperial Dynasty of America
Erica Ruppert — The Traveller
John Claude Smith — The Yellow Hour
Jeffrey Thomas — The Seed
Scott Thomas — The Sea Might Yet Be Weeping
DJ Tyrer — Beautiful Dreams
Sean M. Thompson — Songs of EyEs
Kaaron Warren — The Naked Man
Don Webb — The Fourth Man
Michael Wehunt — numbers of the bEast

Well, done


Can’t help but notice that I haven’t posted in a century or so. Sorry much. Am trying.

Lots of things going on, this side of the screen. I’ve undertaken to produce a new anthology, to benefit author/editor Joe Pulver and his wife, who are having a tough time of things due to illnesses, and that’s going great guns, with a ToC to die for and early days still. We have about 90K of material on hand and every indication that there will be twice that at least.

Nightmares in Yellow, it’s called. The cover will be decorated with work by artist Derek Pegritz, and it should be out in time for Christmas.

The three chapbooks are soon to debut. All three are set in the CRAZYTOWN universe… two of them are part of the book, and one takes place shortly before the events in the book and the short novel THE FORGOTTEN GOD, which is set to appear next spring.

GREEN will be first,

Bone Sequence second,

and the former Pizza story NARANJA SOUL should be out by Hallowe’en.

Silicon Pringles


I don’t like Mondays. Let’s just say that, explain the title and blow the lede right out of the water with one swell foop. I did promise me that I’d do 500 words a day on the blog so here we are.

(The content that I had put together is on rain delay right now — the unfortunate death of author/editor Sam Gafford threw a monkey wrench into the affairs of my esteemed con-conspirator and the simulposts are on hold for now.

But I don’t want to neglect this page any more, especially given that all of my other urls lead here. So here I am. I expect mostly I’ll just bitch about stuff. If you don’t like screeds or complaining or lefty politics, I understand.

I could post stories but I’m still stupidly hoping to be paid for some of them, and a couple of dozen are due for collections. Am not in the best mental state or in the best spirits right now — fighting too much mental bullshit to work right now. Thanks, brain. Love those bad chemicals.)

Gilroy. Yay. A fucking SIX YEAR OLD CHILD. Please let’s keep those assault weapons on general sale. Or better yet, issue them along with birth certificates so everyone can have one ALL THE TIME. I hate guns. I think they should all be melted down to slag and used to make nails and screws and shit for infrastructure. Don’t @ me.

And THIS is the President? Fuck. Stop dignifying his bullshit with coverage and endless jawflap. The entire media machine are unindicted co-conspirators in this fucking circus. I’m pretty happy that things worked out so I didn’t have to cover this eternal circle jerk. I got out of politics-ghosting and column-and-article-finishing for little money and less credit just in time. My NDAs have run out but I’m going to keep the bylines to myself. I don’t think I’ll revisit that side-hustle. Will stick with the baseball, as frustrating as that is, as it contributes to my never-ending “y not me?” syndrome.

(I write daily columns… three days a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday), I do Cubs history factoids. It’s a good column but not especially well-read. The other four days I write/compile Cub Tracks, a complicated affair that’s essentially yardbarker with a literary frame and scientific drop-ins. The baseball history column was originally part of this but was spun off.

Sometimes I write other articles but they’re typically not well-received. The readers object to my lack of statistical data viewpoint and find that my literary humor puts too much spin on the ball.)

(It’s ego-deadening, cheerless work.)

(kind of like fiction these days)

(Add that all in with my usual general worthlessness or feeling of worthlessness and it’s full emergency-brake time.)

Where the hell was this going? Oh yeah, this is your brain on pain. Hooray fibromyalgia.

Greenfront

I have a book coming next week.

GREEN will be the first chapbook from Oxygen Man Books. It’s a teaser, like the Test Patterns teasers, just a bauble to advertise the upcoming CRAZYTOWN collection and the related THE FORGOTTEN GOD short novel.

Maybe the way out of career doldrums is just producing more work. You have to be ready when lady luck calls, I reckon. I’ve done a huge amount of work these past five years, and there just aren’t enough outlets for the kind of things I like to do.

But, for now, I’m going to indulge my inner scared little kid and watch some cartoons or something. Thanks for reading.

MuscaTell


muscadinesAgain, in conjunction with greydogtales, our friends from across the big water, we present ten questions with one of our favorite writers — in this case the redoubtable S P Miskowski, who I first encountered in the fabulous Muscadines, a story of three women who have interesting hobbies. It might also be called the Wrath of Grapes but that would be a good deal less poetic and effective.

Ms. Miskowski is perhaps best known for her Skillute Cycle, stories and novels taking place within her created milieu in Washington state. Furthermore, she is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Her stories have been published in Supernatural Tales, Black Static, Identity Theory, Strange Aeons and Eyedolon Magazine, and in numerous anthologies including The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, Haunted Nights, The Madness of Dr. Caligari, October Dreams 2, Autumn Cthulhu, The Hyde Hotel, Darker Companions: Celebrating 50 Years of Ramsey Campbell, Tales from a Talking Board and Looming Low. Her novel I Wish I Was Like You won This Is Horror 2017 Novel of the Year and a Charles Dexter Award for Favorite Novel of 2017 from Strange Aeons Magazine. Her books have received three Shirley Jackson Award nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination, and are available from Omnium Gatherum Media and JournalStone/Trepidatio, according to her Amazon author page.

Miskowski_SP

Great stuff… this is one of the people I was most wanting to ‘interview’ when I first embarked on this series of little visits. Without further ado, let’s get on with it:

Where should a reader that is new to your work start?

My first novel, Knock Knock, offers a reliable indication of my obsessions and my general approach to storytelling. Although I’ve used a range of styles, points of view, and settings in my books, I’d say if you don’t find anything of interest in Knock Knock you probably won’t love the rest of my work.

Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?

Muscadines, a wicked novella in which a character’s sincere journey of self-discovery turns out to be a bad, bad thing. Although the book (published by Dunhams Manor Press) was a finalist for a Shirley Jackson Award and people who like it find it vivid and memorable, it isn’t widely read. It’s almost as if people are disturbed by the idea of three middle-aged sisters resurrecting their childhood as daughters and henchmen to a vicious killer named Ruth Parker. (LOL) This female-centric tale is probably the most poetic thing I’ve written and certainly the most brutal.

I think we still have a deep fear of admitting how violent women can be. We can’t reconcile female cruelty with our sacred mythology around motherhood. Every time we try, we end up making excuses to return to a comfortable place where all women possess maternal instinct and want to care for babies.

Women are everywhere in my fiction. I want to write the full range of possibilities, not only roles and actions most people think of as ‘women’s concerns’ but everything—every possible act. Because people are capable of so many things, and if we refuse to acknowledge women as perpetrators of violence, we are saying that we refuse to see women as human.

Transgressive fiction should seek to injure expectations and leave a scar. Give the reader something new to consider. Muscadines does that, I hope.

Miskowski Cover 2Whose work do you read, yourself?

I read widely, non-fiction and fiction. I’m interested in everything. For clarity and pure joy I return time and again to Janet Malcolm, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson.

What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?

I’ll take a blood orange blonde—in a bottle. Olive oil, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted garlic, oregano, and basil.

Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?

I am the weird thing. I write the horror. To answer more seriously, horror is close to my heart and I like to think what I’m writing can be classified as horror, whether supernatural or psychological. But I’m not much concerned about categories. I’m concerned about telling the truth no matter how painful it might be.

My life has taught me to be on the lookout for hypocrisy, and to ask hard questions. With each story I try to fuse atmosphere and action, character and setting. But these are technical aims. In terms of content, my wish is to peel away all of the layers we create to conceal what we really are. The resulting fiction is usually horror or something close to it. Readers can decide whether or not I’ve done a good job.

You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.

That meal would be French. A seven-course meal prepared by Eric Ripert, please. I’d go for the obvious and put a bomb in the bombe. No one will suspect the bombe, right?

Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?

I love to ride trains. Not much of a hobby, is it? I’ve tried many things including modern dance, martial arts, sewing, skating, cooking, and pottery. I’m awful at all of these. I tend to dabble. Writing fiction is the only activity to hold my interest over the years. I’ve been making up stories to entertain other people since I was three or four years old.

Cats or dogs?

I love both. My current partner in crime is feline.

Tell us about a work-in-progress.

At the moment I’m revising a novel and writing a novella. The novel is about two women and how the breakup of their brief friendship has unexpected, tragic consequences. The novella concerns a woman whose dull life is made more colorful by her obsessive attraction to a washed-up TV actor.

Thanks for being so kind. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

If they Google my peculiar name, they will find my website and my author page on Amazon. My books are published by Omnium Gatherum and JournalStone and can be ordered through any independent bookstore. Happy reading!


That’s the end… characteristically terse and informative.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Occult Detective Quarterly at your earliest convenience. Also please help us to ensure that The Death of an Author takes place in the reasonably near future. And stay tuned for more interviews and other madness.